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Statue to Slain Butcher Soleimani Raised; Hours Later, Defiant Iranians Give It a Fiery Sendoff

Western Journal

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On Wednesday night in western Iran, a statue of former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani was burned. The statue had just been unveiled that morning, Voice of America News reported.

Since his assassination two years ago, on Jan. 3, 2020, Iranian authorities have unveiled several sculptures and portraits of Soleimani throughout the country, the Jerusalem Post reported.

But the Iranian people do not seem to appreciate the honoring of Soleimani’s memory. The statue burned on Wednesday night was the second one of Soleimani that has been destroyed.

In August of last year, a different statue of the former commander was destroyed in Yasuj in southwestern Iran.

The destruction of the statue was immediately condemned by authorities and Iranian media.

Iranian Students’ News Agency called it a “shameful act by unknown individuals.”

ISNA also reported the statement of senior Muslim cleric Mohammad Ali Nekounam, who said, “This treacherous crime was carried out in darkness, just like the other crime committed at night at Baghdad airport,” VOA News reported.

Nekounam was referring to the assassination of Soleimani two years ago. Under the Trump administration, a drone strike was carried out near the Baghdad airport that killed both Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant, as the New York Times reported at the time.

Do you think there is hope for Iranians under such an oppressive regime?

It’s easy to see why Americans would want Soleimani eliminated. He was the commander of the Quds forces, behind nearly every Iranian operation for the past 20 years, in bed with Hezbollah, and responsible (directly or indirectly) for the deaths of many Americans in the region as he worked with America’s adversaries in Iraq.

After his assassination, the Department of Defense said that Soleimani and the Quds forces had been responsible for “the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” as the Washington Post reported.

“General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

But why would Iranians dislike Soleimani so much that they would be willing to torch his statues?

Soleimani was the head of the Quds Force and developed it into the elite military force that it is today. The Quds Force was founded as the special operation arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which was formed to guard the revolution of 1979 and the authority of the Ayatollah. In Persian, the IRGC’s name literally means “Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution,” Vox reported.

As guardians of the revolution, the IRGC is oppressive and wary of anything and anyone who might question the authority of the Ayatollah and the IRGC itself. So western influence and any ideas of democracy are a threat that the IRGC has to tamp down on. This has caused cultural warfare at every turn.

In light of the IRGC’s role in Iran, it’s not hard to see why some Iranians might be opposed to it and to any of its leaders, like Soleimani.

Even upon his death, Iranians’ reaction on social media was mixed. Some called him a hero, but to others, he was a poster boy for oppression and the cause of many deaths.

Some on social media called him a “criminal” and “terrorist,” as Radio Free Europe reported.

When Ayatollah Ali Khamenei then announced three days of national mourning for Soleimani, some Iranians pushed back.

“How many days of national mourning do we need for the deaths of the young people who were massacred in [November]?” one Twitter user, Shahin Najafi, tweeted.

Najafi was referring to a brutal government crackdown on protesters that took place in November 2019.

This unrest took place after the government announced a hike in gas prices. Protests spread and Iran’s security forces (likely the IRGC and the Quds Force) killed at least 304 people, Radio Free Europe reported.

This is just one example of what goes on under the Iranian regime. It’s really no wonder that some Iranians would not take kindly to having Soleimani statues erected throughout the country. He is a sign of the IRGC, the military force responsible for the oppression of Iran.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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Elon Musk Announces Twitter Deal ‘Cannot Move Forward’ Unless CEO Proves Key Claim

Western Journal

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In a tweet that could shake the foundations and future of Twitter, Elon Musk said Tuesday morning he believes fake accounts make up as much as 20 percent of the platform.

The billionaire tweeted that his offer to buy Twitter was contingent on the accuracy of the company’s estimate that fewer than 5 percent of its accounts are spam or bot accounts instead of real people.

As such, Musk said, he will not move forward with his proposal to buy Twitter until company CEO Parag Agrawal proves Twitter’s numbers are accurate.

“20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher,” he said. “My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.

“Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.”

Earlier, Musk had responded with skepticism to a series of tweets from Agrawal about the company’s spam calculations.

