State of Jerusalem: The Maqdasyin

East Jerusalem Arabs seek greater integration

In Jerusalem, nothing is quite as it seems, and the complex relationships among communities can change rapidly. “State of Jerusalem” is a three-part miniseries that describes the relationships among the various communities in the city.

In this episode, the third in the series: Very quietly, the Arabs of East Jerusalem are learning Hebrew, becoming Israeli citizens, and seeking to integrate. How will the status of the ‘Maqdasyin’ (East Jerusalem Arabs) affect Jerusalem — and Israel?

The series, originally released in Hebrew, was created by Eiv Kristal and Natan Odenheimer and co-produced with Kan (the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation). It was adapted to English by The Times of Israel.

For those who wish to slow down the audio/video, click on the wheel icon (“Settings”) on the bottom-right of the video screen. Click on “Playback speed,” and then select a slower speed. We recommend 0.75 to better understand the commentary.

View episode one of State of Jerusalem: The ‘Secular’ Struggle
View episode two of State of Jerusalem: The Christian Community

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Western Politicians Betray Their Countries To China (Again)

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Inflation in Turkey is at a near two-decade high. Is it part of Erdogan’s plan?

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Can Afghanistan avoid a hunger crisis? | Inside Story – Al Jazeera

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The Taliban Is FAILING in Afghanistan

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Taliban calls on Muslim countries to recognize its Afghan government

https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/taliban-calls-on-muslim-countries-to-recognize-its-afghan-government/

By AFPToday, 9:09 pm  

Taliban fighters in vehicles take part in a military street parade in Maymana, capital of Faryab province, Afghanistan, on January 16, 2022. (Elise Blanchard/AFP)

The Taliban prime minister calls on Muslim nations to be the first to officially recognize its government, as aid-dependent Afghanistan faces economic collapse.

No country has yet recognized the Taliban, with most watching to see how the hardline Islamists — notorious for human rights abuses during their first stint in power — restrict freedoms.

Although the group has promised a softer rule in line with their interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are largely excluded from government employment and secondary schools for girls are mostly shuttered.Keep Watching

“I call on Muslim countries to take the lead and recognize us officially. Then I hope we will be able to develop quickly,” Mohammad Hassan Akhund tells a conference in Kabul called to address the country’s massive economic woes.

“We don’t want it for the officials. We want it for our public,” he says, adding that the Taliban has fulfilled all necessary conditions by restoring peace and security.

But Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi tells the conference that the government “would not sacrifice the independence of the country’s economy by bending to the conditions of donors.”

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Rudy Giuliani among Trump allies subpoenaed by January 6 panel

Committee goes after Trump lawyers, advisers for advancing unsupported theories about election fraud and pushing efforts to overturn results

By FARNOUSH AMIRI and COLLEEN LONGToday, 6:15 am 

In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection issued subpoenas Tuesday to Rudy Giuliani and other members of Donald Trump’s legal team who filed bogus legal challenges to the 2020 election that fueled the lie that race had been stolen from the former president.

The committee is continuing to widen its scope into Trump’s orbit, this time demanding information and testimony from Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn. All four publicly pushed Trump’s baseless voter fraud claims in the months after the election.

“The four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, said in a statement.

Epshteyn in a tweet called the committee illegitimate and its efforts part of a “witch hunt” against Trump and his supporters. The others who were subpoenaed did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Trump’s legal team sought to overturn the election results in the battleground states by filing lawsuits alleging widespread irregularities with ballots and claims by partisan poll watchers who said they couldn’t see everything going on, in part because of precautions taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 lawsuits were filed, mostly in battleground states.Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

The lawsuits were soundly batted down in the courts, sometimes within days of filing. But the legal challenges and the multiple press conferences held by Giuliani and others helped galvanize Trump supporters behind the idea that the election had been stolen, even though Trump’s own attorney general said there was no evidence of widespread fraud, and local officials said it had been the most secure election in history.Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, left, listens to Sidney Powell, both lawyers for President Donald Trump, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, November 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The committee said it is seeking records and deposition testimony from Giuliani, the 76-year-old former New York City mayor once celebrated for his leadership after 9/11, over his promotion of election fraud claims on behalf of Trump. The panel is also seeking information about Giuliani’s reported efforts to persuade state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results.

Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department notified a federal appeals court that it planned to turn over some Trump records sought by the Jan. 6 committee by 6 p.m. Wednesday barring a new court order.ADVERTISEMENThttps://009e8bda435add0d8e82dc2b7f94fee3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Trump sued last year to try to stop the committee from receiving notes and other documents even after Biden waived executive privilege. While the federal appeals court in Washington rejected Trump’s request, the court delayed any release of records while the US Supreme Court considers the case.

The Justice Department argued Tuesday that the appeals court opinion doesn’t cover a batch of records for which Biden waived executive privilege after Trump originally sued. It said Trump had been given 30 days’ notice in mid-December to seek a new stay. The appeals court could still intervene to block any release.

Four days after the Nov. 3, 2020, election, while The Associated Press and other media outlets were calling it for Joe Biden, Giuliani held a press conference at a landscaping company in Philadelphia to announce his team planned to challenge the election results. It was the beginning of a pressure campaign to allot electoral votes in battleground states where Biden won over to Trump instead.Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping on legal challenges to vote counting in Pennsylvania, November 7, 2020, in Philadelphia.

Ellis and Powell also appeared with Giuliani at press conferences, pushing false claims of election fraud, and Giuliani met with local elected officials to push false theories about corrupt voting systems. Powell was eventually removed from the team after she said in an interview she was going to release “the kraken” of lawsuits.

Giuliani even appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom for the first time in nearly three decades to argue an election case. During the course of the hearing, he fiddled with his Twitter account, forgot which judge he was talking to and threw around false accusations about a nationwide conspiracy by Democrats to steal the election.

The lawsuit had been Trump’s best-case scenario to overturn the election using the courts — not because of the facts of the case but because of the number of electoral votes at stake, 20.ADVERTISEMENThttps://009e8bda435add0d8e82dc2b7f94fee3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Judge Matthew Brann wrote at the time. “That has not happened.”

Giuliani was a reliable cheerleader for Trump through much of his presidency, serving on his legal team during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and defending him in repeated television news appearances. But he also found himself personally entangled in Trump’s own political and legal woes.Supporters of President Donald Trump stand outside of the Clark County Elections Department in North Las Vegas, November 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

He was a central character in the first impeachment case against Trump, focused around the former president’s efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Federal investigators last year raided Giuliani’s home in New York as part of an investigation into his own Ukraine work.

And Giuliani spoke at the rally in front of the White House that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection. Like Trump, he suggested the certification of Biden’s victory was an existential crisis for the country and used rhetoric that alluded to violence.

“Let’s have trial by combat,” Giuliani said. “I’m willing to stake my reputation, the President is willing to stake his reputation, on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there.”

His speech came after dozens of judges — including the US Supreme Court, with three Trump nominees — rejected every significant claim of alleged voter fraud brought by Giuliani and other lawyers. More than a year later, there still is no evidence of criminality. Even a widely criticized review ordered by Republicans in Arizona, one of the states Biden flipped to Democrats in 2020, did not produce proof to support Trump’s false claims.

