Archive January 2020

Orthodox Jewish communities in New Jersey fear anti-Semitic attacks as hate incidents spike

The journey had been exhausting, but at long last the end was in sight. The Schapiro family fled the Soviet Union, running away from the tide of terror sweeping Stalin’s Russia and present-day Ukraine. It was 1952 when they eventually sailed into New York harbour; three people out of 12 million to land at Ellis Island and begin their new lives in the land of liberty and opportunity.

Fast forward almost 70 years, and Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro can hardly believe what is happening.

“My grandparents and father arrived on Ellis Island. Where did America welcome these people? Right here – Ellis Island is 1,300 feet from the coast of Jersey City,” he said.

“And yet here in Jersey City, we came under…

Revealed: David Miliband called off SAS strike on Iranian General Qassim Soleimani in 2007

The SAS planned to assassinate Iranian military chief Qassim Soleimani during the Iraq War but were stopped by a personal intervention from Labour foreign secretary David Miliband.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that British special forces were ready to kill Soleimani in 2007 when he was identified as the man running the campaign against UK troops in the southern port city of Basra.

The SAS had him in their “crosshairs”, sources said, but Mr Miliband called off the operation, meaning Soleimani survived until he was killed on Friday morning in a US drone strike.

It emerged that Boris Johnson was given no advance warning of Friday’s US rocket attack in Baghdad despite Britain having hundreds of…

The death of Soleimani shows Iran that it cannot strike with impunity

The assassination of Iranian commander Qassim Soleimani by an American air strike in the early hours of Friday morning sends an unequivocal message to Tehran that it can no longer threaten the US and its allies with impunity.

As the head of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which is responsible for conducting Iran’s overseas military operations, Soleimani has been a key figure in masterminding Tehran’s proxy war against the West and its Arab allies in the region.

Soleimani first came to prominence following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he was in charge of the Iran-sponsored Shia militias in southern Iraq that carried out a series of attacks against British troops based in…

Qassim Soleimani: the possible targets for Iran’s ‘crushing revenge’ over assassination

Tehran will not leave the killing of its top commanders unanswered, and yesterday vowed "crushing revenge" over the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. 

 The raid dramatically escalated already tense relations between the US and Iran, who have for months been fighting a shadow war.

The US is now bracing for a response, though it is unclear yet what form it will take.

Direct attacks

Iran showed in September with an attack on Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil field that is is capable of sophisticated and long-range attacks from its soil, if US intelligence is to be believed. Such a range would bring tourist-friendly cities such as Dubai in the UAE within striking distance.

But a direct attack on…

Who was Qassim Soleimani? The shadowy Iranian general who undermined Washington for decades

His face was plastered on billboards across Iran and he was considered one of the most powerful figures in the Middle East.

Qassim Soleimani, killed on Friday morning by a US airstrike on his car at Baghdad airport, was a shadowy character about whom not much is known – except his astonishing influence.

The mastermind of Iran’s recent campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Soleimani was the leader of the republic’s elite Quds force, a black-ops squadron whose objectives and tactics have long infuriated and compromised American policy in the region.

Charming, quiet and softly-spoken, he has been compared to Keyser Soze and the Scarlet Pimpernel. In 2015, The Wall Street Journal compared him to…

Analysis: The killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani far eclipses the deaths of Bin Laden and Baghdadi

The killing of Qassem Soleimani is one of the biggest developments in the Middle East for decades – it far eclipses the deaths of Bin Laden or Baghdadi in terms of strategic significance and implications.

The US and Iran have been engaged in a dangerous tit-for-tat for months now, but this is a massive walk up the escalation ladder.

Israel has repeatedly spurned the opportunity to kill Soleimani for fear of the consequences of taking out Iran’s most powerful operative in the world, someone whose power is outshone only by Iran’s Supreme Leader.

His death is a serious loss for Iran’s regional agenda, but his “martyrdom” will likely fuel a response that will, at least in the medium term, make up…

Australian bushfires: The numbers that highlight sheer scale of unfolding catastrophe

Bushfires are an annual problem for Australia, but this season has been unprecedented. 

With the death toll now rising daily, millions of hectares left in ashes, and scores of homes left in blackened ruins, the blazes have turned huge swathes of New South Wales and Victoria into disaster zones. 

Queensland, South Australia, and West Australia have also had to tackle scores of devastating fires. 

Some conservative politicians have played down the severity of the crisis, with acting prime minister, Michael McCormack, saying last month that “we’ve had these smoke hazes before. We’ve had bushfires before”.

But the numbers behind the unfolding catastrophe suggest why plenty of experts stress that…