“So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter,” he said.

His point was that advertisers pay to connect to real people, and if the platform has fewer real people than it claims, its bottom line could be shakier than it has reported.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has long proclaimed that Twitter is riddled with fake accounts.

On Friday, Musk posted that the deal with buy Twitter was “on hold” over the issue because the company’s numbers were lower than what he thought they should be.

Twitter had said in a quarterly filing on May 2 that its “estimation of false or spam accounts may not accurately represent the actual number,” language similar to that used in its past filings.

Musk followed up shortly thereafter to say, “Still committed to acquisition.”

Between Friday’s tweet and Tuesday’s, experts and analysts have offered three groupings of opinion.

One is that Musk is using the issue of bots to walk away from the deal.

Others believe that he wants to use this to lower the price of the purchase.

Tim Draper, an investor in Tesla and SpaceX as well as the Twitter venture, said he thinks the deal will eventually go through, according to the New York Post.

“I think so,” Draper said. “But I think he’s going to get a better deal because he found out that, whatever, two-thirds [of users] are bots or something.”

Axios pointed to a third option: “Some are even wondering whether the entire takeover attempt is anything more than Musk trolling Twitter, using Twitter.”

On Monday, Musk had brought up the subject of bots while speaking at a tech conference in Miami and estimated that the 20 percent number he tweeted Tuesday could be accurate, according to Bloomberg.

“Currently what I’m being told is that there’s just no way to know the number of bots,” he said. “It’s like, as unknowable as the human soul.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

In a tweet that could shake the foundations and future of Twitter, Elon Musk said Tuesday morning he believes fake accounts make up as much as 20 percent of the platform. The billionaire tweeted that his offer to buy Twitter was contingent on the accuracy of the company’s estimate that fewer than 5 percent of its accounts are spam or bot accounts instead of real people. As such, Musk said, he will not move forward with his proposal to buy Twitter until company CEO Parag Agrawal proves Twitter’s numbers are accurate. “20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher,” he said. “My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. “Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.” 20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2022 Earlier, Musk had responded with skepticism to a series of tweets from Agrawal about the company’s spam calculations. Let’s talk about spam. And let’s do so with the benefit of data, facts, and context… — Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022 Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share). Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day. — Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022 “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter,” he said. So how do advertisers know…

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Op-Ed: Xi Jinping Is Watching Putin to Decide When to Attack Taiwan

Western Journal

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Chinese President Xi Jinping is watching Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine to decide when to attack Taiwan. At this point that decision is made, but the timing won’t be settled until this fall and before President Joe Biden leaves the White House.

Let me untangle some issues that will dictate Beijing’s timing for its assault on Taiwan: Xi’s enemies and economic challenges, Biden’s green light indicators for Putin’s war, a growing list of battlefield lessons, and Biden’s broken foreign policy.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, and Xi stakes his future on returning it to Chinese rule.

Last fall, he declared the Chinese people have a “glorious tradition of opposing separatism” and that “complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.” The communist chairman added, “The Taiwan question is purely an internal matter for China, one which brooks no external interference,” and he warned last year, “Anyone who would attempt to [interfere] will have their heads bashed bloody.”

Yes, Mr. Xi is committed to reunification, but the timing is bound by two realities.

The first is the possible confirmation of his third term in office, an unprecedented eventuality since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. Xi’s third term would begin this November.

Xi’s hold on power, however, isn’t assured. Feng Chongyi, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney, said last year that some officials are “in strong opposition and are trying their best to prevent Xi’s next possible term.”

Those enemies know Xi’s Achilles heel: a sagging economy. According to the Communist Party’s “Shanghai Gang” faction, Xi is ruining the Chinese economy and must be ousted.

So, if Xi is to gain a third term, he must balance his domestic opposition and his economic vulnerability before assaulting Taiwan. After all, he learned from the Ukraine war that an attack on the democratic island nation will earn him severe economic sanctions, further threatening China’s economy. Thus, he intends to delay any invasion until after he is assured another term.

The other reality for Xi’s anticipated assault is identified by Andrei Illarionov, Putin’s economic adviser for almost six years in the early 2000s.

Illarionov, now a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, said the Chinese are learning from Putin’s war. He explained that Putin’s “decision to invade Ukraine is based on his absolutely correct understanding of President Biden. Without Biden in the White House, Putin would never invade Ukraine.”

Xi learned from Putin that Biden is weak and broadcasts what he will and won’t do — a predictable enemy.

“Mr. Putin is a very good psychologist,” Illarionov said. “He studied [security agency] files for Mr. Biden. He understood that’s a person who would never do anything against his invasion against Ukraine.” In fact, Biden showed his hand long before the war began.

Last year, Biden removed sanctions on Nord Stream 2, renewed the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms agreement without negotiations, did nothing about the buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and ordered U.S. warships out of the Black Sea after a Russian-Dutch naval confrontation. Putin perceived these moves as weaknesses, an effort on Biden’s part to avoid confrontation.

Biden’s representatives weren’t any better.

He sent William Burns, the CIA director, to Moscow, where, according to Illarionov, he offered guarantees “on issues of security, even when Russian troops [were] on the Ukrainian border and ready to attack Ukraine. That can be understood only in one way: Biden administration is giving green light for Putin to attack Ukraine.”

Then, in December, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart to discuss the Ukraine crisis. However, Illarionov said, “90 percent” of the discussions were about the Iran nuclear deal, yet again “giving a green light to Mr. Putin to attack Ukraine.”

On other fronts, according to Illarionov, Biden recalled American citizens and military personnel from Ukraine. He even offered to help President Volodymyr Zelenskyy leave Ukraine. Once again, Illarionov said, “Mr.  Putin understood these signs in the exactly right way”: as weakness and a go-ahead to invade.

Xi understands that Biden was never serious about stopping Putin’s war. In fact, Illarionov said Xi, like Putin, “understands very well that there is a unique window of opportunity … when Mr. Biden is the president. With any other U.S. president … [an invasion of Ukraine or Taiwan] would be impossible.”

The Russian concluded, “This dangerous moment will last at least until January 2025, until hopefully another president will be in the White House.”

Of course, there are numerous other lessons from Russia’s war for the Chinese dictator. His invasion of Taiwan will be tougher than Putin’s assault on Ukraine because the Chinese are attacking a well-fortified island nation 160 miles from the mainland, a true logistics nightmare. Further, unlike the go-it-alone fight forced on Kyiv, the government in Taipei expects the U.S. and other Western powers to directly intervene.

The most important lesson for Xi is that Biden is a predictable, weak enemy who broadcasts his intentions. So unless the Biden team finds better foreign policy acumen, we could as soon as late fall see the skies reflect green lights signaling Xi to assault Taiwan.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is watching Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine to decide when to attack Taiwan. At this point that decision is made, but the timing won’t be settled until this fall and before President Joe Biden leaves the White House. Let me untangle some issues that will dictate Beijing’s timing for its assault on Taiwan: Xi’s enemies and economic challenges, Biden’s green light indicators for Putin’s war, a growing list of battlefield lessons, and Biden’s broken foreign policy. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, and Xi stakes his future on returning it to Chinese rule. Last fall, he declared the Chinese people have a “glorious tradition of opposing separatism” and that “complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.” The communist chairman added, “The Taiwan question is purely an internal matter for China, one which brooks no external interference,” and he warned last year, “Anyone who would attempt to [interfere] will have their heads bashed bloody.” Yes, Mr. Xi is committed to reunification, but the timing is bound by two realities. The first is the possible confirmation of his third term in office, an unprecedented eventuality since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. Xi’s third term would begin this November. Xi’s hold on power, however, isn’t assured. Feng Chongyi, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney, said last year that some officials are “in strong opposition and are trying their best to prevent Xi’s next possible term.” Those enemies know Xi’s Achilles heel: a sagging economy. According to the Communist Party’s “Shanghai Gang” faction, Xi is ruining the Chinese economy and must be ousted. So, if Xi is to gain a third term, he must balance his domestic opposition and his economic vulnerability before assaulting Taiwan. After all, he learned…

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