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.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.