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US military presence in Iraq aimed at protecting Israel’s security, interests: PMU leader

Press TV – May 25, 2020

A high-ranking official with Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, has strongly denounced US military presence in his country, saying such a deployment is meant to safeguard the security and interests of the Israeli regime.

“There is a national and courageous will, which rejects the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil. There have been talks of US intentions to withdraw from Iraq, but we doubt them,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, was quoted as saying by the Lebanon-based and Arabic-language al-Ahed news website on Monday.

He added, “The US [military] presence in Iraq is meant to protect the security and interests of the Israeli regime. Neither are we warlords nor thirsty for blood, but rather patriots looking for the dignity and sovereignty of the Iraqi nation.”

“If the withdrawal [of US troops] does not take place, the foreign occupier must know that Iraqis will not accept the presence of its forces. The Americans, who will open negotiations [on the extension of their presence] in June, must remember the centenary of the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 against British forces,” Khazali pointed out.

He also praised the sacrifices made by Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of PMU, who were assassinated along with their companions in a US airstrike authorized by President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport early on January 3.

Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill two days later, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country following the targeted killings.

Later on January 9, former Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the move.

The 78-year-old politician said Iraq rejected any violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military’s violation of Iraqi airspace in the assassination airstrike.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel strikes Syria to keep the USA in the Levant

By Elijah J. Magnier – 19/05/2020

Following its defeat in the second war on Lebanon, Israel discovered that its only way to suppress Hezbollah would be to close the supply line between Lebanon and Syria. That could only be achieved by removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, disrupting the “Axis of the Resistance” that extends from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza. But Israel and the US, supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Turkey, Europe and many other countries all failed to achieve their goal of making Syria a failed state. President Assad called upon his allies whose own national security was in jeopardy. If Syria were to fall, jihadists of al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” would be fighting in the streets of Beirut, Baghdad and Tehran. The jihadists would also be powerful enough to remove Russia from its Syrian naval base and to export the war beyond the Levant’s borders. So, Israel and the US failed to destroy Syria and to corner Hezbollah. On the contrary, Hezbollah has become stronger than ever. The Resistance has reaped the harvest of its victory. It has become the decision-maker with key institutions in Lebanon.

Israel sought to destroy Hezbollah because it is an obstacle to Israel’s expansionist plans in Lebanon, namely to steal Lebanon’s water and some of its territories, to force a peace deal of unconditional surrender, to break Lebanon’s alliance with Iran and deprive Tehran of its strongest ally in the Middle East. For the last forty years, since the victory of the “Islamic Republic” in 1979 led by Imam Ruhollah Khomeini which unseated the US proxy ruler, the Shah of Iran, Washington has imposed sanctions, because Iran has refused to submit to US power and because it supports its allies in the Middle East, mainly Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, to stand against Israel.

In 2006, the US was involved in the planning of Israel’s war on Lebanon. At the 2006 G8 Summit, President George W. Bush described the relationship between Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as one of the root causes of “instability”: “The World must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria, and continue to work to isolate Iran.” (Roshandel J. & Lean C.N. (2011) Iran, Israel and the United States, ABC-CLIO, CA, p. 109).

US Secretary Condoleezza Rice refused to mediate a ceasefire unless “the conditions are conducive”, thinking Israel would win the war. Hezbollah was not only left on its own to face the US and Israel, but Lebanese US-Saudi proxies (Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Druse leader Walid Jumblat) supported the position of the US and Israel, and argued that there was “no point in a ceasefire.” (Wilkins H. (2013). The Making Of Lebanese Foreign Policy: understanding the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War, Routledge, Introduction).

When Israel failed to achieve its objectives, the US agreed to mediate an end to the war. Negotiations concentrated on ceasing all hostilities (not a ceasefire) between the two countries. Tel Aviv and Washington failed to obtain the deployment of United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, on the borders with Syria. The US sought to accommodate Israel in its attempt to gain by negotiation what it failed to achieve using its huge war machine in 33 days of the war in 2006. “Israel’s objective was never realistic”, said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

When its attempt to control the Lebanese-Syrian borders failed after its defeat in the 2006 war, Israel had one remaining option with which to counter Hezbollah: close the road via Damascus and find a way to curb Hezbollah’s supply line. This required war on Syria.

Since confronting Hezbollah face-face was no longer an option, Syria became the next target in the campaign to isolate Iran, as President Bush declared. The motives behind the war in Syria have been erroneously described by many researchers and analysts around the globe, who have depicted the war as the outcome of an “Arab Spring” against a dictatorial regime. Yet Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and other Gulf countries have been ruled by dictatorships and the same family members for decades and indeed are considered by the west as its closest- oil-rich- partners!

Actually, the war on Syria started just after the al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on the US. Four-star US general Wesley Clark disclosed Washington’s plan as he learned of it in the days after 9/11: “occupy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finish with Iran.” Just a few months after the US invasion of Iraq, US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited President Bashar al-Assad and warned him that the US would invade Syria if he refused to interrupt his support for the anti-Israel organisations, Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups: the Syrian president would share the same fate as the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was far from being a piece of cake. The US occupation generated new resistance among both Sunni and the Shia. This encouraged President Assad to rebuff the US threat, unaware of what the future held for Syria. Dozens of states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the Emirates, Europe and the US all supported a regime change operation via Takfiri proxies. But the consequences of destabilising Syria gave a unique opportunity for al-Qaeda to blossom in Syria and a more lethal group emerged, the “Islamic State” ISIS. President Assad called upon his few allies, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, to stand against the massive coalition gathered to create this failed state in Syria. The Syrian war which ensued offered unprecedented experience to the Syrian army, gave birth to a new Syrian resistance and offered unique warfare knowledge to Hezbollah, with a base for Iran that Tehran could never before have dreamed of having in the Levant.

Hezbollah had forced unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in the year 2000 and challenged all those Israeli-US plans for a “new Middle East” after the second Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. And the long nine years of war in Syria forced Hezbollah to refine its tactics and armaments and provided Hezbollah with an unprecedented victory. Just as Israel had boosted the creation of Hezbollah, it taught this quasi-state actor all manner of skills and forced it to acquire more training and weapons to repel wars and dismantle the enemy’s objectives. Israel’s former Chief of Staff and Prime Ministerial candidate Benny Gantz believed that Hezbollah had become one of the strongest irregular-organised armies in the Middle East, capable of imposing its rules of engagement and its “balance of deterrence” on the strongest classical army in the Middle East.

“Show me four or five states with more firepower than Hezbollah: they are the US, China, Russia, Israel, France, & the UK,” Gantz said when speaking at the 2014 Herzliya Conference.

That was Israel’s assessment in 2014. Six years later, last February, Israel’s minister of defence Naftali Bennet said: “For every convoy you hit, you miss five convoys and slowly Hezbollah accumulates the critical mass of rockets [missiles] that threaten us.”

Hezbollah has become stronger than many armies in the Middle East. Hezbollah is no longer the organisation that clashes with the Israelis on a hill or site or ambushes a patrol behind an alley. Rather, in Syria and Iraq, it has successfully experienced different warfare scenarios. It has acquired many advanced weapons and became a strategic threat to Israel if it ever contemplated waging outright war on Lebanon and Syria.

Israel set as its goal bringing down Assad in Syria and separating Syria from the “Axis of Resistance.” Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “Israel prefers ISIS on its borders over Assad.” But Israel, America, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates have lost the war. Israel has now chosen to maintain the conflict because it fears that America would let go. This is why Israel is hitting hundreds of targets in Syria, – most of the time without no strategic value whatsoever.

Sources in the “Axis of Resistance” in Syria say that:

“Israel targeted the Iranian HQ at Damascus airport (a building with green glass where Israel destroyed two floors). The following day, Iran restored it and it is back in operation. Israel has repeatedly targeted warehouses with Iranian weapons but also an abandoned training centre in the Kiswa area that has been empty for years. Their aim is to signal to the US that Israel is threatened and that the departure of the US forces would constitute a threat to Israel’s national security. It is indeed too late for Israeli jets to make any difference to Syria’s capabilities. Iran is not exporting weapons but manufacturing them. If it took Israel 9 years and 300 bombing raids to destroy Iranian warehouses in Syria, it took Iran only one year to refill and equip the Syrian army with much more sophisticated precision missiles – and all strategic missiles are in underground warehouses.”

Iran has only a few hundred advisers and officers in Syria, but it leads some tens of thousands of allies from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and auxiliary Syrian forces that resemble irregular-organised military formations.

In Syria, Hezbollah was able to operate in an area ten times the size of Lebanon, which gave it a unique experience any army in the world would have wished to have. It was also subjected to attacks by a NATO member, Turkey, which used armed drones on the battlefield. That provided Hezbollah with a wealth of experience and taught them lessons that have become integrated into curricula at military schools and colleges in Iran with Hezbollah and their allies.

President Assad does not say that it is time for his allies (especially Hezbollah) to leave Syria. Rather, he says – according to this source – that “Syria has a debt to Hezbollah. Wherever Hezbollah wants to be, it will be also Syria’s wishes.” America and Israel created an unbreakable alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has started to harvest its gains. Hezbollah was able to impose the name of the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, despite repeated opposition from Saudi Arabia and the US, the losers in the Syrian war. Lebanon remained without a president for several months until General Aoun assumed the presidency.

Hezbollah rejected multiple offers from different countries by giving the Presidency of the Parliament to anyone other than President Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal movement, who has been on this throne for decades. Hezbollah holds the real power – though not all of it – in Lebanon to call for the appointment of the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Parliament.

As for the premiership, it cannot be assumed without Hezbollah’s approval of the candidate. Hezbollah has sufficient political weight within the House of Representatives and the Presidency of the Republic to nominate or accept the nomination or direct the appointing of a prime minister. Former prime minister Saad Hariri is making sure his daily friendly contacts with Hezbollah are maintained because he would very much like to return to power. Hariri knows that the door to the premiership goes through one gate: Hezbollah.

This does not mean that Hezbollah wants to take control of Lebanon as a whole. Hezbollah leaders are aware that the Druse leader Kamal Jumblatt, Sunni leader Rafic Hariri, the Maronite Christian leader Bashir Gemayel and the Palestinians have all failed in controlling Lebanon and seizing the country. Hezbollah does not want to succumb to the same mistakes and doesn’t wish to control all of Lebanon. This means that the counter influence of other countries exists and is well-rooted in Lebanon. For example, the US ambassador in Beirut is threatening the Lebanese government with a warning not to remove the Central Bank Governor Riad Salama. Also, the US removed a Lebanese-Israeli agent, Amer Al-Fakhouri, via a plane which landed him at the US embassy without taking into consideration Lebanese sovereignty. The US supports the Lebanese army and internal security forces to maintain its dominance over certain key figures.

Syria has given the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, powers in Lebanon that he would not have obtained without the intervention of Israel and the allies in Syria. Hezbollah has managed to preserve its military pipeline via Syria by defeating the Takfiris (al-Qaeda and ISIS) and has prevented them from establishing an “Islamic emirate” in Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah’s victory comes at a price: thousands of martyrs and thousands of wounded. However, the resulting harvest is so abundant and strategic that the Lebanese Shiites now enjoy more power in Lebanon and Bilad al-Sham than they have since the year 661 when the fourth caliphate’s Imam Ali bin Abi Talib was killed.

Proofread by:  C.G.B. and Maurice Brasher

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May 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US, other foreign forces must leave Syria, respect its sovereignty: Iran

Press TV – May 18, 2020

Iran’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations says the US must end its illegal occupation of Syria and stop shielding terrorist groups under the mask of fighting terrorism.

Majid Takht Ravanchi made the remarks in a Monday address to a virtual meeting of United Nations Security Council dubbed “Middle East: Syria – Political”.

“Sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be fully respected by all, and accordingly, all foreign forces whose presence is not permitted by the Syrian Government must leave the Syrian territory,” the Iranian diplomat said.

“In this regard, the living example is the occupation of certain parts of Syria by the US forces who continue to support and shield terrorist groups under the mask of combatting terrorism,” he went on to say.

He further rejected any separatist agendas as well as “any and all attempts to create new realities on the ground, including through illegitimate self-rule initiatives.”

Takht Ravanchi slammed the “illegal” occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights by Israel, and said the recognition by the US of its annexation to Israel is null and void.

“Condemning such unlawful irresponsible act, we stress that Golan is and will remain a part and parcel of the Syrian territory,” he added.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. However, in a highly provocative move on March 25 last year US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s “sovereignty” over the Syrian territory.

Damascus strongly condemned the move and called it a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.

Since the onset of the occupation, Tel Aviv has been building dozens of settlements in the region and has used it to carry out a number of military operations against the Arab country.

In his Monday speech, Takht Ravanchi also condemned Israel’s aggressions against Syria as a “gross violation of international law and the UN Charter”, stressing that the Syrian Government has a sovereign right to decide how and when to exercise its inherent right to individual or collective self-defense.

“Such aggressions must come to an end,” he urged.

Israel frequently attacks military targets inside Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up foreign-backed Takfiri terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

The Damascus government has several times complained to the UN about Israel’s illegal strikes on Syria.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Swiss humanitarian channel yet to process a single deal for Iran: Report

Press TV – May 8, 2020

A new report published in the American media shows a Swiss trade channel much publicized by Washington as a secure way of delivering humanitarian assistance to Iran at a time of sanctions has failed to process any single deal on Iranian medicine imports.

The Daily Beast reported that Iranians have got almost nothing from the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Agreement (SHTA) since it was launched in January with the support and consent of the US.

The channel was meant to find a way around the US sanctions to use Iranian funds deposited abroad to buy food and medicine for the country via the Swiss bank BCP.

However, companies seeking to participate in the scheme have found it very difficult to comply with the criteria set by the US government to avoid violating the general rules governing the sanctions, said the report.

Fabian Maienfisch, a spokesman for Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which oversees the channel, admitted in comments made to the Daily Beast that the initiative had effectively failed to meet its objectives.

“No transactions have yet been carried out. Unfortunately, this whole process has been slower than expected…,” said Maienfisch.

The comments prove statements by the Iranian government saying that US officials have been disingenuous in claiming that Iran’s humanitarian needs are exempt from the harsh regime of sanctions imposed on the country.

Iran has made it clear that the sanctions have not affected its robust response to a new coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 100,000 people and led to over 6,000 deaths in the country.

However, governments and rights organizations have criticized the US for its refusal to lift the sanctions at the time the Iranian health system is under pressure, saying the bans violate the most basic principles of human rights.

May 8, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | Leave a comment

Israeli minister: Israel to discuss with US reported Sinai peacekeeper cutback plan

MEMO | May 8, 2020

Israel said on Friday it would discuss with its closest ally the United States a newspaper report that the US-led peacekeeping force in the Egyptian Sinai may be scaled back, calling its nearly four-decade-old presence “important”, Reuters reports.

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is pushing to pull out some American troops from the international peacekeeping force it heads in the Sinai Peninsula, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing current and former US officials.

The reduction would come as Egypt battles an Islamist insurgency in the desert peninsula, where the US-led Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) has been since the early 1980s, following Egypt’s peace deal with Israel in 1979.

Asked to comment on the report in an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said “the international force in Sinai is important, and (the) American participation in it is important.

“Certainly, the issue will be raised between us and the Americans,” said Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet.

The US and Egyptian embassies in Israel did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the MFO’s office in Israel.

According to its website, the MFO has 1,156 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries covering an area of more than 10,000 square kilometres (3,860 square miles) in the Sinai. Some 454 of the personnel are American.

But the size of the force has decreased by over 30 per cent since 2015, according to data from its website.

During that time, Israel has agreed to an easing in demilitarisation in the Sinai so that Egypt can carry out anti-insurgency sweeps, typically in the northern end of the peninsula where small-scale attacks are common.

Cairo sees the MFO as part of a relationship with Israel that, while unpopular with many Egyptians, has brought it billions of dollars in U.S. defence aid, sweetening the foreign-enforced demilitarisation of their sovereign Sinai territory.

For the Israelis, the MFO offers strategic reassurance, recalling that in 2013 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled an elected Islamist government hostile to its neighbour.

May 8, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Iraq mounts counter-terrorism operations amid warnings of US-Daesh plot to split region

Press TV – May 5, 2020

Iraqi army troops and allied fighters from Popular Mobilization Forces — known as Hashd al-Sha’abi — have conducted fresh operations against Daesh militants amid warnings of collaboration between the United States and remnants of the Takfiri terror outfit in the country.

On Monday, Iraq’s Security Media Cell announced the launch of a new military campaign, dubbed ‘Desert Lions,’ against Daesh sleeper cells in the country’s desert areas.

The operation covers “Wadi Houran, Husayniyyat, Al-Kara, H2, and Wadi al-Hallcom, all the way to international borders” in Iraq’s western Anbar Province with an aim to “enhance security and stability in these areas, to pursue terrorist elements and to arrest those wanted,” it said in a statement.

The new campaign followed a string of deadly attacks by Daesh terrorists targeting Iraqi forces, among them Saturday’s assault in Salahuddin Province that killed at least 10 Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.

On Monday, the Iraqi Army’s intelligence detained a Daesh ringleader, called Abu Hajar, in Nineveh Province.

It came one day after the arrest of another Daesh element, Abu Abdulmalik, in Nineveh’s provincial capital of Mosul, which once served as the terror group’s main bastion in the Arab country.

Also on Monday, Rudaw media network reported that an explosive-laden vehicle had gone off in Madham area in western Anbar, killing the occupants — all terrorists.

Among those slain were Daesh military commander Abu Ghasurah, the report said.

Concerns rise about Daesh-US collaboration

Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Rubaye, spokesman of Iraq’s Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, which is part of the Hashd al-Sha’abi, said that the US has long been supporting terrorists in Iraq and Syria and that Daesh is part of Washington’s scheme to disintegrate the region.

