In interview with ‘The National’, US Secretary of State clarifies America’s position on its future military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan
The United States intends to maintain a policy of “maximum pressure” to isolate Iran, while not ruling out a military strike if that is what is required “to keep Americans safe”.
That is the message US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed in an interview with The National, stressing that a “policy of appeasement” with Iran would be detrimental. He also stated that assessing US troop levels in the region is based on “the threats of today, not twenty years ago”.
The National spoke to Mr Pompeo in Abu Dhabi at the end of his seven-country, 10-day trip that focused on US policy priorities. Throughout the interview, he stressed the importance of a “realistic” approach to foreign policy.
He said US President Donald Trump’s national security and foreign policy strategy is “realistic, it recognises the facts on the ground, it doesn’t pretend… it acknowledges that if we get it right in America, if we protect American citizens, we can be a force for good all across the world”.
Mr Pompeo spoke about his and Mr Trump’s commitment to delivering results based on “America first”, saying “it takes an America that’s prepared to engage economically, diplomatically, and only militarily once absolutely necessary”.
When it comes to the Middle East, Mr Pompeo said that strategy “recognises a couple of central facts, first that the primary instigator of instability in the region is in fact the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran and second that Israel could be a great partner for the Gulf states”.
It is based on these two organising principles that the Trump administration has been working with its allies in the region.
On Israel and despite UN Security Council resolutions, Mr Pompeo said his country acknowledged realities on the ground “and we said not every settlement is per se illegal. These are just facts; the world knows this”.
He added: “When you see a policy and American policy that recognises the threat as from Iran, when you recognise that Israel’s effective democracy that is a force for good in the region, you see, countries recognise this through the Abraham Accords mechanism and say: ‘We want to be at peace with Israel.’
”I think the Palestinian people can see that. And so you know, the choices the Palestinian leadership makes, I think, will reflect that central understanding.”
Mr Pompeo was positive about the resumption of talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.
He said: “I was happy with the fact that they now began having more conversations with Israelis. We still need to get them to have a conversation about what the ultimate resolution will be.
”We laid out a vision for peace that proposes some central understanding all based on facts and reality, things that everyone knows will be in that final resolution, there will be debates about precisely how and where and when.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Vik6by8UBiU
”But we laid out a framework that just was very realistic about what I think the whole world expects, and I hope that the Palestinian people will demand that their leadership engage in that conversation. It would be a lovely thing to see them join an accord that looks something like what we’ve seen with the Abraham Accords.”
On Iran, Mr Pompeo stressed that the US has built “an enormous coalition that understood the threat from Iran and its leadership… we have also ensured that we establish real deterrence. We struck down [leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force leader] Qassem Suleimani. We built out an effort to defeat the [so-called] caliphate which was sitting in ISIS which gave space to the Iranians inside of Syria.
”We’ve tried our best to deliver good outcomes for the Iraqi people. So in each nation, we had a set of policies that further continued to recognise that the isolation of Iran was the right approach.”
Mr Pompeo added: “People all across the world, certainly American people, recognise that returning to that failed policy of appeasement presents real risk to the United States. More money in the hands of the ayatollahs can’t possibly lead to more freedom, more security for the American people, or, frankly, more safety for the people of Israel as well. And so we will stay hard at it.”
Last week, media reports suggested that Mr Trump was considering military action in Iran, but was dissuaded by senior US officials, including Mr Pompeo.
Asked whether a strike was being considered, Mr Pompeo succinctly said: “The President of the United States always retains the right to do what’s needed to ensure that Americans are safe. It’s been our policy for four years. It’ll be our policy, so long as we have the responsibility to keep America protected.”
However, there are concerns that Iran will feel emboldened if the US continues with its plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq.
I am hopeful that we can put Afghanistan on a trajectory where America can reduce the risk and costs associated with its commitment there
Mr Pompeo appeared confident that would not be a concern, stating: “We’re going to get it just right in Iraq. We need to do what the Iraqi people want – they want a free, independent, sovereign Iraq. We have two missions there, one to help the Iraqi people get just that, because that’s in America’s best security interest to do.
”They see the freedom of the United States. They want to be alongside of us. I’ve watched these protests in Iraq… they’re not burning American flags. They’re burning Iranian flags. This is because the United States is engaged. When we weren’t, when we didn’t engage, they had a different view of America.”
However, he added that “it is also the case that the Iraqis need to deliver security for themselves. And we have spent a lot of time and blood and treasure assisting them in building out the Iraqi security forces.
”So, along with our coalition partners that we have continued to grow, the Nato forces, they’re now much greater, much more enhanced than they were when we came in”.
Mr Pompeo said that Nato forces in Iraq will “continue to operate there to support the Iraqi security capabilities and we’ll get it just right, we’ll get our force levels right. We’ll get American kids back home, which is absolutely the right direction of travel”.
Mr Pompeo has just signed off on a 45-day waiver for Iraq to continue importing energy products from Iran, in an exemption from the current US sanctions.
“These are difficult, difficult decisions. Every time we impose a restriction, designation or sanction, there are often complexities. There are real lives, human beings that we want to make sure that we don’t impose excessive harm on and so we take that responsibility seriously.
”And so we try to balance it in each case that we’ve provided that waiver. We’ve made clear there were higher expectations for progress with Iraqis, in this case, mostly energy from a dollar perspective, mostly energy where we said, ‘OK, we’ll give you this waiver, but you must invest, you must begin to create systems and processes so that you will become more free, more independent from Iranian energy’.
”We’ve made real progress there over the last 20-21 months, there’s obviously more work to do. I can’t recall when that waiver comes up again. But we will, again, evaluate whether Iraq has made sufficient progress, and we’ll try to get the balance just right then as well.”
In addition to the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq, Mr Trump has also said that he will draw down troops in Afghanistan to 2,500.
Mr Pompeo appeared clear-eyed on the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, saying there were fewer than 200 Al Qaeda fighters still in the country.
On Saturday, Mr Pompeo met the Taliban’s political deputy and head of the group’s political office, Mullah Beradar.
On the same day, there was an attack on the Afghan Presidential Palace in Kabul, as violence continues to escalate in the country.
One of the primary conditions for the political talks with the Taliban had been a “significant reduction of violence” but the attacks on Afghan government and security forces, in addition to educational and civil institutions, continue to rise.
Mr Pompeo acknowledged these attacks, but said: “We want to make sure we get the American effort right, calibrated to meet the threat of today, not one from 20 years ago. But the one for today”.
He went on to say: “That is something President Trump and I are both really proud of; we’ve been pretty realistic. What may have made sense in 2002 doesn’t make sense today. Let’s fix it. Let’s take it on. And there will be glass that has to be broken. And there will be people who cling to the past, but who are unwilling to recognise reality.
”I think that’s Afghanistan. As we stare [at] the terrorism problem, we went there to defeat Al Qaeda, there are fewer than 200 of Al Qaeda left inside of Afghanistan. And we have taken off some of Al Qaeda’s most senior leaders from the battlefield and we will continue to do that.”
Mr Pompeo said the mission of the US in Afghanistan is two-fold, to protect the US from terrorism strikes and to allow for American troops to come home. He explained that “to focus on the number of troops misunderstands the responsibility, the obligation, the duty, the mission, the objective that President Trump has laid out, the mission is to make sure that we reduce the risk of the terror attack ever coming to America from Afghanistan. And second, to make sure we’re not putting our young men and women at risk in ways that are inconsistent with our duty to the families back in the United States of America”.
He added: “We entered into a conversation with the Taliban, to set out a set of conditions upon which we would begin to further reduce the number of troops that we have in Afghanistan. The violence today is lower than it was when we began that conversation. It is not remotely close enough to where it is that they need to be.
”I shared that with Mullah Beradar. I talked to him very much about the need to continue to reduce violence levels; we need to ultimately get to a ceasefire in Afghanistan. It’s the right place from which these negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government ought to be conducted while there’s still killing taking place. So there’s still work to do.
”I’ve watched them make progress, they have the rules and procedures settled. I know the history of long conflicts and peace negotiation almost always take years and years and years. We’re trying to do this in months and months. We have set the Afghan people all across Afghanistan on a better course for them and a safer course for America as well.
“I am hopeful that while it will undoubtedly be difficult, I am hopeful that we can put Afghanistan on a trajectory where America can reduce the risk and costs associated with its commitment there because we have real challenges from the Chinese Communist Party and from Iran, and from other places across the world so that we are structured appropriately to do what President Trump talked about in his campaign right, America First, when we get that right, when we get America First right, we’re more free in America, we’re more prosperous. And we have the capacity to be a force for good all across the world.”
Part of the current administration’s strategy has been to widen and tighten sanctions on adversaries and particularly those aligned with Iran.
Last week, Foreign Policy magazine said that Mr Pompeo was considering designating the Houthis in Yemen as a terrorist organisation.
Asked whether a designation was on the horizon, he declined to elaborate, stating “we’re constantly evaluating what we are going to do with respect to designations. I don’t have anything I can share on that”.
Aramco’s oil production and export facilities are mostly in Saudi’s Eastern Province, more than 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) across the country from Jeddah.
State oil giant Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, said the attack was carried out with a Quds-2 type winged missile.
He also posted a satellite image with the label: “north Jeddah bulk plant-Saudi Aramco”.
Google Maps shows a facility matching that image and description on the northern outskirts of Jeddah.
“The strike was very accurate, and ambulances and fire engines rushed to the target,” Sarea said.
That facility is just southeast of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, an important site that handles incoming Muslim pilgrims en route to nearby Mecca.
Yemen has been mired in conflict since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to restore the Yemeni government removed from power in the capital Sanaa by Houthi forces in late 2014.
Cross-border attacks by Houthi forces have escalated since late May when a truce prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic expired. The Saudi-led coalition has responded with air strikes on the Houthi-held territory.
The Houthis control most of north Yemen and most large urban areas. They say they are fighting a corrupt system.
Sarea said the strike was carried out in response to the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen.
The claimed attack came just after a visit by outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the kingdom to see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The kingdom also just hosted the annual G20 summit, which concluded on Sunday.
‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ host exposes American corporations for teaming up to censor political opponents
Nov. 17, 2020 – This is a rush transcript from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” November 17, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Good evening, and welcome to TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT. So, did you take a moment from your busy life to turn on the hearings on Capitol Hill today with the Silicon Valley CEOs? Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t. You probably didn’t.
No matter how worried you worry about Big Tech and obviously you should be gravely concerned, you may have decided to skip today’s spectacle and fold the laundry or called your in-laws instead, and we don’t judge you for that.
Previous hearings on Big Tech have not produced a lot. Elderly senators who can’t manage to send their own text messages wagging their fingers in the face of sneering billionaire tech oligarchs in San Francisco, all of whom seem to understand that no matter what happens inside the hearing room, they will get to continue doing whatever they want to do because they have got all the money.
We’ve seen that a number of times, it seems pointless. In fact, it seems insulting to the rest of us.
