April 09/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation
Mark 16/15-18: "‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’"

Bible Quotation For Today/God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive
Letter to the Ephesians 02/01-10: "You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 08-09/15
The Iran Deal and Its Consequences/HENRY KISSINGER And GEORGE P. SHULTZ/The Wall Street Journal/April 08/15
The delicate path ahead on Iran/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/April 08/15
UK: Sharia Courts Abusing Muslim Women/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/April 08/15
Protectorates’ of the post-Lausanne Era/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/April 08/15
Obama faces Congress defiance over Iran deal/Susan Cornwell and David Lawder/Reuters/April 08/15
Obama’s apologies to Iran and criticism of Arabs/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/April 08-09/15
Saudi action was needed against the reckless Houthis/Khaled Almaeena/Al Arabiya/April 08/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 08-09/15
Hariri Deems 'Shameful' Use of Media to Attack Saudi, Warns of Iran's Plot to Turn Yemen into Lebanon
Rouhani's Envoy Meets Lebanese Officials, Says Military Grant Ready if Lebanon Wants It

'Homes in Lebanese villages won't be standing after next Israel-Hezbollah war
Iran and Hezbollah trained Houthis to ‘harm Yemenis
March 14 Slams Hizbullah's Statements, Considers them 'Programmed' Campaign
Kanaan Denies Crack in Ties with Bkirki
U.S. Embassy Warns of Scammers Impersonating Hale to Solicit Money
Asiri Protests to Berri Tele Liban's Airing of Nasrallah Interview as Jreij Vows Measures to Be Taken against Station
Cabinet Tasks Shehayeb to Follow up on Case of Stranded Lebanese Drivers
King Felipe Inspects Spanish UNIFIL Contingent in Marjeyoun
Mashnouq Says Beirut, Dahiyeh Security Plan to be Implemented End of April
Security Agencies Pursuing Killer of Lebanese Man in Ain el-Hilweh

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 08-09/15
Assad looses ISIS against Palestinians trapped in Yarmouk camp - a sinister new partnership
CIA head says critics of Iran nuclear deal 'disingenuous'
Why lone ranger Netanyahu is out to ‘kill a bad deal’
Progressive Jewish Leader Bucks Obama's Iran Deal
Two Saudi policemen shot dead in Riyadh
The voices of the Syrian soldiers under the rubble
WHO Revises Death Toll in Yemen Fighting to 6433
U.S. Defense Secretary: Al-Qaida Making Gains in Yemen
UAE Says Yemen Ground Op Would Need Hadi Green Light
Medical Aid Boat Docks in Aden as 22 Dead in Rebel Shelling
US quickens weapons deliveries to Saudi-led Yemen campaign
ICC prosecutor: Slim chance of ISIS leaders facing war crimes inquiry
US parameters require Iran explain military nuclear work for sanctions relief
Greece has not asked Russia for aid, Greek official says
Turkish plane makes emergency landing due to window crack
Turkish fatwa says using toilet paper is HALAL
Iran deploys ‘anti-piracy warships’ off Yemen’s coast
Afghan soldier kills American soldier, wounds two
Palestinian killed after ‘attack on Israeli soldier’
Iran, Pakistan Urge Peaceful End to Yemen Conflict
Mexico Gang Kills 15 Police in Worst Attack in Years

Jihad Watch Latest News
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Egypt’s most prominent Islamic authority issues a fatwa against AFDI’s bus ads
Boston Marathon jihad mass murder Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty, faces death penalty
Sunni mosques in Yemen call for jihad against Shi’ite Houthis: “Allahu akbar! Rise for jihad!”
This World Pregnant With Threats
Afghan soldier shoots, wounds 3 US troops in insider attack
Iran will start using fastest centrifuges on day deal takes effect
Muslim cleric blames “radicalization” on “Islamophobia”
Islamic State mass graves may contain corpses of 1,700 Shi’ite soldiers
NYC jihad mass murder plotter fired from job tutoring elementary schoolers

'Homes in Lebanese villages won't be standing after next Israel-Hezbollah war
By JPOST.COM STAFF/04/08/2015
The homes in Lebanese villages along the border with Israel "will no longer stand" in the event that the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah launches a ground offensive against Israel, the commander of the IDF's Galilee Formation, Brig.-General Moni Katz told Army Radio on Wednesday. The officer said that he anticipated that the relative calm that has taken hold along the Israeli-Lebanese frontier will continue for the foreseeable future. During Katz's tenure as the top IDF officer responsible for the force alignment near the northern border, there have been isolated cases of violence and flare-ups, though none have deteriorated into the kind of tit-for-tat fighting which led to the Second Lebanon War. Nonetheless, Katz told Army Radio that Israel is ready for any scenario. "[Hezbollah] is certainly planning ground operations," he said. "Perhaps it might succeed at one point or another, but I think what is most important is to gauge these things by how they end, not by how they begin.""There's a dimension of psychology involved here," he said. "There's a need to understand that these events could happen, and we need to look at them with the proper sense of proportion. You can't defend a 130-kilometer long border and expect that no enemy fighter will succeed in crossing the boundary." Katz said that Israel plans to install new fortifications along the border that will impede any Hezbollah attempts to infiltrate and cause havoc. Still, in the event that matters devolve into a wider conflict, the officer said that Israel will evacuate its residents from their homes, if need be. "If the best defense we could provide our citizens entails evacuating them from a number of towns adjacent to the border, we will do it," he said. "We are prepared for such a scenario. Ultimately, the decision rests with the civilian leadership." The brigadier-general said that the next war between Israel and Hezbollah will "look entirely different" from Lebanon's perspective. "Hezbollah will receive an even harsher blow [than it did in 2006]," Katz said. "When it decides to construct an operational infrastructure throughout nearly all of the villages in the south, I think it understands the risk it is taking." "It's hard to envision the homes in these villages, which are so close to the borderline, remaining standing after the next war," he said.

March 14 Slams Hizbullah's Statements, Considers them 'Programmed' Campaign
Naharnet/The March 14 General Secretariat lashed out at Hizbullah on Wednesday over its “programmed” campaign against Saudi Arabia, considering the party “only represents itself.” “Since conflicts erupted in the region, Hizbullah continues to drag Lebanon into dangerous confrontations that are worrying the Lebanese who are only concerned with the results of the party's actions,” the secretariat said in a statement after its weekly meeting. “Thousand of Lebanese expats live in Saudi Arabia... to financially support their families in their homeland,” the statement said. The secretariat demanded the cabinet to clarify its stance from Hizbullah's rhetoric, slamming the party for “distorting Lebanon's ties with brotherly Arab nations that stood by it and its independence.” It expressed hope that “innocent Lebanese wouldn't be compelled to pay the price of Hizbullah's adventures.” On Monday, Nasrallah declared that Saudi Arabia will suffer a “major defeat” in the Yemeni conflict, as he stressed that “the war on Syria” has failed. “Saudi Arabia will suffer a major defeat that will have an impact on its domestic situation and the entire region,” he told al-Ikhbariya in an interview that was broadcast by Tele Liban. Saudi Arabia began its airstrikes in Yemen on March 25, announcing that it had put together a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, for the military operation to defend Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government against the Shiite Huthi rebels. The military move against the rebels triggered fury from Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, Hizbullah's main regional ally, with officials in Tehran warning that the military action threatened to spill over into other countries.

Asiri Protests to Berri Tele Liban's Airing of Nasrallah Interview as Jreij Vows Measures to Be Taken against Station
Naharnet/Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri paid a visit on Tuesday to Speaker Nabih Berri at his Ain el-Tineh residence to protest against Tele Liban's broadcast of an interview with Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during which he renewed his harsh criticism of the kingdom, reported al-Liwaa newspaper on Wednesday. He relayed a “strongly-worded” message of protest from the kingdom against Nasrallah's accusations, reported the daily. He considered that the Hizbullah chief's remarks were “completely antagonistic of the kingdom,” it added. Asiri had left Ain el-Tineh without making a statement, while Berri's media office stated that the two officials discussed Lebanese and regional affairs. Meanwhile, Information Minister Ramzi Jreij telephoned Asiri to “express his apologies over Lebanon's state television station's, Tele Liban, airing of the interview on Monday,” reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Wednesday. The minister told the daily that he offered an “official apology on behalf of Tele Liban,” vowing that he would take “internal measures against the station.” “The mistake will not be repeated,” he stressed. “He apologized for the harm made against Saudi Arabia by Nasrallah and the positions that do not reflect the official Lebanese media that is represented by Tele Liban,” added al-Liwaa. Asiri had received later on Tuesday a number of telephone calls from various Lebanese politicians and media officials to condemn the broadcast of the interview, it continued. A ministerial source did not rule out the possibility that the issue will be brought up at a cabinet session scheduled for later on Wednesday. A semi-official source told al-Liwaa that Tele Liban explained that it had aired the interview from al-Manar television, not Syria's al-Ikhbariya news channel, out of respect of Lebanon's policy of disassociation.
It later said that Jreij will bring up the matter with Prime Minister Tammam Salam ahead of the cabinet meeting, adding that he vowed to apply the law against media outlets that violate rules and regulations of the profession and harm higher national interests.
Hizbullah's media officer Mohammed Afif later questioned to al-Akhbar newspaper why the matter was being “blown out of proportion.”“Tele Liban belongs to all the Lebanese people and it should be balanced in its reporting,” he explained. He revealed that he had held talks with the station's general director Talal al-Maqdisi, presenting him with “list of Tele Liban's unbalanced reporting of developments and requesting that it be more fair in its coverage.”This visit however was made long before Nasrallah had scheduled his interview with the Syrian station, he said. Moreover, he added that the Saudi ambassador's protests “are evidence that the kingdom would be bothered by any criticism made from anywhere in the world because it exposes the criminality of its aggression.”On Monday, Nasrallah declared that Saudi Arabia will suffer a “major defeat” in the Yemeni conflict, as he stressed that “the war on Syria” has failed. “Saudi Arabia will suffer a major defeat that will have an impact on its domestic situation and the entire region,” he told al-Ikhbariya in an interview that was broadcast by Tele Liban. Saudi Arabia began its airstrikes in Yemen on March 25, announcing that it had put together a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, for the military operation to defend Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government against the Shiite Huthi rebels. The military move against the rebels triggered fury from Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, Hizbullah's main regional ally, with officials in Tehran warning that the military action threatened to spill over into other countries.

Hariri Deems 'Shameful' Use of Media to Attack Saudi, Warns of Iran's Plot to Turn Yemen into Lebanon
Naharnet /Head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri remarked on Wednesday that Lebanon was “not in need of further problems created by Hizbullah”, the latest of which was dragging Tele Liban in the political and media battlefield in the country.
He condemned in a statement the use of “Lebanese media outlets to target friendly Arab countries and Saudi Arabia similar to the practices adopted by some suspicious voices and yellow journalism that want Lebanon to become a partner in antagonizing its Arab brothers for the sake of Iran and its regional policies.”“Remaining silent over this issue is not justified, whether for the sake of dialogue, which we still seek, or for the sake of placing national interests above foreign ones, especially after witnessing officials from the other side of the divide being adept at jeopardizing these interests on a daily basis,” he added. “It is unfortunate that Lebanon is being used to these ends, such as linking it to regional conflicts,” he lamented.
“It is unfortunate that some of our media have become outlets to the butcher Bashar Assad in harming a state that has only offered goodness to the Lebanese people and whose officials have only spoken well of it since Lebanon's independence,” Hariri said in reference to Saudi Arabia, while noting its positive role in helping end the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war and 2006 Israeli war. “History will play witness to what Saudi Arabia presented to Lebanon and none of the poisonous voices will be able to alter or tarnish this truth,” Hariri stressed. “Saudi Arabia's actions in the region stem from its belief in protecting the Arab identity and the rights of its people to security, stability, and development, as opposed to other countries, like Iran that seek to destroy this stability and turn Arab capitals into open grounds for sectarian and armed chaos,” declared the lawmaker. “Ever since Iran sought to export its revolution to Lebanon, it has presented the Lebanese with division and fuel to stoke civil strife,” he noted. “It transformed Hizbullah into an armed militia and military force led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and operating independently from the state, its laws and legitimate institutions,” he added.
“It has become apparent to observers that Iran does not pay heed to Arab countries and their official institutions as much as it is interested in infiltrating societies and manipulating sectarian tensions,” Hariri stated. Iran is working on empowering groups and parties that are under the wing the Revolutionary Guards or the strategic project of the Iranian agenda in the region, he continued. “This was evident in Lebanon 35 years ago when Hizbullah came out of the Iranian womb and it is repeating itself in Yemen with the rise of the armed Huthi movement, known as Ansarullah, that grew out of the Revolutionary Guards fold in 2002,” he explained.
“Iran seeks to replicate the Lebanese scenario in Yemen where it has been fashioning the Ansarullah Huthi movement in the shape of Hizbullah in order to transform it into a pawn at the doorstep of Mecca and the Arab Gulf,” he noted. “Saudi Arabia has sought to combat this plan, even though it took place at the last minute, through political means and calls to hold dialogue, but to no avail,” he said. “It consequently resorted to military operation Decisive Storm to prevent Yemen from committing the same error as Lebanon did,” Hariri added. “Lebanon has been dealing with this error on the basis of safeguarding national interests, averting strife, and preventing further Iranian meddling in our daily life,” he explained.
“It is our duty not to remain silent over the ongoing error,” he demanded, while reiterating calls to keep Lebanon at a distance from regional wars. “It is our duty to also not remain silent over the major and minor voices that are harming Saudi Arabia and its leadership,” he stated. “Saudi Arabia knows very well that Lebanon will not sell its Arab identity to those who seek to harm it,” he stressed. “The Lebanese people know that the kingdom will not abandon it no matter how high the harmful voices are raised,” he declared.
Hariri made his statement on the wake of the outrage over Tele Liban's airing of an interview with Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Monday during which he renewed his harsh criticism of Saudi Arabia and its role in the region, most notably in Yemen and Syria.
Nasrallah declared that Saudi Arabia will suffer a “major defeat” in the Yemeni conflict, as he stressed that “the war on Syria” has failed. “Saudi Arabia will suffer a major defeat that will have an impact on its domestic situation and the entire region,” he told al-Ikhbariya in an interview that was broadcast by Tele Liban. Saudi Arabia began its airstrikes in Yemen on March 25, announcing that it had put together a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, for the military operation to defend Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government against the Shiite Huthi rebels. The military move against the rebels triggered fury from Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, Hizbullah's main regional ally, with officials in Tehran warning that the military action threatened to spill over into other countries.
Critics of Tele Liban, Lebanon's official state television, said it had violated its objective media reporting by broadcasting an interview by Nasrallah from Syrian television.

Kanaan Denies Crack in Ties with Bkirki
Naharnet /Change and Reform bloc lawmaker Ibrahim Kanaan stressed on Wednesday that ties with the seat of the Maronite church are still intact despite differences over political matters.“The national partnership with Bkirki is ongoing and comprehensive,” Kanaan said in comments to Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5). He noted that “only a unanimous national decision” could resolve the presidential deadlock, remarking that dialogue with the rival political parties aims at activating the Lebanese initiative to end the crisis. “Those who are obstructing the constitution are impeding the elections,” Kanaan added, in an apparent reply to Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's recent statements. Media reports said on Tuesday that the absence of Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun from the Easter mass that was led by al-Rahi on Sunday indicates that there's a rift between the two over the ongoing presidential vacuum. The mass, which was held in Bkirki, was attended by former Presidents Michel Suleiman and Amin Gemayel, who is the head of the Kataeb party. Aoun didn't also visit Bkirki to extend his greetings to al-Rahi like his old-time rival Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who met with the Patriarch on Holy Friday. On Monday, al-Rahi expressed regret that the parliament is paralyzed due to the actions of a certain political team. Al-Rahi also denounced in his Easter message on Friday the ongoing vacuum in the presidency, urging political powers to hold the polls and end their boycott of the electoral sessions. “There are no constitutional justifications for the boycott of the elections,” he said, noting that the vacuum has created a “political death” in Lebanon and crippled the government and the parliament. Suleiman's term ended in May without the election of a successor as the ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the polls. Aoun's Change and Reform and Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance blocs have been boycotting the elections, demanding that political powers agree on a compromise presidential candidate. Only few MPs have been attending the sessions. The next electoral session is scheduled for April 22.  Kanaan, who is loyal to Aoun, lashed out at the sides that are blocking the adoption of a new electoral decree under the pretext of sovereignty. “Our system is defective,” Kanaan said, demanding balance between all the Lebanese.

