PM Advisor Suggests Israel May Be Behind Attacks Against Pro-Iranian Militia in Iraqi

Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi told Al Jazeera news that his government had some indications Israel was behind attacks on paramilitary forces this summer. He stopped short of making an explicit accusation, however. The paramilitary force in question, the Iranian-backed Hashed al-Shaabi, has accused the U.S. and Israel of being behind the attacks. The attacks place the Iraqi government in a delicate position, as the U.S. and Iran are two of its main allies. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Protests Against Iraqi Government Draw Crackdown; Over 100 Dead

Protests against government corruption have broken out across Iraq; at least nine people were killed in the opening stages. Protests Tuesday left two dead and over 200 wounded, while protests the following day claimed another seven victims. The Iraqi government has responded with tear gas and live fire. The clashes occurred despite a massive government military operation designed to supress the protests. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Laith Kubba, a senior advisor to Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, warned that the only way to take on institutionalized corruption in the Iraqi government was through a head-on confrontation. “We have problems with those political groups who have their grip over money, banks and power, and rooted to corruption. It is a problem and there is no real answer to it.” Reported by The Guardian Read more…

A third day of protests brought a shutdown of Internet access as the death toll rose to 19. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Protests continued into Friday. Increasing numbers of protesters took to the streets and faced off with security forces. By the end of the day, the death toll had risen to 44. Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, warned both sides to stop the violence “before it’s too late.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

After five days and nearly 100 dead, the U.N, called for an end to the violence. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the U.N.’s top representative in Iraq, characterized the violence as a “senseless loss of life.” She also said those responsible must be held accountable. The protests started as calls for employment and better services but have increasingly called for the fall of the government. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

More Reported also by Fox News. Read more…

Iran is meddling. An Iranian newspaper linked to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iraqis to seize the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, like the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. Reported by the Jerusalem Post. Read more…

At least 18 people were killed overnight Sunday in clashes between protesters and police in Baghdad. According to a Reuters report, though security is better since the defeat of ISIS, corruption is rampant, wrecked infrastructure has not been rebuilt, and jobs remain scarce. Reported by Reuters. Read more…

The Iraqi government has announced a series of reforms to quell the protests, including the construction of 100,000 new housing units. The government also said that it will create large market complexes and boost benefits for those without work. Reported by France24. Read more…

Trump Touts Nationalism Over Globalism

Donald Trump, in his speech, touted nationalism over globalism. Trump said, “The free world must embrace its national foundations. It must not attempt to erase them, or replace them,” Trump said. “The true good of the nation, can only be pursued by those who love it, by citizens who are rooted in its history, who are nourished by its culture, committed to its values, attached to his people.” Trump also said, “Patriots see a nation and its destiny in ways no one else can. Liberty is only preserved, sovereignty is only secure, democracy is only sustained, greatness is only realized by the will and devotion of patriots.” Trump also opened his speech with an ominous reference to U.S. military might, “The United States, after having spent over two and a half trillion dollars since my election to completely rebuild our great military is also by far the world’s most powerful nation,” he said. “Hopefully, it will never have to use this power.” He singled out Iran, saying its people deserved a government that cares about jobs and its people and decreasing poverty. He said that after four decades of failure, it was time for Iran to stop threatening other countries and build up their own nation. Discussing the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields, he stated that U.S. emphasis was on peaceful resolution of the conflict. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

More Reported by CBS News. Read more…

Macron Urges Talks, Iran Says US Must Make First Move

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, told the U.N. that considering the attacks on Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and other countries should resume negotiations with Iran. “I am not naive at all and I don’t believe in miracles,” Macron said. “I believe it takes courage to build peace and that is why it is important for the United States, Iran and the signatories of the agreement to show this courage.” Macron said that the U.S.’s strategy of economic pressure had produced an Iranian response of “maximum pressure” against Tehran’s neighbors. He warned that “today we have a risk of a serious conflict based on miscalculation and disproportionate response.” Reported by the Wall Street Journal. Read more…

More Reported by The Guardian (Blog). Read more…

More Reported by U.N. News. Read more…

 

Netanyahu Passes on 2019 UN General Assembly Meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, instead remaining in Israel to engage in coalition talks. Reported by The Jerusalem Post. Read more…

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, spoke, where he blasted the U.S. for withdrawing from the 2015 deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program, saying, “For one and a half years, the US government has sought to deprive Iran of its right to access the world economy by threats and extra-territorial sanctions … Halt the sanctions and return to your commitments so the dialogue may reopen.” He also said that Iran has “resisted the most merciless economic terrorism” from a nation engaging in “international piracy.” He further challenged the sincerity of the U.S.’s invitation to talk, saying, “We cannot believe the invitation to negotiations by people who claim to have applied the harshest sanctions in history against the dignity and prosperity of our nation.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Prior to his speech, Rouhani gave an exclusive interview to “Fox News Sunday,” where he accused the U.S. of supporting terrorism in the Middle East. “Today, America, unfortunately, is the supporter of terrorism in our region — and wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in the wake,” Rouhani said. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Rouhani also foreclosed the possibility of meeting with Trump at the U.N. General Assembly, a possibility rumored for the past month. Before talks could begin, Rouhani said that “we must create mutual trust, and the trust that is something that Mr. Trump took away from this framework. We had an agreement. Mr. Trump exited without a valid justification, and illegally, from an international agreement.” Rouhani added, “So, if the United States of America’s government is willing to talk, it must create the needed conditions.” Trump said prior to the start of the U.N. session that he had no intention of meeting with Rouhani. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Iran Releases UK Tanker; Iranian General Says Destroying Israel “Achievable Goal”

Iran released the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero. The tanker was seized in July in retaliation for the U.K.’s seizure of an Iranian tanker suspected of smuggling Iranian oil into Syria, in violation of international sanctions. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Finally, Major General Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp. (IRGC), says that destroying Israel was an “achievable goal.” “This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer … a dream [but] it is an achievable goal,” Salami told the Guards’ Sepah news outlet. Salami also said that “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime.” Such statements are nothing new from Iran, which has increased its belligerent rhetoric towards the U.S. and Israel as sanctions cripple its economy. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

EU May Withdraw From Nuclear Deal; US Patience with Iran Not Inexhaustible, says Saudi Arabia

The European Union privately warned Iran that it will start withdrawing from the nuclear deal if Tehran goes ahead with plans to further reduce its commitment to the nuclear deal. The E.U.’s warning signals that the deal is on the verge of death. The E.U. also said that if Iran makes another move away from the deal, it will put the issue of Iran’s non-compliance to the test by invoking the deal’s formal dispute resolution mechanism. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani told his cabinet that while Tehran had been willing to end its stand-off with the U.S. over Iran’s nuclear program, on terms set out by France at the U.N., Donald Trump was not prepared to make public an apparent private offer to lift sanctions. Rouhani’s claim came about the time Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a harsher pronouncement that Iran would continue to reduce its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has already reduced commitments three times. Rouhani, however, insisted that a diplomatic solution to the crisis was not yet closed, and thanked France’s president Emmanuel Macron for his efforts. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Meanwhile, U.S. patience with Iran is not inexhaustible, says Saudi Arabia, warning that military options are still on the table as a possible response to the Iranian-backed attack on Aramco oil facilities in September. The gulf kingdom’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, says that a U.N. commissioned report on the attack is due soon. He also said that an E.U. statement earlier in the week attributing responsibility to Iran was “very significant.” Speaking on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, al-Jubeir stated, “We want to mobilize international support, and we want to look at a whole list of options – diplomatic options, economic options and military options – and then make the decision.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Unity Government Talks Falter; Netanyahu Tasked with Formation of Next Israeli Government

After the Israeli elections September 17, the Arab list recommend Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz for prime minister. It was an historic endorsement that broke with tradition. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Although Gantz’s Blue and White party edged out Netanyahu’s Likud in the elections, it was the latter who came out slightly ahead during Rivlin’s consultations with Knesset members on who should lead the next government. Netanyahu leads 55 seats to Gantz’s 54 in consultations, even though Blue and White captured 33 Knesset seats to Likud’s 32. The decisive factor was three members of the Arab Joint List who balked at their coalition’s recommendation for Gantz by refusing to endorse him. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Both Netanyahu and Gantz met with Rivlin, who urged the pair to begin talks toward forming a unity government. The electorate is currently deadlocked with neither Likud nor Blue and White being able to cobble together enough support from other parties to form a majority. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Both parties entered into discussions to form a unity government. There was little hope, however, that the two could agree to form a unity government as both leaders want to be prime minister. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Rivlin ultimately gave Netanyahu the task for forming the next government. Many Israelis fear a third election if Netanyahu cannot form a coalition government. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Likud suggested Netanyahu could inform Rivlin after only a week that he could not form a coalition government. Blue and White accused Netanyahu of wanting a third election to give himself another chance at securing a majority. Likud said negotiations with Blue and White were a big disappointment, stating the party “made the strategic decision to slam the door shut on a unity government and drag the country into elections.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Avigdor Liberman said that Israelis would not forgive Netanyahu and Gantz if they fail to form a unity government, causing a third round of elections in 2020. “The citizens of Israel will not forgive you if you lead us to another round of elections just because of ego and personal matters,” Liberman wrote in a Facebook post. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Yisrael Beytenu, Avigdor Liberman’s party, says it will present its own plan to Netanyahu and Gantz for a unity government. “We must reach a rational solution and leave all personal considerations and ego aside,” Liberman told party members. “If by Yom Kippur there is no breakthrough, Yisrael Beytenu will present its own offer to the two factions.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Liberman met with Netanyahu on Thursday morning, but their talks made no progress. Although Likud announced that Netanyahu “offered Liberman to join the government as soon a possible, to enable the formation of a national unity government,” no other progress was made. Liberman also reportedly met with Blue and White’s number two, Yair Lapid, and was scheduled to meet with Gantz. Reported by Haaretz. Read more…

More Reported by JTA. Read more…

More Reported by Fox News. Read more…

One reason Netanyahu is working so hard to form a coalition government is upcoming hearings on bribery, fraud and breach of trust indictments against him. If Netanyahu can secure a fifth term as prime minister, he can protect himself from the indictments. Netanyahu’s lawyers began presenting their arguments against the indictments as pre-trial hearings in the case began. Netanyahu has denounced the indictments as a “witch hunt.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

ISIS Leader Calls on Followers to Free Detained Members

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, has released a new audio recording, calling on members of ISIS to free detainees and women held in jails and camps. He urged followers to free the detainees by any means possible. In the 30-minute recording he asked, “how can a Muslim enjoy life?” when Muslim women are held in camps he called “prisons of humiliation run by Crusaders and their Shiite followers.” Reported by Fox News. Read more…