Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

Iran state media accuses Saudis of planting false news story – CNN

A tweet was posted on the account of state-run Alalam news agency on Sunday in Arabic, claiming that Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani had asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to establish an Iranian military base in Qatar. The tweet — which is still visible — did not link to any story on the Alalam website.

The tweet, if it were true, would likely inflame tensions in the region between Qatar and a quartet of countries led by Saudi Arabia, which has frozen trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar, claiming it supports terror organizations. Qatar has vehemently denied those claims.

The boycott followed news stories published online on Qatari state media that quoted Al-Thani, Qatar’s emir, calling Iran a regional Islamic power and describing Qatari relations with Israel as good. Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic ties with Iran or Israel, and it sees Iran as a key rival.

It said the story about the military base was fake, and the decision by Saudi media to republish them showed they were colluding with the hackers.

“Saudi news agencies and websites, though fully aware of the fact that Alalam’s Twitter account has been hacked, publish these false news stories immediately, designating their collusion with the hackers,” the statement said.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment and have not publicly responded to Alalam’s accusations.

Alalam said in its statement that it had been under a series of cyber-attacks for days.

Last week, it published a story accusing Saudi hackers of breaking into its Twitter account. Alalam said Monday it had control of the account on and off in the past week and was currently locked out.

The news agency has said that it believes Saudi hackers were behind the earlier breaches as a Saudi flag appeared as a banner image on its Twitter account last week while it was compromised.

Alalam has offered no other evidence that Saudi Arabia was behind the hacks or was responsible for Sunday’s tweet on the military base.

The Twitter account is still under the control of hackers, the news agency has said. On July 14, during a window when Alalam said it had control of the account, the news agency pinned a tweet explaining that it had lost its blue tick — a mark used by Twitter to show an account has been verified — since being hacked.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash said Monday that a story reported by the Washington Post accusing the UAE of that attack was false. That story, the Washington Post said, was based on information by unnamed US officials.

“The Washington Post story is not true, purely not true,” he said responding to a question after a speech at Chatham House in London. He said that the story “will die” in the next few days.

But Qatar said that the Washington Post report proved its version of events, that its websites were hacked and that quotes were fabricated and published.

CNN’s Sarah Sirgany contributed to this report.

The rest is here:
Iran state media accuses Saudis of planting false news story – CNN

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran is complying with nuclear deal but is ‘in default of its spirit’, says US – The Guardian

Donald Trumps administration has issued contradictory signals on Irans nuclear industry, its foreign minister said on Monday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

The Trump administration has told Congress for a second time that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal and can keep enjoying sanctions relief, even as it insisted Tehran would face consequences for breaching the spirit of the deal.

President Donald Trump, who lambasted the 2015 pact as a candidate, gave himself more time to decide whether to dismantle it or let it stand. Instead, senior Trump administration officials sought to emphasise their deep concerns about Irans non-nuclear behaviour, saying transgressions wont go unpunished.

In a shift from Trumps previous threat to rip up the deal, officials said the administration was working with US allies to try to fix the deals flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more. The officials also said the US would slap Tehran with new sanctions penalising it for developing ballistic missiles and other activity.

Trump, secretary of state Rex Tillerson and the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the agreement, one official said. That assessment carries no legal force, while Trumps certification that Iran is technically complying clears the way for sanctions to remain lifted.

The late-night announcement capped a day of frenzied, last-minute decision-making by the president, exposing deep and lingering divisions within his administration about how to deal with a top national security issue.

Since early last week, Trumps administration had been prepared to make the certification, a quarterly requirement. Trump first told Congress in April that Iran was indeed complying. With no final decision on his broader Iran policy, the White House had planned to let the status quo stand for another three months.

Iran will continue receiving the same sanctions relief that it did under former President Barack Obama.

In April, when Trump made his first certification, he paired it with new sanctions for non-nuclear behaviour to show there was no softening of his stance toward the Islamic Republic. Earlier on Monday, the White House had told outside experts it would repeat that playbook, by punishing more than a dozen Iranian individuals, organisations and procurement networks involved in ballistic missiles and other nefarious behaviour.

But the day came and went with no such announcement, although officials said they expected more sanctions would eventually be coming. It was unclear why the administration held off or for how long, but typically the treasury department prefers to issue new sanctions during business hours.

We receive contradictory signals, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations before the decision was announced. So we dont know which one to interpret in what way.

We receive contradictory signal so we dont know which one to interpret in what way

For Trump, a vocal critic of the deal, the obligation to report to Congress on Irans conformity has created an unwelcome, tri-monthly headache. Still undecided about whether to withdraw from the deal, Trump must either vouch for Tehrans compliance or try to claim Iran is breaching it even though the International Atomic Energy Agency that monitors the deal says it is not.

In its condemnation of Iran, senior officials emphasised several longstanding US concerns about Irans ballistic missile programs, human rights abuses and support for terrorism in the region. They also criticised Iran for detaining US citizens and limiting freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

Under the deal struck by Obama and other world leaders, Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. The deal does not address global concerns about Irans non-nuclear activities, but also doesnt prevent the US and others from punishing Iran for those activities. Iran remains on the state departments list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups.

Scuttling the deal would put further distance between Trump and foreign leaders who are already upset over his move to withdraw from the Paris global climate change accord. Other powers that brokered the nuclear deal along with the US have said theres no appetite for renegotiating it.

More here:
Iran is complying with nuclear deal but is ‘in default of its spirit’, says US – The Guardian

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran foreign minister distances himself from US citizen’s espionage sentencing, ‘doubts’ Syria used chemical weapons – Fox News

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday that his country has an entirely “independent judiciary” set in stone in its constitution, and deflected the notion that he or the government had much immediate authority in helping free the jailed Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang.

“But we hope an acceptable resolution can be found,” Zarif said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. “There are Iranians being detained (by the U.S.) on charges of sanction violations that are not applicable today… for bogus and purely political reasons.”

Wang, who was in Iran working on his Princeton University thesis on Eurasian history, was sentenced over the weekend to ten years behind bars for “spying,” in a trial that was held behind closed doors.

Zarif also expressed his skepticism that the Syrian regime, led by embattled President Bashar al-Assad, had used chemical weapons in the country’s northwestern rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April this year, despite certainty from U.S officials and other international bodies.

Protesters outside the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. (Fox News)

“I have serious doubts… And no one has a red-line (on the use of chemical weapons more than Iran. When we were victims, nobody cared,” he said, referencing the Iran-Iraq war in which Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein dropped an array of chemical concoctions on Iranian combatants and non-combatants in the 1980s.

Zarif went on to blame both “foreign intervention” and the failure of Arab governments to provide their people with their “basic needs,” as the key reasons for all the anger and frustration that has led to the rise of extremism in the Middle East.

Zarif, who was in New York for a high-level United Nations meeting on sustainable development and to “see old friends,” also used the platform to tout Iran’s “democracy,” and the resilience of the Iranian leadership and its people.

VIDEO: IRAN SENTENCES AMERICAN GRAD STUDENT TO PRISON

“People lined up for ten hours to vote, and in Los Angeles they lined up for four hours to vote (in the recent election) as this was their Avenue to express themselves,” he continued. “Gen. Mattis said that Iranians don’t have a choice, but why would people stand in line for ten hours for a president that was pre-determined? Come on. Don’t kid yourselves.”

Zarif also called the current fighting in Yemen the “worst humanitarian nightmare you can think of” and said he hoped it would not escalate into full-scale war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“We certainly hope that if we don’t agree with each other about the situation in Yemen or about the situation in Syria we can still work with each other in order to bring those situations to an end,” he noted.

Saudi Arabia launched an ongoing bombing campaign on its border with Yemen over two years ago, with U.S support, after Houthi rebels believed to be backed by Tehran took control of large swaths of the country including the nation’s capital, Sana’a.

PRINCETON DEFENDS STUDENT SENTENCED IN IRAN

The top official also shunned reports that Iran effectively controlled Iraq post the U.S.-led invasion, instead mandating that his government is against the presence of foreign militaries anywhere in the region. He stated that Iranian groups are merely in military “advising” roles in both Iraq and Syria, at the invitation of both sovereign governments, and that they offer support only when asked.

Zarif pointed out that when the Islamic State terror network was close to encroaching the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq in 2014, its president, Masoud Barzani, made three calls for help — to the U.S., Turkey and Iran — and it was Iran who came to their assistance in just two hours with advisors and planes of weaponry.

“Foreigners should assist, anything beyond that is destabilizing,” he said.

Zarif also suggested that while the U.S. has simply and unjustly now chosen Iran as its “enemy of choice” and he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have so far had no direct communication, he is open to fostering relations.

The minister additionally indicated that Israel is not Iran’s immediate concern, but expressed dismay over the continued “repression of the Palestinian people” and denied that Iran was developing missiles to carry nuclear warheads, which is prohibited under the reigning nuclear deal.

“We need them to make sure that another Saddam Hussein around the corner will not come and hit us again,” he said, reiterating several times that Iran is committed to never producing nuclear weapons even after the deal expires in just over ten years.

“We will continue to produce enriched uranium,” Zarif said, “for fuel purposes.”

His address Monday was met with a small group of around twenty protestors outside carrying signs and chanting their anger towards Iran’s human rights abuses, a concept that the minister also vehemently dismissed. Zarif said that he found it somewhat odd that Iran is singled out by the U.S. as human rights abusers when there are countries that have “never heard of elections” and go on “beheading” their citizens but a deemed American allies and have never had sanctions imposed on them.

Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

Go here to see the original:
Iran foreign minister distances himself from US citizen’s espionage sentencing, ‘doubts’ Syria used chemical weapons – Fox News

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

US certifies that Iran is meeting terms of nuclear deal – Washington Post

The Trump administration certified to Congress late Monday that Iran has continued to meet the required conditions of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers.

But senior administration officials made clear that the certification was grudging, and said that President Trump intends to impose new sanctions on Iran for ongoing malign activities in non-nuclear areas such as ballistic missile development and support for terrorism.

We judge that these Iranian activities severely undermine the intent of the agreement as a force for international stability, one official said. Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that took effect in January 2016 after years of negotiations, the official said.

International monitors and other signatories of the agreement have said that Iran is meeting its terms, giving the administration little room for maneuver in providing the assessment required by Congress every 90 days.

The last certification of Iranian compliance, in April, was also followed by new sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies the administration said played a role in ballistic missile tests that arenot covered by the nuclear agreement.

We do expect to be implementing new sanctions related to missiles and Irans fast boat program, the official said, but declined to specify what the measures would be. The administration has charged Iran with using military patrol boats to impede free navigation in the Persian Gulf.

Three senior administration officials briefed reporters on the certification on the condition of anonymity imposed by the White House.

Earlier in the day, Trumps national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previewed the sanctions in a closed-door meeting with representatives of Washington-based think tanks. Reporters were not invited.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran, which denied it was developing nuclear weapons, agreed to sharply limit the number and capability of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, give up nearly all of its previously enriched stock, and submit to intrusive verification measures in exchange for an end to U.S. and international sanctions related to the program.

Trump has called the deal fatally flawed, and said he would either renegotiate it or kill it.

In making the certification, an official said, the secretary of state and the president intend to emphasize that Iran remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and to regional stability, and to highlight the range of malign activities. They include atrocities by the Assad regime that Iran supports in Syria, continuing hostility to Israel and other actions, as well as its missile program and terrorist support.

Other signatories to the nuclear deal Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union have indicated that they think it is working.

An administration review of the JCPOA is expected to be finished before the next certification is due in October. In the meantime, officials said, they will work with allies to try to reach agreement on its flaws.

Ed OKeefe contributed to this report.

Visit link:
US certifies that Iran is meeting terms of nuclear deal – Washington Post

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Trump is falling into the same trap as Obama on Iran – New York Post

When President Trump met earlier this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, their exchange about Moscows interference in the 2016 presidential election was all anyone seemed to care about. Trumps efforts to present an agreement between the two countries on a cease-fire in Syria as a major achievement were largely ignored by a media determined to focus exclusively on allegations of collusion between the Republicans and Russia.

But it turns out his critics were wrong to dismiss the Syrian pact as a distraction. Its now clear that in his eagerness for a deal, the president fell into virtually the same trap his predecessor did when he signed the Iran nuclear deal.

The real surprise here is that the biggest critic of the Syrian pact is one of the presidents staunchest friends: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He spoke out once he discovered that Trump hadnt taken into account Israels concerns about Iran being the real beneficiary of the agreement.

Like it or not, the Russian and Iranian forces fighting on behalf of the barbarous Bashar al-Assad regime appear to have prevailed. Yet Russia and Iran arent content with just keeping their client in power. They want Western recognition not just of Assads victory but also of their occupation of Syrian territory.

US acquiescence to the Russian presence in Syria is the first step toward the realization of Putins dream of reassembling the old Soviet empire. Once President Barack Obama punted enforcement of his red line about Assads use of chemical weapons to the Russians, there was probably no way to roll back Putins ambitions.

But what Trump has done now by trying to pull a foreign-policy victory out of his meeting with Putin is arguably almost as bad as Obamas feckless Syrian retreat. The cease-fire terms would ensure that Iran and its Hezbollah auxiliaries get a free hand in southern Syria and that the Iranian presence will become permanent.

Israel has kept a close watch on Hezbollahs activities in Syria and launched strikes to prevent Iran from using the civil war as cover to transfer heavy arms to its Lebanese allies or allowing the group to establish bases close to its border. Yet if Trumps cease-fire lets Iran put military facilities adjacent to Israel something Jerusalem has said it cant tolerate that increases the chances of conflict with an Islamist regime that is dedicated to Israels destruction.

Just as troubling is that this will enable Tehran to achieve its dream of a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. Just as Obamas bugout from Iraq allowed Iran to become the dominant power in that nation, the Trump seal of approval on Assads victory could give it the same power in Syria and enable it to link up with a Lebanon dominated by its terrorist errand boys.

Thats the same nightmare of Iranian regional hegemony that scared Arab nations as much as it did the Israelis about the nuclear deal.

Unlike Obama, Trump isnt laboring under the delusion that Irans leaders are moderates. He understands the Iranians are a threat to both the United States and its allies. The problem is that he still refuses to accept that he must choose between his good relations with Russia and getting tough with Iran.

Trump spent the 2016 campaign talking up cooperation with Russia against ISIS and denouncing Obamas nuclear deal with Iran. But events in Syria have proved him wrong. Russia and Iran are interested in Syria for reasons that have nothing to do with fighting ISIS. Indeed, the survival of their man Assad ensures that the terrorist group will continue to retain Sunni support since it is seen as the only local force resisting the regime.

Rather than ignore Israels warnings, the president must wake up and realize that acting as if he can tilt toward Russia while also resisting Iran means that Trump is, in effect, making his own awful Iran deal with implications that could be almost as deadly in the long run as Obamas folly. Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributor to National Review.

More:
Trump is falling into the same trap as Obama on Iran – New York Post

Fair Usage Law

July 17, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Situation Report: How Iran Won Iraq War; Secret Service Vs. Trump Team – Foreign Policy (blog)

With Adam Rawnsley

Gulf hack. The hack of Qatari government Web sites earlier this year was carried out by the United Arab Emirates, and not Russia, as had initially been suspected. The revelation which will likely only deepen the diplomatic row between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors comes after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries slapped an economic blockade on the tiny Gulf monarchy.

U.S. officials who described the latest twist to the Washington Post said theyre unsure whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted the job out. The hacks took place on May 24, just after President Trump sat down with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified. The UAE on Monday officially denied responsibility.

Iran won the Iraq war. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Tehran saw an opportunity to use the chaos that resulted to increase its own influence in the region. And their plan appears to have worked, the New York Times reports. Iran has for years planted friendly ministers inside the Iraqi parliament and government agencies, and is training Iraqi Shiite militias to fight ISIS in Iraq, and for the Syrian government over the border.

Consider this: At some border posts in the south, Iraqi sovereignty is an afterthought. Busloads of young militia recruits cross into Iran without so much as a document check. They receive military training and are then flown to Syria, where they fight under the command of Iranian officers in defense of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. Iran is also training thousands of Afghan fighters to battle in Syria.

Secret Service pushes back on Trump lawyer. This is awkward. The U.S. Secret Service on Sunday firmly denied a statement from President Donald Trumps personal lawyer that its agents vetted a meeting between the presidents son and Russian nationals during the 2016 campaign, in which the Russians claiming to represent the Kremlin promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said later in the day that Trump Jr. was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trumps son and two senior campaign officials. Whelp.

Elsewhere, the New York Times profiled one of the Russians who were in the room with Trump Jr., campaign head Paul Manafort, and son in law and advisor Jared Kushner. They did the same with another Russian tied to the burgeoning scandal.

Civilian casualties spike under Trump. A new report from a researcher with independent watchdog Airwars claims that civilian casualties in Iraq have risen to an average of 12 per day since January, or 360 a month. Under the Obama administration, the average was about 80 a month.

More bad news in Syria. Turkish-backed rebels battled with Kurdish fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in northwestern Syria on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Things had been somewhat quiet in the area around Aleppo for the past several weeks, where an uneasy calm has prevailed.

Strikes. The U.S. killed the leader of the Islamic States Afghan affiliate in a drone strike early last week, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Defense Secretary James Mattis described the death of ISIS-K leader Abu Sayed as obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back. The U.S. had killed the groups two previous leaders, Hafiz Sayed Khan and Abdul Hasib, in strikes carried out over the past year.

Welcome to SitRep. Send any tips, thoughts or national security events to paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or via Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley.

American intelligence officials tell the Washington Post that the United Arab Emirates was behind the hack of a Qatari state news agency that posted fake quotes from Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani praising Hamas and Iran. Americans spies picked up information on Emirati officials discussing the plan to plant the fake quotes in the website on May 23, shortly before the hack.

Art of the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Syrian ceasefire that President Trumps agreed to with Russia is a bad deal in a rare public break with the Trump administration, according to Haarertz. Israel had insisted that any ceasefire deal include provisions to keep Iranian-backed forces away from the Israeli border, prevent Iran from fortifying its position in Syria, and not allow Russian troops to produce buffer zones.

Human rights. Locals along the banks of the Tigris are seeing a steady stream of bound human bodies of military-age men floating outside Mosul, raising fears of summary executions by Iraqi forces in the wake of Mosuls liberation. Freelance reporter Fazel Hawramy has been monitoring Iraqi social media pages and highlighted video showing Iraqi forces torturing and abusing alleged Islamic State members in Mosul.

Observers. The Defense Department tested a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery last week in order to demonstrate to North Korea that the system, currently deployed in South Korea, can knock down ballistic missiles. But the THAAD test had another observer, according to CNN. North American Aerospace Defense Command tells the cable news channel that a Chinese spy ship showed up in international waters off the coast of Alaska.

Retaliation. Russia is raising the temperature over its diplomatic feud with the U.S. over the Obama administration expulsion of alleged Russian spies. If the U.S. doesnt return a seized Russian diplomatic compound and allow an increase in the number of Russian diplomats in America, Kremlin mouthpiece Dmitry Kiselev recently said, U.S. diplomats will be expelled, and those who remain behind will be harassed.

Trouble in the alliance. NATO is trying to nudge Germany and Turkey to cooperate after Germany began pulling its troops from Incirlik Air Base following a diplomatic dispute with Ankara. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the two countries should have their foreign ministers meet for a sit down to resolve their differences following Germanys refusal to extradite Turkish asylum seekers that Turkey accuses of participating in last year coup attempt and Turkeys refusal to allow German members of parliament to visit troops at Incirlik.

Heatwave. Summer heat got you down? It could be worse. American U-2 spy planes supporting the anti-Islamic State fight are watching their tail wheels melt on the runway because temperatures in the Middle East are so high right now.

Afghanistan. Army Maj. Gen. Robin Fontes is now commander of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, giving her the highest position of any American female officer.

Iran. Iran jails Chinese-American Xiyue Wan, accusing the Princeton University academic of espionage charges. The U.S. State Department calls the charges fabricated.

Shes a rainbow. Chinas Cai Hong (rainbow) series of armed drones has taken the export market by storm, with the CH-4 model proving especially popular among customers in the Middle East. This week, the newest member of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporations Cai Hong drone family, the CH-5, underwent flight trials in Hebei Province and might soon be showing up in the skies over Middle Eastern conflicts.

Turkey. Turkey has carried out its first drone strike in combat, using its domestically-built Anka drone to fire a missile at members of the PKK terrorist group in eastern Anatolia, reportedly killing five.

Twitter Facebook Google + Reddit

Original post:
Situation Report: How Iran Won Iraq War; Secret Service Vs. Trump Team – Foreign Policy (blog)

Fair Usage Law

July 17, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran Sentences American To 10 Years in Prison

Xiyue Wang at his apartment in Hong Kong, China, 2009.Friend of Xiyue WangAP

An American citizen has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran after being accused of “spying under the cover of research,” according to local reports.

Princeton University identified the man as 37-year-old Xiyue Wang, a Beijing -born graduate student in history who was arrested in Iran last summer as he was doing scholarly research “in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation,” a university statement read .

Mizan, the official news site of the Iranian judiciary, accused Wang of “spying under the cover of research” on Sunday, according to Reuters . Mizan claims Princeton’s Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, which Wang was active at, has links to Western intelligence agencies and Israel. The report also accused Wang of copying 4,500 documents. “The American spy arrested in Iran was also at the center and his mission was to collect confidential information and documents,” Mizan said.

“This person, who was gathering information and was directly guided by America, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence can be appealed,” Reuters reported the judiciary’s spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, as saying.

Since Wang’s arrest last year, Princeton University has quietly worked with his family, the U.S. government and others to help facilitate his release. “We were very distressed by the charges brought against him in connection with his scholarly activities, and by his subsequent conviction and sentence,” Princeton University said in the statement.

Several Iranian dual nationals from the U.S., Austria, France, Canada and Britain have been detained in Iran over the past year.

Continue reading here:
Iran Sentences American To 10 Years in Prison

Fair Usage Law

July 16, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Waking up to the enemy in Iran – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It was important that President Donald Trump open his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin by raising the point of Russian meddling in American elections. It was equally important that he accepted Mr. Putins response. Russia whether as the USSR or the Russian Federation has spent decades trying to undermine American confidence in its system of economics and government, including confidence in its elections. As a national insurance carrier says, Its what they do.

Most Americans know that and worry more about the integrity of voter rolls than about what the Russians want us to think. Which is wise, because the next part of the Trump-Putin conversation was more important precisely because it was ahistorical.

The U.S.-Russian joint announcement of a cease-fire for the southwest corner of Syria seriously affects Jordan and Israel, both of whom had been increasingly concerned about Iranian and Hezbollah activity in the area. The U.S., Jordan and Russia have been discussing the parameters of the agreement for some time now, with Israel not in the room weighing in with all three.

Late last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia, that Iran must be prevented from establishing bases in Syria, and that Hezbollah must not be permitted to acquire heavy weapons, according to The Jerusalem Post. Russias Deputy Foreign Minister, Oleg Syromolotov, told The Post last week that Iran and Hezbollah along with all armed groups will leave Syria when the war is over.

So far, so good. Now comes the hard part and the long-term implications.

First, can Mr. Putin make the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbollah accept the conditions? While the Syrian government appears to have accepted the current ceasefire, Bashar Assad is a notably recalcitrant ally and, should Mr. Assad believe the Iranians are more important to him than the Russians, he may decide that fomenting more violence in the south works better for him than accepting less.

Other ceasefires have been broken when the Syrian government believed its interests were not sufficiently protected. Most recently, the chemical attack on Kahn Sheikhoun occurred, oddly, just after the U.S. announced it would not seek regime change in Damascus. The Russians appeared to take that as a sign that it could proceed with peace talks in Khazakstan, but the Syrian government objected to the makeup of the opposition parties and objects to the sponsors of the conference being Russia, Iran and Turkey, not Syria.

Iran is a separate, and perhaps independent, matter. For Iran, a military position in Syria is essential to the establishment of the Shiite Crescent, the real reason Iran is fighting in Syria. (You thought it was sympathy for the Alawites? The mullahs generally consider them to be heretic Shiites.) Russia may be looking for a way out of the Syrian mess, but Iran has plans for long-term residence.

Iran and Hezbollah were not part of the ceasefire agreement, and U.S.-Russian agreement, coupled with the Russian statement that Iran has to leave, may be the early stage of a Russian-Iranian rift. Theirs is an alliance solely of convenience. Russian and Iranian history has much more warfare in it than friendship. Although Mr. Putin surely prefers Shiite Muslims to the radicalized Sunni Muslims that populate southern Russia, no Muslim-Russian alliance warms his heart.

And what about the American position?

The U.S. is more involved militarily in that area than, perhaps, Americans understand. American and British-sponsored Syrian rebels have been training in northern Jordan and operate over the border. American and British Special Forces operate there as well in support. The Syrians are not unaware of this. After the seventh annual U.S.-led Eager Lion military exercises, which took place May in Jordan involving 20 countries, Damascus claimed the U.S. and Jordan were invading Syria. They were not, but keeping that area free of Iran and Hezbollah is a key American as well as Jordanian and Israeli interest.

This is the crucial point the U.S. has eschewed a role in the Syrian civil war from the beginning, sticking to the assertion that it was only interested in ousting ISIS from there and from Iraq. However, that was before Irans military presence across both countries and into Lebanon, created a Shiite corridor north of American allies Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Couple that with increased and aggressive Iranian operations in the waters to the east, south and west of those same three allies (the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb Straits and Red Sea) and the U.S. may be forced to view Iran expansionism as unacceptable.

It is possible, though not yet likely, that 40 years after the Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the United States and Israel, the U.S. may find itself fighting back. Whether Russia would take Irans side over Americas is the open and most important question, far outweighing its unsuccessful meddling in American domestic affairs.

Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center

Read more:
Waking up to the enemy in Iran – Washington Times

Fair Usage Law

July 14, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

United Effort on Iran Requires Additional Sanctions – Jewish Exponent

By Robert P. Casey, Jr.

At the height of World War II, Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican and avowed isolationist, stood on the Senate floor and said, We cannot drift to victory. We must have maximum united effort on all fronts. And we must deserve the continued united effort of our own people. Vandenberg was admonishing his colleagues to unite in the face of threats to the stability and security of the United States and our allies.

I was reminded of this message earlier this year, when I was sitting with a small, bipartisan group of my colleagues and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Washington. We talked at length and reaffirmed our unity of purpose in confronting the security threats facing Israel, including from the Iranian regimes support for terrorist groups and its continued pursuit of ballistic missile technology.

Just a few weeks later, the Trump administration certified that Iran is complying with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The JCPOA, with the five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany and Iran, substantially constrained the Iranian regimes nuclear program and was the best available option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. When I made my decision on the JCPOA, I knew that we could not trust Tehrans commitments.

For this deal to be effective, we needed to be unified on four actions verifying Irans compliance with the agreement, enforcing the deal, countering Irans aggression and deterring the Iranian regime from resuming their pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. I committed to advancing legislative efforts that prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, exporting terrorism in the region, and committing human rights atrocities at home.

Last month, the Senate came together across party lines to pass legislation that is a strong step in the right direction. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of S. 722, a bill that levies tough sanctions on Iran for its aggressive, provocative behavior. It is imperative that we hold the Iranian regime accountable for its destabilization of the region, its support for terrorist proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas, its development of ballistic missile technology in contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions and its atrocious human rights record. The administrations diplomatic and military experts must also develop a strategy to counter Irans influence in the Middle East.

The bill also includes a robust package of sanctions and other measures to hold Russia accountable for its destabilization of Syria and Ukraine and its interference in our domestic politics. Although President Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a strong leader, we know he is an authoritarian former KGB officer who puts his political opponents in jail or worse, and who stifles freedom of the press, freedom of worship and freedom of expression all fundamental American values.

Last month, the Senate demonstrated what Vandenberg called maximum united effort when it comes to standing with our allies and holding our adversaries accountable. It is imperative that the House of Representatives takes action on this legislation, and I hope the president will sign it.

Robert P. Casey, Jr., a Democrat, is the senior U.S. senator for Pennsylvania.

See original here:
United Effort on Iran Requires Additional Sanctions – Jewish Exponent

Fair Usage Law

July 12, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran state media accuses Saudis of planting false news story – CNN

A tweet was posted on the account of state-run Alalam news agency on Sunday in Arabic, claiming that Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani had asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to establish an Iranian military base in Qatar. The tweet — which is still visible — did not link to any story on the Alalam website. The tweet, if it were true, would likely inflame tensions in the region between Qatar and a quartet of countries led by Saudi Arabia, which has frozen trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar, claiming it supports terror organizations. Qatar has vehemently denied those claims. The boycott followed news stories published online on Qatari state media that quoted Al-Thani, Qatar’s emir, calling Iran a regional Islamic power and describing Qatari relations with Israel as good. Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic ties with Iran or Israel, and it sees Iran as a key rival. It said the story about the military base was fake, and the decision by Saudi media to republish them showed they were colluding with the hackers. “Saudi news agencies and websites, though fully aware of the fact that Alalam’s Twitter account has been hacked, publish these false news stories immediately, designating their collusion with the hackers,” the statement said. Saudi officials did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment and have not publicly responded to Alalam’s accusations. Alalam said in its statement that it had been under a series of cyber-attacks for days. Last week, it published a story accusing Saudi hackers of breaking into its Twitter account. Alalam said Monday it had control of the account on and off in the past week and was currently locked out. The news agency has said that it believes Saudi hackers were behind the earlier breaches as a Saudi flag appeared as a banner image on its Twitter account last week while it was compromised. Alalam has offered no other evidence that Saudi Arabia was behind the hacks or was responsible for Sunday’s tweet on the military base. The Twitter account is still under the control of hackers, the news agency has said. On July 14, during a window when Alalam said it had control of the account, the news agency pinned a tweet explaining that it had lost its blue tick — a mark used by Twitter to show an account has been verified — since being hacked. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash said Monday that a story reported by the Washington Post accusing the UAE of that attack was false. That story, the Washington Post said, was based on information by unnamed US officials. “The Washington Post story is not true, purely not true,” he said responding to a question after a speech at Chatham House in London. He said that the story “will die” in the next few days. But Qatar said that the Washington Post report proved its version of events, that its websites were hacked and that quotes were fabricated and published. CNN’s Sarah Sirgany contributed to this report.

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran is complying with nuclear deal but is ‘in default of its spirit’, says US – The Guardian

Donald Trumps administration has issued contradictory signals on Irans nuclear industry, its foreign minister said on Monday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA The Trump administration has told Congress for a second time that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal and can keep enjoying sanctions relief, even as it insisted Tehran would face consequences for breaching the spirit of the deal. President Donald Trump, who lambasted the 2015 pact as a candidate, gave himself more time to decide whether to dismantle it or let it stand. Instead, senior Trump administration officials sought to emphasise their deep concerns about Irans non-nuclear behaviour, saying transgressions wont go unpunished. In a shift from Trumps previous threat to rip up the deal, officials said the administration was working with US allies to try to fix the deals flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more. The officials also said the US would slap Tehran with new sanctions penalising it for developing ballistic missiles and other activity. Trump, secretary of state Rex Tillerson and the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the agreement, one official said. That assessment carries no legal force, while Trumps certification that Iran is technically complying clears the way for sanctions to remain lifted. The late-night announcement capped a day of frenzied, last-minute decision-making by the president, exposing deep and lingering divisions within his administration about how to deal with a top national security issue. Since early last week, Trumps administration had been prepared to make the certification, a quarterly requirement. Trump first told Congress in April that Iran was indeed complying. With no final decision on his broader Iran policy, the White House had planned to let the status quo stand for another three months. Iran will continue receiving the same sanctions relief that it did under former President Barack Obama. In April, when Trump made his first certification, he paired it with new sanctions for non-nuclear behaviour to show there was no softening of his stance toward the Islamic Republic. Earlier on Monday, the White House had told outside experts it would repeat that playbook, by punishing more than a dozen Iranian individuals, organisations and procurement networks involved in ballistic missiles and other nefarious behaviour. But the day came and went with no such announcement, although officials said they expected more sanctions would eventually be coming. It was unclear why the administration held off or for how long, but typically the treasury department prefers to issue new sanctions during business hours. We receive contradictory signals, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations before the decision was announced. So we dont know which one to interpret in what way. We receive contradictory signal so we dont know which one to interpret in what way For Trump, a vocal critic of the deal, the obligation to report to Congress on Irans conformity has created an unwelcome, tri-monthly headache. Still undecided about whether to withdraw from the deal, Trump must either vouch for Tehrans compliance or try to claim Iran is breaching it even though the International Atomic Energy Agency that monitors the deal says it is not. In its condemnation of Iran, senior officials emphasised several longstanding US concerns about Irans ballistic missile programs, human rights abuses and support for terrorism in the region. They also criticised Iran for detaining US citizens and limiting freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf. Under the deal struck by Obama and other world leaders, Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. The deal does not address global concerns about Irans non-nuclear activities, but also doesnt prevent the US and others from punishing Iran for those activities. Iran remains on the state departments list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups. Scuttling the deal would put further distance between Trump and foreign leaders who are already upset over his move to withdraw from the Paris global climate change accord. Other powers that brokered the nuclear deal along with the US have said theres no appetite for renegotiating it.

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran foreign minister distances himself from US citizen’s espionage sentencing, ‘doubts’ Syria used chemical weapons – Fox News

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday that his country has an entirely “independent judiciary” set in stone in its constitution, and deflected the notion that he or the government had much immediate authority in helping free the jailed Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang. “But we hope an acceptable resolution can be found,” Zarif said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. “There are Iranians being detained (by the U.S.) on charges of sanction violations that are not applicable today… for bogus and purely political reasons.” Wang, who was in Iran working on his Princeton University thesis on Eurasian history, was sentenced over the weekend to ten years behind bars for “spying,” in a trial that was held behind closed doors. Zarif also expressed his skepticism that the Syrian regime, led by embattled President Bashar al-Assad, had used chemical weapons in the country’s northwestern rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April this year, despite certainty from U.S officials and other international bodies. Protesters outside the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. (Fox News) “I have serious doubts… And no one has a red-line (on the use of chemical weapons more than Iran. When we were victims, nobody cared,” he said, referencing the Iran-Iraq war in which Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein dropped an array of chemical concoctions on Iranian combatants and non-combatants in the 1980s. Zarif went on to blame both “foreign intervention” and the failure of Arab governments to provide their people with their “basic needs,” as the key reasons for all the anger and frustration that has led to the rise of extremism in the Middle East. Zarif, who was in New York for a high-level United Nations meeting on sustainable development and to “see old friends,” also used the platform to tout Iran’s “democracy,” and the resilience of the Iranian leadership and its people. VIDEO: IRAN SENTENCES AMERICAN GRAD STUDENT TO PRISON “People lined up for ten hours to vote, and in Los Angeles they lined up for four hours to vote (in the recent election) as this was their Avenue to express themselves,” he continued. “Gen. Mattis said that Iranians don’t have a choice, but why would people stand in line for ten hours for a president that was pre-determined? Come on. Don’t kid yourselves.” Zarif also called the current fighting in Yemen the “worst humanitarian nightmare you can think of” and said he hoped it would not escalate into full-scale war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “We certainly hope that if we don’t agree with each other about the situation in Yemen or about the situation in Syria we can still work with each other in order to bring those situations to an end,” he noted. Saudi Arabia launched an ongoing bombing campaign on its border with Yemen over two years ago, with U.S support, after Houthi rebels believed to be backed by Tehran took control of large swaths of the country including the nation’s capital, Sana’a. PRINCETON DEFENDS STUDENT SENTENCED IN IRAN The top official also shunned reports that Iran effectively controlled Iraq post the U.S.-led invasion, instead mandating that his government is against the presence of foreign militaries anywhere in the region. He stated that Iranian groups are merely in military “advising” roles in both Iraq and Syria, at the invitation of both sovereign governments, and that they offer support only when asked. Zarif pointed out that when the Islamic State terror network was close to encroaching the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq in 2014, its president, Masoud Barzani, made three calls for help — to the U.S., Turkey and Iran — and it was Iran who came to their assistance in just two hours with advisors and planes of weaponry. “Foreigners should assist, anything beyond that is destabilizing,” he said. Zarif also suggested that while the U.S. has simply and unjustly now chosen Iran as its “enemy of choice” and he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have so far had no direct communication, he is open to fostering relations. The minister additionally indicated that Israel is not Iran’s immediate concern, but expressed dismay over the continued “repression of the Palestinian people” and denied that Iran was developing missiles to carry nuclear warheads, which is prohibited under the reigning nuclear deal. “We need them to make sure that another Saddam Hussein around the corner will not come and hit us again,” he said, reiterating several times that Iran is committed to never producing nuclear weapons even after the deal expires in just over ten years. “We will continue to produce enriched uranium,” Zarif said, “for fuel purposes.” His address Monday was met with a small group of around twenty protestors outside carrying signs and chanting their anger towards Iran’s human rights abuses, a concept that the minister also vehemently dismissed. Zarif said that he found it somewhat odd that Iran is singled out by the U.S. as human rights abusers when there are countries that have “never heard of elections” and go on “beheading” their citizens but a deemed American allies and have never had sanctions imposed on them. Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

US certifies that Iran is meeting terms of nuclear deal – Washington Post

The Trump administration certified to Congress late Monday that Iran has continued to meet the required conditions of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers. But senior administration officials made clear that the certification was grudging, and said that President Trump intends to impose new sanctions on Iran for ongoing malign activities in non-nuclear areas such as ballistic missile development and support for terrorism. We judge that these Iranian activities severely undermine the intent of the agreement as a force for international stability, one official said. Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that took effect in January 2016 after years of negotiations, the official said. International monitors and other signatories of the agreement have said that Iran is meeting its terms, giving the administration little room for maneuver in providing the assessment required by Congress every 90 days. The last certification of Iranian compliance, in April, was also followed by new sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies the administration said played a role in ballistic missile tests that arenot covered by the nuclear agreement. We do expect to be implementing new sanctions related to missiles and Irans fast boat program, the official said, but declined to specify what the measures would be. The administration has charged Iran with using military patrol boats to impede free navigation in the Persian Gulf. Three senior administration officials briefed reporters on the certification on the condition of anonymity imposed by the White House. Earlier in the day, Trumps national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previewed the sanctions in a closed-door meeting with representatives of Washington-based think tanks. Reporters were not invited. Under the nuclear deal, Iran, which denied it was developing nuclear weapons, agreed to sharply limit the number and capability of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, give up nearly all of its previously enriched stock, and submit to intrusive verification measures in exchange for an end to U.S. and international sanctions related to the program. Trump has called the deal fatally flawed, and said he would either renegotiate it or kill it. In making the certification, an official said, the secretary of state and the president intend to emphasize that Iran remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and to regional stability, and to highlight the range of malign activities. They include atrocities by the Assad regime that Iran supports in Syria, continuing hostility to Israel and other actions, as well as its missile program and terrorist support. Other signatories to the nuclear deal Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union have indicated that they think it is working. An administration review of the JCPOA is expected to be finished before the next certification is due in October. In the meantime, officials said, they will work with allies to try to reach agreement on its flaws. Ed OKeefe contributed to this report.

Fair Usage Law

July 18, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Trump is falling into the same trap as Obama on Iran – New York Post

When President Trump met earlier this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, their exchange about Moscows interference in the 2016 presidential election was all anyone seemed to care about. Trumps efforts to present an agreement between the two countries on a cease-fire in Syria as a major achievement were largely ignored by a media determined to focus exclusively on allegations of collusion between the Republicans and Russia. But it turns out his critics were wrong to dismiss the Syrian pact as a distraction. Its now clear that in his eagerness for a deal, the president fell into virtually the same trap his predecessor did when he signed the Iran nuclear deal. The real surprise here is that the biggest critic of the Syrian pact is one of the presidents staunchest friends: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He spoke out once he discovered that Trump hadnt taken into account Israels concerns about Iran being the real beneficiary of the agreement. Like it or not, the Russian and Iranian forces fighting on behalf of the barbarous Bashar al-Assad regime appear to have prevailed. Yet Russia and Iran arent content with just keeping their client in power. They want Western recognition not just of Assads victory but also of their occupation of Syrian territory. US acquiescence to the Russian presence in Syria is the first step toward the realization of Putins dream of reassembling the old Soviet empire. Once President Barack Obama punted enforcement of his red line about Assads use of chemical weapons to the Russians, there was probably no way to roll back Putins ambitions. But what Trump has done now by trying to pull a foreign-policy victory out of his meeting with Putin is arguably almost as bad as Obamas feckless Syrian retreat. The cease-fire terms would ensure that Iran and its Hezbollah auxiliaries get a free hand in southern Syria and that the Iranian presence will become permanent. Israel has kept a close watch on Hezbollahs activities in Syria and launched strikes to prevent Iran from using the civil war as cover to transfer heavy arms to its Lebanese allies or allowing the group to establish bases close to its border. Yet if Trumps cease-fire lets Iran put military facilities adjacent to Israel something Jerusalem has said it cant tolerate that increases the chances of conflict with an Islamist regime that is dedicated to Israels destruction. Just as troubling is that this will enable Tehran to achieve its dream of a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. Just as Obamas bugout from Iraq allowed Iran to become the dominant power in that nation, the Trump seal of approval on Assads victory could give it the same power in Syria and enable it to link up with a Lebanon dominated by its terrorist errand boys. Thats the same nightmare of Iranian regional hegemony that scared Arab nations as much as it did the Israelis about the nuclear deal. Unlike Obama, Trump isnt laboring under the delusion that Irans leaders are moderates. He understands the Iranians are a threat to both the United States and its allies. The problem is that he still refuses to accept that he must choose between his good relations with Russia and getting tough with Iran. Trump spent the 2016 campaign talking up cooperation with Russia against ISIS and denouncing Obamas nuclear deal with Iran. But events in Syria have proved him wrong. Russia and Iran are interested in Syria for reasons that have nothing to do with fighting ISIS. Indeed, the survival of their man Assad ensures that the terrorist group will continue to retain Sunni support since it is seen as the only local force resisting the regime. Rather than ignore Israels warnings, the president must wake up and realize that acting as if he can tilt toward Russia while also resisting Iran means that Trump is, in effect, making his own awful Iran deal with implications that could be almost as deadly in the long run as Obamas folly. Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributor to National Review.

Fair Usage Law

July 17, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Situation Report: How Iran Won Iraq War; Secret Service Vs. Trump Team – Foreign Policy (blog)

With Adam Rawnsley Gulf hack. The hack of Qatari government Web sites earlier this year was carried out by the United Arab Emirates, and not Russia, as had initially been suspected. The revelation which will likely only deepen the diplomatic row between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors comes after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries slapped an economic blockade on the tiny Gulf monarchy. U.S. officials who described the latest twist to the Washington Post said theyre unsure whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted the job out. The hacks took place on May 24, just after President Trump sat down with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified. The UAE on Monday officially denied responsibility. Iran won the Iraq war. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Tehran saw an opportunity to use the chaos that resulted to increase its own influence in the region. And their plan appears to have worked, the New York Times reports. Iran has for years planted friendly ministers inside the Iraqi parliament and government agencies, and is training Iraqi Shiite militias to fight ISIS in Iraq, and for the Syrian government over the border. Consider this: At some border posts in the south, Iraqi sovereignty is an afterthought. Busloads of young militia recruits cross into Iran without so much as a document check. They receive military training and are then flown to Syria, where they fight under the command of Iranian officers in defense of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. Iran is also training thousands of Afghan fighters to battle in Syria. Secret Service pushes back on Trump lawyer. This is awkward. The U.S. Secret Service on Sunday firmly denied a statement from President Donald Trumps personal lawyer that its agents vetted a meeting between the presidents son and Russian nationals during the 2016 campaign, in which the Russians claiming to represent the Kremlin promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said later in the day that Trump Jr. was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trumps son and two senior campaign officials. Whelp. Elsewhere, the New York Times profiled one of the Russians who were in the room with Trump Jr., campaign head Paul Manafort, and son in law and advisor Jared Kushner. They did the same with another Russian tied to the burgeoning scandal. Civilian casualties spike under Trump. A new report from a researcher with independent watchdog Airwars claims that civilian casualties in Iraq have risen to an average of 12 per day since January, or 360 a month. Under the Obama administration, the average was about 80 a month. More bad news in Syria. Turkish-backed rebels battled with Kurdish fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in northwestern Syria on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Things had been somewhat quiet in the area around Aleppo for the past several weeks, where an uneasy calm has prevailed. Strikes. The U.S. killed the leader of the Islamic States Afghan affiliate in a drone strike early last week, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Defense Secretary James Mattis described the death of ISIS-K leader Abu Sayed as obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back. The U.S. had killed the groups two previous leaders, Hafiz Sayed Khan and Abdul Hasib, in strikes carried out over the past year. Welcome to SitRep. Send any tips, thoughts or national security events to paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or via Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley. American intelligence officials tell the Washington Post that the United Arab Emirates was behind the hack of a Qatari state news agency that posted fake quotes from Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani praising Hamas and Iran. Americans spies picked up information on Emirati officials discussing the plan to plant the fake quotes in the website on May 23, shortly before the hack. Art of the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Syrian ceasefire that President Trumps agreed to with Russia is a bad deal in a rare public break with the Trump administration, according to Haarertz. Israel had insisted that any ceasefire deal include provisions to keep Iranian-backed forces away from the Israeli border, prevent Iran from fortifying its position in Syria, and not allow Russian troops to produce buffer zones. Human rights. Locals along the banks of the Tigris are seeing a steady stream of bound human bodies of military-age men floating outside Mosul, raising fears of summary executions by Iraqi forces in the wake of Mosuls liberation. Freelance reporter Fazel Hawramy has been monitoring Iraqi social media pages and highlighted video showing Iraqi forces torturing and abusing alleged Islamic State members in Mosul. Observers. The Defense Department tested a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery last week in order to demonstrate to North Korea that the system, currently deployed in South Korea, can knock down ballistic missiles. But the THAAD test had another observer, according to CNN. North American Aerospace Defense Command tells the cable news channel that a Chinese spy ship showed up in international waters off the coast of Alaska. Retaliation. Russia is raising the temperature over its diplomatic feud with the U.S. over the Obama administration expulsion of alleged Russian spies. If the U.S. doesnt return a seized Russian diplomatic compound and allow an increase in the number of Russian diplomats in America, Kremlin mouthpiece Dmitry Kiselev recently said, U.S. diplomats will be expelled, and those who remain behind will be harassed. Trouble in the alliance. NATO is trying to nudge Germany and Turkey to cooperate after Germany began pulling its troops from Incirlik Air Base following a diplomatic dispute with Ankara. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the two countries should have their foreign ministers meet for a sit down to resolve their differences following Germanys refusal to extradite Turkish asylum seekers that Turkey accuses of participating in last year coup attempt and Turkeys refusal to allow German members of parliament to visit troops at Incirlik. Heatwave. Summer heat got you down? It could be worse. American U-2 spy planes supporting the anti-Islamic State fight are watching their tail wheels melt on the runway because temperatures in the Middle East are so high right now. Afghanistan. Army Maj. Gen. Robin Fontes is now commander of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, giving her the highest position of any American female officer. Iran. Iran jails Chinese-American Xiyue Wan, accusing the Princeton University academic of espionage charges. The U.S. State Department calls the charges fabricated. Shes a rainbow. Chinas Cai Hong (rainbow) series of armed drones has taken the export market by storm, with the CH-4 model proving especially popular among customers in the Middle East. This week, the newest member of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporations Cai Hong drone family, the CH-5, underwent flight trials in Hebei Province and might soon be showing up in the skies over Middle Eastern conflicts. Turkey. Turkey has carried out its first drone strike in combat, using its domestically-built Anka drone to fire a missile at members of the PKK terrorist group in eastern Anatolia, reportedly killing five. Twitter Facebook Google + Reddit

Fair Usage Law

July 17, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran Sentences American To 10 Years in Prison

Xiyue Wang at his apartment in Hong Kong, China, 2009.Friend of Xiyue WangAP An American citizen has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran after being accused of “spying under the cover of research,” according to local reports. Princeton University identified the man as 37-year-old Xiyue Wang, a Beijing -born graduate student in history who was arrested in Iran last summer as he was doing scholarly research “in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation,” a university statement read . Mizan, the official news site of the Iranian judiciary, accused Wang of “spying under the cover of research” on Sunday, according to Reuters . Mizan claims Princeton’s Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, which Wang was active at, has links to Western intelligence agencies and Israel. The report also accused Wang of copying 4,500 documents. “The American spy arrested in Iran was also at the center and his mission was to collect confidential information and documents,” Mizan said. “This person, who was gathering information and was directly guided by America, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence can be appealed,” Reuters reported the judiciary’s spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, as saying. Since Wang’s arrest last year, Princeton University has quietly worked with his family, the U.S. government and others to help facilitate his release. “We were very distressed by the charges brought against him in connection with his scholarly activities, and by his subsequent conviction and sentence,” Princeton University said in the statement. Several Iranian dual nationals from the U.S., Austria, France, Canada and Britain have been detained in Iran over the past year.

Fair Usage Law

July 16, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Waking up to the enemy in Iran – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION: It was important that President Donald Trump open his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin by raising the point of Russian meddling in American elections. It was equally important that he accepted Mr. Putins response. Russia whether as the USSR or the Russian Federation has spent decades trying to undermine American confidence in its system of economics and government, including confidence in its elections. As a national insurance carrier says, Its what they do. Most Americans know that and worry more about the integrity of voter rolls than about what the Russians want us to think. Which is wise, because the next part of the Trump-Putin conversation was more important precisely because it was ahistorical. The U.S.-Russian joint announcement of a cease-fire for the southwest corner of Syria seriously affects Jordan and Israel, both of whom had been increasingly concerned about Iranian and Hezbollah activity in the area. The U.S., Jordan and Russia have been discussing the parameters of the agreement for some time now, with Israel not in the room weighing in with all three. Late last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia, that Iran must be prevented from establishing bases in Syria, and that Hezbollah must not be permitted to acquire heavy weapons, according to The Jerusalem Post. Russias Deputy Foreign Minister, Oleg Syromolotov, told The Post last week that Iran and Hezbollah along with all armed groups will leave Syria when the war is over. So far, so good. Now comes the hard part and the long-term implications. First, can Mr. Putin make the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbollah accept the conditions? While the Syrian government appears to have accepted the current ceasefire, Bashar Assad is a notably recalcitrant ally and, should Mr. Assad believe the Iranians are more important to him than the Russians, he may decide that fomenting more violence in the south works better for him than accepting less. Other ceasefires have been broken when the Syrian government believed its interests were not sufficiently protected. Most recently, the chemical attack on Kahn Sheikhoun occurred, oddly, just after the U.S. announced it would not seek regime change in Damascus. The Russians appeared to take that as a sign that it could proceed with peace talks in Khazakstan, but the Syrian government objected to the makeup of the opposition parties and objects to the sponsors of the conference being Russia, Iran and Turkey, not Syria. Iran is a separate, and perhaps independent, matter. For Iran, a military position in Syria is essential to the establishment of the Shiite Crescent, the real reason Iran is fighting in Syria. (You thought it was sympathy for the Alawites? The mullahs generally consider them to be heretic Shiites.) Russia may be looking for a way out of the Syrian mess, but Iran has plans for long-term residence. Iran and Hezbollah were not part of the ceasefire agreement, and U.S.-Russian agreement, coupled with the Russian statement that Iran has to leave, may be the early stage of a Russian-Iranian rift. Theirs is an alliance solely of convenience. Russian and Iranian history has much more warfare in it than friendship. Although Mr. Putin surely prefers Shiite Muslims to the radicalized Sunni Muslims that populate southern Russia, no Muslim-Russian alliance warms his heart. And what about the American position? The U.S. is more involved militarily in that area than, perhaps, Americans understand. American and British-sponsored Syrian rebels have been training in northern Jordan and operate over the border. American and British Special Forces operate there as well in support. The Syrians are not unaware of this. After the seventh annual U.S.-led Eager Lion military exercises, which took place May in Jordan involving 20 countries, Damascus claimed the U.S. and Jordan were invading Syria. They were not, but keeping that area free of Iran and Hezbollah is a key American as well as Jordanian and Israeli interest. This is the crucial point the U.S. has eschewed a role in the Syrian civil war from the beginning, sticking to the assertion that it was only interested in ousting ISIS from there and from Iraq. However, that was before Irans military presence across both countries and into Lebanon, created a Shiite corridor north of American allies Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Couple that with increased and aggressive Iranian operations in the waters to the east, south and west of those same three allies (the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb Straits and Red Sea) and the U.S. may be forced to view Iran expansionism as unacceptable. It is possible, though not yet likely, that 40 years after the Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the United States and Israel, the U.S. may find itself fighting back. Whether Russia would take Irans side over Americas is the open and most important question, far outweighing its unsuccessful meddling in American domestic affairs. Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center

Fair Usage Law

July 14, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

United Effort on Iran Requires Additional Sanctions – Jewish Exponent

By Robert P. Casey, Jr. At the height of World War II, Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican and avowed isolationist, stood on the Senate floor and said, We cannot drift to victory. We must have maximum united effort on all fronts. And we must deserve the continued united effort of our own people. Vandenberg was admonishing his colleagues to unite in the face of threats to the stability and security of the United States and our allies. I was reminded of this message earlier this year, when I was sitting with a small, bipartisan group of my colleagues and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Washington. We talked at length and reaffirmed our unity of purpose in confronting the security threats facing Israel, including from the Iranian regimes support for terrorist groups and its continued pursuit of ballistic missile technology. Just a few weeks later, the Trump administration certified that Iran is complying with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The JCPOA, with the five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany and Iran, substantially constrained the Iranian regimes nuclear program and was the best available option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. When I made my decision on the JCPOA, I knew that we could not trust Tehrans commitments. For this deal to be effective, we needed to be unified on four actions verifying Irans compliance with the agreement, enforcing the deal, countering Irans aggression and deterring the Iranian regime from resuming their pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. I committed to advancing legislative efforts that prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, exporting terrorism in the region, and committing human rights atrocities at home. Last month, the Senate came together across party lines to pass legislation that is a strong step in the right direction. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of S. 722, a bill that levies tough sanctions on Iran for its aggressive, provocative behavior. It is imperative that we hold the Iranian regime accountable for its destabilization of the region, its support for terrorist proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas, its development of ballistic missile technology in contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions and its atrocious human rights record. The administrations diplomatic and military experts must also develop a strategy to counter Irans influence in the Middle East. The bill also includes a robust package of sanctions and other measures to hold Russia accountable for its destabilization of Syria and Ukraine and its interference in our domestic politics. Although President Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a strong leader, we know he is an authoritarian former KGB officer who puts his political opponents in jail or worse, and who stifles freedom of the press, freedom of worship and freedom of expression all fundamental American values. Last month, the Senate demonstrated what Vandenberg called maximum united effort when it comes to standing with our allies and holding our adversaries accountable. It is imperative that the House of Representatives takes action on this legislation, and I hope the president will sign it. Robert P. Casey, Jr., a Democrat, is the senior U.S. senator for Pennsylvania.

Fair Usage Law

July 12, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed


Fair Use Disclaimer

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Under the 'fair use' rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author's work without asking permission. Fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. The fair use privilege is perhaps the most significant limitation on a copyright owner's exclusive rights.

Fair use as described at 17 U.S.C. Section 107:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phono-records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  • (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for or nonprofit educational purposes,
  • (2) the nature of the copyrighted work,
  • (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and
  • (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."