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For President-elect Trump, a massive Mideast headache awaits

Posted by Tip Staff - November 09, 2016


The Middle East that President-elect Donald Trump will inherit when he assumes office in two months is, as a foreign policy advisor to the last two presidents told The New York Times last month, “seemingly in free fall.”
Among the challenges that Trump will have deal with: wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; a Kurdish push for independence; a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia; Iranian non-compliance with the nuclear deal that it signed last year; and the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Speculation has risen over the past few weeks that there could be a push to influence Israeli-Palestinian negotiations via a United Nations resolution. Trump and his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both stated that they were opposed to the UN imposing parameters on negotiations. They also both identified Palestinian rejectionism as a major obstacle to a peaceful solution. “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families,” Clinton said at the AIPAC Policy Conference in March. Trump echoed this the following day, saying, “You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs. Glorifying terrorists is a tremendous barrier to peace. It is a horrible way to think. It’s a barrier that can’t be broken.”

Iran violated a stipulation of the nuclear deal by exceeding the limit of its permitted stockpile of heavy water, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report obtained by the Associated Press. Under the deal, Iran is allowed 130 metric tons of heavy water, which can be used in the production of weapons-grade plutonium. Iran exceeded their heavy water limit by 100 kilograms. The director-general of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, “expressed concerns” to senior Iranian officials, the report indicated.
This is not the first time Iran has exceeded its heavy water limit. The IAEA reported that on February 17 of this year, “Iran’s stock of heavy water had reached 130.9 metric tons.” In April, the U.S. government paid $8.6 million to purchase 32 metric tons of excess heavy water from Iran.
Iran has been pushing the envelope with regard to the nuclear deal since its implementation this past January in other areas as well. The IAEA reported in September that Iran had been making rotor tubes for centrifuges, a potentially dangerous development. According to the Associated Press, “Any overproduction could hint at possible plants by Iran to expand advanced centrifuge testing beyond pact limits.” This is important because advanced centrifuges are able to enrich uranium at a much more rapid clip than Iran’s currently-operating centrifuges. The Institute for Science and International Security reported in September that Iran was granted secret exemptions to the nuclear deal by the U.S. and other global powers that allowed Iran to skirt restrictions imposed on it. A senior official told the think tank that without these secret exemptions, “some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day [January 16].” The report confirmed that the U.S. and its negotiating partners are planning to maintain these exemptions as well as create new ones.
Furthermore, man-made uranium particles were discovered at Iran’s secretive Parchin military site, which the Obama administration said were likely connected to Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program. A German intelligence report released in July stated that Iran has been making attempts to illegally procure nuclear and missile technology, which would be in violation of the nuclear agreement.

The day of the United States presidential election, the United Nations General Assembly quietly passed ten resolutions condemning Israel. One of the measures—sponsored by Syria’s Assad regime—demanded that Israel halt “its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan.” The resolution passed by 153 votes to one (Israel), with 13 abstentions, including the United States.
“It’s astonishing,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch. “At a time when the Syrian regime is killing its own people by the hundreds of thousands, how can the U.N. call for more people to be subject to Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling, and logically absurd.” Neuer also slammed United States Ambassador to the UN Samantha’s Power for not opposing the ruling.
The resolutions come shortly after UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural body, denied the historical Jewish and Christian connections to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site.
Netflix has picked up Fauda (Chaos), the thrilling Israeli television series focusing on an undercover counterterrorism unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, according to reports. The global streaming site has said it will label the show a Netflix Original Series, marking the first time an Israeli series earns this title. Fauda has scored critical acclaim in Israel. The first season comprised 12 episodes. The second season, now in production, has also been bought by Netflix. The first season followed the story of an IDF commando unit, whose soldiers were trained to assimilate themselves into the Palestinian community. Their mission: to capture a Hamas operative known as ‘The Panther.’ Netflix will air the series in its original languages of Arabic and Hebrew, with English subtitles. The US premiere is set for Nov. 28. (via Israel21c)

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