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PM’s Iran speech to Congress left no bad blood, top Democrat says – The Times of Israel

There are no bitter feelings left between the Democratic party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his controversial speech to the US Congress ahead of the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, a top Democratic Congressmen said Tuesday.

All of us together support Israel and there is no residual impact [from Netanyahus speech], whether you were pleased or not pleased, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer told reporters at a press conference in Jerusalem.

On March 3, 2015, Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress in which he slammed US-led efforts to sign an agreement that would temporarily curtail Irans nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, a move seen as a slap in the face to then-president Barack Obama.

The speech, which was made possible by the Republican speaker of the House John Boehner inviting the prime minister, drew a harsh reaction.

Most visits are done in a bipartisan fashion, and this was not done in a bipartisan fashion. Democrats were not happy about that, and we said that, Hoyer said at Tuesdays press conference, held in the King David Hotel.

This is not about Prime Minister Netanyahu or President Obama or President Trump. This is about a relationship between two great democracies, Israel and America. This is about a consensus that Israels security is critical for the security of the United States. This is not about personalities. This is about shared values. And our two countries are partners for peace and security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands as he leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington,, March 3, 2015, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress. (Photo credit: AP/Andrew Harnik)

Hoyer, who is currently leading a delegation of US congresspeople to Israel, said he attended Netanyahus speech at the time.

I thought he spoke very well. I stood and clapped for things I supported, as others did, he said. But the essence is not personalities. Democrats are very supportive of Israel and that is our focus and continues to be our focus.

Hoyer harshly criticized the Iran deal but eventually voted in favor of it.

At Tuesdays press conference, he was asked whether support for Israel can really still be called a bipartisan issue, given that Democratic Senators voted against the nomination of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel, and in light of the fact that three Democrats voted against a bill to cut American funding to the Palestinians if they do not cease paying terrorists and their families.

Hoyer replied by pointing to a recent law that imposes additional sanctions on Iran, noting that not a single Democrat opposed the bill. The parties are very united, and the fact is that the parties are speaking with one voice, he said.

Like in every parliament, there are differences of opinion between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, he said. But, the veteran legislator added, when you have votes regarding Israels well-being and safety, they are overwhelmingly bipartisan.

Currently on his 15th trip to Israel, Hoyer said he and Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is also currently leading a congressional delegation to Israel, agreed to spend some time together to signal that American support for the Jewish state is unwavering and entirely bipartisan.

The Democratic delegation, which arrived first, met with Netanyahu on Monday. He is slated to host the Republicans in his Jerusalem office on Wednesday. Both delegations are sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with AIPAC.

We have made a point to make sure we have an overlapping time here in Israel together, Republicans and Democrats. Because this is not a partisan issue. This is a bipartisan issue, McCarthy said, stressing that the US has no stronger alliance than that with Israel.

Some of us are Democrats and some of us are Republicans. But were not here as Republicans and Democrats. Were here as Americans who support Israels security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people, Hoyer said, standing in front of the 50-some congresspeople of the two delegations. Were here because the United States and Israel are partners for peace and partners for security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) meeting at his Jerusalem office with a 19-member delegation of Democratic members of Congress led by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, August 7, 2017. (GPO)

While congressional delegations usually are divided among party lines, this time they insisted on some overlap because leaders from both sides of the aisle felt the need to send a message of solidarity with Israel and of solidarity with the people of Israel, a solidarity we know is necessary if we are to defeat those, not only in the Middle East about around the world, who [through] terrorism and violence put at risk our democracies and our way of life, Hoyer said.

Most of the 52 congresspeople 33 Republicans and 19 Democrats currently in Israel are freshman lawmakers. They were briefed in Jerusalem and Ramallah and have been touring various sites across the country, including the borders with Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and received a joint briefing about the Arrow missile defense system at the Palmachim Air Force base.

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August 8, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran’s Zarif hosts Hamas officials – The Times of Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on Monday with a delegation of officials from the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which has been struggling with the continued erosion of its foreign backing.

During the meeting, Zarif reiterated Tehrans support for the Palestinians as principled and unchangeable, according to reports in Iranian state media.

The delegation of diaspora-based members of Hamass politburo was visiting Iran to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday.

Iran was once Hamass key political and financial backer, but ties began to unravel in 2012, largely due to differences over the civil war in Syria.

In May, Iran agreed in principle to renew its funding for Hamas, and senior Palestinian officials were said to be traveling to Tehran to repair relations.

Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pictured here in Tehran with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. (photo credit: AP)

Last week, Palestinian Authority officials claimed Iran provided aid to Palestinian protesters demonstrating against Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount last month. The aid reportedly included boxes of food and drink, which came with a flyer attached depicting the Dome of the Rock and a quote attributed to Irans Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reading, With the help of God, Palestine will be freed. Jerusalem is ours.

A PA intelligence official told an Israeli newspaper at the time it was clear the Iranian regime was behind the aid packages, and estimated the initiative cost several million shekels. The move angered the PA leadership, with the unnamed official telling the Israel Hayom daily it was a mistake to allow Iran to reach into the West Bank with its tentacles.

Mondays meeting in Tehran comes as Qatar, one of the other few foreign backers of Hamas, continues to face massive pressure from its Gulf neighbors to cut ties with the terrorist group. If it does, the result could be disastrous for the Gaza Strip, a territory Hamas has ruled for a decade.

Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in roads, housing and a major hospital in the tiny enclave. Its infrastructure projects are one of the few job-creators in a beleaguered economy.

Gaza already suffers from an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed to prevent the group from importing weaponry economic misery and chronic electricity shortages. For Hamas, Qatars money pumping into the economy is a vital lifeline bolstering its rule.

Closer ties between Hamas and Iran are hardly likely to mollify the Gulf states and Egypt. One of the main factors driving the crisis is Qatars close ties to Tehran and fears of expanding Iranian influence further destabilizing the region.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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August 7, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Column: US needs to stand up to Iran – The Detroit News

Lena Epstein Published 10:48 p.m. ET Aug. 6, 2017

U.S. policy has essentially boosted Tehrans ability to foment terrorism and threaten American interests, Lena Epstein writes.(Photo: Vahid Salemi / AP)

When Sen. Debbie Stabenow joined 41 of her Democratic Senate colleagues to vote for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, back in 2015, they made a catastrophic foreign policy mistake that has left the U.S, Israel, and the international community at large much less secure.

As recently as July 27, their mistake once again became painfully obvious when Iran conducted a successful launch of a long-range missile into space: such a blatant pretext for continued advancement of its ICBM program, youd have to be completely naive not to realize it. But, given the terms of the deal negotiated under President Obama, this type of activity isnt a violation of the nuclear deal.

Iran is free to continue testing and perfecting its nuclear delivery systems, just as long as it doesnt enrich uranium or plutonium to dangerous levels. This is not what I consider a comprehensive plan to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the worlds most prolific state sponsor of terror, the same state that has explicitly called for the annihilation of the state of Israel.

As a result of the deal, Iran has experienced a windfall of cash flowing into its coffers. With sanctions eased and foreign assets unfrozen, Iran has had an influx of over $100 billion, which it has used to double down on terrorist activities, and dramatically expand its military budget.

The consequences can be felt throughout the already unstable Middle East as Iran provides support to Hamas and Hezbollah, and actively works to further destabilize Syria by sending thousands of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to support Bashar al-Assads brutal regime that has slaughtered and displaced millions of Syrians. U.S. policy has essentially bolstered Irans ability to carry out these terrorist activities and threaten American interests in the region, including putting American service members, stationed in the Middle East, at risk.

This cannot continue. A nuclear-armed Iran poses an existential threat to one of our closest allies, Israel, and puts American security in jeopardy. Both of our U.S. senators here in Michigan Stabenow and Gary Peters voted in favor of this reprehensible deal.

Stabenows vote on the Iran deal is one of the key factors that spurred me, an American, a Jewish woman, and a staunch supporter of Israel, to enter the U.S. Senate race and take her on next November. A member of Congress is no friend of Israel if he or she doesnt vote in our close allys best interest when it counts the most when there is a deal on the table that puts the Jewish states very existence in danger.

The American people opposed the Iran deal by a 2 to 1 margin, and yet were in this perilous situation because Stabenow pushed it through anyway. We cant keep sending the same people back to Washington and expect different results.

We need elected officials who support Israel because its a moral obligation, not because its politically expedient.

Lena Epstein is the third-generation owner and general manager of Southfield-based Vesco Oil Corp.

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Trump’s Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the Iran deal – Los Angeles Times

Heres an international crisis you can, unusually, put on your calendar ahead of time: In October, President Trump wants to declare Iran in violation of the 2015 agreement to limit its nuclear program a decision that would allow the United States to reimpose tough economic sanctions on anyone trading with Tehran.

Its a bad idea. The nuclear deal isnt perfect it doesnt end Irans nuclear research, only limits it for a period of years but its much better than nothing. Before the agreement, Tehran was believed to be less than a year from making nuclear weapons that would have threatened Israel and Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the accord, that doomsday problem has at least been postponed.

That hasnt stopped Trump from calling the pact the worst deal ever and ordering aides to supply him with evidence that will allow him to declare it invalid. The most likely moment for his decision will come in October, the next time he is required to notify Congress whether Iran is in compliance.

If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago, Trump told the Wall Street Journal last month. Next time, he added, I do not expect that they will be compliant.

The president didnt offer any substantive reason to declare Iran out of compliance with the deal because there isnt one. His own aides told him last month that, while Iran has tested the edges of the agreement, none of its actions was a material breach, the legal standard that would allow sanctions to snap back.

When Trump was warned that he couldnt simply walk away from the deal, he had a bit of a meltdown, an official told the New York Times. He chewed out the secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who apparently brought him the bad news. And he ordered his staff to begin work on a new study one that will supply him with the excuses he needs.

Thats an Alice-in-Wonderland approach to foreign policy: Verdict first, evidence later. And its not likely to work.

No matter what the president thinks, the facts will get in the way. U.S. officials say Iran has been carefully upholding its main obligations under the nuclear agreement: reducing its uranium stocks and limiting its enrichment program.

And none of the other six countries that negotiated the deal agree with Trump that the accord should be abrogated.

The deal is working, and we believe it represents the best option for the international community, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote last month (and his government is friendlier to Trump than most).

As a result, if Trump declares in October that Iran is in breach, most of the world including Britain, Germany and France will blame him for the consequences, not Tehran.

That will create a major obstacle for the next step in Trumps course, which is to reimpose U.S. economic sanctions on foreign businesses that deal with Iran. (The nuclear deal didnt affect the embargo between the U.S. and Iran, which remains in effect.)

If the United States is viewed as responsible for breaking the deal, other countries may refuse to go along with Trumps unilateral sanctions, making them largely toothless.

Nobody else wants the deal to fail, said Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for New American Security, who worked on sanctions in the Obama administration. If the U.S. is the only one that walks away, who is going to enforce new sanctions? You could easily see European leaders deciding to defend their own companies instead.

Last month, the French energy giant Total signed a contract for a $5-billion natural gas project in Iran. If Trump tries to impose sanctions on deals like that, the result wont be merely a confrontation with Iran; it will be a clash with the EU.

There is an alternative Trump could try. Its called diplomacy.

He could press for stricter enforcement of the nuclear agreement, beginning with the restrictions Iran has placed on international inspectors access to military bases.

He could seek stronger international sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests, which arent covered by the nuclear deal.

And he could begin negotiations toward a new agreement to maintain the curbs on Irans nuclear program after 2026, when the current limits begin to expire.

But the president hasnt pursued those options, even though theyve been offered to him by his own aides. Instead, he appears hellbent on fulfilling a bad campaign promise he should now have the wisdom to abandon. (Thats a prayer more than a hope.)

Tearing up the deal wont bring down Irans regime most of Tehrans ruling clerics welcome the enmity of the United States but it will set up a collision between the Trump administration and most of the world, including China, Russia and U.S. allies in Europe.

The most likely losers would be the Western alliance, already battered by Trumps disdain, and whatever remains of the United States tattered claim to international leadership.

And the most likely winner, oddly enough, would be Vladimir Putins Russia, the beneficiary of yet another wedge between United States and its NATO allies this one driven by Trump alone, without Moscows help.

doyle.mcmanus@latimes.com

Twitter: @DoyleMcManus

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Israel offers to take Iranian blogger from Turkey – Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel offered asylum on Sunday to a Turkey-based Iranian blogger who it said faced forcible deportation to Iran, where she would be at risk given her work for an Israeli news site.

The Times of Israel has said that Neda Amin, its Persian-language blogger, left Iran in 2014 for Turkey. She has been in a court battle to prevent her repatriation and has sought other countries that might take her in as a refugee, the site said.

Hostility between the two countries means that Iranians are generally not admitted to Israel.

But following appeals by Israel’s journalist federations, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he would issue 32-year-old Amin with a special visa.

“This is a journalist whose life is in real danger,” Deri said in a statement. “Given the clear humanitarian circumstances, I authorized her entry without delay.”

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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Rouhani gets Iranian supreme leader’s nod as second-term president, faces risks – Reuters

ANKARA (Reuters) – Hassan Rouhani won the endorsement of Iran’s supreme leader for his second term of president on Thursday after an easy election win, pledging to open Iran to foreign trade and investment but facing internal hardline resistance and renewed U.S. antagonism.

Under Rouhani’s watch, Iran emerged from international isolation in 2015 when it struck a deal with six world powers to curb its disputed nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of financial and economic sanctions in place for a decade.

But his quest to parlay fragile detente with the West into financial infusions to rebuild Iran’s oil-based economy has been slowed by investors’ fears of pre-existing U.S. sanctions and suspicions among powerful hardline acolytes of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of any rise in Western influence.

The new U.S. sanctions could embolden Rouhani’s conservative rivals who say the nuclear deal was a form of capitulation.

An elite insider who has held senior political and military posts since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Rouhani comes off as a pragmatist unlike Khamenei and his allies, and analysts have cast doubt on his ability to balance their demands and the expectations of his often young and more liberal supporters.

Khamenei, who has the last word on all major issues of state, formally endorsed Rouhani as president in a ceremony broadcast live on state television on Thursday, after the pragmatist romped to re-election on May 19.

Addressing religious, military and political leaders, Khamenei prayed for “the success of a worthy person”.

Handing the presidential mandate to Rouhani, Khamenei kissed him on the cheek and the president kissed the Supreme Leader on his shoulder, a sign of supplication.

Khamenei again called for economic self-sufficiency and a “resistance economy”, a stance arising from his repeated criticism of the halting pace of economic recovery since most international sanctions on Iran were lifted early last year.

Rouhani will be sworn in on Saturday and then have two weeks to present his cabinet to parliament for a vote of confidence.

“The government’s aim is to improve Iran’s image in the world …, to safeguard people’s rights…, to end poverty…, to protect the religious democracy and our people’s votes,” Rouhani said in a speech at the ceremony.

Analysts said Rouhani may struggle to make a significant impact given sharpening divisions in the dual clerical-republican power structure, and Washington’s return to an aggressive Iran policy since Donald Trump took office.

“Hardliners will try even harder than in Rouhani’s first term to make him look like a lame duck president … It will be very difficult for Rouhani to deliver on the economy,” said Meir Javdanfar, an Iranian-born expert on the Islamic Republic at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel.

Rouhani’s own supporters have expressed concern over his inability to include women as ministers in his new cabinet because of pressure from religious hardliners.

Javdanfar said the new U.S. sanctions on Iran signed by Trump into law on Wednesday, along with measures against Russia and North Korea would likely deter foreign investors and so undermine Rouhani’s efforts to boost the economy.

Rouhani stuck to an upbeat outlook in his speech. “The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage…Iran will never be isolated,” he said.

During his 2016 election campaign, Trump blasted the nuclear agreement – negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama – as “the worst deal ever” but not followed through on threats to pull the United States out of it.

But Iran’s deputy foreign minister said the fresh sanctions violated provisions of the nuclear deal and vowed an “appropriate and proportional” response.

“Imposing new sanctions on Iran by America is a reactionary, illegitimate and irrational move,” state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying on Thursday.

Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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Iran’s ties to US universities an infiltration to fear – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rep. Dan Donovan wants the feds to look into some curious grants given to the likes of Columbia, Harvard and Princeton that came from a foundation with a pro-Iran, anti-Israel slant.

This is an investigation that should definitely go forth, and the sooner, the far better.

The Alavi Foundation was deemed in June by jurors in Manhattans federal court of illegally managing 650 Fifth Ave. on behalf of Iran. Now, its this same group, the Alavi Foundation, thats been tied to the funding of certain professors at these Ivy American schools and others around the U.S. who are decidedly anti-Israel and pro-Iran in their teachings.

As Donovan said, the New York Post reported: Did this foundation attempt to subvert American academic institutions?

Good question. And one that raises the knee-jerk reaction that better vetting of donors by university folk is needed.

But this goes deeper than a funding concern.

Critics are worried the foundation dollars may have been used to purposely plant pro-Iran professors within the U.S. university system. Its not out of the realm of possibility.

This is what acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in late June, while making the case against Alavi: For over a decade, hiding in plain sight, this 36-story Manhattan office tower secretly served as as front for the Iranian government and as a gateway for millions of dollars to be funneled to Iran in clear violation of U.S. sanctions laws.

And now, this same group has reportedly sent millions of dollars into dozens of Americas top-ranking colleges and universities?

For what purposes?

If the money came with strings attached say, stipulations that certain professors must be hired, or that certain doctrines should be taught then this is a radical infiltration of dangerous proportions, pure and simple.

Donovan said hes going to contact the secretary of the Department of Education, along with various congressional committees, and ask for an investigation.

One needs to be conducted, and pronto. And if untoward infiltration has occurred, then justice beginning with firings of compromised professors and complicit administrators should be both swift and harsh.

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View: America’s dangerous game with Iran – euronews

In recent weeks, US President Donald Trump and his advisers have joined Saudi Arabia in accusing Iran of being the epicenter of Middle East terrorism. The US Congress, meanwhile, is readying yet another round of sanctions against Iran. But the caricature of Iran as the tip of the spear of global terrorism, in Saudi King Salmans words, is not only wrongheaded, but also extremely dangerous, because it could lead to yet another Middle East war.

In fact, that seems to be the goal of some US hotheads, despite the obvious fact that Iran is on the same side as the United States in opposing the Islamic State (ISIS). And then theres the fact that Iran, unlike most of its regional adversaries, is a functioning democracy. Ironically, the escalation of US and Saudi rhetoric came just two days after Irans May 19 election, in which moderates led by incumbent President Hassan Rouhani defeated their hardline opponents at the ballot box.

Perhaps for Trump, the pro-Saudi, anti-Iran embrace is just another business proposition. He beamed at Saudi Arabias decision to buy $110 billion of new US weapons, describing the deal as jobs, jobs, jobs, as if the only gainful employment for American workers requires them to stoke war. And who knows what private deals for Trump and his family might also be lurking in his warm embrace of Saudi belligerence.

The Trump administrations bombast toward Iran is, in a sense, par for the course. US foreign policy is littered with absurd, tragic, and hugely destructive foreign wars that served no real purpose except the pursuit of some misguided strand of official propaganda. How else, in the end, to explain Americas useless and hugely costly entanglements in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and many other conflicts?

Americas anti-Iran animus goes back to the countrys 1979 Islamic Revolution. For the US public, the 444-day ordeal of the US embassy staff held hostage by radical Iranian students constituted a psychological shock that has still not abated. The hostage drama dominated the US media from start to finish, resulting in a kind of public post-traumatic stress disorder similar to the social trauma of the 9/11 attacks a generation later.

For most Americans, then and now, the hostage crisis and indeed the Iranian Revolution itself was a bolt out of the blue. Few Americans realize that the Iranian Revolution came a quarter-century after the CIA and Britains intelligence agency MI6 conspired in 1953 to overthrow the countrys democratically elected government and install a police state under the Shah of Iran, to preserve Anglo-American control over Irans oil, which was threatened by nationalization. Nor do most Americans realize that the hostage crisis was precipitated by the ill-considered decision to admit the deposed Shah into the US for medical treatment, which many Iranians viewed as a threat to the revolution.

During the Reagan Administration, the US supported Iraq in its war of aggression against Iran, including Iraqs use of chemical weapons. When the fighting finally ended in 1988, the US followed up with financial and trade sanctions on Iran that remain in place to this day. Since 1953, the US has opposed Irans self-rule and economic development through covert action, support for authoritarian rule during 1953-79, military backing for its enemies, and decades-long sanctions.

Another reason for Americas anti-Iran animus is Irans support for Hezbollah and Hamas, two militant antagonists of Israel. Here, too, it is important to understand the historical context.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to crush militant Palestinians operating there. In the wake of that war, and against the backdrop of anti-Muslim massacres enabled by Israels occupation forces, Iran supported the formation of the Shia-led Hezbollah to resist Israels occupation of southern Lebanon. By the time Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, nearly 20 years after its original invasion, Hezbollah had become a formidable military, political, and social force in Lebanon, and a continuing thorn in Israels side.

Iran also supports Hamas, a hardline Sunni group that rejects Israels right to exist. Following decades of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands captured in the 1967 war, and with peace negotiations stalemated, Hamas defeated Fatah (the Palestine Liberation Organizations political party) at the ballot box in the 2006 election for the Palestinian parliament. Rather than entering into a dialogue with Hamas, the US and Israel decided to try to crush it, including through a brutal war in Gaza in 2014, resulting in a massive Palestinian death toll, untold suffering, and billions of dollars in damage to homes and infrastructure in Gaza but, predictably, leading to no political progress whatsoever.

Israel also views Irans nuclear program as an existential threat. Hardline Israelis repeatedly sought to convince the US to attack Irans nuclear facilities, or at least allow Israel to do so. Fortunately, President Barack Obama resisted, and instead negotiated a treaty between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (plus Germany) that blocks Irans path to nuclear weapons for a decade or more, creating space for further confidence-building measures on both sides. Yet Trump and the Saudis seem intent on destroying the possibility of normalizing relations created by this important and promising agreement.

External powers are extremely foolish to allow themselves to be manipulated into taking sides in bitter national or sectarian conflicts that can be resolved only by compromise. The Israel-Palestine conflict, the competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the Sunni-Shia relationship all require mutual accommodation. Yet each side in these conflicts harbors the tragic illusion of achieving an ultimate victory without the need to compromise, if only the US (or some other major power) will fight the war on its behalf.

During the past century, Britain, France, the US, and Russia have all misplayed the Middle East power game. All have squandered lives, money, and prestige. (Indeed, the Soviet Union was gravely, perhaps fatally, weakened by its war in Afghanistan.) More than ever, we need an era of diplomacy that emphasizes compromise, not another round of demonization and an arms race that could all too easily spiral into disaster.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, Director of Columbias Center for Sustainable Development and of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, The Age of Sustainable Development, and, most recently, Building the New American Economy

The views expressed in opinion articles published on euronews do not represent our editorial position

Project Syndicate 2017

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It’s time to take on the Iran-North Korea nuke alliance – New York Post

Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first?

Heres a thought: both.

Save for the weather, North Korea wouldve tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday, at almost the same time as Iran did. It missed the date, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1953 armistice pact that ended the Korean War, likely thanks to a rain storm.

Nerveless, it tested the next day, creating a Mideast-East Asian stereo boom heard around the world.

American experts no longer think itll take North Korea years to be able to hit the continental United States. Most watchers now expect it sometime next year.

So President Trump has drawn the short straw. Three predecessors failed to stop the Kim regimes nuclear and missile advances. If he wants to stop the Norks, Trump has no choice but to act and all of his options are bad.

Meanwhile, much of President Barack Obamas Iran deal is expected to unravel during Trumps tenure as well.

What can he do?

Americans and others have long observed cooperation between these two rogue regimes. You dont need to be a trained missile expert to notice the design similarities between North Koreas home-built Rodong and its Iranian clone, the Shahab 3. Or the Rodong B and Shahab 4.

Iranian nuclear scientists were present at Pyongyangs first nuclear test. Iran-allied Syria modeled its nuclear plant (later eliminated by Israel) on a similar North Korean one. Rather than violating the Obama deal by experimenting at home, Iran can advance its nuclear program by observing North Koreas and contributing to its progress.

The mullahs have what Kim Jong-un needs most: cash. Pyongyangs only foreign-currency-worthy export is weapons and knowing how to build and use them, which Iran craves. Its a match made in hell.

So why are countries threatened by North Korea, like Japan, so eager to do business with Iran? After all, dont the mullahs enable the Norths quest to develop the missiles that get fired near Japan?

Theres no proof of such cooperation, Tokyo officials said when I asked them about it on a recent trip to Japan.

Theyre right. For decades, America shied away from revealing what the intelligence community knew about the Tehran-Pyongyang love affair because we dreamed of diplomatic breakthroughs on both fronts (and feared revealing spy methods).

After the Sunday ICBM test, such timidity is no longer an option.

Americas UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted Sunday that China is aware they must act and that Japan and South Korea must increase pressure. Its not only a US problem but one that requires an international solution.

Yet, an international solution has eluded Haley since July 4, the last time North Korea launched a missile designed to reach the continental US. Russian diplomats have ridiculously argued theres no proof this was an ICBM, therefore no need to increase sanctions.

Such obfuscation will likely continue. Russia and China will block attempts to corner Kim and his henchmen especially now that administration officials like CIA Director Mike Pompeo are starting to push the idea of toppling the Kim regime, which both Beijing and Moscow oppose.

So one action the United States can take would be to put forth a UN resolution naming and sanctioning persons and entities involved in the Iran-North Korea arms cooperation.

Western diplomats tell me it likely wont pass. Yet theyre intrigued by publicly airing, Adlai Stevenson-like, Americas intel on Iran-Nork cooperation.

Irans missile program was, bizarrely, left out of Obamas nuclear deal. Revealing the Tehran-Pyongyang nexus might convince allies wobbly about Tehrans violations that the mullahs threat is global. It could also start the process of plugging a major cash source for the Kim regime.

And then, theres action beyond the United Nations: Obama rarely used the Proliferation Security Initiative, a treaty signed by 105 countries that allows search and seizure of ships carrying illicit arms. Expose the Iran-North Korea connection, then use PSI to disrupt it, with our allies help.

Weve long thought of Iran and North Korea as separate problems. Time for a holistic approach that will give a jolt to the diplomatic stalemate.

US flights over South Korean skies are helping. Talking publicly about adding Japan and South Korea to the global nuclear club may scare China into action. So will blacklisting companies that do business with Kim Jong-un. Regime change should be the ultimate target.

But a change in diplomatic strategy is needed too, and fast. Time to expose what everyone knows, but no one ever says out loud: Kim and the mullahs are BFFs.

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

PM’s Iran speech to Congress left no bad blood, top Democrat says – The Times of Israel

There are no bitter feelings left between the Democratic party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his controversial speech to the US Congress ahead of the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, a top Democratic Congressmen said Tuesday. All of us together support Israel and there is no residual impact [from Netanyahus speech], whether you were pleased or not pleased, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer told reporters at a press conference in Jerusalem. On March 3, 2015, Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress in which he slammed US-led efforts to sign an agreement that would temporarily curtail Irans nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, a move seen as a slap in the face to then-president Barack Obama. The speech, which was made possible by the Republican speaker of the House John Boehner inviting the prime minister, drew a harsh reaction. Most visits are done in a bipartisan fashion, and this was not done in a bipartisan fashion. Democrats were not happy about that, and we said that, Hoyer said at Tuesdays press conference, held in the King David Hotel. This is not about Prime Minister Netanyahu or President Obama or President Trump. This is about a relationship between two great democracies, Israel and America. This is about a consensus that Israels security is critical for the security of the United States. This is not about personalities. This is about shared values. And our two countries are partners for peace and security. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands as he leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington,, March 3, 2015, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress. (Photo credit: AP/Andrew Harnik) Hoyer, who is currently leading a delegation of US congresspeople to Israel, said he attended Netanyahus speech at the time. I thought he spoke very well. I stood and clapped for things I supported, as others did, he said. But the essence is not personalities. Democrats are very supportive of Israel and that is our focus and continues to be our focus. Hoyer harshly criticized the Iran deal but eventually voted in favor of it. At Tuesdays press conference, he was asked whether support for Israel can really still be called a bipartisan issue, given that Democratic Senators voted against the nomination of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel, and in light of the fact that three Democrats voted against a bill to cut American funding to the Palestinians if they do not cease paying terrorists and their families. Hoyer replied by pointing to a recent law that imposes additional sanctions on Iran, noting that not a single Democrat opposed the bill. The parties are very united, and the fact is that the parties are speaking with one voice, he said. Like in every parliament, there are differences of opinion between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, he said. But, the veteran legislator added, when you have votes regarding Israels well-being and safety, they are overwhelmingly bipartisan. Currently on his 15th trip to Israel, Hoyer said he and Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is also currently leading a congressional delegation to Israel, agreed to spend some time together to signal that American support for the Jewish state is unwavering and entirely bipartisan. The Democratic delegation, which arrived first, met with Netanyahu on Monday. He is slated to host the Republicans in his Jerusalem office on Wednesday. Both delegations are sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with AIPAC. We have made a point to make sure we have an overlapping time here in Israel together, Republicans and Democrats. Because this is not a partisan issue. This is a bipartisan issue, McCarthy said, stressing that the US has no stronger alliance than that with Israel. Some of us are Democrats and some of us are Republicans. But were not here as Republicans and Democrats. Were here as Americans who support Israels security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people, Hoyer said, standing in front of the 50-some congresspeople of the two delegations. Were here because the United States and Israel are partners for peace and partners for security. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) meeting at his Jerusalem office with a 19-member delegation of Democratic members of Congress led by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, August 7, 2017. (GPO) While congressional delegations usually are divided among party lines, this time they insisted on some overlap because leaders from both sides of the aisle felt the need to send a message of solidarity with Israel and of solidarity with the people of Israel, a solidarity we know is necessary if we are to defeat those, not only in the Middle East about around the world, who [through] terrorism and violence put at risk our democracies and our way of life, Hoyer said. Most of the 52 congresspeople 33 Republicans and 19 Democrats currently in Israel are freshman lawmakers. They were briefed in Jerusalem and Ramallah and have been touring various sites across the country, including the borders with Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and received a joint briefing about the Arrow missile defense system at the Palmachim Air Force base.

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August 8, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran’s Zarif hosts Hamas officials – The Times of Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on Monday with a delegation of officials from the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which has been struggling with the continued erosion of its foreign backing. During the meeting, Zarif reiterated Tehrans support for the Palestinians as principled and unchangeable, according to reports in Iranian state media. The delegation of diaspora-based members of Hamass politburo was visiting Iran to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday. Iran was once Hamass key political and financial backer, but ties began to unravel in 2012, largely due to differences over the civil war in Syria. In May, Iran agreed in principle to renew its funding for Hamas, and senior Palestinian officials were said to be traveling to Tehran to repair relations. Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pictured here in Tehran with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. (photo credit: AP) Last week, Palestinian Authority officials claimed Iran provided aid to Palestinian protesters demonstrating against Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount last month. The aid reportedly included boxes of food and drink, which came with a flyer attached depicting the Dome of the Rock and a quote attributed to Irans Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reading, With the help of God, Palestine will be freed. Jerusalem is ours. A PA intelligence official told an Israeli newspaper at the time it was clear the Iranian regime was behind the aid packages, and estimated the initiative cost several million shekels. The move angered the PA leadership, with the unnamed official telling the Israel Hayom daily it was a mistake to allow Iran to reach into the West Bank with its tentacles. Mondays meeting in Tehran comes as Qatar, one of the other few foreign backers of Hamas, continues to face massive pressure from its Gulf neighbors to cut ties with the terrorist group. If it does, the result could be disastrous for the Gaza Strip, a territory Hamas has ruled for a decade. Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in roads, housing and a major hospital in the tiny enclave. Its infrastructure projects are one of the few job-creators in a beleaguered economy. Gaza already suffers from an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed to prevent the group from importing weaponry economic misery and chronic electricity shortages. For Hamas, Qatars money pumping into the economy is a vital lifeline bolstering its rule. Closer ties between Hamas and Iran are hardly likely to mollify the Gulf states and Egypt. One of the main factors driving the crisis is Qatars close ties to Tehran and fears of expanding Iranian influence further destabilizing the region. Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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August 7, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Column: US needs to stand up to Iran – The Detroit News

Lena Epstein Published 10:48 p.m. ET Aug. 6, 2017 U.S. policy has essentially boosted Tehrans ability to foment terrorism and threaten American interests, Lena Epstein writes.(Photo: Vahid Salemi / AP) When Sen. Debbie Stabenow joined 41 of her Democratic Senate colleagues to vote for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, back in 2015, they made a catastrophic foreign policy mistake that has left the U.S, Israel, and the international community at large much less secure. As recently as July 27, their mistake once again became painfully obvious when Iran conducted a successful launch of a long-range missile into space: such a blatant pretext for continued advancement of its ICBM program, youd have to be completely naive not to realize it. But, given the terms of the deal negotiated under President Obama, this type of activity isnt a violation of the nuclear deal. Iran is free to continue testing and perfecting its nuclear delivery systems, just as long as it doesnt enrich uranium or plutonium to dangerous levels. This is not what I consider a comprehensive plan to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the worlds most prolific state sponsor of terror, the same state that has explicitly called for the annihilation of the state of Israel. As a result of the deal, Iran has experienced a windfall of cash flowing into its coffers. With sanctions eased and foreign assets unfrozen, Iran has had an influx of over $100 billion, which it has used to double down on terrorist activities, and dramatically expand its military budget. The consequences can be felt throughout the already unstable Middle East as Iran provides support to Hamas and Hezbollah, and actively works to further destabilize Syria by sending thousands of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to support Bashar al-Assads brutal regime that has slaughtered and displaced millions of Syrians. U.S. policy has essentially bolstered Irans ability to carry out these terrorist activities and threaten American interests in the region, including putting American service members, stationed in the Middle East, at risk. This cannot continue. A nuclear-armed Iran poses an existential threat to one of our closest allies, Israel, and puts American security in jeopardy. Both of our U.S. senators here in Michigan Stabenow and Gary Peters voted in favor of this reprehensible deal. Stabenows vote on the Iran deal is one of the key factors that spurred me, an American, a Jewish woman, and a staunch supporter of Israel, to enter the U.S. Senate race and take her on next November. A member of Congress is no friend of Israel if he or she doesnt vote in our close allys best interest when it counts the most when there is a deal on the table that puts the Jewish states very existence in danger. The American people opposed the Iran deal by a 2 to 1 margin, and yet were in this perilous situation because Stabenow pushed it through anyway. We cant keep sending the same people back to Washington and expect different results. We need elected officials who support Israel because its a moral obligation, not because its politically expedient. Lena Epstein is the third-generation owner and general manager of Southfield-based Vesco Oil Corp. Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/2ufgmsn

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August 7, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Trump’s Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the Iran deal – Los Angeles Times

Heres an international crisis you can, unusually, put on your calendar ahead of time: In October, President Trump wants to declare Iran in violation of the 2015 agreement to limit its nuclear program a decision that would allow the United States to reimpose tough economic sanctions on anyone trading with Tehran. Its a bad idea. The nuclear deal isnt perfect it doesnt end Irans nuclear research, only limits it for a period of years but its much better than nothing. Before the agreement, Tehran was believed to be less than a year from making nuclear weapons that would have threatened Israel and Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the accord, that doomsday problem has at least been postponed. That hasnt stopped Trump from calling the pact the worst deal ever and ordering aides to supply him with evidence that will allow him to declare it invalid. The most likely moment for his decision will come in October, the next time he is required to notify Congress whether Iran is in compliance. If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago, Trump told the Wall Street Journal last month. Next time, he added, I do not expect that they will be compliant. The president didnt offer any substantive reason to declare Iran out of compliance with the deal because there isnt one. His own aides told him last month that, while Iran has tested the edges of the agreement, none of its actions was a material breach, the legal standard that would allow sanctions to snap back. When Trump was warned that he couldnt simply walk away from the deal, he had a bit of a meltdown, an official told the New York Times. He chewed out the secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who apparently brought him the bad news. And he ordered his staff to begin work on a new study one that will supply him with the excuses he needs. Thats an Alice-in-Wonderland approach to foreign policy: Verdict first, evidence later. And its not likely to work. No matter what the president thinks, the facts will get in the way. U.S. officials say Iran has been carefully upholding its main obligations under the nuclear agreement: reducing its uranium stocks and limiting its enrichment program. And none of the other six countries that negotiated the deal agree with Trump that the accord should be abrogated. The deal is working, and we believe it represents the best option for the international community, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote last month (and his government is friendlier to Trump than most). As a result, if Trump declares in October that Iran is in breach, most of the world including Britain, Germany and France will blame him for the consequences, not Tehran. That will create a major obstacle for the next step in Trumps course, which is to reimpose U.S. economic sanctions on foreign businesses that deal with Iran. (The nuclear deal didnt affect the embargo between the U.S. and Iran, which remains in effect.) If the United States is viewed as responsible for breaking the deal, other countries may refuse to go along with Trumps unilateral sanctions, making them largely toothless. Nobody else wants the deal to fail, said Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for New American Security, who worked on sanctions in the Obama administration. If the U.S. is the only one that walks away, who is going to enforce new sanctions? You could easily see European leaders deciding to defend their own companies instead. Last month, the French energy giant Total signed a contract for a $5-billion natural gas project in Iran. If Trump tries to impose sanctions on deals like that, the result wont be merely a confrontation with Iran; it will be a clash with the EU. There is an alternative Trump could try. Its called diplomacy. He could press for stricter enforcement of the nuclear agreement, beginning with the restrictions Iran has placed on international inspectors access to military bases. He could seek stronger international sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests, which arent covered by the nuclear deal. And he could begin negotiations toward a new agreement to maintain the curbs on Irans nuclear program after 2026, when the current limits begin to expire. But the president hasnt pursued those options, even though theyve been offered to him by his own aides. Instead, he appears hellbent on fulfilling a bad campaign promise he should now have the wisdom to abandon. (Thats a prayer more than a hope.) Tearing up the deal wont bring down Irans regime most of Tehrans ruling clerics welcome the enmity of the United States but it will set up a collision between the Trump administration and most of the world, including China, Russia and U.S. allies in Europe. The most likely losers would be the Western alliance, already battered by Trumps disdain, and whatever remains of the United States tattered claim to international leadership. And the most likely winner, oddly enough, would be Vladimir Putins Russia, the beneficiary of yet another wedge between United States and its NATO allies this one driven by Trump alone, without Moscows help. doyle.mcmanus@latimes.com Twitter: @DoyleMcManus Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion or Facebook

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August 6, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Israel offers to take Iranian blogger from Turkey – Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel offered asylum on Sunday to a Turkey-based Iranian blogger who it said faced forcible deportation to Iran, where she would be at risk given her work for an Israeli news site. The Times of Israel has said that Neda Amin, its Persian-language blogger, left Iran in 2014 for Turkey. She has been in a court battle to prevent her repatriation and has sought other countries that might take her in as a refugee, the site said. Hostility between the two countries means that Iranians are generally not admitted to Israel. But following appeals by Israel’s journalist federations, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he would issue 32-year-old Amin with a special visa. “This is a journalist whose life is in real danger,” Deri said in a statement. “Given the clear humanitarian circumstances, I authorized her entry without delay.” Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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August 6, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Rouhani gets Iranian supreme leader’s nod as second-term president, faces risks – Reuters

ANKARA (Reuters) – Hassan Rouhani won the endorsement of Iran’s supreme leader for his second term of president on Thursday after an easy election win, pledging to open Iran to foreign trade and investment but facing internal hardline resistance and renewed U.S. antagonism. Under Rouhani’s watch, Iran emerged from international isolation in 2015 when it struck a deal with six world powers to curb its disputed nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of financial and economic sanctions in place for a decade. But his quest to parlay fragile detente with the West into financial infusions to rebuild Iran’s oil-based economy has been slowed by investors’ fears of pre-existing U.S. sanctions and suspicions among powerful hardline acolytes of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of any rise in Western influence. The new U.S. sanctions could embolden Rouhani’s conservative rivals who say the nuclear deal was a form of capitulation. An elite insider who has held senior political and military posts since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Rouhani comes off as a pragmatist unlike Khamenei and his allies, and analysts have cast doubt on his ability to balance their demands and the expectations of his often young and more liberal supporters. Khamenei, who has the last word on all major issues of state, formally endorsed Rouhani as president in a ceremony broadcast live on state television on Thursday, after the pragmatist romped to re-election on May 19. Addressing religious, military and political leaders, Khamenei prayed for “the success of a worthy person”. Handing the presidential mandate to Rouhani, Khamenei kissed him on the cheek and the president kissed the Supreme Leader on his shoulder, a sign of supplication. Khamenei again called for economic self-sufficiency and a “resistance economy”, a stance arising from his repeated criticism of the halting pace of economic recovery since most international sanctions on Iran were lifted early last year. Rouhani will be sworn in on Saturday and then have two weeks to present his cabinet to parliament for a vote of confidence. “The government’s aim is to improve Iran’s image in the world …, to safeguard people’s rights…, to end poverty…, to protect the religious democracy and our people’s votes,” Rouhani said in a speech at the ceremony. Analysts said Rouhani may struggle to make a significant impact given sharpening divisions in the dual clerical-republican power structure, and Washington’s return to an aggressive Iran policy since Donald Trump took office. “Hardliners will try even harder than in Rouhani’s first term to make him look like a lame duck president … It will be very difficult for Rouhani to deliver on the economy,” said Meir Javdanfar, an Iranian-born expert on the Islamic Republic at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel. Rouhani’s own supporters have expressed concern over his inability to include women as ministers in his new cabinet because of pressure from religious hardliners. Javdanfar said the new U.S. sanctions on Iran signed by Trump into law on Wednesday, along with measures against Russia and North Korea would likely deter foreign investors and so undermine Rouhani’s efforts to boost the economy. Rouhani stuck to an upbeat outlook in his speech. “The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage…Iran will never be isolated,” he said. During his 2016 election campaign, Trump blasted the nuclear agreement – negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama – as “the worst deal ever” but not followed through on threats to pull the United States out of it. But Iran’s deputy foreign minister said the fresh sanctions violated provisions of the nuclear deal and vowed an “appropriate and proportional” response. “Imposing new sanctions on Iran by America is a reactionary, illegitimate and irrational move,” state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying on Thursday. Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran’s ties to US universities an infiltration to fear – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION: Rep. Dan Donovan wants the feds to look into some curious grants given to the likes of Columbia, Harvard and Princeton that came from a foundation with a pro-Iran, anti-Israel slant. This is an investigation that should definitely go forth, and the sooner, the far better. The Alavi Foundation was deemed in June by jurors in Manhattans federal court of illegally managing 650 Fifth Ave. on behalf of Iran. Now, its this same group, the Alavi Foundation, thats been tied to the funding of certain professors at these Ivy American schools and others around the U.S. who are decidedly anti-Israel and pro-Iran in their teachings. As Donovan said, the New York Post reported: Did this foundation attempt to subvert American academic institutions? Good question. And one that raises the knee-jerk reaction that better vetting of donors by university folk is needed. But this goes deeper than a funding concern. Critics are worried the foundation dollars may have been used to purposely plant pro-Iran professors within the U.S. university system. Its not out of the realm of possibility. This is what acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in late June, while making the case against Alavi: For over a decade, hiding in plain sight, this 36-story Manhattan office tower secretly served as as front for the Iranian government and as a gateway for millions of dollars to be funneled to Iran in clear violation of U.S. sanctions laws. And now, this same group has reportedly sent millions of dollars into dozens of Americas top-ranking colleges and universities? For what purposes? If the money came with strings attached say, stipulations that certain professors must be hired, or that certain doctrines should be taught then this is a radical infiltration of dangerous proportions, pure and simple. Donovan said hes going to contact the secretary of the Department of Education, along with various congressional committees, and ask for an investigation. One needs to be conducted, and pronto. And if untoward infiltration has occurred, then justice beginning with firings of compromised professors and complicit administrators should be both swift and harsh.

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

View: America’s dangerous game with Iran – euronews

In recent weeks, US President Donald Trump and his advisers have joined Saudi Arabia in accusing Iran of being the epicenter of Middle East terrorism. The US Congress, meanwhile, is readying yet another round of sanctions against Iran. But the caricature of Iran as the tip of the spear of global terrorism, in Saudi King Salmans words, is not only wrongheaded, but also extremely dangerous, because it could lead to yet another Middle East war. In fact, that seems to be the goal of some US hotheads, despite the obvious fact that Iran is on the same side as the United States in opposing the Islamic State (ISIS). And then theres the fact that Iran, unlike most of its regional adversaries, is a functioning democracy. Ironically, the escalation of US and Saudi rhetoric came just two days after Irans May 19 election, in which moderates led by incumbent President Hassan Rouhani defeated their hardline opponents at the ballot box. Perhaps for Trump, the pro-Saudi, anti-Iran embrace is just another business proposition. He beamed at Saudi Arabias decision to buy $110 billion of new US weapons, describing the deal as jobs, jobs, jobs, as if the only gainful employment for American workers requires them to stoke war. And who knows what private deals for Trump and his family might also be lurking in his warm embrace of Saudi belligerence. The Trump administrations bombast toward Iran is, in a sense, par for the course. US foreign policy is littered with absurd, tragic, and hugely destructive foreign wars that served no real purpose except the pursuit of some misguided strand of official propaganda. How else, in the end, to explain Americas useless and hugely costly entanglements in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and many other conflicts? Americas anti-Iran animus goes back to the countrys 1979 Islamic Revolution. For the US public, the 444-day ordeal of the US embassy staff held hostage by radical Iranian students constituted a psychological shock that has still not abated. The hostage drama dominated the US media from start to finish, resulting in a kind of public post-traumatic stress disorder similar to the social trauma of the 9/11 attacks a generation later. For most Americans, then and now, the hostage crisis and indeed the Iranian Revolution itself was a bolt out of the blue. Few Americans realize that the Iranian Revolution came a quarter-century after the CIA and Britains intelligence agency MI6 conspired in 1953 to overthrow the countrys democratically elected government and install a police state under the Shah of Iran, to preserve Anglo-American control over Irans oil, which was threatened by nationalization. Nor do most Americans realize that the hostage crisis was precipitated by the ill-considered decision to admit the deposed Shah into the US for medical treatment, which many Iranians viewed as a threat to the revolution. During the Reagan Administration, the US supported Iraq in its war of aggression against Iran, including Iraqs use of chemical weapons. When the fighting finally ended in 1988, the US followed up with financial and trade sanctions on Iran that remain in place to this day. Since 1953, the US has opposed Irans self-rule and economic development through covert action, support for authoritarian rule during 1953-79, military backing for its enemies, and decades-long sanctions. Another reason for Americas anti-Iran animus is Irans support for Hezbollah and Hamas, two militant antagonists of Israel. Here, too, it is important to understand the historical context. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to crush militant Palestinians operating there. In the wake of that war, and against the backdrop of anti-Muslim massacres enabled by Israels occupation forces, Iran supported the formation of the Shia-led Hezbollah to resist Israels occupation of southern Lebanon. By the time Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, nearly 20 years after its original invasion, Hezbollah had become a formidable military, political, and social force in Lebanon, and a continuing thorn in Israels side. Iran also supports Hamas, a hardline Sunni group that rejects Israels right to exist. Following decades of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands captured in the 1967 war, and with peace negotiations stalemated, Hamas defeated Fatah (the Palestine Liberation Organizations political party) at the ballot box in the 2006 election for the Palestinian parliament. Rather than entering into a dialogue with Hamas, the US and Israel decided to try to crush it, including through a brutal war in Gaza in 2014, resulting in a massive Palestinian death toll, untold suffering, and billions of dollars in damage to homes and infrastructure in Gaza but, predictably, leading to no political progress whatsoever. Israel also views Irans nuclear program as an existential threat. Hardline Israelis repeatedly sought to convince the US to attack Irans nuclear facilities, or at least allow Israel to do so. Fortunately, President Barack Obama resisted, and instead negotiated a treaty between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (plus Germany) that blocks Irans path to nuclear weapons for a decade or more, creating space for further confidence-building measures on both sides. Yet Trump and the Saudis seem intent on destroying the possibility of normalizing relations created by this important and promising agreement. External powers are extremely foolish to allow themselves to be manipulated into taking sides in bitter national or sectarian conflicts that can be resolved only by compromise. The Israel-Palestine conflict, the competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the Sunni-Shia relationship all require mutual accommodation. Yet each side in these conflicts harbors the tragic illusion of achieving an ultimate victory without the need to compromise, if only the US (or some other major power) will fight the war on its behalf. During the past century, Britain, France, the US, and Russia have all misplayed the Middle East power game. All have squandered lives, money, and prestige. (Indeed, the Soviet Union was gravely, perhaps fatally, weakened by its war in Afghanistan.) More than ever, we need an era of diplomacy that emphasizes compromise, not another round of demonization and an arms race that could all too easily spiral into disaster. Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, Director of Columbias Center for Sustainable Development and of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, The Age of Sustainable Development, and, most recently, Building the New American Economy The views expressed in opinion articles published on euronews do not represent our editorial position Project Syndicate 2017

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

It’s time to take on the Iran-North Korea nuke alliance – New York Post

Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first? Heres a thought: both. Save for the weather, North Korea wouldve tested an intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday, at almost the same time as Iran did. It missed the date, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1953 armistice pact that ended the Korean War, likely thanks to a rain storm. Nerveless, it tested the next day, creating a Mideast-East Asian stereo boom heard around the world. American experts no longer think itll take North Korea years to be able to hit the continental United States. Most watchers now expect it sometime next year. So President Trump has drawn the short straw. Three predecessors failed to stop the Kim regimes nuclear and missile advances. If he wants to stop the Norks, Trump has no choice but to act and all of his options are bad. Meanwhile, much of President Barack Obamas Iran deal is expected to unravel during Trumps tenure as well. What can he do? Americans and others have long observed cooperation between these two rogue regimes. You dont need to be a trained missile expert to notice the design similarities between North Koreas home-built Rodong and its Iranian clone, the Shahab 3. Or the Rodong B and Shahab 4. Iranian nuclear scientists were present at Pyongyangs first nuclear test. Iran-allied Syria modeled its nuclear plant (later eliminated by Israel) on a similar North Korean one. Rather than violating the Obama deal by experimenting at home, Iran can advance its nuclear program by observing North Koreas and contributing to its progress. The mullahs have what Kim Jong-un needs most: cash. Pyongyangs only foreign-currency-worthy export is weapons and knowing how to build and use them, which Iran craves. Its a match made in hell. So why are countries threatened by North Korea, like Japan, so eager to do business with Iran? After all, dont the mullahs enable the Norths quest to develop the missiles that get fired near Japan? Theres no proof of such cooperation, Tokyo officials said when I asked them about it on a recent trip to Japan. Theyre right. For decades, America shied away from revealing what the intelligence community knew about the Tehran-Pyongyang love affair because we dreamed of diplomatic breakthroughs on both fronts (and feared revealing spy methods). After the Sunday ICBM test, such timidity is no longer an option. Americas UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted Sunday that China is aware they must act and that Japan and South Korea must increase pressure. Its not only a US problem but one that requires an international solution. Yet, an international solution has eluded Haley since July 4, the last time North Korea launched a missile designed to reach the continental US. Russian diplomats have ridiculously argued theres no proof this was an ICBM, therefore no need to increase sanctions. Such obfuscation will likely continue. Russia and China will block attempts to corner Kim and his henchmen especially now that administration officials like CIA Director Mike Pompeo are starting to push the idea of toppling the Kim regime, which both Beijing and Moscow oppose. So one action the United States can take would be to put forth a UN resolution naming and sanctioning persons and entities involved in the Iran-North Korea arms cooperation. Western diplomats tell me it likely wont pass. Yet theyre intrigued by publicly airing, Adlai Stevenson-like, Americas intel on Iran-Nork cooperation. Irans missile program was, bizarrely, left out of Obamas nuclear deal. Revealing the Tehran-Pyongyang nexus might convince allies wobbly about Tehrans violations that the mullahs threat is global. It could also start the process of plugging a major cash source for the Kim regime. And then, theres action beyond the United Nations: Obama rarely used the Proliferation Security Initiative, a treaty signed by 105 countries that allows search and seizure of ships carrying illicit arms. Expose the Iran-North Korea connection, then use PSI to disrupt it, with our allies help. Weve long thought of Iran and North Korea as separate problems. Time for a holistic approach that will give a jolt to the diplomatic stalemate. US flights over South Korean skies are helping. Talking publicly about adding Japan and South Korea to the global nuclear club may scare China into action. So will blacklisting companies that do business with Kim Jong-un. Regime change should be the ultimate target. But a change in diplomatic strategy is needed too, and fast. Time to expose what everyone knows, but no one ever says out loud: Kim and the mullahs are BFFs.

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed


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