The US, he added, plans to settle Palestinians in western Anbar under President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “deal of the century.”

Rubaye also emphasized that the Americans should honor the Iraqi parliament’s resolution on the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country. The resolution was passed in January following the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and senior Hashd commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in addition to several other comrades.

The US is evacuating its bases in Iraq and amassing its troops at Ain al-Assad and Harir bases, situated in Anbar and Kurdistan’s regional capital of Erbil, respectively, in the face of the outrage of the Iraqi people and popular forces, he pointed out.

Asaib spokesman further warned of armed resistance if the US refuses to leave Iraq and settles in the country’s remote areas.

Additionally, Iraq’s Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, which is also part of Hashd al-Sha’abi, said the US has been planning to transfer senior Daesh commanders from eastern Syria to neighboring Iraq.

“Washington is insisting on the implementation of a plot to return the terrorists to Iraq by transferring a large number of ISIS (Daesh) commanders and militants from the eastern Euphrates and other parts of Syria,” it said in an online statement.

The group also described the Americans as “occupiers,” noting, “We stress that the Islamic Resistance of Iraq is monitoring all your destructive plots to prevent the dangers which threaten the Iraqi provinces.”

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi army, which had suffered heavy setbacks against the Takfiri elements.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December 2017 after a three-year counter-terrorism military campaign, which also had the support of neighboring Iran.

May 5, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

The goal of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon was to turn Jordan into Palestine, says Ehud Barack

MEMO | May 4, 2020

The goal of the First Lebanon War was to bring down the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and turn the country into Palestine, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said in a shocking admission about the true intention of the Zionist state.

Israelis were told that the objective of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was to remove forces belonging to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and end the threat posed by the resistance group to its northern communities. Barack admitted that this was untrue, explaining that the real goal was to use the “pretext of Palestinian terror” to force the PLO back to Jordan where they would take over government from the Hashemite Kingdom.

“The idea was to use the pretext of Palestinian terror, which they (the PLO) were providing us with, to attack them in south Lebanon and turn that into a leverage [Israel can use] and join the Christian (forces) in Beirut,” Barak said in an interview with Maariv, the sister publication of the Jerusalem Post.

“The assumption was that they (the PLO) will have to return to Jordan and unlike what happened in 1970 (when the late King Hussein ordered the forcible expulsion of the PLO) this time they will be ready and take over the government.”

“And in that way Zion is redeemed,” Barak continued. “In Jordan a Palestinian state will be created and the conflict could be resolved.”

Barack suggested that the PLO would have learnt the lessons of Black September – the 1970  conflict with Jordan which led to the expulsion of Palestinians to Lebanon – and stand a better chance of deposing the late King Hussein.

Barack’s admission would suggest that Israel did not achieve any of its war objectives. A second stated goal was to aid Lebanese Christians in order to gain a regional ally. A Christian-dominated Lebanon was seen as a potential ally, supportive of the Jewish state as two minority-countries in the region.

Not only was this hope dashed when the Christian President of Lebanon Bachir Gemayel was assassinated in September 1982, Israel’s image across the world took a tumble for enabling hundreds of Phalangist fighters – Israel’s paramilitary ally in Lebanon – to carry out a massacre in Sabra and Shatila refugee camp.

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US House war hawks write to Pompeo over UN arms embargo on Iran

Press TV – May 3, 2020

US lawmakers have written a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to take “increased diplomatic action” not to allow a United Nations arms embargo on Iran to expire in October.

“We write to urge increased diplomatic action by the United States to renew the expiring United Nations arms embargo against Iran and United Nations travel restrictions on those Iranian individuals involved with dangerous proliferation activities,” Hundreds of House lawmakers claimed in a letter released by The Hill. “America must continue its longstanding, bipartisan leadership in order to limit Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world… We look forward to working with you to reauthorize these expiring UN restrictions, which are essential to protecting our national security and the American people.”

The US claims that Washington has not quit the Iran nuclear deal and technically remains a “participant state.” The scheme is aimed at using a mechanism embedded within the Iran nuclear deal to make the UN restore a previously lifted arms embargo on Tehran.

The latest anti-Iran scheme was spearheaded by Democratic House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and committee ranking member Michael McCaul.

“Nearly every member of the US House of Representatives is in agreement: Iran must not be allowed to buy or sell weapons,” McCaul claimed in a statement. “This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, or even just an American issue. We need to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran for the sake of international peace and security. I am proud the House is speaking with one voice to protect the world against Iran’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior.”