The nine-member panel is also demanding information from Ellis, a legal adviser who the lawmakers say reportedly prepared and circulated two memos that analyzed the constitutional authority for then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject or delay counting the electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors. Pence said he had no such authority.

Besides Giuliani, Powell was the most public face of Trump’s attempts to contest the election, routinely making appearances on behalf of the president.ADVERTISEMENThttps://009e8bda435add0d8e82dc2b7f94fee3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

In numerous interviews and appearances post-election, Powell continued to make misleading statements about the voting process, unfurled unsupported and complex conspiracy theories involving communist regimes and vowed to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.

Powell and another pro-Trump lawyer — Lin Wood, not yet named by the committee — were eventually ordered to pay $175,000 by a court after they filed frivolous election lawsuits in Michigan.

The last person subpoenaed Tuesday by the committee is Epshteyn, a former Trump campaign strategic adviser, who reportedly attended meetings at the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to the insurrection. The committee said Epshteyn had a call with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, to discuss options to delay the certification of election results in the event of Pence’s unwillingness to deny or delay the process.

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‘THEY DON’T WANT TO OPERATE ALONE’

Despite deadly oil field strike by Iranian proxy, UAE careful not to escalate

Emiratis are taking care not to blame Tehran after Houthis send a violent message from Yemen; Israel’s offers of support will be well-received

Lazar Berman

By LAZAR BERMANToday, 2:25 am

Screenshot from video purportedly showing fire after drone attack in Abu Dhabi on January 17, 2022. The video could not be independently verified (Screen grab)

Monday’s fatal drone attack on oil facilities in  Abu Dhabi and the Gulf state’s reticence to directly blame Tehran lays bare Emirati vulnerabilities in the face of Iran and its proxies.

The proximate cause of the attack, claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, is no mystery.

The civil war in Yemen escalated over the past two weeks, as the Saudi-led coalition undertook a major offensive to capture strategic provinces in central Yemen. The UAE-backed Giants Brigades militia played a central role in the capture of the oil-rich Shabwa Governate.

Since they revealed their drone capabilities in 2017, the Houthis have focused their attacks on the Saudis, not the UAE. Still, they made sure to caution the Emiratis against escalation.

“Targeting the UAE depends on military developments on the western front,” said a Houthi-allied journalist in 2019. “There is an understanding with Abu Dhabi not to escalate the situation in western Yemen through their allies. Otherwise, Houthis will have a strong response and will come after Abu Dhabi’s ports and airports.”Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

The Houthis clearly feel that the Emiratis recently violated understandings between the sides, even after they seized a UAE-flagged ship in the Red Sea, where it is still being held.

Though the UAE says it withdrew its military forces from Yemen in February 2020, it still backs tens of thousands of proxy fighters in the civil war. It also controls strategic Yemeni islands, and is building ports and airfields.

Abu Dhabi is also increasingly involved in internal Yemeni politics.ADVERTISEMENTArmed Houthi fighters attend the funeral procession of Houthi rebel fighters who were killed in recent fighting with forces of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, in Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

“The timing was not surprising actually, because things have been moving toward escalation,” said Moran Zaga,  an expert on the Gulf region at Mitvim — The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

“Clearly it’s a message from Yemen to the Emirates on the costs of escalation inside the country,” said Katherine Zimmerman, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Still, she said, viewing the attacks solely within the context of the conflict in Yemen is short-sighted. “That comes from the Houthis increasing alignment with Iran and its axis of resistance, and the growing threats we see from the Houthis to other regional actors, including Israel.”

The Houthi relationship with Iran is different than that of other proxies, as they see themselves more as partners with the Islamic Republic. But Houthi interests are increasingly allied with Iran, said Zimmerman, and they have adopted Iranian narratives about the West’s malign influence in the region.Illustrative: The remains of an Iranian Qasef-1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, used as a one-way attack UAV to dive on targets and then detonating its warhead, which was fired by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia, according to then-US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during a press briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, December 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Moreover, Iran’s support for the Houthis goes well beyond military backing. Tehran provides money, media training, and diplomatic cover.

Tehran’s role

Most analysts believe that though the attacks were directed by the Houthis, Tehran had some involvement.ADVERTISEMENThttps://3eec66eaf6ad69b09a7ff245ae1d41cc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“I think they at least had to inform Iran, to get some sort of approval,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “But the initiative here, and the trigger, the rationale is Yemeni.”

But Iran might have had more involvement than most assume. Shortly after the attack, a Houthi delegation met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran. They met Iran’s Foreign Minister in Oman days before to discuss the fighting in Yemen.

Moreover, the Houthis have claimed attacks in the past that many believe were carried out by Iran.” Many recalled the attack against the Aramco facilities in Abqaiq in September 2019, for which the Houthis claimed responsibility, but with which a United Nations committee later disagreed,” pointed out Carnegie Middle East Center scholar Ahmed Nagi.During a trip organized by the Saudi information ministry, workers fix the damage in Aramco’s oil separator at processing facility after the September 14 attack in Abqaiq, near Dammam in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, September 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

“It’s hard to imagine that an attack on that level could be done alone at that distance,” said Zaga. “It’s a pretty primitive guerrilla group.”

The Abu Dhabi strike comes as Iran holds a series of talks with the Saudis, and sits with Western negotiators in Vienna for negotiations on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

“It’s a show of force,” said Guzanky. “This is exactly what they do. On the surface, they have good connections with the Emiratis and everyone is playing nice, but they have leverage on everyone. They don’t declare, but there is a force in Yemen, and elsewhere like Iraq, that serves Iranian interests.”

“This is the Iranian method. We’re good friends on the surface, but under the surface, beware.”

Careful response

The Emiratis seem to be taking care not to escalate in their response, as officials in Abu Dhabi are not mentioning Iran at all in their post-attack statements.ADVERTISEMENT

Above all, the UAE wants to maintain regional stability so that it can continue to shift its economy away from oil and gas. It doesn’t want to throw off talks with Iran, which it sees as a key to calming the region.

In addition, Expo 2020 is underway in Dubai, a major priority for the UAE as it moves its economy into the future.

The apprehensive response is also a sign of UAE weakness in the face of Iranian threats. In addition to Iranian threats to its shipping, now Abu Dhabi must contend with aerial threats from the west.People attend the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020, on September 30, 2021. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)

It chose a similar path after the May 2019 attacks on oil tankers in Emirati waters.  In the ensuing months, the UAE announced it was leaving Yemen, sent a delegation to Iran, and declined to blame Tehran even as their Saudi allies pointed a finger squarely at the Islamic Republic.

“They don’t want to operate alone, because then all the weapons are pointed at them,” said Zaga.

The Emiratis are instead trying to bring together an international coalition to respond in Yemen. After the strikes, the UAE Foreign Ministry website focused on condemnation of the attack from regional leaders.

Shortly after the drone attack, the coalition launched fresh strikes “targeting Houthi camps and headquarters” in Sanaa, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV tweeted.ADVERTISEMENT

A firm US response would embolden the Emiratis, but such a reaction is unlikely. The Biden Administration is determined to come to a deal with Iran in Vienna, and has separated out the nuclear issue from Iran’s support for armed groups like the Houthi.

A time to support

Though Monday’s attack doesn’t directly involve Israel, officials should be paying attention. The range and accuracy of Houthi rockets and UAVs are increasing, and they can strike increasingly close to Israel. Even if they can’t yet hit Israel, the Houthi can disrupt Israeli shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

On a broader scale, the Houthis fit into Iran’s regional designs against Israel, which include creating threats against Israel from new territories.Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) meets with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the latter’s Abu Dhabi palace on December 13, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

With its wealth of experience in missile defense and UAVs, Israel has much to offer its new Emirati partners.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance” that could help to protect against future attacks.

“Israel stands with the UAE,” he wrote in a letter to Bin Zayed. “I stand with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Zayed. The world should stand against terror.”

Even if any aid is turned down, the gesture will not go unnoticed.

“We can earn a lot in our relationship by standing by them in their time of need,” stressed Guzansky.

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Texas synagogue gunman was probed by UK’s MI5 in 2020 as possible terror threat

Domestic security agency said to have received information about Malik Faisal Akram that prompted an investigation, but it was soon shut down for lack of evidence

By AFP and AP18 January 2022, 4:38 pm

Congregation Beth Israel hostage taker, identified as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram. (Courtesy)

The man who attacked a synagogue in Texas at the weekend had been investigated by British security services in 2020 as a potential Islamist terrorist threat, but the probe was closed, according to media reports Tuesday.

US authorities have identified the captor as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, 44. Akram was shot dead at the end of a 10-hour siege in the small town of Colleyville on Saturday, after the four hostages he took were freed or escaped.

On Tuesday British media outlets including The Guardian, The Times and the BBC reported that Britain’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency in 2020 received information about Akram, who lived in Blackburn in northwest England. There were no details on what the information included.

The reports, citing unnamed government sources, said this prompted an investigation, but the probe was shut down again after a little over a month due to lack of evidence that he was a threat. The agency is now expected to review the investigation.

MI5 keeps tabs on around 3,000 jihadist suspects at any one time, and has investigated up to 40,000 individuals in total.Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the termsSWAT team members deploy near Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue during a hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, January 15, 2022. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP)

The four hostages — including a respected local rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker — were all freed unharmed Saturday night, prompting relief in the United States, where the Jewish community and Biden renewed calls to fight antisemitism.

Biden declined to speculate on the motive but appeared to confirm reports that the hostage-taker was seeking the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist known as “Lady Al-Qaeda,” whose detention has been a cause celebre for jihadists.

At one point the standoff involved 200 local, state and federal law enforcement officers massed around Colleyville.ADVERTISEMENT

The incident raised questions about why Akram, whose family said he had mental health problems and was known to have a criminal record, was allowed to enter the country at the end of last year.US law enforcement vehicles sit in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP)

A local Texas aid group said he had spent time in area homeless shelters in the two weeks leading up to the attack, and was dropped off at one by someone he appeared to know.

Akram was brought to the shelter in downtown Dallas on January 2 by a man who hugged him and had conversations with him, said Wayne Walker, CEO and pastor of OurCalling, which provides services to homeless people.

“He was dropped off by somebody that looked like he had a relationship with him,” said Walker, who said they’d turned photos and video over to the FBI.

An FBI spokeswoman said late Monday that they did not have any information they could confirm regarding Akram’s stay at the OurCalling facility. The agency has said there was no early indication that anyone else was involved in the hostage-taking.

Several British media outlets have also reported that Akram was banned from a local court in Blackburn for disparaging remarks he made to staff in the days after 9/11, which included rants about the attacks.

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White House says Texas hostage-taker raised no red flags when entering US

Malik Faisal Akram was checked against law enforcement databases when he landed in New York several weeks ago

By MICHAEL BALSAMOJAKE BLEIBERG and ERIC TUCKER18 January 2022, 11:36 pm

Congregation Beth Israel hostage taker, identified as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram. (Courtesy)

DALLAS (AP) — The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the United States but raised no red flags, the White House said Tuesday.

Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the US at Kennedy Airport in New York on a tourist visa about two weeks ago, officials said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack Saturday in the suburb of Colleyville

Akram was not believed to be included in the Terrorist Screening Database, a listing of known or suspected terrorists maintained by the FBI and shared with a variety of federal agencies, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. Had he been included, it would have been extremely difficult for him to get into the country.

“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against US government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the US government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

She added: “We’re certainly looking back… [at] what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future.”Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

British media, including The Guardian, reported Tuesday that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the investigation was closed after authorities concluded he posed no threat.

Britain’s Home Office did not immediately comment on the reports.

The case illustrated once more the difficulties in identifying potential lone-wolf attackers, even as the US government has made enormous strides in its counterterrorism efforts since 9/11.ADVERTISEMENT

The standoff in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 people 30 miles northwest of Dallas, ended after the last of the hostages ran out of the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed, but authorities have declined to say who shot him, saying it was still under investigation.Law enforcement officials gather at Colleyville Elementary School near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, on Saturday, January 15, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

US President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the hostages, told CBS that he had let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning because he appeared to need shelter.

Cytron-Walker said the man wasn’t threatening or suspicious at first, but later he heard a gun click as he was praying.

One hostage was released hours later, and the rabbi and two others later escaped after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman.

During the standoff, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, an antisemitic Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda and was convicted of trying to kill US troops in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth.ADVERTISEMENT

An attorney in Texas who represents Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.

The investigation stretched to England, where over the weekend police announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. The teenagers are Akram’s sons, two US law enforcement officials told AP. The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, police in Britain said the teenagers had been released without charge. They were detained in Manchester, about 30 miles from Akram’s hometown of Blackburn.

Akram’s family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”SWAT team members deploy near Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue during a hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, on January 15, 2022. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP)

Investigators believe he had initially traveled to New York believing that Siddiqui was still being held there — where her trial occurred — without realizing she had been sent to a federal prison in Texas.

During the standoff, Akram forced Cytron-Walker to call Angela Buchdahl, the senior rabbi at New York’s Central Synagogue, and told him to demand Siddiqui’s release. In at least one subsequent call, Akram ranted and demanded that Buchdahl make efforts to get Siddiqui freed, an official said. Buchdahl called 911 and reported the calls to New York City police.

Investigators are still working to sort through all of Akram’s movements in the US and are reviewing travel, financial and phone records, but they believe Akram may have traveled by bus to Texas, two of the officials said.

Authorities believe Akram bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.

In another major terrorism case, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub in 2016, had been investigated repeatedly by the FBI but not charged. The FBI undertook an internal review of how it handled tips and leads in terrorism investigations.

