The Sykes–Picot Agreement

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East … Continue reading

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empireduring World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.[2] The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.[3]

The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.[4] An “international administration” was proposed forPalestine.[5] The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat François Georges-Picot and Briton Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes–Picot agreement, and when, following theRussian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, “the British were embarrassed, theArabs dismayed and the Turks delighted.”

ISIS conspiracy theory

Published on Aug 9, 2014 President Barack Obama’s authorization of air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq serves as an opportunity to remind ourselves which countries are bankrolling the deadly terror group. http://www.infowars.com/hundreds-repo… http://www.infowars.com/obama-flashba… http://www.infowars.com/trust-in-gove… http://www.infowars.com/isis-threaten… http://www.infowars.com/the-united-st… Friday 19 September … Continue reading




Continuar leyendo “ISIS conspiracy theory”

Noam Chomsky at UC Santa Barbara

Published on Apr 7, 2014
March 01, 2014 at UC Santa Barbara
Topics Discussed Include: Syrian Civil War, Israel Lobby, East Asian Miracle, Austerity, Mysteries and Perplexing Questions, Alan Greenspan, Class Warfare, Latin America, Neo-liberalism, Free…

Published on Apr 7, 2014
March 01, 2014 at UC Santa Barbara

Topics Discussed Include: Syrian Civil War, Israel Lobby, East Asian Miracle, Austerity, Mysteries and Perplexing Questions, Alan Greenspan, Class Warfare, Latin America, Neo-liberalism, Free Will, Business Party, etc.

ISIS – The Known or Unknown Enemy?

Originally posted on Lex Solo’s Political Rantings:
A lot of people have asked me to write about my opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict but I’ve decided to start by writing about an issue that is the most serious issue…

Originally posted on Lex Solo's Political Rantings:

A lot of people have asked me to write about my opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict but I’ve decided to start by writing about an issue that is the most serious issue happening in the Middle East. The world’s biggest deception: ISIS.

I remember when I first heard of ISIS. I was listening to the news when a Syrian man came on and was sharing his story.  He spoke of a time he called his sister who lived in Idlib, a town in Syria that was very harshly affected by the conflict. He said they were laughing when all of a sudden she looked outside of the window and started to scream. “They’re here, they’re here…AHHH! AND THEY ARE CHOPPING PEOPLE’S HEADS OFF! We are going to die, we are going to die…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Who are these people that are not too far away…

View original 1,121 more words

ISIS – The Known or Unknown Enemy?

Originally posted on Lex Solo’s Political Rantings:
A lot of people have asked me to write about my opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict but I’ve decided to start by writing about an issue that is the most serious issue…

 

Saudi Arabia forms alliance of 34 Muslim nations to fight ISIS and tackle ‘the Islamic world’s problem with terrorism’

  • Coalition to include members from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia
  • Saudi Arabia has called it a bid to ‘save international peace and security’
  • The group includes powerful gulf states Egypt and Turkey – but not Iran

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3360422/Saudi-Arabia-forms-34-nation-anti-terrorist-coalition.html#ixzz3uOsJbJAd
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS

Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion’

by Nafeez Ahmed


Lex Solo's Political Rantings

A lot of people have asked me to write about my opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict but I’ve decided to start by writing about an issue that is the most serious issue happening in the Middle East. The world’s biggest deception: ISIS.

I remember when I first heard of ISIS. I was listening to the news when a Syrian man came on and was sharing his story.  He spoke of a time he called his sister who lived in Idlib, a town in Syria that was very harshly affected by the conflict. He said they were laughing when all of a sudden she looked outside of the window and started to scream. “They’re here, they’re here…AHHH! AND THEY ARE CHOPPING PEOPLE’S HEADS OFF! We are going to die, we are going to die…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Who are these people that are not too far away…

View original post 1,121 more words

Alphabet soup

Published on Aug 20, 2014
Este es un pequeño homenaje a Jim Foley. Esta grabación se corresponde al año 2012, septiembre. Jim fue de los primeros periodistas del mundo en entrar en Siria… Y su compromiso le llevó a seguir trabajando a pesar de las dificultades para hacerlo. Esto es Alepo, en el peor momento de la ofensiva. Allí estaba Jim…


On March 4, 2014, the Administration submitted its Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, including a base funding request of $45.6 billion for the National Intelligence Program (NIP), and a base funding request of $13.3 billion for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). On June 30, the DNI submitted an updated FY2015 budget request of $49.4 billion for the NIP including funding for overseas contingency operations. An updated budget request figure for the MIP has not yet been disclosed.  One of the justifications for the budget of intelligence agencies is Islamic extremism. Yet the same intelligence agencies have been behind the rise of Islamic extremism for decades now.

The United States is th eonly country in the world where the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, are not view as a consequences of U.S. policy. Yet the record shows that the al-Qaeda network might have not existed at all, had the United States not sponsored Islamic extremism in Afghanistan. This is commonly understood outside the United States. The memory lapse is  understandable. Once the U.S.-sponsored Islamic extremists had forced the Soviet Army out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s, the United States just forgot about the monster it created.

The violence of Islamism has roused anxious concern throughout the Muslim world.  In the United States, the media and policy makers wage a campaign to demonize Muslims and Islam as a threat to Western interests. This political motivated propaganda is tuned to the resistance to Israel occupation of Muslim lands. The anti-Islam bias sets a double standard: The U.S. Media condones Israel’s U.S.-financed violence – conducted on an enormous scale – while denouncing Arab resistence to it. The propaganda in the West suggests that violence and holoy war are inherent in Islam. The reality is that as a worldwide movement Jihad is a recent phenomenon. It is a modern, multinational conglomerate founded not so much by fanatic mullahs in Teheran as it is sponsored by governments including the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Historically, nearly all Muslim strugles of the 20th century were secular. 

For the average citizen of the West, the idea of the United States as The Sponsor of international terrorism would appear utterly incomprehensible. After all, one reads daily that the United States is leading the charge against something it calls terrorism, and it regularly assails its allies for dragging in response to terrorism.  The Western  misperception comes from an abuse of language. The powerful define terrorism to exclude their own acts. Washington arbitrarily designates any group or country which it opposes as terrorist, and this will be transmitted to the public by the mass media without laughter. 

“The War on Terrorism” was a semantic manipulation of the word “terrorism,” which is loosely defined, however it gave the government the extra power it has in time of war for an indeterminable amount of time. The Patriot Act, the invasive, controversial legislation was given a name that suggests anyone against it was “unpatriotic.” The slogan “Support the Troops” was seen everywhere, suggesting that if one was against the indefinable, unjust war that they were also against the troops. This again suggests opposers were “unpatriotic.” The best example may be that torture was renamed “enhanced interrogation.

The pre-eminent authority on the English language, the much-venerated Oxford English Dictionary, says:

Terrorism: A system of terror. 1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in power in France during the revolution of 1789-94; the system of `Terror’. 2. gen. A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized.


In its semantic manipulation of terrorism and related words, a number of devices are used to differentiate friends and self from terrorists. Perhaps the most insidious is to confine the use of the word terrorism to nonstate actors and actions; i.e., to define terrorism as the use of violence to oppose governments.  This departs from the standard and traditional usage, according to which terrorism is a mode of governing as well as of opposing governments by means of intimidation. In this context, it is curios that The State Department aserts that ISIS is not a terrorist organzation.

ISIS used to be called al-Qaida. It has been claimed that the CIA had ties with Osama Bin Laden‘s al-Qaeda and its “Afghan Arab” fighters when it armed Mujahideen groups against the Soviet Union during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In a 2004 BBC article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s origins and links”, the BBC wrote:
During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.[1]
Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary in the UK from 1997–2001, believed the CIA had provided arms to the Arab Mujahideen, including Osama bin Laden, writing, “Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.” His source for this is unclear.[2]
In conversation with former British Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto said Osama bin Laden was initially pro-American.[3]Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, has also stated that bin Laden once expressed appreciation for the United States’ help in Afghanistan. On CNN’s Larry King program he said:[4]
Bandar bin Sultan: This is ironic. In the mid-’80s, if you remember, we and the United – Saudi Arabia and the United States were supporting the Mujahideen to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets. He [Osama bin Laden] came to thank me for my efforts to bring the Americans, our friends, to help us against the atheists, he said the communists. Isn’t it ironic?
Larry King: How ironic. In other words, he came to thank you for helping bring America to help him.
Bandar bin Sultan: Right.
Former FBI translator and Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, interviewed by Brad Friedman on the The Mike Malloy Show on June 2009 has stated: “I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban – those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11.
U.S. government officials and a number of other parties maintain that the U.S. supported only the indigenous Afghan mujahideen. They deny that the CIA or other American officials had contact with the Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) or Bin Laden, let alone armed, trained, coached or indoctrinated them. Scholars and reporters have called the idea of CIA-backed Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) “nonsense”,[6] “sheer fantasy”,[7] and “simply a folk myth.”
One allegation not denied by the US government is that the U.S. Army enlisted and trained a cashiered Egyptian soldier named Ali Mohamed, and that it knew Ali occasionally took trips to Afghanistan, where he claimed to fight Russians.
New allegations have turned up that the United States and NATO have either unknowingly or knowingly been supporting al-Qaeda affiliates during the Libyan civil war and the current Syrian civil war.[26] Al-Qaeda affiliates account for 12,000 fighters in Syria and one affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, is part of the Islamic coalition which accounts for 59-75% of the rebels in Syria and plans a political transition to Sharia law post-Assad.[27][28] Turkey, a NATO member, has listed the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.  
The United States of America has at various times in recent history provided support to Terrorist paramilitary organizations across the world. It has also provided assistance to numerous authoritarian regimes that have used terror as a tool of repression.[1][2]
United States support to non-state terrorists has been prominent in Latin America, the Middle-East, and Southern Africa.[1] From 1981 to 1991, the United States provided weapons, training, and extensive financial and logistical support to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who used terror tactics in their fight against the Nicaraguan government.[3] At various points the United States also provided training, arms, and funds to terrorists among the Cuban exiles, such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles.
Various reasons have been provided to justify such support. These including destabilizing political movements that might have aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, including popular democratic and socialist movements.[4] Such support has also formed a part of the war on drugs.[2] Support was also geared toward ensuring a conducive environment for American corporate interests abroad, especially when these interests came under threat from democratic regimes.
Several scholars have accused the United States of conducting state terrorism. They have written about the liberal democracies and their use of state terrorism, particularly in relation to the Cold War. According to them, state terrorism was used to protect the interest of capitalist elites, and the U.S. organized a neo-colonial system of client states, co-operating with local elites to rule through terror. However, little of this work has been recognized by other scholars of terrorism or even of state terrorism.[1]
Notable works include Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman‘s The political economy of human rights (1979), Herman’s The real terror network (1985), Alexander L. George Western state terrorism (1991), Frederick Gareau’s State terrorism and the United States (2004) and Doug Stokes America’s other war (2005). Of these, Chomsky and Herman are considered the foremost writers on the United States and state terrorism. Noam Chomsky  said:
The Obama administration is dedicated to increasing terrorism. In fact, it’s doing it all over the world.  Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history:  the drone assassination campaigns, which are just part of it […] All of these operations, they are terror operations.
***
People hate the country that’s just terrorizing them.  That’s not a surprise. Just consider the way we react to acts of terror. That’s the way other people react to [American] acts of terror.
Experts agrees that indiscriminate drone strikes are war crimes (more here andhere).
Chomsky has previously extensively documented U.S. terrorism.  As Wikipedia notes:
Chomsky and Herman observed that terror was concentrated in the U.S. sphere of influence in the Third World, and documented terror carried out by U.S. client states in Latin America. They observed that of ten Latin American countries that had death squads, all were U.S. client states.
***
They concluded that the global rise in state terror was a result of U.S. foreign policy.
***
In 1991, a book edited by Alexander L. George [the Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University] also argued that other Western powers sponsored terror in Third World countries. It concluded that the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.
The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom – noted:
Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.
The former NSA and CIA agent Edward Snowden revealed that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was trained in Israel, various Iranien sources reported. 



By Bill Gertz – Washington Free Beacon – – Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The CIA failed to provide adequate warning of the recent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant military incursion into Iraq despite having a significant presence of agency officers in the country, according to U.S. officials and security analysts.

Critics of the agency said the intelligence failure was made worse by a failure of the Obama administration to recognize the threat posed to the country by the ISIL, which last week renamed itself simply the Islamic State (IS) and declared its captured territory in Syria and Iraq is now a “caliphate.”

PHO

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/1/cia-blamed-iraq-intel-failure-isis-rise/#ixzz3AyRLW9bu


US and UK try to identify Isis militant with British accent

British and US security services were trying on Wednesday to identify the Islamic State (Isis) militant with a British accent who appeared in a video of the apparent beheading of a US journalist, James Foley.

The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said intelligence agencies were trying to unmask the fluent English-speaking militant in the propaganda footage. Scotland Yard warned the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating the video within the UK might constitute a criminal offence under terrorism legislation. A spokesman said: “The Metropolitan police service counter terrorism command (SO15) is investigating the contents of the video that was posted online in relation to the alleged murder of James Foley.”

Afzal Ashraf, of the Royal United Services Institute, said many of the estimated 500 British fighters in Syria and Iraq had criminal backgrounds in the UK so were likely to be known to police. Intelligence agencies would also be using linguistics technology to track down the man, he said.

Ashraf said the video was part of a “propaganda war” being waged by Isis. “There will be a minor effect on recruitment. It will affect a certain kind of psychopathic individual but it’s a very minority sport, fortunately.

“There will be far more people put off by these guys but there is a market for this sort of thing,” he said.

“The message that really motivates people is it’s a way of hitting back at what they perceive to be the US bullying and domination of the Muslim world. They feel impotent when they see the awesome US air and land power and they see this as a way of hitting back and that’s the principle motivation.”

Erin Saltman, a senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-terrorism thinktank, said the footage was geared towards disaffected Islamist extremists in the west who would be able to empathise with the British-accented militant.

“The video is quite a shock mainly because the two characters are an American and a Briton. That’s done very deliberately,” she said.

“As soon as you have a fighter with a Middle East accent it becomes very easy to disassociate with that and say they’re brutal, they’re barbaric. But when you have a British citizen, raised in the UK, this is somebody we can empathise with.”


18 August 2014

There is evidence in the public domain that the US and Saudi Arabia are behind the ISIS. ISIS used to be called Al-Qaida but that is not convenient anymore, it seems because it is clearly high treason to cooperate with Al-Qaida, Even in the US Media these facts were acknowledge when Obama was pondering invading Syria.

Tell your congressman that you are concerned about allegations that the US and/or its allies trained Islamic extremist in Jordan to fight the Syrian government. Ask how a bunch of young tugs can operate sophisticated high tech us supplied equipment without training, maintenance, and spear parts. Ask how Israel, with her paranoid arrogance and the best army and intelligence service in the World, allowed a military presence of the size of the ISIS to surge in her backyard. Ask who supplies the ammunition and money.

There are reasons, I guess, for people in power to play chess with the World, but at the end of the line what we have is psychopathic behavior and Power for the sake of Power. What we can do first of all is being informed and tell others at church, school, friends what is going on and tell government officials that you are aware and against blood for oil.

By Nick Tattersall

ISTANBUL | Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:34am EDT

(Reuters) – The rise of al Qaeda in parts of Syria’s north has left Turkey facing a new security threat on its already vulnerable border and raised questions about its wholesale support for rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has long championed more robust backing for Syria’s fractious armed opposition, arguing it would bring a quicker end to Assad’s rule and give moderate forces the authority they needed to keep more radical Islamist elements in check.

But with Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) taking territory in parts of the north near the border in recent weeks, it is a strategy that increasingly looks to have been a miscalculation.

Ankara has found itself facing accusations that indiscriminate support for the rebels has allowed weapons and foreign fighters to cross into northern Syria and facilitated the rise of radical groups.

“We are being accused of supporting al Qaeda,” a source close to the Turkish government said, adding that U.S. officials had raised concerns on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York last month.

“They were politely but aggressively critical. The attention has focused away from Assad to al Qaeda,” the source said, echoing frustration voiced by other officials in Ankara that this was playing into Assad’s hands.

As if on cue, the Turkish army said on Wednesday it had fired on ISIL fighters over the border after a stray mortar shell hit Turkish soil. It has retaliated in the past in such cases but this appeared to be the first time its response had targeted al Qaeda-linked fighters.

Turkey has maintained an open-door policy throughout the two-and-a-half-year conflict, providing a lifeline to rebel-held areas by allowing humanitarian aid in, giving refugees a route out and letting the rebel Free Syrian Army organize on its soil.

It officially denies arming the rebels or facilitating the passage of foreign fighters who have swollen the ranks of al Qaeda-linked factions including ISIL and Nusra.

“Logistically nothing goes through the official borders in Turkey or any other country anyway,” said Louay Meqdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army.

But the 900 km (560-mile) border is difficult to police and refugees, smugglers and rebel fighters have been able to cross undetected in remote areas, bypassing the main crossing points.

“Officially we didn’t allow it. But it’s a long border and some groups, we tried to accommodate them in the Syrian opposition, which we wanted to be as large as possible,” said one Turkish official in the region, when asked whether foreign fighters had been able to cross.

Foreign mercenaries, mainly backed by Gulf states, were initially welcomed by Syria’s rebel forces because they had greater battle experience and were more effective against pro-Assad militias, he said.

“This was a tactical mistake and now we see a totally different balance of power.”


The Wall Street Journal recently revealed new details about how Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud — Saudi’s former ambassador to the United States — is leading the effort to prop up the Syrian rebels. Intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Jordan and other allied states are working at a secret joint operations center in Jordan to train and arm hand-picked Syrian rebels. The Journal also reports Prince Bandar has been jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime. “Really what he’s doing is he’s reprising a role that he played in the 1980s when he worked with the Reagan administration to arrange money and arms for mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan and also worked with the CIA in Nicaragua to support the Contras,” says Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous. “So in many ways this is a very familiar position for Prince Bandar, and it’s amazing to see the extent to which veterans of the CIA were excited to see him come back because, in the words of a diplomat who knows Bandar, he brings the Arabic term wasta, which means under-the-table clout. You know his checks are not going to bounce and that he’ll be able to deliver the money from the Saudis.”
Watch Part Two of Interview, ‘U.S.-Russian Tensions Heighten over Syria; Roots of Conflict Stem from NATO Bombing of Libya


Israeli – U.S. Terror

excerpted from the book

Covert Action: the Roots of Terrorism

edited by Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap

Ocean Press, 2003, paper

Israeli – U.S. Terror

Introduction by Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap

p121

For more than 35 years, the violent and bitter history of the Palestinian-lsraeli conflicts have centered around a history of collaboration between U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence services and their coincidence of interests. Israeli covert operations have backed up U.S. clandestine schemes, especially in the Middle East, but also in Central America, southern Africa and elsewhere in a global conquest in which U.S. domination has reached its apex under George W. Bush.

Ever since the discovery of vast, almost unimaginable oil reserves in the region, the overriding strategic objective of the United States in the Middle East has been access to and eventual control over that resource. And since its 1967 victory in the six-day war, when Israel established itself as the regional military superpower capable of aiding in this primary U.S. objective, massive U.S. foreign aid and subsidized weapons of war have ensured an Israeli-U.S. alliance with mutually expansionist agendas. Both want unfettered access to Arab oil and more.

The second U.S. imperative is its strategic partnership with Israel, a function of the power of the pro-lsrael lobby in the United States, exemplified by the ability of the American-lsrael Political Action Committee to influence congressional and even presidential elections. And the White House, State Department and Pentagon are riddled with insiders with dual loyalties, the belief that U.S. and Israeli interests are and should be, identical.

The quid pro quo for Israel, an extension of this objective, is the relative free play given to its own designs in the Middle East as a military force and an ever-expanding Zionist state.

The United States has given Israel virtually every sophisticated weapon system it has to offer, more than $18 billion in the last decade, with more than $2 billion in military aid slated for the next fiscal year (2003-4). As a further reward for cooperation in covert activities around the globe, the U.S. remained silent, if not actually assisted, Israel’s development and testing of its own nuclear weapons.

Although no significant policies of the Israeli Government could be implemented without the tacit concurrence of its U.S. benefactor, when it suits Washington’s rapacious oil policies, arrangements of convenience with Israel’s enemies were not precluded in the past. The United States (and Britain) supplied chemical and other weapons to Iraq during the Iraq-lran war, while covertly working with Israel to supply Iran.

And Israel has also conducted its own military intelligence operations against U.S. targets, such as the seemingly inexplicable Israeli bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty during the 1967 war, a deliberate act apparently to prevent the U.S. communications ship from monitoring, perhaps disrupting its invasion and occupation of the Golan Heights. And, of course, each nation spies on the other; while Jonathan Pollard was caught and jailed, both countries have active operatives, collaborators and media assets in each other’s territory.

But no matter which regime may be in power in either country, both Israeli and U.S. campaigns plot the elimination of any viable, sovereign, Palestinian state. Together, their machinations of incremental negotiations followed by betrayal, assassination and invasion have imposed upon the Palestinians what Noam Chomsky called “a system of permanent neocolonial dependency.”

Brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians, collective punishment, obliteration of entire villages, mass forced expulsions, illegal settlement of occupied land including East Jerusalem, torture, terrorism, starvation and murder have been used by successive Israeli governments with U.S. approval.

Universal military conscription of Israeli youth thrusts young draftees into endless confrontations with Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories, ensuring an existential racial hatred in deliberately provocative “strategies of tension” and expansion, all in the name of a “fragile” Israeli state security. This while Israel has one of the most powerful and best-equipped armed forces in the world, the only nuclear power in the region.

Despite Israel’s control through the ClA-approved, Oslo-directed Palestinian Authority, the PA was locked in an endless cycle of repression and corruption through enforced collaboration with security committees run by the CIA and Israeli intelligence against the Palestinian people. Sharon’s campaign against its institutional infrastructure also included intentional killings of large numbers of Palestinian civilians through saturation bombings of refugee camps and villages and the homes of suspected terrorists (with no regard for the lives of innocent neighbors), aided by computerized targeting and the rounding up of thousands of Palestinian men and women and their families for planned expulsion.

The Palestinians themselves, dispersed and dispossessed and used as pawns by other Arab nations, have never been able to develop a united vision. There are Palestinian nationalists and socialists and there are Palestinian fundamentalists. The fostering of disunity and corruption within these factions-whether in the Occupied Territories or in exile-has been a major element in the U.S.-lsraeli targeting of the Palestinian national struggle by covert manipulation of Palestinian exiles and groups. In what was hardly a coincidence, during the early 1980s, while the United States actively encouraged an Islamic “Holy War” in Afghanistan, the Israelis infiltrated and supported a burgeoning Islamic fundamentalist movement, later allowing Islamic charities, religious schools and training sites to flourish, as their well-financed graduates countered the growing influence of Palestinian nationalists.

The occupation army’s control of land, travel, water, food and medicine intensified, even as Palestinians attempted to negotiate an ever-changing “peace process” with Israel. Orchestrated with the United States as a delaying tactic, this effectively prevented an independent Palestinian state. The Oslo accords achieved only greater Israeli control over the territories and the geometric expansion of armed, militant Zionist settlements entrenched in the West Bank and Gaza.

The plan for the gradual creation of an autonomous Palestine was transformed from a blueprint for a contiguous territory into a jigsaw puzzle divided by Jewish settlements, fortified access roads and innumerable security zones. The proposed map of Palestinian areas resembles the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa. Israeli tanks and troops poured into these tiny “cantons,” bombing and killing civilians at will. And Bush’s minimal support for such a state, conditioned upon “regime change” in the Palestinian Authority, may disappear altogether, as events suggest a Likud push towards a final ethnic cleansing.

Israeli State Terror

by Naseer Aruri
CAQ 1988

p126
Israeli State Terror

In his personal diary, which was published against the wishes of the Israeli establishment, former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett reveals that Israeli military operations against Arab civilian populations were designed to terrorize them and create fear, tension and instability. Sharett’s documentation shows that Israel’s territorial expansion (such as in the Suez in 1956) was facilitated by Israeli acts of provocation, which generated Arab hostility and created pretexts for intervention. For example, the attack by Israeli Army Unit 101 led by Ariel Sharon on the Palestinian village of Kibya in October 1953, causing numerous civilian casualties and destruction of homes, was condemned by Sharett. He writes, “[In the cabinet meeting] I condemned the Kibya affair that exposed us in front of the whole world as a gang of blood-suckers, capable of mass massacres regardless it seems, of whether their actions may lead to war.

More recent accounts by Israeli writers show how earlier acts of terrorism provided a historical background to adoption of a policy of state terrorism by Israel. Benny Morris’s explanation of the Palestinian exodus in 1948, based on state, military and Zionist archives, refutes the official Israeli version that the Palestinians bear responsibility for their own expulsion. An earlier work by Irish journalist Erskine Childers demonstrated that, contrary to the official Israeli version, there were no Arab radio broadcasts ordering the Palestinians to leave. And Israeli journalist Tom Segev reveals in his book how instrumental was Zionist terrorism in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. Sixteen months after 250 Arab civilians were massacred in the village of Deir Yassin (April 9, 1948) by the combined forces of ETZEL (known as Menachem Begin’s Irgun) and LEHI (known as Yitzhak Shamir’s Stern Gang) there was a debate in the Israeli set in which, according to Segev, a member of Begin’s Herut Party had boasted: “Thanks to Deir Yassin, we won the war.”

Another account by Lenny Brenner reveals that Israeli Prime Minister Shamir was a convert to the pro-Mussolini Betar (Zionist Brownshirts) in the late 1930s and that his Stern Gang had attempted to strike a deal with the Nazi regime in Germany in 1941 in which the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine on a “totalitarian basis” would be bound by a treaty with the German Reich.

Shamir’s commitment to right-wing causes and to terrorism was unmistakably revealed in an article he wrote in the LEHI journal Hehazit (The Front) in the summer of 1943. This excerpt stands in contrast to Shamir’s constant moralizing and condemnation of what he calls “PLO terrorism:”

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat… [T]errorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier.

Shamir’s cabinet colleague Yitzhak Rabin who, as defense minister in charge of the occupied territories, proclaimed the policy of “might, force and blows” in January 1988 (which has so far resulted in an estimated 281 deaths, more than 50,000 injuries and 30,000 detentions) has also had a consistent record of terrorism for more than 40 years. As the deputy commander of Operation Dani, he, along with the late former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the late former Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon, were responsible for the expulsion of between 50,000 and 70,000 people from the towns of Lydda and Ramleh in July 1948. The town of Ramleh had surrendered without a fight after the withdrawal of the Jordan Army but the inhabitants were rounded up, expelled and told never to come back. Benny Morris characterized that as the “biggest expulsion operation of the 1948 war.” Rabin expressed empathy with “the great suffering inflicted upon” his men who caused the expulsion.

One of those expelled was a 13-year-old boy by the name of Khalil alWazir, later known as Abu Jihad. Yitzhak Rabin, who was responsible for that act as a member of the Zionist militia, was one of the inner cabinet decision-makers who decided, 40 years later, to assassinate al-Wazir far away from his home in Ramleh. The man who headed the inner cabinet, Yitzhak Shamir, told an inquirer who wanted to know who killed Abu Jihad, “I heard about it on the radio.”

It was typical of the official response to the killing; claims of ignorance, broad hints that Abu Jihad’s responsibility for the Palestinian uprising could only trigger that kind of response and the usual reference to a factional conflict within the Palestinian movement as being responsible for the assassination. In fact, the murder of Abu Jihad is the latest incident in a continuous pattern of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals among whom are Karmal al-Adwan, Ghassan Kanafani, Kamal Nasser, Majid Abu Sharar, Abu Yurif and many others.

In a New York Times article summarizing the official Israeli interpretation of its own policies, Thomas Friedman maintains that Israel endeavors to “turn terror back on the terrorists.” This strategy has gone through several different stages. For the period of 1948-56 the strategy was described as “counterterrorism through retaliation or negative feedback” and was employed against Egypt and Jordan to prevent border crossings by Palestinian refugees attempting, in the main, to check on the conditions of their former homes.” By 1972, Israel was striking against “the nerve centers and the perpetrators themselves” using letter bombs, exploding cars and telephones and quiet assassinations of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals on the back streets of Europe. Later acts of terrorism including the destruction of entire villages in Lebanon, raids on Beirut, Baghdad and Tunis have become typical of Israeli policy towards Arab nonacceptance of its regional hegemony. Such acts have rarely evoked U.S. condemnation. In fact the Reagan Administration characterized Israel’s raid on the PLO headquarters in Tunis as an act of self-defense.

United States and Israel-A “Special” Relationship

Strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States was consummated between 1982 and 1988 and has dramatically elevated Israel’s role in U.S. global strategic calculation. By 1983, the Reagan Administration had accepted the Israeli view that the Palestine question was not the principal cause of instability in the Middle East. Henceforth, it would not be allowed to interfere in the “special relationship” between a superpower and its strategic ally.

In the special relationship between the United States and Israel, the latter is considered a “unique strategic asset. In the crucial Middle East, Israel is viewed as the cornerstone of U.S. policy, which is perceived as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and radical revolutionary transformation. Outside the Middle East, Israel has emerged as the most important supplier of the technology of repression, antiguerrilla training and infrastructure to combat revolution, all euphemistically phrased “counterterrorism.” Israel ranks as the fifth largest exporter of arms in the world, according to CIA estimates and it has become an essential component of the global counterinsurgency business. “Hit lists” used by the death squads in Guatemala have been computerized with Israeli assistance and the Uzi machine gun is the standard weapon of the death squads. The special relationship between the United States and Israel is a two-way street. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. economic and military aid and in return Israel has much to offer the United States. The Reagan Administration has publicly declared that Israel’s substantial experience and “success” in coping with terrorism should provide guidance for the United States. When George Shultz spoke at a New York synagogue in 1984 he said:

No nation has more experience with terrorism than Israel and no nation has made a greater contribution to our understanding of the problem and the best way to confront it. By supporting organizations like the Jonathan Institute, named after the brave Israeli soldier who led and died at Entebbe, the Israeli people have raised international awareness of the global scope of the terrorist threat… [T]he rest of us would do well to follow Israel’s example.

The fact that the United States and Israel are so closely allied and use the same criteria for defining who are “terrorists” and who are not, necessarily makes the United States a dubious participant in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel Shahak on the “Transfer Proposal”

by Ellen Ray
CAQ 1988

p135
Death Squads

… in Israel the use of death squads to murder Palestinians has been discussed in some of the Hebrew press. It was not employed in the occupied territories until about September or October 1987, when we had one very well-documented case in the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli Hebrew press, three Palestinians were discovered dead, in a car. One of them was a Palestinian guerrilla who had escaped from prison. The two others were collaborators [Palestinians who work with or support the Israelis]-well-known, rich collaborators. One of them had established a branch of the Tel Aviv stock exchange in Gaza. The other was of a similar background. So you can understand that such people are neither guerrillas nor helpers of guerrillas.

Published on Aug 20, 2014
Este es un pequeño homenaje a Jim Foley. Esta grabación se corresponde al año 2012, septiembre. Jim fue de los primeros periodistas del mundo en entrar en Siria… Y su compromiso le llevó a seguir trabajando a pesar de las dificultades para hacerlo. Esto es Alepo, en el peor momento de la ofensiva. Allí estaba Jim…


On March 4, 2014, the Administration submitted its Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, including a base funding request of $45.6 billion for the National Intelligence Program (NIP), and a base funding request of $13.3 billion for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). On June 30, the DNI submitted an updated FY2015 budget request of $49.4 billion for the NIP including funding for overseas contingency operations. An updated budget request figure for the MIP has not yet been disclosed.  One of the justifications for the budget of intelligence agencies is Islamic extremism. Yet the same intelligence agencies have been behind the rise of Islamic extremism for decades now.

The United States is th eonly country in the world where the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, are not view as a consequences of U.S. policy. Yet the record shows that the al-Qaeda network might have not existed at all, had the United States not sponsored Islamic extremism in Afghanistan. This is commonly understood outside the United States. The memory lapse is  understandable. Once the U.S.-sponsored Islamic extremists had forced the Soviet Army out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s, the United States just forgot about the monster it created.

The violence of Islamism has roused anxious concern throughout the Muslim world.  In the United States, the media and policy makers wage a campaign to demonize Muslims and Islam as a threat to Western interests. This political motivated propaganda is tuned to the resistance to Israel occupation of Muslim lands. The anti-Islam bias sets a double standard: The U.S. Media condones Israel’s U.S.-financed violence – conducted on an enormous scale – while denouncing Arab resistence to it. The propaganda in the West suggests that violence and holoy war are inherent in Islam. The reality is that as a worldwide movement Jihad is a recent phenomenon. It is a modern, multinational conglomerate founded not so much by fanatic mullahs in Teheran as it is sponsored by governments including the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Historically, nearly all Muslim strugles of the 20th century were secular. 

For the average citizen of the West, the idea of the United States as The Sponsor of international terrorism would appear utterly incomprehensible. After all, one reads daily that the United States is leading the charge against something it calls terrorism, and it regularly assails its allies for dragging in response to terrorism.  The Western  misperception comes from an abuse of language. The powerful define terrorism to exclude their own acts. Washington arbitrarily designates any group or country which it opposes as terrorist, and this will be transmitted to the public by the mass media without laughter. 

“The War on Terrorism” was a semantic manipulation of the word “terrorism,” which is loosely defined, however it gave the government the extra power it has in time of war for an indeterminable amount of time. The Patriot Act, the invasive, controversial legislation was given a name that suggests anyone against it was “unpatriotic.” The slogan “Support the Troops” was seen everywhere, suggesting that if one was against the indefinable, unjust war that they were also against the troops. This again suggests opposers were “unpatriotic.” The best example may be that torture was renamed “enhanced interrogation.

The pre-eminent authority on the English language, the much-venerated Oxford English Dictionary, says:

Terrorism: A system of terror. 1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in power in France during the revolution of 1789-94; the system of `Terror’. 2. gen. A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized.


In its semantic manipulation of terrorism and related words, a number of devices are used to differentiate friends and self from terrorists. Perhaps the most insidious is to confine the use of the word terrorism to nonstate actors and actions; i.e., to define terrorism as the use of violence to oppose governments.  This departs from the standard and traditional usage, according to which terrorism is a mode of governing as well as of opposing governments by means of intimidation. In this context, it is curios that The State Department aserts that ISIS is not a terrorist organzation.

ISIS used to be called al-Qaida. It has been claimed that the CIA had ties with Osama Bin Laden‘s al-Qaeda and its “Afghan Arab” fighters when it armed Mujahideen groups against the Soviet Union during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In a 2004 BBC article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s origins and links”, the BBC wrote:
During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.[1]
Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary in the UK from 1997–2001, believed the CIA had provided arms to the Arab Mujahideen, including Osama bin Laden, writing, “Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.” His source for this is unclear.[2]
In conversation with former British Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto said Osama bin Laden was initially pro-American.[3]Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, has also stated that bin Laden once expressed appreciation for the United States’ help in Afghanistan. On CNN’s Larry King program he said:[4]
Bandar bin Sultan: This is ironic. In the mid-’80s, if you remember, we and the United – Saudi Arabia and the United States were supporting the Mujahideen to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets. He [Osama bin Laden] came to thank me for my efforts to bring the Americans, our friends, to help us against the atheists, he said the communists. Isn’t it ironic?
Larry King: How ironic. In other words, he came to thank you for helping bring America to help him.
Bandar bin Sultan: Right.
Former FBI translator and Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, interviewed by Brad Friedman on the The Mike Malloy Show on June 2009 has stated: “I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban – those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11.
U.S. government officials and a number of other parties maintain that the U.S. supported only the indigenous Afghan mujahideen. They deny that the CIA or other American officials had contact with the Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) or Bin Laden, let alone armed, trained, coached or indoctrinated them. Scholars and reporters have called the idea of CIA-backed Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) “nonsense”,[6] “sheer fantasy”,[7] and “simply a folk myth.”
One allegation not denied by the US government is that the U.S. Army enlisted and trained a cashiered Egyptian soldier named Ali Mohamed, and that it knew Ali occasionally took trips to Afghanistan, where he claimed to fight Russians.
New allegations have turned up that the United States and NATO have either unknowingly or knowingly been supporting al-Qaeda affiliates during the Libyan civil war and the current Syrian civil war.[26] Al-Qaeda affiliates account for 12,000 fighters in Syria and one affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, is part of the Islamic coalition which accounts for 59-75% of the rebels in Syria and plans a political transition to Sharia law post-Assad.[27][28] Turkey, a NATO member, has listed the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.  
The United States of America has at various times in recent history provided support to Terrorist paramilitary organizations across the world. It has also provided assistance to numerous authoritarian regimes that have used terror as a tool of repression.[1][2]
United States support to non-state terrorists has been prominent in Latin America, the Middle-East, and Southern Africa.[1] From 1981 to 1991, the United States provided weapons, training, and extensive financial and logistical support to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who used terror tactics in their fight against the Nicaraguan government.[3] At various points the United States also provided training, arms, and funds to terrorists among the Cuban exiles, such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles.
Various reasons have been provided to justify such support. These including destabilizing political movements that might have aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, including popular democratic and socialist movements.[4] Such support has also formed a part of the war on drugs.[2] Support was also geared toward ensuring a conducive environment for American corporate interests abroad, especially when these interests came under threat from democratic regimes.
Several scholars have accused the United States of conducting state terrorism. They have written about the liberal democracies and their use of state terrorism, particularly in relation to the Cold War. According to them, state terrorism was used to protect the interest of capitalist elites, and the U.S. organized a neo-colonial system of client states, co-operating with local elites to rule through terror. However, little of this work has been recognized by other scholars of terrorism or even of state terrorism.[1]
Notable works include Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman‘s The political economy of human rights (1979), Herman’s The real terror network (1985), Alexander L. George Western state terrorism (1991), Frederick Gareau’s State terrorism and the United States (2004) and Doug Stokes America’s other war (2005). Of these, Chomsky and Herman are considered the foremost writers on the United States and state terrorism. Noam Chomsky  said:
The Obama administration is dedicated to increasing terrorism. In fact, it’s doing it all over the world.  Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history:  the drone assassination campaigns, which are just part of it […] All of these operations, they are terror operations.
***
People hate the country that’s just terrorizing them.  That’s not a surprise. Just consider the way we react to acts of terror. That’s the way other people react to [American] acts of terror.
Experts agrees that indiscriminate drone strikes are war crimes (more here andhere).
Chomsky has previously extensively documented U.S. terrorism.  As Wikipedia notes:
Chomsky and Herman observed that terror was concentrated in the U.S. sphere of influence in the Third World, and documented terror carried out by U.S. client states in Latin America. They observed that of ten Latin American countries that had death squads, all were U.S. client states.
***
They concluded that the global rise in state terror was a result of U.S. foreign policy.
***
In 1991, a book edited by Alexander L. George [the Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University] also argued that other Western powers sponsored terror in Third World countries. It concluded that the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.
The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom – noted:
Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.
The former NSA and CIA agent Edward Snowden revealed that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was trained in Israel, various Iranien sources reported. 



By Bill Gertz – Washington Free Beacon – – Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The CIA failed to provide adequate warning of the recent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant military incursion into Iraq despite having a significant presence of agency officers in the country, according to U.S. officials and security analysts.

Critics of the agency said the intelligence failure was made worse by a failure of the Obama administration to recognize the threat posed to the country by the ISIL, which last week renamed itself simply the Islamic State (IS) and declared its captured territory in Syria and Iraq is now a “caliphate.”

PHO

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/1/cia-blamed-iraq-intel-failure-isis-rise/#ixzz3AyRLW9bu


US and UK try to identify Isis militant with British accent

British and US security services were trying on Wednesday to identify the Islamic State (Isis) militant with a British accent who appeared in a video of the apparent beheading of a US journalist, James Foley.

The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said intelligence agencies were trying to unmask the fluent English-speaking militant in the propaganda footage. Scotland Yard warned the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating the video within the UK might constitute a criminal offence under terrorism legislation. A spokesman said: “The Metropolitan police service counter terrorism command (SO15) is investigating the contents of the video that was posted online in relation to the alleged murder of James Foley.”

Afzal Ashraf, of the Royal United Services Institute, said many of the estimated 500 British fighters in Syria and Iraq had criminal backgrounds in the UK so were likely to be known to police. Intelligence agencies would also be using linguistics technology to track down the man, he said.

Ashraf said the video was part of a “propaganda war” being waged by Isis. “There will be a minor effect on recruitment. It will affect a certain kind of psychopathic individual but it’s a very minority sport, fortunately.

“There will be far more people put off by these guys but there is a market for this sort of thing,” he said.

“The message that really motivates people is it’s a way of hitting back at what they perceive to be the US bullying and domination of the Muslim world. They feel impotent when they see the awesome US air and land power and they see this as a way of hitting back and that’s the principle motivation.”

Erin Saltman, a senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-terrorism thinktank, said the footage was geared towards disaffected Islamist extremists in the west who would be able to empathise with the British-accented militant.

“The video is quite a shock mainly because the two characters are an American and a Briton. That’s done very deliberately,” she said.

“As soon as you have a fighter with a Middle East accent it becomes very easy to disassociate with that and say they’re brutal, they’re barbaric. But when you have a British citizen, raised in the UK, this is somebody we can empathise with.”


18 August 2014

There is evidence in the public domain that the US and Saudi Arabia are behind the ISIS. ISIS used to be called Al-Qaida but that is not convenient anymore, it seems because it is clearly high treason to cooperate with Al-Qaida, Even in the US Media these facts were acknowledge when Obama was pondering invading Syria.

Tell your congressman that you are concerned about allegations that the US and/or its allies trained Islamic extremist in Jordan to fight the Syrian government. Ask how a bunch of young tugs can operate sophisticated high tech us supplied equipment without training, maintenance, and spear parts. Ask how Israel, with her paranoid arrogance and the best army and intelligence service in the World, allowed a military presence of the size of the ISIS to surge in her backyard. Ask who supplies the ammunition and money.

There are reasons, I guess, for people in power to play chess with the World, but at the end of the line what we have is psychopathic behavior and Power for the sake of Power. What we can do first of all is being informed and tell others at church, school, friends what is going on and tell government officials that you are aware and against blood for oil.

ISTANBUL | Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:34am EDT


(Reuters) – The rise of al Qaeda in parts of Syria’s north has left Turkey facing a new security threat on its already vulnerable border and raised questions about its wholesale support for rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has long championed more robust backing for Syria’s fractious armed opposition, arguing it would bring a quicker end to Assad’s rule and give moderate forces the authority they needed to keep more radical Islamist elements in check.

But with Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) taking territory in parts of the north near the border in recent weeks, it is a strategy that increasingly looks to have been a miscalculation.



Ankara has found itself facing accusations that indiscriminate support for the rebels has allowed weapons and foreign fighters to cross into northern Syria and facilitated the rise of radical groups.

“We are being accused of supporting al Qaeda,” a source close to the Turkish government said, adding that U.S. officials had raised concerns on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York last month.

“They were politely but aggressively critical. The attention has focused away from Assad to al Qaeda,” the source said, echoing frustration voiced by other officials in Ankara that this was playing into Assad’s hands.

As if on cue, the Turkish army said on Wednesday it had fired on ISIL fighters over the border after a stray mortar shell hit Turkish soil. It has retaliated in the past in such cases but this appeared to be the first time its response had targeted al Qaeda-linked fighters.

Turkey has maintained an open-door policy throughout the two-and-a-half-year conflict, providing a lifeline to rebel-held areas by allowing humanitarian aid in, giving refugees a route out and letting the rebel Free Syrian Army organize on its soil.

It officially denies arming the rebels or facilitating the passage of foreign fighters who have swollen the ranks of al Qaeda-linked factions including ISIL and Nusra.

“Logistically nothing goes through the official borders in Turkey or any other country anyway,” said Louay Meqdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army.

But the 900 km (560-mile) border is difficult to police and refugees, smugglers and rebel fighters have been able to cross undetected in remote areas, bypassing the main crossing points.

“Officially we didn’t allow it. But it’s a long border and some groups, we tried to accommodate them in the Syrian opposition, which we wanted to be as large as possible,” said one Turkish official in the region, when asked whether foreign fighters had been able to cross.

Foreign mercenaries, mainly backed by Gulf states, were initially welcomed by Syria’s rebel forces because they had greater battle experience and were more effective against pro-Assad militias, he said.

“This was a tactical mistake and now we see a totally different balance of power.”


The Wall Street Journal recently revealed new details about how Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud — Saudi’s former ambassador to the United States — is leading the effort to prop up the Syrian rebels. Intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Jordan and other allied states are working at a secret joint operations center in Jordan to train and arm hand-picked Syrian rebels. The Journal also reports Prince Bandar has been jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime. “Really what he’s doing is he’s reprising a role that he played in the 1980s when he worked with the Reagan administration to arrange money and arms for mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan and also worked with the CIA in Nicaragua to support the Contras,” says Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous. “So in many ways this is a very familiar position for Prince Bandar, and it’s amazing to see the extent to which veterans of the CIA were excited to see him come back because, in the words of a diplomat who knows Bandar, he brings the Arabic term wasta, which means under-the-table clout. You know his checks are not going to bounce and that he’ll be able to deliver the money from the Saudis.”
Watch Part Two of Interview, ‘U.S.-Russian Tensions Heighten over Syria; Roots of Conflict Stem from NATO Bombing of Libya


Israeli – U.S. Terror

excerpted from the book

Covert Action: the Roots of Terrorism

edited by Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap

Ocean Press, 2003, paper

Israeli – U.S. Terror

Introduction by Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap

p121

For more than 35 years, the violent and bitter history of the Palestinian-lsraeli conflicts have centered around a history of collaboration between U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence services and their coincidence of interests. Israeli covert operations have backed up U.S. clandestine schemes, especially in the Middle East, but also in Central America, southern Africa and elsewhere in a global conquest in which U.S. domination has reached its apex under George W. Bush.

Ever since the discovery of vast, almost unimaginable oil reserves in the region, the overriding strategic objective of the United States in the Middle East has been access to and eventual control over that resource. And since its 1967 victory in the six-day war, when Israel established itself as the regional military superpower capable of aiding in this primary U.S. objective, massive U.S. foreign aid and subsidized weapons of war have ensured an Israeli-U.S. alliance with mutually expansionist agendas. Both want unfettered access to Arab oil and more.

The second U.S. imperative is its strategic partnership with Israel, a function of the power of the pro-lsrael lobby in the United States, exemplified by the ability of the American-lsrael Political Action Committee to influence congressional and even presidential elections. And the White House, State Department and Pentagon are riddled with insiders with dual loyalties, the belief that U.S. and Israeli interests are and should be, identical.

The quid pro quo for Israel, an extension of this objective, is the relative free play given to its own designs in the Middle East as a military force and an ever-expanding Zionist state.

The United States has given Israel virtually every sophisticated weapon system it has to offer, more than $18 billion in the last decade, with more than $2 billion in military aid slated for the next fiscal year (2003-4). As a further reward for cooperation in covert activities around the globe, the U.S. remained silent, if not actually assisted, Israel’s development and testing of its own nuclear weapons.

Although no significant policies of the Israeli Government could be implemented without the tacit concurrence of its U.S. benefactor, when it suits Washington’s rapacious oil policies, arrangements of convenience with Israel’s enemies were not precluded in the past. The United States (and Britain) supplied chemical and other weapons to Iraq during the Iraq-lran war, while covertly working with Israel to supply Iran.

And Israel has also conducted its own military intelligence operations against U.S. targets, such as the seemingly inexplicable Israeli bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty during the 1967 war, a deliberate act apparently to prevent the U.S. communications ship from monitoring, perhaps disrupting its invasion and occupation of the Golan Heights. And, of course, each nation spies on the other; while Jonathan Pollard was caught and jailed, both countries have active operatives, collaborators and media assets in each other’s territory.

But no matter which regime may be in power in either country, both Israeli and U.S. campaigns plot the elimination of any viable, sovereign, Palestinian state. Together, their machinations of incremental negotiations followed by betrayal, assassination and invasion have imposed upon the Palestinians what Noam Chomsky called “a system of permanent neocolonial dependency.”

Brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians, collective punishment, obliteration of entire villages, mass forced expulsions, illegal settlement of occupied land including East Jerusalem, torture, terrorism, starvation and murder have been used by successive Israeli governments with U.S. approval.

Universal military conscription of Israeli youth thrusts young draftees into endless confrontations with Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories, ensuring an existential racial hatred in deliberately provocative “strategies of tension” and expansion, all in the name of a “fragile” Israeli state security. This while Israel has one of the most powerful and best-equipped armed forces in the world, the only nuclear power in the region.

Despite Israel’s control through the ClA-approved, Oslo-directed Palestinian Authority, the PA was locked in an endless cycle of repression and corruption through enforced collaboration with security committees run by the CIA and Israeli intelligence against the Palestinian people. Sharon’s campaign against its institutional infrastructure also included intentional killings of large numbers of Palestinian civilians through saturation bombings of refugee camps and villages and the homes of suspected terrorists (with no regard for the lives of innocent neighbors), aided by computerized targeting and the rounding up of thousands of Palestinian men and women and their families for planned expulsion.

The Palestinians themselves, dispersed and dispossessed and used as pawns by other Arab nations, have never been able to develop a united vision. There are Palestinian nationalists and socialists and there are Palestinian fundamentalists. The fostering of disunity and corruption within these factions-whether in the Occupied Territories or in exile-has been a major element in the U.S.-lsraeli targeting of the Palestinian national struggle by covert manipulation of Palestinian exiles and groups. In what was hardly a coincidence, during the early 1980s, while the United States actively encouraged an Islamic “Holy War” in Afghanistan, the Israelis infiltrated and supported a burgeoning Islamic fundamentalist movement, later allowing Islamic charities, religious schools and training sites to flourish, as their well-financed graduates countered the growing influence of Palestinian nationalists.

