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Iran says not doing anything in breach of JCPOA

Press TV – May 7, 2019

Iran says the countermeasures it has vowed to unveil Wednesday are all within the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal, and the country is not leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The remarks were made by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif upon his arrival in the Russian capital Moscow, where he plans to hold talks with his Russian counterpart on the Iran nuclear deal, among others.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday night, he said Iran’s “strategic patience” with the US’ violations of the nuclear accord during the past year is over.

“Unfortunately, the European Union and other members of the international community were not capable of standing up to the US’ pressures,” Zarif said.

Therefore, he added, Iran has decided to stop implementing some of the JCPOA commitments it used to fulfill voluntarily “for now”.

The Iranian top diplomat said the right to stop implementing commitments partially or in full in case of violation by other parties has been preserved for Iran in the JCPOA.

So Iran is not doing anything against JCPOA now; rather, it is acting totally within the framework of Articles 26 and 36 of the deal, Zarif noted.

He described the move as “an opportunity for other parties to the deal to take required measures, and not just issue statements.”

Zarif also noted that the decision has been passed by the Supreme National Security Council, and its details will be announced on Wednesday.

Iran said on Monday it seeks to unveil its countermeasures in response to the US’ 2018 withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and six major world powers.

The plans will be announced on Wednesday, which marks the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington in May 2018 from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement, reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany — in July 2015. He also decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

France threatens to re-impose bans

Sources at the French presidency said on Tuesday international sanctions could be re-imposed on Iran if it reneges on commitments under its nuclear deal.

A French presidential source said the European countries did not yet know precisely what steps Iran was now planning, but they could have to re-impose sanctions on Iran if those steps amount to reneging.

“We do not want Tehran to announce tomorrow actions that would violate the nuclear agreement, because in this case we Europeans would be obliged to re-impose sanctions as per the terms of the agreement,” the source said.

“We sent messages to Tehran to say that we were determined to implement the agreement, that we really wanted them to stay in this agreement even though we took into account the complexity of the situation and passed on the same messages to our American allies.”

A second French official later said that if Tehran failed to comply with the deal, the issue would be treated through a dispute mechanism under the accord itself, which could lead to the re-imposition of UN Security Council sanctions.

Letters to P4+1

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to write letters to the countries still signed up to the deal – Britain, France and Germany as well as Russia and China – on Wednesday to give them details about plans to “diminish its commitments” under the deal, ISNA quoted a source as saying.

The letters would be handed over to the ambassadors of the five countries by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi. A separate letter would also be written to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Offended By What Someone Said? Now You Can Report Them To Law Enforcement

MassPrivateI | May 7, 2019

Soon free speech will be a thing of the past in paranoid America.

DIGIT Lab’s “Hate Incident Reporting” app promises to turn complete strangers into secret, hate speech/bias spies.

Watch what you say, because the person sitting next to you could be reporting you to law enforcement.

Gone are the days when Americans were unafraid to voice their opinions or make snide comments in public. Because DIGIT Labs will turn smartphones into bias reporting devices.

According to a PHYS.org article, DIGIT LAB’s new app allows strangers to report someone for exercising their first Amendment rights.

“The first of its kind, the app accepts reports beyond crimes captured in police records. Users from around the country can document all incident types, from derogatory epithets written in bathrooms to slurs yelled from a car window in addition to violent assaults.”

This app will make swearing at a fellow motorist or flipping someone off: hate speech.

Where in our Constitution does it say that it is acceptable to report someone who has not committed a crime?

Since 9/11, Homeland Security has tried to turn the entire country into home-grown spies with their “See Something, Say Something” campaign that essentially does the same thing as DIGIT LAB’s Hate Reporting app. If someone see’s something or see’s someone acting suspiciously they are encouraged to report it to law enforcement.

But the University of Utah’s, Hate Incident Reporting app, promises to create a Federal free speech blacklist.

“The major problem we’re dealing with is that hate crimes are so underreported, not only to police, but from police to the federal government,” said Emily Nicolosi, researcher, and Richard Medina, professor of geography. (Nicolosi helped develop the app.)

Creating a national blacklist of people who use derogatory epithets and slurs will turn this country into a mirror image of China.

“We’d like to see it used nationally to get better hate incident statistics, and to understand why, how, and where people are active in hateful incidents, and how that offends or hurts people,” said Medina.

Although the PHYS article claims that all reporting is confidential and anonymous, the amount of detailed information a person is asked to provide would make it easy for law enforcement to identify someone.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

The Same Guy Verhofstadt Who Wants a New Brexit Vote Decries a New Vote For Istanbul’s Mayoral Election

By Adam Garrie | Eurasia Future | 2019-05-07

The leader of the Liberal faction in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt has just decried a decision by Turkish officials to conduct a re-vote in the contentious Istanbul Mayoral race. During the initial vote on 31 March, it was proclaimed that CH Party candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu beat AK Party candidate Binali Yıldırım by a razor thin margin.

Since the initial tally, AK representatives have challenged the result alleging serious irregularities that could have influenced the vote in favour of İmamoğlu. Today, the Turkish Supreme Election Council (YSK) annulled the result of the 31 March election for the Mayoralty in Istanbul and have scheduled a new election to take place on 23 June.

Although such re-run elections are never ideal, in circumstance when a preponderance of evidence indicates that there were enough irregularities present that could have changed the result, re-run elections become the least bad of no good options. This is what the YSK has decided upon in a manner consistent with the principles of mainstream 21st century democracy.

But while the re-run election will be conducted according to normal democratic principles, this has failed to satisfy the notoriously vocal Guy Verhofstadt. The EU Liberal big wig has taken to Twitter to say the following:

“This outrageous decision highlights how Erdogan’s Turkey is drifting towards a dictatorship. Under such leadership, accession talks are impossible. Full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights and for a free and open Turkey!”

First of all, it was not President Erdoğan who made the decision to hold a new election. It was the YSK’s decision, a body made up of members from multiple parties who then vote on a majoritarian basis in order to enact a decision. In this case, the democratic decision to hold a new election passed by a margin of seven against four.

Secondly, if Turkey’s long stalled quest to join the EU would portend future anti-democratic interference from the likes of Guy Verhofstadt, perhaps many in Turkey ought to be thankful that Brussels has recently leaned against full Turkish membership of the EU. Finally, it is not the “Turkish people” protesting. Those protesting are CH Party workers and supporters who are naturally upset by the electoral re-run. Likewise, supporters of the AK Party had peacefully protested in favour of a re-run. There is nothing unusual about this and of course the protests are occurring freely and without violence.

But the greatest absurdity of Guy Verhofstadt’s meddlesome comments is that while he decries a second vote in a local Turkish election, he has consistently agitated for Britain to hold a re-run vote in order to overturn the Brexit decision made by voters in 2016.

Unlike in the Istanbul election, the British government and opposition parties all accept that the 2016 election was without any worrisome irregularities. In other words, the Brexit referendum was a free and fair vote whilst Turkish authorities have decided that there were too many irregularities in the Istanbul vote for the initial result to be accepted as legitimate.

And yet, Verhofstadt is allying himself with forces that want to overturn a universally acknowledged legitimate vote whilst complaining that a vote in Turkey found to be illegitimate must be set in stone. Once again, double standards rule the day in Brussels.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Different when we do it: Why re-voting is ‘dictatorship’ in Turkey & ‘unity’ in EU

EU Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt © Reuters / Eric Vidal
RT | May 7, 2019

The decision to rerun a local mayoral election in Istanbul has sparked scathing criticism in Brussels — ironically, from none other than the EU’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.

Tweeting about the move, which was branded a “coup” by a Turkish opposition newspaper, Verhofstadt said it highlighted that Turkey was “drifting towards a dictatorship” and offered “full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights.” Along with the verbal slap on the wrist, he said that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership, talks on Turkey joining the EU are “impossible.”

The irony in Verhofstadt’s outrage, is that the EU itself has a long history of either totally ignoring referendum votes — or just making people vote again until the ‘correct’ result is achieved. But that, of course, does not make the EU a dictatorship. It’s still a “bastion of hope, freedom, prosperity & stability” (as per another recent Verhofstadt tweet). Twitter users wasted no time in pointing out the “irony” and “hypocrisy.”

“How dare [Erdogan] use EU tactics,” one irritated Verhofstadt follower responded, with another saying that the UK itself was currently “battling for its democracy” — a reference to EU officials (including Verhofstadt) who have frequently voiced their personal opposition to Brexit and the ‘Remain’ factions in Britain who have been calling for a re-run of the 2016 referendum.

While there may be at least some merit to the idea of Brexit referendum re-run after two years of failed negotiations and with more accurate information now available to British voters, the idea of simply re-doing EU-related votes is hardly a one-off.

Maybe Verhofstadt should take a trip down memory lane.

France voted ‘no’ to accepting a proposed ‘EU Constitution’ by 54.9 percent in 2005, but the outcome was ignored. The same thing happened in the Netherlands, which rejected it by 61.5 percent. The ‘EU Constitution’ was later repackaged into the Lisbon Treaty and presented to the French parliament where it was adopted, without being put to the people this time (much easier!).

This new Lisbon Treaty was then rejected by Irish voters in 2008, once again sending Brussels into meltdown mode, as the pact needed to be ratified by all member states before taking effect. So, of course, they made some tweaks and asked people to vote again — and got the ‘right’ result the next time. It wasn’t the first time Ireland was asked to re-vote after giving the wrong answer, either. The country also rejected the Nice Treaty in 2001 and accepted it in a second vote a year later.

Greece voted overwhelmingly to reject severe austerity measures desired by the EU in 2015 in exchange for a multi-billion euro bailout. Not long after, under pressure from Brussels, the country’s government agreed to implement even harsher methods — totally ignoring the will of the Greek people.

But way before all that in 1992, Danes, displeased with plans for a single currency, common European defense policies and for joint rules on crime and immigration, rejected the Maastricht Treaty — and were asked to vote again.

Ironically, many European voters voted ‘no’ to these treaties because they were worried that the EU would be turned into some kind of undemocratic superstate where the wills of individual countries and people would be ignored. Being forced to vote until you give the ‘right’ answer doesn’t exactly put those worries to bed. It’s part of the reason why the British voted for Brexit in the first place.

Then there’s Catalonia, where pro-independence leaders were thrown in jail for their role in holding an independence referendum in 2017. One tweeter scolded Verhofstadt and other EU leaders for believing that they have some “moral authority” over Turkey while abuse of pro-independence forces in Catalonia is ignored. “Our leaders are still in prison because they let citizens vote,” they wrote.

With a history like that, maybe it’s a bit rich for Verhofstadt to be going around lamenting the lack of democracy in other countries.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

CIA Intervention in Venezuela

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | May 6, 2019

As far as I know, no evidence has yet surfaced that definitively establishes direct CIA involvement in the U.S. regime-change operation in Venezuela. But it is a virtual certainty that the CIA is directly embroiled in the operation.

How do we know that? Because that’s what the CIA does. It’s what it has always done. Regime-change has always been one of the core missions of the CIA. If there is a U.S. regime-change operation, you can bet your bottom dollar that the CIA is at the center of it.

You can also be certain of something else: secrecy. The long-established modus of the CIA is to keep its role in regime-change operations secret, even if it has to lie or commit perjury to maintain that secrecy.

For example, think back to the Chilean coup in the 1970s.

When the Chilean people elected Salvador Allende president, the CIA immediately went into action. It began offering bribes to Chilean congressmen to get them to vote against Allende’s confirmation. (Allende had received only a plurality of the votes and, therefore, under the Chilean constitution the Chilean congress determined who was going to be president.)

It also orchestrated the kidnapping and assassination of Gen. Rene Schneider, who was the overall commander of Chile’s armed forces. He was standing in the way of a CIA-inspired military coup, which the CIA was secretly inciting within the Chilean national-security establishment.

In the months leading up to the coup, the CIA was doing its best to maximize the economic suffering of the Chilean people. GOP President Richard Nixon called it “making the economy scream” and it was intended to aggravate the economic crisis that had been brought on by Allende’s socialist policies. The CIA even tried to starve the Chilean people to death by bribing truckers who delivered food across the country to go on strike.

All of this CIA mayhem was kept top-secret. In fact, CIA and U.S. involvement in the 1973 coup was considered so secret that the CIA may well have played a role in the Chilean execution of American Charles Horman during the coup. He had inadvertently discovered strong circumstantial evidence of the U.S. role in the coup and, therefore, posed a grave threat to the secrecy of CIA involvement in the coup.

When CIA Director Richard Helms was summoned before Congress and asked about CIA involvement in the circumstances surrounding the coup, he committed perjury in order to keep the CIA’s role in the coup secret. When he was later convicted of lying to Congress, his CIA counterparts glorified him for having lied to Congress for the sake of “national security.”

It was no different with respect to the CIA’s regime-change operations against Cuba.

Although the CIA was planning and orchestrating the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs through the use of Cuban exiles, the CIA was doing everything it could to hide its own role in the invasion.

Later, the secrecy was expanded to include the CIA’s partnership with the Mafia to achieve regime-change in Cuba through the assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

In 1954, the CIA successfully planned and orchestrated the regime-change operation against Guatemala’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz. Secrecy, once again, was the policy. It wasn’t until years later that the American people discovered the CIA’s role in the operation.

The year before, 1953, the CIA had done the same in Iran. In a coup in which the CIA’s role was kept secret at the time, the CIA successfully ousted the country’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and replaced him with the Shah. The CIA then proceeded to train the Shah’s secret police force, the SAVAK, in the dark-side arts of torture, indefinite detention, and assassination in order to help him maintain his grip on power. Again, secrecy was the order of the day.

There is something else to keep in mind as the Venezuela regime-change operation continues to unfold — the short term vs. the long term.

In the short term, the CIA secretly celebrated its regime-change operations in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. Medals were secretly passed out to CIA participants. The long-term results of those interventions, however, proved to be disastrous. Relations between Iran and the U.S. continue to suffer. Guatemala was ruled by a succession of brutal military dictatorships that threw the county into a 30-year-long civil war that killed more than a million people. Chile was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship for more than 15 years, one that rounded up, incarcerated, tortured, raped, or killed some 50,000 innocent people. Moreover, don’t forget the disastrous long-term results of the U.S. regime-change operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

Of course, the solution to all this mayhem is not to require the CIA to provide real-time transparency in its regime-change operations. It wouldn’t comply with such a law anyway, based on concerns for “national security.” The only solution is to abolish the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, and the military-industrial complex, restore America’s founding foreign-policy principle of non-interventionism, and restore a limited-government republic to our land.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

US sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela breach human rights: UN expert

Press TV – May 7, 2019

A UN rights expert has slammed unilateral US sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, saying the use of economic measures for political purposes violates human rights and international law.

In a statement released on Monday, Idriss Jazairy, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures, warned that the US bans against the trio might precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes.

“Regime change through economic measures likely to lead to the denial of basic human rights and indeed possibly to starvation has never been an accepted practice of international relations,” he said.

“Real concerns and serious political differences between governments must never be resolved by precipitating economic and humanitarian disasters, making ordinary people pawns and hostages thereof,” he added.

Jazairy also voiced worries about Washington’s termination of sanctions waivers for major Iranian crude buyers, saying the move harms not only the Iranian nation, but also their trade partners.

“The extraterritorial application of unilateral sanctions is clearly contrary to international law,” he said.

“I am deeply concerned that one State can use its dominant position in international finance to harm not only the Iranian people, who have followed their obligations under the UN-approved nuclear deal to this day, but also everyone in the world who trades with them,” he noted, referring to the landmark 2015 agreement — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Recently, the US ended six months of waivers which allowed Tehran’s eight largest customers to continue importing limited volumes. It also threatened the buyers of Iranian oil with sanctions if they fail to stop their purchases.

The anti-Iran American sanctions had been lifted under the JCPOA, but they returned in place last year when the US abandoned the multilateral accord.

Elsewhere in his statement, the UN rights expert denounced the economic hardship caused by the US sanctions in Cuba and questioned Washington’s claim that its sanctions against Venezuela were aimed at “helping” its people.

He further called on the international community to “challenge” Washington’s restrictive measures against sovereign countries which amount to “a threat to world peace and security.”

“I call on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and the United States to find a peaceful resolution in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations before the arbitrary use of economic starvation becomes the new ‘normal’,” Jazairy said.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran to even the nuclear score with US

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | May 7, 2019

It is going to be 30 years in another six months since the USS Abraham Lincoln, named in honour of the 16th US President, was commissioned on Nov. 11, 1989 as the 5th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the American Navy. Now, as it leaves Croatia and heads toward the Persian Gulf, the carrier would have mixed emotions.

Its finest moment in all of these thirty years came on a sunny day off the coast of San Diego on May 1, 2003, when the then commander-in-chief President George W. Bush landed on its deck in the co-pilot’s seat of a Navy fighter jet to give a “thumbs-up” sign and declare victory in the war in Iraq.

“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” Bush said, the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner hovering over him. “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed,” the C-in-C declared.

Sixteen years later, USS Abraham Lincoln is going back to the Persian Gulf in atonement — to confront the real winner of the Iraq War and US’ number one enemy, Iran. The irony of this improbable moment cannot be lost on the 5,000-odd men and women on board the carrier when the US National Security Advisor John Bolton announced their new deployment at 9.30 pm on Sunday. The statement said,

“In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.  The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”

Bolton didn’t go into specifics. To be sure, the sudden announcement — unusual for a Sunday and extraordinary for its timing at 9.30 pm — has triggered speculation. However, Tehran has taken Bolton’s words in its stride, dismissing them as “psywar”. One plausible explanation seems to be that 8th May happens to be the first anniversary of the announcement by President Trump on the US’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the fact of the matter is that the anniversary highlights three things.

First, the US and a clutch of Middle Eastern allies aside, the international community has continued to support the Iran nuclear deal. The US’ stark isolation is visible. Second, the US’ punitive sanctions against Iran have taken a heavy toll on the latter’s economy. Growth has stagnated while people face numerous privations in day-to-day life. Three, notwithstanding the above, there are no signs of Tehran changing its policies to compromise with the US’ regional strategies.   

Importantly, Tehran has also let it be known that on the anniversary date on May 8, President Hassan Rouhani will announce its retaliatory actions against the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal. The Tehran Times, which reflects establishment views, quoted “sources” to the effect Iran proposes to jettison some of the limitations on its nuclear activities (which had been suspended under the 2015) agreement. Specifically, the report goes to explain, that while Tehran as of now does not intend to quit the nuclear deal (although discarded by Washington), it will take measured steps within the ambit of articles 26 and 36 of the 2015 agreement.    

Tehran has already notified the European Union (which, along with UK, France and Germany, is a signatory of the agreement) of its intention. An urgent meeting of the so-called Joint Commission (E3+EU3) is due to take place in Brussels today with Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator Abbas Araghchi. This is as per article 36 of the nuclear deal, which prescribes the modalities of arbitration. (The Tehran Times report is here.)

Meanwhile, Tehran is mulling over the options available to it. An influential Iranian strategic thinker who is close to the power circles in Tehran and used to be a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators in the past, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, wrote in the Middle East Eye on Monday about the growing perception in Tehran that the White House is “laying siege to Iran in ways similar to the way the Bush administration did as it prepared to wage an illegal war against Iraq.

Mousavian warned, “With the US constantly increasing sanctions and pressures, with other world powers failing to provide assurances for the JCPOA’s (Iran nuclear deal) economic benefits, Iran’s patience is running out. It is left with two options: A gradual withdrawal from the JCPOA or an  immediate departure from Non-proliferation Treaty and the JCPOA simultaneously.”

Mousavian concludes: “Both options are risky. The possibility of military confrontation exists in both options, but the latter is more effective because the United States will no longer be able to use the NPT as an instrument against Iran. In return, withdrawing from the NPT will bolster Iran’s position on the negotiation table more than ever by giving it more bargaining power.” (Ambassador Mousavian’s opinion piece is here.)

Significantly, there have also been reports recently that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is planning to visit North Korea.

Of course, with its back pushed against the wall, Trump administration is leaving Iran with no choice but to retaliate. (The question of capitulation to US bullying simply does not arise.)

Now, if Iran quits the NPT, it has nothing to lose in the prevailing circumstances where its integration into the international community is in any case blocked by US sanctions. On the other hand, without Iran’s inclusion, the roof over the nuclear non-proliferation architecture will collapse overnight.

Suffice to say, Tehran is forcing the international community to push back at the Trump administration and restore the status quo ante in regard of the 2015 deal. But the Europeans have neither the political will nor the capacity or grit to measure up to Iran’s expectations.

The US knows it. Thus, a flashpoint is arising. Clearly, Iran will not precipitate any military confrontation. But then, Israel is also waiting in the wings to cook up some dirty tricks that leads to a US-Iran conflict. Herein lies the risk.

Having said that, Tehran is betting that Trump himself doesn’t want war with Iran. Possibly, Bolton who works for Israeli interests is punching above his weight. But the brinkmanship itself is incredibly dangerous. A US-Iran war is unthinkable, as the consequences will be disastrous not only for both and regionally but also for the world economy and international security. Worse still, Iran does not even threaten US interests directly.

It is highly unlikely that Trump would ever contemplate a replay of the infamous George W. Bush moment aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Simply put, Iran is not Saddam’s Iraq. In Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan alone, there are 20,000 American troops deployed within Iran’s missile range.

Besides, Hezbollah has comprehensively targeted Israel. Israeli estimates put the number of Hezbollah rockets at anywhere up to 200,000. Read a thoughtful analysis by the Atlantic magazine entitled The Many Ways Iran Could Target the United States, here.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Iraq rebuffs US demand to stop Iran energy imports

Press TV – May 7, 2019

Iraq’s Electricity Minister Luay al-Khateeb says his country brushed aside US demands that Baghdad stop gas and power imports from neighboring Iran.

Khateeb, whose remarks were quoted by Iraqi media on Monday, did not say whether the Americans had made the demand after ending waivers for exports of crude oil from Iran this month.

US pressures on Iraq to wean itself off Iran has become a major point of conflict between Washington and Baghdad. A lightening rod in their spat is Iraq’s reliance on Iranian gas imports to generate electricity consumed daily in the country.

Washington is pressing Baghdad to source them from other countries or develop its own energy self-sufficiency. Iraqi leaders say the country cannot stop Iranian gas imports without serious electricity shortages.

In their latest back and forth, Iraq told the Americans that it needed Iran gas imports for at least three more years, Khateeb said.

“Iraq now imports nearly 1,200 megawatts of electricity from Iran. It also imports gas from Iran to produce another 2,800 megawatts of electricity,” the Iraqi minister said.

“If in the next two to three years, large projects are implemented in the field of electricity generation, we can reach self-sufficiency and need no more imports,” he added.

Iraq has signed agreements with General Electric and Siemens over potential deals to develop the country’s power infrastructure.

Siemens had been favorite to win a contract to supply 11 gigawatts of power-generation equipment in a possible $15 billion deal, but the German group has to share the work with US rival after pressure from the Trump administration.

Washington is also pushing for Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti investment in Iraqi power infrastructure in order to reduce Iran’s trade share.

Without Iran, however, Iraq could lose around a third of its power overnight. The Arab country faces sweltering months ahead when the electricity shortage becomes acute.

The shortage sparked violent protests in southern Basra last September, which spread to other cities, including Baghdad.

Iran is also Iraq’s third-largest trading partner, with an estimated $12 billion in cross-border trade per year, and the countries share strong cultural, religious and geographic ties.

Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited Iran for his first official visit since he took office and the two countries pledged to raise trade to $20 billion in two years.

Head of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Hassan Montazer Torbati said this month that Iran is about to raise gas exports to neighboring Iraq to 35 million cubic meters a day this year.

“Last year we exported gas to Turkey, Baghdad and Basra with an average of over 40 million cubic meters a day, and this year, gas exports to Iraq will reach more than 35 million cubic meters per day,” he told a news conference in Tehran.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

US violating NPT, ignoring Israeli regime’s breaches of accord: Syrian UN envoy

Press TV – May 7, 2019

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari has slammed the United States for flagrantly violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and turning a blind eye to the Israeli regime’s breaches of the international accord.

“Syria took the initiative in 1968 to join the treaty, and signed the agreement of guarantees with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1992 … It also presented a draft resolution in 2003 aimed at the establishment of a (Middle East) region free from weapons of mass destruction (WMD); but the US blocked the measure,” Ja’afari said at the the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York on Tuesday.

The Syrian diplomat also lambasted certain Western states for helping Israel establish the Dimona nuclear center and offering it related substances, experience and technology – a step that enabled the Tel Aviv regime to possess hundreds of nuclear heads.

Israel is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime, however, refuses to either accept or deny having the weapons.

It has also evaded signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) amid staunch endeavor by the United States and other Western states on international levels in favor of its non-commitment to the accord.

The clandestine nuclear activities were uncovered when whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, originally a technician at the Dimona nuclear facility, handed overwhelming evidence of Israel’s nuclear program to Britain’s Sunday Times in 1986.

It is believed that the nuclear site is home to Israel’s nuclear weapons.

In September 2017, then-Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Reza Najafi denounced the West’s double standard approaches on the possession and development of atomic technology, urging a complete end to any nuclear cooperation with the Israeli regime.

Addressing a quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors in Vienna, Najafi warned that the Israeli regime’s nuclear program is negatively impacting security of the Middle East.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Reflection: Key to open door of peace is in the hands of Israel

By Latin Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah – Al-Bushra – 6.5.2019

There is a war on Gaza, as it has been once, twice, and more. Gaza and its people are in a state of permanent war. It has been under constant siege for 13 years, which is war imposed upon them every day. Today, the month of Ramadan has started for fasting, prayer, repentance and good deeds. Instead, we see death exploding in and around Gaza. Israel itself complains of the war. Yesterday, Sunday May 5th, the Israeli Defense Minister tweeted and  cried out to the world to notice and see Israelis waking up for the second day in a row of  rockets coming from Gaza and falling in Israel.

War is painful after two days in Israel. It is as painful and more painful in Gaza after 13 years of siege. War is an absolute evil both for the Israelis and for the Palestinians. Mr. Minister, the key to peace and the end of war is not in the hands of a world that we summon but simply in your hand and in the hands of Israel.

The issue is not only that of Gaza but the issue of all the Palestinian people. The issue is the injustice imposed on the Palestinian people for generations. Israel refuses to see Palestinians as human beings with same rights and equal to all human beings. Israel has tried the methods of war and violence repeatedly to solve the issue. Until today, it has not succeeded and now, on the near horizon, there is talk about a solution wrapped in darkness and non-recognition of Palestinian rights. It will not bring a just solution. It will be another failure.

The solution is simple if Israel wanted to SEE. If it wanted to see that the Palestinian people have the same rights as the Israeli people, all being equal in humanity. It is in Israel’s hands – Israel is the stronger – to realize this equality. Avoiding this equality until now has been useless. Israel itself today suffers from war launched on Gaza.

The solution is simple. Israeli human beings should not remain exposed to war, as is the Palestinian human being. Both are human and equal in humanity. We call upon Israel, the friends of Israel, those interested in the survival of Israel and the security of Israel to simply see that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples are equal in rights and duties and capable of making peace.

We say to the Israeli authorities: It is in your hands to keep us and keep yourselves in constant war and hostility, and in your hands to let us move together to an equal life with dignity, peace and security. Learn from the experience of already 70 years in war. They did not yield security and peace. The cause of the Palestinian people cannot be solved by violence or unjustly imposed solutions, but only by justice and equality. This is the key to war and peace in Israel and Palestine. The key to open the door of peace is in the hands of Israel.


Eileen Fleming, Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for USA’s The Arab Daily News, Author, Reporter:  In Nov. 2006, Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza, informed the world:

“Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry… people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.

“Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles… Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate…Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.

“Gaza cannot sleep… the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments