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[VIDEO] 5 Issues for Trump on Radical Islam 

Clarion Project‘s Ryan Mauro examines some of the key challenges a president Donald Trump will likely face in office.

Iranian demonstrators hold anti-US slogans and portraits of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a rally in Tehran's Azadi Square (Freedom Square) to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 10, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran and other cities chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" as Iran celebrated the anniversary of the ousting of the US-backed shah. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI

Iranian demonstrators hold anti-US slogans and portraits of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a rally in Tehran’s Azadi Square (Freedom Square) to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 10, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran and other cities chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as Iran celebrated the anniversary of the ousting of the US-backed shah. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI

A member of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front stands in a street of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on January 11, 2014. Fighting pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against other rebel groups -- including Al-Nusra Front, which is also linked to Al-Qaeda but is seen as more moderate -- broke out in Syria last week. AFP PHOTO / BARAA AL-HALABI

A member of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front stands in a street of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on January 11, 2014. Fighting pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against other rebel groups — including Al-Nusra Front, which is also linked to Al-Qaeda but is seen as more moderate — broke out in Syria last week. AFP PHOTO / BARAA AL-HALABI

Professor Ryan Mauro is the National Security Analyst for the Clarion Project, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about the threat of Islamic extremism and provides a platform for voices of moderation and tolerance within the Muslim community. Clarion Project films have been seen by over 50 million people. Read the rest of this entry »

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Krauthammer on Iran Deal: If a Company Did This ‘CEO Would Be in Jail Right Now’ 

“Of course the Justice Department objected — it was illegal. It isn’t only the optics; it isn’t only that they are just looking ridiculous in denying that it was quid pro quo.”

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“Obviously it wasn’t a coincidence; the reason it was objected to by Justice — there is a statute that prohibits us from engaging in Iran dealing with dollars, so they had to print the money here, ship it over to Switzerland, turn it into Swiss francs and euros, and ship it over to Iran. If a private company had done this, it is called money laundering. The CEO would be in jail right now.”

Source: NRO

 


‘You Could Cause Some Panic With This’

radioactive-iraq

Iraq is searching for ‘highly dangerous’ radioactive material stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security, environmental and provincial officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.

The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford WFT.N, the document seen by Reuters showed and officials confirmed.

A spokesman for Iraq’s environment ministry said he could not discuss the issue, citing national security concerns.

“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear.”

— Official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter

Weatherford said in a statement that it was not responsible or liable for the theft. “We do not own, operate or control sources or the bunker where the sources are stored,” it said.

The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.

An SGS official in Iraq declined to comment and referred Reuters to its Turkish headquarters, which did not respond to phone calls and emails.

The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the reports but has seen no sign that Islamic State or other militant groups have acquired it.

A U.S. official said separately that Iraq had reported a missing specialized camera containing highly radioactive Iridium-192 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, in November.

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“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear,” said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The environment ministry document, dated Nov. 30 and addressed to the ministry’s Centre for Prevention of Radiation, describes “the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity belonging to SGS from a depot belonging to Weatherford in the Rafidhia area of Basra province”.

A senior environment ministry official based in Basra, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of Ir-192 “capsules”, a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Iran-Iraq Border: Iranian Female Students Play Around an Abandoned Tank in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, Iran

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‘There are relics left along the Iran-Iraq boarders. A group of Iranian female students play around an abandoned tank [in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, Iran]. Among them, one girl stands on the tank with her arms open.’ (Yanan Li / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest)

See more here

Source: Winners of 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest


[VIDEO] Iranians Mark Anniversary of Tehran’s U.S. Embassy Takeover

TEHRAN — American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama were set ablaze on Wednesday as thousands gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the Iranian capital’s U.S. Embassy.

New and large anti-U.S. propaganda posters — including one mocking the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima — were spotted in Tehran….

…Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979 and took dozens of Americans hostage. The hostages were held for more than 400 days and the crisis prompted the U.S. to sever ties with Iran….(read more)

Source: NBC News

From the YouTube video (above)

Iranians hold nationwide rallies, marking the 36th anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran. In the capital Tehran, people are gathering outside the building of the former American Embassy to chant slogans against US policies. November fourth is known as Student Day in Iran. 36 years ago today, a group of university students stormed the embassy building. Documents retrieved from the embassy showed the building had turned into a center of spying aimed at overthrowing the establishment following the victory of the Islamic Revolution just months earlier.

 


‘The Administration Has Shown a Dangerous Naiveté Regarding Who it is Dealing With’

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Despite Nuclear Accord, U.S.-Iran Tensions Are on the Rise.

Conviction of U.S. journalist, testing of ballistic missiles heighten concerns among deal’s U.S. critics.

WASHINGTON— Jay Solomon reports: Tensions between the U.S. and Iran, rather than easing as a result of July’s nuclear accord, are increasing over a wide spectrum of issues tied to the broader Middle East security landscape and to domestic Iranian politics, current and former U.S. officials say.

“Fears are mounting in Washington and Europe that these two conflicts could fuel a much broader regional war, in which Iran and Saudi Arabia are the chief protagonists.”

Just in the past two days, Iran has test-fired a ballistic missile and announced the conviction of American journalist Jason Rezaian, fueling suspicions the historic nuclear agreement has allowed Tehran’s Islamist clerics to step up their long-held anti-U.S. agenda.

Washington’s closest Mideast allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, are more broadly concerned about Iran’s ability to use the diplomatic cover provided by the nuclear accord—and the promised release of tens of billions of dollars of frozen oil revenues—to strengthen its regional position and that of its allies.

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“There’s a risk that nonnuclear issues could sink the overall deal. The optics are terrible.”

—Richard Nephew, a former top negotiator with Iran

Iran last month launched a joint military operation with Russia in Syria aimed at stabilizing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s closest regional ally, according to Iranian and Russian officials.

Iran has also continued to ship arms and money to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who seized the country’s capital this year but are now facing an expansive counteroffensive led by Saudi Arabia, according to Arab officials.

Fears are mounting in Washington and Europe that these two conflicts could fuel a much broader regional war, in which Iran and Saudi Arabia are the chief protagonists.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The Obama administration’s ability to implement the nuclear accord amid such tumult could be compromised, said former U.S. officials involved in the Iran diplomacy.

“There’s a risk that nonnuclear issues could sink the overall deal,” said Richard Nephew, who was a top negotiator with Iran up until late 2014. “The optics are terrible.”

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“Both in its nuclear negotiations and its consideration of Americans detained in Iran, the administration has shown a dangerous naiveté regarding who it is dealing with.”

—Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Obama administration officials on Monday stressed that the July 14 agreement is solely focused on denying Iran the capability to develop an atomic weapon, and not solving these regional problems.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was closely monitoring both Iran’s missile test on Sunday and Mr. Rezaian’s legal case to decide if and how to respond. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: Iran ‘Convicts’ Hostage American Reporter In Secret Trial

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John Hayward reports: “News of a verdict in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court initially came early Sunday, but court spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei did not specify the judgment,” reports Rezaian’s paper, the Washington Post“In a state TV report late Sunday, Ejei said definitively that Rezaian was found guilty.”

“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years. It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.”

The Iranians have not specified what Rezaian is guilty of or what his sentence will be. The “trial” wrapped up two months ago. Rezaian has already been imprisoned in Iran for 14 months. He has now been held hostage longer than the Americans seized in Tehran under President Jimmy Carter, a milestone Rezaian passed over the weekend.

“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years,” the Post ominously notes. “It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.” His Iranian lawyer also appeared to be unaware of the conviction.

[Read the full text here, at Breitbart.com]

“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” said Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] BREAKING: Khamenei Threatens America in New Video, Bombs US Navy 

Ayatollah Khamenei released this threatening video six hours ago—“If Any War Happens”.

The video contains images of Iranian bombs raining down on a US battleship.
bombs us navy

Read more…

Source: The Gateway Pundit


Khamenei on The Future of Israel

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Israel will not survive the next 25 years, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday, making a series of threatening remarks published online.

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.”

In a quote posted to Twitter by Khamenei’s official account, Khamenei addresses Israel, saying, “You will not see next 25 years,” and adds that the Jewish state will be hounded until it is destroyed.

The quote comes against a backdrop of a photograph apparently showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk.

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

“Khamenei’s statements also reaffirmed his view that the US is a “Great Satan” and that there would be no detente with Washington beyond the nuclear talks.”

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” the quote from Iran’s top leader reads in broken English.

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The quote was apparently taken from a speech given earlier in the day.

The remarks came as US lawmakers began to debate supporting a recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers. Critics of the deal have pointed to fiery anti-US and anti-Zionist rhetoric as proof that the regime should not be trusted. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] John Kerry: Lawyer to the Mullahs

Secretary of State John Kerry goes to bat for Iran as he tries to sell the legitimacy of the nuclear deal.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani laughs as he speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (


Iran Bitch-Slaps Kerry’s ‘Empty Threats’

Kerry-bump-reuters-denis-bailbouse

Tehran (AFP) – Iran hit out Friday against US Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing him of threatening military action against Tehran if it fails to respect a historic nuclear deal sealed on July 14.

“Unfortunately the US Secretary of State once again talked about the rotten rope of ‘the ability of the US for using military force’,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a statement.

Zarif decried what he called the “uselessness of such empty threats against the nation of Iran and the resistance of the nation of Iran”, and said such remarks should be consigned “to the last century”.

Zarif

“Unfortunately the US Secretary of State once again talked about the rotten rope of ‘the ability of the US for using military force’.”

Despite the agreement reached with Iran on putting the nuclear bomb out of Tehran’s reach, several US officials, including Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, have signalled that military force remains on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Read the rest of this entry »


The Iran Deal in 26 Seconds: Ben Rhodes ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ ‘We Never Said That’

ben-rhodes-is-not-very-smart

 writes:

“Obama’s deal to lift sanctions on Iran and allow it to continue the purchase and production of enriched uranium is so bad that his own staff can’t even figure out how to spin for it. It’s so bad that Obama’s opponents don’t even need to craft their own arguments against it — they can just recycle the Obama administration’s arguments against the deal…”

Read more…

TheFederalist.com


Israel and Saudi Arabia Present United Front over Iran Deal

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Iran’s enemies unsettled by its deal with the West, but Bashar al-Assad of Syria says it is ‘a great victory’

 writes: The nuclear deal with Iran caused fury in Israel and consternation around the region at the likely increase in influence and resources of a newly enriched Iran.

Most telling was the loudest expression of support. “I am happy that the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved a great victory by reaching an agreement,” President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in a message to his Iranian opposite number, Hassan Rouhani.

“In the name of the Syrian people, I congratulate you and the people of Iran on this historic achievement.”

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Benjamin Netanyahu during an earlier, tense press conference (Reuters)

Israel and the Sunni Arab world have set aside old grievances to stand together against the West’s engagement with Iran.

The more strident denunciations came from Israel, which regards Iran as a direct threat. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, said the country would not be bound by what he called a “stunning historic mistake”.

“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran,” he said in a televised address hours after the conclusion of the accord. “Iran continues to seek our destruction and we will defend ourselves.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Mr Netanyahu, who had condemned the deal even before it had been announced, said its terms failed to achieve the goal of denying Iran the capacity to build a nuclear bomb while, by lifting sanctions, enabled its theocratic rulers to increase their support for groups Israel considers terrorists.

“The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly as Iran’s President Rouhani said today – the international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear programme,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


On Eve of Historic U.S.-Iran Nuclear Diplomatic Breakthrough Iran Demonstrates Good Faith, Honorable Intentions

iran-weaponsIran's President Hassan Rouhani laughs as he speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (jackasses-laughingIran's foreign minister Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference on February 8. Photo: ReutersWho's laughing now?

