Your sole source of information regarding persecuted Christians of Egypt.  [Learn More]

Education
Impact
Action
Donate

348 items tagged "Iran"

Results 1 - 348 of 348

Iran to Turkey: Get out of Syria

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 07:16
Iran-TurkeyTurkey on Wednesday denied agreeing to a US- brokered truce with Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria, saying it would not compromise with a "terrorist" group a week into an unprecedented cross-border offensive.
 
Washington said Tuesday the two sides -- both US allies -- had agreed to a cessation of hostilities between their forces in Syria after deadly clashes at the weekend.
 
Also on Tuesday, the Islamic State group's top strategist Abu Mohamed al-Adnani was killed in a US-led coalition air strike in Syria's Aleppo province, in a major blow to the jihadists, the group said.
 
While Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies kept up the fight against IS, Ankara's bombardments of Kurdish-backed positions appeared to have eased, with no reports of any such strikes since Monday.
 
Turkey however rejected Washington's claim that it had agreed to hold fire on the pro-Kurdish coalition.
 
"We do not accept in any circumstances ... a 'compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements,'" EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told state-run Anadolu news agency.
 
"The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state," Celik said, adding Turkey could not be put on an equal footing with a "terrorist organisation," referring to the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
 
After driving the Kurdish-backed fighters south away from the flashpoint border town of Jarabulus, the Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies on Tuesday fought Islamic State (IS) group jihadists to the town's west, Turkish media said.
 
Three Turkish soldiers were killed in a rocket attack on a tank near Jarabulus, the reports said.
 
Turkish warplanes later carried out airstrikes against "terrorist" targets nearby, state-run Anadolu news agency said, referring to IS.
 
'Loose agreement'
 
Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield on August 24 to clear the border area of jihadists and halt the westward advance of a US-backed Kurdish-led militia which Ankara considers a "terrorist" group.
 
After helping Syrian Arab rebels take Jarabulus from IS on the intervention's very first day, Turkey began strikes against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a YPG-dominated coalition that has been leading the fight against IS.
 
US Central Command spokesman, Colonel John Thomas, said Tuesday that the Turkish and Kurdish-led forces had reached a "loose agreement" to stop fighting each other.
 
Kurdish-backed militias said they had agreed to the truce.
 
Washington had expressed alarm after a weekend of clashes between its Turkish and Kurdish allies.
 
Ankara said it killed 25 "terrorists" in strikes on pro-Kurdish positions on Sunday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 40 dead and said the victims were mostly civilians.
 
Calling the escalation "unacceptable" the US urged the warring parties to stop fighting each other and concentrate on combatting IS.
 
Turkish media reported on Monday that Ankara summoned the US ambassador to protest the US criticism.
 
A spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry, however, told AFP that there was only a "phone call" to Ambassador John Bass.
 
IS attack Turkish forces
 
Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged a bloody war against the Turkish state since 1984.
 
In the past few months Turkey has watched in alarm as the Kurdish militia advanced west to fight IS, raising the prospect of a Kurdish-controlled corridor running nearly the entire length of Turkey's border.
 
On Tuesday, Turkey again demanded guarantees from Washington on the group's promise to the US to retreat east of the Euphrates river.
 
The US-led anti-IS coalition has been backing the YPG with training and equipment to fight the jihadists.
 
On Tuesday, Turkish forces and their rebel allies came under attack in IS-held territory to the west of Jarabulus, with the jihadists claiming in a statement to have destroyed two Turkish tanks in a missile attack.
 
The group also claimed to have carried out a suicide car bombing against Turkish-backed rebels in the same area and said it had killed "dozens" of Turkish soldiers and allied fighters.
 
'Leave Syria,' Iran tells Turkey
 
Turkey's offensive has raised concerns that Ankara could be drawn even
deeper into the Syrian conflict.
 
Iran, a key backer of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, urged Turkey to quickly wrap up its campaign, saying it was a violation of Syrian sovereignty.
 
Turkey has said Syria was informed in advance of the operation by Russia.
 
"Although the fight against terrorism... is a principle for all peace-seeking governments, it cannot and must not justify military operations on another country's territory without coordination with its central government," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.

Iranian commander: Ground is ready to destroy 'Zionist regime'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 21:02
Hossein SalamiA senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently threatened Israel, saying the ground is ready for the annihilation of “the Zionist regime”.
 
The comments by IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami were made at a sermon in Tehran this past Friday prior to prayers marking Al-Quds Day.
 
He also declared that Iran has over 100,000 missiles waiting in Lebanon alone and that tens of thousands of other missiles were placed throughout the Muslim world in order to wipe "the accursed black dot" – that is Israel – from the map of the world.
 
Salami also threatened Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq to keep their promises, saying that Iran would "completely destroy any place that constitutes a threat to our regime." The sermon was broadcast on IRIB TV and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
“Today, more than ever, there is fertile ground - with the grace of God - for the annihilation, the wiping out, and the collapse of the Zionist regime,” he said, according to the transcript provided by MEMRI.
 
“In Lebanon alone,” declared Salami, “over 100,000 missiles are ready to be launched. If there is a will, if it serves [our] interests, and if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes due to its miscalculations, these missiles will pierce through space, and will strike at the heart of the Zionist regime. They will prepare the ground for its great collapse in the new era.”
 
“Tens of thousands of other high-precision, long-range missiles, with the necessary destructive capabilities, have been placed in various places throughout the Islamic world. They are just waiting for the command, so that when the trigger is pulled, the accursed black dot will be wiped off the geopolitical map of the world, once and for all,” he threatened.
 
Salami, like many other Iranian political and military leaders, is notorious for his anti-Israel comments.
 
He has in the past declared that Iran “can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime's control”.
 
Salami previously said that Iran “could minimize the breathing room of the U.S. and the West until the Zionist regime would no longer have room to breathe.”

Iran 'foils 50 planned ISIS attacks'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 20:34
ISIS-Iraq-AttackIran claimed on Monday that a team of jihadists linked with Islamic State (ISIS) were paid 600,000 euros to carry out a bombing campaign at 50 locations in Tehran and other big cities in the country, Reuters reported.
 
Officials in predominantly Shiite Iran have said in recent weeks that Sunni jihadists from Islamic State are targeting the country, according to the report.
 
Two weeks ago, Iranian intelligence authorities said they had foiled a large-scale terrorist attack, arresting 10 suspected terrorists, and had seized about 100 kilograms of explosive material that was to be used in car bombs, and suicide and other bomb attacks in busy public places.
 
A 15-minute documentary which aired on Iranian television on Monday featured interviews with two arrested terrorists in which they explained the planned operations, according to Reuters.
 
Footage from a hidden camera which featured in the documentary showed members of the group allegedly purchasing and transporting chemicals and household products that could be used to make explosives.
 
Near the end of the documentary security agents armed with machine guns and wearing black balaclavas and body armor were shown raiding a house and handcuffing suspects, according to Reuters.
 
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have fought against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq as part of their support for the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
 
Guard members and volunteers are also fighting against Sunnis in Syria in support of President Bashar Al-Assad.
 
Iranian security forces announced in May that they had arrested a dozen ISIS fighters in the east and west of the country and also more than 50 sympathizers who were promoting the group's ideology on the Internet.
 
In the meantime, Iran is well-known for its own backing of terrorism in other countries, mainly through its terrorist proxy Hezbollah.
 
A recent report by the U.S. State Department identified Iran as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism.
 
Iran rejected the report, calling it "false" and saying it is further evidence of the "lack of credibility of reports by the U.S. State Department."

Why is Shi'ite Iran backing Sunni Hamas?

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 11:28
Moussa Abu MarzoukHamas politburo member Mussa Abu Marzouk recently touted the "natural" ties between his Sunni terrorist organization and Shi'ite Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror in the world.
 
Speaking to the Turkish Anadolu Agency, Marzouk claimed there was no contradiction in the ties - even though Iran is fighting Sunni factions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and has killed hundreds of thousands of Sunni Muslims directly or through its regional proxies in recent years.
 
Marzouk said Hamas has connections with all the sources in the region regardless of their ethnicity or religious approach, in a stance based on the interests of Hamas and the "Palestinian nation."
 
It goes without saying that Hamas's approach does not extend to Jews, given that the terror group's charter calls for a genocide of the Jewish people.
 
Iran is an Islamic state and Hamas has a long history of ties with Tehran, Marzouk said, emphasizing that his group seeks to preserve its "natural ties" with Iran regardless of existing issues between the sides.
 
In remarks in February, Marzouk said, "there is no Arab or Islamic state that gave true aid to the Palestinian struggle like the Islamic Republic of Iran."
 
He praised Iran on its willingness to financially support the "martyrs" of the intifada terror war, and to rebuild homes destroyed in Hamas's numerous wars against Israel.

Uranium discovered at Parchin complex tied to past nuclear work

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 23 June 2016 09:51
Iran and world powers are in a standoff over its nuclear programThe Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country’s past, covert nuclear weapons program, The Wall Street Journal reports.
 
The findings contradict Tehran’s longstanding denials that it was pursuing a nuclear bomb.
 
Traces of man-made uranium were found at the Parchin facility, southeast of Tehran, by investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, as part of an investigation tied to the landmark nuclear deal reached last July between Iran and global powers, according to WSJ.
 
The Iranians have claimed that the site was used for developing and testing conventional weapons. The particles were the first physical evidence—on top of satellite imagery and documents from defectors—to support the charge that Iran had been pursuing a bomb there.
 
The Obama administration did not comment about the uranium in December when the IAEA released its report. In fact the finding got only one brief mention in the 16 pages. But in recent interviews, current and former U.S. officials asked about the uranium finding said the working assumption now is that it is tied to nuclear weapons development that Iran is believed to have pursued more than a decade ago.
 
“The existence of two particles of uranium there would be consistent with our understanding of the involvement of Parchin in a past weapons program, but by themselves don’t definitively prove anything,” a senior administration official briefed on the evidence told WSJ.
 
Other possible explanations—that it was brought in by someone from the outside during the IAEA test, or that it was linked to depleted uranium used in conventional weapons—were plausible but unlikely, U.S. officials said.
 
Despite Iran's claims that Parchin is unrelated to its nuclear program, it did admit at one point to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires, used as nuclear detonators.
 
The IAEA said recently that satellite imagery had shown the presence of vehicles, equipment and probable construction materials at the Parchin site, which American media reported as being suspicious and possible evidence of efforts to disguise past illicit activity.
 
Iran's UN mission called the reports "baseless", adding that construction work at the military complex, which also includes offices and residential buildings, is "quite normal".
 
Administration officials said on Monday that the discovery hasn’t altered the assessment by U.S. intelligence that Tehran suspended its bomb-making efforts in 2003.
 
An Iranian government spokesman on Saturday denied uranium had been found at Parchin and said a 2005 report put out by the IAEA found no “unusual activities” at the base. The spokesman didn’t comment on the December report, noted WSJ.
 
The IAEA report came three months after the White House had blocked Republican efforts in Congress to scrap the nuclear deal signed between Iran and Western powers, which rolls back key parts of Iran’s nuclear program for a decade or more in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions.
 
Critics on Capitol Hill believe the Obama administration played down the extent of Tehran’s nuclear work to advance President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative.
 
They and some U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, fear that Tehran could quickly resume nuclear weapons work when the deal expires, or do it covertly.
 
IAEA officials quoted by WSJ said in interviews that during its investigation, conducted from July through December, Iran didn’t allow the agency to interview top nuclear scientists believed to have overseen nuclear weapons development. Iran also claimed that most of the documents amassed by the agency were fakes.
 
Iran did allow IAEA inspectors to collect soil samples from Parchin in October that were tested for the presence of nuclear materials. The agency found two particles of man-made uranium, despite what the IAEA said was a years long effort by Iran to sanitize Parchin by removing soil and infrastructure, according to UN and U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.
 
The man-made uranium found at Parchin, which has only low-levels of fissionable isotopes, can be used as a substitute for weapons-grade materials in developing atomic bombs, nuclear experts told WSJ. It can also be used as component in a neutron initiator, a triggering device for a nuclear weapon.
 
Normally, the IAEA requires additional samples to be taken when there are irregularities found in their tests, such as the presence of man-made uranium, according to former agency officials and other nuclear experts. But under last year’s nuclear agreement, Tehran was only required to allow the IAEA’s inspectors to visit the Parchin facility once.
 
The IAEA declined to comment on any efforts to try to visit Parchin again, while the administration has argued that it is more important to put in place a more intrusive IAEA inspections regime under last year’s nuclear agreement than to get Iran to confess to its past activities.
 
“We already know what they did there,” said the senior U.S. official. “Going there again would unlikely reveal much else that’s new. What’s important now is that they can’t do it again.”
 
Meanwhile, according to WSJ, the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank, obtained commercial satellite images of Parchin last month that showed new construction in an area where the explosives testing is believed to have taken place.
 
David Albright, head of the institute, said the construction would likely “further complicate” efforts to investigate the presence of uranium at the military base.
 
Obama administration officials confirmed the U.S. government has also seen the new construction at Parchin, but doesn’t believe it is related to nuclear work.

Iran says it foiled the 'biggest terror plot ever'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 23 June 2016 08:21
01-17-12Iranian intelligence officials said Monday they had broken up "the biggest terrorist plot" to ever target Tehran and other provinces in the Islamic Republic, The Associated Press reported.
 
An anchor on state television read off a statement attributing the information to Iran's Intelligence Ministry. Officials could not be immediately reached for comment to elaborate, according to the news agency.
 
Several suspects have been arrested and are under interrogation over the plot after agents seized ammunition and bombs, state TV said.
 
The report didn't identify those arrested, though it called them "takfiris," a term in both Arabic and Farsi referring to Muslims who accuse others of being "nonbelievers."
 
Iranian authorities often refer to followers of the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS) as "takfiris," though it isn't clear if this case involved the extremist group that holds territory in Iraq and Syria.
 
Shiite Iran has been helping both the Syrian and the Iraqi government in their battles against the Islamic State group. It has warned of possible attacks targeting the country, which largely hasn't seen such attacks since the immediate aftermath of its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
 
In May, Iran's Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi announced that 20 "terrorist groups" that planned to detonate bombs and cause insecurity across the country had been dismantled but it remains unclear whether that included the plot announced Monday by state television, noted AP.
 
Iran is well-known for its own backing of terrorism in other countries, mainly through its terrorist proxy Hezbollah.
 
A recent report by the U.S. State Department identified Iran as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism.
 
Iran rejected the report, calling it "false" and saying it is further evidence of the "lack of credibility of reports by the U.S. State Department."

Iran says it spied on US aircraft carrier with drone

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 03 February 2016 07:00
American warships heading to Libya ReutersIranian state TV on Friday gloatingly claimed that an Iranian surveillance drone flew over an American aircraft carrier and photographed it during recent naval drills.
 
The TV report did not specify when the fly-by happened, did not name the US vessel, and did not even show any of the alleged images, reports Associated Press.
 
Iran's state-run IRNA said that an Iranian light submarine also was closely involved in the surveillance operation.
 
Commander Kevin Stephens, a spokesperson for the Bahrain-based US Navy 5th Fleet, declined to respond to the report.
 
"I can say that we are confident in the ability of U.S. naval forces operating in the region to respond appropriately as the situation dictates, and will exercise our right to defend our forces against any threat,” he said.
 
The incident comes just weeks after ten US sailors were abducted by Iran, following a technical malfunction that caused them to enter Iranian waters. Tehran said that in the tense stand off that followed it had rockets locked onto US ships ready to blow them out of the water.
 
Currently the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier is stationed in the Persian Gulf to help in the campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
 
Iranian state TV also said Iran's navy successfully tested surface-to-surface Noor cruise missiles and unveiled a new radar system during the drill.
 
The incident comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani returned to Iran on Friday after a five-day visit to Europe, where he signed billions of dollars worth of trade deals with Italian and French companies following the lifting of sanctions in the controversial nuclear deal.
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry last Thursday admitted part of the massive sanctions relief windfall will go to terror.
 
Even as the nuclear sanctions were lifted, the US last Sunday imposed new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program over Iranian breaches in recent missile tests, and in response Tehran vowed to defy the sanctions.
 
The report on Iran spying on the US with a drone comes the same Friday that a revelation was made from documents released by National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden, showing the
 drones on sensitive missions throughout the region for the past 18 years.

Iran puts nuke-capable rockets in underground 'missile town'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 08:05
Iranian Sajjil-2The state run PressTV as well as the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency on Tuesday published new images, showing a convoy of the recently tested nuclear-capable Emad ballistic missiles being transferred to a brand new underground tunnel facility.
 
Pictures in the Fars article show a convoy of numerous trucks bearing the massive missiles through a tunnel in the new "underground missile town," which the news site reported was visited on Tuesday by Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. PressTV revealed video from the visit as well as pictures of Larijani.
 
In his inauguration visit Larijani promised the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that the parliament would greatly increase the budget for Iran's controversial missile program.
 
Emad ballistic missiles were tested by Iran on October 10.
 
A team of UN sanctions monitors said in a confidential report seen by Reuters on December 15 that the medium-range Emad rocket launched in the test is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, making it a violation of a UN Security Council resolution.
 
A month later, Iran tested another ballistic missile, and an American official said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that.
 
In response, in late December US President Barack Obama threatened to implement new sanctions on Iran's rocket program. A day later Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened that Tehran would accelerate the development of its arsenal, and a day after that Obama backed down and delayed the new sanctions.
 
14 underground missile towns
 
The Fars report on Tuesday revealed that the "underground missile town" put on display in Larijani's visit is in fact the second such facility to be revealed in recent months.
 
In October another deep underground tunnel facility full of missiles and launchers was shown, just several days after the Emad test on October 10.
 
At the time, IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said, "that was one of our oldest stockpiles and we haven’t yet shown our modern missile depots, where missiles with big cross sections have been stockpiled."
 
Then in November, the Iranian news site reports that Brig. Gen. Hassan Karimpour, a senior adviser to the IRGC Quds Force responsible for covert terror operations abroad, revealed just how extensive Iran's underground missile system is.
 
Karimpour said Iran has 14 missile depots ranging from 30 to 500 meters (100 to 1,640 feet) in depth, spread all around Iran and featuring automatic launchers.
 
He said that "any country that dares to attack Iran will be riddled with missiles fired from these depots in large numbers automatically."

Iran blames America, Britain and 'Zionists' for Nimr execution

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 06 January 2016 08:48
Nimr al-NimrIran has found the guilty parties in Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr: The United States, Israel and Britain.
 
This bizarre comment was made on Sunday by Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij militia of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
 
Naqdi declared that Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike will avenge Nimr’s blood and in particular take revenge against the main factors responsible for his death: the UK, the U.S. and the Zionist entity.
 
Speaking at a conference in Iran, Naqdi blasted the Saudi regime and said that it has done nothing besides kill Muslims and carry out massacres.
 
He also attacked human rights organizations which publish messages on behalf of killers, terrorists, and drug smugglers, but in this case they remain silent.
 
The execution of Nimr along with 46 other people, which also included dozens of Al-Qaeda members, stirred sectarian anger over the weekend, including a march by hundreds of Shiite Muslims in Saudi Arabia's eastern province.
 
As well, angry Iranian protesters stormed Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran in the early hours of Sunday, smashing furniture and starting fires before being removed by police.
 
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia retaliated for the attack on its embassy by cutting diplomatic ties with Iran and requesting that all members of Iran’s diplomatic mission leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours.
 
Earlier on Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted Saudi Arabia over the execution, saying, “The hand of God will take vengeance against Saudi leaders.”

Iran: Angry Protesters torch Saudi embassy

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 January 2016 10:45
Protesters torch Saudi embassyAngry Iranian protesters stormed Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran in the early hours of Sunday, smashing furniture and starting fires before being removed by the police, Reuters reports.
 
The protesters gathered outside the embassy to protest against Saudi Arabia's execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent cleric from the kingdom's Shiite minority, on terrorism charges that Iran said were unjustified.
 
They then broke into the building and lit fires inside before being cleared by police, the ISNA news agency reported.
 
Images shared on social media appeared to show protesters smashing furniture inside the embassy, according to Reuters.
 
Later images showed police in full riot gear guarding the premises as firefighters doused the building. ISNA said Tehran's police chief was on the scene to restore calm.
 
On Saturday, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari strongly condemned Riyadh for executing Nimr despite repeated Iranian requests for clemency.
 
"The Saudi government supports terrorist movements and extremists, but confronts domestic critics with oppression and execution... The Saudi government will pay a high price for following these policies," he said.
 
"The execution of a figure like Sheikh al-Nimr, who had no means to follow his political and religious goals but through speaking out, merely shows the extent of irresponsibility and imprudence."
 
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani also condemned Nimr's death, saying Riyadh would not emerge "easily from the quagmire they created by the martyrdom of this great sheikh."
 
Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are major rivals in the Middle East and are arrayed on opposing sides in several regional conflicts.
 
Nimr was a driving force of the protests that broke out in 2011 in Eastern Province, where the Shiite minority of Saudi Arabia complains of marginalization.
 
He was arrested in 2012, with the Interior Ministry describing him as an "instigator of sedition".
 
More than 20 Shiites were killed in protests between 2011 and 2013 in the Shiite district of Qatif, with three of them killed in protests in the two days after Nimr's arrest.
 
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its violations of human rights and specifically those of women, employing a religious police whose job is to enforce Islamic Sharia law.
 
One of the most notorious practices in Saudi Arabia is the ban on women driving, which has been targeted by a long-standing campaign which has urged women to defy the ban
 
Yet despite its violation of human rights, Saudi Arabia holds a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, being one of several countries with questionable human rights records to win seats in this body.
 
Saudi Arabia's envoy to the UNHRC was in September selected to head an influential panel on human rights, despite Riyadh's own poor track record for human rights issues.

Saudi execution of Shi'ite cleric sparks outrage

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 January 2016 10:24
Sheikh al-NimrSaudi Arabia's execution Saturday of a prominent Shi'ite cleric and 46 other men prompted outrage in parts of the Middle East, with Iran warning Riyadh would pay a "high price."
 
But several Saudi allies offered their support after Riyadh implemented death sentences against cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Shiite activists and Sunnis accused of involvement in Al-Qaeda attacks.
 
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari strongly condemned Riyadh for executing Nimr despite repeated Iranian requests for clemency.
 
"The Saudi government supports terrorist movements and extremists, but confronts domestic critics with oppression and execution... The Saudi government will pay a high price for following these policies," he said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.
 
"The execution of a figure like Sheikh al-Nimr, who had no means to follow his political and religious goals but through speaking out, merely shows the extent of irresponsibility and imprudence."
 
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani also condemned Nimr's death, saying Riyadh would not emerge "easily from the quagmire they created by the martyrdom of this great sheikh."
 
All Iran's seminaries will be closed Sunday to protest Nimr's execution, with a demonstration expected in the Grand Mosque of Qom, the heart of Shiite faith in Iran, the ISNA news agency said.
 
The Basij student militia connected to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards called for a demonstration Sunday afternoon in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
 
Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are major rivals in the Middle East and are arrayed on opposing sides in several regional conflicts.
 
Nimr was a driving force of the protests that broke out in 2011 in Eastern Province, where the Shiite minority of Saudi Arabia complains of marginalization.
 
He was arrested in 2012, with the Interior Ministry describing him as an "instigator of sedition".

Erdogan warns: Iran 'will pay' for rumors Turkey buying ISIS oil

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 06 December 2015 11:36
Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkey on Sunday said it was "astonished" by Iranian accusations that Ankara is supporting Islamic State (ISIS) and involved in oil dealing with the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
 
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in a statement there was nothing in Tehran's accusations to take "seriously."
 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he had warned his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over some Iranian media reports that he and his family were involved in oil trade with ISIS jihadists.
 
Erdogan said that he spoke with Rouhani on the phone and told him: "You will pay a high price if it continues like that." He added that the Iranians later removed the news from their website.
 
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Bilgic confirmed the telephone conversation between the two presidents and said any attempts to distort its content were "not only immoral but also equal to hiding the truth from neighboring Iranian people."
 
In response to Erdogan, Iranian foreign ministry on Friday called for "mutual politeness and respect in relations," according to the Iranian media.
 
"The continuation of policies and positions that, wanted or unwanted, have led to the support of terrorism in Syria and Iraq, only escalate the current crisis in the region and increase problems for countries that continue such policies," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber-Ansari said according to IRNA.
 
Russia and Iran are major backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
 
Turkey is supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad and has joined a US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria earlier this year.
 
Bilgic said Turkey pursued "principled policies" for a peaceful solution to problems in its region.
 
He said Ankara was not taking "seriously the terrorism accusations made by the states which led to the escalation of the crisis in cooperation with the Damascus regime," referring to Iran and Russia.  
 
Turkey is currently at loggerheads with Russia after downing one of Moscow's warplanes on November 24.
 
Russia has accused Erdogan and his family of involvement in oil trade - charges blasted as "slander" and "immoral" by the Turkish strongman.
 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last month that Turkey's downing of the Russian fighter jet "sends the wrong message to the terrorists" in Syria.

Yet another senior Iranian officer killed in Syria

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 November 2015 21:12
senior Iranian officer killed in SyriaA senior officer in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards unit has been killed in Syria, the fourth Iranian commander to die there in the last month, state media said Tuesday.
 
Colonel Ezzatollah Soleimani died during an "advisory mission" near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, according to Fars news agency.
 
Iranian media have since Saturday announced the deaths of five Iranians in Syria, bringing the total killed there to at least 20 since October 9.
 
Among those have been four Revolutionary Guards commanders, including General Hossein Hamedani, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, who was killed by the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group near Aleppo.
 
 
Iran supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and while it doesn't officially acknowledge sending troops to Syria, it has admitted to deploying military "advisers" to the war-torn country.

Iran Ready to Commit More Troops to Syria

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 12:00
Hezbollah military paradeIran is willing to send more soldiers to key ally Syria if Damascus requests them, a senior Iranian official said Thursday on a visit to the war-torn country.
 
"If Syria makes a request (for Iranian forces), we will study the request and make a decision," said Alaedin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.  
 
"What's important is that Iran is serious about the fight against terrorism," he added. "We have supplied aid and weapons and sent advisors to Syria and Iraq."
 
Iran is a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad's regime and has stood by the embattled president since protests against his regime began in March 2011.  
 
In recent days, thousands of Iranian fighters are reported to have arrived at a military airport in Syria's coastal Latakia province, according to Syrian military sources.
 
They would join senior Iranian military advisers and special forces troops already in the country, as well as thousands of fighters from the Tehran-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, in bolstering the Assad's regime troops. Iran has also trained and equipped pro-regime paramilitary forces such as the National Defense Force (NDF) to supplement the overstretched Syrian Arab Army, and provided the Assad regime with weapons, equipment and funding to maintain its bloody campaign against Sunni rebels.
 
Another key Assad ally, Russia, has offered direct military support in the form of an aerial campaign that began on September 30.
 
Boroujerdi said Thursday that "military operations" currently underway in Syria "take place in support of a political solution and peace" in the country, in an apparent reference to Moscow's campaign.
 
Boroujerdi has been in Syria for three days and met Thursday morning with Assad to express Iran's continuing support for the government in Damascus.  
 
He also slammed the US-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes in Syria since last year, saying it had "failed despite billions of dollars."
 
The comments come as Iran is still reeling from its most significant losses yet in Syria, with the death of one of the country's highest-ranking generals - General Hossein Hamedani - followed shortly afterwards by the loss of two other senior military officers fighting ISIS forces.

Iran Unveils Secret Underground Missile Base

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 11:47
Secret Underground Missile BaseIran's Revolutionary Guard opened the doors of a secret underground missile base to state TV, showing off medium- and long-range missiles, The Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday.
 
The station aired footage of long tunnels with ready-to-fire missiles on the back of trucks, according to AP.
 
The broadcast said the facility is one of hundreds of underground missile bases around the country. It didn't disclose the location but said it was 500 meters (1,600 feet) underground.
 
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace branch, boasted that the facility is the "tip of the iceberg" of the Guard's military might, according to AP.
 
The broadcast appeared aimed at showing that the Guard will continue its missile program despite UN Security Council resolutions and despite Iran's nuclear deal with the West.
 
The unveiling of the underground base comes days after it was reported that Iran had successfully test fired a new guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile, a move the United States later admitted was a violation of a UN resolution.
 
Iran continuously carries out long-range ballistic missile drills as it routinely shows off its military program.
 
Iran's domestic long-range ballistic missiles are, in fact, nuclear capable, according to international reports, particularly the Shahab 3 and Sejjil 2.

Iran Backs Russian Airstrikes in Syria

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 13 October 2015 11:22
Members of Irans Revolutionary Guard IRGC - ReutersIran on Thursday threw its support behind Russia's airstrikes in defense of their common ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, describing it as a step to solving "the crisis" in the region.
 
Iran's foreign ministry said it supported the move that was "based on an official request from the Syrian government to the Russian Federation", reported the AFP news agency.
 
"Iran sees the Russian military operation against armed terrorist groups in Syria as a step in the fight against terrorism that is in line with resolving the ongoing crisis in the region," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as having said.
 
Iran, the Syrian government's key regional ally, has provided Assad with financial and military support, including army advisers on the ground.
 
"A real and thorough fight against terrorism, which is a common threat to regional and global peace and stability, is necessary," Afkham said in a statement quoted by AFP.
 
The fight requires "common international action based on cooperation with the Iraqi and Syrian governments that bear the main burden of fighting terrorism," she added.
 
After weeks of military buildup by Russia in Syrian government-controlled territory, Russian senators on Wednesday voted behind closed doors to unanimously approve intervention in Syria.
 
Russia later  conducted its first airstrikes in Syria, targeting rebels in the Homs and Hama districts of the country.
 
Russia only gave the United States an hour's warning ahead of the strikes and did not specify where they would occur, riling many in the Pentagon who had been hoping for clearer and more detailed lines of communication.
 
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter later accused Russia of inflaming Syria's civil war, saying Moscow's military involvement in the war-torn nation was "doomed to fail" and that Moscow's entry into the bloody conflict was akin to "pouring gasoline on the fire."
 
An Israeli military source told Arutz Sheva that Israel, too, had been notified in advance, via a mechanism reached between Jerusalem and Moscow during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bahrain Recalls Iran Envoy Over Tehran's Terrorism

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 13 October 2015 10:42
Flag of BahrainBahrain recalled its ambassador from Iran on Thursday and ordered Tehran's envoy to leave within 72 hours, accusing the leading state sponsor of terror of interference in its affairs, the official BNA news agency reported.
 
The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, with a majority Shi'ite Muslim population ruled by a Sunni dynasty, has suffered from unrest since a pro-democracy uprising in 2011 during the so-called "Arab Spring." Bahrain has long accused Shi'ite Iran of meddling in its affairs.
 
A foreign ministry statement was quoted as saying the action was taken in response to "continuing interference by Iran in the affairs of the kingdom" and an attempt by Tehran to foment "confessional sedition."
 
Iran supports acts of "sabotage and terrorism" in the country, the statement added, accusing Tehran of forming and arming "terrorist groups" and providing them with refuge.
 
Bahraini authorities said on Wednesday they had uncovered a large stash of weapons and arrested a number of people suspected of having links with Iran and Iraq.
 
An interior ministry statement said arms and explosives were discovered in a house in the mainly Shi'ite town of Nuwaidrat, south of the capital Manama.
 
The cache included a ton and a half of C4 explosives and other explosive material, as well as automatic rifles, pistols and hand grenades, the ministry said.
 
In August, Bahrain arrested five people suspected of links with Iran in connection with a bombing that killed two policemen in the island state.

Iranian Weapons Ship Bound For Yemen Seized in Oman

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 06 October 2015 12:07
HouthisThe Saudi-led coalition said on Wednesday it had seized an Iranian fishing boat in the Sea of Oman loaded with weapons destined for Shiite rebels it is fighting in Yemen, AFP reports. 
 
A coalition statement said that the vessel was intercepted on Saturday and that 14 Iranians and weapons including anti-tank shells were found on board.
 
It said that papers found on board the boat showed that it was registered to an Iranian and was licensed for fishing by the Iranian authorities.
 
It listed the weapons seized as 18 anti-armored Concourse shells, 54 anti-tank BGM17 shells, 15 shell battery kits, four firing guidance systems, five binocular batteries, three launchers, one launchers' holder and three batteries.
 
Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies have repeatedly accused their Shiite rival Iran of arming the Houthi rebels who control parts of Yemen including the capital.
 
But despite operating an air and sea blockade for the past six months, they have not previously come up with any evidence.
 
Wednesday's announcement comes with relations between Riyadh and Tehran at a new low amid a war of words over a deadly stampede at this year's hajj in which at least 239 Iranian pilgrims were killed.
 
Tehran accuses Riyadh of serious safety lapses and has questioned its fitness to continue organizing the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

Iraq Steps Up Anti-ISIS Coordination with Iran, Syria, Russia

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 01 October 2015 12:36
Families fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of MosuIraq, Russia, Iran and Syria have agreed to set up an intelligence committee in Baghdad, a spokesman said Sunday, a further sign of Moscow's growing role in the region's conflict.
 
Iraq welcomed the creation of the cell as a chance to help harmonize often competing efforts in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.
 
"It's a committee coordinating between the four countries, with representatives of each country, in the field of military intelligence and aimed at sharing and analyzing information," Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office, told the AFP news agency.
 
He added the cell would focus on "monitoring the movements of terrorists... and degrading their capacity".
 
A statement from Iraq's Joint Operations Command said the deal with Moscow comes amid "growing concern over the presence of thousands of Russian terrorists engaged in criminal acts with Daesh," an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
 
Russia's Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev earlier this month estimated that 1,800 Russian citizens are fighting for ISIS, while reports have suggested Moscow is deliberately letting militants take their jihad (holy war) away from its own borders.
 
Hadithi would not say whether the new cell had already begun its work. There was no comment on the issue from Damascus and Tehran.
 
A Russian "military-diplomatic source" quoted by Russian news agencies said the center in Baghdad would be managed on a rotational basis, with Iraq taking the lead for the first three months.
 
"The main functions of this center will be collection, processing and analysis of information regarding the situation in the Middle East in the context of fighting the Islamic State group, distributing this information to the relevant parties and quickly forwarding it to the general staffs of these countries," the source was quoted by AFP as saying.
 
The move comes as Moscow boosts its military presence in neighboring Syria, deploying more troops and warplanes to an air base along with new arms deliveries to President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, a longstanding ally.
 
The United States was so concerned about reports of Russia’s increased presence in Syria that Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov a total of three times in ten days to discuss the situation.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow for talks with Putin earlier this week. During the meeting with Netanyahu, Putin sought to calm Israeli concerns over the deployment of Russian soldiers in Syria, telling the Israeli Prime Minister his forces would act "responsibly," and noting the Syrian regime was in not fit state to attack Israel.
 
The United States has a $500-million program to train and equip vetted moderates recruited from among the rebels fighting Assad, but it has faced repeated setbacks.
 
Washington's strategy in Iraq, built on an air campaign and the deployment of several thousand military trainers and advisers, has also come under increasing fire as failing to produce results.
 
Moscow has sold fighter jets and weaponry to Iraq but has taken the back seat as Iran and the U.S.-led coalition -- which also includes France and Britain -- often competed to be Baghdad's top partner in the war against ISIS.
 
A decades-long backer of the Damascus regime, Moscow has steadfastly supported Assad throughout four and a half years of a conflict that has killed more than 240,000 people and triggered the worst migrant crisis in Europe since World War II.
 
Western powers have recently softened their stance categorically rejecting a role for Assad in any political solution to the conflict in Syria.
 
Abadi's spokesman said enhanced intelligence cooperation would positively affect operations against ISIS, which proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq last year.
 
"Having a broader base of intelligence thanks to cooperation with these three countries as well as with the coalition will give our security forces more opportunities to achieve victory in the war against terrorism," Hadithi said, according to AFP.

Netanyahu: Iran Leaves 'No Room for Illusion' Over Deal

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 10 September 2015 10:39
Binyamin NetanyahuPrime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the Iran issue as he arrived in London on Wednesday, stating that the Islamic Republic is swindling the West via the Iran nuclear deal. 
 
"[Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei is not giving supporters of the agreement any room for illusion," Netanyahu began. "He has made it clear that the US is the Great Satan and that Iran intends to destroy the State of Israel."
 
"This will not happen," he vowed. "Israel is a strong country and it will become even stronger."
 
"However, the conclusion that arises from the remarks of the tyrant in Tehran is that all responsible countries must cooperate in order to stop Iran's terrorism and aggression which, to my regret, will only increase as a result of the agreement."
 
Netanyahu's statement follows a series of remarks from the Ayatollah on Wednesday claiming that the US is a "Great Satan" and that Israel will cease to exist by 2040. 

4 Hamas Naval Commandos Abducted on Way to Iran - by Egypt?

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 20 August 2015 20:44
Egypt Abducted 4senior Hamas naval commandosHamas accused Egyptian intelligence of abducting four residents of the coastal enclave after they entered Sinai on a bus on Wednesday night - after Egypt learned that the four were senior Hamas naval commandos, reports Walla! on Thursday.
 
The four commandos were on their way from the Rafiah Crossing to the airport in Cairo, where they planned to set out for Iran to receive training according to the paper.
 
A Hamas source told Al-Jazeera on Thursday night that the Egyptian security forces were responsible for the abduction. The Rafiah Crossing was closed on Thursday, after having been opened in recent days.
 
Hamas naval commandos have received advanced equipment and training from Iran in the past.
 
That equipment is said to include "scooters," a device used to propel underwater divers quickly, allowing Hamas commandos to reach distant targets deep in Israel.
 
Iyad al-Bazam, spokesperson for Hamas's interior ministry, told the Palestinian Arab Safa that the bus the four commandos were abducted from was secured by Egyptian security forces. He called for Egypt to work for their release.
 
Armed assailants opened fire on the bus, and afterwards broke on board to kidnap the four who they beat repeatedly, according to one of the passengers on the bus cited in the report.
 
The witness said the attack occurred one or two kilometers past the Rafiah Crossing, and that afterwards Egyptian security forces arrived on the scene.

Iran Promises to 'Annihilate' Israel in New Book

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 16 August 2015 10:40
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei0When the Iran deal was announced last month, US President Barack Obama said "it is possible to change" while referencing Iran's threats to "eradicate Israel," and called for a "different path" of "tolerance" from the Islamic regime.
 
But now, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has published a new book this week - on the topic of outwitting the US and destroying Israel. 
 
The book, entitled "Palestine," is only available in Iran, the New York Post reported Saturday - but an Arabic translation is reportedly in the works. It lists Khamenei as "the flagbearer of Jihad to liberate Jerusalem" - and justifies the eradication of the Jewish state not as "European" anti-Semitism, but as an outcropping of “well-established Islamic principles.”
 
One of these principles is the idea that land conquered by Muslims cannot ever be ceded to non-Muslims - a principle which, in Islamist ideology, justifies the takeover of any number of modern-day countries, spanning from Europe to China. 
 
Khamenei places conquering the Jewish state at an even higher level, the Post says - as the “ally of the American Great Satan," for acts of war which brand it a "hostile infidel," and for "Judaizing" the Jewish holy city of Jerusalem, which Khamenei insists is "Islam's third holy city." 
 
The dictator rejects the idea of a physical "massacre," as he puts it, instead advocating to drive the Jews out of Israel through an ongoing fear campaign. In Khamenei's logic, most Israeli Jews have dual nationality, and would prefer to emigrate to Europe or the US instead of face the possibility of a war with Iran - or another war via its proxies, including Hezbollah. 
 
Internationally, he says, Israel will begin to suffer as the global community experiences "Israel fatigue," and decides that a relationship with the Jewish state is not worth their time. 
 
Then, he promises a "one-state solution" - the State of Palestine, established by a UN mandate, wherein Israelis would have little to no rights - and people claiming "Palestinian heritage" could flood the region via a "Right of Return." 
 
Arutz Sheva has reached out to the US State Department, the US embassy in Israel, and the White House asking for comment. 

Iran Announces Two New Nuclear Facilities

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 August 2015 20:34
Two New Nuclear FacilitiesJust half-a-month after the Iran nuclear deal was signed in Vienna on July 14, the Islamic republic of Iran announced on Thursday that it plans to build two new nuclear facilities in its southeastern Makran region on the Indian Ocean.
 
Mohammad Ahmadian, Deputy Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced the plans as quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency.
 
"Two 100MW (megawatt) nuclear reactors will be constructed on Makran coastline of the Sea of Oman to generate electricity," Ahmadian declared.
 
Describing the project, he said, "at present, necessary studies to build the two power plants are being carried out through cooperation with 17 research institutes and consulting engineers companies."
 
The nuclear deal stipulates that Iran will not build any new uranium enrichment facilities for a period of 15 years.
 
While the newly announced nuclear power plants will not necessarily be used to enrich uranium - although they will at the least require enriched uranium in order to operate - Iran has a long history of lying about the military aspects of its nuclear program.
 
Ascertaining the usage of the new plants will be made all the more difficult because the deal gives Iran 24 days before any inspection.
 
It was revealed last Thursday in a Senate hearing that in classified sections of the deal the US agreed to let Iran test its own covert nuclear facilities.
 
Those facilities include the highly secretive Parchin military base, which Iran has admitted to using to test exploding bridge wire nuclear detonators and has refused requests by international inspectors to see the site.
 
The new announcement Thursday comes after Iran just this Monday announced construction on a $2.5 billion power plant in Iraq, Iran's largest such engineering services deal which serves as a sign of its expanding influence in Iraq.
 
The Iran deal has sparked fears of a regional nuclear arms race, after key sources in Saudi Arabia indicated their country will likely try to obtain a nuclear weapon as well following the deal. It also stipulates that the West will help Iran foil Israeli nuclear sabotage.

US to Lift Sanctions on Khamenei's $100 Billion Empire

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 04 August 2015 09:21
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiAnalysts have revealed that the US is preparing to lift sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's secret network of organizations worth over $95 billion as part of the Iran nuclear deal.
 
Khamenei - who just this Sunday tweeted an image of US President Barack Obama shooting himself in the head and who has admitted the negotiations were just a ploy to deceive the West - will have the money pump back into his personal financial empire, reports the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday.
 
The renewed funds to the network of businesses and organizations, known as the Headquarters for the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order or EIKO, will go straight to Khamenei's pocket.
 
Sanctions relief to EIKO will "pump tens of billions of dollars into the supreme leader’s personal coffers, helping him secure his grip on the Iranian people, and bolstering Iran’s ability to promote its agenda abroad," according to a new analysis by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies cited in the report.
 
"Of all the sanctions to be lifted in last week’s Iran nuclear agreement, few are more significant" than those benefiting EIKO according to the analysts.
 
EIKO was created by Khamenei's predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989.
 
Since then, the analysis said it "has grown into a vast business conglomerate - everything from agriculture to leisure resorts, parking lots and residential complexes - but one that remains unknown to many Iran watchers and even most Iranians."
 
The US Treasury Department in June 2013 sanctioned EIKO and 37 affiliated subsidiaries due to their efforts "to generate and control massive, off-the-books investments, shielded from the view of the Iranian people and international regulators."
 
But the sanctions on "all the companies controlled by the supreme leader" are to be lifted as part of the deal, which it was revealed has Iran inspect its own covert nuclear facilities according to classified sections of the agreement.
 
Obama has admitted that the sanctions windfall for Iran - the leading state sponsor of terror - will allow it to pump billions of dollars into financing terrorism.
 
EIKO can get centrifuge machinery
 
Two analysts at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Emanuele Ottolenghi and Saeed Ghasseminejad, warned about the impact the sanctions relief on EIKO is likely to have vis-a-vis Iran's aggressive stance in the Middle East.
 
“As long as the supreme leader uses shadowy, off-the-book financial assets to exert political influence, the risk that EIKO poses to the international financial system will remain undiminished,” wrote the experts.
 
Of particular import, they noted that EIKO "has assets in Europe, including a German factory with advanced dual-use machinery that Iran needs for the indigenous production of centrifuges."
 
The deal allows Iran to continue developing its IR-8 advanced centrifuges, which enrich uranium 20-times faster than regular centrifuges. In ten years Iran will be allowed to freely enrich with the advanced centrifuges, meaning it will be able to create a nuclear arsenal in no time.
 
"The lifting of US sanctions against EIKO and its subsidiaries further means that the supreme leader’s foundations may invest in European securities, among others, and benefit from normal commercial relations with foreign companies wishing to invest in Iran from around the world,” wrote the analysts.

Saudi Arabia Blasts Iran's 'Aggressive Statements'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 02 August 2015 13:15
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-JubeirSaudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, on Monday denounced what he called "aggressive statements" by Iran, intensifying the verbal sparring between the regional rivals after a global deal on Tehran's nuclear program, AFP reported.
 
On Sunday, Iran's foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Saudi ally Bahrain of making "unfounded allegations" to foment "tension in the region", after the interior ministry in Manama said it had detained two men accused of trying to smuggle weapons from Iran.
 
"This does not represent the intentions of a country seeking good relations," al-Jubeir said of the Iranian comments.
 
"These statements are escalating and they are many," he charged, according to AFP.
 
Also Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in Kuwait that "some countries... want conflict and war in this region", a direct reference to Saudi Arabia without naming the kingdom.
 
Zarif dismissed as "baseless" Bahrain's claims about the weapons, calling the timing of the announcement an attempt "to prevent any progress in cooperation" with Gulf states.
 
Jubeir said recent comments by Iranian officials show their interference in the region and are "unacceptable to us".
 
The back and forth between Iran and Saudi Arabia illustrates the concern among Arab countries by the deal with Iran.
 
Riyadh and its fellow Sunni-dominated neighbors accuse their Shiite regional rival Iran of meddling in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
 
The Sunni states have also been expressing their concern about the terms of the deal with Iran, warning that a final agreement could allow Iran to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
 
Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the deal was so great that in May, when Saudi King Salman decided not to attend a summit at Camp David with U.S. President Barack Obama, the move was seen as a snub of Washington due to the talks with Iran.
 
After the deal between Iran and the West was signed, al-Jubeir publicly warned Iran not to use the nuclear deal to pursue "adventures" in the Middle East, advising it to use the deal to improve its own economic situation. 

Hamas: Iran Cut Us Off

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 02 August 2015 12:12
Hamas-IranIran's financial assistance to Hamas has stopped completely, a senior Hamas official stated Monday night. 
 
"All assistance has stopped - both civilian aid to the Gaza Strip and military assistance to Hamas," Hamas politiburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk admitted in an Al Jazeera interview. "It's difficult for us to deal with." 
 
Iran had provided a great deal of assistance to the terror group, Abu Marzouk said; and while relations between the Islamic Republic and Gaza are not as good as they have been in the recent past, the group is redoubling efforts to strengthen ties with Tehran. 
 
"Hamas was torn between wanting to get close to Saudi Arabia and keep a good relationship with Qatar, or come close to Iran," a senior security source told Walla! News. The big money from Iran will push that decision, without a doubt."
 
When Hamas gets "big money," it will be reflected in further tensions along the Gaza border, the security source predicted - and ominously noted the fact that Iran is due to get billions of dollars due to the Iranian nuclear deal. 
 
On-and-off relationship
 
Iran was once a stronger supporter of Hamas, but the two have been at odds over the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. As a result of Hamas’ refusal to support Assad in the uprising, an angry Iran reportedly stopped supplying the terror group with weapons.
 
Nevertheless, the two sides have been getting closer over the past year. The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, recently boasted that Iran provided Hamas with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel from Gaza, and Hamas later thanked Iran for providing the group with the rockets.
 
The Al-Hayat newspaper revealed several months ago that Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal met with Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Solemeini, in Turkey, just days after the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza over the summer.
 
That relationship may be at risk, however, as Hamas and Saudi Arabia reunite to battle Islamic State (ISIS) within their borders - and as Iran and Saudi Arabia continue to battle over a proxy war in Yemen. A Saudi Arabian-led alliance began launching airstrikes on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on March 26 of this year. 
 
And just last week, a Hamas official accused Iran of "inciting" against them via a false report that the group is sending terrorists to fight on Iran's side in Yemen. 

Iranian Nuclear Deal to Strengthen Damascus?

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 01 August 2015 19:43
Iranian Nuclear DealAn international agreement on Iran's nuclear program will not alter Tehran's staunch support for the Syrian government and may even strengthen Damascus, Syria's foreign minister said Friday.
 
Speaking at a conference in Damascus on "confronting terrorism," Walid Muallem said those who hoped to persuade Iran to abandon Syria's government would be disappointed, according to AFP. 
 
"There is a lot of talk about the Iranian nuclear agreement and its impact on the Syrian crisis," he said.
 
"There are those, led by the United States, who think that this agreement will enable the West to influence Iran's positions on the Syrian crisis," Muallem added, dismissing that as "delusional."
 
"Iran's attitudes on the crisis in Syria have not changed," the minister said.
 
Tehran "provided all kinds of support to the Syrian people in their struggle against terrorism before the nuclear deal, and during it, and will
continue to do so after it."
 
In fact, he said, the agreement could end up strengthening Syria.
 
"Iran has entered the world stage through the widest doors, and the more powerful our ally is, the more powerful we are."
 
Syria's remarks surface just as US President Barack Obama admitted in a BBC interview on Friday that the deal gives billions of dollars to Iran's terror network. 
 
"Iran has shown itself to be willing, even in the midst of real hardship, to fund what they consider to be strategy priorities," he said, after denying that the money is actually the cause of regional terror. 
 
Rep. Adam Schiff (D - California) added Thursday that Iran is due to get some $56 billion from the deal, and that Iran will "absolutely" have more money to fund terrorism if the deal passes. 
 
"Iran has proven very cost-effective in terms of supporting Hezbollah," he said. "They have been able to stretch a few dollars a long way, they'll have a lot more dollars." 

Amnesty: Iran Embarking on Execution 'Killing Spree'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 30 July 2015 07:51
executionThe Islamic Republic of Iran has been executing prisoners at a rate of up to three per-day in 2015, embarking on a killing-spree denounced by rights group Amnesty International as "staggering."
 
A new report by Amnesty documents how the theocratic regime has put to death nearly 700 people over the past six months alone. 694 people were executed between January 1 and July 15 according to the report - just a day after Iran signed a deal with world powers to lift sanctions over its elicit nuclear program.
 
That figure is nearly three times the official number given by Iranian authorities.
 
743 were executed in all of 2014, which means that at the current rate of executions Iran will likely top that number by mid-August.
 
Amnesty said the figure was particularly disturbing given the fact that the courts imposing the death penalty are "completely lacking in independence and impartiality."
 
The majority of those executed so far in 2015 have been for drug offenses - with trafficking even relatively small amounts of narcotics a crime punishable by death.
 
But Iran has a long record of using trumped-up charges of "drugs offenses" to execute political dissidents or rights campaigners from the country's persecuted ethnic and religious minority groups such as Kurds, Baloch, Bahai and Sunni Muslims. Many others are convicted of vague "crimes" such as "enmity against God" or "spreading corruption on earth."
 
"They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalised at all, let alone attract the death penalty," Amnesty said of many of the executions reported.
 
"Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation," it added.
 
"Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
 
"If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end."
 
Apart from those whose death sentences have been carried out, Amnesty claims several thousand more are currently languishing on death row.
 
Earlier Thursday an Iranian opposition group claimed 10 inmates were hanged in a mass-execution at Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of the Iranian capital Tehran, on Wednesday.
 
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said more than 1,800 people had been executed in Iran since President Hassan Rouhani - hailed as a "moderate" by some western leaders - took office in 2013.

Khamenei's Aide: No Inspections of Iran's Military Sites

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 28 July 2015 21:44
Ali Akbar SalehiIranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top foreign affairs adviser revealed on Tuesday that despite the nuclear deal sealed last Tuesday, international inspectors will not be allowed to visit Iran's covert military sites that are said to house its secret nuclear weapons program.
 
The aide, Ali Akbar Velayati, was quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency saying that world powers "have made some comments about defensive and missile issues, but Iran will not allow them to visit our military centers and interfere in decisions about the type of Iran's defensive weapons."
 
His statement raises concerns even higher over the complete absence of covert nuclear installations in the Iran deal, prime among them the Parchin military base where Iran has admitted to testing exploding bridge wire nuclear detonators.
 
Velayati also said that Iran will continue to produce domestic long-range ballistic missiles that are nuclear capable according to international reports, particularly the Shahab 3 and Sejjil 2.
 
"Missiles like Shahab, Sejjil and the like, have never been used for carrying nuclear warheads, and therefore, are not subject to the paragraphs of the Vienna draft agreement," said the adviser.
 
His comments echoed those of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who on Tuesday told the Iranian parliament that "using the ballistic missiles doesn’t violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and it is a violation of a paragraph in the annex of the (UN Security Council) Resolution (2231) which is non-binding."
 
"This paragraph (of the annex) speaks about missiles with nuclear warheads capability and since we don’t design any of our missiles for carrying nuclear weapons, therefore, this paragraph is not related to us at all," he said, playing down the capabilities of the rockets.
 
According to the deal a UN conventional arms embargo on Iran will end in five years, and sanctions against selling ballistic missiles to Iran will likewise expire in eight years
 
Iran's nuclear program - military or "peaceful"?
 
At the core of the issue is Iran's claims that its nuclear program is peaceful in nature, a claim that has been debunked by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in various reports indicating that sites like Parchin - which Iran has repeatedly rejected IAEA requests to inspect - have been used for nuclear weapons research.
 
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano announced last Tuesday that in addition to the nuclear deal, a "road map" agreement was sealed, by which Iran will disclose military aspects of its nuclear program by October 15. After this, Amano will write an assessment of Iran's claimed disclosures by December 15 "with a view to closing the issue."
 
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), on Tuesday urged the IAEA to hurry its assessment and put behind the military aspects of Iran's program.
 
"Based on the agreement with...Amano, the issue with the PMD (Possible Military Dimension) should be resolved by December 15," Salehi said. "According to this agreement, the IAEA will present its report to the Board of Governors, while implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will continue separate from the results of this report."
 
Amano has said the "road map" agreement would include a visit to Parchin, but given Velayati's comments that prospect seems highly unlikely. Confirming that assessment, prior to the Iran deal Iranian officials rejected last-minute reports that inspections would be allowed at all covert sites.
 
Further raising doubts about a visit is the fact that satellite photos have shown Iran has been modifying Parchin, possibly expanding the nuclear tests and covering up their existence. Given that Iran will have 24 days before any inspection, it is likely that the leading state sponsor of terror would cover up evidence of nuclear weapons testing before IAEA inspectors arrive.

Nasrallah: Iran is the Only Hope for 'Palestine'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 12 July 2015 09:41
Hassan Nasrallah01Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday directly linked his group’s military campaign to the “Palestinian cause”, the Now Lebanon news website reported.
 
In remarks in honor of the Iranian Quds Day, Nasrallah also claimed that all opponents of Iran oppose “Palestine” as well.
 
“The road to Jerusalem passes through Qalamoun, Daraa, Hasakeh and other [Syrian battlefields],” he declared.
 
Nasrallah’s comments come as Hezbollah fighters continue to engage in fierce fighting in the Syrian border town of Zabadani, where Hezbollah and Syrian regime troops have suffered mounting losses.
 
The Hezbollah chief also trumpeted Iran’s role in the region, saying that the Islamic Republic was the only state that posed an existential threat to Israel.
 
“After God, Iran is the only remaining hope to free Palestine,” Nasrallah declared, according to Now Lebanon, admitting that while his group poses a strategic threat to Israel, it could not destroy it.
 
“If you are an enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, then you are an enemy of Palestine,” he stated.
 
Nasrallah has continuously threatened Israel. Only a month ago he threatened that his group would displace "millions" in Israel if the Jewish state attacks Lebanon.
 
His threat came in a televised address weeks after an Israeli army official warned that Israel would "have to" target civilian areas in Lebanon in a future confrontation with Hezbollah.
 
Even though he has continued to threaten Israel, Nasrallah has admitted in the past that his terrorist group is incapable of defeating Israel on its own.
 
In a recent interview with Syrian state TV Nasrallah explained that despite boasts by himself and other Hezbollah leaders about the group's capabilities, it is incapable of mounting a war against Israel independently.

Jordan Arrests Iranian Agent Plotting Major Terror Attack

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 22:26
Jordan Arrests Iranian AgentJordanian security forces arrested a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards planning attacks in Jordan, foiling what they said was the most serious terror plot in the country in the past decade, state media revealed Monday.
 
According to the Al Rai newspaper, the suspect - who belonged to the Guards' elite Qods Force and is a dual Iraqi-Norwegian national - was arrested two weeks ago in the city of Jerash, north of the capital Amman, in possession of 45 kilograms of high explosives.
 
He had been smuggled in to Jordan via the Syrian border, security sources said.
 
The report was published just a few hours before the suspect is due to appear before a military court in Amman.
 
A security source told Al Rai that had the attack been carried out it would have been the most serious terrorist attack in Jordan in 10 years, both in terms of the amount and quality of the explosives.
 
The precise target of the planned attack was not revealed in the report, but the Hashemite Kingdom would in theory present a range of targets for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Jordan has good relations with both Israel and the Sunni Arab gulf states - sworn enemies of the Iranian Shia Islamist regime - and is currently hosting Syrian opposition leaders, including rebels fighting the pro-Iranian Assad regime.
 
It is just the latest in a series of terrorist plots by the Qods Force over the past several years, most of which have focused on Jewish or Israeli targets.
 
Iranian agents, often working together with Hezbollah terrorists, have attempted to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Thailand, Georgia, Azerbaijan and India, among other places. Most of the attacks have been foiled in time or were botched by the terrorists, although a bomb attack in Delhi in 2012 injured the wife of an Israel diplomat.
 
Iran is also suspected of involvement in the deadly 2012 bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria.

Eight Iranian 'Volunteers' Killed Fighting ISIS in Syria

Category: News
Created on Friday, 26 June 2015 19:54
Eight Iranian Volunteers KilledEight Iranian fighters have been buried in Iran Thursday after they were killed fighting ISIS in Syria, according to Iranian state media.
 
Three of the men, all of whom were described as "volunteers," were buried in the capital Tehran, while the others were buried in the northeastern city of Mashhad, according to the official IRNA news agency.
 
Thousands of people attended the funerals, it said.
 
Another Iranian state media outlet, Tasnim, published pictures of the men in civilian clothing. Neither outlet gave any indication of their rank or with what specific force they were fighting with.
 
Iran is the main backer of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, supplying his embattled forces with weapons and equipment, and training and equipping numerous loyalist militias - including Hezbollah - to supplement the badly-overstretched Syrian national army.
 
However, though it admits to sending "military advisers," Tehran denies it is deploying combat troops on the ground - despite the steady stream of evidence, including a mounting body county.
 
As that role has become harder to deny, the Iranian regime has been attempting to explain the presence of Iranian fighters on the ground by encouraging "volunteers" from its various military and paramilitary forces to travel to fight in Syria and Iraq - all while still denying the government is actually sending fighters itself.

Khamenei Rules Out Lengthy Freezing of Nuclear Work

Category: News
Created on Friday, 26 June 2015 18:45
Ayatollah KhameneiIran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday ruled out freezing sensitive nuclear work in the country for a lengthy time period, Reuters reported.
 
Khamenei also reiterated Iran’s demand that sanctions imposed on it be lifted as soon as a final deal with major powers is reached.
 
"Freezing Iran's Research and Development (R&D) for a long time like 10 or 12 years is not acceptable," he was quoted as having said in a speech broadcast live on local television.
 
"All financial and economic sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, the U.S. Congress or the U.S. government should be lifted immediately when we sign a nuclear agreement," Khamenei continued.
 
Khamenei voiced trust in Iran's negotiating team but, echoing hardline Iranian military commanders, also ruled out international access to Iran's military sites.
 
"Inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines," he declared, according to Reuters.
 
Iran and the six powers reached a framework agreement in April but are in disagreement over many remaining issues as they try to reach a final deal by the June 30 deadline.
 
In fact, two diplomats said last week that the sides are still apart on all main elements of the nuclear deal, describing the draft of a main document as a patchwork of text and dozens of blank spaces because of stubborn disagreement on up to 10 crucial points.
 
The comments are in line with ones made by a diplomat who had spoken with a Russian news agency and said the talks are “virtually stalled”.
 
Among the unresolved issues are the pace of easing Western sanctions imposed over the Iranian program and the monitoring and verification measures to ensure Iran could not pursue a clandestine nuclear weapons program.
 
Iran has categorically denied reports that it would allow inspectors into its sites as part of a final deal, describing them as mere rumors and as wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April.
 
Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will not allow any inspection of its military sites, calling the demand to do so “excessive”.
 
In addition, UN inspectors regularly monitor Iran's declared nuclear facilities, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has complained for years that Iran is not complying with its probe into its past nuclear activities.
 
And, in a move that potentially will complicate chances for the final deal with the six powers, Iran's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday banning access for IAEA inspectors to its military sites and scientists.

Highest Ranking Iranian General Dies in Syria

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 09:28
Hadi KajbafYet another senior Iranian general has been killed fighting in Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Iranian news agencies revealed late on Friday.
 
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Hadi Kajbaf was killed in April around 60 miles south of Damascus, near the rebel-hold town Busr al-Harir, according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim as cited by Reuters. His body was shipped back to Iran last Friday.
 
Another three Iranian soldiers were killed alongside the general, including a mid-ranking Shi'ite cleric, reported the state-run Fars News Agency.
 
Kajbaf's rank was the highest in Iran's military, meaning he was among the most senior losses the Islamic regime has suffered in Syria, and of a more senior rank than the IRGC brigadier general killed in January by an IDF strike near the Golan Heights as he was reportedly planning an attack on Israel.
 
Kajbaf's son Sajad Kajbaf told Tasnim that his father's body was to be flown to Iran on Friday night after a day's delay; he did not detail how Iran got the body back after rebel forces seized it upon his father's death.
 
Iran has been key in keeping Assad's regime afloat during the internecine civil war raging in Syria, dispatching both its own soldiers as well as its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah to the country where they have suffered painful losses.
 
Experts have revealed Iran is spending $35 billion a year propping up Assad's regime, and is likewise deploying thousands of its troops in the country. They say the reason for this is that Iran needs to maintain a route of access through Syria to the Mediterranean by which it can supply weapons to Hezbollah and strengthen its growing regional influence.
 
In late April Iran reportedly told Syria to open a war front against Israel on the Golan Heights to continue expanding its regional influence at all costs.

Iran Deal Won't Answer Questions on Past Activities

Category: News
Created on Monday, 15 June 2015 10:02
A general view of the water facility at ArakWorld powers are prepared to accept a nuclear agreement with Iran that does not immediately answer questions about past atomic weapons work, American and Western officials said Thursday, according to The Associated Press (AP).
 
After a November 2013 interim accord, the Obama administration said a comprehensive solution "would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran's nuclear program."
 
But those questions will not be answered by the June 30 deadline for a final deal, officials told AP Thursday, echoing an assessment by the UN nuclear agency's top official earlier this week.
 
The officials said, however, that an accord nevertheless remains possible. One senior Western official on Thursday described diplomats as "more likely to get a deal than not" over the next three weeks.
 
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has for years tried to probe suspicions that Tehran worked on atomic arms and has reiterated that more cooperation is needed by Iran for full clarity on its present activities.
 
The IAEA is focused on 12 alleged activities that point to Iranian attempts to make such weapons, including suspicions that Tehran worked on the development on a nuclear payload for missiles.
 
The agency relaunched its probe two years ago by asking for information on less sensitive work related to nuclear arms allegedly carried out by Iran, with hopes of moving to larger issues later.
 
However, the IAEA has continuously reported little progress in its attempts to probe the allegations against Iran, and its chief Yukiya Amano recently said that the agency had limited progress in its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear activities.
 
Instead of resolving questions on past activities this month, officials told AP the U.S. and its negotiating partners are working on a list of future commitments Iran must fulfill in an agreement setting decade-long curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
 
The suspension of some sanctions would be tied to Iran finally answering all questions, giving world powers greater leverage, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the private discussions and demanded anonymity.
 
Iran and the six major powers reached a framework nuclear deal on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, and are seeking to reach a final agreement by a June 30 deadline, but still have to work out differences on several issues.
 
One of the issues of contention is the question of inspections of Iran’s military sites. Iran has categorically denied reports that it would allow inspectors into its sites as part of a final deal, describing them as mere rumors and as wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April.
 
Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff last week reiterated that the Islamic Republic will not allow any inspection of its military sites, calling the demand to do so “excessive”.

Is the US Empowering Hezbollah in Lebanon to Appease Iran?

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 June 2015 17:22
HezbollahAs the June 30 deadline for a final agreement between Iran and western powers looms - pushed by the Obama Administration - much concern has been raised as to how it could further destabilize the Middle East by emboldening Tehran to continue its increasingly aggressive foreign policy.
 
In particular, since the agreement will not require Iran to discontinue its support for terrorist groups and other radical proxies - such as Hezbollah, Hamas and a growing array of Shia militias in Iraq and Syria - as a prerequisite to receiving sanctions relief, observers have warned that much of the billions of dollars Tehran gains would be funneled to such groups and stoke conflicts throughout the region, including against key US allies.
 
But it appears the US government may be going even further in its attempts to coax Iran into a deal at almost any cost.
 
A prominent Lebanese activist has claimed the US government is cutting funding to independent, moderate Shia groups opposed to Hezbollah, as a direct result of the White House's policy of appeasement.
 
Loqman Slim, who runs the Hayya Bina (Let’s Go!) NGO in Beirut, shared a letter he received from a US State Department agency with Lebanon's NOW news. In the letter, he is informed with astonishing openness that
"[D]ue to a recent shift in Department of State priorities in Lebanon […] all activities intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shia voice [must] be ceased immediately and indefinitely."
 
Slim and his colleagues accuse the Obama administration of throwing its former allies under a bus and consciously empowering Hezbollah to appease the group's Iranian patrons.
 
"So we don’t support Shia democratic activists anymore?" asked Hayya Bina’s Program Director Inga Schei herself a US citizen.
 
"This is an alarming shift, and it sends a message not just to us but to all the Shia who are receiving funds from the [US] embassy, who are cooperating with [Hezbollah’s political opponents] March 14, or outspoken in their own capacity, or expressing an alternative vision for the future of this country. It sends a horrible message to all of these people," she warned.
 
Slim himself says he sees it as part of a wider policy of appeasement.
 
"We see clearly that US policy in Lebanon is based on the idea of not upsetting Hezbollah. Clearly. Whatever they can do not to upset Hezbollah, they do it," he lamented.
 
However the US Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale denied there had been any such shift in American policy in Lebanon.
 
"A shift in one sub-grant that represents a change of less than one tenth of a percent of America’s non-military assistance to Lebanon does not constitute a policy shift," he told NOW. "We have an array of programs designed to support moderate voices in a myriad of ways across all religious sects. We remain strongly committed to promoting peace and moderation in Lebanon, as a cornerstone of our policy."
 
A State Department official similarly claimed that Washington's policies and priorities had not changed, and that the withdrawal of funds was due to "performance issues."
 
"As a matter of policy, the Department continues to support independent Shia via a number of programs," the official said.
 
However Schei and others in Hayya Bina said they were never informed of any such performance issues, and that in fact their recent audit had been exceptional.
 
"In addition to the letter provided by IRI on April 10, IRI emphasized that the reasons for halting funding were related to policy, and not the integrity of our work," she stressed.
 
What's more, another prominent Lebanese activist dismissed the US Embassy's claims of supporting other moderate Shia groups, saying the grant to Hayya Bina was the sum total of the US government's investment in independent Shia voices.
 
"Short of Hayya Bina, they haven’t supported anyone,” Malek Mroue insisted. "I've worked on this for the past 10 years, and I deal with most of the independent Shia, and I’ve talked to the Americans, and I haven’t seen any support whatsoever, neither financial nor political, short of Hayya Bina."
 
"The [US] is claiming they’re helping, but this is all lip service to something that never existed, and actually harms the independent Shia who are working with their own resources without US support."
 
The news comes less than a year after it was revealed that the US government was providing indirect aid to Hezbollah in its fight against Sunni rivals including ISIS, as part of a wider strategic shift to cozy up to the Shia Islamist terrorist group, which also includes intelligence-sharing.

Iranian Official: We Will Never Allow Inspections of Our Sites

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 20:51
Masoud JazayeriIran’s Deputy Chief of Staff reiterated on Friday that the Islamic Republic will not allow any inspection of its military sites, PressTV reported.
 
“We will never allow any kind of visit to military centers, whether it is limited and controlled, or unlimited or in any other form,” Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said, according to the report.
 
He underlined that the Iranian nation will never give in to what he called the “excessive demands” being made by the “arrogant powers” during the course of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the six world powers.
 
The sides made a major breakthrough at talks with Iran on April 2 by agreeing on the parameters for a final deal to scale back its nuclear capabilities, but still have a series of technical issues to resolve by the final deadline of June 30.
 
One of the issues of contention is the question of inspections. France has made clear it will not sign off on a deal with Iran if it rules out inspections of its military sites as part of the final agreement.
 
Iran has categorically denied reports that it would allow inspectors as part of a final deal, describing them as mere rumors and as wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April in Switzerland.
 
Last week, senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi, who is Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, also rejected calls for inspections of Iran’s military sites and interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists.
 
Top Iranian commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami recently reiterated those statements, saying his country will never permit “foreigners” to inspect its military sites.
 
But despite Iran’s insistence that the interim agreement does not include inspections, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano recently insisted that a nuclear agreement would give his experts the right to push for access to Iranian military sites.
 
Amano said Iran specifically agreed to implement what's known as the agency's "Additional Protocol" when it agreed to the outlines of the deal now being worked on.
 
The protocol would allow the agency's inspectors much more access than they have now to follow up on suspicions of undeclared Iranian nuclear activities or equipment.

Iranian Commander Killed Fighting in Syria

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 07 June 2015 16:16
Iranian Commander KilledYet another Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has been killed fighting in Syria Thursday, as Tehran ups its direct military intervention to prop up the increasingly desperate regime of Bashar al-Assad.
 
Syrian rebel sources first reported Iranian Akil Bakhtiyari had been killed in fighting in the Qalamoun region bordering Lebanon, where a pro-regime operation led by Hezbollah is seeking to root-out strategically-important rebel strongholds.
 
Bakhtiyari's death was confirmed by numerous Iranian media sources, including the state-controlled Press TV.
 
He is the second officer in the elite Revolutionary Guards to have been confirmed dead this week, after commander Jassem Nouri was reportedly killed fighting in neighboring Iraq.
 
Iran has invested heavily in both Syria and Iraq to secure its regional allies and proxies in the face of rebellions by Sunni rivals. In both countries, that aid has included arming and equipping pro-regime militias, as well as sending direct help in the form of Hezbollah and Iranian fighters.
 
The latest Iranian casualty in Syria comes one day after a Syrian official said Tehran would be sending thousands more fighters to secure Syria's capital Damascus from advancing rebel armies.

Iran and Turkey Spar over Syria No-fly Zone

Category: News
Created on Friday, 29 May 2015 07:27
Syria No-fly ZoneA senior Iranian official Thursday rejected the idea of a Syria no-fly zone, which Turkey wants, saying it would be "a mistake" and would not restore security to the region.
 
"Talk of the establishment of a buffer and no-fly zone is the repetition of previous mistakes and will not help with security and stability in the region," deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, according to AFP.
 
Before it will join a US-led coalition staging air strikes on Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists, Ankara wants an air exclusion zone and also a buffer zone along its border with Syria.
 
Turkey also wants moderate Syrian rebel groups to be trained in order to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
 
At the end of last year, the United States said a no-fly zone would not work because of the presence of more than a million Syrian refugees along the frontier.
 
Iran is the Damascus regime's main regional ally, and provides Assad's government with both financial and military help.
 
The Islamic republic also accuses Turkey of allowing the free movement of rebels and weapons across the border, an allegation Ankara denies.
 
Amir-Abdollahian, in comments reported by the website of Iran's state television channel, said that for a political solution in Syria to be reached, neighboring countries must control their borders and prevent insurgents from crossing.
 
He was speaking in Kuwait, on the sidelines of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting.
 
The Syria conflict erupted in 2011 with a popular uprising that descended into a complex civil war in which more than 220,000 people have been killed.

Iran: S-300 Delivery from Russia Coming Soon

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 10:31
The Russian S-300 missile system.Moscow and Tehran have concluded talks on the delivery of Russian S-300 missiles to Iran which should take place "quite" soon, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday, according to the AFP news agency.
 
"The negotiations on the subject have ended in success. I estimate that the S-300 delivery will take place in quite a short time," Amir-Abdollahian was quoted as having said in Moscow.
 
"It will be done at the soonest opportunity possible," he added after meeting his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Bogdanov.
 
The Russian foreign ministry has not confirmed the announcement, but noted the "importance of maintaining a regular Russian-Iranian dialogue" in a statement Monday.
 
In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree  lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-missile rocket systems to Iran.
 
Russia cancelled a contract to deliver the missile system to Iran in 2010, under pressure from the West following UN sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Putin has explained that his decision was motivated by Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its nuclear program.
 
Washington has voiced concern over the deal, but Iran hailed the decision as a step towards "lasting security" in the region.
 
Tehran has previously said the missiles would be delivered by the end of the year, but Russia has denied this and said the delivery of the system “is not a matter of near future.”

Top Iranian General Says US Let ISIS Capture Ramadi

Category: News
Created on Monday, 25 May 2015 23:27
IRGC Quds force head Qassem Soleimani -ReutersGen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) tasked with Iran's foreign operations, on Monday claimed the US had let Islamic State (ISIS) capture the strategic Iraqi city of Ramadi on purpose last Sunday.
 
In remarks to the Iranian paper Javan which is close to the IRGC, Soleimani said the US didn't do a "damned thing" to stop ISIS's conquest, reports the Associated Press.
 
"Does it mean anything else than being an accomplice in the plot?," Soleimani asked, airing a conspiracy theory according to which the US was somehow coordinating with the ISIS terror group it is currently fighting against.
 
Soleimani has been leading Iran's efforts to gain influence in Iraq by supporting and training Shi'ite militias and Iraqi army forces in the fight against ISIS.
 
In March, former CIA head General David Petraeus warned that Iran is a greater danger than ISIS in Iraq, noting Soleimani's public and active role in guiding the troops after previously being a highly secretive figure who worked from the shadows.
 
ISIS conquered Ramadi, which is the capital of Anbar, the largest Iraqi province, after an intense three-day blitz.
 
US President Barack Obama responded to the significant setback by claiming "I don't think we're losing" the war against ISIS.
 
The loss has led to something of a fallout however, with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter saying of the defeat that the "Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force."

Iran: Inspecting Our Military Sites is Like 'Espionage'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 24 May 2015 06:51
Amir Ali HajizadehIran on Friday once again unequivocally rejected the West’s call to inspect its military sites as part of a nuclear deal.
 
The commander of the Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that inspecting Iran’s military sites is tantamount to espionage and that Iran’s response to espionage is “hot bullets.”
 
“We will not allow them (Westerners) to inspect our military and defense centers, and our response to any measure in the name of inspection - either coordinated or not- around the (military) centers or at any distance and in any shape will be the response that is given to espionage, namely hot bullets,” Hajizadeh said, according to the Tasnim news agency.
 
He further said that what he termed the “ploys” used by the White House and its allies to “infiltrate” into Iran have become “worn out”.
 
Inspections of nuclear sites has been one of the points of contention between Iran and the six world powers in working out a nuclear deal, which they are required to do by a June 30 deadline.
 
Iran has categorically denied reports that it would allow inspectors as part of a final deal, describing them as mere rumors and as wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April in Switzerland.
 
Top Iranian commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami recently reiterated those statements, saying his country will never permit “foreigners” to inspect its military sites.
 
Last week, however, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano insisted that a nuclear agreement would give his experts the right to push for access to Iranian military sites.
 
Meanwhile on Wednesday, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said that Iran wants 24 days’ notice before international inspectors could visit its nuclear sites in the event of a suspected violation of a deal.
 
He said Iran was seeking 24 days between the reporting of a suspected Iranian violation of the deal's terms and the time when IAEA inspectors would be allowed to visit the relevant nuclear site.
 
Fabius cautioned, however, that "a lot of things can disappear" in 24 days and added that another outstanding question is how international sanctions against Iran might be lifted.

Obama Says Gulf Leaders Agree with Him On Iran

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 May 2015 12:07
Obama greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef - ReutersPresident Barack Obama on Thursday said that leaders of Gulf allies at a summit have agreed that a comprehensive, verifiable deal that blocks Iran's pathway to a nuclear weapon would serve everyone's interests, reports The Associated Press (AP).
 
He added that the United States and the Gulf nations had pledged to work together to address threats to the region, including those blamed on destabilizing behavior by Iran.
 
Obama pledged America's "ironclad commitment" to the Persian Gulf nations to help protect their security, pointedly mentioning the potential use of military force and offering assurances that a potential nuclear agreement with Iran would not leave them more vulnerable.
 
He said the U.S. would join the Gulf Cooperation Council nations "to deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state's territorial integrity."
 
"Let me underscore, the United States keeps our commitments," Obama said at a news conference in Camp David.
 
The summit is meant to assure Gulf leaders over the impending deal with Iran, as Gulf states have been repeatedly expressing their concern about the terms of a potential nuclear deal and warning that a final agreement could allow Iran to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
 
The summit got off to a rocky start when Saudi King Salman decided at the last minute that he would skip the meeting in order to focus on the Yemen ceasefire and humanitarian aid effort.
 
The move was interpreted by many as a deliberate rebuff to Obama, but Saudi Arabia insisted the king did not intend to snub the President.
 
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday Arab leaders were "assured that the objective is to deny Iran the ability to obtain a nuclear weapon" and that all pathways to such a weapon would be cut off.
 
He added that it was too early to know if a final nuclear agreement would be acceptable, saying, "We don't know if the Iranians will accept the terms they need to accept."

UAE Seeks Written Guarantee from Obama on Iran

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 20:15
Guarantee on IranThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seeking a written guarantee from the United States with regards to Iran, its ambassador to Washington said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
 
That request will come at President Barack Obama's Camp David meeting with the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations, the ambassador said.
 
"We are looking for (some form of) security guarantee given the behavior of Iran in the region," Ambassador Youssef Al Otaiba was quoted as having said at a Washington think tank.
 
"In the past, we have survived with a gentleman’s agreement with the United States about security ... I think today we need something in writing. We need something institutionalized," he added.
 
Obama has invited GCC leaders for meetings in Washington and at the Camp David presidential retreat on May 13-14, an offer he made following the conclusion of a framework nuclear agreement with Iran.
 
The GCC is comprised of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
 
Arab governments have been expressing their concern about the terms of a potential nuclear deal with Iran. The major Sunni states have warned that a final agreement could allow Shiite-dominated Iran, their regional rival, to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
 
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, recently said that Iran should not be given “deals it does not deserve”.
 
The Arab concern over the deal with Iran is actually shared with Israel, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned against the framework agreement.
 
The concern in Saudi Arabia over the nuclear deal with rival Iran is so great that a columnist in a Saudi-controlled government newspaper recently expressed support for Netanyahu’s warnings against a deal with Iran.
 
Meanwhile, a report Thursday in The Washington Times suggested that Obama might offer Saudi Arabia advanced GBU-28 bunker buster bombs – so far only provided to Israel – in order to beef up Saudi Arabia's ability to lead Gulf countries in defending themselves against Iranian moves in the region.

Iran Helping Houthis Since 2009

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 03 May 2015 21:22
akbar-hashemi-rafsanjaniIran has been shipping weapons to Yemen's Houthi rebels since at least 2009, according to a confidential UN report seen by AFP, which reported about it on Friday.
 
The report indicates that Tehran's support for the rebels dates back to the early years of the Shiite militia's insurgency.
 
The report, by a panel of experts, was presented to the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee last week as the United Nations seeks to broker an end to the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen and a return to peace talks.
 
The panel of experts reported on the findings of an investigation into the 2013 seizure by Yemeni authorities of an Iranian ship, the Jihan, that was carrying weapons.
 
The information collected by the experts "suggests that the Jihan case follows a pattern of arms shipments to Yemen by sea that can be traced back to at least 2009," said the report seen by AFP.
 
One instance saw an Iranian fishing vessel attempt to secretly ship hundreds of anti-tank and anti-helicopter rockets to the rebels.
 
"The analysis further suggests that the Islamic Republic of Iran was the origin of these shipments and that the intended recipients were the Houthis in Yemen or possibly in some cases further recipients in neighboring countries," the report says, according to the news agency.
 
"Current military Iranian support to Houthis in Yemen is consistent with patterns of arms transfers going back to more than five years to date," it adds.
 
It is believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthi rebels to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Iran, however, denies accusations that it is meddling in Yemen and instead accuses Saudi Arabia of carrying out a military "aggression" against the troubled country after it launched an air campaign on March 26.
 
The Saudi-led coalition is seeking to restore the authority of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee Yemen in late March when the Houthis began marching on Aden, before capturing central parts of the city. Fishing boats carry weapons
 
The experts' report details six other incidents involving Iranian ships, five of which are said to have been carrying weapons bound for Yemen, according to AFP.
 
In one of the cases, the panel said it had received conflicting information about whether there were weapons on board the vessel.
 
In an incident dating back to April 2009, the crew of an unnamed Iranian vessel loaded crates of weapons onto Yemeni boats in international waters which were then delivered in batches and taken to a farm in Yemen for use by the Houthis.
 
And an Iranian fishing vessel was seized by Yemeni authorities in February 2011 carrying 900 Iranian-made anti-tank and anti-helicopter rockets intended for the rebels, the report said.
 
Iran is prohibited from selling weapons under a UN resolution adopted in 2007 that also instructs all countries to take action to prevent any arms flow from Iran.

Iran Tells Syria to Attack Israel on the Golan Heights

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 29 April 2015 08:11
Syria to Attack Israel on the Golan HeightsSyrian Defense Minister General Fahd al-Freij arrived in Iran on Tuesday for a rare two-day visit, the first since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, and was reportedly told by his Iranian backers to attack Israel.
 
As the Syrian regime continues to suffer key losses that have sharpened in the last month, Iran continues to exert ever-growing influence in the country which it is financially and militarily propping up.
 
Al-Freij was told by senior Iranian sources that Syria and Iran's terror proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, need to open a war front against Israel on the Golan Heights, according to the Hebrew-language Channel 10.
 
Iran told the Syrian defense minister to stir up conflict against Israel on the Golan, with the Islamic republic apparently unperturbed by the significant damage the move will cause to the Syrian regime, given that its goal is to expand its regional hegemony at all costs.
 
The Golan has been heating up with four terrorists eliminated on Sunday while placing an explosive on the Israeli border, and a day later stray mortar shells struck from Syria, as Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front and Islamic State (ISIS) fight on the Syrian side, right on Israel's doorstep.
 
Iran spending $35B annually on Assad
 
In a press conference between al-Freij and his Iranian counterpart, the two said in a joint statement, "Syria, Iran and the axis of resistance will not allow enemies to achieve their goals in the region, and harm Syria and its firm position. Iran unreservedly supports Syria, and continues its strategic relations with it."
 
Regarding its strategic interests, experts have revealed Iran is spending $35 billion a year propping up President Bashar al-Assad's regime, and is likewise deploying thousands of its troops in the country.
 
The reason for this is that Iran needs to maintain a route of access through Syria to the Mediterranean by which it can supply weapons to Hezbollah and strengthen its growing regional influence.
 
Iran's call for Syria to attack Israel comes after three reports in Arab media since late last week claiming Israel conducted airstrikes on weapons depots and convoys in Syria heading for Hezbollah.
 
Israeli security sources appraised that the strikes were not conducted by Israel, but rather by Syrian rebel forces as part of the ongoing civil war that has already left over 220,000 dead.

Top Iranian General Says US Carried Out 9/11

Category: News
Created on Monday, 27 April 2015 14:52
Ahmad Reza PourdestanOne of Iran's most senior military commanders has claimed that the United States engineered the September 11 terrorist attacks in order to sow Sunni-Shia strife, in the latest variation of a conspiracy theory confined to the fringes in the west but commonly believed in the Muslim world.
 
In an interview with Iran's official Arabic-language TV network Al Alam, Brigadier-General Ahmad Reza Pourdestan claimed that the US government contrived to attack itself in order to stem the rise of Islam.
{youtube}B5F9dLcvrb8{/youtube}
 
"These wars (in the Middle East) stem from a comprehensive American strategy," he opined. "After the fall of the Soviet Union the Americans felt that a new force was beginning to materialize, namely, the union between Sunnis and Shiites."
 
Pourdestan, who is the commander of the Iranian Ground Forces, claimed it was Iran who led that union - despite its record of antagonism both towards its own Sunni minority and neighboring Sunni Muslim states.
 
"This force is Islam, or the Islamic world," he added.
 
He asserted that in order to head off this emerging union, "the first thing [the Americans] did was to plan and carry out the events of 9/11 in order to justify their presence in Western Asia, with the goal of ruling it."
 
Despite the recent overtures to Tehran by Washington - not least the generous framework deal over Iran's nuclear program - Iranian official rhetoric has remained staunchly anti-American.
 
The US is still referred to as "the Great Satan," and Iranian officials still lead chants of "Death to America" at official state rallies.
 
More crucially, the Islamic Republic has upped its support for terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East, many of whom are engaged directly with US allies including Israel, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
 
Critics of the nuclear deal with Iran - most prominently in Israel - have warned Tehran is taking advantage of the softening of international pressure to increase, to scale back on, its aggression in the region.
 
Moving on from his message of Muslim unity, Pourdestan went on to issue veiled threats against Saudi Arabia for its intervention in Yemen, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ousted the Saudi-backed government.
 
He claimed the gulf kingdom would not be able to withstand sustained attacks on its homeland - an eventuality he hinted was possible now that Houthis had seized advanced weaponry from the Yemeni government's arsenal.
 
"If Saudi cities were targeted by bombings and missiles, it would be difficult for the officials there to withstand this," he said.
 
"They are capable of dealing lethal blows to Saudi Arabia," he added of the Houthis.
 
Pourdestan also addressed the rise of ISIS, warning that if the group came within 40 kilometers of the border with Iran "we will confront them."

Iran Threatens Saudis After Aid Planes Blocked

Category: News
Created on Monday, 27 April 2015 10:06
Saudis PlanesAmid reports of a renewed Saudi offensive against Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen, Iran's news agency reported on Friday that Saudi Arabia had stopped Iranian aid planes from landing in Yemen. 
 
Not unexpectedly, a top Iranian official responded with threats directed at Saudi Arabia. Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian warned on Sunday that the Saudi behavior and its siege of Yemen and preventing the dispatch of humanitarian aids "will not remain unanswered." 
 
"Saudi Arabia is not entitled to decide for others in the region," Abdollahian added.
 
Iran's FARS News Agency stated that Saudi fighter jets stopped Iranian planes carrying humanitarian aid on two straight days.
 
Sunday saw Saudi naval shelling and air-raids - at least five of them, Reuters reports – as the combat in Yemen, including ground battles, intensified. It has been about a month since a Saudi-led alliance initiated an offensive against Iranian-allied Houthi forces who have seized wide areas Yemen.
 
Saudi Arabia, still the world's top oil exporter, is an arch-adversary of Iran in the eastern Middle East. The Saudi kingdom is of the Sunni Muslim persuasion, while Iran is run by Shi'ite Muslims – and supports the Shi'ite Houthi advance across Yemen.
 
The Saudis are attempting to restore exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and prevent Yemen's becoming a chaotic Al-Qaeda terrorist state. Iran denies having given aid to the Houthis. 
 
In another bellicose gesture, Iran's naval chief said Iranian warships would remain in the Gulf of Aden for at least several months, in order to "protect shipping routes against piracy." The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier, a missile cruiser, and seven US warships near the Gulf, and has warned Iran not to send weapons to Yemen.
 
Israel and Saudi Arabia have shared interests in opposition to growing Iranian and Shi'ite influence, and reports of meetings between Mossad and Saudi intelligence officials are no longer surprising.

Iran: We Won't Allow 'Foreigners' to Inspect Our Sites

Category: News
Created on Friday, 24 April 2015 18:11
Hossein SalamiA top Iranian commander on Sunday said that his country will never permit “foreigners” to inspect its military sites.
 
“Not only will we not grant foreigners the permission to inspect our military sites, we will not even give them permission to think about such a subject,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), was quoted by Press TV as saying.
 
“They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams,” he declared.
 
Salami added that a harsh response awaits anyone who talks about such inspections.
 
“Visiting a military base by a foreign inspector would mean the occupation of our land because all our defense secrets are there. Even talking about the subject means national humiliation,” he said, according to Press TV.
 
The comments come amid reports that a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers could see Tehran allow international inspectors to visit its military sites.
 
Iran has categorically denied the reports, describing them as mere rumors and as wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April in Switzerland.
 
The Islamic Republic has clashed with the West, and particularly the United States, over the interpretation of the framework deal, and took particular exception to an American fact sheet released after the framework deal was reached.
 
Iran has been insisting that all sanctions be lifted immediately for any agreement with the West to go into effect. The State Department was quick to dismiss this demand. 
 
As well, top Iranian officials have declared they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20-times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached, meaning they would be able to produce a nuclear arsenal in a rapid timeframe.

Khamenei: US Created 'Myth' of Nuclear Weapons to Demonize Iran

Category: News
Created on Friday, 24 April 2015 08:22
Ayatollah KhameneiThe United States created the "myth" of Iranian nuclear weapons in a wily maneuver to turn the country into a "threat," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei alleged on Sunday.
 
Speaking to several hundred military commanders during a televised address, Khamenei once again displayed his deep mistrust of the US - just as nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 world powers are set to resume. 
 
"They created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat. No, the source of threat is America itself, with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions," Khamenei charged. 
 
Khamenei also attacked Israel, accusing the "Zionist regime, that is chained like a dog to the American regime," of being the real source of instability in the region. 
"The other side is methodically and shamelessly threatening us militarily ... even if they did not make these overt threats, we would have to be prepared," he added.
 
A framwork agreement on Iran's nuclear program was reached between the Islamic Republic and world powers earlier this month. Negotiations to achieve a final accord by the June 30 deadline are expected to resume in Vienna this week. 
 
While that temporary agreement has been reached, divisions remain. One major issue is how quickly international sanctions will be lifted once a final accord is determined. 
 
Earlier this month, Iran insisted that all sanctions be lifted immediately for any agreement to go into effect. The US State Department was quick to dismiss this demand. 
 
Israel, meanwhile, has been consistently critical of the diplomatic deal with Iran, berating the West once again on Sunday for ignoring Iran's aggression in the Middle East. 
 
Speaking before the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused Iran of "ramping up its aggressiveness in the region and all around Israel's borders."
 
"Israel also sees with great severity the fact that there is no mention of this aggressiveness in the nuclear deal being formed between the powers and Iran," he added.
 
"There is no conditioning of the deal upon an end to this aggressiveness, either at the start of the deal or as a condition forremoving sanctions.”

James Baker: Iran Cannot Be Trusted

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 23 April 2015 10:34
James BakerJames Baker, who served as the American Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush, said Friday that there should be no final agreement with Iran if it continues to insist that all the sanctions against it be removed once a final deal is reached.
 
In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Baker wrote that there are “substantial misunderstandings” about the deal reached between Iran and six world powers and added that it was clear that much work needs to be done before a final agreement.
 
“Iranian leaders quickly disputed key points about the White House’s description of the terms of the agreement. Among them was Iran’s demand that all sanctions be removed once a final deal is signed. That is a far cry from the U.S. understanding that sanctions will only be removed over time, as Iran meets its obligations. This different Iranian position may have been aimed at Iran’s domestic audience. But if Iran holds to it, there should be no final agreement,” wrote Baker.
 
“Arms-control negotiations are rarely easy, and there remain serious questions about more than the phasing out of sanctions. These include verification mechanisms (including access to Iran’s military bases for inspections); the “snapback” provisions for reapplying sanctions; and Iran’s refusal so far to provide historical information about its nuclear-enrichment program so that there is a baseline against which to measure any future enrichment. The proposed snapback and verification provisions, while still being negotiated, look like they will be particularly bureaucratic and cumbersome,” he continued.
 
“Experience shows Iran cannot be trusted, and so those four weaknesses need to be addressed and fixed,” wrote the former top diplomat, adding, “Yes, it would be good if we could have a verifiable agreement extending the current ‘breakout’ period for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons to one year from the current two-to-three months. And for that extension to last at least 10 years.
 
“As things now stand, however, if in the end there is no final agreement—and if the U.S. is seen to be the reason why—we could be in a worse position than we are today, because the United Nations and European Union sanctions would likely be watered down or dropped,” warned Baker. “The U.S. would then be left with the option of only unilateral sanctions, which are far less effective. So it is critical that the U.S. position on these issues be supported by most, if not all, of the other members of the P5+1 group, as the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are called.
 
“A great deal of negotiating is yet to come. That provides Secretary of State John Kerry, who has done a herculean task getting the talks this far, with an opportunity. In the coming weeks, he and other American diplomats should travel to the P5+1 capitals and convince their counterparts there to support non-negotiable positions on the four outstanding questions, positions that Iran must agree to if it wants to start reaping the substantial economic benefits a final deal can bring it,” said Baker.
 
“Iran should not be rewarded for waffling and re-trading. Even before it began complaining about the tentative agreement, Iran has reneged on prior agreements. Two days before a March 31 deadline, for example, Iran backed away from its pledge to send a large portion of its uranium stockpile to Russia, where it could not be used to make weapons. Our P5+1 partners should understand that if we can’t trust Iran to stick to its promises during negotiations, we cannot trust that it won’t resume its nuclear-weapons program after a final deal is reached,” he wrote.
 
The framework deal reached earlier this month would leave all of Iran's nuclear facilities intact, and limit the rate of its uranium enrichment for a ten-year window. President Barack Obama has admitted that after the limitations of the deal wear off, Iran will be able to reach a "zero" breakout time by 2028, meaning it could produce nuclear weapons immediately whenever it wanted to.
 
Top Iranian officials have declared they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20-times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached, meaning they would be able to produce a nuclear arsenal in a rapid timeframe.
 
Meanwhile, the European Union announced Thursday that the sides will hold fresh talks in Vienna on April 22 and 23 to build on the framework accord.

Iran Says US Conceded on All Its Red Lines in Nuclear Deal

Category: News
Created on Friday, 17 April 2015 19:39
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali JafariIranian leadership continues to state clearly that the framework deal announced in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier this month constitutes a major achievement of the Islamic regime, which didn't give up on its nuclear program at all and forced the US to fold.
 
Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief General Mohammed Ali Jafari, who is considered to be one of the most influential men in Tehran, said that Iran's enemies tried to cause a change in the regime's policy through the negotiations and sanctions, but those efforts were in vain.
 
Jafari stated that the US in practice conceded to all of the red lines of Iran regarding its controversial nuclear program.
 
The Iranian military leader emphasized that no obligating agreement has yet been sealed between Iran and world powers regarding the nuclear program, and there are differences of opinion in terms of the removal of sanctions that are still liable to prevent a final agreement.
 
Iran has demanded that all sanctions be removed immediately with the signing of an agreement, while world powers have called for a gradual removal to try and ensure Iran keeps its word in reducing its uranium production - but not stopping it, or closing any of its nuclear facilities.
 
Jafari accused the US of "fraud" and "psychological warfare" in publishing a fact sheet announcing what the US claims was agreed on in the framework deal, which Jafari called a false translation. He said the US did so to deceive its allies regarding the scope of the deal.
 
Top Iranian officials said last Tuesday that they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20-times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached, meaning they would be able to produce a nuclear arsenal in a rapid timeframe.
 
US President Barack Obama likewise admitted in an interview last week that as a result of the deal, Iran will be able to reach a "zero" breakout time by 2028, meaning it could produce nuclear weapons immediately whenever it wanted to.
 
It has also been noted that the US changed its goal to a one-year window for nuclear breakout, after shelving original demands to dismantle significant parts of Iran's nuclear program when faced with strong Iranian opposition. The US management of the deal has been criticized by many, including famed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Hezbollah Backing Houthi Rebels in Yemen, According to Reports

Category: News
Created on Friday, 17 April 2015 19:19
HezbollahEvidence is emerging that Hezbollah terrorists have been fighting alongside Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a bloody civil war has been raging for the past several weeks.
 
The first report of Hezbollah assistance surfaced on Friday in pan-Arab news outlet Asharq al-Awsat, which claimed that the body of a "former Hezbollah militiaman" was discovered among the dead in Yemen's Shabwa province. Fierce fighting been raging in Shabwa over the past several days as the Houthis, backed by supporters of Yemen's previous ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been making ground against forces loyal to the country's current, embattled president Abdu Rabu Mansour, despite intense Saudi airstrikes against Houthi positions.
 
On Saturday, Lebanon's al-Mustaqbal newspaper claimed that "several" Hezbollah fighters had died fighting in Yemen alongside the Houthis.
 
The Beirut-based paper cited sources as saying that Hezbollah fighters may have provided support to the Houthis as early as their capture of Yemen's capital Sanaa, noting that "several of its fighters and experts, who hold the Lebanese nationality, were in Yemen’s Sanaa before the rebels seized swathes of territory in Yemen since they entered Sanaa last September," according to a translation on the YaLibnan news site.
 
If confirmed, it would mark a serious escalation in the foreign backing received by the Houthis, who have already been receiving considerable support from Iran. 
 
Saudi Arabian airstrikes have had some effect in blunting the offensive by the Houthis, who most recently seized control of the strategic port city of Aden, but they are far from defeated and still remain the strongest force on the ground.
 
In a statement Friday Hezbollah issued a statement denying the "baseless" report that one of their men had been killed in Yemen - but notably stopped short of denying that it was operating on the country.
 
"The Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily and some Saudi and Lebanese news outlets have claimed that a Hizbullah member had been martyred in Yemen," the statement read, according to Lebanon's Naharnet.
 
Apart from Hezbollah fighters, more widely reported has been the presence on the ground of military "advisers" from from Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who Asharq al-Awsat claimed were in Yemen to "plan and coordinate communications" for the rebels.
 
In March, Qassem Suleimani - who heads the Revolutionary Guard's elite Qods Force - traveled to Yemen for the first time since the crisis began, according to BBC Arabic. The formerly secretive Suleimani has recently emerged from the shadows to take a high-profile role in Iraq leading Shia forces against ISIS, and has also led Iran's efforts to support the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
 
The Qods Force's objective is to spread the Islamic Revolution, and Suleimani's presence in Yemen was seen as the more blatant indication - despite official Iranian denials - that Tehran was using the Houthis as proxies to expand its grip on the region.
 
The first report of a Hezbollah presence on the ground in Yemen surfaced on Thursday, the same day as Iran's state media reported a high-level meeting between Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iran's First Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi over the crisis in Yemen.
 
Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fat’hali also attended the meeting, according to Iran's Press TV and Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV station.

Security Sources Reveal Massive Iranian Spying in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:23
Iranian Spying in EgyptIranian intelligence is conducting widespread activities from within Egypt and from there branching out to other Arab countries as well, according to Arab security sources.
 
The London-based Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat made the revelation in a report on Thursday, citing security sources who disclosed the Iranian intelligence operations.
 
In the report it was noted that the Iranian diplomat Saeed Hosseini was expelled by the Egyptian government four years ago amid the 2011 "Arab Spring." Hosseini was under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani.
 
Iran's Qods Force is tasked with the Islamic regime's covert international operations, and as part of its scope has carried out terror attacks and assassinations against opponents of the regime.
 
It also is tasked with providing training, weapons, funds and other aid to terrorist organizations that back Tehran, such as the Shi'ite Hezbollah in Lebanon.
 
Hosseini was kicked out of Egypt over his involvement in acts of espionage in the country, and he has also been linked to operations in Libya, Yemen, Sudan, the Sinai and Gaza.
 
According to the security sources cited in the report, Iran has appointed a replacement for Husseini - the new man on the job recently took charge in funneling weapons to the Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthi militia fighting to conquer Yemen.
 
The Houthis have in recent months conquered the Yemeni capital of Sana'a as well as other major cities, and have moved southward where they have started seizing the strategic port city of Aden that controls the Red Sea.

The US is Under-Arming the Kurds against ISIS

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 11:24
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq0 - ReutersAre the Kurds the West’s last hope in Iraq?
 
There is speculation that the United States and Iran have reached an understanding on the war with ISIS, which worries Israel and Sunni Arab states. If Iran is being encouraged to take the fight to ISIS, it seems the calculus is that only they are capable of beating back the Islamic State given its influence over the Iraqi government and several Shiite militias. Therefore they should be reinforced, so the logic would continue. But Iraqi Kurdistan has also been on the frontlines of the war and does not represent a major enemy for the United States or Israel or the Sunni Arab states.
 
In the past, Arab nationalists would point to Kurdistan as just another example of trying to reduce the Arab World’s power. Today, the Kurds are on the precipice of dull independence with their own seasoned military force – the Peshmerga.
 
“Data varies significantly, but Kurdish officials suggest the Peshmerga force is 190,000 men strong. 35,000 of them are incorporated in the Iraq army,” says Julie Lenarz, Executive Director of the Human Security Centre.
 
ISIS still has the military advantage in many aspects. While their advance since last summer has been halted in most places, they captured a bundle of modern American military equipment that even Iran would have trouble battling.
 
“What is clear though is that ISIS has access to a modern arsenal of weapons unmatched in the history of terrorist organizations. ISIS acquired a fleet of US-built Humvees during the assault on Mosul when the Iraqi army fled and abandoned weapons and tanks. In addition, ISIS has about 30 T-55, 15 T-62 and 5 to 10 T-72 tanks, as well as armored vehicles, grenade and rocket launchers, dozens of anti-aircraft guns and missile systems and AK-47s assault rifles.”
 
It is also difficult to estimate if the total amount of aid going to the Iraqi Kurds is really enough to fight ISIS, whose exact troop numbers remain elusive.
 
“Nobody seems to know how big ISIS really is. The US puts the number between 20,000 – 30,000 fighters; the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights at 50,000; the Russians at 70,000; and some Kurdish officials even as high as 200,000.”
 
The split sovereignty between Erbil and Baghdad – the Kurdish Regional Government and the Iraqi federal government – has complicated the Kurds’ ability to reinforce their arsenal. The issue has gotten mention in a number of circles. Last October, it was clear the United States was heavily reliant on Kurdish ground forces against ISIS, especially when it was Peshmerga who came to the aid of Kobane during the city’s siege.
 
“It has proven difficult for the Kurds to get their hands on modern and advanced weapons because supplier nations made delivery dependent on approval from Baghdad.”
 
It would be very easy for countries like the United States to ignore that rule, but the US realizes that treating Kurdistan independently on this matter lays the groundwork for treating them independently in every aspect. With that, the US and other countries are still going through Baghdad until they have decided they are ready to allow a slide toward full independence – if they decide at all.
 
“The situation has somewhat changed since the Kurds are fighting on the front line against ISIS,” says Lenarz. “Germany, for instance, has announced it will send advanced weapons to the Kurds worth €13 million. However, the Kurdish leadership complains that delivery is slow. Britain is said to have delivered no more than 40 heavy machine guns to the Peshmerga to this date.”
 
The KRG’s representative to the United States, Bayan Sami-Abdul Rahman, complained, “President Obama's Iraq train-and-equip fund, which comes to $1.6 billion, gave us great hope that American weapons would be delivered in early 2015, but since the passage of the law approving the train-and-equip fund, the vast majority of those weapons have not been delivered."
 
The Pentagon has claimed the KRG has gotten over 4 million pounds of equipment and is hardly being undercut, but Rahman has also said the US is wasting time by playing bureaucracy with Baghdad.
 
What Lenarz worries about is a future cut short if ISIS is able to catch the Kurds at a time they are under-equipped. She reiterated that while the Kurds were on the frontlines, their not-so-modern supplies were not going to cut a longer campaign against Islamic State.
 
“Whilst the Kurds have access to 2,000 armored vehicles and rocket artillery systems, a significant part of their weapon arsenal is outdated and dates back to the Soviet era.”

Despite Rivalry with Iran, Saudis Welcome Nuclear Deal

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 10:07
King Salman - ReutersSaudi Arabia's government announced on Monday that it welcomes the interim deal between Iran and the P5+1 world powers over Tehran's nuclear program, Reuters reported. 
 
Iran and six world powers - the United States, Britain, Russia, France, Germany, and Chine - reached a framework agreement on Thursday which would effectively end Tehran's nuclear research for at least ten years and also gradually remove Western sanctions. 
 
In a statement issued at the end of a cabinet meeting in Riyadh, ministers said they hoped the final agreement, expected to be signed by the end of June, would rid the region of nuclear weapons. 
 
"The council of ministers expressed hope for attaining a binding and definitive agreement that would lead to the strengthening of security and stability in the region and the world," the statement read.
 
The Saudi government added the they hoped a final deal would ensure a "Middle East and the Arabian Gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons."
 
The call for a demilitarization in the region may be an implicit reference to Israel, who is assumed to already have an arsenal of nuclear weapons. The Jewish state has also expressed its staunch opposition to the deal. 
 
Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim kingdom thought of as a more moderate Arab state, considers Shiite Iran its biggest regional rival. For the past week and a half, the two have been duking it out in Yemen as Houthi rebels backed by Tehran try to take control of the country. 
 
Not coincidentally, the Saudi kingdom's statement also emphasized the need for "good neighborliness and non-interference in the affairs of Arab states." 
 
While the Saudis have now applauded the deal, expert Emily Landau told Arutz Sheva Monday that they are still "tremendously worried" over, not necessarily Iran's nuclear capacity, but the "broader implications on the overall strategic situation."

Boehner: Iran Deal an 'Alarming Departure' from Obama's Goals

Category: News
Created on Monday, 06 April 2015 10:12
House Speaker John Boehner -ReutersJohn Boehner, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, said Thursday that the framework nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is an "alarming departure" from President Barack Obama's initial goals, Reuters reported.
 
He did not outline how the deal departed from initial negotiating goals, but he said Congress must fully review the deal before any sanctions on Iran are lifted.
 
"In the weeks ahead, Republicans and Democrats in Congress will continue to press this administration on the details of these parameters and the tough questions that remain unanswered," Boehner said, according to Reuters.
 
Meanwhile, Congressman Peter Roskam, who represents Illinois's 6th congressional district and is co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, said the talks between Iran and world powers are headed towards a “dangerous” agreement.
 
 “Yesterday may have been April Fools’ Day, but these endless negotiations with Iran are no joke,” Roskam said in a statement. “One year of talks has only yielded more talks and contours of a dangerous final agreement with Iran that makes no demonstrable progress on the legitimate security concerns of the American people and the international community.”
 
“The statement of progress announced today promises the Iranian regime everything it wants: billions of dollars in additional sanctions relief, renewed legitimacy on the international stage, and explicit permission to permanently maintain a robust nuclear infrastructure. In exchange the United States and our partners will get, at best, minimal restrictions on peripheral aspects of Iran’s nuclear program and more empty promises from a dictatorial regime that continues to sponsor the world’s worst terrorists organizations, imprison innocent American citizens, and call for the destruction of the United States and Israel. And, perhaps worst of all, the deal will likely expire in just ten years, at which point the mullahs can freely pursue a nuclear weapon,” he continued.
 
“As the Obama administration goes into full-spin mode to sell more talks to the American people, thousands of centrifuges will continue to spin in Iran. Republicans and Democrats alike agree that any final deal must first come to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote. In the meantime, Congress should immediately consider bipartisan, prospective sanctions on Iran to ensure that, should the talks fail, the United States will immediately and forcefully ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran,” said Roskam.
 
“While the Administration has evidently lost sight of its own objectives in its desperation to demonstrate some semblance of progress in these talks, their initial measure of success remains true today—no deal is better than a bad deal,” he concluded.
 
Several senators have been pushing for legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran and which Obama has threatened to veto.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that the Senate would vote on the sanctions bill if international negotiators miss their deadline for reaching a framework nuclear agreement.
 
If there is an agreement, he said, lawmakers would move ahead on a bill that would require Obama to submit the deal for Congress' approval. Obama has threatened to veto this bill as well.
 
Republicans have demanded that any deal with Iran be brought for approval before Congress, while Obama has made clear that he will not submit any deal for approval. 

Houthis Could Turn Yemen into a 'Saudi Vietnam'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 04 April 2015 08:23
destroyed-houses-near-sanaaOperation Decisive Force has taken Middle East observers by surprise. Only a week ago there were few indications Saudi Arabia was planning any war at all. Now, there are reports the Saudis will lead a ground invasion “within days” to bring down the Houthis.
 
When Arutz Sheva last spoke to Professor Yiftah Shapir of the Institute of National Security Studies, he was uncertain of how quickly Saudi Arabia might be willing to launch a ground offensive. With developments happening at a quick pace, Arutz Sheva asked if Saudi Arabia had any particular way to avoid what could become its own quagmire.
 
“If Saudi Arabia enters Yemen on the ground – my guess is that yes, they are in for a long lasting quagmire. I guess they know it. (Unlike the Americans – they were born and raised in the Middle East).”
 
History is behind that guess. Between 1962 and 1970, Egypt deployed 70,000 troops to Yemen to support a coup against the king. It failed, mostly because of Saudi intervention at the time. 10,000 Egyptians were killed during that war, and now the Saudis are the ones leading the way.
 
Saudi Arabia also conducted a limited incursion against the Houthis in 2009 that left over 100 Saudi troops dead and 470 wounded. The Houthis even managed to cross the Saudi border. That experience was limited, but this year’s operation is far more extensive against a Houthi army speculated to have a possible depth of 100,000 fighters. Even if those numbers are far less, Iranian or Hezbollah military advisers could help organize a strong anti-Saudi insurgency .
 
The pace of developments has made the ongoing Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh far more interesting as well. Over the course of the summit, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared there would be the formation of a United Arab Force (UAF). While his words implied this would be a military force that would be long-lasting, Shapir does not see the formality of a UAF extending beyond the current operation in Yemen.
 
“As for the Unified Arab Army – I don't think it will ever exist – other than token units for propaganda purposes.”
 
In Shapir’s opinion, the Arab World’s track record indicates it would not be able to sustain such an organization.
 
“Just look not at the Arab world as a whole, or the Sunni world as a whole – look at the six members of the GCC. Have they ever managed to set up a real unified force? They have been talking of cooperation for the past two decades. Nothing came out (of it) because the mistrust between them was high.”
 
Mistrust might still be high. There is also the issue of where else a UAF would be applicable. In Libya, there are different groups of patrons supporting opposite sides of the civil war there. In Syria, it is far less clear that countries in the current Yemen coalition would be willing to contribute forces to a much more difficult mission against a far more equipped enemy (the Syrian government). Even ISIS might produce some major disagreements.
 
When asked if a Saudi-led ground invasion could produce the types of pressures at home other countries see – where high numbers of casualties turns public support against the war – Shapir could not see that as happening.
 
“The number of casualties is not a significant factor,” says Shapir. “I believe they will not do much on the ground; the expected casualties will be Yemeni civilians, in what is termed as ‘collateral damage.’”
 
Besides public pressure, Shapir does not see much empathy for those casualties coming from Riyadh once – or if – they actually do go in. Groups like the International Committee for the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch have tried to head the Saudis off at the pass as it were, expressing “concern” for civilian casualties on the very first day of the operation.
 
“The Saudis won't care… and they are not going to face any Goldstone in the aftermath.”

Nasrallah: Israel Should be Targeted, Not Yemen

Category: News
Created on Monday, 30 March 2015 08:42
Hassan Nasrallah-ReutersHezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah blasted Saudi Arabia for launching airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
 
Speaking in a televised speech, Nasrallah said the military campaign should be directed at Israel, not Yemen, adding that if the warplanes were directed towards Israel, Hezbollah would join in.
 
“If the war was against Israel we would have been partners in the war but not if it’s against an Arab peoples,” Nasrallah said, according to the website of the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star.
 
He denounced Saudi Arabia for leading a campaign against Yemen, but failing to take action against Israel over the decades-long conflict.
 
“The Palestinian people are still calling on you,” he declared , noting that a large portion of the population among the Palestinian Arabs are Sunnis and yet their calls for assistance were not met by unified force likes of the coalition organized against the Houthis.
 
He dismissed arguments supporting the coalition that it was reclaiming the legitimacy of Yemen's President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi, saying that these arguments should be used instead to justify action in “Palestine.”
 
Nasrallah rejected claims that Iran was threatening to intervene and control the region, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Thursday, saying they were “the biggest lie” and demanding “evidence that Yemen is occupied by Iran” to be presented.
 
On Wednesday night, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies launched a military operation in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels threatening the government there. Iran has threatened that Saudi Arabia’s foray into Yemen would end up costing it dearly.
 
Nasrallah said that there is a problem in Saudi Arabia's mentality in that it doesn't respect the will of free peoples. They regard everyone as followers and they can't have an independent will, he added.
 
Saudi Arabia’s “faulty policies” are opening up the region to Iranian influence. “You are pushing the people of the region to Iran,” he claimed, according to the Daily Star.

Saudi Arabia Ramps Up for Largest Campaign Since Gulf War

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 29 March 2015 10:19
Saudi Arabia air forceSaudi Arabia is the world's top weapons importer, eclipsing India in 2014 - those weapons will now be put to the test against Iran-backed Houthi Shi'ites in Yemen in its widest-reaching military campaign since the first Gulf War.
 
Yiftah Shapir of the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) spoke to Arutz Sheva about what can be expected in the operation.
 
"The Saudi Arabian air force's capability on paper is very great: they've got Typhoons and specially-modified F-15s and the best ammunition in the world," said Shapir. "How much they're capable of doing though depends on the intelligence on their targets."
 
This is the third anti-Shi'ite intervention Saudi Arabia has made in the last seven years: a previous Houthi incursion into Saudi Arabia resulted in a small-scale war and ground invasion in 2009. Protests in Bahrain during the "Arab Spring" frightened the Saudis into thinking the country's Shi'ite majority would topple its Sunni elite, drawing Saudi tanks to Bahrain to police the streets.
 
For now, it is unknown if there is a plan for a ground invasion. As many Israelis might recall from the most recent war with Gaza, air strikes cannot accomplish the things infantry can.
 
"We know from experience from virtually everybody that airstrikes don't do much, especially on the first day," says Shapir. "Successful operations last longer, at least a month. It's tough to say what they're achieving. The capability of air strikes is very limited. If you don't enter with ground forces or the enemy expects you don't have the will to send those forces, it can have a negative effect on the campaign."
 
It should be noted that the Saudi military buildup was only widely reported within hours of the first Saudi airstrikes. Ground invasions are also more likely following a sustained air campaign making that invasion easier.
 
Shapir says the other capabilities that will be getting attention in this war are those of a largely untested Saudi navy.
 
"They have a strong navy in two theaters: the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. They have quite a strong force with French-made frigates. But in practice, they have not been involved in any war."
 
Saudi Arabia has 50,000 personnel between the country’s two coastlines, including some 12,000 marines. The Saudis are using that navy now to block resupply from the Indian Ocean straight to Houthi forces on the western coast of Yemen. It was in fact the Houthi advance on the port city of Aden and their threat to major shipping lanes by the Red Sea that added to the urgency of military actions.
 
Egypt has already sent four warships to the area, apparently forcing Iranian ships in the area to retreat according to one report from Arab News.
 
The fact Egypt is involved at all might be surprising, and is likely only because Saudi Arabia has such a disproportionate leadership role in the fight that the Egyptians feel they can make the token contributions that other Arab states are making. But that is not because Egypt does not pack a punch of its own.
 
“Egypt has a lot to offer. They have a strong air force but the real question is how involved they really want to be with wars on two fronts of their own: Libya and the Sinai.”
 
On top of those fights, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s regime seems more focused on domestic security and holding down the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
“This is the main preoccupation of the Egyptian military," says Shapir. "The Egyptian military is much more interested in internal war, with Egyptian security and the economy. The military also has their own interests.”
 
It would not be the first foray for Egypt in Yemen. Between 1962 and 1967, Egypt became bogged down in fighting an insurgency there when Gamal Abdul Nasser was in the midst of asserting Egypt as the leader of the Arab world. According to Shapir, a greater deployment in Yemen would not necessarily conjure up the same sorts of memories that Americans might have of Vietnam, but they would be similar.
 
As for the possibility that Saudi Arabia might be making a dry run at attacking other Iranian-backed groups in the region, Shapir does not see it. This is likely not as much a practice campaign for future conflict as it is the opportunity to send a message to the Iranians.
 
Yemen provides Saudi Arabia with problems regardless of the Houthi connection with Iran. Were the Houthis to be much less intimate with Iranian aid, they would still be viewed as a threat to an allied Sunni state right on Saudi Arabia's own border.
 
As much as the rest of the world is watching the conflict as an outgrowth of the rivalry with Iran, Shapir wanted to emphasize that there are still numerous issues exclusive to Yemen that Iran has no bearing on.
 
"I think it's a mistake to say it's a war against Iran. Yemeni forces act on their own interests. The may get a lot of support from the Iranians, but they operate on their own."
 
This should have bearing on the way Israelis see things. While it might be important to note Iran's influence in Yemen, there are separate conflicts there. For the Saudis, according to Shapir, there will still be an end-game when "they will have to come to terms with the Houthis because they are their neighbors.”

Saudi Ambassador: Iran Playing Key Role in Backing Houthis

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 28 March 2015 13:49
Houthi fightersSaudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on Thursday said that Iran has been playing a key role in backing the advance of Houthi rebels in Yemen, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
The ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, said that Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers, as well as operatives from the Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, are on the ground in Yemen advising the Houthis.
 
The comments were made as he briefed reporters in the Saudi embassy in Washington.
 
On Wednesday night,  Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies launched a military operation in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, who took over the capital Sanaa several months ago and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to the southern seaport Aden.
 
It is believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthi rebels to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controlsthe entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
On Wednesday it was reported that Hadi had fled his palace in Aden as well due to the advance of the Houthis, though government officials denied the reports.
 
Meanwhile on Thursday, Iran threatened that Saudi Arabia’s foray into Yemen would end up costing it dearly.
 
The Saudi “aggression,” said Iran's Foreign Ministry, would “complicate the crisis in the country and kill opportunities for peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Arab country. The smoke of the war in Yemen will reach the eyes of the Saudis."

Erdogan: Iran is Trying to Dominate the Middle East

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 28 March 2015 13:35
Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday lashed out at Iran, accusing it of trying to dominate the Middle East and saying its efforts have begun annoying Ankara.
 
The comments, quoted by Reuters, came hours after Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies launched a military operation in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels threatening the government there.
 
Turkey said it supports the Saudi-led military operation against the rebels in Yemen and called on the militia group and its "foreign supporters" to abandon acts which threaten peace and security in the region.
 
"Iran is trying to dominate the region," said Erdogan, who is due to visit Tehran in early April, according to Reuters.
 
"Could this be allowed? This has begun annoying us, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. This is really not tolerable and Iran has to see this," he added in a press conference.
 
Warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck at Houthi forces in Yemen, who have taken over much of the country in their campaign to oust President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
 
The Saudi-led intervention marked a major escalation of the Yemen crisis, in which Shiite Muslim Iran supports the Shiite Houthis, and Sunni Muslim monarchies in the Gulf back Hadi and his fellow Sunni loyalists in Yemen's south.
 
Erdogan said the conflict has evolved into a sectarian one and urged Iran to withdraw. "Iran has to change its view. It has to withdraw any forces, whatever it has in Yemen, as well as Syria and Iraq and respect their territorial integrity," he was quoted as having said.
 
Erdogan's plans to visit Iran had not changed, his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told journalists earlier on Thursday without giving a specific date.
 
Earlier Thursday, Iran threatened that Saudi Arabia’s foray into Yemen would end up costing it dearly.
 
The Saudi “aggression,” said Iran's Foreign Ministry, would “complicate the crisis in the country and kill opportunities for peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Arab country. The smoke of the war in Yemen will reach the eyes of the Saudis."

Iran May be Allowed to Run Centrifuges at Secret Site

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 March 2015 17:24
Bushehr nuclear power plant - AFPThe United States is considering letting Iran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites, officials told The Associated Press (AP) on Thursday.
 
Western officials familiar with details of the negotiations told the news agency the deal would allow Iran to run several hundred of the devices at the Fordow facility, although the Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections.
 
In return, according to those officials, Iran would be required to scale back the number of centrifuges it runs at its Natanz facility and accept other restrictions on nuclear-related work.
 
Instead of uranium, which can be enriched to be the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, any centrifuges permitted at Fordow would be fed elements such as zinc, xenon or germanium for separating out isotopes used in medicine, industry or science, the officials told AP.
 
The number of centrifuges would not be enough to produce the amount of uranium needed to produce a weapon within a year — the minimum time-frame that Washington and its negotiating partners demand.
 
Fordow, with nearly 3,000 centrifuges and dug deep into a mountain near the city of Qom, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tehran, is at the heart of international concerns over Iran's nuclear drive.
 
The site, whose existence was revealed in 2009, began in late 2011 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a few technical steps away from the 90-percent level needed for a nuclear weapon.
 
Iran has continuously refused to shut down the underground site despite demands by world powers to do so.
 
The officials spoke to AP only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the sensitive negotiations as the latest round of talks began between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
 
The negotiators are racing to meet an end-of-March deadline to reach an outline of an agreement that would grant Iran relief from international sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The deadline for a final agreement is June 30.
 
The report came as reports indicated that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had conducted phone conversations with the leaders of Russia, France and Britain, in an indication that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations over Iran's nuclear program have entered their “final stretch” and are very near completion.
 
One senior U.S. official declined to comment on the specific proposal but said the goal since the beginning of the talks has been “to have Fordow converted so it’s not being used to enrich uranium.” That official would not say more.
 
Experts who spoke to AP warned that the compromise for Fordow could still be problematic, noted it would allow Iran to keep intact technology that could be quickly repurposed for uranium enrichment at a sensitive facility that the U.S. and its allies originally wanted stripped of all such machines.
 
In addition, the site at Fordow is a particular concern because it is hardened and dug deeply into a mountainside making it resistant — possibly impervious — to air attack. Such an attack is an option that neither Israel nor the U.S. has ruled out in case the talks fail.
 
David Albright of the Institute for Security and International Security said a few hundred centrifuges operated by the Iranians would not be a huge threat — if they were anywhere else but the sensitive Fordo site.
 
Beyond its symbolic significance, “it keeps the infrastructure in place and keeps a leg up, if they want to restart (uranium) enrichment operations,” said Albright, who is a go-to person on the Iran nuclear issue for the U.S. government. His institute has several times in the past exposed satellite images of cover-up work Iran was doing at its military site in Parchin.

Saudi Offensive Coincides with US Airstrikes in Tikrit

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 March 2015 16:49
US Airstrikes in TikritEarlier this morning, Saudi Arabia launched a joint Arab League-Pakistani operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen called Operation Decisive Storm.
 
The Houthis are Zaydi Shiites, who the Iranian regime has begun to back with weapons and resources in their march across Yemen. This is the third Saudi intervention against the Houthis, but the timing has more regional significance than in the past.
 
Getting less attention right now is that the United States has also expanded its own airstrikes against ISIS in Tikrit, taking over more of the leadership role some have warned Iran had assumed in Iraq.
 
As the nuclear negotiations deadline looms and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ramped up public pressure on the Obama Administration to be more aggressive with Iran, Arutz Sheva asked Yoel Guzansky of the Institute for National Security Studies if this was likely a coordinated set of simultaneous operations.
 
"I definitely agree with that assumption," said Guzansky, who noted that it was still an issue for the US because they had to coordinate their own operations with Iraqi forces on the ground  (who are also working with the Iranians).
 
The combined goal seems to be obvious. But the fact Saudi Arabia acted in such an overt manner and so abruptly comes as a surprise to Guzansky.
 
"This is a surprise because this is a country that tends to use diplomacy and its deep pockets to gain influence. But this isn't the first time they've done this: in 2009 they got involved with the Houthis in the north (of Yemen) and March 2011 they entered Bahrain. They put put their foot down then sending a message to Iran that 'This is it. This is a red line you don't cross.' Now, today they are looking to stop the advance of the Houthis on the ground and send a message to Iran."
 
Reports of the Saudi military build-up had barely been published when the kingdom launched its assault early this morning. With such a sudden deployment, the goals might be immediate for an operation of limited scope
 
"We need to ask ourselves what it wants. I think strategically it wants the Houthis back at the negotiating table (with the country's President). They hinted at this. Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir who declared the operation said they wish to get the Houthis back there after the Houthis refused to attend the summit the Saudis organized in Riyadh."
 
Saudi Arabia has invested millions in the government in the fallen regime in Yemen, aid that Reuters reported in December the Saudis had cut off. The major decision now, besides the ominous timing in relation to the nuclear negotiations with Iran, comes as Houthi rebels advance on the port city of Aden at the mouth of the Red Sea.
 
"I think the fall of the strategic port of Aden, if it falls (and it would have fallen in a matter of hours had it not been for this operation) would have meant that Yemen had fallen. It is the last strategic point in the country."
 
The President of the country is trying to maintain an image of strength, claiming he is leading the government's resistance in the city and denying rumors that he had fled the country by ship.
 
When asked if Iran was in a position to respond militarily to the Saudi operation, Guzansky called it "the million dollar question."
 
"If I had been asked yesterday, I would have said the Saudis were better off only threatening to wage war. I guess they didn't think it helped and they had to do something."
 
"My guess is Iran would continue to support the militias as they have in the past. Would they give them more support or money? Probably. It is good for them (Iran) to preoccupy the Saudis right in the Saudis' own backyard. It's of interest to Iran."
 
What should not be lost in this is that had the Houthis moved more slowly, there might not have been such an immense intervention on the part of Saudi Arabia and its allies to roll back Houthi advanced in the country.
 
"The Iranians might have preferred the Houthis went slower. The same thing happened to ISIS. They rushed in their conquest to control as much land as possible. It was too fast and ultimately counterproductive." The alarm bells that rang as a result created widespread support for intervention.
 
"It's a coalition of 10 Arab and Pakistani countries. That's not important on the ground but it is symbolically. The Saudis have political and diplomatic backing. They have legitimacy. The entire Arab and Sunni Muslim world is behind them."
 
So far, there is no expectation the Saudis will use ground forces like they did in 2009 when Houthi forces penetrated 50 kilometers into Saudi Arabia and killed a number of troops. As much as the Saudis might want to absolutely eliminate Iran's asset on the Iranian peninsula, they likely will not have the ability. Right now, Guzansky assumes that the Saudis will want to roll back Houthi gains rather than destroy them. 
 
"They know they cannot really turn back the clock on this. The Houthis are the strongest military force in Yemen."
 
"So far there are limited goals and limited tools: the air force, some naval forces surrounding Yemen to block reinforcements and of course the strategic goal to get them back to the negotiation table."

Iran: Saudis 'Will Pay for Invading Yemen'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 March 2015 16:13
saudi troopsIran threatened Saudi Arabia on Thursday, announcing that its foray into Yemen would end up costing it dearly.
 
The Saudi “aggression,” said Iran's Foreign Ministry, would “complicate the crisis in the country and kill opportunities for peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Arab country. The smoke of the war in Yemen will reach the eyes of the Saudis."
 
As a result of the Saudi participation in air strikes against rebel groups allied with Iran who have taken over the government and booted out the country's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – who fled for his life by ship from Aden this week – oil prices shot up Thursday, and markets in Asia sank. Similar drops in stocks are expected in Europe and the US as markets there open Thursday.
 
The Saudis on Wednesday decided to join a coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have basically taken control of the country.
 
"The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country," said Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir, on Wednesday.
 
"We have a situation where you have a militia group that is now in control or can be in control of ballistic missiles, heavy weapons and an air force," he said, arguing that the Houthi advance could not be tolerated.
 
The Houthis have begun pushing south after conquering the capital city of Sanaa last September and overthrowing the government, replacing it with their own temporary government. Over the weekend they took control of the central city Taiz, moving farther south.
 
In a statement, members of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, which include Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait – all Sunni Muslim countries who fear the advances on their borders made by the Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthis – said that the GCC “followed the dangerous development of events in the Republic of Yemen."
 
“We have exerted all possible efforts to end these Al Houthi criminal sinful aggressions against our people, which left deep wounds in each Yemeni home,” the group said in a letter to members. “We sought with all our power to reach a peaceful solution to get Yemen out from a dark tunnel that the coup Al Houthi orchestrators put the country in, to safeguard our people from the fire of chaos and destruction, and to avoid implicating the country into a war that will burn the entire land that the coup orchestrators sought and continue to seek its ignition."
 
“This sinful aggression executed by internal militias supported by forces from within who sold their conscience and are only concerned about their self-interests, and also supported by regional powers, whose objective is to dominate this country and to make it a base for their dominance in the region. This threat is not only menacing the security of Yemen only, but also the security of the entire region as well as the world peace and security,” the group said.
 
According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham, the Saudi action was a “dangerous move which is in violation of international responsibilities for respecting the sovereignty of countries” that would “would lead to spread of terrorism and extremism in the region.”

Rouhani: The Pressure from Sanctions is Over

Category: News
Created on Friday, 20 March 2015 20:53
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani - ReutersIran on Tuesday said it began producing more natural gas from a giant field shared with Qatar, as President Hassan Rouhani declared that the pressure from international sanctions was over, reports The Associated Press (AP).
 
The additional production from the South Pars field, known as North Dome in Qatar, will add 81 million cubic meters of gas to Iran's total production, currently at about 600 million cubic meters per day, state TV reported.
 
During a ceremony marking inauguration of the expansion project, Rouhani claimed the increased gas production proved Western sanctions, imposed over Iran's s disputed nuclear program, were ineffective.
 
"We succeeded in finalizing huge projects during the sanctions. By inaugurating this project, we announce to the world that the era of pressures ... is over," he said, according to AP.
 
The expanded production at South Pars will also yield some 120 thousand barrels of liquid gas and 750 metric tons (827 tons) of sulfur per day, the report said. Tehran invested more than $7 billion in the phase. The project includes three offshore platforms, containing 36 wells.
 
After his election in 2013, Rouhani pledged his administration would increase production from South Pars, located about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Tehran.
 
According to Iranian media cited by AP, Qatar currently produces 40 percent more natural gas from the joint field. Qatar began production from its share of the field in 1989, while Iran only began working on its side in 1998.
 
Now, Iran produces some 425 million cubic meters from the field, according to the data.
 
Iran plans to increase its gas production to one billion cubic meters per day by 2018. The country has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia.
 
The sanctions imposed by the West over Iran’s nuclear program severely hurt the country’s economy several years ago, as in 2013 the Iranian rial plummeted to an all-time low.
 
At one point, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad steadfastly denied that the sanctions are hurting the economy, but he later admitted that Iran lost a substantial part of its oil revenues in 2012 due to sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear program.
 
Rouhani, elected in 2013, has taken an approach seen by the West as more “moderate” in order to have the sanctions lifted. He has succeeded to a degree, with an interim deal reached later in 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.

Iran Threatens to Restart Uranium Enrichment if Deal Fails

Category: News
Created on Friday, 20 March 2015 18:18
Irans uranium enrichmentAn overwhelming majority of 260 out of 290 Iranian parliament members passed a proposal designed to strengthen the regime's policy regarding the nuclear talks with world powers, with three important clauses contained in the document.
 
The first clause demands a removal of all sanctions against Iran that were imposed by the United Nations (UN) Security Council, as part of implementing a nuclear deal.
 
In the second clause, the Iranian parliament called for a preservation of Iran's nuclear infrastructure and rights to develop nuclear power according to article 4 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
 
Finally - and most significantly - the proposal delineates that if any of the obligations of the nuclear deal are breached, the deal will be considered null and void, and Iran will restart its uranium enrichment to the "level required by Iran's needs."
 
Iran has been demanding to have 190,000 centrifuges, an amount allowing it to produce a full nuclear arsenal within weeks.
 
Israel has argued that leaving Iran with uranium enrichment capabilities in any deal would be disastrous, with Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer pointing out that 17 nations have peaceful nuclear programs and not a single one of them enriches uranium.
 
It has been noted that the newly passed proposal constitutes an additional Iranian attempt to pressure the US and world powers to agree to the nuclear deal being formulated ahead of a March 31 deadline, as Iran attempts to portray that there are no alternatives to the deal given that Iran will push forward with nuclear development if there is no agreement.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his Congress address earlier this month stressed that the US can stand firm in its crippling sanctions and force Iran to concede, urging the US to pursue a better deal.
 
Under the deal being created Iran has been unwilling to give up on its existing nuclear infrastructure, with the agreement being limited in time as well as offering a complete removal of sanctions in exchange for the "freeze" of nuclear development.
 
Those opposing the deal point out that removing the sanctions will allow the Islamic regime to advance nuclear development covertly given that those capabilities will not be removed, and likewise Iran will be allowed to continue pumping up its military capabilities and expanding its regional influence.

Hamas Leader on Iran: They Can Liberate 'Palestine'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 20 March 2015 17:48
Mahmoud al-Zahar -ReutersIn a recent television interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar defended his group’s ties with Iran.
 
"We have maintained that countries that believe in our ideology and can help us - countries like Iran that believe we are capable of liberating Palestine... These are the countries with which we must develop relations," Al-Zahar said in the interview on the Lebanese Palestine Today TV, which originally aired in February.
 
{youtube}fAUgpGQakgg{/youtube}
 
“We did not join the PLO when it acted against Jordan in 1970, and we did not join its wars in Beirut and against Hafez Al-Assad. We did not join the PLO when it supported one Arab country that occupied another Arab country. To this day, we have never intervened in the internal Arab conflicts, even in countries where we lived, like Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or elsewhere. We have kept our force directed at the Israeli enemy,” he said.
 
Iran was once a stronger supporter of Hamas, but the two had been at odds in recent years over the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. As a result of Hamas’ refusal to support Assad in the uprising, an angry Iran at one point stopped supplying the terror group with weapons.
 
Nevertheless, the two sides have been getting closer in recent months as Tehran has been clandestinely supplying Hamas with arms and financial support. The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, recently boasted that Iran provided Hamas with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel from Gaza, and Hamas later thanked Iran for providing the group with the rockets.
 
The Al-Hayat newspaper recently revealed that Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal met with Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Solemeini, in Turkey, just days after the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza over the summer.

Iran Deepening Involvement in Iraq's War on ISIS

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 07:04
Iran in War on ISISIraqi army forces and Shi'ite militias, with the help of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, continue their fight to liberate Tikrit from Islamic State (ISIS), according to local reports Friday. 
 
Iraqi officials explained that Iranian involvement in the region is deepening. 
 
Hadi al-Aamiri, leader of the "Badr" sect of the Iraqi parliament, said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat Friday that the presence of Iranian advisers accompanying the Iraqi army is "a source of pride." 
 
"Why is there some sensitivity with respect to the presence of Iranian consultants here, when it is known that there are currently more than four thousand American advisers in Iraq?" he asked. 
 
"The Iranian advisers accompany us on the battlefield and give us the best counseling, and we are proud of them, because they will help us to liberate the provinces of Nineveh and al-Anbar fully after we liberate Tikrit and Kirkuk," he continued. "Those who speak against the Iranian advisers should thank and praise them - for without them and without Qasem Soleimani (commander of the Guard's Quds force), Iraq would be under ISIS rule." 
 
Some 30,000 men have been involved in a week-old operation to recapture Tikrit, one of the ISIS fighters' main hubs since they overran large parts of Iraq nine months ago.
 
Iran has been involved in the fight against ISIS before, having bombed the group’s jihadists in eastern Iraq in late 2014.

'Turkey is Backing ISIS'

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 17 March 2015 08:17
ISISProf. Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told Arutz Sheva that Turkey has been supportive of Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, as it pursues greater influence in the Middle East.
 
Some experts have called it a "Neo-Ottoman" foreign policy, to regain influence in places that were once backwater provinces to the Ottoman Empire. 
 
But plans to expand that influence have run into trouble. The relationships with both Israel and Syria have totally collapsed, but Turkey is now looking at influence through the Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East.
 
"The Islamic Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and ISIS – Turkey does not distinguish between them," says Inbar. "They are helping ISIS with its wounded by treating them in Turkey and with weapons, and turning a blind eye to people coming (to Syria) from Europe. It has become a staging ground."
 
Professor Inbar asserts the controversial proposition that not only is Turkey neglecting the threat of ISIS in the Middle East or remaining passive to it, but actively encouraging it, a position supported by reports of Turkish sympathy to ISIS. Others on the ground do not go so far.
 
According to a report by the Kurdish Rudaw news site, Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein said at a conference Thursday, “the Turkish priority is different. The Turkish priority is to remove the regime of (President Bashar al-Assad) in Syria, not ISIS."
 
In Inbar's mind, the way Turkey approached the battle of Kobane – ultimately won by Syrian and Iraqi Kurds - was fully indicative of their attitude toward Islamic State. If they had wanted to do more to liberate the city, they could have.
 
"They were going to allow Kobane to fall. It was only because of Western pressure that they let Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in from Iraq," Inbar said.
 
Changing ties with Kurds?
 
Asked if Turkey's attempts to make a breakthrough in the government's conflict with its Kurdish citizens might be a sign it is growing closer to the Kurds in Iraq and cooling its stance toward Kurdish militias fighting in Syria, Inbar was certain that they absolutely were not.
 
Regardless, Turkey has been making efforts to prop up the government in the Kurdish region of Iraq. A reported $500 million loan from Turkey is a sign they want the region stable, but Inbar says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants one thing out of Kurdistan.
 
"They want energy from the Kurdish area," he says. "This government is less afraid of Kurdish nationalism only because it is more focused on religious Islamic identity and not the ethnic Turkish identity that makes the conflict with Kurds so difficult."
 
Regardless, the money is not a sign they want a strong ally in Iraq to counter Iran - much less ISIS - but merely out of the stability that allows the Kurdish oil to flow. When asked about reports that Turkey has also sent weapons to the Kurdish region, he downplayed their significance while still being surprised that they delivered such aid to the Peshmerga.
 
"They do not want a strong Kurdish movement or government," asserts Inbar, while implying that any such aid would be out of character for Turkey. "Any weapons going to the Kurds would be surprising also because the Kurds have their own."
 
The claims that Turkey has sent small arms to Kurdistan were made by the same Kurdish Presidential Chief of Staff cited above, Fuad Hussein. No one has doubted the aid was sent, though as Hussein himself noted last November, Turkey had until then balked at the chance to send "heavy weapons."
 
Worries about Iran
 
While Saudi Arabia and Israel are concerned about both Iran and ISIS, a Turkey that might secretly be supportive of Islamic State would certainly be troubled by the speed with which Iran's proxies in Iraq are advancing in the ISIS-held Iraqi city of Tikrit.
 
"They do not say it openly, but they are also apprehensive about growing Iranian influence in the Middle East," said the professor. "It is not clear to what extent they're ready to do something on their own, but they might continue to strengthen anti-Assad forces." 
 
Turkey is certainly considering getting more invested in the emerging anti-Iran bloc. Recent visits to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf show that at the least the Arab states "want to use Turkey to help balance things out to Iran, at least to some extent."
 
But if Turkey wants to continue on its more assertive foreign policy path that emphasizes Turkish ambition and a Sunni Islamic identity, it might be inevitable they throw themselves into the enmity between the Iranians and the Saudis.
 
"Growing Turkish involvement is a clear departure from old Kamalist policies and they will certainly incur a cost for Turkey. But that is just another facet of the Islamization of the country," said Inbar.

Iran Claims it can Defeat the US in 'Any Scenario'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 March 2015 11:05
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali JafariIranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari claimed Wednesday that Iran can defeat the US in "any scenario."
 
At a convention in Tehran, Jafari boasted "we have grown so much (more) powerful that we don't feel concerned about the enemy's unwise attitude. We can go past any enemy scenario, and this has been proved in our contemporary history," according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
 
Clarifying which enemy he was referring to, Jafari said "the US should find a way to survive and continue its endangered life, but we are surprised at the enemy's insistence on costly and useless scenarios," in reference to the sanctions imposed on Iran.
 
A day earlier at a meeting of the Assembly of Experts that elected Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as its new chairman Tuesday morning, Jafari made the claim that the US had created the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group to counter Iran's expanding influence in the region, which it is exercising through various terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.
 
A member of the assembly, Hojjatoleslam Ali Eslami, told the news agency on Wednesday that "Jafari addressed the Experts Assembly members and said Iran has gained such desirable success in dealing with regional issues that it has led to the US failure."
 
Eslami said the Revolutionary Guards commander had stated "today, not only in Palestine and Lebanon but also the Iraqi and Syrian people admit the Islamic Revolution's influential role and appreciate the Iranian nation in this regard, despite enemy propaganda."
 
Iran is currently engaged in nuclear talks with the US and world powers ahead of a March 31 deadline, with Israel warning that the deal being formulated will leave Iran with nuclear breakout capabilities and pose a danger to the entire world.

Hardline Cleric Elected to Choose Iran's Next Supreme Leader

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 March 2015 09:49
Ayatollah Mohammed YazdiA hardline cleric has been elected to head the committee which will select Iran's new Supreme Ruler, in the event that current leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies, Reuters reports.
 
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi's selection to head the Assembly of Experts comes not long after reports circulated that Khamenei had died of prostate cancer - rumors Iran was quick to squash with a video, purportedly from later on that day, of the Supreme Leader meeting environmental activists.
 
But the 75-year-old leader, who wields ultimate power in the Islamic Republic, is in relatively poor health; just last year he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.
 
Yazdi's election will cause further concerns in both Israel and among western states over the direction Tehran is taking. It comes just weeks before a March 31 deadline for a deal over the Iranian regime's nuclear program, and at a time when Tehran seems more eager than ever to expand its control over the region by funding Shia Islamis militias in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.
 
It will also go further toward proving assertions by many that the election of supposed "moderate" Hassan Rouhani as president in 2013 was simply a ruse to bolster Iran's standing in negotiations with the west, given that the Supreme Leader has ultimate authority over him.
 
The radical cleric beat former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to the top spot by 47 votes to 24, according to the semi-official Fars news agency - an unexpected outcome for many observers, who saw Rafsanjani as a clear favorite.
 
"This was unexpected," said Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, an Iranian journalist and political analyst based in Tehran. "I was genuinely surprised that Yazdi won."
 
The Assembly of Experts has only had to choose a new Supreme Leader once since the Islamic Revolution: in 1989, following the death of Khamenei's predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It also has the power to dismiss the Supreme Leader, though that has never happened.

Zarif: Anti-Deal Letter Shows US 'Ignorance' of Int'l Law

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 22:13
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad ZarifIranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif published a passive-aggressive response to the letter signed by 47 Republican senators against the Iran nuclear deal, Vox news reports Tuesday - implying that the senators are not educated on international policy and even the US constitution itself. 
 
"In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy," Zarif began. "It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history."
 
"This indicates that like [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content," he sniped. 
 
"I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law," Zarif continued. "The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil [sic] the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations." 
 
Referring to the 2016 presidential elections, he added, "change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Irans [sic] peaceful nuclear program."  
 
"I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law."
 
"Their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments," he added. 
 
The letter, written by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the Senate's entire Republican leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, warns Iran’s leaders that any nuclear deal they sign with US President Barack Obama will not be valid after he leaves office in 2016.
 
The Obama administration has blasted the letter as "ironic" and a ploy to side with hardliners. 

It’s the 6,000 Centrifuges, Stupid

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 07 March 2015 14:22
A uranium enrichment facility in Natanz Iran. File Photo- AFPIn July of the 1973 Season, Yogi Berra’s Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9 ½ games in the National League East.  That’s when Berra coined his famous phrase “It ain’t over, till it’s over.”  Berra’s Mets when on to rally, and win the division title for a pennant ride which ended with the Mets losing in the 1973 World Series. 
 
If Israel waits “till it’s over” to criticize Obama’s tacit nuclear-weaponization of Iran, it will be over for Israel.  The final countdown to Iran’s annihilation of Israel will have begun.
 
John Kerry and Barack Obama aren’t as honest or as funny as Yogi Berra.  But, they are trying to use a variant of Yogi’s famous tautology to deceive people into accepting a fait accompli Iranian nuclear deal when it will be impossible to improve any of the terms.  At a recent Senate hearing, Kerry bloviated:
 
Kerry: "I can't state this more firmly, the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Anyone running around right now, jumping to say we don't like the deal, or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is. There is no deal yet.
 
"I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce.
 
"Since 2013 we have been testing whether or not we can achieve that goal diplomatically. I don't know yet. But it's the most effective way to solve the problem and we will prove that over the course of these next weeks and months.”
 
So, Kerry’s and Obama’s newest Big Lie is a retread of Yogi’s “Ain’t over” saying: “How can you criticize the deal, when the deal isn’t final yet?”  The answer is easy, stupid: It’s the range of the base number of centrifuges that the United States has already offered Iran it would agreed to let it keep.
 
It’s clear Obama has already agreed to Iran to keep, at least, over 6,000 centrifuges.  Israel has maintained Iran cannot  be trusted with even 100.
 
On to a concrete example.  Let’s say your husband is negotiating to sell your house.  You know the value of the house is over one million dollars: $1,000,000.  But, you overhear your husband secretly negotiating with the buyer where the buyer is offering $100,000 and your husband is asking only $125,000, or at least $875,000 less than you know what it’s worth.  Do you wait until your husband has signed the contract to start yelling at him?  You scream at him immediately, he is cheating his family out of $875,000 dollars.
 
If your husband is as much of a liar as Obama is and slyly responds to you saying, “Well, we haven’t signed the final contract yet for the $100,000 the buyer is offering, so you don’t know what the final price is!”  File for divorce.  The issue isn’t whether the final number between 100k and 125k has been finally agreed to.  It’s the very range of the numbers to begin with that is the problem.  If the buyer accepts your husband’s current asking price of $125,000, you will have lost $875,000.
 
With Iran, we are not talking about money.  We are talking empowering Iran to be able to nuke Israel, and wipe 6 million Jews off the map.  So, it’s a bit more serious.
 
And from the very numbers of centrifuges that are now being negotiated between Obama and Iran, the “best” number of centrifuges Obama is now offering Iran to keep spinning and enriching is so catastrophic that one doesn’t need to wait until the “deal is done” to know it’s a horrible deal.  Obama is offering Iran to keep around 6,000 centrifuges and that is 6,000 centrifuges more than Iran should have.  
 
You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist in order to understand something is very wrong with Obama’s Iran-nuclear deal.  Obama and Kerry’s hysterical attacks against anyone criticizing the Iran deal’s general outlines is so false that it’s clear Obama has already anointed Iran as a nuclear-weapons’ state.
 
PM Netanyahu is a modern day hero to fight for Israel and the Jewish people.  Anyone claiming, “It’s personal between, Bibi and Obama” is either delusional or lying.  It’s not personal, although they don't like one another.  But Obama is knowingly enabling Iran to wipe out Israel.  That’s not personal.
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who specializes in security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com.

Zarif: We Might Accept a 10-Year Freeze on Our Nuclear Program

Category: News
Created on Friday, 06 March 2015 16:26
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad ZarifIran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Thursday suggested that a 10-year moratorium on some aspects of his country's nuclear program might be acceptable to Tehran, Reuters reported.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama told the same news agency on Monday that Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached between Tehran and six world powers.
 
CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked Javad Zarif in an interview if Tehran was prepared to accept decade-long limits on a nuclear program it insists is peaceful.
 
"It depends on how you define it," Zarif responded. "If we have an agreement, we are prepared to accept certain limitations for a certain period of time but I'm not prepared to negotiate on the air."
 
The comments as Iran and the West continue talks aimed at turning an interim 2013 deal into a permanent agreement.
 
Under the interim deal, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.
 
Talks to reach a permanent deal have continuously stalled and two deadlines for a final deal have been missed, with a third one looming on July 1 and an initial deal needing to be worked out by March 31.
 
"There are a lot of details that need to be discussed. We have made some progress," Zarif told Amanpour. "We will have to work very, very hard for the next few weeks."
 
"We can in fact reach an agreement if there is the necessary political will to make the tough choices," he continued.
 
Earlier this week, Zarif told NBC News that the United States and Iran have nearly reached a nuclear arms deal, though there are still details left to be negotiated.
 
In Thursday’s CNN interview, he dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's warnings about the deal in a speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.
 
"Some people consider peace and stability as an existential threat," he said, adding that it had no impact on the negotiations.

Rouhani Calls Israel 'Greatest Danger' in the Middle East

Category: News
Created on Friday, 06 March 2015 13:24
Hassan RouhaniIranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday claimed Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the day before in Congress detailed how Iranian aggression is wreaking havoc in the Middle East, and warned against a nuclear deal.
 
In his speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President Barack Obama wants with Tehran "is so bad...it paves Iran's path to the bomb" and "would spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet."
 
Speaking to his cabinet on Wednesday, Rouhani said Israel "claims to speak of peace and warns of future threats while it is the creator of the greatest danger for the region," as quoted by ISNA news agency, reports AFP.
 
Iran and the so-called P5+1 group - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - agreed in November to reach a political agreement by March 31 and a final deal before July 1.
 
But Iran now wants a single agreement that includes both a political framework and technical details, and is demanding to have 190,000 centrifuges which would allow it to build a nuclear arsenal within week.
 
"The people of the world are content with the way negotiations with the P5+1 group are moving forward...but there is only this occupying regime that is enraged by these talks," Rouhani claimed in reference to Israel, even though sources in Arab countries weighed in after Netanyahu's speech to support him.
 
"Americans and the people of the world are more intelligent than to listen to advice from an ever-warmongering regime," he said.
 
Ironically, Netanyahu pointed out in his speech that Iran has been rapidly widening its grasp, largely influencing Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq through its proxy groups and direct involvement.
 
Rouhani accused Israel of possessing "many atomic bombs" and refusing to submit its "nuclear installations...to inspections by the International
Atomic Energy Agency," though Israel has unofficially had nuclear capability for many years and never used it, while Iran has openly threatened to annihilate Israel.
 
Israel has said it will not rule out unilateral military action against Tehran to prevent it from developing atomic weapons.

Al-Arabiya Editor Demands Obama Listen to Netanyahu

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 05 March 2015 21:16
Netanyahu-and-Obama-meetingAl-Arabiya's English edition editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas wrote a surprising op-ed on Tuesday, calling on US President Barack Obama to listen to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the latter addressed Congress on the dangers of an Iran nuclear deal being formulated.
 
Abbas, whose paper is openly anti-Israel and Saudi-owned, began by scornfully conceding "it is extremely rare for any reasonable person to ever agree with anything Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says or does. However, one must admit, Bibi did get it right, at least when it came to dealing with Iran."
 
The editor backed Netanyahu's recent comment that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing creating a void being filled by "terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran," in an op-ed following an article by a Saudi columnist similarly supporting Netanyahu's appraisal.
 
"What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei," Abbas wrote.
 
Criticizing Obama for his mismanagement of the region, Abbas continued by saying the president rid Syria of its chemical weapons but left the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in place to continue "to slaughter their own people."
 
Using this example of Iran's ally Assad, he opined "the real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing."
 
Iran today is no longer plotting its "terror activities in secret," he wrote, instead documenting openly how Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' covert operations Al-Quds Force and formerly a very secretive person, is actively managing the fighting in Iraq and being photographed while doing so.
 
"Among his many handlings, Soleimani is the godfather of Iraq’s infamous 'Asaa’ib Ahl Al-Haq' (AAS) brigade, a Shiite paramilitary terrorist group responsible for dozens of atrocious attacks and murdering of both Iraqis and Americans," wrote Abbas.
 
"Not only is Iran responsible for sponsoring Shiite terrorist groups, but Sunni ones too," he added. "In fact, according to the U.S.’s own State Department, Tehran was home to a number of Al-Qaeda facilitators and high ranking financiers. These accusations are also backed by findings of the U.S. Treasury Department as well."
 
Defending Saudi Arabia, which as noted is a key owner of his paper, Abbas said some would argue other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia should not be left out of the equation in blaming most regional problems on Iran.
 
"On the contrary, it would be biased and/or naïve NOT to blame Iran for such problems," he said. "After all, yes there are terrorists in Saudi Arabia and there are people who financed terrorism, but these are officially outlaws, who are either in jail, being hunted down or are hiding in the caves of Tora Bora or some other remote area."
 
"The same, sadly, doesn’t apply to the terrorists of Iran; these are in uniform, hold government positions and are not bothering to hide their evil plots anymore!" concluded the editor.
 
Abbas's op-ed comes as Netanyahu warned in Congress that Iran's regional expansionism threatens Arab states as well as Israel, and if unchecked will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Kerry Warns Netanyahu: Don't Reveal Iran Deal Details

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 March 2015 08:29
Kerry Warns NetanyahuUS Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday warned Israel's prime minister against revealing details at his upcoming speech to the US Congress of an Iran nuclear deal that world powers are currently negotiating.
 
While he did not mention Binyamin Netanyahu by name, Kerry told reporters in Geneva he was "concerned by reports" that "selective details" of the deal would be revealed, after an Israeli official said the Jewish state knew about the emerging agreement and that the prime minister would elaborate in his congressional address.
 
However, Kerry staunchly defended Israel at the annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Cancel, despite the ongoing tensions between the US and Israel.
 
"The HCR's obsession with Israel risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization," Kerry said Monday at the opening of the main annual session of the council. 
 
"We will oppose any group within the UN system (attempting) to regularly and arbitrarily de-legitimize Israel," he said.
 
Calling the council's record on Israel "deeply concerning," he said "no country on earth should be free from scrutiny, but neither should any country be (subjected) to bias".
 
His defense comes at a time when relations between the US and Israel have been noticeably chilly. One reason for this is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's attempts to dissuade the Obama administration from a making a deal with Iran on its nuclear program. 
 
Netanyahu is currently in the United States and will address the US Congress on Tuesday at the invitation of House Speaker, Republican John Boehner. 
 
Kerry, meanwhile, is due to hold talks later Monday with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux.
 
After years of on-off negotiations, experts say global powers appear to be closing in on a deal that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
 
But Israel believes that Iran and world powers will clinch a troublesome deal that eases sanctions on Tehran without applying sufficiently stringent safeguards.
 
"We're looking at a very bad deal indeed. A disastrous deal that we have to do everything in our power to prevent," Economics Minister Bennett told Arutz Sheva after addressing the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington Monday.
 
Under the deal currently on the table between Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers, "Iran will legally be able to acquire a nuclear weapon," Bennett warned. "It gets a definitive path to the weapon."

EU Foreign Policy Chief: Deal with Iran is 'At Hand'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 10:10
Federica MogheriniThe European Union's foreign policy chief on Tuesday said that an Iran nuclear deal was "at hand", AFP reported.
 
"We cannot miss this opportunity," Federica Mogherini said at Chatham House, a think tank in London, urging different sides to show political will ahead of a new round of talks scheduled in Geneva next week.
 
"A good deal is at hand if the parties will keep cooperating as they did so far and if we have enough political will from all sides to agree on a good deal and sell it domestically," she added.
 
"We have a series of internal domestic political dynamics we have to handle with care," she said, listing "tensions" in the United States Congress, Israel's elections and Sunni-Shiite rivalry in the Gulf region.
 
"A comprehensive agreement would be mutually beneficial for all sides," claimed Mogherini.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier on Tuesday said world powers "had made inroads" since reaching an interim deal with Iran in November 2013 on reining in its suspect nuclear program.
 
"We expect to know soon whether or not Iran is willing to put together an acceptable, verifiable plan," Kerry said after returning from talks in Geneva with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
 
After the two met on Monday, a United States official said that some progress was made but added much work still needed to be done.
 
Iran and six world powers reached an interim deal in November of 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.
 
The talks were supposed to continue in order to turn the interim deal into a permanent one. However, the talks have stalled and two deadlines for a final deal have been missed, with a third one looming on July 1.
 
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Kerry issued a veiled jab at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, saying that those voicing their opposition to deal being negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program are "uninformed."
 
His comments followed a statement by Netanyahu earlier today in which the prime minister said information he'd received showed a looming deal between Iran and world powers would allow the Islamic Republic to reach the nuclear threshold.

Iranian Dissidents: Iran Has a Secret Underground Nuke Site

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 09:36
Iranian nuclear facility0A group of Iranian dissidents said on Tuesday that Iran has an "underground top-secret site" that is enriching uranium intended for nuclear weapons and which has been hidden from the West for years, Fox News reports.
 
According to the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the complex, called Lavizan-3, is right outside Tehran, "buried deep underground in tunnels and underground facilities" with "radiation-proof doors" to prevent any leaks that could be detected by the United Nations International Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.
 
The revelations were unveiled during a Washington, DC, news conference by the NCRI, which first exposed elements of Iran's covert nuclear program in 2002.
 
"This site must be inspected," Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI's Washington, DC, office, said, according to Fox News.
 
"There is no way in the world you can assure Tehran is not developing nuclear weapons if you can't inspect those sites, especially if you are talking about a regime that has over two decades of a track record of lying and cheating and deceiving the whole world,” he charged.
 
The NCRI describes the underground complex as having an elevator that "descends several stories, deep underground, and opens into a 650-foot tunnel, which leads to four parallel halls. Because the ground is inclined, the halls are deeper underground," by as much as 164 feet below the surface.
 
The NCRI also said it smuggled out a photograph showing a 1-foot thick lead-lined door that shields the complex from radiation, and that the secret rooms and hallways are insulated for sound and radiation leaks so that they would remain undetected.
 
"If the United States is serious about preventing the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, it must make the continuation of talks conditional on the IAEA immediately inspecting Lavizan-3 site," said Soona Samsami, the NCRI's United States representative.
 
"Any delay in doing so will enable the Iranian regime to destroy the evidence as it has done in the past."
 
The NCRI says that the Iranian regime has secretly used the site to enrich uranium with advanced centrifuges since 2008, and is part of a long pattern of hiding its true nuclear activities in order to deceive the world powers.
 
"The notion that the Iranian regime will abandon their nuclear weapons program is misguided and a product of mullahs' duplicity and Western economic and political expediency," said Samsami.
 
The NCRI said that the revelations show that Tehran "has been continuing to lie for more than a decade and has deceived the world community. Research and Development with advanced centrifuges in highly secret sites are only intended to advance the nuclear weapons project. While the regime deceived the world into believing that it had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, it had been, in fact, heavily involved in excavating tunnels and preparing this nuclear site from 2004 to 2008. It has clearly lied."
 
The NCRI exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy-water facility at Arak in 2002. In 2007, the NCRI declared that Iran had resumed its nuclear weapons program since at least 2004, one year after being ordered to shut it down.
 
In 2013, the group claimed that it had information on a new and covert site designated for Iran’s nuclear project located in the central Isfahan province, inside a heavily guarded 600-meter tunnel. Iran rejected those claims as “baseless”.
 
Tuesday’s revelations come as Secretary of State John Kerry had been meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, over the weekend in Geneva about the nuclear program.
 
The world powers are trying to reach a deal for a political agreement on Tehran's nuclear activities by the March 31 deadline. The goal is to stop Tehran from having the ability to build a potential nuclear bomb. In return, the West would drop billions of dollars of sanctions that have hurt the Iranian economy.
 
The NCRI said it is skeptical that any agreement will stop Iran from having a nuclear bomb within its reach.
 
"Those who hope to secure the regime's cooperation in the campaign against fundamentalism by offering nuclear concessions to the mullahs are both increasing the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran and contributing to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism," the NCRI said, according to Fox News.

Iran Responds to Liberman: We'll Destroy Tel Aviv in 10 Minutes

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:38
Iran -Well Destroy Tel Aviv in 10 MinutesA senior figure in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Mujtabi Du Al-Nour, threatened on Saturday that Iran will destroy Tel Aviv in ten minutes if Israel "makes a mistake" and strikes the Islamic regime's nuclear facilities.
 
Al-Nour, who is a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a talk with journalists responded to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's (Yisrael Beytenu) comments from Friday, when he said Israel should stop talking and start acting by striking the facilities said to be developing nuclear weapons.
 
"If the Zionists were sure that they would win in war they would already have initiated it, but they don't have the strength to do that - so they just threatened," blustered Al-Nour.
 
According to the Revolutionary Guards leader, Iran has rockets that can reach the heart of Tel Aviv within six or seven minutes, "even before the rockets of the Zionists reach us."
 
The threat, coming as it does during Iran's efforts to increase its nuclear output capability by 19-fold and feasibly obtain the ability to equip nuclear warheads on the rockets Al-Nour claims the country possesses, gives extra urgency to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's warnings against a bad nuclear deal.
 
Netanyahu is posed to address the US Congress on March 3 about the Iranian nuclear problem in a speech that has raised uproar among the left in Israel and the US, given its proximity to March 17 Knesset elections.
 
The speech is meant to warn against leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities as talks between world powers and Iran approach a March 31 deadline, with Netanyahu warning the deal in its current formation would leave Iran a nuclear threshold state, and a state which has threatened to destroy Israel as Al-Nour reiterated on Saturday.

Iran's Houthis Start Battle to Control Red Sea Entry

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 16:03
Yemeni watersThe Shi'ite Houthi militia which is loyal to Iran and receives support from the Islamic regime has moved its conquest of Yemen into a new stage, opening its battle for the southern port city of Aden which controls access to the Red Sea and ultimately to Eilat and Israel.
 
Earlier this month the Houthis established their temporary government, the Supreme Revolutionary Council, in the presidential castle in the capital city of Sana'a after besieging the previous government in the castle until it disbanded. 
 
On Monday, the new government led by acting president Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi ratified a decision to take over control of the country and called on the UN Security Council to "honor the will of the Yemenite people," framing their coup as a locally supported event despite the fierce opposition the Houthi minority militia is facing having taken control.
 
After being forced to resign, former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi remains under house arrest enforced by members of the Houthi militia "Ansar Allah."
 
The Houthi militia is concentrating its efforts on establishing a base of power in central Yemen, dispersing protests against it with live fire.
 
In addition, special forces loyal to the Houthis have begun operations to try and capture governmental buildings in the Aden district of southern Yemen, with reports surfacing of battles breaking out between the Houthis and local forces near the Aden airport.
 
Aden has become the central goal of the Houthis, as control of the port city allows domination over entry to the Red Sea through which commerce transverses to Israel and Europe.
 
Foreign ministers of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council nations responded to the developments by expressing their concerns over the Iranian-backed conquest of Yemen, pressuring the UN Security Council to take action on the matter including issuing permission to conduct military operations in Yemen.

Khamenei Calls 'American Sniper' Film 'Anti-Muslim'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 15:12
Hassan RouhaniIran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei weighed in on Hollywood according to reports Tuesday, in which he claimed the Oscar-nominated movie "American Sniper" about an elite US Navy Seal is an example of anti-Islam propaganda.
 
Veteran actor-director Clint Eastwood's film, which was released on December 25 and has garnered six Oscar nominations, tells the story of Chris Kyle's four tours in Iraq as a sniper, reports AFP.
 
Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper in the movie, is officially credited with 160 kills in Iraq.
 
"This 'Sniper' film which has made so much noise...encourages a young person, for example a Christian or non-Muslim, to harass a Muslim as much as possible," the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying. "That's what they say about the film. I haven't seen it myself."
 
Khamenei's comments, published on the website khamenei.ir which showcases his speeches, were made three weeks ago after the early January attacks by jihadists in Paris against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket that killed 17 people total.
 
Khamenei denounced "propaganda against Muslims in Europe and America," saying there was "no trace of aggression against non-Muslims by Muslims" since the advent of the Islamic republic in 1979.
 
Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were murdered at a Texas shooting range in February 2013. A former US Marine is currently on trial charged with both killings.
 
The negative film review by Iran's dictatorial supreme leader brings to mind North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un's harsh condemnation of the Hollywood film "The Interview," a comedy about talk show hosts being tasked with assassinating Kim which launched an exchange of cyber attacks between North Korea and the US.
 
Responding to the film, North Korea threatened to attack the White House, after previously calling it a "declaration of war."

Americans Believe ISIS 'Greatest Threat' to US

Category: News
Created on Monday, 16 February 2015 11:50
Islamic State Threatens AmericansAmericans believe the Islamic State group poses the most serious threat to the United States in the next decade, according to a poll released Friday.
 
Eighty-four percent of those quizzed by Gallup said ISIS jihadists, who have grabbed large areas of Iraq and Syria in a brutal onslaught, and terrorism in general presented a "critical threat," according to AFP. 
 
Respondents put the possible development of nuclear weapons by Iran - which says its nuclear aims are peaceful - as the next most serious danger, followed by the "military power of North Korea."
 
Despite its alleged backing of rebels in the conflict in Ukraine, only 49 percent of those polled said the military power of Russia was the gravest threat to the US, and 44 percent were worried about the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
 
"In a winter that has seen acts of unspeakable terrorism, with Obama seeking authorization for military action against the Islamic State, Americans are clearly concerned about Islamic militants and terrorists," Gallup said.
 
"The conflict in Ukraine may not worry Americans as much because they see it as more of a threat to Europe than to the US."
 
The results were based on telephone interviews conducted from Sunday to Wednesday, with a random sample of 837 adults, across the United States.

Secret Iranian Unit Ships Illegal Weapons Throughout Middle East

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 February 2015 14:17
Members of Irans Revolutionary Guard IRGC - ReutersA covert cell operating under the Iranian government is fueling the bloodshed throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Fox News revealed Thursday.
 
Unit 190, a secret arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force made up of about two-dozen employees, has for years smuggled arms to these conflict zones, the network said.
 
After an extensive investigation tracing the land, air and sea routes used by the Quds Force to move weapons to Hezbollah, Hamas and now the Houthis in Yemen, Fox News has also learned from western intelligence sources the name of the Iranian man who is a key player in Unit 190: Behnam Shahariyari, born in 1968 in Ardabil, northwest Iran.
 
Western intelligence sources who spoke to the network said Shahariyari runs a network of straw companies which skirt sanctions and pack RPG's, night-vision equipment and long-range rockets in powdered milk, cement and spare vehicle parts.
 
“Very often arms and explosives were placed in trucks underneath legal cargo in order to hide them,” said Michael Eisenstadt, director of Military and Security Studies programs for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
 
In May 2007, when Turkey intercepted containers filled with 122mm mortar shells and explosives destined for Hezbollah via Syria in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1747, the bill of lading had Shahariyari's signature on it.
 
A hangar in the civilian section of the international airport in Tehran near the Iran Air terminal reportedly serves as a warehouse for Unit 190, according to western intelligence sources who provided Fox News with a photo of the hangar.
 
In fact, the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned front companies used by the Quds Force’s Unit 190 to transport weapons to Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups in the Middle East, in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
 
“Many times when you see the United States government imposing sanctions on so-called ‘commercial businesses’ in Iran, it's in reality the Quds Force that they are trying to sanction,” Ali Alfoneh, an Iranian-born political scientist at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Fox News.
 
“There are several major Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf region which serve as shipping points for Iran's armed transportation to the region,” he added.
 
More recently, in January 2013, the U.S. Navy intercepted 40 tons of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles on board a boat named the Jeehan-1, weapons that western intelligence officials say were destined for the Houthis.
 
“We know that there is a relationship between the Houthis and Tehran,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. “We've been very clear on multiple occasions about our concerns about the tentacles that Iran has throughout the region, specifically with support to groups and organizations that aren't doing anything to increase stability in the region.”
 
In October 2012, explosions rocked the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Video from that night shows the factory in the southwest part of Sudan's capital where Iran stored the weapons that intelligence officials say they planned to distribute overland through Egypt into Gaza and elsewhere across the Middle East.
 
Sudan has blamed Israel for the explosion. Israel refused all comment on Sudan's accusation about the factory blast, though a top Israeli defense official said Sudan "serves as a route for the transfer, via Egyptian territory, of Iranian weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists."
 
“Apparently, that was a compound that was probably used as a transshipment point,” Eisenstadt told Fox News.
 
“The Iranians would bring in arms from Iran to Port Sudan and they would bring the arms to this transshipment point awaiting re-transport over land to Gaza or to other points in Africa.”
 
Israel has several times intercepted Iranian arms shipments: in March 2014 the Israeli navy stopped a commercial ship called the Klos-C which was filled with Syrian long range rockets.
 
In March 2011, it intercepted the Victoria with Iranian C-704 shore-to-sea missiles onboard, reportedly destined for Gaza.
 
In October 2010, Nigerian security forces arrested Quds Force activists in Nigeria after intercepting a shipment of mortar shells and rockets destined for Gambia, noted Fox News.
 
In January 2009, the USS Farragut helped intercept in the Red Sea a former Russian ship filled with explosives that originated in Iran. It was escorted to Cyprus, where the contents of the cargo later exploded, killing a senior officer in the Cypriot Navy and leaving a 600 yard wide crater.
 
In November 2009, Israel intercepted the Francop, a vessel with 500 tons of weapons onboard.

Iran Revolutionary Guards Chief Says ISIS 'Nearing its End'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 February 2015 11:23
Maj Gen Qassem SuleimaniAn influential Iranian general who has reportedly been near the front line against the Islamic State (ISIS) group was quoted Thursday saying the Sunni jihadists are "nearing the end of their lives".
 
General Qassem Suleimani, the once rarely seen commander of the powerful Qods Force, has become the public face of Iran's support for the Iraqi and Syrian governments against Sunni rebellions in their countries.
 
He has frequently been pictured on social media in Iraq with pro-government forces, including Kurdish fighters and Shia Islamist militia units in battle areas.  
 
"Considering the heavy defeats suffered by Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, we are certain these groups are nearing the end of their lives," Suleimani was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.  
 
His extremely rare published remarks came in a speech made Wednesday in his home province Kerman to mark the 36th anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution.  
 
Suleimani also said Tehran's regional influence was growing.
 
"Today we see signs of the Islamic revolution being exported throughout the region, from Bahrain to Iraq and from Syria to Yemen and North Africa," he said.
 
"The arrogants and Zionists have admitted, more than before, to their own weakness and to the Islamic republic's power, following their successive defeats," he said.
 
Iranian officials often use the term "arrogants" to refer to the United States and other Western powers, while "Zionists" is used in Tehran to refer to Israel without acknowledging its existence as a state.
 
Suleimani reportedly landed in Baghdad hours after ISIS overran Mosul in June and led a counter-attack at the head of Iran's deep military involvement in Iraq.
 
The Qods Force - the foreign wing of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards - conducts sensitive security functions abroad, including intelligence, special operations and political action deemed necessary to "protect the Islamic republic", which often takes the form of terrorist attacks and sabotage.
 
It's primary aim is to "export the revolution" of radical Shia Islam in Iran.
 
It has provided key support to pro-regime forces in Syria, including training, advice and in active combat.

Has Iran Conquered Yemen?

Category: News
Created on Monday, 09 February 2015 20:30
HouthisThe "Arab spring" continues in Yemen, where the Shi'ite Houthi militia loyal to Iran has completely taken control of the government in the capital city of Sana'a, after forcing the disbanding of the previous government and parliament by besieging the seat of government.
 
The Houthi "transition government" has been established for a two year period, and has already published a "constitutional declaration" adding to Yemen's constitution.
 
Iran's proxy group took control of Sana'a last September, forcing the resignation of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in January.
 
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, the new president of Yemen, has already created a supreme security council with 17 members, most of them from the Houthi minority. The council, which is chaired by General Mahmoud Salam Al-Subeihi who was defense minister in the previous government, is tasked with managing state affairs.
 
Not all are taking kindly to the Houthi takeover however; in the south and east of the country there is widespread opposition to the new government, and concern that it will allow Iran to take over Yemen, thereby endangering the Arabian Peninsula and control the Red Sea.
 
The security council in the city of Aden has established a "security belt" meant to check the advance of the Houthis.
 
In Sana'a, meanwhile, massive protests are being held against the new pro-Iranian regime, but they are being quashed by Houthi activists whose slogan is "death to America, death to Israel."
 
Iran held a massive naval drill late last December in which it sent war ships near the Yemenite coast, in a clear message signalling the Islamic regime's interests.
 
It's Houthi proxies have already captured several port cities, significantly Hodeidah, and are now working under Iran's direction to take over the strategic strait of Bab el-Mandeb, controlling access to the Red Sea and possibly putting Israel's port of Eilat under its control.

Netanyahu: Israel 'Will Do Everything' to Prevent Iran Deal

Category: News
Created on Monday, 09 February 2015 10:56
Binyamin NetanyahuPrime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the issue of Iran's nuclear program on Sunday, at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting. 
 
"The major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel," Netanyahu stated. 
 
"The American Secretary of State and the Iranian Foreign Minister held talks over the weekend," he added, referring to US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. "They announced that they intend to complete a framework agreement by the end of March."
 
"From this stems the urgency of our efforts to try and block this bad and dangerous agreement," he continued. "We will continue to take action and to lead the international effort against Iran's arming itself with nuclear weapons."
 
"We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement that will place a heavy cloud over the future of the State of Israel and its security." 

Iranian Commander: We Helped 'Palestine' Produce Missiles

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 09:48
Amir Ali HajizadehA senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) boasted this week that Iran had provided Syria, Iraq, “Palestine” and Hezbollah with the needed know-how to produce missiles to hurt Israel.
 
"The IRGC's Aerospace Force has developed to a stage in the field of missile industries that it can mass-produce different types of short- and mid-range missiles," the commander, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said in Tehran on Monday, according to the Fars news agency.
 
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has helped Iraq, Syria, Palestine and the Lebanese Hezbollah by exporting the technology that it has for the production of missiles and other equipment, and they can now stand against the Zionist regime, the [ISIS] and other Takfiri groups and cripple them," he boasted.
 
Hajizadeh also stressed Iran's self-sufficiency in building radar systems and drones, and added that the country has also exported its drone technology and products to other countries.
 
Iran often boasts of its military capabilities and of its assistance to terrorist groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Last August, Hajizadeh declared that Tehran will "accelerate" arming Palestinians in Judea and Samaria in retaliation for Israel allegedly deploying a spy drone over Iran, which was shot down.
 
A top Iranian military commander later declared that weapon shipments to Judea and Samaria have already begun and that more will be sent to other “Palestinian resistance groups.”
 
Iran has been upping its anti-Israel rhetoric in recent days, since a January 18 airstrike allegedly carried out by Israel in the Syrian Golan Heights killed an Iranian commander along with several members of Hezbollah.
 
General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, threatened a missile attack on Israel, indicating it would come from Judea and Samaria and not from Lebanon.
 
Revolutionary Guards Minister Mohsen Rafighdoost said that the strike would pave the way for a war against Israel. A senior official in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Ramezan Sharif, declared that the airstrike “will accelerate the collapse of the Zionist regime.”

Iranian Official Calls to 'Wipe Out the Zionist Regime'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:16
General Mohammad Reza NaqdiIran is continuing to threaten to retaliate against Israel for an airstrike last week, in which Iran's General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was killed.
 
On Monday, a senior official in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Ramezan Sharif, declared that the airstrike “will accelerate the collapse of the Zionist regime.”
 
“Undoubtedly, the bloods shed in the front of awakening the Islamic Ummah have provided the ground more than ever for wiping out the Zionist regime,” Sharif said in Tehran, according to the Fars news agency.
 
He called on Muslim states to unite and said that the Islamic countries should desist from provoking rifts and use all their capacities to fight “the child-killing Zionist regime” instead.
 
Another Iranian official, General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, said that the airstrike justified “striking painful blows at the Zionist regime.”
 
Naqdi warned “the Zionists” that they would soon be forced to leave “the occupied Palestinian territories”, and added, according to Fars, "They will not experience tranquility, these bloods will not remain without a response and they should remain fully alerted until complete annihilation of the Zionist regime."
 
In the airstrike, six Iran-proxy Hezbollah terrorists were killed, including Jihad Mughniyeh who was the son of the late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh. Six Iranian soldiers were also killed, including Allahdadi.
 
Reportedly the 12 were engaged in a surveillance mission planning an attack on Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights when they were taken out by a missile fired from an IDF helicopter.
 
Monday’s threats are the latest in a series of threats from Iranian officials over the airstrike. Several days ago, General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, threatened a missile attack on Israel, indicating it would come from Judea and Samaria and not from Lebanon.
 
Going further, Revolutionary Guards Minister Mohsen Rafighdoost said last Wednesday that the strike would pave the way for a war against Israel.
 
As well, a Farsi-language Iranian news site affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, has suggested that the sons of Israeli leaders are being targeted as a response to the Israeli airstrike.
 
The news site, Mashregh News, detailed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's sons Yair and Avner may be targeted, and likewise listed the sons of former prime ministers, including Ehud Olmert's son Shaul and Ariel Sharon's sons Gilad and Omri.

Saudis Seek Greater US Role in Mideast as Obama Visits

Category: News
Created on Monday, 26 January 2015 13:15
Obama bowing to Saudi's kingNew Saudi King Salman is expected to use President Barack Obama's stopover on Tuesday to push for greater US involvement in resolving Middle East crises, analysts say.
 
Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, is cutting short a visit to India to convey his condolences after the death of ailing King Abdullah last Friday.  
 
Following the death, Obama in a statement paid tribute to the late king as a bold leader who made an enduring contribution to Middle East peace.
 
The American president praised Abdullah's "steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship."
 
But despite the longstanding strategic partnership between the world's biggest oil exporter and one of its major buyers, analysts say Riyadh has grown dissatisfied with what it sees as a lack of US engagement with the region's key issues.  
 
Anwar Eshki, chairman of the Jeddah-based Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, said "divergences persist" between the two sides.
 
These differences include the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group, Yemen, Syria and Libya, Eshki said.
 
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors in September joined a US-led coalition conducting air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
 
Despite this cooperation, Riyadh thinks "it is necessary to eliminate the underlying reasons" that led to the emergence of ISIS, chiefly discrimination against Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Eshki said.
 
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said in New Delhi confirmed that Yemen's turmoil and the battle against ISIS would figure on the agenda.
 
"I'm sure that while we are there, they will touch on some of the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi Arabia," he said.  
 
"Clearly that would include the continued counter-ISIL campaign where the Saudis have been a partner and have joined us in military operations," he said, using another term for ISIS.
 
"That of course also includes the situation in Yemen where we have coordinated very closely with Saudi Arabia and the other countries."
 
Relations not ideal
 
Riyadh would like Washington to exercise more pressure to get the protagonists in both Yemen and Libya back to negotiations, Eshki said.
 
Libya has two rival governments and powerful militias are battling for territory.
 
In Yemen, on Saudi Arabia's southern border, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, a key US ally in the fight against Al Qaeda, tendered his resignation last week after Shiite militiamen kidnapped his chief of staff and seized key buildings.
 
Seen from Riyadh, US Secretary of State John Kerry has failed to achieve a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 13 years after the kingdom launched its own initiative for peace with the Jewish state, Eshki pointed out.
 
Ties between Washington and Riyadh have not been at the ideal level in recent years, said Jean-Francois Seznec, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University in the United States.
 
"The Saudis at all levels think that the Americans are no longer reliable," said Seznec.
 
However, he said the Saudis view in "a quite positive way" international negotiations with Iran and a potential agreement on Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
 
The US and four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council face a June 30 deadline for a final deal with Iran.
 
Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shiite-dominated Iran are regional rivals.
 
According to Seznec, the Saudis are convinced that if international powers reach an agreement with Tehran, the Saudis could then strike their own deal with Iran to "restore order" in the region, starting in Syria and Yemen.
 
Frederic Wehrey, of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Middle East Program, said disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the United States are manageable.
 
"But the Saudis are still looking for greater collaboration and coordination," he said.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Site Threatens Netanyahu's Sons

Category: News
Created on Monday, 26 January 2015 09:11
Binyamin Avner Sarah and Yair NetanyahuA Farsi-language Iranian news site affiliated with the Islamic regime's Revolutionary Guards suggested that the sons of Israeli leaders are being targeted as a response to the Israeli airstrike in Syria last week, in which Iran's General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was killed.
 
The news site, Mashregh News, detailed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's sons Yair and Avner may be targeted, and likewise listed the sons of former prime ministers, including Ehud Olmert's son Shaul and Ariel Sharon's sons Gilad and Omri.
 
The article included an altered image of Netanyahu's sons behind crosshairs, seen from a sniper's scope perspective. It also included general background information on Yair and Avner that is readily available from the internet.
 
In the airstrike, six Iran-proxy Hezbollah terrorists were killed, including Jihad Mughniyeh who was the son of the late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh. Six Iranian soldiers were also killed, including Allahdadi.
 
Reportedly the 12 were engaged in a surveillance mission planning an attack on Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights when they were taken out by a missile fired from an IDF helicopter.
 
In response, Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, threatened a missile attack on Israel, indicating it would come from Judea and Samaria and not from Lebanon.
 
Going further, Revolutionary Guards Minister Mohsen Rafighdoost said last Wednesday that the strike would pave the way for a war against Israel
 
Reports last Thursday indicated that Israeli military intelligence meticulously coordinated the strike, despite earlier claims that the hit on the Iranian and Hezbollah generals were an "accident." 
 
According to Kuwaiti sources, Israel ordered a specific assassination hit on Allahdadi as the general moved between Syrian outposts, through information gained via wiretapping. 

Iran Threatens New Enrichment if Sanctions Pass

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 25 January 2015 18:18
Iran Threatens New EnrichmentAs yet another round of talks between Western countries and Iran on the latter country's scaling back its uranium enrichment program wrapped up with no progress last week, Iran announced that it would seek to enrich uranium to even greater levels.
 
Iranian parliamentarians said over the weekend they would draft a new law to upgrade enrichment efforts and acquire advanced centriuges.
 
Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, chairman of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that “this bill will allow the government to continue enrichment, using new generation centrifuges. The parliament's nuclear committee is working on the technical issues and details of this draft.”
 
A bill by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Mark Kirk would impose new sanctions on Iran if a nuclear deal is not reached by March, a timetable that has already been extended past the original November deadline.  
 
Under an interim deal, Iran's stock of fissile material has been diluted from 20 percent enriched uranium to five percent in exchange for limited sanctions relief. But Iran warned Friday that that deal would be thrown out if the US tried to pass new sanctions.
 
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that “a sanctions bill by the U.S. Congress will kill the Joint Plan of Action that we adopted last year in Geneva,” and that Iran would “retaliate” by stepping up its enrichment efforts.''
 
On Thursday, a group of top European diplomats spoke out against imposing new sanctions on Iran at this time, calling for talks between Western powers and the Islamic Republic to be given an opportunity to succeed.
 
“While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation and engaging with the world, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal. We should not give them new arguments. New sanctions at this moment might also fracture the international coalition that has made sanctions so effective so far. Rather than strengthening our negotiating position, new sanctions legislation at this point would set us back,” wrote the diplomats.
 
Nuclear negotiators of Iran and the P5+1 countries – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US, plus Germany – wrapped up their second round of talks concerning Tehran's nuclear program last Sunday. They agreed to resume their discussions next month.
 
The talks, chaired by EU official Helga Schmid, are being held with the hope of achieving further progress towards a long-term comprehensive solution on the nuclear issue.
 
This was the second round of discussions since Tehran and the P5+1 group failed to work out a permanent nuclear deal by last November's deadline. The sides decided to extend their talks for seven more months until July 1.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Vow War on Israel After Airstrike

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 24 January 2015 12:52
Hossein SalamiIranian officials repeatedly broadcast daily threats toward Israel following the attack carried out last week in Syria, which killed six Iranian soldiers, including commanders, as well as six members of Hezbollah.
 
Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said Israel should expect a strong reaction against it, as proven in the past by the Revolutionary Guards, and Israel will see the "destructive lightning" of the Islamic Republic. 
 
He said that Israel is a strategic component of Iran's struggle against the United States, and therefore Iran is building military strength along Israel's borders - areas from which it can launch missiles via Hezbollah and "Palestine," as well as Shahab missiles from its own soil.
 
Salami further claimed that the Israeli attack strategy in the airstrike reflects the failure of the US and Israel in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries, and that reality shows that these two states are in decline, so they took actions which are only a sign of weakness.
 
Mohsen Rafighdoost, Minister of the Revolutionary Guards, said during a memorial service held on Wednesday for the Hezbollah terrorists killed in the strike that it would pave the way for a war against Israel. 
 
Iran's backlash follows reports Thursday that Israeli military intelligence meticulously coordinated the strike, despite earlier claims that the hit on the Iranian and Hezbollah generals were an "accident." 
 
The strike killed Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the late Imad Mughniyeh who was Hezbollah's former military commander, and Iranian general General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi.
 
According to Kuwaiti sources, Israel ordered a specific assassination hit on Allahdadi as the general moved between Syrian outposts, through information gained via wiretapping. 

Israel Targeted Iranian General after Tapping Phone Call

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 23 January 2015 21:02
Iran general died in Israeli strike in Syrian GolanThe alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria this week which killed twelve Hezbollah and Iranian terrorists was not an "accident," a Kuwaiti newspaper reports Thursday - it was a targeted strike carried out after Israel monitored Hezbollah's communications network. 
 
Israeli intelligence officials knew an hour and a half in advance of the strikes which terrorists were at the attack site and marked them as targets, according to Al-Rai.
 
Sources also told the daily that "Israel knew very well who was in the motorcade, as they were monitoring [terrorists'] conversations." 
 
Moreover, they said, Israel's target had always been Iranian general General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi - not Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the late Imad Mughniyeh who was Hezbollah's former military commander. 
 
"Israel just thinks it can shirk away from direct responsibility for the strike by informing the public, because there was no military action on Iranian soil, but in Syria," they insisted. "But the prevailing opinion in Tehran is that Iran clearly understood the message, and that no one takes Israel's failure to claim responsibility seriously." 
 
Exclusive information received by the newspaper show that Allahdadi's role was to assess Hezbollah's military missions in Syria, which is the epicenter of an Islamic holy war between a multitude of factions and rebel groups. 
 
Allahdadi's visit to Quneitra was not his first tour of the Golan region, the sources said, and he moved constantly between various border outposts.
 
More than an hour and a half before the assassination, he left Damascus for Quneitra, the paper added. Israeli intelligence moved quickly to establish who was in his convoy during the short journey and quickly ordered his assassination during that time, it said. 

Iranian Chief Rabbi Bans Insulting Mohammed

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 22 January 2015 07:54
the Victims of the Charlie HebdoIran's Chief Rabbi has blamed the Charlie Hebdo attack on the magazine's publishers themselves, Iranian media reported Tuesday night, saying that the attack was only a matter of time after the weekly published cartoons of the founder of Islam Mohammed. 
 
In a rare statement Iranian media attributed to Rabbi Mashallah Golestan Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Jewish leader said that in his view, the French government should close the magazine for stirring up tensions. 
 
"To harm any religion is an offense to God, and violation of God's prophets is forbidden," he allegedly said. 
 
The statement also gave an ostensibly halakhic (Jewish law) ruling that publications which violate this rule "are subject to one of the four forms of capital punishment- burning, stoning, strangling, and decapitation," according to "Jewish customs" which "of course have nothing to do with contemporary Zionism." 
 
Rabbi Mashallah Golestan Ahmadinejad replaced Iran's former chief rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Hamadani Cohen, after his death last year. Iran had between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews before the revolution but most have since fled, mainly to the United States, Israel and Europe; there are now only about 8,500, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz, major cities south of the capital.
 
Iranian Jews in Israel have noted that while Tehran outwardly presents a tolerant face regarding its Jewish community, Iranian Jews, like other minority groups in the country, still face forms of persecution - including a functional ban on speaking about or supporting Israel, the Islamic Republic's sworn enemy. 
 
Iranian Jews living abroad - and thus able to speak freely - have noted that the regime often coerces or otherwise pressurizes the country's remaining Jews to exhibit their "support" for Tehran's stances, including enmity towards Israel.
 
Indeed, Rabbi Ahmadinejad's statement appears forced to say the least: capital punishment in Jewish law can only be carried out by the currently non-extant Sanhedrin, or supreme religious court, and has never applied to insulting any prophets - let alone those of other religions.
 
In March 2014, it was revealed that eight Iranian Jews between 1994 and 1997 were murdered on their way to Israel; more recently, an Iranian Jewish community member told AFP that a glass ceiling still exists in Iran for Jews in various fields and that murderers convicted of killing Jews receive light sentences

Revenge Vowed at Funeral of Iranian General Killed in Airstrike

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 22 January 2015 07:25
Hezbollah military paradeThousands gathered in Tehran Wednesday at a funeral procession for a Revolutionary Guards general killed by Israel, after his commander warned the Jewish state it should "await destructive thunderbolts".
 
General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died alongside six terrorists from Lebanon's Hezbollah group in the attack Sunday near Quneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights.
 
Allahdadi's coffin was draped in an Iranian flag as it was carried into a Guards base in southeast Tehran. He is to be buried on Thursday in Pariz, a town in the southern province of Kerman.
 
"The path of martyr Allahdadi is unstoppable and will be continued until the liberation of the Holy Quds (Jerusalem) and obliteration of the Zionist regime," Guards commander Major General Ali Jafari said at a ceremony at the base, according to the official IRNA news agency.  
 
The mourners chanted "Death to Israel" and burned two Israeli flags.  
 
Allahdadi died alongside Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, and Mohammed Issa, the Hezbollah commander responsible for the terror group's operations in Syria and Iraq.  
 
An Israeli security source told AFP one of its helicopters carried out the strike, but a United Nations' observer force in the Golan on raised the possibility that drones may have been used.
 
On Tuesday, Jafari took aim at Israel, saying "the Zionists should await destructive thunderbolts."  
 
"They have in the past seen our wrath," he said, adding the Guards "will continue its support for Muslim fighters and combatants in the region."  
 
For his part, the defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, said "this action of Zionists will not be left without a response. The important thing is the question of the time and place of this response."
 
Mohsen Rezaie, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, added that Hezbollah would eventually retaliate against "this recent atrocity," but that the group was "prudent and has a long term plan and will not be infuriated."
 
Once solely focused on fighting Israel, Hezbollah is now deeply involved in the war in Syria, where it backs President Bashar al-Assad.
 
Shia Iran is Assad's main regional ally in his war against the mainly Sunni rebels seeking to overthrow him.
 
Hezbollah's Al-Manar television said the group's six fighters were killed on a reconnaissance mission.
 
But an Israeli security source said the strike was on terrorists who were preparing an attack on the Jewish state.
 
The incident came days after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened to retaliate against Israel for its repeated preemptive strikes on targets in Syria, and boasted the movement was stronger than ever.
 
He touted a sophisticated arsenal, including Fateh-110 missiles, which have a range of 200 kilometers (125 miles) or more and are capable of hitting much of Israel.

Iran-Backed Houthi Rebels Besiege Yemen's President

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 10:22
Armed-members-of-HouthisThe Iran-backed Shi'ite terrorist organization in Yemen, the Houthis, have besieged the presidential palace in the capital city of Sana'a where they have grabbed de facto control in recent months, and even opened cannon fire on the palace to force their demands to be met.
 
The Houthis are threatening President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, demanding that he increase the Houthi Shi'ite minority's representation in the parliament, that he change the draft constitution proposed in recent days, and that he agree to let the Houthis expand their control into additional regions of Yemen.
 
Those additional regions that the Houthis are demanding include areas rich in oil in the country's east and south, as well as the Bab el-Mandeb strait which holds massive strategic importance in controlling the Red Sea - and as a result - sea access to Israel's southern port of Eilat.
 
The Houthis are aided by members of the presidential guard who are loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was president until being deposed in 2012.
 
Their fierce gunfights on Monday with the army forces loyal to the current president left nine people killed and 67 people wounded.
 
During the clashes, the Houthis opened fire on the motor convoy of Yemen's Prime Minister Khaled Bahah as he made his way to his office in the presidential palace.
 
Iran looking to take over Yemen, cut off Israel
 
Reports from Sana'a indicated that the Houthis and the president reached a ceasefire agreement, by which the president agreed to change the constitution, although it remains unclear if the standoff is over given the Houthis' other demands. In any case, the ceasefire isn't seen as having any meaningful change for the situation in Yemen, which is rapidly spiraling into a bloody civil war.
 
The London-based Arabic paper Asharq Al-Awsat reports that the tribes in southern and eastern Yemen that oppose the Houthis have recruited 13,000 fighters ready for war against them, should the Houthis carry out their threats to conquer the oil-rich areas by force.
 
Likewise they contacted the Sunni-jihadi Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which holds several bases in Yemen, to request their help in fighting off the Houthis.
 
In response to the Houthi actions in the capital, the tribes forced the oil companies to stop oil and gas production in the Shabwa and Hadhramaut Governorates, with a goal of cutting off oil supplies to Sana'a.
 
According to the tribal factions, Iranian officers are in Yemen aiding the Houthis take over the country, with their strategy being to conquer the key points of Bab el-Mandab, Ma'rib and Ta'izz, after having already conquered two Red Sea ports: Al Hudaydah and Miri.
 
Reportedly Iran is seeking to gain control over Yemen in a similar way in which it has used its proxy terror group Hezbollah to gain control in Lebanon. Control in Bab el-Mandeb would put Israeli and European commercial shipping routes between the Red Sea and Asia under the finger of Iran.
 
Iran held a massive naval drill late last December in which it sent war ships near the Yemenite coast, in a clear message signalling the Islamic regime's interests.

Iranian General Among Dead in IAF Golan Strike

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 18:19
Iran general died in Israeli strike in Syrian GolanAn Israeli strike on Syria that killed six members of the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah terrorist organization also killed six Iranian solders and commanders, including an Iranian general.
 
"The Israeli strike killed six Iranian soldiers, including commanders, as well as the six members of Hezbollah. They were all in a convoy of three cars," a source close to the Shia Islamist group told AFP on condition of anonymity.
 
Iranian officials confirmed the claim shortly after, adding that one of those killed was a general in the elite Revolutionary Guard force.
 
"General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and a number of fighters and Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) forces were attacked by the Zionist regime's helicopters," said a statement on the Guards' website. "This brave general and some members of Hezbollah were martyred."
 
The strike killed Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the late Imad Mughniyeh who was Hezbollah's former military commander. Mughniyeh was among six Hezbollah terrorists killed, including a Hezbollah commander.
 
Mughniyeh, who according to intelligence sources was planning attacks on Israel's north and had formed a terrorist organization of his own backed by Hezbollah and Iran, was to be buried on Monday afternoon in Beirut's southern suburbs, a stronghold of the terror group.
 
On Monday afternoon, mourners gathered in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold for Mughniyeh's funeral.
 
"God willing, the resistance will retaliate but the leadership of the resistance will be the one to decide the nature and timing," said Hassana Sadaqa, as she prepared to pay her respects.
 
Mughniyeh will be buried in the same grave as his father Imad, who was killed in a 2008 car bombing that Hezbollah blamed on Israel.
 
The six terrorists killed on Sunday afternoon were carrying out a field reconnaissance mission in Mazraat Amal village, near Quneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, Hezbollah's Al-Manar television said.
 
An Israeli security source confirmed that an Israeli helicopter had carried out a strike against terrorists in the Golan who were allegedly carrying out an attack.
 
Hezbollah responded by vowing an attack on Israel, but made clear it does not want another full-scale war.
 
"What happened is that the Israelis called Hezbollah's bluff last night," said Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University in Beirut. "Hezbollah will not be able to retaliate, because if it retaliates, it will be another war. Hezbollah is in Syria and it is not ready for another war against Israel."
 
That "bluff" was stated clearly last week, when Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah bombastically threatened to conquer the northern Galilee region of Israel in two separate interviews.
 
Lebanese media weighed the prospect of conflict, with the Al-Safir newspaper saying Hezbollah needed something "more than a reply and less than a war." In Israel, analysts made the same calculation.
 
"Hezbollah doesn't want a full-fledged war," said Yoram Schweitzer, a former Israeli military counterterrorism chief.
 
"It has a number of possibilities to respond in different arenas. We assume that it currently does not want full contact," he told AFP.

Obama Reiterates: I Will Veto New Sanctions on Iran

Category: News
Created on Monday, 19 January 2015 23:28
Barack Hussein Obama  U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday reiterated once again that he will veto proposed bipartisan legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran so long as diplomatic negotiations over a nuclear deal remain underway.
 
"I will veto a bill that comes to my desk," Obama said in response to a question from ABC News at a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.
 
"There is no good argument for us to undercut, undermine the negotiations until they play out," Obama said, adding that hitting Iran's economy with new sanctions in the next 60 to 90 days would violate an interim agreement reached last year, deepen recriminations, and heighten the risk of a military confrontation.
 
"Congress needs to show patience," Obama said, according to ABC News, though he stressed that if a deal is not reached, "I would be the first one to come to congress to say we need to tighten the screws.”
 
The comments come as Republican and Democratic lawmakers continue to press ahead with a plan for more sanctions on Iran despite Obama’s objection.
 
Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez are finalizing a bill for tougher sanctions on Iran if there is no final nuclear deal by June 30.
 
The bill, introduced by the two last year, was gaining momentum in Congress, but Obama lobbied hard against it.
 
At Friday’s press conference, Prime Minister Cameron also warned Congress against new sanctions and said he would personally call lawmakers to express the UK view.
 
"I have contacted a couple senators this morning, and I may speak to a few more this afternoon," he said, "simply to make the point that as a country that stands alongside America in these vital negotiations that it’s our opinion that further sanctions won't help."
 
Talks between Iran and the six world powers, aimed at turning the interim agreement into a permanent one, have not made substantial progress.  The two sides failed to clinch a definitive deal by a November deadline and agreed to extend the talks for another seven months.
 
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met in Geneva and held what was described as “intensive talks” on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Gulf States Fear Iranian Takeover of Yemen

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 02 January 2015 12:48
Shiite rebel seizure of YemenAn Arabic-language newspaper in London reported Thursday that pro-Iranian militias in Yemen have tightened their grip on the country – to the extent that they have taken over the country's national bank. As a result, Gulf states have withdrawn their support for Yemen, leaving the road open for a full takeover by Iranian-backed groups.
 
According to A-Sharq al-Awsat, the Houthi rebel groups took over a number of government offices this week, including the country's civil aviation authority, and the Bank of Yemen. Speaking to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, a Yemen government official said that a negotiated settlement to curb violence under UN auspices signed earlier this year “has practically been annulled due to the practices of the Houthis who are seeking to take complete control of the Yemeni state.”
 
In addition to the takeovers, Houthis kidnapped several top officials, including Maj. Gen. Yehia Al-Marani, undersecretary of Yemen’s central security agency.
 
The Houthis are a Shi'ite Islamist group that has claimed that Shi'ites in Yemen are mistreated. The official told A-Sharq al-Awsat that Sunni Yemeni groups were becoming “very upset” at the continued coup the Houthis are apparently conducting. Islamist groups, including one backed by Al-Qaeda, are likely to take action in the near future – dragging the country even deeper into civil war.
 
Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have apparently given up on Yemen, effectively admitting that it will eventually fall to Iran's domination, the newspaper said. The states have cut off assistance to Yemen, and are withdrawing personnel, the report added.

Iran Unveils its Lethal New 'Suicide Drones'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 28 December 2014 06:30
Iranian military displays captured US drone - ReutersThe Iranian military, as part of its massive ongoing six-day military drill that began last Thursday, held tests on Saturday unveiling a new weapon in their arsenal: "suicide" drones.
 
During the drill Iran's air force demonstrated the domestically produced exploding drone, meant to strike targets on land, air and sea.
 
Commander of Iran's land forces Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan explained that the drone was constructed to carry explosives, fly towards targets and crash on them while exploding to cause maximal damage, while not endangering the lives of Iranian troops.
 
The massive drill being conducted by the Iranians has been termed "Mohammed the delegate of G-d," and includes ground forces, as well as air and naval forces. It also includes tests of Iranian ballistic missiles.
 
A full 13,000 Iranian soldiers are taking part in the six-day drill, and it reportedly marks the first time the Iranian navy is conducting a drill so far offshore.
 
Iran has shown a major push in recent years to develop its military capabilities, and in particular its navy, missile systems, drones and cyber warfare abilities. It has likewise threatened Israel with annihilation, while developing a nuclear program capable of producing nuclear weapons.
 
The current drill is thought to be a message to Iran's Shi'ite allies in Yemen, the Houthis, who have succeeded in making serious gains in Yemen after capturing the capital of Sana'a in addition to other cities, most notably the port city of Al-Hudaydah.
 
The Iranian naval maneuver on the other side of the Persian Gulf from Yemen apparently is meant as an expression of commitment by Iran to aid the Houthis, and demarcate its strategic aspirations in the region.
 
Iranian control in Yemen, facilitated by Houthi control over port cities, would directly threaten the southern naval exit from Israel from the port of Eilat.

Iran Launches Major Naval Drill - Eyeing Yemen?

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 27 December 2014 15:33
Iranian navy warships archive - ReutersThe Iranian army on Thursday began a massive military drill sprawling from the farthest eastern expanses of the Islamic regime all the way to its southern maritime borders opposite the principality of Oman, in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden.
 
A full 13,000 Iranian soldiers are taking part in the six-day drill, and it reportedly marks the first time the Iranian navy is conducting a drill so far offshore. In the drill, domestically produced missile systems and drones will also be tested.
 
Iranian General Abed Al-Rahim Musawi, who is responsible for managing the military drill, said in an interview on Iranian television that one of the goals of the maneuver is to improve the capabilities of defending the state.
 
Meanwhile an Iranian naval commander called on foreign forces to leave the naval territories used in the drill during the time it takes place, noting that there will be no danger to foreign forces stationed in the Persian Gulf.
 
Iran has shown a major push in recent years to develop its military capabilities, and in particular its navy, missile systems, drones and cyber warfare abilities. It has likewise threatened Israel with annihilation, while developing a nuclear program capable of producing nuclear weapons.
 
Senior Iranian commanders have warned that the state will close the Strait of Hormuz if Western forces strike the Islamic regime's nuclear facilities, and likewise threatened to strike the oil fields of Arab states in the Persian Gulf as a means of retaliation affecting global oil prices - and also likely collapsing Iran's own oil-based economy.
 
In recent months the Houthis, a group of Shi'ite minorities in Yemen and allies of Iran, have succeeded in making serious gains in Yemen after capturing the capital of Sana'a in addition to other cities, most notably the port city of Al-Hudaydah.
 
The Iranian naval maneuver on the other side of the Persian Gulf from Yemen apparently is meant as an expression of commitment by Iran to aid the Houthis, and demarcate its strategic aspirations in the region.
 
Iranian control in Yemen, facilitated by Houthi control over port cities, would directly threaten the southern naval exit from Israel from the port of Eilat.

Saudi Arabia to Hamas: Stay Away from Iran

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 09:48
FlagThe Hamas-affiliated Al-Rai website reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia recently sent an angry message to the Hamas leadership over the group’s rapprochement with Iran, which Riyadh considers to be an enemy of the Sunni Muslim world.
 
According to the report, senior officials in the Saudi intelligence contacted Hamas leaders and asked them to stop all contact with the regime in Tehran, offering in exchange to place more significant pressure aimed at lifting the "blockade" of Gaza. Palestinian Arab sources who spoke to the website said that the Hamas leadership is considering the Saudi request and has yet to respond to it officially.
 
Just last week, a delegation from Hamas arrived for talks with Iranian officials on repairing ties between the two, local media reported.
 
The Iranian Tasnim news agency said the team was led by Hamas political bureau member Mohammed Nasr and included Osama Hamdan, who is in charge of international relations. Iran has been a key source of funds and weapons for Hamas.
 
Iran was once a stronger supporter of Hamas, but the two have been at odds over the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. As a result of Hamas’ refusal to support Assad in the uprising, an angry Iran reportedly stopped supplying the terror group with weapons.
 
Nevertheless, the two sides have been getting closer in recent months. The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, recently boasted that Iran provided Hamas with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel from Gaza.
 
Saudi Arabia also was not pleased with the policy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, under ousted president Mohammed Morsi, who preferred an alliance with Iran over Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and it was one of the key factors that helped the Egyptian military oust Morsi.
 
Immediately after the army took power following Morsi’s removal, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states pledged about $12 billion to the Egyptian treasury.

Top Iranian Official: Obama Begs to Meet Rouhani

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 04:42
Iranian presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani ReutersThe head of the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei insists that US President Barack Obama is chasing after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to footage provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 
 
{youtube}y3fIzrT2kg8{/youtube}
 
"When you see the American president knocking on every door just to meet our president for a few minutes, this is no trivial matter," Mohammad Golpayegani stated in an IRINN (Iranian news channel) broadcast. "Some people lurk in the UN corridor just to get the chance to shake (Obama's) hand, and he does not deign to even do that." 
 
"Yet he sends mediators and goes to such efforts (in order to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani)," he continued. "This demonstrates our strength." 
 
The statement follows news that Obama had sent a secret letter to Khamenei in October without informing its regional partners (Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) in which he called for cooperation against Islamic State (ISIS) and a nuclear agreement.
 
Earlier that month, American and Arab officials revealed to the Wall Street Journal that Obama has moved closer to Iran and its terror proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, citing "secret channels of communications" to Iran via senior Shi'ite sources in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda Attacks Iranian Ambassador's Residence in Yemen

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 04 December 2014 06:15
Iranian Ambassadors Residence in YemenAl-Qaeda terrorists have claimed responsibility for a car bomb that killed three people at the Iranian ambassador's residence in Yemen on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
 
Wednesday's bombing, the second in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa claimed by Al-Qaeda in as many months, blew a large hole in the Iranian residence and sent rubble flying across the street of the well-guarded diplomatic quarter of the city, a witness said.
 
A Yemeni civilian and two soldiers were killed, a medical official said. 17 people, mostly employees at a nearby oil ministry building, were wounded.
 
The ambassador was unhurt, having left his residence for the embassy 10 minutes earlier, security officials said.
 
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility on its Twitter account. It said its fighters parked the car and left the scene, killing several Iranian employees and local guards. Security officials said it was a suicide attack and no Iranian staff were harmed.
 
Iran, the Middle East's major Shiite power, backs the Houthi rebel movement that seized control of Sanaa in September and has since taken swathes of the country's north and center.
 
AQAP, which claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Sanaa on October 9 that killed 47 people at a Houthi checkpoint, opposes the political ascendancy of the Houthis, who took over Sanaa after weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
 
AQAP is regarded by Washington as Al-Qaeda's most dangerous franchise and has been linked to failed terror plots in the United States.
 
A recent unprecedented operation, reportedly carried out by U.S. special forces, succeeded in killing several high-level AQAP operatives, including notorious explosives expert Ibrahim al-Asiri.
 
It came after an equally unprecedented public meeting of Al-Qaeda commanders in the country.

Iran to Turn Uranium into Reactor Fuel

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 02:49
Irans uranium enrichmentIran will convert more of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel under an extended nuclear deal with world powers, making the material less suitable for building atomic bombs, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Monday.
 
Last week, Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, and Russia failed to meet a November 24 deadline for resolving their dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. They gave themselves until the end of June for further negotiations.
 
It was the second time this year they had missed a self-imposed target for a comprehensive agreement under which Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for an end to sanctions hobbling Tehran's economy.
 
As a result, a preliminary accord reached in late 2013 will remain in force. Under its terms, Iran halted its most sensitive nuclear activity in return for limited easing of sanctions.
 
Accordingly, Iran earlier this year eliminated its stockpile of uranium gas enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, a relatively short technical step away from weapons-grade material. A large part of it was processed into oxide.
 
When the deal was first extended in July, Iran undertook to move further away from potential weapons material by converting 25 kg of the uranium oxide - a quarter of the total - into nuclear fuel during the initial four-month extension.
 
The diplomatic source said Iran would now continue this work and he suggested around 5 kg would be converted per month, according to Reuters.
 
In a letter seen by Reuters on Monday, Iran and the six powers asked the UN nuclear watchdog to continue checks that Tehran is honoring its undertakings, including "monitoring of fuel fabrication" for a Tehran research reactor.
 
The governing board of the UN atomic watchdog agency will hold an extraordinary meeting in Vienna on December 11 to discuss its monitoring of the nuclear deal extension.
 
The Islamic Republic hotly denies its nuclear program is meant to build a nuclear weapon, even though the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed Iran is not abiding by the interim conditions in refusing to answer questions on the military aspects of its program.

Obama Pushing Saudi-Iranian Normalization for Nuclear Deal

Category: News
Created on Monday, 01 December 2014 03:32
Obama and Saudi King AbdullahAs talks on Iran's nuclear program reach their deadline today, and amid indications that America is trying to extend the talks yet again, new reports reveal that US President Barack Obama is urging Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with rival Iran in yet another sign of the White House's softly-softly approach to Iran.
 
According to the reports, during meetings in recent days with Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Obama asked the senior official to improve ties with Tehran, according to the Saudi site Ilaph as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth.
 
A source in the Gulf state told the Arabic-language paper that his government feels the White House is pressing for an agreement with Iran, warning "let them try Tehran and pay the price."
 
The source claimed that Obama noted several times in meetings with Abdulaziz the need for openness towards Tehran in the near future, possibly indicating plans for American concessions on Iran's nuclear program.
 
Last Wednesday, 43 US Senators wrote to Obama expressing their alarm at reports he intends to bypass the Congress and force through a deal with Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed Iran is not abiding by interim conditions in refusing to answer questions on the military aspects of its nuclear program. 
 
Iran is likewise demanding to retain enough centrifuges to build 38 atomic bombs every year, a proposition raising fears of a regional nuclear arms race with such countries as Saudi Arabia, which could turn to Sunni allies such as Pakistan for nuclear weapons capabilities.
 
Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have been deeply divided for years over numerous regional issues, particularly the conflict in Syria, in which Tehran has backed the Damascus government and Riyadh has been a leading supporter of the largely Sunni rebels.
 
Obama visited Saudi Arabia in March and told King Abdullah that the United States would not accept a “bad deal” with Iran, after Saudi Arabia expressed its disappointment with the interim deal that was signed between Iran and the six world powers last November.
 
A senior adviser to the Saudi royal family said after the deal was signed that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements, and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.

New Hezbollah Rockets Can Hit Dimona Nuclear Plant

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 November 2014 10:51
Hassan Nasrallah-ReutersThe Iranian-proxy terrorist group Hezbollah based in Lebanon has acquired new sophisticated rockets from Iran that are capable of hitting Israel's nuclear plant in Dimona, according to reports Saturday in the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency.
 
The reports indicate the terrorist group has gotten its hands on new Fateh-class rockets that feature a range of 350 kilometers (over 200 miles), and which can carry a warhead weighing up to a half-ton.
 
"Considering the range of the rockets possessed by the organization, Hezbollah can now attack every point in Israel, from the south to the north," General Seyed Majid Moussavi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard told the paper.
 
Iranian military sources were quoted in the report saying that the supply of advanced weaponry to terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas is at the head of Iran's priorities, so that they can attack "the bloodthirsty Zionist enemy."
 
According to estimations, Hezbollah already has a rocket arsenal ten times as powerful as that of Hamas, and the IDF has assessed that like Hamas, Hezbollah likely is digging terror tunnels into Israel so as to attack.
 
Aside from gaining weapons from Iran, Hezbollah also is estimated to possibly benefit in a $3 billion arms deal the Lebanese army recently sealed with France. Reports have already revealed how weapons and intelligence make their way from the army to Hezbollah, which in fact has an influential presence in the army.
 
The report comes as Iranian nuclear talks continue ahead of a November 24 deadline. US President Barack Obama said overnight he doesn't intend to fully remove sanctions on Iran.
 
However, US officials have revealed Obama is cozying up to Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Forty-three US senators wrote to Obama last Wednesday to express their concerns at reports Obama intends to bypass congress to seal a deal with Iran.

Iranian Cleric Threatens to 'Raze Tel Aviv, Haifa to the Ground'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 22 November 2014 16:04
Ayatollah Ali Movahedi-KermaniA leading Iranian cleric has threatened to "raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground" if Israel attacks the country over its nuclear program.
 
Speaking in a televised public sermon in the capital Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Movahedi-Kermani boasted that "the Sejjil ballistic missile can hit and raise to the ground any place in Israel, as well as any America base in the region."
 
His comments were translated from Iranian Channel 1 by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
{youtube}mtjpp2NnlRk&list=UUpBvIBfZ-foo5ZbLH5O0N4g%3Fautohide%3D1{/youtube}
 
Kermani, who serves as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's official representative to the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards, claimed that "none of Israel's atomic or missile centers are safe" from Iran's "powerful, fast and awe-inspiring missiles."
 
"Even the Iron Dome cannot protect Israel from these missiles," he claimed.
 
He is, of course, correct; the Iron Dome missile defense system is made to intercept short- and medium-range missiles of the type used by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Israel's Arrow and David's Sling systems, on the other hand, are designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles such as the Sejjil.
 
Despite the aggressive rhetoric, Kermani insisted that "all our (military) means are intended for defense... defense is the right of every country, and even of every person.
 
"However, if Israel goes crazy one day and considers attacking Iran... we will, as our supreme leader said, raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground."
 
Turning to ongoing nuclear negotiations with western powers just over a week before a November 24 deadline for a deal, Kermani said that Iran's military capabilities meant that it was "idiotic to use threats against a country as powerful as Iran," and that "the other side has no choice" but to negotiate.
 
That said, he declared that "Iran will not go back even one step from the R&D and the enrichment of uranium, and will not relinquish its full right to nuclear energy."
 
Kermani also addressed recent reports that US President Barack Obama had sent secret letters to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
 
"Instead of sending letters Obama should show some goodwill," he fired, accusing the US President of being insincere in his overtures. 
 
Noting reports of cooperation between Washington and Tehran in dealing with the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq, he added: "The US knows that even in its war against ISIS it cannot ignore the power of Iran."

Khamenei Calls for Muslim Unity for Israel's 'Annihilation'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 11:34
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiIranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday used his annual message to Hajj pilgrims heading to Mecca to insult Israel and call for its "annihilation."
 
The speech comes ahead of Eid al-Adha on Friday, the Muslim holiday celebrating Abraham's "sacrifice of Ishmael" in an appropriation of the original Torah story, and like his speech for Eid al-Fitr in July was replete with unfounded barbs hurled against the Jewish state.
 
"The conspiring enemy is aiming to stoke the fire of a civil strife among Muslims, to misdirect the motivation for resistance and jihad and to secure the Zionist regime and the servants of Arrogance (America - ed.) – who are the real enemies," said Khamenei referencing the bloody conflicts rocking the Muslim world.
 
Calling for Muslim unity against Israel, the same Friday that Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsour (Ra'am-Ta'al) called for the establishment of the "United Islamic States" and bashed Israel as being "crueler than ISIS (Islamic State)."
 
Khamenei likewise accused Israel of having "no limit or boundaries regarding viciousness, cruelty, and trampling underfoot all human standards and ethnics. Crimes, genocide, mass destruction, the killing of children, women and the homeless...they take pride in."
 
The statement is ironic given Iran's horrific human rights history; just this Monday it was reported that an Iranian psychologist was executed for "heresy" after eight years in prison, and on Wednesday Iran was to execute a woman who defended herself from rape.
 
Khamenei continued "contrary to the idiotic dreams of power and stability for this regime that the filthy officials of the Zionist regime dream, day-by-day this regime has moved closer to implosion and annihilation."
 
In response, Khamenei called for the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups in Gaza to "reinvigorate their endeavor, determination and resolve...Muslim nations should require their governments to lend real and serious support to Palestine."
 
Iran supplied Hamas with rockets used in its recent terror war on Israel, and is continuing to develop its nuclear program even while engaged in nuclear talks with world powers.
 
Khamenei back in January publicly revealed that the negotiations with the US about Iran's nuclear program are merely a tactic to stall international pressure and gain time to continue nuclear development.

Iran Warns Turkey Against Fighting ISIS

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 October 2014 21:40
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad ZarifIran on Thursday warned neighboring Turkey against doing anything that might aggravate tensions in the region, AFP reports.
 
The warning came after the parliament in Ankara voted to authorize military intervention in Syria and Iraq.
 
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke by telephone with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and "criticized the method chosen to fight terrorism, expressing concern about any action that might aggravate the situation," state news agency IRNA reported.
 
"In the current situation, the countries of the region must act with responsibility and avoid aggravating" matters, he added.
 
Earlier Thursday, Turkish MPs voted to allow the use of armed forces against jihadists of the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq, both of which border Turkey.
 
However, the one-year mandate is very broad in scope and in no way commits Turkey to sending troops into Syria and Iraq.
 
The government has said it will decide on concrete steps after winning authorization, with many analysts expecting a cautious approach.
 
Iran supports President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria's more than three-year-old civil war, while Turkey backs rebels seeking to overthrow him.
 
A coalition led by the United States, having already launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, has also begun airstrikes against the group’s targets in Syria.
 
ISIS, for its part, has been eagerly uploading to the internet footage of interviews with its fighters saying they remain unfazed by the bombing - and vowing revenge against the U.S.

Netanyahu at UN: 'ISIS is Hamas, Hamas is ISIS'

Category: News
Created on Monday, 29 September 2014 20:23
BB in UN 2014Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday, in a bid to refute the smear campaign launched by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas claiming Israel is guilty of "genocide." 
 
"Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel," Netanyahu began. "I have come here to speak about the dangers we face [. . ] against the brazen lies about my country and about the people who defend it." 
 
The Prime Minister emphasized that Israel's fight against Hamas is a microcosm of the fight against global jihad. 
 
"Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel pray for peace, but those hopes are in danger - because militant Islam is on the rise," he stated. "No one is spared - Christians, Jews, and Muslims."
 
"Their ultimate goal is to dominate the world." 
 
"That threat may seem exaggerated to some, because it starts out small - like a cancer," he continued. "But cancer grows, covering a wider and wider area. To protect the security of the world, we must remove the scab, before it's too late." 
 
{youtube}rmrHIUJKF0g{/youtube}
 
Hamas = ISIS
 
Netanyahu then noted the hypocrisy of public opinion. 
 
"Last week, many people in the world applauded US President Barack Obama for joining the fight against ISIS," he stated. "The same countries complained against Israel for fighting Hamas."  
 
"They don't understand that ISIS and Hamas are the branches of the same poisonous tree," he continued. "Hamas shares the same militant ambitions of global Islamists."
 
Netanyahu compared ISIS and Hamas's charters, and noted that Hamas cheered when thousands died in the US during the September 11, 2001 attacks. 
 
"Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas," he declared. "And what they share is what all Islamism shares: [. . .] they all have the same ideology, they all seek to establish a global militant Islam - where there is no freedom." 
 
"To them, anyone can be considered an infidel, including fellow Muslims." 
 
Netanyahu then compared Hamas, ISIS, and Nazis. 
 
"The Nazis believed in a master race; Islamists believe in a master faith," Netanyahu said. "The question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize their unbridled ambition." 
 
Hamas, ISIS, and Iran: same same, new name
 
Netanyahu then addressed the Iran issue, noting that the Islamic Revolution was based on the decree that the whole world will cry, 'There is no God but Allah in the entire world.' 
 
Today, the Revolutionary Guards aim to establish an "Islamic World Government," he notes.
 
As for the opinion that Iran's views on this are only fueled by "extremists," Netanyahu dismissed it as "changing both the ideology and the content" of Iranian governance. He quoted lines from a book by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whereby Rouhani says he has "problems with the West."
 
"Don't be fooled by Iran's manipulative 'charm offensive,'" Netanyahu urged. "It's for one reason only: to remove sanctions, and to lift obstacles to the path of power." 
 
"This would essentially cement Iran's place as a threshold nuclear power," he continued, saying it would "pose the gravest threat to us all." 
 
"It's one thing to confront militant Islamists on the back of a pickup truck armed with rifles," he said. "It's another to confront militant Islamists with weapons of mass destruction." 
 
Netanyahu then compared the situation with ISIS to the situation with Syrian chemical weapons, whereby he noted that Syria was disarmed - but ISIS and Iran are not.
 
"Would you let ISIS build a water reactor? Would you let ISIS have access to nuclear weapons?" he asked. "Of course you wouldn't, and you should not let the Islamic State of Iran either." 
 
If so, he says, "the Ayatollah will show their true face and unleash their fanaticism to the entire world." 
 
"Iran's military capabilities must be fully dismantled," he declared, to general applause. 
 
"Make no mistake: ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power would be to win the battle and lose the war." 
 
"Ladies and gentleman, the fight against militant Islam is indivisible," he continued. "That's why Israel's fight against Hamas is not our fight: it's your fight. Our fight against Hamas today could be your fight tomorrow." 
 
'Would you let terrorists fire rockets at your cities?' 
 
Netanyahu then addressed Operation Protective Edge. 
 
"You wouldn't let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity," he said. "Nor would you let them dig terror tunnels or kidnap your citizens." 
 
"Yet Israel faced another challenge: a propaganda war." 
 
"Hamas cynically used schools - UN schools! - and hospitals, and mosques to house civilians, as Israel surgically struck to eliminate terrorists." 
 
"We were not [targeting civilians]," Netanyahu fired. "We regret every civilian casualty." 
 
Netanyahu noted that the IDF took many measures to warn Palestinian civilians ahead of every strike. 
 
"No other army in history has gone to greater lengths to prevent civilian casualties in the population of their enemies," he noted, to applause. "They upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world." 
 
"Israel's army deserves the admiration of decent people everywhere," he added, to applause. 
 
Redefining 'war crime' and 'human rights council' 
 
Netanyahu also noted Hamas's executions of Fatah members and dissidents, as well as the terror group's deliberate use of children as human shields, using a France 24 photo as proof. 
 
"This is a war crime," he said. "I say to Abbas: there are the war crimes committed by Hamas, under your leadership, under the unity government you head, and these are the war crimes you should have called to investigate last week." 
 
"The profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn't have been clearer," he said. "Israel was using missiles to protect its children, Hamas was using children to protect its missiles." 
 
"The UNHRC has betrayed its noble principles to protect its enemies," he continued, noting it is "turning the concept of war upside down." 
 
"The UNHRC is sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: use civilians as a human shield. Use them again, and again, and again. You know why? Because sadly, it works."
 
"Thus, the UNHRC has become a Terrorists' Human Rights Council," Netanyahu declared, noting that it "may have already had consequences." 
 
Netanyahu slammed the UNHRC for dedicating over half of its resolutions against Israel, "where issues are openly debated in our boisterous parliament." 
 
"The UNHRC is an oxymoron, but I'll use it just the same," he said. "Its policies are an extension of the oldest prejudice in the world. It's a function of diseased minds: it's called anti-Semitism, which is spreading in polite society, which is being legitimized as a form of criticism against Israel."
 
"Genocide? In what moral universe does a country attempt over and over again to get its enemies out of harm's way? To build field hospitals? To ship tons and tons of aid?"
 
"The same moral universe where the man who wrote a dissertation denying the Holocaust can stand on the podium and claim Israel commits genocide." 
 
Israel: standing tall
 
"Today, Israel will defend itself against her enemies," Netanyahu continued. "Israel will try its enemies on the courts of public opinion. Israel will stand proud and unbowed." Applause followed. 
 
"Together, Israel and the world face many of the same dangers," he noted, including "militant Islam and a nuclear Iran." 
 
"Our job is to form a partnership over these issues," he said.
 
"I believe the partnership between us can also facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he added, noting that the "active involvement of Arab countries - those who are willing to provide political, material, and other support - could bring a compromise." 
 
"The people of Israel are not the occupiers in the land of Israel," Netanyahu said, citing "history, archaeology, and common sense." 
 
"I want peace because I believe it will bring a better future for my people," he said, calling for one which brings "rock-solid security arrangements on the ground." 
 
"As the Prime Minister of Israel, I am entrusted with the awesome of responsibility of protecting the Jewish people and the Jewish state," he said. "I will never waver on that responsibility." 
 
Partnership for peace in the Middle East
 
"In Israel, we have a record of making the impossible, possible," Netanyahu said. "We have made the desert flourish. We have led the world in technological innovation." 
 
But in order for Israel to "reach its full potential," he said, "the template for peace must change." 
 
"There is a new Middle East. It has many dangers, but also many opportunities. We are working to work together with our global partners to face those dangers and seize those new opportunities." 
 
"All of this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it is the truth," he said. "And the truth most be spoken - especially here, at the United Nations." 
 
War of words
 
Speaking just before takeoff on his way to New York, Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to "refute the lies" against Israel at the UN General Assembly, particularly in the speech by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Israel of “genocide” and “war crimes”.
 
"In my speech to the General Assembly, I will refute the lies that are being told about us and I will tell the truth about our state and the heroic soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world," Netanyahu said on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv before boarding the plane.
 
Netanyahu's response will reportedly be "razor sharp," according to close confidantes of the Prime Minister, who added that it will be "worth the wait." 
 
On Friday, Abbas made a pathos-laden speech to the UNGA, vowing to prosecute Israel for "war crimes" in International Criminal Court (ICC). 
 
"There is an occupation that must end now," he claimed. "There is a people that must be freed immediately. The hour of independence of the state of Palestine has arrived."
 
He did not set a deadline for fast-tracking to what he claimed would be "Palestinian statehood," after aides suggested they were eyeing 2017 as a possible date.
 
Describing Israel's defensive operation in Gaza as a "genocidal crime," Abbas pledged: "We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment."
 
Abbas’s speech garnered strong reactions from the U.S. - which called the tirade "offensive" - and from Israeli MKs across the political spectrum. 

ISIS Changing the Entire Middle East

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 26 September 2014 12:50
isis-revisedIslamic State (IS or ISIS) is changing the Middle East, Middle Eastern affairs expert Dr. Eldad Pardo told Arutz Sheva Tuesday - and the Arab world's response to it will ripple into Israeli foreign relations as well. 
 
Pardo first related to the Iranian nuclear question, noting that cooperation with the US on the diplomatic front "is inconvenient to the Iranian regime," which opposes the US's Middle-Eastern policies in the first place.
 
"They say American proposals are not serious and that ISIS was established by the US by aiding the Syrian opposition," Pardo said. 
 
He believes that Tehran is sharpening its positions and aggrandizing its power to clarify to Washington and the West - as well as its regional neighbors - that a nuclear deal will not work unless it is a major player in its final form. 
 
"For the Iranians, ISIS is less of a threat than in the Sunni world," he noted. "This is because ISIS cannot conquer Iran - which is both strong and Shi'ite, so too with Jordan and Saudi Arabia." 
 
ISIS may still prove a threat in the long run, however, through a "war of attrition" the terrorist organization is waging by overwhelming Iran's regional partners, Syria and Lebanon.
 
The ripple effect of ISIS - and its effect on a nuclear deal - may extend so far, he said, to interfere even with Israel's relations with the rest of the Middle East.
 
"If the United States would give up the nuclear issue, it would be dangerous for Israel and the Sunni world," Pardo stated. "Iranians want to build the ancient Iranian Empire. They see themselves as some kind of Aryans facing the primitive Arabs."
 
"On the other hand, there is pressure for change from within Iran," he continued. "What Hezbollah [in Lebanon] has been experiencing in recent years and the rise of Sunni extremists will change public opinion in Iran. Economic sanctions drive [change] as well, and perhaps it will lead them to postpone nuclear development for a few years."
 
"If it happens, Israel will benefit," he added.
 
ISIS-produced chaos within the Arab world, meanwhile, has given Israel the opportunity to make new diplomatic ties in the Middle East over common security needs, according to Pardo. 
 
The expert noted that ISIS's takeovers in Iraq and Syria could see Israel cooperate - if indirectly - with the Kurds and opposition groups inside Syria, to form an unlikely coalition. 
 
Hezbollah, too, may be placated, according to Pardo - as it "understands when to remain quiet along Israel's borders," like it had with Syria during Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. 
 
Overall, he said, "all the parties in the Middle East are trying to take advantage of the ISIS crisis to their advantage" - including Israel.
 
"When fighting against Hamas, the ISIS crisis helped us [in terms of public opinion]," he explained. "The Iranians, also, are seen as moderates in light of what is happening with ISIS, even if they conduct public executions." 
 
"Assad has killed more people than ISIS through gas and violence, but he is proud to reject ISIS," he noted. "There's very much a struggle for image and for basic moral values here." 

PA Ambassador: Israelis Must Return to Their Countries of Origin

Category: Islam
Created on Friday, 26 September 2014 11:37
Salah Al-ZawawiThe Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Iran, Salah Al-Zawawi, recently said that all Israelis, other than “Palestinian Jews” should return to their homelands.
 
Al-Zawawi made the comments in an interview which aired on Kawthar TV on September 16, and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
In the interview, the ambassador thanked Iran “for the training, financing, and weapons it has provided us”. Iranian officials have admitted that Tehran provided Hamas and Islamic Jihad with the technology necessary to make rockets, and a top Iranian military commander recently said that the Islamic Republic is sending weapons to Palestinian Arab terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
 
{youtube}TeetdKbPG6s{/youtube}
 
“All those people who have gathered to occupy our land must return to their countries of origin, leaving behind only the Palestinian Jews, with whom we had lived in love, respect, and fraternity,” said Al-Zawawi.
 
“I would like to reiterate my gratitude to the Islamic Republic of Iran for the training, financing, and weapons it has provided us, as well as for its political and diplomatic positions regarding Palestine. Iran has helped us to attain our great victory,” he added.
 
“I am not saying that Palestine will be liberated tomorrow, but we have made real strides on the path to liberation. A missile with a 200 kilogram warhead will carry a warhead of 100 tons in the future, because weapons change as men change. We just need to cross the scientific threshold to get to our goal.”

Khamenei: U.S. Has 'Dirty Hands'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 14:41
Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei R meets Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Tehran Dec. 15 2009.Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday said his country had rejected a U.S. request for cooperation against the “Islamic State” (IS) because Washington has “dirty hands”.
 
“Right from the start, the United States asked through its ambassador in Iraq whether we could cooperate against [IS],” Khamenei said in a statement on his official website which was quoted by Al Arabiya.
 
“I said no, because they have dirty hands,” said Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran.
 
“Secretary of State (John Kerry) personally asked (Iranian counterpart) Mohammad Javad Zarif and he rejected the request,” said Khamenei, who was leaving hospital after what doctors said was successful prostate surgery.
 
Khamenei accused Washington of seeking a “pretext to do in Iraq and Syria what it already does in Pakistan -- bomb anywhere without authorization,” according to Al Arabiya.
 
Earlier on Monday,  Kerry waffled on his position from last Friday, when he ruled out Iran's participation in a global coalition against IS, saying in an interview that he would be open to military cooperation with Iran.
 
Asked in a Yahoo interview whether the U.S. would cooperate militarily with Iran, Kerry did not rule out the option, saying, "Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements."
 
Kerry elaborated, saying, "I think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together - the integrity of the country - and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart. I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability.
 
Two weeks ago it was reported that Khamenei had authorized his army to coordinate joint military operations with the US against ISIS in Iraq. The State Department later clarified it has "no plans" for any military coordination with Iran in the fight against Islamic State.

Iran Losing Key Ally as Sudan Expels Embassy Staff

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 07 September 2014 18:50
Omar al-Bashir with former Iranian President Mahmoud AmhadinejadSudan has expelled the Iranian embassy's cultural attache, in a slap in the face to its one-time ally over creeping "Shia influence" in the Sunni-majority country.
 
The Sudanese government closed down the Iranian Cultural Center in the capital Khartoum, and ordered the attache and all the center's staff to leave the country within 72 hours.
 
According to the Sudan Tribune the move was taken amid growing controversy over the spread of Shia Islam - and the accompanying Iranian political influence - in the country which is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim. 
 
The Tribune quoted statements by an Egyptian TV pundit, Ahmed al-Maslamani, who recently claimed that some 12,000 Sudanese had converted to Shia Islam, most of whom were students who attended regular workshops held by Iran's cultural attache. He also aired a video recording of a prominent Shia cleric in Kuwait calling on Shia Muslims in Sudan to mount an "uprising" against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
 
The dramatic move is the latest illustration of the rapid shift in regional alliances along sectarian lines. Sudan, which until recently had been considered a close ally of Tehran, has been realigning itself with other Sunni Muslim Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, in response to biting international sanctions over war crimes committed in Darfur.
 
The Saudis, along with other Gulf states, have been highly critical of Sudan's close relationship with Shia Iran, and Sudan's government has of late turned to Riyadh for aid to counter the stranglehold of western sanctions on the country's economy.
 
But the decision to expel Iranian officials could be the least of Iran's worries. The Iranian government has enjoyed close military ties and trade with Sudan, and the north African country's Red Sea port is an important strategic asset for Iran in an otherwise hostile region.
 
It could also spell trouble for Iranian-backed terrorists in Gaza. In the past, Sudan has helped transfer arms to Hamas and other Iranian proxies, and the Israeli Air Force has mounted airstrikes on arms convoys from Sudan on several occasions in the past, as well as a military strike on a Sudanese arms factor in 2012.

Iran Arming Terrorists in Judea and Samaria

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 30 August 2014 08:52
Fatahs Al-Aqsa Martyrs BrigadeIranian military leaders have openly boasted that they have begun to send weapons to Palestinian Arab terrorists in Judea and Samaria and elsewhere in the region, the Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday.
 
The report quoted a top Iranian military commander who confirmed that weapon shipments to Judea and Samaria have already begun and that more will be sent to other “Palestinian resistance groups.”
 
“Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of Iran’s volunteer Basij force, told the state-run Fars news agency on Wednesday.
 
The announcement was made after weeks of inflammatory statements from Iranian leaders threatening war on Israel and promising to rearm groups such as Hamas so that they can continue their war on the Jewish state.
 
The military leader also confirmed what has long been suspected by Israeli intelligence agencies: That Iran is responsible for training and arming Hamas with highly advanced rockets that were used to penetrate deep into Israeli territory during the most recent conflict.
 
Much of the arms Hamas deployed “were the products of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Fars reported Naqdi as having boasted.
 
He further said that Iran is arming terrorists in Judea and Samaria as opposed to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip because attacks on Israel from this area will ensure “the annihilation of the Zionist regime.”
 
“The Zionists should know that the next war won’t be confined to the present borders and the Mujahedeen will push them back,” Naqdi declared, according to the Free Beacon.
 
The comments are in addition to ones made by other Iranian officials who recently admitted that Tehran provided Hamas and Islamic Jihad with the technology necessary to make rockets.
 
The head of Islamic Jihad recently claimed that his group has “many more surprises up its sleeve” for Israel, including Iranian-made “Zelzal” missiles, an unguided missile that can carry a payload of up to 600 kg (1,323 pounds) of explosives for a distance of up to 200 kilometers.
 
An Iranian general this week vowed to launch a surprise attack on Israel in retaliation for an Israeli drone that was reportedly shot down near an Iranian nuclear site.
 
Anger at the incident has also prompted Tehran to step up its military support for Palestinian Arab terrorists, according to the Free Beacon.
 
“We will accelerate arming the West Bank and we think that we are entitled to give any response (to the recent aggression) which we deem appropriate,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Aerospace Force, was quoted as saying on Monday.
 
Iran also is considering military force, according to Hajizadeh.

Khamenei Repeats Israel 'Rabid Dog' Insult in Eid al-Fitr Speech

Category: News
Created on Friday, 01 August 2014 10:09
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiIran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Israel's leaders of committing "genocide" in Gaza and called on the Islamic world to arm Palestinians fighting "the Zionist regime," according to AFP. 
 
In a speech marking the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, Khamenei said Israel was acting like a "rabid dog" and "a wild wolf" in acts that amounted to a human catastrophe in Gaza and which must be resisted.
 
Khamenei dismissed talk of a ceasefire in Gaza, saying it was a ploy by the United States and European states to save Israel and said Hamas should be re-armed, rather than disarmed as otherwise they will be "unable to defend themselves."
 
"The US president issued a fatwa that the resistance is disarmed so that they cannot respond to all those crimes (committed by Israel)," the supreme leader said, referring to a call by Barack Obama for the "disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza".
 
"We say the opposite. The world and especially the Islamic world should arm ... the Palestinian people," Khamenei said.
 
Last week, Khamenei called on the Palestinian Arabs to keep fighting Israel and to expand their "resistance" from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.
 
"The only way to deal with this savage regime is to continue resistance and armed struggle and extend it to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria -ed.)," the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying.
 
Iran, which does not recognize Israel, is a supporter of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups that have been at the forefront of the fighting in Gaza.
 
Iran has provided Hamas and Islamic Jihad with long-range missiles such as the Fajr-5 and M302 - the latter of which is believed to have been used in the attack on Hadera in north-central Israel Monday. Earlier this year, Israeli naval commandos seized the Klos C ship, and discovered weapons including long-range rockets destined for terrorist groups in Gaza.
 
Despite its active role in providing the rockets raining down on Israeli population centers, Iran condemned the IDF operation aiming to stop the rockets as "savage aggression" earlier this month.
 
Khamenei and other Iranian leaders have been for years attacking Israel and calling for its elimination - and has used the phrase "rabid dog" to describe Israel on more than one occasion. 
 
In November, Khamenei said that Israel is a "regime doomed to collapse" and referred to the Jewish state as "the rabid dog of the region." 
 
Several weeks before that, he called Israel an "illegitimate and bastard regime," and further called the United States a "smiling enemy" that is not to be trusted.

Iranians Rally for 'Death to Israel, America' on 'Quds Day'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 26 July 2014 17:53
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators shout anti-Israeli slogansIranians rallied nationwide on Friday in a show of support for Palestinians and to protest against Israel, AFP reports.
 
Demonstrations were staged in Tehran and more than 700 towns and cities across the country on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, state television reported.
 
In the capital, footage showed demonstrators carrying placards saying "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" converging from nine different points on Tehran University in the city centre.
 
"Quds Day" (Jerusalem Day) is staged annually on the last Friday of Ramadan, but this year's protest came on the 18th day of Israel's campaign against rocket-firing militants in the Gaza Strip.
 
More than 800 Palestinian Arabs, some of whom are civilians, have been killed in the assault on Gaza and the Islamist Hamas, a key Iran ally.
 
Projectiles fired into Israel have killed three civilians - two Israelis and a Thai migrant worker - and fighting in and around Gaza has killed 32
Israeli soldiers.
 
Iran does not recognize Israel's existence, and supports Palestinian Islamist terrorism as a regional ally to fight it. 
 
On Thursday, the speaker of Iran's parliament, Ali Larijani, told state television's Arabic service that Tehran had provided Hamas with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel.
 
"Today, the fighters in Gaza have good capabilities and can meet their own needs for weapons," he said. "But once upon a time, they needed the arms manufacture know-how and we gave it to them."
 
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called on the Palestinians to keep fighting Israel and to expand their resistance from Gaza to Judea-Samaria.
 
Israel accused Iran of supplying Gaza militants with its Fajr-5 missile, which has a range of 75 kilometers (45 miles), for use during that conflict.
 
Hamas fired several such missiles at Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem in 2012, all of which exploded in open areas and did not cause any physical injuries or damages.
 
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, claimed at the time that it was not the missiles that had been supplied but their technology.

Iran: We Provided Hamas with Rocket Technology

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 26 July 2014 05:30
Ali Larijani Speaker of the Iranian Parliament - ReutersIran provided the Hamas terrorist group with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel from Gaza, its parliament speaker boasted on Thursday.
 
Tehran frequently boasts of the financial and material support it gives to Hamas and Islamic Jihad but more rarely talks of its military assistance, noted AFP.
 
"Today, the fighters in Gaza have good capabilities and can meet their own needs for weapons," speaker Ali Larijani was quoted as having told the Arabic service of state television.
 
"But once upon a time, they needed the arms manufacture know-how and we gave it to them," he said.
 
During the last major conflict in and around Gaza in November 2012, Larijani said Iran was "proud" to have provided "both financial and military support" to Hamas.
 
Israel accused Iran of supplying Gaza militants with its Fajr-5 missile, which has a range of 75 kilometers (45 miles), for use during that conflict.
 
Hamas fired several such missiles at Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem in 2012, all of which exploded in open areas and did not cause any physical injuries or damages.
 
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, claimed at the time that it was not the missiles that had been supplied but their technology.
 
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on the Palestinian Arabs on Wednesday to keep fighting Israel and to expand their resistance from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.

Iranian Christian to Have Lips Burnt for Eating During Ramadan

Category: Islam
Created on Friday, 25 July 2014 06:42
Lips BurntAn Iranian judge sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burnt with a cigarette for eating during the day in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, The Daily Mail reported.
 
The barbaric punishment was carried out in public in a square in the city of Kermanshah.
 
Five other Muslim men were also flogged in public with 70 lashes for not fasting during Ramadan, the city's deputy governor Ali Ashraf Karami said.
 
A spokesperson from The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a political coalition which opposes the government, denounced the treatment as “savage” and called on western countries to take action.
 
“The silence of the world community, especially of western countries, vis-à-vis these medieval punishments under the excuse of having nuclear talks with Iran has intensified the brutal and systematic violation of human rights in Iran,” said the council, according to the Daily Mail.
 
“This will ultimately embolden the Iranian regime to continue its nuclear projects more than before,” it added.
 
Earlier this year the UN blasted Iran for the persecution of Christians in a report laid bare to the world in March.
 
The detailed report found that Iran has continued to imprison Christians for their faith and designated house churches and evangelical Christians as “threats to national security.”
 
Iranian Christian to Have Lips Burnt for Eating During Ramadan
 
Iranian judge sentences a Christian man to have his lips burnt with a cigarette for eating during Ramadan.
Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Services
163
By Elad Benari
 
At least 49 Christians were among 307 religious minorities being held in Iranian jails as of January 2014, noted the UN, which also criticized the regime for its hostility to Jews, Baha’is, Zoroastrians and Dervish Muslims.
 
In 2012, Iranian police arrested between 100 and 400 Christians and thrown them into prisons on charges of "creating illegal groups", "participating in a house church service", "propagation against the Islamic regime" and "defaming Islamic holy figures through Christian evangelizing."
 
In 2013, an Iranian convert from Islam to Christianity was sentenced to a decade in prison for proselytizing. He was officially charged with “crimes against state security.”
 
There are an estimated 250,000 Christians in Iran's 76 million strong population.
 
They all face torture, imprisonment or the death sentence under Sharia law for not observing Islamic religious festivals and dress codes.
 
Christians are facing trouble in other parts of the Middle East as well. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been targeted by violence from the Muslim Brotherhood, while in Syria, Al-Qaeda linked rebels have threatened to kill Christians who do not join the fight against President Bashar Al-Assad.

Iranian Leader Encourages Hamas in 'Struggle Against Occupation'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 18 July 2014 09:35
Hamass Chief of StaffHamas continues to receive military and political support from Iran, it was revealed Friday.
 
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal spoke to Iranian Parliament chairman Ali Larijani Thursday night, shortly after the Israeli government announced it would launch a ground offensive into Gaza.
 
Mashaal reportedly said that Hamas could deal with every possible scenario, boasting that their main goal is to "break the Occupation and remove the siege on Gaza."
 
Mashaal also called on Iran and other Arab nations to rally around the "Palestinian cause," and praised Iran's support for the terror organization over the past several years.
 
Larijani responded that the ground offensive is the result of "miscalculation" on Israel's part and that Iran was "proud" of Hamas's "struggle against the Occupation" and was sure it would bring results.
 
Mashaal has been in close contact with Iran for years, and called on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to join Hamas's fight against Israel during last month's Operation Brother's Keeper. 
 
Iran was the primary sponsor of Hamas until being replaced in that position by Turkey in 2012.
 
Iran has provided Hamas and Islamic Jihad with long-range missiles such as the Fajr-5 and M302 - the latter of which is believed to have been used in the Hadera attack. Earlier this year Israeli naval commandos seized the Klos C ship, and discovered weapons including long-range rockets destined for terrorist groups in Gaza.
 
Despite its active role in providing the rockets raining down on Israeli population centers, Iran condemned the IDF operation aiming to stop the rockets as "savage aggression" earlier this month.

Hamas Calls on Iran to Join the 'Struggle' Against Israel

Category: News
Created on Friday, 04 July 2014 20:48
Khaled Mashaal in Gaza fileHamas's political bureau leader Khaled Mashaal, currently living in Qatar, sent a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, calling on him to join the "struggle" against Israel in light of Operation Brother's Keeper.
 
The operation has seen IDF forces crack down on Hamas's terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria in an effort to rescue three teens abducted by Hamas terrorists. The identities of two of the Hamas kidnappers were revealed by the IDF on Thursday.
 
Mashaal complained to Rouhani about "the continuing collective punishment that the Palestinian nation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip suffer from," reports Walla!.
 
The Hamas leader went on, calling on Iran to aid the struggle of the "Palestinian nation" against Israel so as "to end the aggression."
 
Iran, the key sponsor of the Hamas terrorist group until being replaced in that position by Turkey in 2012, is currently in the processes of negotiating a deal on its nuclear program with world powers.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday warned against the impending deal, which Israel estimates would allow Iran to retain 2,000 to 4,000 centrifuges, leaving it a nuclear threshold state with breakout capability to produce a nuclear bomb in a matter of weeks.
 
Hamas and Iran experienced something of a falling out over the Syrian war, with Iran siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hamas initially siding with the rebel forces.
 
Mashaal has been leading rapprochement between the two sides, meeting Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian last month and expressing a conciliatory stance vis-a-vis Assad.
 
On Monday, Mashaal said "blessed be the kidnappers, since it is a Palestinian obligation to release prisoners and make the occupation pay the price of the Palestinian suffering."

Iranian General: U.S. Heads Terrorism in the Region

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 18:34
Iranian General Masoud JazayeriIran’s Deputy Chief of Staff Masoud Jazayeri recently claimed that the United States - encouraged by Israel - is responsible for the terrorism in the Middle East.
 
Jazayeri’s comments were made in a televised interview which aired on Al-Alam TV on June 29. The interview was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
{youtube}3Ys5Ov_cF2k{/youtube}
 
“Personally, I believe that terrorism is strongly connect to the U.S. administration, as part of its compliance with the demands by the Zionist Entity, in the short, medium, and long terms. Unfortunately, some European countries, and some of America's lackeys in the region, play a role in this,” claimed Jazayeri.
 
“All the evidence shows that the U.S. heads terrorism in the region,” he continued. “We witnessed this in Lebanon, it was very clear with regard to the Gaza Strip, as well as in Afghanistan, and now it can undoubtedly, be seen in Syria. As you know, the war of terrorism here is a proxy war waged by the U.S., and the same holds true for Iraq.”
 
Referring to the situation in Iraq, where jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have taken over several cities and are advancing on Baghdad, Jazayeri declared that Tehran was willing to assist Iraq “should the Iraqi government, or the Iraqi people, feel that the current conditions necessitate it.”
 
“With regard to Syria, we have already declared that we would not allow foreign intervention, and would not allow terrorists connected with foreign intelligence agencies to rule Syria or control it. We will not allow such a thing, which is contrary to the Syrian people's will, which was revealed in the elections held a few weeks ago,” he said.
 
“We will apply the same principle to Iraq. Countries and individuals with unbridled ambitions cannot simply show up and draw a map for the region,” stated Jazayeri.
 
Recent reports indicated that Iran had deployed Revolutionary Guards units to Iraq in order to fight Islamists from the ISIS.
 
The Pentagon subsequently said that Iran has sent "small numbers" of operatives into Iraq, but there is no sign of a large deployment of army units.

Iran Threatens to Annihilate Israel if U.S. Attacks

Category: News
Created on Friday, 30 May 2014 20:20
Armed ForcesA senior Iranian commander threatened on Friday that any American attack on Iran will result in “the annihilation of the Israeli regime”.
 
“They know that aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran would mean annihilation of Tel Aviv and spread of war into the United States,” the commander, Massoud Jazayeri, was quoted by the Fars news agency as having said.
 
His remarks came after U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that there is an opportunity to resolve disputes over Iran’s nuclear energy program but reiterated that Washington reserves “all options” against Iran, alluding to military action.
 
Jazayeri described Obama’s remarks as “childish dreams which may not come true”.
 
“Had the U.S. and its allies the capability to attack Iran they would not hesitate a moment to carry out their barbaric act; and, of course, it is surprising that Obama is not embarrassed to rehash his empty words,” he said.
 
The Iranian commander said that the era of global hegemony has ended, adding that the “empire of money and weapons” will soon collapse.
 
Over the years, Iran has threatened Israel and the United States on more than one occasion.
 
In March, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that Iran is keeping its finger on the trigger and is ready to destroy Israel.
 
The commander, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, said that Iranian military commanders are prepared to attack and destroy “the Zionist regime of Israel” as soon as they receive such an order.
 
Previously, Salami said that Iran “could minimize the breathing room of the U.S. and the West until the Zionist regime would no longer have room to breathe.”
 
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has in the past threatened to "annihilate" the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.
 
In February, the official site of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards warned the U.S. that its warships in the Persian Gulf were in range of their Karrar combat drones, as well as their Kowsar anti-ship missiles, both domestically produced.
 
Several weeks ago, the commander of the Iranian Navy stated that his forces were trained to destroy U.S. warships.

Khamenei: Israel the 'Most Wicked Terrorists' in the World

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 17 May 2014 14:56
Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei R meets Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Tehran Dec. 15 2009.Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Wednesday once again launched an attack on Israel and accused its government of being “wicked terrorists”.
 
Khamenei’s latest attack on the Jewish state came in a series of tweets on the occasion of Nakba Day, on which Arabs mark what they see as a the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment.
 
“#Israel was initially established thru oppression, massacre & lie; an invader aided by UK expelled #Palestinians out of their homes,” read one tweet.
 
“Palestinians' homes & land were given by force to ppl [sic] from Europe, US etc. & they fabricated a fake nation in #Palestine,” read another one.
 
“During the over half a century since the existence of #fake Israeli state, suppression, lies & deception have been central to Israel's survival,” Khamenei wrote, adding, “Then the US president shamelessly says that: to prevent terrorism we cooperate with Israel!”
 
“Which terrorists?! The Palestinian who's been driven out of his homeland?! No! The most wicked #terrorists of the world is fake Israeli govt [sic],” read yet another tweet by the Supreme Leader.
 
The Twitter attack on Israel is simply the latest in an ongoing rhetoric used for years by Khamenei and other Iranian leaders.
 
In November, Khamenei said that Israel is a "regime doomed to collapse" and referred to the Jewish state as "the rabid dog of the region".
 
Several weeks before that, he called Israel an "illegitimate and bastard regime," and further called the United States a "smiling enemy" that is not to be trusted.
 
Khamenei has also denied the Holocaust, saying in March, "In European countries, no one dares to talk about the Holocaust, and we do not know if it's real or not."

Iran Unveils Copy of 'Obama Gift' Drone

Category: News
Created on Monday, 12 May 2014 10:42
Drone Transmitted Live DataIran has unveiled a copy of the US Lockheed Martin Sentinel RQ-170 drone which it downed in 2011. The copycat aircraft is due to take test flights soon, officials said at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Council's Aerospace Exhibition.
 
Israel's air force only recently held maneuvers designed to deal with a sophisticated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) threat, possibly involving UAVs that have never yet been used against Israel. It is not known if the two developments are related.
 
The reverse-engineered drone manufactured by Iran was showcased next to the original US machine that was captured in northeastern Iran near the city of Kashmar about three years ago.
 
The exhibition, attended by the “Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution,” Ayatollah Khamenei, revealed the Iranian UAV equipped with an advanced system of data collection, video and radar telecom, Fars reports.
 
“Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone’s secrets and copying them. It will soon take a test flight,” an officer said in the footage broadcast on Iranian TV. “This drone is very important for reconnaissance missions,” Khamenei said as he viewed the drone.
 
The original Sentinel RQ-170 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was used in US covert operations in Afghanistan from 2005 until 2007, according to the report. One of the important features of the drone is that it is hard to detect with long range radar due to its special stealth coating, making it visible only from a distance of around 40 kilometers.
 
In December 2011, Iran claimed to have captured it flying over Iran, which the US military acknowledged. Washington filed a formal request for Iran to return the UAV, which Iran rejected instead demanded an apology for US intelligence operation over its territory.
 
Although US officials never confirmed it, Iran says it used its radio electronic warfare skills and vulnerabilities in the Sentinel’s GPS receiver to trick it into landing on Iranian territory instead of its designated military base. The claims are considered plausible by many, since the drone did not sustain any visible damage during its alleged crash-landing.
 
US armed forces reportedly asked President Barack Obama for permission to either launch a commando raid to recover the drone, or bomb and destroy the UAV, but he declined to do either, for fear such actions would be seen as acts of war.
 
According to Russia's RT news sevice, Iran has since then also hunted down two more types of UAVs, Two RQ-11s and at least one ScanEagle that had penetrated Iranian airspace from the Persian Gulf.
 
IAF rehearses for UAV threat
 
The Israel Air Force conducted a rehearsal last month for an event in which an enemy UAV infiltrates Israeli airspace.
 
Both jet fighter and combat helicopter squadrons took part in the rehearsal, and practiced interception of a UAV near Israel's border, reported the Air Force website.
 
The IAF sees the threat as a growing one and the air crews rehearsed situations in which the most sophisticated UAVs in existence attempt to infiltrate – including models that Israel has never encountered.
 
"This year, we practiced against a different kind of UAV,” explained Captain Avi, Ground Safety Officer at Ramon Air Base. “It is more advanced, faster and canstay in the air longer than the routine UAVs, and thus poses more of a threat for the air crews.”
 
Besides the interceptors, the control crews also took part in the drill, as did their detection and alarm systems. It is their job to detect the small aircraft in the country's skies, and continuously monitor them, while scrambling the intercepting jets and helicopters and directing them toward the UAV.
 
"The training on this specific subject is meant to deal a preventive blow,” Captain Avi explained. “This is a threat that is constantly growing, and the Air Force is not ignoring it, on the contrary, it is preparing for the moment of need.
 
Last year, Iranian officials announced progress on reverse-engineering the captured Sentinel drone, saying that they has completed decoding its software and extracting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) surveillance data from it.
 
“All the memories and computer systems of this plane have been decoded and some good news will be announced in the near future not just about the RQ-170 and the optimizations that our forces have done on the reversed engineered model of this drone, but also in area of other important defense achievements,” Hossein Salami, the lieutenant commander general of Iran’s Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution said at the time.
 
RT adds that Iran earlier managed to present a functional copycat model of the US ScanEagle to a Russian military delegation visiting Tehran last October. Before that, in February last year, Tehran demonstrated images of a ScanEagle UAV drone production line, revealing that this low-cost, high endurance drone would provide low-altitude reconnaissance for the Iranian military.
 
Cheney: we should have bombed it
 
The Sentinel drone that was downed or malfunctioned over Iran in 2011 was a topic of political controversy at the time. Former U.S. Vice President and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney attacked President Obama for failing to protect American technology that could be learned from the drone downed in Iran. 
 
Cheney said the drone should never have been allowed to fall into the hands of the Iranian government. "The right response would have been...to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it," Cheney said. "I was told the president had three options on his desk. He rejected all of them."
 
When asked on CBS  if his recommendations would not lead to war with Iran, Cheney replied that Iran had already committed acts of war going back to the Hizbullah bombing of the US barracks in Beirut and that this would have been a simple mission.
 
Cheney was joined in his criticism by Independent Senator Joe Lieberman who lamented that the Sentinel was  "an extraordinary American asset, this drone."
 
He added "I think that it would have been very difficult to rescue it, but at least try to destroy it so the Iranians and anyone that they might share it with, would not have the benefit of the tech breakthroughs that it represents."

Iran Threatens to Destroy U.S. Navy

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 16:33
Iranian navy warships archive - ReutersThe commander of the Iranian Navy stated on Tuesday that his forces were trained to destroy U.S. warships.
 
Speaking to the Fars news agency, the commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, threatened the Navy can sink an American aircraft carrier “in less than a minute.”
 
Fadavi added that U.S. air combat power overseas is totally dependent on the fighter jets flying from its aircraft carriers, and this has made these vessels a natural and high value target for the Iranian Navy in any possible war.
 
The Admiral said his forces have, thus, been conducting routine drills on how to sink U.S. vessels in any potential combat, especially in the Persian Gulf, adding that they have gained good knowledge of the "design, construction and structure of the U.S. warships."
 
"They (Americans) know nothing. We have been making and sinking replicas of U.S. destroyers, frigates and warships for long years, and we have sunk the replica of their vessels in 50 seconds through a series of operational measures," claimed Fadavi.
 
"We practice the same drills on replica aircraft carriers because sinking and destroying U.S. warships has, is and will be on our agenda," he told Fars.
 
Fadavi, whose forces are in charge of security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, said that when American vessels intend to ferry across the waterway, they are contacted by the Navy troops who ask for the vessels' identity, purpose, and trafficking plan, and added, "If the U.S. warships decline to respond, they will come to realize right-away that a large number of our vessels have surrounded them and/or our missiles are locked on them."
 
"This, of course, does not happen generally," he explained, adding that his forces are in full control over the Strait of Hormuz.
 
The comments are not the first time that Iran has threatened the United States. In February, the official site of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards warned the U.S. that its warships in the Persian Gulf were in range of their Karrar combat drones, as well as their Kowsar anti-ship missiles, both domestically produced.
 
Karrar drones sport a flight range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and a maximum speed of 900 kilometers per hour (559 mph). They are equipped with 125 to 250 kilogram (275-551 pound) bombs, and can additionally carry a Kowsar-class torpedo for combat against seagoing vessels. The drones are reportedly suitable for attacks deep in enemy territory.
 
Iran has been steadily boosting its military capabilities, even as the U.S. has lifted sanctions as part of the interim nuclear deal reached with Iran in November.
 
In December, Iran bragged of its new Qader cruise missile sporting a 200 kilometer (124 mile) range, as well as a new radar system for electronic warfare. In November, the Islamic regime released a new Fotros drone boasting a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles), making it able.
 
Recently, an Iranian cleric advocated violence when he suggested that the Iranian president should “punch the American president in the mouth” if he “talks nonsense.”

Immense Explosion in Iran May Have Nuclear Origins

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 11:26
Nuclear IranAn immense explosion has been heard throughout the northern Iranian city of Qazvin, semi-official Fars news agency reported, and many casualties are expected from the blast. 
 
Around 1.1 million people live in the city, which is located about 100 miles north of Tehran. 
 
The blast may be related to nuclear development in Iran, according to the Los Angeles Times. Iranian officials in the past have strongly denied claims by Mujahedin Khalq Organization, or MKO, a cult-like Iranian exile group, that it has a secret nuclear enrichment facility in Abyek, near the major city, according to the daily. 
 
The source of the blast remains undetermined. Several mystery explosions have been reported in the past several years in the region, none of which were ever verified. 
 
A fire has now broken out in the city, local reports say, and as many as 50 people are injured. State media blames an oil depot for the blast.
 
State news agency IRNA reports that firefighters are on the scene. "Firefighters are trying to prevent the spread of the fire at a car oil storage facility," Ali Mohammad Ahani, the director general of Qazvin governor's disaster management authority, stated. Ahani added that no reports of casualties have been recorded. 

Iran Welcomes PLO-Hamas Reconciliation 'Against Zionist Regime'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 02 May 2014 09:18
Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei R meets Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Tehran Dec. 15 2009.Iran welcomed Saturday a reconciliation deal between the the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas, which it said amounted to a coalition against the "Zionist regime," a reference to Israel.  
 
"The Islamic Republic of Iran salutes the reconciliation of the Palestinian groups against the Zionist regime... and against the excessive demands and aggressions of the Qods (Jerusalem) occupation regime," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham.    
 
Under a Wednesday agreement, Abbas will head an "independent government" of technocrats, to be formed within five weeks.  
 
That new interim administration would be charged with holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of taking office.    
 
Israel has said it would not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group ruling Gaza, which is pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state and has always rejected peace talks.    
 
Iran, which does not recognize Israel, is one of the chief backers of Hamas and its Islamist rivals Islamic Jihad.

Iran Wants 30,000 New Generation Centrifuges for Fuel

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 20 April 2014 11:25
A uranium enrichment facility in Natanz Iran. File Photo- AFPIran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Sunday that his country will need 30,000 of its new generation centrifuges to meet domestic fuel demands, far more than the current number, AFP reports.
 
Salehi's comments came just days after the latest round of international talks in Vienna aimed at securing a long-term deal over Iran's disputed nuclear program.
 
The capability and number of centrifuges at Tehran's disposal has been a key concern among countries which suspect the Islamic republic's eventual goal is to build an atomic bomb.
 
Under a six-month interim deal which was reached between Iran and six world powers in November, the Islamic Republic agreed to freeze its uranium enrichment program in return for sanctions relief, including the transfer of some $4.2 billion in frozen overseas funds.
 
That interim agreement is meant to lead to a final accord that minimizes any potential Iranian nuclear weapons threat in return for a full lifting of sanctions.
 
Iran currently has nearly 19,000 centrifuges, including 10,000 of the so-called first generation being used to enrich uranium, noted AFP.
 
The country insists its nuclear activities are solely for civilian purposes.
 
"If we want to use the Natanz enrichment facility to produce the annual fuel of Bushehr nuclear power plant, we need to build 30,000 new centrifuges," Salehi was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying.
 
Under the deal with the West, Iran cannot increase its number of centrifuges, but in February it announced it was developing new ones that are 15 times more powerful than those currently used.
 
Any final deal with the West may involve Iran slashing its number of centrifuges, changing the design of a new reactor at Arak and giving UN inspectors more oversight.
 
The Bushehr plant, which produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity, came into service in 2011 after several delays blamed on technical problems. Tehran took control of the plant from Russia last year.
 
In October, Salehi said Iran had built a fuel production line for its sole nuclear power plant which would go on stream within three months.

Iran Calls Obama 'Two-Faced' On Saudi Rights

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 21:52
Obama and Saudi King Abdullah - Reuters fileIran has accused US President Barack Obama of being "two-faced," after he failed to raise the issue of human rights breaches with Saudi Arabia during his visit there last Friday. Obama promised Saudi King Abdullah that he would not accept a "bad deal" on Iran's nuclear program in the visit.
 
Iranian General and political commentator Yadallah Jawani accused America and the West of being hypocritical on human rights. As an example, he brought the case of Saudi Arabia, saying it has been ruled for many years by a royal family that breaches the rights of its citizens, and in particular its women.
 
Jawani pointed the finger at Obama for not mentioning the human rights abuses during his visit, accusing him of hypocritical lip-service for human rights while only advancing his own interests, presumably interests in Saudi oil.
 
Saudi Arabia has come in for criticism after Saudi princesses revealed in an interview last Friday, the day Obama spoke to King Abdullah, that they were being held as "hostages" and being starved in a royal compound, after going public with their story of abuse last month.
 
A study last November found Saudi Arabia has the third worst women's rights in the Arab world. In February several education departments banned female employees and visitors not wearing a face veil from entering girls’ schools. Saudi women are not issued driving licenses.
 
Iran for its part has a far from stellar human rights record. In the first 21 days of 2014, two Iranians were executed each day, on average; Iran was behind a reported 369 death sentences in 2013, and was only outpaced in killing its citizens by China.
 
Opposition to Iranian nuke is "terror"
 
Jawani further claimed America and Israel had collaborated in the recent kidnapping of two Iranian soldiers near the border with Pakistan. In making the accusations, Jawani said the US threats that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran's nuclear program constituted "terror," and caused instability in the region.
 
In early March, Iranian officials called Obama's threats of preventing the Islamic regime's nuclear aspirations from materializing "the joke of the year."
 
In terms of "terror" and causing instability, Iran's accusations may sound hypocritical to many, given that Iranian lawmaker and Majilis (council) member Mohammed Nabavian said in January that "having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel."
 
Obama's Saudi visit has received other criticism as well. A report released before the visit revealed the US has kept secret an extensive study of Saudi textbooks, traditionally rife with Islamic extremism, since the end of 2012.

Iranian Official Mocks the West

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 March 2014 07:58
Hassan Rahimpour AzghadAs the West talks with Iran about a permanent deal regarding its nuclear program, an Iranian official recently chose to mock some Western officials.
 
Hassan Rahimpour Azghadi, a member of the Iranian Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution, called the European Union’s Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton "that old lady" and made derogatory comments about her looks, and also targeted UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who he described as a puppet.
 
Azghadi spoke at a local university after Ashton’s meeting with human rights activists at the Austrian embassy in Tehran. The speech was broadcast on Iranian Channel 1 and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
{youtube}LPiyH5lt2dg{/youtube}
 
“What’s the name of the lady from that [EU] thing? Ashton... Sister Ashton... The hijab she is wearing doesn’t look good. It used to look better,” he said.
 
“In the past, what’s-his-name would mend her hijab. She used to pull it forward, but the last time I saw her, she had pulled it back, and her clothes didn’t look so great. I don’t look at her as a sister anymore. I look at her as a mother,” added Azghadi.
 
He continued, “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a puppet. You know that, right? They inflate him in the morning, and remove the air in the evening. The Americans provide him with texts, and tell him what to say today and what to say tomorrow. Then he reads the texts out loud to them, to make sure he gets it right.”
 
“Look, this is what the [Westerners] are like. If we give them an inch, tomorrow they will demand that we suspect our entire nuclear program, the next day, they will tell us how to practice our religion, and the day after that, they will tell us to respect the rights of homosexuals,” warned Azghadi.
 
“Obama said to the president of Angola in Africa: ‘You must declare that you legally accept homosexuals, or else we will impose sanctions upon you.’ That’s what they are like. They stop at nothing.
 
“That’s what they are like. They are a bunch of animals. The Koran instructs us to preserve our honor and not to let them control us. That old lady [Ashton] came to Iran... I really don’t know when she’ll die... She went to meet in secret with that group of people. I noticed that nobody in the government has taken responsibility for this meeting. Have you noticed this too?” said Azghadi.
 
It is not uncommon for Iranians to mock or even threaten the West and/or Israel.
 
Recently, a host on an Iranian television program mocked President Barack Obama, after the latter declared that he would come down “like a ton of bricks” on firms that violate the sanctions that have been placed on Iran.
 
The Iranian host subsequently suggested that the American president take “one brick and knock it against his head.”
 
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali, Khamenei recently threatened the United States, suggesting that the Americans “exercise self-restraint,” after Secretary of State John Kerry said the military option was still on the table if Iran fails to live up to its part of the agreement that was signed with it in Geneva.
 
All this is happening while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has waged a “smile attack” against the West, claiming he is a moderate and is different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Obama Interview that 'Launched a Thousand' MANPADS

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 09:02
Obama-00A recent January 27, 2014 New Yorker interview of direct, Obama-vetted quotes by President Obama himself describing his Middle East policy is bound to cause a titanic battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
 
The specific President Obama quoted statement in the New Yorker interview was:
 
"If we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion—not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon—you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare."
 
In short, Obama has officially abandoned America's seventy-year-old, "Iron-clad" Roosevelt policy of absolute US protection of Saudi Arabia and instead has adopted a policy of "Let Iran annihilate Saudi Arabia and all the Sunnis."  In this single directly quoted sentence, Obama set into motion tectonic forces which will burst into a full blown regional hot war between the Iran-Axis and Saudi Arabia and all the Sunnis. 
 
The reason for this is that the Saudis knew from the get-go that Obama had stacked the deck against the Saudis in favor of Iran.  The Saudis know Obama has simultaneously sanctioned Iranian nuclear weapons and stripped the Sunni kingdoms of the American conventional protection.  The first byproduct of Obama's policy that the Wall Street Journal reported is that the Saudis are now arming the rebels with Chinese “MAN-Portable-Anti-aircraft Defense Systems," or MANPADS.  
 
There are 6 reasons that show that Obama's real policy is "Let the Iranians annihilate the Sunnis."  More importantly, they show why Obama’s newly-stated policy is attractive to Republican Isolationists who threaten the very existence of the Unites States of America.
 
1.  Obama's condition that, "If we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion" is as likely to happen as Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei agreeing in writing to let the Jews rebuild the Temple Mount and raze Al-Aska Mosque.
 
Imagine if Roosevelt had said to Churchill in 1940, "If Hitler and his Nazis start behaving, the Nazis and the British will kill each other off, balance-up and contain each other inside Europe." 
 
Moreover, it proves to the Saudis once again, that Obama is an Iranian stooge.  It proves Obama knows he's lying through his teeth and is just perpetrating the same sub rosa Pro-Iranian fraud he's been perpetrating on the Saudis since he first took office.  It proves Obama is quietly watching Iran murder Syrian Sunnis, and isn't lifting a finger or meaningfully arming the Syrian Rebels.  The Saudis surely have concluded that if Obama would blithely watch Iran murder over 200,000 Syrian Sunnis, Obama would let Iran murder millions of Saudi Sunnis.  And after Obama has watched Iran swallow the Sunnis' oil reserves whole and control 65% of the world’s oil reserves, then there's Obama's next victim: Israel.
 
2. Obama has officially adopted an explicit US Policy of Iranian nuclear "containment." 
 
Obama's disastrous Geneva-Iran nuclear deal aside, the second part of Obama's interview quote has Obama explicitly declaring a new "containment" policy of a nuclear Iran.  Again back to the interview's directly quoted Obama:
 
"And so I think each individual piece of the puzzle is meant to paint a picture in which conflicts and competition still exist in the region but that it is contained, it is expressed in ways that don’t exact such an enormous toll on the countries." 
 
Obama's explicitly stated "But that is contained" phrase exposes his Iranian Zero-nuclear policy for the scam it always was.  Does Obama think that the Saudis only ride camels and can't read English?  And when Obama's two  sentences are read together it means total war to the Saudis.
 
3. The Persian Gulf's "Black Gold Triangle" holds virtually all the Middle East's oil.
 
All Middle East oil sits under a triangle divided in thirds between the Saudis, Iran and Iraq.  Obama gave Iraq to Iran and hence Iran already controls 2/3 of the Gulf's "Black Gold Triangle" oil.  The only 1/3 left is Saudi Arabia.  Iraq and Iran have already threatened a concerted oil price war against the Saudis.  With the Iran-Iraq combined reserves, Iran's cash flow will decimate the Saudis just when the Saudis need the funds to defend Sunnis. 
 
All of the Saudi Arabian oil is sitting in the Saudi eastern provinces that have Shiite majorities. Iran doesn't have to invade the entire country of Saudi Arabia to control 100% of Saudi's oil.  All it needs to take is the 5% of Saudi Arabia sitting on the western part of the Gulf.  Iran will first sweep the western Persian Gulf, "liberate" their fellow Shiites, and hold the whole 65% of the world's oil and economies hostage. Iran's post-Sunni Kingdoms' invasion's diktat will be simple: Buy our oil at pre-invasion prices, and have 'peace' for now, or start a war for the "despotic-colonialist" Saudis, and destroy your economies for decades if not centuries to come.  Which will Obama (and the Chinese) choose??
 
4. Sunnis are divided and the Iranians and Shiites are unified.
 
Iran's population of 60 million alone dwarfs the Saudis of 20 million.  The Iranians have been on a war footing for years and have built a substantial conventional order of battle compared to the Saudis. When coupled with the Shiites of Iraq, the relative ratios get even uglier.  All the Sunni kingdoms are fractured and are already under heavy Iranian pressure. Obama and the Russians are both arming Iraq, which is Iran's puppet, and hence they have both been arming the Saudis' arch-enemy.  And, to make matters worse, Obama has done nothing to stop the Iranian-backed Shiite Houtis to Saudi Arabia's south in Yemen.
 
5. The topographic asymmetry of Iran's Zagros Mountains in the eastern Persian Gulf versus the flatness of the western Persian Gulf protects Iran and hopelessly exposes the Saudis.
 
Any conventional Sunni attack westward against Iran through the Zagros Mountains is impossible.  But contra-wise, the western portion of the Persian Gulf that comprises Saudi Arabia and all the Sunni kingdoms is flat and could be overrun by Iran in mere days.
 
6. An Iranian nuclear-umbrella would paralyze any American response to an Iranian conventional invasion of Eastern Saudi Arabia, while nothing would stop the Iranians from using nuclear weapons offensively first. 
 
A more likely Iranian nuclear strategy would be to conventionally attack the Saudis and hold the nukes as a paralyzing counter to an American attempt at a conventional counter-attack.  Imagine if Saddam Hussein had had nuclear weapons when he attacked and occupied Kuwait.  Even the elder President Bush would have balked at deploying the 500,000 US troops to neighboring Saudi Arabia necessary to re-take Kuwait.  So, if the Iranians had even a small nuclear arsenal, and Iran swept the Persian Gulf coast, they would have an instant check-mate against any US convention re-invasion. 
 
And, where exactly would the Americans land troops to re-take Saudi Arabia?  In Western Saudi Arabia?  In Mecca and Medina?  Any attempted American conventional thrust through the Islamic holy places would surely bring Nuclear Armageddon and expose US troops to mass-annihilation.  Meanwhile, the Chinese would be protecting Iran at the UN and cutting a 50-year Sino-Iranian oil deal.
 
In sum, Obama’s unmistakable, undeniable fealty to Iran has pushed the Saudis over the Rubicon.  And, there's no turning back.
 
For more information, please visit www.marklangfan.com
 
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who specializes in security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Morsi Accused of Leaking Secrets to Iran

Category: News
Created on Friday, 07 March 2014 16:40
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Cairo AFPProsecutors in Egypt on Sunday accused deposed president Mohammed Morsi of leaking state secrets to Iran's Revolutionary Guards as part of a plot to destabilize Egypt, AFP reported.
 
The accusations came at the second hearing of the former Islamist president’s trial for espionage.
 
The trial, one of three that are under way against Morsi, is part of a relentless government crackdown targeting him and his Muslim Brotherhood movement since his ouster by the army in July.
 
Prosecutors accuse Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
On Sunday, the second hearing since the trial opened on February 16, they detailed the charges against Morsi and his co-defendants.
 
They were specifically accused of "delivering to a foreign country ... national defense secrets and providing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with security reports in order to destabilize the security and stability of the country," according to AFP.
 
The statement read in court did not identify the "foreign country", the report noted, but prosecutors said Morsi and the defendants carried out espionage activities on behalf of the "international Muslim Brotherhood organization and Hamas with an aim to perpetrate terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state" from 2005 to August 2013.
 
During Morsi's one year presidency, ties flourished between Cairo and Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which rules neighboring Gaza.
 
At Sunday's hearing Morsi was held separately in a soundproof glass cage, designed to keep him and the other defendants from interrupting the proceedings with outbursts.
 
This, however, did not stop defendants, including Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat al-Shater and other Islamist leaders from shouting and rejecting the accusations against them.
 
The defendants were represented by a new team of 10 defense lawyers appointed by the lawyers' union, to replace the original team that withdrew from the case, noted AFP.
 
The trial was adjourned to February 27.
 
This trial is only the tip of the iceberg for Morsi, who faces a total of four trials against him. Two of his other trials have already begun: the first, which started in November, holds him responsible for killing protestors outside the Presidential Palace in 2012; the second, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
This trial is seen as another step in Egypt’s crackdown not only on the Muslim Brotherhood but also on Hamas.
 
While Morsi’s government was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Last week, Egyptian border forces destroyed 10 tunnels and seven homes in the Sinai, as part of a new campaign to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza that would extend 500 meters in some places.

Iran, UK Formally Resume Diplomatic Ties

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 February 2014 19:15
Iran Britain flagsThe UK has formally resumed ties with Iran, AFP reported Thursday, after three years of diplomatic silence. 
 
"The UK has agreed with Iran that from today bilateral relations will be conducted directly through non-resident charge d'affaires and officials," a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP. "We will no longer have formal protecting power arrangements in place. This is the next stage of the step-by-step process of taking forward our bilateral relationship with Iran."
 
Whether or not to reopen the British embassy in Iran remains an issue of contention between the two countries, however. "We have made it clear that the issue of compensation (for the damage caused) needs to be addressed," the spokesman said.
 
Iran ordered British officials to leave the country in 2011, over the UK government's joint efforts with the US to thwart the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
 
Three days later, a government-organized student protest ransacked the embassy, burned the British flag, and chanted hate slogans against Western powers. Britain responded by severing all diplomatic relations with Iran, closing the embassy and evacuating British nationals. 
 
The UK first announced the move to re-establish ties in December, naming current Foreign Office Minister for Iran Ajay Sharma as the next Ambassador to the Islamic Republic. 
 
After years of talks, Iran and the six world powers, known as the P5+1,  reached a six-month interim nuclear deal in November. That deal went into effect on January 20.
 
Under the agreement, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium. In return, the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran.
 
The parties hope to create a lasting accord out of the interim deal, which expires on July 20 but can be extended, with the parties aiming to conclude negotiations and implement the final "comprehensive" deal by November.
 
The formal announcement follows news Thursday night that Iran is keeping the terms of the interim agreement, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In addition, talks over a final agreement are allegedly progressing well in Geneva; Iranian state media said both sides were close to agreeing on a framework agreement on how negotiations would proceed in future rounds over the coming months.

Rouhani: Jerusalem Should be Liberated from Israel

Category: News
Created on Friday, 21 February 2014 11:28
Hassan RouhaniIran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, on Wednesday said that Jerusalem should “be liberated from the yoke of Israel.”
 
The comments were made during a meeting in Tehran between Rouhani and the Speaker or the Palestinian Authority (PA) parliament, Salim Zanoun, and were reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.
 
During the meeting, according to Fars, Rouhani expressed the support of the Iranian government and nation “for the oppressed people of Palestine”, and called for the “liberation of the Holy Quds (Jerusalem) from the yoke of Israel.”
 
“One of the wishes of the Iranian nation is liberation of the Holy Quds,” the Iranian President was quoted as having said, adding that he hoped “the Palestinian nation and the entire Muslim world will find a serious solution to this occupation through unity and integrity”.
 
Zanoun, for his part, praised the Iranian nation as a great nation, and said, according to Fars, “I hope that during your presidency you will see a great development in the Muslim world, especially with regard to Palestine.”
 
Wednesday’s meeting marks the second time in recent weeks that Iranian officials have met PA officials. In January, Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of the Fatah movement, visited Tehran.
 
Rajoub vowed during the visit that Fatah "will not stop the resistance until the establishment of an independent Palestinian government" in eastern Jerusalem.
 
Rouhani, who has tried to woo the world with “an attack of smiles” and by claiming he is moderate, has made anti-Israel statements just like his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
 
Last week, Rouhani warned that Iran would issue a harsh response against any attackers, including Israel.
 
The Iranian government also released a statement in which it called "to remove the cancerous tumor - Israel."
 
Shortly after being elected last summer, Rouhani called Israel an "old wound" that "should be removed." 
 
Iranian media later claimed that Rouhani’s remarks were distorted.

Iranian Film Shows 'Nuclear Attack' on Israel

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:11
Iranian Sajjil-2A new animated film posted on Iranian websites in recent days graphically portrays an Iranian counterattack against a theoretical joint Israeli-American strike on the Islamic Republic's military facilities, culminating in the destruction of the Jewish state.
 
The clip was posted together with messages decrying attempts to tighten sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program, according to Israel Hayom, and begins with an airstrike by Israeli and American forces on Iran. 
{youtube}94a3236AcUQ{/youtube}
Iranian air defenses kick in and destroy the bombers, and subsequent scenes show Iranian aircraft flying over Jerusalem, and strikes on Israel's soil.
 
Chillingly, the film ends with what appears to be an Iranian-launched nuclear missile destroying the Jewish state.
 
The film is not the first such Iranian simulation of an attack against Israeli or western targets. Similar clips, including one earlier this month, have previously been released by official Iranian state organs as crude warnings to Israel and western states not to target its nuclear facilities.
 
But the graphic illustration of a nuclear attack against Israel will hardly allay fears in Jerusalem and elsewhere that Tehran's nuclear program is far from peaceful.

Iran: Israel is a 'Cancerous Tumor', Must be Removed

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:52
rowhani - UNIn the speech Wednesday commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani once again turned on the "charm offensive" against the US, insisting that Iran does not want to attack any country.
 
In the same breath, however, Rouhani warned that Iran would issue a harsh response against any attackers - including the West, Israel, and any other state that challenges Iranian "supremacy." 
 
Rouhani issued a sharp response to the US's remarks earlier this month that all nuclear options are on the table during the address, calling negotiations with world powers "a test" for Europe and the US to respect Iranian rights - or go back to "mistakenly threatening the stability of the world." 
 
The Iranian government also released statements slamming the US, "World Zionism" and Saudi Arabia, who were accused of diabolical schemes "to create a schism in the Islamic world and promote terrorism, primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain and Iraq. The government called "to remove the cancerous tumor - Israel."
 
The Islamic Republic later emphasized that the Iranian army's response to attacks against the Islamic Republic would be fast, harsh, and devastating. 
 
Tensions between the West and Iran continue to escalate, especially with the US. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei verbally attacked the US last week, calling it "controlling and meddlesome" and taunting that it is unable to topple the Islamic Republic. 
 
Hours earlier, the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard issued threats, warning the US that its drones and missiles could reach American vessels in the Persian Gulf.
 
Then, this week, Iran publicly announced that it had successfully tested two new missiles, both designed to take out long-range targets. The announcement prompted Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to warn the world on Tuesday that Iran's intentions have become more and more bold against Israel and the West, and not to rely on a false sense of security garnered by ongoing talks. 
 
"The new missile tests conducted by Iran yesterday are further proof its intentions have not changed and the Iranians are not even hiding their being a warmongering state," Liberman declared. 
 
"The only change in Iran is that now they threaten world peace behind a mask of smiles."

Iranian TV Simulates Attack on Israel, US

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 10:32
US flag Iranian flagIranian state television ran a documentary showing simulated air attacks on Israel and the United States Friday, as revealed in an inflammatory clip uploaded to YouTube. 
 
The clip shows Iranian drones and missiles carrying out simulated strikes on the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, striking American military targets in the Persian Gulf and downing US aircraft. 
 
In a more graphic part of the documentary, drones and missiles are shown bombing Haifa, Ben-Gurion Airport, and the Dimona nuclear reactor. 
{youtube}DxpcHl2jj20{/youtube}
It was aired just one day before Iran's Revolutionary Guard issued threats Saturday, warning the US that its drones and missiles could reach American vessels in the Persian Gulf.
 
Featured throughout the documentary are clips from the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, making threatening remarks against both countries in a 2011 speech. 
 
The documentary is not the first to be aired depicting military strikes on Israel. In November, clips aired on Iranian state television showing a simulated missile strike on Israel, including in Tel Aviv. 
 
The clips surface at a particularly trying time between the US and Iran. Tensions between the two countries continue to escalate, despite Iran's alleged "charm offensive" against Israel and other Western powers. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei verbally attacked the US earlier Saturday, calling it "controlling and meddlesome" and taunting that it is unable to topple the Islamic Republic. 
 
Khamenei recently threatened the United States, suggesting that the Americans “exercise self-restraint,” after Secretary of State John Kerry said that the military option was still on the table if Iran fails to live up to its part of the agreement that was signed with it in Geneva. Senior parliamentary officials in Tehran also denounced Kerry’s remarks and threatened a “crushing response” if the United States attacked Iran.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated the importance of keeping vigilant with the Islamic Republic during his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.
 
"The international easing of the sanctions against Iran have not led Iran to moderate its international aggression; the complete opposite has occurred," he noted.  "The Iranian Foreign Minister recently met with the head of Islamic Jihad, Iran is continuing to supply terrorist organizations with deadly weapons, Iran continues to be complicit in massacres in Syria and to all this may be added the leader of Iran's crude and sharp attack against the US, alongside sending warships to the Atlantic Ocean."
 
"What is happening here is that the international community has reduced the sanctions on Iran and Iran is stepping up its international aggression," Netanyahu summarized. "This is the real result of the steps up until now." 

Washington Plays Down Iranian Navy's Threats

Category: News
Created on Monday, 10 February 2014 11:34
Iran fires long-range missileThe United States has played down Saturday’s reports that Iran was sending warships to its maritime borders.
 
A U.S. defense official, speaking to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, cast doubt on any claims that the Iranian ships were approaching U.S. maritime borders.
 
That same official added, however, that "ships are free to operate in international waters."
 
Earlier, the semiofficial Iranian Fars news agency quoted the Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral as having claimed that “the Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa.”
 
"Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message," he claimed.
 
The report could not be independently verified, but it is not the first time that Iran has threatened the United States militarily.
 
In fact, earlier Saturday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards threatened that its drones and missiles could hit American warships in the Persian Gulf.
 
Iran has previously threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway leading to the Persian Gulf, in response to American military presence there.
 
Also on Saturday, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, verbally attacked the United States, saying Washington had a "controlling and meddlesome" attitude towards the Islamic Republic.

Iran Sending Warships to US Maritime Borders

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 09 February 2014 08:39
Iranian Kilo class submarineThe Iranian navy is deploying a "military fleet" to US maritime borders, according to a senior military official in Iran.
 
"The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," announced Afshin Rezayee Haddad, the Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral, on Saturday.
 
"Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message," he added, according to the semi-official FARS news network.
 
That "message" is apparently a response to the US Navy's increased presence in the Persian Gulf.
 
The US Navy's 5th fleet is based in the island of Bahrain, neighboring Iran, and American forces have conducted two major maritime war games in the last two years, according to FARS.
 
Back in September 2012, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the Islamic Republic planned to deploy its vessels off the US coasts to counter the US Navy's presence in the Persian Gulf, though he did not give any date for the deployment at the time.
 
One year beforehand he had declared that Iran planned to send "a flotilla into the Atlantic".
 
The move comes as Tehran has been taking an increasingly belligerent tone with the US, despite President Hassan Rounani's "charm offensive".
 
Also on Saturday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards threatened that its drones and missiles could hit US warships in the Persian Gulf.

Iran Threatens US: Our Drones And Missiles Can Hit You

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 08 February 2014 19:37
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Amid the ongoing nuclear talks to convince the West of its "peaceful" nuclear designs, in a move Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei revealed in January is an Islamic "taqiyya" deceptive tactic, Iran continues to roll out military advances and threats.
 
The official site of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards warned the US that its warships in the Persian Gulf were in range of their Karrar combat drones, as well as their Kowsar anti-ship missiles, both domestically produced.
 
Karrar drones sport a flight range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and a maximum speed of 900 kilometers per hour (559 mph). They are equipped with 125 to 250 kilogram (275-551 pound) bombs, and can additionally carry a Kowsar-class torpedo for combat against seagoing vessels. The drones are reportedly suitable for attacks deep in enemy territory.
 
As for the Kowsar missiles; Iran claims they feature remote-control and are built to withstand electronic jamming signals. They are deployed along the Iranian coast on the Persian Gulf.
 
With these weapons systems, the Revolutionary Guards' website boasted that American warships in the region "can no longer feel secure".
 
The statement comes after a new report from the Pentagon last week admitted that the US would have no clue if Iran obtained nuclear weapons. Iran has been steadily boosting its military capabilities, even as the US has lifted sanctions in the last 2 weeks.
 
The Islamic Republic has been working in earnest on producing its own domestically-made military hardware in order to circumvent international sanctions.
 
In December, Iran bragged of its new Qader cruise missile sporting a 200 kilometer (124 mile) range, as well as a new radar system for electronic warfare. In November, the Islamic regime released a new Fotros drone boasting a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles), making it able to attack Israel.
 
While this recent round of rhetoric from the Revolutionary Guards particularly threatened the US, last Saturday they announced "if the Islamic nation would unite, it could minimize the breathing room of the US and the West until the Zionist regime would no longer have room to breathe."
 
Iranian lawmakers have previously expressed such memorable sentiments as "having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel," Israel is "a cancer" in the region, and "only war can free Palestine."

Iranian Speaker: Israel is a 'Cancer' in the Region

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 08 February 2014 18:56
Ali Larijani Speaker of the Iranian Parliament - ReutersThe speaker of Iran’s parliament criticized Israel and the United States during a ceremony in honor of Tunisia’s new constitution on Friday, causing the American delegation to walk out of the celebrations, Reuters reports.
 
Addressing the ceremony at the National Assembly in Tunis, Ali Larijani referred to Israel as a "cancer" in the region. He accused the Jewish state and the United States of trying to "sterilize" the Arab Spring revolutions.
 
Larijani charged, according to an Arab translation of his speech quoted by AFP, that Israel and the United States had "tried to render these (Arab) revolutions sterile, and to make them deviate from their course so that Israel can benefit."
 
The American embassy in Tunis said following the incident, "What was intended to be a ceremony honoring Tunisia's achievements was used by the Iranian representative as a platform to denounce the United States.”
 
"The U.S. representatives present at the NCA departed the ceremony due to the false accusations and inappropriate comments made by the Iranian representative present regarding the United States," added the statement, quoted by AFP.
 
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maghreb Affairs and Egypt, William Roebuck, was Washington's top representative at the ceremony, which was also attended by African and Arab leaders, as well as French President Francois Hollande.
 
Larijani is no stranger to anti-Israel statements. Earlier this week, during a meeting in Tehran with the leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group, the Iranian speaker said that armed warfare against the "Zionist regime" is the only way to "free Palestine," and that Iran's policy has always been the "defense of the Muslim peoples, and particularly the rights of the Palestinian people under occupation."
 
Larijani further claimed that the "occupation" is trying to weaken the Islamic opposition and make it forget the reasons to "free Palestine," and called for unity and solidarity against the "pompous forces" of the West and Israel who are trying to capitalize on "differences of opinion" in the Muslim world.
 
Another Iranian official, Hossein Salami of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, said last week that "if the Islamic nation would unite, it could minimize the breathing room of the U.S. and the West until the Zionist regime would no longer have room to breathe."

Iranian Parliament Speaker: 'Only War Can Free Palestine'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 07 February 2014 12:10
Ali Larijani - ReutersIslamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdullah Shalah is currently in Iran to meet senior officials of the Islamic regime. On Wednesday, the terror group leader met Ali Larijiani, chairman of the Iranian parliament.
 
Larijani praised the "victories" of the Arabs in Gaza during the two most recent clashes with the IDF, Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Defense. According to the Iranian, the two operations "marked a new chapter in the history of the struggle of Palestine."
 
The Iranian official stressed that armed warfare against the "Zionist regime" is the only way to "free Palestine," and that Iran's policy has always been the "defense of the Muslim peoples, and particularly the rights of the Palestinian people under occupation." He did not note that Iran has also been sending soldiers to take part in the Syrian bloodbath that has Muslims killing Muslims.
 
Larijani further claimed that the "occupation" is trying to weaken the Islamic opposition and make it forget the reasons to "free Palestine," and called for unity and solidarity against the "pompous forces" of the West and Israel who are trying to capitalize on "differences of opinion" in the Muslim world.
 
Also speaking of unity, Hossein Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, said this Saturday that "if the Islamic nation would unite, it could minimize the breathing room of the US and the West until the Zionist regime would no longer have room to breathe."
 
Abdullah Shalah responded to Larijani by expressing his appreciation for Iran's support of the terror groups combating Israel, calling Iran the "largest supporter of the Palestinian people." Recent reports have indicated Turkey surpassed Iran as the leading sponsor of the terror organization Hamas.
 
"The arrogant forces and Israel have started a process meant to strengthen the occupation regime," claimed Abdullah, apparently referring to the peace talks which have already proposed an Arab capital in Jerusalem and Israeli withdrawals from over 90% of Judea and Samaria.
 
Abdullah Shalah visited Iran similarly in 2012 to meet with then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who told him what an "inspiring role that the Palestinian people's resistance has played in driving Muslim nations to stand against their tyrannical rulers."
 
In January, Iranian lawmaker, cleric, and Majilis (council) member Mohammed Nabavian threatened that "having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel."
 
Despite the lifting of US sanctions in January, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Wednesday that the interim nuclear deal is not limiting Iran's nuclear research and development at all.

Iran: 'We Won't Leave Zionists with Air to Breathe'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 04 February 2014 20:09
Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Hossein Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, threatened US, the West, and Israel in a televised interview Saturday, according to Maariv. 
 
"If the Islamic nation would unite, it could minimize the breathing room of the US and the West until the Zionist regime would no longer have room to breathe," the commander threatened on Iranian state television. 
 
Salami downplayed the possibility of a military attack against Iran, while noting that the US stated recently that it is leaving a military option on the table.
 
"We also have strong military capabilities that can attack and destroy [our enemies]," Salami boasted. "We can threaten the interests of major powers in every arena; but during the diplomatic negotiations we are not talking about military power." 
 
"Americans are wrong in their assessments [of Iran], which leads them to adopt mistaken policies," he continued. "They need to look at the distant past and learn their military might not yield results. If they think that by means of threats they will make us retract our positions, they are wrong."
 
Salami was nonchalant about the possibility of a military confrontation.
 
"Can they [the US] withstand a total war against Iran? Would they be able to protect their many interests during an attack against Iran? Can they protect energy security in the region? Can they defend their naval ships and the security of the Zionist regime?," he asked. 
 
"The United States can devise an airstrike or ground strike or launch missiles at us," Salami boasted. "We've analyzed all the possibilities and we have plans for winning each one. We analyzed the US's military strategy and strengthened our capabilities and identified the weaknesses they have that will shock the United States [when they lose]. All the enemy's military bases in the region are within our range." 
 
"If anyone attacks us, we will not hold back when we wage war," Salami threatened. "We will injure the US until it falls." 
 
The threats echo remarks made by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week, where he warned the US to "show self-restraint" after US Secretary of State John Kerry told Iran that a military strike could still be possible. 
 
In January, the Iranian Supreme Leader referred in a speech to the United States as “Satan”, claiming that the United States is “the greatest violator of human rights in the world.” The crowd responded by chanting, “Death to America!”

Iran: Holocaust was ‘tragically cruel’

Category: News
Created on Monday, 03 February 2014 13:36
Jews in Nazis campIran has backtracked on its previous denial of the extermination of Jews during World War II as part of its efforts to normalize ties with the West since the coming of moderate President Hassan Rouhani to power last year.
 
Addressing an international security conference in Munich on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the killing of Jews by the Nazi regime was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.”
 
“We have nothing against the Jews. We do not feel threatened by anyone,” Zarif added. But he noted that “the rights of the Palestinians have been violated by Israel for 60 years.”
 
In an interview with ABC's Georgre Stephanopoulos last year September, Zarif condemned the Holocaust as a “heinous crime” and “genocide.”
 
Asked about the phrase “the myth of the massacre of Jews” which appeared in a translation of 2006 speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Zarif told Stephanopoulos: “The Holocaust is not a myth. Nobody’s talking about a myth.”
 
Meanwhile, Zarif said during a visit to Berlin on Monday that Iran will never launch a military operation against anyone.
 
“We will not start a military operation against anyone - I say: against anyone,” Zarif told the German Council on Foreign Relations, a day after talks in Munich with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials from the six powers who are negotiating with Iran about its nuclear program.
 
Nuclear Deal
 
He also said that he is confident that his country will be able to forge a final deal on its nuclear program with world powers by July 20.
 
Zarif said an agreement can be reached within the six-month deadline set when Iran agreed to halt its most sensitive uranium enrichment activities in return for an easing of Western sanctions.
 
The statements come as former U.S. ambassador Frederic Hof has revealed that Iranian officials, in private meetings, told him that Iran is not in conflict with the United States or Israel but rather believe Saudi Arabia to be the main threat considering its perceived tampering in Syria, Kuwait’s daily al-Rai reported.
 
The former special advisor for transition in Syria at the U.S. Department of State spoke at a congressional panel discussion this week and shed light on the undisclosed meetings that are frequently held between U.S. and Iranian officials.
 
According to Hof, one Iranian official told him that “neither the U.S. nor Israel intervened in Syria,” adding that the real problem was Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent, Turkey.
 
Hof said that Iran believes Saudi Arabia to be Iran’s real enemy inside and outside Syria, and not Israel.
 
“Iran is concerned about the consequences of the sectarian and civil war in Syria, but Saudi Arabia will benefit from sectarianism in the region,” Iranian officials reportedly told Hof.

Iran Receives First Installment of Frozen Assets

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 02 February 2014 15:37
Irans uranium enrichmentIran has received the first installment of $4.2 billion in frozen assets as part of a nuclear deal with world powers, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told ISNA news agency Saturday, according to AFP.
 
Unblocking the funds under the landmark deal in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program and halt further advances is expected to breathe new life into its crippled economy.
 
"The first tranche of $500 million was deposited in a Swiss bank account, and everything was done in accordance with the agreement," Araqchi was quoted as having said.
 
The announcement is in line with claims made by American officials several weeks ago. These officials said Iran would receive the first installment of frozen assets on February 1.
 
Iran clinched the interim deal in November with the P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- and began implementing the agreement on January 20.
 
Under the agreement, which is to last six months, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
 
In return, the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran.
 
Iran and the P5+1 will also hold a new round of talks in Vienna on February 18 in a bid to discuss a comprehensive solution to Tehran's contested nuclear program, AFP noted.
 
Also on Saturday, the official IRNA news agency quoted the head of the civil aviation authority, Alireza Jahanguirian, as saying that Iran will soon receive spare parts for its ailing civilian fleet.
 
Jahanguirian said the parts would arrive within two weeks as part of the sanctions relief agreed in Geneva in November.
 
Even as the interim deal has begun to be implemented, Iran’s leaders have continued their statements against Western countries.
 
On Friday, senior Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami encouraged Iranian negotiators to stick to the “culture of resistance” while holding talks with Western powers.
 
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry  said the military option was still on the table if Iran fails to live up to its part of the agreement that was signed with it in Geneva.
 
In response, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested that the Americans “exercise self-restraint.”
 
This week, in his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama said that U.S. and international pressure had led to the interim deal struck in November.
 
"American diplomacy, backed by pressure, has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolled parts of that program back," Obama said.
 
"The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible," he added.
 
These comments irked Iran as well, and it accused Obama of “falsifying history.”

Iran Accuses Obama of ‘Falsifying History’

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 01 February 2014 17:41
Flag-Pins-USA-IranIran on Thursday dismissed as "unrealistic and unconstructive" comments by President Barack Obama that international sanctions linked to its nuclear program had forced Tehran to the negotiating table, AFP reported.
 
"The delusion of sanctions having an effect on Iran's motivation for nuclear negotiations is based on a false narration of history,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.
 
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama said that U.S. and international pressure had led to the interim deal struck in November between Iran and six global powers, under which Tehran agreed to scale back uranium enrichment in return for sanctions relief.
 
"American diplomacy, backed by pressure, has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolled parts of that program back," Obama said.
 
"The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible," he added.
 
Afkham, in comments posted on the IRIB website, dismissed Obama's comments.
 
"It is a totally wrong interpretation of Tehran's interest to create an opportunity for Western countries to have another kind of relation with the Iranian nation," she claimed.
 
Afkham also rejected Obama's assertion that diplomacy had opened a window which could forestall any possible nuclear weapons drive by Iran.
 
"America considers preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon to be its biggest achievement, but it is wrong since Iran has never sought to obtain a nuclear weapon and will never do so in future," she said.
 
As part of the nuclear deal struck with Iran in Geneva and which went into effect last week, Tehran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
 
In return the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran, which the United States has already begun to do.
 
The negotiators have set out a six-month timeframe to negotiate a fully comprehensive deal. The talks on a permanent deal are set to begin in New York in mid-February.
 
In his speech, Obama also pledged to veto any bill by lawmakers to impose new sanctions against Iran, warning the move could derail the talks.
 
On Thursday it was reported that Obama had scored success in his attempt to prevent new sanctions, as several senators have decided not to push for them following his veto threat.
 
A new sanctions bill had previously been gaining momentum in Congress. 

Khamenei Warns U.S.: Show Self-Restraint

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 30 January 2014 08:17
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiIran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hit out at the United States on Sunday, suggesting that the Americans “exercise self-restraint.”
 
The comments were made in response to ones made last week by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said the military option was still on the table if Iran fails to live up to its part of the agreement that was signed with it in Geneva.
 
In the televised address which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Khamenei also referred to American-Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who said in October that the United States should “drop a nuclear bomb” on Iran.
 
Adelson, said Khamenei, should be “punched in the mouth and crushed.”
 
{youtube}ADXq_q_s5CQ{/youtube}
 
“Our top officials should pay attention to what [the West] is saying, because they smile and say that they are interested in negotiations, but at the same time, they say that all options are on the table,” said Khamenei, referring to Kerry’s statements.
 
“Well, what exactly are these options? What kind of action – or mistake – could they possibly take against Iran? If they are serious, they should exercise some self-restraint. All those people who utter this kind of nonsense must be stopped,” he added.
 
“Along comes some wealthy American statesman, who makes a mistake and says: ‘We should drop a nuclear bomb on some Iranian desert,’” said Khamenei in reference to Adelson.
 
“He makes threats and so on. Such a man should be punched in the mouth and crushed!” he declared.
 
Khamenei’s threats come several days after senior parliamentary officials in Tehran denounced Kerry’s remarks and threatened a “crushing response” if the United States attacked Iran.
 
One lawmaker said that “in case of a U.S. military attack against Iran, all the U.S. military bases in the regional countries will be turned into slaughterhouse of the American forces.”
 
Shortly after Adelson made his remarks back in October, Khamenei said that the Jewish businessman “should receive a slap in the mouth.”
 
Earlier this month, the Iranian Supreme Leader referred in a speech to the United States as “Satan”, claiming that the United States is “the greatest violator of human rights in the world.” The crowd responded by chanting, “Death to America!”

Two People Executed Every Day in Iran

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 23 January 2014 07:44
A disturbing new trend is on the rise in Iran, according to Amnesty International. Noose illustration
 
Execution orders have risen dramatically since 2014 in the Islamic Republic, according to new statistics revealed by the watchdog group. In the 21 days since 2014 began, more than 40 orders have been issued - more than 33% of them in this past week alone. 
 
"The sharp rise in executions in Iran so far this month is alarming," said Hassiba Hadja Sahraoui, Deputy Program Manager for Amnesty International in the Middle East and North Africa. "Iranian authorities are trying to change their international image, but it's meaningless if executions are being ordered at the same time."
 
The organization emphasized that "the death penalty is a violation of the right to life of every human and is cruel, inhuman humiliating." As for Iran, “the Iranian authorities must urgently take steps to abolish the death penalty, which has been shown again and again not to have any special deterrent effect on crime,” Sahraoui said. 
 
Since the beginning of 2014, Amnesty International has documented 21 executions officially ordered by Iranian authorities, and 19 more executions have been reported from trusted sources, according to the organization.
 
"Public executions are usually carried out by a crane, which lifts a noose hanging around the neck of the condemned," the organization noted. 
 
The organization continued to call on the Islamic Republic to mitigate all sentences to death to lighter sentences - and to end "the shroud of secrecy" regarding executions. Execution orders, Amnesty International explained, are often carried out behind closed doors, in trials held by revolutionary courts, where defendants may have restricted access to legal defense and where sentences are often given in secret. 
 
“In Iran drug-related offenses are tried in Revolutionary Courts which routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. The reality in Iran is that people are being ruthlessly sentenced to death after unfair trials, and this is unacceptable,” Sahraoui stated.
 
The statistics bear an alarming resemblance to the organization's 2011 survey, which concluded that Iran had been executing dissidents at the rate of about 2 people per day.
 
Local lawmakers suspected political motivations behind the spike - motivations which have also caused defense lawyers to flee Iran, according to an Amnesty International 2010 video.  
 
{youtube}2Ld7Lb2WX4c{/youtube}
 
Back in July, Iranian opposition groups and human rights activists similarly decried attempts to portray the Iranian regime under President Hassan Rouhani as "moderate", pointing out that the government had executed more than 60 people in the month following his election alone.
 
Many of those executed have tended to be members of the Baloch community, who are fighting for independence from Tehran. In October, Iranian authorities hanged 16 Baloch rebels in retaliation for a militant attack which killed 14 Iranian border guards in the region.
 
Western Balochistan has been occupied by Iran since 1928.

How Israel Will Save the Sunnis From Iran

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 07:29
isarabiaFrom day one of Obama's first term in 2008 (actually even before), Obama was a covert ally of Iran, and an enemy of Saudi Arabia.  Since early 2012, a major theme of mine has been to expose Obama's crypto-alliance with Iran and crypto-enmity towards Saudi Arabia.  A selection of my articles is below:
 
 
 
 
In January 2012, these articles would have been considered lunatic-fringe.
 
Now, in January 2014, some notable Middle East savants have finally begun to grasp what was all along the painfully obvious fact of Obama's affinity for Iran.  The renowned Islamic Middle East scholar, Faoud Ajami, in a Wall Street Journal article entitled "Obama and the Sunni-Shiite War, The U.S. tilt to Iran is upsetting allies and disrupting the Middle East" recently wrote that
 
"It was the practice of so many years that Arabs deployed what pressure they could exert on the United States on behalf of the Palestinians. No longer. It is the struggle for Syria, and the Iranian bid for primacy in the Fertile Crescent, that engage the Arabs. This ‘shuttle diplomacy’ of our secretary of state, if anything, is evidence of the retreat of American power.
 
"President Obama and his foreign policy lieutenants are given to the assertion that they don't want the U.S. caught in the middle of other peoples' wars. But by deeds of commission and omission, the U.S. is caught up in a deadly sectarian struggle between Shiite Iran and its ‘sister republics’ in the Arab world on one side, and the Sunni order of Arab power on the other. Mastery of the arcane details of the Shiite-Sunni schism may not be an American specialty, but over the last two years this president and his advisers have placed the U.S. on the side of Iran and its Arab satraps in Lebanon and, now, Iraq."
 
My only quibble with Mr. Ajami's analysis is that I would have used "past five years, from before the first day of Obama's regime," instead of "past two years;" the word "puppet" instead of "satrap;" and the words "have enabled the Iranian-Shiite-axis to genocidally massacre hundreds of thousands of Sunnis" instead of "have placed."
 
Now, Obama's unalloyed fealty to Iran's Middle East hegemony and total rejection of Saudi Arabia is overt for the entire world to see.  President Obama has polar-inverted 70 years of United States' alliances from Saudi-ally to Saudi-enemy; from Iranian-enemy to Iranian-ally.  Obama unilaterally inverted America's alliances without congressional hearings and loyalty to America's strategic best interests.
 
In the Obama-world view the Saudis are dead-meat and they know it.   The only thing that will save the moderate Sunni world from Iran is a moderate Sunni alliance with Israel.  This alliance hopefully will be named MEATO, Middle East Alliance Treaty Organization.
 
Why has Obama turned America's 70 year history of alliances topsy-turvy, upside-down and backwards?  Wasn't Obama, the outreaching savant of the Islamic world, supposed to make the Arab world love the USA?  With Obama at the helm, the once-secure Middle East borders have melted to become one big revolution wrapped in a civil war tied into a sectarian massacre.
 
“From Iran to Lebanon, there are no borders anymore,” said Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon’s minority Druze community. “Officially, they are still there, but will they be a few years from now? If there is more dislocation, the whole of the Middle East will crumble."  Why has the relatively stable "British" Middle East become one big killing zone: ObamaWorld?
 
It seems that Obama does not dream of his father, but actually of his grandfather.  Obama is truly his grandfather's grandson, not his father's son.  For, while most people can trace their family's religious roots back many generations, Obama can only trace his Islamic roots back two generations; or, in fact, just one and a half generations to his Kenyan paternal grandfather. 
 
 
"Hussein Onyango Obama:
 
Barack Obama's paternal grandfather (c. 1895–1979). (One source gives 1870–1975 as his dates of birth and death, possibly based on his tombstone in his home village,[63] Barack Obama relates finding in 1988 a British document based on a 1928 ordinance recording his grandfather as 35 years old. The date of the document was estimated to be about 1930, which would mean that his grandfather had been born around 1895.) Onyango was the fifth son of his mother, Nyaoke, who was the first of the five wives of his father, Obama.[65] Barack Obama relates how his step-grandmother Granny Sarah (Sarah Onyango Obama) describes his grandfather: ‘Even from the time that he was a boy, your grandfather Onyango was strange...he could not sit still.’  As a young man, he learned to speak, read and write in English.
 
"Onyango worked as a mission cook and as a local herbalist. He joined the King's African Rifles during World War I.
 
"In 1949, Onyango spent at least 6 months in Kamiti Prison. He was likely tried in a magistrates' court on charges of political sedition or membership of a banned organization, but the records do not survive, because all such documentation was routinely destroyed after six years in British colonies. He was tortured to extract information about the growing insurgency. In his memoir, Obama recounted family descriptions of his grandfather's shocking physical state when released from prison:
 
"‘When he returned to Alego he was very thin and dirty. He had difficulty walking, and his head was full of lice.’ For some time, he was too traumatized to speak about his experiences. His wife told his grandson Obama: ‘From that day on, I saw that he was now an old man.’
 
"Onyango was permanently scarred, remaining in pain and requiring assistance in moving until his death. Although previously he had worked closely with British colonists, his torture left Onyango bitterly anti-British.
 
"According to his third wife, Sarah, Onyango had first converted from tribal religion to Roman Catholicism. After later converting to Islam, he took the name Hussein. She said that he passed on the name to his children, not the religion. The Luo are given names related to the circumstances of their birth, and Onyango means ‘born in the early morning.’" 
 
Onyango, Obama's "bitterly anti-British" grandfather only converted from colonially imposed-Roman Catholicism to Islam relatively late in his life after Kamiti Prison, as an ultimate rejection of the otherwise British colonial occupational Catholicism of his native Kenya, and as an appeal to Islam's "goal of religious and moral perfection,"  writes Sally H. Jacobs in "The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father, The Other Barack" 2011.
 
Does anyone think that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. forgot or has forgiven Britain for torturing his grandfather who first started, adopted, and bore the Islamic "Hussein" namesake of which Obama is so proud? Does anyone think President Obama has forgotten that his immediate paternal grandfather and namesake was tortured by British colonialists for "6 months" in Kamiti Prison to extract information from him and came out, as President Obama personally retells, "thin and dirty" and "with hair full of lice"?   
 
Hence, in Iran, Obama sees his chance to avenge his grandfather's British colonial degradation, and to redeem his grandfather's idealized religious Islamic horse to unify the Middle East under an Iranian yoke, and eradicate any and all vestiges of British colonialism, and the divisions it spawned.  And at the core, Obama wants to annihilate both the House of Saud and the State of Israel, which Obama sees as the ultimate in British Middle Eastern colonial corruption, evil, and Islamic division which tortured his grandfather.  
 
So, Obama doesn't just despise Jews; Obama abhors everything Britain ever created, most particularly the House of Saud and Israel.  Obama wants an undivided United Islamic States of Iran and the only obstacle in his way to an anti-British Middle East is Saudi Arabia.  The straightest, fastest road to such an Islamic super-power is anointing Iran as its Hegemon. 
 
In this ObamaWorld, for the next 3 years, now stripped of its US military protection, Saudi Arabia has only one card left to play: Israel.
 
Illustrating this point is the following: On May 19, 2011, Obama gave a famous "victory lap" speech at the State Department congratulating himself for handing Iraq to an Iranian puppet, deposing Egyptian ally Mubarak, and betraying Qaddafi who had given up his nukes, thereby setting North Africa into the flames that still burn bright. Whom do you think Obama was referring to in his famous State Department speech when he made this conclusory statement:  "Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress -– the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect." 
 
Who exactly is Obama asserting are the "elites who steal from their people" and the "patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect"?  Obama had one target: Saudi Arabia.
 
And for Israel, Obama's obsequious fealty to Iran is as great a concern as it is for Saudi Arabia.  Once Iran devours the Saudi oil reserves, nothing will stop it from annihilating Israel.  Therefore, Israel and Saudi Arabia’s strategic security interests are not only parallel; they are perfectly, exactly aligned to defeat both Obama and Iran.  For, if Obama succeeds in erecting the Iranian-Persian-nuclear-Hegemon, the Sunni kings and Israel will be wiped out.  And they know it.
 
When Israel complains that if it is stripped of the Jordan Valley, the Iranian-proxy Hamas will take over, Obama doesn’t consider this a "problem."  To him, this is the perfect solution and propitious result.  So, Israel's arguing that the "West bank will turn into a Hamastan" spurs Obama to try even harder to implement it.  
 
The Saudis and Jordanians know that if Israel retreats, an Iranian Hamas-puppet West Bank will existentially threaten them more than it does Israel.  How can Kerry think he's mending Saudi fences broken by Obama's allowing Iran to be a nuclear-weapons state, by asking for their help to create a new Iranian-enemy-of-the-Saudis state in the "West Bank"?
 
The Saudis and their Gulf emirates need only to look back to the Palestinian Arab betrayal of Kuwait, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, to understand the depths of Palestinian Arab treachery.  They don't have to reach into the history of the January 3, 1919 Chaim Weitzmann-Faisal agreements to remember that Chaim Weitzmann at the time reported that Emir Faisal was "contemptuous of the Palestinian Arabs whom he doesn't even regard as Arabs."
 
In Iraq, to the Saudi's immediate contiguous north, Obama directly, omnipotently empowered another Iranian puppet, Al-Maliki, as Iran's new Shiite "Satrap" of Iraq.  To make matters infinitely worse for the Saudis, Iran's al-Maliki has just dictated that Muslims must now pray to Karbala, the Shiite shrine, and not Mecca, the Sunni shrine.  
 
How did President Obama react to this clear Iranian dictat to al-Maliki to set the entire Islamic world into flames by changing Islamic prayer direction?  Obama rewarded the Iranian-puppet Al-Maliki with a bunch of "fast-tracked" hellfire missiles and drones so Al-Maliki can massacre the rebellious Iraqi Sunnis even more effectively than Iran's other murderous puppet Assad can kill Sunnis with barrel-bombs.
 
Hence, the Saudis have realized that  either they ally themselves with the Israelis, or the Obama-fully-backed Iran will take over and wipe out the Saudis, converting every last Sunni to a Shiite.  Israel has realized that Obama isn't bombing Iran, but is, in actuality, nuclear-arming Iran.  Either the Israelis work with the Saudis or there will be a nuclear-Iran protected by Obama that will take over all the Persian Gulf's oil assets in "hostile takeovers" sanctioned by "withdrawing from the Middle East" Obama. 
 
Which brings us to the only remaining possible solution: Pax Israelica.  The only place in the Middle East where there is peace and security is Israel.  Do the Palestinian Arabs of Judea and Samaria want a repeat of the Hamas tyranny of Gaza or the Iranian butchery of Syria?  Does King Abdullah of Jordan want an Iranian-terrorist state on its western border?  Everything Kerry/Obama is proposing is a one-way ticket to inserting an Iranian-terrorist-state in the "West Bank" where there is now absolute quiet.  And, the Sunni Arabs will soon come to realize that Israel is not the source of instability and brutality, but the rock of stability and their one, and only safety-net.
 
For now the Sunni Arabs have come to understand that it is only Israel's order of battle that prevents Iran (with what would be Obama's blessing) from wiping away all the borders colonial Britain created and creating one hegemonic Iranian Shiite Imamate.  To the Sunni Arabs, Israel is now, and will always be, the savior of the Sunnis, not their enemy.
 
For Israel, it must realize "the friend of my friend is my friend."  In specific, if the Saudis are Israel's friend, then the Saudi-backed Syrian rebels are also Israel's friend.  For, if the topologic link between Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon is not broken at Syria, it will never be broken.  And the consequence of Iran's unbroken topological path to the Mediterranean is an existential threat to both Saudi Arabia and Israel. 
 
For, if the Saudi-backed Syrian rebels break Assad, and gain Syria, there will form the very beginnings of MEATO, Middle East Alliance Treaty Organization.  MEATO will represent an alliance of moderate Sunni Arabs with Israel that could change history for the better and defeat the Iranian cancer.  These Arabs will not "moderate" because they want to, but because they will have to learn to live and respect a Jewish Israel.  Otherwise, they will be devoured by a Darwinist Islamism that is constantly consuming itself into greater terror and violence.
 
An Israel strong and secure without a terrorist Palestinian Arab state could truly fertilize the Sunni Arab Fertile Crescent with the military backbone, strength and will to defeat the Persian reign of violence and terror at its root.  A "West Bank" Palestinian Arab state will insure another Obama-enabled Iranian victory that will wipe out Israel, and the Sunni faith along with it.
 
For more information, please visit www.marklangfan.com 
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Obama’s Nuke-Deal Will Let Iran Get the Bomb Sooner

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 20 January 2014 22:09
Irans uranium enrichmentThe problem with Chamberlain’s 1938 Munich appeasement of Hitler wasn’t merely that Chamberlain mistakenly “thought he had saved world peace.”  It was that Chamberlain didn’t realize that, by giving Hitler the topographic-beachhead of the Czech-Sudetenland under the Munich diplomatic-umbrella, Chamberlain accelerated, rather than retarded, Hitler’s time-table for his military conquests.  Chamberlain’s truly catastrophic mistake was that he misjudged the rapidity of Hitler’s post-Munich mobilization and military moves.   Consequently, 70 million people died in World War II.
 
The problem with Obama’s 2013 Geneva nuclear-appeasement of Iran wasn’t merely that Obama mistakenly “thought he had saved world peace.” It was that Obama didn’t realize that by giving Iran the nuclear-beachhead under the Geneva diplomatic-umbrella, Obama accelerated, rather than retarded, Iran’s time-table for its nuclear advances and conquests.  Obama’s truly catastrophic mistake is that he is misjudging the rapidity of Iran’s post-Geneva mobilization and nuclear moves.  Consequently, 100 million people will likely die in the coming World War III.
 
While the actual text of the Obama-Iran Geneva Nuke deal is a legal and substantive horror-show, three specific critical legal loopholes to the Geneva text ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will now accelerate and go nuclear.  In essence, the Geneva “Agreement” which was designed to ostensibly deny Iran a nuclear weapon will ensure it quickly attains one.  Iran’s recent announcement that Iran just created a new series of centrifuges is the start of what will be a torrent pace of Iran’s short-term nuclear-bomb technological breakthroughs.
 
Some of the actual text of the legal loophole section is as follows:
 
“This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein. This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme.  This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  This comprehensive solution would involve a reciprocal, step-by- step process, and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme.
 
There would be additional steps in between the initial measures and the final step, including, among other things, addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council's consideration of this matter. The E3+3 and Iran will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures and the comprehensive solution in good faith.”
 
Elements of a first step
 
The first step would be time-bound, with a duration of 6 months, and renewable by mutual consent, during which all parties will work to maintain a constructive atmosphere for negotiations in good faith.
 
Iran would undertake the following voluntary measures:
 
Iran announces that it will not make any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, Fordow, or the Arak reactor, designated by the IAEA as IR-40.”
 
 
The first textual legal loophole is that the Geneva Document creates a mythical-to-be-agreed-upon future “first step” when the “six month period” would supposedly begin to go into effect.  The Geneva text creates a “pre-first step” gap window of time between November 24 and to an undetermined future date of the “first step” before anything remotely occurs.
 
So Iran, with the absolute diplomatic and umbrella sanction of what is at best a Geneva “press release,” can now start sprinting to a nuke.  It’s as if Obama has sanctioned and given diplomatic cover for Iran’s sprinting to a bomb as long as Iran says it may stop sprinting at some time in the indeterminate future.  
 
The second loophole is that the November 2013 Geneva agreement does not remotely require Iran to stop Iran’s nuclear work even after the mythical-to-be-determined-“first step”.  According to the Geneva text: “Iran announces that it will not make any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant1, Fordow2, or the Arak reactor3, designated by the IAEA as IR-40.” (Bold added.)
 
So, as of the future undetermined “first step,” Iran is only to not make “further advances” past whatever technological achievements it has achieved.  So, rather than slow Iran down before the “first step”, by the Geneva terms it gives Iran an actual incentive to race to whatever “advances” it can before parties agree that the Geneva Agreement has started the “first step”.
 
Then, even once the “first step” has started, Iran can do anything it wants in those facilities up to and including all of its post-November 2013 pre-“first step” “advances”.
 
Then, there is an additional and even greater problem with this language in that, who knows what exactly constitutes “advances” and who is to determine exactly what constitutes “advances”?   Has Iran disclosed all of its “advances”?  No.   Must Iran under the Geneva document disclose all of its “advances”?  No.  So, in fact, the exact definition of what nuclear work Iran is actually barred from doing past the undefined “advances” goes from fuzzy to undefinable to unenforceable to unverifiable.
 
Then there is the ultimate “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed to” loophole.  The Geneva document in two places makes clear that despite any “agreements” Iran is not bound by any single term until an absolute total agreement has been made final.  So, don’t break out the champagne just yet!
 
In short, the Obama Geneva Nuclear Agreement is a green-light diplomatic cover for Iran to race to a nuclear bomb.
 
For more information, please visit www.marklangfan.com
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

How It Might All Go Down

Category: Reports
Created on Monday, 13 January 2014 09:13
Dr. Joe FragerAccording to former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, Israel has already spent ten billion dollars on developing ways to either delay or completely neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat.
 
Israel's military knows no bounds. When the very survival of the Land of Israel is at stake, Israel will not hesitate to surprise American policymakers and military experts.
 
The last time this happened was not 1967, or 1976's Entebbe. It was September 6, 2007, when Israel destroyed the Syrian plutonium reactor at Al Kibar. American military experts had thought this was improbable, and some said – impossible.
 
In September, 2012, the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that "Israel does not have the capability to carry out preventive strikes that could do more than delay Iran's efforts for a year or two.” Former CIA Director Michael Hayden was even more pessimistic, saying that airstrikes capable of seriously hurting Iran's nuclear program are beyond Israel's capacity.
 
Nothing is beyond Israel's capacity. That has been the lesson of Israel's existence since its inception. Also, no surprise is out of Israel's reach, nor should it be. Yes, having bunker buster bombs would make it easier to guarantee total destruction of some of Iran's highly fortified nuclear reactors buried deep in the mountains.
 
As Israel gets pushed further and further against the wall by an out-of-touch and severely naive Obama administration, the chances of a 2014 Surprise grows by the day.
 
The deal that the Obama Administration worked out is unraveling, and the harder Secretary of State Kerry presses Israel to make an agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, the more likely it becomes that Israel will strike Iran.
 
What the Secretary of State fails to realize is that Israel lives in a pressure cooker. Pressure applied in all directions will only cause the pressure cooker to let out its steam. Iran is the direction the steam will travel.

'Nuclear Bomb Necessary to Put Down Israel'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 10 January 2014 05:55
Nuclear BombIranian lawmaker, cleric, and Majilis (council) member Mohammed Nabavian declared Monday that Iran does need a nuclear bomb - to destroy Israel. 
 
Iran would be able to build a nuclear bomb in “two weeks” if it gets “access to 270 kilograms of 20 percent [enriched uranium], 10 tons of 5 percent, and 20 thousand centrifuges,” Nabavian stated, according to Iranian media reports. “We are not looking for a nuclear bomb, but having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel." 
 
Regarding Iran's resumed diplomatic relations with the US, Nabavian stated, "If Obama asked for a meeting five times before the visit to New York and several times during the visit, it's because over these eight years measures were taken [by Iran] and, as a result, the United States [now] needs Iran."
 
"In Syria, the U.S. did not manage to attack and was humiliated. In practice, Obama was humiliated because he did not stand up to Iran, and hence it is necessary to meet with Iran's president to show that he is a strong man and tell the world: I brought Iran to the negotiating table after 30 years."
 
According to MEMRI, Nabavian made the remarks in a speech that he delivered at a political activists' conference in Mashhad (northeastern Iran).
 
Nabavian also claimed that Iran agreed to a deal only to escape the sanctions imposed on its booming oil trade.
 
"Forty-nine percent of our budget depends on oil [revenue]. This is a very high figure. This means that half our budget comes from oil money. In [March 2012-March 2013,] we had to sell 2,700,000 barrels of oil daily to supply the budget. Now take into account banking sanctions [even] more severe than the oil sanctions," he mused.  
 
"Since June 2012 all the world's banks have been barred to us and we don't have permission to exchange even a dollar. Think of it, even if we sold 2,700,000 barrels of oil [a day], how could we have conducted the financial transactions?"
 
Once an agreement was reached, business eased, according to Nabavian. "Finally, Putin sent the governor of his central bank directly [to Tehran] to secure alleviations in the field of money transfers and barter trade. Likewise, China transferred to our account 10 billion toman from the blocked funds."
 
The deal is set to take affect on January 20, according to recent reports. The interim deal requires that Iran freeze or curb its nuclear activities for six months in exchange for some sanctions relief. In the meantime, Iran and Western powers will try to reach a comprehensive agreement.
 
Nabavian's remarks, oddly, echo statements made by Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz in December, who dismissed reports that the sanctions had little effect on Iran and lamented the deal for allowing nuclear building to escalate. 
 
"According to calculations the government made a few months ago, during a special Knesset meeting, the sanctions imposed on Iran cost it over 100 billion dollars," Steinitz stated. "This is a vast sum, considering that Iran's GNP is 450 billion dollars per year." 
 
Steinitz stated that the sanctions had been one of the State of Israel's greatest successes. "If we would have continued sanctions [on Iran], we would have seen the Iranian economy collapse in a year or two," he said. 

Iran Developing 'New Generation' of Centrifuges

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 29 December 2013 06:43
Nuclear IranIran is developing a “new generation” of centrifuges, the head of its Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, said Thursday.
 
According to Press TV, the Iranian nuclear chief said there are currently 19,000 centrifuges in the country. He added that “a new generation of centrifuges is being built, but they should undergo all tests before mass production.”
 
Salehi further underlined Iran’s achievements in its nuclear energy program, saying, “In the area of fuel cycle, the Islamic Republic...is among the countries that are capable of carrying out all fuel [production] stages from exploration to ore dressing and production of uranium fuel.”
 
Iran often boasts of its technological and/or military advances, but it is not clear how accurate these announcements really are and whether they are actually an attempt by the regime to convince Iranians of the country’s military strength.
 
The Islamic Republic is currently involved in technical talks with Western powers on how to implement the nuclear deal that was reached in Geneva in November.
 
Under the deal struck on November 24, Iran agreed to roll back or freeze parts of its nuclear drive for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by Western powers not to impose new sanctions.
 
Since the deal was reached, Iran agreed to allow UN nuclear inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water plant for the first time in more than two years.
 
The Arak heavy water plant had been a sticking point in the negotiations because, once completed, it would produce plutonium as a by-product, potentially giving Tehran a second route to a nuclear weapons capability.
 
Satellite images from almost a year ago showed that the plant was operational, raising fears that it is trying to produce plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
 
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes that Iranian scientists conducted experiments aimed at developing a nuclear arsenal before 2003 and possibly since.
 
Iran has denied the charges, saying that purported evidence comes from faulty intelligence by the likes of the CIA and Israel's Mossad that Tehran has not been allowed to see.

'If the Sanctions Would Persist, Iran Would Collapse'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 December 2013 07:37
Minister Yuval SteinitzIntelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, at a conference on Middle Eastern events at Ariel University Wednesday, declared that "the Middle East has gone mad." 
 
Steinitz related that the events of the past several years in the region have been far more chaotic than anyone could have expected. 
 
On a positive note, however, he praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for "making Iran's nuclear weapons program top priority on the global agenda." 
 
"According to calculations the government made a few months ago, during a special Knesset meeting, the sanctions imposed on Iran cost it over 100 billion dollars," he continued. "This is a vast sum, considering that Iran's GNP is 450 billion dollars per year." 
 
Steinitz stated that the sanctions had been one of the State of Israel's greatest successes. "If we would have continued sanctions [on Iran], we would have seen the Iranian economy collapse in a year or two," he said. 
 
The Minister also expressed concerns about what might happen if Iran violated the terms of the interim deal struck between the Islamic Republic and Western powers. 
 
"The problem will not be what the West will do in the event that Iran violates the terms of the agreement," Steinitz explained, "but that it might lead to a Sunni-Shi'ite nuclear arms race."
 
Tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims have been escalating over the past several years, and have particularly mushroomed in the midst of the Syrian Civil War. Iraq has also become a Sunni-Shi'ite battleground. 
 
Thus, according to Steinitz, the issue becomes a matter of setting precedents. "Any agreement with Iran needs to include demands to completely disassemble their nuclear centrifuges," he insisted. "Any other agreement is bad." 
 
Earlier this month, the US blacklisted several companies that evaded the sanctions. 
 
"Today's actions should be a stark reminder to businesses, banks and brokers everywhere that we will continue relentlessly to enforce our sanctions, even as we explore the possibility of a long-term, comprehensive resolution of our concerns with Iran’s nuclear program," stated David Cohen, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, according to AFP.
 
The news evoked outrage from Tehran. The Islamic Republic attacked the move, claiming the US "violated terms" of the interim deal and accusing the US of taking orders from "radical Zionist lobbies." 

Iran Boasts Successful Test of 200 KM Range Missile

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 22 December 2013 13:46
Iran Successfully Fires Fateh-110 MissileA new missile sporting a 200 kilometer (124 mile) range was successfully tested by Iranian Air Force fighter jets on Saturday during ongoing wargames. Reports of the test, released by Islamic Revolutionary Guards's Fars News Agency, note that it is the first in simulated combat.
 
The long-range Qader cruise missile was tested in southern Iran, during two days of massive air drills. According to military sources, the missile can be used in "future battles."
 
“These missiles can be mounted on different fighter jets and were successfully test-fired in these wargames,” said Brigadier General Hossein Chitforoush.
 
The Qader, unveiled September 2011, has been mass-produced and tested, but never before in a version launched aerially. Featuring an automatic digital pilot system and anti-jamming radar systems, the missile also has rapid deployment capability.
 
The announcement comes the same day (Saturday) that Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino began an official two day visit to Iran, the first visit by an Italian foreign minister in roughly a decade. Bonino is expected to meet with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Sunday.
 
Just last Wednesday, a top Iranian official boasted that "Iran is the fifth missile power in the world." It has been noted that Iranian "indigenous" missile production would allow the Islamic regime to deliver a nuclear payload.
 
The statement Wednesday was part of an ongoing ratcheting of military rhetoric, which has been accompanied by accusations by senior Iranian officials that the US "breached" the interim nuclear deal by expanding its sanctions blacklist.
 
A new radar system was unveiled by Iran last Tuesday, featuring high target detection capabilities. Iranian military claimed the development will make the country's integrated radar system more powerful in electronic warfare.

UN Condemns Iran's Human Rights Violations

Category: News
Created on Friday, 20 December 2013 13:17
Hassan RouhaniThe United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday condemned human rights violations in Iran, but welcomed pledges by Iran's president to improve in some areas.
 
The resolution on Iran was approved with 86 votes in favor, 36 against and 61 abstentions, reported Reuters.
 
While the resolution on Iran expressed concern at serious ongoing abuses, it acknowledged pledges by Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, on human rights issues such as eliminating discrimination against women and members of ethnic minorities and promoting freedom of expression and opinion.
 
Reuters reported that the resolution also praised Rouhani's plan to implement a civil rights charter and encouraged Iran "to take concrete action to ensure these pledges can result in demonstrable improvements as soon as possible and to uphold the government's obligations under its domestic laws and under international human rights law."
 
Rouhani has previously said that a strong government does not “limit the lives of the people and has claimed that he believed social networking sites such as Facebook were a welcome phenomenon.
 
Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi recently criticized Rouhani’s human rights record, citing a dramatic increase in executions since he took office this year and accusing the government of lying about the release of political prisoners.
 
The UN envoy on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, said in October that Iran's rights record should not be overlooked amid overtures to the West by Rouhani. He criticized Tehran for executing 724 people in 18 months, including dozens after Rouhani was elected in June.
 
Iran regularly executes people who are convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, adultery and espionage. In 2011, Iran put to death more than twice as many people as it did the year before.
 
An Iranian delegate told General Assembly members before the vote that the resolution does not reflect the actual situation inside Iran and will be counterproductive, according to Reuters.
 
Meanwhile, the news agency reported, a similar condemnation of Syria was adopted with 127 votes in favor, 13 against and 47 abstentions. A third resolution condemning North Korea was passed by consensus, but some states publicly disassociated themselves from the text.
 
The resolutions on these countries have become an annual rite. They intensify international pressure and further isolate those states but have no legal consequences. All three countries lobby hard against adoption of the resolutions, noted Reuters.

Iran Unveils New Radar System

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 19 December 2013 07:26
New Radar SystemIran on Tuesday unveiled a newly-developed advanced radar system with high target detection capabilities, reported the semi-official Fars news agency.
 
“The radar is complementary to the phased array radar system unveiled on September 1 and its repair and maintenance is very simple,” the Commander of Iran’s Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli, was quoted by the agency as having said.
 
Esmayeeli said the new radar system, Arash, boosts the country’s radar power in all the frequency bands of VHF, UHF and HF and will make the country’s integrated radar network more powerful in any possible electronic war.
 
“The indigenized Arash radar system will gift an extremely high range to the country’s air defense network using very low energy,” he boasted, adding that Arash will be stationed in an Iranian site this week.
 
Iran announced on December 10 that it plans to unveil a newly-developed advanced radar with a high target detection capability which is part of a new air defense system.
 
“The powerful Arash radar is one of the most important achievements of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base which will be unveiled (in the Eastern part of Iran) today,” Esmayeeli said, according to Fars.
 
Esmayeeli stressed that Arash has been designed and built by the young Iranian scientists at Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base.
 
“The radar has high capability in detecting and identifying targets and in electronic warfare,” he added.
 
The commander declined to reveal any more data or information about the details of the new air defense shield or the new radar system.
 
Iran often boasts of military advances but it is not clear how accurate these announcements really are and whether they are actually an attempt by the regime to convince Iranians of the country’s military strength.
 
In November, Iran announced its new combat drone, the "Fotros," which sports a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles).
 
The development of the latest drone follows ongoing Iranian efforts to step up its domestic arms production, with Iranian developments reportedly driven by captured U.S. drones.
 
In February, Iran presented a new fighter jet, claiming it is able to evade radar systems.
 
Code-named the Qaher (Conqueror) F-313 and shaped similar to stealth bombers, the grey warplane was designed and built domestically, then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted.
 
Israeli experts subsequently cast doubt about the authenticity of the fighter jet, noting that Iran has no capability to build aircraft.
 
On Monday, Iran announced that it had launched a monkey into space for a second time, just 11 months after it claimed to have successfully conducted tests with another primate and produced conflicting photos about the test.

Obama has 'Killed' New Iran Sanctions

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:53
Rep. Michele BachmannHouse lawmakers are angry at their Senate counterparts over the upper chamber's failure to pass tighter Iran sanctions before Congress recesses, reports the Washington Free Beacon.
 
With only two weeks left on the legislative calendar, congressional insiders say that a new Iran sanctions measure currently under consideration by the Senate is “all but dead in the water,” according to the report. Senate Democratic leaders “appear poised to give in to White House demands that no new sanctions be imposed on Iran for the rest of the year and likely through most of 2014.”
 
The Senate Banking Committee and the annual defense authorization bill – two key venues at which the new sanctions could have been adopted – appear to have been “shut down” by the White House’s Democratic allies.
 
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, Minn.) described the senators' action, or lack of, as “reprehensible” and a “tragedy.” She went on to praise Sens. Mark Kirk (R, Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D, N.J.) for authoring an Iran sanctions measure that could be offered as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a yearly defense-spending bill that must be approved before lawmakers leave town.
 
However, reports the Free Beacon, it remains unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.) will allow the amendment to come to a vote. “It’s very important we send a very strong signal in the Middle East that the U.S. will not stand for Iran undercutting our words on not obtaining a nuclear weapon,” she told the publication. “The president, unfortunately, has already sent the signal that he would willingly abide by Iran enriching uranium.”
 
“This is our first president who has truly made a decision to be truly anti-Israel,” Bachmann said, referring to the Israeli government’s opposition to the nuclear accord.
 
Rep. Peter Roskam (R, Ill,), the GOP chief deputy whip and co-chair of the Republican Israel Caucus, slammed Senate Democrats for following the White House as Iran continues to enrich uranium.
 
“The Senate Democratic leadership’s capitulation to White House demands to ease pressure on Iran is deeply disappointing,” Roskam told the Free Beacon. “This has long been a unifying issue for Congress, and even today, prominent voices in both parties in the House and the Senate agree that action must be taken to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions at all costs.”
 
“The Senate’s refusal to consider House-passed sanctions legislation significantly weakens U.S. negotiation leverage with Iran,” he said. “Unfortunately, some Senate leaders are choosing not to follow through on their long-held commitment to take every necessary step to prevent a nuclear Iran.”
 
Congressional insiders with knowledge of the sanctions debate accused the White House and Senate Democratic leadership of ignoring the will of the majority of Congress.
 
“The American people deserve an up-or-down vote before senators go home for recess; the majority leader shouldn’t let the White House bully the Senate into silence,” said one senior Senate aide who is closely tracking the sanctions amendment. “If Democrats wanted this to become law, it would be on its way to the president’s desk—we deserve action, not illusory deals that go nowhere.”
 
A senior House GOP aide involved in the sanctions debate said that “every House effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran is met with a big middle finger from the White House and Senate leadership.”
 
“They continue to block sanctions legislation at every turn in an attempt to appease the Iranian regime,” the aide told the Free Beacon, echoing frustration felt by many in the House. “The fact that the Senate won’t even consider a bill that passed the House 400-20 means the Obama administration is, sadly, successfully driving a partisan stake in the heart of one of the few bipartisan issues in Washington.”
 
Even if the Senate approves the sanctions measure as an amendment to the NDAA, it would require that the House remain in Washington, D.C., to reconcile the two measures before being finalized. However, this is unlikely, as most House members will leave town at the end of this week when their legislative year comes to an end.
 
The Senate Banking Committee, which was seen as an alternate route for a sanctions bill, also will avoid taking up the issue, according to Politico. 
 
“The president and Secretary Kerry have made a strong case for a pause in congressional action on new Iran sanctions, so I am inclined to support their request and hold off on committee action for now,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D, S.D.) told Politico Tuesday.
 
The Obama administration, for its part, has waged an aggressive campaign to convince lawmakers to postpone passing new sanctions on Iran.

Iran Rejects Israeli President's Offer to Meet Rouhani

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 18:07
Hassan RouhaniIran on Tuesday dismissed an offer from Israel's president to meet his Iranian counterpart as a "propaganda ploy", and reaffirmed its opposition to the Jewish state's existence.   
 
"This propaganda to help the regime out of isolation will prove fruitless," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told reporters.    
 
She said President Shimon Peres's offer was aimed at helping Israel out of what she described as its "isolation", after its outspoken opposition to the nuclear deal clinched last month in Geneva.    
 
Asked on Sunday about a possible meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Peres said: "Why not? I don't have enemies. It's not a question of personalities but of policies."    
 
"The aim is to transform enemies into friends," said the president, whose role in Israel is symbolic and ceremonial.    
 
But in contrast to Peres' conciliatory approach, the Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman rejected the possibility of a meeting outright, insisting that her country would never recognize the Jewish state or change its stand.    
 
"There has not been nor will there be any change on Iran's stance and views regarding the Zionist regime", Afkham said. "Iran does not recognize Israel. Our position regarding this oppressive and occupationist regime - which is completely illegitimate and has been created to occupy the lands of the Palestinians - is clear," she added.    
 
The harsh rhetoric is likely to reinforce the skepticism towards which the Israeli public views western statements that the government of current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani represents a new, "moderate" phase in Iranian policy.
 
In October Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu famously compared Rouhani to his predecessor, asserting that "Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. And Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing. But it doesn't mean we should let him... pull the wool over our eyes".
 
Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, accuses Iran of working to develop a nuclear bomb, a charge denied by the Islamic Republic.
 
Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards Israel and supports a wide range of anti-Israel terrorist groups committed to the Jewish state's destruction, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.    

Hamas Announces Renewed Ties with Iran

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 12:09
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei illustration - ReutersHamas has "resumed" relations with Iran after a temporary falling out over the Syrian conflict, according to AFP.
 
"Relations between Hamas and Iran have resumed," senior official Mahmud al-Zahar told reporters at a Monday news conference in Gaza. 
 
Ties had been "affected by the Syria situation, and Hamas has withdrawn from Syria so that it can't be identified with this or that side," he said. "We've confirmed we are not interfering in the Syrian case, or in any other Arab country."
 
Shia Iran had long supported the Sunni Hamas against Israel, which is viewed as a common enemy. But exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal left his base in Damascus after the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, criticizing President Bashar al-Assad, a key ally of Iran, and moving to the Sunni Gulf state of Qatar.
 
But the Hamas leader made remarks in October of this year supporting the Assad regime and calling for an end in sectarian fighting at a Jerusalem conference. The move was subsequently slammed by powerful rebel group Army of Islam, who denounced Hamas's ties with the Assad ally and claimed that they were trying to restore funding to Gaza by exploiting their position on the conflict. 
 
Media reports indicate that the constant switching of sides has led to a huge decrease in Hamas's funding - especially from Iran. 
 
But Zahar denied there had been a complete severing of ties. "Our relations with Iran were not cut, and we don't wish to cut ties with any Arab countries either, even those that are fighting against us," he said. The latter reference was to Egypt, which has taken a hard line against the Islamist group since the military overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
Hamas is an affiliate of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which has been the target of a massive crackdown in Egypt in recent months that has seen hundreds of Morsi supporters killed and more than 2,000 arrested.
 
Zahar said there was still cooperation with Egypt on getting supplies, including fuel, into the Gaza Strip, but "there is no political contact, because the current (Egyptian) regime is against it."
 
Since July, Egypt's military has destroyed hundreds of tunnels used to bring crucial supplies, including fuel, into the blockaded Strip. It has also launched efforts to stop terror tunnels into Egypt and Israel and battled terror factions in the Sinai desert, angering Gaza officials. 
 
Having initially spoken out against Egypt's new military regime, Hamas has sought to avoid a further deterioration in relations with Cairo.

How to Stay Serene Post-Geneva

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 07 December 2013 18:47
PairGeneva is Obama's lifeline to Iran, helping Iran save Assad, and thereby itself.
 
The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). It has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs.
 
The best-known form is:
 
1) G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
 
2) The courage to change the things I can,
 
3) And wisdom to know the difference.
 
In the tsunami-like wake of Obama's Geneva "Agreement" with Iran, Israel appears helpless against what seems to be Obama's unilateral coronation of Iran as a nuclear weapons' state.  Obama's nuclear appeasement of Iran is catastrophic to Israel, the Gulf States, and the world. 
 
In terrible times such as these, one must "keep calm, and carry on."  The only way to act is to 
 
focus on what one can do and not on what one can't.  Hence, Israel should begin the first two steps of a 12-step detox program designed to counteract appeasement. 
 
Instead of obsessing about what it can't do, Israel should focus on what it can do: Step 1: Ice Assad, Step 2: Ice Oslo.
 
First, Geneva is - in many ways - Obama's lifeline to Iran, helping Iran save Assad, and thereby Iran itself.  It was just reported in the media that:
 
"President Barack Obama’s last-minute decision not to carry out an intended punitive strike against Syria’s President Bashar Assad this summer, after Assad killed almost 1,500 of his own people with chemical weapons, was influenced by secret US back-channel discussions with Iran, Israel’s security and intelligence community reportedly believes. The issue of Assad’s chemical weapons use came up in the secret US-Iran contacts held in recent months in Oman, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Friday, and it quoted unnamed Israeli intelligence and security sources asserting Obama’s change of heart was affected by those contacts."
 
The moral is: don't focus your attack on Iran. That is where Obama can offer protection; instead, attack where Obama can't protect Iran and where you have a go at the weakest link, Assad.
 
In the heady euphoria of Iran's Geneva victory, the real story was overlooked. In the battle for Damascus' southern suburb of East Ghouta this past week, Hezbollah suffered 250 KIA casualties with dozens of others captured.
 
This number means 250 dead Hezbollah, about 30 captured, and many times that number wounded.  In a week of Syrian urban fighting, Hezbollah has lost the same number of fighters that it lost in a month-long IDF operation in 2006.  Hezbollah has a total of 5,000-8,000 active fighters.  So, 250 Hezbollah dead in a week means Hezbollah is dying a slow and irreversible death in Syria.  And that means Iran is dying there as well.
 
All Israel has to do is sell simple bullets and 5k range anti-tank weapons to Saudi Arabia and drop-ship them to south Syria.  Since, the "Amazon" name is already taken, let's just call it "Ammozon."  Plain old bullets, and only bullets, were responsible for the 250 dead Hezbollah.  That's because Hezbollah is not built to fight an offensive entrenched urban guerrilla war in which they are on the attacking side and the Syrian rebels are on the defense with small caliber rounds. 
 
The tables have now turned and Hezbollah is being decimated by the rebels using Hezbollah tactics. 
 
As for the 5k range anti-tank weapons, in the hands of the Syrian rebels, they have become anti-Hezbollah weapons and anti-aircraft weapons.  How?  Actual field YouTube videos have shown the rebels have destroyed Hezbollah/Assad stationary military positions:  mid-flight slow-moving Syrian helicopters: ; and on-ground stationary Iranian supply aircrafts with simple 5k range anti-tank weapons:
 
These are the game-changers in the Syrian-Iran-Sunni War against the Iranian side.  And with a range of  5k, they can decimate the Iranian allies in Syria, but pose little blow-back threat to Israel.
 
But the biggest Syrian War game-changer is that Post-Geneva, the anti-Assad allies now feel that Obama has double-crossed them from the beginning and has clearly fed real-time Syrian battle-field intelligence on the Sunni rebels to Iran and Assad's forces.  Obama's intelligence betrayal will come home to roost against Obama.  Obama's Syrian rebel-betrayal is the main reason the Syrian rebels have recently suffered catastrophic losses in several key ambushes.  Now, with Obama exposed as Iran's ally in Syria, the CIA and Obama will be shut-out from any, and every, piece of in-theater Syrian rebel intelligence.
 
In many ways, Iran has already lost Assad, and Assad has lost Syria.  For, if today Assad "won," what exactly has he won?  Syria is a decimated country where nothing is left and most of Assad's precious scud missiles were used against his own people.  Al Qaeda will kill every Assad soldier they find.  So Assad has already fallen. 
 
As for icing Oslo, all you need to do is read the PM Netanyahu repeat what Israeli Defense Minister Yaalon said on September 23, 2013:
 
“In an hour, we will bury a soldier who was murdered by a Palestinian so that his body could be traded and a terrorist could be released from jail, this is a tactic that, unfortunately, has been used in the past. 1,500 Israelis were killed after Israel signed a peace accord with the Palestinians. These are the fruits of peace”.
 
But the Defense Minister seemed to be just warming up to the subject, for on November 18th, he added these prescient comments at an event in memory of former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan:
 
"I supported Oslo but smartened up when I realized that Arafat considered it to be yet another stage in the negotiations.  To date, I’ve never heard any Palestinian leader, including Abbas, who was willing to say that a territorial compromise, even along the borders he dreams about, is the end of the conflict and an end to the demands, a recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a waiver of the right of return...  Their unwillingness to recognize our right to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people in some border, this is the obstacle to peace and is the root of the conflict. 
 
"The Palestinian Authority is no less hostile than the entity that runs Gaza, but tries to undermine us by using other means. They threaten a third Intifada. What do they want? For us to surrender as a result of the threat of violence. When you threaten with a third intifada, you implicitly give legitimacy to violence.  When there is a peace process, the Israeli issue comes up in the Palestinian media at the level of de-legitimization and hatred.
 
"They educate their children, in their curriculum, in the rhetoric, and when this increases then there are initiatives - not by terror organizations but rather by criminals - that turn into nationalistically motivated crimes. Our victims are victims of the diplomatic process. And when we stand firm and do not look like we are about to give up, that's when we receive quiet.”
 
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon again sagely responded to Kerry's "Iran/Third intifada linkage" statement saying that: "There is no need to fear threats of whether there will or won't be a third Intifada," and he wisely said that, “We have been in an open and ongoing conflict [with the Palestinians], which as far as the Palestinians are concerned does not end in 1967 lines.  There is Sheikh Munis—Tel Aviv, Majdal—Ashkelon. We got out of the Gaza Strip and they continue to attack us. They raise their youth to believe that Haifa and Acre are Palestinian ports and more. There is no sign of compromise here.  Therefore we are likely not going to solve this based on what we thought. This does not mean we want to control them, they have political autonomy and good thing they do. We will have to be smart, and not fear threats of whether there will or won't be a third Intifada.” 
 
And he concluded thus:  “Unfortunately, [some] tie the Iranian issue to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said. “They tie anything to this conflict. We say, ‘enough, this region is unstable not on account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . there are those who know and explain to us what the solution is, and they know how to reach it in a short period of time. There are some who say this conflict is only territorial, that it began in ’67 and will end along the ’67 lines, but I haven’t heard any Palestinian leadership, including [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s], say that it is willing to consider any territorial concession as an end to the conflict and a culmination of claims, and to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
 
Here is another quote from the Defense Minister:
 
“The crux of the matter is education in the Palestinian Authority, and if I open a PA textbook and see that Israel doesn’t appear on the map, or that Tel Aviv is designated as a settlement, and when a 3-year-old boy is brought up to admire suicide bombers — you can sign any agreement and in the end it will blow up in your face.”
 
All Israel has to do is show US Secretary of State Kerry the YouTube video clips of the above-referenced Syrian rebels armed with only anti-tank weapons shooting down flying helicopters and blowing up jets on Syrian airfields.  And then ask the question, "Won’t the Palestinians use the same small easily smuggle-able and portable anti-tank rockets to blow Israeli helicopters up over ‘West’ Jerusalem, El Al 747s parked at Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, or Egged buses winding their way up the mountain passes from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?”
 
If one Israeli 747 on Ben Gurion Airport tarmacs is blown up by a Palestinian anti-tank rocket fired from the mountain perches of the "West Bank", Israel's economy will freeze because all casualty insurance on all Israeli-bound flights will be terminated by international insurers.
 
In conclusion, the best anti-Iranian nuclear strategy for Israel is a decimated Iranian-ally Assad, and a dead peace process.  Let's hope Israel has the serenity to understand that talking with Obama won't change Obama's intention to nuclear-arm Iran.  But, Israel's courage in arming the Syrian rebels, and keeping Abbas unarmed, will gain Israel needed leverage and success.
 
For more information, please visit www.marklangfan.com
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Rowhani: nuclear facilities ‘red line’

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 30 November 2013 19:52
Hassan RouhaniIran will not dismantle its nuclear facilities as demanded by its arch-foe Israel and some U.S. conservative lawmakers, President Hassan Rowhani told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday.
 
World powers reached a deal with Iran last week to curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited relief of sanctions stifling its economy.
 
Israel criticized the deal as a “historical mistake” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying a comprehensive deal with Iran “must, in the end, lead to the result of the dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability.”
 
When asked by the Financial Times if Tehran whether dismantling its nuclear facilities is a “red line” Rowhani replied: “100 percent.”
 
Rowhani further stressed that the level to which Iran will continue to enrich uranium will be determined by the country’s need for fule.
 
Regarding Iran’s future relation with the United States, Rowhani said: “We need to decrease tensions at this stage and create mutual trust step by step. The problems created over 35 years cannot be resolved over a limited time,” he said.
 
“The best test to see whether we are capable of building trust or not is this nuclear issue. If the first steps taken in Geneva are implemented carefully and precisely, it would mean that we have taken one step forward toward trust,” Rowhani said.
 
Iran’s six-month freeze of its nuclear program agreed with world powers in Geneva will start by early January, Tehran’s envoy to the U.N. atomic watchdog indicated Friday. 
 
"We expect that either at the end of December or the beginning of January we should start implementing the measures agreed by both sides," Reza Najafi, envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters, according to AFP.
 
The freeze is meant to make it more difficult for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and to build confidence while Tehran and the P5+1 hammer out a long-term accord.

Quake strikes near Iran’s nuclear plant

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 28 November 2013 12:49
Quake Strike Iran
 
A magnitude 5.6 earthquake was reported on Thursday about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Bushehr, where Iran has a major nuclear reactor, U.S. Geological Survey data showed, according to Reuters.
 
A report about the earthquake by the official IRNA news agency gave no details about casualties nor if there was any damage.
 
In April, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake killed at least 37 people and injured hundreds in a town near Bushehr. The nuclear plant wasn't damaged then, AP reported.
 
Iran sits on a series of faults. It experiences minor quakes once a day on average.
 
There were reports on social media in Saudi Arabia that the quake, at a depth of 10.2 miles, was felt in the kingdom's eastern province, across the Gulf from Iran, according to Reuters.

Frontlines: The World is in Peril

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 13:39
Bushehr nuclear power plant - AFPIn 1938 there were many who could see the dark clouds forming and assembling above but no one knew the extent of the horror that was going to unfold over the next seven years.
 
The world is facing a similar situation in 2013. The stakes are even higher given the advent of the nuclear age. Iran is the "Germany" of today. The world should not think for one minute that the Iranians want a negotiated settlement just as Hitler never wanted anything but total and absolute control of the world. The West always has a hard time reading the Muslim world.
 
At best America is naive about the true intentions of Iran. It is actually a lot closer to irrational about their goals and ambitions. Iran wants to rule the Muslim world and they have used their proxies Hezbollah, Bashar Assad's Syria, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood to this end.
{youtube}sL6uPbYgFQ4{/youtube}
Iran values death even more than life itself. They did not hesitate to send tens of thousands into the line of fire in their war against Iraq. They are not acquiring nuclear capabilities to replace their huge oil reserves. They have absolutely no need for nuclear energy given their plentiful oil wells. There is only one reason and one reason only for the Iranians to make nuclear reactors. It is unquestionably and unequivocally to make nuclear weapons.
 
Although the destruction of Israel is certainly one of their goals, they have higher priority ambitions including controlling all of the Mideast's oil fields, and the economic and physical destruction of the United States of America who they view as the "Great Satan". They can destroy America economically by turning off the flow of oil from the Middle East, and they can destroy America physically by using a small nuclear explosion high up in the atmosphere (EMP) causing an electrical blackout of the entire country.
 
In a few years they can destroy America using ICBM's (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) with nuclear warheads which they are developing along with their ally North Korea.
{youtube}1eeBcHikV_I{/youtube}
A negotiated settlement with Iran will be just like the agreement Neville Chamberlain made with Hitler over the Sudentenland. The appeasement strategy played right into Hitler's hands. Many underestimated Germany's intentions just as so many are underestimating Iran's ambitions and intentions. Hopefully, enough smart people exist in the world today to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Obama Phones Netanyahu to Discuss Iran Deal

Category: News
Created on Monday, 25 November 2013 08:43
Netanyahu speaks to ObamaU.S. President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss an international nuclear deal with Iran that has threatened to raise tensions between the close allies, the White House said.
 
"The two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One As Obama headed to the U.S. West Coast, reported AFP.
 
"Consistent with our commitment to consult closely with our Israeli friends, the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution," he added.
 
Obama stressed that the P5+1 powers negotiating with Iran will seek to obtain a "lasting, peaceful and comprehensive solution that would resolve the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program," according to Earnest.
 
He added that Obama and Netanyahu agreed to keep in "close contact" over the deal.
 
"The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions," said Earnest.
 
The phone call comes hours after the West and Iran signed an interim deal which Netanyahu rejected as “a historic mistake”.
 
Relations between Israel and the United States have been strained for quite some time, as Netanyahu had repeatedly warned before the deal was signed that it was a bad one.
 
According to some recent reports, the U.S. administration has been frustrated with Netanyahu’s warnings to the point that Obama has been refusing to accept Netanyahu’s phone calls.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hit out at critics of the deal on Sunday, saying that those who criticize it have a responsibility to “tell people what the better alternative is.”
 
"Israel will actually gain a larger breathing space in terms of the breakout capacity of Iran," Kerry insisted in an interview on ABC.
 
"Do you want to sit there and argue that you have to dismantle your program before you stopped it, and while you're arguing about this dismantling it, they progress?" he asked.

Iran, World Powers Reach Deal

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 24 November 2013 10:42
Iranian P5 1 delegations in Geneva -ReutersIran and six world powers have reached a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program, after hours of talks in Geneva.
 
The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, Catherine Ashtonannounced early Sunday morning that an agreement has been reached between Iran and the group known as the P5+1.
 
France's Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, confirmed as well that a deal has been reached. Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted as well that "we have reached an agreement."
 
Details of the agreement have not yet fully been made public but some reports said that the six-month agreement will have Iran freeze some of its nuclear activities in exchange for partial and limited relief of the sanctions that have been imposed on it.
 
It was also reported that under the agreement, Iran will be able to continue to enrich uranium to a level 3.5%, but will not be allowed to add to its stockpile of enriched uranium, and would have to move some of its enriched material to a third country.
 
Speaking after the deal was announced, U.S. President Barack Obama said it was an "important first step" toward addressing the world's concerns over the Islamic republic's disputed nuclear program.
 
{youtube}emQGKQ6D0sE{/youtube}
 
He added that the deal includes "substantial limitations" on Iran and cuts off the Islamic republic's most likely path to a bomb. The President added that Iran would have to prove to the world that its nuclear program is peaceful and said that if it fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, the pressure on it would increase and the sanctions would resume.
 
Officials in his administration confirmed to CNN the deal with Iran halts progress on its nuclear program, provides for intrusive inspections and neutralizes Iran's stockpile of 20% enriched uranium.
 
"We think we have a good strong arrangement," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN following the announcement of the deal.
 
Kerry later told reporters at a news conference in Geneva that the deal will help "make Israel safer".
 
"The comprehensive agreement will make the world safer ... and Israel safer," Kerry said.
 
The deal came after an earlier report that it may not happen due to Tehran's continued insistence that it retain the ability to enrich uranium.
 
Emerging after day-long talks in Geneva on Saturday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters that the talks had achieved “98 percent progress,” but that Tehran would not accept any agreement that does not recognize what it considers its right to enrich uranium, a demand the United States and its European allies have repeatedly rejected.
 
"In the past 10 years, Iran has resisted economic and political pressures and sanctions aimed at abandoning its enrichment activities," Araqchi said, according to NBC News.
 
"Therefore,” he added, “any agreement without recognizing Iran's right to enrich, practically and verbally, will be unacceptable for Tehran."
 
Talks aimed at achieving a draft of a six-month deal to freeze parts of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief continued after Araqchi’s remarks, giving a glimmer of hope that an agreement could be hammered out before the negotiations recess. 
 
It was unclear if the talks would extend into Sunday as U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said Kerry still planned to travel to London on Sunday for meetings on other issues in the Middle East.
 
In addition to Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi were also in the Swiss city, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman.
 
Diplomatic sources told NBC News that under the draft agreement under discussion, Iran would agree to a temporary freeze of its nuclear program and, in return, would get up to $7 billion in economic sanctions relief, by the unfreezing of assets.
 
Earlier, Hague said "narrow gaps" remain on the same issues that blocked agreement at the last round earlier this month.
 
"We're not here because things are necessarily finished," Hague told reporters on Saturday. "We're here because they're difficult, and they remain difficult."
 
Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke of "a realistic chance" for a deal "but there is still a lot of work to do."
 
Iran has consistently declared that it will never give up on its right to enrich uranium, though Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last week that Iran would not insist that others recognize this right.
 
On Friday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on the West to ignore Israel’s warnings over the deal.
 
"The world powers should reach an independent decision that is disconnected from Israel’s position," he tweeted.
 
"Israel is only concerned about its own interests, and it does not think about the interests of the world,” he charged.
 
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett delivered one of Israel's clearest warnings to date on Saturday evening, regarding the possibility that the Jewish state would strike Iran's nuclear weapons facilities.
 
If a deal leaves Iran with the ability to "break out" and produce nuclear weapons in a period of six weeks, "we will not be able to sit quietly," he told Channel 2.

Iran Announces 2 New Nuclear Plants as Talks Continue

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 24 November 2013 10:19
A uranium enrichment facility in Natanz Iran. File Photo- AFP
 
As talks between Iran and six world powers over Iran’s nuclear program continued, the Islamic Republic announced on Saturday it plans to construct two more new nuclear power plants in the near future.
 
“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has put construction of the second and third (nuclear) power stations on its agenda due to the government’s programs and the emphasis laid by the President (Hassan Rouhani),” AEOI Deputy Chief Hossein Khalfi was quoted as having said by the semi-official Fars news agency.
 
Khalfi underlined that Iran is in a good situation in terms of construction of nuclear power plants, and said, “We have launched the Bushehr nuclear power plant and handed it over to the country’s experts in the past two months.”
 
He reiterated that by launching the Bushehr plant the country prevents the flow of seven million tons of various types of pollutants, which are dangerous to the environment, into the air.
 
“The country will save around seven million barrels of fossil fuel which amounts to about $700 million if each barrel of oil is priced at $100 after the (full) launch of the Bushehr power plant,” he said, according to Fars.
 
The comments came as talks in Geneva over Iran’s controversial nuclear program continued.
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "narrow gaps" remain on the same issues that blocked agreement at the last round earlier this month.
 
"We're not here because things are necessarily finished," Hague told reporters on Saturday. "We're here because they're difficult, and they remain difficult."
 
Hague and other foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, arrived in Geneva over the weekend as talks seemed to be making progress and headed towards a deal.
 
On Saturday night, however, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister indicated that while the sides were “98% close” to an agreement, a deal was stalled because Tehran insists that it retain the ability to enrich uranium.
 
"In the past 10 years, Iran has resisted economic and political pressures and sanctions aimed at abandoning its enrichment activities," Abbas Araqchi told reporters.
 
"Therefore,” he added, “any agreement without recognizing Iran's right to enrich, practically and verbally, will be unacceptable for Tehran."

Iran-linked Group Claims Saudi Arabia Mortar Bombings

Category: News
Created on Friday, 22 November 2013 08:15
Terrorists brandish RPG in GazaSix mortar bombs landed in a remote part of Saudi Arabia near the Iraq and Kuwait border on Thursday. The attack, still under investigation, was claimed by the Iraqi Shi'ite militia group Al Mukhtar Army, which is closely aligned with Iran.
 
Watheq Al-Battat, founder and leader of Al Mukhtar Army, said the bombings were "a warning message to Saudis to tell them that their border stations and patrol are within our range of fire," reports BBC.
 
The clash highlights the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a rivalry that could potentially turn nuclear given Saudi Arabia's reported intention to obtain nuclear warheads from Pakistan should Iran break the nuclear threshold. 
 
Tensions between the two nations have been raised over the war in Syria. Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia backs the Sunni rebels, while Iran and Shi'ite terrorist groups such as Al Mukhtar support President Bashar Assad's regime.
 
The connection between Al Mukhtar and Iran was made very clear in an interview Al-Battat gave on an Iraqi TV station. The interview, which aired October 23, was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
In the interview Al-Battat said that were a war to break out between Iraq and Iran he would side with Iran against his own country. He added that he would fight for the "Infallible Imam," Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, no matter what.
 
When asked if Iran was behind Al Mukhtar, Al-Battat responded that in terms of politics, "our authority is the leader, Ali Khamenei." 
 
According to Al-Battat his terrorist organization boasts 23,600 "martyrdom-seekers," has international members from Syria, Egypt and Iran, and even members in Sweden.

Obama to Personally Appeal to Senators: Wait with the Sanctions

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 21 November 2013 17:33
obama-laughPresident Barack Obama plans to personally appeal to senators and ask them to hold off on passing new sanctions on Iran.
 
According to Fox News, Obama is preparing to meet on Tuesday with key senators as part of an ongoing campaign by the administration to convince Congress not to pass new sanctions on Iran while talks in Geneva are under way.
 
A Senate Democratic leadership aide confirmed to Fox News on Monday that Obama will meet with members of the Senate leadership, as well as the chairmen and top Republicans on several key committees.
 
The administration is concerned that Congress might press ahead with a new round of tough sanctions on Iran. While lawmakers think additional sanctions could help make Iran more pliable at the negotiating table over its nuclear program, the administration argues it would have the opposite effect.
 
Tuesday’s meetings will come days after Obama issued a public warning to Congress, saying that a deal in the works could prevent the "unintended consequences" of war.
 
Obama warned that military action, if diplomacy fails, would have dangerous effects and only fuel an Iranian desire for nuclear weapons.
 
Over the past few weeks, the President has sent his top officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, to meet with senators and convince them to drop their plans to impose new sanctions on Iran.
 
The Senate Banking panel has been considering whether to act on legislation hitting Iran’s oil industry. The House overwhelmingly passed such legislation in July, but the White House has been urging Senate Democrats to hold off while multilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program continue.
 
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members of the Banking Committee and reportedly told the senators they should ignore anything Israel says about the Iranian nuclear issue.
 
Negotiators are to meet again later this week in Geneva in hopes of concluding a deal.

Kerry: Iran's Uranium Enrichment Will be Decided Later

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 21 November 2013 07:36
John KerryU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday the issue of whether Iran will ultimately be allowed to enrich uranium will not be decided in an interim deal under discussion between major world powers and Iranian officials in Geneva.
 
"Whatever a country decides or doesn't decide to do, or is allowed to do under the rules, depends on a negotiation," Kerry was quoted by Reuters as having told reporters.
 
"We are at the initial stage of determining whether or not there is a first step that could be taken, and that certainly will not be resolved in any first step, I can assure you," he declared.
 
The comments come as representatives from Iran and the six world powers gathered in Geneva for the latest round of talks regarding Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
 
Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has repeatedly stressed that Iran will not give up on its right to enrich uranium. Earlier this week, however, he said that Iran would not insist that others recognize this right.
 
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he insisted on the need for a "real" solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
 
Netanyahu's visit to Moscow was seen as a last-minute bid to influence an emerging nuclear deal being discussed by world powers and Iranian diplomats in Geneva, a deal strongly opposed by the Jewish state.
 
"We would all like a diplomatic solution, but it needs to be a real solution," said Netanyahu, adding that this would involve Iran halting nuclear work in the same way as Syria was allowing its chemical weapons arsenal to be destroyed.
 
Iran would have to halt uranium enrichment, stop work on centrifuges, have enriched uranium material taken out from Iran and dismantle the Arak heavy water reactor, he said.
 
In remarks he made earlier, Kerry vowed that the United States would not let any deal with Iran become a ploy to buy time to increase its nuclear capability
 
Kerry said the negotiations continuing in Geneva were the "best chance in a decade... to halt progress and roll back Iran's program."
 
On Monday, Kerry said that Israel has "every right" to voice opposition to a potential nuclear deal with Iran but declared that Netanyahu’s fears were unfounded.

Iranian Supreme Leader: Israel 'Doomed to Collapse'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 19:55
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiIranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Israel is a "regime doomed to collapse." His threats come as the latest round of talks over Iran's nuclear weapons program is being held in Geneva.
 
AFP reports that Khamenei told commanders of the Islamist Basij militia force in Tehran: "the Zionist regime (Israel) is a regime whose pillars are extremely shaky and is doomed to collapse."
 
Responding to Israeli concerns over Iran's nuclear weapons program, Khamenei called Israel "the rabid dog of the region" and claimed Israel poses a threat to the world, not Iran. The Basij crowd responded with cries of "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."
 
Khamenei had insults for Israeli officials as well. 
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) on Tuesday backed previous statements that Israel could militarily act alone to defend itself from the Iranian nuclear threat.
 
Perhaps in response, Khamenei said "the title of human is not worthy of the leaders of the Zionist regime," adding that the Iranian response to a military action would be "a slap in the face they will never forget."
 
Khamenei further said in a live state television broadcast that "any phenomenon that is created by force cannot endure," referring to Israel's numerous defensive wars fought to ensure the country's existence.
 
This is not the first time Khamenei has made threats or attacks on Israel.
 
In early November the supreme leader of Iran called Israel an "illegitimate and bastard regime," and further called the US a "smiling enemy" that is not to be trusted.
 
The statements reveal a deep-seated animosity that raises further doubts about the ongoing talks in Geneva aimed at reaching an agreement over Iran's nuclear program.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the program, noting that proposals risk easing sanctions on Iran and leaving the Islamic regime at "breakout capacity." If that were to happen Iran could turn its reactors back on and produce a nuclear weapon whenever it chooses.
 
Amid disagreement with US President Barack Obama's administration over the nuclear talks, Netanyahu on Wednesday took off for last minute talks in Russia with President Vladimir Putin to try and explain Israel's concerns.
 
International sanctions have been crippling Iran through an ongoing diplomatic effort to block the country's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Concerns have been raised that the sanctions may be lifted in the Geneva talks without Iran's program being dismantled.
 
Regarding the sanctions, recent reports revealed that despite his country's economic suffering, Khamenei controls a business empire worth $95 billion, which is more than Iran's current annual oil exports.

Iran diplomacy better than war, U.S. tells Israel

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:23
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry File -Reuters
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a “bad deal” on Iran’s nuclear program, in comments posted to Twitter on Friday.
 
But his remarks were met with what appeared to be Washington’s response to the premier.
 
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters later in the day that American administration believes the path proposed by Israel to subdue Iran with sanctions may lead to war and not to a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue.
 
Six world powers are currently negotiating a freeze to Iran’s suspect nuclear program for a new round of talks in Geneva.
 
Last week, the previous round of talks failed to seal a first step deal which would halt Iran’s program in return for relief from crippling sanctions while all sides negotiate a final deal over the next six months.
 
“I think we're looking at multiple tracks here, including our continued pursuit of seeing whether a diplomatic path is possible. The alternative in our view is a path to war,” Psaki said.
 
“We think the path to diplomacy is the right path,” she added.
 
Earlier, Netanyahu’s tweet read: ”The proposal enables Iran to develop atomic bombs and build long-range missiles to reach the U.S. and Europe,” it read. “Iran is getting everything and giving nothing.”
 
Psaki said she saw the tweet Friday but had no response to it, according to the Israel-based Ynet news site.
 
The U.S. official reiterated though that Israel and the United States had the same goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
 
“The place where we diverge a bit is on the tactical level, where we believe we need a first step that halts Iran's program to give us time to negotiate this long-term agreement and they believe we should just keep upping the pressure on Iran to get them to capitulate all at once to a long-term agreement,” Psaki said.
 
“We don't, obviously, think that's a path that is possible.”
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday he understands Israel's “deep concerns” over Iran's nuclear program and that the two allies share the same goal in curbing the perceived threat, although they differ in tactics.
 
“We're having a very friendly and civil conversation about this,” Kerry told MSNBC. “I respect completely his deep concerns - as a prime minister of Israel should have - about the existential nature of this threat to Israel. We understand that.”

Iranian Nuclear Program Has Cost $170 Billion

Category: Reports
Created on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 05:56
A general view of the water facility at ArakIsraeli security sources claimed Tuesday that Iran's controversial nuclear program has cost the country $170 billion, mostly due to economic sanctions.
 
Of the $170 billion price tag, $40 billion were "invested over the past 20 years in the construction and operation of nuclear infrastructure," the sources told AFP.    
 
They said Iran had "lost $130 billion because of sanctions put in place since 2012," including $105 million linked to the oil sector and $25 billion to banking, trade and industry, development and investment.    
 
The Israeli sources also gave figures for the amount of money they said Iran had sent to its allies in Syria - President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Damascus and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah -- as well as to Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
 
Up to $10 billion dollars went to Hezbollah, "hundreds of millions" to Damascus, and $1.3 to $1.8 billion to Hamas and the PIJ, they said. But they did not specify when and within what time frame this aid had been delivered.
 
The figures came amid an escalating war of words over the current approach to ongoing nuclear talks with Iran led by the US.
 
Critics of the current approach to talks - most notably Israel, as well as other US allies such as France and Saudi Arabia - fear the Obama administration's approach towards relaxing sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing or freezing parts of its controversial nuclear program is a grave mistake - one which would essentially squander the advantage gained by sanctions which have pressured the regime back to the negotiating table.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned on numerous occasions that the relaxing on a sanctions regime which took many years to fully implement in exchange for what he dismissed as superficial concessions on the part of Tehran would be a "bad and dangerous" move.
 
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu warned that western leaders were appearing too eager to sign a "rushed deal".
 
"I reminded him (Kerry) that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. And the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal," Netanyahu said.
 
The proposed relaxation of sanctions would mean that "Iran is not required to take apart even one (uranium enrichment) centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years.
 
"I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal," he added.
 
Officials in Israel have warned they could carry out unilateral military action to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons capability if diplomatic efforts fail.
 
Critics of the Israeli position have denounced the Prime Minister as "hysterical" over his dire warnings of the consequences of relaxing sanctions too quickly. But others have pointed out that his approach is grounded in very real concerns over the perceived naivete of the current American approach.
 
Responding to concerns, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro on Monday sought to quell Israeli fears over an emerging deal with Iran, vowing that Washington would never let Tehran acquire a nuclear weapon.    
 
President Barack Obama "will not permit Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, period," he told delegates attending the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Jerusalem.    
 
Western countries accuse Iran of seeking to develop an atomic weapon, a charge Tehran denies.    
 
Diplomats have said they are closing in on an interim agreement that would freeze or curb some of Iran's nuclear activities for as long as six months in exchange for an easing of the tight sanctions on the Islamic republic, after failing to secure a deal at weekend crunch talks in Geneva.   

Obama: A Deal with Iran is Better than a Confrontation

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 09 November 2013 19:23
Bemoaning the loss of his anonymity AFPU.S. President Barack Obama thinks that a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is better than a confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
 
Obama made the comments on Thursday in an interview with NBC News, which came amid rampant rumors that a deal was imminent between the West and Iran over its nuclear program.
 
Secretary of State John Kerry will reportedly fly to Geneva on Friday to take part in the talks with Iran. As this trip is a last-minute one and was previously not on Kerry’s schedule, it has set off speculations that a deal with Iran will be signed very soon.
 
Obama told NBC that an interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program would provide only "very modest relief" from the sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
 
He added that the agreement being worked out in Geneva would keep the bulk of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in place.
 
"We don't have to trust them. What we have to do is to make sure that there is a good deal in place from the perspective of us verifying what they're doing," Obama told the network.
 
"There is the possibility of a phased agreement in which the first phase would be us, you know, halting any advances on their nuclear program, rolling some potential back, and putting in place ... some very modest relief, but keeping the sanctions architecture in place," he added.
 
Obama stressed that the limited relief from sanctions could be reversed if it was determined that Iran was not living up to its end of the bargain.
 
"If they're not willing to go forward and finish the job of giving us assurances that they're not developing a nuclear weapon, we can crank that dial back up," Obama told NBC.
 
“What we have to do is to make sure that Iran is going in the right direction, otherwise the situation could deteriorate into some sort of conflict, including a military one,” he said.
 
Obama’s comments seem to confirm that some sort of deal between Iran and the West is on the way, though it remains to be seen what its details are.
 
According to one report in the British Telegraph on Thursday, the U.S. was planning to propose a short-term nuclear agreement with Iran which would allow Tehran to continue enriching uranium at low levels.
 
Iran’s Foreign Minister was optimistic on Thursday that an agreement on his country's nuclear program is within reach, but his deputy emphasized that Iran would not stop enriching uranium.
 
Responding to the reports of a possible breakthrough with Iran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Thursday evening that signing an interim deal with Iran would be a mistake of “historic proportions,” but that appears to be precisely the deal being hammered out.
 
On Wednesday, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) blasted Obama over his failure to live up to his promises to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
 
In a statement, ZOA national president Mort Klein said that while Obama has repeatedly claimed the he will not allow Iran to obtain such weapons, his record indicates otherwise.
 
“The ZOA is deeply concerned that his Iranian pledge is as untrue as his health care pledge,” said Klein.

ZOA: Obama's Record Indicates He Won't Stop Iran

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 09 November 2013 12:55
obama-abbas0He tells Congress: No New Sanctions, Unfreeze Iranian Assets He tells Jewish Groups: Don’t Increase Pressure on Iran
 
President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated for more than five years –– since before he was elected President –– that he will “never, never” allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
He has also repeatedly stated that, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. Period.”
 
The ZOA is deeply concerned that his Iranian pledge is as untrue as his healthcare pledge.
 
To stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is not only a vital Israeli interest, but a vital American interest.
 
If Iran is allowed to become a nuclear power, nuclear proliferation across the Middle East will ensue. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Sunni 
 
Arab states will seek their own nuclear deterrent against Iran and Egypt and Turkey are also likely to join the race for a nuclear weapons capability.
 
A nuclear Iran can destabilize the eastern, oil-rich, Shia-majority provinces of Saudi Arabia and these might even be forcibly seized by Iran, without anyone having the power to reverse this seizure, placing even more of the world’s oil in Iranian control.
Once Iran goes nuclear, one can expect Iraq and Azerbaijan, the latter currently an Israeli ally, from moving into the Iranian camp for want of any alternative or foreign protector.
 
A nuclear Iran will drastically affect the global economy and global oil supplies, including significant increases in the price of oil, as it will be able to control or even shut down the free flow of oil through the Persian Gulf, through which more than half the world’s oil passes, without fear of serious retaliation. America, and indeed the world can thereby be subject to nuclear blackmail.
 
Within a few years, Iran, which already possesses missiles capable of striking Israel and Europe, will possess intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) which will have the ability to carry a nuclear payload and to strike targets in America. At that point, the U.S. too will be subject to Iranian nuclear blackmail in everything it does. Iran is thus a supreme test of American credibility in world affairs.
If Iran gets the bomb, after successive U.S. presidents have said that it will not be allowed to do so, American credibility, influence and power will have been dealt a devastating blow.
 
The Iranian regime, including several former presidents, have repeatedly threatened the nuclear destruction of the Jewish state of Israel. Jewish history has taught us that horrific, genocidal threats cannot be ignored, but must be taken with utmost seriousness. In addition to an Iranian nuclear power being a monumental threat to America, Europe and the Middle East, the threat to Israel, a small country that can be utterly devastated by just a few nuclear bombs, only magnifies the urgency of stopping Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
 
It is appreciated that a nuclear-armed Iranian regime poses an existential threat to Israel, but few discuss the huge risk for the United States if Iran becomes a nuclear weapons power.
 
Whatever the political, economic and security risks for the U.S. that might be entailed by a last-resort military strike upon Iranian nuclear facilities, they will be as nothing against the shadow of nuclear blackmail security threat under which America will be obliged to live once Iran gets such weapons.
 
Even if Iran never fires them at the U.S., who really believes Iran won’t give such weapons to terrorists? And who believes that, once having such weapons, terrorists won’t use them on the U.S.? And even if neither uses them, what unending series of concessions and retreats will America have to undertake to ensure that this continues?
Once Iran gets the bomb, our freedom and security of may well compromised beyond anything we imagined.
 
One must simply review President Obama’s record in dealing with Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons to see that it is disappointing and alarming.
 
Obama willing to accept nuclear Iran?
 
First, there have been important indications that, contrary to his verbal assurances, President Obama is willing to accept a nuclear Iran:
In July 2009, President Obama’s then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. would extend a “missile shield” over the Middle East, implying acceptance of  a nuclear Iran. Would Secretary Clinton had said this without approval from her boss, President Obama?
 
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel argued for years before his confirmation in 2013 that the U.S. should reject all measures, not only military but economic as well, to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power.
 
During his confirmation hearings earlier this year, Hagel may have inadvertently exposed Obama’s behind-the-scenes policy when he shockingly said that he supported the Obama Administration’s Iran policy on “containent” - before an aide rushed up to whisper to him that the position of the Obama Administration was to oppose containment and not accept a nuclear Iran.
 
Both Clinton and Hagel reversed their positions when they attracted controversy, but doubts remain. After all, why more than imply containment, why appoint as Defense Secretary one who supported containment, if that is not the actual, intended, behind-the-scenes policy in the White House? It is also reasonable to conclude, on the basis of their past statements, that both have had discussions with President Obama that tended in the direction of a policy of containment.
 
Obama warns Israel not to strike Iran
 
Second, while President Obama has affirmed on various occasions that Israel will legitimately decide how defend its security, his officials, advisers and actions over five years tell a different story:
 
In April 2009, President Obama’s Vice-President Joseph Biden publicly warned Israel of the Administration’s opposition to any Israeli military action against Iran.
 
The same month, then-Secretary Clinton declared that American support in countering the Iranian nuclear threat was conditional on Israel making concessions to the Palestinians.
 
In September 2009, Obama adviser and supporter and former National Security Adviser under President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski (whom Obama has praised publicly), said that were Israel to launch a military strike at Iran, the U.S. should confront the Israeli planes and shoot them down.
 
In February 2012, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, also explicitly opposed an Israeli strike.
 
According to reports, President Obama last year privately warned Israel, which has fewer military capabilities and thus less time to wait, not to strike Iran and warned of penalties for striking Iran if he were to win re-election in November 2012.
 
In all these cases, there was nothing about Israel’s ‘sovereign right to make it own decisions.’
 
Obama delayed & weakened sanctions
 
Third, President Obama has a frightening and disturbing record on sanctions against Iran:
 
For over a year after entering office, President Obama would not allow a Congressional vote on new U.S. sanctions on Iran, despite having overwhelming, veto-proof majorities in both Houses of Congress.
 
The 2010 UN Security Council sanctions President Obama supported did not cover Iran’s vital oil, financial and insurance sectors. Also, the sanctions included exemptions for numerous countries that are heavily invested in Iran, like China, which has huge contracts in Iran’s energy sector developing oil refineries, and Russia, which supplies S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. (Japan and several European countries also enjoy exemptions from the application of these sanctions. These Obama exemptions weakened the impact of the sanctions).
 
In additional sanctions bills, the Obama Administration sought to torpedo or weaken new and stronger Congressional sanctions on Iran, even after these had been softened and waivers providing greater presidential discretion had been incorporated at the Administration’s request, leading Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to publicly and angrily criticize the Administration.
 
In his 2012 AIPAC speech, President Obama took credit for imposing sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank. Yet, not only had he not implemented these sanctions at the time, but he tried to slow their passage and dilute their strength.
 
Now, when Iran has made no concessions at all but agreed to further talks, President Obama, instead of maintaining what pressure he has exerted through existing sanctions, has urged Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran’s mining and construction sectors, even though sanctions are the only form of pressure than can be exercised to bring about Iranian concessions.
 
New reports indicate that President Obama is not only opposed to imposing further sanctions on Iran, but that he is prepared to weaken them and unfreeze some Iranian assets if Iran merely takes some steps to curb –– not terminate –– its nuclear program.
 
In a meeting with a group of American Jewish leaders last month, President Obama urged American Jewish leaders to desist from urging Congress for additional sanctions on Iran.
 
Obama sets no red lines on Iran
 
Fourth, President Obama has not laid down any red lines beyond which the U.S. will not permit Iran to advance in its quest for nuclear weapons. This open-ended policy suggests that there is in fact no point at which President Obama would act militarily to stop Iran developing a weapon. Such suspicions can only be compounded by President Obama’s recent failure to act militarily on a red line that he actually did lay down, that is, the use of chemical or biological weapons by Syria against its own people.
 
Obama leaks secret info. harming Israel on Iran
 
Fifth, the Obama Administration has damagingly publicized Israeli military and intelligence information, including regarding Israeli preparations to deal with Iran militarily should the need arise. This has included leaking news of Iraeli military preparations, such as revelations in March 2013 about Israeli use of Azerbaijan airfields with regard to a possible operation against Iran. Also, in May 2013 the Administration revealed details of an American-Israeli top-secret a U.S.-funded installation at an undisclosed location between Jerusalem and Ashdod for Israel's Arrow 3 ballistic missile defense system.
 
Obama shows no urgency about Iran’s nukes
 
Sixth, President Obama has made no public statement of any sort regarding reports that Iran might have nuclear weapons within a few months; in fact, there have been recent reports that indicate that Iran may be at a stage in its nuclear weapons development program that would enable it to produce a nuclear weapon in as little as one month.
 
Obama wants new sanctions delays & makes no demands on Iran
 
Seventh, President Obama has not altered his policy of delaying additional sanctions and not making demands of Iran on its nuclear weapons program even after last week’s statement by the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling Israel an ‘illegitimate, bastard state,’ the U.S. ‘an enemy who smiles,’ insisting that no compromises on Iran’s alleged right to enrich uranium will be made, and seeing tens of thousands of Iranians rallying in Tehran, screaming ‘Death to America.’
This is not unlike President Obama’s refusal to pressure Iran when he had a golden opportunity to do so in June 2009, when the Iranian regime brutally suppressed demonstrations produced by the rigged presidential elections that confirmed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power. President Obama said nothing for days, only tepidly criticized the Iranian regime and said, while he had ‘deep concerns … it’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling – the U.S. President meddling in Iranian elections.’ (This is in stark contrast to events in Egypt in 2011, when after demonstrators erupted onto Cairo streets in late January against U.S. ally President Hosni Mubarak, President Obama said, that while ‘it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders,’ he nonetheless declared that it ‘is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful. It must be peaceful, and it must begin now’).
 
Obama silent on Iran’s terror operations
 
Eighth, President Obama has not only done little to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon, but he has ignored all other dangerous aspects of Iranian policy –– its role in international terrorism, of which it is the leading state sponsor, funding and arming Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and others.
 
Iran has been behind the murder of scores of Jews in terrorist attacks in Argentina and the assassination of numerous Iranian dissidents and human rights campaigners abroad. Iranian operatives even tried to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington D.C.
 
Equally worrying is President Obama’s ignoring Iran’s drive to develop bigger and better ICBMs which can carry nuclear weapons. At present, Iran already has missiles which can strike Israel and targets in Europe and will have the capacity to hit America in  few years.
 
Obama negotiates while Iran’s nuke program moves close to completion
 
Ninth, why has President Obama not demanded as a condition of further negotiations with Iran that Tehran immediately stop its centrifuges and its ICBM programs for the duration of talks?
 
Why has President Obama not demanded that Iran’s enriched uranium be removed and its nuclear facility at Fordow and heavy water, plutonium-producing facility at Arak be closed? He should be demanding all these things.
 
At present, Iran continues unchecked in its drive for a nuclear weapons capability and the negotiations in Geneva merely smooth the path it is taking. That’s why Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz has said that ‘We’re worried Geneva 2013 will end up like Munich 1938.’ The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has just reiterated that Iran has the ‘right’ to continue enriching uranium –– yet the Obama Administration speaks as though the current talks are a great success, claiming that ‘The Iranian proposal was a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before.’
 
But the proposal, which involves suspending its 20% uranium enrichment activities and sufficing with enriching uranium to 3.5% will not stop Iran going nuclear, because the vast expansion in the number of Iranian centrifuges, including new centrifuges at Natanz allow Iran to transform 3.5% enriched uranium to bomb-grade material (enriched to 90%) as quickly as its old centrifuges were capable of transforming 20% enriched uranium to weapons-grade levels. As Gary Samore, President Obama’s former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, put it, ‘Ending production of 20% enriched uranium is not sufficient to prevent breakout, because Iran can produce nuclear weapons using low-enriched uranium and a large number of centrifuge machines.’
 
Samore has also stated, ‘What they’re offering is really no different than what we’ve heard from the previous government, from [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s government for the last couple of years ... They continue to reject any physical limits on their enrichment capacity – meaning the number and type of centrifuge machines, the stockpile of enriched material that they have in country. And as far as I can tell, they have continued to reject closing any of their nuclear facilities ... I haven’t heard of any agreement to halt work or to modify the heavy water research reactor that they’re building, and which may be close to operational.’
Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a former Pentagon official, and author of the new book, "Dancing with the Devil: The Peril of Engaging Rogue Regimes", said, ‘The chances that Iran will come in from the cold are between zero and nil ... Kayhan, an Iranian newspaper whose editor Khamenei appoints and which speaks on the Supreme Leader’s behalf, has made it clear that confidence-building and compromise are tantamount to treason.’
 
Conclusion
 
The record of President Obama’s actions and policies on Iran for the past five years is deeply disturbing, one that cannot inspire any confidence that President Obama means what he says when it comes to stopping Iran.
 
Everyone concerned for the future security of the U.S. and Israel should be afraid –– very afraid.
The ZOA urges every media outlet, every church, every synagogue, every mosque, indeed, every Jewish and non-Jewish organization that cares about peace, every columnist, every journalist and every blogger to speak out on this before it is too late.
 
They should all insist Iran close its Fordow nuclear plant and its Arak heavy water plutonium-producing reactor, stop all enrichment and agree to remove all its existing enriched uranium.
 
We urge everyone to support military action if Iran fails to comply.
 
 
Morton A. Klein ZOA PresidentMorton A. Klein, ZOA President
Morton A. Klein is the National President of the Zionist Organization of America.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Killed in Syria

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 14:14
Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander General Mohammad Ali JafariMuhammad G'malizda, a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has been reported to have been killed in the Syrian Civil War, according to the State-backed Iranian Mehr news agency.
 
G'mazlida was killed sometime over the last few days by "Wahhabi terrorists", the agency said, giving no more details. Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam, but Iranian state outlets regularly use the term to describe the wider Syrian rebel movement in general. The report once again highlights the extent towards which the IRGC, which is a special branch of Iran's military, has been directly involved in the ongoing conflict on behalf of Syrian Regime President Bashar Assad. 
 
Fighters from both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide have been streaming across Syria's border's to join opposing sides of the ongoing conflict there, which has killed well over 100,000 people. The rebel movement is made up primarily of Sunni Muslims, while the regime counts mainly on the support of Shia Muslims and members of President Assad's Allawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
 
The IRGC was allegedly established after the 1979 Iranian Revolution to defend and enforce Iran's religious systems, which follow a sect of Shi'a Islam. It is estimated to number some 125,000 military personnel. 
 
This is not the first time that the IRGC has been involved in a neighboring military conflict. Besides for the Iran-Iraq war, the terrorist force was also involved in both the First and Second Lebanon Wars. 
 
IRGC officials recently reiterated Iran's hardline stance against involvement with the US in international talks to stall their nuclear weapons program, declaring that "Death to America" is still their slogan. The remarks came in advance of Iran's annual celebration of the toppling of the US Embassy in Tehran, commemorated today, November 4. 

Canada: Iranian Man Tried to Board Plane With Bomb Materials

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 03 November 2013 20:29
canadian AirportAn Iranian-born Canadian citizen trying to board a plane was arrested Sunday morning, after bomb-making materials were discovered in his carry-on bag.
 
A routine inspection found that 71 year old Antony Piazza, who changed his name 27 years ago from Houshang Nazemi, had materials in the pull-out handle of his carry-on that could be used to make an explosive charge.
 
The incident occurred at Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport where Piazza was attempting to board a Los Angeles bound plane.
 
Montreal police are puzzled by the suspect's motives. The New York Times reported a statement released by the police on Monday noting he had no accomplice, nor was he working on behalf of any organization.
 
Louis P. Morena, Piazza's lawyer, says his client told him he was carrying the bag for someone else, without specifying whom.
 
Morena, speaking to reporters, said regarding the material Piazza was carrying: "They’re talking about bullets, they’re talking about powder, they’re talking about wire, they’re talking about briquette."
 
Hours after the arrest, police searched Piazza's apartment in the LaSalle neighborhood of Montreal, as reported by website Shalom Toronto. Part of the neighborhood was closed by police for several hours during the investigation.
 
Piazza is charged with possession of explosives, attempting to bring explosives on a civilian plane, and disturbing public order. If found guilty he is liable to serve up to 10 years in prison.
 
This is not the first run-in with the law for the Iranian immigrant. In 1985, he was given ten years' imprisonment for smuggling heroin, and in 1992 he was found guilty of fraud.
 
In a 2006 interview with Montreal-based French-language newspaper La Presse, Piazza, going by his original name of Nazemi, said he fled Iran in 1979 to escape the Islamic Revolution, and in Montreal opened a video rental store for fellow exiles nostalgic for the days of the Shah.

Obama Pushing Lawmakers to Hold Off on New Iran Sanctions

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 02 November 2013 18:44
obamaTop Obama administration officials have been pushing U.S. lawmakers hard to hold off on new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
 
Some key lawmakers, however, have clarified they are not yet convinced to support a delay.
 
Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which is considering the sanctions package, said lawmakers were skeptical because they felt they had to push the White House to back strict sanctions on Tehran.
 
"It's incumbent upon them over the next 24 to 48 hours to persuade folks like me and others that the course of action they want to follow is a sound one," Corker told Reuters.
 
"I think ... because Congress had to push the administration into the sanctions regime in the first place, there is a degree of skepticism. But from my standpoint I'm certainly open to listening," he added.
 
Corker met on Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry. On Thursday, Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew were to hold a classified briefing on the status of talks with Iran for the Senate banking panel.
 
"The point that they are making is that they are at a point in these negotiations where they believe that additional sanctions coming out of the committee are counterproductive to the negotiations that are under way," Corker said.
 
The banking panel had been expected to vote on the sanctions in September, but held off after the Obama administration asked for a pause while negotiations with Tehran got under way.
 
Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican member of the banking panel who is a strong backer of tougher sanctions, said he opposed any further delay.
 
"Every day the Senate delays consideration of new sanctions, Iran installs more centrifuges, enriches more uranium and improves its nuclear breakout capability," he said, referring to the ability to enrich uranium for use in a bomb.
 
"If Iran is capable of negotiating while violating international law, the United States should be equally capable of negotiating while imposing new sanctions pressure," Kirk said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
 
Members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have overwhelmingly backed tougher economic pressure on Iran in recent years amid concern it is closing in on nuclear weapons capability.
 
Two weeks ago, six Democratic and four Republican senators called on Iran to end all its uranium enrichment activity and pushed for a speedy escalation of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
 
In July, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill blacklisting Iran’s mining and construction sectors.
 
While Senators have called to toughen sanctions, President Barack Obama has welcomed the moderate statements made by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, and has said he wants to test their sincerity.
 
Iranian negotiators recently met in Geneva with representatives of the so-called P5+1 - the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany. During the two-day session, Iran presented what it described as a breakthrough proposal that would include snap inspections of its atomic sites.
 
The proposal was described by the White House as "useful". White House spokesman Jay Carney said it showed a "level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before." Western negotiators described the talks as the most detailed and serious to date.

Iran Hangs 16 Rebels After Border Guards Killed in Ambush

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 27 October 2013 14:52
hangingiranSixteen rebels have been hanged in Iran in retaliation for the deaths of at least 14 border guards in an ambush, the BBC reported on Saturday, citing Iranian news agencies.
 
The rebels were "linked to groups hostile to the regime", the attorney general of Sistan-Baluchistan province was quoted as saying.
 
They were hanged in prison in Zahedan, north-east of Saravan, where the border deaths took place overnight. It is not clear what link, if any, those hanged had to the border attack.
 
One report suggested they may already have been tried and convicted, but their executions brought forward following the ambush.
 
Friday night's attack in a mountainous region outside Saravan, on the south-eastern border with Pakistan, was blamed by Saravan's member of parliament, Hedayatollah Mirmoradzehi, on "anti-revolution guerrillas."
 
But reports that a rebel group called Jaish al-Adl had claimed responsibility for the ambush were "not confirmed," Mirmoradzehi told the local Tasnim news agency.
 
An armed Sunni group, called Jundallah, has carried out a number of attacks against the state in recent years.
 
It was founded in 2002 to defend the Baluchi minority in the poor, remote and lawless region of south-east Iran.
 
The Baluchis in Iran, like their brethren across the border in Pakistan, see themselves, like the Kurds, as a nation without a state.
 
In predominantly Shiite Iran, the issue is complicated by the fact that they are Sunni Muslim. This has led them to claim sectarian persecution, and the Iranian authorities in turn accuse them of being in league with foreigners.
 
The Iranians claim that Jundallah is being supported by the United States, Britain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, as well as by terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
 
Iran regularly executes people who are convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, adultery and espionage.
 
According to Amnesty International, at least 508 people may have been executed in Iran this year - a rate that has not slowed under the rule of Iran's new President and ostensible "moderate", Hassan Rouhani.
 
In 2011, Iran put to death more than twice as many people as it did the year before.

Iran Could Have a Nuclear Bomb Within a Month

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 26 October 2013 20:17
Natanz nuclear facilityIran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), considered one of the United States’ top nuclear experts.
 
ISIS made the estimate in a new report published on Thursday by USA Today.
 
"Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran," stated the report. "An essential finding is that they are currently too short and shortening further."
 
David Albright, president of the institute and a former inspector for the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the estimate means that Iran would have to eliminate more than half its 19,000 centrifuges to extend the time it would take to build a bomb to six months.
 
The Obama administration has said Iran is probably a year away from having enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. Requests for comment on the ISIS report from the National Security Council and the State Department were not answered.
 
In the report, Albright said negotiations with Iran should focus on so-called "breakout" times, or the time required to convert low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade, according to USA Today.
 
Albright, who has testified before Congress, said the negotiators should try to find ways to lengthen the breakout times and shorten the time that inspectors could detect breakout.
 
ISIS' analysis is based on the latest Iranian and United Nations reports on Iran's centrifuge equipment for producing nuclear fuel and its nuclear fuel stockpiles.
 
Iran's stockpile of highly enriched uranium has nearly doubled in a year's time and its number of centrifuges has expanded from 12,000 in 2012 to 19,000 today.
 
Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican whose Senate Banking Committee is considering legislation to tighten Iran sanctions, said the report shows that Iran is expanding its nuclear capabilities under the cover of negotiations.
 
"The Senate should move forward immediately with a new round of sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring an undetectable breakout capability," he told USA Today.
 
The White House has said new sanctions legislation should wait while current negotiations - scheduled to resume officially in Geneva next month - are moving forward.
 
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said his country has no interest in nuclear weapons but that producing nuclear fuel is Iran's right. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has said Iran will not ship its nuclear stockpile to a third country.
 
Iran has refused to let international inspectors into its nuclear facilities to verify they are being used for peaceful purposes, access required under international agreements it has signed.
 
On Wednesday it was reported that a prominent Iranian lawmaker has claimed that Tehran does not need any more 20 percent-enriched uranium.
 
“Tehran reactor fuel has been supplied and currently no need is felt for production of 20 percent-enriched uranium," the lawmaker, Hossein Naqvi Hosseini, was quoted as saying.
 
He added that "Tehran is ready to convert its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to fuel rods and remove concerns over its non-peaceful use.”
 
The comments come a week after Iranian negotiators met with representatives of the so-called P5+1 - the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany.
 
During the two-day session in Geneva, the first round of talks between the sides since the election of Rouhani, Iran presented what it described as a breakthrough proposal that would include snap inspections of its atomic sites.
 
The proposal was described by the White House as "useful". White House spokesman Jay Carney said it showed a "level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before." Western negotiators described the talks as the most detailed and serious to date.
 
ISIS estimated in October of 2012 that Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb within 2-4 months. The new estimate is based on an analysis of the latest reports by Iran and the IAEA.
 
ISIS considered various scenarios, including if Iran decided to build a covert enrichment plant like it has under a mountain in Fordow, near the city of Qoms, that was designed for optimal efficiency and minimal time to enrich enough uranium for bomb making.
 
Such a facility built with current Iranian technology could produce enough material for a bomb in a week, according to the ISIS report.
 
"If they did that and they were caught it would be a smoking gun of a nuclear weapons program," Albright said, according to USA Today.
 
ISIS has in the past produced satellite imagery which proves that Iran was making alterations to the Parchin complex, a military site that the IAEA says was possibly used to test conventional explosive triggers for a nuclear blast.
 
Iran has refused to give the IAEA access to sites, documents and scientists involved in what the agency suspects were efforts, mostly in the past but possibly ongoing, to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran: Men Allowed to Marry Adopted Daughters

Category: Islam
Created on Monday, 07 October 2013 17:26
Islamic Men to Marry Adopted DaughtersIran’s parliament has passed a controversial law allowing men to marry their adopted daughters at the age of just 13, the British paper The Guardian reports.
 
Iranian law already allowed girls to marry at age 13, and boys at age 15. In addition, girls were allowed to marry at younger ages with court approval.
 
In 2010, at least 75 children under age 10 were married in Tehran alone, and as many as 42,000 children ages 10-14 were married across the country, The Guardian reported, citing the Iranian site Tabnak.
 
However, until the new law was passed, adoptive parents were not allowed to marry their adopted children, and marriage to stepchildren was also forbidden.
 
The law may still be shot down by Iran’s Guardian Council, which has the power to reject bills for violating Islamic law (Sharia).
 
Human rights activists who spoke to The Guardian warned that the bill was “legalizing pedophilia.”
 
“It’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child,” said Shadi Sadr of the London-based group Justice for Iran. “You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop.”
 
“With this bill, you can be a pedophile and get your bait in the pretext of adopting children,” she warned.
 
Shiva Dolatabadi of the Iranian Society for Protecting Children’s Rights had a similar warning. “You cannot open a way in which the role of a father or mother can be mixed with that of a spouse. Children can’t be safe in such a family,” she said.
 
The growing negative publicity surrounding the bill could hurt Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s reputation as a moderate.

Iranian Cleric: U.S., Iran Should Join Hands

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 06 October 2013 07:06
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani - ReutersA senior Iranian cleric urged Washington and Tehran on Friday to “join hands” to end the sanctions on the Islamic Republic, local media reported, underlining the support of Iran’s influential religious establishment for President Hassan Rouhani’s diplomatic offensive.
 
“We await practical measures by U.S. officials,” cleric Kazem Sedighi was quoted by Reuters as having told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran.
 
“The presidents of Iran and the United States should join hands and end these cruel sanctions, which have not only harmed the Iranian nation but also the American and the European nations,” Sedighi said.
 
Since being elected Rouhani, who the West has branded as a “moderate”, has indicated an interest in a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, with hopes that the harsh sanctions imposed on the country would be lifted if it negotiated more with the West.
 
Iran’s parliament, controlled by political factions deeply loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also strongly endorsed Rouhani’s diplomatic drive, despite some rumblings from hardliners deeply suspicious of Washington.
 
Sedighi accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of wanting to sabotage the rapprochement between Tehran and Washington and also cautioned that a U.S. refusal to remove the military option from the table, as President Barack Obama indicated during a meeting with Netanyahu this past week, was a sign of its “insincerity.”
 
Netanyahu, speaking at the UN General Assembly this week, dismissed the Iranian leader as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and said Israel was ready to stand alone to deny Tehran an atomic weapon.
 
Rouhani said in response to Netanyahu’s speech that Israel was "upset and angry" with signs of an emerging new relationship between his country and the West.
 
"We don't expect anything else from the Zionist regime," Rouhani told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
 
Israel is "upset and angry because it sees that its blunted sword is being replaced with logic as the governing force in the world, and because the Iranian nation's message of peace is being heard better," he added.
 
In another response to Netanyahu’s speech, an Iranian envoy declared that his country is ready to defend itself against any Israeli attack.
 
"The Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran, let alone planning for that," Khodadad Seifi, a deputy ambassador at Iran's UN mission, said.
 
Meanwhile, Iranian negotiators are set to restart nuclear talks with world powers in mid-October and expect clear signs of relief from the sanctions in any deal to curb its atomic activities.
 
Iran and the six world powers - collectively known as the P5+1 - have met for several rounds of talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programs. The last round of talks was held at the start of April in Almaty, Kazakhstan, but failed as did previous rounds.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the United States will not take Iran at its word over pledges of openness regarding its suspected nuclear weapons program.
 
The top U.S. diplomat said the new mood by Iran of cooperation that was on display around the United Nations General Assembly in New York had to be backed up by quantifiable deeds.
 
"I assure (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu and the people of Israel that nothing that we do is going to be based on trust," Kerry told reporters in Tokyo.
 
Rather, Kerry explained, "it is going to be based on a series of steps to guarantee to all of us that we have certainty on what's happening."

Mr Rouhani: Recognize Israel

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Sunday, 06 October 2013 06:54
rowhani - UNPresidents Obama and Rouhani have had a phone conversation.  It was the first time since 1979 that the presidents of Iran and the United States have spoken to each other.
 
 Iran resents the United States for putting the Shah into power in 1953.  The United States resents Iran for holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1980). Despite these tangible offenses, the leaders of the two countries were finally able to speak.
 
Iran and Israel have no such offenses as part of their history.  Israel has never ever done anything to harm Iran.  Iran, to be sure, sends weapons to Hezbollah, which is a threat to Israel.  But Iran has never engaged in any direct hostility against Israel.
 
Nevertheless, in 2001, Iran’s President Rafsanjani, who is generally described as a moderate, called the existence of Israel an ugly, colonialist phenomenon and said that nuclear war could destroy everything on the ground in Israel but would merely damage the world of Islam.
 
Iranian leaders have consistently spoken against Israel’s existence.  Furthermore, they are creating a nuclear arsenal and have endured severe sanctions in order to keep increasing their nuclear capabilities, while claiming that they are not interested in building a bomb.  Their claim is not convincing in light of their willingness to endure economic hardships resulting from sanctions.
 
 So then, why are they continuing to oppose Israel?
 
Iran’s hostility towards Israel makes no sense whatsoever.  Iran has mentioned the plight of the Palestinians on occasion, but Iran has hardly ever been friends with an Arab nation.  The big exception is with Assad’s Syria, since Assad is an Alawite and therefore a member of a Shiite sect. Palestinians, and most Arabs, are Sunnis.  Sunnis and Shiites have been at war for centuries.
 
Iran has never faced up to the fact that it has no reason to be enemies with Israel.  Neither has the rest of the world.  Leaders of all nations take it for granted that Iran is Israel’s enemy, and nobody has ever asked why.  Hostility to Israel is the rule and not the exception.  Who needs a motive?
 
On the other hand, Iran does have a reason to worry about the status of Shiites in the Arab world.  That is why Iran is aiding Hezbollah, a Shiite organization.  Week after week, bombs go off in market places and even in mosques in Iraq and Pakistan.  They kill lots of people who happen to be present at the sites of the bombings.  The victims are typically Shiites, and the bombs are, by and large, directed against Shiites.
 
Although Iranian leaders have not been reacting publicly to these religious murders, they are concerned about terrorism.  “In July, China and Iran signed an agreement on security cooperation to strengthen their bilateral cooperation to combat terrorism and drug-related crimes. But more such collaborative efforts are needed to bring an end to the scourge of terrorism,” according to an op-ed in China Daily by He Wenping that appeared on September 25.
 
China is worried about terrorism in Xinjiang Province; Iran is concerned about attacks on Shiites.  It makes sense for them to cooperate.  Somehow, Iran has not seen fit to publicize this issue.
 
Recognizing Israel would do Iran a world of good.  It could benefit from Israeli technology.  It could end the nuclear expansion that provoked the sanctions. It could open up the United States to becoming a trading partner of Iran.
 
Rouhani would like to make Iran rich and secure.  On the other hand, think of how timid he was about recognizing that the Holocaust had happened. If one hates Israel, one is quite open to the concept of denial, since the Holocaust was one of the factors leading to the United Nations vote dividing the British Mandate of Palestine into two states.
 
On the third hand, what would Iran’s mullahs say? Would they declare Rouhani’s presidency invalid?  Perhaps they would.  If so, maybe Rouhani could use this as a way of ending the power of Iran’s theocrats.
 
Israel is the most hated nation on earth, which is a reason that the Palestinian Arabs have never been able to accept a compromise with Israel that would have created a Palestinian Arab state.  The Palestinian Arabs are the only independence movement ever to reject independence because of a boundary dispute.
 
They had to reject it; one can’t make a deal with a party that is universally detested.  If Rouhani recognized Israel, it would help the Palestinian Arabs.
 
Recognize Israel, President Rouhani.
 
Prof. George JochnowitzProf. George Jochnowitz
The writer is professor emeritus of linguistics whose specialty is Jewish languages, in particular the dialects of the Jews of Italy and southern France. He taught for many years at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, and was an exchange professor at Hebei University in Baoding, China. His varied interests include politics, music, the Bible, and humanity itself - and his wife, two daughters and grandson.

Egypt Cancels all Flights, Tourism Ties with Iran

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 05 October 2013 13:39
EgyptAir chairman  AFP
 
Egypt has announced the formal cessation of all direct flights and tourism ties with Iran.
 
The announcement came Tuesday, with Egypt stating it has ordered an end to all tourism activities with Iran. These had increased considerably during the yearlong rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Whereas deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi tried to improve relations with Iran, seeing it as a natural ally, the new regime is trying to distance itself from Tehran.
 
The Egyptian security establishment is currently fighting a bitter battle against Islamist terrorists who have a grip on some parts of the country. Yesterday three Egyptian policemen were gunned down in Sinai.
 
"The security situation does not currently permit the Ministry of Tourism to support travel to Iran, including flights and trips," said ministry spokeswoman, Rasha Azaiza .
 
In contrast to the Egyptian decision to cancel flights to Iran, Tehran announced Monday that it was seeking to establish direct flights to the US in continued efforts to revitalize US-Iranian ties.
 
The move, along with the general rapprochement Iran is seeking with the US, has raised alarm bells across other Middle Eastern countries.
 
A Saudi journalist close to the Saudi monarchy yesterday criticized the warming of relations between Washington and Tehran, following the phone conversation between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
 
According to the report by Israel's Channel 2, journalist Abdel Rahman Rashed said that if the US did not continue to take a firm attitude against Iran, Middle Eastern countries would have to face a future with an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.
 
In an article published in London's Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, Rashid wrote that the phone call between Obama and Rouhani shocked the Gulf states, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel as well as other countries.

Iran's Cyber Warfare Commander Found Dead

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 03 October 2013 05:30
CyberwarfareThe head of Iran’s cyber warfare program has been shot dead, triggering further accusations that outside powers are carrying out targeted assassinations of key figures in the country’s security apparatus, reports the Telegraph.
 
Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of Iran’s Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in a wooded area near the town of Karaj, northwest of the capital Tehran.
 
Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile program have been killed since 2007. The regime has accused Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations.
 
Ahmadi was last seen leaving his home for work on Saturday. He was later found with two bullets in the heart, according to the Telegraph, which cited a report on a website linked to the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
 
“I could see two bullet wounds on his body and the extent of his injuries indicated that he had been assassinated from a close range with a pistol,” an eyewitness told the website.
 
The commander of the local police said that two people on a motorbike had been involved in the assassination.
 
The Facebook page of the officers of the Cyber War Headquarters confirmed that Ahmadi had been one of their commander and posted messages of condolence.
 
Subsequently, a statement from the Imam Hassan Mojtaba division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps said that Ahmadi’s death was being investigated. It warned against speculating “prematurely about the identity of those responsible for the killing”.
 
Western officials said the information was still being assessed, but previous deaths have been serious blows to Iran’s security forces. Tighter security measures around leading commanders and nuclear scientists have instilled a culture of fear in some of the most sensitive parts of the security establishment.
 
The last victim of a known assassination was Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemist who worked in the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, who died when an explosive device blew up on his car in January last year.
 
Besides Israel, Iran has also blamed the U.S. and Britain for killing its scientists. Both countries have denied involvement in killing Iranian nuclear experts. Israel has not officially commented, but after Roshan’s death, the IDF spokesman Brigadier General wrote on his Facebook page, "I do not know who brought the Iranian scientist to account, but I certainly won't shed a tear for him."
 
The death of Ahmadi, a leading specialist in cyber defenses, could be an extension of this campaign of subterfuge. Iran has been accused of carrying out a number of cyber attacks detected in the West.
 
The Revolutionary Guard has also been accused of lending its expertise to Syria’s regime, helping it to hack Western targets through a body known as the Syrian Electronic Army.
 
The killing of Ahmadi coincides with a new diplomatic effort by President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly elected leader. He has voiced the hope that Iran’s confrontation with America and the leading Western powers over its nuclear ambitions can be settled within months.

Saudis, Gulf States 'Shocked' By Obama-Rouhani Chat

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 08:18
Obama -Saudi king
 
Israelis are not the only ones concerned with the apparent warming of relations between Iran and the United States; Saudi Arabia has leveled sharp criticism against U.S. President Barack H. Obama for conducting a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
 
That conversation, which took place last Friday, will be taken the wrong way by Iran, Saudi officials said. Saudi journalist Abdel Rahman Rashad said that he has spoken to government officials who said that they expect the U.S. to take a much tougher stance against Iran, lest Tehran take advantage of what it sees like American “softness” to continue and even expand its nuclear program.
 
“If the Americans do not take the necessary steps against Iran, the states of the Middle East will have to deal with a nuclear Iran,” Rashad wrote in an op-ed in the London-based Arabic a-Sharq a-Awsat newspaper.
 
“The phone call between Obama and Rouhani shocked the Gulf states, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, and other countries,” he wrote.
 
According to the New York Times, Obama and Rouhani "agreed to accelerate talks aimed at defusing the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and afterward expressed optimism at the prospect of a rapprochement that would transform the Middle East."
 
According to the Iranians, it was Obama that sought to speak to Rouhani, but Rahman said it did not matter who sought to speak to whom.
 
“What is important to know is what stands behind the conversation and how deep the ties are between America and Iran.”
 
The Suaids are very concerned about Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, fearing they will be aimed at the Sunni country by an aggressive Shi'ite competitor. At a recent meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said that Iran could threaten to attack Saudi Arabia – and thereby interfering with shipments of oil to the West – if it achieved nuclear weapons. This, he said would increase the chance of war, conventional or otherwise.
 
"Any threat to our interests or security will force us to use all available options to defend our interests, and national and regional security," Faisal was quoted as saying by the Al-Arabiya news channel. "The mounting escalation and persistent tensions might end up in an adventure with unpredictable consequences or in an unwanted military confrontation."
 
Iran has warned Western governments that it will close the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, a strategic choke point for much of the world's oil supplies, if they press ahead with sanctions against its key crude exports.
 
"Iran must not fuel this conflict and must not threaten us when we commit to international decisions," Faisal said. "It must safeguard the security of the Strait of Hormuz and that of the world energy supply."

Iran Unveils New Drone, Another Becomes Operational

Category: News
Created on Monday, 30 September 2013 15:32
Iranian military displays captured US drone - ReutersIran's Revolutionary Guard has unveiled a new advanced reconnaissance drone and said another attack drone unveiled last year has now become fully operational. 
 
AFP quoted local reports saying the highly mobile propellant-powered reconnaissance drone, unveiled this weekend, and named "Yasseer," can fly for eight hours with a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and reach an altitude of 4,500 meters (15,000 feet).
 
The report also said images of the drone resemble the American ScanEagle, an unmanned short-range aerial surveillance vehicle that Iran claimed to have captured in late 2012.
 
“Yasseer is capable of identifying targets… with its very powerful camera, and reporting them back to the base,” the chief of army ground forces General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan was quoted as saying at the unveiling ceremony.
 
According to photos provided to Iranian media, the drone is launched from a wedge catapult, enhancing its mobility. The reports did not provide further details.
 
This weekend also saw another new attack drone which was unveiled last September become fully operational.
 
The UK's Guardian newspaper said the drone named Shahed-129, or Witness-129, is able to fly distances of up to 1,700km (1,000 miles). Israel is some 1200 kilometers from Iran. The newspaper, quoting an Iranian news agency, said the drone had a 24-hour non-stop flight capability, could carry eight bombs or missiles, and could hit both fixed and moving targets.
 
Iran in recent years has boasted of capturing US drones it says have penetrated its airspace, vowing to reverse engineer them to make its own.
 
In December 2011 Iran claimed to have captured a large and sophisticated CIA stealth drone, a bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel. Tehran rejected a US request for its return.
 
Earlier Monday, Israel's Maariv newspaper said that Israel had decided to slash spending on its Arrow 3 missile defense system following a US decision to cut $55 million from the joint program. The Arrow 3, otherwise known as David's Sling, was designed to counter long range missiles from Iran.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with Barack Obama in Washington later Monday, where he is expected to urge the US President to continue to press Iran to cease its program to develop nuclear weapons.

Obama: We Respect Iran’s Right to Nuclear Power

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 September 2013 11:44
6a00d8341c86d053ef0105368294d1970c-800wiUnited States President Barack Obama sent a message of reconciliation to Iran in his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday. While Obama reiterated American opposition to the idea of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, he expressed support for an Iranian civilian nuclear program.
 
The mistrust between America and Iran has “deep roots,” he began, citing Iranian frustration at U.S. interference and American upset over Iranian proxy attacks and threats against “our ally Israel.”
 
“I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight,” he said. “The suspicions run too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road toward a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”
 
“Since I took office, I’ve made it clear in letters to the supreme leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully -- although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” he continued.
 
“We are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.
 
“Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
 
Iranian religious and political leaders have recently spoken out against nuclear weapons, he noted. “So these statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement.”
 
However, he noted, “to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”
 
The issue involves the international community, he said, not only the United States and Iran.
 
Obama concluded, “While the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and for the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential in commerce and culture, in science and education.”

Obama's UN Speech a Victory for Iran, Says Media

Category: News
Created on Friday, 27 September 2013 06:44
obama0CanadaA senior Iranian official welcomed on Wednesday the "moderate and respectful tone" of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to the UN General Assembly, as newspapers hailed a new path for the Islamic Republic, reports AFP.
 
"It seems a new climate has been created with the rise to power of a new Iranian government, and all international parties are trying to react to this new climate," said Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi.
 
"For example, Barack Obama has tried to use a more moderate and respectful tone," he said, in remarks quoted by the ISNA news agency.
 
"But no doubt what's important in foreign policy are actions," he said. If the world's major powers "respect Iran's nuclear rights under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, I think reaching a solution is imaginable."
 
Meanwhile, the Iranian press welcomed Obama's speech, saying it recognized Washington's “past mistakes."
 
In remarks before the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the U.S. president pushed for a “diplomatic path” with the new Iranian government.
 
The moderate Donya-e-Eqtesad daily greeted Obama's “different tone," while the conservative Jomhouri Eslami reveled in a declaration that “the United States does not seek regime change” in Iran.
 
The reformist Shargh newspaper hailed Obama’s speech for opening up “a new path” for the relationship between the two arch-foes, which have had no diplomatic ties since the Islamic Revolution.
 
“Even those most pessimistic to an opening in relations have accepted that the time for change has arrived,” its editorial said, according to AFP.
 
It added that the international situation has “significantly changed in Iran’s favor," and argued that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be “isolated” as a "warmonger."
 
Engaging in negotiations with Washington and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear drive, Shargh said, would culminate in the recognition of Iran’s “rights."
 
Etemad, another reformist daily, quoting ex-deputy foreign minister Mehdi Mohtashami, said Obama acknowledging “past mistakes” was a sign that the two sides “have the will to fight against mistrust."
 
Several newspapers, including the government-run Iran daily, reveled in Obama’s declaration in recognizing a religious decree by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a ban against weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms.
 
However, optimism was not shared by all the Islamic republic's media.
 
The hardline Kayhan daily mocked Obama’s “jabbering against Iran," while saying his declared respect for Tehran to operate a peaceful nuclear program was “a sign of Iran’s power."
 
Political analyst Saeed Leylaz, writing in Shargh, was critical of “the illusion of a magic wand” that possible rapprochement with the United States would solve all of Iran's problems.
 
“Negotiations cannot solve the economic and political problems of Iran,” he said. “The solution must come from within.”
 
Since Rouhani was elected president, he has called for "constructive interaction" with the world, a dramatic shift in tone from the anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
 
Rouhani has exchanged letters with Obama, who wrote to him that the United States is ready to resolve its nuclear dispute with Iran in a way that allows Tehran to show it is not trying to build weapons.
 
Senior administration officials said Tuesday that Obama was open to meeting Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, but Rouhani refused.

Steinitz: Rouhani Speech Offers Zero New Steps

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 September 2013 10:17
Minister Yuval SteinitzStrategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations as offering nothing new.
 
Steinitz, the head of the Israeli delegation that boycotted Rouhani’s UN General Assembly address, said the new Iranian president tried "to cheat the world, and unfortunately many people are willing to be cheated."
 
"We heard a lot of new rhetoric but zero new steps or even zero new commitments to meet the UN Security Council resolutions," Steinitz was quoted by AFP as having told reporters.
 
"We didn't hear ... Rouhani regret or withdraw from previous denial of the Holocaust by previous Iranian leaders," he added.
 
"The greater the economic and military pressure on Iran, the greater the chances of diplomacy to succeed," Steinitz said.
 
"If this will be crystal clear to the Iranians that they have only one choice -- between saving their economy and giving up the nuclear project, or saving the nuclear project and destroying their economy and maybe also suffering from a military attack -- they might make the right decision," he stated.
 
In his speech earlier, Rouhani said that his country posed no threat and was not pursuing nuclear weapons.
 
He stood by Iran's right to a civilian nuclear program and urged U.S. President Barack Obama to ignore Abbas and Obama in Ramallah -  Reuters"war-mongering pressure groups" and make a deal.
 
Rouhani said his country is willing to hold time-bound talks on its nuclear program but also called on the world to recognize his country’s right to enrich uranium and insisted that Iran’s nuclear program is a peaceful one.
 
The Iranian president largely stayed away from the strident anti-Israel rhetoric of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who triggered outrage by questioning the Holocaust.
 
He did, however, denounce the “occupation of the Palestinian people”, claiming that they suffer from “structural violence.”
 
Responding to Rouhani’s speech, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said it was “cynical and full of hypocrisy.”
 
Netanyahu said that the speech reflects the Iranian plan, namely to "talk and buy time in order to promote the ability of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Al Qaeda has Nothing on Stalin

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Sunday, 22 September 2013 08:16
marx engels lenin stalinAmerica and England were enemies of Stalin, but cooperated with him.
 
In World War 2, Hitler's Axis occupied Europe, and was not remotely on the cusp of obtaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Today, the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah evil axis has occupied most of the Mesopotamian Middle East, and its vast oil reserves.  Only Saudi Arabia stands in the way of Iran's quest for a Shiite Caliphate.
Iran, the strongest link in the evil chain, is on the verge of centrifuging the necessary uranium for a nuclear bomb.  Syria's Assad is the weakest link in the evil chain. Without Assad, Iran loses its indispensable Hezbollah link.  Without Hezbollah's rockets, Iran is then exposed to an Israeli-solo attack on its nuclear facilities.
 
What is a greater current danger to humanity: A Syrian al Qaeda with Assad's chemical weapons, or an Iran-to-Mediterranean Sea Shiite-nuclear-umbrella-protected Caliphate?
 
The New York Times reported that a recent historical study pegs the pre-World War 2 deaths as a result of Joseph Stalin and his evil Communist Soviet Union as the following list:
-One million imprisoned or exiled from 1927 to 1929, falsely accused of being saboteurs or members of opposition parties.
 
-Nine million to 11 million of the more prosperous peasants driven from their lands and another two million to three million arrested or exiled in the early 1930's campaign of forced farm collectivization. Many of these were believed to have been killed.
-Six million to seven million killed in the punitive famine inflicted on peasants in 1932 and 1933.
 
-One million exiled from Moscow and Leningrad in 1935 for belonging to families of former nobility, merchants, capitalists and officials.
- About one million executed in the ''great terror'' of 1937-38, and another four million to six million sent to forced labor camps from which most, including Mr. Medvedev's father, did not return.
 
-Two million to three million sent to camps for violating absurdly strict labor laws imposed in 1940.
These estimates add up to about 20 million who were murdered or died as a direct result of pre-1941 Soviet Stalinism.
 
On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Army attacked the Soviet Union.  In many ways Soviet communism in 1941 was an existential threat to the freedom-loving Western European countries. Nevertheless, on June 22, 1941, President Roosevelt opened wide the unlimited spigots of all manner of military aid to the Soviets.
Even Winston Churchill, the greatest enemy of Stalin and of the communist Soviet, stated in support of arming Stalin "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."  While Churchill and Roosevelt always saw Stalin as a post-War existential danger, they nevertheless supplied him with virtually unlimited weaponry.
 
After the Allies won, Stalin and his Soviet Union threatened Europe, caused countless wars, and murdered many more millions of people.  Putin is an unpleasant product of arming Stalin.  Regardless, no rational person has ever complained that we armed Stalin in his fight to contain Hitler.
.
But today, people complain that, "We're arming al Qaeda!"  First there is a great question about what percentage of the Syrian rebels are even al Qaeda to begin with.  Syria is a cosmopolitan country of roughly 22 million ethnically, geographically, and topographically diverse people.  "Al Qaeda" is at most 20,000, mostly foreign, fighters. Are 20 or 30 thousand disorganized fighters going to rule a 22,000,000 population where the United States would empower locals to make life horrible for the Jihadists in a post-Assad Syria?
Was Stalin a Boy Scout?  Was the Soviet Union the Red Cross?  The Syrian rebels are doing the hard and very dirty work of defeating Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.  The Syrian rebels are doing what the US should have done when Iran and Syria murdered our soldiers with IEDs in Iraq: fight them.  Al Qaeda today is saving American lives by fighting the good fight against the greatest waxing evil the world has ever seen: a proto-nuclear Iran.  But what are we doing?  Carping that "al Qaeda are monsters" - which may be true, but is irrelevant.
 
Some "strategists" would have you believe "Ignore Assad, focus on Iran."  But if we can't take down the-weakest-link Assad with 80% of his population against him, and with all his strategic assets within 150 miles of the Mediterranean coast where Tomahawks could be easily fired from untouchable submarines, how are we ever going to attack the-strongest-link Iran?
 
Iran's nuclear facilities are over 800 miles from the closest open sea launching point of the Arabian Sea.  Tomahawks (or precious American pilots) would have to traverse those 800 miles and also the 4500 meter high Zagros Mountains which form an almost impenetrable natural defensive picket on Iran's south-western border.  That's before we even talk about Iranian anti-air defenses.
 
Assad's Syria is World War 2's Normandy Beach.  The "Attack Iran first, without Attacking Syria First" 'strategists are, by analogy, inanely arguing that the Allies should first drop commandos into Berlin without first occupying France.
Why would anybody advocate threatening or sending Americans to attack Iranian facilities in Iran, when al Qaeda is killing Iranian al Quds soldiers in Syria?  Why "threaten" Iran, when al Qaeda is actually today coming close to annihilating the very heart of Iran's axis in Syria?
 
The real "lesson learned" in the wake of Obama's and America's handling of the mass-murdering Assad is that no one, now,  could ever believe Obama in the next three years would ever or could ever attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
So, it's either enable an Israeli-solo attack on Iran by having al Qaeda eradicate Hezbollah after it hangs Assad, or say hello to a dozen Iranian nuclear bombs within two years, Iran wiping out Saudi Arabia, and total Iranian control of 60% of the world's oil reserves.
 
Yes, al Qaeda is horrible.  But if the same myopic logic would have been  used on June 22, 1941 by Americans, Hitler would have won, and we all would be speaking German.  I mean all of us except for the Jews, blacks, gypsies, and whomever else the 3rd Reich thought was genetically undesirable.
Is a post-Assad Syrian al Qaeda more dangerous than a post-World War 2 Stalin?  No!  So, it's either an al Qaeda Syria in an ethnically fractured Syria, or a fully nuclear-Iran spanning from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.
 
An al Qaeda Syria is a bad headache.  A nuclear Iran is the end of the world.
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Obama to Rouhani: Prove Your Nuclear Program is Peaceful

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 19 September 2013 14:18
Iranian presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani Reuters
 
The White House revealed on Wednesday the contents of the letter that President Barack Obama had sent Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
 
In it, said White House spokesman Jay Carney, Obama told Rouhani that the United States is ready to resolve its nuclear dispute with Iran in a way that allows Tehran to show it is not trying to build weapons.
 
"In his letter the president indicated that the U.S. is ready to resolve the nuclear issue in a way that allows Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes," Carney said.
 
"The letter also conveyed the need to act with a sense of urgency to address this issue because, as we have long said, the window of opportunity for resolving this diplomatically is open, but it will not remain open indefinitely," he added.
 
Rouhani, a centrist cleric who has been described by the West as a moderate, has pledged to improve Iran’s relations with the world and ease international sanctions imposed by Western powers over his country’s nuclear program.
 
Last week, Rouhani said that the time for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West was limited, urging the world to seize the opportunity of his election.
 
He has also made it clear recently that Iran will not give up "one iota" of its nuclear rights.
 
Obama exposed the letter exchange with Rouhani in an interview this past weekend. On Tuesday, he told the Spanish language network Telemundo that he wants to test whether Rouhani is serious when he says he wants to open a dialogue with the United States.
 
The comments have led to speculations that Obama and Rouhani would meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but the White House denied on Monday that Obama has any intention of meeting Rouhani.
 
Carney confirmed Wednesday that while both leaders plan to be in New York next week for the UN General Assembly, they do not currently have plans to meet one another.

Iran Takes Aim at Israel on Chemical Weapons

Category: News
Created on Monday, 16 September 2013 17:45
Chemical Weapons0In a press conference responding to Syria's agreement to renounce its chemical weapons, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziah Afkham took the opportunity to direct international attention towards Israel.
 
Referring to the Chemical Weapons Convention which Syria pledged to sign last week, Afkham said Israel had not signed up and should be forced to do so.
 
“It is concerning that the Zionist regime [of Israel] … is not a member of any treaty on the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction including the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Afkham said on Sunday. 
 
She added: “We call on the [UN] Security Council and the international community to adopt serious measures to [make] this [Israeli] regime join the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
 
Last week, Syria officially handed in a request to the United Nations to join the convention which which outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons.
 
The regime led by President Bashar Al-Assad is widely believed to have used lethal sarin gas in an attack on a Damascus neighborhood on August 21 killing over over a thousand civilians including hundreds of children. 
 
According to U.S. estimates, the Syrian regime has an arsenal  of 100 tonnes of chemical weapons.
 
Israel's Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed pressure on Israel to publish details of Israel's chemical weaponry, telling Army Radio the expected pressure was a smokescreen to deviate international from Syrias obligation to disarm.
 
Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1982 but has never ratified it, despite American and Russian pressure to do so, leading analysts to suggest that Israel considers itself bound by the spirit of the treaty, but not legally obligated to observe it.
 
Afkham's remarks come during a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel, during which the Syrian chemical weapons question has already featured prominently on the agenda.
 
But although many Israelis will be pleased to see Assad disarmed of his chemical weapons stockpile, many remain skeptical as to the outcome of the Russian-led initiative.
 
Some commentators have suggested that Kerry could attempt to use the opportunity to pressure Israel to ratify the treaty.
 
"Kerry may tell Netanyahu the United States is working to remove one of the gravest threats on Israel's security, by combining a credible military threat with creative diplomacy.
 
"Now, Kerry may say, the US needs Israel's help by ratifying the treaty prohibiting the use of chemical weapons," wrote Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz newspaper. 
 
But on Sunday, former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who currently heads the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, insisted that Israel's stance regarding the treaty remained unchanged.
 
"Only when current Middle East becomes a completely new Middle East will we be able to sign on such a treaty," he explained.
 
Days after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem pledged to sign the convention intelligence reports indicated Assad had begun scattering his chemical stockpile to around 50 different sites across the country making them harder for the international community to track.
 
Another unconfirmed report claimed that the regime had begun moving its stockpiles to Iraq, although both the Syrian and Iraqi governments firmly denied the report.
 
Referring to the Russian-brokered deal on Syria committing President Assad to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal to the international community, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged for "The complete destruction of all of the chemical weapons stockpiles that the Syrian regime has used against its own people," adding, "The test of results is also incumbent on the efforts of the international community to stop Iran's nuclear armament."
 
Iran has continued on its path to acquire nuclear weapons capability despite international condemnation and a series of sanctions against the regime.
 
Regarding Iran, Netanyahu emphasized that "Here too, it is not words but actions that will determine the outcome. In any case, Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself against every threat, something that is more important today than ever." 

Kerry says lack of action on Syria would send dangerous signal to Iran

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 10:06
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ReutersFailure to take military action against Syria would send a dangerous signal to Iran, North Korea and other U.S. foes, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
 
“Iran is hoping you look the other way,” Kerry said.
“Our inaction would surely give them (Iran) a permission slip for them to at least misinterpret our intention, if not to put it to the test,” Kerry added.
 
Kerry said that the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah is “hoping that isolationism will prevail” and that “North Korea is hoping that ambivalence carries the day.”
 
“They are all listening for our silence,” Kerry said.
Seeking to dispel American people’s fears of another war, Kerry said that U.S. soldiers will not be deployed in Syria.
 
“Whatever prohibition clarifies it to Congress or the American people, there will not be American boots on the ground with respect to the civil war,” Kerry added, AFP reported.
He was speaking in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee together with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Hagel said several key allies in the region strongly support U.S. military action in Syria.
 
Hagel told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and others in the region are key partners in any U.S. action.
 
He said U.S. forces were ready to act whenever President Barack Obama gives the order.

Iran General: 'Syria Will Leave Israel in Flames'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 30 August 2013 06:18
Syrian Tanks - ReutersIran’s army chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, echoed the remarks of Iranian officials who have declared that “any military action against Syria will drive the Zionists to the edge of fire,” Islamic Republic News Agency  quoted.
 
"Any new (military) operation in the region will leave behind a lot of damage, which will be of interest to no one except the Zionists," Firouzabadi said after warning that the conflict would not be limited to the region.
 
The Iranian General’s remarks are a direct response to reports of possible US-led military strikes against Syria, Iran’s major regional ally, in response to their alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians in Damascus last week. The UN continues probing Syria chemical attack sites and UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday his investigating team will report back this week.
 
And although, the U.S. was determined to strike Syria last week in response to Syria’s “international war crimes,” the West has become reluctant to strike just yet.
 
Possible reasons may stem from intimidation by Iranian threats that claim, “Syria would be a graveyard for Americans” and that “every American soldier should bring a coffin.” These were the remarks of the commander of the Al-Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Suleimani, which were publicized by Lebanese Al-Mayadeen television network on Wednesday.
 
Iran's most decorated general, Hassan Firouzabadi concurs that "the US, Britain and their other allies will face losses by marching their armies into the region and Syria."

First They Came for the Sunnis...

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 06:11
Islams Cultural RevolutionPastor Martin-Niemöller, who was arrested by Hitler in 1937, stated:
 
“First they came for the communists,
 
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
 
Then they came for the socialists,
 
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
 
Then they came for the trade unionists,
 
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
 
Then they came for me,
 
and there was no one left to speak for me.”
 
In the end, 85,000,000 died in World War II.
 
Assad and Iran just mass-murdered 1,200 human beings, mostly women and little children, because they were Sunnis.  U.S. President Barack Obama does absolutely positively nothing.  The world does nothing.  Today there are 120,000 dead Sunnis; in a year or two, there will likely be 500,000 dead Sunnis.  If Israel doesn't stop Assad and Iran now, the next stop on Iran's genocide spree will be Israel.
 
What does Obama's total inaction in the face of clear Iranian chemical genocidal mass-murder really mean?  Well, it's not just 1,200 Sunnis. In Syria, Iran has murdered 120,000 Sunnis, and Obama hasn't lifted a single finger.  In the face of massive covert Iranian weapons air-trains to Assad, Obama hasn't even covertly sent many, if any, weapons to the Syrian rebels. The only conclusion is that Obama is somehow under Iranian control. 
 
It doesn't matter whether Obama's obsequiousness to Iran is due to a "legitimate" policy analysis, such as Obama's desire for a "Nuclear Grand Bargain" with Iran, or due to another darker hold on a US president.  The bottom line is if Obama walks like an Iranian shill, quacks like an Iranian shill, or passively watches Iranian genocide like an Iranian shill, he's an Iranian shill.
 
But let's look at the most "positive" reason for Obama slavishly kowtowing to the Iranians: Obama doesn't want to rock his coming "Nuclear Grand Bargain" with Iran.  If Obama is willing to pay the price of allowing Iran to murder 120,000 Sunnis for an Iranian nuclear deal, can anyone imagine Obama's deal will disallow Iranian nukes? For, if Obama has appeased Iran with the appetizer of 120,000 dead Sunnis, Obama will clearly serve Iran the "Grand Bargain" entree of a full nuclear arsenal.
 
From a different angle, if Obama was taking a hard line “no nuke” stance with Iran in the nuclear talks, would he take such an appeasing “it’s ok to murder 120,000 people” stand with Assad, Iran’s proxy?  Also, If Obama ignores the murder of 120,000 Sunnis to “make a deal” with Iran, before Iran even has the nuclear bomb, what price will Obama be willing to pay after Iran has a nuclear bomb?  Obama wouldn't, and couldn't, stop Iran from murdering millions of Sunnis or Israelis.
 
U.S. Joint Chief Martin Dempsey quakes in his boots at the mere prospect of intervening in Syria now, when the Iran-proxy Assad doesn't have an Iranian nuclear umbrella.  Just imagine Dempsey's stark raving horror at actually attacking Iran, or one of its proxies, when Iran is armed with a nuclear arsenal.  In the Korean War, America was totally paralyzed from defeating North Korea due to China's nascent nuclear program.  Obama's excuse for inaction will turn from "I want a Grand Nuclear Bargain" to "Iran has a nuclear arsenal."
 
If Obama is paralyzed from stopping Assad’s chemical mass-murder, due to Obama’s belief that he needs to clench an Iranian nuclear deal, he will be even more paralyzed from stopping Iran’s nuclear program if Obama’s subservience to Iran is due to a darker reason.
 
Now, after Iran has murdered millions of Sunnis under Obama's nose, what will be Iran's next genocide?  You've got it:  Israel.  If Obama and the world have quietly watched Iran mass-murder millions of Sunnis without the nuclear bomb, what is Obama or the world going to do if Iran murders Israel and its six million Jews when Iran has a nuclear bomb?  Does the world today care more for Israel's six million Jews in Iran's 2015 Holocaust 2.0, than it did for Europe's six million Jews in Hitler's Holocaust 1.0?  Does Obama or the world care more for six million dead Israelis than it does six million dead Sunni Muslims?  I don't think so.
 
And after Obama leaves the US presidency, any future US president will have to deal with a nuclear Iran armed with what Bibi says will be hundreds of nuclear bombs.  If the United States was paralyzed into inaction when Stalin conventionally murdered millions of people because the Soviet Union was a nuclear power, the US will passively watch when Iran conventionally murders millions of Israelis when Israel has created a Palestinian Arab State.
 
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works both ways.  Even if MAD would work with a suicidal Iran, MAD is a double-edged sword that would work to stop both parties from acting, not just Iran.  MAD stopped both the Soviet Union and the United States from using nuclear weapons. So, if Iran mass-murders Israel with chemical-warheaded Katyushas or 109mm shells, or even just thousands of PA-launched regular rockets into Tel Aviv, America will be just as constrained from retaliating against a nuclear-armed Iran as it was from retaliating against the nuclear-armed Soviet Union.
 
In short, what is an Iranian genocide against the Sunnis today will turn into an Iranian genocide against Israel tomorrow.  If Iran had no compunction in murdering hundreds of thousands of fellow Muslims, it will take supreme religious delight in mass-murdering six million Jews that are defiling the Muslim Holy places, and occupying Muslim lands and people.
 
If Israel doesn't ally with and protect the Sunnis of today, there will be no one left to ally with against Iran tomorrow.
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who often writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

New Images Show Major Alterations at Iran Nuclear Site

Category: News
Created on Friday, 23 August 2013 15:31
Irans uranium enrichmentA U.S. institute tracking Iran's military program said on Thursday that recent satellite images show further major alterations of a military site that the UN atomic agency suspects may have been used in trying to develop nuclear arms.
 
The most recent imagery from satellite company Digital Globe is from August 13 and was seen by The Associated Press ahead of publication by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).
 
The images show what ISIS says is progressive asphalting of a part of the Parchin complex that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says was possibly used to test conventional explosive triggers for a nuclear blast.
 
ISIS notes in a report on its website that a July 2013 letter to the IAEA from Iran only repeats its false and misleading statements about the IAEA, Iran’s safeguards obligations, and the verification challenges inspectors face in Iran, particularly with regard to the need for access to Parchin. 
 
Iran has refused to give the IAEA access to sites, documents and scientists involved in what the agency suspects were efforts, mostly in the past but possibly ongoing, to develop nuclear weapons.
 
The letter from July, says ISIS, claimed that Iran was treated unfairly in an IAEA reported from May and that it has nothing to hide, while making what ISIS said was “a clumsy attempt at dismissing or misdirecting focus from the Parchin site.”
 
The IAEA visited the site twice in 2005 but says that since then it has obtained additional indications of activity there that make it want to go back.
 
A year ago, in a report dated August 1, 2012, ISIS assessed that apparent cleanup activities at Parchin were complete, because imagery showed what appeared to be the final result of considerable sanitization and earth displacement activity.
 
A later image, dated August 15, 2012, showed additional suspicious activity at a building suspected of housing high explosive experiments related to the development of nuclear weapons and at an adjacent, northern building that may have also hosted suspect activities.
 
The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amaon, has called on Iran to allow immediate access to the Parchin military base "without further delay" and without waiting for stalled talks to reach an agreement on investigating other alleged "westernization" activities.

Iran Has 18,000 Centrifuges, Says Outgoing Nuclear Chief

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 18 August 2013 15:26
A uranium enrichment facility in Natanz Iran. File Photo- AFP
 
Iran has about 18,000 centrifuges, including 10,000 active ones, the outgoing head of the country's atomic agency said Saturday, according to the AFP news agency.
 
The comments confirmed figures from the UN watchdog overseeing its disputed nuclear drive.
 
"At the beginning of the month of Mordad (from July 23) we had 17,000 first generation centrifuges, of which more than 10,000 are active and 7,000 ready to start work," said Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, quoted by the ISNA news agency.
 
"Some 1,000 second generation centrifuges have also been installed and are ready to start work," he said, speaking at the handover ceremony for his role to Ali Akbar Salehi, who served as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s foreign minister.
 
In May, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had installed 17,600 centrifuges, including 16,590 first generation and 1,000 second generation.
 
Iran says it enriches uranium to five and 20 percent for peaceful purposes.
 
Officials in the Islamic republic say the higher level is needed for a medical research reactor in Tehran.
 
Western powers and Israel suspect, however, that Iran is seeking to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program.
 
Newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week that Tehran was ready for "serious" talks on the nuclear issue without delay and that his country's atomic program was an inalienable right.
 
Salehi said for his part that the president would "be personally responsible for the nuclear issue," reported AFP.
 
During his role as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, Rouhani accepted the suspension of the enrichment program.
 
Last week, he reiterated his insistence that Iran would not negotiate under the threat of economic sanctions or military action.
 
He hit out at "contradictory messages" from Washington, with the White House saying that it would be a "willing partner" in genuine talks, but the U.S. Senate urging tougher sanctions.
 
"Recent declarations from the White House show that some U.S. officials do not have a correct and realistic assessment of the situation here and the message that the Iranian people gave in the election," Rouhani said.

Dempsey's Bombshell: No US Attack on Iran, Ever

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 10 August 2013 19:04
Martin-DempseyOn 19 July 2013, Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered an unclassified letter to Senator Carl Levin concerning the risks of US military  intervention in Syria. http://www.levin.senate.gov/download/?id=f3dce1d1-a4ba-4ad1-a8d2-c47d943b1db6.  While the letter is was ostensibly delivered to the Senate, it actually delivered the equivalent to ten American thermonuclear bombs hitting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem simultaneously.
 
While the letter was supposedly written by Dempsey, it was surely approved and intensely vetted by President Obama himself.  So while the letter had Dempsey's signature, it was Obama's policy.  The Dempsey/Obama letter outlined all the catastrophic effects which would occur if the US militarily intervened in Syria to defeat Assad.
 
However, Obama's real addressee was not Sen. Levin, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama's real message: Bibi, forget about an American attack on Iran.
 
Here is a redacted version of Dempsey/Obama's letter:
 
1. "Train, Advise, and Assist the Opposition.
The scale could range from several hundred to several thousand troops with the costs varying accordingly, but estimated at $500 million per year initially. . . . Risks include extremists gaining access to additional capabilities, retaliatory cross-border attacks, and insider attacks or inadvertent association with war crimes due to vetting difficulties.
 
2. Conduct Limited Stand-off Strikes.
Depending on duration, the costs would be in the billions. . . .There is a risk that the regime could withstand limited strikes by dispersing its assets. Retaliatory attacks are also possible, and there is a probability for collateral damage impacting civilians and foreigners inside the country.
 
3. Establish a No-Fly Zone.
We would require hundreds of ground and sea-based aircraft, intelligence and electronic warfare support, and enablers for refueling and communications. Estimated costs are $500 million initially, averaging as much as a billion dollars per month over the course of a year. Impacts would likely include the near total elimination of the regime’s ability to bomb opposition strongholds and sustain its forces by air. Risks include the loss of U.S. aircraft, which would require us to insert personnel recovery forces. It may also fail to reduce the violence or shift the momentum because the regime relies overwhelmingly on surface fires—mortars, artillery, and missiles.
 
4. Establish Buffer Zones.
Thousands of U.S. ground forces would be needed, even if positioned outside Syria, to support those physically defending the zones. A limited no-fly zone coupled with U.S. ground forces would push the costs over one billion dollars per month.. . . .Risks are similar to the no-fly zone with the added problem of regime surface fires into the zones, killing more refugees due to their concentration. The zones could also become operational bases for extremists.
 
5. Control Chemical Weapons.
At a minimum, this option would call for a no-fly zone as well as air and missile strikes involving hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers. Thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces would be needed to assault and secure critical sites. Costs could also average well over one billion dollars per month. The impact would be the control of some, but not all chemical weapons. It would also help prevent their further proliferation into the hands of extremist groups. Our inability to fully control Syria’s storage and delivery systems could allow extremists to gain better access. Risks are similar to the no-fly zone with the added risk of U.S. boots on the ground.
 
We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences of our action. Should the regime's institutions collapse in the absence of a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control."
 
First, Levin didn't even really ask about the US attacking Syria; Senators Levin and McCain had primarily asked about the "costs, benefits, and risks associated with training and arming" the rebels.  Nevertheless, Dempsey only obliquely responded to the 'arming the rebels'  question Sen. Levin and McCain had actually posed.
 
 Instead, Dempsey/Obama went on and on about why the US shouldn't attack Assad.  The letter was devoid of any strategic "intended benefits" of toppling Assad.  For instance, retiring Gen. Mattis stated the fall of Assad would be the "greatest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years."  His "25 years" refers to Operation Praying Mantis where on April 18, 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, the United States, in a limited air strike with 2 American casualties, took out a huge chunk of Iran's Persian Gulf fleet in a day.
 
Second, in the Dempsey/Obama letter, all you have to do is change the word "Syria" to "Iran" and multiply all the negatives by 1000, and Dempsey would sign it again. So, if Dempsey (really Obama) is dead-set against attacking a greatly weakened Assad, he is a 1000 times dead-set against attacking Iran for 1000 times all the same reasons and costs outlined in the Dempsey/Obama letter.
 
Dempsey is set for "talks" with Israeli leaders.  His message will be clear.  Obama demands are that:
 
-Israel must stop attacking Assad immediately, or the anti-Israeli DOD leaks will go nova.
-The US must "extinguish" all peaceful attempts to resolve the Iranian nuclear file before any military contingency can even be contemplated.
-Israel is not to disrupt Obama's blossoming Iranian "partnership."
-Israel had better not even think of attacking alone because, with Assad still in power, the Hizbullah will send thousands of missiles into Israel and America will not re-supply Israel.
 
Obama's 'promises'  to do "something" to Iran's nuclear program was made to Bibi to force Israel to give in to Abbas. They will soon be exposed for the lies they always were.
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who often writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com.

'Moderate' Rouhani Takes Over as Iran's President

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 08 August 2013 09:45
Hassan RowhaniHassan Rouhani has officially replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran.
 
Rouhani's election was endorsed on Saturday by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a ceremony in the capital, Tehran.
 
He won the presidential poll in June, promising to reform and to put an end to Iran's international isolation.
 
The ceremony marks the handover of power, but his public inauguration does not take place until Sunday, reported the BBC.
 
Speaking at the ceremony, Rouhani was quoted by the BBC as having said, ''I have assumed this responsibility with the support of those people who want change, who want a better life, away from corruption, poverty and discrimination, people who want more respect and dignity, and hope in a secure future."
 
He has the support of Iran's reform movement, which wants the new president to release political prisoners and have international sanctions lifted.
 
Rouhani, who has been described as a “moderate”, called Israel an "old wound" that "should be removed," in comments to reporters published on Friday.
 
Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency said Rouhani spoke after taking part in an annual “Al Quds Day” rally in Tehran.
 
It quoted Rouhani as saying, "The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed."
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani's remarks, saying that his “true face has been revealed earlier than expected. Even if they will now rush to deny his remarks, this is what the man thinks and this is the plan of the Iranian regime."
 
Official Iranian media later claimed that the president-elect’s remarks were distorted.
 
According to PressTV, Hassan Rouhani had said “that there's been a wound for years on the body of the Muslim world under the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the beloved [city of] al-Quds.”
 
The news channel claimed that Rouhani had said that the Iranian Quds Day was “a reminder that Muslims will never forget their historic right to resist oppression and aggression.”
 
“It was wrongly reported that Rouhani had called Israel a wound that must be cleansed,” claimed PressTV, adding that the president-elect “made no mention of Israel’s removal in his interview.”
 
Israel has warned that Rouhani may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would take advantage of any relief on sanctions to continue his country’s nuclear program.
 
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview last week that Rouhani had “cheated” the West when he led negotiations over the nuclear program a decade ago.
 
“He [Rouhani] is cunning, he’s charming and he will smile all the way to the bomb unless the Western world will do everything necessary to stop him,” warned Steinitz.

Egyptian security forces detain director of Iranian TV channel

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 July 2013 08:35
Al Alams director Ahmed al-Sioufi. Photo- alalam.irEgyptian security forces raided the office of an Iranian TV channel in Cairo and detained its director, Ahmed al-Sioufi, the media outlet reported on Saturday.
 
“The security forces also seized equipment and devices from the channel without giving any explanation for these actions,” the Arab language satellite channel, Al Alam, said on its website.
 
Reuters reported that a security source confirmed the news and said the TV station did not have a license.
 
Ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi sought to better Egypt’s relations with the Islamist republic after diplomatic relations were severed during the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

Saudis Aiming Missiles at Israel and Iran

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 12 July 2013 09:29
Chinese ballistic missile - ReutersSaudi Arabia is targeting both Israel and Iran with powerful ballistic missiles, new satellite photography shown by military experts to the British Telegraph suggests.
 
Images analyzed by experts at IHS Jane's Intelligence Review has revealed a previously undisclosed surface-to-surface missile base deep in the Saudi desert, with capabilities for hitting both countries, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
 
Analysts who examined the photos spotted two launch pads with markings pointing northwest towards Tel Aviv and northeast towards Tehran, according to the report.
 
The pads are designed for Saudi Arabia's arsenal of lorry-launched DF 3 missiles, which have a range of 1,500-2,500 miles and can carry a two-ton payload.
 
The base, believed to have been built within the last five years, gives an insight into Saudi strategic thinking at a time of heightened tensions in the Gulf.
 
While Saudi Arabia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, it has long maintained discreet back channel communications as part of attempts to promote stability in the region.
 
The two countries also have a mutual enemy in Iran, though, which has long seen Saudi Arabia as a rival power in the Gulf. Experts fear that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would seek to follow suit.
 
Analysts at IHS Jane's told the Telegraph that the kingdom is currently in the process of upgrading its missiles, although even the DF3, which dates back to the 1980s, is itself potentially big enough to carry a nuclear device.
 
The missile base, which is at al-Watah, around 125 miles southwest of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, was discovered during a project by IHS Jane's to update their assessment of Saudi Arabia's military capabilities.
 
It serves as both a training and launch facility, with the missiles stored in an underground silo built into a rocky hillside, according to the Telegraph. To the north of the facility are two circle-shaped launch pads, both with compass-style markings showing the precise direction that the launchers should fire in.
 
The Chinese-made missiles, which date back to the 1980s, are not remotely-guided and therefore have to be positioned in the direction of their target before firing.
 
"One appears to be aligned on a bearing of approximately 301 degrees and suggesting a potential Israeli target, and the other is oriented along an azimuth (bearing) of approximately 10 degrees, ostensibly situated to target Iranian locations," said the IHS Jane's article quoted by the Telegraph.
 
While the lorry-launched missiles can theoretically be fired from any location, the idea of having pre-planned directional markers is to ensure that they can be deployed in accurate fashion as quickly as possible, said Allison Puccioni, an image expert at IHS Jane's.
 
"There is a marked out spot for the launch truck to park in, which will facilitate an expedited launch," she told the Telegraph.
 
Robert Munks, deputy editor of IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, told the newspaper, “Our assessment suggests that this base is either partly or fully operational, with the launch pads pointing in the directions of Israel and Iran respectively. We cannot be certain that the missiles are pointed specifically at Tel Aviv and Tehran themselves, but if they were to be launched, you would expect them to be targeting major cities.
 
"We do not want to make too many inferences about the Saudi strategy, but clearly Saudi Arabia does not enjoy good relations with either Iran or Israel," he added.
 
Officials at the Saudi Embassy in London did not get back with a response when contacted by The Telegraph. The Israeli Embassy in London said. "We have no comment on this matter."

Iran says Egypt army intervention ‘unacceptable’

Category: News
Created on Monday, 08 July 2013 14:13
Ousted President Mohamed Morsi supporters File -AFP 
 
Iran deems “unacceptable” the Egyptian army's toppling of the country's first freely elected president Mohamed Mursi, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
 
“The intervention of armed forces in political affairs is unacceptable and disturbing,” ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi told the Mehr news agency, when asked about the developments in Egypt.
 
“It cannot be denied that foreign hands are at work here,” Araqchi said, adding: “The polarization of Egyptian society is dangerous.”
 
He did not specify which foreign hands he believed were behind the coup but said: “The West and the Zionist (Israeli) regime do not want a strong Egypt.”
 
His remarks came after gunfire killed 42 Islamist protesters demonstrating outside an elite Cairo army base against last week's coup.
 
Iran had tried to improve its long strained relations with Egypt after Mursi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, took power in June last year.
 
Last August, Mursi became the first Egyptian leader to travel to Tehran since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran Wants 200 Nuclear Bombs, Not Two

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 22 June 2013 16:14
Binyamin NetanyahuPrime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned the international community not to be fooled by Iran’s new "moderate" president.
 
Speaking to the Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth on Thursday, Netanyahu said that the elections in Iran “reflect a deep dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with its regime. Unfortunately, this result doesn’t have the power to change Iran’s nuclear ambitions. These are determined not by the elected president but by the so-called supreme leader, [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei.
 
He noted that the nuclear program is “Guided and controlled by Khamenei. He remains committed to pursuing the path of arming Iran with nuclear weapons, and I’m afraid the elections are not going to change that.”
 
President-elect Hassan Rowhani “was chosen as one of a slate of candidates that conform to Khamenei’s extremist views,” said Netanyahu. “They eliminated hundreds of candidates and left seven. Rowhani used to be the national security adviser of Iran and the former nuclear negotiator. 
He’s the author of a doctrine — I call this doctrine ‘talk and enrich.’ He wrote the book on it.”
 
“We can’t let the Iranian regime play this game. They play for time. They continue to enrich. They broaden the base of their nuclear program. What Iran is seeking is not one or two bombs but 200 bombs. They’re building ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] parallel to developing their nuclear weapons program. The ICBMs are not intended for us; they’re intended for you. Within six to eight years, they intend to be able to reach the continental United States. To have a regime like this — that is, a rogue regime — have a nuclear arsenal with their messianic, apocalyptic ambitions is to imperil the entire world. It is to put the peace of the world in great jeopardy,” warned Netanyahu.
 
Asked about the efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu said, “We should enter immediately into negotiations without preconditions. That’s been my view for the last four years, and I hope it becomes the Palestinian view. If Secretary Kerry, whose efforts we support, were to pitch a tent halfway between here and Ramallah — that’s 15 minutes away driving time — I’m in it, I’m in the tent. And I’m committed to stay in the tent and negotiate for as long as it takes to work out a solution of peace and security between us and the Palestinians.”
 
He added that “there are many things that I need to successfully close a deal, but I don’t ask them of Abu Mazen [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] in advance. Israel has withdrawn from territory, from Lebanon and from Gaza, with the express promise that once we do so we’ll have peace and security. But in fact, the opposite happened. We gave land, but we didn’t get peace. We got, in the case of Gaza, 12,000 rockets on our cities. In the case of Lebanon, we got an Iranian enclave with another 12,000 rockets. We can’t afford to have that happen again.”
 
“We’ll have to have an arrangement that assures our security, that tells us what’s on the other side in a Palestinian state,” stressed Netanyahu. “Is it another Iranian client-state that is committed to our destruction? That arms itself with missiles and rockets? Or is it something that actually changes the climate, that teaches its people and its children to live in peace with us and is genuinely demilitarized? These are questions that cannot be resolved before we enter the tent. They’ll have to be resolved in order for us to leave the tent with an agreement. But I don’t place any of our conditions and our demands in advance of the negotiations, and I hope the Palestinians don’t either.”
 
Referring to Abbas’s endless preconditions for starting negotiations, Netanyahu said, “I think placing preconditions before negotiations is the quickest way to undermine peace. That’s what has been done in the past four years and we’ve gotten nowhere. It’s time to look at a different course. It’s time to grapple head-on with the issues and negotiate. You can’t end negotiations unless you begin them. And you can’t begin them if you continually negotiate about the terms to begin negotiations.”
 
He added that the freeze on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem during his last term, after which Abbas still refused to come to the negotiating table, was proof that “the problem isn’t the settlements.”
 
“The real reason [for the continuation of the conflict] is the persistent refusal to recognize a sovereign Jewish state in any boundary,” Netanyahu told the Washington Post. “That was and remains the core of this conflict. To solve this, the Palestinians will have to recognize the Jewish state just as we recognize a Palestinian state. Both peoples, both nations, deserve a nation-state of their own. Palestinians, if they wish so, will go to the Palestinian state; Jews, if they so wish, can go to the Jewish state. And we’ll have to have security and demilitarization agreements between us. But the beginning of the conflict and the root of the conflict is the refusal to recognize Israel in any boundary. Once this is overcome, I think there is a chance for peace. I think that is never recognized because people are fixated on one of the results of conflict, which are the settlements, but it’s certainly not its cause.”

PM to EU Chief: Iranian Issue Not Spin, It’s Spin of Centrifuges

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 22 June 2013 06:02
BB - EU Chief
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Jerusalem that recent elections did not change the Iranian nuclear threat to the world.
 
"The elections in Iran will be tested by whether Iran changes its policies and stops all enrichment, takes out the nuclear material and shuts down the illicit nuclear facility in Qom," Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting Thursday between the two leaders.
 
"These are Security Council resolutions. Their feet should be held to the fire," he said.
 
"It’s not a question of style, but substance," he added, clearly referring to Iran’s newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani.
 
"It’s not a question of political spin, but the spinning of centrifuges. That has to stop, and I think that it is important that Europe joins the United States and Israel and all responsible elements of the international community, and demand a cessation of the Iranian nuclear program."
 
The second point in the discussion Netanyahu planned for his meeting with Ashton – one that he said would encompass the issues of "peace and security: – related to the Hizbullah terrorist organization, Iran’s protégé in Lebanon.
{youtube}NvmQUP9Zni0{/youtube}
"I hope that those in Europe who refuse to designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization will change their mind, and I hope there will be a European consensus on this," the prime minister said.
 
"I mean, it’s hard to see how you cannot have a consensus on Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. "If Hizbullah isn’t a terrorist organization, I don’t what is a terrorist organization," he said pointedly.
 
"I mean, they’re butchering people left and right across the world and now in the cities of Syria. They’re murdering civilians without letup, including on European soil, as was discovered in Bulgaria, as they try to do in Cyprus.
 
"So I would say the designation of Iran’s proxy Hizbullah as a terrorist organization is our second hope that Europe would do, and it would do the right thing," Netanyahu said.
 
"And the third is the right thing by peace. Secretary Kerry is undertaking an effort to resume direct negotiations without preconditions between the parties. That’s the right thing to do," he said. "Israel is ready to resume these talks without preconditions today, yesterday and tomorrow."
 
In response, the EU foreign policy chief expressed her "full support" of Kerry’s efforts. "It is, as you rightly indicate, the way forward," Ashton said.
 
She added Israel’s security was "vital" and that it played a "big part in the approach that we take to these efforts that are going forward," but was tight-lipped about details.
 
"Prime Minister, we have much to talk about," Ashton continued. "I know how important it is to have the chance to consult with you about the situation after the elections in Iran," she said. "I’m privileged to lead the negotiations in our twin-track approach.
 
"I also recognize that it’s important that we consult with those who have a deep interest in this and that we have a chance to think about the broader region on the questions that concern us all and I hear what you say, especially on your concerns about what’s happening with Hizbullah.
 
And we will talk about these things," she added.

Rowhani Linked to 1994 Buenos Aires AMIA Bombing

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 21 June 2013 09:02
Hassan Rowhani -AFPIranian President-elect Hassan Rowhani was on the special Iranian government committee that plotted the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, according to an indictment by the Argentine government prosecutor investigating the case, The Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday.
 
The AMIA bombing, considered the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history, killed 85 and wounding hundreds more. The Argentine government had accused the Iranian government of planning the attack and Iran’s terrorist proxy Hizbullah of carrying it out. Numerous former and current Iranian officials are wanted by Interpol in connection with the bombing.
 
Former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi, who defected from Iran in the late 1990s, testified that the decision to launch the attack was made within a special operations committee connected to the powerful Supreme National Security Council in August 1993.
 
According to the 2006 indictment, Mesbahi testified that Rowhani, who was then serving as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, was also a member of the special committee when it approved the AMIA bombing, according to the news site.
 
“With regard to the committee’s role in the decision to carry out the AMIA attack, Moghadam stated that this decision was made under the direction of Ali Khamenei, and that the other members of the committee were [then-Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, Mir Hejazi, Rowhani, Velayati and Fallahijan,” the indictment reads, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
 
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei led the special committee, according to the indictment, and Khamenei and Rafsanjani made the ultimate decision to carry out the attack.
 
While Rowhani was allegedly present for deliberations about the planned bombing, it is highly unlikely he would have had approval authority, Iranian experts say, according to the paper.
 
“Rowhani’s power at that time comes directly from one individual, and that’s Rafsanjani,” said Reuel Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy.
 
“As far as that bombing was concerned, because Rafsanjani had to give his approval for that, there was no doubt Rowhani was aware of it, and obviously his approval’s not necessary,” Gerecht continued. “He’s a subordinate. But he certainly would have been aware of all the discussions that led to the attack.”
 
Gerecht said that Rowhani’s precise role in the attack has not been determined, there was “nothing in Rowhani’s background that would suggest to you he has any moral qualms about bombing the enemies of the [Islamic] Republic.”
 
“In all probability, we would have heard about it if [Rowhani] had risen up [at the meeting] and said ‘Don’t do that, it’s a disgrace,’” said Gerecht, according to the Free Beacon. “We would have known that.”

Iran to send 4,000 Revolutionary Guards to bolster Assad’s forces

Category: Reports
Created on Sunday, 16 June 2013 08:11
Irans Revolutionary Guards AFPIran is to reportedly send 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against opposition forces, according to the The Independent on Sunday.
 
In what was described as an Iranian “military decision,” the British newspaper said Iran was now “fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime,” citing unnamed pro-Iranian sources.
The sources “have been deeply involved in the Islamic Republic’s security, even to the extent of proposing to open up a new ‘Syrian’ front on the Golan Heights against Israel,” The Independent’s Robert Fisk wrote.
 
The decision, allegedly made before this week’s presidential election, was “to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad's forces against the largely Sunni rebellion,” Fisk reported.
 
Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country, and a close ally of President Assad, who belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
 
Earlier this month Iran congratulated the Syrian army on their victory in the strategic central town of Qusayr after an 18-day battle.
 
Syrian army forces were supported by allied fighters from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
 
“Iranian sources say they liaise constantly with Moscow [a Syrian ally], and that while Hezbollah's overall withdrawal from Syria is likely to be completed soon - with the maintenance of the militia's 'intelligence' teams inside Syria - Iran's support for Damascus will grow rather than wither,” The Independent reported.
 
“They point out that the Taliban recently sent a formal delegation for talks in Tehran and that America will need Iran's help in withdrawing from Afghanistan,” the report added.
 
In August last year, Syrian opposition fighters announced that the 48 kidnapped Iranians were current and former members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards and not pilgrims as Iran alleges, in footage aired exclusively by Al Arabiya TV.
 
The fighters “captured 48 of the Shabiha (militiamen) of Iran who were on a reconnaissance mission in Damascus,” said a man dressed as an officer of the Free Syrian Army, in the video aired by Al Arabiya.
 
“During the investigation, we found that some of them were officers of the Revolutionary Guards,” he said, showing ID documents taken from one of the men, who appeared in the background with a large Syrian independence flag held by two armed men behind them.

Iran Toppled Mubarak

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 15 June 2013 06:16
Mubarak US presidentsWinston S. Churchill, in his The World Crisis, Volume Five, described Germany's involvement in the Russian Revolution in April 1917 as follows:
 
“In the middle of April [1917] the Germans took a sombre decision. Ludendorff refers to it with bated breath. Full allowance must be made for the desperate stakes to which the German war leaders were already committed. They were in the mood which had opened unlimited submarine warfare with the certainty of bringing the United States into the war against them. Upon the Western front they had from the beginning used the most terrible means of offense at their disposal. They had employed poison gas on the largest scale and had invented the ‘Flammenwerfer.’ (ML note: Leave it to the Germans to invent the "Flamethrower.")  Nevertheless it was with a sense of awe that they [the Germans] turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons.  They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland into Russia.”
 
On April 30, 2013, the Israeli newspapers reported:
 
"Hamas and Hizbullah activists were involved in killing Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square, as well as storming Egyptian jails and releasing political prisoners, during the early days of the Egyptian revolution, a former Egyptian minister said on Tuesday.
 
Mansour al-Essawy, who served as interior minister from March-November 2011, told the independent Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm that Hamas used specially manufactured darts with metal heads to kill Egyptian anti-regime protesters in Cairo.
 
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners broke out of jail just four days after protests began across Egypt in January 2011, aided by anti-government activists who engaged Egyptian security forces in gun battles. Eight prisoners were reported killed."
 
“'Hamas certainly had a large role in storming the prisons,'” Essawy said. “'All information indicates that members of the movement and members of the Lebanese movement Hizbullah attacked the prisons where political activists were held, smuggled them out, and then opened other prisons by breaking down their doors using trucks, as happened in the Abu-Z’ubul and Marj prisons,' he continued."
 
A poor, clueless Israeli reporter then lamented, "It was not clear why the Brotherhood or Hamas, neither of which overtly supported the Mubarak regime, would be involved in killing protesters in Tahrir Square."
 
Well Sherlock, Hamas didn't murder the innocent anti-Mubarak Egyptian protesters to "support the Mubarak Regime," they did it to topple Mubarak by enraging and inciting the crowds.  The Iranian-stooges Hamas and Hizbullah were on direct Iranian orders to topple Mubarak because Iran wanted Egypt, the only Sunni, anti-Iranian Arab-Saudi ally, with 80 million people and a capable army, to be neutralized vis-a-vis Iran.
 
If during WWI the secular Germans risked "desperate stakes" to infect Russia with Lenin in order to neutralize one of its enemies, then in the Iranian war, to steal all the Persian Gulf oil reserves, the Iranian Mahdi fanactic Ayatollahs were willing to risk everything to infect and neutralize Egypt with Morsi.  And, Iran succeeded.
 
The Sunni Egyptian Brotherhood was only too happy to let Iran's stooges foment the originally secular protests to explode in size and topple Mubarak.  The Brothers knew that with their deeply entrenched and tightly-woven political infrastructure, they would take over Egypt.
 
 The Sunni Brothers didn't care how or who helped them get into power.  But the Brother's deal with the Iranian devil was a deal with Satan.  For, the Sunni Brothers may have won a Pyrrhic victory for the Brotherhood against Mubarak, but the Brothers lost the strategic war against Shiite Iran.
 
With Mubarak's topple, it was Iran, and only Iran, who truly can brag: Mission Accomplished.  Iran knew a post-Mubarak Egypt (whether secular or Islamist) would be rudderless in the coming Sunni-Shiite war.  Iran was exactly correct and Iran’s topple-Mubarak strategy worked.  For, Egyptian President Morsi has remained dead silent about the Assad's Shiite murder of 100,000 Syrian Sunnis.
 
What's more, the Brothers, themselves, now represent a mortal threat to Saudi Arabia from the Saudi's west, and from the Saudi street.   So, there is zero chance the Saudis will let the Egyptian Brother's Army onto Saudi soil to fight the Iranians.  Hence, with Iran's topple of Mubarak, Iran successfully toppled, divided, and conquered the Sunnis.
 
Now, was Mubarak a "dictator"? Yes.  Is Morsi, the new Islamist Pharaoh of Egypt, any less of a dictator than Mubarak?  No.  Were all the Egyptian Tahrir protesters Iranian agents?  No.  Were the majority of Egyptian protesters Muslim Brotherhood?  No, they were a very small minority. Were there any Shia Egyptian protesters?  No, none.  Were the vast majority, if not almost all the Egyptian protesters secular?  Yes.  Is the Egyptian economy, predictably, now in total free fall from a bunch of incompetent Brothers?  Yes.  Are the Egyptian secularists predictably totally excluded from any power?  Yes.  So, Mubarak's fall only had one winner: Iran.
 
A possible lesson: If the Iranians could topple a Sunni Egypt with a reasonably functional economy, just imagine what they can do in Turkey when 30% of Turks are a Shia-based branch of Islam, and have been discriminated against, and massacred by, the Sunnis for hundreds of years.
 
So, the Egyptian Brothers haven't remotely put "1+1" together yet to realize that Iran, through the pawns of Hamas and Hizbullah, was playing chess while the Brothers were playing checkers.  (As a historical footnote, the Egyptians appear to have invented checkers.  The game was originally called "petteia."  So, the Egyptians come to their simple-mindedness honestly.)
 
The Brothers better wake up fast, or Iran will have scooped up the entire Persian Gulf, have a nuclear umbrella to protect it, and extort the world economy to its knees.
 
For more information, please visit www.marklangfan.com
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who often writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Ahmadinejad Out, but Who is Next?

Category: News
Created on Friday, 14 June 2013 06:04
Ahmadinejad at UN - ReutersIranians are heading to the polls Friday to choose their next president. Fifty million people are eligible to vote, and 66,000 polling stations have been set up across the country.
 
The elections signal an end to the reign of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will be stepping down after two terms in office.
 
Under Ahmadinejad unemployment grew from 10 percent to 30 percent. His policies caused an estimated 100 billion dollars in financial damages.
 
The three main candidates in Friday’s election are Saeed Jalili, Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf, and Hassan Rowhani.
 
Jalili is currently Iran’s nuclear negotiator. He is a protégé of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, and supports an uncompromising stance on Iran’s nuclear program. He has also pledged not to compromise “whatsoever” on Iran’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.
 
Ghalibaf is currently the mayor of Tehran. He was formerly a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards. Politically, he is associated with the extremist Islamic Revolution.
 
Ghalibaf ran in the 2005 elections as well, and lost to Ahmadinejad.
 
Rowhani is a former nuclear negotiator. He has taken a somewhat more moderate stance than his fellow leading candidates, and supports better relations with the international community. 
 
Rowhani’s more moderate stance has brought him support from many pro-reform Iranians. A telephone poll from the United States showed him getting 32.4% of the vote.
 
However, many young, pro-reform Iranians are reportedly planning to boycott the elections, which they say are a “bluff.” Boycotters have noted that whoever is chosen, Ayatollah Khamenei – who controls the Iranian army and Revolutionary Guards - will still hold control over Iran’s fate. Prime Minsiter Netanyahu said the same speaking on his trip to Poland this week.

Iran Broke Into Thousands of Gmail Accounts

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 June 2013 14:52
Google in HebrewIran has in recent weeks broken into tens of thousands of accounts on Google's Gmail e-mail service, the search engine company announced Thursday. The motive is not clear, but Google said it had clear evidence that Iran was behind the data theft.
 
Most of the victims were Iranians, or user Farsi in their accounts, a Google official said, indicating that the data theft involved may be connected to domestic Iranian issues – perhaps the local Iranian elections, set for Friday. The data theft began some three weeks ago, Google said.
 
The information was acquired not by a break-in to Google's servers, but by means of “phishing,” with unwitting users clicking on a link that installed a virus into their computers that later recorded their Gmail user name and password. The information was delivered to a server, where Iranian officials could log in themselves to users' accounts.
 
Some 50 million Iranians are set to vote in the hotly contested Presidential elections in Iran Friday. Most pollsters believe that none of the candidates, including current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are likely to win the contest definitively with a 50% share of the vote, and that a second round will be required.

Iran invades Turkey (with Obama's help)

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Sunday, 09 June 2013 21:34
turkeyiran-topErdogan thought he was immune to such an Iranian invasion. Erdogan was wrong.
 
On 22 June, 1941, Hitler's Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union with over 4,000,000 soldiers under Operation Barbarossa.  By signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop August 1939 pact, General Secretary Stalin thought the Soviet Union was immune to such a Nazi onslaught. Stalin was wrong.  After the Nazi invasion, US President Roosevelt fully supported Stalin by unleashing to him massive, virtually unlimited weapons.  World War II was on.
 
 
On May 29, 2013, Iran invaded Turkey with millions of Shiite-inspired violent Turkish demonstrators under the guise of protests over building a mall.  By imagining Turkey was protected by NATO, Prime Minister Erdogan thought he was immune to such an Iranian invasion.  Erdogan was wrong.  After the Iranian Shiite invasion, US President Obama fully betrayed Erdogan by unleashing against him massive, virtually unlimited criticism of Turkey.  World War III is on.
 
As background, a Turkish analyst named Abdullah Bozkurt in a recent April 2013 article entitled "Iran's clandestine operations in Turkey," wrote the following:
 
“Iran's clandestine presence in Turkey is largely hidden from public view in part because Iran prefers to keep a low profile on its activities in Turkey and hides behind ostensibly charitable causes, cultural and educational programs. In fact, this sinister campaign of Iran poses greater danger for Turkey's national security than potentially a nuclear-armed Iran because of the disruptive nature of activities that are aimed to shake the very fabric of social make-up in Turkish society, creating tremors along fault-lines across the board.”
 
 
For example, intelligence indicates that Iran has cultivated strong ties with some Alevi communities in Sivas and neighboring provinces in the heartland of the country where Iranian influence has long gravitated, even during Ottoman times centuries ago. Iran knows that the fragile balance among diverse groups, especially between the Sunni majority and Alevi minority groups, is the soft underbelly of Turkey and wants to use that as a trump card against Turkey. The worry is that Iran banks on this asset it has developed for some time, very much like a volcano flow slowly burning the composition of society. The marking of Alevi houses in different cities and towns in the past couple of years has been a test-run for Iranian intelligence for the reckoning day with Turkey, even though officials publicly downplayed them as the work of children.  Hence, in reality, the violent Turkish demonstrations are nothing less than an Iranian volcanic invasion of Turkey's "underbelly" through Iran's massive Alevi/Caferi network.
 
 
How did Iran come to invade Turkey?
 
 
First, the Syria Civil War has exposed a tectonic structural fault-line in Turkey in large part based on Shiite-Sunni lines, with a mixture of politics.  Erdogan has come out strongly for the Syrian rebels and his chief opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has come out equally as strongly for Assad's murderous rule.  This fissure was heaved open with the recent Reyhanli terrorist blast which murdered close to 51 Turks.  Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu have traded incendiary, if not outright war-like, charges at each other over the blast, and over Turkey's Syria policy.
 
 
Second, Turkey succeeded in the unthinkable: making a medium-term peace with the Kurds.  This took the possible Iranian use of the Kurdish card off the table.  In fact, Erdogan turned the Kurds into a medium-term ally to defend against the Iranians and the Iranian stooge Iraqi PM al Maliki. This made the Iranians desperate to have to pull the trigger on their Alevi/Caferi Turkish attack.
 
 
Third, at the recent May 2013 Erdogan visit to DC, even after 100,000 Syrians have been murdered, and despite the loving Erdogan/Obama smiles, on Syria, Obama left Erdogan with zippo-nada-nothing.  So, Turkey has no US backing to do anything except watch Assad murder another 100,000 Sunnis. That leaves Erdogan up a Sunni-creek without a paddle.  What's worse, Erdogan saw that Obama fully intended to enable and help Assad and his Iranian-masters win in Syria.  Thus, Erdogan reasons, "If Obama wants Assad and Iran to win in Syria, Turkey will shortly face an existential Iranian nuclear threat."
 
 
Fourth, there are millions of Shiites or Shiite-affiliated Alevi peoples in Turkey.  Many come from the lower-classes to begin with.  There are anywhere from 4.5M to 25M Shiite Alevies in Turkey (11%-33% out of the total Turkish population of 75,000,000).  Because they are Shiite, many keep their true religious affiliation absolutely secret, for fear of discrimination.  Some Shiite Turkish Caferi Muslims are even out-right legally second-class citizens based on the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, and don't get any funding for their non-Sunni mosques or imams, while Sunni Muslim institutions get total state funding.  Suffice it to say, these Turkish under-class citizens are 100% for Assad, and 1,000,000% against Erdogan's Anti-Assad policy.
 
 
So, on June 2, it was not paranoia which caused Erdogan to state: "There are those attending these events organized by extremists. This is not about Gezi Park anymore. These are organized events with affiliations both within Turkey and abroad."  On June 3, Erdogan amplified his foreign element charge: “Our intelligence work is ongoing. It is not possible to reveal their names. But we will have meetings with their heads.”
 
 
But the shocker in not Erdogan's "foreign" allegations to the Turkish riots, it's Obama's incendiary pro-rioter, anti-Erdogan reaction to the violence.  In almost an eerie replay of Obama's toppling of Mubarak, Obama appears to be toppling Erdogan.
 
For on May 31, the US Ambassador to Turkey Ricciardone twice gave a totally pro-riot "statement" that: “Of course, nobody could be happy to see those saddening images. I am not happy either. I wish a speedy recovery to all those injured. But if you are asking me about U.S. foreign policy, as you know, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to have peaceful protests are fundamentals of a democracy. I am not going to say anything further.”  Then, on June 3, in his daily briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney says the White House believes "the vast majority of the protesters have been peaceful." He also says "all democracies have issues that they need to work through."  Not to be out-done, US Sec. of State Kerry lobbed an explosive, pro-riot bombshell at Erdogan: “We are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by the police.  We obviously hope that there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force.”
 
 
Obama's mouthpieces have more criticism for a mostly democratic Muslim NATO ally then they do for the mass-murderer Assad.  It seems like Obama is more intent to stoke the pro-Iranian flames of the riots in Turkey, than he is to stop the mass-murder of Sunnis in Syria.
 
 
In sum, it has become clear that Obama wasn't the "Manchurian Candidate;" he was the 'Iranian Candidate.'  From November 2008 to now, Obama's Middle East policy has been a sub rosa American installation of an Iranian absolute hegemony over the entire Middle East.  The catastrophic consequence of Obama’s rabidly pro-Iranian Shiite Caliphatic coronation is an existential threat to the Middle East, and the world.
 
For more information, please visit www.marklangfan.com

 

mark langfanMark Langfan

The writer, who often writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Obama Slaps Sanctions on Iran's Currency and Auto Industry

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 07:38
Iranian Rial AFPThe Obama administration on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran, targeting the country's currency and automobile industry, USA Today reports.
 
An executive order by President Barack Obama authorizes sanctions on foreign financial institutions that make transactions in Iran's currency, the rial, or keep accounts denominated in the rial outside the country.
 
The new rules, which go into effect July 1, penalize the sale of goods and services to Iran's auto industry, a key part of the country's economy, the report said.
 
"The steps taken today are part of President Obama's commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, by raising the cost of Iran's defiance of the international community," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
 
"Even as we intensify our pressure on the Iranian government, we hold the door open to a diplomatic solution that allows Iran to rejoin the community of nations if they meet their obligations," he added.
 
The latest executive order is the ninth Obama has signed on Iran since the start of his presidency and the sixth in the last two years.
 
It marks the first time the White House has taken aim at Iran's currency. Administration officials aim to effectively make the rial unusable outside of Iran.
 
The value of the rial has fallen by more than half since the beginning of last year as Iran has endured mounting sanctions from the United States and international community. Several months ago the Iranian currency plummeted to an all-time low. Previous sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry have resulted in the country's exports also falling dramatically.
 
Ahmadinejad at UN - ReutersIran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a rare acknowledgment several months ago of the economic challenges his country is facing.
 
“This was a very difficult year for our economy,” Ahmadinejad said, accusing the United States of using its vast economic might to exert unfair pressure on the much smaller Iranian economy.
 
The country’s Finance Minister, Shamseddin Hosseini, recently said that international sanctions against his country had pushed inflation above 30% and were causing "a lot of trouble.”
 
At the same time he stressed that Iran's nuclear drive would not be halted.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that he is not optimistic that Iran's upcoming presidential election will result in any change in the country's nuclear ambitions.
 
"I do not have high expectations that the election is going to change the fundamental calculus of Iran," Kerry said. "This is not a portfolio that is in the hands of a new president or the president; it's in the hands of the supreme leader. And the supreme leader ultimately will make that decision, I believe."
 
Kerry said the U.S. would continue to pursue a peaceful resolution to the impasse but warned that time is running out. Iran's persistent defiance of international demands to come clean about its nuclear program makes the world more dangerous, he said.
 
"Iran needs to understand that the clock is ticking," warned Kerry.

Former Iranian President Barred from Elections

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 15:06
akbar-hashemi-rafsanjaniIran's moderate ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and a former government official, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, have been barred from contesting the June 14 presidential election, the interior ministry said Tuesday, according to AFP.
 
Eight candidates won approval to stand, including five conservatives close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as two moderate conservatives and a reformist, the ministry said in a statement.
 
No explanation was given for the disqualifications, neither by the interior ministry nor by Iran's electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, which is officially tasked with vetting candidates.
 
The council is comprised of religious conservatives who are all directly or indirectly appointed by Khamenei.
 
Rafsanjani's late registration to run had polarized Iran's complex political system.
 
A heavyweight until eight years ago when incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat him in the 2005 presidential election, Rafsanjani has fallen from the grace in the Islamic regime in recent years.
 
In 2009, he openly questioned the handling of the 2009 presidential election, which provoked massive street protests on claims of fraud.
 
Mashaie, the other disqualified candidate, is a close aide to Ahmadinejad and was personally endorsed by the president, reported AFP. However, he is seen as too liberal and a danger to the Islamic revolution.
 
The conservatives who are cleared to contest Iran's highest elected office are: top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, ex-commander of the Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezai and former parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel.
 
The moderate-conservatives approved are another former nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, and Mohammad Gharazi, an ex-minister who served under Rafsanjani and under-house-arrest opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
 
The marginalized reformists will have only one candidate - Mohammad Reza Aref.
 
A total of 686 candidates had signed up to run for the presidency and succeed Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for a third straight term according to Iranian law.
 
Rowhani recently accused Ahmadinejad of needlessly incurring crippling economic sanctions.
 
"I have come forward to save Iran's economy and forge a constructive interaction with the world through a government of wisdom and hope," he said, adding, "This administration made fun of sanctions, deriding them as scrap paper, while we could have avoided them or to some extent reduced" their effect.
 
Tehran mayor Ghalibaf has said that Ahmadinejad’s constant denial of the Holocaust was damaging to the Islamic Republic, adding that it became an “excuse for our biggest enemies, which are the Zionists, and affected the goals of the Palestinians.”
 
Jalili, meanwhile, has pledged to “resist” western demands regarding his country’s nuclear program if he is elected.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad could face 74 lashes over election ‘violation’

Category: News
Created on Monday, 13 May 2013 07:01
Irans President - reutersAfter accompanying his former chief of staff to register for June’s presidential vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face punishment if charged with breaking electoral rules, the country’s electoral watchdog said.
 
The president had accompanied Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie on Saturday to register at the Interior Ministry.
 
Photographs in the Iranian media showed them gripping hands and making peace signs.
 
Mashaie said the president had accompanied him on “a day off” from work, Reuters news agency reported.
 
But according to a report by Iranian news site Khabar online on Monday, the president had “introduced an individual as an election candidate.”
 
Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, said the council’s supervisory board unanimously agreed “the...actions of the president in introducing an individual as an election candidate constituted a violation and were criminal,” according to Khabar. 
 
“We reported the facts to the judiciary,” Kadkhodai said.
 
The Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists, vets all candidates for elections.
 
Iranian electoral law forbids the use of state resources on behalf of or against any candidate, and bans individuals from supporting candidates in an official capacity.
 
A conviction could bring a maximum punishment of six months in jail or 74 lashes, according to local press reports.
Ahmadinejad cannot run for a third term on constitutional grounds in the June 14 presidential.
 
According to the Mehr news agency, Kadkhodai said election violations could affect the Guardian Council’s vetting process, suggesting Mashaie’s candidacy could be under threat.
 
Since the 2009 ballot, Ahmadinejad has fallen foul of Iran’s ruling conservatives, who believe he is trying to maintain influence via a Mashaie presidency.
 
Mashaie, who is still part of Ahmadinejad’s entourage, is viewed with suspicion by conservatives who accuse him of leading a “deviant current” that seeks to sideline clerical power in favor of a more nationalistic doctrine.

Israeli Strike 'Declaration of War'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 May 2013 19:51
F16 Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Feisal al-Mekdad on Sunday called Israel's bombing of a weapons transport in Syria a “declaration of war.” Speaking in an interview on CNN, al-Mekdad said that Israel was siding with “Islamist terrorists” to unseat President Bashar al-Assad, and that Syria would respond “at the time and in the manner that it chooses to.”
 
Israel has not confirmed or denied the claims that it had attacked a convoy in Syria that was transporting Iranian produced missiles to Hizbullah over Syrian territory. “We don't respond to these kinds of reports,” an IDF spokesperson told foreign news media Sunday.
{youtube}e84pVGsP6YU{/youtube}
Also condemning the strike was Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, demanding that the Arab League take “a decisive stand against Israeli terrorism.” Mansour complained that the League had remained silent “for too long” in the wake of “Israeli hooliganism,” and demanded that the League “immediately condemn the Israeli action against the Assad regime.”
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, on the other hand, expressed “understanding” for Israel's need to defend itself from terror groups. “Israel made it clear that it would respond if it suspected that advanced weapons systems were being handed over to Hizbullah,” he said. “Israel will act to defend its security,” and such actions must be “respected,” he added.

Iran Threat Greater Than Ever

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 May 2013 06:44
A general view of the water facility at ArakA top security source told Channel Ten that despite appearances to the contrary, Israel's military option on Iran was very much alive, and that Iran was reaching the point where construction of a nuclear weapon was within reach.
 
The official, whose identity was kept under wraps, is considered a highly placed, highly reliable source. The official said that Iran has in recent months “dramatically” increased its uranium enrichment capabilities, the result of the installation of new centrifuges. With the new equipment, Iran should be able to soon enrich as much as 200 kilos of uranium. With that amount, the source said, Iran would be able to easily equip a nuclear arsenal.
 
The decision on whether Iran will go in this direction is in the hands of Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei. Israel has excellent intelligence on what is going on in Iran and is aware of the danger of the current situation, the source said. “If we see they are moving towards the 'red line' of nuclear capability, all options are on the table – even before they reach this point.”
 
The official made the comments in light of the analysis by former IDF Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin last weekend, who said that in his estimation Iran had already passed that 'red line.' According to the official, Iran “has not yet crossed the line, but is getting closer to it methodically.” The official also commented on the speech made by Ehud Olmert last weekend in New York, in which the former prime minister minimized the Iranian threat. Olmert said that “I, too, know how to evaluate the dangers. The threat has been greatly exaggerated in statements by the government, and large sums of money have been spent on strange missions that should not have taken place.”
 
The official slammed Olmert for his comments. “How does he dare to minimize the Iranian threat, and to do in abroad? He is hurting Israel's ability to recruit others around the world against the Iranian threat,” the official added.

Ahmadinejad: 'We Don't Need Atomic Bomb'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 08:44
Ahmadinejad at UN - ReutersIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday defended his country's controversial nuclear program while on a tour of West Africa, arguing that Tehran has no use for an atomic bomb.
 
Speaking during a visit to Benin, the first stop on a three-nation tour, Ahmadinejad called nuclear energy a "divine gift" providing affordable electricity.
 
"They accuse Iran, like all nations that seek to rapidly find their way out of the current domination," the Iranian leader said through an interpreter in a speech at a Benin university, according to AFP. 
 
"We don't need an atomic bomb. ... And besides, it is not atomic bombs that threaten the world, but Western morals and culture declining in values."
 
Iran continues to deny Western allegations that it is covertly developing the capacity to produce a nuclear bomb, claiming instead that its program is for energy and medical purposes.
 
Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Benin on Sunday night, was due later Monday to travel to neighboring Niger, one of the world's top producers of uranium.
 
Iran needs uranium for its nuclear program, and Niger has recently criticized a longstanding agreement with France -- which gets most of its uranium from the former colony -- demanding a bigger share of the profits from uranium ore mining.
 
Uranium from landlocked Niger is trucked to Benin ports for export, but Benin's foreign minister has insisted that uranium was not on the agenda for his Benin visit.
 
Talks in Benin were to focus particularly on energy, agriculture and education, Benin officials have said.
 
Ahmadinejad will travel to Ghana on Tuesday following his visit to Niger on his last stop of the tour. 

Iran refuses to suspend 20 percent uranium enrichment

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 12:29
AhmadinejadIran insisted on Tuesday it will not suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent nor will it ship out its existing stockpile -- two keys demands of world powers in failed nuclear talks with Tehran.
 
“We will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity as long as it is needed to fuel the Tehran research reactor,” atomic chief Feryedoon Abbasi Davani told reporters in remarks published by the ISNA news agency.
 
Iran, he said, will neither “ship out its stockpile nor dilute the material” -- which at 20 percent purity is only a few technical steps short of bomb-grade enriched uranium.
 
The two issues have been at the centre of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers in Almaty, which ended in deadlock at the weekend.
 
The so-called group of P5+1, comprising the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany, are engaged in a diplomatic effort to convince Iran to curb its nuclear activities in return for some sanctions relief.
 
But Abbasi Davani said those offers need to be upgraded to a more “logical proposal”. He did not elaborate.
 
According to the latest report by the UN’s atomic watchdog agency, Iran has amassed 280 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, 115 kilos of which have been converted into fuel.
 
Iran’s insistence that its controversial nuclear program is aimed only at developing a peaceful energy program are disputed by Western powers, who along with Israel believe the Islamic republic is masking efforts to build an atom bomb.
 
Iran has been slapped with a set of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to halt its enrichment work.
 
Those measures, reinforced by multiple sanctions by the United States and the European Union choking Iran’s access to global banking sector and its vital oil income, have worsened an already ailing economy struggling with high inflation and unemployment.

Turkey gold exports to Iran resume despite tough U.S. sanctions

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 30 March 2013 09:12
Turkish gold exports ReutersTurkey exported almost $120million worth of gold to Iran in February, data showed, suggesting the two countries’ trade of gold for natural gas has resumed despite tighter U.S. sanctions, though at levels below last year’s peaks.
 
U.S. officials have sought to prevent Turkish gold exports from providing a financial lifeline to Tehran, which has been largely frozen out of the global banking system by Western sanctions over its nuclear program.
 
Turkey sold no gold to Iran in January, according to data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK), as banks and dealers eyed the Feb. 6 implementation of U.S. sanctions that tightened control over precious metal sales.
 
The United States has given Turkey a six-month waiver exempting it from sanctions on trade with Iran, which is due to expire in July, but banks and dealers still have been cautious.
 
Turkey sold $117.9 million worth of gold to Iran last month, while exports to the United Arab Emirates, which has served in the past as a transit route to Tehran, rose to $402.3 million from $371 million in January, TUIK data showed.
 
“Due to the sanctions, nobody wants to attract attention. That may be the reason why exports stopped to Iran in January,” said one Istanbul gold trader, asking not to be named.
 
“However, trade with Iran continues; there will always be transfers. Looking at this year’s figures, the February exports to Iran are quite low, so it shouldn’t cause issues.”
 
Turkey’s monthly gold sales to Iran peaked last July at $1.8billion, more than 10 times the amount exported to Tehran last month.
 
Turkey, Iran’s biggest natural gas customer, has been paying Iran for energy imports with Turkish lira, because sanctions prevent it from paying in dollars or euros.
 
Iranians then use those lira, held in Halkbank accounts, to buy gold in Turkey, and couriers carry bullion worth millions of dollars in hand luggage to Dubai, where it can be sold for foreign currency or shipped to Iran.
 
Turkey is heavily dependent on imported energy and, while it has cut back on oil purchases from Iran, has made clear it cannot simply stop buying Iranian oil and gas.
 
Iran is refining uranium to a fissile concentration that Western experts say is a relatively short technical step from the level that would be suitable for atomic bombs. Tehran says its enrichment program is solely for civilian energy purposes.
 
Turkey’s total gold exports rose 18 percent to $551.6million in February from $466 million in January.
 
Turkey, which is not a major gold producer, was a net importer of gold, jewelry and precious metals in 2011 but swung to being a net exporter last year.
 
Its gold exports to Iran rose to $6.5 billion in 2012, more than 10 times the level of 2011, while its exports to the United Arab Emirates - much of it for onward shipment to Iran or conversion to hard currency - rose to $4.6 billion from $280million.

Bahrain Labels Hizbullah a Terrorist Entity

Category: News
Created on Friday, 29 March 2013 15:05
King Hamad bin Isa al-KhalifaWhile the European Union drags its feet on the issue, the Bahraini parliament voted Tuesday to label the Lebanon-based Hizbullah group a terrorist organization.
 
Hizbullah was accused by Bahrain of seeking to overthrow its government in 2011.  In a report submitted to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the ruling Khalifa family maintained Hizbullah trained special agents in both Lebanon and Iran to topple its regime, according to a report published this week in Ya Libnan.
 
Last November, the official Bahrain News Agency quoted the country’s Information Minister, Samira Ibrahim bin Rajab, as saying a bombing that killed two people in the country bore the hallmarks of Hizbullah. Rajab added that 19 pro-Iran satellite media channels were also inciting their supporters in Bahrain to “subvert the government.”
 
Earlier this month, Arab interior ministers gathered for a security meeting in Riyadh accused Iran of supplying "logistic help to terrorist operations" in Bahrain and Yemen, AFP reported. In a statement, the ministers "strongly denounced logistic aid supplied by Iran to terrorist operations in Bahrain and Yemen," and congratulated security services in both countries for "dismantling cells and uncovering dangerous terror plots."
 
In February, Sunni-ruled Bahrain, whose population is nevertheless comprised of a Shi'ite majority, accused the Islamic Republic across the Gulf of training, arming and financing a "terrorist cell" which the authorities had arrested, an accusation Tehran denied.
 
Last week, a member of Hizbullah was convicted in a Cyprus court room on charges of plotting to murder Israeli tourists on the island. 
 
Barely a month ago, Bulgaria’s interior ministry issued a report documenting that two Hizbullah operatives had participated in the attack on an Israeli tour bus at the Black Sea resort town airport in Burgas.
 
Five Israelis died in the bombing, along with their Bulgarian bus driver, and 32 others were wounded in the attack.

Obama: Iran a Year Away from Getting a Nuclear Bomb

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 March 2013 22:08
Obama.Iran is "over a year or so" from getting a nuclear bomb, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News on Thursday, a week before his visit to Israel.
 
Obama laid out a clear timeline for Iran to acquire a military nuclear capacity, while insisting that the U.S. would not wait until the last minute to take action to stop it.
 
"We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously, we don't want to cut it too close," he said.
 
He emphasized that should diplomacy fail, all options remained "on the table" for stopping Iran.
 
"My message to (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu) will be the same as before: if we can resolve it diplomatically, that's a more lasting solution. But if not, I continue to keep all options on the table," said Obama.
 
Asked if there was a realistic option that he would order an attack on Iran's nuclear sites, he replied, "When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table and the United States obviously has significant capabilities.
 
"But our goal here is to make sure that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region -- that would be extraordinarily dangerous at a time when obviously there are already a lot of things going on," he said.
 
Iran possessing a nuclear weapons would be "a red line" for the United States, Obama said, insisting that he would have the necessary support within his cabinet should a military strike become necessary.
 
"I think my cabinet is prepared for a whole range of contingencies," he said, adding, "Secretary (of State John) Kerry and Secretary (of Defense Chuck) Hagel share my fundamental view that the issue of Iran's nuclear capability is an issue of U.S. national security interest as well as Israel's national security interest."
 
Obama said his trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority is meant to "listen" to both sides and hear their views on how to move forward after over two years without peace talks.
 
"My goal on this trip is to listen. I intend to meet with Bibi (Netanyahu)... I intend to meet with Fayyad and Abu Mazen (PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas) and to hear from them what is their strategy, what is their vision, where do they think this should go?" said Obama.
 
"To Abu Mazen, I will say that trying to unilaterally go to, for example, the United Nations, and do an end run around Israel, is not going to be successful," he said.
 
"To Bibi (Netanyahu) I would suggest to him that he should have an interest in strengthening the moderate leadership inside the Palestinian Authority ...For example, making sure that issues like settlements are viewed through the lens of: Is this making it harder or easier for Palestinian moderates to sit down at the table," added Obama.
 
"I think we're past the point where we should be even talking about pre-conditions and steps and sequences. Everybody knows what's going to be involved here in setting up two states, side by side living in peace and security," he said.
 
"How we get into those conversations, whether they can happen soon or whether there needs to be some further work done on the ground, that's part of what I'll explore when I'll get there," he said.
 
In the same interview Obama said that he has no plan for pardoning Jonathan Pollard soon.
 
"This is an individual who committed a very serious crime," he said. "He has been serving his time. There is a justice system that allows for periodic review and the way I as president function here is to try and make sure that I am following the basic rules of that review.”

Italian FM: Even a 'Rational' Nuclear Iran Would be a Threat

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 14 March 2013 18:02
A general view of the water facility at ArakSpeaking at the 2013 Herzliya Conference Wednesday, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata told a packed auditorium that even if Iran acted rationally with nuclear weapons, Tehran would still pose an unacceptable global threat. “Under its own nuclear umbrella, Teheran would be free to raise and lower the volume of regional tension as best suits its national interest,” di Sant'Agata said. “With a nuclear Iran, the rules of the Middle Eastern game would not only change overnight - they would change irreversibly.”
 
Iran was not just Israel's problem, the Foreign Minister said. “In the end, however 'regional' the trigger, a nuclear crisis will always have a global impact. Should Tehran acquire nuclear capabilities, others would follow and the Middle East - the very doorstep of Europe - would enter this new regional nuclear race.”
 
Addressing the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, di Sant'Agata told Herzliya Conference participants that “we can no longer afford delays in our action. No example is better than Syria to remind us that the Assad regime and its allies do not necessarily act under similar constraints. We are witnessing the emergence of fast-rising economic and military powers, in different regions, which pursue their interest with the power of a State and the flexibility of a non-state actor. These are decades of asymmetric diplomacy.”
 
The Italian Foreign Minister concluded by pointing to Israel as a regional stabilizer, stating that “Israel not only lies at their geographical center. It is also at their front line. As the dust settles, and room grows for new ideas, Israel will be the first and foremost engine of a new path towards a more secure and peaceful Middle East.”
 
The annual Herzliya Conference is the flagship event of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. Generally held in February, the even this year was postponed in order to accommodate the Knesset elections.

MI: Assad Will Use WMDs While Hizbullah, Iran Plan New Army

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:45
Maj.-Gen. KochaviIDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi had sobering news for policy makers at the Herzliya Conference, predicting chemical warfare and a post-Assad Iranian-Hizbullah military force.
 
Kochavi told the audience at Thursday’s annual convention the Lebanon-based terrorist organization has teamed up with Iran to form a full-scale army, knowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days in office are numbered.
 
Hizbullah, which like Iran is comprised by Shi’ite Muslims, has long been generously funded, equipped and trained by the Islamic Republic, as has Assad, who has been protected by the terrorist forces and the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards to this point.
 
The two have so far created a militia of 50,000 fighters to support the regime, he said.
 
“Hizbullah and Iran know Assad is finished, and are establishing an army in preparation for the post-Assad era,” warned Kochavi in his address to policy makers. 
 
Hizbullah now has more than 60,000 rockets and missiles at its disposal, according to outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said in his final testimony to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, “The Middle East today is far less stable becaue the forces leading much of it are Islamist. In the short to long-term, we can redefine the Arab Spring as an ‘Islamic Winter,’ as we see radicals leading it to social and national extremes.”
 
In his assessment Thursday, Kochavi commented that Assad himself “plans to escalate preparations to use chemical weapons but has yet to give the orders to deploy them.”
 
There are at least five known separate sites in the country where chemical weapons arsenals are stored, each containing lethal agents that have long been maintained under strictly controlled conditions.
 
Israel has been monitoring the situation for signs that the chemical agents might be moved due to concerns that Assad was losing control over the sites.
 
The international community, as well as Israel, has expressed fears the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, which is known to be operating in the country.
 
If Syria’s chemical weapons fall into such hands, the world may begin to experience terrorist attacks using such agents, researcher Yiftah Shapir of the Institute for National Security Studies warned in an interview with Arutz Sheva earlier this month. 
 
Shapir said Hizbullah probably already possesses most of the chemical weapons and other unconventional means of attack that it could have acquired from Syria, since the two are allies in the axis with Iran, but is unlikely to use them.

PA Arabs Nabbed in Egypt, Suspected of Spying

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 17:31
PA Terrorists (file)Seven Palestinian Authority Arabs have been arrested by Egypt security forces on suspicion of carrying out a military reconnaissance mission. It is not clear for whom they may have been spying.
 
The men were stopped at Cairo airport, and held after their arrival Wednesday from Syria and Iran. 
 
All were found to be carrying fake passports, according to the source, as well as maps of “vital state facilities.”  
 
Passport officers suspected the seven after learning they had entered Iran, despite not finding Iranian entry stamps in their passports, an Egyptian intelligence source told The Egypt Independent.
 
A separate source told the Turkish news agency Anadolu the suspects had initially entered Egypt through underground tunnels from Gaza before heading to Syria and Iran. They returned to Syria and then to Egypt from Syria, this time by aircraft.
 
They are suspected of collecting material on sensitive military installations in Egypt, the sources said, adding the seven are being interrogated about their reasons for possessing the maps.

Iran Adds Thousands of Advanced Centrifuges to Enrich Uranium

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 March 2013 07:59
Nuclear reactor (illustration)Iran is adding thousands of advanced centrifuges to further enrich uranium into nuclear fuel, Tehran's state-run media reported Sunday. Some 3,000 centrifuges are being built, according to the report, which said the equipment is being installed at the Natanz nuclear plant.
 
This is the first time officials have announced details about the number of machines being installed at the plant, although plans for the equipment had been made public earlier in the year.
 
Nearly two weeks ago, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned the Islamic Republic had begun the process of installing the advanced equipment at Natanz.
 
At the time, the U.S. warned that if the information was confirmed, it would be considered “another provocative step.”
 
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Sunday at the weekly government cabinet meeting that as international talks over Iran’s nuclear development activities dragged on recently, “the only thing that was achieved was to stall for time during which Iran intends to continue enriching nuclear material for an atomic bomb, and it is indeed continuing toward this goal.”    

Iran Has 'Plan B' for Nuclear Bomb

Category: Reports
Created on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 07:48
A general view of the water facility at ArakSatellite images show that Iran's Arak heavy-water plan is operational, raising fears that it is trying to produce plutonium for a nuclear bomb, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
 
The newspaper published images on its website which appear to show steam rising from forced air coolers, suggesting heavy-water production at the plant, which has been closed to international inspectors for 18 months.
 
Heavy water is required in plutonium-producing reactors and that raises alarms that Tehran is seeking a second path to obtain the bomb.
 
Stuart Ray of consultancy firm McKenzie Intelligence Services told the Telegraph that the images, commissioned from commercial satellite operators, suggested that the heavily-guarded facility was “operational.”
 
According to the paper, western governments have known about activity at Arak for some time.
 
Plutonium is produced as part of the mix in spent nuclear fuel, along with unused uranium. To make plutonium usable, a reprocessing plant is needed to separate it from the other materials in spent fuel. It can then be embedded into the core of a nuclear weapon.
 
International efforts have so far been concentrated on the Islamic Republic's attempts to enrich uranium, but the Telegraph noted that the new evidence shows it is developing a "Plan B".
 
"Some think Israel's red line for military action is before Arak comes online," Mark Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. State Department official at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Telegraph.
 
"The option of a military strike on an operating reactor would present enormous complications because of the radiation that would be spread," he added.
 
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have been barred from the site since August 2011 and Iran has rebuffed appeals for information about the facility, the report noted.
 
The report came as world powers and Iran on Tuesday exchanged offers at talks in Kazakhstan aimed at breaking a decade of deadlock over Tehran's disputed nuclear drive.
 
A Western source told AFP the world powers are offering Iran permission to resume its gold and precious metals trade as well as some international banking activity which are currently under sanctions.
 
Iran, in exchange, will have to limit sensitive uranium enrichment operations that the world powers fear could be used to make a nuclear bomb.
 
Iran denies it is developing nuclear weapons and wants the world to respect its "right" to enrich uranium, something current UN sanctions say it cannot do because of its refusal to cooperate with nuclear inspectors.
 
A report released last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that Iran has begun installing next-generation equipment at one of its main nuclear plants in Natanz.
 
Iran has claimed that the report is proof that its nuclear program is intended only for peaceful purposes.

Iran Installing New Nuclear Equipment

Category: News
Created on Friday, 22 February 2013 16:33
Iran and world powers are in a standoff over its nuclear programIran has begun installing next-generation equipment at one of its main nuclear plants, a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said Thursday.
 
"On 6 February 2013, the Agency observed that Iran had started the installation of IR-2m centrifuges" at the Natanz plant, the report said, according to AFP.
 
"This is the first time that centrifuges more advanced than the IR-1 have been installed" at the plant in central Iran, the UN atomic watchdog added.
 
One official said that Iran intended to install around 3,000 of the new centrifuges at Natanz -- where around 12,500 of the older models are installed -- enabling it to speed up the enrichment of uranium.
 
This process is at the heart of the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program, since uranium enriched at high levels can be used in a nuclear weapon.
 
News of this advanced equipment drew an immediate reaction Thursday from Washington, which called it "yet another provocative step" by Iran.
 
The installation "would be a further escalation and a continuing violation of Iran's obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and IAEA board resolutions," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, noting however that the new centrifuges came as no surprise.
 
Britain expressed "serious concern" about the latest development, with Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt calling it "another signal that Iran has no intention of providing the necessary reassurance... that its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes."
 
Despite the developments at Natanz, the IAEA's quarterly report seen by AFP also noted that Iran has not started operating any new equipment at its underground Fordow plant.
 
Fordow is of more concern to the international community, since it is used to enrich uranium to fissile purities of 20 percent and Natanz mostly to five percent.
 
The ability to enrich to 20 percent is technically speaking considerably closer to 90 percent, the level needed for a nuclear weapon.
 
Iran has so far produced 280 kilos (617 pounds) of 20-percent uranium, of which around 110 kilos have been diverted to fuel production, the new report said.
 
Experts say that around 250 kilos are needed for one bomb, although creating a weapon requires several other steps and if Iran were to start further enriching to weapons-grade this would be detected by the IAEA.
 
Iran denies seeking atomic weapons but many in the international community suspect otherwise, and the UN Security Council has passed several resolutions calling on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment.
 
The IAEA report comes several weeks after Iran informed the IAEA that it planned to speed up its uranium enrichment program, using faster and more advanced centrifuges.
 
The report also came ahead of a new meeting between Iran and six world powers -- the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- in Kazakhstan on February 26.
 
These will be the first talks between the parties since three rounds of meetings ended in stalemate in Moscow last June.
 
The so-called P5+1 called on Iran to suspend all 20-percent enrichment, shut down Fordow and export its 20-percent stockpile.
 
A Western diplomat said Wednesday that the P5+1 would come to Almaty with an offer containing “significant new elements.”
 
Reports have said that the powers could ease sanctions on Iran's trade in gold and other precious metals.
 
On Thursday, Nuland urged Iran to consider "another path" than the nuclear bomb.
 
"They have an opportunity to come to those talks ready to be serious, ready to allay the international community's concerns, and we hope they take that opportunity," she said, according to AFP.
 
Parallel efforts by the IAEA dating back more than a year to press Iran to grant it access to sites, documents and scientists involved in what the agency suspects were past efforts to develop nuclear weapons remain stalled.
 
The new report said that "although the (IAEA) board has adopted two resolutions addressing the urgent need to resolve outstanding issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions, it has not been possible to finalize the structured approach document or begin substantive work in this regard."
 
It added however that the Vienna-based IAEA's "commitment to continued dialogue is unwavering".
 
It said that Iran "has not fully implemented its binding obligations" and that this was "needed to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."

Nigeria Busts Iran-Backed Terror Group Targeting Israelis, Jews

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 21 February 2013 07:17
Nigeria AFPNigerian investigators have uncovered a plot by terrorists to attack Israeli and American tourists and businesspeople visiting the country. The group was also responsible for murdering a former top military official. Among their targets was a Chabad House, officials said.
 
The gang of three terrorists were arrested Wednesday night, among them the leader of the group. A fourth suspect is being sought. Authorities said they were stopped before they were able to carry out any of their plans.
 
According to officials, the group had connections to Iran. A spokesperson for the Nigerian State Security Service said that the leader of the group, Abdullahi Mustapha Berende, was “local leader of the Shi’ite sect in Ilorin and was observed to have made several suspicious trips to and from Iran where he interacted with some Iranian elements known to operate a high profile international terrorist network."
 
The officials said that Berende was trained by Iran in using weapons and producing bombs, and was tasked with finding targets where Jews and Americans were found. Among the places the gang staked out was the Chabad House Jewish community center in the city of Lagos, officials said.

Nigeria Arrests 3 Members of Iran-linked Terror Cell

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:16
Nigerian terroristsNigeria arrested three people suspected of being members of an Iran-linked terror cell planning attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests in Lagos, the commercial capital, state security police said on Wednesday, according to a report in Bloomberg News.
 
AFP reported that the leader of the Shiite sect in the central city of Ilorin, named as Abdullahi Mustapha Berende, was arrested last December "for his active involvement in espionage and terrorist activities," state security service spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said.
 
Investigations revealed that Berende, accused of establishing a "terrorist cell" in Nigeria's southwest, with a particular emphasis on Lagos, recruited the two other suspects for the task, Ogar said.
 
Berende underwent his training in Iran and his Iranian sponsors requested him "to identify and gather intelligence on public places and prominent hotels frequented by Americans and Israelis to facilitate attacks," she said.
 
According to Bloomberg, Ogar said the group was planning attacks on the Lagos offices of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Haifa-based ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. and the Jewish Cultural Center.
 
A fourth member of the group is now at large, according to Ogar. Deborah MacLean, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, said she had no information on the allegations when contacted by Bloomberg.
 
Berende allegedly gave to his Iranian handlers the names of former dictator Ibrahim Babangida, and ex-supreme leader of Muslims in Nigeria, Ibrahim Dasuki, as targets for attacks that could "unsettle the West," Ogar told AFP.
 
His accomplices conducted surveillance and gathered data on the targets, ahead of the attacks, alleged Ogar.
 
Berende denied involvement in espionage or terror-related activities but admitted seeking information about some individuals and institutions, AFP reported.
 
A shipment of Iranian weapons, including rockets, grenades and mortars, was seized in 2010 by Nigerian customs who said they were labeled as “packages of glass wool and pallets of stone.” Azimi Aghajani, an Iranian national, and Nigerian Aliyu Jega are facing trial for illegally shipping the weapons into the country.

Intelsat in U.S. & Canada Removes Iranian Channel PressTV

Category: Media
Created on Sunday, 17 February 2013 13:35
Press TV screenshot - ReutersPro-Israel media activist group HonestReporting Canada welcomed news on Saturday that global satellite communication provider Intelsat had removed Iran’s state-funded propaganda mouthpiece PressTV from its broadcast platform in Canada and the United States.
 
The NGO expressed its concern, however, that PressTV is still accessible over Intelsat's Galaxy 19 platform.
 
HonestReporting Canada Executive Director Mike Fegelman issued the following statement:
 
“Intelsat’s move falls directly in line with other important domestic and international efforts to sanction, isolate, and impede the Iranian regime’s efforts in procuring nuclear weaponry. While this move marks an important step in the right direction, that PressTV is now claiming its accessible at a new frequency over Intelsat’s Galaxy 19 platform is disconcerting.
 
"This past week, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and its director, Ezatollah Zarghami, which oversees Iran’s broadcast channel. In October, Intelsat blocked Iran’s official broadcast channels in Europe, specifically IRIB, and at the time would not confirm or deny that it did so at the request of U.S. government officials.
 
"As serial human rights abusers, state sponsors of terror, and a nation with alarming atomic ambitions, the Iranian regime’s propaganda tool should not be conferred with credibility, met with cooperation, and abetted by disseminating its messaging.
 
"Press TV has a long history of promoting Holocaust denial, giving platforms to neo-Nazis, and perpetuating a radical anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and anti-western agenda. Its 'reports' and 'reporters' distort the truth and manipulate the news all while the Iranian regime stifles free speech and imprisons journalists. That PressTV claims Intelsat’s decision was tantamount to a 'flagrant violation of free speech' is all the more laughable.
 
"The Islamic Republic’s propaganda arm deserves to be relegated to the fringes. Intelsat’s action to take PressTV off the airwaves is reflective of principled decision making, but the satellite provider must take immediate measures to prevent PressTV from broadcasting over its Galaxy 19 platform.”

Obama Extends National Emergency Over Libya

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 February 2013 13:59
HollywoodPresident Barack Obama on Wednesday extended his 2011 declaration of emergency with regard to Libya, maintaining that the situation in the country "continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
 
The declaration allows the administration to extend sanctions on members of Moammar Qaddafi's family and former regime officials, asserting the need for the United States “to protect against this threat and the diversion of assets or other abuse.”
 
“We are in the process of winding down the sanctions in response to developments in Libya, including the fall of Qaddafi and his government and the establishment of a democratically elected government,” Obama said in the message to Congress. 
 
“We are working closely with the new Libyan government and with the international community to effectively and appropriately ease restrictions on sanctioned entities, including by taking action consistent with the U.N. Security Council's decision to lift sanctions against the Central Bank of Libya and two other entities on December 16, 2011. 
 
“The situation in Libya, however, continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and we need to protect against this threat and the diversion of assets or other abuse by certain members of Qaddafi's family and other former regime officials,” the message read.
 
On December 16, the United States and the United Nations Security Council lifted most of the sanctions imposed on Libya under the rule of the brutal Qaddafi dictatorship.
 
“[A]fter careful consultation with the new Libyan government, the United States rolled back most U.S. sanctions on the government of Libya… Due to the bravery and perseverance of the Libyan people, the Qaddafi regime was defeated and Libya is now undertaking a transition to democracy,” the White House announced at the time.
 
According to the U.S. Treasury, more than $30 billion of Libyan assets were released.
 
The president’s declaration to continue the national emergency status for Libya comes as a number of lawmakers are still demanding answers regarding the administration’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four other Americans.

U.S. condemns sentencing of American pastor in Iran

Category: News
Created on Monday, 28 January 2013 08:37
Saeed Abedini AFPThe U.S. State Department on Sunday condemned an Iranian court for sentencing an Iranian-American Christian pastor to eight years in prison.
 
The State Department said it had confirmed reports of Saeed Abedini’s sentencing with the family’s attorney and called for his release.
 
“We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him,” State Department spokesperson Darby Holladay said.
 
Hollaway said Abedini’s attorney had only one day to present his defense and the department was deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of his trial.
 
The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative lobbying group, said Abedini was convicted by Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court for threatening Iran’s national security through his leadership in Christian house churches.
 
It said Abedini, a 32-year-old father of two, became a U.S. citizen in 2010 through marriage to his American wife Naghmeh.
 
He was ordained a minister in 2008 through the American Evangelistic Association and had been traveling back and forth freely between the U.S. and Iran for three years until this past summer, when he was placed on house arrest. He was imprisoned in September.
 
The ACLJ, which is representing Abedini’s U.S.-based wife and children, said the pastor had been beaten and tortured during his time in prison, raising questions about his medical condition.
 
It said Abedini and his attorney were only allowed to attend one day of his trial, which started on Jan. 21.
 
“This is a real travesty - a mockery of justice,” said ACLJ’s Executive Director Jordan Sekulow. 
“From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release. Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights.”
 
In a statement, Naghmeh Abedini said she is “devastated” for her husband and her family - a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.
 
“We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil,” she added.

Israeli Source Confirms Iran’s Fordow Nuclear Plant Exploded

Category: News
Created on Monday, 28 January 2013 08:22
Irans uranium enrichmentAn Israeli intelligence source has confirmed Iran’s Fordow underground nuclear uranium enrichment facility sustained major damage in a “mega explosion” that occurred last week.
 
Fordow, which contains at least 2,700 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, is located deep beneath a mountain near the Iranian city of Qom.
 
Some 200 workers were trapped inside the facility at the time, according to a report published Monday by The Times, a UK-based newspaper.
 
The report quoted an Israeli official as saying “We’re still in the early stages of trying to comprehend what happened and the extend of its significance.” The source added that it was not yet known whether the explosion was “an act of sabotage or incidental.”
 
The official declined to reveal whether Israeli aircraft had been in the vicinity at the time of the explosion.
 
Iran has denied that any explosion occurred at the facility, claiming in a statement to the official IRNA news agency that reports of the blast were nothing more than “Western propaganda.”
 
News of the explosion was reported Friday by the U.S.-based WND website.

Iran Spying on Israel from Syria

Category: Reports
Created on Monday, 14 January 2013 07:31
View from the GolanIran has been establishing signals intelligence stations in several parts of the Middle East, including the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the U.S.-based World Tribune reports.
 
The Defense Department has indicated that one of the intelligence stations was established in the Golan Heights, close to Syria's border with Israel, the report said.
 
The Pentagon’s counter-terrorist support office said the stations were established by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps together with Tehran’s leading ally, Syria, according to the World Tribune.
 
“Two Iranian-Syrian [signals intelligence] stations funded by the IRGC reportedly have been active since 2006, one in the Al Jazirah region in northern Syria and the other on the Golan Heights,” said the report, entitled “Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security: A Profile.”
 
The report, issued last month and prepared by the Library of Congress, said IRGC was planning to establish additional listening stations for northern Syria. The stations were meant to supply information on Israel to Hizbullah, Iran’s leading terror proxy.
 
The ongoing civil war in Syria has spilled over several times into Israel from the Golan Heights. The incidents have included mortar shells landing in the religious Zionist town of Alonei Habashan, which is less than a kilometer from the border, as well as IDF vehicles being hit by bullets fired from Syrian territory into Israel during the fighting between the sides.
 
The IDF changed the rules of engagement along the Syrian border after the fighting in Syria spilled over into Israel more than once.
 
The new orders instruct soldiers to respond if fire from Syria is dangerous and persistent.
 
Israel has also been monitoring Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, which dates back to the 1970s, is the biggest in the Middle East, but its precise scope remains unclear, according to analysts.
 
The country has hundreds of tons of various chemical agents, including sarin and VX nerve agents, as well as older blistering agents such as mustard gas, dispersed in dozens of manufacturing and storage sites, experts say.
 
U.S. officials recently said there was evidence that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's troops had not only moved deadly sarin gas that might be used against rebels, but also that its binary components, usually stored separately, had been combined and placed into bombs for use.
 
Doctors have said that Assad’s forces are probably also using “Agent 15,” which causes paralysis.
 
The United States and its allies, including Israel, have repeatedly expressed concern that Syria's stockpile, believed to be one of the biggest in the world, could be stolen and fall into extremist hands or be transferred to the Hizbullah terror group by a crumbling Syrian regime.

Iranian Weapons Support for Hamas Shows No Signs of Slowing

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 13 January 2013 06:35
Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei R meets Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Tehran Dec. 15 2009.It's no secret that Iran has been supplying Hamas with weapons and rockets to use against Israel, but a special report by the  Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center concluded just how deep the terror link between Iran and Hamas runs, and showed how Operation Pillar of Defense marked a major turning point in the relationship between the terrorist organization and the renegade state.
 
In Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF struck hard at the military power of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, mainly hitting their weapons stockpile, either supplied directly by iran or built in Gaza using Iranian technology. 
 
It has long been known that the major military capabilities of Hamas were the product of massive Iranian support. The medium-range Fajr-5 rockets (made in Iran) and M75s (manufactured in Gaza with technology from Iran) targeted Israeli civilian population centers, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
 
The report noted that aid from Iran to Hamas was being sent over in massive numbers in the years leading up to the military operation. 
 
"The main route for smuggling arms was from Iran to Sudan and from Sudan to Egypt and into the Gaza Strip through the smuggling tunnels controlled by Hamas," said the report, adding that sea routes were also used to smuggle in weapons, as revealed on March 15, 2011 when the freighter Victoria was seized by the IDF. "The ship was carrying arms bound for the Gaza Strip by way of Egypt, whose arrival would upgrade military capabilities of the terrorist organizations. Among the weapons on board the Victoria were C704 anti-ship missiles, which could be used to attack not only military and civilian vessels but also strategic targets in the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon," the report noted. 
 
The main turning point that came with Operation Pillar of Defense is that before the operation Iranian aid to Hamas and the smuggling of weapons was always kept secret and always denied by Iran. However, after the operation, Iran decided to reveal that it had been giving military aid to the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
 
"In our assessment, that was because of Iran's deep frustration with the way Egypt and other Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Qatar, had made political and propaganda capital from their support for Hamas during Operation Pillar of Defense," the report stated. "By exposing its military aid Iran hoped, in our assessment, to make political capital."
 
"Hamas' dependence on Iran for military support is still strong, and is, in our assessment, a necessary condition for rebuilding the military infrastructure damaged by Operation Pillar of Defense." 
 
Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah said in a recent speech that the arrival of weapons from Iran though Egypt would "continue in the future as well." In addition, a Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper reported that Hassan Nasrallah, meeting with Hizbullah operatives, said that Iran, as it had in the past, would continue sending "large quantities of high-quality weapons" to Hamas.
 
Therefore, the report noted, Iran is fully expected to play a key role in rebuilding the weapons stockpile of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "Special attention will be paid to medium-range rockets, whose existence in the Gaza Strip serves Iran's clear interest in creating a rocket threat to Israel from both the north (through Hizbullah) and the south (through Hamas and the Islamic Jihad)," the report stated. 

Iran's Iraqi Defeat: Arabs Will Vanquish the Persians

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 05 January 2013 19:27
Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei R meets Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Tehran Dec. 15 2009.Assad's, soon-in-coming death, will make Qadaffi's death look like a summer picnic. Iran's pipe-dream that a coastal Alawite/Shiite enclave can survive a Sunni tsunami propagated from the wanton Shiite murder of 70,000 Sunni men, women, and children is a delusion. Any residual Assad remnant holdouts in the Syrian Latakia mountainous coastal region, will be washed away like a child's sandcastle in a rip-tide.
 
But the real loser will be the Persian house of cards that Iran has constructed on a foundation of terrorism, murder, evil, cordite smoke and Shiite mirrors. With Syria torn from Iran's bloody villainous hand, the entire Persian Shiite crescent project from Iran to Lebanon and beyond has begun to implode. Iran's next inexorable cataclysmic defeat will be in Iraq. 
 
Due to Iran's hijacking of the Al-Maliki government (with the full blessing, and approval of Obama), Iraq is already a failed state in a state of full civil war. The Sunnis are peacefully Ghandi-like blocking Iranian weapons supply trucks to Assad with their unarmed bodies. Once one of Al-Maliki’s henchmen shoots a peaceful Sunni demonstrator, the Iraqi Sunni fire will explode.
 
The Arab Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr rightly sees the Western Iraqi Sunni revolt as his "Iraqi Spring" wave to reject the Iranian Puppet Al-Maliki. The Kurds will gladly ignite the battle and have already started shooting down Iraqi helicopters. The Kurds are 35 million people strong divided between four countries: 18 million in Turkey, 8 million in Iran, 7 million in Iraq and 2 million in Syria. There are mega-billions of oil and gas in the Kurdish area of Iraq and Syria. 
 
The Kurds and Exxon are not going to allow Iran's unshaven puppet-doll Al-Maliki and Iran to get their bloody hands on a penny of the Kurdish billions of oil and gas. Even the otherwise brain-dead Turks have finally awakened to the reality that the Kurds are their first line of defense against the waxing Shiite Iranian menace. Israel, with its 200,000 Kurdish Israeli Jews, will be perfectly placed to tend and support this Kurdish miracle. The Kurdish Peshmerga armed with medium range drones with armor piercing missiles, modern mobile and tiny radars, and highly mobile medium range anti-air missiles will render the northern Iraq/southern Kurdistan areas impregnable to any Iraqi northern advance. 
 
But, there's more. Once the Sunni jihadis draw and quarter the mass-murdering Iranian Puppet Assad, the jihadis will now have a new irresistible battle: the Iraqi Shiite Persian puppet Al-Maliki. Al Qaeda won't tarry long in a post-Assad Syria. Al Qaeda battle-hardened Syrian fighters will quickly fly east to Iraq, like moths to a fire.
 
With Iraqi/Iranian war supplies lines over-stretched north fighting the Kurds, the Sunni jihadis will set the Iranian-supplied IEDs their Hizbullah teachers taught them to set against the precious American troops in Iraq. But now, the al Qaeda jihadis will be set their IEDs against their true Shiite Persian enemy. This time, the Sunnis of Iraq will welcome the jihadis as liberators from the Obama-installed sectarian Shiite despot. Funded by gulf interests, the Sunnis of western Iraq will turn western Iraq into a Shiite graveyard. 
 
Then, then, there's the Arab Shiites of eastern Iraq. Once these Arabs see the Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Sunni Arabs have their freedom, they will realize that the Persians have played them for the "Shiite" useful idiot suckers they truly are. The Persians didn't want to liberate the Iraqi Shiite Arabs, but instead have knaved to enslave them and steal their oil resources and build nuclear bombs.
 
Quickly, these Iraqi Arab Shiites will see the Persians for the oil resource scammers for what they truly are: genocidal mass-murderers falsely using the name of Islam as a cover for their megalomaniacal Persian hegemony. The Persians only sold their Shiism "rug" to the Iraqi Shiites as an opiate with which Iran could steal the Iraqi Arabs' oil. Iraqi Arab roots and their own eyes will inevitably provide the anodyne to Iran's intoxicating Shiite opiate. The Persian evil will be exposed for the Muslim mass-murdering deviation it truly is. With Al-Maliki and his Iranian henchmen dead, Iran will be shorn from its Iraqi money supply and sanction-busting daisy-chain oil laundering schemes. 
 
For finally, there is the Iranian western-most topographically flat province of Ahwaz, populated by Arab Shiites sitting west of the Zagros Mountains effectively cut-off from the eastern Iran and eastern Persia. The Ahwaz province, just north of the Persian/Arab gulf, sits on almost 90% of Iran's total oil supply. So, without the Arab province of Ahwaz, Persian Iran is finished, kaput. No Arab Ahwaz oil, no Iranian Persian money, no Persian nukes to destroy the world, no having to listen to black-turbaned psychos spouting on about a hidden twelfth imam.
 
With the Arabs of Iraq breathing the pure air of freedom from Persia cordite smoke, the Arabs of Ahwaz will want the same Persian-free air. The 4,000 meter high Zagros Mountains will serve to protect the Arabs from Persia, rather than protect Persian Iran from a United States attack. The Persian Gulf will once again become the Arab gulf.
 
The future is now. Assad's demise will irreparably break the Iranian chain of evil, and set the fuse for true inevitable Middle East freedom from Iran, and the downfall of the Persian Tehran Tyrants.
 
For more information about Mark Langfan’s 3-Dimensional Topographic Map System of Israel, please go to www.marklangfan.com.
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Iran Remains the Number 1 Threat

Category: News
Created on Friday, 04 January 2013 12:03
Netanyahu addresses ambassadorsIran's nuclear weapons program remains the number one threat over Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
 
Speaking to Israeli ambassadors and consuls at the conclusion of their annual gathering in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, "The number one threat has been and remains Iran, our commitment has been and remains to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
 
Netanyahu presented to the ambassadors his assessment of the current situation and predicted that in the short term the turmoil in the Middle East will continue, but "in the long run there is a possibility for change if Iran is prevented from achieving military nuclear capability."
 
He noted that as of right now, Iran has yet to cross the "red line" he set during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September - if it reaches enough uranium enriched to the 90% level.
 
At the same time, Netanyahu noted, pressure must continue on Iran to get it to drop its nuclear weapons ambitions.
{youtube}JSZZYU-ghA4{/youtube}
 
The comments came in the wake of reports that Iran's ability to attack Israel has been compromised significantly in the past year.
 
According to a study by Defense Ministry officials, Iran's attempts to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the weakness of Hizbullah has taken a great toll in manpower and funds from the Islamic Republic.
 
The officials, quoted in Maariv, said that neither Syria nor Hizbullah are in any position to not only start a war with Israel, but would also be largely unable to respond on behalf of Iran in the event of an Israeli strike at Iran's nuclear facilities. Syria is too badly divided at this point to respond, and without the material support in men and weapons from Damascus, Hizbullah would be too feeble to respond effectively.
 
Regarding the deadlock in the peace process with the Palestinian Authority and the West's anger over Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, "The settlements are not an obstacle to peace, but rather the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people."
 
Netanyahu explained that "Hamas can take over the Palestinian Authority any day and therefore we must ensure that there are solid security measures, ensure that any arrangement would guarantee a recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and demand a true declaration of an end to the conflict."
 
He added that "the Arab demand of the right of return means the elimination of Israel.''

Iran's Ability to Hit Back at Israel Limited

Category: News
Created on Friday, 04 January 2013 11:28
Iranian Sajjil-2Iran's ability to attack Israel has been compromised significantly in the past year, Israeli diplomats meeting in Jerusalem were told by Defense Ministry intelligence officials. According to the study by the officials, Iran's attempts to prop up Bashar al-Assad and the weakness of Hizbullah has taken a great toll in manpower and funds from the Islamic Republic.
 
The officials, quoted in Maariv, said that neither Syria nor Hizbullah are in any position to not only start a war with Israel, but would also be largely unable to respond on behalf of Iran in the event of an Israeli strike at Iran's nuclear facilities. Syria is too badly divided at this point to respond, and without the material support in men and weapons from Damascus, Hizbullah would be too feeble to respond effectively.
 
Only if Iran were to directly aid Hizbullah could the Lebanese terrorist group fight Israel as it did in 2006, the officials said, but Iran was likely not to do so, because violating Lebanon's sovereignty was likely to bring the U.S. and Europe directly into the conflict.
 
Hizbullah realizes its weakened position, the officials said, and was unlikely to provoke Israel into a massive invasion of Lebanon, which would put Hizbullah into a much more vulnerable position than it has been in the past.
 
The officials also discussed Egypt, and said that after Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel was in a better position, because Cairo was taking active steps to prevent Gaza terrorists from attacking Israel. Egypt fears that it would be dragged into a Hamas conflict with Israel, and since it is practically broke, cannot afford to alienate foreign governments and banks on which it is relying for helping achieve economic recovery, they said.

Iran Bans Flights During Call to Islamic Prayer

Category: Islam
Created on Friday, 28 December 2012 09:31
Bans FlightsIran has ordered domestic airlines to take off half an hour after pre-dawn Muslim prayers, the website of country's civil aviation organization quoted its chief as saying on Wednesday.
 
"According to a directive we issued to the domestic airlines, from now on the airlines will be authorized to take off at least 30 minutes after the morning Azan (the pre-dawn call to prayer),"said civil aviation chief Hamid Reza Pahlevani, as reported by AFP.
 
He said the decision was taken "so that passengers can fulfill their religious duty of prayer."
 
Iran has practiced Islamic sharia law since its 1979 Islamic revolution. Iranian carriers do not serve alcoholic beverages nor non-halal food on either domestic or international flights.
 
On long-haul flights, in-cabin monitors also show the direction of Mecca, to which Muslims turn during times of prayer.
 
Pahlevani also reiterated the requirement that all flight crew and ground personnel observe the Islamic dress code.
 
On Iranian airlines, all air hostesses wear headscarves and long coats, and air stewards do not wear ties as they are deemed a symbol of Western culture, AFP reported.
 
All women in Iran beyond the age of puberty, regardless of their nationality or religion, are required to cover their hair and much of the body. Those who do not abide by the dress code risk arrest.

Qatar May Be Buying Its Way into the PA to Isolate Iran

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 28 December 2012 08:30
Abbas and Qatari Prime Minister - ReutersQatar’s emir, after having brought a $250 million check to Hamas in Gaza, plans to bail out Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas next week, possibly as part of a strategy to separate Iran from Hamas.
 
Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Ibn Khalifa al-Thani said he will make good on his pledge to bail out the PA, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency. Israel has announced that instead of turning over tax revenues it collects monthly for the PA to Ramallah, it will use the funds to pay off the Palestinian Authority’s massive debt to the Israel Electric Corp. for electricity supplied.
 
Behind the emir’s sudden interest in the PA could be Iran, which has an “evil axis” that runs from Syria, through Lebanon and Hizbullah and to Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
 
Arutz Sheva reported last week that de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has told Hamas terrorist cells in Judea and Samaria to prepare for a new Intifada – this time against none other than Abbas, who heads the arch-rival Fatah movement.
 
The same report was cited as being one of the reasons Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pulled off his gloves, speaking forcefully concerning Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and the intentions to build more than 3,000 new homes for Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
 
“The aim of the Qatari leader’s visit is part of a larger Qatari policy to reorient Iranian alliances in the Middle East and to win over Hamas to the side of the pro-Western countries like Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” wrote Geopolitical Monitor.
 
By giving Hamas recognition through the emir’s visit, Qatar offers the terrorist organization an alternative to Iran for financial aid. If Qatar can pull off the trick of buying into Hamas and Fatah and placing them under its wing, the sound of money may quiet them down.
 
Without Hamas, Iran will have less capability of engineering a two-front proxy war against Israel through Lebanon and Gaza.
 
Qatar, like the five other Gulf States, has another objective – neutralizing Iran’s threat to manufacture a nuclear bomb as part of its announced strategy to establish a pan-Arab Islamic empire in the Middle East.
 
Qatar is a close ally with the United States, and by propping up Hamas, it gives the terrorist organization recognition it never enjoyed before, but also may draw Hamas away from the Axis of Evil.

Iran’s Thin Man Gun-type, Plutonium, Nuclear Dirty-Bomb

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Tuesday, 25 December 2012 22:09
Ahmadinejad 00On December 5th, 2012, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article entitled “From Bushehr to the Bomb.”  The blockbuster WSJ article reported that Iran had removed, from its supposedly “proliferation-proof” Russian-built Bushehr Reactor in the Northern Persian Gulf, up to “220 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium.”
 
And, the WSJ article further relates that “experts tell us that the rapid extraction of weapons-useable plutonium from spent rods is a straightforward process that can be performed in a fairly small (and easily secreted) space.”  And, “as many as 24 Nagasaki-type bombs could be produced with 220 pounds of plutonium.”
 
However, the real, immediate danger of the 220 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium in Iran’s hands is not that they would build a technologically-complicated “Nagasaki” “Fat Man” implosion nuclear bomb, but that they could build a technological-no-brainer “Thin Man” gun-type nuclear “dirty” bomb.
 
Given Iran’s unexpected and unmonitored Bushehr plutonium diversion, and Assad’s imminent fall, it is vital that the public and the decision-makers clearly understand the difference between the two types of plutonium nuclear bombs.
 
Firstly, a gun-type plutonium nuclear bomb is not only feasible, it’s an established fact.  The United States Department of Defense Defense Treaty Inspection Readiness Program currently states on its website:
 
“It is impossible to achieve a large nuclear explosion by using plutonium in a gun-type device. Nonetheless, a plutonium gun-type bomb could release as much energy as a few tons of TNT, which could conceivably cause many casualties. Moreover, this kind of bomb would release large amounts of plutonium and other radioactive materials, thereby making it a potent radiation dispersal device, or "dirty bomb."”
 
 
Additionally, the United Nations recently translated a book entitled "Nuclear Weapon Design" as follows:
 
“Such an assembly [plutonium gun-type] designed by terrorists using reactor-grade plutonium would have an expected yield of a few times the fizzle yield, amounting to 1 kiloton or more and having catastrophic consequences.  A mere fizzle yield would still be a very damaging explosion, with effects of blast, heat, and prompt radiation extending out to a radius of at least one-third of a mile.”
 
 
How did this type of nuclear weapon come about?  Is it new?
 
During the Manhattan Project in the early 1940’s, the nuclear scientists focused on two elements as suitable for nuclear bombs: uranium and plutonium.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.
 
Uranium was hard to enrich in quantities necessary to build a bomb.  But, the actual nuclear bomb technology was a simple linear gun-type mechanism, code-named “Little Boy,” where a uranium “bullet” was fired down a cylindrical “gun barrel” into a uranium slug, and “bang.”  Hiroshima,was a 16 kiloton TNT-equivalent explosion. (This means 16 thousand tons of a conventional TNT explosion.)  US scientists were so confident in the "Little Boy" gun-type design that they, unbelievably, didn’t even test the uranium bomb before the US dropped it on Hiroshima.
 
On the other hand, plutonium (Pu) was very easy to make in large quantities.  But, early on, the Manhattan Project scientists concluded that given plutonium’s particular nuclear properties of “pre-detonation,” they couldn’t use plutonium in the uranium analog cylindrical, simple gun-type bomb which they code-named “Thin Man” (named after the Dashiell Hammett detective character whose dog was named Asta).
 
Consequently, the nuclear scientists were forced to devise a totally different new bomb structure with a fantastically complicated and “fat” spherical shaped necklace of explosives, code-named “Fat Man” (named after another Hammett “Maltese Falcon” character played by Sidney Greenstreet, who was literally "fat.").  The spherically placed explosives had to explode simultaneously - perfectly - and implode the plutonium core inwards, and then, “bang.”  Nagasaki,was  a 21 kiloton TNT explosion.  US scientists weren’t so sure of the Fat Man design, so they first tested it at Alamogordo, New Mexico, code-named “Trinity."
 
Plutonium’s particular nuclear property of “pre-detonation”, requiring a special Fat Man device to effectively explode the plutonium to a high-yield of TNT, is the key to how the Thin Man gun-type plutonium device is a modern-day nuclear “dirty bomb.”
 
Nuclear-reactor plutonium, like that of Bushehr, is generally composed of two isotopes Pu-239 and Pu-240 where Pu-240 has one more neutron in its nucleus than Pu-239.  Pu-240 is a touch more unstable than its cousin Pu-239 isotope, and chain-reacts faster than Pu-239.  So, when plutonium containing both Pu-240 and Pu-239 isotopes is exploded in a gun-type device, the pace of the Pu-240 nuclear reaction is faster than the Pu-239 reaction, and literally “pre-detonates” and explodes out the Pu-239 atoms away from each other before the Pu-239 can properly chain-react.
 
Consequently, you get a low-yield compared to a TNT explosion, and a wide dispersion of the highly radioactive and deadly Pu-239 atoms, and other nuclear fission residue.  The plutonium gun-type reaction is called a “fizzle” when there is only a small Pu-240 nuclear reaction with a very highly radioactive Pu-239 fallout dispersion.  Unfortunately, Pu-239, while extremely radioactively poisonous, is very elementally stable, and has a half-life of 24,100 years.
 
With the “help” of the nuclear power industry, nuclear proliferation efforts have mostly focused on uranium proliferation.  This approach was based on the dubious theory that since you “need” an extremely complex spherical technology to build a “high yield” bomb out of plutonium, “one need only worry about uranium bombs.”  The nuclear proliferation-minders seem to have generally ignored the catastrophic possibility of a desperate, rogue nation building a gun-type plutonium device which could be used in numerous, monstrously evil ways.
 
With the Russian-built Iranian Bushehr nuclear reactor, Putin thought he was smarter than Joseph Stalin, who from August 1939 to June 1941 (as part of the economic protocol to the 23 August 1939 Hitler/Stalin “Non-aggression” Pact) sold Hitler the crude oil fuel he needed for his Nazi war machine.  I.G. Farben then refined the crude to power the Nazi tanks and planes that then proceeded to annihilate the Soviet Union in June 1941 with Stalin’s “crude” oil (having earlier obliterated London).
 
Like Stalin, Putin originally didn't realize that by supplying nuclear fuel to Bushehr, he would be arming Iran with 24 plutonium dirty "fizzler" nukes that could make Hitler's Barbarossa look like a game of tiddlywinks.
 
Putin asked his Russian scientists (who were used to building 160 kilo-ton hydrogen fusion nuclear bombs, and who would have been shot dead by Putin's buddies pushing the Iranian nuke deal), if Bushehr plutonium reactor-grade plutonium was dangerous.  Well, compared to a 160 kiloton hydrogen fusion bomb, a one kiloton plutonium gun-type device isn't really a big deal.
 
Anyway, Putin forgot to ask those same scientists whether Iran, with readily available off-the-shelf technology, could build a crude gun-type bomb, using only 8-kilograms of Bushehr reactor-grade plutonium, that was capable of achieving a one-kiloton nuclear "fizzle" event which could irradiate Moscow for 62,642.6 years. (Pause.)
 
How do you translate "Oy gevalt" into Russian?  Putin will go down in history as making Stalin look like a genius.  That is, if there's a 'history' after Iran "fizzles" Moscow.
 
Given that the gun-type plutonium bomb mechanism is a small, cylindrical, and very physically robust technology, the manners of delivery of such a nuclear device are infinite.
 
Imagine use against a US aircraft carrier battle group massing in battle formation in the Arabian Sea - via an Iranian kamikaze mini-submarine with about a minimum of 1/3 mile to a full mile guaranteed kill radius (Think, nuclear-sea-mine US carrier group killer!).
 
Or, a secreted weapon could be loaded onto a cargo ship, and the device could be exploded in New York harbor close to the new World Trade Center.
 
Or perhaps, an Iranian-supplied Chechen Black Widow armed with one of these 1-kiloton weapons could light up the Kremlin brighter than Chernobyl.
 
It is also important to draw the difference between a gun-type plutonium nuclear “dirty” bomb, and the technologically trivial conventional radiological “dirty” bomb.
 
In the plutonium gun-type bomb, there is an actual small nuclear Pu-240 fission event that disperses both the radioactive Pu-239, and the radioactive nuclear fission residue of the highly fissile Pu-240 (Note: highly radioactive fission residue is the components left after the Pu-240 nucleus has broken up in a nuclear event).
 
In a conventional “dirty” bomb, conventional explosives, packed with radiological materials. explode, dispersing the radiological materials without any fissile product residue because there is no actual “nuclear” fission event.
 
The bottom line is that with Syrian President Assad on a fast trajectory to political “implosion,” Iran has become desperate to acquire “gun-type” nuclear capability as fast as possible.
 
Diverting the Bushehr plutonium to build 24 small easily transportable, widely dispersed, hidden, gun-type plutonium nuclear “dirty” bombs may be Iran’s shortest, surest, and ugliest ticket to Nuclear Bomb capability, and the actualization of their belief in the re-emergence of the 12th and final Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi.
 
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writes articles on Middle East Security.  For more information on his 3-Dimensional Topographic Map System of Israel, please see www.MarkLangfan.com

Hamas Preparing for War against Abbas, Reports Sunday Times

Category: Reports
Created on Sunday, 23 December 2012 15:50
Hamas officers in GazaHamas is preparing to duplicate its 2007 civil war in Gaza and has instructed terror cells in Judea and Samaria to get ready for a military coup to oust Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, according to a London Sunday Times based on Israeli intelligence sources.
 
The orders reportedly came from Hamas’ supreme leader Khaled Mashaal, who recently visited Gaza to celebrate what the terrorist organization claimed was a victory over Israel in last month’s missile war.
 
Citing unnamed officials in the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the London newspaper said that Iran is behind the plan for a coup. According to the Sunday Times, Iran wants to have an allied militia in Judea and Samaria, parallel to Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon.
 
Tawfik Tirawi, a former PA intelligence director and now a senior member of Abbas’ Fatah party, told the newspaper, "Hamas wants intifada and will take over the West Bank.  
 
“We’re on the verge of catastrophe,” he said.
 
“Bibi [Netanyahu] understands the geopolitical changes in the Middle East. No way would [he] give up an inch of the West Bank - he is convinced that the intelligence assessment about a Muslim Brotherhood [Hamas] takeover is solid,” according to the London newspaper.
 
The report provides evidence that Prime Minister Netanyahu is making it clear that Israel is not to be shown as being weak. The intelligence information may have been one of the reasons, if not the major cause, for his recent and unusually solid nationalist statements for building new homes for Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
 
It also contradicts mainstream media claims that Netanyahu's statements were part of an election campaign to attract nationalists away from the Jewish Home party.
 
The information published in London totally eliminates the idea promoted by leftist commentators that Netanyahu’s’ policies are designed to strengthen Hamas at the expense of Abbas, who has advertised himself as a “peace partner.” Abbas has won international support for demands that preclude negotiations on future borders while at the same time promoting unity with Hamas.

Ahmadinejad to Cancel Turkey Trip After 'WWIII Threat'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 16 December 2012 14:39
Ahmadinejad at UN - ReutersAfter threatening that Ankara could set off “World War III” if it allows the U.S. to deploy Patriot missiles on its border with Syria, a report Sunday said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would not be visiting Turkey, as had been scheduled. Turkey's Hurriyet daily newspaper said that the cancellation of Ahmadinejad's visit had raised Turkish-Iranian tensions to new heights.
 
Earlier this year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had invited Ahmadinejad in honor of the 739th anniversary of the birth of Rumi, the originator of Sufi Islam, who had lived most of his life in Persia, and died in Turkey. The two had been set to discuss regional issues, especially Turkey's decision to cut Iranian oil imports in the wake of international sanctions. Israeli officials said that it was certain that Israel would be high on the agenda, since besides being Iran's sworn enemy, Israel's relations with Turkey are poor.
 
The Hurriyet report attributed the cancellation to the increased tension with Iran in the wake of Tehran's threat that deploying the missiles could “"create a world war.” Speaking to the ISNA news agency, Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi said that “the Patriot (missiles) are threatening. Each one of them is a black dot on the map, (setting the stage) to create a world war.
 
"The Western countries seeking to deploy the missile batteries on the Turkey-Syria border are devising plans for a world war,” Firouzabadi said. "This is very dangerous for everyone, and even for the future of Europe. A veteran military man and analyst can easily see this and predict the future."
 
There was no comment on the report from official sources in Turkey or Iran.

Iranian Warships Dock in Sudan, Again

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 08 December 2012 17:26
Iranian warship in Port Sudan  9Reuters)Two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan on Saturday, a witness told AFP. This marks the second port call by the Iranian navy in Sudan in five weeks.
 
The Iranian navy said the 1,400 ton frigate Jamaran and the 4,700 ton support ship Bushehr "docked in Port Sudan, after successfully carrying out their assignments in the Red Sea, and were greeted by high-ranking Sudanese naval commanders." It did not say how long the warships would stay in port.
 
Khartoum said it was a "normal" port call but Israeli officials have expressed concern about arms smuggling through Sudan.
 
They have long accused the African country of serving as a base of support for the terrorists of Hamas, which rules Gaza.
 
Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told reporters on Friday night that the visit is "part of diplomatic and military exchanges between the two countries," and will last for three days.
 
A pair of Iranian navy vessels, the supply ship Kharg and corvette Admiral Naghdi, spent about two days at Port Sudan in late October.This took place immediately after an October 23 strike against the Yarmouk military factory in the capital, which led to speculation that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured there. Sudan blamed Israel for the blast, while Israel refused all comment on the accusation.
 
But a top Israeli defense official, Amos Gilad, said Sudan "serves as a route for the transfer, via Egyptian territory, of Iranian weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists." Eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas ended on November 21 with an Egyptian-mediated truce after 174 Palestinian Authority Arabs and six Israelis were killed. The Jewish state has accused Iran of supplying Hamas with the Iranian-made Fajr 5 missile, which was used to target Tel Aviv during the conflict. 
 
Khartoum said Israel was spreading "fabricated information" about links between the Yarmouk military factory, Hamas and Iran.
 
Sudan's foreign ministry denied Iran had any involvement in the plant.
 
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ali Karti said Sudan welcomes the navies of any country, "except Israel."
 
A Pakistani frigate visited Port Sudan in late November.

Egypt Stops Libyan Arms Shipment to Gaza

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 29 November 2012 06:47
Weapons confiscated from Gaza smugglersFollowing the ceasefire it brokered between Israel and the region's ruling Hamas terrorists, Cairo has blocked two arms shipments to Gaza in less than a week.
 
Egyptian media report that security forces arrested three smugglers Tuesday while intercepting a large weapons shipment headed for Sinai from Libya.
 
But the vast Peninsula was not the final destination: according to the report, Gaza was the intended destination for the ordnance, valued at $3.3 million.
 
The cache included 185 crates filled with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, landmines, explosives, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and 5,000 rounds of bullets.
 
Last week security police stopped a convoy of trucks near Marsa Matrouh, an Egyptian town along the Nile Delta near the Libyan border. That mechanical caravan reportedly bore 108 Grad Katyusha missile warheads.
 
Cairo is still involved in hammering out the details of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
 
Israeli negotiators have emphasized that the agreement was to include an end to the flow of weapons into Gaza. But Hamas has claimed that no such agreement was made.
 
Ahmed Youssef, senior political adviser to de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told McClatchy news media, “We will also not stop smuggling weapons into Gaza from the Sinai, and this was made clear during the initial negotiations of the ceasefire. Why shouldn't we receive weapons to defend ourselves when the Israelis receive weapons from the Americans all the time?”
 
Youssef added that Hamas managed to retain a significant arsenal of weapons following last week's conflict with Israel.
 
In addition to the ordnance flowing into the region from Libya, Gaza terrorists are being armed by Syria and Iran, via smuggling routes that wind their way through Sudan before traveling through Sinai and into the tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza. 

Exposé: the Vatican Welcomes Iran

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 26 November 2012 10:44
swiss-guards-vaticanHizbullah's officials, the Shiite terrorist group based in Lebanon, were hosted in Rome by the Vatican during the recent ceremony for the election of six new cardinals. Among the new cardinals is the Lebanese Patriarch, Bechara Boutros Rai.
 
 
As head of Lebanon’s Catholic Church, Rai recently sent his envoy, Father Abdo Abou Kassem, to Teheran to attend a conference in support of the Palestinian Arab Intifada and of a “Zionist-free middle east”. The conference was attended also by Hizbullah ideologue, Mohammad Raad, and by the Hamas’ leader Khaled Meshaal.
 
 
Cardinal Rai recently said in Paris that he supports Hizbullah's war against Israel: "Only when the international community exerts pressure on Israel to vacate the occupied Lebanese territory and Israel allows Palestinians in Lebanon to return to their homes, can Hizbullah be asked to hand over its arms because they will no longer be needed". It is not clear from the Cardinal's remarks to which Lebanese territory he was referring, since Israel, in compliance with the UN, had withdrawn from its Lebanon buffer zone years earlier. Rai said his statements reflected the policy of the Vatican.
 
 
The coming of an Hizbullah delegation in Rome these days is part of a strong friendship that the Vatican is building with Iranian authorities. It might also be an explanation why during his trip in Austria, Pope Benedict chose not to address the Iranian nuclear question in a key speech to world diplomats in Vienna, which is the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency.The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Organization for Culture and Islamic Relations just held their eighth meeting in Rome, under the joint chairmanship of the Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Iranian Mohammad Bagher Korramshad. The theme of the meeting was "The Catholic and Muslim cooperation to promote justice in the contemporary world".
 
An official note says that "the participants were pleased and honored to be received at the end of the meeting by Pope Benedict XVI, who greeted and encouraged them to continue on the path of authentic and fruitful dialogue".
 
 
A delegation of clergy members of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly also visited the Vatican in Rome. They met with top Catholic officials. “We held talks with the Vatican’s culture minister over the conditions and the popular uprisings in the region and the Vatican minister said that popular uprisings are inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran”, a member of the parliament’s Clerics Commission, Hojjatoleslam Hossein Ebrahimi, told Fars News Agency.
 
 
Iran has a surprisingly large diplomatic corps at the Vatican (only the Dominican Republic has more diplomats accredited to the Holy See) who have a monthly meeting with the Pope's advisers. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a high-level delegation to Rome, headed by Mahdi Mostafavi, the president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization in Tehran, a former foreign minister and one of Ahmadinejad’s trusted men and “spiritual advisers”, with whom he meets “at least twice a week”.
 
 
Last week, the Iranian embassy in Rome organised at the Salesian Pontifical University of the Vatican a cultural festival to celebrate the Iranian culture. Islamic Republic of Iran Cultural Attaché to Rome, Qorban-Ali Purmarjan, gave an address: "Throughout continuous centuries, it has been the strong will of the highly skilled artist Iranian with great tastes that have written the Glorious Qur’an in different beautiful Iranian and Arabic calligraphies, and today at this exhibition some holy verses of the Glorious Qur’an side by side with holy sentences by Prophet Jesus are put on display".
 
The President of the Pontifical University of Rome, Professor Nani, said that he "I had been longing to host such a glorious and highly cultural exhibition".
 
"What you have in Iran is a strong academic tradition, with both philosophical and mystical aspects — in many ways like Catholicism," says Father Daniel Madigan, a Jesuit scholar of islam, and a member of the Vatican's commission for religious relations with Islam.
 
 
When the Vatican acts, nations take notice. How should the West and Israel interpret the new Vatican friendship with the Iranian Holocaust deniers and enablers and their terror proxies who branded the dead bodies of Israeli soldiers?
 
Giulio MeottiGiulio Meotti
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.

Muslim Cleric in Gaza: Sin to Violate Truce with Israel

Category: Islam
Created on Sunday, 25 November 2012 22:27
extremists-faith-schoolsAn Islamic cleric in Gaza has issued a religious edict declaring it a sin to violate the truce arranged last week between Israel and Hamas. The fatwa – a religious edict – was ruled by Imam Suleiman al-Daya late Saturday.
 
"Honoring the hudna (temporary ceasefire) which was arranged and sponsored by our Egyptian brethren is the duty of each and every one of us,” ruled the cleric. “Violating the agreement shall constitute a sin.”
 
The decision lends religious legitimacy to the ceasefire agreement and under Islamic law, could justify any action by Gaza's ruling Hamas terror organization to enforce it.
 
The agreement is fragile at best, in part because much of the language is vague. On the Israeli side, the clearest point is that relating to rocket, mortar and missile fire.
 
“Any fire emanating from Gaza will be considered a violation of the agreement,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told Arutz Sheva on Sunday morning when asked whether the agreement applied to all terrorist groups in the region.
 
However, the import of weapons to the region has not stopped, nor has production, according to Hamas officials.
 
Speaking with reporters on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar claimed, “We have no choice but to continue to bring in weapons by all possible means.” He added that Iran would “increase its military and financial support to Hamas,” and justified the relationship, saying, “We have a right to take money and weapons from Iran. They give to us for the sake of G-d, no conditions attached, and I am a witness to that.”
 
In fact, Iran indeed has loaded a ship with new missiles to replace those destroyed by Israel in its eight-day Pillar of Defense counter terror offensive, the London Sunday Times has reported. The ship was spotted by Israeli satellites.
 
There have already been numerous violations of the ceasefire declared last Wednesday, including at least 20 rocket attacks and a violent incident Friday night that ended with IDF soldiers firing into the air. Local Gaza sources later said that one local man was killed by the IDF fire and several others were wounded. The IDF Spokesperson noted the soldiers had been forced to fire in the air in response to the disturbance caused by Gazans along the security fence at the border with Israel.
 
Hamas has since temporarily deployed unarmed police along the Gaza side of the border to prevent further incidents that might imperil the truce, sources told AFP on Saturday.