Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Adversaries pursued plot for false-flag killings in Tehran riots: Iran top security official

Press TV – December 12, 2019

Iran’s top security official sheds light on an enemy plot to increase the number of fatalities during the recent riots in several cities, saying most of those killed in Tehran Province were not even involved in any protest gatherings.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani made the remarks in a meeting with families of some of the victims of the riots in the western towns of the province on Thursday.

“More than 85 percent of the victims of the recent incidents in towns of Tehran Province had not taken part in any gathering and were killed with non-organizational firearms and cold weapons in a very suspicious manner,” said Shamkhani, adding there was certainly a plot hatched by “adversaries” to cause as many fatalities as possible and pin the blame on Iran’s security forces for the killings.

No official death toll has so far been released, but the victims reportedly include both security forces and civilians.

Commiserating with the bereaved families, Shamkhani said that government officials and authorities would make their utmost efforts to alleviate the suffering of the families.

He called on all governors general across the country to take necessary measures in order to investigate the deaths and compensate the damages incurred to the people.

In mid-November, the Iranian government raised gasoline prices in order to moderate the national consumption rate.

The move prompted protests in a number of cities that went largely peaceful but turned violent when armed riotous individuals took advantage of the situation to vandalize public and state property, and attack civilians and security forces alike.

Shortly after the riots broke out, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei tasked the Supreme National Security Council with compiling a report detailing the reasons behind the riots and immediate attending of the families of the victims..

Iran says many of the rioters were found to have links to the notorious US-backed Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terror group, separatists besides members of organized groups trained towards staging acts of sabotage.

Last week, Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, Iran’s Judiciary’s spokesman, dismissed the unofficial casualty count provided by certain sources as inaccurate.

“The numbers and figures that are being provided by hostile groups are utter fabrication and the actual figures are fewer than what these sources claim,” he said.

“They have released figures as well as certain names… The purported casualty count is not but a fabrication,” he said, in remarks aired on state television, adding that sources with hostile intentions have provided the names of people who lost their lives in circumstances unrelated to the recent violence, and of people who are even alive.

December 12, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment

China Quietly Ramps Up Oil Production In Iran

By Simon Watkins – Oilprice.com – December 10, 2019

The supergiant Azadegan oil field, comprising major north and south sites, is as important to Iran’s overall strategic plan to survive the current sanctions environment and to prosper when they are lifted as the flagship South Pars supergiant gas field and the added-value products of its petrochemicals sector. Last week Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) announced that five new development wells and an appraisal well are to be spudded in North Azadegan to maintain current production levels. OilPrice.com understands from various senior energy sources in Iran that this is only part of the picture, with much bigger plans having been agreed for rollout in the coming six months with the help of China and Russia.

Located around 80 kilometres west of Ahvaz, close to the Iraqi border, the entire 900 square kilometre Azadegan field is the third-largest hydrocarbon reserve in the world after the Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia and the Burgan oil field in Kuwait. Its total reserves are estimated at about 42 billion barrels of oil, with around 7 billion barrels currently deemed recoverable. The first exploration well was drilled in 1976 but, despite its potential, a long lead time across the four main layers – Sarvak, Kazhdomi, Godvan, and Fahilan – of the site has meant that the pace of production has been slower than at many neighbouring fields, especially those over the border in Iraq.

A key reason for this was the attitude of Chinese firms active in Iran around that time, which can be broadly characterised as doing the minimum necessary to generate some oil flows from the fields back into China whilst not spending too much money. This attitude, though – particularly when Iran was already in the process of negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the run-up to its being agreed in 2015 – resulted in the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) cancelling China National Petroleum Corp’s (CNPC) contract to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars natural gas field in 2013. A year later – with CNPC having drilled only 7 of the 185 wells it had planned at the South Azade­gan field – the NIOC also cancelled this development contract with the Chinese company as well. CNPC was further warned at that time that its contract for North Azadegan would go the same way if it did not up the development tempo, which it did, increasing production from around 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) at that stage to around 35,000 bpd within a year or so.

As it stands, with CNPC still the key foreign developer at North Azadegan, the relationship dynamic between Iran and China has shifted again. With re-imposed U.S. sanctions still in place, Iran cannot afford to alienate China and over the past few months has offered it extremely advantageous deals to return to previous developments or to take on an even greater role in existing ones. The most notable of these have been South Azadegan and Phase 11 of the supergiant South Pars non-associated gas field, although others are in the offing.

“The understanding agreed between Iran and China when the French [Total] started to wobble on continuing with Phase 11 [of South Pars] after the U.S. pulled out of the JCPOA was that China would assume Total’s entire stake [to 80.1 per cent] and really push production,” a senior oil industry source who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry told OilPrice.com last week. “At the same time, China would also be allowed to go into South Azadegan to create a unified field development programme with its North Azadegan activities,” he said. “When the details of the deals began to leak out, though, South Pars [Phase] 11 and South Azadegan had to be put on the back burner but the plans will go ahead within the next six months,” he added. In this hiatus, though, China has been advancing its reach into neighbouring Iraq, as highlighted recently here.

From China’s perspective, its ‘One Belt, One Road’ vision – which will absolutely change the global geopolitical power balance forever – is totally dependent on Iran’s participation for three key reasons. First, Iran is closely involved in the affairs of those countries that constitute the Shia crescent of power – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen – which allows China to hold the U.S in check in those areas. Second, it is a direct land route into Europe, via both Turkey and the Former Soviet Union states and Russia. And third, it has huge oil and gas reserves currently going cheap. These broad factors underpin the game-changing 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership signed earlier this year in Beijing by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif, and his China counterpart, Wang Li.

All of this means in the short-term that China needs to make continued solid progress on North Azadegan until such time as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tells President Hassan Rouhani that the Iranian public and moderate MPs will be able to tolerate China’s further multi-layered expansion in Iran. Currently, North Azadegan is producing just shy of 80,000 bpd but the Phase 2 plan – including the spudding of the new wells – is aimed at boosting this output to at least 100,000 bpd. More specifically, China is expected by Iran to ensure that the output from North Azadegan when combined with the output from South Azadegan (currently being developed by Iranian firms) is at least 250,000 bpd. South Azadegan is now producing a steady 105,000 bpd with spikes to 115,000 bpd plus, according to the Iran source.

Longer-term, Iran’s plan is to increase the recovery rate from all of its oil fields, beginning with those in the massive West Karoun area (in which North and South Azadegan are located, along with North and South Yaran, and Yadavaran, among others) to at least 25 per cent from the current 4.5 per cent (it was 5.5 per cent before U.S. sanctions were re-imposed). By comparison, the average recovery rate from Saudi Arabia’s oil fields is around 50 per cent, with plans to raise that to 70 per cent.

As the West Karoun fields together are estimated to contain at least 67 billion barrels of oil in place, for every one per cent increase in the rate of recovery that can be achieved the recoverable reserves figure would increase by 670 million barrels, or around US$34 billion in revenues with oil even at US$50 a barrel. Once China has also taken over at South Azadegan, according to the Iran source, it will be expected to increase the output from the three fields – North and South Azadegan and Yadavaran – by at least 500,000 bpd within three years from the signing of the South Azadegan deal (expected within the next six months).

Simon Watkins is a former senior FX trader and salesman, financial journalist, and best-selling author. He was Head of Forex Institutional Sales and Trading for Credit Lyonnais, and later Director of Forex at Bank of Montreal. He was then Head of Weekly Publications and Chief Writer for Business Monitor International, Head of Fuel Oil Products for Platts, and Global Managing Editor of Research for Renaissance Capital in Moscow. He has written extensively on oil and gas, Forex, equities, bonds, economics and geopolitics for many leading publications, and has worked as a geopolitical risk consultant for a number of major hedge funds in London, Moscow, and Dubai. In addition, he has authored five books on finance, oil, and financial markets trading published by ADVFN and available on Amazon, Apple, and Kobo.

December 11, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

UN ‘unable’ to verify claims Iran was behind Saudi Aramco attacks

Press TV – December 11, 2019

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres says the world body’s investigators are “unable to independently corroborate” the US and Saudi claims that Iran was behind attacks on the kingdom’s Aramco oil facilities in September.

Guterres announced in a report on Tuesday that all the debris from the weapons used against Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco had been examined and the UN could not yet verify anti-Iran claims made by Washington and Riyadh.

“At this time, it is unable to independently corroborate that the cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles used in these attacks are of Iranian origin,” Guterres wrote in his semi-annual Iran report to the Security Council.

The UN chief added that the world body is “still collecting and analyzing additional information on these cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles” and would report additional findings in “due course.”

The attacks, which hit Aramco’s oil facilities in Khurais and Abqaiq in east of Saudi Arabia on September 14, were claimed by Yemen’s Houthi Ansartullah movement but the kingdom and the US were adamant to blame it on Iran without evidence.

Iran has rejected the allegations of any involvement and said the attack was a legitimate act of self-defense by Yemen, which has been under incessant strikes by the Saudi-led coalition since 2015.

The attacks cut nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s total oil production and sent shockwaves across the global markets.

Saudi Arabia has constantly denied the attacks would have any impact on the kingdom’s finances, with the government estimating that GDP growth would stand at around 1.9% at the end of 2019.

December 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Netanyahu-Pompeo Meeting Solidifies War Plan on Iran

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 10, 2019

Ratcheting economic sanctions, military force encirclement, inciting seditious violence and relentless war rhetoric. This all by the US and its allies over the past year towards Iran, yet it is Iran which is portrayed as posing “potential threats” to American interests.

The hastily arranged meeting last week between Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the hallmarks of a war-plan summit amid a peak in renewed media provocation against Iran.

In the last weeks there has been a flurry of US media reports claiming that Iran is secretly moving ballistic missiles into Iraq and elsewhere across the region. As usual the media credulously cite anonymous intelligence and Pentagon officials on those claims.

Here’s CNN quoting one administration official: “There has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks,” the official said, referring to “a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East.”

Last month, the head of US CentCom made a similar dire forecast of Iranian intentions. General Kenneth McKenzie said: “I would expect that if we look at the past three or four months, it’s possible they [Iran] will do something that is irresponsible.”

Notice how General McKenzie tacitly acknowledges the background of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions and US military force buildup against Iran as if that is somehow normal international conduct. Then he turns all that US aggression on its head by accusing Iran of possibly doing “something that is irresponsible”.

There are worrying signs that the US and Israel are redoubling the pressure of war against Iran. This pressure has to be seen in the context of a formidable deployment of US military forces – troops, warplanes and warships in the region since May this year. The earlier buildup was announced on the basis of unfounded claims that Iran was preparing to launch offensive operations against American interests. Then came a series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over the summer which Washington blamed on Iran without evidence.

Street protests in Iran since mid-November over fuel-price increases appear to be hijacked by subversive elements. President Trump and other US officials have openly called for the protests to destabilize the Iranian government.

Fresh claims that Iran is sending ballistic missiles to neighboring countries appear to be setting the stage for justifying a pre-emptive US attack on Iran.

No doubt the Iranian government is under severe pressure from the economic hardship that the US has re-imposed unlawfully since Trump dumped the international nuclear accord in May 2018. No doubt too Iran is apprehensive about the relentless military threats against it from Washington and its Israeli ally. Almost certainly, Iran will have mobilized forces in the reasonable calculation that it may come under attack at any moment.

But, perversely, US intelligence and military officials are interpreting Iranian defensive moves as “indications of a potential threat” to American “interests”.

The meeting last week between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signals a foreboding development. Recall that this is in the context of US media reports of Iranian ballistic missiles being deployed and of reports that the Trump administration is considering a doubling of troop levels in the Middle East to 28,000, as well as sending more missiles and warplanes.

Netanyahu met Pompeo in Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday, December 04. The meeting was called urgently and was unscheduled. Netanyahu – who is fighting for his political survival over corruption charges – tried to arrange discussions with Pompeo on the sidelines of the NATO summit near London, but according to Israeli media reports there was not enough time for security logistics to be put in place by the British. That indicates the Israeli leader was trying to meet Pompeo in a hurry.

When Netanyahu met with Pompeo in Lisbon, he said at the start of their discussions: “The first subject that I will raise is Iran. The second subject is Iran, and so is the third. And many more.

The Israeli premier added: “We have been fortunate as President Trump has led a consistent policy of exerting pressure on Iran. Iran is increasing its aggression in the region as we speak, even today, in the region. They are trying to have staging grounds against us and the region from Iran itself, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen and we are actively engaged in countering that aggression.”

Netanyahu also gloated that the “Iranian empire [sic] is tottering… let’s make it totter even more.”

For several months Iran has steadfastly refused to take the bait of war laid down by the Trump administration. But with pressures mounting both within the country and externally, it would be imperative for the Iranian authorities to marshall their defenses.

US intelligence and military officials are using contorted logic to accuse Iran of posing a threat, and the American corporate media are ably assisting in the propagation of this oxymoron.

Netanyahu’s hasty meeting with Pompeo last week suggests that the US and Israel are putting the final touches to their malignant masterpiece for provoking a war with Iran.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Efforts to Force Iran Out of European Energy Markets Have Failed

By Paul Antonopoulos | December 10, 2019

Despite the European Union attempts to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which saw Iran reduce its low-enriched uranium by 98% and eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium in return for economic relief, JCPOA is hanging by a thread because of Washington’s withdrawal from the deal in October 2017.

The European Statistical Office revealed that from January to September trade between the EU and Iran was at €3.86 billion, a massive 74.92% drop compared to the same period in 2018. The report revealed that Germany (€1.23 billion), Italy (€734.78 million) and the Netherlands (€376.73 million) were Iran’s top three trading partners in EU while trade with Greece (€32.08 million), Luxembourg (€506,316), Spain (€207.36 million), France (€296.5 million) and Austria (€102.11 million) had plunged by  97.13%, 91.38%, 91.17%, 86.79% and 82.38% respectively.

Although Iran’s trade with Cyprus at €6.25 million and Bulgaria at €64.97 million increased by 85.12% and 29.24% respectively year-on-year— the highest among EU states — it still does not offset the massive decline in trade with Greece, Luxembourg, Spain, France and Austria. The major decline in trade is attributed due to European companies’ unwillingness to risk losing business with the U.S. for the sake of the much smaller Iranian market. Effectively, U.S. President Donald Trump’s economic war with Iran is to diminish Iranian-EU trade so that the U.S. may reap benefits from boosting its own oil and other commodities. However, this is set to change.

With this dramatic downturn in trade with the EU, Iran is now pushing to diversify its economy even further to overcome a reliance on oil and take a number of measures in an attempt to counter U.S. economic aggression, including increasing taxes, cutting energy subsidies and borrowing money from friendly states. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani explained on Sunday in parliament that oil revenues are expected to drop by at least 70% and that Iran’s budget next year “is designed to resist against sanctions and to announce to the world that we run this country despite sanctions.”

The Iranian president explained that the new budget will reach $115.3 billion because of the reduction of oil exportation from 2.8 million barrels of oil a day before Trump’s May sanctions to 500,000 barrels a day. In addition, Iran will sell more bonds in the domestic market and plans to increase revenues from taxes by 13%, but these changes come as the International Monetary Fund has already forecast that the Islamic Republic will have a reduction of its economy of about 9.5% this year.

This “budget of resistance,” as described by Rouhani, is “contrary to what the Americans thought. With the pressure of sanctions, our country’s economy would encounter problems, thank God we have chosen the correct path… and we are moving forward.”

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi announced on Monday that the European signatories to the JCPOA will not activate the “trigger mechanism” for the time being that could see the return of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. It is unlikely that the EU or Iran will withdraw from what remains of JCPOA as they attempt to bypass U.S. sanctions which can see the besieged country improve its economy through increased trade with Europe.

Not only has the EU pledged to maintain its nuclear deal commitments, in a joint statement late last month, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden said they will attain shares in Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), that was launched by Britain, France and Germany in January to allow European companies to trade with Iran without using U.S. dollars so they could be protected from U.S. sanctions.

In their joint statement, they said: “In light of the continuous European support for the agreement and the ongoing efforts to implement the economic part of it and to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran, we are now in the process of becoming shareholders of INSTEX, subject to the completion of national procedures.”

This is also a part of a wider move to counter strong U.S. efforts to muscle in on the European oil market as U.S. sanctions have scared buyers from acquiring Iranian and Venezuelan crude. The so-called hydro-fracking and shale revolution that began a few years ago has seen the U.S. aggressively seek to export its oil to new markets. It is now unsurprising that earlier this year U.S. crude shipments to Europe reached new records, behind Russia but still more than Nigeria and Libya who are important OPEC members.

Therefore, a major reason for the false allegations by Trump that Iran was violating the JCPOA was to force Iran out of the European market to push the U.S. entrance. It appears that Trump’s plan has failed. Not only has Iran formulated its “budget of resistance,” but with Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden becoming shareholders INSTEX, they are prepared to continue their economic relations with Iran while being protected from U.S. repercussions. Effectively, although the U.S. has achieved a short-term reduction in European-Iranian trade, it will not only recover, but also be strengthened as new mechanisms are being made to bypass U.S. banks and dollars.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing the Stage: A Flawed Prospectus for War, This Time With Iran

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 9, 2019

“This is a historic opportunity”, whispered one of Netanyahu’s insiders into Ben Caspit (a leading Israeli journalist)’s ear this week: “You have no idea what we can wheedle from the Americans now, what a golden opportunity we face when the US is about to enter an election year”.

“Bunker busters”, he mutters to Caspit, who elaborates that: “According to members of Netanyahu’s inner circle, these bombs will be given to Israel once it signs the mutual defence agreement that Netanyahu has been working on.” And though Israel’s security establishment historically have opposed a full pact, Caspit explains that the PM’s associates “are referring to a ‘partial’ defence pact focused on Iran alone.” Netanyahu’s associates insist that “the prime minister wants to make history in the next half year.”

What sort of history might that be? Why six months? Well, Caspit points up: “Netanyahu’s people, headed by minister Yuval Steinitz clearly state that a widespread war is likely to erupt in the next six months between Iran and its adversaries in the region, including Israel”. And the new Defence Minister, Bennett, threatens Iran on an almost daily basis.

“Perhaps Netanyahu simply needs a war with Iran in order to survive politically,” one of the Blue and White leaders told Caspit: “That is scary and dangerous …” .

Yet precisely such an Iran-focussed treaty was to be a key issue on the agenda of hurriedly-arranged talks with Secretary Pompeo, in Lisbon this week – a ‘summit’ that followed in the wake of a notable flock of very high-level, US Defence officials visiting Israel in recent days. In Lisbon, Netanyahu said that his talks with Pompeo had focused on: 1. Iran; 2. Iran, and number 3: Iran.

And in Washington? The Defence establishment is not echoing the Israeli call to early action (with Iran and its allies allegedly mired in wide protest), but they are fretting that Iran is not being sufficiently “deterred”.

And the US Defence Establishment is adding to the Iran hype coming from Netanyahu: “We continue to see indications … that potential Iranian aggression could occur,” John Rood, the Pentagon’s number-three official, said in the wake of a Defense Intelligence Agency report that warned that Tehran is producing “increasingly capable ballistic and cruise missiles” with better accuracy, lethality and range.

Is all this hyped ‘threat’ for real? Iran has been very explicit in saying the purpose to its calibrated push-back is ‘pressure’: i.e. a counter-pressure to force the US to re-think its economic siege policy. That is perfectly understandable, is it not? Or, is this hype just Netanyahu politicking in the lead-up to a possible third round of elections in Israel in the New Year that could see him ousted from power and heading to gaol?

The latter explanation is possible, but events suggest that Netanyahu truly does want to seal his legacy by persuading the US to join with Israel in an attack on Iran. That is a real risk, too.

And if so, again (as in 2003), such an event again will be sold to the US and European public on an entirely false prospectus.

And what is that? Well, here it is: “For a long time it looked like the spread of Iranian influence across the Middle East was unstoppable. Now, the entire Iran-hegemony enterprise is at risk. Protests have been going on in Iraq and Lebanon for weeks, bringing their economies to a near standstill, and forcing their Iran-approved prime ministers to step down. There’s no end in sight to the protests …”.

And hence, the Israeli push – led by the newly-appointed Defence Minister, Bennet, that now – precisely – is the moment for the US to act against Iran. This is the narrative for war.

Certainly, a stage is being set around this narrative: the US is engaged in an epic arm-wrestle with Iran over whom will have the primacy of influence in Iraq. The US and its European allies, too, are holding Lebanon’s economy hostage to a resolution of a financial crisis (aggravated by the deliberate draining of US dollar liquidity from Lebanon to New York), against a US demand for a scission between President Aoun’s Christian party and Hizbullah – an alliance which effectively controls parliament in Beirut, and additionally, that demand that Lebanon concede its position over the East Mediterranean oil and gas demarcation – to Israel.

And, in Syria, US forces are trying to use the Syrian Kurds to block connective links between Iran and Iraq [Lebanon], whilst Israel attacks Iranian infrastructure there, from the air.

In short, we are dealing with New Generation warfare: maximum economic pressure (and siege), to trigger popular protest, and then to leverage these genuine economic grievances suffered by the ordinary populace, through inserting small, trained elements to seed ‘messages’ – and to resort to calibrated violence against symbols of the state (in order to seize media attention) – should popular protests flag, and require reviving.

On the other hand – in what may also be understood as an ‘other’ aspect to a ‘preparing of the stage’, Israel is at work to pacify Gaza (with Gulf cash); and the US is active with the Houthis in trying to tamp down the war with Saudi Arabia: i.e. de-conflicting other potential war fronts.

The economic and governance problems in Iraq and Lebanon are real (and profound) – and they do, to a degree, impinge on Iran’s room for manoeuvre. So, what then, is the ‘false prospectus’?

It lies with the protests in Iran – and the ‘message’ being promoted by the main-stream media which has the “regime” teetering at the brink of collapse, and obliged to use unprecedented violence to quell mass unarmed protests, in the wake of an extraordinarily ineptly managed, fuel-price hike.

What is wrong with this version? Well, what is right is that the hike triggered protests across 100 cities on the Friday, 15 November. The protests were widespread, and the poorer segments of the population (traditional supporters of the state) were heavily represented. But they were not violent.

The rest of the narrative is wrong.

On the day of the truly mass protests against the fuel hike, no one was killed. And, on the following day, the protestors almost wholly vanished from the streets. Instead, small groups of pre-prepared, armed and violent activists – not protestors – attacked the strategic hubs of state infrastructure: banks, petro-chemical plants, the gas network, and fuel storage. These hubs were attacked using rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and sub-machine guns. Other groups took out banks (100s of them), armed with guns, swords and iron bars. (One of these latter groups attacked six banks in the space of just one hour.) Nothing here was spontaneous or ‘populist’.

The security forces reacted militarily – arresting and killing many insurgents. And yes – the internet was shut down. But, not the internal Iranian internet – only the global internet. So, the Iranian equivalent of WhatsApp and Telegraph, and Iranian news channels were still accessible – though the global internet was not. The overseas anger at the external internet shut-down possibly reflected surprise and irritation that Iran had this capability. Likely, it was not a capacity that Iran was thought to possess.

So what was going on? The Iranian government, it seems, had prior knowledge of plans to stage attacks by ‘activists’, as a part of an (externally formulated and resourced) disruption plan. But that original plan indicated that the start of these actions would take place early next year.

What seems to have happened is that when the fuel hike protests began, these ‘activists’ were given the go-ahead to ‘seize the moment’. In other words, they activated all their pre-prepared plans prematurely. This was exactly what the Iranian security forces wanted, and had sought. It enabled them to ‘smoke out’ the plot, and to arrest, or kill the ring-leaders.

In other words, the Iranian government is not teetering at any ‘brink’ – and later internal Iranian polling shows popular anger directed principally towards the violent gangs, and to a lesser extent, towards the Rouhani Administration, for its mis-handling of the fuel-price hike – but not against the state, per se. The latter result is not so surprising as older Iranians will remember how the CIA used similar tactics – violent attacks on shops – to escalate the protests in the 1953 overthrow of PM Mosaddegh, in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of the Shah.

Here is the question: Have the various instigators of these deliberate, violent attacks, ‘come clean’ about the failure of their plan – and of the unravelling (the arrests and disruption) of their Iranian ‘networks’ to President Trump? Or, is he being presented only with the Netanyahu ‘narrative’ of an Iran cornered ‘and at the brink’?

Iran is not at the brink; its economy is not imploding, and it has not – at least not yet – been cornered in the region. The arm-wrestling between the US and Iran in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is engaged, but not over. It is not the moment for Israel ‘to count its chickens’ with respect to an imploding Iran.

The other question then, is with all this swelling max-pressure, financialised ‘war’ operations mounted by the US, Israel, and certain Gulf States, across the Middle East, is there a way out? Or, is it likely to end in war? The momentum, as matters stand, must be towards escalation. To avoid that disaster, one or other of the parties must row back.

One ‘off-ramp’ might be that whilst Trump (ignominiously) might be ready to contemplate the disruption, the distress and hardship being administered to the people of Lebanon, Iraq and Syria in the interests of weakening Iran, he may not want to proceed to that ultimate step of war.

US polls show no popular appetite for war with Iran. Yet climbing down from his Iran ‘tree’ for Trump, will not be easy. The other off-ramp might be that Netanyahu does not remain as PM for these vital, coming six months to ‘write history’ and seal his legacy. It would be both “scary and dangerous”, for sure, were Netanyahu (and close associates) to conclude that Netanyahu needs such a war to survive – as Ben Caspit was so clearly warned.

But what is not so likely, is that Iran buckles or implodes.

December 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran scientist Soleimani arrives home after over one year behind bars in US

Press TV – December 7, 2019

Freed Iranian stem cell scientist Dr. Masoud Soleimani has arrived in Tehran after over one year of imprisonment in the United States.

Soleimani arrived at Tehran Mehrabad airport on Saturday evening after he was released by the US in a prisoner swap. He was welcomed by his family members and Iranian officials upon his arrival.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accompanied the released scientist from Zurich where the swap took place.

The Iranian foreign minister said in a tweet earlier in the day that the top scholar, along with Xiyue Wang — a Chinese-born US citizen who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage in Iran in 2017 — had been delivered to the Swiss officials and would “be joining their families shortly.”

Back in October last year, Soleimani, 49, left Iran on sabbatical last year but was arrested upon arrival in Chicago and transferred to prison in Atlanta, Georgia for unspecified reasons.

When he left Tehran last fall, Soleimani, a professor and biomedical researcher at Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, planned to complete his research on treating stroke patients as a visiting scholar at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Prosecutors in Atlanta had accused him and two of his former students of conspiring and attempting to export vials of human growth hormone from the US to Iran without authorization, in violation of US sanctions.

The human growth hormone is not banned in the US or Iran and was being used “exclusively for medical research,” which is still considered largely exempt from US sanctions, according to his Atlanta attorney Leonard Franco.

The two students were charged in a court and released after posting bail because they held US citizenship.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Russia: US trying to demonize Iran missile program

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s chargé d’affaires to the United Nations
Press TV – December 6, 2019

Russia’s mission to the United Nations says the US continually tries to demonize Iran’s missile activities despite lack of any damning evidence against the Islamic Republic’s defensive activities, and while Washington itself is in default of several international non-proliferation agreements.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Moscow’s chargé d’affaires to the world body, addressed the remarks to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a letter dated November 26 that was made available on Friday.

He reminded that Iran was a signatory to many multilateral non-proliferation mechanisms, including the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The latter agreement came about in 2015 between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of states — the United States, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany, lifting nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran, which, in turn, voluntarily changed some aspects of its nuclear energy program.

Washington has, on numerous occasions, accused Tehran of developing nuclear-capable missiles, despite Tehran’s outright rejection of nuclear weapons of all type, and its observance of the JCPOA, which prohibits it from pursuing such armaments.

The Russian official highlighted “the complete lack of evidence that Iran is developing or producing a nuclear weapon or means of its delivery or is deploying any infrastructure for the storage or servicing of nuclear weapons.” He further endorsed the Islamic Republic’s continued commitment to the nuclear deal as verified by Tehran’s “refraining from activities related to ballistic missiles that are designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons.”

Nor has the UN Security Council, which has endorsed the JCPOA in the form of Resolution 2231, received any “viable information to the contrary,” Polyanskiy asserted.

However, he stated, the US would keep trying to implicate Iran in nuclear arms-related activities by, among other means, citing the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This is while the MTCR is an informal political understanding between 35 states on export control issues, and could not be deployed as a universal legally binding instrument or used in the context of Resolution 2231 to try and incriminate Iran’s missile activities, the envoy added.

Washington was on the offensive against Iran, while itself left the JCPOA last year “in violation of Article 25 of the United Nations Charter,” and is preventing other states from implementing it, Polyanskiy added. After leaving the deal, the White House returned its sanctions against Tehran, and also started pushing other JCPOA members into abiding by the American bans.

The Russian envoy also reminded how America left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Moscow earlier this year, and was undermining efforts aimed at creating a Middle East region free of nuclear arms. He was referring to the US’s using its veto power at the UN in favor of Israel, which is the sole nuclear armed power in the region and has refused to join the NPT.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran’s FM Javad Zarif Claims Israel Tested Nuke-Missile ‘Aimed at Iran’

Sputnik – December 6, 2019

The Defence Ministry of Israel announced in the early hours of Friday morning that it had tested a new rocket propulsion system at a an airbase in the central part of the country, as part of a missile defence modernization plan.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, commented on Friday on the recent test by the Israeli defense establishment of what has been described as a rocket propulsion system.

Zarif noted that the United States, along with the three European members of the Iran nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have never complained of the Israeli nuclear arsenal, the only nuclear arsenal in the region, although Tel Aviv has missiles that are “DESIGNED to be capable of carrying nukes”.

Earlier on Friday, Israel’s Ministry of Defence tweeted that its defence establishment had carried out a test of a rocket propulsion system from the Palmochim military base, located south of the nation’s capital city of Tel Aviv.

The tested missile propulsion system is reportedly capable of launching defence or attack payloads with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers. It is also said to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads, according to Tel Aviv’s news channel i24 News.

After the US unilaterally left the JCPOA in May 2018, Washington has since been waging a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, claiming that the Islamic republic’s rocket program, alongside Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions, represent a “threat” to the region. Under this pretext, the Trump administration has introduced multiple sanctions against the government in Tehran and against several senior officials, including Zarif.

Iran has repeatedly denied accusations regarding its intentions to obtain nuclear weapons, continuing to abide by the nuclear deal and urging European signatories to ensure its interests amid reimposed US sanctions, particularly through a partial withdrawal from some of the original commitments under the JCPOA.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Iranian Unrest: Cover-Up Of Mass Killings Or Infowar Conspiracy?

By Andrew Korybko | December 5, 2019

The Mainstream Media is pushing forth the weaponized narrative that the Iranian government is carrying out a cover-up of mass killings that supposedly occurred during its recent unrest, though this is nothing more than an infowar conspiracy.

Amnesty International scandalously cited unpublished and vaguely described “credible reports” to claim that over 200 people were killed during Iran’s recent unrest, adding that “the real figure is likely to be higher”. This accusation is part and parcel of the renewed Hybrid War on Iran that’s seeking to capitalize on the failed Color Revolution attempt from last month when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the government’s decision to decrease fuel subsidies in order to fund a cash payment plan to the country’s most needy families. It should be said that the majority of the people who participated in these large-scale protests didn’t engage in acts of violence, but their presence at these events inadvertently served as cover for a select cadre of professional provocateurs and foreign intelligence agents to carry out attacks against law enforcement officers and public property by exploiting those people as human shields behind which to hide.

As the author wrote at the time, “Iran’s Protests Are Grassroots, Not Foreign-Driven, And That’s The Real Problem”, while also later warning in an exclusive interview with Iran’s “Young Journalists Club” that Iran is being victimized by a US Hybrid War. These two analyses might initially seem mutually exclusive but they aren’t. Legitimate grievances served to spontaneously bring a critical mass of protesters into the streets, during which time the vast majority of the participants were unwittingly turned into human shields by Hybrid War “sleeper cells” that were waiting for an opportunistic moment to carry out anti-state terrorist activities such as the ones that were previously described. The Iranian authorities ultimately prevailed in restoring law and order, though it’s presumed that some of the most radical provocateurs might have been injured or even killed throughout the course of these security operations, which could naturally occur in any country facing similar unrest.

The US and its regional allies who support the forces responsible for the recent violence desperately wanted to film, selectively edit, and then propagate decontextualized footage of those individuals clashing with the state so that they could then present this as so-called “evidence” that Iran is “killing unarmed protesters”, hoping that this infowar conspiracy would make the majority of the non-violent citizens that participated in the protests suspicious of the state as well as further discredit the country’s international reputation. That plan failed, so now the back-up one is to still make this claim regardless of any fabricated “evidence” and strongly hint that the reason that there isn’t any is because Iran cut off the internet during its “crackdown”. While criticized by some at the time, it was actually a very wise move for the state to do so in order to offset the exact same scenario that was just described, though it unwittingly fed into the US’ back-up infowar narrative.

Even so, that doesn’t mean that it was the wrong thing to do since the benefits of preventing further provocations during that very sensitive time far outweigh the “costs” of having Iran’s adversaries conspiratorially claim without any fabricated “evidence” that the security forces “killed hundreds of innocent protesters”. In terms of the bigger picture, it’s much better to decisively nip the Color Revolution unrest in the bud and deal with unsubstantiated claims from self-interested international forces than to be too afraid of being criticized for cutting off the internet and then having to face the consequences of those same actors fabricating “evidence” to back up their preplanned provocative claims that “hundreds of innocent protesters were killed”. Considering all of this, there isn’t any credence to the West’s accusations that Iran is carrying out a cover-up of mass killings during its recent unrest as these claims are nothing more than an infowar conspiracy.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments

Bilateral trade relations between Iran and EU suffer under harsh US sanctions

By Sarah Abed – December 2, 2019

Trade between the European Union (EU) and the Islamic Republic of Iran has dropped roughly 74.92% percent this year from January to September compared to last year during the same timeframe, due to US-imposed sanctions, according to the European statistical office. The top three trading partners in the European bloc were Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Analysts at the European Council on Foreign Relations have described the US’s secondary sanctions as abuse of its global financial dominance.

Iran’s commodities exports have fallen 94% and imports have declined 51.15%. Before the sanctions, the EU was Iran’s main trading partner, but now China and the United Arab Emirates have risen to the first and second slots respectively.

While most discussions regarding Iran and EU trade relations center on oil, a crucial indicator of Europe-Iran trade relations lies in European technology and the billions of dollars’ worth of European parts, machinery, and transport equipment exports, which play an important role in Iran’s industrial sector and economy.

In May 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) complaining that the deal didn’t curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities but Europeans and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have repeatedly confirmed that the nuclear deal was working and that Iran was in compliance.  Since then the remaining five world powers who signed the nuclear deal with Iran, namely the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany have tried to keep the nuclear deal alive by urging the United States to return to the deal and lift the harsh sanctions.

Immediately after leaving the nuclear deal, the United States reinstated crippling sanctions under its “maximum pressure campaign” with the goal of bringing about “regime change” while reducing Iran’s oil exports to zero.

Iran patiently waited for over a year for the United States to either return to the deal or for European nations to ease their suffering. France advocated for a $15 billion dollar line of credit and an EU Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges commonly referred to as INSTEX, became “operational” in June of this year, but hasn’t offered Iran any relief yet.

INSTEX was created to circumvent Washington’s sanctions as a payment channel with the UK, France, and Germany to help Iran continue to trade. The exchange of goods is allowed without requiring direct transfers of money, serving as a diplomatic shield. Good intentions aside, it’s been useless.

Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Belgium announced on November 29th that they are in the process of becoming shareholders in INSTEX, in order to support the JCPOA and the economic parts of it and facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran. A joint statement of support for the preservation and full implementation of the JCPOA was made. They reiterated that the nuclear agreement was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council and is an instrumental tool for global non-proliferation and stability in the region.

Unfortunately, neither the line of credit nor INSTEX have been properly implemented yet. With no relief in sight and economic conditions worsening, Iran started to scale back on its commitments under the JCPOA, thus far it has taken four such steps and has vowed to continue to scale back its obligations every sixty days, until there’s a solution.

For almost three decades the United States was Iran’s main military and economic partner and played an important role in its infrastructure and industry modernization, from 1950 until 1978. All of that ended when the US-backed Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlevi was forced to step down during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. And that’s when the United States cut economic and diplomatic ties, froze billions of dollars of assets, and banned Iranian imports.

Iran is the world’s third largest consumerer of natural gas after the United States and Russia, and a major oil exporter since 1913.

Iran’s economy is dominated by oil and gas production, ownership of 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas reserves have earned Iran recognition as an energy superpower. This of course puts a huge target on its back for US imperialism and intervention.

Since mid-2018 US sanctions have been placed on Iran’s oil sales, banking transactions, metals trading, petrochemicals, shipping etc. and as a result, Tehran was forced to raise oil prices on November 15th by fifty percent and impose a strict rationing system. Soon after, protests erupted and at least eight people linked to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were arrested by Iranian security agents.

Although trade has significantly decreased Washington’s attempts to destroy Iran’s economy, bilateral attempts to improve and normalize Iran-EU trade relations have fallen short. If successful, Washington would benefit from increasing its own oil and commodities trade, while hurting economic ties between Iran and EU.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

US harassing Iran on behalf of Israel

Press TV – November 25, 2019

A political analyst says the latest move by the US to call on social media networks to block the accounts of Iran’s leaders is part of Washington’s usual pattern of “harassing Iran on behalf of Israel.”

Brian Hook, special US representative for Iran, has recently urged Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to block the accounts of Iranian government leaders over an Internet blackout that began in the country following riots over fuel price hikes.

Tehran says it had to restrict access to the Internet to prevent “saboteurs” from using online services like navigation and maps to coordinate their activities in large cities across the country.

The government nevertheless has begun reestablishing Internet connectivity after around 100 of the ringleaders of the riots were apprehended.

In an interview with Press TV on Sunday, Walt Peretto said “this latest move by the State Department follows the usual pattern of the US harassing Iran on behalf of Israel and their New World Order overlords and the rest of global organized psychopathy.”

He said the US cannot invade “a nation like Iran that remains strong and independent,” so “instead, they harass them with rhetoric and propaganda, sanctions, nuclear agreements that they renege on.”

He went on to say that “hypocrisy and lies are as common as breathing with the officials in the State Department and White House.”

“On one hand the US has a mainstream media that is completely Zionist run, while independent sources of information particularly on social media and YouTube are harassed and often censored when truthful information becomes an irritant to the globalist overlords.”

“In the minds of the general public that receives its news and information from mainstream sources, the US is actually fighting censorship by reprimanding Iran for reacting in the way it chose in order to quell destructive protests, when in fact censorship is standard everyday practice in the US mainstream media and now harassment and censorship is increasingly becoming a problem with independent media based mostly on the internet. There is nothing that the globalist psychopaths fear more than the dissemination of the truth,” he stated.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 3 Comments