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House Foreign Affairs Cmte. leaders at TIP event: U.S. must increase pressure on Iran

Posted by Tip Staff - February 01, 2017
  • House Foreign Affairs Cmte. leaders at TIP event: U.S. must increase pressure on Iran
  • Analysts believe Iran-backed Houthi attack meant to target U.S. ship
  • New shekels will feature women
  • How to identify smartphone thieves in 14 seconds
    Inside the Beltway. The top two congressmen on the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint event on Wednesday, a few weeks after the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, to highlight the dangerous implications of Iran’s destabilizing behavior and emphasize the importance of pressuring it to abide by the terms of the deal.

    Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), respectively the chairman and ranking member of the committee, were introduced by Josh Block, CEO and president of The Israel Project.

    Royce recalled that he and Engel cosponsored a bill that Congress overwhelmingly passed in 2013 that would have “put the kind of sanctions on Iran that would give us the leverage to get to where we could have a decision made on Iran giving up its nuclear program, not temporarily as this agreement does, but permanently.” It also would have “[forced] a decision on the Ayatollah to either give up his nuclear program or face an economic collapse of the system,” Royce noted. However, the legislation did not advance due to lack of support in the Senate.

    Increasing sanctions on Iran would have been preferable to the path pursued by the Obama administration, Royce observed.

    “What struck me the most” about the Iran deal, he recalled, is that the Obama administration always insisted that Iran would continue being subject to a ballistic missile ban. “Imagine my surprise,” the congressman said, “when we see, on the side of … a new ballistic missile that they tested, the words [in Farsi], ‘Israel must be destroyed.'” In case there was any doubt about the message, it was printed in Hebrew on the other side, Royce observed.

    Engel observed that Iran has continued its destabilizing behavior in the wake of the deal, remarking that on a recent visit to Israel’s border with Lebanon, it was “too easy” see the yellow flags of Iran’s proxy group Hezbollah, which has tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel. He noted that among Israeli leaders, the question of Hezbollah launching another conflict was not “if” but “when.”

    Royce later said the U.S. should broadcast messages supportive of democracy and civil liberties to Iranians, particularly by highlighting the tolerance of similar values during earlier periods in Persian history. He said that such a campaign would mimic the operations of Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, and could possibly bring opposition to the clerical regime to 85 percent, which could be a “tipping point.”

    Bad intentions. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen carried out a suicide bombing against a Saudi vessel in the southern Red Sea on Monday, and U.S. defense analysts assessed that the attackers either believed the ship was American or were launching a “dress rehearsal” for a future USS Cole-type attack. The Houthi attackers shouted out in Arabic, “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews, and victory for Islam,” which is the group’s slogan. Two Saudi sailors were killed and three injured. 

    National Security Adviser Michael Flynn castigated Iran at the White House Press Briefing on Wednesday for its support of the Houthis, as well as its recent ballistic missile test, and said, “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

    The Houthis seized control of the Yemeni government in 2015, prompting a military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries. They have received arms—including missiles—and training from Iran. Last October, they fired missiles at a U.S. Navy vessel and toward Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

    American, French, and Australian vessels have intercepted weapons shipments from Iran on their way to the Houthi rebels. After the capture of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2014, Iranian parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani, who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, boasted that Iran now controlled four Arab capitals, the other three being Damascus, Baghdad, and Beirut.

    Women on the dollar shekel. The Bank of Israel unveiled designs for two new banknotes Wednesday—each featuring a woman. The new 20 and 100 shekel bills will enter circulation by year’s end.

    Hebrew-language poets (or, if you prefer, poetesses) Rachel Bluwstein and Leah Goldberg were selected for the upcoming currency. The NIS 10 bill issued in 1985 featured a portrait of former prime minister Golda Meir, until it was removed from circulation in the 1990s.

    Earlier this month it was announced that Jerusalem street signs would also get a feminist makeover. Signs with female namesakes are being updated to include bios of their inspirational heroines. “Wife to” so-and-so will no longer suffice.

    Passwords aren’t enough to keep hackers at bay. So, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers developed a verification method according to how the user presses the touch screen that can identify a thief in 14 seconds. The research was released to coincide with CyberTech 2017, currently underway in Tel Aviv. Studies have shown that on average a person uses his or her smartphone 4.7 of the 15 hours they are awake. In 2013, 3.1 million people in the US were the victims of smartphone theft, and 68% testified that they subsequently had not succeeded in restoring all of the information that was stolen. (via Israel21c)

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