Iran is worried, disappointed and afraid

The Islamist regime in Iran is very worried over the speed in which U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un reached their agreement. They know the nuclear talks in Singapore will have immense ramifications for the future of Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

Iran's statements ahead of the summit were viewed as an attempt to warn the North Korean leader against trusting the U.S. but its reaction after the summit was full of disappointment.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi cautioned Kim before the summit not to fall for American promises. Qassemi said the U.S. had violated the nuclear deal it had reached with Tehran – the deal that Trump shelved two weeks ago that was negotiated by the Obama administration. Even on the campaign trail, Trump said that if he won the presidency one of his first moves would be to cancel the deal. He made a promise and he kept it. This move by Trump, before the U.S. had even effectively reinstated sanctions, is slowly choking the Iranian economy.

If the talks with North Korea lead Pyongyang to relinquish its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, then Trump, encouraged by the accomplishment, will turn to tackle Iran's nuclear weapon program and missile arsenal. However, even if he fails, Trump will have increased the pressure on Iran to try attaining the same rewards squandered by North Korea.

Regular Iranians understood a long time ago that continuing to pursue nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities will only bring calamity to their country. The Iranian citizen is already asking: How could the toughest communist leader in the world bend to Trump, while we continue burning the American flag?

Hence the twinge of disappointment in the statement issued by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's office, which admonished the North Korean leader for putting his faith in the U.S. and entering nuclear negotiations with Trump.

Menashe Amir is an expert on Iranian affairs and former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division.

UN rushes to deliver aid as key Yemeni port city is ‘shelled and bombarded’

As the Yemeni port city of Hodeida continues to come under attack from Saudi-led coalition forces on Thursday, seeking to drive out Houthi rebels who control the city, the United Nations and humanitarian partners are rushing to provide life-saving assistance to thousands of vulnerable families there.

LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN: Elections serve up food for thought, for Afghan youth

By Philip Smucker   At the newly-established “50/50” fast food restaurant on the tree-lined streets of Herat, in the west of Afghanistan, business is brisk as deliveries are whisked away, on the back of motorbikes to hungry customers across the ancient city. 

UN General Assembly condemns Israel for ‘excessive’ force at Gaza border

After US amendment censuring Hamas is rejected on procedural grounds, 120 countries vote in favor of resolution calling for 'protection' for Palestinian civilians

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour (white hair) passes by US Ambassador Nikki Haley (seated) during voting, to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza, in the General Assembly June 13, 2018 in New York. (AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT)

With a huge majority, the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution condemning Israel for using “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” force during the recent clashes at the Gaza border and calling for an “international protection mechanism” for Palestinian civilians.

The dramatic, down to the wire session saw the United States attempt to add a paragraph condemning Hamas, which was ultimately rejected on procedural grounds though most member states supported it. The resolution, proposed by Algeria and Turkey, then passed with 120 “yes” votes,?8 “no” votes and 45 abstentions.

The eight countries that voted against the resolution were the US, Israel, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo and the Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement issued before the actual voting took place, condemned the resolution,?entitled “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”

“The UN’s incessant focus on Israel not only brings shame to the organization. It also draws attention away from so many other pressing issues that demand the attention of the international community,” he said.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, arguing that the draft was biased against Israel, proposed an amendment that would have added an explicit condemnation of the Hamas terrorist organization and its firing of rockets, promotion of violence at the Gaza border, and digging of tunnels to infiltrate into Israel.

But Algeria called for a “no-action motion,” which would have prevented a vote on the amendment. According to General Assembly rules, the motion was put to a vote of all member states. Surprisingly, 78 countries opposed Algeria’s move while only 59 supported it.

Haley’s amendment cleared with a slim majority, 62 to 58, with 42 abstentions.

However, General Assembly President?Miroslav Lajč?k, of Slovakia, ruled that a two-thirds majority was needed for an amendment to be added to a draft resolution.

Haley appealed his decision, which led the session to be adjourned for several minutes.

When the session reconvened, Lajč?k put Haley’s appeal to a vote. Sixty-six countries voted in favor, 72 opposed and 26 countries abstained, which meant that the original draft was put to a vote without the US amendment.

Haley condemned the final vote as a “morally bankrupt judgement.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to the General Assembly before a vote in the General Assembly June 13, 2018 in New York. (AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT)

But she argued that “the common practice of turning a blind eye to the UN’s anti-Israel bias is changing.”

“Today, a plurality of 62 countries voted in favor of the US-led effort to address Hamas’s responsibility for the disastrous conditions in Gaza. We had more countries on the right side than the wrong side. By their votes, those countries recognized that peace will only be achieved when realities are recognized, including Israel’s legitimate security interests, and the need to end Hamas’ terrorism,” she said.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, praised Haley for her effort.

“While procedural maneuvers were used to block it, we’re proud that by working with the Americans and our friends around the world, a majority of nations in the UN voted for the first time to condemn the terrorists of Hamas,” he tweeted.

General Assembly resolutions cannot be vetoed. Unlike UN Security Council resolutions, they are not legally binding on member states. On June 1, 10 countries voted in favor of?an almost identical text in the Security Council, proposed by Kuwait, but it failed to pass due to a US veto.

The resolution as passed does include a general condemnation of terrorism and incitement, and “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas,” but it fails to mention Hamas, the terrorist group ruling the coastal enclave and responsible for much of the violence emanating from the territory aimed at Israel.

US Ambassador Danny Danon addressing the UN General Assembly, June 13, 2018 (screen shot UN)

Speaking before the vote, Danon had condemned the resolution as “grossly biased,” arguing that it attacks Israel but fails to mention Hamas even once....

Toronto: Muslim cleric says “Zionist empire, American empire will be down in the dustbins of history inshallah”

Do Justin Trudeau and Melanie Joly think that although he rails at Zionists and America, Shafiq Hudda is a loyal citizen of the Canadian state, and teaches his followers to be also? They may be in for a surprise.

“Toronto Quds Day Rally – Sheikh Shafiq Hudda: Israel and the American Empire Will Be Eradicated,” MEMRI, June 9, 2018:

Speaking at the Toronto Quds Day rally, held on June 9, Sheikh Shafiq Hudda, director of the Islamic Humanitarian Service in Kitchener, Ontario, said that a day will come when we will see “the eradication of the unjust powers, such as the American empire, such as the Israeli Zionists.” He challenged the Israeli army to enter Gaza and “fight like men, not cowards,” saying: “You will leave in body bags.”

Sheikh Shafiq Hudda: …”I am praying for a day to come in our lifetime, where we won’t need the Al-Quds rally because Palestine will be free. Oppression will be eradicated, injustice will end, that’s the day we pray for. So we don’t have to meet every Saturday in the holy month of Ramadan. This is our prayer to the almighty creator, whether you call him God or Allah. You call him Jehovah or whatever name you want to call him. We pray to the creator and to the almighty, a day will come when we see justice throughout the world. The eradication of the unjust powers such as the American empire, such as the Israeli Zionists. And the same way that we saw the British Empire wither away, the sun never set on it… the sun sets on it. We will see a day coming inshallah, God willing in our lifetime, where this empire, the Zionist empire, the American empire will be down in the dustbins of history inshallah God willing.”

After summit, South Korea is considering easing military pressure on Pyongyang

Washington stressed that sanctions would only be lifted after a complete denuclearization, contradicting reports on North Korea's state-run media.

Trump and Kim's handshake Photo credit: Dan Scavino Jr., Wikimedia Commons

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday his country will need to be "flexible" regarding its military pressure on North Korea following Kim Jong-un's commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"If North Korea were to dismantle its nuclear program, and if the dialogue with South Korea and the United States to minimize hostilities continues to progress, it would be right to significantly decrease the military pressure placed on Pyongyang by the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration," Moon said.

He added that South Korea will "consider" its military cooperation with the US, after President Donald Trump unexpectedly ordered to suspend joint drills.

Kim on Wednesday was greeted with "applause" upon his return to North Korea, a state-run news station has reported. It was also reported that Trump had agreed to lift all sanctions on North Korea – a claim quickly contradicted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We’re going to get denuclearization,” Pompeo said. “Only then will there be relief from the sanctions. He (Trump) has said this from the very beginning."

Following Tuesday's historic summit in Singapore, a poll conducted by Reuters found that more than half of Americans support Trump's handling of the North Korea issue, though only about a quarter truly believe the summit will lead to denuclearization.

Omri holds a B.Ed from Seminar Hakibbutzim College and teaches drama and English in addition to his work on the site. He is also an aspiring musician and an avid traveler.

Israeli Diplomat: US-North Korea Agreement Puts Pressure on Iran

...Israel and its main Western ally, the United States, accuse Iran of seeking to become nuclear-armed, a prospect that Israel sees as an existential threat because of repeated calls by Iran’s Islamist rulers for the destruction of the Jewish state. Iran says its nuclear activities are solely peaceful.

Azar was speaking as about 400 pro-Israel activists gathered at Washington’s Grand Hyatt hotel on for an annual fundraising dinner for the Endowment for Middle East Truth, or EMET. The conservative-leaning advocacy group calls itself “unabashedly pro-American, pro-Israel” and seeks to educate policymakers and other Americans about Israel’s role as a U.S. ally in fighting radical Islam.

The event drew at least six U.S. lawmakers, including five Republicans and one Democrat — Congressman Josh Gottheimer, one of the few Democratic lawmakers who backed President Trump’s withdrawal from 2015 Iran nuclear deal last month. One of the Republicans in attendance, Congressman Ron DeSantis, told VOA Persian that President Trump should do more in the coming months than just re-impose Iran sanctions that the previous Obama administration lifted under the deal.

Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis speaks to VOA

“I do want the snap-back sanctions, but I think we need more sanctions,” DeSantis said. “You need to choke off the money to the Iranian regime, and the more problems they have with the cash flow, the more Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps hemorrhages funds. You also (need to) work to open social networks within Iran, so that people who are dissatisfied with the regime can communicate with one another. Then you are creating circumstances in which Iranians can choose a different course.”

Also speaking to VOA Persian at the event, Republican Senator Tim Scott said President Trump should focus on building support for sanctions among U.S. allies who have been reluctant to follow them.

Republican Senator Tim Scott talks to VOA Persian in Washington, June 12, 2018.

“It’s a fairly complicated situation as it relates to the global response (to U.S. sanctions),” Scott said. “What we have done is the most appropriate response for us. The president will continue to have positive conversations that I think will hopefully lead us in the direction of having a concerted effort (with our allies on sanctions). So I’m hopeful as it relates to what will be the final outcome.”

In a separate VOA Persian interview on Wednesday, Iran analyst Behnam Ben Taleblu of Washington’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies said President Trump also needs more North Korean concessions before he could achieve the goal of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons....

The “Trump Doctrine” for the Middle East

...The Trump administration undoubtedly realizes that the Iranian regime will not accept the requirements presented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that the harsh new sanctions might lead to new major uprisings in Iran, and the fall of the regime. Ambassador John Bolton, now National Security Advisor, mentioned in January that the "strategic interest of the United States" is to see the regime overthrown.

Referring recently to the situation in the Middle East and the need to achieve peace, Pompeo spoke of the "Palestinians", not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.

No one knows exactly what the peace plan to be presented by the Trump administration will contain, but it seems certain that it will not include the "right of return" of so-called "Palestinian refugees" and will not propose East Jerusalem as the "capital of a Palestinian state". The plan will no doubt be rejected by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas; it already has been, sight unseen.

Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but "peace without Israel". What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iran's mullahs.

It should be noted that on December 7, 2017, when Donald Trump announced the transfer of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the leaders of the Muslim world who protested were mostly Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman did not send representatives to the Islamic summit conference in Istanbul. When the US embassy in Jerusalem opened its doors on May 14, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf emirates were quiet.

On that day, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron repeated what they had said on December 7, 2017: that the embassies of Germany and France in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv. Macron condemned the "heinous acts" committed by the Israeli military on the Gaza border but not aggression of Hamas in urging its people, and even paying them, to storm Gaza's border with Israel.

If current trends continue, Macron and Merkel could be among the last supporters of the "Palestinian cause." They sound as if they will do just about anything to save the corrupt Palestinian Authority.

They are also doing everything to save the moribund Iran "nuclear deal," and are deferential to the mullahs' regime. During a European summit held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on May 16, the Trump administration was harshly criticized by the European heads of state who argued that Europe will "find a way around" US sanctions and "resist" President Trump. European companies are already leaving Iran in droves, evidently convinced that they will be better off cutting their losses and keeping good relations with the United States.

On June 3-5, Benjamin Netanyahu went to Europe to try to persuade Merkel, Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May to give up backing the Iran nuclear deal. He failed, predictably, but at least had the opportunity to explain the Iranian danger to Europeans and the need to act.

As Iran's nuclear ties to North Korea have intensified in the last two years -- Iran seems to have relied on North Korea to advance its own nuclear projects -- the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula that might have begun with the Donald Trump-Kim Jong-Un meeting in Singapore on June 12, clearly will not strengthen the Iranian position.

European leaders seem not to want to see that a page is turning in the Middle East. They seem not to want to see that, regardless of their mercenary immorality, of their behavior staying on the page of yesterday, is only preventing them from understanding the future.

Dr. Guy Milli?re, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.

General Assembly adopts text urging greater protection for Palestinians, and deploring Israel’s ‘excessive’ use of force

In an emergency meeting on Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted an Arab-sponsored resolution calling for greater protection for Palestinians, and deploring any use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” force by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians, particularly in Gaza.

Military escalation will have ‘serious consequences’ for Yemeni civilians, warns UN Special Envoy

An attempt by a Saudi-led military coalition to take control of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah from opposition Houthi forces “will have serious consequences” on an already “dire” situation for millions of civilians, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen said on Wednesday.