And in the end, today’s hearings may prove just as pointless, we’ll find out. But for one brief moment today, you got the feeling that maybe actual progress was being made. Maybe the good guys might not be entirely lame.
That moment came when Senator Josh Hawley asked Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, about an internal tool that his company has developed called Centra.
Hawley knew about Centra because a whistleblower told him. They told him how it works.
Facebook employees use Centra to spy on users even when those users are not using Facebook. Centra gives Facebook access to troves of personal data, including the pages users visit and the accounts they have linked to Facebook.
You didn’t know about this, because all of it happens in secret. It’s probably not even legal.
So today at the hearings, Josh Hawley confronted Mark Zuckerberg about this. And here’s how it went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Centra is a tool that Facebook uses to track its users not just on Facebook, but across the entire internet. Centra tracks different profiles that a user visits, their message recipients, their linked accounts, the pages they visit around the web. Mr. Zuckerberg, how many accounts in the United States have been subject to review and shut down through Centra?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Senator, I do not know because I am not actually familiar with the name of that tool. I’m sure that we have tools that help us with our platform and community integrity work, but I am not familiar with that name.
HAWLEY: Do you have a tool that does exactly what I’ve described and that you can see here over my shoulder? Or are you saying that doesn’t exist?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I’m saying that I’m not familiar with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: ”I’m not familiar with it, Senator.” But hold on a second, Mark Zuckerberg, you run the company. You started it and Centra sounds like a pretty big deal. Are you saying that Centra doesn’t exist? Well, no, it turns out that’s not what they are saying.
Just hours ago, a Facebook spokesperson admitted to FOX News that Centra is indeed real. And according to that spokesperson, Centra is quote, ”Used to centralize and aid investigations into complex subjects like coordinated inauthentic behavior,” end quote. ”Coordinated, inauthentic behavior,” hard to pronounce, you may never have heard of it.
It’s otherwise known as astroturfing. That’s the process of creating fake grassroots political movements, sometimes by foreign governments. It’s something a left claims to be very concerned about.
In other words, Centra is yet another long term consequence of the Russia hoax. So Adam Schiff gets hysterical, but Vladimir Putin and then Facebook gets to spy on you without your knowledge and then sell the data they gather.
Perfect. But somehow, Mark Zuckerberg who runs the company said he had no idea it was going on. And Centra wasn’t the only secret internal data gathering tool that Zuckerberg claimed to be ignorant of.
Senator Hawley also asked him about another internal Facebook program called Tasks. According to Senator Hawley’s whistleblowers, Tasks allows Facebook’s censorship teams to quote, ”Communicate with their counterparts at Twitter and Google and then enter those companies suggestions for censorship onto the task platform so that Facebook can then follow up with them and effectively coordinate their censorship efforts.”
Got that? They’re all in it together. The tech companies amount to a censorship cartel.
Mark Zuckerberg did not deny this, instead, he conceded it would be, quote, ”Probably pretty normal for people to talk to their peers in the industry.”
And so yes, it is all real. Silicon Valley acts as one.
The tech oligarchs join forces to censor their political opponents. You may be one of them. You weren’t being paranoid to worry about this. You were absolutely right.
Is the hair on your arm standing up yet? Chris Coons isn’t worried. He was thrilled to hear it. He wants more.
Coons is a senator from Delaware. H is a former Joe Biden staffer, actually. The press routinely describes Chris Coons as moderate, not because of what he says but because of how he says it. Chris Coons is boring, therefore, he must be reasonable. That’s the thinking.
But in fact, Chris Coons is not reasonable. He is a power hungry lunatic who doesn’t believe in the First Amendment. Of course, Chris Coons went to Yale Law School. Ever know someone who went to Yale Law School who acknowledges the Bill of Rights? What’s that Constitutional Law class like at Yale Law School? We should find out.
Watch Chris Coons push Mark Zuckerberg in the hearings today for even more censorship. According to Chris Coons, there’s not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): You do, Mr. Dorsey, have policies against deep fakes or manipulated media against COVID-19 misinformation, against things that violate civic integrity, but you don’t have a standalone climate change misinformation policy. Why not?
Helping to disseminate climate denialism in my view, further facilitates and accelerates one of the greatest existential threats to our world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So that was to Jack Dorsey who runs Twitter. And Chris Coons’
point was really simple. People who disagree with Chris Coons are, quote, ”an existential threat to our world.” They must be silenced. So who are these people that Chris Coons doesn’t believe should be allowed to speak in public?
Well, plenty of them would be credentialed scientists who might have legitimate questions about Chris Coons’ global warming theories.
Chris Coons is a lawyer who spent the last 20 years in government.
Everything he knows about climate, he learned from an issue of ”The Atlantic” magazine he picked up at the airport newsstand. Chris Coons is a non-expert if there ever was one.
But under the standard he is demanding and demanded today in Congress, the social media monopolies would censor anyone who questions his shallow, silly views on one of the most complex areas of known science. That is not a moderate position. It is authoritarianism, and there’s a huge cost to the rest of us.
This is censorship. Censorship doesn’t simply kill expression, though it does, censorship kills thinking and innovation and wisdom. Censorship inexorably leads to self-censorship.
People quickly learn what they are allowed to express and what they are allowed to believe, and so they stop asking questions even of themselves.
Their minds become narrower. They stop creating. Art dies. Banality takes its place. Science, which depends on free inquiry becomes impossible.
Does that sound familiar to you? It’s where we are right now.
But that’s not a problem for people like Chris Coons. His main concern is how to control an inquisitive population. Coons will be delighted with a country that cannot think for itself, a nation of passive consumers that takes its orders from tech oligarchs and quants in the finance world. Shut up and obey or we will make you be quiet. That’s the message they are sending collectively.
A lot of us expected something different to happen. The election is over.
The billionaire party got what it wanted. So why can’t they take the boot off our neck? No chance. They are just getting started.
In the past two weeks, Corporate America has rushed to consolidate its control over information and dissent in this country. We could give you countless examples of that. Here are a few.
The e-mail delivery service MailChimp announced it is refusing to provide service — e-mail — to the Northern Virginia Tea Party. Why? The company cites potential misinformation. It turns out the Tea Party had attempted to notify its members about a recount rally by e-mail. But that’s not allowed anymore. MailChimp banned them along with other conservative organizations.
They are not allowed to use e-mail.
PayPal and Airbnb have done the same thing. They’ve taken out accounts belonging to conservatives because they don’t like the message. But the message they are sending is really simple. If you want to live a normal life here, send an e-mail, transfer money, rent an apartment, you had better be on the right side.
How is that different from what happens in China? Call us and let us know if you can spot the difference, we can.
Abigail Shrier, who we talked to yesterday on the show got an unexpected PhD in political repression recently. Amazon cut off advertisements for her book. The book is on the huge spike in transgender identification among teenage girls. It’s a real thing. She wanted to know why it was happening, so she tried to explain it, but that’s not allowed. Target banned her book completely for a time.’
A lawyer at the ACLU, which of course, used to defend civil liberties cheered that decision and said the book should be burned.
Meanwhile, in the story, very few saw, a major video game company, Ubisoft, erased a voice actor called Helen Lewis from one of its titles, retroactively. They erased her from the picture as the Soviets once did.
What was her crime? Well, she wrote a forum post that anonymous people on the internet felt was transphobic and so for that, Ubisoft decided that she should never work again anywhere. Even her voice was too offensive for the rest of us to hear.
The mob then went to work trying to destroy Gina Carano. She is an actress who plays a character called Cara Dune in the TV series, ”The Mandalorian.”
When she criticized mask mandates and quote ”preferred pronouns,” they decided she needed to be fired.
Where is this coming from? Almost nobody likes it. Almost no American supports it. Corporations are behind it, all of it.
And the point is not to help anyone, much less you. Let’s be clear about that. The point is to establish control. They know that they can dictate what you have the right to say about trans-rights or mask mandates. They can dictate when you can say about anything.
That’s unprecedented power. No one in this country has ever had that power.
Our Constitution used to prevent it, but they have it now, and that power will come in handy when they are running the government, which they may soon be.
Take a look at the people Joe Biden wants to install in the White House in January. So far, Biden has hired a former pharmaceutical and insurance industry lobbyist called Steve Ricchetti to be his chief counselor. He has hired a venture capital executive with close ties to Big Tech called Ron Klain to be his Chief of Staff.
Biden’s Deputy Chief of Staff apparently will be a woman called Jen O’Malley Dillon. She co-founded a consulting company that represented Big Pharma. Biden also, we learned today is bringing on Louisiana lawmaker Cedric Richmond.
Richmond has been a reliable ally of the fossil fuel industry, which by the way, is quite political these days, and not conservative. Time to update your perceptions on that. Richmond has received more money from the oil and gas industry than virtually anyone else in Congress.
So corporations are getting more control. And once they run everything, they will control what you say. Where does that leave the politicians and the career bureaucrats? Well, it leaves them free to play the role of petty tyrant, of course, something that they have always wanted, fulfilling their personal desires to impose their will on the rest of us.
In the State of Michigan, the poor people who live there learned, Governor Whitmer relishes, telling her constituents whether they can hold Thanksgiving dinner, and if they do, she said on Sunday, they are essentially killing people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): If you are considering spending Thanksgiving with people outside of your household, I urge you to reconsider.
And I hate to say it, but we know that some people will gather anyway. And odds are that some of these gatherings will spread COVID and contribute to the loss of loved ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, I hate to say it — well, there is the falsest phrase ever uttered by an American politician. I hate to say it. She doesn’t hate to say it. She has been saying it all year.
In April, Governor Whitmer banned the sale of paint and furniture. What scientist told her to do that? None. She did it because she could.
Now, she is banning Thanksgiving. What next? And that’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. This is more than a slippery slope we’re watching happen in real time.
At a press conference yesterday, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom emphasized the most important thing here, you need to stay isolated. Yet, he doesn’t, Gavin Newsom went to a private birthday party with a dozen people the other day at the French Laundry in Napa.
But it turns out he wasn’t breaking the rules when he did that. No, he wasn’t. Settle down. He was just giving you an example of what not to do.
Gavin Newsom was risking his life for you. He’s a COVID martyr.
Why doesn’t anyone appreciate Gavin Newsom? But again, that’s immaterial.
We want to restate here the important thing, the essence of science, really, is that you spend the holidays alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): But I’ll remind you, that three pronged approach pre-vaccine was around prevention, testing and isolation.
Isolation: this is profoundly important. Prevention is one thing. Testing:
what’s the purpose of testing besides obviously, identifying people that are positive and building a framework and protocol to protect their health, but also protect others through isolation and quarantine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: There’s a lot coming at us right now. But take three steps back, pause, ask yourself: what are we really watching? We are watching something pretty dark, honestly. This isn’t the politics we have come to understand in this country. This isn’t the usual debate about tax rates or tariff policy. We missed those debates. This is a struggle for the fundamentals.
Will this remain a free country? Can you disagree with Corporate America and still live here? Would we be allowed to fly on an airplane? Stay in a hotel? Have a credit card? Use e-mail? Will tiny brain Napoleon’s like Chris Coons determine what science is and what you can say about it or not.
That’s what’s on the table right now.
We understand we just had an election. We understand it is in dispute. We understand there’s a lot of news going on at this moment. But nothing matters more than this. It will decide the future.
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is right in the middle of it, as you just saw. He joins us tonight. Senator, thanks a lot for coming on.
It’s sort of an amazing moment, I thought at that hearing today. So explain to us, if you would. Is it legal for tech companies to coordinate to censor the political views of Americans?
HAWLEY: I don’t know that it is, Tucker. In fact, I think that very old antitrust law, the first one we ever had called the Sherman Act, century old, prevents coordination of these robber baron companies. And that’s exactly what they are, by the way, Tucker. These are the most powerful corporations in history.
And here they are, coordinating about how they are going to stop us from speaking, coordinating about who they are going to ban, coordinating about what phrases will be allowed to trend and whatnot, that we basically caught them red handed.
I mean, Mark Zuckerberg admitted to me under oath that yes, actually, Facebook’s censorship teams do talk to Google and Twitter. And he hastened to add, but oh, we make our own decisions. But he admitted that, yes, actually, they are in coordination and the whistleblower revealed to me that, in fact, they coordinate very, very closely.
I think this warrants antitrust scrutiny and I’ll tell you what, Tucker, it warrants further action by Congress. Congress is going to have to get off its backside and do something here or these corporations are going to run America.
CARLSON: Antitrust seems like the one thing they fear. They’re not afraid of 230. A lot of the solutions we thought would work to just make this a free country, again, don’t seem to intimidate them. But antitrust does seem to intimidate them.
Do you think there’s any chance of forward motion on that?
HAWLEY: Well, I think that the Justice Department’s antitrust suit against Google that they brought just a few weeks ago is absolutely vital for this reason, Tucker, and I think Congress is going to need to act to update our antitrust laws.
The truth is, is that those antitrust laws haven’t been used as they were meant to be used in decades now, and these companies, these are the most powerful companies we’ve seen in American history. They are the most powerful companies in the world and it is time that we took them on because our Constitution is quite clear.
We, the people, are supposed to run this government and this nation, not the big corporations, and unless we do something, they’re going to.
CARLSON: I never thought I would hear a conservative say what you just said. You are a conservative, and you’re also right. And so it’s time, I think, for all of us to update our assumptions about what it is to be conservative.
Senator Hawley, thank you very much.
HAWLEY: Thank you.
CARLSON: So the tech companies are colluding, the social media companies in particular, but there is an option. John Matze is the founder of Parler.
It is created as an alternative to Twitter. The site has exploded in popularity in the past couple of weeks. John Matze joins us tonight to explain what they are doing over there.
John, thanks so much for coming out, and congratulations in the massive surge in popularity of your company. Why is Parler, which is still much smaller than Twitter, why are people going there? What is it that you offer that they don’t?
JOHN MATZE, FOUNDER, PARLER: Well, thank you for having me on, Tucker.
Well, what we are seeing is a massive explosion in growth because people trust that Parler is going to do the right thing. So as opposed to these other companies, where moderation seems to be the norm, on Parler, we have a community jury. This is where the people decide what is allowed and what’s not allowed. You’re judged by your peers, just like our government allows for people.
You’re innocent before proven guilty, unlike these other platforms that are colluding to, I guess, find things to find you guilty for.
So, you know, really, we just want to sit back and say social media was supposed to be about the people. It was supposed to be about people having a free voice, being able to be, you know, liberated from restrictions, and so that’s what we’re here to offer. It is a community Town Square for people to have discussions.
CARLSON: I’m really struck by the media response to what you’re doing. So, I would say every mentally ill extremist in the world has a Twitter account. I’ve seen a lot of them. You never hear a word about it on CNN.
You offer an alternative to that, and suddenly, you’re the extremist. Why is corporate media so afraid of what you’re doing?
MATZE: Well, I always ask them, you know, what do you think of the First Amendment? Do you believe that we should have somebody in, you know, New York, let’s say in the middle of Times Square telling you what you can and cannot say? Because that’s what these companies are doing.
I don’t know why they’re so afraid. Maybe it’s because they don’t like that people are getting power again. You know, you mentioned that Parler was a little bit smaller than Twitter. But you know, we do have people that have comparable, if not larger followings on Parler than they do on Twitter and they are seeing far more engagement.
You know, there’s a neutral algorithm here. You get what you signed up for, and that’s it. You know, you get what you expect, and so that’s why we are seeing such great engagement, because it’s not being curated, like publishers would do, like they are on these other platforms.
CARLSON: Now, it’s getting huge. That’s undeniable. I wonder if you’re going to keep your posture going forward. As your company gets big and much more valuable, it’s already happening, people are going to attack you as being a home for extremism, and some crazy person says something crazy on your site, there’s going to be a whole lot more of that and you’re going to come under enormous pressure to censor those voices. What’s your response going to be?
MATZE: Well, when you go out in public, people say crazy things all the time. Everybody has opinions, and some of them you know, might not be the norm, right? But it’s not against the law to have those opinions. It’s not against the law to express yourself, you know.
And if you like one political candidate or another or you believe or don’t believe in climate change or whatever it might be, you know, you shouldn’t be taken offline because of it.
CARLSON: Exactly. Thank you. You just restated the traditional American understanding of free speech which the left defended for decades.
Apparently, they didn’t mean it. But it’s left to you to continue that noble defense. I appreciate it. John Matze of Parler. Thank you.
MATZE: Thank you.
CARLSON: So you’re hearing politicians all over the country telling you not to celebrate Thanksgiving. They’re giving all kinds of restrictions that have no basis whatsoever in science and of course, contravene the Constitution.
But some brave public officials have decided they’re not going along with this. We want to highlight their stories and we’re going to after the break.
CARLSON: So politicians have now decided they have total power over you.
They can literally decide who comes to Thanksgiving dinner at your house and where they can stand. That’s lunatic, it has never happened in American history before, no matter what CNN claims, it hasn’t.
And so the question is what happens if you don’t obey? Well, in New York, one county sheriff has an answer to that. Nothing. Nothing will happen.
Because that Sheriff has decided not to enforce Andrew Cuomo’s lunatic ban on private gatherings.
Earlier today, he explained why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF RICHARD GIARDINO, FULTON COUNTY, NEW YORK: One of the worst things we are seeing is the isolation of people not being able to engage with other people. Now, there’s a big difference between setting a time limit at bars and the number of people at bars and restaurants and social distancing and getting together with your own family.
Constitutionally, there’s some problems with an Executive Order. There’s no sanctions. I can’t go arrest somebody. They don’t get fined. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he really — I believe his intent is to try to slow things, but I think it does more damage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, exactly. People need each other. Physical contact is essential. Families need to gather. Thanksgiving is beautiful. That Sheriff is called Richard Giardino and bless him for saying the obvious.
Thankfully, he is not the only public official who is standing up to this lunacy. In Oregon, a woman called Tootie Smith who will start her term as Chairwoman of the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners in January, made that very clear on Facebook. Here is what she wrote, quote, ”My family will celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with as many family and friends as I can find.”
This is an elected official, and she joins us now, Tootie Smith on the show. Thanks so much for coming on. It’s funny that that statement would qualify as bravery, but it certainly does, and so congratulations. Why did you write that?
TOOTIE SMITH, CHAIRWOMAN, CLACKAMAS COUNTY COMMISSION: Because this is exactly what I felt. It’s very heartfelt.
She issued that edict on Friday. I posted it Saturday morning, thinking about it. This is a travesty that’s happening in our state.
How dare Governor Brown think she is going to come out, send the police into people’s homes and arrest them and fine them for having a Thanksgiving meal with their family, while at the same time she allows rioters and anarchists to destroy downtown City of Portland. That’s hypocrisy.
CARLSON: It is just interesting —
SMITH: We have been in a lockdown. Yes, go ahead, Tucker.
CARLSON: Yes, well, but it’s just that people like Governor Brown will be the first ones to say politicians keep their hands off my body, and here she is encouraging the police to come into your home on one of the most sacred days of the year and determine who is eating there. Does she see the irony there or no, do you think?
SMITH: Oh no, I don’t think so at all. I think she is into total control and domination over our population. She has issued this edict statewide to all 36 counties regardless of the count, regardless of the infection rate, regardless of the testing. Not even Governor Newsom from California has done that. He has allowed each county an autonomy to make their own decisions.
But our governor hasn’t because she obviously does not trust the elected officials in each of our counties in Oregon.
We’ve been in a lockdown for eight months now, Tucker. People understand what to do to be healthy. We have been browbeat over the head with wearing masks in public, which I do by the way, with social distancing, to stay home if you’re sick, be clean.
I think our people have the intelligence, the education and the independence to make their own decisions. We are adults, we do not need to be treated as second rate slaves in our own homes.
CARLSON: Good for you. Our viewers, if they don’t know Oregon may be confused because the Oregon we see is Portland. Oregon is a lot like Maine.
It’s a great state with reasonable people dominated by angry children in a city called Portland. But there are great people in Oregon. How has the public response been to your statement?
SMITH: Well, it has gone totally viral. The public response, I’m getting a lot of good comments. I’m getting people saying, ”Yay.” I also have the trolls and the minions who are trying to discredit me and take me down.
But you know, I am not going to be deterred by this because I know I’m on the right side on this. People want their freedom. They want their independence to make their own decisions, and we can do that in Oregon.
We are responsible people who can set our own destiny and our governor needs to allow us to do that.
CARLSON: Exactly. When they try and say you can’t be with your family on Thanksgiving, you know that’s a line we can’t let them cross. Tootie, great to hear from you tonight.
SMITH: Well, and that’s really true, Tucker. The isolation is killing us.
She is not addressing the isolation and the fallout, for instance, from mental health that comes in the form of child abuse, suicide rate is increasing and domestic violence and that really needs to be addressed.
She has no solutions to that. Her main edict is to shut down and keep people separate. We as human beings, have that right to be together.
CARLSON: Exactly. And look around. How many people do you know who are fragile and neurotic and unhappy and unwell really, psychologically? And it is a result of this nonsense. Thank you for fighting back. Great to see you.
SMITH: Thank you, Tucker. Bye-bye.
CARLSON: So the President announced he is pulling thousands of troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and that made some people like Mitt Romney, very unhappy. In fact, if there is one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on, is that we need another 20 more years in Afghanistan. But to what end?
What’s the purpose exactly? Why is 20 years premature to pull out? We’ll find out, next.
CARLSON: So the President has been saying for years that he wants to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan and he means it sincerely. It has been tough to get it done. The other day, today, actually, The Pentagon announced we will get part of the way there, we’re going to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500, at the same time, reduce the number of troops in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500.
Most people support this strongly. However, many Republicans on Capitol Hill are upset that we are finally close to ending the war in Afghanistan after more than 19 years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): A rapid withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight — delight — the people who wish us harm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: A rapid withdrawal. Sure, more than 19 years. That’s rapid, according to people in Washington who measure time in glacial terms. So, apparently we should stay in Afghanistan forever.
Mitt Romney strongly agrees with that. He complained that troop reduction may not be, quote, ”A wise decision for national security interests.” He didn’t explain exactly what that meant. No one knows what it means. But everyone in Washington agrees with it.
Democrats and Republicans are united on this one point: permanent military presence in countries that hate us and give us no obvious benefit is nevertheless vital to our national security. Over on CNN, they had an on air panic attack at the prospect of American troops finally leaving Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Who does this? Who drops something like this in the lap of an incoming President?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No one other than Donald Trump. I think what he’s trying to do is go through his bucket list quite honestly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: ”Who does this?” Says that 32-year-old news anchor, ”Who does this?” Gil Barndollar has thought a lot about this. He is a Senior Fellow at Defense Priorities, one of the defense nonprofits you can trust me and he joins us tonight. Gil, thanks so much for coming on.
GIL BARNDOLLAR, SENIOR FELLOW, DEFENSE PRIORITIES: Thanks for having me, Tucker.
CARLSON: So why the outrage? And how did 19 years get to be too speedy for people in Washington?
BARNDOLLAR: Yes, I think folks have learned nothing. I mean, the kind of people that are largely responsible for these mistakes and these disasters
— call them what they are — overseas haven’t learned a thing.
I mean, these are the two of these longest wars in American history. You’ve got guys literally, you know, who are toddlers and newborns on 9/11 who could — who could in some cases be walking their father’s patrol routes in Afghanistan. It would be kind of darkly funny, if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve got Americans killing and dying over there trying to accomplish Mission Impossible.
CARLSON: Well, that’s exactly right. It’s interesting that, you know, whatever you think of the current President, President Trump, he is the first President in 40 years not to initiate a major conflict. No one seems happy with that. Everyone in Washington seems glum at that idea. Why?
BARNDOLLAR: Well, you’ve got people addicted to an idea of American strength that I think kind of comes close to that old definition of insanity of, you know, banging your head against the wall. Yes, we’ve accomplished — we haven’t accomplished victory by the aims we’ve set out in these countries.
Certainly, Iraq was a disaster for the United States, for the region, and for the whole world. Afghanistan, you can look at it two ways: either we did what we needed to do and we tossed the Taliban out of power and taught them a lesson and we should have come home pretty quickly within a year or so, or we failed to build a country and we should have come home a long time ago and figured that out, you know close to two decades ago as well.
CARLSON: So, I think a lot of current leadership at the Pentagon for a bunch of reasons support these kinds of conflicts, but the guys who serve there, and took, you know, real physical risk in serving there, you must know a bunch of them, what’s their view of this?
BARNDOLLAR: Well, you can look at the surveys. I think, you know, last when I checked was, I think, between 58 and 65 percent of U.S. veterans who were surveyed, I think this is Pew — Pew last year found this, higher than the American civilian population thought that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a mistake on their own merits on the way they were sold.
So I think most veterans however much they’ve invested in it, I think a majority of U.S. veterans have gotten rid of sunk cost fallacy and realized, it is well past time to come home.
CARLSON: So the people who actually served think that that was a mistake, and we should pull back. I mean, what why does no one say that? Why are proponents of endless war, which is a very left-wing idea, liberal idea, certainly, why did they get the moral high ground on this and anyone who disagrees is for a weaker America?
BARNDOLLAR: Well, there are a couple of answers. I mean, you’ve seen it.
You saw on the Iraq War, it’s a lot easier, especially when it’s not your sons and daughters, you know, who are volunteering military or recruited military if we are being honest. If it is not your sons or daughters, it’s easy to shame somebody else and to invoke patriotism and to invoke strength.
There’s not a lot of cost and not a lot of people have skin in the game.
That’s a big piece of it and that leads to you know, we’ve just got broader apathy in this country towards foreign policy.
CARLSON: And that is so true. Gil, thanks a lot for coming on tonight.
Great to see you.
BARNDOLLAR: Great talking to you.
CARLSON: So a bunch of people who claim to be journalists ran into Joe Biden yesterday. That doesn’t happen very often. Senator John Kennedy watched it. We’re going to assess the tape and find out how it went. That’s next.
CARLSON: So we are hearing a lot recently about President Joe Biden, so you may be wondering, okay, what will this President do when he gets to the White House? Well, to answer that question, of course, you would watch his press conference. That’s the point of a press conference. Reporters ask the politician questions that you would like answered. But if you watched Joe Biden’s press conference yesterday, you would have been pretty disappointed.
On the other hand, if you want to know how truly inspiring Joe Biden is and how appalling his political opponents are, you are in luck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand now, I’m going to take some questions. Megan, fire away.
QUESTION: What do you see as the biggest threat to your transition right now given President Trump’s unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?
QUESTION: You just spoke of some of the dangers of the President’s continued stonewalling of this transition. But it doesn’t appear that the President is going to come around anytime soon and admit defeat. So what are you going to do?
What is your message to Republicans who are backing up the President’s refusal to concede?
QUESTION: I want to get your thoughts on the President’s tweet over the weekend? Do you want him to concede?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: President Biden, how bad is President Trump? It went on like this. Senator John Kennedy watched. He is of course representing the State of Louisiana. He is Republican. He joins us tonight.
Senator, thanks a lot for coming on. You notice flecks of saliva on Joe Biden’s suit? Was that slobber from the Press Corps, do you think?
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Tucker, you would — I did watch the questioning of Mr. Biden and I’ve watched the whole campaign. And look, you’d have to be a special kind of stupid not to see the disparate treatment between Mr.
Biden and Mr. Trump.
I think since he was selected by the manager or lead in the Democratic Party, I think the toughest question that Mr. Biden has been asked is, does he support children and prosperity? And probably the second toughest question is, does he like ponies?
And this is very dangerous for our democracy.
KENNEDY: You know, here’s a newsflash. Politicians lie, not always, but sometimes. They hide the truth. Why?
CARLSON: I noticed.
KENNEDY: Because it helps them hold on to power, and the role of a journalist is to hold those politicians accountable and to ferret out and safeguard the truth. And in doing so, journalists can’t pick sides.
Otherwise, they are not seeking out the truth. They’ve got to be equal opportunity a-holes, if you will.
And, and too many of our journalists have started picking sides, and it will ultimately undermine their profession and democracy because without truth, there is no trust. Without trust, there is no democracy.
CARLSON: Amen. That is — so you’ve been in politics for — you’re a United States senator — have you ever held a press conference at which the overwhelming majority of the questions consisted of how horrible is your opponent?
KENNEDY: No, I’ve never seen it like this. And I came into politics, not at the Federal level, but at the state level 25 years ago. And in it used to be that journalist really were equal opportunity. I probably shouldn’t use what I said before, I’ll say jerks. They were tough. They were tough.
It didn’t matter what your party affiliation was. Their job was to ferret out the truth. But, you know, there’s an old adage that says, keep the company of those who seek the truth. Run from those who already know it?
I think many members of the press think they already know the truth.
CARLSON: There’s something about watching reporters suck up to people in power that’s really, really chilling, far worse than attacking people with power. That’s fine. Sucking up is dangerous. I agree with you absolutely and completely.
Senator Kennedy. Thanks a lot for coming on tonight.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: So the election is over, but the crackdown is just beginning.
Now, the left is going after attorneys who represent anyone who is affiliated with the Trump Campaign. So if they don’t like your politics, you’re not entitled to legal counsel. You want to live in that country?
We’ve got details after the break.
CARLSON: Well, last week, a group called The Lincoln Project which is run mostly by consultants who ran campaigns against Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries launched a half a million dollar advertising blitz. The point of it wasn’t to promote a candidate. The goal was simple: terrorizing the commercial clients of any law firm that dares to represent the President’s campaign.
The Lincoln Project posted the office numbers and e-mail addresses of lawyers at the firm, Jones Day, it is a very big firm based in Washington and it was representing the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Jones Day promptly promised not to get involved in any more litigation in this election because they were intimidated. You would be, too.
Another law firm, Porter Wright, has withdrawn from representing the Trump Campaign because of the pressure brought to bear on them.
Do you want to live in a country where if you have the wrong political beliefs, you don’t get competent legal representation? That’s the question before us.
Harmeet Dhillon is probably the most prominent First Amendment attorney in the United States and we are always happy to have her on the show. Harmeet, thanks for coming on.
So what does this mean for the rest of us? I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I’m worried about what it portends for the future.
HARMEET DHILLON, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, LAWYERS FOR TRUMP: Well, this form of economic terrorism — and that’s what it is — is really very scary to the ordinary person when you unpack this and think about it.
Some of these law firms like George Conway is affiliated with this Lincoln Project and he has been one of the people retweeting these condemnations of Jones Day and other firms. I thought I would look on his firm website and see who his firm Wachtell, Lipton represents, and they mention different flavors of criminal no fewer than 10 times on their website: people who do False Claims Act, tax evasion, price fixing, you know, securities fraud, and other types of white collar crime.
So they are happy to represent actual alleged criminals, but you cannot have the counsel of your choice, and this is really scary, because let’s face it, our system of justice does not work unless there are good lawyers on both sides. Anybody who has clerked for a judge and seen pro se litigants can tell you that.
And so when you have the most powerful person in the country, his lawyers are bullied out of dropping him and they are making legitimate claims concerning the constitutionality of accepting ballots after the day of the election, the legitimacy of treating some voters in some counties different than others. These are all legitimate arguments and they are good arguments.
But every lawyer associated with the Trump campaign, even in a spokesperson capacity, like I had been, gets death threats, gets incredible abuse from partners at major law firms. I mean, I’ve had abuse on my Facebook page from managing partners at law firms in San Francisco accusing me of heinous crimes. They represent actual criminals.
So what this means is if the President’s lawyers can be bullied into dropping him and throwing him under the bus, which is what happened with a couple of these law firms, it can happen to you. It can happen to you or your family. If you’re accused of a crime, if you are representing an unpopular cause, if somebody makes a false accusation against you, somebody attacks your company, somebody attacks your job, and somebody can attack your livelihood.
If your cause is unpopular, there is a mob waiting to intimidate lawyers who want to take your case up, and that means, we don’t have two sides.
The American Bar Association has guidelines on this and the guidelines say that lawyers are entitled to represent any kind of client and it does not mean that they are taking on the cause that their client represents. And it is important for the course of justice for there to be two sides.
And so when I see lawyers like George Conway and like partners that other major law firms and by the way, it is lawyers leading this charge. Yes, there are these losing sleazy consultants who are also raising the money for it, but it is lawyers who are leading this charge and they should be ashamed and they are leaving nasty voicemails.
Some of these lawyers in this case have 24-hour security now. They have death threats. Their offices have been shut down. It is disgusting.
CARLSON: Well, it is. The lawyers who represented OJ Simpson in a double murder trial were called the Dream Team. It’s just a really — thanks for putting that in perspective, Harmeet Dhillon, defending the First Amendment. Great to see you.
Thanks for watching. Thanks for trusting us. We will see you tomorrow at
8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Here is Sean.
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A lift truck carries a cylinder containing uranium hexafluoride gas for the purpose of injecting the gas into centrifuges in Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, November 6, 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)
The UN’s atomic watchdog agency has reportedly found that Iran is pumping uranium gas into advanced centrifuges at an underground part of the Natanz nuclear facility, in the latest breach of the 2015 nuclear deal signed with world powers.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a document distributed to member countries that Iran is feeding uranium hexafluoride (UF₆) gas feedstock into the advanced IR-2m uranium-enriching centrifuges installed at the Natanz plant, Reuters reported Wednesday.
“On 14 November 2020, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding UF₆ into the recently installed cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz,” the IAEA report was quoted as saying.
The nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, only allows Iran to use first-generation IR-1 machines, and states that those are the only ones it was allowed operate at Natanz’s underground plant.
The report comes a week after the UN atomic watchdog said that Iran continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far beyond the limits set in the nuclear deal and to enrich it to a greater purity than permitted.In this February 3, 2007, file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
The IAEA also reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the deal.
Iran has openly announced a number of violations of the nuclear deal in advance, which have followed the decision by the US to pull out unilaterally in 2018.
The deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since the US withdrawal and imposition of new sanctions, Tehran has been putting pressure on the remaining parties with the violations to come up with new ways to offset the economy-crippling actions by Washington.
At the same time, the Iranian government has continued to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to its nuclear facilities, a key reason the countries that remain parties to the JCPOA say it’s worth preserving.
The goal of the agreement is to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, something the country insists it does not intend to do.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday that Tehran was willing to return to the 2015 nuclear deal if US President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions on Iran after entering the White House.US President Barack Obama, right, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington on July 14, 2015, after an Iran nuclear deal is reached. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Biden pledged to return to the accord during his presidential campaign if Iran returns to fulfilling its commitments. Tehran began breaching the terms of the deal after President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018 and began sanctioning Iran.
“We are ready to discuss how the United States can reenter the accord,” Zarif told Iranian media, according to a translation by Reuters.
“If Mr. Biden is willing to fulfill US commitments, we too can immediately return to our full commitments in the accord… and negotiations are possible within the framework of the P5+1,” Zarif said, referring to the six world powers that signed onto the deal.
Biden was vice president when former US president Barack Obama signed the deal with Iran.
In this November 24, 2018, file photo, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal talks to the Associated Press in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)
Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, on Tuesday cautioned US President-elect Joe Biden against re-entering the Iran nuclear deal.
“While we all aspire to have Iran back as a normal peaceful nation-state within the international community, the last forty years’ experience with the Iranian regime is not encouraging,” said Faisal in a speech to the National Council on US-Arab Relations, in which he also warned Biden against repeating past “mistakes.”
Re-entering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Biden has said he wishes to do, “would not do service to stability in our region. Rejoining and then negotiating the other important issues would trap diplomacy and subject it to Iranian blackmail,” the envoy added.
The Saudi royal became the second representative of a Middle Eastern country this week to urge Biden not to return to the nuclear deal. Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer on Monday said doing so would be a “mistake” and urged the incoming US administration to listen to the concerns of allies in the region such as Israel and Gulf states.
Faisal said Biden “is not new to politics. He is an experienced statesman and well-familiar with the important issues in the world and our region. However, we must wait to see to know about his vision, his team and his foreign policy conduct.”
Any non-comprehensive agreement “will not achieve lasting peace and security in our region,” he said, lamenting that the nuclear deal “did not rationalize Iranian destructive behavior in our region,” which he said is no less of a threat than its nuclear aspirations.
Saudi Arabia has been seen as wary of Biden’s upcoming presidency, as the president-elect has vowed a reset on US relations with Riyadh that will address its human rights record and its military campaign in Yemen.
The nuclear deal with Iran was clinched in 2015 when Biden was vice president. US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in 2018 and restored sanctions.
Israel is also preparing for a major shift in US policy toward the region, with the Walla news site reporting that Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has set up a small team in his office that will be tasked with producing a strategy to ensure Jerusalem is kept in the loop on the incoming Biden administration’s efforts to re-enter the nuclear deal.
“We do not want to be left out again,” Ashkenazi said in a closed briefing before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week, according to Walla.Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi talks to the media at a news conference in front of the Liebermann Villa at Wannsee Lake in Berlin, Germany, August 27, 2020. (Michele Tantussi/Pool Photo via AP)
The foreign minister said the government should refrain from repeating past mistakes that left it isolated as the Obama administration negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led an aggressive public campaign against the accord that climaxed with a speech before a joint session of Congress that was organized behind the back of then-president Barack Obama.
But within the current Israeli government, there is no uniform policy on the issue with Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz believed to hold a more moderate position than that of Netanyahu, who openly backed Trump’s sanctions regime.
According to Walla, Ashkenazi told lawmakers last week that the Foreign Ministry believes that Biden will make good on his election promise to return to the accord.
Ashkenazi said the goal of the team he’ll be heading will be to ensure that Israeli concerns are taken into account when the US and Iran renegotiate the deal. That is only expected to happen, however, after the US re-enters the accord and Tehran returns to complying with it, according to the report.
The UN’s atomic watchdog agency said last week that Iran continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far beyond the limits set in a landmark nuclear deal with world powers and to enrich it to a greater purity than permitted.This photo released Nov. 5, 2019, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)
In a recent interview, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs said the kingdom would consider arming with nuclear weapons if Iran acquires them.
Adel al-Jubeir told Germany’s DPA news agency that nuclear armament was “definitely an option.”
“Saudi Arabia has made it very clear that it will do everything it can to protect its people and to protect its territories,” Jubeir said.
Jubeir said that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, other countries will follow, and expressed support for taking a harsh stance against Tehran.
Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are regional powers and fierce rivals in a struggle for hegemony in the Middle East, and have sparred through proxies in other countries, especially Yemen.FILE – In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, US Vice President Joe Biden, right, offers his condolences to Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz upon the death of his brother Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, at Prince Sultan palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
Iran is the region’s leading Shiite power and tied to groups in the region including its proxy Hezbollah, the Syrian regime and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.
Saudi Arabia views itself as the leader of Sunni states in the Middle East, and is allied with countries including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which both signed normalization pacts with Israel in September. Riyadh is also an ally to the United States, which brokered the normalization deals.
“We are ready to discuss how the United States can re-enter the accord,” Zarif told Iranian media, according to a translation by the Reuters news agency.
“If Mr. Biden is willing to fulfill US commitments, we too can immediately return to our full commitments in the accord… and negotiations are possible within the framework of the P5+1,” Zarif said, referring to the six world powers that signed onto the deal.
The Trump administration is reportedly planning a bevy of wide-ranging sanctions on Iran to make it more difficult for the incoming administration to reenter the nuclear deal.
Last week, former Biden aide Amos Hochstein told Israel’s Channel 12 that rejoining the Iran nuclear deal was “high on his agenda” and that the US president-elect would move to reenter the international pact shortly after taking office.
The Trump campaign pushed back Sunday night against reports by the Washington Post and others that it had dropped a major part of its case challenging the election results in Pennsylvania.
The Post‘s Jon Swaine and Elise Viebeck reported that the Trump campaign was abandoning the claim that election authorities invalidated over 600,000 votes by barring Trump election observers from watching the count.
That left a much smaller part of the case — namely, that Democratic-run counties allowed voters to “cure” problems with their mailed-in ballots, while Republican counties, following rules laid down by the state legislature, did not.
But Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis, who appeared on Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot 125 shortly after the Post story came out, disputed its claims.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Dr. Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arizona, provided an update on the state of the presidential race in the Grand Canyon State and assured Arizonans that “this election is far from over.”
“Do not lose heart. Do not allow the negativity and the fake news to bring you down. Arizona is in this fight 100 percent. We are out to make sure that our elections in our state have integrity,” Ward said in a Monday video, citing the viral tweets from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who has a history of criticizing President Donald Trump and supporters, even referring to his base as neo-Nazis.
“That doesn’t speak to being unbiased to me. Does it to you? I think it’s something that we have to be very, very cognizant of. We’re going into the canvassing phase of this election. That means we’re assuring that the votes cast are cast as the voter intended and counted appropriately,” she continued, adding that they have “questions that have to be answered.”
Ward said that she, as well as her team, is working with the Trump campaign “hand in hand” to ensure that elections in Arizona have integrity.
“So stay strong. Stay firm. Understand that this election is far from over,” she said. “We do not have a president-elect at this time. States have not certified elections, and that’s what makes a president-elect — not the media, not the pundits, not the talking heads, not the fake news”:
In a formal statement, Ward expressed confidence that Arizona will ultimately “deliver four more years for President Trump.”
Last week, the Arizona Republican Party filed a lawsuit demanding a hand recount of votes by precinct rather than voting centers, emphasizing the difference in sampling 175 voting centers versus 748 precincts:
BREAKING: This afternoon, the @AZGOP filed suit to enforce a hand count by precinct, not voting center, as required by law.
Threat comes after New York Times reports that Trump weighed military options against Tehran, but was dissuaded by aides
Iran’s uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
The proposal would deploy the soldiers for peacekeeping in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh for up to one year and will be voted on by lawmakers on Tuesday, Anadolu said.
Last week, Russia and Turkey signed an agreement to create a joint centre for monitoring a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh between the Azeri and Armenian militaries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey would join Russian peacekeepers in the region to help monitor the ceasefire deal. The Kremlin said last week that Turkey and Russia would cooperate via the centre located on Azerbaijan’s territory, but that there was ”no discussion of joint peacekeeping forces”.
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed an agreement to end the military conflict on Nov. 9. According to the deal, Azerbaijan will hold on to areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that its military wrested from Armenian forces. Armenia has also agreed to withdraw from several other adjacent areas over the next few weeks.
On Sunday, Azerbaijan agreed to extend a deadline by 10 days for Armenians to fully vacate the Kalbajar district, one of seven areas adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by ethnic Armenians for decades, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said.
The official withdrawal date was set for Nov. 15.
“Azerbaijan agreed to prolong the deadline for the withdrawal from Kalbajar of Armenian armed forces and of illegal Armenian settlers until Nov. 25,” Anadolu cited Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s foreign policy adviser Hikmet Hajiyev as saying.
Turkish military commanders were in charge of the Azeri operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian newspaper Vzglyad said on Nov. 12, citing sources close to the leadership of the Azeri Defence Ministry.
Major General Bahtiyar Ersay, head of the Operations Directorate of the Ground Forces of Turkey, was directly involved in organising military operations, Vzglyad said. He was based in the Azeri capital of Baku and reported to the top military and political leadership of Turkey on the course of the conflict, the newspaper said.
The work of Turkish generals in Azerbaijan, many of whom also took charge of a Turkish intervention in Libya, has been facilitated with the help of about 200 military advisers, Vzglyad said.
For days, lawyers for President Donald Trump have been claiming his reelection campaign has obtained testimony from scores of eyewitnesses who say they witnessed vote fraud on behalf of Democratic rival Joe Biden.
But we’ve not actually heard from any whistleblowers.
That has now changed.
In video testimony, Detroit IT worker Melissa Carone, who was employed by Dominion Voting Systems as a contractor to keep an eye on ballot-counting machines, says she witnessed poll workers at the TCF Center repeatedly run the same batches of 50 ballots through counters sometimes up to eight, nine, 10 times.
What’s more, she said that while she was not allowed to touch ballots or stand directly over machines, she said only saw ballots marked for Biden during her entire 24-hour shift – not a single ballot for President Trump.
She also testified that there was no legitimate, legal oversight of the balloting process – that Democrats were essentially ‘watching’ Democrats. She also says she saw poll workers duplicating ballots while changing the votes on others, stealing results in the open.
Carone also said she reported her findings to the FBI, but at this point, there is no indication that the bureau – or the Justice Department – has done a thing to investigate.
Her revelations come amid others by Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, who says she and other legal eagles working on behalf of the president have discovered substantial evidence of alleged payoffs, vote alterations, and other shenanigans related to Dominion and certain state elected officials whom she did not name.
Carnone’s testimony is here:
But she also appeared on Fox Business Network with Lou Dobbs, and that interview is here:
And here’s some food for thought: If – if – widespread, open vote fraud against this president were going to take place, it makes perfect sense that it would be carried out in Democratic strongholds like Detroit, where there is a corrupt machine already in place.
And to that point, as Rasmussen Reports noted, Biden only outperformed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance in four cities: Milwaukee, Atlanta, Philadelphia…and Detroit… ‘where the vote even exceeded the number of registered voters.’
Hang in there, Mr. President. Don’t concede just yet.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, speaks at an event in Detroit, on June 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya/File)
Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said Monday that it would be a “mistake” for the incoming Biden administration to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, as President-elect Joe Biden pledged to do during the campaign.
“I think it would be a mistake and hopefully he will look at the Middle East as it is, he will see the benefits of [the normalization] process, of how he can continue that process, and I think to not go back into the same deal,” Dermer said during a panel with his Emirati and Bahraini counterparts in Washington hosted by the Economic Club.
Dermer highlighted the Abraham Accords Israel signed with the UAE and Bahrain against the backdrop of their common opposition to Iranian conduct in the region and appeared to suggest that building a more united front against Tehran would be more beneficial than trying to negotiate with the Islamic Republic.
He maintained that both Israel and Arab states opposed the 2015 multilateral agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and that their views should have been taken into consideration by the Obama administration at the time.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about Iran during a joint meeting of the United States Congress in the House chamber at the US Capitol on March 3, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)
Dermer referred to the unsuccessful 2009 Obama-brokered nuclear talks with North Korea, which had included members in the region such as Japan and South Korea, lamenting that the same courtesy had not been extended during the Iran nuclear talks.
“The first thing I would say to the incoming administration [is], ‘Sit with your allies in the region. Listen to us. We have the most skin in the game. We have the most to lose. Speak to us. Try to work out a common position, which I think is possible, not only to do with nuclear issues but also to deal with the regional aggression of Iran,’” said Dermer, who has long been one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most trusted advisers.
The remarks appeared to mark the first time an Israeli official publicly spoke out against Biden’s plans to re-enter the nuclear accord since he defeated incumbent US President Donald Trump earlier this month.
In March 2015, Netanyahu warned in a blistering address to the joint houses of Congress that the nuclear deal then taking shape between Iran and Western powers “paves the path for Iran” to a nuclear arsenal, rather than blocking it, and urged American leaders to walk away from what he called “a very bad deal.” The speech publicly underlined the profound differences between Netanyahu and president Barack Obama over how to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, with Netanyahu denouncing the Obama-backed deal when it was finalized later that year as a “historic mistake for the world.”
During the recent presidential campaign, Biden — who was Obama’s vice president — and his aides slammed Trump’s 2018 decision to bolt the agreement, arguing that it allowed Iran to progress toward acquiring a nuclear weapon. They pledged that a Biden administration would work to renegotiate a “longer and stronger” deal.Foreign ministers sit around the table at the Palais Coburg Hotel, where the Iran nuclear negotiations were being held in Vienna, Austria, on July 6, 2015. (AFP/POOL/CARLOS BARRIA)
Last week, former Biden aide Amos Hochstein told Channel 12 that rejoining the Iran nuclear deal was “high on his agenda” and that the US president-elect would move to do so shortly after taking office.
“I believe that in the first months [of Biden’s presidency], we’ll either see him rejoin the deal fully, or what I would call ‘JCPOA-minus,’ meaning lifting sanctions in exchange for suspending some of the Iranian nuclear programs [developed] in the past three years,” Hochstein said in the interview.
Hochstein, who served at the State Department and oversaw energy sanctions on Iran during Obama’s tenure, said Biden wants “some changes” to the pact, including its expiration date.
Those comments came as an Israeli news site reported the Trump administration — in coordination with Israel and Arab states in the Persian Gulf — was planning a bevy of wide-ranging sanctions on Iran to make it more difficult for the incoming administration to reenter the nuclear deal.
Also during Monday’s panel, Dermer lauded the president-elect for coming out in support of the Abraham Accords during the campaign. “I think that is a very good thing,” he said.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan pose for a photo on the Blue Room Balcony after signing the Abraham Accords during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on September 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Asked if the normalization deals would have come about under a different president, Dermer avoided answering directly, but claimed that “the fact that [Trump] confronted Iran helped. The fact that he embraced allies in the region helped. That fact that he didn’t put the Palestinian issue front and center helped.”
UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said the most meaningful part of the Abraham Accords for him was the literal normalization they heralded — not the new business, trade and investment opportunities they are slated to bring about between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
“I grew up thinking Israel is the enemy, and I drove by the Israeli ambassador’s house [in Cairo] every day going to school thinking oh you know… so my 10-year-old son is going to grow up thinking it’s totally normal to visit Israel. It’s totally normal to invest in Israel… He’s going to grow up with a completely different mindset from the one I grew up with and to me that’s probably the most meaningful part of the Abraham Accords,” he said.
Both Otaiba and Bahrain Ambassador Abdullah bin Rashid al Khalifa expressed interest in visiting Israel once the pandemic calmed down, with the latter saying they would likely be on the same flight.
Honoree Christiane Amanpour attends Variety’s Power of Women: New York presented by Lifetime at Cipriani 42nd Street on Friday, April 5, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Israeli officials are taking CNN to task for comments by the network’s prominent anchorwoman Christiane Amanpour comparing the actions of US President Donald Trump to Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against Jews that took place across Germany in November 1938.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich sent a letter to CNN president Jeffrey Zucker on Sunday urging that Amanpour issue an “immediate and public apology” for the “unacceptable comparison” she made Thursday.
“We find hereby the false equivalence made between the actions of a sitting US president and the atrocities of the Kristallnacht pogroms which were carried out by the Nazis eighty-two years ago belittling of the immense tragedy of the Holocaust,” she wrote.
Kristallnacht is widely recognized as a “central starting point of the Holocaust,” the minister went on, accusing Amanpour of minimizing the “unique importance of the Holocaust” by comparing it to the Trump administration.
“Distortion and minimization of the Holocaust are deplorable lies that only encourage the evil voices of anti-Semitism. Employing the memory of the Holocaust for cheap shock value and to further a political agenda is a deeply troubling and offensive spin of historic and moral truths with dangerous implications,” the letter said.Blue and White party member Omer Yankelevich at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
As anti-Semitism continues to increase worldwide, Israel expects CNN to be “partners in the global effort to combat this dangerous illness, not to fan its flames,” she concluded.
An ‘affront to the memory of the Holocaust’
Also on Sunday, Israel’s consul-general to Atlanta, Anat Sultan-Dadon, wrote a letter to Richard Davis, CNN’s executive vice president of News Standards and Practices expressing “dismay” over Amanpour’s comparison.
“The use of the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht by Amanpour for the purpose of this comparison is an affront to the memory of the Holocaust, those who perished and those who suffered through these unimaginable atrocities,” she wrote. The consulate said it was “sincerely disappointed” by the way Amanpour chose to express herself and urged the anchorwoman and her employer to publish an apology.
CNN has not responded to a Times of Israel query about Amanpour’s remarks.
On Thursday, Amanpour, in the introduction to CNN’s flagship foreign affairs program, invoked the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht in discussing Trump’s dishonesty, calling the November 9, 1938, Nazi program an “attack on fact.”
”This week 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened,” Amanpour said in the monologue. “It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity, and in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth. After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”
Amanpour came under fire for the analogy on Twitter.
“This is @camanpour on @CNN comparing Trump’s tenure to Nazi Germany. How the hell is this sort of prejudice tolerated on mainstream media? Third rate rubbish,” wrote Ben Habib, a British former European Parliament member for the Brexit Party.Schoolchildren and others brought to watch the burning of synagogue furnishings on Kristallnacht in Mosbach, Germany, November 1938 (courtesy)
“Despicable. @camanpour compares verbal fact-checking of a POTUS to a Nazi pogrom in which dozens of Jews were murdered,” the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, a small group representing Haredi Jewish interests, wrote on Twitter.
Amanpour has not responded to the criticism.
Comparisons between contemporary politics and Nazi Germany have been considered beyond the pale by Jewish groups. An advertisement released in September by the Jewish Democratic Council of America that drew parallels between the rise of fascism and the Trump presidency was swiftly condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. But both former ADL direct Abraham Foxman and Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt said such comparisons are in fact apt.
Illustrative: In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017 (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP)
US President Donald Trump convened top advisers last week to ask if he had options to strike Iranian nuclear sites during his last weeks in office, but was dissuaded with warnings it could lead to a wider conflict, The New York Times reported Monday.
Trump convened top officials on Thursday, a day after the UN nuclear watchdog said Iran had stockpiled more than 12 times more enriched uranium than the 2015 nuclear deal allows, the Times reported, citing four current and former US officials.
Among those present were Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the report said.
Trump asked them how he should respond to the International Atomic Energy Agency report and what his options were. The Times said the focus of any attack would almost certainly be the heavily fortified Natanz nuclear center.US President Donald Trump arrives to address the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing US troops accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, center, and US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, January 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Pompeo and Miley reportedly warned that a major strike, whether with missiles or by a cyberattack, could easily escalate into a major regional conflict.
The report said they left Thursday’s meeting believing that Trump had taken a missile strike of the table, but could still be looking at a more measured response against Iran or its allies.
Trump’s most high-profile attack on Iran, when the US killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a January 3 drone strike at Baghdad’s airport, resulted in a limited response from Iran.
The Pentagon has a wide range of strike options for Iran, including military, cyber and combination plans, the report said, noting that some called for direct action by Israel.
Israel has been blamed for an attack on an advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant at Natanz in July. It has also been blamed, together with the US, for the Stuxnet virus that sabotaged Iranian enrichment centrifuges a decade ago.A building Iran claims was damaged by a fire at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of Tehran, on July 2, 2020. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)
The New York Times also reported this week that Israel assassinated Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 in Tehran in recent months at the behest of the US.
Monday’s report highlighted fears that Trump could seek to dramatically influence events in his final few weeks in office (even though he has not conceded the election) in a bid to tie US President-elect Joe Biden’s hands on issues like Iran.
Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer warned Monday that it would be a “mistake” for the incoming administration to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, as Biden pledged to do during the campaign.
“I think it would be a mistake and hopefully [Bdien] will look at the Middle East as it is, he will see the benefits of [the normalization] process, of how he can continue that process, and I think to not go back into the same deal,” Dermer said during a panel in Washington.
The nuclear deal was signed by the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia in 2015, but Trump withdrew from it three years later. Nevertheless, he has said he expects Iran to abide by the limits it sets.
The IAEA reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press last week that Iran as of November 2 had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) reported on August 25.Construction at Iran’s Natanz uranium-enrichment facility that experts believe may be a new, underground centrifuge assembly plant, annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, October 26, 2020. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
The nuclear deal allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the deal.
Wednesday’s report confirmed that, in line with previous statements by Iranian officials, centrifuges had been installed at an underground part of the Natanz nuclear facility after another part of the site was damaged the explosion in July, which Iran blamed on “sabotage.”
Iran has openly announced all violations of the nuclear deal in advance, which have followed the decision by the US to pull out unilaterally in 2018.
The deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since the US withdrawal and imposition of new sanctions, Tehran has been putting pressure on the remaining parties with the violations to come up with new ways to offset the economy-crippling actions by Washington.This photo released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran on November 5, 2019, shows centrifuge machines at Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)
At the same time, the Iranian government has continued to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities, a key reason the countries that remain parties to the JCPOA say it’s worth preserving.
The goal of the agreement is to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, something the country insists it does not intend to do.
A widely cited analysis by the Washington-based Arms Control Association suggests that Iran now has more than double the material it would need to make a nuclear weapon. However, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told The Associated Press in an interview last month that his agency does not share that assessment.
Before agreeing to the nuclear deal, Iran enriched its uranium up to 20% purity, which is a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90%. In 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment, but it didn’t pursue a bomb.
In the quarterly report distributed to members on Wednesday, the IAEA said it still has questions from the discovery last year of particles of uranium of man-made origin at a site outside Tehran not declared by Iran.
The United States and Israel had been pressing the IAEA for some time to look into the Turquzabad facility, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described to the UN in 2018 as a “secret atomic warehouse.”
In the current report, the IAEA said the “compositions of these isotopically altered particles” found there were “similar to particles found in Iran in the past, originating from imported centrifuge components.” It said it found Iran’s response to questions last month “unsatisfactory.”
“Following an assessment of this new information, the agency informed Iran that it continues to consider Iran’s response to be not technically credible,” the IAEA wrote this week. “A full and prompt explanation from Iran…is needed.”
JERUSALEM — Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and negotiator who passionately advocated the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, died at an Israeli hospital on Tuesday. He was 65.
His death was confirmed by the hospital, Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, his daughter and his Fatah party. The hospital said Mr. Erekat, who had previously had a lung transplant, was admitted in critical condition on Oct. 18 with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He required immediate ventilation and resuscitation.
“His condition did not improve and remained critical, and he passed away following multi-organ failure,” the hospital said, adding that Mr. Erekat had died there in the intensive care unit.
For three decades, as a close confidant of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his successor, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Erekat was one of the most prominent voices of the Palestinian cause.
As the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, he was one of the main authors of key parts of the landmark Oslo peace accords of the 1990s, the first agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which established Palestinian self-government in parts of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Although his public statements sometimes gave him the image of a firebrand, he was liked and respected by many of his American and Israeli counterparts, who found the Western-educated diplomat frank and knowledgeable.
But his life’s ambition of helping to bring about Palestinian statehood and an end to Israeli occupation eluded him, a source of frustration.
“I’m not finished with what I was born to do,” he recently messaged Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister and one of his main negotiating partners. “I overcame a lung transplant, and I’ll defeat this Covid.”
Mr. Abbas declared a three-day period of mourning with flags to be flown at half-staff.
“The departure of our brother and friend, the great fighter, Dr. Saeb Erekat, represents a huge loss for Palestine and our people, and we feel deeply saddened by his passing, especially in light of these difficult circumstances facing the Palestinian cause,” Mr. Abbas said on Tuesday in a statement carried by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
Mr. Erekat, who was known for occasional emotional outbursts, negotiated with a determination that his Israeli counterparts sometimes found obstructive. As the representative of Mr. Arafat and Mr. Abbas, he stuck to fundamental Palestinian principles and hard-line, legalistic positions, at least in public, balancing competing imperatives to make progress toward an agreement without being seen as capitulating to Israeli demands.
When he burst onto the international scene in 1991, as the deputy head of the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace conference, he stood out amid the sea of dark-suited diplomats in his black-and-white checked keffiya draped around his neck. The scarf, a symbol of Palestinian resistance and solidarity, was viewed by the Israeli delegation and others as a provocative publicity stunt.
But the Madrid conference, brokered by Secretary of State James A. Baker III, was the start of the first viable peace talks between the Israelis and the Arabs since the Camp David Accord 13 years earlier, and the first time Palestinians participated openly in direct negotiations with Israel.
Separate, secret bilateral talks led to the Oslo accords, a series of interim agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians, starting in 1993.
Mr. Erekat was instrumental in negotiating the Oslo II Accord in 1995, the Hebron Protocol in 1997 and the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, all of which transferred Israeli-controlled territory to the Palestinians. He was responsible for drafting the texts of the agreements on behalf of the Palestinians. At other times, though, he was sidelined by his bosses, who preferred to negotiate through back channels.
The Oslo process, a source of great optimism at the time, never arrived at its intended conclusion: a final and comprehensive peace agreement that the Palestinians had expected would be between two sovereign states, Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Negotiations for a permanent deal continued on and off until 2014.
In December 2013, during the last round of serious negotiations, brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry, Mr. Erekat took his American counterpart, Martin S. Indyk, on a tour of Hisham’s Palace, the remains of an 8th-century compound said to have belonged to the 10th Umayyad caliph, near Jericho.
“I meant to take Martin to the ruins to show him nothing lasts, and life goes on,” Mr. Erekat explained in an interview shortly after the talks collapsed. “These were great empires — they’re gone. I know that the Israeli occupation will go.”
Negotiators remembered Mr. Erekat as feisty and strong-willed. He would often react to a proposal that he thought unfair with one of his signature aphorisms: “I’m willing to limit my sovereignty but not my dignity” or, “I don’t walk around with a neon sign on my head saying ‘stupid.’”
“His negotiating style was to hold on to what cards he had because he had so few,” Mr. Indyk said. “But at heart he was deeply committed to the two-state solution.”
Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian political scientist who participated in the Madrid talks, said Mr. Erekat had also worked to document the history of the peace process to learn its lessons.
“He became the Palestinian memory of this era,” Mr. Khatib said.
A loyal member of Fatah, the mainstream political faction led by Mr. Abbas, Mr. Erekat resigned several times from various positions to protest a policy or make a point, but always returned to the fold.
In 2011, for instance, he resigned as chief negotiator after the Al Jazeera television network leaked details of Palestinian negotiating positions from a trove of confidential documents, embarrassing Mr. Erekat by suggesting that the Palestinians were prepared to make big concessions to the Israelis.
But he was back at the negotiating table by the next round of talks.
In 2015, he became secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella group representing secular Palestinian factions. It was the second-highest post after the chairmanship, held by Mr. Abbas.
“Today, we mourn the loss of a dear colleague and a Palestinian patriot; someone who loved life and fought hard to secure a life of freedom for himself and his people,” said Hanan Ashrawi, another senior Palestinian official who worked with Mr. Erekat for decades.
“He was part of many historic milestones in our people’s ongoing struggle for liberation,” she added. “Dr. Erekat will be remembered for his indefatigable and tireless dedication and commitment to achieving peace and freedom for the Palestinian people.”
Throughout the many years of negotiations, the Israelis and Palestinians have accused each other of intransigence. But Mr. Erekat constantly sought engagement with the Israelis and formed deep friendships with several of his interlocutors.
One of them, Ms. Livni, said that their talks were always honest and that when they disagreed, which they did frequently, it was in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Mr. Erekat was proud to represent the Palestinians, she said, and was admired for his deep knowledge of the issues.
“He viewed it as his destiny to try to achieve peace,” she said.
Mr. Erekat was less popular among other Israelis, however. They castigated him for campaigning to sue Israel for war crimes in the International Criminal Court and for accusing Israel of carrying out a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002, an allegation that turned out to be unfounded.
In recent years, as his health deteriorated, he saw his diplomatic achievements cast aside and his goal of statehood slip further away.
The stalemate with Israel has only hardened under the Trump administration, which has openly sided with Israel. In the early months of the new American administration, Mr. Erekat said, he spoke “more than once” with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser, and met multiple times with American officials.
But after the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved its embassy there six months later, upending years of American diplomacy, the Palestinian leadership rejected the possibility of further American-brokered talks.
Mr. Abbas declared the Oslo process “dead,” and Mr. Erekat warned that a two-state solution was becoming impossible. Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “have managed to destroy that hope,” he said.
When President Trump presented his long-awaited peace plan in January, the Palestinian leadership angrily rejected it out of hand, describing it as hopelessly weighted toward Israeli interests.
Saeb Muhammad Erekat was born on April 28, 1955, the sixth of seven brothers and sisters, to a family from Abu Dis in the Jerusalem governorate, which was then under Jordanian administration. He grew up in Jericho in theWest Bank. His father, Muhammad Erekat, lived in the United States for a long time as a businessman.
Mr. Erekat was 12 when the Israeli military occupied Jericho, along with the rest of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. He described that moment as the end of his childhood and the beginning of his awakening as a Palestinian.
He told interviewers that he was first arrested by Israeli forces at 13, saying variously that he was detained for writing anti-occupation graffiti or for posting fliers and throwing stones.
At 17, he traveled to California, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and international relations at San Francisco State University. He returned to the West Bank in the late 1970s and became a lecturer at An Najah National University. He later earned a Ph.D. in peace studies from the University of Bradford in Britain.
Increasingly frustrated by the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Mr. Erekat warned in recent years that if all hope for a two-state solution were lost, the only realistic alternative would be a single, Israeli-controlled entity in all the territory with Palestinians subject to an apartheidlike system.
“If the Trump administration doesn’t want to talk about a two-state solution on the 1967 border or about one democratic state for everyone,” he wrote last year in an Op-Ed for The New York Times, “what it is actually talking about is the consolidation of a ‘one-state reality’: one state, Israel, controlling everything while imposing two different systems, one for Israeli Jews and another for Palestinians. This is known as apartheid.”
When news broke several years ago that Mr. Erekat had pulmonary fibrosis and needed a lung transplant, he said many Israeli officials and private citizens had asked him if they could be of help. But others deplored the possibility that his life might be saved by the health system of the state he disparaged.
The Israeli Health Ministry ultimately said that its waiting list for transplants gave priority to Israeli citizens, and the operation was carried out in Virginia.
When he contracted Covid-19 last month, Mr. Erekat was initially treated at home, and his family said he was recuperating well. But he was transferred to the Israeli hospital when his condition deteriorated.
Mr. Erekat is survived by his wife, Neameh; two daughters, Dalal and Salam; and two sons, Ali and Muhammad.
Mr. Indyk said that Mr. Erekat had been “committed to peace until his last breath” and that he had told Mr. Indyk privately that he had no problem with recognizing Israel as a Jewish state once Palestinian needs had been met in a final agreement. The Israelis have long demanded such recognition, and the Palestinians publicly rejected it, a major sticking point.
For Mr. Erekat, the establishment of a Palestinian state was “not a question of if, but when,” Mr. Indyk said, adding, “The tragedy is he never got to the ‘when.’”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Jeddah in July 2017.
An unofficial embargo imposed by Riyadh on Turkish goods is undermining Turkey’s exports not only to the kingdom and but also to other Gulf and Arab countries, according to data released by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (Türkiye İhracatçılar Meclisi, or TİM).
For more than a year, a number of Saudi and Turkish traders have stressed that Saudi Arabia has been enforcing an informal boycott of imports from Turkey. In October Saudi authorities started calling on their citizens to “boycott everything Turkish” following a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing some Gulf countries of pursuing policies that were destabilizing the region. The Saudi move seems to have been followed by unofficial boycott campaigns in other Arab countries.
According to TİM statistics, Saudi Arabia is the country’s 15th biggest export market, with sales led by carpets, textiles, chemicals, grains, furniture and steel amounting to $2.02 billion in the first nine months of the year, a drop of 16.1 percent compared to the same period of 2019.
Similarly, the exports of Turkish goods to Gulf and other Arab countries decreased in the January-August 2020 period compared to the same period last year, TİM figures revealed. Turkey’s exports to the United Arab Emirates (-16.92 percent), Bahrain (-17.71 percent), Kuwait (-4.18 percent), Algeria (-29.26 percent), Morocco (-13.68 percent), Iraq (-7.29 percent), Lebanon (-36.06 percent), Egypt (-11.89 percent) and Jordan (-10.89 percent) showed a marked decrease in 2020 over the previous year.
While some of the decline can be attributed to the pandemic, TİM statistics show that the Saudi boycott campaign might result in a sharp decline of Turkish exports to Arab countries.
Last week Turkey’s leading business groups and associations urged Saudi Arabia to take action as Turkish firms are encountering growing problems in the kingdom. “This issue has gone beyond bilateral economic relations and become a problem for global supply chains,” said the joint statement that was signed by industry leaders, exporters, contractors and unions.
“The boycott of everything Turkish, whether on the level of import, investment or tourism, is the responsibility of every Saudi — trader and consumer — in response to the continued hostility of the Turkish government to our leadership, our country and our citizens,” the head of Saudi Arabia’s Chamber of Commerce, Ajlan Al Ajlan, wrote on Twitter.
Saudi Prince Abdulrahman Bin Musa’ad has also joined calls to boycott Turkish imports, retweeting Erdoğan’s remarks and writing, “Therefore, I call for a full popular boycott of Turkish products …”
“Any official or unofficial initiative to block trade between the two countries will have negative repercussions on our trade relations and be detrimental to the economies of both countries,” Turkish business groups, including the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), TIM and the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), said in a statement following the messages from Saudi officials.
“We deeply regret the discriminatory treatment that our companies face in Saudi Arabia. … We expect Saudi authorities to take concrete initiatives to resolve the problems,” said the business groups.
Financial Times (FT) reported on Monday that the de facto Saudi ban on Turkish products has hit the international fashion scene and that Spanish fashion brand Mango was reconsidering their Turkish suppliers due to the boycott. According to the report, Saudi Arabia has “banned all imports for made in Turkey products,” an employee at Mango told Turkish suppliers in an email and that the Spanish company is “looking into alternatives to the slowing down of custom processes for products of Turkish origin in Saudi Arabia.”
The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul put a spotlight on the deteriorating relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Since the eruption of the Arab Spring, however, relations between the two countries have gradually, but systematically, deteriorated. During the Arab revolutions, Turkey supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a political movement in various Arab countries and armed and funded radical jihadist groups. However, the leadership of Saudi Arabia is opposed to the brotherhood and sees it as a threat to their own domestic stability.
The watershed moment in Turkish-Saudi relations really came in June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, joined by Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and took a number of punitive measures against the emirate, including imposing a total blockade. Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood along with several other militant Islamist groups in the region. Turkey then came to the aid of Qatar, transporting goods there that had been disrupted by the Saudi Arabia-imposed sanctions. Turkey also increased its military cooperation with Qatar by adding to the number of troops it maintains in the country.
Turkey has condemned last month’s US-brokered deals signed by the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel.
Sen. Kamala Harris in the Russell Senate Office Building, June 24, 2020(photo credit: TOM WILLIAMS/CQ ROLL CALL/GETTY IMAGES/JTA)AdvertisementDemocratic Party candidate for vice president Kamala Harris indicated on Saturday in an interview via email with The Arab American News that under a Joe Biden administration, the United States will renew its ties with the Palestinians, and oppose Israeli unilateral actions that undermine a two-state solution. Harris also said that a Biden administration will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians, attempt to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and reopen the US consulate in east Jerusalem, in addition to working to reopen the PLO mission in Washington. Read More Related Articles
Recommended byIn an email to Detroit weekly bilingual newspaper, Harris said that ”Joe and I also believe in the worth and value of every Palestinian and every Israeli, and we will work to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy.”We are committed to a two-state solution, and we will oppose any unilateral steps that undermine that goal. We will also oppose annexation and settlement expansion,” she added. The statement from Harris comes as many observers in the Middle East will be watching the outcome of the 2020 US election on Tuesday, in light of the recent warming of relations between Israel and states in the Arab world under the Trump administration.Earlier this month, Israel and Sudan formally agreed to normalize relations, following the normalization of relations between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh with Sami Abu Zuhri on his left talks to reporters in Istanbul at FİMED office in August 2020.
With a new media initiative in Turkey, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, appears to have committed itself to polishing the credentials of Turkey’s corrupt Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, its main regional benefactor, and promoting him among Arabs and Muslims.
The establishment of the Istanbul-based Association for Palestine Communicators and Media (Filistin İletişimciler ve Medya Derneği, or FİMED) in April 2020 by a key senior Hamas figure was aimed at marketing Erdoğan — who effectively considers himself the caliph or leader of all Muslim communities across the globe. The organization, funded by the Turkish government, is led by Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, a controversial figure who had troubles in his native Palestine over allegations of harassment of women, including a foreign female reporter.
FİMED does not hide its intention to promote the Turkish government, and it has openly declared that one of the the association’s goals is to “raise the status of Turkey in the view of Arabs and Muslim Ummah” in addition to informing Turks about events in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The association also feeds the narrative to Turks that Erdoğan wholeheartedly supports the Palestinian cause and often features Hamas leaders’ speeches that praise Erdoğan’s leadership and support his policies.
A review of public statements made by Abu Zuhri and carried by FİMED reveals that the organization rushes to defend the Turkish president when Erdoğan faces criticism from Western or Muslim states. For example, in July 2020 Abu Zuhri put out a statement endorsing Erdoğan’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a move that triggered a wave of criticism from the international community. “The opening of Hagia Sophia to [Islamic] worship is a joyous decision for all Muslims, and with this decision Turkey has once again asserted its sovereignty. I hereby congratulate Turkey and its people,” FİMED tweeted on July 11, 2020, quoting Abu Zuhri.
On October 26, 2020 Abu Zuhri issued a statement saying that Hamas stands by Turkey against what he called external threats. The statement came after Erdoğan repeatedly claimed in his pubic rallies that his government has been targeted economically by the Western powers because it supports oppressed peoples in the region.
The point man who mobilizes resources for the Hamas media project in Turkey on behalf of President Erdoğan is Hasan Turan, a member of parliament from Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Turan is a deputy chairman of the AKP and in charge of civic society and public relations. He is also head of the Palestine-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Group.
Abu Zuhri coordinates the media campaign with Husam Badran, Hamas’s international spokesperson and a former military leader, and reports to Saleh Al-Arouri, Hamas deputy political chief and a top military commander who has been living in Turkey under the protection of the Erdoğan government. Turkey is accused of allowing Hamas members who were sheltering in Turkey to plan attacks against Israel in a breach of a 2015 US-brokered deal to not allow Hamas officials to plot terror attacks against Israel from Turkish territory.
In August 2020 the Turkish president and his intelligence chief Hakan Fidan hosted a Hamas delegation that included political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh and al-Arouri.
In less than 2 minutes Kamala Harris says ‘We must stand with Israel’ 3 times. Also adds: ‘I support US commitment to provide Israel with 38 billion dollars in military assistance.’ She’s a zionist and I’m surprised to see Muslims celebrating her victory.
As ballot counting – and the alleged fraud, ballot tampering, and ballot creation that goes along with it – continues in Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed in Federal Court calls out the Pennsylvania Secretary of State and the many county election supervisors for allowing 21,000 dead people to remain active on the voter rolls.
After the 2000 and 2016 General Elections, Congress allocated monies to both refine and harden the voting systems in the 50 states. Included in the requirement for accepting this funding was the mandate that voter rolls be purged of voters who were either deceased or who had moved from the voting jurisdictions.
Evidently, Kathy Boockvar, the Democrat Secretary of State in Pennsylvania, didn’t understand that mandate going into arguably the most important election of our lifetimes.
Federal election law maintains that voter roll maintenance be done before every General Election. Many responsible election authorities make voter roll maintenance as close to a real-time task as possible.
“As of October 7, 2020, at least 9,212 registrants have been dead for at least five years, at least 1,990 registrants have been dead for at least ten years, and at least 197 registrants have been dead for at least twenty years,” the foundation’s lawsuit states.
“Pennsylvania,” the lawsuit continues, “still left the names of more than 21,000 dead individuals on the voter rolls less than a month before one of the most consequential general elections for federal officeholders in many years.”
PILF President J. Christian Adams, a former attorney at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division – which oversees election fraud cases, said in a statement. “This case isn’t complicated. For nearly a year, we’ve been offering specific data on deceased registrants to Pennsylvania officials for proper handling ahead of what was expected to be a tight outcome on Election Day. When you push mail voting, your voter list maintenance mistakes made years ago will come back to haunt in the form of unnecessary recipients and nagging questions about unreturned or outstanding ballots.”
Last May, election officials in Pennsylvania admitted to mailing out duplicate ballots.
Boockvar’s refusal to maintain Pennsylvania’s voter rolls – and to mandate that each of Pennsylvania’s county election authorities do the same, set Pennsylvania up to fall prey to those nor perpetrating the massive voter fraud that is stealing an election.