Daily TIP

The Daily TIP: Amb. Haley Condemns UN Peacekeeper Over Spread of Illegal Weapons to Hezbollah

Posted by Tip Staff - August 28, 2017

Amb. Haley Condemns UN Peacekeeper Over Spread of Illegal Weapons to Hezbollah
Qatar Restores Ambassador, Vows to Strengthen Bilateral Ties with Iran in “All Fields”
Kurds Wave Israeli Flag in Solidarity with Jewish State at Independence Rally in Germany
American Talk Show Host Conan O’Brien Visits Israel for the First Time, Films TV Special

Amb. Haley Condemns UN Peacekeeper Over Spread of Illegal Weapons to Hezbollah

On Friday, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned the UN peacekeeping commander in Lebanon for turning a blind eye to the "massive flow of illegal weapons" to Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon and called for the force to do more to stop these activities, Haaretz reported Sunday.

However, the UN peacekeeping commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, has rejected U.S. and Israeli criticism. He told The Associated Press this week that his force has no evidence for illegal activity in the region, and that "if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it."

But according to Haley, there is no shortage of evidence, including Hezbollah’s own boasts about its illegal weapons stockpile. Beary, to her, displayed "an embarrassing lack of understanding of what's going on." She added: "He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hezbollah is doing," adding that his view of the situation "shows that we need to have changes” in the operation.

Haley previously stated that the U.S. wants to see "significant improvements" to the peacekeeping force, although the mandate of the operation would remain intact. "It's time the Security Council puts teeth in the UNIFIL operation," she said. "We don't need to be giving terrorists a pass."

UN Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Israel on Sunday to discuss with officials Iran's weapons smuggling to Hezbollah. Other items on the agenda include Iran’s presence in Syria, Israel's fight against Hamas, and its policies in the West Bank.

UNIFIL was established in 1978 to supervise the border between Israel and Lebanon. Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, UNIFIL has also been charged with maintaining the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. The terms of UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the war, called for UNIFIL “to ensure that no armed groups such as Hizbollah would move into” southern Lebanon.

Qatar Restores Ambassador, Vows to Strengthen Bilateral Ties with Iran in “All Fields”

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported Sunday that Qatar’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic is back in the job, after arriving in Tehran on Friday. Qatar pulled its representative from Iran in early 2016 after attacks on two Saudi Arabian diplomatic posts following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Qatar’s decision to reinstate the ambassador threatens to deepen the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in decades by ignoring the demands of the emirate’s neighbors---a group of Saudi-led Gulf States---to isolate Iran.

Qatar said in a statement released on Thursday that the ambassador would "return to resume his diplomatic duties,” adding that “The State of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields.”

The reset of ties between the two countries could also benefit Iran’s position in the Syrian crisis by further blurring the lines between Sunni and Shiite allegiances and adding a second Sunni-majority state to its regional network. Qatar and Iran are also expected to join forces to counter-balance Saudi Arabia’s interests on the Arabian Peninsula, including in Yemen.

The diplomatic crisis began in June, when a group of Saudi-led Gulf States, together with Egypt and Jordan, cut ties to Qatar over its sponsorship of terrorism and warm relations with Iran. The boycotting countries later compiled a list of 13 criteria for Qatar to meet to end the diplomatic stalemate, including shutting down its diplomatic posts in Iran.

Doha has a long history of supporting various radical Islamist groups and movements across the Middle East, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and has bankrolled with hundreds of millions radical Islamist opposition groups in Libya and Syria, which has angered its neighbors.

Kurds Wave Israeli Flag in Solidarity with Jewish State at Independence Rally in Germany

At a rally in the German city of Cologne on Saturday, attended by some 20,000 Kurds from different parts of the world expressing support for an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq, the Israeli flag was raised in solidarity with the Jewish state.

One of the flags read “Thank you for your support,” referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment earlier this month when he expressed a “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state. The Prime Minister told a delegation of US Congressmen that the Kurds are “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”

Jahwar Slemani from Iraqi Kurdistan told The Israel Project that he brought an Israeli flag to the rally to express his solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. “Kurds and Jews, we have the same enemies,” he said. “Jews know what it takes to survive as a minority in the Middle East. We have to stick together.”

He recalled how his parents lived side by side with Jews in northern Iraq before they were expelled by the central government in Baghdad after Israel declared independence. “Jews were our friends, our neighbors,” Slemani explained, adding “it is a bond that cannot be destroyed.”

“This is our 1948 moment,” he said. “and I want an independent Kurdistan to have good relations with Israel. Together we can fight the terrorists.”

Another Kurd from Mariwan in Iranian Kurdistan told The Israel Project that waving the Israeli flag for him was “an act of liberation and rebellion.” In Iran, “every year, on Al Quds Day, they burn the Israeli flag and say they want to destroy Israel,” Beshwar Habeeb said. “But Israel is not my enemy. Israel is not the enemy of the Iranian people,” he stated. “It is the regime in Tehran that oppresses us.”

American Talk Show Host Conan O’Brien Visits Israel for the First Time, Films TV Special

American comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien is visiting Israel for the first time, kicking off his trip in Tel Aviv, where he met with Israelis, tasted local food, and soaked up the August sun, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

In a video posted on Facebook, which was filmed Saturday at the port of Jaffa with the Tel Aviv skyline in the background, O’Brien confessed that he has fallen for the “Fantastic, really funny nice people” that he so far encountered in Israel. He added that “all the men are incredibly buff and all the women are beautiful.”

Addressing his plans for the rest of the trip, the comedian said he would visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, located in the West Bank. O’Brien stressed again that while he was looking forward to visiting the ancient places, what he loved most about the country are the people.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the old sites, but the best part is the people. Having these funny exchanges with other human beings all around the world; that I like the most,” he said. Then he joked: “We’re gonna go to Jerusalem, and we’re also gonna go to Bethlehem … I hope I can get a room because Jesus had some trouble.”

Meanwhile, Israelis took to social media to make the most of the comedian’s visit, filling platforms with cheerful messages and photos of encounters with the popular talk show host. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is scheduled to meet O'Brien in Jerusalem on Monday, posted a greeting on his Twitter account.

O’Brien is in Israel to film an episode of his show “Conan Without Borders.” The TV special will be aired on TBS in September.

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