Thursday, August 25, 2016

Eye on Extremism August 25, 2016

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Eye on Extremism

August 25, 2016

Counter Extremism Project

Deutsche Welle: The Risk Of Open Borders
“While security risks have been discussed on all sides, most recently experts have said that the German refugee policy offers a chance for heightened security. One such expert is the British author, Robert Verkaik, who has written the recent book ‘Jihadi John.’ He claims that the long-term result of accepting hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees will see Germany protected from terror attacks. This is a similar view to that held by Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security Advisor to former US president George W. Bush from 2004 to 2007. Townsend currently leads the ‘Counter Extremism Project’ and believes that Syrian refugees could be an important source of information for domestic intelligence. But there is another reason why the calculation ‘fewer refugees, less terror’ does not add up, Townsend says. In the refugee camps in and around Syria there is a far greater danger of radicalizing people than in Europe. By taking in refugees, the West has denied ‘IS’ a dangerous source of potential supporters.”
The Wall Street Journal: Attack On American University Of Afghanistan Leaves 12 Dead
“Attackers stormed the heavily-barricaded American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, firing at students in an hourslong overnight siege that left 12 people dead and 30 wounded by Thursday morning. The assault began during evening classes on Wednesday, when a truck bomb exploded outside the fortified wall of the campus, opening the way for two assailants to enter as panicked students and staff fled and hid, Afghan officials and witnesses said. Seven students, three policemen and two security guards were killed in the nine-hour siege, police spokesman Basir Mujahideen said. Thirty students were wounded, he added. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the assault, but the university has long been at high risk of attack from Taliban militants because of its association with foreigners.”
The New York Times: Turkey’s Military Plunges Into Syria, Enabling Rebels To Capture ISIS Stronghold
“Turkey sent tanks, warplanes and special operations forces into northern Syria on Wednesday in its biggest plunge yet into the Syrian conflict, enabling Syrian rebels to take control of an important Islamic State stronghold within hours. The operation, assisted by American airstrikes, is a significant escalation of Turkey’s role in the fight against the Islamic State, the militant extremist group ensconced in parts of Syria and Iraq that has increasingly been targeting Turkey. By evening, Syrian rebels backed by the United States and Turkey declared that they had seized the town of Jarabulus and its surroundings, which had been the Islamic State’s last major redoubt near the Turkish border. Numerous fighters posted photographs and videos of themselves online with the green, black and white flag adopted by the Syrian opposition as they walked through empty streets where the black flag of Islamic State still flew; it appeared that most of the militants had fled without a fight.”
Associated Press: Report: Syria And Islamic State Blamed For Chemical Attacks
“An international team has concluded that the Syrian government and Islamic State militants carried out chemical attacks in the conflict-wracked nation during 2014 and 2015, according to a report circulated on Wednesday. The team from the U.N. and the chemical weapons watchdog blamed the government for using chlorine gas in two attacks and Islamic State fighters for using mustard gas in one attack. A year ago, the U.N. Security Council established the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as the JIM, to identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria. The JIM investigated nine cases in seven towns where an OPCW fact-finding mission found that chemical weapons had likely been used.”
CNN: Iranian Vessels Conduct 'High-Speed Intercept' Of US Destroyer
“A US Navy official told CNN four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels conducted a "high-speed intercept" of the USS Nitze in waters near the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday, deeming the incident "unsafe and unprofessional." The official said two of the vessels slowed and turned away only after coming within 300 yards of the US guided-missile destroyer as it transited international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, and only after the destroyer had sent multiple visual and audio warnings.”
Business Insider: Russia May Set Up Camp In The Base The US And NATO Use To Bomb ISIS
“After Russia's short-lived air campaign out of Iran's Hamedan air base, Turkey's prime minister has said that the Russian air force could possibly operate out of Turkey's Incirlik base, where US and NATO forces are stationed, ‘if necessary.’ Iran cut Russia's engagement at Hamedan shortly after Russia demonstrated a ‘kind of show-off and ungentlemanly’ attitude in publicizing the event, according to Iran's defense minister, when Moscow televised video of bombs dropping from Tu-22s over Syria. NATO and US European Command officials did not respond to inquires about the effect of a possible Russian presence at Incirlik. For now, it seems the US may be toeing Turkey's line to possibly prevent Russia, which has different objectives in Syria, from setting up camp at Incirlik.”
ABC News: Soldier Killed In Afghanistan Blast Was Army Green Beret
“An American soldier killed by a roadside bomb Tuesday in Afghanistan's Helmand Province has been identified as Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California. Thompson served with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. On Tuesday, the Army Green Beret was on a foot patrol with other American troops advising Afghan special operations forces near Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province where the Taliban have engaged in heavy combat. Thompson was killed by a bomb blast that left another American service member injured and six Afghan soldiers.”
Fox News: Mississippi Man Who Tried To Join ISIS With Fiancee Gets 8 Years In Prison
“A Mississippi man who tried to travel to Syria with his fiancee to join the Islamic State (ISIS) group was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison on federal terrorism charges. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock sentenced Muhammad Dakhlalla after he pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. He was also sentenced to 15 years of probation. Dakhlalla faced up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and lifetime probation.”
Haaretz: Israeli Soldier Wounded In West Bank Stabbing; Palestinian Assailant Shot Dead
“An Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a stabbing on Wednesday near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. The suspected stabber was shot dead at the scene. According to initial reports, passengers in a passing vehicle were throwing stones at IDF soldiers. When the soldiers began to chase the stone-throwers, one of the Palestinians attacked the soldier.  The assailant was shot dead at the scene and the soldier was taken to Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. He was released soon after. The suspected assailant was identified as Sami Abu Ourab, a 26-year-old from Qabatiyah. His relatives rejected the army claims that he attacked a soldier. According to them, he was planning to open a restaurant in three days in Rafidia, and also had marriage plans.”
NPR: Egyptian Prisons Blamed For Young Men Becoming Radicalized
“The unprecedented numbers of political prisoners in Egyptian jails could lead to a super-sized version of an old Egyptian problem: prisoners being radicalized behind bars.”
The Washington Post: Boko Haram’s Internal Rift Probably Isn’t Good News. Here’s Why.
“What’s the latest with the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), the terrorist group better known as Boko Haram? In early August, the Islamic State named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new ‘Wali’ of the group, replacing Abubakar Shekau. The public feud raises a flood of questions about the future of the Lake Chad Basin, where Boko Haram has killed more than 50,000 people and displaced more than 2.8 million. Research by Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham suggests that splintering of rebel movements extends civil wars by creating ‘veto-players’ that undermine peace negotiations. The Lake Chad Basin might see this dynamic if countries begin the process of brokering a peace deal or initiate an amnesty program.”
The Wall Street Journal: Facebook, Google And Twitter Must Join ISIS Fight, U.K. Lawmakers Say
“Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc. ’s Google and Twitter Inc. are deliberately shirking responsibility in the fight against Islamic State and other terrorist groups, an influential committee of British lawmakers said in a report to be published Thursday, reigniting a war of words over the role social media plays in radicalization. ‘Huge corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter, with their billion-dollar incomes, are consciously failing to tackle this threat and passing the buck by hiding behind their supranational legal status, despite knowing that their sites are being used by the instigators of terror,’ said lawmaker Keith Vaz, a member of the opposition Labour Party, who heads the committee. A wave of terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S. has hardened the long-running debate between technology companies, who want to protect free speech and the privacy of their customers, and governments, who say they need more access to information to thwart plots.”
BBC: Colombians Celebrate As Peace Deal Is Reached With Farc Rebels
“The announcement was broadcast live on Wednesday from Havana, Cuba, where peace talks have been held for more than two years. The conflict has killed an estimated 220,000 people and displaced millions. President Juan Manuel Santos called the deal "the beginning of the end to the suffering, pain and tragedy of war".”

United States

The New York Times Magazine: How Many Guns Did The U.S. Lose Track Of In Iraq And Afghanistan? Hundreds Of Thousands.
“Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the United States has handed out a vast but persistently uncountable quantity of military firearms to its many battlefield partners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today the Pentagon has only a partial idea of how many weapons it issued, much less where these weapons are. Meanwhile, the effectively bottomless abundance of black-market weapons from American sources is one reason Iraq will not recover from its post-invasion woes anytime soon. An inkling of just how expansive these arms transfers were, and how stubbornly resistant they are to precise measurement, is apparent in a new attempt at weapons-tallying compiled in a project led by Iain Overton.”
Reuters: Kerry Tackles Yemen, Syrian Conflicts In Saudi Arabia Talks
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Saudi Arabia's powerful deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, into the early hours of Thursday morning on ways to end Yemen's conflict and resume peace talks between the warring sides. Kerry arrived in Jeddah from Nigeria for discussions with Saudi leaders and other Gulf Arab states and will also update them on U.S. meetings with Russia addressing military co-operation in Syria, a senior U.S. official said ahead of the talks. Backing by Gulf nations for the Syria plan is vital because they wield influence over Syrian opposition groups involved in Syria's civil war. Russia and Iran support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The talks come as Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered one of Islamic State's last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border, in Turkey's first major U.S.-backed incursion into its southern neighbor.”
 Associated Press: US Says Airstrike In Syria May Have Killed Civilians
“The U.S. military says an airstrike in Syria may have inadvertently killed an unspecified number of civilians. Central Command, which oversees the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said Wednesday that its internal assessment of the airstrike near the city of Raqqa on Tuesday suggests the possibility of civilian casualties. It said a ‘non-military vehicle’ drove into the target area after the weapon was fired from the aircraft, possibly killing the occupants of the vehicle. No other details were reported. Central Command says the incident will be reviewed to decide whether an investigation is warranted.”
Associated Press: Volatile Mix In Syria War Puts New Strain On US Strategy
“The U.S. military picture in Syria is getting more chaotic and complicated by the day, putting new strains on the Obama administration's strategy of partnering with a hodgepodge of local fighters against the Islamic State group without getting pulled deeper into Syria's civil war or rupturing relations with Turkey. Developments in recent weeks illustrate the fine balance the U.S. is trying to strike. For example, the Pentagon may get drawn into cooperating with Russian forces in Syria even though it believes Moscow's military intervention has only undermined the U.S. goal of defeating IS. And just last week the U.S. was compelled to respond when Syrian warplanes struck in an area not far from where U.S. troops were operating on the ground.”
Politico: Biden’s Nearly Impossible Task in Turkey
“Vice President Joe Biden was never going to have it easy on his visit to Turkey on Wednesday. Since the July 15 coup attempt, U.S.-Turkey relations have grown worse day by day, and Biden needed to deliver something dramatic and concrete. Above all, Ankara does not believe that Washington is seriously considering the Turkish government’s formal request this week for the extradition of suspected coup plotter Fethullah Gulen. To date, the Obama administration has appeared meek on this critical issue, pointing to the legal process while denying any prior knowledge of or culpability in the coup attempt. It also ppeared to be narrowly self-interested only in the fate of America’s Incirlik Air Base, rather than the welfare and stability of its NATO ally. Mutual mistrust is at a new and dangerous high.”


Associated Press: Violence Has Taken Years Off Of Life Expectancy In Syria
“The ongoing violence in Syria has taken years off of people's life expectancy, according to a new analysis published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday. Since the Arab uprising began in 2010, about six years have been shaved off of men's life expectancy in Syria while women have lost about five years. Elsewhere in the Middle East, researchers found that the lives of people in Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt were about three months shorter than expected, according to the new study based on health data from 22 countries. ‘Recent conflicts have shattered the basic (health) infrastructure in a number of countries,’ said Ali Mokdad at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the research. ‘Millions of people are facing dire water shortages and poor sanitation that will lead to disease outbreaks.’”


The Wall Street Journal: In University Purge, Turkey’s Erdogan Hits Secularists And Boosts Conservatives
“On the humid afternoon after July’s bloody coup attempt, signs of a rift that is redefining this nation’s academia played out in two cities 400 miles apart. In Istanbul, Nil Mutluer grabbed her 3-year-old daughter and raced with a suitcase toward Turkey’s coast. The former sociology-department chair at the city’s Nisantasi University narrowly escaped the nation’s looming dragnet. ‘Authorities had already begun questioning colleagues at the airports,’ said Dr. Mutluer, 42, a Western-leaning liberal who took a ferry to Greece en route to an academic post in Berlin. That afternoon in Konya, once known as the Citadel of Islam, some local professors cheered the coup’s failure as a chance to remake Turkish academia.”


Associated Press: Attacker Is Killed After Stabbing Guard At Egypt Church
“Egypt's state news agency says a knife-wielding attacker has been shot and killed after he stabbed a guard at a Coptic church. MENA says the attack happened early on Wednesday at the Virgin Mary church in Cairo's eastern suburb of Nozha. The report says other church guards at the scene killed the assailant, whose identity and motives were unclear. MENA said that authorities are investigating. Attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt have stepped up over the past years, especially after Coptic Christians sided with the Egyptian army in the military's 2013 ouster of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Scores of churches were stormed, looted, and torched afterward. Most of the assaults took place in southern Egypt. Christians make up some 10 percent of Egypt's 91 million people.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Israeli Warplanes Said To Hit Hezbollah Targets In Syria
“Syrian opposition figures said Israeli warplanes struck targets belonging to the Shiite terror group Hezbollah in the Qalamoun Mountains along the Syria-Lebanon border, on Wednesday, according to Hebrew news sites citing Arab media. The reports gave few details, saying only that the targets had been hit from the sky three times. The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday night it ‘will not commen’” on the reports of a strike in Syria. A Twitter account linked to Hezbollah denied that there had been any attack on its headquarters in Qalamoun. The Qalamoun range is considered a key stronghold for Hezbollah, linking Damascus to eastern Lebanon, and is suspected to be used as a supply route for arms transfers between the regime and Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.”
Voice Of America: Most Terrorism Victims Are In Muslim Majority Countries
“By far the vast majority of victims of terrorist attacks over the past 15 years has been Muslims killed by Muslims. In the latest instance, an Islamic State suicide bomber struck a Kurdish wedding in southeastern Turkey on Saturday, killing more than 50 people. Of 167,221 terrorism-related fatalities reported from 2001 to 2015, almost all — 163,532 or 98 percent — occurred outside the United States and Western Europe, according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. The U.S. government-funded GTD is the world’s largest public database on terrorist attacks. GTD data on 25 Muslim-majority countries from Iraq to Malaysia reveal that these countries account for 75 percent of all fatalities from terrorist attacks from that period. The United States and Western Europe, with a combined 3,689 fatalities — including 2,977 from the attacks of September 11, 2001 — account for just 2.2 percent of terrorism-related deaths during the period.”


Reuters: Libya's Unity Government Says Still Seeks Approval From Eastern Parliament
“Libya's U.N.-backed government said on Wednesday it would continue seeking approval from the parliament based in the east of the country, despite members of the assembly voting to reject the fledgling administration. The Government of National Accord (GNA), is trying to unite a multitude of rival factions that have divided Libya since the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and getting the support of the eastern parliament is a key part of that jigsaw. But the House of Representatives (HOR), which was driven out of Tripoli in 2014 when an armed alliance took control of the capital, has held out, with opponents of the GNA accusing it of depending on Islamist-leaning armed groups that oppose eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and forces loyal to him.”


BBC: Boko Haram Crisis: Nigerian Ghost Town Stuck In Time
“The largest town that Boko Haram ever controlled still lies in ruins, frozen in time nearly 18 months after Nigeria's military recaptured it from the Islamist militants. Bama's streets are deserted and those people who are still in the area are camped out in the grounds of a hospital guarded by the army and in dire need of humanitarian aid. Hundreds of buildings are burnt-out shells with no roofs. Downed power cables are strewn on the streets. The bush is reclaiming many of the abandoned homes. Apart from the occasional military patrol, it is like a ghost town. Close to the border crossing with Cameroon, Bama in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno state was once a thriving commercial hub and home to 250,000 people. Boko Haram controlled the town for seven months before it was retaken by the Nigerian military in March 2015.”

United Kingdom

BBC: Man Held In London On Syria-Related Terror Charge
“A man has been arrested in north-west London on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts linked to Syria, the Metropolitan Police have said. The 32-year-old is now being questioned at a central London police station. Police said the arrest was not linked to that of another man, aged 30, in Somerset, also by officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command.That individual - a member of the armed forces - is being held on suspicion of Northern Ireland-related terrorism. The 32-year-old was detained on Wednesday morning under Section 5 of The Terrorism Act 2006.”
Reuters: Member Of UK Armed Forces Arrested In Northern Ireland Terrorism Investigation - Police
“A serving member of the British armed forces was arrested in England on Wednesday as part of an investigation into Northern Ireland-related terrorism, London's Metropolitan Police said. The 30-year-old was arrested in Somerset, southwest England, on suspicion of being involved in preparation for acts of terrorism, police said in a statement. ‘Today's arrest was pre-planned and intelligence-led as part of an investigation into Northern Ireland related terrorism,’ the statement said, adding that no armed police were involved in the arrest. Police said there was no intelligence to suggest an immediate threat, and that an address and a wooded area in south Devon were being searched in connection with the inquiry.”


Fortune: Inside Germany's Controversial Terrorism Plan
“Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved the 70-page plan at a time when Germans are particularly on edge after two Islamist militant attacks in July and several much larger-scale, deadly assaults in France and Belgium this year. The strategy unveiled on Wednesday outlines precautionary steps for scenarios such as terrorism and chemical weapons and cyber attacks. The plan recommends Germans buy five days’ worth of water and 10 days’ worth of food in the event of a national crisis. It also outlines the need for a more extensive alarm system to alert people when there is an emergency, improved protection for buildings and medical care. Civilians should also be ready to help the military with tasks such as directing traffic, finding accommodation and providing fuel. The report also raises the possibility of reintroducing conscription in the case of national emergency.”
Reuters: Germany Urges People To Store Staples In Case Of Terrorism, National Emergency
“Germany has told its citizens to stock up on water and food in the event of a terrorist attack or national catastrophe and be ready to support the military in the country's first overhaul of civil defenses for two decades. Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved the 70-page plan at a time when Germans are particularly on edge after two Islamist militant attacks in July and several much larger-scale, deadly assaults in France and Belgium this year. The strategy unveiled on Wednesday outlines precautionary steps for scenarios such as terrorism and chemical weapons and cyber attacks.”
Daily Caller: German Politician Warns: If You Ban The Burka, The Santa Suit Is Going Down With It
“Ralf Jager, the minister of the interior for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, warned Germans that a ban on the burka would also make it illegal to ‘dress up as Santa Claus.’ A number of interior ministers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union proposed a ban on burkas in August, as part of a draft to counter terrorism. Jager, who represents the Social Democratic Party, opposes such a ban. Jager said it would have to include clothing from all religions, including Santa outfits. The Burka debate in Germany caught new winds after several French communities decided to ban ‘burkinis,’ full-body swimwear sometimes worn by Muslim women. A German court further ruled Monday.”


Time: France’s Burkini Bans Put Muslim Women In Danger
“Citing concerns ranging from hygiene to security, more than 20 towns have moved to ban Muslim women from wearing the full-body swimsuits known as burkinis on public beaches. According to a French official, 10 women have already been apprehended under one town’s ordinance, with four having to pay a fine. The mayor of Le Touquet wants to ban burkinis even though he admits there are no examples of women actually wearing them locally. In fact, European women in ISIS have spoken of how alienation and restrictions on their religious practices, like the burqa ban, actually helped push them into the group. Rather than being genuine security policy, burkini bans that stigmatize all Muslims as terrorists are not only discriminatory, but also grist for the ISIS propaganda mill.”


Elmihwar: Growing French - Algerian Cooperation To Combat Terrorism
“France has asked several Arab countries, including Algeria, to hold security meetings at the highest level. These meetings are aimed at achieving cooperation to counter secret terrorist cells dispersed in European countries and linked to militant groups active in Arab countries. Media sources revealed that a meeting at the highest level is being prepared in Paris and Algiers to discuss the threat posed by secret cells linked to international jihadist groups and operating in Paris. A security source noted that the security summit, which is being organized by Paris and Algiers, will include police and intelligence officials. Their goal is to explore the possibility of Algeria assisting Paris in investigations into links between Algerian groups and secret terrorist cells operating in France.”


Albawabh News: ISIS Bestows Financial Rewards On Anyone Informing On A Satellite Dish
“A jihadist forum affiliated with ISIS published an ad offering a monetary reward to any person informing on a satellite dish, within the areas controlled by the organization. The announcement indicated that the group would double the fines imposed on owners of these devices. According to the statement, which certain forums claimed had been distributed to residents in areas controlled by ISIS, the terror organization has earmarked 100,000 Iraqi dinars ($86) for anyone who reports the existence of satellite TV dish in houses, shops or other places. In addition, ISIS decided to impose a fine of 400,000 Iraqi dinars ($343) on any person owning a satellite dish in the city of Mosul.”

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: Egypt: State Lawsuits Authority Challenges Overturn Of Ruling To Invalidate Seizure Of Funds Owned By Pakinam El-Sharqawi
“[Egypt's] State Lawsuits Authority filed an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court, demanding cancellation of the ruling by the Administrative Court to invalidate the seizure of funds owned by Pakinam el-Sharqawi, the former political affairs assistant of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The appeal was submitted on behalf of the government and the Ministry of Justice. Note that the seizure decision was taken by virtue of the assistant's ties to members of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the appeal, the decision falls within the purview of efforts to seize all Brotherhood-affiliated institutions, associations, establishments and entities, with the aim of taking the necessary steps towards stopping the group's activities. This is in addition to appropriation of all real estate assets belonging to the group as well as liquid and movable assets whether owned or leased by it. This also includes all real estate, movables and funds owned by individuals belonging to the group or to its management. The seizure decision is also based on the laws of the Egyptian state.”
Akhbar Elyom: Egypt: Pharmacists' Union Accuses Its Former [Brotherhood] Secretary Of Theft
“The Pharmacists' Union filed a lawsuit against its former Secretary General, Dr. Mahmoud Abdel Maksoud. A session will be held on Thursday, September 22nd to hear the case. The Pharmacists' Union made it clear that it holds documents and official papers proving Dr. Mahmoud Abdel Maksoud committed "serious irregularities" during his tenure as Secretary General of the Union. It stressed the need to hold him accountable for these violations and to enforce the law. The Union noted that Abdel Maksoud was a prominent leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. When he disagreed with some other Union members, he left it but returned with 'his men' to break into the Union (offices) and confiscate seals and several documents. A report of this theft was documented in file No. 2813 in 2010.”


Gulf Eyes: Houthi's Measures Fail To Address The Crisis Of Yemeni Riyal Collapse
“Austerity measures adopted by the armed Houthi militia have failed to halt the escalating collapse of the Yemeni riyal. On Wednesday, the rate of one dollar exceeded the barrier of 300 riyals to the dollar, following the launch of certain procedures by the Yemeni government against the Central Bank in Sanaa. As part of its repressive political actions to stop the collapse of the local currency, the Houthi group, through the Central Bank, decided to discontinue payment of all benefits, incentives and operational budgets to ministries and government institutions.”

Eye on Iran: Iran Vessels Harassed U.S. Destroyer Near Persian Gulf, Navy Says

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WSJ: "Four ships from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps harassed a U.S. destroyer near the Persian Gulf in what the U.S. Navy called an 'unsafe and unprofessional' interaction. The USS Nitze, an Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer, was transiting international waters near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday when the four Iranian vessels approached at high speed and failed to respond to 12 separate radio communications, according to Cdr. William Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet. The USS Nitze blew its whistle in five short blasts on three occasions-signaling the Iranian vessels were on a dangerous course-and fired off 10 flares in the direction of the approaching ships before altering course to avoid a potential collision, Cmdr. Urban said. As two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the destroyer, the quartet finally slowed speed and motored away from the U.S. ship, according to Cmdr. Urban, who characterized the interaction as a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation. The USS Nitze was transiting the waters with the USS Mason, another guided-missile destroyer. The incident was one of many interactions between Iranian and American ships in and around the Persian Gulf in recent months. But it was one of few the U.S. Navy has deemed unsafe or unprofessional. According to a U.S. defense official, the Navy deemed about 10% of the hundreds of interactions between Iranian and American ships unsafe or unprofessional in 2015 and the first half of 2016. The official said the number of interactions-both safe and unsafe-has increased this year compared with 2015."

AP: "The Obama administration said Wednesday it paid $1.3 billion in interest to Iran in January to resolve a decades-old dispute over an undelivered military sale, two days after allowing $400 million in cash to fly to Tehran. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says the U.S. couldn't say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. They involved 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and final payment of about $10 million. There was no explanation for the Treasury Department keeping the individual transactions under $100 million. The money settles a dispute over a $400 million payment made in the 1970s by the U.S.-backed shah's government for military equipment. The equipment was never delivered because of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah and ended diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran. On Jan. 17, the administration paid Iran the account's $400 million principal in pallets of euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency, raising questions about the unusual payment. The $1.3 billion covers what Iran and the U.S. agreed would be the interest on the $400 million over the decades. The deal has faced increased scrutiny since the administration's acknowledgment this month that it used the money as leverage to ensure the release of four American prisoners. Republican critics accuse the administration of paying a 'ransom.'"

WSJ: "Iran's comeback as a crude-oil exporter appears to have stalled seven months after Western sanctions over its nuclear program were lifted, casting fresh uncertainty over the country's willingness to cooperate with other producers on output. Iran's production levels have taken on heightened significance in recent weeks as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries gets ready for talks next month on oil output. Iran has previously refused to consider joining fellow OPEC members in action to lift crude prices by curbing output until its exports and production reach presanctions levels. But the country's ability to reach pre-sanctions levels above 4 million barrels a day are now in question. Iran's crude-oil production stands at 3.85 million barrels a day in August, the country's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said Saturday, little changed from above 3.8 million barrels a day he cited in June. That is up from less than 3 million barrels a day from before sanctions were lifted in January but short of the country's stated goals... Iran's crude-oil exports have also plateaued after nearly doubling from January to May.  Mohsen Ghamsari, the head of oil marketing at the National Iranian Oil Co, told state media last week that the country was still short of pre-sanctions exports by 200,000 barrels a day... Iran has faced two significant obstacles in its quest to return to pre-sanctions production levels: a lack of foreign investment and its own unwillingness to undercut rivals on pricing. Lingering American sanctions on Iran over terrorism, human rights and weapons continue to make it difficult for Iran to do business with European crude-oil buyers, whom the Islamic Republic had been counting on to lift its exports. The American sanctions ban dollar transactions with Iran, requiring European companies with U.S. business to go to great legal lengths to do deals there."

U.S.-Iran Relations

AP: "Iran's naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country's territorial waters, the Iranian defense minister said Thursday, remarks that came after an incident this week involving a U.S. warship. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that 'if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it's an invasion, we confront.' He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters."

BBC: "It has the production values of a Hollywood blockbuster and the heightened emotion of a Bollywood musical, but the message couldn't be more anti-American. An extraordinary eight-minute music video/revenge fantasy called 'We are standing to last drop of blood' has been regularly shown on on Iran's national TV this month and set social media buzzing. The film shows patriotic youths magically destroying an American invasion fleet which has targeted an idyllic Iranian seaside town and its peaceful nuclear power plant. When the civilians come under unprovoked attack the Iranian heroes unite to use the power of their national flag to create a tsunami that destroys the US ships and aircraft. It ends with the idyllic seaside town and peaceful nuclear power plant returned to tranquillity. Subtle it is not... The clip, produced by Sureh Film Club, is affiliated to the state-owned Islamic Propagation Organisation, whose chairman is appointed by Iran's supreme leader."

Business Risk

AP: "An Iranian state-run daily is reporting that authorities in Tehran have detained a Greek national they accuse of embezzling money from smuggled oil and selling three oil tankers for $100 million. The report on Thursday in the IRAN newspaper suggests the Greek national was involved in smuggling Iranian crude oil while economic sanctions were imposed over the country's contested nuclear program. Those sanctions under then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad greatly restricted where Iranian oil could be sold in the global market. The newspaper said the unnamed Greek national was detained three weeks after arriving at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport due to a 'special trick' by investigators."

Sanctions Relief

Reuters: "South Korea's finance minister said on Thursday his country will start trading with Iran using the euro on Aug. 29. 'It will be implemented from next Monday,' Yoo Il-ho told reporters in Seoul, referring to a decision which will allow trade between the two nations to be settled in the euro. The move 'will greatly resolve obstacles that stood in the way of facilitating investment and trading with Iran,' Yoo said, and added that KEB Hana Bank, Shinhan Bank and Woori Bank have been selected as settlement banks. Up till now, South Korea's purchases of Iranian oil and payments for construction projects in Iran have been settled in the won, restricting business activities even after the lifting of Western sanctions against the Middle Eastern country."

Foreign Affairs

Reuters: "Iran and Ecuador on Wednesday discussed ways that the two countries can strengthen oil prices as Iran signals it may support joint efforts by exporters to prop up flagging crude... 'We have held conversations on strengthening our position in oil markets,' Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said through an interpreter after a meeting with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa. Zarif added that the two countries have agreed to continue talks within the framework of OPEC, without providing further details. Ecuador Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said they discussed establishing a common position with regards to strengthening oil prices."


Long War Journal: "A retired Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander who was deployed to Syria gave a lengthy interview to a hardline media outlet last week about IRGC operations in the country. Serving with the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division, Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Falaki highly praised the militia. The commander describes the array of IRGC-backed forces fighting in Syria and the Middle East as a unified army - apparently with the ultimate goal of destroying Israel... Falaki also restated the goal for the destruction of Israel. 'Forming the first nucleus of the liberation army has the objective that, God willing, we will not have anything called Israel in 23 years,' he stated. Supreme Leader Khamenei claimed in 2015 that Israel would not exist in 25 years. Falaki boasted that Iranian-led units are already by Israel's border and that 'the Fatemiyoun brothers have established the basis for this fight.'"

Domestic Politics

Al-Monitor: "Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafar Dowlatabadi announced Aug. 16 that Iran had arrested another dual national in the country. According to Dowlatabadi, the individual had links to British intelligence and was 'active in the economic field.' Dowlatabadi did not share any other information about who the person is or when the arrest took place. On Aug. 23, conservative website Nasim Online published a thinly sourced article claiming that the arrestee's name is Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani, a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiation team. According to the article, Dori Esfahani was in charge of banking affairs during the nuclear talks and was arrested for selling economic information to foreign countries... In its original article, Nasim reported that rumors about the arrest of a member of the nuclear negotiation team had been circulating on social media for days. According to Nasim, Dori Esfahani had used his access to financial institutions in Iran to pass information to American and British officials, for which he allegedly received 7,500 British pounds ($10,000) a month. He also was alleged to have been linked to the exorbitant salaries scandal in Iran. After the publication of the first Nasim article, various Iranian meida outlets cited a source at the Foreign Ministry as denying any individual involved with the implementation of the nuclear deal had been arrested."

Opinion & Analysis

Eli Lake in Bloomberg: "One of the great hypotheticals of Barack Obama's presidency involves the Iranian uprising that began on June 12, 2009, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner of contested presidential elections. What if the president had done more to help the protesters when the regime appeared to be teetering? It's well known he was slow to react. Obama publicly downplayed the prospect of real change at first, saying the candidates whom hundreds of thousands of Iranians were risking their lives to support did not represent fundamental change. When he finally did speak out, he couldn't bring himself to say the election was stolen: 'The world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.' But Obama wasn't just reluctant to show solidarity in 2009, he feared the demonstrations would sabotage his secret outreach to Iran. In his new book, 'The Iran Wars,' Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon uncovers new details on how far Obama went to avoid helping Iran's green movement. Behind the scenes, Obama overruled advisers who wanted to do what America had done at similar transitions from dictatorship to democracy, and signal America's support. Solomon reports that Obama ordered the CIA to sever contacts it had with the green movement's supporters. 'The Agency has contingency plans for supporting democratic uprisings anywhere in the world. This includes providing dissidents with communications, money, and in extreme cases even arms,' Solomon writes. 'But in this case the White House ordered it to stand down.' ... But it's striking the lengths to which Obama went to make good on his word. As Solomon reports, Obama ended U.S. programs to document Iranian human rights abuses. He wrote personal letters to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assuring him the U.S. was not trying to overthrow him. Obama repeatedly stressed his respect for the regime in his statements marking Iran's annual Nowruz celebration. His quest to engage the mullahs seems to have influenced Obama's decision-making on other issues too. When he walked away from his red line against Syria's use of chemical weapons in 2013, Solomon reports, both U.S. and Iranian officials had told him that nuclear negotiations would be halted if he intervened against Bashar al-Assad."

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

Prove Tuncay Babali Broke the Law or Free Him

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Prove Tuncay Babali Broke the Law or Free Him

News from the Middle East Forum
August 25, 2016
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Tuncay Babali
PHILADELPHIA – Aug. 25, 2016 – Turkish ambassador Tuncay Babali, a Middle East Quarterly contributor, has been arrested for alleged participation in the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt in Turkey.
He is one of Ankara's most accomplished young diplomats, having served, among other government positions, as director of the department of human resources of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, counselor to the Turkish embassies in Washington, D.C., and London, and ambassador to Canada (2012-14).
Babali, who holds an MA degree from the University of London and a PhD from the University of Houston, has established himself as an authority in the fields of energy economics and geopolitics as well as Eurasian security. In 2009-10, he was a fellow at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. His article, "Turkey at the Energy Crossroads," appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of the Middle East Quarterly, pp. 25-33.
Eleven days after the failed coup, Babali was sacked from his position – alongside fellow ambassador Gürcan Balık, chief advisor to former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and scores of lower-level diplomats – as part of the government's massive purge of civil servants allegedly linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement. On August 18-19, Babali and Balık were jailed, together with former ambassador to Costa Rica Ali Findik, as the government embarked on an unprecedented purge of hundreds of foreign office diplomats.
The Middle East Forum is deeply concerned by the recent arrests of Babali and tens of thousands of other Turks and believes that the current purge goes far beyond a reasonable and legitimate response to the abortive coup while casting serious doubt on Turkey's commitment to democracy and the rule of law. It, therefore, urges the Government of Turkey to provide incontrovertible evidence in public of Amb. Babali's criminal activity or to free him immediately.
For immediate release
Contact: Gregg Roman, Director
Middle East Forum
215-546-5406, ext. 104
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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Appeasing Islamists Sanctions their Savagery

August 25, 2016

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The conviction of radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary -- the most prominent extremist in Britain -- has been widely welcomed in the UK. For years his followers and he have infuriated the vast majority of the British public (including most British Muslims) with their inflammatory and hate-filled rhetoric. They have also provided a constant stream of people willing to follow through the words with actions.
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