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    Qassem Soleimani Tag

    Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened the United States with 'jihad' after an American drone strike killed Qassem Soleimani, the chief of Iran's elite Quds Force. "All Enemies should know that the jihad of resistance will continue with a doubled motivation, and a definite victory awaits the fighters in the holy war," Khamenei said in a televised statement.

    Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, is the architect of Iran's war on the West and Israel, including through Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist group. There was an airstrike on a convoy of vehicles at Baghdad airport, and reportedly Soleimani was killed along with the leader of the Iraqi militia aligned with Iran.

    Israel has attacked Iranian bases in Syria to preempt the launch of a squadron of bomb-loaded attack drones that were in the final preparations for launch. The planned drone attack was personally supervised by Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, according to the Israel Defense forces, which in an unusual move took to Twitter to announce the preemptive attack:

    The White House has officially designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). In a statement, President Donald Trump said that he and the Department of State "recognizes that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft" and that the IGRC is the Iranian regime's "primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign."

    German authorities have banned the Iranian airline Mahan Air from operating in the country amid fears of espionage and terrorism.  Iran's second largest airline has been linked to regime's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The German Federal Aviation Office, equivalent of the U.S. FAA, has barred the airline from landing in the country with intimidate effect, German news outlets reported Monday.

    President Donald Trump's decision last week to withdraw the United States from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has occasioned a lot of hand-wringing by his critics (and by fans of his predecessor Barack Obama). After all, the storyline goes Iran was adhering to the deal, so the United States was damaging its credibility by trashing a deal that it had entered into. Of course, that doesn't tell the whole story. President Obama, knowing that he couldn't sell the deal to the American people and their representatives, made an executive agreement. But governing effectively means playing by the Constitution's rules even when it's inconvenient. (Funny how none of Obama's acolytes, who tell us that Trump is destroying our democracy, seem the least bit bothered by Obama's blatant disregard of the Constitution.)

    According to recent Israeli security assessments, more than a third (420 out of 1,027) of the terrorists released in a November 2011 swap for captive soldier Gilad Schalit have gone back to planning terror attacks. As noted by senior Israeli security officials, some of these freed murderers have taken up leadership roles in Hamas in Gaza, from where they are “working with Iran to execute terrorists attacks and kidnappings.”

    One of the predicted outcomes of the nuclear deal with Iran, contrary to what President Barack Obama claimed, is that it would strengthen the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the "hardliners" in the regime. (I don't believe there are moderates in the regime. It is a revolutionary regime that seeks to export its ideology across the region. President Hassan Rouhani would not have been allowed to compete or win if he did not subscribe to the same ideologies as the hardliners.) Rather than opening up or liberalizing Iran, the deal was correctly predicted to lead to further repression.

    On May 13, 2016, we reported on the death of Mustafa Badreddine at an airport in Syria, Another top Hezbollah commander killed – but who dunnit?
    There have been a series of assinations of top Hezbollah commanders in the recent past, including Imad Mughniyeh (mastermind of almost all attacks on Israel and the U.S.), his son Imad Mughniyeh (who was killed along with several high level operatives and an Iranian general), Hassan Laqqis (key Hezbollah link to Iranian weapons procurement) and Samir Kuntar (who killed an Israeli girl by smashing her head against the rocks on a beach).

    Thursday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Donald Trump. Among other things, Hewitt asked Trump a handful of foreign policy questions. "Are you familiar with General Soleimani?" asked Hewitt. "Yessss. Go ahead, give me a little. Go ahead, tell me," responded Trump. Hewitt explained that Soleimani runs the Quds forces, which Trump confused with the Kurds, though Trump eventually remembered who Soleimani was. Hewitt was then complementary and reminisced of the time Trump "schooled the Senate" on real-estate, and then went on to explain that he's looking for a Commander in Chief that knows who the players in the vast battlefield of Islamic terrorism. "Do you know who the players are without a score card, Donald Trump?" Hewitt asked. "I think by the time we get to office they'll all be changed, they'll be all gone, I knew you were gonna asks me things like this and there's no reason because number one, I will hopefully find General Douglas McArthur in the PAC, I will find whoever it is that I'll find, but they're all changing, those are like history questions, do you know this one, do you know that one." "I don't believe in gotcha questions, I'm not trying to quiz you," retorted Hewitt. "Well that is a gotcha question," Trump accused. And then a media controversy was birthed.

    A number of stories have been reported since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal with Iran is known, that raise serious questions about its effectiveness to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and even about whether or not it will stop a war.

    Syria's Secret Chemical Weapons Stockpile

    The Wall Street Journal reported on July 23 (Google link) that Syria, contrary to previous reports, had maintained “caches of even deadlier nerve agents.” Why it's important: The first reason is that Iran is the main sponsor of Assad regime. Given that it has supported the use of WMD in Syria and suffered no consequences for this will likely embolden it. The second reason is more practical. The chemical weapons inspectors were limited by the Assad regime where they could go. They also feared that if they reported something that would displease the authorities they would be barred from other sites. The same problem will exist with Iran. But being able to declare military sites out of bounds for inspections, Iran will limit inspectors' access, compromising the effectiveness of inspections regime.

    Leaks of classified and politically-charged intelligence information often are purposeful. So what to make of simultaneous leaks to The Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine that the CIA helped Israel assassinate Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mughniyah, responsible for killing more Americans in terror attacks than anyone else prior to 9/11, and continued to work to kill Americans in Iraq and elsewhere. He also was involved in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of CIA Beirut station chief William F. Buckley (not the author), and reportedly sent video of the torture to CIA headquarters. Washington Post graphic Imad Mighniyah This was thought to be a purely Israeli operation. Some of the details leaked also contradict prior claims as to how the assassination was carried out -- instead of a bomb planted in a headrest, it was planted in the spare tire in the vehicle. The Washington Post reports, CIA and Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing:
    On Feb. 12, 2008, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah’s international operations chief, walked on a quiet nighttime street in Damascus after dinner at a nearby restaurant. Not far away, a team of CIA spotters in the Syrian capital was tracking his movements. As Mughniyah approached a parked SUV, a bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of the vehicle exploded, sending a burst of shrapnel across a tight radius. He was killed instantly.

    Every morning for most of 2014, it seems we wake up in dreaded anticipation of what horrible news has happened overnight and around the world. There are so many things going on -- Israel/Hamas, Ukraine/Russia, passenger jets falling from the sky (or vanishing), the U.S. border crisis -- that it is sometimes hard to fathom. Let's not forget the battle for Iraq is still in the mix. We covered the eradication of the Christian population in the territory held by the Islamic State on Monday. But the news of Iraq's overall situation seems to have faded from the American news media's short attention span the past couple of weeks. Quick update: things aren't getting better. There is a bit of good news on the political reconciliation front in Baghdad. The Iraqi Parliament elected a new President for the nation yesterday.
    Iraqi MPs have elected Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum as president, succeeding Jalal Talabani. Mr Massoum, 76, is a founding member of Mr Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party. Since 2003 Iraq's president has always been a Kurd, while the prime minister is a Shia and the parliamentary speaker drawn from the Sunni Arab bloc. Iraq is facing a radical Sunni insurgency and is struggling to agree on a new coalition government. The presidency is the second major government post to be filled, after Salim al-Jabouri was elected as parliament speaker last week.
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