Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Facebook moves against Hamas

Facebook. (AFP/Karen Bleier)

NOW//BEIRUT – Facebook has shut down Hamas’ accounts and groups on the social media site amid worsening unrest as Palestinian youths target Israelis in a wave of attacks.


“Facebook has closed, over the past two days, a large number of pages run by and close to the Hamas movement’s media in the occupied West Bank,” the Islamist group said in a statement issued Wednesday.


Hamas said the closures came after a “wide-ranging and organized complaint campaign” that it said was supported by direct pressure applied by the Israeli Telecommunications and Foreign ministries on Facebook’s administration.


The statement added that the closed Facebook pages had “played a key large role in supporting the Al-Quds intifada,” in reference to the spate of protests, riots and violent attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and Israel proper since early October.


“Today and yesterday, [Hamas] pages [based] in Ramallah, Galilee, Nablus, Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Salfit, Tubas and Jenin were closed, as well as the page of Muslim Youth League in the West Bank,” Hamas announced.


It added that Facebook also “launched a campaign against Islamic Bloc pages [based] in West Bank universities, closing the Bloc’s An-Najah, Galilee and Palestine Polytechnic pages.”


“At the same time as the closure of these pages, Facebook has closed and frozen the accounts of dozens of publishers and administrators who run [them].”


Hamas also announced that the page of its official spokesperson, Husam Badran, had been shut down.


A number of Facebook pages close to the Palestinian group have been shut down, including Nabdh Adh-Dhuffah [Pulse of the West Bank] and Kulluna Muqawama [We are All Resistance].


“Before this [Facebook] closed one of the most prominent interactive pages supporting the resistance — Sharik [Participate], which is part of Shabakat Quds Al-Ikhbariya [Quds News Network],” Hamas said.


The social media restrictions on Hamas come amid worsening violence in the West Bank and Israel proper that has left 9 Israelis and 48 Palestinians dead, with many fearing the unrest could portend a third intifada, or uprising.


Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on October 9 threw his support behind a new Palestinian uprising against the Israelis, saying it is “the only path that will lead to liberation.”


On October 21, a senior Hamas official called on the party’s Palestinian rivals, the Fatah Movement that controls the West Bank, to join the “popular uprising.”


Salah al-Bardawil said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—who leads Fatah—must “engage with his people and work towards their empowerment.”


Abbas, however, has rejected any move toward a new uprising, while Israel has pressured the Palestinian Authority to intensify security measures as Palestinians attacks Israelis in daily stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks.


Israel has accused Hamas of inciting Palestinian violence.

State Department declares Parchin military base not nuke site before IAEA even signs off on it

obama nukes

Responding to reports of construction at the Parchin military base, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that building an addition to one of the buildings was allowed because the site is a  “conventional military site, not a nuclear site.”

This is another flip flop by the Obama administration who had been insisting for years that Parchin may have conducted tests as recently as 2010 related to a nuclear explosive. And of course, giving Parchin a clean bill of health before the IAEA even has a chance to examine the samples that will be collected by Iranian sciientsts is ludicrous.

Jerusalem Post:

For over a decade, the IAEA has sought answers to a set list of questions regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear work. The agency agreed on a “road-map” with Iran last month toward that end and hopes to conclude its inquiry by the end of the year.

Theoretically, the inquiry is intended to conclude whether the site is conventional or nuclear in nature.

If the investigation concludes to the satisfaction of the IAEA, Iran will begin receiving its sanctions relief, and the broader Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action— the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal— will go into effect.

There is a Kabuki dance being performed by the international community as they go through the motions of deliberating and signing off on the agreement. Even the IAEA is now in the tank for the deal, eschewing any semblance of independent verification in favor of hurrying the process of certifying Iran to be compliant with the terms of the agreement.

This is clear to Democratic lawmakers who now have no reason at all to go against their president and vote the deal down. They realize that even if by some miracle Congress would refuse to OK the agreement, it would move forward anyway as if they didn’t even exist. Why risk your political career if it’s a done deal anyway?

Republicans should call out this charade and boycott the vote. It’s about as meaningful as voting to name a new post office in Ohio after John Boehner. Better to refuse to become part of this stage managed soap opera than be seen participating in it.

Obama comfortable with IAEA deal with Tehran to self-inspect nuke site


The White House on Wednesday said it was “confident” in the abilities of the International Agency for Atomic Energy to monitor and inspect the possible military dimensions on Iran’s past nuclear work and was “comfortable” with confidential arrangements between the IAEA and Tehran to ensure compliance with the nuclear deal signed on July 14.

“As the administration has said before — including in classified briefings for both chambers of Congress — we are confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday in response to an Associated Press report that revealed the IAEA would cede investigative authority of a suspected nuclear site to Tehran.

“Just as importantly, the IAEA is comfortable with arrangements, which are unique to the agency’s investigation of Iran’s historical activities. When it comes to monitoring Iran’s behavior going forward, the IAEA has separately developed the most robust inspection regime ever peacefully negotiated to ensure Iran’s current program remains exclusively peaceful, the overarching objective of the JCPOA. Beyond that, we are not going to comment on a purported draft IAEA document,” Price said.

The revelation, based on a document seen by AP, was also shrugged off by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who said, “I truly believe in this agreement,” after announcing that House Democrats have the votes to uphold President Barack Obama’s veto of a resolution against his Iran nuclear deal, if needed.

According to the document obtained by AP, the agreement worked out between the IAEA and Iran allows the Islamic Republic to use its own experts to inspect the Parchin nuclear site. The IAEA’s concession is unprecedented, according to a former senior IAEA official.

Iran has refused access to Parchin for years. Based on US, Israeli and other intelligence and its own research, the IAEA suspects that the Islamic Republic may have experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms at that military facility. The IAEA has also repeatedly cited evidence, based on satellite images, of possible attempts to sanitize the site since the alleged work stopped more than a decade ago.

The revelation was met with furious cynicism by Israel and US Republican leaders, with a leading senator calling the agreement to have Iran inspect its own suspect site “remarkably naive and incredibly reckless.”

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz immediately issued a caustic response. “One must welcome this global innovation and outside-the-box thinking,” he said in a statement dripping with sarcasm. “One can only wonder if the Iranian inspectors will also have to wait 24 days before being able to visit the site and look for incriminating evidence?”

Steinitz, the Israeli government’s point man on Iran, was alluding to the complex clauses in the agreement reached last month between world powers and Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear program, one of which provides Iran with 24-days notice of efforts to inspect suspect sites.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 24, 2015. (photo credit: AP/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

Republican senators were also furious. “This side agreement shows that true verification is a sham, and it begs the question of what else the administration is keeping from Congress,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader. McCarthy also complained that Congress learned of the IAEA deal from the AP report and not from the administration.

John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, “Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the UN in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement.”

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, called the agreement a “dangerous farce,” and accused the world powers who brokered the deal of acquiescing to Iran’s every demand.

“International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period. The standard of ‘anywhere, anytime’ inspections – so critical to a viable agreement – has dropped to ‘when Iran wants, where Iran wants, on Iran’s terms,’” Royce said Wednesday. “For weeks, Congress has been demanding access to this document to assess the viability of the inspections measures. Congress must now consider whether this unprecedented arrangement will keep Iran from cheating. This is a dangerous farce.”

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush also used the term “farce,” writing Wednesday on Twitter that “Nuclear inspections of state sponsors of terrorism can’t work on the honor system.”

Israel has slammed the deal concluded by the P5+1 powers and Iran, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branding it a historic mistake that will both pave Iran’s path to the bomb and, by lifting sanctions, cement the Islamist regime in power and allow it fund more terrorist activity and other dangerous regional activities.

Netanyahu has lobbied Congress to reject the deal when it votes on it next month.

The AP report on the separate IAEA-Iran side-agreement relating to Parchin dryly termed the self-inspection clause “an unusual arrangement.”

It said news of the agreement would be “sure to roil American and Israeli critics of the main Iran deal signed by the US, Iran and five world powers in July.”

The investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the International Atomic Energy Agency is linked to a broader probe of allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear deal.

The Parchin deal is a separate, side agreement worked out directly between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers that signed the Iran nuclear deal were not party to this agreement but were briefed on it by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.

Without divulging its contents, the Obama administration had previously described the document as nothing more than a routine technical arrangement between Iran and the IAEA on the particulars of inspecting the site.