Rouhani's Envoy Meets Lebanese Officials, Says Military Grant Ready if Lebanon Wants It
Naharnet/The special envoy of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Morteza Sarmadi, announced Wednesday from Beirut that Tehran's proposed military grant to Lebanon is still on the table, hoping the Lebanese will manage to find an “appropriate solution” to the presidential crisis. “Now that the nuclear settlement has been achieved, if the Lebanese side believes that it can now receive the Iranian military grant to the valiant Lebanese army, we are fully ready to offer this donation on a silver platter,” said Sarmadi, in response to a reporter's question.
The Iranian official, who arrived in Lebanon earlier in the day, was speaking after talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil in Ashrafieh. Discussions over the controversial Iranian grant to the Lebanese army were reportedly “frozen” in late 2014 to avoid any rift between cabinet members. The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, who made a one-day visit to Beirut in 2014, said that Tehran will provide military assistance to Lebanon. Iran's offer of support followed aid packages for the Lebanese army from both its regional rival Saudi Arabia and the United States. As for the stalled presidential election, Sarmadi hoped Lebanese officials will be able to find an “appropriate solution” in the coming period. “We're fully confident that the Lebanese political leaderships, movement and parties have enough maturity and awareness that qualify them to find the appropriate solutions to the presidential crisis,” added Sarmadi. He also underlined that Tehran is “committed to its firm principled stance on noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries,” while noting that his country “encourages the Lebanese to reach this appropriate solution.” Earlier in the day, Sarmadi met with Speaker Nabih Berri after which he explained that the nuclear agreement reached last week is aimed at reaching a final one, expected before the end of June.
The talks also addressed regional developments, most notably the conflict in Yemen. Sarmadi stressed the need to halt the Saudi-led military operation against Yemen's Huthi rebels, encouraging the concerned sides to launch dialogue. He suggested holding dialogue in a neutral location with the participation of all Yemeni political factions to reach an agreement on a national government. Sarmadi then headed to the Grand Serail for talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam. The Iranian official said after the meeting: “A strategic mistake took place against Yemen.”“The claim that the airstrikes are aimed at restoring legitimacy are not based on any international resolution,” he added. The Iranian official is scheduled to visit the grave of slain top Hizbullah operative Imad Mughnieh in the evening. An Nahar daily reported that Sarmadi will likely hold a meeting with party chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Diplomatic Iranian sources told al-Liwaa newspaper Wednesday that “his talks will not address Lebanese affairs, such as the presidential elections, because Tehran refuses to interfere in the internal matters of friendly countries.”Al-Liwaa noted that Lebanon is the fifth stop of a tour Sarmadi is making to a number of countries, which included Turkey and Germany.

Medical Aid Boat Docks in Aden as 22 Dead in Rebel Shelling
Naharnet/At least 22 people were killed on Wednesday in tank and mortar shelling by rebel forces on residential areas in Yemen's second city Aden, a medic and a local official said. "Twenty-two dead and more than 70 wounded have been transferred to several hospitals in Aden," a medical official told AFP, adding that most of the casualties were civilians. A local official confirmed that Shiite Huthi rebels and troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh "randomly shelled... civilian homes" in Mualla and Crater districts of Aden. The same sources said that clashes between local militias, known as "popular committees" and Huthis left several fighters dead on Wednesday but could not immediately provide a toll. A military source said that 11 people were killed in Aden overnight in clashes between rebels and forces loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. Earlier in the day, a boat carrying medical aid docked in Aden, the first in two weeks of a Saudi-led air campaign against Shiite rebels, Doctors Without borders (MSF) said. The boat traveled from Djibouti and carried 2.5 tons of medical aid, Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, the head of MSF's Yemen mission, told AFP. "The shipment will be delivered to our hospital in Aden," she said, adding that the group hoped aid destined for the capital and northern regions would arrive in Sanaa by air by Friday. MSF warned on Tuesday that the situation in Aden was "worsening by the day" amid continued fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Hadi. MSF has 140 local staff and eight expatriates working at a hospital in Aden. The Red Cross is also hoping to deliver to Sanaa 16 tonnes of medical aid on a plane loaded in Jordan. More than 540 people have died and 1,700 been wounded since March 19 in Yemen, the World Health Organization said. Agence France Presse

U.S. Defense Secretary: Al-Qaida Making Gains in Yemen
Naharnet/U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged Wednesday that al-Qaida was seizing terrain amid the chaos in Yemen, but vowed that Washington would continue to combat the extremist group despite ongoing fighting there. "We see them making gains on the ground there as they try to take territory," said Carter, who was in Japan as part of a visit to Asia for talks with regional allies. Yemen has descended into violence over recent months, with Huthi rebels seizing power in the capital Sanaa in February. The Huthis, allied with army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been fighting forces supporting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to the Saudi capital Riyadh. Late last month Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of air strikes, amid fears Yemen will slip into Huthi control and shift into the orbit of Shiite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia's regional rival.
Observers say al-Qaida and other groups are exploiting the instability, in which the World Health Organisation says at least 540 people have died since March 19. "The terrorism threat to the West, including the United States, from AQAP (Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) is a longstanding and serious one (..) that we will keep combating," he added at a press conference alongside his Japanese counterpart, Gen Nakatani. "Obviously it’s always easier to conduct CT [counter-terrorism] ops when there is a stable government willing to cooperate. "That circumstance now obviously doesn’t exist in Yemen but that doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to take steps to protect ourselves. We have to do it in a different way, but we do and we are." Carter expressed hope that peace would be restored "not only for that reason but also (because) there is a lot of suffering in Yemen". At the end of last week AQAP, which the U.S. views as the most dangerous wing of the Sunni Muslim extremist group, captured the army headquarters and the southeastern port of Al Mukalla. Agence France Presse

Mexico Gang Kills 15 Police in Worst Attack in Years

Naharnet /Fifteen police officers were killed in a gang ambush in western Mexico, an official said Tuesday, marking the deadliest day in recent years for security forces battling the drug war. Five more officers were wounded in Monday's assault, which took place on a twisting rural highway near the village of Soyatan as a convoy carrying the elite state police unit headed to Guadalajara, Mexico's second biggest city. Authorities suspect the powerful "Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel" carried out the assault against the officers after waiting for them in a makeshift encampment for one or two days. The assailants blocked the road with vehicles, pouring fuel on them and setting the cars on fire, said Francisco Alejandro Solorio Arechiga, Jalisco's state security commissioner, who said a "large number" of them attacked the officers. "They died in a cowardly attack, which means that we can't let our guard down," Solorio said after a meeting of federal police, military and state security officials in Guadalajara, adding that the wounded officers were in stable condition. It was the heaviest single-day loss for Mexican security forces since the start of President Enrique Pena Nieto's two-year-old administration. In 2010, 12 federal police officers were killed in the neighboring state of Michoacan. Another ambush in 2012 left 12 municipal and state police dead in the southern state of Guerrero. Solorio said that in addition to the 15 state officers, the municipal police chief of the town of Zacoalco de Torres was killed in another attack on Monday.
- 'Declaring' war? -
The latest clash adds Jalisco as a focal point in the drug war. The violence in Michoacan, Guerrero and the state of Tamaulipas on the U.S. border, have garnered more attention recently. Authorities say the Jalisco attack appeared to be in revenge over the arrest of four gang suspects in an investigation into a failed assassination attempt against Solorio in March. "These attacks are a reaction of organized crime after the attack against me," Solorio said. The assassination bid was itself a response to a March 23 operation in the town of Zacoalco de Torres in which three Jalisco cartel suspects were killed, authorities said. In a separate gun battle four days earlier, gunmen opened fire on a federal gendarmerie police convoy in the town of Ocotlan on March 19, leaving 11 people dead, including five officers, three suspects and three bystanders. Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the Jalisco cartel is well armed and disciplined. "The army, navy and police have dealt heavy blows against the Jalisco cartel and they are declaring war to the federal government, which is not common," Benitez said.
- Violent gang -
More than 100,000 people have died or gone missing since Mexico's drug war began to escalate in 2006 with the deployment of troops to combat drug cartels. The Jalisco drug cartel has fought violent turf wars with the Knights Templar gang in the neighboring state of Michoacan for years. The group sometimes goes by the name Matazetas or "Zetas Killers," because of its fierce rivalry with the ultra-violent Zetas cartel. The cartel emerged in 2010 after the death of Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, alias "Nacho Coronel," the top leader in Jalisco for the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. The gang's alleged leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," remains elusive. His son, Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, or "El Menchito," was captured in January 2014. Agence France Presse

The delicate path ahead on Iran
David Ignatius/The Washington Post
April 07/15
There’s a buoyant sense at the White House this week — a feeling that a much-embattled President Obama has achieved the goal he set in January 2009 of engaging Iran on the basis of “mutual interest and mutual respect.” But like the dog who catches the car he’s been chasing, Obama must now worry about what to do next. The first priority is pinning down the deal that Secretary of State John F. Kerry reached last week so that it’s not a fuzzy framework, but an actual, enforceable agreement. There are many details left to clarify, and U.S. officials aren’t yet sure they actually have clinched the deal that they appeared to have won. Problem areas include limits on Iranian research and development of advanced centrifuges buried underground at Fordow; the mechanism for removing sanctions and then reimposing them if Iran is thought to be cheating; and the procedures for inspecting supposedly “non-nuclear” sites where covert research might be taking place.
These are big holes in the framework. Its unfinished nature is a sign that the administration wants the final pact so much that it will offer compromises that allow the Iranians to save face, even at modest cost to U.S. interests. The administration’s goal, over the next three months, appears to be gaining the best final accord possible — that the Iranians can also sell back home. Obama’s comfort level has been boosted by the presence at the negotiating table of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, one of the world’s top nuclear physicists. Moniz can signal compromises that, while appearing generous, have little practical consequence, for technical reasons. Obama’s outreach to Iran has been shaped from the beginning by his effort to understand how Iranians see the world — and to distinguish between truly dangerous, aggressive actions and more comprehensible defensive moves. This empathetic view is part of what irks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But centuries of diplomatic history suggest that such an ability to see the world through the adversary’s eyes is essential for effective negotiation.
If there has been a surprise in the Iranian negotiating style, it’s that they have adhered so closely to the terms of the initial framework reached in November 2013, rather than cheating at the edges. President Hassan Rouhani sought to underline this theme of trustworthiness (contrary to what the Israelis and many Arabs see in Iran) when he said last Friday: “If the other side honors its promises, we will honor our promises.” Obama rejects the case made by Netanyahu and congressional critics that if the United States just keeps squeezing, the Iranians will capitulate. The White House thinks too much pressure could backfire. U.S. officials agree that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s ultimate goal is regime survival, but officials saw the crowds in the streets of Tehran last week cheering the deal as a check on Khamenei and other hard-liners. The most delicate test ahead may involve, not the Iranians, but Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf States. Obama knows that the metastatic danger for the Middle East is a post-agreement scramble by Iran’s Sunni rivals, such as the Saudis, Egyptians, Emiratis and Turks — to achieve their own versions of the Iranian “threshold nuclear capability” envisioned in the agreement.
The White House is still mulling the details, but officials are contemplating a kind of “dual engagement” approach. Even as it negotiates with Iran, the administration might extend security guarantees to the Gulf States, pledging to come to their defense if attacked by external powers. (Tricky question: Would that include a strike from Israel?) In exchange, the Gulf States hopefully would agree to forgo or limit their nuclear programs, keeping some lid on proliferation in the region.
Obama’s challenge is that the Sunni nations have been suffering a kind of vertigo since the Arab revolutions of 2011, doubting themselves and the United States even as they reel from Iran’s proxy wars. Somehow these Sunni nations need to find the will to push back, so that there could eventually be a security balance between Iran and its neighbors. Because Obama understands the need for this pushback, he has supported the Saudi assault on Yemen, and might even endorse a Turkish military move into northern Syria.
Dealing with Congress will be its own special nightmare, as always for this administration. Obama needs a formula that allows members to reassure Netanyahu of their toughness, while keeping what many see as a pretty good Iran deal — and accepting that it’s the president, not Congress, who conducts foreign policy.

US parameters require Iran explain military nuclear work for sanctions relief
By MICHAEL WILNER/04/08/2015 /J.Post
WASHINGTON – Last week in Switzerland, Iran publicly agreed that long-standing international questions over its suspected military nuclear work, “past and present,” will be addressed in a comprehensive accord reached with world powers by June 30.
But Tehran has not yet agreed on the extent to which it will answer questions posed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has sought data-based explanations to its concerns over the nature of Iran’s program for nearly a decade.
“Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the deal released on Thursday.
The Obama administration has not yet explained what those measures will entail.
Only upon Iran’s compliance with those measures, the White House asserts, will “all past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue” be lifted.
Sanctions relief will be delivered “simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns,” including cooperation with the IAEA on its PMD report.
In short, that means phased sanctions relief for Iran will be conditioned on a set of measures still undecided by negotiators, and on Iran’s participation with an investigation into work it fundamentally denies conducting – experimentation with nuclear weapons technology.
Tehran says international demands its government admit to researching atomic trigger, miniaturization and other weaponization technologies are impossible, because such research has not occurred. Western intelligence agencies, and the IAEA itself, suspect otherwise. And since 2009, US President Barack Obama has said Iran must “come clean” on its weapons work for there to be any diplomatic resolution of the crisis.
In her statement to the press in Lausanne announcing the agreement, European Union high representative Federica Mogherini said the IAEA would be granted “enhanced access” in order “to clarify past and present issues.”
But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, lauded in Iran for ushering in a deal promising broad and swift sanctions relief, said that no inspections would be tolerated inside its military bases. One such facility, Parchin, is suspected of hosting much of Iran’s military nuclear work.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, one senior administration official said the president and his team "would find it very difficult to imagine a JCPA that did not require such access at Parchin.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for slowly paced sanctions relief, contingent on an inspections regime that grants international monitors access anywhere in Iran at any time.
Speaking with reporters in Lausanne in the midst of eight tense days of negotiations, one senior official acknowledged that PMD would have to be addressed in an ultimate agreement. Whether sanctions relief will be contingent on its resolution, however, is left unclear by the document released by the White House.
Speaking to the issue of PMD on Tuesday, State Department Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf said the outstanding matter was "very important" to the administration, and that a list of sites and persons made accessible to the IAEA by Iran would have to be included in the June agreement.
"We have a path forward and have an agreement that they will undertake a PMD access list process," Harf said. "Now what that – how that plays out over the next three months is something that still needs to be negotiated."

CIA head says critics of Iran nuclear deal 'disingenuous'
By REUTERS/04/08/2015/J.Post
CAMBRIDGE - Opponents of Iran's initial agreement to curb its nuclear program are being "disingenuous" when they say the deal could still allow the Middle Eastern state to build nuclear weapons, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency said on Tuesday.
The initial accord reached last week between Iran and major world powers - which would lift crippling economic sanctions in exchange for Iran's agreement to step back from developing nuclear weapons - is likely the most realistic deal that could be reached, CIA Director John Brennan told an audience of students and faculty at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.
"The individuals who say that this deal provides a pathway for Iran to a bomb are being wholly disingenuous, in my view, if they know the facts and understand what is required for a program," Brennan said at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "I certainly am pleasantly surprised that the Iranians have agreed to so much here."
Democrats in Washington are joining forces with Republican leaders who were early critics of the deal in supporting a bill that would give Congress the ability to approve or reject sanctions relief, a move that US President Barack Obama said could undermine the negotiations at a critical stage.
Brennan, who has headed the US spy agency since 2013, said he understood that some critics of the deal were wary that even with an accord Iran would have the ability "to cause more trouble" in the Middle East, where neighboring countries including Iraq are fighting violent groups including the Islamic State.
"That's a legitimate issue, concern and argument but that's why I say what they shouldn't be doing is trying to pull apart this deal ... that's as solid as you're going to get," Brennan said. "You're not going to get the Iranians to just totally dismantle everything and say, 'OK, we're not going to pursue any type of nuclear capability from a peaceful perspective."
The deal has also been criticized by Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Iran's nuclear ambitions an existential threat to his country.
Brennan said it was a hopeful sign that the Iranian regime was willing to engage in eight days of talks in Switzerland, noting that President Hassan Rouhani had "much greater reasonableness."

