- Iranian diplomat urges investors to shrug off U.S. pressure, participate in newly opened energy markets
- Analysts: AKP has established "full control" over Turkey's judiciary, after Erdogan boasted of successful "witch hunts" against opponents
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Thursday told a group of foreign military attaches that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would have to disarm Hamas to signal that it is genuinely pursuing a viable and united Palestinian state, the latest in what has become daily criticism from diplomats, analysts, and journalists blasting a recent Palestinian unity pact for embracing a "Hezbollah model" that left intact Hamas's estimated 10,000 fighters and vast missile and rocket arsenal. Ya'alon added that a decision by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas not to disarm the Iran-backed terror group would signal that the recent reconciliation agreement - inked between Hamas and Abbas's own rival Fatah faction - was a farce. On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal noted that leaving Hamas's military force in place put the Palestinian Authority in violation of core peace process treaties going back to 1995. A day before, top Israeli military analyst Ehud Yaari linked Hamas's insistence on the Hezbollah model to coordination meetings conducted between the group's leaders and top officials from Iran and Hezbollah, and Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith has assessed that the Hezbollah model would likely trigger a reevaluation of Washington's stance toward the Palestinians. Hamas has openly bragged that it is indeed following Hezbollah's approach to seizing and maintaining power in Lebanon, a boast that got the attention of both U.S. analysts and the Arabic-language Al Arabiya [Arabic].
This week's round of balloting in Syria - in which Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad reportedly won 88.7% of the vote in the war-torn country - marked a defeat for the West and for Western conspiracies, per Friday remarks issued by Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah. The terror group chief specifically blasted Secretary of State John Kerry for describing the election as a "great big zero," retorting "this is your zero." The developments came as Syrian fighters loyal to Assad continued what has become a systematic campaign - backed by Hezbollah and Iranian forces - to recover and hold territory inside the country. Some diplomats have recently gone so far as to suggest that Assad has functionally won his country's civil war. Al Arabiya on Friday published an assessment suggesting that Assad's success in consolidating his power was a victory of Iran in general, and more specifically was being used by the Islamic republic to project power across the region. The article, by Iranian-American foreign policy specialist Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, declared that "[t]he Iranian government is attempting to project a picture that it totally and efficiently controls the destiny of, and the war in, Syria'" and that Tehran was seeking to establish that "Iran is the key player even though the United States, the West, and other Arab countries are putting all their efforts to support the rebels." National Security Adviser Susan Rice hinted on Friday that the Obama administration may be considering sending some lethal assistance to opposition elements.
The Hindu on Friday conveyed recent remarks from Hassan Nourian - Iran's Consul General in Hyderabad - urging Indians to shrug off American pressure aimed at limiting trade with the Islamic republic and boasting that, since the U.S. was unable to impose its will on Iran, then certainly Washington would fail if it tried to retaliate against the much larger country of India. Iran has been aggressively seeking to leverage eroding U.S. sanctions, which were weakened under the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA), and to specifically bolster its energy trade. The moves were not unexpected. Foreign policy and energy analyst Aaron Menenberg had already back in January outlined scenarios under which the ability to limit development of Iranian energy infrastructure and exports would become a critical test of whether sanctions remaining in the aftermath of the JPA could hold. Iran's Fars News Agency reported Friday that Iran and Kuwait are moving forward on an arrangement that would see the two co-developing offshore energy resources. The various developments emerged amid what appear to be renewed moves by lawmakers to reassert a congressional voice in diplomacy toward Iran, months after the administration had successfully fought and blocked legislation that would have locked in future pressure on the Islamic republic in the event that negotiations failed.
Zaman on Friday rounded up a series of recent exposés and incidents, published by Turkish media organs, describing moves made by Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) to establish what the outlet bluntly assessed as "full control" over Turkey's judiciary. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for months been locked in a battle with judiciary figures - as well as with elements of the country's security forces - as part of a wide-ranging pushback by the AKP against a corruption probe that had engulfed many of the party's elites, including Erdogan and his family. The pushback has involved, among other things, the purge of literally thousands of judges, police officers, and others deemed by the AKP to be opponents. A different report published on Friday by Zaman revealed that those purges had even extended into Turkish Airlines, where 20-year veterans were among a group of high-level employees either demoted or forced out of the company entirely. The open political warfare has pitted the AKP against rivals from the Islamist Gulen movement, who look to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. A May 10 speech by Erdogan had the prime minister defiantly declaring, regarding the purges aimed at the Gulenists, "if this is called a witch hunt, then yes, we perform a witch hunt" and "in order to sterilize this dirty water that contaminated the milk, we will either boil or molecularize it."
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