04/12 Links Pt1: Israel issues pre-Passover travel warnings; Abu Mazen’s Attempt to Blunt the Knife Terror Wave
Israel issues pre-Passover travel warnings, stressing Turkey
Israel again instructed its citizens to avoid visiting Turkey and “to get out of there as quickly as possible” on Tuesday, in light of the approaching travel season.
On Friday, Israel issued a dramatic announcement, raising the threat level for Turkey to the highest possible level, which designates a large, concrete threat.
Israelis should “avoid visiting [Turkey] and get out of there as quickly as possible,” the Counter-Terrorism Bureau said in a statement.
Speaking to journalists Tuesday, a senior counter-terrorism official in the Israeli government reviewed the travel warnings for countries around the world ahead of Passover and the spring season, when many Israelis take advantage of the holidays to go abroad.
The Second Circuit US federal appeals court on Tuesday is due to hear the Palestinian Authority’s appeal against a historic $655.5 million civil wrongful death judgment against it for involvement in six terror attacks during the Second Intafada.
The judgment, handed down by a Manhattan jury in US federal district court in February 2015, was the first massive judgment ever against the PA in the US and one of the first major anti-terror judgments, along with the September 2014 judgment against Arab Bank for terror financing.
Many observers have said that together the judgments could change the playing field in making it easier to successfully sue in US courts groups which finance or indirectly support terror.
The PA’s appeal and representation have been led by Gassan A. Baloul and Mitchell R. Berger of Squire Patton Boggs LLP.
The plaintiffs, represented by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center and Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter, central narrative at trial was that a large volume of PA employees, including numerous policemen and commanders, have been arrested and convicted by Israel as having organized, planned and perpetrated suicide bombings and shootings against Americans in Israel, including the six attacks from 2001-2004 in the case during the Second Intifada. In those attacks, 33 were killed with hundreds injured.
Fatah Spokesman Osama Qawasmeh: The West Sponsors Islamic Extremism; 9/11 Was No Coincidence
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has recently aimed a new public-diplomacy campaign at the Israeli people. He hosted a delegation of Jews who emigrated from Arab countries and gave an interview to Israeli TV investigative journalist Ilana Dayan (Uvdah program, Channel 2, March 31, 2016). The Israelis who met with him were told of his commitment to peace, recognition of Netanyahu as Israel’s representative, readiness to negotiate with him, and measures to prevent terror attacks. They were told of his notion that the Jews who grew up in the Arab world in an atmosphere of neighborliness are natural peace promoters and of his feeling that peace efforts must be accelerated because time is running out.
Very good, no? Well, perhaps not so good.
Knife and rocks
Abbas’ sweet talk did not even convince his interlocutors, who are known to be fair game for his blandishments. True, Dayan asked him tougher questions than other Israeli interviewers. But she saw no need to ask why he does not simply condemn the perpetrators of the terror attacks instead of mouthing platitudes about how we are all human beings, and why he does not even say that in Arabic to his own people. Still worse, she did not ask why he speaks of the two-state solution but not about two states for two peoples, and why he repeatedly uses the phrase “the Israeli people” and never “the Jewish people.” (It is striking how, every time Abbas has spoken the former phrase, the translator has preferred other designations such as “the Israelis” or “the people in Israel.”)
The representatives of the Jews from Arab lands indeed complained that the PA chairman had not fulfilled previous promises he had given them about turning to Netanyahu and the king of Morocco in pursuit of peace. Yet, they ignored an article that Abbas published in 1979 and again in 2012, in which he tells the tale that those Jews’ immigration to Israel, particularly from Iraq, was entirely the result of a plot concocted by the Ashkenazi Zionists who, in the wake of the nakba, wanted cheap manpower to replace the Palestinian workers. Abbas, of course, ignored the persecution of the Jews in those countries, including Iraq, and the fact that they were expelled from them with no option of returning. In other words, Abbas does not deviate one iota from the Palestinian narrative that underpins the knife terror.
Is the Palestinian terrorism against Israelis decreasing? – Yossi Kuperwasser – Question of the Day
JPost Editorial: Economics of terrorism
Economics of terrorism Cause and effect relationships that seek to explain terrorism are problematic. Does economic hardship explain why a young Muslim man or woman decides to get behind the wheel of a car and run over pedestrians or to grab a kitchen knife and stab passersby? In the 1990s, many supporters of the Oslo Accords predicted that peace would lead to economic growth that would have a moderating effect on Palestinians. Shimon Peres wrote a book in 1993 called The New Middle East in which he argued that peace could be achieved by improving Palestinians’ economic situation. Israel’s economic prosperity could be a catalyst for reconciliation.
Peres and other optimists underestimated the influence of Islamic fundamentalism and incitement. In a collective act of self-destruction, Palestinians chose terrorism and violence over peace and economic prosperity.
But while we cannot expect economic factors to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is also true that economic discontent plays a role in legitimizing and fostering terrorism.
To this day, acts of terrorism are seen as linked either directly or indirectly to socioeconomic conditions.
Analysis: A combination of goodwill gestures by the IDF, better tactical operations, and proactive measures taken by the Palestinian security services has discouraged Palestinians from carrying out stabbing attacks in the past few weeks.
Is the third intifada coming to its end? Six months since Eitam and Na’ama Heinkin were murdered near Nablus, the attack that symbolizes the beginning of what grew into a popular yet unorganized intifada which claimed the lives of 34 Israelis, the most recent data points to a dramatic drop in terror attacks.
The last substantial terror attack took place more than two weeks ago, when two terrorists stabbed two soldiers in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, lightly to moderately wounding the latter two. Ironically, what happened 11 minutes later could have escalated the violent uprising; a Kfir Brigade soldier arrived at the scene as reinforcement and shot one of the terrorists who lying, neutralized on the ground. Despite fear of reprisals, Palestinians have not carried out new attacks. In fact, officers in the West Bank Division have said that Palestinian officials have relayed to them that the Israeli public and military response to the incident has calmed Palestinian desire to exact revenge.
The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon rejected an appeal against the demolition of the home of the Arab terrorist who murdered an Israeli woman last January.
Shlomit Krigman was stabbed to death in the attack, which also left another woman seriously wounded, outside a supermarket in Beit Horon.
Two terrorists carried out the attack, armed with knives and pipe bombs. They were prevented from entering the shop itself by the store manager, who fought them off with a shopping cart, but proceeded to attack shoppers outside before being shot dead.
Judge Yitzhak Amit rejected the plea despite the fact that the terrorist whose home is slated for demolition was a minor, due in part to the fact that the terrorist had already been known for extremist activities, and that he and his father were both warned by the Shin Bet security service against carrying out attacks.
The pair were in fact warned on two separate occasions over the son’s extremist activities – yet the terrorist and his accomplice, both from the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta, still carried out the deadly attack.
Israel’s prison service on Monday said it has approved the early release of a 12-year-old Palestinian girl who confessed to planning to carry out a stabbing attack in a West Bank settlement.
Prison service spokesman Assaf Librati said Monday that authorities have decided to release the girl on April 24 — six weeks before her scheduled release. He said the decision was made because of her “young age.”
The case had put Israel’s military justice system in a difficult spot and drawn attention to the dual legal systems in the West Bank — one for Palestinians and one for Israelis.
The girl was arrested in February outside a West Bank settlement with a knife hidden in her shirt and later pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter under a plea bargain. She was sentenced to four and a half months in prison.
Last week, her family appealed to Israeli military and prison officials to free her early, citing her age.
Israeli police officers from the Jerusalem District last Friday briefly detained Jordanian Sheikh Muhammad Salim for questioning after the Muslim preacher made inciting remarks during a sermon he delivered at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
A crowd of worshipers gathered at the scene to protest Salim’s arrest, chanting “Allahu akbar” (“God is greater” in Arabic). Salim was released from custody after he was questioned by the police.
Jordanian Religious Trusts Minister Hail Daoud harshly condemned Salim’s arrest, telling Jordan’s Petra News Agency, “This is an unacceptable action by the Israeli authorities, who arrested a religious official fulfilling his duties at Friday prayers.” Daoud denied Israel’s claim that Salim was arrested for delivering a sermon that contained incitement to violence.
An extensive new poll taken across the United Kingdom revealed Monday that British Muslims were more likely to hold anti-Semitic views than other British citizens, according to The Jewish Chronicle.
The poll, broadcasted on Channel 4 earlier this week, found that more than a third of British Muslims surveyed believed “Jews have to much power in the UK” and had undue influence in the media, financial institutions and the business world. More than a quarter of those sampled also agreed that Jews were responsible for most of the world’s current wars.
Polling company ICM conducted the survey and aired their findings Wednesday in a new documentary titled What do British Muslims Really Think.
The ICM poll surveyed 1,081 British Muslims and discovered that British Muslims were more inclined to believe in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories than the national average.
Three momentous events mark 1979 as the year in which modern jihad, having evolved over the course of the century, emerged as a global movement: the establishment of a theocratic regime in Iran, the siege of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While the conditions for an Islamist explosion had existed for a long time, these events were the spark.
ABDULLAH AZZAM: THE SCHOLAR MARTYR
Abdullah Azzam was born into a Palestinian family who had to flee the West Bank after the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War of 1967. He became a disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood, studying during his formative years the incendiary works of its founder, Hassan al Banna (1906–1949) and those of Sayyid Qutb, finding in them the expression of his own rage and sense of victimhood. Studying in Syria and Egypt and teaching in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he came into contact with the leading Islamist movements of the day, weaving their disparate intellectual threads together into a cohesive doctrine, which he eventually published in 1984 as a fatwa titled Defense of the Muslim Lands. The foundational work for the global jihad of the twentieth century, Azzam’s Defense contains the key assertions at the heart of every jihadist enterprise:
– Muslims have been humiliated at the hands of impure regimes and colonial powers.
– Islam will suffer ultimate defeat if Muslims do not take on jihad as a personal obligation.
– The only way for Islam to be saved is for the caliphate to be reestablished for the glory of Allah.
The Islamist extremists who carried out terror attacks in Paris and Brussels had originally planned to target the European soccer championships due to take place across France this summer, according to a French newspaper.
The opening match and final are to be held at the French capital’s Stade de France, one of three targets hit during the Paris attacks in November, along with a concert hall and nearby nightspots.
The cell changed direction after the arrest last month of Salah Abdeslam, suspected as a key figure in the Paris attacks, during which 130 people were killed and hundreds more injured, Liberation reported Sunday.
Abdeslam is suspected of playing at least a logistical role in the Paris attacks but escaped and fled back to Brussels, eluding a vast police dragnet for four months.
Teachers working in the predominantly Muslim districts of Molenbeek and Schaerbeek in Brussels have reported that “90 percent of their students, 17, 18 years old” called the Islamist terrorists who attacked Paris and Brussels “heroes”.
The revelation came in an article in the New York Times, wherein Steven Erlanger spoke to a Belgian policymaker who relayed the information from Belgium.
The piece, entitled “Blaming Policy, Not Islam, for Belgium’s Radicalised Youth”, interviewed Yves Goldstein, chief of staff for the minister-president of the Brussels Capital Region and a Schaerbeek councilman. Schaerbeek and Molenbeek are now infamous as the areas in which for months Islamists lived, hid, manufactured weapons and made preparations for the Paris and Belgium attacks.
Reflecting that “our cities are facing a huge problem, maybe the largest since World War II,” Goldstein poses the question, “How is it that people who were born here in Brussels, in Paris, can call heroes the people who commit violence and terror?”
I’m more worried today than I was a year ago, says Mona Sahlin.
Former Social Democrat party leader Mona Sahlin is Sweden’s official coordinator against violent extremism.
Mona Sahlin’s vision of Sweden has changed due to her mandate as the coordinator against violent extremism, she says in a stunning interview with the Swedish newspaper Expressen, where she admits that the Swedish immigration policy in general has failed.
– When I talk to a preschool teacher who says that kids at her kindergarten are playing ISIS outside, or when I hear about young people who ask: “Are you Sunni or Shia?”, then it has gone much further than I thought, she says.
Why has this trend been able to go under the radar?
– A large part of the authorities in Sweden have abdicated our suburbs. And we are also afraid to touch issues regarding religion. The debate stops because we are too ignorant and too cowardly to challenge the extreme interpretation of a religion that ISIS is based upon, and which also exists in our country.
For the naive Jews and others who castigate those of us who dare to oppose open borders for hordes of male Muslim invaders masquerading as refugees, a glimpse into the heart of darkness:
Muslims chant “Adolf Hitler” and “alahu ackbar” Gemany
And now for proof that in Merkeland a woman doesn’t have to be young to be harassed.
Not the man on the street but the woman on the street for a change. Here’s an elderly lady in Hamburg, telling of the harassment and intimidation she has received from men of a misogynist culture. Even as she speaks a group of Muslim youths comes up to mock and interject:
Racist of me to share Vlad Tepes’s video? I hardly think so. After all, though not as elderly as this lady, I know how it feels to be surrounded by a group of young Muslim men intent on some kind of mischief. I’ve blogged elsewhere about the incident in Antwerp that had me scared.
What is the significance of a UN resolution the Palestinians want to introduce? – Amb. Alan Baker
Lenny Ben-David, Jerusalem Center’s Director of Publications interviews Amb. Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs.
Question of the day: As the former legal advisor to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Ambassador to Canada, can you respond to reports of a new Palestinian initiative for a UN Security Council resolution to condemn Israeli policies? Ha’aretz and some columnists unfriendly to Israel are calling for President Obama NOT to veto such a resolution. What would such a resolution mean practically?
From Ma’aleh Adumim onward, the EU has identified Bedouin makeshift encampments as the chief weapon for transforming Area C into the would-be Palestinian state. Were EU officials to allow such encampments in their home states, they would find themselves behind bars for abetting housing that is in contravention of civic ordinances in third-world states, let alone states that comprise the EU.
These fast-growing encampments are too close to a major highway, and bereft of sewage systems and organized garbage disposal. The Israeli authorities have leveled an area just south of Abu Dis that would provide all these amenities, but the EU continues to abet this inhuman settlement. Obviously, the EU believes that any illegal means justify the end of creating a Palestinian state. The story is being repeated in the Southern Hebron Hills.
The document written and signed in 1995 that created areas A, B and C, though hardly dramatic in its own right, set the stage for dramatic, often painful events. It directly relates to current affairs such as the recent proposal made by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to return to the PA sole security control over some cities in Area A, beginning with Ramallah and Jericho.
Will Israel repeat the mistake of providing Hamas and Islamic Jihad with sanctuaries from which to launch not only attacks with makeshift weapons, as in the current wave of violence, but also massive suicide bombings, as in the second intifada?
The same can be said of the lenience Israel is showing in the face of massive illegal building abetted by the EU and some other Arab states. Israel might be making the same error it made between 1996 and 2002 when it allowed the PA to encroach on areas B and C, for which it paid a very high price during the second intifada.
Do we recall this 2007 incident?
Haaretz’s Chief Editor asked US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “rape” Israel, using other unsavory terminology as well in his request for American pressure.
Haaretz is still at it, demanding in an editorial a diplomatic rape of Israel:
Obama, support Abbas’ UN resolution, no matter what Netanyahu says
Security Council members, especially the United States, must adopt this peace-advancing move and ignore the denunciations of the prime minister.
Haaretz Editorial | Apr. 9, 2016
…Last month Obama admitted that he did not believe an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would be reached before he leaves office in January. But that should not prevent him from preparing the ground for a future international effort to advance the two-state solution he believes in.
A veto of the latest resolution, which does not include a single clause that contradicts U.S. policy, would constitute a diplomatic and moral renunciation of the peace process. It would give Israel permission to continue its settlement policy and would heighten the Palestinians’ frustration and despair, which feed the terror attacks.
Amos Schocken, owner of liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, has come under fire from a well-known Palestinian Knesset member after he published a scathing opinion article denouncing “the atrocious underrepresentation of Arab Israelis in the professions.”
Reacting to a report by the civil rights group Adalah, Schocken wrote: “Despite Arabs comprising over 20% of Israel’s population, they constitute just 1.2% of tenured academics, and a paltry 0.7% of doctors in public hospitals. This blatant underrepresentation proves just how racist the apartheid State of Israel is.”
In response, Palestinian-Israeli parliamentarian Ahmad Tibi called Schocken a “flaming hypocrite” during an interview on a local Arabic radio station yesterday, saying: “That’s like Tom Cruise calling John Travolta a closet case! I mean, how many Arab editors does Messiah Amos, self-proclaimed White Knight of Israeli Pluralism and the One and Only Savior of the Palestinians, employ? One! Just one!”
An indignant Schocken then took to Twitter, writing: “.@Ahmad_tibi accusation grossly inaccurate. Haaretz fully committed to equal opportunity: in fact, 90% of our cleaning staff is Arab!”
Israel signaled on Tuesday it did not oppose the return of two Red Sea islands in a strategic strait to Saudi Arabia by Egypt, with one senior lawmaker seeing a chance to get closer to Riyadh, with which Israel has no formal peace agreement.
The islands of Tiran and Sanafir, located at the southern entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, will be formally demarcated as being in Saudi waters under a treaty announced on Saturday by Cairo, which has had de facto control over them since 1950.
In 1967, Egypt blocked the strait of Tiran, a move that prompted Israel to launch the Middle East war. In its later peace deal with Israel, Cairo promised to respect freedom of shipping in Aqaba and Eilat, a commitment that Saudi Arabia says it will uphold when it takes over the islands.
Eilat is Israel’s only port in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.
A powerful lawmaker in the premier’s rightist Likud party said the treaty would not threaten Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s policies in southern Israel as helping keep jihadists and migrants from flooding the country, while sparring with a group of hecklers at a conference Tuesday.
Netanyahu touted a recently upgraded security fence along the Egyptian border as the only thing keeping thousands of Islamic State fighters and more African job-seekers out of the country.
“I ask you to imagine what would be happening here if it wasn’t built — we would be inundated with thousands of Daesh fighters and hundreds of thousands of illegal migrant workers from Africa,” he said in the southern town of Yeruham, at the 7th annual Negev, Galilee and Periphery Development conference.
The prime minister has repeatedly pointed to the 400-kilometer (245 mile) fence, completed in 2014, as a keystone of Israel’s security infrastructure in the south.
Late last year, Netanyahu announced the country would build a similar fence along the Jordanian border in the Negev, saying Israel was surrounded by “beasts,” likely referring to Islamist elements.
A car bomb exploded on Tuesday in Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon, killing a senior Palestinian official, an AFP correspondent and state news agency NNA said.
Scorched body parts were lying near a car in flames, AFP’s correspondent said.
The blast occured near the Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp, in southern Sidon.
Lebanese media said the man killed was Gen. Fathi Zaidan, a senior member of the Fatah movement who ran the Miyeh Miyeh refugee camp near Sidon.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to cut off PLO funds to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leader of the PFLP said on Monday.
The Marxist PFLP is the second-largest group in the PLO after Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction. Like other PLO factions, the PFLP has been receiving monthly funds from the PLO’s Palestinian National Fund.
Abbas’s decision came in response to the PFLP’s recent criticism of his policies, especially with regard to security coordination with Israel, Palestinian sources in Ramallah said.
A senior PFLP leader recently called on Abbas to resign or face being fired by the PLO leadership. The PFLP has also strongly condemned Abbas’s decision to dispatch a delegation to offer condolences over the death of Brig.-General Munir Amar, the head of the civil administration in the West Bank, who was killed in a plane crash in the Galilee last month.
Members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on Tuesday burned photos of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Gaza Strip.
The PFLP members were protesting Abbas’s decision to suspend PLO funding for their group.
The protesters called for Abbas’s resignation and chanted slogans denouncing his decision, which came in response to PFLP criticism of his policies.
The Marxist PFLP is the second largest group in the PLO after Abbas’s Fatah faction.
The only power plant in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip was at a standstill on Tuesday due to an ongoing shortage of fuel caused largely by a dispute over taxes, officials said.
The plant has been closed since Saturday night when it ran out of fuel, said Ahmed Abu Al-Amreen, an official in the energy ministry.
Parts of the strip have been without power for 20 hours a day, the United Nations said, up from 12 hours previously.
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has gradually removed a tax exemption on fuel since January, demanding Hamas pay taxes on imports to besieged Gaza.
The cash-stripped Gaza energy authorities estimate the tax costs around 10 million shekels ($2.6 million) monthly and say they cannot afford it.
The Palestinian Center for Humanitarian Communication launched a new project Monday aimed at conducting a mass wedding of handicapped Palestinians injured during the recent wars in Gaza.
The organization called on eligible people to send requests to join the project, which was founded by the United Arab Emirates Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan.
Led by Jalila Dahlan, the wife of Mohammad Dahlan, a former senior Fatah official, the project aims at helping 50 handicapped Gazans start their life as couples.
Only Gazans who were injured during one of the three recent wars in Gaza (in 2008, 2012 and 2014), who are employed at the Palestinian Authority and whose age is no less than 25 years-old are eligible to apply to the project.
A car bomb attack hit a military police station Monday night in a mainly Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey, killing one person and wounding more than two dozen others, according to Turkish media reports.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said “terrorists” affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, carried out the bombing in the town of Hani in the Diyarbakir region.
The bombing killed one soldier and wounded 25 others, according to the Anadolu report. Helicopters and ambulances took the victims to the Diyarbakir Military Hospital.
The private Dogans news agency also reported one fatality but said 27 people, including some civilians, had been wounded in the attack. Nearby buildings were damaged by the blast and power lines were down.
The anti-ISIS army – known as the ‘jin’ unit – is formed from a rotating squad of women said to be particularly feared by extremists in Iraq.
Under ISIS’ strict interpretation of the Koran, militants believe if they are killed by a woman they will not go to heaven.
Fear of what awaits them after their impending death means the female soldiers can be more effective than men at clearing territory held by jihadis in Syria and Iraq, as they would rather flee than sacrifice what they believe will be an afterlife.
One 30-year-old recruit known only by her first name Denis said: “They are so scared of us. If we kill them they can’t go to heaven. It makes us laugh.
“We make loud calls of happiness when we see them to let them know we are coming. That’s when they become cowards.”
Here’s the latest episode of outreach to Iran from the lips of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. After condemning, during a press conference in Bahrain, the “destabilizing actions” of Iran in the Middle East, he then followed up with a plea. “Help us end the war in Yemen,” Kerry implored the Tehran regime. “Help us end the war in Syria, not intensify, and help us to be able to change the dynamics of this region.”
What do you call this? Naiveté? Hard-nosed realism? The actualization of President Barack Obama’s deeply held belief that American diplomacy must be humble and post-imperial? Or just the plain old enabling of a rogue state ruled by clerics who practice censorship and torture?
Perhaps the fairest way to adjudicate this would be to judge Kerry by his results. There is no chance that Iran is going to perform a 180-degree turnaround in its foreign policy, and Kerry knows it. In Syria, Iran has worked with Russia to stabilize the bloodstained tyrant Bashar al-Assad, while in Yemen and elsewhere in the Gulf, it is systematically baiting the conservative Sunni monarchies quivering in the face of rising Shi’a power.
Opposition from members of Congress from both parties has been building over the past two weeks. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-Calif.) asserted in The Washington Post that Iran is “demanding additional concessions — above and beyond the [nuclear] agreement — in return for nothing.” He continued, “That’s why I’m working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on legislation to put in place strict statutory prohibitions to keep Iran from receiving the benefits of accessing the U.S. financial system.” Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced a new bill prohibiting Iran from gaining access to the U.S. dollar last Wednesday.
However, according to the AP, administration officials argued that the U.S. must live up to the “‘letter and spirit’ of the sanctions relief” as part of the nuclear deal.
Addressing this point, Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that he won’t “allow Iran to determine what is in compliance with the JCPOA [the nuclear deal]… We will use the international standards but we will not use an Iranian standard.”
In a similar vein, an editorial in The Washington Post last week questioned why the U.S. should “take steps not strictly mandated by the text of the nuclear accord at a time when Iran is testing nuclear-capable missiles?”
Police in Tehran arrested 2,900 drunk drivers last year, a top official said Tuesday, describing the figures, which come despite the Islamic republic’s official prohibition of alcohol, as “alarming.”
The offenders were detained in the 12 months up to March 2016, the Iranian capital’s prosecutor general Abbas Jafarabadi said, according to the judiciary’s official news service.
Alcohol has been banned in Iran since the revolution in 1979 and those who break the law can be fined, lashed or serve prison time. Only the country’s Christian minority has the right to produce wine for religious purposes.
However, demand for all types of drink fuels smuggling from neighboring Iraq and Turkey. The inflated prices charged by illegal networks has also spurred cheaper locally produced beer, wine and spirits.
Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric has defended a ban on women driving by claiming it would “expose them to evil”.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh said men “obsessed with women” and with “weak spirits” could end up causing female drivers harm and that male relatives would not know their whereabouts.
Although women driving in Saudi Arabia is not against the law, in practice women are unable to obtain driving licences. Exceptions are occasionally made in rural areas if a woman needs to drive for her family life.
According to The Independent, the grand mufti made his comments on a Saudi television channel.
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