The occupation army’s control of land, travel, water, food and medicine intensified, even as Palestinians attempted to negotiate an ever-changing “peace process” with Israel. Orchestrated with the United States as a delaying tactic, this effectively prevented an independent Palestinian state. The Oslo accords achieved only greater Israeli control over the territories and the geometric expansion of armed, militant Zionist settlements entrenched in the West Bank and Gaza.

The plan for the gradual creation of an autonomous Palestine was transformed from a blueprint for a contiguous territory into a jigsaw puzzle divided by Jewish settlements, fortified access roads and innumerable security zones. The proposed map of Palestinian areas resembles the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa. Israeli tanks and troops poured into these tiny “cantons,” bombing and killing civilians at will. And Bush’s minimal support for such a state, conditioned upon “regime change” in the Palestinian Authority, may disappear altogether, as events suggest a Likud push towards a final ethnic cleansing.

Israeli State Terror

by Naseer Aruri
CAQ 1988

p126
Israeli State Terror

In his personal diary, which was published against the wishes of the Israeli establishment, former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett reveals that Israeli military operations against Arab civilian populations were designed to terrorize them and create fear, tension and instability. Sharett’s documentation shows that Israel’s territorial expansion (such as in the Suez in 1956) was facilitated by Israeli acts of provocation, which generated Arab hostility and created pretexts for intervention. For example, the attack by Israeli Army Unit 101 led by Ariel Sharon on the Palestinian village of Kibya in October 1953, causing numerous civilian casualties and destruction of homes, was condemned by Sharett. He writes, “[In the cabinet meeting] I condemned the Kibya affair that exposed us in front of the whole world as a gang of blood-suckers, capable of mass massacres regardless it seems, of whether their actions may lead to war.

More recent accounts by Israeli writers show how earlier acts of terrorism provided a historical background to adoption of a policy of state terrorism by Israel. Benny Morris’s explanation of the Palestinian exodus in 1948, based on state, military and Zionist archives, refutes the official Israeli version that the Palestinians bear responsibility for their own expulsion. An earlier work by Irish journalist Erskine Childers demonstrated that, contrary to the official Israeli version, there were no Arab radio broadcasts ordering the Palestinians to leave. And Israeli journalist Tom Segev reveals in his book how instrumental was Zionist terrorism in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. Sixteen months after 250 Arab civilians were massacred in the village of Deir Yassin (April 9, 1948) by the combined forces of ETZEL (known as Menachem Begin’s Irgun) and LEHI (known as Yitzhak Shamir’s Stern Gang) there was a debate in the Israeli set in which, according to Segev, a member of Begin’s Herut Party had boasted: “Thanks to Deir Yassin, we won the war.”

Another account by Lenny Brenner reveals that Israeli Prime Minister Shamir was a convert to the pro-Mussolini Betar (Zionist Brownshirts) in the late 1930s and that his Stern Gang had attempted to strike a deal with the Nazi regime in Germany in 1941 in which the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine on a “totalitarian basis” would be bound by a treaty with the German Reich.

Shamir’s commitment to right-wing causes and to terrorism was unmistakably revealed in an article he wrote in the LEHI journal Hehazit (The Front) in the summer of 1943. This excerpt stands in contrast to Shamir’s constant moralizing and condemnation of what he calls “PLO terrorism:”

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat… [T]errorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier.

Shamir’s cabinet colleague Yitzhak Rabin who, as defense minister in charge of the occupied territories, proclaimed the policy of “might, force and blows” in January 1988 (which has so far resulted in an estimated 281 deaths, more than 50,000 injuries and 30,000 detentions) has also had a consistent record of terrorism for more than 40 years. As the deputy commander of Operation Dani, he, along with the late former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the late former Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon, were responsible for the expulsion of between 50,000 and 70,000 people from the towns of Lydda and Ramleh in July 1948. The town of Ramleh had surrendered without a fight after the withdrawal of the Jordan Army but the inhabitants were rounded up, expelled and told never to come back. Benny Morris characterized that as the “biggest expulsion operation of the 1948 war.” Rabin expressed empathy with “the great suffering inflicted upon” his men who caused the expulsion.

One of those expelled was a 13-year-old boy by the name of Khalil alWazir, later known as Abu Jihad. Yitzhak Rabin, who was responsible for that act as a member of the Zionist militia, was one of the inner cabinet decision-makers who decided, 40 years later, to assassinate al-Wazir far away from his home in Ramleh. The man who headed the inner cabinet, Yitzhak Shamir, told an inquirer who wanted to know who killed Abu Jihad, “I heard about it on the radio.”

It was typical of the official response to the killing; claims of ignorance, broad hints that Abu Jihad’s responsibility for the Palestinian uprising could only trigger that kind of response and the usual reference to a factional conflict within the Palestinian movement as being responsible for the assassination. In fact, the murder of Abu Jihad is the latest incident in a continuous pattern of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals among whom are Karmal al-Adwan, Ghassan Kanafani, Kamal Nasser, Majid Abu Sharar, Abu Yurif and many others.

In a New York Times article summarizing the official Israeli interpretation of its own policies, Thomas Friedman maintains that Israel endeavors to “turn terror back on the terrorists.” This strategy has gone through several different stages. For the period of 1948-56 the strategy was described as “counterterrorism through retaliation or negative feedback” and was employed against Egypt and Jordan to prevent border crossings by Palestinian refugees attempting, in the main, to check on the conditions of their former homes.” By 1972, Israel was striking against “the nerve centers and the perpetrators themselves” using letter bombs, exploding cars and telephones and quiet assassinations of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals on the back streets of Europe. Later acts of terrorism including the destruction of entire villages in Lebanon, raids on Beirut, Baghdad and Tunis have become typical of Israeli policy towards Arab nonacceptance of its regional hegemony. Such acts have rarely evoked U.S. condemnation. In fact the Reagan Administration characterized Israel’s raid on the PLO headquarters in Tunis as an act of self-defense.

United States and Israel-A “Special” Relationship

Strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States was consummated between 1982 and 1988 and has dramatically elevated Israel’s role in U.S. global strategic calculation. By 1983, the Reagan Administration had accepted the Israeli view that the Palestine question was not the principal cause of instability in the Middle East. Henceforth, it would not be allowed to interfere in the “special relationship” between a superpower and its strategic ally.

In the special relationship between the United States and Israel, the latter is considered a “unique strategic asset. In the crucial Middle East, Israel is viewed as the cornerstone of U.S. policy, which is perceived as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and radical revolutionary transformation. Outside the Middle East, Israel has emerged as the most important supplier of the technology of repression, antiguerrilla training and infrastructure to combat revolution, all euphemistically phrased “counterterrorism.” Israel ranks as the fifth largest exporter of arms in the world, according to CIA estimates and it has become an essential component of the global counterinsurgency business. “Hit lists” used by the death squads in Guatemala have been computerized with Israeli assistance and the Uzi machine gun is the standard weapon of the death squads. The special relationship between the United States and Israel is a two-way street. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. economic and military aid and in return Israel has much to offer the United States. The Reagan Administration has publicly declared that Israel’s substantial experience and “success” in coping with terrorism should provide guidance for the United States. When George Shultz spoke at a New York synagogue in 1984 he said:

No nation has more experience with terrorism than Israel and no nation has made a greater contribution to our understanding of the problem and the best way to confront it. By supporting organizations like the Jonathan Institute, named after the brave Israeli soldier who led and died at Entebbe, the Israeli people have raised international awareness of the global scope of the terrorist threat… [T]he rest of us would do well to follow Israel’s example.

The fact that the United States and Israel are so closely allied and use the same criteria for defining who are “terrorists” and who are not, necessarily makes the United States a dubious participant in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel Shahak on the “Transfer Proposal”

by Ellen Ray
CAQ 1988

p135
Death Squads

… in Israel the use of death squads to murder Palestinians has been discussed in some of the Hebrew press. It was not employed in the occupied territories until about September or October 1987, when we had one very well-documented case in the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli Hebrew press, three Palestinians were discovered dead, in a car. One of them was a Palestinian guerrilla who had escaped from prison. The two others were collaborators [Palestinians who work with or support the Israelis]-well-known, rich collaborators. One of them had established a branch of the Tel Aviv stock exchange in Gaza. The other was of a similar background. So you can understand that such people are neither guerrillas nor helpers of guerrillas.

The Islamic State

By Washington’s Blog Global Research, August 16, 2014 Washington’s Blog Christians are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria. The “ISIS” Islamic terrorists have literally CRUCIFIED people in Iraq recently, and have marked the houses of Christians … … Continue reading

Christians are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

The “ISIS” Islamic terrorists have literally CRUCIFIED people in Iraq recently, and have marked the houses of Christians … presumably for execution.

They have told Christians in Mosel, “convert to Islam or die“. They have pulled down crosses at churches in Iraq.   Thousands of residents of Iraq’s biggest Christian town have been forced to flee their homes as the ISIS killers overran their town and said: “leave, convert or die“.

The ISIS terrorists are not only beheading adult Christians, but they are systematically beheading CHILDREN.

In Syria, rebels fighting against the Syrian government told Christians, “Either you convert to Islam or you will be beheaded.”   Syrian rebels slit the throat of Christian man who refused to convert to Islam, taunting his fiance by yelling: “Jesus didn’t come to save him!”  And – like the Islamic terrorists in Iraq – they’ve  CRUCIFIED Christians.

United States Is BACKING Islamic Terrorists

ABC News reports:

The Sunni rebels [inside Syria] are supported by the Islamist rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the U.S., France, Britain and others.

So the U.S. is directly supporting the terrorists … and close U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey France and Britain are also supporting them.

World Net Daily reports that the U.S. trained Islamic jihadis – who would later join ISIS – in Jordan.

Der Spiegel and the Guardian confirmed that the U.S., France and England trained hundreds if not thousands of Islamic fighters in Jordan.

The Jerusalem Post and Breitbart report that an ISIS fighter says that Turkey funds the terrorist group.

The Times of Israel reported Wednesday:

A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week.Read more: Syrian rebel commander says he collaborated with Israel.

In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday … Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.

In June, investment adviser Jim Willie alleged:

The [Isis] troops that are working there [in Syria and Iraq] are Langley [i.e. CIA] troops. They’re trained, funded, and armed by Langley.

What I’m hearing… the U.S. military (Pentagon regulars), and you have to be careful when you refer to U.S. military anymore. What kind of U.S. military? Is it the Pentagon U.S. Army, or is it the Langley military, which has unmarked uniforms and 10?s of thousands of mercenaries?

They’re about to encounter each other in Iraq. The U.S. military Pentagon regulars evacuated Iraq, and what filled the vacuum was the Langley mercenaries, trained for Syria, that migrated South and announced their new agenda.

If and when the Pentagon regulars encounter the Langley mercenaries in Iraq, Obama’s going to get a house call, because U.S. military will be fighting U.S. military. Pentagon vs. Langley.

While we don’t know which of the above-described allegations are true, two things are certain:

  • The U.S. armed Islamic jihadis in Syria, and their weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS; and
  • Close allies of the U.S. have supported and trained the ISIS terrorists

Published on Aug 14, 2014

Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News

The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.

The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.

Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.

VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.

The Islamic State

August 18, 2014 | 3:25 pm

The battle for Iraq’s largest dam continued today, even as officials claimed that government troops and Kurdish forces had regained control of the complex from hardline Sunni militant group the Islamic State, which seized it earlier this month.

Iraqi military spokesman Lt-Gen. Qassim Atta told state television today that Mosul Dam had been “fully cleansed” of militants by a joint force of Iraqi troops and peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan backed by US and Iraqi aircraft. However, when VICE News visited the peshmerga front lines close to the dam, fighting was still clearly underway and medical staff reported a number of Kurdish and Iraqi casualties.


It is not true that the Middle East is inherently unstable. Human history is the history of conflict and the Middle East is the cradle of civilization. But it is not true that current conflict is just the continuum of thousand years of fighting. Muslims and Jews have lived in peace in the Middle East for hundreds of years. In Palestine they were well beyond tolerance into actual friendship. Even in the seventies anyone from any country could go to Beirut, Damascus, Kabul, and Bagdad and have a wonderful worry free time.

Most current conflict can be trace to imperialistic meddling. To point some highlights: the arbitrary partition of the Kurdish and Pashtun countries by the British; The creation of a European settler State in Palestine by the British; the placement in power of the aleut minority in Syria by the British; The coup de Etat by the CIA that put the Sha in power in Iran; The creation of the Taliban by the CIA; The unconditional support of Israel by the United States, even against the interest of the people and government of the US, and even after Israel has attacked US personnel in international waters.

The ISIS is a good example. Who supplies the money? Saudi Arabia with petrodollars; who supplies the weapons? The United States. Who provides the entry point for army grade weaponry? Israel; why? To weaken and destabilize Israel’s neighbors and pave the way to an all out assault on Syria and Iran.

Obama authorises US air strikes to help Iraqis besieged on mountain by Isis

Barack Obama has authorised targeted air strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, as the US military began an airborne operation to bring relief to thousands of minority Iraqis driven to a grim, mountain-top refuge.

Describing the threats against stranded Yezidi refugees as holding the potential for “genocide”, the president said he had authorised limited air strikes to help Iraqi forces, to assist in the fight to break the siege and protect the civilians trapped there.

“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we have a mandate to help – in this case a request from the Iraqi government – and when we have unique capabilities to act to avoid a massacre, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye,” the president said in a late-night statement from the White House.

“Earlier this week, one Iraqi said no-one is coming to help. Well, today America is coming to help,” he said.



(CNSNews.com) – A State Department official who just returned from a seven-week trip to Iraq, said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) is no longer just a terrorist group.

“ISIL is no longer simply a terrorist organization,” Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran at the U.S. Department of State, said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday. “It is now a full-blown army seeking to establish a self-governing state through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in what is now Syria and Iraq.”



The US Congress’s National Defense Authorization Act contained an anti-Iran provision that went into effect July 1. It requires the US government to strong-arm the countries still purchasing Iranian oil to stop buying it. The boycott cut Iran’s oil sales in half in 2012 (though 2011 was a particularly lucrative year for the regime). At the same time, Saudi Arabia flooded the market by pumping extra petroleum, keeping the prices from rising astronomically. This economic blockade of Iran’s petroleum is unlikely to change the regime or its behavior, but it will likely kill the Iranian reform movement. And it could be a path for rising tensions and war between Iran and the United States.

Juan Cole


DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has obtained data from a U.S. intelligence drone that shows it was spying on the country’s military sites and oil terminals, Iranian media reported its armed forces as saying on Wednesday.
Iran announced on Tuesday that it had captured a ScanEagle drone belonging to the United States, but Washington said there was no evidence to support the assertion.

The incident has underscored tensions in the Gulf as Iran and the United States draw attention to their military capabilities in the vital oil exporting region in a standoff over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
“We have fully extracted the drone’s information,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement on Wednesday, according to Iran’s English-language Press TV.
The drone was gathering military information and spying on the transfer of oil from Iran’s petroleum terminals, the IRGC statement said, according to Press TV. Iran’s main export terminal is at Kharg Island.
The U.S. government has focused on blocking Iran’s oil exports through sanctions to persuade Iran to give up its disputed nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies believe is aimed at developing a bomb, something Iran denies.
Israeli officials have threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites if sanctions and diplomacy fail to stop its program.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz – through which about 40 percent of the world’s seaborne crude oil is shipped – if it comes under attack. U.S. commanders have said they will not let that happen.
The compact ScanEagle drone had been flying over the Gulf in the last few days and was captured when it strayed into Iranian airspace, the IRGC said in a statement on Tuesday.
The U.S. military has been using Boeing Co ScanEagle spy planes since 2004 and they have become a relatively inexpensive way for the United States and others to conduct surveillance.
In November, the United States said Iranian warplanes shot at a U.S. surveillance drone flying in international airspace.
Iran said the aircraft had entered its airspace to spy on Iranian oil platforms and said it would respond “decisively” to any incursions.
In December 2011, Iran said it had captured a U.S. RQ-170 reconnaissance drone in eastern Iran which was reported lost by U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
Iranian commanders have since announced they have extracted valuable technology from the aircraft and were in the process of reverse-engineering it for their own defense industry.
(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati, Editing by William Maclean)


– CNN reports: Recent satellite photos show continued activity at a controversial Iranian military site that international weapons inspectors have repeatedly been denied access to, according to a Washington-based think tank.


By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON | Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:34am EST

(Reuters) – The Senate on Friday resoundingly approved new sanctions on trade with Iran’s energy, port, shipping and ship-building sectors, its latest effort to ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.

The new package builds on existing U.S. sanctions but maintains exemptions for countries that have made significant cuts to their purchases of Iranian crude oil.

Iran’s currency has plunged this year as its oil exports were slashed by U.S. and European sanctions aimed at pressuring the country’s leadership to stop pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The United Nations’ nuclear chief said on Thursday his agency has made no progress in its year-long push to investigate whether Iran has worked on developing an atomic bomb.

“We must be clear to the Iranians that toughing it out and waiting it out is not an option, that it will only get worse,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said ahead of the vote.

Menendez co-authored the package with Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois and Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut.

Senators voted 94-0 to make the new sanctions part of an annual defense policy bill.

The Obama administration has not publicly commented on the proposals, but has privately raised concerns that it does not provide enough “waiver flexibility,” said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Levin said those concerns may be addressed when the Senate and House of Representatives work out differences to finalize the massive defense bill. Both bodies will need to approve the defense bill before it would be given to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The new sanctions also include measures aimed at stopping the flow of gold from Turkey to Iran.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobby group, endorsed the measures, which they said would close a loophole in existing laws.

“In an effort to circumvent international sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, some purchasers of Iranian oil and natural gas have been using gold and other precious metals to pay for petroleum products,” AIPAC leaders said in a letter to senators ahead of the vote, urging support for the bill.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Vicki Allen)


Jonathan Saul and Marcus George
Reuters

5:27 a.m. CST, November 28, 2012

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s food distribution system is in crisis even though Western sanctions do not directly target the market, badly hurting the poor and turning some staples into luxuries.

Private importers are shrinking away from deals made risky by turmoil in the rial currency, and many foreign banks are reluctant to finance even trade exempt from the sanctions for fear of drawing fire simply for doing business with Iran.

The result is that the Iranian state is under growing pressure to import and allocate more goods as it tries to avoid any social unrest due to shortages and soaring prices.

An increasingly shaky state apparatus will struggle to fill the gap often left by private companies, analysts say.

“If you are talking about the number of deals needed for a country of 75 million … you do not have an organized overall strategy for finance, purchase and distribution. I do not think they can cope with the challenge,” said Scott Lucas, a specialist in Iranian affairs at Birmingham University.

“Even if the sanctions were lifted, which is a huge if, the problems in the system are now so endemic I think they face real serious structural problems.”

Sanctions led by the United States and European Union, designed to halt Iran’s nuclear program, are strangling the economy and particularly energy exports, but so far Iranians do not face a widespread humanitarian crisis.

Nevertheless, many foreign foods are hard to find and high prices mean Iranians cannot always afford even basic items.

Hossein, a Tehran shopkeeper, described the problems faced particularly by the poor. “A few days ago an elderly woman came to my shop to buy 12 eggs, but when I told her how much she had to pay, she decided to just take five. I really felt bad because she is old and lives by herself,” he said by telephone.

The problems have become politically charged. Earlier this year Iran’s police chief urged television stations not to show people eating chicken to avoid fueling social tensions, as a jump in poultry prices has made it a rarity in many homes.

Even the relatively well-off are feeling the effects. “Not only have we had to cut back on less important things, we are also forced to purchase local products. I haven’t had real, good chocolate for a long time,” 25-year-old management student Sanaz said by phone from Tehran.

Iran is estimated to consume around 15.5 million tonnes of wheat a year and about 2.6 million tonnes of sugar.

The sanctions on the nuclear program – which Western governments fear is aimed at making weapons, despite Iranian denials – helped to push the rial into a nosedive earlier this year. The currency has since stabilized, but importers are finding it increasingly difficult to buy dollars for purchases, and are wary of getting caught out by another currency swing.

Instead, many commercial buyers are preferring to lock in their wealth in real estate or safe haven assets such as gold.


Lecture delivered by Matthew Machowski at the School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary, University of London.

This lecture introduce issues related to nuclear enrichment, nuclear weapons technology, international legal restrictions on nuclear technology and use, and the latest developments surrounding Iran’s nuclear energy and weapons programme.

There is no good evidence that Iran has a “structured” nuclear weapons program as opposed to a civilian nuclear enrichment program; the regime has not made a decision to build a nuclear warhead; and it may have decided (not clear) that it wants ‘nuclear latency’ or the ability quickly to weaponize if it feels threatened.

Machowski urges us to view the conflict with Iran as already a war in progress.


RT’s Marina Portnaya interviews former senior advisor to George W. Bush, Robert McNally.


Barack Obama’s second term is only just beginning – and he’s already making bold steps in the international arena.The U.S. has sent an air force detachment to service warplanes in Poland, which had pressed Washington for a security guarantee against Russia.

U.S. lawmakers are also reportedly preparing new sweeping sanctions against Iran, targeting its foreign business transactions. That’s on top of the latest round of restrictions imposed by Barack Obama just after he was re-elected to the White House.

Strains are widening between America and Iran – after The Pentagon revealed that Iranian jets fired at a U.S. drone flying off Iran’s coast last week. Political analyst Mohammad Marandi says it’s unlikely Tehran will bow down to Western pressure.


Jeremiah Goulka writes at Tomdispatch:
The Dogs of War Are Barking: Mitt Romney’s Team Wants to Let ‘Em Loose in Iran
It’s the consensus among the pundits: foreign policy doesn’t matter in this presidential election.  They point to the ways Republican candidate Mitt Romney has more or less parroted President Barack Obama on just about everything other than military spending and tough talk about another “American century.”
The consensus is wrong. There is an issue that matters: Iran.
Don’t be fooled.  It’s not just campaign season braggadocio when Romney claims that he would be far tougher on Iran than the president by threatening “a credible military option.”  He certainly is trying to appear tougher and stronger than Obama — he of the drone wars, the “kill list,” and Bin Laden’s offing — but it’s no hollow threat.
The Republican nominee has surrounded himself with advisors who are committed to military action and regime change against Iran, the same people who brought us the Global War on Terror and the Iraq War.  Along with their colleagues in hawkish think tanks, they have spent years priming the public to believe that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program, making ludicrous claims about “crazy” mullahs nuking Israel and the United States, pooh-poohing diplomacy — and getting ever shriller each time credible officials and analysts disagree.
Unlike with Iraq in 2002 and 2003, they have it easier today.  Then, they and their mentors had to go on a sales roadshow, painting pictures of phantom WMDs to build up support for an invasion.  Today, a large majority of Americans already believe that Iran is building nuclear weapons.
President Obama has helped push that snowball up the hill with sanctions to undermine the regime, covert and cyber warfare, and a huge naval presence in the Persian Gulf. Iran has ratcheted up tensions via posturing military maneuvers, while we have held joint U.S.-Israeli exercises and “the largest-ever multinational minesweeping exercise” there.  Our navies are facing off in a dangerous dance.
Obama has essentially loaded the gun and cocked it.  But he has kept his finger off the trigger, pursuing diplomacy with the so-called P5+1 talks and rumored future direct talks with the Iranians.  The problem is: Romney’s guys want to shoot.
Unlike Iraq, Iran Would Be an Easy Sell

Remember those innocent days of 2002 and 2003, when the war in Afghanistan was still new and the Bush administration was trying to sell an invasion of Iraq?  I do.  I was a Republican then, but I never quite bought the pitch.  I never felt the urgency, saw the al-Qaeda connection, or worried about phantom WMDs.  It just didn’t feel right.  But Iran today?  If I were still a Republican hawk, it would be “game on,” and I’d know I was not alone for three reasons.
First, even armchair strategists know that Iran has a lot of oil that is largely closed off to us.  It reputedly has the fourth largest reserves on the planet.  It also has a long coastline on the Persian Gulf, and it has the ability to shut the Strait of Hormuz, which would pinch off one of the world’s major energy arteries.
Then there is the fact that Iran has a special place in American consciousness.  The Islamic Republic of Iran and the mullahs who run it have been a cultural enemy ever since revolutionary students toppled our puppet regime there and stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.  The country is a theocracy run by angry-looking men with long beards and funny outfits. It has funded Hezbollah and Hamas.  Its crowds call us the “Great Satan.” Its president denies the Holocaust and says stuff about wiping Israel off the map.  Talk about a ready-made enemy.
Finally, well, nukes.
The public appears to be primed.  A large majority of Americans believe that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program, 71% in 2010 and 84% this March.  Some surveys even indicate that a majority of Americans would support military action to stop Iran from developing nukes.
That’s remarkable considering how much less certain most experts seem.  Take, for example, the National Intelligence Council, the senior panel that issues the government’s National Intelligence Estimates.  It continues to stick with its opinion that Iran once had such a program, but closed it down in 2003. U.S., European, and Israeli officials consistently say that Iran does not have an ongoing program and hasn’t even decided to pursue one, that at most the Iranians are hanging out near the starting line.  Iran’s supreme leader himself issued a fatwa against building nukes.  Why, then, is the American public so certain?  How did we get here?
There are three main reasons, only one of which is partially innocent.
What’s in a Name?
The first is linguistic and quite simple.  Say these words out loud: Iran’s civilian nuclear program.
Does that sound familiar?  Do those words look normal on the page?  Chances are the answer is “no,” because that’s not how the media, public officials, or political candidates typically refer to Iran’s nuclear activities.  Iran has a civilian nuclear power program, including a power plant at Beshehr, that was founded with the encouragement and assistance of the Eisenhower administration in 1957 as part of its “Atoms for Peace” program.  Do we hear about that?  No.  Instead, all we hear about is “Iran’s nuclear program.”  Especially in context, the implied meaning of those three words is inescapable: that Iran is currently pursuing nuclear weapons.
Out of curiosity, I ran some Google searches.  The results were striking.

  • “Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons program”: 4 hits
  • “Iran’s possible nuclear weapons program”: about 8,990 hits
  • “Iran’s civil nuclear program”: about 42,200 hits
  • “Iran’s civilian nuclear program”: about 199,000 hits
  • “Iran’s nuclear weapons program”: about 5,520,000 hits
  • “Iran’s nuclear program”: about 49,000,000 hits

Words matter, and this sloppiness is shaping American perceptions, priming the public for war.
Some of this is probably due to laziness.  Having to throw in “civilian” or “weapons” or “disputed” or “possible” makes for extra work and the result is a bit of a tongue twister.  Even people with good reasons to be precise use the shorter phrase, including President Obama.
But some of it is intentional.
The Proselytizing Republican Presidential Candidates
The second reason so many Americans are convinced that Iran is desperately seeking nukes can be attributed to the field of Republican candidates for the presidency.  They used the specter of such a weapons program to bash one another in the primaries, each posturing as the biggest, baddest sheriff on the block — and the process never ended.
The hyperbole has been impressive.  Take Rick Santorum: “Once they have a nuclear weapon, let me assure you, you will not be safe, even here in Missouri.”  Or Newt Gingrich: “Remember what it felt like on 9/11 when 3,100 Americans were killed. Now imagine an attack where you add two zeros. And it’s 300,000 dead. Maybe a half million wounded. This is a real danger. This is not science fiction.”
And then there’s Mitt Romney: “Right now, the greatest danger that America faces and the world faces is a nuclear Iran.”
The Regime-Change Brigade
Even if they’re not exactly excusable, media laziness and political posturing are predictable.  But there is a third reason Americans are primed for war: there exists in Washington what might be called the Bomb Iran Lobby — a number of hawkish political types and groups actively working to make believers of us all when it comes to an Iranian weapons program and so pave the way for regime change.  It should be noted that while some current and former Democrats have said that bombing Iran is a good idea, the groups in the lobby all fall on the Republican side of the aisle.
Numerous conservative and neoconservative think tanks pump out reports, op-eds, and journal articles suggesting or simply stating that “Iran has a nuclear weapons program” that must be stopped — and that it’ll probably take force to do the job.  Just check out the flow of words from mainstream Republican think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and AEI. (“It has long been clear that, absent regime change in Tehran, peaceful means will never persuade or prevent Iran from reaching its nuclear objective, to which it is perilously close.”)  Or take the Claremont Institute (“A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes…”) or neoconservatives who sit in perches in nonpartisan institutes like Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations (“Air Strikes Against Iran Are Justifiable”).
You can see this at even more hawkish shops like the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, with its “campaign to ensure that Iran’s vow to destroy Israel and create ‘a world without America’ remains neither ‘obtainable’ nor ‘achievable.’”  (According to one of its distinguished advisors, a Fox News host, Iran has “nuclear weapons programs” — plural).  At the old Cold War group the Committee on the Present Danger, Iran is “marching toward nuclearization.”  Retired general and Christian crusader Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council even told Glenn Beck, “I believe that Iran has a nuclear warhead now.”
There are also two organizations, much attended to on the right, whose sole goal is regime change.  There’s the Emergency Committee for Israel, a militantly pro-Israel group founded by Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer that links the Christian right with the neocons and the Israel lobby.  It insists that “Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon,” and it’s pushing hard for bombing and regime change.
No less important is the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident cult group that was recently, amid much controversy, removed from the official U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.  The MEK brought Israeli intelligence about Iran’s then-active nuclear weapons program into the public eye at a Washington press conference in 2002.  Since then, it has peppered the public with tales of Iranian nuclear chicanery, and it ran a major lobbying campaign, paying dozens of former U.S. anti-terrorism officials — several of whom are now in the defense industry — to sing its praises.
It wants regime change because it hopes that the U.S. will install its “president-elect” and “parliament-in-exile” in power in Tehran.  (Think of Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, who played a similar role with the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.  They even have some of the same boosters.)
And then there are the groups who want war with Iran for religious reasons.  Take Christians United For Israel (CUFI), an End-Times politico-religious organization run by John Hagee, pastor of the Cornerstone megachurch in San Antonio.  As scholar Nicholas Guyatt shows in his book Have a Nice Doomsday, Hagee’s organization promotes the belief, common among fundamentalist Christians, that a war between Israel and Iran will trigger the Rapture.
Hagee’s own book, Countdown Jerusalem, suggests that Iran already has nuclear weapons and the ability to use them, and he aggressively advocates an attack on that country.  To many mainstream Americans, Hagee, his followers, and others with similar religious views may seem a bit nutty, but he is not to be discounted: his book was a bestseller.
The Supporting Cast
Republican-friendly media have joined the game, running blustery TV segments on the subject and cooking the books to assure survey majorities that favor military action.  Take this question from a March poll commissioned by Fox News: “Do you think Iran can be stopped from continuing to work on a nuclear weapons program through diplomacy and sanctions alone, or will it take military force to stop Iran from working on nuclear weapons?”  Absent priming like this, a majority of Americans actually prefer diplomacy, 81% supporting direct talks between Washington and Tehran.
And don’t forget the military-industrial complex, for which the fear of a nuclear-armed Iran means opportunity. They use it to justify that perennial cash cow and Republican favorite: missile defense (which the Romney campaign dutifully promotes on its “Iran: An American Century” webpage).  It gives the Pentagon a chance to ask for new bunker busting bombs and to justify the two new classes of pricey littoral combat ships.
If the U.S. were to bomb Iranian facilities — and inevitably get drawn into a more prolonged conflict — the cash spigot is likely to open full flood.  And don’t forget the potential LOGCAP, construction, and private security contracts that might flow over the years (even if there isn’t an occupation) to the KBRs, SAICs, DynCorps, Halliburtons, Bechtels, Wackenhuts, Triple Canopies, and Blackwater/Academis of the world.  (Too bad there aren’t meaningful transparency laws that would let us know how much these companies and their employees have contributed, directly or indirectly, to Romney’s campaign or to the think tanks that pay and promote the convenient views of professional ideologues.)
The Problem With Romney
All of this means that the public has been primed for war with Iran.  With constant media attention, the Republican candidates have driven home the notion that Iran has or will soon have nuclear weapons, that Iranian nukes present an immediate and existential threat to Israel and the U.S., and that diplomacy is for sissies.  If Obama wins, he will have to work even harder to prevent war.  If Romney wins, war will be all the easier.  And for his team, that’s a good thing.
The problem with Romney, you see, is that he hangs out with the wrong crowd — the regime-change brigade, many of whom steered the ship of state toward Iraq for George W. Bush.  And keep in mind that he, like Romney (and Obama), was an empty vessel on foreign affairs when he entered the Oval Office. Even if Iran has been nothing more than a political tool for Romney, regime change is a deep-seated goal for the people around him.  They actually want to bomb Iran.  They’ve said so themselves.
Take Robert Kagan.  His main perch is at the non-partisan Brookings Institution, but he has also been a leader of the neocon Project for a New American Century and its successor organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). “Regime change in Tehran,” he has written, “is the best nonproliferation policy.”
Kagan’s fellow directors at the FPI are also on Romney’s team: Bill Kristol, Eric Edelman (former staffer to Cheney and Douglas Feith’s successor at the Pentagon), and former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor, who has become Romney’s most trusted foreign policy advisor and a rumored contender for national security advisor.  The FPI’s position? “It is time to take military action against the Iranian government elements that support terrorism and its nuclear program. More diplomacy is not an adequate response.”
Or how about John Bolton, Bush’s U.N. ambassador and a frequent speaker on behalf of the MEK, who has said, “The better way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is to attack its nuclear weapons program directly and break their control over the nuclear fuel cycle,” and that “we should be prepared to take down the regime in Tehran.”
And the list goes on.
It is, of course, theoretically possible that a President Romney would ignore his neocon team’s advice, just as George W. Bush famously ignored the moderate Republican advice of his father’s team.  Still, it’s hard to imagine him giving the cold shoulder to the sages of the previous administration: Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.  Indeed, Romney is said to turn to the “Cheney-ites” when he seeks counsel, while giving the more moderate Republican internationalists the cold shoulder.  And Cheney wanted to bomb Iran.
In a Romney administration, expect this gang to lobby him hard to finish the job and take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, or at least to give Israel the green light to do so.  Expect them to close their eyes to what we have learned in Iraq and Afghanistan when it comes to “blood and treasure.”  Expect them to say that bombing alone will do the trick “surgically.”  Expect them to claim that the military high command is “soft,” “bureaucratic,” and “risk-averse” when it hesitates to get involved in what will inevitably become a regional nightmare.  Expect the message to be: this time we’ll get it right.
Kenneling the Dogs of War
No one likes the idea of Iran getting nukes, but should the regime decide to pursue them, they don’t present an existential threat to anyone.  Tehran’s leaders know that a mushroom cloud in Tel Aviv, no less Washington, would turn their country into a parking lot.
Should the mullahs ever pursue nuclear weapons again, it would be for deterrence, for the ability to stand up to the United States and say, “Piss off.”  While that might present a challenge for American foreign policy interests — especially those related to oil — it has nothing to do with the physical safety of Israel or the United States.
War with Iran is an incredibly bad idea, yet it’s a real threat.  President Obama has come close to teeing it up.  Even talk of a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is delusional, because, as just about every analyst points out, we wouldn’t know if it had worked (which it probably wouldn’t) and it would be an act of war that Iran wouldn’t absorb with a smile.  In its wake, a lot of people would be likely to die.
But Romney’s guys don’t think it’s a bad idea.  They think it’s a good one, and they are ready to take a swing.
Jeremiah Goulka, a TomDispatch regular, writes about American politics and culture, focusing on security, race, and the Republican Party.  He was formerly an analyst at the RAND Corporation, a Hurricane Katrina recovery worker, and an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. You can follow him on Twitter @jeremiahgoulka or contact him through his website jeremiahgoulka.com.
Copyright 2012 Jeremiah Goulka
___________________
Mirrored from Tomdispatch.eom


Around 12,000 troops from more than 19 nations are wrapping up a massive military training drill in the Middle East. But for some of those servicemen, these exercises might be just the beginning of something much bigger to come.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are just a sampling of the many countries — along with European allies — that have been involved in the nearly month-long Eager Lion 2012 exercise expected to end this week. Although much of the drills have been kept under wraps, it isn’t a secret that these states have spent the last month cooperating together through mock combat drills and comprehensive training. Some sources overseas report, however, that as many as 3,000 troops aligned with US forces have conducted a simulated landing and attack on Iran, preparing America and its allies for a war that becomes more likely by the day.

Intelligence sources speaking to Israel’s Debka news agency report that US troops and other forces aligned with America recently staged a landing on a Jordanian beach that was immediately followed by a military seizure of fortified mountain bases and command posts. The exercise was meant to emulate an attack on Iran and accompanies other drills that witnesses say show off just what America’s foes face if they continue to put the heat on the United States and its pals abroad.

Speaking of a drill assumed to be a mockup of a raid on Syria, Major General. Awni el-Edwan, Chief of staff of the Jordanian Operations and Training Armed Forces, says, “The exercise is not connected to any real world event,” reports CNN. “This has nothing to do with Syria. We respect the sovereignty of Syria. There is no tension between the Syrians and us. Our objectives are clear.”

Others, however, say that the intentions of the Eager Lion 2012 drills are obvious.

Gen. James Mattis, head of the US Central Command, visited both sections of the exercise led by American troops in Jordan, adds Debka. Should the US officially attack either Syria or Iran, Gen. Mattis will be the head of the military forces there. Additionally, intelligence sources speaking with the Israeli outlet reveal that Gen. Mattis has recently sought approval from US President Barack Obama to deploy a third aircraft carrier to the Middle East to increase America’s presence.

The United States currently has two massive aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf area, both the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise, and CNN adds in their report that the Air Force has sent six of the stealth F-22 fighter jets to the neighboring United Arab Emirates.

The US is believed to be engaged in exercises involving the Navy and Air Force in operations on the land, air and sea, with the US Special Operations troops also working in tandem with Jordanian special forces units in counterterrorism to put both teams on the same page.

Debka reports that, during Eager Lion 2012, a command post was also established by around 700 US Marines onboard the USS New York amphibious transport dock that was stationed in the Red Sea. The entire exercise there, they say, was “clearly visible” to observers in a neighboring Israeli port. Only days earlier, Debka reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his country that “all options remain on the table” involving an attack on Iran, and that the Jewish state will strike first if necessary, even without the assistance of American forces.

“There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities,” said Barak.


If Israel goes from threats to military actions, “it is Israel who will be destroyed,” says a high-ranking Iranian general. This comes as a fresh twist in the war of words that has engrossed Israel and Iran in recent months.

­”If the Zionist regime takes any actions against Iran, it would result in the end of its labors,” Brigadier General Mostafa Izadi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, told the Fars news agency.

Israel cannot harm Iran in the slightest, assured the top military official.

“If they act logically, such threats amount to a psychological war, but if they want to act illogically, it is they who will be destroyed,” he added.

The message is a response to Israel’s renewed calls for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic. As Iran sat down to another round of nuclear talks with world powers last week, Israel issued more calls threatening Iran with military action. Tel Aviv believed Tehran did not take the threat of war seriously.

“The Iranians think this is just a warning. That people are not serious enough,”

Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview, as the talks kicked off in Moscow.

“If the Iranians understand seriously that this [military action] is an option, maybe we shall not need it. If they think this is a bluff, then it may lead to a war,” he added.

Israel and its Western allies suspect that Tehran is enriching uranium in a bid to secretly create nuclear warheads, though no evidence for such a claim has been presented and most Western experts say otherwise. Tel Aviv has also repeatedly said that it will bomb Iranian nuclear facilities before allowing it to build nukes. Iran insists that it needs enriched uranium for civilian uses.

The Moscow negotiations wrapped up with no breakthrough.

Western powers again demanded that Tehran scale down its nuclear work: to shut down the Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility and ship any stockpile out of the country. In return, Iran was offered enough fuel to meet the country’s medical needs, assistance in nuclear security and lift a ban on spare parts for Iran’s civilian planes.

Iran slammed the proposed deal for having too many demands while offering little in return. Tehran wanted to see relief from strangling economic sanctions, imposed by the EU and US, and an official acknowledgement of its right to enrich uranium before they considered scaling down nuclear activities.

A follow-up meeting is scheduled for July 3.



Here are some ways you can spread the word to make sure President Obama gets the message loud and clear.

If you are on Facebook, click here to post the petition to your Wall.

If you have a Twitter account, click here to automatically tweet:
Tell Pres. @BarackObama: We support diplomacy with #Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war. http://bit.ly/MqtlwH

You can also send the following e-mail to your friends and family. Spreading the word is critical, but please only pass this message along to those who know you — spam hurts our campaign.

Thanks for all you do.

–The CREDO Action Team

Here’s a sample message to send to your friends:


Subject: Tell President Obama: We support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war.
Dear Friend,

The next week is critically important for those of us who want to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran.

Iran has come to the table for negotiations about the future of its nuclear program, with the next round of multilateral negotiations scheduled to take place today and tomorrow in Moscow.

But the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to abandon diplomacy with Iran, and follow a path that would make war inevitable. And much of the pressure is coming from warmongers like John Bolton (an ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), who want the talks to fail.

We need to speak out now to ensure that President Obama knows the American people support diplomacy, not war.

I just signed a petition telling President Obama that we support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war.

I hope you sign the petition, too.

It’s easy to do so. Just click on the link below.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/obama_iran/?r_by=41967-5154581-CDhpWCx&rc=confemail


The next few days are critically important for those of us who want to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran.
Iran has come to the table for negotiations about the future of its nuclear program, with the next round of multilateral negotiations scheduled to take place today and tomorrow in Moscow.
But the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to abandon diplomacy with Iran, and follow a path that would make war inevitable. And much of the pressure is coming from warmongers like John Bolton (an ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), who want the talks to fail.
We need to speak out now to ensure that President Obama knows the American people support diplomacy, not war.
Many in power seem to have learned nothing from the catastrophic mistake and tremendous moral failure that was the war in Iraq.
There is already dangerous momentum to begin a war of choice with Iran. And should the Moscow negotiations break down or bear no fruit, the drumbeat for war will only grow more intense.
Those who would welcome a war with Iran are trying to suggest that the window for a diplomatic solution is rapidly closing.
But both American and Israeli intelligence services agree that Iran neither has made a decision to build a nuclear bomb nor currently has the capacity to do so. So there is no short-term imperative to wage war.
To his credit, President Obama is clearly not rushing to start another war. But many members of Congress, including many Democrats, are pushing him to offer nothing meaningful to Iran until Iran gives the United States and its allies everything we want.
Fundamentally, this kind of negotiating strategy would set us up for failure.
While there is no easy solution to the challenges we face with Iran, it is imperative that we pursue diplomacy in good faith and give diplomatic solutions the time they need to bear fruit.
And that means being open to a slow but steady move away from the brink of war through mutual concessions.
In an election year, when many of President Obama’s traditional allies are either opposed or highly skeptical of his strategy, President Obama must know that there is full-throated support for diplomacy that can prevent an unnecessary war.
Tell President Obama: We support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out for diplomacy.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

WASHINGTON – The Russian military anticipates that an attack will occur on Iran by the summer and has developed an action plan to move Russian troops through neighboring Georgia to stage in Armenia, which borders on the Islamic republic, according to informed Russian sources.

Russian Security Council head Viktor Ozerov said that Russian General Military Headquarters has prepared an action plan in the event of an attack on Iran.

Dmitry Rogozin, who recently was the Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, warned against an attack on Iran.

“Iran is our neighbor,” Rogozin said. “If Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.” Rogozin now is the deputy Russian prime minister and is regarded as anti-Western. He oversees Russia’s defense sector.

Russian Defense Ministry sources say that the Russian military doesn’t believe that Israel has sufficient military assets to defeat Iranian defenses and further believes that U.S. military action will be necessary.

The implication of preparing to move Russian troops not only is to protect its own vital regional interests but possibly to assist Iran in the event of such an attack. Sources add that a Russian military buildup in the region could result in the Russian military potentially engaging Israeli forces, U.S. forces, or both.

Informed sources say that the Russians have warned of “unpredictable consequences” in the event Iran is attacked, with some Russians saying that the Russian military will take part in the possible war because it would threaten its vital interests in the region.

The influential Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper has quoted a Russian military source as saying that the situation forming around Syria and Iran “causes Russia to expedite the course of improvement of its military groups in the South Caucasus, the Caspian, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.”

This latest information comes from a series of reports and leaks from official Russian spokesmen and government news agencies who say that an Israeli attack is all but certain by the summer.

Because of the impact on Russian vital interests in the region, sources say that Russian preparations for such an attack began two years ago when Russian Military Base 102 in Gyumri, Armenia, was modernized. It is said to occupy a major geopolitical position in the region.

Families of Russian servicemen from the Russian base at Gyumri in Armenia close to the borders of Georgia and Turkey already have been evacuated, Russian sources say.

Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-04-09/news/31311454_1_russian-defense-ministry-military-action-dmitry-rogozin#ixzz1s2j7KMHO


Sheldon Richman

Published: Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.

When President Obama spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee some weeks ago, he admonished those who engaged in “loose talk of war” about Iran. Apparently, his secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, didn’t get the memo.

The Associated Press reported this week,

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made clear Saturday that time is running out for diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and said talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon would resume in mid-April. With speculation over a possible U.S. or Israel military attack adding urgency to the next round of discussions in Istanbul set for April 13, Clinton said Iran’s “window of opportunity” for a peaceful resolution “will not remain open forever.”

She also expressed doubt about whether Iran has any intention of negotiating a solution that satisfies the U.S., Israel and other countries that believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

That’s another memo Clinton seems not to have received. Both American and Israeli intelligence say that Iran has neither started to build a nuclear weapon nor even decided to do so in the future. Both also regard the Iranian government as a “rational actor.” (The American news media occasionally reports this, but then goes back to stating, as though it were uncontroversial, that Iran is building a nuclear arsenal.)

So why the conflicting signals from the U.S. government? This conflict can be seen in Obama’s own statements. While he calls for diplomacy and warns against loose war talk, he has imposed harsh economic sanctions that make the daily lives of average Iranians miserable, has rejected “containment,” and boasted that he doesn’t “bluff.”

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command has trained operatives from an Iranian opposition group at a secret site in Nevada. Writing in The New Yorker, Hersh reports JSOC began training the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, in 2005, even though the group is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. The training included intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics. The training is said to have ended before President Obama took office. Last month, NBC reported members of the MEK have been involved in the assassinations of five Iranian

August 18, 2014 | 3:25 pm

The battle for Iraq’s largest dam continued today, even as officials claimed that government troops and Kurdish forces had regained control of the complex from hardline Sunni militant group the Islamic State, which seized it earlier this month.

Iraqi military spokesman Lt-Gen. Qassim Atta told state television today that Mosul Dam had been “fully cleansed” of militants by a joint force of Iraqi troops and peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan backed by US and Iraqi aircraft. However, when VICE News visited the peshmerga front lines close to the dam, fighting was still clearly underway and medical staff reported a number of Kurdish and Iraqi casualties.


It is not true that the Middle East is inherently unstable. Human history is the history of conflict and the Middle East is the cradle of civilization. But it is not true that current conflict is just the continuum of thousand years of fighting. Muslims and Jews have lived in peace in the Middle East for hundreds of years. In Palestine they were well beyond tolerance into actual friendship. Even in the seventies anyone from any country could go to Beirut, Damascus, Kabul, and Bagdad and have a wonderful worry free time.

Most current conflict can be trace to imperialistic meddling. To point some highlights: the arbitrary partition of the Kurdish and Pashtun countries by the British; The creation of a European settler State in Palestine by the British; the placement in power of the aleut minority in Syria by the British; The coup de Etat by the CIA that put the Sha in power in Iran; The creation of the Taliban by the CIA; The unconditional support of Israel by the United States, even against the interest of the people and government of the US, and even after Israel has attacked US personnel in international waters.

The ISIS is a good example. Who supplies the money? Saudi Arabia with petrodollars; who supplies the weapons? The United States. Who provides the entry point for army grade weaponry? Israel; why? To weaken and destabilize Israel’s neighbors and pave the way to an all out assault on Syria and Iran.

Obama authorises US air strikes to help Iraqis besieged on mountain by Isis

Barack Obama has authorised targeted air strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, as the US military began an airborne operation to bring relief to thousands of minority Iraqis driven to a grim, mountain-top refuge.

Describing the threats against stranded Yezidi refugees as holding the potential for “genocide”, the president said he had authorised limited air strikes to help Iraqi forces, to assist in the fight to break the siege and protect the civilians trapped there.

“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we have a mandate to help – in this case a request from the Iraqi government – and when we have unique capabilities to act to avoid a massacre, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye,” the president said in a late-night statement from the White House.

“Earlier this week, one Iraqi said no-one is coming to help. Well, today America is coming to help,” he said.



(CNSNews.com) – A State Department official who just returned from a seven-week trip to Iraq, said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) is no longer just a terrorist group.

“ISIL is no longer simply a terrorist organization,” Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran at the U.S. Department of State, said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday. “It is now a full-blown army seeking to establish a self-governing state through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in what is now Syria and Iraq.”



The US Congress’s National Defense Authorization Act contained an anti-Iran provision that went into effect July 1. It requires the US government to strong-arm the countries still purchasing Iranian oil to stop buying it. The boycott cut Iran’s oil sales in half in 2012 (though 2011 was a particularly lucrative year for the regime). At the same time, Saudi Arabia flooded the market by pumping extra petroleum, keeping the prices from rising astronomically. This economic blockade of Iran’s petroleum is unlikely to change the regime or its behavior, but it will likely kill the Iranian reform movement. And it could be a path for rising tensions and war between Iran and the United States.

Juan Cole


DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has obtained data from a U.S. intelligence drone that shows it was spying on the country’s military sites and oil terminals, Iranian media reported its armed forces as saying on Wednesday.
Iran announced on Tuesday that it had captured a ScanEagle drone belonging to the United States, but Washington said there was no evidence to support the assertion.

The incident has underscored tensions in the Gulf as Iran and the United States draw attention to their military capabilities in the vital oil exporting region in a standoff over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
“We have fully extracted the drone’s information,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement on Wednesday, according to Iran’s English-language Press TV.
The drone was gathering military information and spying on the transfer of oil from Iran’s petroleum terminals, the IRGC statement said, according to Press TV. Iran’s main export terminal is at Kharg Island.
The U.S. government has focused on blocking Iran’s oil exports through sanctions to persuade Iran to give up its disputed nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies believe is aimed at developing a bomb, something Iran denies.
Israeli officials have threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites if sanctions and diplomacy fail to stop its program.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz – through which about 40 percent of the world’s seaborne crude oil is shipped – if it comes under attack. U.S. commanders have said they will not let that happen.
The compact ScanEagle drone had been flying over the Gulf in the last few days and was captured when it strayed into Iranian airspace, the IRGC said in a statement on Tuesday.
The U.S. military has been using Boeing Co ScanEagle spy planes since 2004 and they have become a relatively inexpensive way for the United States and others to conduct surveillance.
In November, the United States said Iranian warplanes shot at a U.S. surveillance drone flying in international airspace.
Iran said the aircraft had entered its airspace to spy on Iranian oil platforms and said it would respond “decisively” to any incursions.
In December 2011, Iran said it had captured a U.S. RQ-170 reconnaissance drone in eastern Iran which was reported lost by U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
Iranian commanders have since announced they have extracted valuable technology from the aircraft and were in the process of reverse-engineering it for their own defense industry.
(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati, Editing by William Maclean)


– CNN reports: Recent satellite photos show continued activity at a controversial Iranian military site that international weapons inspectors have repeatedly been denied access to, according to a Washington-based think tank.


By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON | Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:34am EST

(Reuters) – The Senate on Friday resoundingly approved new sanctions on trade with Iran’s energy, port, shipping and ship-building sectors, its latest effort to ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.

The new package builds on existing U.S. sanctions but maintains exemptions for countries that have made significant cuts to their purchases of Iranian crude oil.

Iran’s currency has plunged this year as its oil exports were slashed by U.S. and European sanctions aimed at pressuring the country’s leadership to stop pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The United Nations’ nuclear chief said on Thursday his agency has made no progress in its year-long push to investigate whether Iran has worked on developing an atomic bomb.

“We must be clear to the Iranians that toughing it out and waiting it out is not an option, that it will only get worse,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said ahead of the vote.

Menendez co-authored the package with Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois and Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut.

Senators voted 94-0 to make the new sanctions part of an annual defense policy bill.

The Obama administration has not publicly commented on the proposals, but has privately raised concerns that it does not provide enough “waiver flexibility,” said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Levin said those concerns may be addressed when the Senate and House of Representatives work out differences to finalize the massive defense bill. Both bodies will need to approve the defense bill before it would be given to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The new sanctions also include measures aimed at stopping the flow of gold from Turkey to Iran.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobby group, endorsed the measures, which they said would close a loophole in existing laws.

“In an effort to circumvent international sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, some purchasers of Iranian oil and natural gas have been using gold and other precious metals to pay for petroleum products,” AIPAC leaders said in a letter to senators ahead of the vote, urging support for the bill.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Vicki Allen)


Jonathan Saul and Marcus George
Reuters

5:27 a.m. CST, November 28, 2012

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s food distribution system is in crisis even though Western sanctions do not directly target the market, badly hurting the poor and turning some staples into luxuries.

Private importers are shrinking away from deals made risky by turmoil in the rial currency, and many foreign banks are reluctant to finance even trade exempt from the sanctions for fear of drawing fire simply for doing business with Iran.

The result is that the Iranian state is under growing pressure to import and allocate more goods as it tries to avoid any social unrest due to shortages and soaring prices.

An increasingly shaky state apparatus will struggle to fill the gap often left by private companies, analysts say.

“If you are talking about the number of deals needed for a country of 75 million … you do not have an organized overall strategy for finance, purchase and distribution. I do not think they can cope with the challenge,” said Scott Lucas, a specialist in Iranian affairs at Birmingham University.

“Even if the sanctions were lifted, which is a huge if, the problems in the system are now so endemic I think they face real serious structural problems.”

Sanctions led by the United States and European Union, designed to halt Iran’s nuclear program, are strangling the economy and particularly energy exports, but so far Iranians do not face a widespread humanitarian crisis.

Nevertheless, many foreign foods are hard to find and high prices mean Iranians cannot always afford even basic items.

Hossein, a Tehran shopkeeper, described the problems faced particularly by the poor. “A few days ago an elderly woman came to my shop to buy 12 eggs, but when I told her how much she had to pay, she decided to just take five. I really felt bad because she is old and lives by herself,” he said by telephone.

The problems have become politically charged. Earlier this year Iran’s police chief urged television stations not to show people eating chicken to avoid fueling social tensions, as a jump in poultry prices has made it a rarity in many homes.

Even the relatively well-off are feeling the effects. “Not only have we had to cut back on less important things, we are also forced to purchase local products. I haven’t had real, good chocolate for a long time,” 25-year-old management student Sanaz said by phone from Tehran.

Iran is estimated to consume around 15.5 million tonnes of wheat a year and about 2.6 million tonnes of sugar.

The sanctions on the nuclear program – which Western governments fear is aimed at making weapons, despite Iranian denials – helped to push the rial into a nosedive earlier this year. The currency has since stabilized, but importers are finding it increasingly difficult to buy dollars for purchases, and are wary of getting caught out by another currency swing.

Instead, many commercial buyers are preferring to lock in their wealth in real estate or safe haven assets such as gold.


Lecture delivered by Matthew Machowski at the School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary, University of London.

This lecture introduce issues related to nuclear enrichment, nuclear weapons technology, international legal restrictions on nuclear technology and use, and the latest developments surrounding Iran’s nuclear energy and weapons programme.

There is no good evidence that Iran has a “structured” nuclear weapons program as opposed to a civilian nuclear enrichment program; the regime has not made a decision to build a nuclear warhead; and it may have decided (not clear) that it wants ‘nuclear latency’ or the ability quickly to weaponize if it feels threatened.

Machowski urges us to view the conflict with Iran as already a war in progress.


RT’s Marina Portnaya interviews former senior advisor to George W. Bush, Robert McNally.


Barack Obama’s second term is only just beginning – and he’s already making bold steps in the international arena.The U.S. has sent an air force detachment to service warplanes in Poland, which had pressed Washington for a security guarantee against Russia.

U.S. lawmakers are also reportedly preparing new sweeping sanctions against Iran, targeting its foreign business transactions. That’s on top of the latest round of restrictions imposed by Barack Obama just after he was re-elected to the White House.

Strains are widening between America and Iran – after The Pentagon revealed that Iranian jets fired at a U.S. drone flying off Iran’s coast last week. Political analyst Mohammad Marandi says it’s unlikely Tehran will bow down to Western pressure.


Jeremiah Goulka writes at Tomdispatch:
The Dogs of War Are Barking: Mitt Romney’s Team Wants to Let ‘Em Loose in Iran
It’s the consensus among the pundits: foreign policy doesn’t matter in this presidential election.  They point to the ways Republican candidate Mitt Romney has more or less parroted President Barack Obama on just about everything other than military spending and tough talk about another “American century.”
The consensus is wrong. There is an issue that matters: Iran.
Don’t be fooled.  It’s not just campaign season braggadocio when Romney claims that he would be far tougher on Iran than the president by threatening “a credible military option.”  He certainly is trying to appear tougher and stronger than Obama — he of the drone wars, the “kill list,” and Bin Laden’s offing — but it’s no hollow threat.
The Republican nominee has surrounded himself with advisors who are committed to military action and regime change against Iran, the same people who brought us the Global War on Terror and the Iraq War.  Along with their colleagues in hawkish think tanks, they have spent years priming the public to believe that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program, making ludicrous claims about “crazy” mullahs nuking Israel and the United States, pooh-poohing diplomacy — and getting ever shriller each time credible officials and analysts disagree.
Unlike with Iraq in 2002 and 2003, they have it easier today.  Then, they and their mentors had to go on a sales roadshow, painting pictures of phantom WMDs to build up support for an invasion.  Today, a large majority of Americans already believe that Iran is building nuclear weapons.
President Obama has helped push that snowball up the hill with sanctions to undermine the regime, covert and cyber warfare, and a huge naval presence in the Persian Gulf. Iran has ratcheted up tensions via posturing military maneuvers, while we have held joint U.S.-Israeli exercises and “the largest-ever multinational minesweeping exercise” there.  Our navies are facing off in a dangerous dance.
Obama has essentially loaded the gun and cocked it.  But he has kept his finger off the trigger, pursuing diplomacy with the so-called P5+1 talks and rumored future direct talks with the Iranians.  The problem is: Romney’s guys want to shoot.
Unlike Iraq, Iran Would Be an Easy Sell

Remember those innocent days of 2002 and 2003, when the war in Afghanistan was still new and the Bush administration was trying to sell an invasion of Iraq?  I do.  I was a Republican then, but I never quite bought the pitch.  I never felt the urgency, saw the al-Qaeda connection, or worried about phantom WMDs.  It just didn’t feel right.  But Iran today?  If I were still a Republican hawk, it would be “game on,” and I’d know I was not alone for three reasons.
First, even armchair strategists know that Iran has a lot of oil that is largely closed off to us.  It reputedly has the fourth largest reserves on the planet.  It also has a long coastline on the Persian Gulf, and it has the ability to shut the Strait of Hormuz, which would pinch off one of the world’s major energy arteries.
Then there is the fact that Iran has a special place in American consciousness.  The Islamic Republic of Iran and the mullahs who run it have been a cultural enemy ever since revolutionary students toppled our puppet regime there and stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.  The country is a theocracy run by angry-looking men with long beards and funny outfits. It has funded Hezbollah and Hamas.  Its crowds call us the “Great Satan.” Its president denies the Holocaust and says stuff about wiping Israel off the map.  Talk about a ready-made enemy.
Finally, well, nukes.
The public appears to be primed.  A large majority of Americans believe that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program, 71% in 2010 and 84% this March.  Some surveys even indicate that a majority of Americans would support military action to stop Iran from developing nukes.
That’s remarkable considering how much less certain most experts seem.  Take, for example, the National Intelligence Council, the senior panel that issues the government’s National Intelligence Estimates.  It continues to stick with its opinion that Iran once had such a program, but closed it down in 2003. U.S., European, and Israeli officials consistently say that Iran does not have an ongoing program and hasn’t even decided to pursue one, that at most the Iranians are hanging out near the starting line.  Iran’s supreme leader himself issued a fatwa against building nukes.  Why, then, is the American public so certain?  How did we get here?
There are three main reasons, only one of which is partially innocent.
What’s in a Name?
The first is linguistic and quite simple.  Say these words out loud: Iran’s civilian nuclear program.
Does that sound familiar?  Do those words look normal on the page?  Chances are the answer is “no,” because that’s not how the media, public officials, or political candidates typically refer to Iran’s nuclear activities.  Iran has a civilian nuclear power program, including a power plant at Beshehr, that was founded with the encouragement and assistance of the Eisenhower administration in 1957 as part of its “Atoms for Peace” program.  Do we hear about that?  No.  Instead, all we hear about is “Iran’s nuclear program.”  Especially in context, the implied meaning of those three words is inescapable: that Iran is currently pursuing nuclear weapons.
Out of curiosity, I ran some Google searches.  The results were striking.

  • “Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons program”: 4 hits
  • “Iran’s possible nuclear weapons program”: about 8,990 hits
  • “Iran’s civil nuclear program”: about 42,200 hits
  • “Iran’s civilian nuclear program”: about 199,000 hits
  • “Iran’s nuclear weapons program”: about 5,520,000 hits
  • “Iran’s nuclear program”: about 49,000,000 hits

Words matter, and this sloppiness is shaping American perceptions, priming the public for war.
Some of this is probably due to laziness.  Having to throw in “civilian” or “weapons” or “disputed” or “possible” makes for extra work and the result is a bit of a tongue twister.  Even people with good reasons to be precise use the shorter phrase, including President Obama.
But some of it is intentional.
The Proselytizing Republican Presidential Candidates
The second reason so many Americans are convinced that Iran is desperately seeking nukes can be attributed to the field of Republican candidates for the presidency.  They used the specter of such a weapons program to bash one another in the primaries, each posturing as the biggest, baddest sheriff on the block — and the process never ended.
The hyperbole has been impressive.  Take Rick Santorum: “Once they have a nuclear weapon, let me assure you, you will not be safe, even here in Missouri.”  Or Newt Gingrich: “Remember what it felt like on 9/11 when 3,100 Americans were killed. Now imagine an attack where you add two zeros. And it’s 300,000 dead. Maybe a half million wounded. This is a real danger. This is not science fiction.”
And then there’s Mitt Romney: “Right now, the greatest danger that America faces and the world faces is a nuclear Iran.”
The Regime-Change Brigade
Even if they’re not exactly excusable, media laziness and political posturing are predictable.  But there is a third reason Americans are primed for war: there exists in Washington what might be called the Bomb Iran Lobby — a number of hawkish political types and groups actively working to make believers of us all when it comes to an Iranian weapons program and so pave the way for regime change.  It should be noted that while some current and former Democrats have said that bombing Iran is a good idea, the groups in the lobby all fall on the Republican side of the aisle.
Numerous conservative and neoconservative think tanks pump out reports, op-eds, and journal articles suggesting or simply stating that “Iran has a nuclear weapons program” that must be stopped — and that it’ll probably take force to do the job.  Just check out the flow of words from mainstream Republican think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and AEI. (“It has long been clear that, absent regime change in Tehran, peaceful means will never persuade or prevent Iran from reaching its nuclear objective, to which it is perilously close.”)  Or take the Claremont Institute (“A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes…”) or neoconservatives who sit in perches in nonpartisan institutes like Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations (“Air Strikes Against Iran Are Justifiable”).
You can see this at even more hawkish shops like the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, with its “campaign to ensure that Iran’s vow to destroy Israel and create ‘a world without America’ remains neither ‘obtainable’ nor ‘achievable.’”  (According to one of its distinguished advisors, a Fox News host, Iran has “nuclear weapons programs” — plural).  At the old Cold War group the Committee on the Present Danger, Iran is “marching toward nuclearization.”  Retired general and Christian crusader Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council even told Glenn Beck, “I believe that Iran has a nuclear warhead now.”
There are also two organizations, much attended to on the right, whose sole goal is regime change.  There’s the Emergency Committee for Israel, a militantly pro-Israel group founded by Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer that links the Christian right with the neocons and the Israel lobby.  It insists that “Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon,” and it’s pushing hard for bombing and regime change.
No less important is the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident cult group that was recently, amid much controversy, removed from the official U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.  The MEK brought Israeli intelligence about Iran’s then-active nuclear weapons program into the public eye at a Washington press conference in 2002.  Since then, it has peppered the public with tales of Iranian nuclear chicanery, and it ran a major lobbying campaign, paying dozens of former U.S. anti-terrorism officials — several of whom are now in the defense industry — to sing its praises.
It wants regime change because it hopes that the U.S. will install its “president-elect” and “parliament-in-exile” in power in Tehran.  (Think of Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, who played a similar role with the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.  They even have some of the same boosters.)
And then there are the groups who want war with Iran for religious reasons.  Take Christians United For Israel (CUFI), an End-Times politico-religious organization run by John Hagee, pastor of the Cornerstone megachurch in San Antonio.  As scholar Nicholas Guyatt shows in his book Have a Nice Doomsday, Hagee’s organization promotes the belief, common among fundamentalist Christians, that a war between Israel and Iran will trigger the Rapture.
Hagee’s own book, Countdown Jerusalem, suggests that Iran already has nuclear weapons and the ability to use them, and he aggressively advocates an attack on that country.  To many mainstream Americans, Hagee, his followers, and others with similar religious views may seem a bit nutty, but he is not to be discounted: his book was a bestseller.
The Supporting Cast
Republican-friendly media have joined the game, running blustery TV segments on the subject and cooking the books to assure survey majorities that favor military action.  Take this question from a March poll commissioned by Fox News: “Do you think Iran can be stopped from continuing to work on a nuclear weapons program through diplomacy and sanctions alone, or will it take military force to stop Iran from working on nuclear weapons?”  Absent priming like this, a majority of Americans actually prefer diplomacy, 81% supporting direct talks between Washington and Tehran.
And don’t forget the military-industrial complex, for which the fear of a nuclear-armed Iran means opportunity. They use it to justify that perennial cash cow and Republican favorite: missile defense (which the Romney campaign dutifully promotes on its “Iran: An American Century” webpage).  It gives the Pentagon a chance to ask for new bunker busting bombs and to justify the two new classes of pricey littoral combat ships.
If the U.S. were to bomb Iranian facilities — and inevitably get drawn into a more prolonged conflict — the cash spigot is likely to open full flood.  And don’t forget the potential LOGCAP, construction, and private security contracts that might flow over the years (even if there isn’t an occupation) to the KBRs, SAICs, DynCorps, Halliburtons, Bechtels, Wackenhuts, Triple Canopies, and Blackwater/Academis of the world.  (Too bad there aren’t meaningful transparency laws that would let us know how much these companies and their employees have contributed, directly or indirectly, to Romney’s campaign or to the think tanks that pay and promote the convenient views of professional ideologues.)
The Problem With Romney
All of this means that the public has been primed for war with Iran.  With constant media attention, the Republican candidates have driven home the notion that Iran has or will soon have nuclear weapons, that Iranian nukes present an immediate and existential threat to Israel and the U.S., and that diplomacy is for sissies.  If Obama wins, he will have to work even harder to prevent war.  If Romney wins, war will be all the easier.  And for his team, that’s a good thing.
The problem with Romney, you see, is that he hangs out with the wrong crowd — the regime-change brigade, many of whom steered the ship of state toward Iraq for George W. Bush.  And keep in mind that he, like Romney (and Obama), was an empty vessel on foreign affairs when he entered the Oval Office. Even if Iran has been nothing more than a political tool for Romney, regime change is a deep-seated goal for the people around him.  They actually want to bomb Iran.  They’ve said so themselves.
Take Robert Kagan.  His main perch is at the non-partisan Brookings Institution, but he has also been a leader of the neocon Project for a New American Century and its successor organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). “Regime change in Tehran,” he has written, “is the best nonproliferation policy.”
Kagan’s fellow directors at the FPI are also on Romney’s team: Bill Kristol, Eric Edelman (former staffer to Cheney and Douglas Feith’s successor at the Pentagon), and former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor, who has become Romney’s most trusted foreign policy advisor and a rumored contender for national security advisor.  The FPI’s position? “It is time to take military action against the Iranian government elements that support terrorism and its nuclear program. More diplomacy is not an adequate response.”
Or how about John Bolton, Bush’s U.N. ambassador and a frequent speaker on behalf of the MEK, who has said, “The better way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is to attack its nuclear weapons program directly and break their control over the nuclear fuel cycle,” and that “we should be prepared to take down the regime in Tehran.”
And the list goes on.
It is, of course, theoretically possible that a President Romney would ignore his neocon team’s advice, just as George W. Bush famously ignored the moderate Republican advice of his father’s team.  Still, it’s hard to imagine him giving the cold shoulder to the sages of the previous administration: Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.  Indeed, Romney is said to turn to the “Cheney-ites” when he seeks counsel, while giving the more moderate Republican internationalists the cold shoulder.  And Cheney wanted to bomb Iran.
In a Romney administration, expect this gang to lobby him hard to finish the job and take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, or at least to give Israel the green light to do so.  Expect them to close their eyes to what we have learned in Iraq and Afghanistan when it comes to “blood and treasure.”  Expect them to say that bombing alone will do the trick “surgically.”  Expect them to claim that the military high command is “soft,” “bureaucratic,” and “risk-averse” when it hesitates to get involved in what will inevitably become a regional nightmare.  Expect the message to be: this time we’ll get it right.
Kenneling the Dogs of War
No one likes the idea of Iran getting nukes, but should the regime decide to pursue them, they don’t present an existential threat to anyone.  Tehran’s leaders know that a mushroom cloud in Tel Aviv, no less Washington, would turn their country into a parking lot.
Should the mullahs ever pursue nuclear weapons again, it would be for deterrence, for the ability to stand up to the United States and say, “Piss off.”  While that might present a challenge for American foreign policy interests — especially those related to oil — it has nothing to do with the physical safety of Israel or the United States.
War with Iran is an incredibly bad idea, yet it’s a real threat.  President Obama has come close to teeing it up.  Even talk of a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is delusional, because, as just about every analyst points out, we wouldn’t know if it had worked (which it probably wouldn’t) and it would be an act of war that Iran wouldn’t absorb with a smile.  In its wake, a lot of people would be likely to die.
But Romney’s guys don’t think it’s a bad idea.  They think it’s a good one, and they are ready to take a swing.
Jeremiah Goulka, a TomDispatch regular, writes about American politics and culture, focusing on security, race, and the Republican Party.  He was formerly an analyst at the RAND Corporation, a Hurricane Katrina recovery worker, and an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. You can follow him on Twitter @jeremiahgoulka or contact him through his website jeremiahgoulka.com.
Copyright 2012 Jeremiah Goulka
___________________
Mirrored from Tomdispatch.eom


Around 12,000 troops from more than 19 nations are wrapping up a massive military training drill in the Middle East. But for some of those servicemen, these exercises might be just the beginning of something much bigger to come.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are just a sampling of the many countries — along with European allies — that have been involved in the nearly month-long Eager Lion 2012 exercise expected to end this week. Although much of the drills have been kept under wraps, it isn’t a secret that these states have spent the last month cooperating together through mock combat drills and comprehensive training. Some sources overseas report, however, that as many as 3,000 troops aligned with US forces have conducted a simulated landing and attack on Iran, preparing America and its allies for a war that becomes more likely by the day.

Intelligence sources speaking to Israel’s Debka news agency report that US troops and other forces aligned with America recently staged a landing on a Jordanian beach that was immediately followed by a military seizure of fortified mountain bases and command posts. The exercise was meant to emulate an attack on Iran and accompanies other drills that witnesses say show off just what America’s foes face if they continue to put the heat on the United States and its pals abroad.

Speaking of a drill assumed to be a mockup of a raid on Syria, Major General. Awni el-Edwan, Chief of staff of the Jordanian Operations and Training Armed Forces, says, “The exercise is not connected to any real world event,” reports CNN. “This has nothing to do with Syria. We respect the sovereignty of Syria. There is no tension between the Syrians and us. Our objectives are clear.”

Others, however, say that the intentions of the Eager Lion 2012 drills are obvious.

Gen. James Mattis, head of the US Central Command, visited both sections of the exercise led by American troops in Jordan, adds Debka. Should the US officially attack either Syria or Iran, Gen. Mattis will be the head of the military forces there. Additionally, intelligence sources speaking with the Israeli outlet reveal that Gen. Mattis has recently sought approval from US President Barack Obama to deploy a third aircraft carrier to the Middle East to increase America’s presence.

The United States currently has two massive aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf area, both the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise, and CNN adds in their report that the Air Force has sent six of the stealth F-22 fighter jets to the neighboring United Arab Emirates.

The US is believed to be engaged in exercises involving the Navy and Air Force in operations on the land, air and sea, with the US Special Operations troops also working in tandem with Jordanian special forces units in counterterrorism to put both teams on the same page.

Debka reports that, during Eager Lion 2012, a command post was also established by around 700 US Marines onboard the USS New York amphibious transport dock that was stationed in the Red Sea. The entire exercise there, they say, was “clearly visible” to observers in a neighboring Israeli port. Only days earlier, Debka reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his country that “all options remain on the table” involving an attack on Iran, and that the Jewish state will strike first if necessary, even without the assistance of American forces.

“There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities,” said Barak.


If Israel goes from threats to military actions, “it is Israel who will be destroyed,” says a high-ranking Iranian general. This comes as a fresh twist in the war of words that has engrossed Israel and Iran in recent months.

­”If the Zionist regime takes any actions against Iran, it would result in the end of its labors,” Brigadier General Mostafa Izadi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, told the Fars news agency.

Israel cannot harm Iran in the slightest, assured the top military official.

“If they act logically, such threats amount to a psychological war, but if they want to act illogically, it is they who will be destroyed,” he added.

The message is a response to Israel’s renewed calls for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic. As Iran sat down to another round of nuclear talks with world powers last week, Israel issued more calls threatening Iran with military action. Tel Aviv believed Tehran did not take the threat of war seriously.

“The Iranians think this is just a warning. That people are not serious enough,”

Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview, as the talks kicked off in Moscow.

“If the Iranians understand seriously that this [military action] is an option, maybe we shall not need it. If they think this is a bluff, then it may lead to a war,” he added.

Israel and its Western allies suspect that Tehran is enriching uranium in a bid to secretly create nuclear warheads, though no evidence for such a claim has been presented and most Western experts say otherwise. Tel Aviv has also repeatedly said that it will bomb Iranian nuclear facilities before allowing it to build nukes. Iran insists that it needs enriched uranium for civilian uses.

The Moscow negotiations wrapped up with no breakthrough.

Western powers again demanded that Tehran scale down its nuclear work: to shut down the Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility and ship any stockpile out of the country. In return, Iran was offered enough fuel to meet the country’s medical needs, assistance in nuclear security and lift a ban on spare parts for Iran’s civilian planes.

Iran slammed the proposed deal for having too many demands while offering little in return. Tehran wanted to see relief from strangling economic sanctions, imposed by the EU and US, and an official acknowledgement of its right to enrich uranium before they considered scaling down nuclear activities.

A follow-up meeting is scheduled for July 3.



Here are some ways you can spread the word to make sure President Obama gets the message loud and clear.

If you are on Facebook, click here to post the petition to your Wall.

If you have a Twitter account, click here to automatically tweet:
Tell Pres. @BarackObama: We support diplomacy with #Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war. http://bit.ly/MqtlwH

You can also send the following e-mail to your friends and family. Spreading the word is critical, but please only pass this message along to those who know you — spam hurts our campaign.

Thanks for all you do.

–The CREDO Action Team

Here’s a sample message to send to your friends:


Subject: Tell President Obama: We support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war.
Dear Friend,

The next week is critically important for those of us who want to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran.

Iran has come to the table for negotiations about the future of its nuclear program, with the next round of multilateral negotiations scheduled to take place today and tomorrow in Moscow.

But the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to abandon diplomacy with Iran, and follow a path that would make war inevitable. And much of the pressure is coming from warmongers like John Bolton (an ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), who want the talks to fail.

We need to speak out now to ensure that President Obama knows the American people support diplomacy, not war.

I just signed a petition telling President Obama that we support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war.

I hope you sign the petition, too.

It’s easy to do so. Just click on the link below.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/obama_iran/?r_by=41967-5154581-CDhpWCx&rc=confemail


The next few days are critically important for those of us who want to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran.
Iran has come to the table for negotiations about the future of its nuclear program, with the next round of multilateral negotiations scheduled to take place today and tomorrow in Moscow.
But the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to abandon diplomacy with Iran, and follow a path that would make war inevitable. And much of the pressure is coming from warmongers like John Bolton (an ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), who want the talks to fail.
We need to speak out now to ensure that President Obama knows the American people support diplomacy, not war.
Many in power seem to have learned nothing from the catastrophic mistake and tremendous moral failure that was the war in Iraq.
There is already dangerous momentum to begin a war of choice with Iran. And should the Moscow negotiations break down or bear no fruit, the drumbeat for war will only grow more intense.
Those who would welcome a war with Iran are trying to suggest that the window for a diplomatic solution is rapidly closing.
But both American and Israeli intelligence services agree that Iran neither has made a decision to build a nuclear bomb nor currently has the capacity to do so. So there is no short-term imperative to wage war.
To his credit, President Obama is clearly not rushing to start another war. But many members of Congress, including many Democrats, are pushing him to offer nothing meaningful to Iran until Iran gives the United States and its allies everything we want.
Fundamentally, this kind of negotiating strategy would set us up for failure.
While there is no easy solution to the challenges we face with Iran, it is imperative that we pursue diplomacy in good faith and give diplomatic solutions the time they need to bear fruit.
And that means being open to a slow but steady move away from the brink of war through mutual concessions.
In an election year, when many of President Obama’s traditional allies are either opposed or highly skeptical of his strategy, President Obama must know that there is full-throated support for diplomacy that can prevent an unnecessary war.
Tell President Obama: We support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out for diplomacy.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

WASHINGTON – The Russian military anticipates that an attack will occur on Iran by the summer and has developed an action plan to move Russian troops through neighboring Georgia to stage in Armenia, which borders on the Islamic republic, according to informed Russian sources.

Russian Security Council head Viktor Ozerov said that Russian General Military Headquarters has prepared an action plan in the event of an attack on Iran.

Dmitry Rogozin, who recently was the Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, warned against an attack on Iran.

“Iran is our neighbor,” Rogozin said. “If Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.” Rogozin now is the deputy Russian prime minister and is regarded as anti-Western. He oversees Russia’s defense sector.

Russian Defense Ministry sources say that the Russian military doesn’t believe that Israel has sufficient military assets to defeat Iranian defenses and further believes that U.S. military action will be necessary.

The implication of preparing to move Russian troops not only is to protect its own vital regional interests but possibly to assist Iran in the event of such an attack. Sources add that a Russian military buildup in the region could result in the Russian military potentially engaging Israeli forces, U.S. forces, or both.

Informed sources say that the Russians have warned of “unpredictable consequences” in the event Iran is attacked, with some Russians saying that the Russian military will take part in the possible war because it would threaten its vital interests in the region.

The influential Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper has quoted a Russian military source as saying that the situation forming around Syria and Iran “causes Russia to expedite the course of improvement of its military groups in the South Caucasus, the Caspian, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.”

This latest information comes from a series of reports and leaks from official Russian spokesmen and government news agencies who say that an Israeli attack is all but certain by the summer.

Because of the impact on Russian vital interests in the region, sources say that Russian preparations for such an attack began two years ago when Russian Military Base 102 in Gyumri, Armenia, was modernized. It is said to occupy a major geopolitical position in the region.

Families of Russian servicemen from the Russian base at Gyumri in Armenia close to the borders of Georgia and Turkey already have been evacuated, Russian sources say.

Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-04-09/news/31311454_1_russian-defense-ministry-military-action-dmitry-rogozin#ixzz1s2j7KMHO


Sheldon Richman

Published: Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.

When President Obama spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee some weeks ago, he admonished those who engaged in “loose talk of war” about Iran. Apparently, his secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, didn’t get the memo.

The Associated Press reported this week,

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made clear Saturday that time is running out for diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and said talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon would resume in mid-April. With speculation over a possible U.S. or Israel military attack adding urgency to the next round of discussions in Istanbul set for April 13, Clinton said Iran’s “window of opportunity” for a peaceful resolution “will not remain open forever.”

She also expressed doubt about whether Iran has any intention of negotiating a solution that satisfies the U.S., Israel and other countries that believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

That’s another memo Clinton seems not to have received. Both American and Israeli intelligence say that Iran has neither started to build a nuclear weapon nor even decided to do so in the future. Both also regard the Iranian government as a “rational actor.” (The American news media occasionally reports this, but then goes back to stating, as though it were uncontroversial, that Iran is building a nuclear arsenal.)

So why the conflicting signals from the U.S. government? This conflict can be seen in Obama’s own statements. While he calls for diplomacy and warns against loose war talk, he has imposed harsh economic sanctions that make the daily lives of average Iranians miserable, has rejected “containment,” and boasted that he doesn’t “bluff.”

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command has trained operatives from an Iranian opposition group at a secret site in Nevada. Writing in The New Yorker, Hersh reports JSOC began training the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, in 2005, even though the group is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. The training included intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics. The training is said to have ended before President Obama took office. Last month, NBC reported members of the MEK have been involved in the assassinations of five Iranian nuclear scientists.


US President Barack Obama has approved the introduction of fresh sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil.

In a statement, Mr Obama said US allies boycotting Iranian oil would not suffer negative consequences because there was enough oil in the world market.

The move would allow the US to take measures against foreign banks that still deal with Iranian oil.

Iran is facing international pressure to address concerns over its nuclear enrichment programme.

Western countries suspect Iran of attempting to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insists the programme is purely peaceful.

Mr Obama said in a statement that he would continue to monitor the global market closely to ensure it could handle a reduction of oil purchases from Iran.

The US president was required by a law he signed in December to determine by 31 March whether the market allowed countries to “significantly” cut their purchases from Iran.
‘On notice’

A statement from the White House acknowledged that “a series of production disruptions in South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and the North Sea have removed oil from the market” in the first months of 2012.

“Nonetheless, there currently appears to be sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their import of Iranian oil,” the statement says.

“In fact, many purchasers of Iranian crude oil have already reduced their purchases or announced they are in productive discussions with alternative suppliers.”

Under the law signed in December, countries have until 28 June to show they have significantly reduced the amount of crude oil they purchase from Iran or face being cut off from the US financial system.


By Michael McGehee:

Today the New York Times published a revealing page one article by Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker under the headline “U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran.

The revelation is not so much that an Israeli attack on Iran would be illegal—there is, predictably, not one comment on the legality of such a “first strike.” Rather the revelation is the übermenschen mentality illustrating that what makes an attack “dire” or “perilous” is how it would affect us, not the untermenschen. The U.S. and Israel, by the laws of superior might, are people. By those same laws, anyone who happens to be the “enemy”—in this case, Iran—are unpeople. Therefore a war game which would “leave hundreds of Americans dead” and less than a thousand Israelis dead is perilous. What about Iran? There are no provided figures on Iranian casualties. They don’t matter.

We read that, “In December 2002, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who was the top officer at Central Command, used Internal Look to test the readiness of his units for the coming invasion of Iraq.” At that time there was no concern about dire consequences. Apparently an American war that left more than one million unpeople dead is breaking a few eggs to make an omelete.

It was also troubling to read that,

The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation.

What the paragraph above implies is that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and Israel is determined to stop them. The truth is that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, various U.S. intelligence agencies, and even Israel’s Mossad has admitted the program is non-existent.

Times Editors let it slip by very slyly when reporters Mazzetti and Shanker tell Times’ readers that “American and Israeli intelligence services […] disagree on how much time there would be to prevent Iran from building a weapon if leaders in Tehran decided to go ahead with one.” However, the article quickly goes back to implying that is what Iran is moving towards: “With the Israelis saying publicly that the window to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb is closing, American officials see an Israeli attack on Iran within the next year as a possibility.”

The last part of Mazzetti and Shanker’s article deals with how “some military specialists in the United States and in Israel” disagree on how Iran might respond towards U.S. forces in the region because, “Their analysis, however, also includes the broad caveat that it is impossible to know the internal thinking of the senior Iranian leadership,” but, “…these specialists continue their work, saying that any insight on how the Iranians will react to an attack will help determine whether the Israelis carry out a strike — and what the American position will be if they do.”

Mazzetti and Shanker close their article noting that, “Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration, widespread acts of terrorism and sky-high oil prices,” and “Defense Minister Ehud Barak” telling Israel Radio last November that, “The state of Israel will not be destroyed.”

An illegal war of aggression waged over a bogus pretext that the perpetrators have already admitted is bogus, and that has predictably “dire consequences”—which to the perpetrators means considerably low costs as compared to what it would mean for the victim—cannot even be called what it is in the “paper of record.” There is not one word on how criminal such a “first strike” would be, or how necessary it would be for the perpetrators to be hauled off to a war crimes tribunal. All we are treated with is the concern of what such an attack would mean for the übermenschen while being assured that Israel would not be destroyed for their wreckless and criminal behavior. The message is loud and clear: the U.S. and Israel are such rogue states that moral and legal considerations are not even entertained. For them all they are concerned with is whether or not they can get away with it, and at minimal costs.


Dear Friend,
The war in Iraq was a catastrophic mistake and a tremendous moral failure. But there is dangerous momentum to begin another war of choice, this time with Iran.
That is why Congresswoman Barbara Lee has introduced legislation that, in her words, “directs the President to appoint a Special Envoy for Iran to ensure that all diplomatic avenues are pursued to avoid a war with Iran and to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Whether or not you think your representative will co-sponsor the bill, we need you to pick up the phone and make a call.
Unfortunately, while the American people are opposed to another war of choice, those pushing for war have been far more vocal and organized than the rest of us.
Our friends on the Hill have told us that congressional offices are hearing from people who want us to go to war, but not from those who would like to see a diplomatic solution.
We cannot allow those howling for war to be met with a deafening silence on our side.
Our allies in Congress need to know their constituents want them to remain steadfast. And we need to put other lawmakers on notice that their constituents reject the dangerous saber-rattling that might bring our nation to the brink of war.
While there are no easy solutions to addressing the challenges we face with Iran, it is imperative that we pursue diplomacy.
Yet right now, all options are on the table except direct negotiations. That’s a recipe for another needless war.
We can’t wait for the first bombs to drop. We need to speak out now.
Thank you for speaking out.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets


Dear Friend,
As we approach the ninth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we once again see dangerous momentum for another irresponsible, unnecessary and costly war — this time with Iran.
Fear-mongering and propaganda aside, Iran is not an imminent threat to the United States — and we haven’t yet exhausted all avenues for diplomacy to ensure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
But as a result of the Iranian Revolution over 30 years ago, current law makes it very difficult for American diplomats to talk directly to representatives of the Iranian government.
That is why Congresswoman Barbara Lee has introduced legislation that, in her words, “directs the President to appoint a Special Envoy for Iran to ensure that all diplomatic avenues are pursued to avoid a war with Iran and to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”1
Whether or not you think your representative will co-sponsor the bill, we need you to speak out.
Unfortunately, while the American people are opposed to another war of choice,2 those pushing for war have been far more vocal and organized than the rest of us.
Our friends on the Hill have told us that congressional offices are hearing from people who want us to go to war, but not from those who would like to see a diplomatic solution.
Not only will your petition signature signal support for Rep. Lee’s bill, it will also ensure that those howling for war are not met with a deafening silence on our side.
Our allies in Congress will know their constituents want them to remain steadfast, and other lawmakers will be put on notice that their constituents reject the dangerous saber-rattling that might bring our nation to the brink of war.
We can’t afford to remain a silent majority. We must push back on the ever-increasing clamor for war.
While there are no easy solutions to addressing the challenges we face with Iran, it is imperative that we pursue diplomacy.
We know all too well the consequences of starting an unnecessary war.
The war in Iraq was a catastrophic mistake and a tremendous moral failure.
But right now with Iran, all options are on the table except direct negotiations. That’s a recipe for another needless war.
We can’t wait for the first bombs to drop. We need to speak out now.
Tell your member of Congress to co-sponsor Rep. Lee’s bill to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out to stop another needless war.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. Dear Colleague letter from Barbara Lee, dated 3-7-12
2. “Poll: Americans Favor Diplomacy Over Israeli Attack On Iran,” David Taintor, Talking Points Memo, 03-14-12.

Three reasons not to attack Iran
Five reasons to attack Iran

An attack on Iran and sanctions are both unworkable. A third option is to create a nuclear-free Middle East. Yes, it sounds far-fetched. But it actually meets the strategic needs of both Israel and Iran. One idea is to relocate Israel’s nukes elsewhere, rather than destroy them.

By Boaz Atzili / March 9, 2012

For half a century now, Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly has been its “Samson option,” the one weapon it can threaten to use if all else fails and Israel faces a real existential threat. As a scholar concentrating on the Middle East conflict, and also as a native of Israel, I am not comforted by the nuclear security blanket under which I was born.

Now that this monopoly is facing an increasingly possible challenge from Iran, Israel should reconsider its nuclear supremacy – as far fetched as this may sound. The argument in favor of such a radical shift is not moral, but strategic. Israel may well be better off in a Middle East with no nuclear powers than in one with – potentially – several of them.

Iran, too, would have its own reasons to support such an arrangement. And a secure path to a “no nukes” zone may be found not in dismantling Israel’s arsenal, but in relocating it. In the face of an apparently fast-advancing Iranian nuclear project, the two options mostly discussed are sanctions and military attack. Neither is very appealing. The first is unlikely to halt the Iranian program and the second will only postpone it temporarily while possibly creating a regional conflagration on a large scale.

When Israel developed its own nuclear program, apparently in the late 1950s, it made much strategic sense. Israel was a small country, with very limited human and material resources, surrounded by hostile neighbors. Nuclear arms could provide the ultimate guarantee of security.

But Israel is no longer so vulnerable. True, much of the region is still hostile (despite peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan). Yet Israel holds a profound conventional superiority over any potential rivals – a superiority that makes a nuclear-free Middle East a strong and effective second-best option after a nuclear monopoly.

Moreover, it’s unclear that Israel would sacrifice much in a nuclear-free Middle East. Its nuclear arsenal has not deterred Arab countries from launching conventional attacks against it (as in 1973) and it has not deterred asymmetric campaigns by nonstate actors.

The only role Israel’s nuclear arsenal may have played so far has been to deter attack from unconventional weapons, as in Iraq’s nonuse of chemical weapons against Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. But Israel’s air superiority and precision weapons could do that just as well.


Six major world powers and Iran are to hold fresh talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme, the EU has said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she had replied to a letter from Iran on behalf of the five UN Security Council members plus Germany.

Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili sent the letter last month proposing talks. No date or venue has been set.

The move comes amid fresh speculation of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iran insists there is no military element to its programme but Western powers fear it is constructing nuclear weapons.
Parchin access

The statement from Baroness Ashton said the EU hoped that Iran would “now enter into a sustained process of constructive dialogue which will deliver real progress in resolving the international community’s long-standing concerns on its nuclear programme.”

It added: “Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Benjamin Netanyahu assured President Barack Obama on Monday that Israel has not made any decision on attacking Iran’s nuclear sites, sources close to the talks said, but the Israeli prime minister gave no sign of backing away from possible military action. With Obama appealing for more time to allow international sanctions to work against Tehran, the two men agreed to keep up their coordination on the issue, but differences remained on how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. …

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told US President Barack Obama that Israel must always remain “master of its fate”.

Meeting the Israeli leader at the White House, Mr Obama said a nuclear Iran would be an “unacceptable” development.

On Sunday, Mr Obama told a pro-Israel conference in Washington there had been too much “loose talk” of war with Iran.

Israel fears Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, although Tehran insists its nuclear plans are peaceful.

“The bond between our two countries is unbreakable,” Mr Obama said, as the two leaders sat side-by-side in the Oval Office.

In November 2011, at a G20 summit, journalists overheard a private exchange between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Mr Obama in which Mr Sarkozy called the Israeli leader a “liar”.

Mr Obama replied: “You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day.”
‘No hesitation’

In his speech on Sunday to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), Mr Obama said the US “will not hesitate” to use force to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

But he stressed that diplomacy could still succeed.

“Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment – I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Mr Obama told the annual Aipac conference.

“And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

President Obama has said Iran must be stopped from “possessing” a nuclear weapon. That probably will not happen for a couple of years. The Israeli government’s red line is apparently when Iran has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb (and when they hide it deep underground). That could be later this year.

One Israeli journalist has written that the plan is to drag the US into a war just before the presidential elections in November. But this is not just about when to go to war. President Obama has stressed his reluctance to go to war at all. The US military feel this even more strongly.


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama warned that he is not bluffing about attacking Iran if it builds a nuclear weapon, but in an interview published Friday, Obama also cautioned U.S. ally Israel that a premature attack on Iran would do more harm than good.

In his most expansive remarks on the issue thus far, Obama told The Atlantic magazine that Iran and Israel both understand that “a military component” is among a mix of many options for dealing with Iran, along with sanctions and diplomacy. That is the most direct threat he has issued during months of escalating tension with Iran over its disputed nuclear development program.
His comments appeared aimed more at Israel and its supporters in the United States than at Iran. Obama addresses the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday and meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday at the White House. Netanyahu will also address AIPAC.

“I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” he said in the interview. “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But (both) governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

Netanyahu, speaking Friday ahead of a meeting in Canada with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, called Iran’s nuclear ambitions a “grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I think it’s important that the international community not allow this threat to materialize.”

“As for Israel, like any sovereign country, we reserve the right to defend ourselves against a country, against a country that calls and works for our destruction,” Netanyahu said.
Obama will try to convince Netanyahu to postpone any plans his government may have to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in coming months. An attack that soon would not carry U.S. backing, and the U.S. would probably not be involved in planning or executing it.
Nonetheless, it could force the United States into a new conflict and an arms race in the Middle East, as Obama made clear in the lengthy interview. It also could allow Iran to paint itself as the victim and draw new support that would undermine rather than enhance Israel’s security, Obama warned.
“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?” Obama said.
At the same time, Obama has consistently refused to renounce a military option for the United States down the road. The dispute with Israel is over the timing and efficiency of such a strike, not whether one is ever appropriate. The difference of opinion has quickly come to dominate the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the U.S. strategy for dealing with a nuclear Iran is a major issue for American Jewish voters in this election year.
Israeli leaders have strongly hinted that they want to hear clearer terms from Obama for what the United States would do if Iran crosses the threshold from nuclear energy to nuclear weapons. Until now, Obama has said a nuclear Iran is unacceptable but has not spelled out just what the U.S. would do or when.
In the interview, Obama did go further than he has before. He explicitly referred to the possible use of military force, and he firmly rejected the notion that the United States might settle for a strategy of deterring Iran from using a nuclear weapon.
“You’re talking about the most volatile region in the world,” he said. “It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe. “
He also pointed to economic turmoil in Iran and reiterated that sanctions against the Iranian regime are starting to bite.

In a series of recent meetings with Israeli leaders, administration officials are believed to have sought to persuade the Jewish state to give sanctions more time to work and to hold off on any military strike. Speaking Thursday to reporters, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama believes there is still “time and space” for those measure to persuade the Iranian regime to take a different course.
Israeli officials acknowledge the pain in Iran but have publicly expressed doubt those measures will ever cause Iran’s clerical leaders to change course.
Obama wasn’t so sure. “They’re sensitive to the opinions of the people and they are troubled by the isolation that they’re experiencing,” he told the Atlantic. “They know, for example, that when these kinds of sanctions are applied, it puts a world of hurt on them.”
Though Obama emphatically portrays himself as one of Israel’s best friends, touting military and other ties, his relationship with Netanyahu has at times been frosty. The two have sparred publicly over Jewish settlements on the West Bank, with Netanyahu pushing back on Washington’s efforts to move forward on peace talks with the Palestinians.
The Iran issue has risen to the forefront of his foreign policy. At a fundraiser in New York on Thursday night, an audience member shouted out, urging the president to avoid a war with Iran.
“Nobody has announced a war,” Obama cautioned. “You’re jumping the gun a little bit.”


Defense Minister Ehud Barak strongly criticized President Shimon Peres on Thursday, after a Haaretz report revealed that Peres is expected to tell U.S. President Barack Obama that he does not believe Israel should attack Iran in the near future.

The two presidents are due to meet in Washington, D.C., on Sunday March 4.

“With all due respect to various officeholders from the past and present, the rumor that there is [only] one government in Israel has also reached the United States,” Barak said sarcastically in private conversations, adding: “In the end, there is an elected [Israeli] government that makes the decisions and that is its responsibility.”

During Barak’s criticism of the Israeli president, he made reference to Peres’ conduct in the early 1980s when Israel attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, when Menachem Begin was prime minister.

“It’s the same Shimon Peres who in 1981 opposed the bombing of the reactor in Iraq,” the defense minister said.

“Peres argued then that Begin was leading us to a holocaust, and there are those who claim that, to this day, Peres thinks the attack on the reactor was a mistake. Imagine what would have happened if the Americans and their allies had attempted to get [Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait if he had three atomic bombs. The Americans said in retrospect that Begin was farsighted,” Barak reportedly said.

Barak’s harsh criticism of Peres is unusual in that over the past three years, the defense minister has carefully accorded respect to Peres, even meeting with him every Sunday before cabinet meetings.

Nonetheless, tension between the two has been simmering for over a year on the Iranian issue, as far back as the tenure of former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

In Barak’s office, Ashkenazi – who opposed an assault on Iran – was thought to have enlisted Peres as a supporter of his stance during his dispute on the issue with Barak.

Thursday’s Haaretz report about Peres raised eyebrows in both the Prime Minister’s Office and in Barak’s bureau. Sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the premier was surprised to read Peres’ comments in the newspaper. They called the comments very disturbing, and added that although the president has the right to express an opinion, ultimately there is only one prime minister in Israel, and he’s the one who is responsible for making decisions.

Peres and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet on Friday, which will give them an opportunity to discuss the issue. Thursday morning, however, staff from the two offices were already on the telephone with each other in an effort to head off a crisis. Peres’ advisers denied the comments attributed to the Israeli president on the Iranian issue and also denied that he intended to convey such a message to President Obama.

After contact with Peres’ office from the Prime Minister’s Office and from Barak’s office, Peres committed to redress the situation in a speech later in the day to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, toeing Netanyahu and Barak’s line.

Peres delivered the speech on Thursday and underlined the fact that Israel is a sovereign country that has the right and the ability to defend itself. “When we say that all options are on the table on Iran, we really mean it,” he told his audience. The president called a nuclear Iran a threat not only to Israel but to the entire world.


Late last week, amid little fanfare, Senators Joseph Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and Robert Casey introduced a resolution that would move America further down the path toward war with Iran.
The good news is that the resolution hasn’t been universally embraced in the Senate. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports, the resolution has “provoked jitters among Democrats anxious over the specter of war.” The bad news is that, as Kampeas also reports, “AIPAC is expected to make the resolution an ‘ask’ in three weeks when up to 10,000 activists culminate its annual conference with a day of Capitol Hill lobbying.”