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Israel hopes to widen Abraham Accords; Iran, Syria commit to China’s Belt&Road TV7 Israel News 18.01

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Founder of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization Talks Breakthrough of ‘Arrow 3’

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Israel successfully tests Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system

Defense Ministry says radar arrays detected incoming ‘target’ and two Arrow 3 interceptors were fired at it, destroying it; trial follows recent Iranian ballistic missile tests

By JUDAH ARI GROSSToday, 6:47 amUpdated at 9:36 am

An Arrow 3 interceptor is launched during a test of the missile defense system on January 18, 2022. (Defense Ministry)

Israel conducted a successful test of its Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system on Tuesday morning outside the Earth’s atmosphere, the Defense Ministry said.

The trial tested a number of “breakthrough” capabilities for the missile defense system, which can be used immediately by the Israeli Air Force, the Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization head Moshe Patel told reporters on Tuesday.

“We have made a breakthrough in every part of the system, in the detection arrays, in the launches, even in the interceptors themselves, so that they match the threats that are expected in the region. There were highly, highly significant technological breakthroughs here that were assessed and can be used by the air force in its operational systems immediately,” Patel said.

Boaz Levy, the president and CEO of the Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the Arrow 3, said the breakthroughs were principally in the area of “algorithms,” the ways in which the systems detect incoming threats and calculate launch trajectories for interceptors.

“I won’t elaborate, but it gives the system more capabilities in dealing with threats,” Levy told reporters.Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

The live-fire test was held over central Israel in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with two Arrow 3 interceptors being fired at the same target.

“The operational radar arrays of the Arrow system detected the target and sent the data to the fire management system, which analyzed the data and fully plotted the interception. Once the plans were completed, two Arrow 3 interceptors were fired at the target, and they completed their mission successfully,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Two Arrow 3 interceptors are launched during a test of the missile defense system on January 18, 2022. (Defense Ministry)
Levy said the launching of two interceptors was intentional and planned in advance, not the result of one failing to shoot down the incoming simulated target. He said the two interceptors had “two different missions” in the exercise, having been given two different flight paths to shoot down the same target. “They were carried out exactly as we planned them,” Levy added.

Patel added that this more closely matches what would happen in an actual barrage and is the first time that two interceptors were launched simultaneously. He refused to comment on the precise altitude at which the interceptors shot down the target, but said it was “deep in space.”ADVERTISEMENT

The Arrow 3 is currently Israel’s most advanced long-range missile defense system, meant to intercept ballistic missiles while they are still outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, taking out projectiles and their nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional warheads closer to their launch sites. It was developed in a joint project between the Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization and the American Missile Defense Agency. Work is underway on the development of a yet more advanced system, the Arrow 4.

The head of the Defense Ministry’s Weapons Development and Technology Infrastructure Administration, Danny Gold, described the test as “a breakthrough that represents a technological leap forward in the capabilities of the defense establishment to renew and to match the emerging threats regionally and on the future battlefield.”

Tuesday’s test followed a number of recent ballistic missile tests by Iran in recent weeks.

In an apparent threat to Iran, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the Arrow test ensured Israel’s ability to take action freely.

“We are preserving Israel’s ability to defend itself against developing threats in the region and allowing Israel offensive freedom of operation against its enemies, from an understanding that the best defense allows for the most effective attack,” he said.

Tuesday’s test was apparently delayed multiple times, likely due to inclement weather, with the testing area off the coast of central Israel being closed to commercial flights twice over the past week. Patel refused to comment on the reason behind these postponements, saying only that certain safety criteria had not been met.ADVERTISEMENT

The Arrow 3 was first tested successfully in February 2018, after months of delays and technical problems. It is considered one of the most powerful weapons of its kind in the world and has been in development since 2008.

Complemented by a number of other missile defense systems designed to protect Israel from short-, medium- and long-range attacks, the Arrow 3 represents the highest level of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense network.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Message from the President Cold Open – SNL :-)

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Tucker: Here comes Hillary

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President Trump holds rally in Arizona Jan 16, 2022

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Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

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Torture in Turkish Prisons: Systematic and Widespread

by Uzay Bulut

  • On December 9, several national and international anti-torture organizations – the Centre for Social Support, Rehabilitation and Re-adaptation for Victims of Torture, War and Violence; Civil Society in the Penal System; Foundation for Society and Legal Studies; Human Rights Association; Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and the Europe Branch of the World Organization Against Torture — issued a joint press release stating that ”torture remains widespread” in Turkey:
  • ”Five years have passed since the Special Rapporteur on torture conducted his visit to Turkey to assess the prevailing situation…. Although the officials in Turkey had stated at the time their commitment to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, the grim reality on the ground tells a different story. In fact, several regressive measures have been implemented that are considered as a significant backslide….
  • ”A rise in incidents of torture, ill-treatment, and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment in police and military custody and in prison over the past years has overshadowed Turkey’s earlier progress in this area. This has been due, among others, to the violation of procedural guarantees, long-term custody periods, and willful negligence that have become a common practice at various levels of the State.
  • ”There is also a steady increase in the use of the anti-terrorism law against individuals by public prosecutors. The concept of ‘terrorism offences’, which is highly problematic regarding its broad and vague definition, has been instrumentalized and misused as a pretext to silence, oppress and criminalize political dissidents.
  • ”According to the data provided by the Council of Europe, Turkey has the largest population of inmates convicted for terrorism-related offences. The country’s prison population rate has increased by 115.3 percent in the last 10 years; this has led to Turkey having the highest incarceration rate of the 47 Council of Europe member countries in 2020.”
  • ”Torture has remained the most dominant human rights problem in 2021 in Turkey… in spite of the fact that it is a crime against humanity and is absolutely prohibited by the Constitution and universal law, which Turkey is a part of.”
  • Political prisoners in Turkey are systematically mistreated and even tortured for having the ”wrong” political thoughts or for being labelled by the government as ”enemies” or ”terrorists”. The situation of sick political prisoners is rarely covered in the mainstream Turkish media. Sadly, the pro-government media seems to view dissident prisoners as traitors or terrorists who deserve death.
  • Many prisoners are incarcerated solely based on false statements by ”protected,” often anonymous witnesses (called in Turkish a ”secret witness”). Thousands of innocent people are rotting in Turkish prisons for being or supporting ”terrorists” when there is no actual evidence against them…. Attempts at defense are also undercut.
Garibe Gezer, a female Kurdish political prisoner who was in solitary confinement in Turkey, recently died in prison after months of torture and rape. Political prisoners in Turkey are systematically mistreated and even tortured for having the ”wrong” political thoughts or for being labelled by the government as ”enemies” or ”terrorists”. (Image source: iStock. Picture is for illustration purposes and does not represent any person in this article.)

Garibe Gezer, a Kurdish political prisoner who was in solitary confinement in Turkey, recently died in prison after months of torture and rape.

On December 9, the administration of Kandıra Prison called the Gezer family and informed them that their daughter was found dead in her cell. Kandıra, located in the city of Kocaeli, is where many politicians, journalists and human rights activists are imprisoned.

The prison administration allege that Gezer ”committed suicide”. Through her letters and conversations with her lawyers and family members, however, Gezer had said that she was kept in a solitary cell where she was systematically tortured and raped by prison guards. The city’s prosecutor’s office has imposed a gag order on the investigation of her death. A disciplinary investigation was also launched against Gezer’s fellow prisoners for protesting her death by applauding.

