What the US Should Do as Protests Escalate in Iran Against the Islamist Regime

Iran has been rocked by a wave of protests against the Islamist regime since Dec. 28.  Popular demonstrations ignited by smoldering resentment about Iran’s mismanaged economy quickly escalated to political denunciations of Tehran’s rulers.

President Donald Trump was quick to offer support to the protesters in a series of tweets. At 7:44 a.m. New Year’s Day, he tweeted:

Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!

Early chants about price hikes have given way to increasingly bold criticisms of what the protesters see as a corrupt and repressive government that fails to meet their needs. Their demands varied.

Early chants about price hikes have given way to increasingly bold criticisms of what the protesters see as a corrupt and repressive government that fails to meet their needs. Their demands have varied.

Some chanted, “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to the dictator,” the latter being a reference to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Economic Resentments Amplify Political Revulsion

The protests apparently were triggered by a surge in prices of basic food supplies, which also had contributed to early Arab Spring protests six years ago. Protests spread quickly, sparked by social-media posts, as state-controlled media blocked press coverage.

These are the largest protests since millions of Iranians flooded the streets in 2009 to protest against then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rigged re-election. But the regime crushed those protests in a brutal crackdown in which at least 30 people were killed and thousands were arrested, tortured, and imprisoned.

So far, the ongoing protests have not reached the size of the 2009 Green Movement demonstrations, when millions of Iranians took to the streets in protest. Twelve people have been killed in demonstrations, with 10 of the deaths inflicted amid intensifying clashes on Sunday night.

Some of the early protests in Mashhad reportedly were organized by ultra-hard-line regime supporters opposed to Rouhani, and may have been designed to undermine his authority.

Pro-regime demonstrations denouncing the 2009 Green Movement leaders also may have provoked a political backlash.

Unemployment remains high at more than 12 percent, and inflation has resurged to 10 percent. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman blamed on a cull over avian-flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

Hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University, a hotbed of prior student protests against the regime.  Iranian students historically have played a leading role in several revolutionary movements, including the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The tense situation at Tehran University will be a litmus test for the strength of the protest movement and of the regime’s ability to contain, suffocate, or crush the protests.

The Revolutionary Guards, which crushed protests in 2009 and take the lead in exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution and terrorism, remain a strong repressive force that is likely to crush the student rebellion if the local police prove to be inadequate.

Trump’s Rapid Response

Trump tweeted out his support for the protests Saturday morning:

Trump is right that simmering resentment over the costs of Iran’s aggressive foreign policy have led protesters to call for more spending at home and less on support of radical groups abroad.

Some of the new protests have specifically denounced the regime’s extensive corruption and its costly involvement in regional conflicts, such as those in Syria and Iraq.

In Mashhad, some chanted, “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran,” a reference to what protesters say is the regime’s focus on exporting the revolution, rather than responding to domestic needs.

They also denounced Iran’s theocratic leaders: “The people are begging; the clerics act like God.”

Washington must continue to drive up the long-term political, economic, and military costs of Iran’s military interventions in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. It should underscore that the regime’s economic mismanagement, corruption, and support for terrorism and Islamic revolution, which provoked sanctions, have exacerbated Iran’s economic problems.

U.S. policy should also highlight and denounce the regime’s repression and human rights abuses. But the protests might soon be quelled, dissolve into competing camps led by rival leaders, or be hijacked by hostile anti-Western forces, as many of the Arab Spring revolts were hijacked.

Washington should support the right of Iranians to challenge the heavy-handed repression and corruption of a tyrannical regime, but it should hold off on endorsing specific opposition leaders or movements until their character and goals are assessed.

Until then, the Trump administration should do its best to publicize and promote the legitimate political and economic grievances of frustrated Iranians and support their efforts to recover freedom from an Islamist dictatorship that depends on thugs to suppress its own people.