Read more…

The Weekly Standard


Washington Post: The U.S. Response to Iran’s Cheating is a Worrying Omen

Zarif-Salehi-Getty

If it is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise. Iran’s emergence as a threshold nuclear power, with the ability to produce a weapon quickly, will not be prevented; it will be postponed, by 10 to 15 years. In exchange, Tehran will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief it can use to revive its economy and fund the wars it is waging around the Middle East.

“Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense…”

Whether this flawed deal is sustainable will depend on a complex set of verification arrangements and provisions for restoring sanctions in the event of cheating. The schemes may or may not work; the history of the comparable nuclear accord with North Korea in the 1990s is not encouraging.

[Also see – Obama Laying Groundwork For Capitulation To Iran On Anytime/Anywhere Inspections]

The United States and its allies will have to be aggressive in countering the inevitable Iranian attempts to test the accord and willing to insist on consequences even if it means straining relations with friendly governments or imposing costs on Western companies.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

That’s why a recent controversy over Iran’s compliance with the interim accord now governing its nuclear work is troubling. The deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, but required that amounts over a specified ceiling be converted into an oxide powder that cannot easily be further enriched. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran met the requirement for the total size of its stockpile on June 30, but it did so by converting some of its enriched uranium into a different oxide form, apparently because of problems with a plant set up to carry out the powder conversion. Read the rest of this entry »


Kultur av Korruption: Clinton Foundation’s Sweden Fundraising Arm Cashed In as Stockholm Lobbied Hillary on Sanctions

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Söt kontanter: The William J. Clinton Foundation’s Swedish Entity Insamlingsstiftelse was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials

John Solomon and Kelly Riddell report: Bill Clinton’s foundation set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Times.
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“As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. Clinton’s team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was growing its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran’s rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.”

The Swedish entity, called the William J. Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse, was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials, even though one of its largest sources of donations was a Swedish government-sanctioned lottery.

[Read the full text here, at Washington Times]

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“Sweden does not support implementing tighter financial sanctions on Iran.”

— A 2009 cable alert to Mrs. Clinton’s office in Washington

As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. PANTSUIT-REPORTClinton’s team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was growing its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran’s rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.

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“Sweden does not support implementing tighter financial sanctions on Iran” and believes “more stringent financial standards could hurt Swedish exports,” one such cable from 2009 alerted Mrs. Clinton’s office in Washington…(read more)

Washington Times

 


CENSORSHIP: She’s 28. She Drew a Cartoon. Now She’s On Trial in Iran. #freeAtena

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Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani stands trial for charges that include insulting members of parliament and spreading propaganda against the system.

Mahsa Alimardani reports: First, Iran’s leaders restricted access to contraception. Then artist Atena Farghadani wrote a cartoon depicting them as animals.

“The image that led to her arrest came while Iran sought to outlaw IUDs and vasectomies, as Iran’s leaders pushed to increase the nation’s population.”

What came next for the 28-year-old artist? Arrest. Solitary confinement. A heart attack. And on Tuesday, the start of her trial on charges of spreading anti-Tehran propaganda and insulting the country’s lawmakers and supreme leader.

The image that led to her arrest came while Iran sought to outlaw IUDs and vasectomies, as Iran’s leaders pushed to increase the nation’s population.

She was initially jailed for five months in 2014 at the notorious Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by prison guards.

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“She was initially jailed for five months in 2014 at the notorious Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by prison guards.”

Three weeks after her second confinement, Atena went on a hunger strike to protest the poor prison conditions. The move led to a heart attack and a brief loss of consciousness in February, her lawyer told Amnesty International. Atena Farghadani has since been moved to another detention center and stopped her hunger strike, the human rights group reports, but advocates remain concerned about her health. Read the rest of this entry »


French Ambassador: Risk of Nuclear Arms Race Will Remain After Iran Deal

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Gerard Araud, the French ambassador the United States, says an emerging nuclear deal with Iran will impose tough restrictions on the Islamic Republic and improve regional security across the Middle East. frenchmanBut on Tuesday, Arnaud acknowledged that it could also pose a potential risk: spurring an array Arab countries to develop their own civilian nuclear programs.

“For me, that’s one of the major weak points of the agreement we are negotiating because let’s be frank: the agreement is not perfect,” Araud said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington. “It’s a compromise. Any agreement is a compromise.”

Araud, joined by his British and German counterparts, insisted that Western negotiators in Switzerland wrested the maximum amount of concessions from Iran as possible. Their joint appearance was the latest indication that a final nuclear deal with Tehran is likely to happen this summer, though perhaps not by the June 30 deadline.

“It’s very likely that we won’t have an agreement before the end of June or even (right) after,” Arnaud panic-bettysaid, citing the difficulties of fleshing out technical details and possible delaying tactics by the Iranians. “We could have a sort of fuzzy end to the negotiation,” he said.

In their remarks, the diplomats said the benefits of such an accord far outweigh the risks. But as the June 30 deadline looms for world powers to make an agreement, Araud differed with his fellow European ambassadors about the unintended consequences a final deal might produce.

Namely, Araud said that allowing Iran to maintain enough enrichment capacity for a one-year breakout time could cause Arab adversaries such as Saudi Arabia to seek a similar capability, resulting in more countries becoming nuclear threshold states. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Contact Made With Crew of Ship Detained by Iran: Sailors on Maersk Tigris in Good Condition but Confined to Cabins

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DUBAI— Asa Fitch reports: The manager of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship Iran seized in the Persian Gulf said its crew members were in good condition, but were confined by guards to their cabins and the ship’s mess area.

“They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us.”

Rickmers Shipmanagement, the Singapore-based global shipping company that operates the M/V Maersk Tigris, had brief phone contact with the crew of 24, most of whom are from Eastern Europe and Asia, said Cor Radings, Rickmers’ spokesman.

“They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us,” Mr. Radings said. He added that the company was working with “international parties and experts” to secure the ship’s release, although he declined to provide details of that effort.

“Cargo-vessel seizures are a rarity in the Gulf, through which hundreds of ships carrying oil exports travel each day.”

On Tuesday, an Iranian patrol fired warning shots over the bow of the Maersk Tigris and directed it to a rendezvous point close to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, said U.S. officials and Rickmers. Rickmers said the ship was in international waters at the time.

In response to a distress call by the Maersk Tigris, the U.S. sent a Navy destroyer Tuesday to the Strait of Hormuz, the 21-mile-wide passage through which 30% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments pass.

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“The seizure comes as conflict in Yemen has heightened tensions with Saudi Arabia, which sits on the southwestern shore of the Gulf, and Iran, which sits across from it.”

On Wednesday, the USS Farragut and three other smaller Navy ships were keeping watch on the strait and sending surveillance planes overhead, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Under agreements between the U.S. and Marshall Islands, Col. Warren said the military had a treaty obligation to protect the Maersk Tigris, but said the U.S. was pursuing diplomatic options to resolve the confrontation.

Pentagon officials said Iran’s intentions in seizing the cargo ship were unclear. Some officials said they saw the move as an effort by Tehran to demonstrate its ability to control the strait after the U.S. military moved an aircraft carrier through the region as a warning to Iran to turn back a flotilla suspected of carrying weapons bound for Tehran’s allies in Yemen. Read the rest of this entry »


Ankit Panda: What Really Happened in the Persian Gulf on April 28, 2015?

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Ankit Panda writes: A 65,000 ton, Danish-owned, Singapore-chartered, container ship, en route to the United Arab Emirates from Saudi Arabia, manned mostly by Eastern European and Asian sailors, is intercepted, boarded, and confiscated by the Iranian navy, prompting a U.S. destroyer to investigate.*

“Iran’s reasons for seizing the ship were at first unclear. Speculation abounded that the incident was a show of force intended to strike back at the United States after it sent the USS Theodore Roosevelt to intercept an Iranian arms shipment to Yemen’s Houthis last week.” 

That wasn’t an anecdote from Tom Friedman’s next book on globalization–it’s a rough description of what took place on Tuesday, April 28, in the strategically important sea lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.

“Additionally, others suggested that the seizure could have been a move by hardliners opposing Iran’s negotiations with the West over its nuclear program  –  an attempt to spark a broader crisis to derail those talks.”

Allow me to get into the details:

The shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz have long been highlighted as a potential flashpoint amid the simmering geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran. Its waters are of particular geostrategic significance given that over a third of the world’s petroleum traded by sea passes through the region. Iran has repeatedly emphasized its dominance over the waters, threatening to blockade the strait in a time of crisis. Today, we saw an acute manifestation of Iran’s audacity when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) seized and escorted the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Maersk Tigris, a shipping vessel belonging to Denmark’s A.P. Moller–Maersk Group and chartered by Singapore-based Rickmers Shipmanagement, toward the Iranian port at Bandar Abbas.

[Read the full text here, at The Diplomat]

The incident sparked a response by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which ordered the USS Farragut, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that was 60 miles from the point of the Tigris’ interception, to respond to the vessel’s distress signal. The incident took place as Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif led a delegation to New York City for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference at the United Nations, meeting with Western diplomats on the sidelines to discuss the ongoing P5+1 talks over his country’s nuclear program.

Map depicting the MV Maersk Tigris’ original path toward the UAE and diversion after being intercepted by the IRGCN. (Source: marinetraffic.com)

Map depicting the MV Maersk Tigris’ original path toward the UAE and diversion after being intercepted by the IRGCN. (Source: marinetraffic.com)

Saudi Arabia-backed, UAE-based Al Arabiya was among the first sources to break the news in English. It reported that Iran had fired warning shots (true) and seized a U.S.-flagged vessel (false). Nevertheless, the initial reports sparked considerable online panic at the prospect that the United States and Iran could be headed for a major confrontation. The report also noted that the crew of the ship numbered 34 and were American. Needless to say, U.S. citizens being held against their will by Iran hits a raw nerve for the United States given certain historical events. We’ve since learned, thanks to Reuters, that the Tigris’ has a crew of 24, most of whom hail “from Eastern Europe and Asia.”  Read the rest of this entry »


Despite Campaign Pledge, Obama Won’t Call 1915 Killings of Armenians ‘Genocide’

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John Hudson writes: Putting geopolitics above a longtime campaign promise, President Barack Obama will refrain from using the word “genocide” to describe the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. The decision came after a senior delegation of Turkish diplomats traveled to Washington to meet with White House officials and three days before the 100th anniversary of the mass killings.

“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace. It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust.”

— Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America

U.S. officials speaking to Foreign Policy said the White House had contemplated recognizing the genocide and alerted State Department officials who deal with Turkey to prepare for the potential diplomatic blowback.

“The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide.”

— Senator Barack Obama

In the end, though, the White House decided against using the term. Administration officials relayed the decision to a group of Armenian-American leaders Tuesday afternoon, prompting an immediate backlash from those who have spent decades trying to get Washington to recognize what many historians describe as the first genocide of the 20th century.

“Is this the time to kick Turkey in the balls given everything that’s going on in the region?”

— Former congressional aide with years of experience working with Washington’s highly active Armenian lobby

“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace,” Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in a statement. “It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust.”

Many officials at the State Department opposed the decision for fear of losing Turkey’s cooperation on a host of key issues, most notably the war against the Islamic State militant group, which has seized control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Turkey hosts a training camp for anti-ISIS fighters and owns an air base the United States wants more access to.

“Is this the time to kick Turkey in the balls given everything that’s going on in the region?” said a former congressional aide with years of experience working with Washington’s highly active Armenian lobby.

To date, no sitting U.S. president has ever verbalized the word “genocide” when referring to the atrocities committed against Armenians in the early years of World War I. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan issued a written proclamation about the “genocide of the Armenians,” but subsequent diplomatic headaches prompted his administration to reverse course and drop all explicit references to that term. Read the rest of this entry »


Latin America Silent on Venezuela as U.S. Airs Rights Concerns

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PANAMA CITY (AP) — Joshua Goodman and Peter Orsi report: From Mexico to Brazil, leaders in Latin America have largely kept silent amid charges of human rights abuses in Venezuela and are unlikely to speak out against their neighbor at this week’s Summit of the Americas.

“The Obama administration last month froze the U.S. assets and revoked visas for seven senior officials accused of human rights violations related to protests last year against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.”

Many Latin American heads of state gathering in Panama City are bound to oil-rich Venezuela by business dealings if not ideology, and are put off by recent U.S. sanctions against some of the country’s officials. Others do not want to be seen as doing Washington’s bidding, particularly as they face protests and plunging approval ratings at home.

“The unrest is blamed for more than 40 deaths and triggered a crackdown on criticism that led to the jailing of several opposition leaders, including February’s surprise arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.”

“Venezuela has successfully played the history of U.S. imperialism and U.S. heavy-handedness cards, in a way that has made people want to back away from public criticism,” said Geoff Thale, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Venezuela Regional Silence

“It was no surprise that leftist allies such as the governments of Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua would leap to defend Caracas. All have a history of vocal opposition to Washington. But even more moderate governments and traditional U.S. allies in the region have been reluctant to criticize Maduro.”

The Obama administration last month froze the U.S. assets and revoked visas for seven senior officials accused of human rights violations related to protests last year against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government. The unrest is blamed for more than 40 deaths and triggered a crackdown on criticism that led to the jailing of several opposition leaders, including February’s surprise arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.

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Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups issued a statement on Tuesday asking the countries attending the summit to call Maduro’s administration to task for its alleged harassment of rights defenders.

But rather than highlight alleged abuses, the U.S. sanctions have drawn widespread condemnation in Latin America, denying Obama a hoped-for diplomatic victory lap at the summit for his decision to restore ties with Cold War nemesis Cuba. A reference to Venezuela as a threat to U.S. national security included in the sanctions declaration is standard bureaucratic language for the United States, but disturbing to a region with a long history of U.S. interference, from support for past military regimes to efforts to topple leftist governments.

Deputy National Security adviser Benjamin Rhodes argued Tuesday during a White House press briefing on Obama’s upcoming visit that the language in the executive order was the same typically used by the U.S. when it levies sanctions around the world. Read the rest of this entry »


John Kerry Emerges from Historic Iran Negotiations Victorious


Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz: Iran’s Negotiating Triumph Over Obama and America

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The U.S. is surrendering control of verification to the United Nations, where our influence is weak

Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz write: President Obama believes that the nuclear “framework” concluded Friday in Switzerland is a historic achievement. Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, says he believes the same. Those two positions are incompatible.

“The American, French and Israeli governments have compiled fat files on the clerical regime’s nuclear-weapons drive. No one who has read this material can possibly believe Iranian assertions about the nuclear program’s peaceful birth and intent.”

Mr. Zarif is also a loyal servant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,who believes that the West, in particular the U.S., and Iran are locked in a “collision of evil and evil ways on one side and the path of…religious obedience and devotion on the other,” as he said in July 2014.

“The inspections regime in Iran envisioned by the Obama administration will not even come close to the intrusiveness of the failed inspections in Iraq.”

The supreme leader says the Islamic Republic has a divine calling to lead Muslims away from the West and its cultural sedition. The Obama administration has never adequately explained why Mr. Zarif’s relentlessly ideological boss would sell out a three-decade effort to develop nuclear weapons.

“Worse, once sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars of Iranian trade starts to flow again to European and Asian companies, the U.S. likely will be dealing with a U.N. even more politically divided, and more incapable of action, than in the days of Saddam and the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.”

The defensive and offensive strategies of the Islamic Republic, given the chronic weakness of its conventional military, ultimately make sense only if nuclear weapons are added to the mix. The American, French and Israeli governments have compiled fat files on the clerical regime’s nuclear-weapons drive. No one who has read this material can possibly believe Iranian assertions about the nuclear program’s peaceful birth and intent. The history of this effort has involved North Korean levels of dishonesty, with clandestine plants, factories and procurement networks that successfully import highly sensitive nuclear equipment, even from the U.S.

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A White House less desperate to make a deal would consider how easily nuclear agreements with bad actors are circumvented. Charles Duelfer has written a trenchant account in Politico of how Saddam Hussein tied the United Nations Security Council and its nuclear inspectors into knots in the 1990s, rendering them incapable of ascertaining the truth about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Read the rest of this entry »


France Foreign Minister: U.S. Surrendered to Iran’s Last Minute Demands at Nuke Talks

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Jordan Schachtel reports: The French delegation in Switzerland felt the outline for a nuclear deal with Iran was “not solid enough,” and wanted to improve upon the deal before signing off on the accord, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Friday.

“Iranian delegation threatened at the last minute to leave the talks entirely, which persuaded the American delegation to capitulate to the demands of the Ayatollah’s regime.”

However, the Iranian delegation threatened at the last minute to leave the talks entirely, which persuaded the American delegation to capitulate to the demands of the Ayatollah’s regime, Fabius revealed. The French Foreign Minister said he wanted a strong, comprehensive deal that dissuades “other countries in the Gulf such as Saudi Arabia from embarking on nuclear proliferation.”

“Iranian negotiators said that they would not dismantle any nuclear sites, nor would they destroy their centrifuges, and they certainly would not shut down their heavy-water reactor and underground sites, senior U.S. officials said of Iran’s positioning in the talks.”

Fabius’s remarks add evidence to Friday’s Wall Street Journal report that the delegation led by Secretary of State John Kerry continually conceded to the demand’s of the Iranian regime throughout the course of the talks. What started in September of 2013 as a chance to dismantle a vast swath of Iran’s nuclear program, turned into America making major concessions as the agreement was finalized, the Wall Street Journal explained. Read the rest of this entry »


Derby Murdock: Iran’s Tentacles of Destruction Dim Confidence in a Nuclear-Arms Deal

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Terrorists You Can Trust

Deroy Murdock writes: ‘Death to America,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei told a screaming crowd in Tehran Saturday. “The politics of America is to create insecurity.”

“Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse.”

With U.S.-Iranian atomic-bomb talks in full swing, Khamenei’s crack was not exactly what diplomats call a confidence-building measure. Of course, Khamenei offered no olive branch. Realizing that Obama is desperate for any deal to burnish his leaden legacy — even one so flimsy that White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough admits it’s “a non-binding agreement” — Khamenei can say whatever he wants.

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Obama will keep begging the mullahs to sign a piece of paper that he will probably slip past Congress and send to the United Nations for approval — the Constitution be damned.

Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse. Read the rest of this entry »


Iranian Defector: ‘The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf’

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Pro-Hassan Rouhani Iranian editor defects while covering nuclear talks in Lausanne

Ahmed Vahdat and Richard Spencer report: A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.

Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA).

“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations. But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.”

“The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more.”

He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any “sense” in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told.
“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he told Irane Farda television. “But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.
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Jason Rezalan

“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more.” Mr Mottaghi was a journalist and commentator who went on to use social media successfully to promote Mr Rouhani to a youthful audience that overwhelmingly elected him to power. Read the rest of this entry »

DEATH TO AMERICA

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Obama doesn’t take the Iranian chant seriously. He should.

Mona Charen writes: Maybe I’m too sensitive, but when a foreign autocrat leads his people in chants of “Death to America,” I take it personally.

President Obama and Secretary Kerry apparently don’t. The chant, which became a staple of the Islamic Republic during the 1979 revolution, is not a relic of the past. Just last weekend, at a rally in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was interrupted by the chant as he was denouncing American “lies” and “arrogance.” He smiled and responded, “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.”

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[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Some in Iran have said that during negotiations over a nuclear deal, Iranians should downplay the “Death to America” chant, common after Friday prayers and at political rallies. But the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) rejects this advice, insisting, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, that the United States “is still the great Satan and the number-one enemy of the [Islamic] revolution, and the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation.”

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[RELATED: Terrorists You Can Trust]

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark,) responded bluntly: “When someone chants, ‘Yes, certainly, death to America,’ we should take him at his word, and we shouldn’t put him on the path to a nuclear bomb.”

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We are left to wonder at the equanimity high-ranking members of this administration show toward the unyielding hostility of the Iranian regime. Read the rest of this entry »


A Reminder from Alan Dershowitz: President is not Commander in Chief of Foreign Policy

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

To be sure, when politicians call our president the ‘Commander-in-Chief,’ they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power

images Alan M. Dershowitz writes: Politicians should stop referring to the President of the United States as “the Commander-in-Chief,” as he is often referred to. Most recently, Hillary Clinton, whom I admire, said the following about Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran:

“Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the Commander-in-Chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy.”

But the president is not the Commander-in-Chief for purposes of diplomatic negotiations. This characterization mistakenly implies that President Obama — or any president — is our Commander, and that his decisions should receive special deference. This is a misreading of our constitution, which creates a presidency that is subject to the checks and balances of co-equal branches of the government. The president is only the commander in chief of “the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.” This provision was intended to assure civilian control over the military and to serve as a check on military power.

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“As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law.”

The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.

This important limitation on the president’s power is highly relevant to the current debate about Congress having the authority to check the president’s decision to make the deal that is currently being negotiated with Iran. The Constitution is clear about this. The President is not the Commander-in-Chief of our nation’s foreign policy. When he is involved in “high-stakes international diplomacy,” his involvement is not as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, but rather as negotiator-in-chief, whose negotiations are subject to the checks and balances of the other branches.

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“Our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.”

As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law. Were he the “Commander-in-Chief” of our country — as Putin is of Russia or as Ali Khamenei is of Iran — he could simply command that all of these things be done. But our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.

“The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.”

To be sure, when politicians call our president the “Commander-in-Chief,” they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power. Military metaphors are as inappropriate in a democracy as is martial law, which does empower the executive to act as the commander of all people, but only in cases of extreme emergency. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dr. Charles Krauthammer: Mr. President: Republicans Don’t Oppose Diplomacy, They Oppose Your Bad Deal

From The Corner:

President Obama claims that Republicans are not interested in “a diplomatic resolution” to America’s long-standing conflict with Iran. “This is the president’s mendacity continuing to a degree that is really quite remarkable,” says Charles Krauthammer.

“‘There are people on both sides and beyond’ — so he means Republicans at home and Israelis – ‘who are against a diplomatic resolution. That’s a lie

“‘There are people on both sides and beyond’ — so he means Republicans at home and Israelis – ‘who are against a diplomatic resolution,’” said Krauthammer on Friday’s Special Report, quoting the president’s comments in a video message in honor of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, released Friday. “That’s a lie.

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“They are against THIS diplomatic resolution…”

They are against this diplomatic resolution, the deal he is doing that any observer will tell you paves the road to an Iranian nuclear weapon that is legitimate and accepted by the international community. It is a disaster. That’s why it is opposed. People aren’t opposed to diplomacy; they are opposed to a specific deal.”

“…the deal he is doing that any observer will tell you paves the road to an Iranian nuclear weapon that is legitimate and accepted by the international community. It is a disaster. That’s why it is opposed. People aren’t opposed to diplomacy; they are opposed to a specific deal.”

“This is a president who I think is making an overture essentially saying Iran should be our ally in the region,” Krauthammer continued….(read more) Read the rest of this entry »


President of Iran Questions Obama Citizenship; Halts Nuclear Talks

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 reports: Nuclear negotiations came to a halt Friday as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, demanded to see President Obama’s long-form birth certificate before continuing discussions. Khamenei’s decision came after a letter sent by 47 Senate Republicans revealed that any deal signed with the President would be null and void because of a law requiring that he be born in the United States.

 “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, demanded to see President Obama’s long-form birth certificate before continuing discussions.”

The letter, signed by the entire Republican leadership, expressed concern that Khamenei may trust Obama simply because they are both Arabs.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations that you may not fully understand our government, specifically Article 2, Section 1 of the Declaration of Independence,” the Senators explained in the letter. “It states that the president must be born in the United States and not in a foreign country such as Kenya, Indonesia or Hawaii. Since Barak Hussein Obama is not the real president, there’s no point in negotiating with him.”

Since Barak Hussein Obama is not the real president, there’s no point in negotiating with him.”

Khamenei, who ignored a previous correspondence from the Senators saying a deal must be approved by Congress, admitted his faith was shaken by the latest letter. After hearing about a statement from Obama’s paternal grandmother saying the president was born in Kenya, the supreme leader decided it would be imprudent to continue with the negotiations.

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“On the positive side, Khamenei noted that he was pleased to learn that Obama is secretly a devout Muslim.”

“While my concerns were temporarily alleviated when I found a copy of the long-form birth certificate online, I was dismayed to read a Drudge Report article revealing it to be a forgery,” Khamenei explained. “I then contacted a prominent U.S. businessman, real estate mogul Donald Trump, who told me his investigators had made shocking discoveries about Obama’s country of birth.” Read the rest of this entry »


Representing the 1%: Michelle Obama Celebrates Iranian Holiday at White House

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John Nolte writes: Why did God invent New Media? Because when the First Lady of the United States appeases a lunatic Islamic regime like Iran, the mainstream media is going to cover that fact up. The fact here is that Wednesday at the White House the First Lady celebrated Nowruz, which White House Dossier describes as the “Iranian festival of spring that marks the beginning of the Persian new year.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with honoring the many events celebrated within this magnificent e pluribus unum melting pot of ours. The problem is that this is not about honoring a group of people who make up less than 1% of our population. When the Obama White House celebrates the Amish holiday of “Old Christmas” be sure to fire me up a flare.

That spectacle wasn’t about anything other than kissing up to the women-oppressing, homosexual-murdering Islamic theocrats in Iran who have only three goals: 1) Get a nuclear weapon. 2) Use that weapon to wipe out Israel. 3) Jump into a pile of 72 virgins. Read the rest of this entry »


Iran’s Leading Film Critic Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Reviews ‘American Sniper

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Nasser Karimi reports: Iran’s supreme leader has criticized the film “American Sniper,” saying the movie about a U.S. soldier fighting in Iraq encourages violence against Muslims, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.

The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published in the daily IRAN Farsi newspaper, come amid renewed criticism of the West by the leader as his country negotiates with world powers over its contested nuclear program.

“The movie ‘Sniper’ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could…You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S.”

— Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying he hadn’t watched the film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, but had heard about its plot from others. The film focuses on the life of U.S. Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, who with 160 confirmed kills is considered the most lethal sniper in American military history.

“The movie ‘Sniper‘ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could,” the newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying.

Khamenei also reportedly discussed neo-Nazis attacking Muslims in Germany, saying Muslims have no safety in the West.

“You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S.,” he reportedly said.

The newspaper said Khamenei made the comments while meeting representatives of Iranian religious minorities in the country’s parliament three weeks ago. The newspaper did not explain why it was publishing the comments now. Read the rest of this entry »


Senate Threatens New Sanctions Ahead of ‘Weak and Dangerous’ Deal with Iran

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VIENNA—  reports: The U.S. Senate is warning the Obama administration that it is poised to veto a final nuclear deal with the Iranians and impose harsher sanctions on Tehran, according to a letter sent late Wednesday to President Obama.

Nearly half of the Senate has signed onto a letter promising to reject a “weak and dangerous deal” with Iran as final negotiations in Vienna approach their Nov. 24 deadline.

“Your negotiators appear to have disregarded clear expressions from the Senate emphasizing the need for a multi-decade agreements requiring Iran to fully suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities, to dismantle its illicit nuclear infrastructure, and completely disclose its past work on nuclear weaponization.”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) authored the letter.

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The senators warn that the Obama administration is close to inking a deal that will permit Iran to continue the most controversial aspects of its nuclear program and enable Tehran to build a nuclear weapon in the near future, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and signed by all 43 Republican senators who backed the Mendendez-Kirk sanctions legislation killed earlier this year by the White House.

“We will continue to seek to impose additional pressure on Iran in the months ahead unless Tehran abandons its nuclear ambitions and pursues a genuinely constructive path in its relations with the world.”

The letter was sent to the White House on the heels of forceful comments Wednesday by Iranian leaders insisting that the United States must bow to the country’s “inalienable nuclear rights.”

The senators lash out at Obama for completely ignoring congressional efforts to provide oversight of the deal. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: Explosion in Iranian Nuclear Facility

- PHOTO TAKEN 28FEB04 - Satellite image shows the nuclear facility at Bushehr, Iran, on February 28,..

Two people died in an explosion that ripped through an explosive material production unit at a nuclear facility near Tehran, according to Iranian press reports on Monday.

“The glare from the blast could also be seen from a great distance.”

The incident occurred at the Parchin military compound, not far from the Iranian capital, according to the Iranian Students News Agency.

The BBC said on Monday that a pro-opposition website was also reporting an explosion at the site.

The BBC cited the pro-reform website Sahamnews as saying that the explosion on Sunday evening was “so intense that windows of buildings 15 km (nine miles) away were shattered.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Iran Still on Track for 2015 ICBM Flight Test


Dr. Phyllis Chesler: Women and Children Bear the Brunt of Iran’s Grim Public Executions

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For Breitbart.com writes: They rape and torture women in Iran: First, at home, as a family matter; then in prison, as a state matter.

“Today, the women are garbed in fierce black. They scowl. They are forced to wear chadors while on bicycles and in swimming pools…”

They publicly execute women for daring to kill their attackers in self-defense. It is public in order to terrify and sicken others, shame them, make them know that they are really, truly helpless, have them understand that when the authorities come for them, no one will intervene on their behalf. A public execution is a fine way to keep a civilian population permanently cowed.

“And yet: The Iranian women I have met who live in exile are exceptionally feisty and fierce for freedom. “

And yet, there are things that will not allow one to go on, brutalities on a daily basis that are, perhaps, even more sickening than a public execution.

Rayhana  Jabbari has been sentenced to hang for the crime of killing the man who was attempting to rape her. She has already been in jail for seven years. Even the United Nations has called for a “fair trial.”  Her execution was postponed but she remains in danger of being hung at any moment.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Sound and the Fury — and the Tweet

Video: Protesters spoke out at the Nigerian embassy in Washington, D.C. to express their disappointment in the Nigerian government after an extremist group kidnapped nearly 300 girls on April 15th

For The Washington PostCharles Krauthammer writes: Mass schoolgirl kidnapping in Nigeria — to tweet or not to tweet? Is hashtagging one’s indignation about some outrage abroad an exercise in moral narcissism or a worthy new way of standing up to bad guys?John Shinkle/POLITICO

“As always, however, we tend to romanticize the power of the tweet…”

The answer seems rather simple. It depends on whether you have the power to do something about the outrage in question. If you do, as in the case of the Obama administration watching Russia’s slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine, it’s simply embarrassing when the State Department spokeswoman tweets the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine.

“…Try it at Tahrir or Tiananmen, in Damascus or Tehran. They will shoot and torture you, then maybe even let you keep your precious smartphone.”

That is nothing but preening, a visual recapitulation of her boss’s rhetorical fatuousness when he sternly warns that if the rape of this U.S. friend continues, we are prepared to consider standing together with the “international community” to decry such indecorous behavior — or some such.

[Read more: Will: I Can’t Believe Adults Use Hashtag Foreign Policy, ‘An Exercise in Self-Esteem’]

When a superpower, with multiple means at its disposal, reverts to rhetorical emptiness and hashtag activism, it has betrayed both its impotence and indifference. But if you’re an individual citizen without power, if you lack access to media, drones or special forces, then hashtagging your solidarity with the aggrieved is a fine gesture and perhaps even more. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obama Reluctantly Signs Bill Blocking Iranian U.N. Envoy from Entry, Asserts Authority to Ignore Law if He Feels Like It

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For Hot AirEd Morrissey writes: Yesterday, Ted Cruz had his first authored bill get signed into law, but the freshman Senator from Texas probably didn’t too excited by the victory. Despite unanimous support in both chambers of Congress for the new law, President Barack Obama sounded less than enthusiastic about enforcing the bill he signed yesterday that would block the proposed Iranian envoy to the UN from receiving an entry visa to the US:

Obama-Obamacare-SignatureIt’s the oddest of legislative couples: President Obama and one of his biggest critics, Ted Cruz.

Obama on Friday signed a Cruz-backed bill aimed at blocking Iran’s appointed ambassador to the United Nations because of evidence linking him to the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran.

Technically, the law bars individuals from entering the U.S. as U.N. ambassadors if they are “found to have been engaged in espionage or terrorist activity directed against the United States or its allies.”

In reality, the bill targets a specific Iranian individual: Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been refused a visa by the administration.

A news report from inside the Islamic world

Iran is “outraged” over the decision:

Read the rest of this entry »


Bill to Deny U.S. Entry for 1979 Hostage-Taker Hamid Aboutalebi Passes Senate

Hamid Aboutalebi

Aboutalebi was a member of the student group that led the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

According to the Washington Post, this news story isn’t about Hamid Aboutalebi, it’s about Senator Ted Cruz. Aboutalebi’s name doesn’t appear in the body copy until the end of the second paragraphCruz’s name is in the first paragraph. Ted Cruz’s name appear as the first words in (the Washington Post‘s version of) the headline. Aboutalebi isn’t mentioned in the headline.

That said, I’m impressed that it takes a whole 23 words before this Washington Post news story turns into a stealth Op-Ed. Note in the story’s opening paragraph this morsel of sarcastic editorializing: “rare legislative victory for its lead sponsor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)”.

Does any literate person in America really have any uncertainty about which political party Cruz belongs to, or what state he represents? Does anyone outside Washington D.C. keep Senatorial legislative record scorecards? Just asking. Even the choice of the photo (of Cruz) and its tag (see below) are a form of editorializing. I replaced the photo with what should normally be the subject of the article, Iran’s U.N. Envoy Hamid Aboutalebi. But hey, that’s just me, why bury the lede?

For the Washington Post and  report: A measure that would bar Iran’s recently appointed ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States easily passed the Senate on Monday, delivering a rare legislative victory for its lead sponsor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

Cruz…

(this is where The Post felt compelled to add “a first-term senator who is considering a run for president in 2016”. Seriously?The Washington Post wants to remind you, not of the bill being sponsored, or why it’s being sponsored, but of their view of the career aspirations of the Texas Senator sponsoring it. Got the message yet?)  

…has spent the last several days railing against Iran’s appointment of Hamid Aboutalebi (Finally! They can say his name. Bravo, Washington Post!) as its new top envoy to the United Nations in New York.

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Note: the unaltered photo above, by Scott Applewhite, included in its metadata this file description, “2016_Presidential_Checklist_Cruz“. How’s that for a revealing bit of inside commentary by the Washington Post? If you’re in D.C., and you’re hip, you know Cruz ‘s motive for sponsoring this bill has nothing to do with Iran, U.S. foreign policy, or the U.N. He’s posturing, folks, it’s just an item on his “presidential checklist”.

Aboutalebi was a member of the student group that led the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. He has acknowledged that he worked with the organization that took over the embassy, but has played down his role in the crisis.

“It is unconscionable that in the name of international diplomatic protocol the United States would be forced to host a foreign national who showed a brutal disregard of the status of diplomats when they were stationed in his country. This person is an acknowledged terrorist.”

— Senator Ted Cruz

Aboutalebi’s appointment by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been criticized by the Obama administration, which called the nomination “extremely troubling.” In recent months, Aboutalebi’s visa application to enter the United States as a diplomat has been stalled. As host nation of the United Nations’ headquarters, the United States generally admits the chosen representatives of U.N. members, with limited exceptions.

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