Gezer’s lawyers went to Kandıra Prison to take the video footage of the moment of Gezer’s death in her prison cell and to meet the prison authorities. However, her body had already been taken to the Kocaeli Forensic Medicine Institute and an autopsy carried out. The authorities did not wait for the lawyers to arrive. Hence, Gezer’s cause of death was not stated in the preliminary autopsy report. On January 4, prosecutors dismissed an investigation into Gezer’s claims of torture and sexual assaults.

Even after Gezer’s death, governmental aggression against her did not end. Her body was taken from the hospital under police blockade. On December 10, activists from various human rights and women’s rights organizations went to Kocaeli’s hospital to collect Gezer’s body for her funeral. The women chanted ”Şehid namirin” (a slogan in Kurdish meaning ”martyrs are immortal”), as they carried the coffin on their shoulders, but the police officers aggressively reacted, yelling: ”What martyr? No chanting! No yelling!”

As Gezer was born in the city of Mardin, her body needed to be taken there for burial. While the coffin was expected to be taken by a hearse belonging to the Mardin Metropolitan Municipality, the vehicle that arrived at the airport was stopped and sent back by the police. The police told Gezer’s family to ”take the coffin to Mardin through their own means”. As a result, her body was placed on the bed of a pickup truck and driven to her home in Mardin. According to the Mesopotamia News Agency, the police set up checkpoints along the road where the hearse was to pass.

In December alone, six other Kurdish political prisoners who were ill — Bangin Muhammed, Abdülerezak Suyur, Halil Güneş, Salih Tuğrul, Ilyas Demir and Vedat Erkmen — died in Turkish prisons. The administration of Tekirdag Prison, where Erkmen was incarcerated, also said the prisoner had ”committed suicide”. His brother, Saim Erkmen, however, said he believed his brother had been executed:

”My brother’s funeral was abducted from us by the police. My brother was not one to commit suicide. The state killed him. To cover it up, they took him to the Forensic Medicine Institute without first informing us and his lawyers… And because they killed him, the autopsy was done in secret from us.”

These political prisoners are not the only victims of abuse in Turkish prisons. As reported in a December 22 article in the newspaper Birgun, political prisoners in Turkey are subject to many human rights violations including prolonged solitary confinement, strip searches, torture, ill-treatment, and book bans, which collectively are ”dragging political prisoners into trauma”. The article states:

”104 detainees and convicts have lost their lives in prisons since 2020, and at least 7 people have died this month. According to rights defenders and many lawyers, the reasons for these deaths include the pressure on prisoners in prisons and the failure to deliver sick detainees to health services on time…. Rights defenders point out that many of these deaths are ‘suspicious’.”

The findings of the ”Rights Violations in Prisons in 2021” report by the Diyarbakir Bar Association issued on December 30 confirmed Birgun‘s report:

”Prisons in Turkey have almost become sites of torture where all kinds of inhuman and degrading treatment, especially violations of the right to life, are practiced… [including] deaths [killings], [unlawful] transfers to other prisons, torture and ill-treatment, solitary confinement and isolation, obstacles before seeing families, obstruction of communication rights, disciplinary investigations, and keeping sick prisoners in prison.”

Meanwhile, Aysel Tuğluk, a former vice chair and MP of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a former co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), has been behind bars since December 2016.

Despite being a member of legal political organizations, Tuğluk was sentenced 10 years in prison in 2018 for ”being an executive of a terrorist organization”. Last year, she was sentenced to an additional prison sentence — 1 year and 8 months — for ”propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”. Tuğluk now suffers from severe memory loss and is evidently incapable of tending to her most basic needs.

In 2017, Tuğluk was exposed to physical and verbal attacks during her mother’s funeral in Ankara as reported by Raffi Bedrosyan. She was released from her prison cell for the occasion, but eventually prevented from burying her mother, who practiced the Alevi religion:

‘[A]]group of 30 fanatical ultranationalists showed up at the grave site with a tractor, chanting slogans such as ‘These are Turkish lands, these are not Armenian lands,’ ‘Burial of Alevis, Armenians, and Kurds is not allowed here,’ ‘Seeds of Armenian[s] not allowed in a Turkish cemetery,’ and more ominously, ‘If you don’t remove this coffin, we will shred it to pieces.’

”Soon the mob increased to 100 people, and they started throwing stones at the mourners, including Tuğluk. Although many police officers were present, they simply watched the mob without interfering. In fact, several attackers seemed to know the officers and addressed them by name.”

The funeral was moved, but without Tuğluk, who was sent back to prison.

Tuğluk’s lawyer, Reyhan Yalçındağ, says that the attack at her mother’s funeral marked the beginning of the decline of her health and eventually led to the memory loss from which she currently suffers.

Meanwhile, doctors at the Kocaeli School of Medicine examined Tuğluk for eight months and stated that, due to her chronic disease, the serving of her sentence should be deferred. The government-funded Forensic Medicine Institute announced, however, that Tuğluk could get medical treatment in prison. On September 3, based on the report by the Forensic Medicine Institute, Kocaeli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office rejected the request for a deferral. As a result, Tuğluk remains in prison.

The Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association issued a statement calling for her release:

”In the Kocaeli University Forensic Medicine report dated July 12, 2021, it was clearly stated that Tuğluk has ‘dementia’ and that she needs the help of others to survive. The life of Tuğluk, whose disease is rapidly progressing, is put at risk.”

On December 9, several national and international anti-torture organizations — the Centre for Social Support, Rehabilitation and Re-adaptation for Victims of Torture, War and Violence; Civil Society in the Penal System; Foundation for Society and Legal Studies; Human Rights Association; Human Rights Foundation of Turkey; and the Europe Branch of the World Organization Against Torture — issued a joint press release stating that ”torture remains widespread” in Turkey:

”Five years have passed since the Special Rapporteur on torture conducted his visit to Turkey to assess the prevailing situation and challenges concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Although the officials in Turkey had stated at the time their commitment to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, the grim reality on the ground tells a different story. In fact, several regressive measures have been implemented that are considered as a significant backslide in terms of tackling impunity and guaranteeing basic human rights.

”A rise in incidents of torture, ill-treatment, and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment in police and military custody and in prison over the past years has overshadowed Turkey’s earlier progress in this area. This has been due, among others, to the violation of procedural guarantees, long-term custody periods, and willful negligence that have become a common practice at various levels of the State.

”There is also a steady increase in the use of the anti-terrorism law against individuals by public prosecutors. The concept of ‘terrorism offences’, which is highly problematic regarding its broad and vague definition, has been instrumentalized and misused as a pretext to silence, oppress and criminalize political dissidents. According to the data provided by the Council of Europe, Turkey has the largest population of inmates convicted for terrorism-related offences. The country’s prison population rate has increased by 115.3 percent in the last 10 years; this has led to Turkey having the highest incarceration rate of the 47 Council of Europe member countries in 2020.”

On December 10, which is also internationally known as Human Rights Day, Turkey’s Human Rights Association and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey issued a joint statement, saying:

”Torture has remained the most dominant human rights problem in 2021 in Turkey as well in spite of the fact that it is a crime against humanity and is absolutely prohibited by the Constitution and universal law, which Turkey is a part of. Acts of torture and ill-treatment at official custodial places as well as extra-custodial places, in the streets and outdoors or in spaces like homes and offices along with the ”extreme and disproportionate interference” of the law enforcement amounting to the level of ”torture” in assemblies and demonstrations have come to bear a novel dimension and intensity. One can argue that the whole country has virtually become a space of torture today as a result of the political power’s mode of government based on repression and control.

”It is also quite alarming that enforced disappearances/abductions, which account for one of the most disgraceful human rights violations in recent history and qualify as a crime against humanity, have also been witnessed in 2021 and the number of such cases has gone up again since 2016 when the state of emergency was declared.

”Prisons, which are an unmediated sign of a state’s respect for human rights, have become extremely overcrowded today as a result of the political power’s abuse of law as an instrument of repression and intimidation in Turkey. Prisons are places where gross and serious violations are committed ranging from the right to life to torture, and to right of access to healthcare.”

Political prisoners in Turkey are systematically mistreated and even tortured for having the ”wrong” political thoughts or for being labelled by the government as ”enemies” or ”terrorists” The situation of sick political prisoners is rarely covered in the mainstream Turkish media. Sadly, the pro-government media seems to view dissident prisoners as traitors or terrorists who deserve death.

Even the dead bodies of political prisoners are not respected by the government. In many cases, autopsies are done without the presence of the prisoners’ lawyers or family members. Many prisoners are incarcerated solely based on false statements by ”protected,” often anonymous witnesses (called in Turkish a ”secret witness”). Thousands of innocent people are rotting in Turkish prisons for allegedly being or supporting ”terrorists” when there is no evidence against them that could reasonably be considered ”terrorism.” The ”terrorism” charges brought against those defendants are extremely vague and imprecise. Attempts at defense are also undercutAccording to Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders:

”In Turkey human rights lawyers are particularly targeted for their work representing human rights defenders, victims of human rights violations, victims of police violence and torture, and many people who simply express dissenting opinions.”

These oppressive measures, which operate systematically across Turkey, appear primarily designed to lead to the punishment and destruction of those who might criticize or challenge the government.

Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

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Arabs ‘Frustrated’ With Biden’s Iran Policy

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • The Biden administration’s position ”raises a question mark about the seriousness of American efforts to save the world from Iranian threats…. The Iranian regime insists on adopting, supporting and arming terrorist entities in order to continue committing crimes and violations that destabilize the security and stability…in the region.” — Al-Yaum, Saudi Arabia, December 23, 2022.
  • ”Iran’s interventions in neighboring countries… Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain and Kuwait, have become clear and tangible….” — Adnan Salman, Iraqi military expert, Azzaman, January 8, 2022.
  • Iran boasted that it occupies four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Beirut, Sana’a and Damascus. ”The Iranians have turned these Arab capitals into bases for its armed militias, providing them with money, weapons and everything they need to assert Iran’s hegemony over the region.” —Abdel Aziz Khamis, Saudi writer and political analyst, Sky News Arabia, January 6, 2022.
  • ”The Ansar Allah group in Yemen [the Houthis], Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hezbollah Brigades and Sayed al-Shuhada Brigades and other gangs in Iraq, as well as other brutal gangs in the Syrian and Palestinian territories, have served as tools that allowed Tehran to interfere in the affairs of these countries and threaten others.” — Abdel Aziz Khamis, Sky News Arabia, January 6, 2022.
  • ”What Iran is doing is tantamount to an open war against the Arabs.” — Saleh Al-Qallab, former Jordanian minister of information, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, January 6, 2020.
  • ”Iran is interfering in the region with the aim of dominating it…. The current Lebanese model of Iran’s hegemony through Hezbollah is the model that Iran aspires to and plans for in all the Arab countries.” — Former Kuwaiti Minister of Information and Culture Saad Bin Tefla Al-Ajami, Independentarabia.com, December 31, 2021.
  • The Biden administration refuses to disclose information about the negotiations that could ”pose grave dangers” to the US. ”The Biden administration argues that making this information available may harm American national security and reveal intelligence sources. This excuse is flimsy and weak. Here is the clear truth: the weak Biden administration is striving to reach an agreement [with Iran] at any cost to beautify its image in front of the Americans.” — Emil Amin, Egyptian writer, Al-Arabiya, January 7, 2022.
  • These Arabs, in short, are saying that they view Iran and the United States, and not Israel, as the major threats to their security and stability.
  • It now remains to be seen whether the Biden administration and the other parties negotiating with the mullahs will heed the voices coming from the Arab world — or continue to allow the mullahs to hoodwink them by having the US sanctions lifted while Tehran continues to advance its plans to obtain nuclear weapons and extend its control to more Arab countries.
It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration and the other parties negotiating with Iran’s mullahs will heed the voices coming from the Arab world — or continue to allow the mullahs to hoodwink them by having the US sanctions lifted while Tehran continues to advance its plans to obtain nuclear weapons and extend its control to more Arab countries. (Image source: iStock)

Syrian-born TV host Faisal Al-Kasim recently asked his 5.9 million followers on Twitter the following: ”Which is better, Israel’s reputation or Iran’s reputation in the [Middle East] region?” The result of the poll showed that 74.8% viewed Israel as having a better reputation as opposed to 25.2% in favor of Iran.

The next day, Al-Kasim, who hosts a popular debate show on the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera network called The Opposite Direction, conducted another survey on Twitter. This time, he asked his followers: ”Do you support the Israeli bombing of Iran and its militias in Syria?”

According to the results of the poll, 77.8% said they supported the Israeli military strikes, while only 22.2% voiced opposition.

Al-Kasim’s findings did not come as a surprise to many Arabs, especially those living in the Gulf states, who continue to express deep concern over Iran’s ongoing meddling in their internal affairs.

This concern is being expressed as the talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are taking place in Vienna between Iran and world powers that are signatories to the deal.

The Iranians are demanding the complete lifting of sanctions imposed by the US after its unilateral withdrawal from the deal in 2018, as a precondition for reaching a new agreement with the world powers.

Many Arabs, however, are worried about the Europeans’ and Biden administration’s perceived appeasement of the mullahs in Tehran.

Referring to remarks by US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley, who told CNN that ”at some point in the not-so-distant future, we will have to conclude that the JCPOA is no more, and we’d have to negotiate a wholly new different deal,” the Saudi newspaper Al-Yaum described the statements as ”frustrating messages that reflect the overall American position towards the Iranian escalation.”

The newspaper said that the Biden administration’s position ”raises a question mark about the seriousness of American efforts to save the world from Iranian threats.”

”The Iranian regime insists on adopting, supporting and arming terrorist entities in order to continue committing crimes and violations that destabilize the security and stability and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the region.”

According to Iraqi military expert Adnan Salman:

”Iran’s interventions in neighboring countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain and Kuwait have become clear and tangible… Iran created many supporters for it in these countries to implement its old policy of exporting the [Islamic] revolution.”

Saudi writer and political analyst Abdel Aziz Khamis pointed out that since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran’s ”expansionist steps” in the region increased. The Iranian intervention, Khamis said, reached its climax when Iran boasted that it occupies four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Beirut, Sana’a and Damascus:

”The Iranians have turned these Arab capitals into bases for its armed militias, providing them with money, weapons and everything they need to assert Iran’s hegemony over the region… The Ansar Allah group in Yemen [the Houthis], Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hezbollah Brigades and Sayed al-Shuhada Brigades and other gangs in Iraq, as well as other brutal gangs in the Syrian and Palestinian territories, have served as tools that allowed Tehran to interfere in the affairs of these countries and threaten others.”

Like other Arab commentators, Khamis said that he does not understand the silence and indifference of the international community towards the ”aggravating situation of Iranian tampering with the region.”

Saleh Al-Qallab, a prominent Jordanian writer and former minister of information, warned that the ”Iranian penetration of the Arab region has crossed all borders.”

”The situation in this region is not comfortable at all,” he said. ”What Iran is doing is tantamount to an open war against the Arabs.”

Al-Qallab pointed out that the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen has been launching rocket and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. He called on the Arabs to rally behind Saudi Arabia as it continues to face threats by Iran’s proxy.

Former Kuwaiti Minister of Information and Culture Saad Bin Tefla Al-Ajami said that the world powers that are currently holding negotiations with the Iranians in Vienna do not care about Iran’s ”hostile policies” towards the Arabs. ”Iran is interfering in the region with the aim of dominating it,” Al-Ajami remarked.

”Iran is driven by a combination of racist ideology and the absence of an Arab or international deterrent to stop its blatant interference in the [Arab] region. Iran seeks to create a state within a state in the Arab countries. The current Lebanese model of Iran’s hegemony through Hezbollah is the model that Iran aspires to and plans for in all the Arab countries.”

Al-Ajami expressed disappointment over the failure of the international community to move to ”deter the Iranian intrusion.” The international community, whose representatives are negotiating with the Iranians in Vienna over Tehran’s nuclear program, ”is not concerned about [Iran’s] aggressive policies against us,” he added. ”The priorities and interests of the world powers are different from ours, although they are aware of Iran’s destabilizing policies for the entire region.”

Echoing the Arab countries’ growing concern over the current US policy towards Iran, Egyptian writer Emil Amin said that the Biden administration’s decision to negotiate with the Iranians was ”dangerous and intriguing.”

The Biden administration, Amin added, refuses to disclose information about the negotiations that could ”pose grave dangers” to the US.

”The Biden administration argues that making this information available may harm American national security and reveal intelligence sources. This excuse is flimsy and weak. Here is the clear truth: the weak Biden administration is striving to reach an agreement [with Iran] at any cost to beautify its image in front of the Americans.”

Such warnings on the part of Arabs about Iran’s malicious intentions surface each time the world powers and the Iranians resume the nuclear deal talks in Vienna.

These warnings reflect the increasing concern in the Arab world about a deal that would embolden Iran’s mullahs and encourage them to continue their ”expansionist and hostile” policies against the Arabs. The warnings, which have become commonplace in the Arab media, are mainly directed towards the Biden administration.

It is encouraging, nonetheless, to see the growing support among Arabs for Israel’s military strikes against the Iranian-backed militias in Syria. The Arabs seem to understand that Iran’s intervention in Syria has caused more violence and bloodshed there.

Likewise, Israel’s better reputation compared to Iran among many Arabs, as shown by the survey by the Syrian-born TV personality, is a point of light.

These Arabs, in short, are saying that they view Iran and the United States, and not Israel, as the major threats to their security and stability.

It now remains to be seen whether the Biden administration and the other parties negotiating with the mullahs will heed the voices coming from the Arab world — or continue to allow the mullahs to hoodwink them by having the US sanctions lifted while Tehran continues to advance its plans to obtain nuclear weapons and extend its control to more Arab countries.

Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.

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RUSSIA SENDS AMPHIBIOUS FLEET INTO THE BALTIC SEA, SWEDEN PUTS MILITARY ON HIGH ALERT

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Could modern Russian military conquer Scandinavia? (Royal Marine Reacts)

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Sweden Worried by Russia Beefs Up Troops on Gotland

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Russian Ambassador blames tensions on ‘aggressive’ NATO actions

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Russian troops intervene as protests grip Kazakhstan

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Worried by Russia, Sweden to Boost Military Presence on Gotland

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”Ett angrepp mot Sverige kan inte uteslutas”

”Synliga och dolda åtgärder” pågår inom svensk militär , enligt Peter försvarsministern Hultqvist. Foto: TT

”Ett angrepp mot Sverige kan inte uteslutas”

PUBLICERAD IDAG 09:57

Sveriges regering är inte naiv inför det pågående säkerhetsläget, menar försvarsministern Peter Hultqvist (S). Någon förändring i Nato-frågan är dock inte aktuell.

– Vi är inte beredda att inleda något som kan ge skäl för ytterligare upptrappning, säger Hultqvist i Ekots lördagsintervju.

Det spända säkerhetspolitiska läget skapar oro i Europa och nu ökar pressen på den svenska regeringen i Nato-frågan.

Oppositionen har tidigare krävt att Sverige ska uttala en så kallad Natooption och det finns majoritet i riksdagen för ett medlemskap, men enligt Peter Hultqvist är inga av alternativen aktuella.

– Vår linje är stabilitet och militär alliansfrihet. Den regeringen jag företräder svajar inte i den här frågan, säger han i Ekots lördagsintervju.

Hultqvist menar samtidigt att man har ett nära samarbete med andra nationer, som ger regeringen möjligheter att samarbete militärt.

”Sverige är inte naiva”

Under natten mot lördagen anlände soldater och militära fordon till Gotland. Enligt Hultqvist pågår förstärkningar även i resten av landet.

– Det är viktigt att det här läget visa att vi är inte är naiva. Sverige kommer inte att tas på sängen om någonting händer. Det är viktigt att markera och sända signaler, att vi tar den här situationen på allvar.

På frågan om det finns en reell risk för ett angrepp mot Gotland svarar Hultqvist:

– Det är klart att det finns en risk. Ett angrepp mot Sverige kan inte uteslutas och vi har ett spänt läge som inte är bra.

Regelbundna cyberattacker mot Sverige

Under veckan kom rapporter om att flera regeringssajter i Ukraina utsatts för cyberattacker.

Cyberattacker förekommer regelbundet även mot Sverige, menar försvarsministern som betonar att det dock inte rör sig om samma omfattning som i Ukraina.

– Det är ett sätt att störa ett land och underminera en regering. Det är ett sätt att visa att vi kan minsann göra saker som förstör er infrastruktur. Det är naturligtvis oacceptabelt.

Peter Hultqvist (S) om Putins agerande: ”Helt oacceptabelt” Foto: SVT, Alexei Nikolsky/TT
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Big drone over nuclear powerplant in Sweden; Forsmark

Under fredagkvällen flög en större drönare in över Vattenfalls kärnkraftverk Forsmark i Östhammars kommun. Foto: TT

Stor drönare flög över Forsmark – polisen utreder brott

UPPDATERAD IDAG 10:02PUBLICERAD IDAG 09:12

Polisen har inlett en förundersökning om bland annat obehörigt tillträde till skyddsobjekt och brott mot luftfartslagen efter att en större drönare under fredagskvällen setts flyga över Forsmarks kärnkraftverk.