UK: Sharia Courts Abusing Muslim Women
by Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute
April 8, 2015
The report shows how the increasing influence of Sharia law in Britain today is undermining the fundamental principle that there must be equality for all British citizens under a single law of the land.
"I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from." — Muslim woman interviewed for the report.
The report concludes by calling on the British government to launch a judge-led inquiry to "determine the extent to which discriminatory Sharia law principles are being applied within the UK."
"The government's response will be a litmus test of the extent to which it genuinely upholds the principle of equality before the law or is so dominated by the fear of 'giving offense' that it will continue to allow these women to suffer in ways which would make our suffragettes turn in their graves." — Baroness Caroline Cox.
Muslim women across Britain are being systematically oppressed, abused and discriminated against by Sharia law courts that treat women as second-class citizens, according to a new report, which warns against the spiraling proliferation of Islamic tribunals in the United Kingdom.
The 40-page report, "A Parallel World: Confronting the Abuse of Many Muslim Women in Britain Today," was authored by Baroness Caroline Cox, a cross-bench member of the British House of Lords and one of the leading defenders of women's rights in the UK.
The report shows how the increasing influence of Sharia law in Britain today is undermining the fundamental principle that there must be equality for all British citizens under a single law of the land.
The Arbitration Act of 1996 allows parties to resolve certain civil disputes according to Sharia principles in such a way that the decision can be enforced in British courts.
According to the report, however, many Muslim bodies are using the Arbitration Act to support the claim that they are able to make legally binding decisions for members of the Muslim community, when in fact the law limits their role to that of being a mediator to help reach an agreement. "The mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator who imposes a decision," the report states.
The report shows how Sharia courts often fuse the concepts of arbitration, in which both parties agree to submit their dispute to a mutually agreeable third party for a decision to be made, and mediation, in which the two parties voluntarily use a third party to help them reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
On top of this lies the problem of "jurisdiction creep," whereby Sharia courts are adjudicating on matters well outside the arbitration framework, such as by deciding cases relating to criminal law, including those involving domestic violence and grievous bodily harm.
Haitham al-Haddad is a British Sharia court judge, and sits on the board of advisors for the Islamic Sharia Council. Regarding the handling of domestic violence cases, he stated in an interview, "A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort their matters among themselves." (Image source: Channel 4 News video screenshot)
As a result, Muslim women, who may lack knowledge of both the English language and their rights under British law, are often pressured by their families to use Sharia courts. These courts often coerce them to sign an agreement to abide by their decisions, which are imposed and viewed as legal judgments.
Worse yet, "Refusal to settle a dispute in a Sharia forum could lead to threats and intimidation, or being ostracized and labelled a disbeliever," the report states, and adds:
"There is a particular concern that women face pressure to withdraw allegations of domestic violence after they make them. Several women's groups say they are often reluctant to go to the authorities with women who have run away to escape violence because they cannot trust police officers within the community not to betray the girls to their abusing families."
The report shows that even in cases where Muslim tribunals work "in tandem" with police investigations, abused women often withdraw their complaints to the police, while Sharia judges let the husbands go unpunished.
Meanwhile, most Sharia courts, when dealing with divorce, do so only in a religious sense. They cannot grant civil divorce; they simply grant a religious divorce in accordance with Sharia law.
According to the report, in many cases this is all that is necessary for a "divorce" anyway; many Muslim women who identify themselves as being "married" are not in marriages that are legally recognized by British law. Although a nikah (an Islamic wedding ceremony) may have taken place, if the marriage is not officially registered, it is not valid in the eyes of civil law. The report states:
"This creates a very serious problem: women who are married in Islamic ceremonies but are not officially married under English law can suffer grave disadvantages because they lack legal protection. What is more, they can be unaware that their marriage is not officially recognized by English law."
This places Muslim women in an especially precarious legal situation when it comes to divorce. In Islam, a husband does not have to follow the same process as the wife when seeking a talaq (Islamic divorce). He merely has to say "I divorce you" three times, whereas the wife must meet various conditions and pay a fee. The report cites women, when speaking of their own talaq proceedings, who referred to their lack of legal protection after discovering that their nikah did not constitute a valid marriage under English law.
The report cites Kalsoom Bashir, a long-time women's rights activist in Bristol, who discusses the added problem of polygamy. She notes:
"There is an increasing rise in polygamy within Muslim families and again the women who are involved are not in a position to be able to challenge the situation or get any form of justice. They find it difficult to obtain any maintenance as the marriages are not registered legally. Polygamy is used to control first wives who are told that if they are a problem the man has the Islamic right to take another wife. Sometimes just one of the marriages is registered leaving one wife without any legal protections."
Overall, the report includes excerpts of testimonies of more than a dozen Muslim women who have suffered abuse and injustice at the hands of Sharia courts in Britain. One woman said: "I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from."
The report concludes by calling on the British government to launch a judge-led inquiry to "determine the extent to which discriminatory Sharia law principles are being applied within the UK." It also calls on the government to support Baroness Cox's Private Members' Bill — the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill — which would "create a new criminal offense criminalizing any person who purports to legally adjudicate upon matters which ought to be decided by criminal or family courts."
Baroness Cox originally introduced the bill in 2011, but it went nowhere due to the lack of support from the main parties. She re-introduced the bill in 2013 and 2014, but it continues to languish, apparently because the main parties are afraid of offending Muslims. Cox has vowed to re-introduce the bill in the next session of Parliament, whose members will be elected on May 7.
The bill aims to combat discrimination by, among other restrictions, prohibiting Sharia courts from: a) treating the evidence of a man as worth more than the evidence of a woman; b) proceeding on the assumption that the division of an estate between male and female children on intestacy must be unequal; or c) proceeding on the assumption that a woman has fewer property rights than a man.
The law would also place a duty on public bodies to ensure that women in polygamous households, or those who have had a religious marriage, are made aware of their legal position and relevant legal rights under British law.
In a letter, Baroness Cox wrote that her recommendations "can by no means remedy all of the sensitive issues involved, but they do offer an important opportunity for redress." She added that her bill "already has strong support from across the political spectrum in the House of Lords as well as from Muslim women's groups and other organisations concerned with the suffering of vulnerable women."
But it remains to be seen whether the next government will agree to support the bill. On March 23, British Home Secretary Theresa May pledged that if the Conservative Party wins the general election, she would launch a review into whether Sharia courts in England and Wales are compatible with British values.
But the Conservative government's track record on confronting Islam has been patchy at best. In November 2013, for example, the government rejected an amendment offered by Cox to the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill, which would have protected women who are duped into believing that their marriages are valid under British law when in fact they are not.
More recently, the Conservatives quashed a "politically incorrect" inquiry into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain.
While Cox welcomed May's commitment to investigate Sharia courts, she also expressed concern that politicians will once again bow to political correctness. It is important, she wrote, that such investigations "do not fall at the first hurdle, as appears to have happened with previous, similar government-led reviews. Without powers to subpoena witnesses, any independent review — no matter how well intentioned — will be another lost opportunity."
Cox summed it up this way:
"The government's response will be a litmus test of the extent to which it genuinely upholds the principle of equality before the law or is so dominated by the fear of 'giving offense' that it will continue to allow these women to suffer in ways which would make our suffragettes turn in their graves."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Assad looses ISIS against Palestinians trapped in Yarmouk camp - a sinister new partnership
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 8, 2015
Obama’s rapprochement with Iran and its Middle East allies has produced an incredibly sinister new twist in the Syrian war as it enters its fifth year. The atrocity-ridden conflict finds 16,000 Palestinians trapped in horrible conditions in the Yarmouk refugee camp of Damascus and beset by two enemies: the Islamic State and the President Bashar Assad’s army.
The world has been shown three players in the vicious Yarmouk contest: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, whose jihadis are slashing through the refugee camp and massacring its Palestinian inmaes, the second player, and the Syrian army, the third, which appears to be fighting to keep the Islamists from reaching central Damascus. The camp lies 8.5 km from Assad’s presidential palace.
The Islamists are usually presented as fighting to settle a score with the camp’s inmates, because the Hamas majority is aligned with Iran and Hizballah, ISIS’s deadliest foes.
But even this evil scenario is not crazy enough to cover the new patchwork of alliances revealed here by debkafile’s military and intelligence sources.
Syrian troops were actually directed by Assad to open the roads to Damascus and give the Islamists a free path to their Palestinian victims. This saved ISIS the need to detach substantial strength from other fronts for its Yarmouk operation.
ISIS is winning its cheapest victory yet as a result of a secret understanding reached by the Syrian president with the Islamists’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which evolved from their covert partnership in the oil and gas fields of eastern Syria.
When Al Baghdadi captured 90 percent of those fields last year, Assad was short of military strength to dislodge the invaders without diluting the forces fighting on more important strategic fronts, such as Damascus, the capital, Deraa in the South and Aleppo in the north. So the Syrian ruler cold-bloodedly negotiated an understanding with the ISIS caliph on four points:
1. The Syrian army and air force would abstain from attacking ISIS positions and also refrain from any effort to recapture the fields.
2. ISIS would pump out the oil and gas and transfer these products to Damascus, which would then use its distribution facilities to sell the fuel on the black market after retaining a portion for domestic consumption.
3. Damascus and the Islamists would share out the revenue between them. Last year, ISIS was earning $2-4 million a day, an income which went far toward bankrolling the terrorist group’s war operations.
4. Syrian power stations would keep Islamist bases supplied with electricity.
The Syrian ruler then decided, our sources report, to build on this alliance as an opportunity for another move: The outsourcing of some of his war challenges. The plan was for Assad to control from afar the action conducted by the jihadis without having to put Syrian boots on the ground.
The Yarmouk operation was the first tryout of Assad’s battlefield ties with the Islamists.
The Syrian ruler had three goals in mind when he targeted the Palestinians:
(a) To show his closest allies Iran and Hizballah that he was not totally reliant on them for war support, but retained a free hand to fight on without them. (b) To punish the Palestinian Hamas, which rules the Yarmouk camp, for withholding its support from his regime during the entire civil war.
Hamas needed to understand that the group’s reconciliation with Tehran and Hizballah did not count as absolution in Damascus. Assad had a separate accounting of his own with the Palestinian extremists.
(c) Assad gained a new lease of life from Washington’s turnabout toward recognizing the legitimacy of his presidency (signaled by US Secretary of State John Kerry’s acceptance of Bashar Assad as part of any peace moves for Syria). He also exploited US acceptance of Iran’s expansionist designs in the region as a point in his favor.
The Syrian ruler decided he felt confident enough to make the Palestinians his high card in his games with Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Assad wanted them all to understand that he was riding high enough to control the fate of the Palestinians: It was up to him to decide whether to save them or throw them to the wolves - which he did by letting ISIS loose against them.

Protectorates’ of the post-Lausanne Era
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 8 Apr, 2015
Two thoughts came to my mind after listening to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, then US President Barack Obama and the following day Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speak on the Iran nuclear deal.
The first thought was that all agreed that what was decided in Lausanne was an “achievement.” This was surprising given the fact we had heard for days on end that “sticking points” threatened to derail the whole negotiating process. The discussions were said to be concentrating on technical issues and sanctions relief without touching on politics. Negotiators talked a lot about technical details that are barely understood by ordinary people, though they mean much to a country hoping to join the “nuclear club.” Sanctions were also an important issue, especially as the Tehran regime sees them as an economic blockade aimed at defeating it politically.
The second thought was: why does Iran need nuclear capabilities—not to mention nuclear weapons—when the international community has tacitly recognized the regional status it was seeking when it raised the banner of “exporting revolution” in the early days of Khomeini’s takeover? The only difference we see today is that Tehran’s rulers do not need to cover their hegemony project with an Islamic veneer. Their project is now uncovered as “Persian hegemony,” proven by no less than the controversial words of Ali Younesi, President Rouhani’s adviser, who described the Iraqi capital Baghdad as the “capital of the Iranian Empire”!
Throughout the last few years Iranian nuclear negotiators have been negotiating like shrewd hagglers in a bazaar. They were later emboldened by the realization that they were dealing with an American administration that has turned the classic Washington strategy for the Middle East upside down. In fact, it is worth remembering too that as the nuclear negotiations were taking place, Washington and Tehran were secretly talking in Muscat, keeping Washington’s European and Arab “allies” in the dark. These Muscat talks were most likely aware of the political map in the Arab Middle East where three Arab countries have fallen to Iran’s hegemony.
The early signs of Washington’s change of direction, at least vis-à-vis Iran, became clear after President Barack Obama gave two frank interviews with American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg last year. Obama was outspoken in blaming America’s Arab Sunni allies, saying: “I think that there are shifts that are taking place in the region that have caught a lot of them off guard. I think change is always scary,” adding, “What I’ve been saying to our partners in the region is ‘We’ve got to respond and adapt to change’.”
Then the full implications of this change of direction were confirmed when the Obama administration agreed to take part in military operations in support of the pro-Iranian Iraqi government against the onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This came after three years of consistently refusing to establish safe havens and enforce no-fly zones in Syria in order to protect civilians, even after Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons and indiscriminate shelling in the form of barrel bombs.
In his speech after the “agreement” in Lausanne, Obama was keen to sound cautious and reserved in his moment of “achievement,” but his reservation hardly convinced those who are now fully aware of what he is really seeking. Still, perhaps the most significant part of his speech was his confirmation that, in spite of the agreement with Tehran, Washington would remain committed to the security of its “allies.” First and foremost, of course, is Israel, to whose security America will always be committed regardless of the differences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then came the turn to reassure the Gulf Arab states (particularly members of the Gulf Cooperation Council) of America’s commitment to their protection against aggression, and invite their leaders to a Camp David summit scheduled soon.
Well, the problem is neither here nor there; i.e. it is not with those whom Obama choses to reassure, but rather the unlucky ones he has chosen to discard and ignore.
The American president did not say a word about Iraq, Syria and Yemen where Iran is fighting on the ground, nor did he mention Lebanon which is virtually occupied by Iran’s Hezbollah and remains without an elected president because Hezbollah insists on appointing its own puppet to the post. The capitals of all four countries that were totally absent from Obama’s speech are said to be under Iranian control, according to Tehran officials.
A few years ago an Arab monarch warned of what he described as the “Shi’ite Crescent” being established by Iran in the Fertile Crescent region (Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon), which was later rightly corrected to “Persian Crescent”; a much more precise description. Later, an Arab president—now ex-president—criticised what he considered to be “some Arab Shi’ites’ full loyalty to Iran.”
During this period too, just before the now dead and buried “Arab Spring,” Iran’s aggressive expansionism accelerated in several Arab countries, as did its agitation, weapons build-up and interference in their internal affairs, in addition to outbidding Arab governments—even the Palestinian leadership—on issues like the “liberation of Palestine” and “fighting against America and Israel.”
However, the so-called “Arab Spring” brought with it upheavals and unpleasant experiences that uncovered how unhealthy Arab politics is, and how bad long-term dictatorships were, especially in terms of the damage they wreaked in their respective countries.
Consequently, the anathema of extremist terrorism appeared as a result of deep despair, frustration, the collapse of institutions, discredited national and nationalist slogans, and doubting everything and rejecting every opposing view. The terrible overall situation, alas, pushed many to find excuses for, and even empathize with, this damaging phenomenon. Sympathizers did not realize that this is exactly what their enemies hoped they would do in order to pigeon-hole them all as terrorism supporters; consequently making them a target in the global war on terrorism launched by the international community.
President Obama’s words about “protecting” America’s Arab allies while giving Iran the green light to conquer and occupy other Arab countries is a dangerous and destructive policy. We find ourselves faced with the scenario of protecting Arab countries surrounded from the north and the south by two “Persian Crescents.”
Are we about to accept being turned into ‘protectorates’ after thinking of our countries for some time as independent states?

Obama faces Congress defiance over Iran deal
By Susan Cornwell and David Lawder | Reuters Washington
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
Democrats are aligning with Republicans to support a bill giving Congress the opportunity to approve or reject sanctions relief in an Iran nuclear deal, and are close to forming a veto-proof majority that U.S. President Barack Obama says could undermine the delicate final stage of negotiations.
The support for the legislation by lawmakers in Obama's party illustrates the depth of concern in Washington over the threat posed by Iran and the concern of many lawmakers that they are being shut out of the process to contain it.
In the wake of last week's announcement of an initial accord between Tehran and major world powers, senators are reaffirming their backing for the bipartisan bill and seeking ways to make the bill more palatable for the White House.
The Democrats, along with Republicans who control Congress, are pressing ahead despite White House claims that Obama alone has the power to negotiate and implement the evolving agreement that would see Iran curb its nuclear program in exchange for phasing out crippling sanctions. The deadline for a final deal is June 30.
The White House confirmed on Tuesday that Obama intended to veto the bill in its current form.
Even though Congress is in the midst of a spring break, Democratic senators have been toiling on the bill being crafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, that could be approved by the panel next week.
“There's no way that Congress should allow the congressional sanctions regime to be negotiated away without saying a word,” Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who helped Corker write the legislation but who also supports the administration's nuclear negotiations with Iran, told Reuters.
Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the most influential Democrats and a co-sponsor of Corker's bill, has reaffirmed his support for a congressional role.
"I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur," he said on Monday.
Schumer, who is Jewish and represents New York with its more than 1.5 million Jews, is the third-ranking Senate Democrat and is expected to take over the party leadership in the chamber in 2017. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has railed against what he calls a "bad deal" and says Iran's nuclear ambitions are an existential threat to his country.
Moves to soften bill
Under Corker's bill Congress would have 60 days to review the agreement, during which sanctions relief would be suspended and lawmakers could vote on whether to approve or reject sanctions measures.
Corker has already agreed to change the wording so that a lack of action by Congress would count as approving the deal, and that Congress could only weigh in on relief of congressional sanctions, not the entire deal. Kaine said those changes were made at his request.
In coming days, the White House and allies in Congress could seek ways to soften Corker’s legislation further with steps such as simply requiring regular reports to lawmakers on progress in implementing the deal, coupled with an expedited process for reinstating sanctions if Iran violates its terms.
Sanctions relief has been one of the key sticking points in the marathon talks that could yet sabotage a final deal. The White House has said sanctions would be phased out but Iran's negotiators have interpreted the accord differently, saying they would be lifted immediately.
The Obama administration argues that the bill would interfere with the talks and deter Iran from signing a deal that it sees as potentially ending decades of tense relations with Iran and possibly fostering broader Middle East peace.
But Obama took a more conciliatory line in an interview with the New York Times at the weekend, saying he hoped Congress could "express itself" without encroaching on "traditional presidential prerogatives."
With most or all of the 54 Republican senators expected to back the bill and nine Democrat co-sponsors, the 60 votes needed to take it through the Senate seem assured. It would likely get a sympathetic reception in the Republican-majority House, and then reach Obama's desk.
Congress could override a presidential veto with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives, in what would be an embarrassing setback for Obama. In the Senate, that would require 67 votes.
In addition to the nine Democrat co-sponsors, one independent has co-sponsored the bill, another Democrat has put out a statement supporting it, and several others have signaled they are open to backing it.
Obama faces a tough battle because at stake is congressional oversight of a potentially landmark deal with a foreign country. Nonetheless, Democrats are warning that they could drop their support if Republicans let partisan politics sneak into the Corker bill.
"If I become convinced...that the bill as amended, given the debate, is really nothing more than a partisan vehicle for killing the prospects for a deal, I won't support that," said Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a Foreign Relations Committee member who has signaled potential support of the Corker legislation.
So far, some leading Democrats see Corker as an honest broker. Senator Benjamin Cardin, who recently became the senior Foreign Relations Democrat said the revised Corker bill was an "orderly way" for Congress to review the agreement, giving it the option to refrain from action and thus let the deal stand. Of the framework deal, Cardin said in an interview with Reuters: "It is too early to predict whether this agreement is the best deal we can get" in keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.

Obama’s apologies to Iran and criticism of Arabs
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
I tried to ignore U.S. President Barack Obama’s interview with the New York Times because I am sure it’s part of his propaganda campaign for the initial deal with Iran. Still, the interview’s impact cannot be ignored. Obama provoked many here in the region, a lot more than he calmed their fears!
Thomas Friedman, one of the Times’ most prominent authors and one of the most knowledgeable about the region’s affairs, interviewed the president. Perhaps this was why the nation’s leader was dragged into arguing his points, instead of justifying them.
What’s strange about the conversation was that Obama commended the Iranian regime and justified its actions, while implying a sense of guilt over what the U.S. had done against Iran.
I don’t know what books the American president reads before he goes to bed or how he understands events of the past three decades. Tehran’s mentality and practices are close to those of al-Qaeda –religious, fascist and hostile towards anyone who opposes their ideology. Tehran’s understanding of the world paints others as believers and infidels. It is Iran that was responsible for much of the violence in the region under the banner of religion - and this was around 15 years before al-Qaeda even emerged.
And as much as Obama was apologetic to the Iranian regime and generous with his gift of a nuclear agreement, he was harsh towards Arabs, and his harshness was unjustified. For example, he said that instead of issuing statements on their fear of Iran, they must stand against the crimes of Bashar al-Assad.
To be frank, I read this paragraph more than once and tried to put it in context, yet I failed to understand its contradictions. The crimes of the Assad regime, which has led to the deaths of a quarter of a million people and displaced more than 10 million is a direct result of the support and interference of Iran, the country which Obama is commending and apologizing to.
I don’t know what books the American president reads before he goes to bed or how he understands events of the past three decades
Then Obama criticizes Arabs because they did not fight against the Assad regime, when in fact it’s his government who prevented them from using advanced weapons to confront Assad’s tanks and stop Assad’s warplanes which have shelled Syrian cities every day!
For four years now, the Syrian rebels have been defending themselves against Assad’s forces by using low-grade arms such as Kalashnikovs and mortars - this is because the U.S. prevents them from buying and attaining more powerful weapons from any other party.
Then Obama criticized his Gulf allies by saying their fears are domestic, as a result of a lack of satisfaction among their people, as well as extremism, terrorism and unemployment. Of course, this is all true and no one denies the presence of domestic challenges. However it does not mean the Gulf will not voice its irritation at the agreement that the Americans reached with Iran and which set the Gulf’s hand free in a manner that threatens it.
There’s no contradiction here. It’s as if we are telling the American president that he does not have to worry about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda because he has national problems such as unemployment and inadequate healthcare. These two issues are not contradictory!
As Arabs, we are not against Obama signing a reconciliation deal with Iran - on the contrary we agree with that because we are the weakest party. Our hope is that we all reach peace and end disputes. However what Obama is doing by lifting sanctions off Iran is that he’s bringing down the wall with the country without restraining it. Meanwhile, Iran sends its forces and generals to fight in Syria and Iraq and funds the Houthi uprising in Yemen.
One of those who read Obama’s interview with Friedman told me that perhaps the president wants his name to make it to the history books, to change in politics like former President Richard Nixon did when opened up relations with China. However the difference is huge. Comparisons with China and Iran are not valid. It’s more like North Korea. China was a country closed on itself and it was not part of wars and terrorist activities across the world like Iran has been doing non-stop for the last three decades.
What’s stranger is that after Obama’s statements were published, the president’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes addressed the Arabs of the Gulf, commending and reassuring them – and thus, some of his statements contradicted what Obama told Friedman.

The Iran Deal and Its Consequences
Updated April 7, 2015
The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.
Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.
Inspections and Enforcement
The president deserves respect for the commitment with which he has pursued the objective of reducing nuclear peril, as does Secretary of State John Kerry for the persistence, patience and ingenuity with which he has striven to impose significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.
Negotiating the final agreement will be extremely challenging. For one thing, no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as “spin.” A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.
Comparable ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria.
Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?
In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue. The experience of Iran’s work on a heavy-water reactor during the “interim agreement” period—when suspect activity was identified but played down in the interest of a positive negotiating atmosphere—is not encouraging.
Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions.
When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?
The agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism, the threat of renewed sanctions, emphasizes a broad-based asymmetry, which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct. Undertaking the “snap-back” of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt “snap-back.” If the follow-on process does not unambiguously define the term, an attempt to reimpose sanctions risks primarily isolating America, not Iran.
The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken.
The follow-on negotiations must carefully address a number of key issues, including the mechanism for reducing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium from 10,000 to 300 kilograms, the scale of uranium enrichment after 10 years, and the IAEA’s concerns regarding previous Iranian weapons efforts. The ability to resolve these and similar issues should determine the decision over whether or when the U.S. might still walk away from the negotiations.
The Framework Agreement and Long-Term Deterrence
Even when these issues are resolved, another set of problems emerges because the negotiating process has created its own realities. The interim agreement accepted Iranian enrichment; the new agreement makes it an integral part of the architecture. For the U.S., a decade-long restriction on Iran’s nuclear capacity is a possibly hopeful interlude. For Iran’s neighbors—who perceive their imperatives in terms of millennial rivalries—it is a dangerous prelude to an even more dangerous permanent fact of life. Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.
If the Middle East is “proliferated” and becomes host to a plethora of nuclear-threshold states, several in mortal rivalry with each other, on what concept of nuclear deterrence or strategic stability will international security be based? Traditional theories of deterrence assumed a series of bilateral equations. Do we now envision an interlocking series of rivalries, with each new nuclear program counterbalancing others in the region?
Previous thinking on nuclear strategy also assumed the existence of stable state actors. Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common, the state structure is under assault, and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?
Some have suggested the U.S. can dissuade Iran’s neighbors from developing individual deterrent capacities by extending an American nuclear umbrella to them. But how will these guarantees be defined? What factors will govern their implementation? Are the guarantees extended against the use of nuclear weapons—or against any military attack, conventional or nuclear? Is it the domination by Iran that we oppose or the method for achieving it? What if nuclear weapons are employed as psychological blackmail? And how will such guarantees be expressed, or reconciled with public opinion and constitutional practices?
Regional Order
For some, the greatest value in an agreement lies in the prospect of an end, or at least a moderation, of Iran’s 3½ decades of militant hostility to the West and established international institutions, and an opportunity to draw Iran into an effort to stabilize the Middle East. Having both served in government during a period of American-Iranian strategic alignment and experienced its benefits for both countries as well as the Middle East, we would greatly welcome such an outcome. Iran is a significant national state with a historic culture, a fierce national identity, and a relatively youthful, educated population; its re-emergence as a partner would be a consequential event.
But partnership in what task? Cooperation is not an exercise in good feeling; it presupposes congruent definitions of stability. There exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives. Iran’s representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order; domestically, some senior Iranians describe nuclear negotiations as a form of jihad by other means.
The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran’s intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states. Iranian or Iranian client forces are now the pre-eminent military or political element in multiple Arab countries, operating beyond the control of national authorities. With the recent addition of Yemen as a battlefield, Tehran occupies positions along all of the Middle East’s strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally. Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran’s hegemonic efforts.
Some have argued that these concerns are secondary, since the nuclear deal is a way station toward the eventual domestic transformation of Iran. But what gives us the confidence that we will prove more astute at predicting Iran’s domestic course than Vietnam’s, Afghanistan’s, Iraq’s, Syria’s, Egypt’s or Libya’s?
Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony. They will increasingly look to create their own nuclear balances and, if necessary, call in other powers to sustain their integrity. Does America still hope to arrest the region’s trends toward sectarian upheaval, state collapse and the disequilibrium of power tilting toward Tehran, or do we now accept this as an irremediable aspect of the regional balance?
Some advocates have suggested that the agreement can serve as a way to dissociate America from Middle East conflicts, culminating in the military retreat from the region initiated by the current administration. As Sunni states gear up to resist a new Shiite empire, the opposite is likely to be the case. The Middle East will not stabilize itself, nor will a balance of power naturally assert itself out of Iranian-Sunni competition. (Even if that were our aim, traditional balance of power theory suggests the need to bolster the weaker side, not the rising or expanding power.) Beyond stability, it is in America’s strategic interest to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war and its catastrophic consequences. Nuclear arms must not be permitted to turn into conventional weapons. The passions of the region allied with weapons of mass destruction may impel deepening American involvement.
If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region. Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order.
Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms. History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves.
**Kissinger and Shultz are former secretaries of state.

Saudi action was needed against the reckless Houthis
Khaled Almaeena/Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
Much has been written about the Saudi-led action in Yemen. Many political analysts have given different views and there are many contradicting assessments of the present situation. However, the kingdom has been very clear in its position and has taken a decisive stand after all hopes of diplomacy and requests for a return to normality and legitimacy were shunned by the Houthi militias. Unfortunately, the Houthis remain emboldened by what they perceive as the strength of Iranian support. They not only removed a democratically elected president and put him and several cabinet ministers under house arrest, but embarked on an invasion of the country.
Yemen is an impoverished state with 52 percent of the people living below the poverty line. It cannot afford to be subject to the foolish antics of a bunch of illiterate highway robbers who are not only shortsighted but who carry out their actions to please their foreign master.
Fate of millions
Saudi Arabia watched and waited. It cannot afford to have an unstable, insecure neighboring country in which an irresponsible and greedy minority play with the fate of millions of Yemenis.
Saudi Arabia... cannot afford to have an unstable, insecure neighboring country in which an irresponsible and greedy minority play with the fate of millions of Yemenis. As such, a decisive action was taken to attack the stronghold of the reckless and dangerous Houthis.
Saudi Arabia took a stand after negotiations with several countries and after coordinating the appropriate line of action. The attack was never against the Yemeni people. It has always been a Saudi policy to have good relations with all Arab countries and to equally have secure and economically stable neighbors. But the events in Yemen were far from that.
The Saudi government has been very assertive in its position. It should be very clear to all that this is not a sectarian war. King Salman has stated that all Muslims are equal in the eyes of the kingdom. Those in the media who are trying to distort the goal of this decisive action should take note that this is a political action and is based on the request of the Yemeni authorities.
The goal of the kingdom is not to destroy Yemen but to ensure a return to normality. It is up to the Yemenis to realize that people like the deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis and others who are playing with the lives of poor Yemenis are the real enemies of Yemen. The country cannot afford to go through further turmoil and engage in civil wars and political unrest. The majority of the Yemeni people want to lead a normal life, and the decisiveness in the Saudi-led action will help them to do that.

Progressive Jewish Leader Bucks Obama's Iran Deal
Wednesday, April 08, 2015/Haaretz
The rejection of Obama's plan by Rabbi Yoffie is big. He is, perhaps, the most prominent left-leaning Jewish leader in the USA
Even Obama admirers, such as myself, will not be cheering this particular agreement with Iran. Part of the reason is that it is not a very good deal. Iran's nuclear infrastructure remains in place, the Iranians have walked away from long-standing commitments, and the Americans have compromised on long-standing demands. But in the final analysis, it is not the specific terms that will most bother U.S. Jews. After years of Iran watching, they know that Iran is an Israel-hating, Holocaust-denying theocracy, and the patron of Hizbullah and other radical groups that are in the business of killing Jews. When in doubt about whether to trust virulently anti-Semitic nations and leaders, the general rule is: Don't. The president argues that the deal offers the best possible means to assure Israel's security. The problem is that he is not convincing. His explanation of what will happen if Iran cheats is convoluted and even embarrassing; even the non-expert knows that what he is proposing, at this stage at least, cannot be counted on to work.
With a weak deal on the table, American Jews want Obama to use the months ahead to forge a much tougher and more effective agreement.
**The writer served as President of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012.