In standard media accounts, the resolution is being described as an attempt to move the “red line”–the line that, if crossed by Iran, could trigger a US military strike. The Obama administration has said that what’s unacceptable is for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This resolution speaks instead of a “nuclear weapons capability.” In other words, Iran shouldn’t be allowed to get to a point where, should it decide to produce a nuclear weapon, it would have the wherewithal to do so.
By itself this language is meaninglessly vague. Does “capability” mean the ability to produce a bomb within two months? Two years? If two years is the standard, Iran has probably crossed the red line already. (So should we start bombing now?) Indeed, by the two-year standard, Iran might well be over the red line even after a bombing campaign–which would at most be a temporary setback, and would remove any doubt among Iran’s leaders as to whether to build nuclear weapons, and whether to make its nuclear program impervious to future American and Israeli bombs. What do we do then? Invade?
In other words, if interpreted expansively, the “nuclear weapons capability” threshold is a recipe not just for war, but for ongoing war–war that wouldn’t ultimately prevent the building of a nuclear weapon without putting boots on the ground. And it turns out that the authors of this resolution want “nuclear weapons capability” interpreted very expansively.

The key is in the way the resolution deals with the question of whether Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium, as it’s been doing for some time now. The resolution defines as an American goal “the full and sustained suspension” of uranium enrichment by Iran. In case you’re wondering what the resolution’s prime movers mean by that: In a letter sent to the White House on the same day the resolution was introduced, Lieberman, Graham and ten other senators wrote, “We would strongly oppose any proposal that recognizes a ‘right to enrichment’ by the current regime or for [sic] a diplomatic endgame in which Iran is permitted to continue enrichment on its territory in any form.”

This notwithstanding the fact that 1) enrichment is allowed under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; (2) a sufficiently intrusive monitoring system can verify that enrichment is for peaceful purposes; (3) Iran’s right to enrich its own uranium is an issue of strong national pride. In a poll published in 2010, after sanctions had already started to bite, 86 percent of Iranians said Iran should not “give up its nuclear activities regardless of the circumstances.” And this wasn’t about building a bomb; most Iranians said Iran’s nuclear activities shouldn’t include producing weapons.

Even Dennis Ross–who has rarely, in his long career as a Mideast diplomat, left much daylight between his positions and AIPAC’s, and who once categorically opposed Iranian enrichment–now realizes that a diplomatic solution may have to include enrichment. Last week in a New York Times op-ed, he said that, contrary to pessimistic assessments, it may still be possible to get a deal that “uses intrusive inspections and denies or limits uranium enrichment [emphasis added]…”

The resolution plays down its departure from current policy by claiming that there have been “multiple” UN resolutions since 2006 demanding the “sustained” suspension of uranium. But the UN resolutions don’t actually use that term. The UN has demanded suspension as a confidence-building measure that could then lead to, as one resolution puts it, a “negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.” And various Security Council members who voted on these resolutions have made it clear that Iranian enrichment of uranium can be part of this scenario if Iran agrees to sufficiently tight monitoring.
Indeed, that Iran’s right to enrich uranium could be recognized under those circumstances is, Hillary Clinton has said, “the position of the international community, along with the United States.” If the Lieberman-Graham-Casey resolution guides US policy, says George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, that would “preclude” fulfillment of the UN resolutions and isolate the US from the international coalition that backed them.

The Congressional resolution goes beyond the UN resolutions in another sense. It demands an end to Iran’s ballistic missile program. Greg Thielmann of the Arms Control Association notes that, “Even after crushing Iraq in the first Gulf War, the international coalition only imposed a 150-kilometer range ceiling on Saddam’s ballistic missiles. A demand to eliminate all ballistic missiles would be unprecedented in the modern era–removing any doubt among Iranians that the United States was interested in nothing less than the total subjugation of the country.”

On the brighter side: Maybe it’s a good sign that getting significant Democratic buy-in for this resolution took some strong-arming. According to Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now, the resolution got 15 Democratic supporters only “after days of intense AIPAC lobbying, particularly of what some consider ‘vulnerable’ Democrats (vulnerable in terms of being in races where their pro-Israel credentials are being challenged by the candidate running against them).” What’s more, even as AIPAC was playing this hardball, the bill’s sponsors still had to tone down some particularly threatening language in the resolution.
But, even so, the resolution defines keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapons “capability” as being in America’s “vital national interest,” which is generally taken as synonymous with “worth war.” And, though this “sense of Congress” resolution is nonbinding, AIPAC will probably seek unanimous Senate consent, which puts pressure on a president. Friedman says this “risks sending a message that Congress supports war and opposes a realistic negotiated solution or any de facto solution short of stripping Iran of even a peaceful nuclear capacity.”

What’s more, says Friedman, the non-binding status may be temporary. “Often AIPAC-backed Congressional initiatives start as non-binding language (in a resolution or a letter) and then show up in binding legislation. Once members of Congress have already signed on to a policy in non-binding form, it is much harder for them to oppose it when it shows up later in a bill that, if passed, will have the full force of law.”
No wonder Democrats who worry about war have the “jitters.”


TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran ordered a halt to its oil sales to Britain and France on Sunday in a move seen as retaliation against tightening EU sanctions, as a team of U.N. inspectors flew to Tehran to press the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear program.

The European Union enraged Tehran last month when it decided to impose a boycott on its oil from July 1. Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, responded by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, the main Gulf oil shipping lane.

On Sunday, its oil ministry went a step further, announcing Iran has now stopped selling oil to France and Britain altogether – a powerful yet largely symbolic message since neither European nation relies on Iranian crude imports.

“Exporting crude to British and French companies has been stopped … we will sell our oil to new customers,” spokesman Alireza Nikzad was quoted as saying on the ministry website.

Iran, which denies Western allegations that it is seeking to make nuclear weapons, has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks while also expressing willingness to resume negotiations on its nuclear program.

A five-member team from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flew to Tehran late on Sunday for talks, although Western diplomats have played down any hopes of a major breakthrough in the two-day meeting.

“I’m still pessimistic that Iran will demonstrate the substantive cooperation necessary,” one envoy said in Vienna.

Yet the outcome of this week’s discussions is important and will be watched closely because it could either intensify the standoff or offer scope to reduce tensions.

The European Commission says the bloc would not be short of oil if Iran stopped crude exports as it has enough stock to meet its needs for around 120 days.

Industry sources said European oil buyers were already making big cuts in purchases from Iran months in advance of EU sanctions. France’s Total has stopped buying Iranian oil while debt-ridden Greece is most exposed to Iranian crude disruption among European countries.

MILITARY STRIKE?

Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful but its refusal to curb uranium enrichment, which can have both military and civilian purposes, has raised concerns.

Western powers have not ruled out using force against Iran, and there has been an intense public discussion in Israel about whether it should attack Iran to stop it making a nuclear bomb.

However, on Sunday the top U.S. military officer said a military strike would be premature as it was not clear that Tehran would use its nuclear capabilities to build an atomic bomb.

“I believe it is unclear (that Iran would assemble a bomb) and on that basis, I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us,” said General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He said he believed the Iranian government was a “rational actor.”

The West has expressed some optimism over the prospect of new talks with Tehran, particularly after it sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week promising to bring “new initiatives” to the table.

“In these negotiations, we are looking for a way out of Iran’s current nuclear issue so that both sides win,” Iranian TV quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying on Sunday.

Oil is a major part of Iran’s export revenues and an important lifeline for its increasingly isolated economy. It has little refining capacity and has to import about 40 percent of its gasoline needs for domestic consumption.

Tightening sanctions, combined with high inflation, have squeezed the ability of working-class Iranians to feed themselves and their families, and this uncertainty forms the backdrop to a parliamentary vote on March 2.

“Everything’s become so expensive in the past few weeks,” said Marjan Hamidi, an Iranian shopper in Tehran, “But my husband’s income stays the same. How am I going to live like this?”

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Ramin Mostafavi in Tehran, Susan Cornwell in Washington and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


Senior Israeli government official issues complete denial of Foreign Policy report that Mossad agents posed as CIA officers to recruit Pakistani terrorists to carry out attacks in Iran.

By Amir Oren Tags: Iran nuclear Israel spy Israel US Jonathan Pollard

A senior Israeli government official has called “absolute nonsense” a Friday report in Foreign Policy that Mossad agents posed as CIA officers in order to recruit members of a Pakistani terror group to carry out assassinations and attacks against the regime in Iran.

Quoting U.S. intelligence memos, Foreign Policy’s Mark Perry reported that the Mossad operation was carried out in 2007-2008, behind the back of the U.S. government, and infuriated then U.S. President George W. Bush.

Perry quoted a number of American intelligence officials and claimed that the Mossad agents used American dollars and U.S. passports to pose as CIA spies to try to recruit members of Jundallah, a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization that has carried out a series of attacks in Iran and assassinations of government officials.

Israel generally refrains for responding to reports on alleged Mossad activities. However, in the wake of Perry’s report as well as the official U.S. condemnation of the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran earlier this week, Israeli officials were quick to issue a complete denial of the report.

The concern was that leaving Perry’s report without a response would revive tensions that existed between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities following the Jonathan Pollard affair in the 1980s. Pollard was sentenced to life in a U.S. prison after being convicted of spying for Israel.

The senior Israeli government official said that if there were any truth the claims in Perry’s report, Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad at the time of the alleged operation, would have been declared a persona non grata in the U.S. and that “Dagan’s foot would not have walked again in Washington”.


The US has condemned the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in a car bomb attack in north Tehran.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the US “had absolutely nothing to do” with the attack.

Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, who worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, died along with the driver of the car.

Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in recent years, with Iran blaming Israel and the US.
Both deny any involvement.

Washington and its allies suspect Tehran of secretly trying to develop a nuclear weapons capacity but Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful.

“The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this. We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like this,” said Mr Vietor.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization described the killings as “a heinous act”.

Western intelligence sources told Time magazine on Friday that Israel’s Mossad is responsible for the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist.

A magnetic bomb was attached to the door of 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan’s car during the Wednesday morning rush-hour in Tehran. His driver was also killed. Sources tell the magazine Israel was behind three previous assassinations of scientists.

Iran scientist - AP - January 13, 2011 The shrouded body of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan is seen prior to his burial in Tehran on January 13, 2012.
Photo by: AP 

A senior Israeli official told is quoted in the report as saying “yeah, one more… I don’t feel sad for him.”

On Saturday, Iranian state television said that Iran had evidence the United States was behind the latest assassination. We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a letter handed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, state TV reported.

“The documents clearly show that this terrorist act was carried out with the direct involvement of CIA-linked agents.”

The Swiss Embassy has represented U.S. interests in Iran since Iran and the U.S. cut diplomatic ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Tension has mounted between Iran and the West as the United States and European Union prepare measures aimed at imposing sanctions on the Iran’s oil exports, its economic lifeblood.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear dispute.
Also on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. has stepped up contingency planning in case Israel launches a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

According to the report, U.S. defense officials are becoming increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to carry out such a strike.

The U.S. military is reportedly preparing for a range of possible responses to an Israeli strike on Iran, including attacks by pro-Iranian Shiite militias against the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

The report said that, largely as a deterrent to Iran, the U.S. has 15,000 soldiers in Kuwait and has moved a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf region.

Additionally, the U.S. has been pre-positioning aircraft and other military hardware and has accelerated arms transfers to U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf region.

According to the report, top U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have sent a series of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the consequences of a strike on Iran. The U.S. reportedly wants to give sanctions and other measures more time, as part of efforts to compel Iran to abandon its alleged work to build nuclear weapons.

Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone on Thursday and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit Israel next week.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to the car of an Iranian university professor working at a key nuclear facility, killing him and his driver Wednesday, reports said. The slayings suggest a widening covert effort to set back Iran’s atomic program.

The attack in Tehran bore a strong resemblance to earlier killings of scientists working on the Iranian nuclear program. It is certain to amplify authorities’ claims of clandestine operations by Western powers and their allies to halt Iran’s nuclear advances.

The blast killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, state TV reported. State news agency IRNA said Roshan had “organizational links” to Iran’s nuclear agency, which suggests a direct role in key aspects of the program.

TEHRAN, Nov 12 — A massive explosion at a military arms depot near the Iranian capital Tehran on Saturday killed 17 Revolutionary Guards and wounded 15, a spokesman for the elite fighting force told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Officials said the blast was an accident which happened as troops were moving munitions at a base in Bidganeh, near the town of Shahriar, some 45 km west of Tehran.

The explosion shook homes and rattled windows for miles around, at a time of mounting tension with Israel over Iran’s nuclear programme.

“Today at 13:30, (0900 GMT), an explosion happened in one of the Revolutionary Guards’ bases while a consignment of explosive devices was being moved out from the arsenal, besides that some munitions in the arsenal exploded which created a terrifying sound,” Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif told state TV.

Sharif initially said 27 people had been killed but later revised that figure down to 17.

Residents in western suburbs of Tehran told Reuters they had felt the blast, some assuming it to be a moderate earthquake.

The explosion started a fire at the base which raged for hours. Surrounding streets were closed and reporters were kept away from the scene.

RISK

Some media reported there had been two explosions and the head of Iran’s Red Crescent organisation said there was a risk of further blasts.

Mahmoud Mozafar told the Mehr news agency that only six paramedics had been allowed into the Amir Al-Momenin military base and that thick smoke was hampering the rescue operation.

There were no reports linking the blast to any air strike or other attack. Tension has risen in recent weeks between Iran and its enemies Israel and the United States, which have not ruled out attacking facilities whose occupants they believe are working towards making nuclear weapons.

Sharif denied what he said was speculation in the Western media that the military base was linked to Iran’s nuclear programme.

“This blast is not related to any nuclear tests that some foreign media have reported,” he told Mehr.

Tehran denies Western accusations, that were given some credence by a report from the UN nuclear agency this week, that its nuclear programme has military ends.

On Oct. 12 last year a similar blast at a Revolutionary Guards munitions store killed and wounded several servicemen in Khoramabad, western Iran. Authorities said that explosion was an accident too.

Huge Explosion at Iranian Nuke Processing Plant; Second Explosion at Missile Site

The war against Iran’s nuclear program has already begun

A second Iranian nuclear facility has exploded, as diplomatic tensions rise between the West and Tehran

Read article in Hebrew: ?????? ???? ??? ????? ??????

Reports from Iran are that yet another “accident” may have occurred at a site involved in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. Early reports from Iran claimed that there was a massive explosion in the city of Isfahar, where uranium for the country’s “peaceful nuclear plants” is processed. But later, those reports were yanked from Iranian news sites and the mullahs are in deny-it-ever-happened mode.
Ynet:

Less than two weeks after a mysterious explosion destroyed an Iranian missile base near Tehran, the Islamic Republic’s official news agency Fars reported Tuesday that a loud blast was heard in the city of Isfahan at 2:40 pm local time, but later removed the report.

According to the initial report, search and rescue teams called to the scene confirmed the blast, but reported no injuries….In a curious turn of events, shortly after the initial report was published, the item was removed from the news agency’s website, which is affiliated with the country’s Revolutionary Guard.

Two weeks ago another explosion at an Iranian military base killed 17.

Above photo  courtesy Muqata who says that Israeli news sources indicate a second explosion at an Iranian missile base today.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.

The explosion at Iran’s third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.

Iran claimed that the Tehran explosion occurred during testing on a new weapons system designed to strike at Israel. But several Israeli officials have confirmed that the blast was intentional and part of an effort to target Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

On Monday, Isfahan residents reported a blast that shook tower blocks in the city at about 2.40pm and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over the nuclear facility on the edge of the city.

“This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials,” said one military intelligence source.

He would not confirm or deny Israel’s involvement in the blast, instead saying that there were “many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program”.

Iran went into frantic denial yesterday as news of the explosion at Isfahan emerged. Alireza Zaker-Isfahani, the city’s governor, claimed that the blast had been caused by a military exercise in the area but state-owned agencies in Tehran soon removed this story and issued a government denial that any explosion had taken place at all.

On Monday, Dan Meridor. the Israeli Intelligence Minister, said: “There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Major-General Giora Eiland, Israel’s former director of national security, told Israel’s army radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” he said.

A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions that have “successfully neutralised” Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. “This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen,” he added.

Iran has repeatedly denied the existence of a nuclear weapons program, and strongly condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report last month that accused Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon.

In June 2010, the press reported that the computer system operating the uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz had been infected with a virus. A deadly worm, known as Stuxnet, had infiltrated the controllers, manufactured by Siemens.

Two weeks ago, a huge blast ripped through a Revolutionary Guards military base 40 kilometers west of Tehran. The explosion could be heard as far away as the capital. Dozens of people were killed, including the head of Iran’s missile development project, General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam. This week, there was a powerful explosion in Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, which has a uranium conversion plant on its outskirts. It is not yet clear what was damaged in the blast.

These incidents involved three key elements of Iran’s nuclear program. The first is uranium conversion (which comes after the mineral has been mined ), the second is enrichment, and the third is the delivery means.

Coupled with other incidents, including the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, these events have worried the ayatollahs’ regime, causing reactions ranging from embarrassment to anger. The public response usually follows a pattern: first a sweeping denial, then a limp and stuttering admission that “something happened,” and finally the claim that it was an “accident.” This shows that the regime does not know exactly what to say, and that its voice is not uniform. It also reflects the fierce dispute within the regime’s top ranks. The leadership is divided, and the reactions come from a range of ministries, rival organizations and competing media outlets.

The kind of sabotage used in Iran requires sophistication, financial and technological resources, agents and precise intelligence. Someone, for example, had to know that General Moqaddam would be at the base that day to supervise a test, apparently of a new missile engine.

Infecting the computers required access to them: A person with a flash drive had to have plugged it into the system. The prevailing assumption is that foreign intelligence agencies are initiating, managing and executing the secret operations.

The Iranians, and international media outlets, believe these operations are the work of Israel’s Mossad and possibly also a Western partner such as the CIA or Britain’s MI6.

The Mossad’s campaign to assassinate the Black September members behind the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre was code-named “Wrath of God.” This week, when asked whether God had carried out the recent operations in Iran, former Mossad head Meir Dagan smilingly said yes. Dagan is known to be an ardent supporter of secret operations, as he told Yedioth Ahronoth explicitly this week. He believes it will be at least two years until Iran can assemble a functioning nuclear weapon. This assessment may be based on past secret operations and on Dagan’s faith that future actions can indeed disrupt Iran’s progress.

A senior American official went even farther. President Barack Obama’s special assistant and coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism, Gary Samore, said in May 2011, “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.” Do we need any clearer statement that humans are behind the “hand of God”?

Even if the Mossad or the CIA are not involved in these incidents, the speculation that they are serves Western intelligence bodies by enhancing their image as “omnipotent,” and heightening the Iranian leadership’s fear. This is known as psychological warfare.

Still, with all due respect for Western intelligence’s great efforts – including what is probably unprecedented operational coordination – it is unlikely these operations could have succeeded without inside support, meaning from individuals or groups ready to help sabotage the ayatollahs’ regime. It should be remembered that Iran is a mosaic of ethnic minorities, and almost all have reasons for disliking the regime; some have their own underground armed militias.

The theory about inside-help gains traction given that, in addition to the military targets, other sites – including oil facilities, gas pipelines, trains and military bases – were also damaged over the past year. Last year there was a considerable increase, of at least 10 percent, in “breakdowns” and “accidents” at Iran’s strategic infrastructure sites. Some were caused by poor maintenance, due in part to the international sanctions, but the volume of these incidents may also indicate the “hand of God” was involved. If this is the case, then it’s possible that internal Iranian opposition groups (as opposed to exiles ) are stronger and even better organized than generally thought.

It is almost certain that Tehran’s patience is about to run out. This was evidenced by the student mob’s “conquest” of the British embassy this week. This was not spontaneous rage: It was a warning from a regime that realizes someone has declared war on it without leaving marks or fingerprints.

Sooner or later, the ayatollahs’ regime will decide to react and will order its secret intelligence and operational units to retaliate. If and when this happens, Iran will take steps to conceal its involvement in such activities. However, past experience proves that despite the caution and sophistication of the Iranian secret services, they have often failed in obscuring their fingerprints.

Two weeks ago, a huge blast ripped through a Revolutionary Guards military base 40 kilometers west of Tehran. The explosion could be heard as far away as the capital. Dozens of people were killed, including the head of Iran’s missile development project, General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam. This week, there was a powerful explosion in Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, which has a uranium conversion plant on its outskirts. It is not yet clear what was damaged in the blast.
These incidents involved three key elements of Iran’s nuclear program. The first is uranium conversion (which comes after the mineral has been mined ), the second is enrichment, and the third is the delivery means.
Coupled with other incidents, including the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, these events have worried the ayatollahs’ regime, causing reactions ranging from embarrassment to anger. The public response usually follows a pattern: first a sweeping denial, then a limp and stuttering admission that “something happened,” and finally the claim that it was an “accident.” This shows that the regime does not know exactly what to say, and that its voice is not uniform. It also reflects the fierce dispute within the regime’s top ranks. The leadership is divided, and the reactions come from a range of ministries, rival organizations and competing media outlets.
The kind of sabotage used in Iran requires sophistication, financial and technological resources, agents and precise intelligence. Someone, for example, had to know that General Moqaddam would be at the base that day to supervise a test, apparently of a new missile engine.
Infecting the computers required access to them: A person with a flash drive had to have plugged it into the system. The prevailing assumption is that foreign intelligence agencies are initiating, managing and executing the secret operations.
The Iranians, and international media outlets, believe these operations are the work of Israel’s Mossad and possibly also a Western partner such as the CIA or Britain’s MI6.
The Mossad’s campaign to assassinate the Black September members behind the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre was code-named “Wrath of God.” This week, when asked whether God had carried out the recent operations in Iran, former Mossad head Meir Dagan smilingly said yes. Dagan is known to be an ardent supporter of secret operations, as he told Yedioth Ahronoth explicitly this week. He believes it will be at least two years until Iran can assemble a functioning nuclear weapon. This assessment may be based on past secret operations and on Dagan’s faith that future actions can indeed disrupt Iran’s progress.
A senior American official went even farther. President Barack Obama’s special assistant and coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism, Gary Samore, said in May 2011, “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.” Do we need any clearer statement that humans are behind the “hand of God”?
Even if the Mossad or the CIA are not involved in these incidents, the speculation that they are serves Western intelligence bodies by enhancing their image as “omnipotent,” and heightening the Iranian leadership’s fear. This is known as psychological warfare.
Still, with all due respect for Western intelligence’s great efforts – including what is probably unprecedented operational coordination – it is unlikely these operations could have succeeded without inside support, meaning from individuals or groups ready to help sabotage the ayatollahs’ regime. It should be remembered that Iran is a mosaic of ethnic minorities, and almost all have reasons for disliking the regime; some have their own underground armed militias.
The theory about inside-help gains traction given that, in addition to the military targets, other sites – including oil facilities, gas pipelines, trains and military bases – were also damaged over the past year. Last year there was a considerable increase, of at least 10 percent, in “breakdowns” and “accidents” at Iran’s strategic infrastructure sites. Some were caused by poor maintenance, due in part to the international sanctions, but the volume of these incidents may also indicate the “hand of God” was involved. If this is the case, then it’s possible that internal Iranian opposition groups (as opposed to exiles ) are stronger and even better organized than generally thought.
It is almost certain that Tehran’s patience is about to run out. This was evidenced by the student mob’s “conquest” of the British embassy this week. This was not spontaneous rage: It was a warning from a regime that realizes someone has declared war on it without leaving marks or fingerprints.
Sooner or later, the ayatollahs’ regime will decide to react and will order its secret intelligence and operational units to retaliate. If and when this happens, Iran will take steps to conceal its involvement in such activities. However, past experience proves that despite the caution and sophistication of the Iranian secret services, they have often failed in obscuring their fingerprints.

Two weeks ago, a huge blast ripped through a Revolutionary Guards military base 40 kilometers west of Tehran. The explosion could be heard as far away as the capital. Dozens of people were killed, including the head of Iran’s missile development project, General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam. This week, there was a powerful explosion in Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, which has a uranium conversion plant on its outskirts. It is not yet clear what was damaged in the blast.
These incidents involved three key elements of Iran’s nuclear program. The first is uranium conversion (which comes after the mineral has been mined ), the second is enrichment, and the third is the delivery means.
Coupled with other incidents, including the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, these events have worried the ayatollahs’ regime, causing reactions ranging from embarrassment to anger. The public response usually follows a pattern: first a sweeping denial, then a limp and stuttering admission that “something happened,” and finally the claim that it was an “accident.” This shows that the regime does not know exactly what to say, and that its voice is not uniform. It also reflects the fierce dispute within the regime’s top ranks. The leadership is divided, and the reactions come from a range of ministries, rival organizations and competing media outlets.
The kind of sabotage used in Iran requires sophistication, financial and technological resources, agents and precise intelligence. Someone, for example, had to know that General Moqaddam would be at the base that day to supervise a test, apparently of a new missile engine.
Infecting the computers required access to them: A person with a flash drive had to have plugged it into the system. The prevailing assumption is that foreign intelligence agencies are initiating, managing and executing the secret operations.
The Iranians, and international media outlets, believe these operations are the work of Israel’s Mossad and possibly also a Western partner such as the CIA or Britain’s MI6.
The Mossad’s campaign to assassinate the Black September members behind the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre was code-named “Wrath of God.” This week, when asked whether God had carried out the recent operations in Iran, former Mossad head Meir Dagan smilingly said yes. Dagan is known to be an ardent supporter of secret operations, as he told Yedioth Ahronoth explicitly this week. He believes it will be at least two years until Iran can assemble a functioning nuclear weapon. This assessment may be based on past secret operations and on Dagan’s faith that future actions can indeed disrupt Iran’s progress.
A senior American official went even farther. President Barack Obama’s special assistant and coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism, Gary Samore, said in May 2011, “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.” Do we need any clearer statement that humans are behind the “hand of God”?
Even if the Mossad or the CIA are not involved in these incidents, the speculation that they are serves Western intelligence bodies by enhancing their image as “omnipotent,” and heightening the Iranian leadership’s fear. This is known as psychological warfare.
Still, with all due respect for Western intelligence’s great efforts – including what is probably unprecedented operational coordination – it is unlikely these operations could have succeeded without inside support, meaning from individuals or groups ready to help sabotage the ayatollahs’ regime. It should be remembered that Iran is a mosaic of ethnic minorities, and almost all have reasons for disliking the regime; some have their own underground armed militias.
The theory about inside-help gains traction given that, in addition to the military targets, other sites – including oil facilities, gas pipelines, trains and military bases – were also damaged over the past year. Last year there was a considerable increase, of at least 10 percent, in “breakdowns” and “accidents” at Iran’s strategic infrastructure sites. Some were caused by poor maintenance, due in part to the international sanctions, but the volume of these incidents may also indicate the “hand of God” was involved. If this is the case, then it’s possible that internal Iranian opposition groups (as opposed to exiles ) are stronger and even better organized than generally thought.
It is almost certain that Tehran’s patience is about to run out. This was evidenced by the student mob’s “conquest” of the British embassy this week. This was not spontaneous rage: It was a warning from a regime that realizes someone has declared war on it without leaving marks or fingerprints.
Sooner or later, the ayatollahs’ regime will decide to react and will order its secret intelligence and operational units to retaliate. If and when this happens, Iran will take steps to conceal its involvement in such activities. However, past experience proves that despite the caution and sophistication of the Iranian secret services, they have often failed in obscuring their fingerprints.

women in Islam

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.

It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.

Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.


PUBLISHED: 14:41 GMT, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 14:42 GMT, 24 January 2013

Saudi Arabia’s feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear – but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women’s dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country’s strict Islamic laws.


Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful “mutaween” police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn’t happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent “mistreatment” of the girls. He asserted that they didn’t interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls’ education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls’ education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards “reform”.


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.


(CNN) — Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women’s rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

“The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can’t be established if women are left behind,” said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

“At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, ‘It’s not the time to discuss women’s issues — we are at war, it’s a revolution,’ or whatever. It’s our time to say ‘We need our rights,'” she added.


RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.


International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they’re clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC’s warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country’s all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can’t produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don’t issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas’s participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn’t not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she’d have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.

Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.

It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.

Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.


|

Saudi Arabia’s feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear – but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women’s dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country’s strict Islamic laws.


Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful “mutaween” police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn’t happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent “mistreatment” of the girls. He asserted that they didn’t interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls’ education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls’ education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards “reform”.


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.


(CNN) — Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women’s rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

“The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can’t be established if women are left behind,” said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

“At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, ‘It’s not the time to discuss women’s issues — we are at war, it’s a revolution,’ or whatever. It’s our time to say ‘We need our rights,'” she added.


RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.


International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they’re clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC’s warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country’s all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can’t produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don’t issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas’s participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn’t not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she’d have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.

Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

slavery and the Qatar 2022 World Cup

We are so excited to tell you that your campaigning over the last few days has well and truly paid off: Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev, the activists that disappeared in Qatar, have been released and will shortly be on their way home. We’ve heard from Krishna’s family in the last few hours and Krishna himself posted this status on Facebook last night: “Just released, will fly in two days’ time!”1

Your support was invaluable in bringing pressure to bear on the Qatari authorities and shining a light on the legitimate and important work of anti-slavery activists. Over 55,000 of you sent messages straight to the Qatari Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister to call on the authorities to investigate Krishna and Ghimire’s disappearance. 48 hours later we heard they were safe. Now we know they are coming home. This just goes to show what we can achieve when we speak out together with other anti-slavery activists and organisations around the world.

As someone that has taken action to end modern slavery in Qatar before, we know you know how important the work of researchers like Krishna and Ghimire is in uncovering the exploitation of migrant workers there. Thank you for continuing to support these efforts by calling for their release.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more from Krishna and Ghimire when they return home, but we wanted to let you know as soon as possible that your campaigning has made a big difference in the fight to end modern slavery, once again.

In solidarity,

Jayde, Joanna, Fleur, Olly and the whole Walk Free team

P.S. Although it’s incredible news that Krishna and Ghimire are on their way home, the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar that they were investigating continues. We’re currently planning the next stages of the campaign to end modern slavery fuelling the Qatar 2022 World Cup and will let you know soon the next way you can take action. Thank you again for your continued support on this issue.

http://gnrd.net/seemore.php?id=876


hsi-email-logo-2013.jpg    

Dear Friend,

“I am being followed by the police here. Looks like they will give me troubles now.”1

This is one of the ominous final messages Krishna Upadhyaya sent before he and his colleague Ghimire Gundev disappeared in Qatar four days ago — they haven’t been heard from since.

Krishna and Ghimire are British campaigners, working in Qatar on behalf of the Norwegian human rights organisation Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD). They had been researching the plight of migrant labourers constructing facilities for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, conducting interviews with Nepali labourers and investigating the terrible working conditions. 

On Sunday they vanished. Krishna was last in touch with a friend who has since said: “He was feeling unsafe to leave the hotel premises and according to him there were many police, most likely undercover ones, coming in very close to him every time he spoke to anyone on the phone. He expressed that he felt very insecure about what might happen when he left the hotel for the airport.”2

Krishna checked out of his hotel but did not board a planned flight back to Norway. Both are now feared to be detained by the Qatari security forces. Their whereabouts remain undisclosed by Qatari authorities despite repeated efforts by their families, and GNRD to obtain their location.3 In short — it’s feared that they may have been subjected to enforced disappearance.

Take action now: call for the immediate safe return of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev.

As someone that has previously taken action to end modern slavery in Qatar fuelled by the Qatar 2022 World Cup, you know how vital the work of researchers like Krishna and Ghimire is. 

Krishna and Ghimire were working hard to keep the world’s attention on migrant workers trapped in conditions of modern slavery in Qatar. We cannot allow their mistreatment to continue. As fellow anti-slavery activists, we must take a stand and add to mounting pressure on the Qatari authorities to ensure Krishna and Ghimire are found. 

Please join us in calling on the Qatari authorities to act by:

  • Immediately investigating the whereabouts of Krishna and Ghimire and ensuring that they are allowed immediate access to their family members, a lawyer of their choice and to any medical treatment they may require. 
  • Ensuring that they are protected from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment.
  • Recognising that labour standards apply to all migrant workers, including the workers on Qatar 2022 World Cup infrastructure projects.

The next few hours are vital in finding and protecting Krishna and Ghimire — once you have taken action, please ask as many of your friends and family as possible to do the same.

In solidarity,

Jayde, Joanna, Fleur, Olly and the whole Walk Free team

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-human-rights-investigators-disappear-in-qatar-after-being-followed-by-plain-clothes-police-9709804.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-human-rights-investigators-disappear-in-qatar-after-being-followed-by-plain-clothes-police-9709804.html 
http://www.gnrd.net/seemore.php?id=855

Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.


Today FIFA officials are meeting in Switzerland and we are running out of time to make our message heard. We need to act now to end the modern slavery trapping the people that are working to bring the world the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Send a message to FIFA President Sepp Blatter demanding immediate action to tackle Qatar 2022 World Cup slavery.

This is where we’d typically go into a lot more detail on the situation but we’re only hours away from being out of time (we’ve included the email we sent you on Monday below for more background).

But did we want to take a couple of minutes to share Narayan Nepali’s story. Narayan is a migrant worker from Nepal who has since returned home after working in Qatar.

Mostly Nepalese are despised and we’re treated like slaves. Our passports were confiscated the day that we arrived.

I’d like to tell the government of Qatar to realise that migrant workers have played a significant role in Qatar’s development. They should therefore pay migrant workers better and treat them with more respect.”1

No one should be treated this way, especially to bring us a sporting event. FIFA must take responsibility for awarding the 2022 World Cup to a country with historic issues of forced labour and worker exploitation.

Please stand with workers in Qatar and call on FIFA to help the end modern slavery that is fuelling the 2022 World Cup.

In solidarity,

Debra, Jayde, Mika, Joanna, Amy & the Walk Free team

P.S. We have a crucial window of opportunity to influence FIFA as they hold their Executive Committee meeting RIGHT NOW. Send President Sepp Blatter a message to let him know we expect action against modern slavery in Qatar.

—————————————————————————
On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 13:27 AM, Debra Rosen wrote:

At the end of last year, our community was celebrating. 172,407 of us sent messages to FIFA calling on the body to tackle the modern slavery fuelling the 2022 World Cup construction projects in Qatar – and FIFA listened. Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter pledged that FIFA would work with the International Trade Union Confederation to improve the unacceptable situation for workers there and we welcomed his declaration that “fair working conditions with a lasting effect must be introduced quickly in Qatar”.2

Unfortunately these words have not yet been followed by action.

Latest reports show that migrant workers from Nepal and India continue to die in record numbers on Qatari construction sites since the country won its World Cup bid.3 A new “Worker’s Charter” released by Qatar 2022 organising authorities last month has been acknowledged as a starting point, but falls short of the significant reforms needed to tackle the shocking conditions for migrant workers.4 And at a recent hearing at the European Parliament FIFA was far from reassuring, asking: “What do you expect of a football organisation? FIFA is not the lawmaker in Qatar.”5

We expect FIFA to take responsibility for its decision to award the 2022 World Cup to a country with historic issues of worker exploitation and forced labour. In just three days, top FIFA officials meet at their headquarters in Switzerland to discuss World Cup preparations: will you join us in demanding that ending modern slavery in Qatar be top of the agenda?

Call on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to take meaningful action against the modern slavery that is fuelling the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

The Walk Free community helped push FIFA to commit to end worker exploitation; now we have the chance to put that commitment into action. FIFA’s Executive Committee is meeting on Thursday and Friday – top representatives from national football associations around the world will be there and the press will be reporting developments closely, with all eyes on FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter. This is a significant opportunity to get our message heard.

The time has come for FIFA to act – Sepp Blatter must use his influence over World Cup organisers to ensure all future FIFA World Cups are slavery free and that includes Qatar as a top priority.

FIFA should:

  • Call for an end to the exploitative kafala system in its current form in Qatar, specifically by allowing workers to freely change jobs and leave the country without their employer’s permission.
  • Demand that fundamental labour rights are protected as a requirement for countries to be selected to host World Cups.
  • Call on the Qatar 2022 organising authorities to establish a complaints mechanism that allows migrant workers to report abuses and secure justice.
It’s time for FIFA to play ball and help end modern slavery in Qatar – add your voice now.

If you agree that no one should die or be enslaved to bring us “the beautiful game”, please take action and help spread the word by asking three of your friends to do the same.

Thank you in advance for your support,

Debra, Jayde, Mika, Joanna, Amy & the Walk Free team

P.S. Right now, workers in Qatar are living, working and dying in modern slavery to bring us the 2022 World Cup. Please take action to help stop this.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3NElpB1_X4 
www.fifa.com/worldcup/qatar2022/media/newsid=2227055
www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/18/qatar-world-cup-india-migrant-worker-deaths
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/11/sport/football/qatar-2022-workers-charter-football
www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/13/fifa-labour-conditions-qatar-world-cup 

Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.


This morning, at one end of Kathmandu’s international airport, proud parents will bid farewell to their sons leaving Nepal in search of better jobs. But for the last month, the scene has been very different at the arrival terminal where wailing parents are met with the bodies of construction workers who died working in Qatar. Three to four bodies arriving daily.1
Is this just the beginning? Experts estimate over 1 million migrant workers could be at risk of modern slavery in Qatar between now and the 2022 World Cup; an average of twelve workers could die per week2 unless action is taken at this critical stage in the construction process.
We might have an opportunity to stop this crisis before it gets any worse… but time is short. Recent media coverage has caught the attention of international leaders and the Qatari government and most importantly – FIFA.3
Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup by FIFA. With their formidable leverage, FIFA could help ensure slavery is not tolerated in Qatar or in any country FIFA seeks partnership.
Click here to call on FIFA to help ensure construction for the Qatar World Cup does not use slave labour.
Reports of modern slavery from World Cup 2022 construction in the Qatari desert are chilling:

  • In a matter of weeks, 44 construction workers have died.
  • Thousands of Nepalese workers are being forced to work in 50C/122F degree heat with no access to food or water, not paid, passports held to prevent them from leaving.4
  • And just last week, investigative journalists were detained and questioned by Qatari authorities.5

Historically, there have been serious challenges to protecting migrant workers from modern slavery in Qatar. But with the prestige of hosting the World Cup on the line, there has never been a better chance to push the Qatari government for change.
This is our moment. If FIFA takes advantage of this opportunity for policy reform, workers could be protected from falling into the nightmare of modern slavery in Qatar for generations to come. This could be the break we have been waiting for in the entire region.
It all comes down to us – ask FIFA to join our call to help end slavery in Qatar.
We’re asking FIFA to:

  1. Call on the Qatari Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 to update contracts to meet international labour standards.
  2. Include audit requirements for all contracts affiliated with FIFA sporting events that include large-scale construction projects for cases of modern slavery with the initial bidding process. 
  3. Publicly report the findings of audits for cases of modern slavery.

The tagline of FIFA’s World Cup is “Expect Amazing”. Tell FIFA you expect them to help end slavery in Qatar.
Thank you in advance for your support. Once you have taken action, please forward this message on to everyone you know. Together we have helped changed policy all over the world; together we can help end slavery in Qatar.
In solidarity,
Debra, Mich, Jess, Kamini, Sarah, Nick, Kate, Kyle and the Walk Free Team
[1] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/25/qatar-nepalese-workers-poverty-camps
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead[3] Fédération Internationale de Football Association 
[4] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/25/revealed-qatars-world-cup-slaves[5] http://www.policymic.com/articles/69343/qatar-world-cup-is-being-built-through-slave-labor-while-fifa-stays-silent

We are so excited to tell you that your campaigning over the last few days has well and truly paid off: Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev, the activists that disappeared in Qatar, have been released and will shortly be on their way home. We’ve heard from Krishna’s family in the last few hours and Krishna himself posted this status on Facebook last night: “Just released, will fly in two days’ time!”1

Your support was invaluable in bringing pressure to bear on the Qatari authorities and shining a light on the legitimate and important work of anti-slavery activists. Over 55,000 of you sent messages straight to the Qatari Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister to call on the authorities to investigate Krishna and Ghimire’s disappearance. 48 hours later we heard they were safe. Now we know they are coming home. This just goes to show what we can achieve when we speak out together with other anti-slavery activists and organisations around the world.

As someone that has taken action to end modern slavery in Qatar before, we know you know how important the work of researchers like Krishna and Ghimire is in uncovering the exploitation of migrant workers there. Thank you for continuing to support these efforts by calling for their release.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more from Krishna and Ghimire when they return home, but we wanted to let you know as soon as possible that your campaigning has made a big difference in the fight to end modern slavery, once again.

In solidarity,

Jayde, Joanna, Fleur, Olly and the whole Walk Free team

P.S. Although it’s incredible news that Krishna and Ghimire are on their way home, the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar that they were investigating continues. We’re currently planning the next stages of the campaign to end modern slavery fuelling the Qatar 2022 World Cup and will let you know soon the next way you can take action. Thank you again for your continued support on this issue.

http://gnrd.net/seemore.php?id=876


hsi-email-logo-2013.jpg    

Dear Friend,

“I am being followed by the police here. Looks like they will give me troubles now.”1

This is one of the ominous final messages Krishna Upadhyaya sent before he and his colleague Ghimire Gundev disappeared in Qatar four days ago — they haven’t been heard from since.

Krishna and Ghimire are British campaigners, working in Qatar on behalf of the Norwegian human rights organisation Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD). They had been researching the plight of migrant labourers constructing facilities for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, conducting interviews with Nepali labourers and investigating the terrible working conditions. 

On Sunday they vanished. Krishna was last in touch with a friend who has since said: “He was feeling unsafe to leave the hotel premises and according to him there were many police, most likely undercover ones, coming in very close to him every time he spoke to anyone on the phone. He expressed that he felt very insecure about what might happen when he left the hotel for the airport.”2

Krishna checked out of his hotel but did not board a planned flight back to Norway. Both are now feared to be detained by the Qatari security forces. Their whereabouts remain undisclosed by Qatari authorities despite repeated efforts by their families, and GNRD to obtain their location.3 In short — it’s feared that they may have been subjected to enforced disappearance.

Take action now: call for the immediate safe return of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev.

As someone that has previously taken action to end modern slavery in Qatar fuelled by the Qatar 2022 World Cup, you know how vital the work of researchers like Krishna and Ghimire is. 

Krishna and Ghimire were working hard to keep the world’s attention on migrant workers trapped in conditions of modern slavery in Qatar. We cannot allow their mistreatment to continue. As fellow anti-slavery activists, we must take a stand and add to mounting pressure on the Qatari authorities to ensure Krishna and Ghimire are found. 

Please join us in calling on the Qatari authorities to act by:

  • Immediately investigating the whereabouts of Krishna and Ghimire and ensuring that they are allowed immediate access to their family members, a lawyer of their choice and to any medical treatment they may require. 
  • Ensuring that they are protected from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment.
  • Recognising that labour standards apply to all migrant workers, including the workers on Qatar 2022 World Cup infrastructure projects.

The next few hours are vital in finding and protecting Krishna and Ghimire — once you have taken action, please ask as many of your friends and family as possible to do the same.

In solidarity,

Jayde, Joanna, Fleur, Olly and the whole Walk Free team

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-human-rights-investigators-disappear-in-qatar-after-being-followed-by-plain-clothes-police-9709804.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-human-rights-investigators-disappear-in-qatar-after-being-followed-by-plain-clothes-police-9709804.html 
http://www.gnrd.net/seemore.php?id=855

Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.


Today FIFA officials are meeting in Switzerland and we are running out of time to make our message heard. We need to act now to end the modern slavery trapping the people that are working to bring the world the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Send a message to FIFA President Sepp Blatter demanding immediate action to tackle Qatar 2022 World Cup slavery.

This is where we’d typically go into a lot more detail on the situation but we’re only hours away from being out of time (we’ve included the email we sent you on Monday below for more background).

But did we want to take a couple of minutes to share Narayan Nepali’s story. Narayan is a migrant worker from Nepal who has since returned home after working in Qatar.

Mostly Nepalese are despised and we’re treated like slaves. Our passports were confiscated the day that we arrived.

I’d like to tell the government of Qatar to realise that migrant workers have played a significant role in Qatar’s development. They should therefore pay migrant workers better and treat them with more respect.”1

No one should be treated this way, especially to bring us a sporting event. FIFA must take responsibility for awarding the 2022 World Cup to a country with historic issues of forced labour and worker exploitation.

Please stand with workers in Qatar and call on FIFA to help the end modern slavery that is fuelling the 2022 World Cup.

In solidarity,

Debra, Jayde, Mika, Joanna, Amy & the Walk Free team

P.S. We have a crucial window of opportunity to influence FIFA as they hold their Executive Committee meeting RIGHT NOW. Send President Sepp Blatter a message to let him know we expect action against modern slavery in Qatar.

—————————————————————————
On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 13:27 AM, Debra Rosen wrote:

At the end of last year, our community was celebrating. 172,407 of us sent messages to FIFA calling on the body to tackle the modern slavery fuelling the 2022 World Cup construction projects in Qatar – and FIFA listened. Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter pledged that FIFA would work with the International Trade Union Confederation to improve the unacceptable situation for workers there and we welcomed his declaration that “fair working conditions with a lasting effect must be introduced quickly in Qatar”.2

Unfortunately these words have not yet been followed by action.

Latest reports show that migrant workers from Nepal and India continue to die in record numbers on Qatari construction sites since the country won its World Cup bid.3 A new “Worker’s Charter” released by Qatar 2022 organising authorities last month has been acknowledged as a starting point, but falls short of the significant reforms needed to tackle the shocking conditions for migrant workers.4 And at a recent hearing at the European Parliament FIFA was far from reassuring, asking: “What do you expect of a football organisation? FIFA is not the lawmaker in Qatar.”5

We expect FIFA to take responsibility for its decision to award the 2022 World Cup to a country with historic issues of worker exploitation and forced labour. In just three days, top FIFA officials meet at their headquarters in Switzerland to discuss World Cup preparations: will you join us in demanding that ending modern slavery in Qatar be top of the agenda?

Call on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to take meaningful action against the modern slavery that is fuelling the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

The Walk Free community helped push FIFA to commit to end worker exploitation; now we have the chance to put that commitment into action. FIFA’s Executive Committee is meeting on Thursday and Friday – top representatives from national football associations around the world will be there and the press will be reporting developments closely, with all eyes on FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter. This is a significant opportunity to get our message heard.

The time has come for FIFA to act – Sepp Blatter must use his influence over World Cup organisers to ensure all future FIFA World Cups are slavery free and that includes Qatar as a top priority.

FIFA should:

  • Call for an end to the exploitative kafala system in its current form in Qatar, specifically by allowing workers to freely change jobs and leave the country without their employer’s permission.
  • Demand that fundamental labour rights are protected as a requirement for countries to be selected to host World Cups.
  • Call on the Qatar 2022 organising authorities to establish a complaints mechanism that allows migrant workers to report abuses and secure justice.
It’s time for FIFA to play ball and help end modern slavery in Qatar – add your voice now.

If you agree that no one should die or be enslaved to bring us “the beautiful game”, please take action and help spread the word by asking three of your friends to do the same.

Thank you in advance for your support,

Debra, Jayde, Mika, Joanna, Amy & the Walk Free team

P.S. Right now, workers in Qatar are living, working and dying in modern slavery to bring us the 2022 World Cup. Please take action to help stop this.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3NElpB1_X4 
www.fifa.com/worldcup/qatar2022/media/newsid=2227055
www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/18/qatar-world-cup-india-migrant-worker-deaths
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/11/sport/football/qatar-2022-workers-charter-football
www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/13/fifa-labour-conditions-qatar-world-cup 

Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.


This morning, at one end of Kathmandu’s international airport, proud parents will bid farewell to their sons leaving Nepal in search of better jobs. But for the last month, the scene has been very different at the arrival terminal where wailing parents are met with the bodies of construction workers who died working in Qatar. Three to four bodies arriving daily.1
Is this just the beginning? Experts estimate over 1 million migrant workers could be at risk of modern slavery in Qatar between now and the 2022 World Cup; an average of twelve workers could die per week2 unless action is taken at this critical stage in the construction process.
We might have an opportunity to stop this crisis before it gets any worse… but time is short. Recent media coverage has caught the attention of international leaders and the Qatari government and most importantly – FIFA.3
Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup by FIFA. With their formidable leverage, FIFA could help ensure slavery is not tolerated in Qatar or in any country FIFA seeks partnership.
Click here to call on FIFA to help ensure construction for the Qatar World Cup does not use slave labour.
Reports of modern slavery from World Cup 2022 construction in the Qatari desert are chilling:

  • In a matter of weeks, 44 construction workers have died.
  • Thousands of Nepalese workers are being forced to work in 50C/122F degree heat with no access to food or water, not paid, passports held to prevent them from leaving.4
  • And just last week, investigative journalists were detained and questioned by Qatari authorities.5

Historically, there have been serious challenges to protecting migrant workers from modern slavery in Qatar. But with the prestige of hosting the World Cup on the line, there has never been a better chance to push the Qatari government for change.
This is our moment. If FIFA takes advantage of this opportunity for policy reform, workers could be protected from falling into the nightmare of modern slavery in Qatar for generations to come. This could be the break we have been waiting for in the entire region.
It all comes down to us – ask FIFA to join our call to help end slavery in Qatar.
We’re asking FIFA to:

  1. Call on the Qatari Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 to update contracts to meet international labour standards.
  2. Include audit requirements for all contracts affiliated with FIFA sporting events that include large-scale construction projects for cases of modern slavery with the initial bidding process. 
  3. Publicly report the findings of audits for cases of modern slavery.

The tagline of FIFA’s World Cup is “Expect Amazing”. Tell FIFA you expect them to help end slavery in Qatar.
Thank you in advance for your support. Once you have taken action, please forward this message on to everyone you know. Together we have helped changed policy all over the world; together we can help end slavery in Qatar.
In solidarity,
Debra, Mich, Jess, Kamini, Sarah, Nick, Kate, Kyle and the Walk Free Team
[1] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/25/qatar-nepalese-workers-poverty-camps
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead[3] Fédération Internationale de Football Association 
[4] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/25/revealed-qatars-world-cup-slaves[5] http://www.policymic.com/articles/69343/qatar-world-cup-is-being-built-through-slave-labor-while-fifa-stays-silent