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran.

“US Security Council Resolution 2231 is unambiguous where the United States is a participant,” Pompeo claimed at a press briefing Wednesday. “We are going to make sure that come October of this year, the Iranians aren’t able to buy conventional weapons that they would be given what President Obama and Vice President Biden delivered to the world in that terrible deal.”

Tehran has called the allegation that the US is still a member of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “a joke.”

May 3, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 5 Comments

Germany’s Move to Ban Hezbollah May ‘Clearly Be Seen as an Act Against Lebanon’

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 30.04.2020

Germany’s decision to ban Hezbollah can be perceived, among other things, as an act against Lebanon, Middle East expert and Professor Emeritus Werner Ruf from the University of Kassel said on Thursday.

Also, “this is, to my mind, an example of obedience to Israel and the United States because there is no reason for the ban. On the other hand, it should be noted that Germany maintains normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is represented in the government. So what’s the point [of banning the group]?” Ruf, who is also a lecturer at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, pointed out.

He added that even though one should not rule out that “donations are sent to certain associations or mosques, which are mainly controlled by Hezbollah”, there is no reason to believe that the organisation poses a security threat to Germany.

On the other hand, Ruf went on to say, the ban “will clearly be seen as an act against Lebanon”, as Hezbollah is represented in the Lebanese government and has great authority – something which should not be overlooked.

According to the expert, Hezbollah was “the only military force that forced Israel to leave Lebanon following the last war [between Beirut and Tel Aviv]”.

“These are completely different perspectives”, he said, adding that when it comes to anyone feeling a threat, “then it is most likely Lebanon [that] feels the menace coming from Israel than vice versa”.

At the same time, Ruf referred to Tel Aviv’s “military superiority”, arguing that Hezbollah is not going to target Israel, given that the Jewish state “has already shown in the last war that it is ready to use almost all types of weapons to destroy Lebanese infrastructure”.

“I do not think that in this situation, Hezbollah would be interested in a new military scenario with Israel”, the expert concluded.

His remarks came after German Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter tweeted earlier in the day that Berlin had banned all Hezbollah activities on the country’s territory.

According to him, security forces are currently involved in staging raids against suspected Hezbollah members in a number of German states.
Jewish Group Praises Germany’s ‘Much-Anticipated Move’

American Jewish Committee head David Harris hailed the move as a “welcome, much-anticipated, and significant German decision”, expressing hope that “other European nations will take a close look” at the move and “reach the same conclusion about the true nature of Hezbollah”.

This was preceded by German lawmakers approving a non-binding initiative in December 2019 to call on the government to ban Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militant group whose primary basis of support is the country’s Shiite Muslim community.

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Moscow: UN Weapons Embargo on Iran Can’t Be Prolonged Despite US Efforts

Sputnik – April 30, 2020

The UN embargo on conventional weapons sales to Iran, which expires in October 2020, can’t be extended despite US efforts to prevent its expiration, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister has stated.

“For us, the case of the existing ban on arms deliveries to and from Iran was closed with the adoption of Resolution 2231. The embargo regime expires in October this year”, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated.

Ryabkov went on to blame the US for its selective approach to Resolution 2231. He recalled that Washington itself had stopped adhering to its provisions two years ago and has since spared no effort to prevent other nations from remaining in compliance with the resolution by introducing unilateral sanctions.

“Instead of discussing which provisions of Resolution 2231 could be used to achieve certain political goals, the US would be better off ensuring the full and comprehensive implementation of the provisions of this resolution, and return to full compliance with the JCPOA”, the Deputy Foreign Minister added.

UN Resolution 2231 adopted back in 2015 alongside the Iran nuclear deal, prohibited the sale of conventional weapons to the Islamic Republic until 18 October 2020 and separately the sale of missiles until 2023. However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated yesterday that Washington is planning to do anything in its power to extend the ban beyond October 2020 and will apply to the UN to do that.

Pompeo mulled resorting to a mechanism that renews international sanctions against the Islamic Republic by declaring that it violated the nuclear deal inked in 2015, but was later abandoned by the US in 2018. The secretary of state claims the US is still formally a party to the deal and that Washington will seek help from its European allies, signatories to the deal, in this matter. UN inspections, however, revealed that Iran complied with the deal as it promised in 2015.