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The New York Times Left Socialism’s Role Out of Its Report on Venezuela’s Devastation

Kudos to The New York Times–yes, The New York Times–for running an excellent, detailed story on the mass starvation and economic catastrophe taking place in Venezuela.

As the Times notes, Venezuela has the largest known oil reserves in the world, yet is going through a starvation crisis exacerbated and hidden by its own government.

Common items like baby formula are almost unattainable for the average person and the crisis is deepening.

Alas, missing from the Times analysis is nearly any discussion of the reality that Venezuela is a socialist country once praised by America’s liberal elite.

In fact, only a single mention of the ruling Socialist party near the end of the piece can be found.

Venezuela was once praised by left-wing pundits—including in the Times’ opinion section—for being a model of glowing success.

In fact, scoffing at claims of Venezuela’s alleged mismanagement under then-president Hugo Chavez, one New York Times contributor wrote in 2012:

Since the Chávez government got control over the national oil industry, poverty has been cut by half, and extreme poverty by 70 percent. College enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.

Less than half a decade later, the collapse has come. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who once published an op-ed in the New York Times, has made himself a dictator as the country faces run-away inflation reminiscent of Zimbabwe.

Venezuela’s inflation spiked to 4,115 percent at the end of 2017, according to a CNN Money report, leading more than one economist to conclude that the country’s economy is in a “death spiral.”

So how did Venezuela get here?

The answer is that socialism, as always, ends with running out of other people’s money.

James M. Roberts, the research fellow in freedom and growth at The Heritage Foundation, wrote about how dysfunctional policies such as nationalizing industries and redistribution schemes have destroyed a once thriving country.

The private economy has been almost completely wrecked, and is now unable to meet even the most basic demands of the population.

But it isn’t just socialist policies that have led to this catastrophe. Venezuela is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and has very little economic freedom.

Roberts wrote: “Venezuela’s score in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index makes it the most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere, and helped drag the country to the bottom of The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom, too.”

As Heritage’s Latin American policy analyst, Ana Quintana, noted in The Hill, Venezuela’s leaders have managed to secure for themselves absolute power and wealth through repressive government actions and turning their country into a criminal enterprise.

Their leaders are “directly involved in corruption, the drug trade, human rights violations, and support for terrorist groups,” Quintana wrote.

For instance, the current Venezuelan vice president, Tareck El Aissami, was designated by the U.S. Treasury as  drug kingpin with connections to Islamist terrorist organizations. He’s been hit with heavy sanctions by the Trump administration, but is a good example of the kinds of problems that pervade Venezuela’s government.

He’s only one of many.

Despite egalitarian socialist rhetoric, Venezuela’s ruling class has managed to both enrich itself and protect that wealth at the expense of the public.

With outright corruption rampant, promises of material care by a by a benevolent state can seem appealing as an alternative to “capitalism” when capitalism is simply defined as cronies in government working with cronies in big business for their own benefit.

Alas, like in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” the new overlords end up being just like the old ones, or worse.

The rule of law and a free economy have generally combined to form the secret sauce of a flourishing economy.

Lacking both, Venezuela has somehow squandered a gold mine–or oil reserves to be more literal—in its downward descent into bankruptcy, tyranny, and mass starvation. Being oil rich has only masked the deep dysfunction under the surface of the Venezuelan regime.

Perhaps this should be a sobering wake-up call to millennials who in worryingly large numbers say they’d rather live under socialism or communism rather than capitalism.

Socialism’s failures in the last century should be enough to disabuse Americans of any notion that this broken political philosophy, which runs counter to human nature, is in any way the answer to our problems.

But if history fails to be a guide, then the modern demonstration of yet another socialist country immolating itself, starving its people, and destroying any measure of real democracy should be evidence enough.

The post The New York Times Left Socialism’s Role Out of Its Report on Venezuela’s Devastation appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How a New Power Plant Could Enhance U.S.-Kosovo Relations 

The Republic of Kosovo and New York-based power generator ContourGlobal signed a deal Wednesday for the U.S. company to build a 500-megawatt, coal-fired power plant, the first major energy project in the Balkan country in more than two decades.

Under the $1.5 billion contract, the power plant would replace the “Kosovo A” plant, built in 1962 under the communist Yugoslavian regime. The old, government-owned plant has been distinguished by the World Bank as one of the worst sources of pollution in Europe.

Indeed, Kosovo’s power plant modernization in partnership with the American company is an important step forward,  not only in securing much-needed energy supplies for Kosovars, but in advancing the U.S.-Kosovo relationship.

Since declaring its independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo has made notable progress toward stability and development. The once conflict-torn nation has been transitioning, albeit gradually, to a country that stands firmly for “stronger democracy, greater freedom, and growing economic potential.”

According to The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, Kosovo’s progress toward an open, market-based economy continues, although lingering institutional shortcomings related to the rule of law put downward pressure on its competitiveness.

In a challenging regional economic environment, however, the landlocked economy has outperformed its neighbors.

Read more about Kosovo Economy.
See more from the 2017 Index.

Despite progress, Kosovo’s overall economic development has been notably disadvantaged by lack of a reliable, affordable, and modern supply of energy. Reforming and modernizing the energy sector is a top priority for Kosovo, whose economic growth has been hamstrung by frequent power cuts and an exceptionally high number of energy shortages.

Entrepreneurs and potential investors identify the unreliable energy supply and poor access to electricity as major obstacles to their day-to-day operations and a severe constraint to business expansion. Indeed, more than anything else, the high frequency of power outages and the poor condition of existing power plants have hurt the livelihood of the people of Kosovo.

Building a modern, efficient power plant in Kosovo also offers a unique opportunity to reinforce the young democracy’s evolving bilateral relationship with the U.S. It is further strengthened by the recent signing of a $49 million economic development program with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a federal agency.

Kosovo has been invited to develop project proposals for U.S. grant agreements that must present a strong case for entrepreneurial growth led by the private sector.

The U.S. was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Since then, the U.S. has urged other countries to extend diplomatic recognition.

During a meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci at the White House in late September, Vice President Mike Pence unambiguously reconfirmed U.S. support “for a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Kosovo.”

For all the challenges behind and ahead, Kosovo has been moving forward. Ensuring affordable and widely available energy is an essential building block of facilitating that ongoing progress of economic growth and development.

Securing efficient, reliable energy supplies will be a big step, to which Kosovo’s new deal with ContourGlobal makes an important contribution.

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Podcast: The Big Differences Between Obama and Trump’s National Security Strategies

The Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner joins us to discuss why President Donald Trump’s national security strategy, released today, matters–and how it differs in it is treatment of Islamist terrorism from President Barack Obama’s strategy. We also discuss the long-ranging cultural implications of the tax bill, and why Chick-fil-A is once again the hero.

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French Kids May Soon Be Able to Have Sex 3 Years Before They Can Join Facebook

France is considering a new law that would require all children under the age of 16 to get parental approval to open a social media account.

The legislation was introduced Wednesday as part of wider push to adapt data privacy regulations.

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“Joining Facebook will involve parental authorization for minors aged under 16,” said Nicole Belloubet, the French justice minister, according to Reuters.

People would have to tick a box to confirm that parental approval has been obtained. The box-tick would be a declaration governed by law, but it’s unclear how enforceable the new legislation would be.

Cellphones will also be banned at French school from the start of the next school year. Children are already banned from using phones in class but the new law would cover recess and lunch breaks.

The country is simultaneously considering a new age of consent for having sex that will likely be lower than the minimum age for signing up for a social media account. The government wants the legal minimum age of consent to be 13, while other French leaders have called for an age limit at 15.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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US Arms Sale to Georgia a Long-Overdue Show of Support for Eurasian Ally

The U.S.- Georgian relationship was taken to a new level on Nov. 20, when President Donald Trump approved something that never occurred during President Barack Obama’s eight years in office. That would be an estimated $75 million deal to sell Javelin anti-tank missiles to the Eastern European republic of Georgia.

After 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, Tbilisi is more deserving than ever to receive this kind of support.

Georgia is a beacon of hope for the Eurasia region and is a valued partner for the U.S. on a global scale. Since regaining its independence in 1991, Georgia has worked hard to reform its economy and governance—and with much success.

The country has had successive peaceful elections and is deeply committed to integrating into the West. According to The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, Georgia is ranked 13th in the world for economic freedom, scoring even higher than the United States itself.

Georgia also has geostrategic importance for Europe’s energy security, since it’s a key transit country for oil and gas pipelines to Europe.

From 1991 to the present, Georgia’s democracy has been threatened by Russia in numerous ways—from hybrid warfare to invasion. Because of this, Georgia deserves the chance to defend its borders and its democracy against further Russian aggression. Thankfully, with the sale of these advanced anti-tank missiles, it can.

The weapons sale is important for two main reasons: symbolism and practicality. The sale is symbolic, because it demonstrates the U.S.’ support for Georgia and our alliance, while also being practical, because Georgia can use the weapons for deterrence.

In the next few weeks, the same decision should be made for Ukraine—to arm it with Javelin missiles to deter Russian aggression.

Perhaps the most important reason why Georgia deserves these weapons, however, is because it has proven itself to be a dependable and responsible ally of the United States.

An example of that stems from the war in Afghanistan. Georgia’s contribution has been the largest of any non-NATO member, with a total of 2,000 troops serving at the height of the war.

Today, Georgia still maintains more than 850 troops in Afghanistan. Georgian troops have experienced the highest per-capita death rates in Afghanistan, demonstrating their dedication to helping the U.S. in the war against terrorism.

It is important to note that Georgia is unlikely to utilize the weapons to try to take back its South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, which Russia illegally has been occupying since 2008.

Since then, Russia has been involved in what is called a “creeping occupation,” in which Russia takes just a bit of Georgian land at a time, drawing very little attention to itself.

Each one of these acts is a blatant violation of international law, and the occupation now has become so domineering that approximately 20 percent of Georgian territory lies under Russian control.

Nevertheless, Georgia actually declared a “non-use of force” pledge, meaning that it only sees a diplomatic outcome in regaining control of the two territories. Russia has failed to reciprocate this pledge.

The bottom line is that the decision to sell these weapons is great news for Georgia, and the U.S. should continue to arm and enhance those capabilities. We should do so not only for Georgia, but for all of our allies—for the sake of America’s national security and prosperity.

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In Cold War Flashback, Russia Designates VOA, Radio Free Europe as Foreign Agents

The Russian Duma is engaging in tit-for-tat with the U.S. government by designating American government-funded broadcasters Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty as foreign agents.

In late November, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure rushed through the Duma to push back against the United States. As a result, reporters working for VOA and RFE/RL may be restricted from attending Duma deliberations and other official functions.

Now in Russia, anyone who defies the Kremlin may find themselves branded a foreign agent.  But it’s no coincidence that the Duma’s decision on VOA and RFE/RL comes soon after the U.S. Justice Department in September demanded that the Russian cable-television entity RT (formerly known as Russia Television) register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

Additionally, the FBI is investigating the Russian propaganda website Sputnik for its activities.

How concerned should we be that free media is in a downward spiral as a consequence?  Maybe not as much as might be surmised from news reports.

The real danger here is that the interpretation of what just happened gets blurred by moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russian governments.

The fact is that U.S. government broadcasting has been squeezed by the Kremlin for years and long since lost access to Russian airwaves, while RT and Sputnik have been operating freely in the United States, taking advantage of our constitutional liberties.

Under Putin, Russian information warfare has become a major weapon against the West, complete with fake news stories, internet trolls and propaganda factories.

Furthermore, it is clear that RT and Sputnik—along with other Russian entities—did in fact act as foreign agents during the 2016 presidential election. They were investigated by the FBI starting in July for attempting to undermine and influence U.S. democratic institutions.

In January, a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence charged that in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Russian media outlets “contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”

Offering no evidence that the Russian campaign actually swayed the election results, the report nonetheless clearly documented the way Russian outlets tried to undermine Americans’ faith in their democratic institutions.

No such charges can be truthfully leveled at the journalism produced by the U.S. broadcasters, even if the Russian government does not like what they broadcast. In fact, being thought of as part of a U.S. government agenda is pure anathema to most of the journalists and producers who work for them.

Whatever the Russian government chooses to call Voice of America and the rest, the Kremlin long ago took steps to curtail the access of ordinary Russians to news other than what the Kremlin deems fit for them to hear.

 

 

 

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British Media Losing It Over Gavin Williamson’s Comments. They May Not Mock Him for Long.

What a toxic mix of historical amnesia and political opportunism is being heaped upon Gavin Williamson.

The defense secretary noted that, in the war with Iraq and Syria, the British military may end up killing the enemy—including British ISIS fighters. Apparently, we are to consider that commonsense observation to be outrageous.

“Call for troops to kill U.K. ISIS fighters is illegal and immoral, say critics.” That headline in The Guardian topped a story filled with quotes from human rights lawyers, NGOs, and opposition members of Parliament.

Lord Ken MacDonald called Williamson “juvenile,” and even one of Williamson’s government colleagues just told The Times that the Defense Secretary’s approach was “childish.”

Never mind that International Development Minister Rory Stewart said virtually the same thing in October. Never mind that the British government killed two of its own citizens who were fighting alongside ISIS just two years ago, when Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin were targeted in a drone strike in Raqqa.

Let us instead focus on the quality of our other main options for ISIS’ British fighters.

Many still seem not to understand that the United Kingdom’s [U.K.] ability to arrest ISIS fighters abroad is close to zero. The London Metropolitan Police are not going to nip into ISIS-held territory in Syria with a search warrant, handcuffs, and a truncheon and then inform hundreds of terrorist-trained ISIS Brits of their right to remain silent.

Still, any public misunderstanding on this is understandable, as it remains out of the grasp of the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

If the request is that we commit British Army forces into Syria in order to capture these fighters and then house them abroad—possibly in a warzone—until the end of hostilities, that is a reasonable position.

Yet politicians and human rights groups should be explicit that this is their preference and argue that we should be back in the business of wartime detention of the enemy (as we were in Iraq).

Of course, there is no political appetite for taking that course of action.

Still, the reality is that many British citizens fighting for ISIS will make their way back to the U.K. from the battlefields of the Middle East. Unless they are dual nationals, it would be illegal to strip them of their citizenship and make them stateless.

This leaves prosecution as the preferred option—and that presents a very significant challenge.

No Brit who fought alongside Islamists in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, or Yemen was ever prosecuted in a U.K. court. Even now, actual examples from Iraq or Syria are very thin.

We may think the stories of men like Shabazz Suleman—who says he often spent his time with ISIS “playing PlayStation or going around on bike rides”—are ludicrous. But if Suleman returns to the U.K., it would be very difficult to prove that he committed an act of terrorism that would lead to him being locked him up for any serious length of time.

Other countries face the same problem. A returnee called Harry Sarfo was seemingly filmed gunning people down on the streets of Palmyra and still managed to avoid prosecution back in Germany.

The reality is that many ISIS returnees will go onto the pile with the 23,000 other terror suspects already residing in the U.K. We just hope that MI5 are tracking the most dangerous ones.

If ever a year demonstrated that they cannot get it right the whole time, it would be this one.

Yet, for the time being, many of the U.K.’s opinion leaders seem to have adopted the unusual position that letting ISIS’ army into the U.K. and hoping for the best is the intellectually acceptable option and killing our enemy the juvenile one.

Perhaps this view will last. Perhaps not. After all, if the French or Belgian governments had displayed some of Williamson’s “childish” preferences to their citizens who had traveled to Syria, Abdelhamid Abaaoud might well be dead and 130 people unfortunate enough to be in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015 might be alive.

Still, I hope a sneer and a couple of days’ worth of headlines was worth it for Williamson’s critics. Because the next time body parts are scattered over the tube or concert venues, and families are trying to rebuild their shattered lives after the loss of loved ones, the headlines may not be quite as favorable.

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Following Trump, These Countries Also May Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Many U.S. allies roundly criticized the Trump administration’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but America doesn’t stand alone on the white-hot issue.

“President Trump has planted the seeds of this long overdue shift,” @PastorJohnHagee says.

In fact, the Czech Republic appeared to jump at the opportunity to say that it already considered Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, to be the capital of the Jewish state.

The Czech foreign ministry announced:

The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967. … The ministry can start considering moving of the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only based on results of negotiations with key partners in the region and in the world.

For its part, the United States is delaying moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, pending a State Department review.

On Tuesday, the European Union denied a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize Jerusalem as the U.S. government has.

Meanwhile, top lawmakers from two African countries, Ghana and Tanzania, indicated their nations could support a similar move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hungary blocked an EU resolution condemning the U.S. decision, but hasn’t taken action to recognize Jerusalem on its own.

Much work remains, but the U.S. move gives hope to Israel supporters such as the Rev. John Hagee, senior pastor of a large evangelical church in Texas and founder of the group Christians United for Israel.

“America acts and the world takes notice,” Hagee told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “We’ve already seen the Czech Republic recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

“In addition, due to the Israelis’ incredible emphasis on humanitarian assistance,” he said, “the Jewish state has deep relations with many African countries and other nations in the developing world, and that is perhaps the reason we’ve seen leaders from Tanzania and Ghana indicate a willingness to follow President Trump’s lead.”

Hagee, president and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, added that Trump simply “confirmed a 3,000-year-old historical fact,” but acknowledged that the rest of the world would be a challenge.

“This said, the unfortunate tradition of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has 70 years behind it—it will take some time to reverse,” Hagee said. “But President Trump has planted the seeds of this long overdue shift, and with persistence, it will eventually be accepted more broadly. America leads once again.”

Aaron Mike Oquaye, speaker of Ghana’s parliament, told Israel’s i24News that “whatever Israel wants, we in Ghana will go by that, because that is essentially an internal decision.”

Job Ndugai, speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, told the outlet:

It is a very commendable decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I believe it will be followed suit by several African countries, Tanzania included, to move said quarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, because we believe where the parliament is … then the government should be there, and embassies should be there too.

The United States filled a vacuum of moral leadership, said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel think tank. She is “cautiously optimistic” that more countries will follow, Stern said.

“I’m cautious because the virus of anti-Semitism is taking different forms. Today, it has taken the form collectively against Israel,” Stern told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “Throughout the world, we are seeing horrible demonstrations.”

She noted some demonstrations, including in London and New York, contained calls for violence against Israel.

Under the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord of 1993, the status of Jerusalem was to be determined through negotiations. The Palestinian Authority has claimed East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Muslim state.

Despite that, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all vowed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at some point.

Trump’s decision clearly hasn’t destabilized the Middle East, as some critics predicted, said James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

“Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas and other Islamic extremist organizations will continue to try to whip up people as long as they can, but I think it will eventually die down,” Phillips told The Daily Signal.

“Saudi Arabia, the [United Arab Emirates], and Bahrain have moved closer to Israel in a number of areas, and have covertly cooperated,” Phillips said. “I don’t think we’ll see the covert cooperation end. This may delay public reconciliation by moderate Arab states with Israel.”

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