Palestine to be liberated through Palestinians’ resistance: Ayat. Khamenei

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (R) receives the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, in Tehran on December 14, 2016. (Photos by

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (R) receives the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, in Tehran on December 14, 2016

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says occupied Palestine will be liberated only through resistance and struggles of Palestinian people and groups, provided that they maintain their unity.

In a meeting with the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, in Tehran on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei praised the Palestinians’ motivations, which are rooted in their faith and the spirit of resistance, adding, “The only way to liberate the holy city of al-Quds is struggle and resistance, and other solutions are useless and futile,” the Leader stated.

The Leader referred to the young population of Palestine as an important factor for the Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories, and expressed high optimism that the Israeli regime will perish within the next quarter of a century.

“The Zionist regime — as we have already said — will cease to exist in the next 25 years if there is a collective and united struggle by the Palestinians and the Muslims against the Zionists,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Ayatollah Khamenei also reaffirmed Iran’s support for the Palestinian nation and said, “Despite being engaged in certain regional issues, the Islamic Republic has always announced explicitly that Palestine is the number one issue in the Muslim world and has fulfilled its obligations in this regard.”

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (R) receives the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah (2nd, R), in Tehran on December 14, 2016

‘US, allies created regional crises’

Describing the US as “the most arrogant [power] and the Great Satan,” the Leader said Washington is the main reason behind the current problems in the region.

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to the tensions created by certain regional countries through interference in the affairs of other states, saying they seek to undermine the Palestinian issue or force it to slip into oblivion.

The Leader rejected claims that the conflicts in the region were linked to religious issues, saying that it was the US and its regional allies who created such crises and involved religion in them.

“The Sunni people of Aleppo, Mosul and other cities are being slaughtered by the Takfiri criminals; therefore, these crises have nothing to do with Sunni or Shia,” the Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei also underlined the need for a collective struggle against Takfiri groups, including Daesh, as one of the main challenges facing the region, warning that the Palestinian issue could be further sidelined due to current crises created by the Takfiris.

The Palestinian official, for his part, praised Iran’s support for the Palestinians and criticized certain Arab countries for siding with Israel.

Abdullah expressed concern about the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which he said has denied nearly two million Palestinians their basic rights, and stressed resistance as the only solution to the Palestinian issue.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

Former Iraqi PM: US could have stopped IS with 2008 security deal

Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki speaks during a news conference in Baghdad, Nov. 29, 2014

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s controversial former — and possibly future — prime minister, is the most influential player in Iraq’s political process.

He heads the State of Law Coalition, the major player in the largely Shiite National Alliance, which in turn is the largest bloc in parliament. He also heads the Reform Front, which led a recent campaign that resulted in the firings of Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi and Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Maliki says he helped launch the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) after the Islamic State (IS) occupied Sunni-majority provinces during his terms as prime minister from 2006 to 2014. Observers have not ruled out his return to that position after parliamentary elections in 2018.

Al-Monitor met Maliki at his office in Baghdad for an exclusive interview. The text of the interview follows:

Al-Monitor:  How would you describe the current relationship between Baghdad and the United States? Has the deal you reached with Washington been exploited? How do you see the US position on the recent crisis with Turkey?

Maliki:  Our relationship with Washington is good, but we think the Strategic Framework Agreement [between the United States and Maliki’s government in 2008] was not correctly implemented. That’s what we said before Mosul fell, when we asked the United States to target the camps of terrorist gangs that were using the desert of Anbar province as a base and a refuge. But the US side refused on unrealistic pretexts, which led to Daesh [IS] taking over large areas of Iraq.

I believe that the relationship with the United States is important for the interests of Iraq and the region, and that it can be examined and developed by implementing the Status of Forces Agreement and dealing with any obstacles that get in the way.

America has rejected the logic of Turkish intervention in Iraq, but Turkish politicians think they can impose facts on the ground and expand in Iraq.

Al-Monitor:  When President-elect Donald Trump takes office, do you expect a change in US policy in ways that will affect the ongoing struggle in the region?

Maliki:  Washington’s general policy will stay the same, but the means and tools used to implement are different depending on who is in power. It’s true that the Republicans are more concerned with Iraq, as they were the people who toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein and have stayed involved in the political process.

Their policy was good when they agreed to withdraw US troops and when they signed the Status of Forces Agreement. We hope that Mr. Trump when he takes office will implement the Strategic Framework Agreement that we signed, which covers the economy, politics, oil, trade and the military.

I say that Iraq needs this agreement with the United States and it needs US efforts and US expertise in many areas. I hope that President Trump implements the deal, because the Democrats didn’t implement it in the past, despite our requests.

If they had responded to our requests, [IS] would not be here. We asked for weapons to strike [IS] in Jazeera [northwestern Iraq] that was an entry point for the terrorists from Syria. But unfortunately they did not cooperate with us, and later admitted that this was a mistake.

Al-Monitor:  Did [IS] exploit long-running conflicts in the region, especially your differences with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and are there ways to solve these differences?

Maliki:  In light of ongoing struggles and influential states’ greed for territory in the region, I believe that the crisis will continue and it will stir up new crises. That cannot be prevented except through dialogue, respect, good neighborliness and a commitment not to interfere in the business of others. Crises and conflicts cannot be solved through weapons and controlling other people’s territory. We are determined to solve the crises with Turkey and Saudi Arabia and to achieve the best, most positive ties on many levels, to be good neighbors and build interdependent interests and fates.

Al-Monitor:  Will the PMU move into Syria after liberating Mosul from [IS]? If so, will that have major international costs for Iraq, especially for its relations with the United States?

Maliki:  Talk of the PMU fighting in Syria is premature. I don’t believe that it will happen now, because the situation in Syria at the moment does not require a PMU intervention. Also, we still need the PMU to finish the job of liberating Mosul and chasing down what remains of [IS] there. If we are able to impose security, get rid of [IS] and cleanse our territory of terrorism, it would be reasonable to respond and help Syria face [IS], because the group will come back to Iraq if we don’t destroy it completely in Syria.

Al-Monitor:  It appears that many Sunnis fear the PMU and have doubts about a national or historic compromise. How can the country’s problems be “reset” after [IS] has been defeated? Is there a clear vision or a comprehensive plan for reconciliation? Is there a place in the reconciliation plan for dividing the country’s wealth and drafting laws such as an oil and gas law?

Maliki:  I don’t see that Sunnis are afraid of the PMU, given that many of them are fighting alongside it on the front lines. Some of those who are trying to stir up fears are people who conspired to let [IS] in. Today, and after the defeat of [IS], those people will try to stir up new crises and create pretexts to prevent any rapprochement or any successful process of reconciliation or compromise.

The compromise that we are hoping for includes intellectual and organizational elements, the principles we want Iraq to be built on, national unity and a rejection of sectarianism. We want only the state to bear arms, respect the sovereignty of Iraq, an end to interference in the affairs of others and others interfering in our affairs, the country’s wealth to be invested in the best possible way and equality, along with other things that have all been completed and approved, which form the essence of the historic compromise.

Al-Monitor:  If Sunni elements decided to turn the western provinces into a [self-governing] region, would you agree to that, given that it is provided for in the constitution? Or would you oppose it, perhaps due to its links to foreign agendas? What is your view on the unity of Iraq?

Maliki:  While we support the unity of Iraq, we do not oppose the formation of regions, because it is provided for in the constitution. But given the current state of affairs, those regions cannot be created now because they would be created by force of arms in an atmosphere of political, military and sectarian tension, which is a bad basis for creating such regions.

Al-Monitor:  What is the nature of the lists you will support in the coming election, especially given that most members of the State of Law Coalition are also in the Reform Front? Will the Reform Front run as an independent list or under the list of the State of Law Coalition? Will you support electoral lists that represent the PMU?

Maliki:  The State of Law Coalition is the bloc that I will support going into the elections; we are currently reviewing and selecting allies who will run. There are many forces and well-known personalities who have asked to join the State of Law Coalition, and we welcome those who wish to join us — but according to regulations and conditions that fit the orientation and aims of the coalition.

As for the PMU, I believe that talk is premature, because the PMU is still busy with its military operations. Once the battle is over, then the PMU can decide whether or not to participate. But that does not mean that the PMU will not have a voice within the political scene, even if the majority of its units choose not to take part, because some units are already represented within the State of Law Coalition, especially the Badr Organization, the Jund al-Imam Brigades and the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades.

The Reform Front is not an electoral list but rather a grouping of parliamentarians from various blocs focusing on issues of shared concern, such as fighting corruption and supporting administrative reforms.

Al-Monitor:  How did the recent pro-reform protests and the Reform Front impact on the work of the Haider al-Abadi government, and how would you describe his performance? Will he be on your electoral lists?

Maliki:  First, it is up to the people to judge the work of the government. Regarding the reform movement and its impact on the government, I believe that anyone who wants to correct the path of the government will face challenges, and the prime minister has called for a reform process within the government — what happened in parliament is a result of that.

Al-Monitor:  Do you still insist on the idea of a political majority? Is it possible to create a list that goes beyond sects, given that religious parties and sectarian bodies dominate Iraq?

Maliki:  Yes, we believe that the best solution to salvage Iraq from its domestic crises is by creating a government of the political majority that is able to heal the situation and rebuild faith in the state, which was damaged by those calling for reform and anti-corruption measures. It is possible to create cross-sectarian blocs and lists, and I don’t believe that religious parties are an obstacle to creating cross-sectarian entities.

Al-Monitor:  Will those lists be an alternative to the State of Law Coalition? What will happen to the divisions and conflicts with it, especially between yourself and the Sadrists?

Maliki:  The majority government has nothing to do with the National Alliance, because when we proposed forming a majority government that was not in isolation from the other elements of the National Alliance or anyone else. The issue is not limited to a particular party or a specific sect. We hope for a government that includes everyone who wants to build the nation and solve the problems Iraq suffers — through a strong government that is able to live up to its tasks and can tackle the challenges facing Iraq.

The National Alliance is made up entirely or mostly of groups that are able to be part of a political majority. Whoever wants to can take part, and I’m optimistic that all or most elements of the National Alliance will be part of that project.

Al-Monitor:  Does that view fit with Muqtada al-Sadr’s moves for reform and the establishment of a technocratic government and getting rid of the quota system? What is your view of Sadr’s position on the PMU law?

Maliki:  We stand with everyone who wants reform and to fight corruption, but their claims must be true and honest, not simply slogans and chants, or attacks on government institutions or damaging the prestige of the state.

Whoever wants reform and to fight corruption must respect the law and must not send out armed groups into Baghdad, show off their weapons and threaten those who oppose forming a technocratic government. Everyone must avoid the language of threats and use dialogue as a way to correct what they see as wrong, or not serving the interests of the people.

Concerning the PMU law, I believe that the law approved by parliament meets what is needed, although we hope for more — to do justice for those who have given their blood and their lives for Iraq and responded to the call after the conspiracy against the nation.

The first stage was passing the law, and the second stage will be drafting the orders, which is the responsibility of the commander in chief of the armed forces.

Al-Monitor:  Will Sunni and Sadrist opposition to the law affect the future of the political process and the push for a historical compromise?

Maliki:  The PMU law was passed by the parliament and it will proceed. I don’t believe anything can happen to it.

As for the political compromise, we are waiting for a Sunni statement expressing views on what the National Alliance presented, and when that is agreed, we will move forward with fixing rules that can be a basis from which everyone can work. As soon as that is agreed, we will proceed together on issues such as rebuilding the cities, returning the displaced and compensating those who have been harmed, as well as reforms to the political and legislative systems.

Al-Monitor:  What guarantee is there that the PMU will not become stronger than the state and its security apparatus? How can fighters be separated from their previous units? What is the difference between turning the PMU into an official body and integrating its fighters into the Iraqi armed forces?

Maliki:  The PMU has become — by law — subordinate to the state security apparatus. Any force within that structure must support and assist the other organs of the armed forces. I believe that the PMU will be an effective organ — just like the Counter Terrorism Service — and that the leadership of the PMU are part of the political process and are committed to its stability and the rule of law.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

Parade on Hamas’s 29th inception anniversary


Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters, Hamas’s political and military leaders, and representatives of Palestinian factions participated on Wednesday in the massive rally the Movement held on its 29th inception anniversary in downtown Gaza.

The rally witnessed scout performances by a group of scouts holding on their shoulders a model of the Dome of the Rock in addition to another group called “Hamas Knights” who wandered among the crowds carrying portraits of Palestinian martyrs and prisoners in the Israeli jails.

The festival also included several military parades by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, involving hundreds of fighters from all armed units of the Qassam.


Each of the infantry, border guards, sniper unit and elite unit of the Qassam paraded their weapons in addition to new rockets.

The senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya said in a message to the Israeli occupation during a speech on the occasion, “You have no place on our land, and the worst is yet to come as the Mujahideen will remove you from this land.”

(Source / 14.12.2016)

Israel blacklists Int’l charity over alleged ties with Hamas


The Israeli government on Wednesday officially blacklisted the international Kanadil Foundation for Development and Humanitarian Relief as an outlawed institution.

According to the Israeli radio, Israel’s war minister Avigdor Lieberman signed a document banning the Kanadil Foundation as an illegal body.

The ban was issued on allegations that the organization is affiliated with the resistance group Hamas and that it represents a threat to the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Israeli sources further claimed that over recent years Kanadil charity has served as a key fundraising mechanism for Hamas projects in Occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

Rebels launch counter attack in Aleppo

Sources in the Free Syrian Army reported that the Assad regime forces resumed shelling on the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo

A Syrian rebel official said on Wednesday that insurgents had launched counter-attacks against government forces in the city of Aleppo as fighting raged on after a truce deal appeared to collapse.

Zakaria Malahifji of the Fastaqim group told Reuters that his men “have begun a military action” from their last remaining areas of control in the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and a witness reported that insurgents had staged a car bomb attack southwest of the historic Old City.

Chaos prevails

Explosions ripped in Aleppo on Wednesday a day after the cease-fire began in the Syrian city even as chaos and confusion prevailed over the immediate aftermath.

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Syrian government forces and other groups are trying to obstruct the deal reached to evacuate civilians and rebels from Aleppo.

Sources in the Free Syrian Army reported that the Assad regime forces resumed shelling on the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, sources in the Free Syrian Army reported that the Assad regime forces resumed shelling on the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.

While activists have reported that Iranian militia bombed civilians in Al-Ansari neighborhood, Al-Sikar, and Al-Mashhad in Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the shelling could be heard even though it was unclear who was carrying out these attacks.

According to the Sham news network, the process of evacuation of residents of Aleppo has been postponed until Thursday after it was scheduled at dawn on Wednesday. It is still unclear what has caused this but there are speculations that the Shiite militia led by Iran rejected the Russia-Turkey Aleppo deal.

Russia confirms evacuation while opposition denies

Russia, on Wednesday, announced that 6,000 civilians and 366 fighters came out of Aleppo within the past 24 hours. The Syrian Observatory says so far no fighter or civilian has left Eastern Aleppo.

They announced that all the fighters would leave the city, including Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, former Nusra Front. Activists also reported that Iranian militia are present in the region to prevent the buses carrying civilians out of the neighborhoods of Aleppo.
France skeptical

French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault said that there are impediments to the evacuation process of trapped civilians in eastern Aleppo, and called for the presence of international observers on the ground.

Putin and Erdogan agree to make joint effort to evacuate east Aleppo

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone call on Wednesday to make a joint effort to start the evacuation of civilians and opposition forces from eastern Aleppo as soon as possible, Turkish presidential sources said.

Putin and Erdogan emphasized the need to prevent the violations of a ceasefire deal that Russia and Turkey brokered on Tuesday. The evacuation stalled early on Wednesday after Damascus’s ally Iran set new conditions, and both government forces and rebels have since resumed fighting.

Erdogan told Putin that Turkey was ready to take all possible measures to provide temporary shelter and humanitarian aid following the opening of safe corridors

UN “not involved” in Aleppo evacuation plans

The United Nations said on Wednesday it was “not involved” in plans to evacuate fighters and civilians from eastern Aleppo, but it was ready to help with any evacuation.

“(The UN) stands ready to facilitate the voluntary and safe evacuation of injured, sick and vulnerable civilians from the besieged part of the city,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

US DM Personally Delivers F-35 Fighter Jets to Israeli Regime

US DM Personally Delivers F-35 Fighter Jets to Israeli Regime

The US Defense Minister has traveled to the region to personally deliver two advanced fighter warplanes to Israeli regime.

Ashton Carter arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday to deliver two of the F-35 fighter jets to the Israeli regime as he was received by the regime’s minister of military affairs, Avigdor Liberman.

The regime is planning to buy some 50 of the warplanes to strengthen what the Israeli regime called their “air superiority in the region”.

The jets’ arrival from Italy in the afternoon was initially delayed due to bad weather condition.

US President-elect Donald Trump has criticized the F-35 manufacturing program over its high costs as well as long delays in development.

In a tweet on Monday, the incoming president vowed to change the condition when he takes control of the White House on January 20th, 2017.

“The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th,” he said.

The jet manufacturing company, Lockheed Martin, faced a sharp decline in its shares after the Twitter post.

The fighters are being procured as part of a military aid deal between the US and Israeli regime. The estimated cost for each plane is around $110 million.

Israeli air force has been a major muscle in violent attacks on regional countries and residential areas as the attack on Lebanon and more recently on Syria has proved.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

Jerusalem family homeless as Israeli forces raze home to the ground


Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday razed a Palestinian home in Occupied Jerusalem to the ground.

A PIC news correspondent said three Israeli bulldozers rolled into Occupied Jerusalem’s town of Beit Hanina at the early morning hours and knocked down a Palestinian home.

Prior to the demolition, the Israeli occupation forces cordoned off the home, located in Hizma village, in Beit Hanina.

The demolition was reportedly carried out under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

99 years since the fall of Jerusalem

The Ottomans surrendered Jerusalem to Britain on 9 December 1917

What: The Battle of Jerusalem
Where: Palestine
When: 17 November – 30 December 1917

What happened?

Not long after the Balfour Declaration was signed on 2 November 1917 promising the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine after World War I, British troops led by General Edmund Allenby turned towards Jerusalem. The Battle for Jerusalem occurred during the British Empire’s Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire.

The Fall of Jerusalem

The Ottomans surrendered Jerusalem to Britain on 9 December 1917. The Ottoman Army withdrew its troops and surrendered the Holy City to British command with a letter from the city’s governor:

“For the past two days, bombs have been raining on Jerusalem, holy to all communities. Therefore, the Ottoman Government, in order to safeguard the religious places from ruin and destruction, has withdrawn its forces from the city and has commissioned officials to take care of the religious places like the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hoping that your treatment will also be similar…”

Two days later, Allenby entered the Holy City on foot through the Jaffa gate, becoming the 34th conqueror of Jerusalem. The fighting started on 17 November and continued until 30 December, three weeks after Jerusalem’s surrender.

Upon Allenby’s entry, a proclamation declaring martial law and Jerusalem under siege was read aloud in English, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian and Greek, in which Allenby assured the people that Britain would not harm Jerusalem, its residents, or its holy sites.

“Since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for centuries, therefore do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”

Allenby reportedly declared, “The wars of the Crusades are now complete,” and then British Prime Minister David Lloyd George described the capture of Jerusalem as “a Christmas present for the British people.”

(Source / 14.12.2016)

US Protects Al-Qeada Terrorists to Topple Syrian Govt :

US Protects Al-Qeada Terrorists to Topple Syrian Govt : Russia

Alwaght- Russian foreign minister says the US is trying to protect al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra terrorist group to use them as a tool to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“There is a slew of examples showing that al-Nusra Front somehow evaded the US-led coalition’s actions,” Lavrov said in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Monday, referring to the coalition of countries bombarding alleged terrorist positions in Syria and Iraq.

“There were and are solid reasons to believe it (al-Nusra) was being protected as the most efficient and combat-capable anti-government force on the ground so that it could be used in the future to topple the legitimate leadership of Syria,” Lavrov added.

Al-Nusra Front has recently renamed itself and claimed to have broken ranks with al-Qaeda, although there is general consensus that the moves are decoy attempts.

The US-led coalition has achieved little, if anything, to dislodge the terrorist groups it claims to be fighting.

Earlier, the Russian foreign minister had described the movement of ISIS terrorists from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to neighboring Syria and a subsequent attack on the ancient city of Palmyra as a part of an orchestrated plan to salvage terrorist groups in Syria’s strategic northwestern city of Aleppo.

“It makes me think, and I hope I am wrong, that it is all orchestrated in order to give a respite to the bandits still in eastern Aleppo,” Lavrov said.

Syrian and Russian militaries are engaged in the final phases of a large-scale operation to retake Aleppo from militants, including those of al-Nusra.

(Source / 14.12.2016)

Palestinians disappointed by 2-state plan and Abbas

46% of Gazans want to emigrate according to a survey

Two Palestinian student girls walk past a graffiti reading 'GAZA LOVE LIFE' in Gaza City

Two Palestinian student girls walk past a graffiti reading ‘GAZA LOVE LIFE’ in Gaza City

TEL AVIV – A survey conducted recently in the West Bank and Gaza by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey found that 65% think that the two-state solution is no longer feasible, in part due to the progressive spread of Jewish settlements. Two out of every three of the Palestinians respondents said that President Mahmoud Abbas should resign. If presidential elections were to be held in the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas would lose against Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh if only these two were included.

However, if other candidates were to stand as well, the winner would be Marwan Barghouti from the Fatah party. Barghouti is currently serving a sentence in an Israeli jail.

The results of the survey show that the situation in Gaza is verging on desperation, with 46% wanting to emigrate. Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu’s policies against Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel are strongly opposed: 85% say that his blaming of Arabs for setting fires last month that raged through Israeli territory was baseless, and 87% said that his government’s initiative (under preparation) to prohibit the use of loudspeakers in mosques was tantamount to ”a war on Islam”.

Ninety percent of Palestinians condemn the Islamic State, according to the survey.

(Source / 14.12.2016)