Aletho News


US penalizes companies for doing business with Iran

Press TV – February 7, 2014

The United States has penalized nearly three dozen companies and individuals in eight countries, accusing them of evading unilateral sanctions against Iran.

The move is aimed at blunting “an atmosphere of optimism” that has resulted from an interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers late last year, the New York Times reports.

The US Treasury Department said the targeted entities operated in Turkey, Spain, Germany, Georgia, Afghanistan, Iran, Liechtenstein and the United Arab Emirates.

The announcement marks the second time the Obama administration has penalized businesses since the deal was inked on November 24 and put into effect last month.

As part of the current agreement, the West offered Tehran modest sanctions relief in return for Iran taking steps to limit its uranium enrichment activities. The deal called for negotiation of a full agreement within a year.

Many members of Congress and Israel have denounced the agreement, arguing that the easing of sanctions disproportionately favored Iran.

Washington has said it will continue to enforce existing sanctions until a more comprehensive deal is reached. “We strongly believe that sustaining sanctions pressure will be critical,” a senior US Treasury Department official said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

A recent visit to Iran by a French delegation of more than 100 businesspeople has greatly irritated senior US officials.

Secretary of State John Kerry called his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, on Tuesday to express concern about the business delegation.

In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs and the Obama administration’s top negotiator with Iran, said Kerry and other senior US officials believe these trade visits are “not helpful.”

“Tehran is not open for business because our sanctions relief is quite temporary, quite limited and quite targeted,” Sherman said.

David Cohen, top Treasury sanctions official, also warned that companies or governments still risk heavy penalties under United Nations, US or European sanctions if they expanded trade with Iran.

The Treasury prohibits companies and individuals from carrying out financial transactions with Iran under US jurisdiction.

February 7, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on US penalizes companies for doing business with Iran

Iranian channels targeted 66 times in 3 years: IRIB

Press TV – November 7, 2013

The head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) says Iranian channels have been taken off air from 27 satellites 66 times over the past three years by those claiming to be the advocates of freedom of speech.

Ezzatollah Zarghami made the remarks in an interview with Iran’s Young Journalists’ Club (YJC) on Thursday.

Zarghami noted that in addition to this, the channels have been repeatedly blocked or distorted through jamming of their transponders.

“This is while the Islamic Republic of Iran has been falsely accused of jamming [foreign radio and TV broadcasts] and sometimes it is claimed that the source [of the jamming] is outside Iran,” he stated.

The head of the IRIB said that in the modern world the free flow of information and enlightenment by independent media cannot be blocked.

He noted that the move against the Iranian channels by those who claim to be the advocates of freedom of speech and free flow of information comes as thousands of TV and satellite channels are currently broadcasting their programs onto the Iranian territory.

Iranian channels have come under an unprecedented wave of attacks by European governments and satellite companies since January 2012.

They have been taken off the air in several Western countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

European companies say they are abiding by the US-engineered sanctions against Iran. However, Michael Mann, the EU foreign policy chief’s spokesman, has told Press TV that sanctions do not apply to media.

In June, in another illegal act against Iranian alternative channels, Intelsat said that it will no longer provide services to Iranian channels, including Press TV.

Press TV later learned that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) — an agency of the US Treasury Department — was behind the pressure on Intelsat.

Media activists call the attacks on Iranian channels a campaign against free speech launched by the same European governments that preach freedom of expression.

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Iranian channels targeted 66 times in 3 years: IRIB

EU court verdict on Iran sanctions angers US

Press TV – September 7, 2013

A new EU court ruling that rejected sanctions on a number of Iranian entities has drawn the ire of the United States, prompting Washington to extend its illegal embargoes against more individuals and businesses.

The EU’s General Court in Luxembourg lifted the bloc’s sanctions against seven Iranian companies on Friday, ruling that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to justify the embargoes.

The top EU court ruled that the bloc wrongly blocked the accounts of Post Bank of Iran, the Iran Insurance Company, Good Luck Shipping and the Export Development Bank of Iran, from 2008 to 2011.

“We are very disappointed by the [EU] court’s decision today,” a spokesman for the US Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday.

The US Treasury later announced that it blacklisted six individuals and four businesses over their alleged links to Iranian oil sales.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors aimed at preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s nuclear activities have non-civilian purposes.

September 7, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran media ban, War on Free Speech

PressTVGlobalNews · July 1, 2013

Several international satellite providers, including Eutelsat and Intelsat, have stopped the broadcast of a number of Iranian channels.

On June 19, Intelsat said it would no longer provide services to Iranian channels, including Press TV, as of July 1. The decision has been made under the pretext that the company should be “abiding by” the sanctions against the president of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Ezatollah Zarghami.

Press TV has learned that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – an agency of the US Treasury Department – is behind the pressure on Intelsat.

Press TV and other Iranian channels have come under an unprecedented wave of attacks by European governments and satellite companies since January 2012. They have been taken off the air in several Western countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

European satellite companies say they are complying with the anti-Iran sanctions. However, Michael Mann, a spokesman for the EU foreign policy chief, has told Press TV that the sanctions do not apply to Iranian media.

The French-Israeli CEO of Europe’s satellite giant, Eutelsat, has written letters to several satellite companies, asking them to stop cooperating with Iranian channels.

The Israeli lobby in the United States has publicly supported European attempts to shut down Press TV.

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Ways to watch Press TV

July 1, 2013

Following a move by the Europeans satellite provider Eutelsat SA to take Press TV off the air in a flagrant violation of freedom of speech, Press TV viewers can continue to watch the news channel via the following satellites or by visiting the following websites:

You can watch Press TV by visiting the following websites:

Press TV watch live services (Worldwide)

OHTV Box (internet Set-top box) (Worldwide)

Livestation (internet platform. Supports PC MAC, Linux and all tablet PCs and smartphones)

Windows Mobile app

Press TV Mobile Page

You could also view our broadcast in Europe through the following satellites:

IntelSat 19 (166E)

Intelsat 902 (62E)

Paksat 1R (38E)

Badr 5 (26E)

Badr 5 (26E)

Badr 4 (26E)

Nilesat 201 A (7W)

Arabsat 5C (20E)

ST-2 (88E)

Thaicom (78.5E)

Express AM44 (11W)

Telstar 12 (15E)

July 1, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Iran media ban, War on Free Speech

US imposes sanctions on Hezbollah, citing Syria role, Africa influence

Press TV – June 12, 2013

The US has declared “sanctions” on four alleged “ambassadors” of the Lebanese Islamic resistance group Hezbollah, citing the movement’s role in pushing back foreign-backed insurgents in Syria as well as its rising influence in West Africa.

The US Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it was imposing what appear to be vague sanctions against the four Lebanese individuals whom it claims are “fundraising and recruiting for Hezbollah” in efforts to expand its influence in West Africa, as well as South America and Middle East, The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday.

Citing US officials, the report states the four men were acting as Hezbollah “ambassadors” in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gambia.

The daily further quotes US Treasury officials as underlining “the alarming reach of Hezbollah’s activities,” pointing to the Islamic movement’s “growing military role” in the recent triumph of the Syrian Army over foreign-sponsored militant gangs that have waged a destructive war on the country in largely US-led attempts to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The mostly symbolic sanctions, according to the report, “grew out of an investigation of what Treasury said are Hezbollah’s expanding activities abroad, including in South America, the Middle East and Africa.”

The sanctions would supposedly “freeze any assets” the four men “may have in the United States and sever them from any contact with the US financial system.”

However, it is not even clear if and how much the Lebanese individuals, identified as Ali Ibrahim Watfa, Abbas Loutfe Jawaz, Ali Achmad Chehade and Hicham Nmer Khanafer, have under the control of American financial institutions.

The US government has in the past repeatedly “imposed” meaningless sanctions, in the form of freezing funds, against a number of Iranian individuals and officials that have absolutely no ties or holdings in the US or American financial institutions.

The development comes as the American government and some of its allies, including the Saudi Kingdom, have protested the supportive role of Hezbollah forces behind the Syrian Army to flush out mostly al-Qaeda-linked armed gangs that have terrorized the nation with massive weapons supplied to them through Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon by mostly Persian Gulf Arab kingdoms, with US and European blessings.

June 12, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Despite Civilian-Targeting US Sanctions, Damascus University Excels

By Franklin Lamb | Al-Manar | March 11, 2013

Damascus – Students everywhere are special people and this observer has discovered that Syrian students are among the very best.

Meeting and interviewing students again this past week, before and following a frank and enlightening discussion with Prof. Dr. Mohammad Amer Al-Mardini, the indefatigable President of Damascus University, about the situation of the students and current instruction at the University, one cannot, even as a foreigner, fail to feel pride in Syrian students.

Good meeting places, among others on campus, include “outdoor cafes” — a ‘street student union’ of sorts — consisting of a few chairs and portable tables. They are scattered among the dozens of vendor stalls that line “DU Boulevard” outside the main DU campus in central Damascus. Here students can buy everything from school supplies to mobile phones to snacks. It’s a perfect place to meet and chat with students.

One learns from them about the many effects on the education system in Syria of the US-led sanctions. Some argue that the Obama administration actually fuels the current crisis with its sanctions and achieves the opposite result of what the White House and its allies claim they are seeking.
These freewheeling discussions leave a foreigner with a reminder why this student body ranks among the best in the World. How Damascus University has to date reacted to this crisis evidences the same status.

Currently there are more than 200,000 full-time and ‘open-learning’ students at Damascus University, the 6th largest in the World. The core institutes of the University were established in 1901; they were the medicine and law institutes that formed the basis of the Syrian University that was established in 1923. In 1958, it got its current name, Damascus University when Aleppo University was established.

All of the students are feeling the effects of the Obama Administration’s harsh civilian-targeting sanctions and many are increasingly in the cross-hairs of the “humanitarian sanctions which Washington and Brussels claim “exempt food, medicines and medical supplies” and therefore “should be considered humane.”

Among DU Faculties most severely affected by the US-led sanctions are the Science Departments and the Medical and Nursing schools according to administration and student sources. Chemicals used in various science classes, medicines and medical equipment cannot be found as before and if some are brought in from Europe or elsewhere, the University often has to pay four times the normal price.

Utah’s Brigham Young University gained the respect and appreciation of many in Syria for its shipments to DU’s nursing school of medicines and equipment and even “model doll babies” which in Syria use in baby care classes. All are now banned by the US sanctions which claim to exempt medical equipment and medicines.

Damascus University, with its 36 specialized faculties and five higher institutes is no banking-hours institution and its proven commitment is to give the highest possible quality education to as many students as possible. Syria’s largest university is now open for classes 365 days a year minus a few holidays and a few short breaks for her professors and overworked staff, partly due to the increased number of students arriving from across Syria. The DU administration and faculty work with faculties in war zones to guarantee students can continue their studies without missing key exams required for semester advancement. Still, about 20% of college level students are unable to attend due to transportation and displacement problems.

One direct and predictable severe impact of the US-led civilian-targeting sanctions in Syria is that they have essentially stranded approximately 700 Damascus University students in Europe and half a dozen in the US, forcing some to take leaves of absence and find jobs to survive. This is because, as is well known among the US Treasury Department “craftsmen” who devise the sanctions, these students are no longer able to receive funds for Damascus University to pay for their foreign tuition or living expenses because the banking system has been essentially shut down. More than 1500 Syrian students from other institution of higher learning are similarly stranded as a direct result of the US-led sanctions.

Never the less, Damascus University keeps its commitment to pay the students their tuition fees and their living cost as they are on full scholarships. Currently, parents must pick up the funds from the University accountant and find a way to transfer them. Should they decide to send it via Western Union, for example, a new “sanctions surcharge” of 70 euros for every 1,000 euros sent, is demanded by WU and other money transfer agencies, suggesting another form of war profiteering.

To make things even more difficult for the students, foreign universities which might consider lending their stranded Syrian students tuition money or might even consider aiding them with scholarships or a grant have been “chilled” and are backing-off because these institutions do not want to be accused of “sanction-busting” by the US Treasury hound dogs.
Few food or medicine suppliers — given the sanctions’ language, the meanings of which is uncertain even for their own lawyers, some of whom have declared it incomprehensible — want to risk the wrath of the US Treasury Department and be slapped with severe penalties including very expensive fines by dealing with anyone in Syria.

One of the US Treasury hound dogs is David Cohen, Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Late last month, Mr. Cohen made a trip to the region (including Israel) to brief allies and businesses as well as NGO’s “to be sure the sanctions were biting hard” to use a favorite phase of UN Ambassador Susan Rice. The Obama administration, reportedly frustrated by the fact that its multi-tiered sanctions have failed to topple the governments of Syria and Iran, has been attempting to find and plug loopholes in the sanctions and are intensifying warnings to the international community not to mess with the US Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) or the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) by getting all wobbly-kneed and going soft on full sanction enforcement.

Meanwhile, Syria’s Department of Education is joining the struggle to shield Syria’s education institutions and is being joined by various student associations. To date, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education have not cut their substantial disbursements to schools and faculties. Tuition remains among the lowest in the world (almost free; 5 US $ a year with the current exchange rate) at Damascus University, which also provides housing for 15,000 students. The DU administration is currently under pressure to find more dormitory space for those needing housing.

Still, despite the conflict, even in Deraa near the Jordanian border where the current crisis started, DU’s campus continues to function.

Many DU students are also volunteering with assisting Syrian primary schools which urgently need their help. According to a December 2012 UNICEF education assessment of primary schools in Syria — at least 2,400 schools have been damaged or destroyed, including 772 in Idlib (50 per cent of the total), 300 in Aleppo and another 300 in Deraa. Over 1,500 schools are being used as shelters for displaced persons. The Damascus University community has also taken on the humanitarian challenge of assisting sister educational institutions that have been affected by the current crisis including campuses in Homs, Deir al Zur and Aleppo, among others.

This observer has met several Damascus University students among the 9,000 volunteers, including Palestinian refugees, who are donating their time working with the Syria Red Crescent Society (SARCS). Many DU students are also volunteering by assisting at primary schools.

The grim reality for Syrian families, hospitals, health care facilities and now university students and educational institutions across the country is that the claimed “humanitarian” exemptions for food, medicine and medical equipment is little more than News-Speak.

Rather than target the people who represent Syria’s future leaders, the White House would do better to cancel its sanctions and send Secretary Kerry to Damascus to meet face-to-face with the Syrian people and government and demonstrate a real American interest in stopping the bloodshed. Armored vehicles and assorted “non-lethal aid” to one side in this conflict will only prolong the killing, as any student here will attest.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o

March 13, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Despite Civilian-Targeting US Sanctions, Damascus University Excels

Top Executives at Bailed-Out Companies Keep Getting the Big Bucks, with a Wink from Treasury Dept.

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | January 30, 2013

Executives of corporations bailed out by the U.S. government received more than $6 million in raises last year, despite guidelines by the Department of the Treasury that are supposed to limit such salaries.

The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (SIGTAR) accused Treasury officials of ignoring the guidelines and approving raises sought by the companies.

An extra $6.2 million was awarded to just 18 employees at General Motors (GM), Ally Financial and American International Group (AIG), which received a total of more than $250 billion in bailout funds. This included a $1 million raise for the chief executive of an AIG division, Chartis, and $200,000 for an employee of Ally’s Residential Capital—which filed for bankruptcy only weeks later.

In 2012, the Office of the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation approved pay packages of $3 million or more for 54% of the 69 top executives of AIG, GM and Ally.

Christy Romero, special inspector general for TARP, criticized the Treasury Department for not holding the line on executive compensation. “Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers’ interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits,” Romero said in her report (pdf).

She also accused Treasury of not making “meaningful reform to its processes.”

“Lacking criteria and an effective decision-making process, Treasury risks continuing to award executives of bailed-out companies excessive cash compensation without good cause,” she added.

Patricia Geoghegan, Treasury’s acting special master for compensation, rejected Romero’s conclusions, saying the audit was filled with inaccuracies and mischaracterizations of data provided to the inspector general.

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top Executives at Bailed-Out Companies Keep Getting the Big Bucks, with a Wink from Treasury Dept.

US probes Swiss medicine giant for trade with Iran

Press TV – January 27, 2013

Despite its claims of easing the restrictions on the sales of medicine to Iran, Washington has launched an investigation into the transactions of Switzerland’s biggest pharmaceutical company, Novartis, with the Islamic Republic.

In its 2012 annual report, Novartis said its Alcon eye-care unit is being investigated by the United States for exporting medicine to Iran, Wall Street Journal reported.

Alcon received a subpoena in 2012 from the US attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas, seeking documents related to its exports to Iran that date back to 2005, years before the current sanctions were enacted.

This is while the US Treasury Department said in October 2012 that American companies are allowed to sell certain medicines and basic medical supplies to Iran without first seeking a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The move was made amid Iran’s protests that the US-engineered sanctions were hurting ordinary Iranian citizens and over fears that the humanitarian effects of the unilateral sanctions could undermine support for the bans among Washington’s allies.

According to US rules, exporters of medicine and medical supplies to Iran are required to apply for special licenses. Besides, as the aftermath of the sanctions, the impossibility of transferring money through banks has cast its cumbersome shadow upon medicine and healthcare in Iran and has gravely affected the import of medicines to Iran.

On January 26, in a second letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of Academy of Medical Sciences Dr. Seyed Alireza Marandi criticized him for his silence and indifference to the threats directed at the health of Iranian people and urged him to show real action.

“As the individual responsible for surveying and monitoring national health related issues, I affirm that this problem is real and the current situation was predictable from the start of the brutal sanctions,” Marandi said in his letter.

At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran. The sanctions entered into force in early summer 2012.

On October 15, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on US probes Swiss medicine giant for trade with Iran

MKO is US’ only hope to stop Iran nuclear program: NY ex-mayor

Press TV – March 29, 2012

The former mayor of New York says the terrorist group of Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) is the United States’ only hope to stop Iran’s nuclear energy program through a military attack.

Speaking at a conference in Paris, Rudolph Giuliani noted that the United States should use the MKO to militarily attack Iran’s nuclear program, International Business Times reported.

The conference was also attended by former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy.

“I have a feeling that the only thing that will stop [Iran] and the only thing that will stop [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is if they see strength, if they see power, if they see determination, if they see an America that is willing to support the people that want to overthrow the regime of Iran,” he added.

Giuliani’s remarks come despite the fact that MKO, along with 49 other groups including al-Qaeda, is on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations which considers providing “material support or resources” for such groups or accepting donations from them as illegal.

Despite that law, three top-ranking former US officials are currently being investigated by the Treasury Department for accepting speaking fees from the MKO.

Former Pennsylvania Gov., Philadelphia mayor, and Democratic National Chairman Ed Rendell was the first to face federal scrutiny for accepting speaking fees from the MKO. Earlier this month ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Gen. Hugh Shelton, were also subpoenaed.

In the past few years, dozens of other US politicians have been paid by the MKO, including former Vermont Gov. and Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Bush’s White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and even former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who was also co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Giuliani, who charges as much as USD 100,000 per speaking engagement, was asked to appear at the Paris conference by the so-called French Committee for a Democratic Iran. The US Treasury Department charges that these types of Iranian organizations are clandestinely funneling money from the MKO into speakers’ pockets.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment