Daily TIP

TIP conference call: Former Obama advisor emphasizes Iran threat and bipartisanship ahead of Trump-Netanyahu meeting

Posted by Tip Staff - February 13, 2017
 
 
Straight from the expert. Ambassador Dennis Ross, a former advisor to President Barack Obama on the Middle East and a veteran diplomat, emphasized the importance of countering Iranian aggression and of maintaining the bipartisan American pro-Israel consensus in a conference call Monday hosted by The Israel Project. Speaking in the context of the upcoming meeting Wednesday between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ross said that Netanyahu will likely emphasize “not just…enforcement of the [Iran nuclear] deal, but that more needs to be done to deter the Iranians and that in fact some efforts should be made to see if it’s possible to renegotiate” the deal’s sunset clause. This provision of the deal “at year 15…allows the Iranians to build as large a nuclear infrastructure as they want, both in terms of quality and in terms of quantity.” This would leave Iran as a “nuclear threshold state in a position where it could move very quickly to turn that threshold status into a weapon status.”

Ross also highlighted Iran’s regional aggression, noting that Iranian-backed “Shia militias…make up for the shortage of Syrian military manpower,” which has allowed the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to remain in power. It is of the highest importance to Israel that Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah not be allowed to set up a new front against Israel in the Syrian Golan Heights. Netanyahu might make a point of stressing the unprecedentedly high level of cooperation that Israel now has with Sunni Arab states and how this cooperation “’vis-à-vis Iran and vis-à-vis ISIS is an asset for the United States and we ought to be thinking about how to take advantage of it.”

Ross was also clear about the importance of bipartisan support for Israel. Netanyahu “is going to want to show that the relationship is not just a relationship with the administration, it’s a relationship with the country.” Ross said that he expects Democrats and Republicans alike to demonstrate their closeness to and support for Israel while Netanyahu is in town.

 
 
Crazy even by Hamas standards. The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas elected an extreme hardliner as its leader in the Gaza Strip. Yahya Sinwar, 55, was arrested in 1988 and sentenced to four life terms in 1989 on charges of terrorism and murder. He was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies and the former head of the Palestinian desk at the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said of Sinwar, “First of all, you have to remember Sinwar is a terrorist…He represents the most radical and extreme line” that exists within Hamas. Michael told The New York Times that Sinwar is affiliated with, and wants closer relations with, Iran; he also is in favor of cooperating with ISIS’ branch in the Sinai Peninsula.

Haaretz reported, “Palestinians who have met Sanwar [an alternative spelling] characterize him as an extremist, even in the context of his organization, and as someone who speaks in apocalyptic terms about perpetual war with Israel.” Sinwar is notorious for having personally murdered Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, and set up Hamas’ internal security and intelligence unit during the 1980s. Avi Issacharoff of the Times of Israel characterized Sinwar's actions as “brutal and violent.”

 
 

Women’s choice. The self-described “feminist” Swedish government sent a delegation to Iran over the weekend—where women lack the freedom of choice to expose their hair in public—and the female diplomats were criticized for succumbing to Iran’s antifeminist dress code.

“By actually complying with the directives of the Islamic Republic, Western women legitimize the compulsory hijab law,” said Masih Alinejad, a journalist and activist who started a Facebook page that invites Iranian women to share photographs of themselves without a hijab. “This is a discriminatory law and it's not an internal matter when the Islamic Republic forces all non-Iranian women to wear hijab as well.”

All women in Iran are required to wear headscarves, a law that is enforced with an iron grip. About 40,000 cars were confiscated in the first half of 2015 because drivers or passengers were not wearing their headscarves properly. Many women were pulled over and beaten on the ground, only to be arrested afterwards.

Last year U.S. chess champion Nazi Paikidize-Barnes, 22, made headlines when she said she should would rather boycott the world chess championship in Tehran than subscribe to Islamic dress, “even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.”

“Some consider a hijab part of culture,” Paikidze-Barnes said in announcing her decision. “But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”

 
 
Putting a scientist to death. Iran arrested scientist Ahmadreza Djalali last year and may now be sentencing him to death, The New York Times reported Monday. The Iranian-born scientist is now a resident of Sweden where his wife resides with their two children.

Djalali, a physician who specializes in disaster medicine and has taught at universities in Belgium, Italy and Sweden, was arrested in April while driving to his family’s house after arriving in Iran for a conference, an Italian newspaper has quoted his wife as saying. His wife said her husband had been charged with the “death penalty for collaboration with enemy states.” Speculation about his charges include his work as a scientist as a professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he may have contacted colleagues from countries Iran considers hostile—such as Israel.

Human rights organization Amnesty International said in a statement last week that Dr. Djalali had been detained at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since his arrest on April 25 and that he had been threatened with the death penalty.

Last month twenty people were hanged in Iran on one day—putting the country’s death toll at the time at 57 since the start of 2017. Most of those executed have been youths.

Former United States Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blasted Iran for its “alarming rate” or executions and lack of improvement made under the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a report released last October.

Ban was “deeply troubled” by accounts “of executions, floggings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, denial of access to medical care and possible torture and ill-treatment,” according to the 19-page assessment, the last one issued before his term expired.

 
 

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