Enligt polisen ska ”någon form av föremål”, vid samma tidpunkt, även befunnit sig över kärnkraftverken i Ringhals, Oskarshamn och Barsebäck.

– Det är ytterst allvarliga händelser, framförallt om vi kan se ett samband, säger Petra Blomqvist, presstalesperson vid polisen.

Vid 20.20-tiden på fredagskvällen larmade en vakt på Forsmark att en drönare, så pass stor att den kan stå emot den kraftiga vinden som då blåste i området, flög in över anläggningen.

När polisen, som bland annat använde sig av helikopter, kom till kärnkraftverket i Östhammars kommun såg även patrull farkosten. Drönaren ska ha rört sig runt Forsmark en stund för att därefter flyga ut mot Gräsö.

I över en timme försökte polisen få fatt på inkräktaren men utan framgång.

– Första iakttagelse från patrull gjordes vid klockan 20.51 och vi tappade kontakten med drönaren klockan 22.10, säger Petra Blomqvist.

Har ni säkrat bilder på drönaren?

– Det vet jag inte just nu.

Andra kärnkraftverk samtidigt

Enligt polisen finns det ännu inget som tyder på att drönaren ska ha landat inne på kärnkraftverkets område, inte heller ha släppt något föremål från luften. Vid samma tidpunkt ska det även ha siktats objekt i luften ovanför kärnkraftverken i Ringhals, Oskarshamn och Barsebäck.

– Exakt vad som hänt där kan jag inte uttala mig om. Men vi utreder ett eventuellt samband, genom nationell samordning, mellan händelserna, säger Petra Blomqvist.

Är Försvarsmakten informerad?

– Det är inga uppgifter jag har just nu.

Polisen – som inte har någon misstänkt – utreder händelserna vid Forsmark som obehörigt tillträde till skyddsobjekt, brott mot luftfartslagen och olovlig avbildning av skyddsobjekt.

Artikeln uppdateras.

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The Ingraham Angle 1/14/22 | BREAKING FOX NEWS January 14, 2022

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Tucker Carlson Tonight 1/14/22 FULL | BREAKING FOX NEWS January 14, 2022

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I’m still standing behind two claimed I’ve made in 2020:The US presidential elections were stolenThe virus originated from the Wuhan lab

I’m still standing behind two claimed I’ve made in 2020:
The US presidential elections were stolen
The virus originated from the Wuhan lab

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CNN isn’t buying Biden’s dishonest spin when he compares New York & Georgia Voting Laws

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Rep. Loudermilk Gives Powerful Speech Voting Rights and Democrats Abuse of Power

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CAUGHT: Pelosi & Schumer’s Desperation Sham Bill

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Pelosi & Schumer’s Scheme to Take Over Elections

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Senator Rubio Joins Fox News to Discuss Democrats’ Federal Takeover of Elections

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Pelosi Compares GOP Efforts To Stop Federal Takeover Of Elections to Insurrection

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Biden & Harris push federal election takeover in Georgia | Wake Up America

Rob Finnerty speaks on President Biden and Vice President Harris visiting Georgia to push the voting rights bill. – via ‘Wake Up America’ on Newsmax Watch Newsmax on Directv 349, Xfinity 1115, Dish 216, Spectrum (see channels), Cox, Optimum, U-Verse 1120, FiOS 615, Suddenlink, CenturyLink 1209, Mediacom 277, Fubo, Sling, WOW!, Armstrong, or the Newsmax smartphone APP. Find your Newsmax cable/streaming provider here: https://newsmaxtv.com/findus Stay up-to-date with the latest headlines at https://newsmax.com Like Newsmax on Facebook: https://facebook.com/newsmax Follow Newsmax on Twitter: https://twitter.com/newsmax Follow Newsmax on Instagram: https://instagram.com/newsmax Follow Newsmax on GETTR: https://gettr.com/user/newsmax Subscribe to Newsmax podcasts for free at http://newsmaxtv.com/podcasts Purchase your Newsmax Gear today: nws.mx/shop

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Ranking Member Lucas Speaks in Opposition to Dems Federal Takeover of Elections

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Democrats Gut Key NASA Policy to Replace it with Federal Election Takeover

Press Release From: House Science Committee Republicans
Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2022

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=59175

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas was joined by Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin and Rep. Young Kim in criticizing House Democratic leadership for stripping bipartisan NASA policy from H.R. 5746 and replacing it with legislation to attempt to seize control of elections from states.
“The majority has taken a practical, bipartisan bill and gutted it, inserting 735 pages of unrelated legislation and forcing the House to vote on it barely 12 hours after the text was released,” Lucas said. “Democratic leadership not only withheld the text of this bill, but they deliberately kept even the subject a secret until the last possible moment. Good policy doesn’t require secrecy and schemes. This is no way to govern. What’s more, by stripping this NASA bill and replacing it with an attempt to impose federal control of elections, they have killed our only vehicle to extend NASA’s authority to lease out underutilized property and save taxpayer money.”
”I am outraged because the Democrats have made a mockery of bipartisan collaboration for cheap political gain,” said Babin. ”A few hours ago, H.R. 5746 was the NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Extension Act, a simple three-page bill that was good for NASA, good for our space industry, and good for our taxpayers, a bill that I was very proud to cosponsor. Now, in the dark of night, this bill has been hijacked and mutilated to become the latest iteration of the Democrats’ federal takeover of our election system – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, the only thing left from this original bill is its number. What’s worse, I can’t even remove my name as a cosponsor. This is no way to govern. Democrats are trying to sell the American people a bill of goods, and I will not support it.”
“The NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Extension Act was a noncontroversial bill to support the public and private sectors of our space industry,” Kim said. “Senate Democrats and Speaker Pelosi hijacked a bipartisan, good-faith effort to support space innovation to move forward with their partisan agenda to take control of elections from state and local officials and give it to Washington politicians. Speaker Pelosi is again undermining good government to ram through her partisan agenda in the dark of night. I came to Congress to fight for commonsense solutions that help the American people. I cannot support the Senate Amendment to H.R. 5746, that is nothing more than a partisan power grab, undermining our elections.”
H.R. 5746, the NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Act, was originally a bipartisan bill to extend NASA’s authority to lease idle or underutilized property to the private sector, state and local governments, and academic institutions. The money NASA receives in return can then be used to offset spending for facilities maintenance and property improvements. Under this program, the commercial space industry benefits from access to NASA facilities, and taxpayers benefit from the revenue these leases bring in to offset NASA’s costs. In 2022, NASA expects to collect $14 million in net revenue from enhanced use leases. The House passed a clean ten-year extension of the bill in December. The program expired at the end of 2021 and without a legislative extension, NASA’s ability to enter new leases will be delayed.

WATCH: Lucas opposes H.R. 5746. “I’d ask my friends in the majority: why are you trying so hard to make me a chairman again?”

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