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

US return to JCPOA can end impasse over Iran

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | April 28, 2020

In business transactions and international diplomacy alike, there could be constant variables and dependent variables. Constant variable is where the value cannot be changed once it has been assigned a value. But it becomes a dependent variable if it is susceptible or open to the effect of an associated factor or phenomenon. Then, there is also a third independent variable, which is a factor or phenomenon whose value is given or set already that can cause or influence a dependent variable.

A big question for international security has arisen: What type of variable is at work as the US prepares a legal argument that it still remains a “participant” in the 2015 Iran nuclear accord known as JCPOA?

Both New York Times and Fox News, which reported on this development on Sunday maintained that the Trump administration’s ploy to reenter the JCPOA is riveted on a strategy to invoke the “snapback” clause, which would restore the comprehensive pre-2015 UN sanctions on Iran.

Much depends on the UN Security Council members. What if they come up with a dependent / independent variable that accedes to the US status as “participant”, provided Washington agrees to ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘C’  factor or phenomenon? Trade-offs are more the rule than the exception in the UN SC; constant variable is a rare occurrence at the horseshoe table.

A Reuters report today, in fact, highlights that the Trump administration can expect “a tough, messy battle if it uses a threat to trigger a return of all United Nations sanctions on Iran as leverage to get the 15-member Security Council to extend and strengthen an arms embargo on Tehran.”     

The report quoted a European diplomat: “It’s very difficult to present yourself as a compliance watcher of a resolution you decided to pull out of. Either you’re in or either you’re out.” This is the crux of the matter.

Tehran has already notified the European Union that any move to re-impose UN sanctions through the back door will trigger a vehement reaction — including, possibly, Iran exiting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The EU and the three European signatories of the JCPOA (UK, France and Germany) are extremely wary of the JCPOA being abandoned. Their sincerity of purpose is self-evident in the IMPEX mechanism (which enables limited trade between European companies and Iran despite US sanctions.)

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell recently expressed regret about the US’ opposition to the IMF lending money to Iran against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas publicly shared Borrell’s view.

Having said that, it is an entirely different ball game if the US were to walk back as “participant” in the JCPOA as original signatory. If that happens, everything else becomes negotiable — including fresh talks to renegotiate the terms of JCPOA. Tehran has laid down Washington’s return to the JCPOA as the sole precondition for talks.

Today, Radio Farda, the Persian service of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty beamed to Iran, has carried a report US May Be Prepared To Rethink Stance On Sanctions, Nuclear Accord with Tehran which speculates precisely that on the “pretext” of extending the arms embargo against Iran, Washington could be principally “thinking of returning to the nuclear accord” and engaging with Iran in talks.

Radio Farda quoted a “usually well-informed Iran analyst in Scotland” to this effect. The report hinted that back channels are at work. Possibly, some kite-flying is going on here.

Indeed, Iranian media had reported recently that President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting in Tehran on March 25 that the “leader of a non-permanent member of the Security Council” had told him about the UN Security Council currently weighing plans for the removal of all sanctions against Iran.

Rouhani was quoted as saying at the cabinet meeting, “We are also trying to have our blocked money unfrozen.” (Rouhani was probably referring to a conversation with Kais Saied, President of Tunisia, which is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.)

Iran hasn’t reacted to the New York Times and Fox News reports. Meanwhile, in what could well be a related development, Rouhani had a phone conversation on April 21 with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani where the sanctions issue figured.

Interestingly, an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement later verbatim quoted from the conversation. Rouhani told Sheikh Tamim:

“The US pressure and sanctions against Iran are not only a violation of international law, but also they are violating human principles by intensifying their behaviour in these difficult circumstances, including preventing the International Monetary Fund from lending to Iran”.

“We believe that in this special situation, all countries in the world must stand together to fight coronavirus and clearly state their positions against the hostile actions of the United States”.

“Unfortunately, they are still reluctant to end their inhumane acts, but we have no doubt that sooner or later they will have to change course.”

The Emir responded,

“Today, the world is in a special situation and we believe that in this situation, the United States must lift its sanctions and all countries must move in line with the new conditions.”

Subsequently, there has also been a conversation between the two foreign ministers. Now, Qatar, which hosts the US Central Command Hqs, is a close ally of the US. Sheikh Tamim and Trump have a warm relationship.

During the emir’s visit to the White House last July, Trump remarked, “Tamim, you’ve been a friend of mine for a long time, before I did this presidential thing, and we feel very comfortable with each other.” No doubt, if ever Trump needed a back channel with the Iranian leadership, he wouldn’t need to look beyond Sheikh Tamim. (Significantly, Sheikh Tamim made a rare visit to Tehran in January this year.)  

