People stage a protest against the execution by Iran of up to 20 Kurds.. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran claimed credit for firing seven Fateh 110 ballistic missiles in an attack on Kurdish opposition groups in Koya in northern Iraq over the weekend that killed 17 and wounded numerous others. It was the first time Iranian forces had used precision missiles to attack deep inside Iraq.
The daylight attack on the city of some 100,000 in the Erbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan is a message from Tehran to the region that it can do what it wants, not only in neighboring Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. In the last year, Iranian missiles and Iranian-supported groups using Tehran’s technical advisers have targeted Saudi Arabia from Yemen and Israel from Syria.
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As Washington is pressuring Iran, the missile threat is Tehran’s response to the US sanctions. US Vice President Mike Pence condemned the rocket attack in a call with the Kurdistan region’s prime minister, calling it an “effort to threaten and destabilize.”
The IRGC attempted a decapitation strike against the Kurdish KDP-I, an opposition group that has a headquarters in Koya. Numerous senior leaders were present and a missile crashed into the building where they were meeting.
This was a precise and unprecedented strike. Although Iran has targeted Kurdish groups in Iraq before and has fired missiles at other opposition groups, the use of Fateh 110 missiles showcases Iranian intelligence operations and know-how. Iran has been increasing the Fateh 110’s guidance and accuracy for a decade. In mid-August, it test-fired one of them for use against ships. The IRGC released footage showing the missiles were used in coordination with drones and local intelligence. Reporters for Iranian state media were invited days before to prepare and watch the launch.
The missile attack on Koya should not be seen as an isolated Iran regime attack on an opposition group. Iran has been fighting Kurdish opposition groups for years and in Iran there have been increasing clashes. But the missile strike was an escalation and should be seen in the context of the Iranian-backed Houthis using ballistic missiles to target Riyadh, flying some 900 km from their launch point.
Iranian forces from Syria have also targeted and tested Israel’s defenses. They flew a drone into Israeli airspace in February, and fired a salvo of missiles in May. Recent satellite images show missile production facilities in northern Syria. Reports also indicate that Iran has transferred missiles to the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Shia militias, in Iraq. And Iran has armed Hezbollah with missiles for years and also supplied Hamas with technical support.
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The big picture then is an Iranian missile threat throughout the region. The National Defense Authorization Act signed by US President Donald Trump in August included passages about Iran’s ballistic missile threat.
Congress had looked deeply into how Iran’s missile program threatens the region. During a June speech at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, US Under Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelker said that “Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles.”
US allies in the region have missile defense technology to confront the Iranian threat. Israel has a layered system of missile defense including Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow program, while Saudi Arabia has used Patriot missile batteries to stop the Houthi missiles. This has proven effective. It is also why the IRGC decided to test out its missiles by targeting defenseless Kurdish groups in northern Iraq.
The IRGC’s strike on the Kurds is a message to Washington and to Israel. It shows how the IRGC operates across borders and throughout the region, seeing Iran’s policy in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as linked into one larger program.
The IRGC is also the group responsible for working with various proxies and Shia militias across the region.
The US administration’s response to the missile attack in Iraq will reveal whether Washington takes this new front in northern Iraq seriously and whether the discussions about stopping Iran’s activities see Iraq as a frontier to confront these missile threats or whether Iraq will continue to be an area that Iran can operate freely in.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases