Speaking in a Wednesday cabinet session, President Hassan Rouhani said Washington failed in its attempts to reinstate a United Nations arms embargo as well as international sanctions on Iran, and these failures amount to major victories for Iran. Rouhani added that the U.S. would “suffer a humiliating defeat this weekend.”
“The US suffered ignominious defeats,” he said. “Our people should pay attention. This Saturday and Sunday will be days of the Iranian nation’s victory and days of humiliating defeats for the U.S,” he added according to Iran Front Page News.
“So, I urge anti-Iran news channels abroad not to fabricate stories that would indicate that the U.S. has made a claim and has waited for a month, so it can use this mechanism,” the president said. “After all, no mechanism ever started in the first place to be producing any results,” he added.
“I congratulate the Iranian nation, in advance, on the success that Iranians will secure on Saturday and Sunday, the same way that I congratulated Iranians on their resistance during the eight-year Iraqi imposed war on Iran [in the 1980s],” he added.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the president fulminated against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain for normalizing their relations with Israel. “[Israeli authorities] are committing more and more crimes in occupied Palestine every day. How come [the UAE and Bahrain] are extending your hands to Israel? Then you want to give Israel bases in this region. You will be responsible for all grave consequences of this move. Your action is against regulations and regional security,” he said.
A month ago, mainstream media in the U.S. declared that Trump has suffered a “humiliating defeat” at the UN in his efforts to impose sanctions on Iran.
US efforts to indefinitely extend an arms embargo collapsed last week when it suffered a humiliating defeat at the UN Security Council. A resolution sponsored by Washington only secured one other vote from the 15-member UN Security Council.
The US continues to maintain that despite its unilateral withdrawal it nonetheless has “an explicit right” to initiate the snapback sanctions and that any argument to the contrary would “create a perilous precedent that could threaten the force of virtually any Security Council decision.”- Middle East Monitor, 8/20/2020
Hopefully, this doesn’t elude to a war. It’s important information, however. Stay alert and aware. If history has shown us anything, it’s that things will get crazy as the rhetoric ramps up.
Fox News contributor Juan Williams made the case Tuesday that recent peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain brokered by President Donald Trump are actually “accelerating” the “chance of war” in the Middle East.
President Trump has been lauded by many for his role in brokering the deals, which officially normalized relations between Israel and the two Middle Eastern countries. The president was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for securing the deal between Israel and the UAE.
But Williams, a Trump critic, interpreted the news of peace much differently.
Williams presented his argument on Fox News’ “The Five” while the panelists were discussing recent remarks made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in which she called the deals a “distraction.”
“It is [a distraction],” Williams said. “The real trouble here is between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and that situation has not been helped. What we’re doing here in this situation is we have the Bahrainians and the United Arab Emirates, they already had diplomatic, security and trade ties with Israel … and it opens the door to some possibilities.”
“The real action here is the United States giving arms, giving serious arms to UAE potentially to go after the Iranians,” he argued. “And so what we’re doing is stirring up a proxy war, and that doesn’t diminish the chance of war or disruption in the Middle East — it accelerates it.”
You can watch his comments in the video below starting at the 5:10 mark:
‘The Five’ blast Pelosi for calling Middle East peace deal a ‘distraction’
“So I think we have to just look honestly at this,” he continued. “We have to note that it’s taking place in the midst of an intense American election and that what’s going on at the White House. I don’t think anybody is fooled by it. There certainly is reason for hope, but let’s not fool ourselves.”
It is true that some conflict has already arisen as a result of the peace deals. On Tuesday, as the deal was being signed at the White House, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched a rocket attack on Israel, injuring two people.
But it is particularly difficult to make the case that peace agreements should be to blame for violence. Violent offenders should be blamed for violence, which, in this case, would be the Palestinian militants.
After Williams finished, fellow Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, chided his comments, saying, “Well you would hope the normalization of Arab countries against the Israeli state that they wanted to annihilate previously would be a good thing, but we’ll move on.”
A rocket attack launched by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip wounded two people in Israel Tuesday as the Middle East’s lone Jewish state signed an agreement to normalize relations with two of its Arab neighbors at the White House. The attack was apparently coordinated to coincide with the signing of the agreement.
According to an Associated Press report, the Israeli military said two rockets were fired from Gaza and one was intercepted by air defenses. Israeli emergency services treated two people for minor injuries from broken glass.
Earlier, Israeli Defense Forces issued an alert for rocket sirens sounding in Ashdod and Ashkelon, cities in the southern region of Israel near the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians, ruled by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, are opposed to the Israeli agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations without forcing Israel to cede its sovereignty over territory the Palestinians claim as their own. Historically, most Arab nations have sided with the Palestinians in this conflict, but the Trump administration managed to broker agreements that put aside the issue for now. The Palestinians consider this a betrayal.
The agreement signed at the White House, known as the “Abraham Accords” to honor the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, declares peace and formally normalizes diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.
While the text of the agreement has not been made public, Israeli officials reportedly told The Jerusalem Post it will not go into effect until the Israeli cabinet ratifies the agreement and UAE officials reportedly said there will be references to a two-state solution.
President Trump declared the agreement “the dawn of a new Middle East” in a speech delivered at the signing ceremony.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said.
“Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries, we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity,” he said.
The president said the accord “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this moment marked a “pivot of history” and a “new dawn of peace,” praising President Trump for his work on the agreement.
“To all of Israel’s friends in the Middle East, those who are with us today and those who will join us tomorrow, I say, ‘As-salamu alaykum.’ Peace unto thee. Shalom,” Netanyahu said.
“The blessings of peace that we make today will be enormous,” he continued, “first because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israel conflict once and for all.”
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan added more optimistic remarks, saying “We are witnessing today a new trend that will create a new path for the Middle East.”
But he also spoke to the Palestinian people, noting the Abraham Accords “will enable us to stand with the Palestinians and enable their hopes of establishing a Palestinian state” and thanking Netanyahu for “halting annexation of Palestinian territories.”
Those overtures to the Palestinians may fall on deaf ears. According to the AP, in addition to the rocket attacks Palestinians expressed their outrage in the West Bank and in Gaza by trampling on and setting fires to pictures of Trump, Netanyahu, and the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain.
The peace accords were not well-received in Bahrain either, where the AP reports the Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq released a statement condemning normalized relations with the “Zionist entity.”
Nevertheless, President Trump has promoted the deal as the first step in reaching a broad agreement to secure peace in the Middle East. In an interview with “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, Trump said his administration is negotiating with several other Arab states and predicted that Palestine “will come to the table” when everyone else is on board.
“They’re actually getting to a point where they’re going to want to make a deal. They won’t say that outwardly. They want to make a deal,” Trump said. “Otherwise, they will be left out in the cold.”
President Donald Trump announced another peace deal Friday, as Israel and Bahrain established diplomatic relations just weeks after a similar agreement was struck between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Fox News reported.
Bahrain becomes just the fourth country in the region to establish formal peaceful ties with Israel, joining Egypt, Jordan, and UAE. President Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the deal between Israel and UAE.
“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” a joint statement from the U.S., Bahrain, and Israel said. “Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region.”
Joint Statement of the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the State of Israel https://t.co/xMquRkGtpM
The announcement of the deal comes on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and President Trump pointed out the significance of pushing for peace in the region.
“There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump said.
CNN reported that officials believe this deal could be significant toward a potential agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, since Bahrain is viewed in some ways as an extension of Saudi Arabia:
Bahrain, a tiny island nation that is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, is regarded in some ways as an extension of Saudi Arabia, partly because they are physically linked by a causeway but also because the Bahraini monarchy is heavily reliant on Riyadh.
Officials said the agreement with Israel announced on Friday could likely not have happened without Saudi Arabia’s blessing, signaling that Bahrain may serve as a test case for a future Saudi-Israel deal.
A signing ceremony that will include Bahrain, UAE, and Israel is scheduled on Tuesday.
The White House emphasized the impact of the agreements as Trump runs for reelection, pointing out the historic nature of the peace deals and using them as examples of the president’s desire to end long-term conflicts in the region.
“This is an extraordinary achievement,” White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern told Fox News. “The president made the first major breakthrough like this in 26 years. In less than a month, he’s made yet another one.”
Wuhan issues order to loosen lockdown, then U-turns
NHC says outbreak is fading, though situation remains “grim”
China approves crackdown on wildlife trade after WHO says virus likely came from bats
Iranian lawmaker says more than 50 deaths in Qom; officials say 12
Hong Kong bars South Koreans
more cases reported in SK
* * *
Update (1220ET): US stocks took another leg lower, falling to their lowest levels of the session with the Dow down 1,000 points, following the latest headlines out of the CDC confirming 39 cases of the virus have been detected among the rest of the ~300 individuals from the ‘Diamond Princess’.
The CDC reportedly opposed the State Department’s decision to allow 14 individuals who were confirmed to be infected to travel on the evac flight after their cases were confirmed just before takeoff, thanks to one of the many botched, drop-the-ball moments attributed to Japanese health officials.
This is exactly what they warned about: In addition to the 14 people who were already infected, it appears another 25 were infected on the flight back – where the sick individuals were separated by the rest using duct tape and a thin tarp-like sheet.
That brings total US cases to 53.
Meanwhile, the CD isolated 14 cases outside those who caught the virus aboard the DP.
U.S. CDC SAYS 14 CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19 AS OF FEB. 24, 39 CASES AMONG THOSE REPATRIATED TO U.S.
Six of these cases are believed to be in San Antonio, according to local press reports.
* * *
Update (1215ET): Just figured we’d point out: While WHO warns that there’s nothing to fear, Beijing is trying to force its population back to work after six provinces outside Hubei lowered their emergency ratings earlier.
Six provinces in #China lower #coronavirus emergency response level as of late AM today. Guangdong, Shanxi lowered response to level 2. Gansu, Liaoning, Guizhou, Yunnan lowered response to level 3.
Update (1115ET): Shortly before it voted to postpone its annual national congress, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in China passed legislation approving a crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade on Monday.
Though SJWs have insisted that criticizing Chinese practices like eating ‘bat soup’ is ‘racist’, WHO scientists warned Monday morning that initial research suggests that the virus was transmitted to the first human cases via consumption of a bat, or possibly a pangolin that had been exposed to the virus via a bat, WaPo reports.
We published an explainer about how the wildlife trade, which has been illegal on paper for years, managed to flourish in the Chinese countryside as a king of grey market due to its immense profitability.
Now, it appears local farmers will be forced to return to growing crops, a far less lucrative trade than hawking bats and snakes, apparently.
* * *
Update (1015ET): As the White House prepares to request an emergency spending package from Congress as soon as this week – a package that could seek close to $1 billion, as we’ve previously noted – WHO’s Dr. Tedros said during the organization’s Monday morning press briefing that the outbreak isn’t yet a true “pandemic” because the world hasn’t seen “large-scale deaths”.
That’s right: On the same morning that the Chinese government is marching people back to work, warning them that if they get infected, they’re on their own, as if the entire country was one giant concentration camp, the WHO – which has repeatedly run interference for the regime – is insisting that the outbreak isn’t really that bad.
The cases in Italy and South Korea are definitely concerning he said, but are we seeing an uncontrolled outbreak? No.
An Iranian lawmaker just blew the whistle on some 50 deaths in Iran, and now suddenly cases are popping up all over the Middle East and Europe, and the situation isn’t really that bad.
But Tedros says we’re not witnessing “uncontained global spread” and that “using the word pandemic does not fit the facts. We must focus on containment while preparing for a potential pandemic.”
All nations battling the outbreak should prioritize three areas, Dr. Tedros added. These include the safety of hospital workers, communities most at risk like the elderly, and others with co-occurring health conditions.
“This is a shared threat,” Tedros said. “We can only face it together, and we can only overcome it together.”
This comes nearly one month after the WHO declared the outbreak a global public health emergency.
And this is what the curve looks like for cases outside China:
Confirmed cases in Italy:
Confirmed cases in South Korea:
Nothing to see here, gentlemen. Please, focus on the excellent dip-buying opportunity in front of you.
Finally, repeating some of his florid praise from the early days of the outbreak, Tedros said: “other countries need to learn from China’s response”. Which we presume means that medieval lockdown is the way to go – but if you can tweak one thing, maybe try to get on top of the situation a little sooner.
Meanwhile, as Stars & Stripes reported earlier, US soldiers in South Korea are doing everything in their power to prevent an outbreak on an American base – a huge risk for US national security officials and the Pentagon – after the widow of a retired soldier who recently visited stores on a base in the southeastern part of South Korea.
* * * Update (1000ET): Following this morning’s WHO circle-jerk, where the team of foreign doctors and experts refused to challenge Beijing’s narrative despite widespread skepticism and criticism of the government’s early decision to censor information about the outbreak, the Global Times editor-in-chief has just declared that the “risk of the virus spreading widely in China” has passed.
The risk of virus spreading widely in China has passed. Wuhan is still in lockdown while new infection cases are steadily decreasing,even disappearing, in other areas. Situation in countries such as S. Korea is worse than China. Global trade&travel could fall to large scale chaos
Meanwhile, the first indications that the virus has already spread from Iran to some of its regional neighbors have already emerged: Oman has reported the first two confirmed coronavirus cases. The two cases are individuals who recently visited Iran.
This follows Bahrain reporting its first case overnight.
* * *
Update (0835ET): As the WHO team wrapped up its Monday press conference with what was essentially tantamount to a global confidence-building exercise in China’s response, a senior official from China’s National Health Commission said the coronavirus risk from Wuhan had gone ‘way down.’
Of course, if that’s true, then why did officials cancel a planned easing of the lockdown?
The official added that China has managed to stop the ‘rapid rise’ of infections in Wuhan, though they haven’t stopped the epidemic yet, and that the situation remains “grim and complex” – as President Xi said over the weekend.
Meanwhile, over in Italy, ANSA reports that a sixth person has died.
Even more alarming for futbal fans across the country: Four Serie A matches were postponed on Sunday, while others on Saturday went ahead.
* * *
When American traders logged off on Friday, they might have noticed a few suspicious headlines out of Italy reporting a sudden spike in cases. But anybody who spent the weekend away from their desks and Twitter might be surprised to find that Europe’s third-largest economy is now host to a genuine crisis.
As we reported over the weekend, more than a dozen towns in Lombardy – the hardest hit region with 167 confirmed cases and 4 deaths – are on complete lockdown. According to the latest update, there are now 219 confirmed cases in Italy, as well as five deaths.
Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s civil protection agency, said Monday during a press briefing that another 91 people are currently in isolation inside their homes.
Following the weekend spike, Italy’s neighbors are getting nervous. Austria is exploring border controls, though Germany said Monday that it’s not currently considering closing its borders with Italy, an obvious attempt by the de facto leader of the EU to try and quell a continent-wide panic.
Elsewhere, more countries are tightening restrictions on South Korea. Hong Kong on Monday declared that it would stop non-residents from South Korea from entering Hong Kong.
This has sparked a bemused response from Hong Kongers on twitter:
Our fucking Hong Kong government has just announced that South Koreans will not be allowed to enter HK starting at 6 am tomorrow, but our fucking government has always allowed people from China to enter. What the hell is this going on?
A recent poll showed that a majority of the people in Hong Kong don’t trust the data provided by the Chinese government or the WHO.
* * *
In Italy, it seems like most of the dead fit the profile of elderly patients with co-occurring health problems. One of the two most recent deaths was reported to be a man from the village of Val Alzano Lombardo. He died at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, near Milan. The hospital said the 83-year-old man (reports on his age differ) had a serious underlying health problem, but it didn’t specify what it was, according to CNN.
As WHO officials finished off preparations for their big press conference Monday morning, Beijing announced that it would delay the National People’s Congress, which had been set for early March. The move was telegraphed by leaked media reports well in advance.
Officials said Monday the key political meetings, originally due to take place from March 5, would be rescheduled. Analysts said the government in Beijing was worried about the optics of holding a large-scale public event while millions are living under lockdown. We agree – that would not be a good look for the CCP right now, especially after all of those videos of police rounding up violators of the lockdown who were probably just trying to find something to eat.
President Xi said one day earlier that China is in a “crisis” that would inevitably impact the country’s economy. But whatever the fallout, he promised it would be brief and manageable.
Following the departure of the WHO team from Wuhan, local authorities made an extraordinary decision: all of a sudden, the cities’ most senior officials announced a loosening of the city’s lockdown. Millions rejoiced.
But they were soon disappointed: Because three hours later, the order was reversed, we assume after Beijing caught wind of it.
According to the SCMP,the retracted announcement was issued by a ‘subordinate working group’ that didn’t have official approval from their superiors. The individuals responsible will be ‘reprimanded’. The lockdown has been in effect since Jan. 23.
In other news, Guangdong, China’s second worst-hit province, has downgraded its level of alert, with local officials saying the outbreak has mostly been contained to Hubei.
As we reported last night, figures released early Monday in China reported 409 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 150 new deaths from the outbreak on Sunday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 77,150, with a death toll of 2,592 (which will be higher if the Iran deaths are confirmed). The majority of new cases, 398, were in Hubei.
In Israel, PM Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political future in a critical upcoming election that could see him jailed if he doesn’t hang on to power. So the heavy-handed measures to contain foreigners suspected of carrying the virus are hardly a surprise. In the latest step to contain the virus, Israel will send hundreds of East Asian nationals back to their home countries in the coming days, according to the Israel Airport Authority.
While Iran remains the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, and several neighbors have already closed their borders, the first confirmed case was detected in Bahrain overnight.
Now, just imagine if Trump did that.
Vietnamese airline Bamboo Airways is suspending all flights to South Korea starting from Feb. 26.
In closing, we bring you comments made by Warren Buffett in an interview with CNBC, a clip of which was released on Monday. The ‘Oracle of Omaha’ said the virus is ‘scary stuff’. But it shouldn’t impact humans’ decisions about whether to buy or sell stocks, Buffett said, alluding to the old Ben Graham axiom that stocks should be bought and held based on the fundamental value of the underlying company.
But as twitter’s Mark Spiegel joked, Buffett’s remarks had an unexpected connotation:
Translation: "It shouldn't affect what you do in stocks because 'the human race' no longer controls those." https://t.co/EK5TKcO6kg