Curiously, the day after Sheikh Tamim spoke to Rouhani, he also held a phone conversation with Trump. The White House readout said, “The president and the (emir) discussed the coronavirus response… The president encouraged the emir to take steps toward resolving the Gulf rift in order to work together to defeat the virus, minimise its economic impact and focus on critical regional issues.”

The bottom line is that the UN arms embargo is not really a big ticket item but the sanctions is. Even if the ban gets lifted in October, it is only for small arms, whereas transfer of advanced technology such as missiles will have to wait another 3 years. Iran is largely self-reliant in defence. And its asymmetric capability to generate deterrence against US aggression is legion.

The Trump administration realises that its sanctions policy has failed. The murder of the charismatic Iranian general Qassem Soleimani only hardened Tehran’s resolve to press ahead with the “axis of resistance”. And the world opinion militates against continued US sanctions against Iran.

In this backdrop, the forthcoming summit of the founding members of the UN may address the issue of sanctions. From such a perspective, the Trump administration’s seemingly belligerent move to return as “participant” in the JCPOA may turn out to be a dependent variable open to influence from one or more independent variables.

April 28, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

US to face tough battle in pushing plan to extend UN Iran arms embargo: Diplomats

Press TV – April 28, 2020

Diplomatic sources at the United Nations say Washington has a tough challenge ahead at the Security Council (UNSC) if it pushes for an extension of the world body’s arms embargo against Iran through recourse to a process set out in a multilateral nuclear deal that the US controversially abandoned in 2018.

The agreement — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — was signed in 2015 between Iran and six major world states and endorsed by UNSC Resolution 2231.

However, the US unilaterally withdrew from what President Donald Trump called “the worst deal ever” in May 2018 and re-imposed anti-Iran sanctions. It has also been coercing the remaining signatories to the JCPOA to follow suit.

Under UNSC Resolution 2231, the UN arms embargo on Iran — in place since 2006/2007 — will be lifted in October 2020. The US has repeatedly expressed its anger at the possible termination of restrictions on Iran’s import and export of arms.

On Tuesday, diplomats told Reuters that Washington is planning to use a threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions against Iran as leverage to get the Security Council to prolong the arms embargo on Tehran.

A US official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington has shared its strategy with Britain, France and Germany, who are permanent Security Council member states and parties to the Iran deal.

The diplomats said the scheme has not been shared with the remaining 11 council members, including veto-wielders Russia and China, the two other signatories to the JCPOA that are deemed certain to oppose the arms embargo on Iran.

Reports say if the Security Council refuses to revive the embargo, the US will try to trigger a so-called snapback of all UN sanctions on Iran by claiming that it is still a party to the JCPOA and that Iran is in significant violation of the nuclear pact.

The New York Times said on Sunday that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was laying the groundwork to present a legal argument to the UN that Washington remains a “participant state” in the JCPOA.

It is “part of an intricate strategy to pressure the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran,” the report said.

Reuters, however, cited the UN diplomats as saying that Washington’s plan will likely be challenged since the US is no longer a party to the deal.

“It will be dead on arrival,” a Security Council diplomat predicted. “It’s very difficult to present yourself as a compliance watcher of a resolution you decided to pull out of,” a European diplomat said. “Either you’re in or either you’re out.”

Another European official said, “It’s going to be messy from a Security Council standpoint because, regardless of what (Britain, Germany and France) think, Russia and China are not going to sign up to that legal interpretation.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed Pompeo’s reported scheme, saying the plan to return to the JCPOA is rooted in the failure of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian nation.

‘US cannot cherry-pick UN resolutions’

Meanwhile, a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP, “You cannot cherry-pick a resolution saying you implement only parts of it but you won’t do it for the rest.”

Similarly, Kelsey Davenport, director for non-proliferation policy at the US-based Arms Control Association, said “if Pompeo goes through with this plan, snapping back sanctions on Iran collapses the JCPOA.”

Even more significant, she added, the US measure could lead Iran to make good on threats to exit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“This is just another step that would undermine US credibility, make future negotiations with Iran more difficult and increase the risk of a nuclear crisis in the region,” she said.

‘US placing world in Catch-22 situation’

Russia also slammed the US plan, with Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov tweeting, “The country which officially ceased its participation in the #IranDeal cannot remain its participant by definition.”

The Russian Mission Vienna also said in a post on Twitter, “May 8, 2018 the #US says it “ends” and “terminates” its participation in the #JCPOA. Now there are claims that it still considers itself a participant. Is this a “Catch-22” sort of situation for Iran, UNSC and the whole world?”

April 28, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment