American Politics Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Support for political violence, whether in the U.S. or overseas, is as American as cherry pie

January 10, 2021

Senior advisor to the president, Jared Kushner, during a recent trip to Iraq. (Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Department of Defense/Flickr)

There have been plenty of stupid comments in the mainstream U.S. media since Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Many have been along the lines of, “We expect this kind of political violence in the Mideast, or in a banana republic — not in our own democratic America.

Such remarks betray a limited understanding of both the historic U.S. role overseas, and of America’s own history. Let’s start with a somewhat obscure but still revealing example, from Israel/Palestine. In 2006, the George W. Bush administration pressed the Palestinian Authority to hold new elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Jerome Slater (whose new book, “Mythologies Without End”, is an indispensable guide to truths in the Mideast), explains that Bush’s advisers assumed that “the PA would easily win.” But Hamas actually came in first. So Bush applied strong economic pressure, and also “began planning for a coup to overturn the election results.” Bush asked conservative Arab states to supply arms to the PA’s armed branch, led by Mohammed Dahlan.

In June 2007, Dahlan’s forces attacked Hamas in Gaza, but were “soundly defeated,” and Hamas took full power in the beleaguered territory. Slater points out:  

Since then, in Israel and the United States these events have been typically described as “a coup” when, in fact, it was a response to a real coup — the US and PA actions after the wrong side won the Gaza elections.

Gazans who can pause their daily struggle for survival long enough to follow the news from Washington may be permitted their skepticism at American claims that our country universally supports democracy and is appalled at coup attempts.

The prominent Democrat, Rahm Emanuel, also reacted to the storming of the U.S. Capitol with a particularly stupid comment that showed he must have gotten a good grade in Orientalism 101. Emanuel said on ABC News that increasing friction between Democrats and Republicans is “going to make the Sunnis and Shiites look like a very calm family gathering.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced Emanuel’s comments as “Islamophobic,” and noted: “In America and abroad, Sunni and Shia Muslims live as neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members.” Emanuel was only echoing the Orientalist belief that a major source of conflict in the Mideast, especially in Iraq, is due to theological differences between two branches of Islam that split in the year 661. No genuine expert believes this. It is true that sectarian conflict is part of Iraq’s more recent history, but it worsened terribly during the violence and insecurity that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion. It wasn’t a 7th century dispute over the line of succession to the Prophet Muhammad that increased conflict, but America’s brutal intervention.

Certain U.S. mainstream media figures also trotted out the disparaging expression “banana republic” to deplore what happened at the Capitol. They showed more ignorance about America’s role. The United Fruit Company, starting in the late 19th century, created pliable governments in Central America that allowed them to seize vast tracts of land for their banana plantations. United Fruit was managed by New England bluebloods; John Foster Dulles, later Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, represented the company when he was a law partner at the prestigious firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. In the 1940s, people in Guatemala rebelled, and in two democratic elections voted for presidents who tried to curb United Fruit’s power. The result was the infamous 1954 CIA-sponsored coup, which led to decades of military dictatorships that culminated in the 1982 mass murder in indigenous Mayan communities. 

“Banana republic” is certainly a shameful expression, but it reflects badly not on the people of Central America, but on the New England Brahmins who exploited them.

Nor were the mainstream commenters right to suggest that political violence is somehow hitherto unknown in America itself. After white Southerners lost the Civil War, they maintained their power in the region over the next century by organizing anti-black terrorist militias like the Ku Klux Klan, and lynching nearly 5000 people, the majority of them black. When the 1960s civil rights leader H. Rap Brown said, “Violence is as American as cherry pie,” he knew what he was talking about. 

One talented young journalist has become a master at critiquing the warped view of the world that many Americans share. Karen Attiah, a Ghanaian-American, is the Global Opinions editor at the Washington Post. She regularly writes convincing satires of how the Western media would cover certain domestic news events if they had happened in the Global South. Her latest is another success. She quotes Joe Biden — “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol . . . do not represent who we are” — and then turns to a fictitious African expert for sage comment:

The phrase “this is not who we are” has become a very common refrain in American English, said Alphas Huxly, a Liberian professor of American studies and literature. “It is a knee-jerk response used when confronted with mounting evidence of the capacity for White violence and attacks on democracy.”

Another Israeli Invasion Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Soldiers Invade Village Near Tubas

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at night, the village of Tayasir, east of Tubas in northeastern West Bank, and searched many homes.

Media sources in Tubas, said several army jeeps invaded Tayasir before storming and ransacking many homes and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID card.

Several Palestinian youngsters protested the invasion and hurled stones at the invading soldiers who fired gas bombs and concussion grenades.

On Thursday at dawn, the soldiers abducted three Palestinians from Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, and in Hebron, in the southern part.

In the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli navy boats attacked with live fire several fishing boats in Palestinian waters, north of Gaza city, in addition to farmers on their lands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.

Israel should prepare for a war outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Implications for Israel of the Joint Terrorist Military Exercise in the Gaza Strip

Omer DostriJanuary 8, 2021

Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants operating in Gaza Strip, photo by Amir Farshad Ebrahami via Flickr CC

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,874, January 8, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The first joint military exercise of the Gaza terrorist organizations was a milestone for Hamas, which wishes to unite these organizations in order to strengthen its control over the Strip as well as its “ambiguity strategy” vis-à-vis Israel. The exercise has implications for Israel at both the strategic and the operational levels as it prepares for a possible conflagration in Gaza.

The large military exercise held on December 29, 2020 in the Gaza Strip—the first to involve all the terrorist organizations operating in the Strip under the rubric of a “Joint Operations Headquarters”—was designed to achieve several goals:

• to convey a message to the Israeli and Gazan public that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are united in dealing with security threats, whether they be from Israel or from internal opposition to the Hamas regime

• to allow Hamas and the terrorist organizations to prepare for a military campaign against Israel, which will supposedly be led by the “Joint Operations Headquarters”

• to signal to Israel and the US the undesirability of striking Iranian targets before the end of President Trump’s term in office.

The message Hamas sought to convey regarding the unity of the terrorist organizations is highly important to the organization. Hamas needs to present a united front and the impression of consensus for the Gaza public—especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which is challenging Hamas on the public health and economic fronts. The military unity of the Hamas-led terrorist groups indicates that the organization enjoys broad popular support and the “street” should rule out the possibility of challenging the regime, as happened several times in recent years. At the same time, Hamas wants to make clear to Israel that it doesn’t have absolute control over the other terrorist groups in the Strip, notably rocket attacks by “recalcitrant organizations” that do not answer to Hamas.

The latter point is part of Hamas’s ambiguity strategy. The argument that some attacks against Israeli targets are carried out by non-Hamas organizations is meant to encourage Israel to reduce the number and severity of retaliatory attacks it conducts against Hamas targets in response to such strikes.

For Islamic Jihad, which is identified with Iran, it is important that Israel’s divide-and-rule strategy in the Gaza Strip be disrupted. This strategy was seen in action during the last two rounds of fighting in the Strip, in November 2019 and February 2020, when Israel focused on attacking Islamic Jihad targets and left Hamas targets alone. Hamas took the hint and did not intervene during these rounds of conflict. In taking this approach, Israel tried to undermine the unity of ranks in the Gaza Strip and cause a rift between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. For this reason, the recent joint military exercise was a significant and even vital step for Islamic Jihad.

The need to present a united front was reflected in Hamas’s feverish creation, dissemination, and marketing of media messages for public consumption in both Israel and the Gaza Strip before and during the exercise. The name given to the exercise, Ar-Rukn ash-Shadid (Strong Pillar), was meant to express unity among the ranks. Hamas circulated guidelines to journalists including a call for widespread dissemination of photos and videos of the exercise across all media platforms including social media, again as a means of pushing the message of organizational unity.

Even before the exercise, the “Joint Operations Headquarters” allowed photos and promotional videos to be taken and published showing the organizations, units, and weapons that were going to take part. This was remarkable, as Hamas rarely allows dozens of journalists, photographers, and media people to come to its areas and document what they see. At the beginning of the exercise, a spokesman for the Hamas military wing held a well-publicized press conference of which many photos and videos were circulated in the Arab media and on social media. At the end of the exercise, children and teenagers were brought to the training area to take selfies of themselves standing on the models of Israeli tanks that had been used as targets during the exercise.

Beyond the public relations dimension, the joint exercise had a practical purpose: to enable Hamas and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to prepare and train for a possible military campaign against Israel while improving positions and making adjustments at the inter-organizational level.

The exercise included launching rockets toward the sea to test launch continuity, as well as conducting attacks by landing on shore using motorboats and divers from the naval commando force. In addition, there were rehearsals of land maneuvers, ambushes of military vehicles, and abductions of Israeli soldiers. A mock Israeli invasion of Gaza was thwarted through a powerful artillery barrage accompanied by rapid deployment of ground forces, sniper fire, and attack by unmanned aerial vehicles. The exercise also included efforts by civil defense forces to rescue civilians from rubble, extinguish fires, stop leaks, and control the spread of hazardous materials. It is likely that Hamas also practiced fighting underground, though these operations were not filmed for security reasons.

Hamas did not display any new weapons or capabilities during the exercise. In the past, it has used naval commandos, drones, and special force raids to attack Israeli territory, including from underground tunnels, not to mention sustained long-range rocket/missile fire. Though new materiel was not put on display, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza are constantly improving and refining their operational capabilities and weapons, including the ranges, accuracy, and firepower of their rockets.

While Hamas probably does wish to join forces with other terrorist organizations and prepare for a future military campaign against Israel, the idea for the joint exercise might not have originated in Gaza. It was reported by Palestinian sources in Gaza that it was Tehran that asked Hamas and Islamic Jihad to organize the exercise in order to send a message to Israel and the US that the Tehran-led “Axis of Resistance” is alive and well.

Evidence of Iranian involvement was seen in the displaying by Hamas of numerous posters of Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US air strike in January 2020, as well as of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah somewhat surprisingly alluded to the exercise a day before its occurrence as “an important step and a show of force that frightens the Israeli enemy.”

For Israel, the joint exercise poses a multidimensional threat. The IDF must prepare for a military campaign in which it will operate at high intensity across a variety of dimensions simultaneously: in the air, near the ground (with drones), on land, at sea, in cyberspace, and in underground tunnels. The IDF should also prepare for the possibility of wider combat cooperation among the Gaza terrorist organizations, which has so far been limited mainly to joint rocket launches. The joint exercise may herald joint operational combat in other areas and in multiple dimensions. The IDF will have to make adjustments at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels in terms of both its arms and its preparation for multi-dimensional combat and multi-arm maneuvering.

In addition, Israel must continue to send deterrent messages to Hamas and Islamic Jihad to keep the next campaign as far away as possible. This could include targeted killings of senior members of these organizations as well as indications of readiness to engage in land maneuvers deep inside the Gaza Strip. The IDF must convey that it has both the military capabilities and the resolve for a swift and decisive all-out confrontation that will comprehensively rout the terrorist groups in Gaza.

On the same day the joint terrorist exercise was held in Gaza, the IDF conducted its own military exercise in the southern region. And while the IDF claimed the exercise was simply part of its 2020 training program, one wonders at the coincidence of the two opposing exercises being conducted simultaneously.

Omer Dostri is an Israeli journalist and foreign policy specialist. He has interned at the Center for Middle East Studies at Ariel University, the Institute for National Security Studies, and the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security at Tel Aviv University. He is a Ph.D. candidate at Bar-Ilan University.

As It Hopes for a Long-Term Truce, Israel Prepares New Battle Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

As It Hopes for a Long-Term Truce, Israel Prepares New Battle Doctrine for Gaza

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a groundbreaking ceremony for the Rafah Medical Complex in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 23, 2019. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90. – In the final days of 2020, the IDF released its annual figures for the year, and the data revealed that the Gaza Strip remains the least stable and most explosive arena in Israel’s environs.

While the Hamas regime in Gaza and its terror army, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, are unlikely to initiate war with Israel at this time — preferring instead to preserve Hamas’ rule by seeking economic relief and coping with the coronavirus pandemic — any small tactical flare-up involving Hamas or one of the other armed terror factions could still quickly escalate into a broader conflict.

In addition, Hamas could soon turn to “pressure tactics” to try to convince Israel to reach a longer-term arrangement with it — a campaign that could backfire and snowball into conflict.

Other factions in Gaza, such as the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are not weighed down by complicating factors like the need to preserve a governing regime or concerns over Gaza’s gravely ill economy, and therefore have a freer hand to initiate escalations

The fact that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to produce rockets and a range of other weapons means that Gaza is home to a growing arsenal of firepower, embedded deeply within and underneath Gaza’s sprawling urban neighborhoods in a deliberate policy of human shielding.

Recent comments by Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziad Nakhaleh, who addressed a memorial event in Tehran to mark the assassination of Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in a US drone strike one year ago, shed light on Iran’s considerable contribution to building up Gaza’s terror factions.

According to Nakhaleh, the Iranian “resistance” axis worked to smuggle weapons into Gaza and invited Hamas operatives to Syrian military bases to train them in rocket-building methods.

Hamas has been in possession of Kornet anti-tank guided missiles since 2012 and has also gotten hold of long-range rockets and mortars, thanks to the efforts of Soleimani.

Soleimani also came up with the idea of training Gazan engineering units to set up their own domestic-weapons production industry in the Strip — an initiative that proved extremely valuable to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad after Egypt destroyed many smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, making weapons smuggling much harder.

Today, Gaza’s weapons-builders can and do create their own long-range rockets, some of which were recently fired into the Mediterranean Sea by Gazan factions in a joint war drill, allegedly reaching a 100-kilometer range. The weapons-production units also know how to build their own mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades, and an array of explosives.

The working assumption in the IDF is that enemies will possess capabilities in five years that they do not have today, and that every Israeli military advance will create a counter-reaction on the side of adversaries, who will study the Israeli advantage and change their own arsenal and preparations accordingly.

According to the IDF’s annual data, in the past year, Gazan terror organizations fired 176 rockets at Israel in 2020 with 90 of those hitting open areas and 80 intercepted by the Iron Dome air-defense system.

Iron Dome successfully intercepted 93% of all rockets heading towards Israeli populated areas.

The IDF recorded 38 attempts to breach the border from Gaza, and detected and destroyed a new tunnel dug by Hamas into Israel, using new technology in Israel’s underground barrier, designed to end Hamas’ attack tunnel project. That barrier is nearly complete, while 45 kilometers of the new above-ground fence, which brims with advanced sensors, was also built this year.

The IDF struck around 300 targets in the Gaza Strip in the past year — most of them belonging to Hamas — in retaliation for rocket attacks primarily launched by smaller Gazan factions as part of Israel’s policy of holding Hamas responsible for all that occurs in Gaza.

In comparison to past years, such figures represent a relatively low level of conflict with Gaza’s factions. The IDF is using that relative quiet to prepare new battle plans, in case Gaza “explodes” once again.

Unlike past escalations, particularly the 51-day Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which ended indecisively, the Israeli defense establishment is drawing up new battle plans designed to achieve the rapid destruction of enemy capabilities and a decisive victory that will spare the Israeli home front weeks upon weeks of air-raid sirens and rocket attacks.

According to a recent report by Maariv military analyst Tal Lev Ram, the IDF has concluded that if it inflicts rapid and heavy damage on Hamas, it can force it into a truce arrangement from a weak position.

The IDF can achieve this objective through the use of more intense, accurate firepower, according to the report.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has set an objective for the IDF’s Southern Command (which is responsible for Gaza), as well as for maneuvering divisions, the air force, and the intelligence directorate: that is to kill 300 Hamas military operatives and other terror faction members during every 24 hours of combat, thereby disrupting the enemy’s plans and shortening the length of the combat.

Such plans rely on the military’s new ability to operate as a single combat network — one that instantly detects and shares enemy targets among forces on the military’s digital command networks, and acts on that intelligence in real-time, translating it into firepower strikes within seconds. This vision of future battle performance lies at the heart of the IDF’s Momentum multi-year program, drawn up by Kochavi and military brass.

It is about connecting an array of sensors to an array of shooters, whether on the ground, in the air, or at sea.

This type of network-centered warfare is the key to understanding the IDF’s future battle plans.

But it’s not only about offense. In a detailed paper published in Bamahane, the IDF’s official magazine, the head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi (who is slated to become the next deputy chief of staff), stressed the need to think about defense — and not just the type provided by air-defense systems like Iron Dome.

Hamas’s elite unit, the Nahba Force, is planning offensive cross-border raids into Israel in the next war; those plans include killing and kidnapping raids against civilian communities and military targets in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip.

In the north, Hezbollah is planning similar types of ground raids to target Israel’s Galilee region.

“These are not maneuvers designed to hold territory for a long time, but rather, they are aimed at causing damage, taking hostages, and more than that, create a consciousness effect among the Israeli public and to reverberate, via the media, that something has happened that has never happened before,” explained Halevi. “Terror’s goal is to frighten, not to win in the classic sense of the word. In this case, creating a lack of control over a state’s territory, sowing fear and instability — that is its achievement.”

In his paper, Halevi noted how American football teams are made up of players who are experts in offense, delivering the ball to the opponent’s end zone with players designated to defense in order to foil the opposing team’s offense.

“Our reality is immeasurably more complex; we play in defense and offense simultaneously, and we can’t swap the squads in every maneuver. The number of possibilities and tools in war is endless, and the price of a mistake influences the battle formations, as well as the public and the home front more than the impact of a painful loss in a decisive sports event,” he said. Nevertheless, continued Halevi, it is worth asking when it comes to modern warfare against terror armies if giving more attention to defense has become necessary.

While a quality military always prefers to attack, the importance of defense in both routine times and wars has become more important, he argued.

Israel’s adversaries today have access to high-tech combat capabilities that in the past were only available to advanced states. The cheap cost and easy availability of technology mean that enemies can create attack capabilities from the ground, in the air (projectiles and drones), at sea, and underground, as well as cyber warfare.

Part of the answer to this new threat, argued Halevi, is to create a defense system that operates in the same domains that enemies operate in. Instead of looking at the old division of land, sea, and air, it is now possible to divide them into sub-categories — above-ground and underground, high altitude and low altitude, sea surface and underwater, while adding the cyber domain.

An accurate defensive picture that can provide an early alert over enemy attacks in every domain is critical, said Halevi. This means being able to identify an attack in one of the domains, even if most of the attack occurs in another domain.

Quality intelligence that provides an ongoing picture of the enemy must include the ability to monitor all of the domains at the same time, according to Halevi’s new defense strategy.

“Every sign in one of the domains will [also] be examined in the other domains, and this significantly increases the chances of understanding the full picture and foiling [the enemy’s] maneuver,” he wrote. “Returning to the football team — while the coach knows the game schedule and when the decisive game will come, the game that the team must prepare for and arrive at its best — we must always be ready for the decisive game of our lives and assume that we will never know when it will occur.”

Yaakov Lappin is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in Israel’s defense establishment, military affairs, and the Middle Eastern strategic environment.

Iranian statements put southern Lebanon outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Iranian statements put southern Lebanon in the line of fire | | AW

BEIRUT – In light of mutual threats between Iran and the United States, heated debates have broken out over the fate of the region during the transitional period in Washington, during which the Trump administration will leave President-elect Biden with many challenges.

Amid uncertainty, experts are increasingly concerned over the possibility of Iran moving its arms in the region, including the Lebanese Hezbollah group, in order to attack Israel.

Eyes are specifically turning towards southern Lebanon, with fears of Lebanese retaliation against the Israeli north or vice versa.

These fears come particularly after the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Air Force Ali Haji Zadeh said in statements to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar channel, last Saturday, that “all the missile capabilities that Gaza and Lebanon possess were provided by Iran,” noting that both Gaza and Lebanon “are the two main frontlines for confrontation.”

Though quite serious, Zadeh’s statements were deemed pointless and divorced from reality.

In an implicit response to Zadeh and in apparent warning to Hezbollah, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Sunday that “Lebanon’s independence, its sovereignty, and the decisions it takes are the responsibility of the Lebanese alone,” which means that Iran will bear full responsibility for any provocative act.

— Media war —

Each time Iran finds a taker for its conventional weapons, it creates a voice for itself in the region. The taker this time is Hezbollah. This creates a threat to Tel Aviv amid expectations of a military escalation between Iran and Israel, with Syria being the field for such a confrontation and Lebanon functioning as the operation room

However, some experts take lightly the seriousness of the Iranian threats. Wahbi Qatisha, a retired brigadier general with the Lebanese Army and a representative of the Forces Bloc, denied that the threats of the commander of the air forces in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were military or serious.

Iran is using Hezbollah to make threats, but it is just an information and rhetoric war,” he said.

Hezbollah seems aware that the international community’s concern about the disruption of the political process in Lebanon is more serious than its desire to contain Iranian influence there. In this context, the Iran-backed group can work to benefit from international support for Beirut, especially from France, in order to prepare for its next step.

Political observers consider that Iranian threats to Israel are nothing more than media venting. They argue there is no indication that Hezbollah wants to carry out any attacks against  Israel on the anniversary of the killing of Iran’s revered commander Qasem Soleimani.

All the threats issued by the Israeli side are pre-emptive warnings, they said.

Qatisha noted Hezbollah remains aware that the response to any military action will be devastating for the Shia group and Lebanon.

The Israeli response will be cruel and unpredictable, and any wrong move will cost Hezbollah a heavy price,” he said.

The retired brigadier general predicted that the US policy will remain unchanged towards Iran and its proxies, whether with Trump in the White House or Biden.

Lebanese officials, including Muhammad al-Hajjar, a deputy with the Future Movement bloc, led by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, denounced the recent Iranian statements. He said Tehran apparently wants to use its regional proxies to improve its position and expand its influence.

Certainly, the decision for war and peace in Lebanon should not be in the hands of Hezbollah or Iran, but rather in the hands of the state, and this gives new momentum to the officials’ call for the Shia group to abandon its weapons.

Hezbollah is in possession of advanced weapons, including missiles, and this has led to divisions in Lebanon, with some parties supporting the group’s right to keep its arsenal under the pretext of “confronting Israel” that occupies Lebanese lands. Others, however, consider these weapons illegal and argue that the decision to declare war or peace should be left only with the state.

Although the assassination of the scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a devastating blow to Iran’s nuclear project, Tehran only pursued a policy of idleness coupled with media provocation, avoiding any action that could provoke the United States, an ally of Israel.

— A strategic advantage —

During the 1990s, the Israelis became accustomed, during the war in southern Lebanon, to an Iranian policy based on achieving media victories to shift the balance on the ground. This policy enabled the Lebanese Hezbollah group, during the July 2006 war with Israel, to achieve a morale “victory,” that is still exploited until today to threaten Israel.

Iran achieved a similar media victory in February 2018, when the shooting down of an Israeli F-16 jet received more media attention than the brief confrontation between the two sides.

Despite all the hype about the targeting of the Israeli jet, the brief confrontation also saw the downing of an Iranian drone, the destruction of Syrian military bases, control towers, military centres, and an Iranian base under construction near Palmyra, in central Syria.

Israel is trying to preserve a strategic advantage that has allowed it, since 2012, to move freely in the skies of Syria, pick targets and strike them, without provoking any response from Iran, the Syrian Army, or the Russian forces stationed in Syria.

However, the advantage that Israel has enjoyed over the past years seems to be at stake.

There is already a large Israeli mobilisation on the northern front extending between Lebanon and Syria, amid concerns that Tehran might launch attacks. An intense presence of the Israeli air force was recorded in Lebanon’s airspace, while a show of strength appeared to deliver a warning message, especially to the Lebanese Hezbollah group, Tehran’s strong arm in the region, about the consequences of any military misadventure.

Over the past weeks, local and Western reports revealed that Israeli warplanes have flown intensively over various regions in Lebanon, especially over the skies of Nabatiyeh, reaching the Iqlim al-Tuffah, where they carried out mock raids at low altitude.

These flights were also recorded over the Litani River, Qalaat al-Shaqif, Hammar, Arnoun, Kafr Nabet, Ad-Duwair, Sharqiya, and Qaaqaait Al Jisr.

Intense overflights of Israeli aircraft were also recorded over Beirut and its suburbs last November, as well as in the airspace of Sidon, its east, and Jezzine, and this was repeated in the areas of Hasbaya and Arqoub, up to the heights of Mount Hermon and the occupied Syrian Golan.

A researcher in security and political affairs, Brigadier-General Khaled Hamadeh, does not consider the Iranian threats to be serious or realistic.

“Iran is going through a difficult situation, and is currently unable to enter into an armed confrontation with the United States,” he said.

“The result of a confrontation is not guaranteed. Israel, too, seems unwilling to launch a limited military campaign in the Lebanese interior,” Hamadeh added.

He noted that Israel has been destroying the Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and “this happens every week.”

With these factors in mind, Hamadeh does not believe that a military operation will be launched from Lebanese territory against Israel, especially since there is no objective that Tehran could achieve from such an attack.

Members of the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement, take part in a parade under a large poster of slain Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (L) and Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani

‘Heinous’: Israeli forces ‘killed 27 Palestinians outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Heinous’: Israeli forces ‘killed 27 Palestinians in 2020

Israeli authorities also destroyed at least 729 Palestinian buildings – including 273 homes – last year, NGO says.

In at least 11 of the 16 killings investigated by B’Tselem in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinians ‘posed no threat’ [File: Abbas Momani/AFP]

Israeli security forces committed “heinous killings” throughout 2020, shooting dead at least 27 Palestinians across occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

“Over the course of 2020, Israeli security forces killed 27 Palestinians, seven of them minors: one in the Gaza Strip, 23 in the West Bank [including East Jerusalem] and three inside Israel,” B’Tselem said on Monday.

In at least 11 of the 16 killings investigated by B’Tselem in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinians “posed no threat to the lives of the forces” or any other person at the time they were shot.

Some of the examples highlighted in the report included the killing of Iyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old autistic Palestinian man who attended and worked at a school for people with special needs in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

At the time, Israeli officers said they suspected Hallaq was carrying a weapon and began chasing him when he panicked and began to run.

He was shot dead as he hid behind a dumpster, just a few metres from his school.

Hallaq’s father told Al Jazeera in June his son had the mental capacity of an eight-year-old and no understanding of the dangerous reality of life under occupation.

“For years, Israel has been implementing a reckless, unlawful open-fire policy in the West Bank. This policy is fully backed by the government, the military and the courts, in utter indifference to the predictable lethal results,” B’Tselem said.

In the rare event in which members of the Israeli forces are indicted for killing Palestinians, the charges and sentences “do not reflect the gravity of the offenses”, the group added.

Over the course of 2020, amid the raging coronavirus pandemic, Israeli authorities also destroyed at least 729 Palestinian buildings, including homes and non-residential structures.

In 2020, the group said, more Palestinians lost their homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than in every year since 2016.

“In total, Israel demolished 273 homes in 2020, leaving 1,006 Palestinians – 519 of them minors – homeless,” B’Tselem said.

“In 2020, Israel also demolished 456 non-residential structures and infrastructure facilities. This includes humanitarian infrastructure such as water cisterns and pipes or power grids, which are essential to maintaining health and sanitation, particularly important at this time.”

The group said it documented 248 attacks carried out by illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank last year.

The attacks ranged from physical assaults to targeting farmers or their properties, which “could not take place without the sweeping support provided by the state”.

The nations that trample outside the temple walls: Revelation 11

Egypt reveals the financial terrorist ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas

By Yoni Ben Menachem

web posted January 4, 2021

In August 2020, the Egyptian security services achieved an important milestone in its war on radical Islamic terrorism. After seven years of an intense manhunt, Egyptian security arrested Mahmoud Ezzat, the acting general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and head of its military wing responsible for a series of attacks in Egypt. Mahmoud Ezzat led the movement from his hideout after Muhammad Badie, the movement’s general guide was arrested and imprisoned in 2013. Ezzat was sentenced in absentia to two death sentences and three life sentences.

According to a statement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry, Ezzat was captured on August 28, 2020, hiding in a residential apartment in east Cairo. Egyptian security officials seized cell phones, computers, and documents in the apartment, some of which were encrypted. From the apartment, he operated the movement all over Egypt and maintained contact with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood who fled Egypt to Qatar and Turkey after President a-Sisi came to power.

Ezzat is considered the most dangerous figure in the Muslim Brotherhood after military wing leader Mohammed Kamal was killed by Egyptian security officials in 2016. Ezzat, born in 1944, was one of the loyal disciples of Muslim Brotherhood ideologist Sayyid al-Qutb. His nickname in Egypt was “Mr. X” or “the Black Box” of the Muslim Brotherhood. He previously served a 10-year prison sentence in an Egyptian prison because of his activities as part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In recent years, he has been responsible for a series of attacks on senior Egyptian law enforcement officials who acted on President al-Sisi’s orders against the Muslim Brotherhood. Among Ezzat’s crimes, he was responsible for the 2015 murder of Egyptian Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat, Egyptian security chief General Adel Rajaei and police Colonel Wael Tahon in 2016.

Mahmoud Ezzat was the leading funder of the Muslim Brotherhood, coordinating contact with the global Muslim Brotherhood and the movement’s leaders, who fled to Qatar and Turkey and were granted asylum.

Secret Funding 

Egypt’s security sources revealed that during the investigation, Ezzat provided a treasure trove of information about the Muslim Brotherhood’s financing activities in Egypt and its connections to Hamas and the global Muslim Brotherhood. Now, preliminary details of the investigation are being published in the press regarding the Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas funding mechanism in Egypt.

On December 14, 2020, Al-Arabiya TV reported that the Ezzat’s investigation revealed important and dangerous information about the investment of the Muslim Brotherhood’s funds. A group of Egyptian businessmen used these investments’ profits to fund the movement’s terrorist activities. The businessmen were arrested. According to the Al-Arabiya account, Ezzat controlled assets of $19 billion.

The report said that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood operates as a “multi-armed international mafia” that has infiltrated all aspects of life in Egypt and some Arab countries.

The Egyptian Press Celebrates the Arrest Reports

Some of the group of Egyptian businessmen arrested actually belonged to the movement, and others were loyal to it. They managed the movement’s investments in exchange for a share of the profits. These well-known businessmen include:

• Safwan Thabet, owner of one of Egypt’s biggest dairy companies, arrested on December 2, 2020, and accused of financing a terrorist organization.

• Sayed Sowerky, owner of a major chain of stores for household goods and clothes.

• Khaled al-Azhari, the former minister of manpower during the Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood) presidency.

• Hatem Abdul Latif, the former transport minister under Morsi.

• Samir Abdel-Halim Afifi, owner of the Nile Cotton Company.

Mahmoud Ezzat’s interrogation revealed three more Egyptian companies that invested money in the “Muslim Brotherhood.” These ventures’ profits financed the movement’s terrorist activities. Involved were a cosmetics company, a sports center management company, and a moving and refuse removal service company.

Financing Hamas

The Egyptian investigation also revealed financial activity related to the Hamas organization. The inquiry announced that the Muslim Brotherhood was investing Hamas money in several companies in Egypt and abroad, in exchange for 30 percent of the profits.

Hamas leaders held meetings to raise more money in several Arab countries, including Syria and Algeria, in addition to the financial aid they receive from Iran. The international fund of the Muslim Brotherhood takes and invests 60 percent of these donations. The remaining 40 percent is distributed amongst the leaders of the movement, and 30 percent of the profits are transferred to Hamas.

Covert Anti-Egyptian Activity

These are the conclusions of the initial and on-going investigation leaked to the Egyptian and Saudi media. The economic activity of the Muslim Brotherhood’s multi-armed octopus is part of Sayed Qutb’s ideology that promotes the demolition of Egyptian government institutions.

Since its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been working to establish legal methods for investing money and protecting property from confiscation by the Egyptian government. As the details of the investigation are revealed, the Egyptian government has already acted to freeze the funds and property in accordance with Egyptian law, which requires the seizure of funds and property owned by terrorist organizations.

Although this is an important Egyptian achievement, there are still Arab and Muslim countries that allow the Brotherhood and Hamas to manage financial and monetary activities in their lands, such as Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Iran tramples outside the temple walls: Revelation 11

Iran warns that Lebanese, Gaza proxies can ‘level Haifa, Tel Aviv to the ground’

January 03, 2021, 09:54 AM

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly given green light to Tehran-backed terrorist groups

A senior Iranian commander has warned that the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given the green light for Tehran-backed proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip to level two of Israel’s three largest cities.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Corp (IRGC) Aerospace Force told the state-run Al-Manar TV channel that the terrorist groups would destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv if “any foolishness is committed against Iran,” warning that the Islamic Republic has been working for years on developing the capabilities of its proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, according to The Times of Israel.

“All the missile capabilities of Gaza and Lebanon have been supported by Iran, and they are the front line for confrontation,” he added.

Noting that “the capabilities of the resistance axis” are much advanced from what they were 10 years ago Hajizadeh said, “today, the Palestinians fire rockets instead of throwing stones.”

Hezbollah and Iran have threatened both Haifa and Tel Aviv in the past, particularly in the 34-day 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The Lebanese Shi’ite proxy is assessed to have as many as 150,000 missiles secreted around various silos and launching sites throughout mostly southern Lebanon.

A proportion is assumed to be precision-guided and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has worked assiduously over the last several years to attempt – mostly through the aerial bombardment of shipment convoys in Syria – to prevent equipment needed to upgrade Hezbollah munitions from reaching their intended destination.

As the first anniversary of the US drone strike that killed IRGC Quds Force Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Iraq ticks round, the Israel military is on high alert for other potential missile or drones attacks emanating from either Iraq and/ or Yemen.

The recent hit on Aden Airport – in which at least 26 people were killed -and which has been ascribed to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, might be viewed as a template with which to attempt to attack Israel.

Iran has issued a stream of threats against both the United States and Israel in the run-up to the Soleimani anniversary and the region is seemingly even tenser than would ordinarily be the case.

Analysis: Prophecy to be Fulfilled Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Analysis: Gaza first-ever military drills messages

News Code : 1102027

In an important development, resistant Palestinian groups in Gaza Strip conducted their first-ever joint military drills on Tuesday on the anniversary of the 2008 Israeli war on Gaza.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): In an important development, resistant Palestinian groups in Gaza Strip conducted their first-ever joint military drills on Tuesday on the anniversary of the 2008 Israeli war on Gaza.

According to the Reuters, the drills, codenamed “strong pillar”, started with firing 8 rockets into the sea in a display of the levels of the combat readiness of the Gaza-based forces. Arranged by the “joint operation room” of the resistance factions in the besieged Palestinian enclave, the drills also included ground and coast exercises for possible future countering of the Israeli forces.

The timing of the exercises is highly significant. Since late November, the Israeli fighter jets struck Gaza positions several rounds, the last one on Saturday targeting Gaza central hospital.

Many analysts hold that the crisis-hit Israeli regime and Benjamin Netanyahu’s main goal behind the strikes on Gaza is to create tension, cover up the home crises, and influence the new White House administration policy as Trump is departing. The Palestinian war games carried a significant warning message to the Israelis telling them that any adventure will meet a firm response from the resistance in Gaza and that the resistant factions are fully ready to strike back.

“Our arms are present and our decision to defend our people is unified. These joint maneuvers alone obviously express our unity of decision. The resistance today is stronger, harder, and more capable than before in countering the foe and deterring it. The resistance will not allow the enemy to impose the rules of engagement,” Abu Hamza, a spokesman to the Islamic Jihad’s military wing Saraya Al-Quds, said at a press conference.

From another aspect, the maneuvers are held as the Fatah movement eyes return to the so-called peace negotiations with Tel Aviv under duress of the Arab rulers, not long after frequent Israeli breaking of commitments in the annexation of illegal Al-Quds settlements in West Bank and planning to build further settlements with the US green light. But the resistant groups assure the Palestinian people who are furious and concerned about the pro-compromise Palestinian factions that the resistance is ready to defend and the enemy schemes will not be implemented thanks to the arms of the resistant groups.

Meanwhile, one of the considerable issues is putting up huge posters of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani’s along the Gaza coastal route. The move signaled that the path of the top Iranian general, who was assassinated a year ago at a direct order from Donald Trump, will be walked towards the liberation of Palestine. The poster billboards sent strong messages to Tel Aviv.

The joint operation room stated that the resistance of all Palestinian groups provided a genuine guarantee to the realization of the Palestinian ideals.

Abu Hamza said that the compromisers and the occupation-affiliated mercenaries will be thrown in the garbage dump of history and Palestine liberation will remain the top ideal of the Arabs and Muslims.

On the other side, frustrated with the disarmament of the resistance using military force, in the past few years the Israeli regime used economic pressure to bring the resistance to its knees. The occupying regime sets up roadblocks ahead of the arrival of supplies to Gaza, especially funds and fuel to its only power plant and facilities to its hospitals. The recent drills can send warnings to the Israelis about the consequences of the continuation of the inhuman economic siege on Gaza.

Joint operation room: Unity secret to victory 

Aside from the goals behind the maneuvers, what is also so important is the centrality of the joint operation room at the command of the combat forces. The joint operation room was founded in 2018 at the time of the “March of Return” rallies and is comprised of 12 resistant factions aiming to exchange experiences, focus, and coordinate decisions against the Israeli occupation.

Actually, the center in Gaza was the most important achievement of the March of Return that was arranged in 2018 to highlight the Palestinian right to return home. Observers note that the room is a big success as since then several successful anti-Israeli operations have been launched.

The attack on the Israeli military bus in Miflasim settlement bordering northern Gaza On November 12, 2018, was the first fruit of the joint operation center.

The center accommodates the key wings of the Palestinian resistance including Hamas military wing Izz ad-Din Qassam Brigades, Saraya Al-Quds, and the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine military wing Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades. Furthermore, the National Resistance Brigades, Naser Salaheddin Brigades, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that were originally founded by Fatah but not affiliated with it officially now are also members of the joint operation room.

This military coalition is a serious warning to the Israeli leaders, telling them that on the other side of the barbed wire fences of the Gaza border the death swamps await the Israeli troops.

The Peacemakers are Gone: Revelation 11

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 03israel-mladenov-print1-articleLarge-v4.jpg

He Calmed Gaza, Aided Israel’s Arab Ties and Preserved Hopes for Peace

David M. Halbfinger

After six years of quiet diplomacy as the U.N.’s Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov leaves his post to a chorus of praise from an unlikely choir.

  • Jan. 2, 2021Updated 5:54 a.m. ET

JERUSALEM — Preventive diplomacy, by its nature, does not often lead to splashy headlines for the practitioner.

In his nearly six years as the top United Nations envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nickolay E. Mladenov worked quietly behind the scenes to help keep the Gaza Strip from boiling over, preserve the possibility of a two-state solution and build support for Israeli-Arab normalization as a vastly preferable alternative to the Israeli annexation of West Bank land.

But he did notch at least one achievement that qualifies as eye-catching: He earned the respect of just about everyone he dealt with, many of whom view one another as enemies.

“A very honest broker,” Rami Hamdallah, a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, called him.

“I personally depended on him,” said Moshe Kahlon, a former Israeli finance minister.

“A man of integrity,” said Jason Greenblatt, the Trump administration’s former Middle East envoy.

“We are proud to have known him,” said Khalil al-Hayya, the deputy Hamas leader in Gaza.

Mr. Mladenov, 48, whose last day on the job was Thursday, is returning to his native Bulgaria, having abruptly bowed out of another high-profile assignment, in Libya, to contend with what he described as a serious health problem.

In a two-hour exit interview, he recalled being surprised at how irrelevant he initially felt upon arriving in Jerusalem in 2015 as U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process — a post created in 1999, when there still was a peace process.

His predecessors had by and large functioned as gadflies, experts said, firing off statements that tended to criticize Israel but seldom venturing from the sidelines. Israelis dismissed the U.N. — “Um” in Hebrew — with a tart “Um, shmum.”

“This mission was very much isolated from any sort of high-level interaction,” Mr. Mladenov said. “Nobody took it seriously. Basically, one side expects you to just repeat what they say, the other side expects you to go away, and that’s it.”

He did neither.

In 2016, he wrangled the Middle East Quartet of mediators — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — into issuing a groundbreaking report on concrete steps that, with little hope of a breakthrough, could at least preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.

Taking action in the absence of negotiations ran contrary to diplomatic doctrine at the time, which held that resuming peace talks was paramount and the way to solve everything.

“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Mr. Mladenov said. “You can have the best deal in the world,” but as long as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are at odds, he said, “good luck with implementing it.”

His approach has since gained widespread acceptance.

One Quartet recommendation, urging Israel to halt its West Bank settlement enterprise, was hardly novel. But another — calling on the Palestinians to “cease incitement to violence” and condemn “all acts of terrorism” — required “a shift in everyone’s position,” he said.

It required less of a leap for Mr. Mladenov. As Bulgaria’s foreign minister, he had worked with Israeli officials in the aftermath of a 2012 suicide bombing in Burgas that killed a bus driver and five Israeli tourists, an attack attributed to Hezbollah.

As the U.N. envoy, he caught flak over his bluntness. “I don’t talk about this conflict in the usual way,” he said. “You cannot go into a restaurant in Tel Aviv, shoot at people and tell me later that that’s legitimate resistance. No, it’s not.”

Mr. Mladenov was equally unsparing when Israeli settlers burned a Palestinian family alive. And after Israeli soldiers killed a 15-year-old Gaza boy during border demonstrations in 2018, he tweeted, “Stop shooting at children.”

Tensions in the Gaza Strip in 2018 were among the issues Mr. Mladenov worked to ease.
Credit…Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

“If you as the U.N. are not clear where you stand on these things, you can’t be credible,” he said. “And I suppose that being critical of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, where I felt that they’ve done things wrong, and welcoming them when they’ve done things right — I think that’s a novelty in this frozen conflict.”

He also quietly got things done.

In Gaza, a territory perennially on the brink of another war, he made it his mission to avoid one.

In 2018, the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, was trying to strangle its archrival Hamas, which controls Gaza, into submission by withholding money for Gaza’s power plant and slashing its Gaza payroll. Gaza’s economy was on the verge of collapse. Then came waves of violence between Gaza and Israel — border killings, arson balloons and rockets.

Yet with Egypt mediating, Mr. Mladenov did an end-run around the Palestinian Authority, arranging for the Qataris to supply vital financing to keep the lights on and money flowing in Gaza — while keeping Israel and Hamas more or less on the same page.

Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli peace negotiator, said that Mr. Mladenov saw how to frame his arguments in terms of each party’s interests. “You can say to the Israelis, ‘Look, life in Gaza is so miserable,’” Mr. Novik said. “Or you can say, ‘Gaza’s about to explode in your face, but if we do one-two-three we can gain quite a few months of tranquillity, so help me help you.’”

Mr. Mladenov said he feared that another Gaza war would have let the world revert to its “usual talking points about this place,” doomed any hope of peace talks, left a “Somalia on Israel’s doorstep,” drawn condemnation of Israel from across the Arab world and deterred donor countries from paying to rebuild Gaza the way they did after the 2014 war.

It would have been much easier to “sit on the sidelines and preach,” he said, but “preaching never gets you anywhere.”

“I come from the Balkans,” he said. “We’ve changed borders. We’ve fought over holy places, languages, churches. We’ve exchanged populations, for 100 years, if not more. And when you carry that baggage, it does help you see things a bit differently. This is not a conflict where you can come in and just draw a line. It’s emotional.”

“I know from my own experience that when the quote-unquote foreigners come and tell you what to do, you just shut them off. You’re like, ‘Thank you very much,’” he added. “You can’t preach to these guys. Remember, they’ve been it at it for half a century.”

Last spring, insiders say, Mr. Mladenov was among the first officials to conclude that no deterrent would stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel from making good on his promises to annex West Bank territory, but that it might be possible to induce him to drop annexation for a bigger prize: normalization with Arab states that had long shunned Israel.

The annexation plan “was gaining momentum,” he said. “And were it to happen, it would be terrible for Israel.” Forget about another Gaza cease-fire, he said. Imagine the worldwide condemnation.

“My thinking was: If this is the wrong way to go but you can see why it would be appealing to certain parts of the population, what would be appealing to a larger part that is not destructive but actually constructive?”

He did not claim credit for the deals Israel struck. But he worked to build a constituency for the idea of using normalization as a carrot to reward Israel for dropping annexation.

“There were some people who were very much caught off guard by this,” said Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who headed the White House Middle East team. “He saw what we were doing. We confided in him, and he would give us constructive feedback.”

The Palestinians saw those deals as a catastrophic betrayal, but Mr. Mladenov argued that normalization would prove beneficial for them, too.

“OK, now it’s very emotional, the Palestinians are super angry,” he said. “But put away those emotions and think: Who’s most effective when they try to push Israel to do certain things? Egypt and Jordan. If four, six or 10 Arab countries have embassies in Tel Aviv, you’d want them to be on your side, right?”

“You now have a treaty,” he added. “That’s a big thing. Neither Israel nor the Arab countries will want to ruin it. That gives certain countries leverage in Israel. If you’re the Palestinians, you’ll really want to explain to your Arab brothers and friends what your positions are, and bring them back to the table on your side of the conversation.”

Mr. Mladenov was no fan of the Trump peace plan. But he said that the changes underway were creating exciting possibilities for his successor as U.N. envoy, the Norwegian diplomat Tor Wennesland.

“It’s a different world,” Mr. Mladenov said. “And you know, for all its faults, it might actually be a better one.”