President Rouhani: "Bending to US’ Will Equals End of Our Dignity"
Crimes of MKO: 1981 Iranian Prime Minister's Office Bombing
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani highlighted today that constructive interaction with the world has always been the basis of Iran’s foreign policy.
He made the remarks in a joint business forum of Iran and Switzerland on Tuesday in Bern, with Swiss President Alain Berset in attendance.
Touching upon climate change, lack of raw material, and insecurities in different regions of the world, Rouhani highlighted that the best solution for promoting the interest of nations is that they establish close relations with each other... In today’s world, unilateralism does not work in political, security and economic fields, he noted.
The president stressed that Iran attaches great weight to its relations with the European Union and Switzerland, adding, "the outlook of Tehran-Bern relations, with regard to Iran's capabilities and Switzerland's scientific, technological and peace-loving place, is very bright."
"Holding of this meeting in such an important point in time has a great message and means that Iran and Switzerland are determined to continue their friendly economic and business ties with each other within the framework of international laws,” he added.
Iran hasn't taken any steps against any country, said Rouhani adding, "some are seeking to spread their illegal actions to other parts of the world; our responsibility is to cooperate within the framework of international laws, peace and interests of nations.”
"During the nuclear negotiations and after the deal was struck, we proved well that we will stay committed to our obligations,” he highlighted, adding, "we announce this to the world that Iran is committed to international rules...”
"We announce this to the world that Iran wants fair, legal, peaceful and stable relations with the world and will play its role well in this regard,” the Iranian president emphasized. [...]
"Geopolitically speaking, Iran is a remarkable country in the world and possesses the biggest gas resources of the world and has one of the biggest oil resources. With regard to its position, Iran can link Central Asia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe to Oman Sea, Indian Ocean and Asia," added the President.
Stressing that Iran possesses the most educated people in engineering fields, he added, "throughout the history, Iran has contributed a lot to science and knowledge of the world.”
"Today, Iran has 4 million university students and over 13 million students studying in schools and also, inexpensive energy resources, educated young work force, well-known universities and special geographical position.”
The five foreign ministers, minus US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of the countries signatory to the 2015 Iran deal on curbing its civilian nuclear enrichment program, will meet in Vienna on Friday to explore ways of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action after the treaty was violated by the Trump administration.
The JCPOA was signed by Britain, France, Russia, and China on the UN Security Council plus Germany as an informal representative of the European Union.
Trump is attempting to sabotage the deal, which placed severe restrictions on Iran’s enrichment activities in return for an end of UNSC sanctions. The deal implied that US sanctions would be lifted or lightened, as well, but that never happened because of the hostility of the Republican Congress to the deal.
Trump is ordering the US Department of the Treasury to slap third party sanctions on non-US firms who do business with Iran.
Companies like Total, S.A., the French oil giant, who do business with the US, cannot afford to buck the Treasury Department and so are pulling out of planned Iran investments.
Smaller European firms that do not do business with the US and who can use Euros or some other currency and go through non-US banks could conceivably go on doing business with Iran with no exposure to the wrath of the enormously powerful Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control.
China’s gas giant Sinopec has said it will defy US sanctions, as has the Turkish foreign ministry, and Russian officials and concerns also reject Trump’s bullying.
While the Indian government has warned the country’s corporations to be ready for anything, New Delhi will make a stand for economic independence of the US and plans to buy Iranian oil with rupees. The US Treasury Department only has authority over dollar exchanges, and over banks that have branches in the US or do business with the US.
Although Emmanuel Macron in France has said his government is committed to finding ways to protect French trade with and investment in Iran from Trump, few dispassionate observers think he is likely to succeed in that quest, with regard to the larger French firms. At most, small business might be sheltered.
Baghdadi’s son killed by Syrian Army, Russians in Homs
The Islamic State affiliate “Jaysh Khaled bin Walid” released a promotional video evening that showcased their forces in the southwestern corridor of the Daraa Governorate.
In this video dozens of Islamic State vehicles were filmed traveling down an unknown road in southwest Syria, while their other fighters ready themselves for an upcoming battle against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The Islamic State launched its first attack against the Syrian Arab Army in the Daraa Governorate town of Sheikh Miskeen on Tuesday. As a result of this attack, the Syrian Army and National Defense Forces (NDF) sustained several casualties in their ranks.
Jaysh Khaled bin Walid’s attack against the Syrian Army comes just a week after the Syrian and Russian air forces launched several airstrikes on their positions near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region.
The Syrian Army and Jaysh Khaled bin Walid have barely clashed during this seven year long war because the aforementioned terrorist group has been confined to a large pocket within the rebel-held areas of the Daraa and Al-Quneira governorates.
However, since the rebels agreed to handover Da’el, ‘Ibtaa and Tafas, the Syrian Army has reached the terrorist group’s front-lines in the Daraa Governorate
Jaysh Khalid bin-Walid, also known as the Khalid ibn-Walid Army, is a Salafi-jihadi extremist group active in the Daraa governorate in southern Syria and the area where the Israeli, Syrian, and Jordanian borders meet. The group formed in May 2016 after the merger of the Islamist groups Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade), Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (Islamic Muthanna Movement), and Jaysh al-Jihad (Army of Jihad). These groups were closely aligned with ISIS and helped maintain its presence in southwestern Syria
The faction controls villages and towns around the Yarmouk basin, west of the Daraa countryside, near the western triangular border intercept between the Golan, Jordan, and Syria.
Twenty-seven neighborhoods in Syria’s Southern de-escalation zone have come over to the government side over the past week, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria (subordinated to the Russian defense minister) said on Tuesday.
"Thanks to negotiations held by officers of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, as many as 27 settlements in the Southern de-escalation zone in the provinces of al-Quneitra, al-Suwayda and Daraa voluntarily joined the ceasefire and came over to the Syrian government’s side throughout the past week," he said.
According to the spokesman, efforts are being taken in these settlements to prepare for restoration works at infrastructure facilities and begin deliveries of humanitarian assistance.
"Special attention is paid to efforts to create conditions to accommodate refugees returning from territories in the Southern de-escalation zone that are still controlled by terrorist groups, as well as from other Syrian regions and neighboring countries," the spokesman noted.
On June 18, Syrian government troops launched an operation against the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed opposition groups affiliated with it to regain government control of the southern province of Daraa.
Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ will fail.
Palestinians will not exchange their 70-year long struggle for freedom for Jared Kushner’s cash; nor will Israel accept even if there is a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank.
The order of that anticipated failure is likely to go something like this: the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah is likely to reject the deal once the full details of the US administration’s plan are revealed; Israel is likely to withhold its decision till Palestinians rejection is exploited thoroughly by pro-Israel US media.
The reality is that considering the massive surge of the Right and ultra-nationalist forces in Israel, an independent Palestinian state even on one percent of historic Palestine will not be acceptable by Israel’s current political standards...
It is Bill Clinton’s Camp David II and George W. Bush’s ‘Road Map for Peace’ all over again.
Both initiatives, as unfair as they were to Palestinians, were never accepted by Israel in the first place, yet in many history books, it is written that the ungrateful Palestinian leadership had torpedoed US-Israeli peace efforts. Netanyahu is keen on maintaining this misconception.
Flashback 2000/2: Prime Minister Ehud Barak having barely survived the second no-confidence motion in the Knesset (parliament) came to Washington for the Camp David summit. Before leaving for Washington he said: “I am not going alone” to the States. With me is still all the wide public of Israel, citizens who hope a modern Israel can be built on peace and security, a country that is ending 30 years of ruling another people.”
It is simply a demographic problem -- the mere existence of the Palestinians is "a threat to the existence of the 'Jewish State'".
Before assuming his role as President, Trump spoke early on of his ‘ultimate deal’ in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on November 1, 2016. He offered no details, aside from the claim that he is able “to do … the deal that cannot be made … for humanity’s sake’.
Since then, we have relied on occasional leaks, starting in November 2017, up to recently. We learned that a demilitarized Palestinian state would be established on a small part of the West Bank, without Occupied East Jerusalem as its capital; that Israel will keep all of Jerusalem and will annex illegal Jewish settlements and even keep control of the Jordan Valley, and so on.
Palestinians will still have a ‘Jerusalem’, albeit an invented one, where the neighborhood of Abu Dis will simply be called Jerusalem.
Despite the hype, nothing is truly new here. The ‘deal of the century’ promises to be a rehash of previous American proposals that catered to Israel’s needs and interests.
Remarks by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in an interview with the Palestinian newspaper ‘Al-Quds’, corroborate this view. He claimed that the Palestinian people are “less invested in the politician’s talking points than they are in seeking how a deal will give them and their future generations new opportunities, more and better-paying jobs.”
Where did we hear this before? Oh, yes, Netanyahu’s so-called ‘economic peace’ which he has been peddling for over a decade.
Certainly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has proven that its political will is a commodity to be bought and sold, but to expect the Palestinian people to follow suit is an illusion...
Ours is a young society from what government statistics keep telling us. The population swing is in favor of the youth who make up a sizeable majority of the population.
At a recent gathering, the issue of freethinking among our youth came up. Some parents were bemoaning the trend of robot-like behavior in the speech and thought processes of their young. And they were worried that so much of this behavior seemed to be negative.
Our society has undergone so much transformation in the past three decades, some for the better and some for the worse, and now it looks to its youth with questions. Where did we go wrong?
As parents, the bulk of responsibility for the behavior of our youth must rest squarely on our shoulders. No government laws or Shoura Council legislature can be designed to enforce the kind of upbringing that breeds positive results alone. Parents play a major role in this evolving struggle.
And parents are often at fault.
One thing that children need to be taught is that they have the right to ask questions about why something is being done.
Apart from neglect or preoccupation in other matters, here too parents have failed their children. It may be expedient to blame the educational system for such faults. And, yes, there are a number of faults there that need to be examined and questioned. In recent times though, there have been substantial efforts to reengineer the educational approach.
But such trends often begin at home. It starts with not encouraging a freethinking spirit in children. A total submission to authority is drummed into them from their childhood; a submission that may be right or wrong.
While respect for elders and the learned is a good thing, it should not be cast in concrete. This is because elders, like our youth, can be misguided. They can have undefined agendas that may not translate into a positive source of inspiration.
Perhaps parents have allowed others to do the thinking for them and are victims in this dilemma themselves. However, to deny their children the right to question, the right to ask why, the right to challenge what they perceive as wrong will not yield changes for the better.
Let us not suppress young minds with holier-than-thou lectures, or with sermons from when time began. Let us deal with them in real time and discuss real issues with them.
Let us educate them to live as citizens of this planet, to go beyond our borders, to seek knowledge wherever it may be, and to accept that as Earth’s citizens, we are not all the same, and that no one is to be blindly judged as better than anyone else. And finally, that the differences between us and the other people of this world are not life threatening.
A freethinking society does not start from nowhere. Authoritarian rules in the upbringing of children have no place at home.
Mansour Gholami, the Iranian science minister, has said the country is promoting the third-generation universities, meaning entrepreneurship centers which transform science into technology and wealth. Gholami made the remarks in an interview with the Tehran Times on Sunday.
In most Iranian universities, we have already adopted an approach toward turning them into third generation university, he said.
The manifestation of this decision is the establishment of knowledge-based centers and science parks at the academic centers during recent years, he explained.
Iran is taking steps in the process of transition of second-generation universities into third-generation ones. “But as you know this is a process, which takes time hence we have just begin moving toward it and we have a satisfactory progress..” Iran has a high rank in science production worldwide so we should have a more rapid advance in our universities as well, he added.
The ministry of science encourages and supports universities and professors who are active in the field of startups, Gholami said. However, universities have the main role in this process and the ministry only supports them, he added.
The technology parks are responsible for application of sciences like biotechnology, nanotechnology and IT, he said.
“Over 3,500 knowledge-based companies have already been established at the universities, which is growing...”
The companies create job and generate income, which are both beneficial for the universities, he added. A total of 43 science and technology parks are now active at the Iranian universities, he announced.
“We welcome novel ideas, startups and knowledge-based companies at the universities...”
Following the Fri. Joint Commission's meeting in Vienna, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is now certain that the rest of the world will not follow US in exerting pressure against the Islamic Republic and has, in fact, taken a stand against Washington's policies.
Speaking to reporters on Friday following the Joint Commission meeting in Vienna Zarif said the meeting was a “step forward” and resulted in “good agreements” made with the three European countries, as well as China and Russia as the five remaining sides to the nuclear deal.
“Today, the international community is certain that the JCPOA will continue to be implemented judging by the will displayed by the remaining sides to the agreement,” Zarif said.
He went on to add, “foreign companies will continue to do business with Iran with support from their respective countries, and the countries are ready to facilitate banking transactions for the companies cooperating with Iran.”
Zarif maintained that the Joint Commission’s meeting in Vienna had an important message for the world’s economy, that the rest of the world are taking a stand against US’ decision to exert pressure on Iran.
“By relying on domestic capabilities and using international capacities, we will be able to proceed on the path of economic growth for our country,” he added.
The Friday Joint Commission's meeting attended by foreign ministers of the five remaining parties to the JCPOA as well as EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was an attempt to ensure Iran that cooperation under the nuclear deal would continue to serve Iran's economic interests in spite of US sanctions.
Nerve agents not found in samples from Syria's Douma
A ceasefire agreement has been reached with leaders of armed groups in Syria’s Deraa province, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. The leaders also agreed to surrender weaponry, according to the ministerial statement.
“Following negotiations mediated by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria in the province of Deraa, agreements on [the] following issues have been reached: ceasefire, the start of heavy and medium weapons’ handover in all the settlements controlled by the armed groups,” the statement read.
The parties have also agreed on a number of other issues, including the settlement of the militants’ status. In cases where militants do not wish to settle their status, procedures have been agreed for their evacuation to Idlib province along with their families.
It has also been agreed to resume the work of Syrian government bodies on the territories controlled by armed groups, and on the return of Syrian refugees to their homes from the Jordanian border.
Rebel sources are saying that they have reached a framework for surrender in Deraa with Russia and the al-Assad government. If these reports are true, it is another step toward complete victory.
The rebels say they have declared a ceasefire and have put down their arms after they negotiated through the Russians. Rebel sources told the Arab press that the agreement offers civilians and fighters amnesty as they are reincorporated into Syria, with the Russians as guarantors.
Regime troops have taken the border town of Nasib on the Jordanian border, a position held for the past 3 years by the rebels, and Russian military police are now said to be patrolling some of the Syrian border with Jordan in Russian armored vehicles. About half the border town checkpoints are said already to be in the hands of the Syrian government.
Deraa Province constituted the last large stronghold of the rebels in the south of the country, along with parts of Quneitra that stretch into the Golan Heights (part of which has been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967).
Israel is saying that as al-Assad restores control to areas close to Israel, it will continue to honor the 1974 armistice and to honor the demilitarized zone it established between Israel and Syria.
An al-Qaeda-linked rebel group has held positions in Quneitra near Israel for the past few years, and allegedly has received some Israeli support. This Israel-al-Qaeda alliance had provoked tensions with the Druze, an esoteric offshoot of Ismaili Shiite Islam, that exists in Israel, southern Syrian and in Lebanon. The al-Qaeda-linked group had targeted Druze.
The reestablishment of full Syrian government control over the part of the Golan Heights of which it retained control after 1973 seems imminent, and Israeli security circles see ready to deal with al-Assad’s return.
The last two significant territories over which the Syrian government has not yet reestablished control are Idlib province in the northwest and the Kurdish-controlled provinces of al-Hasaka and Raqqa and parts of Aleppo province, plus part of Deir al-Zor.
The Kurds will likely not be conquered but rather offered a federal position to come back under the sway of Damascus (the Kurds are backed by 2000 US special operations force and more US contractors).
Iran: KDPI and Iranian army engage in deadly clashes
Russia will always counter the US neocolonialist strategy aimed at weakening legitimate governments in other countries, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with the Italian daily Il Giornale published on Wednesday.
"The issue at hand is the neocolonialist strategy, which the US has already tested in Iraq and Libya and which boils down to supporting any, even the wildest ideologies to weaken legitimate governments," the minister said.
According to Shoigu, Russia, "which advocates equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with any countries as part of the multipolar world concept, will always be an obstacle to the implementation of such strategies."
The minister explained that the key stages of the neocolonialist strategy are weakening the legitimate leadership, staging the use of weapons of mass destruction or humanitarian disasters and the use of military force to create "controlled chaos."
All that, he said, creates favorable conditions for draining countries of their wealth to the US economy by transnational corporations.
Washington considers Russia as a threat to its global dominance, according to Shoigu.
"Russia has been regaining its strength so it is now considered to be not an ally but a threat to the United States’ global dominance," he said.
At the same time, in Shoigu’s words, the West "continues its military build-up near our borders" while accusing Moscow of making aggressive plans. In this regard, the Russian defense minister pointed out that NATO had increased the number of troops deployed to the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria from 2,000 to 15,000, with the possibility of a further increase to 60,000.
US-President Donald Trump makes a point of insisting that he has nothing against the Iranian people and is only interested in opposing what he regards as the dangerous activities of their government, but his own record in office belies that claim.
It is clear that what he is trying to do is put pressure on the people of Iran to rise up and force a change in government, a process otherwise referred to as regime change...
Oddly, the White House seems unaware of the fact that Iran is neither Libya nor Iraq. It has a strong and historic national identity that means that it does and will resist being bullied by outside powers, including the “leader of the free world” United States.
The neocon and pro-Israel script that has evidently taken control of Trump pushes all the wrong buttons as it basically employs an increasing number and severity of sanctions to seek to wreck the economy and create discord in Iran that will eventually bring people out into the streets in large numbers. That means in practice using not only sanctions that selectively targeting “bad guys” like the Revolutionary Guards but also benign institutions that exist to maintain social stability inside the country.
Reports from inside Iran suggest that the renewed and additional sanctions are already hurting the Iranian people while at the same time having little impact on the government commitment to remain in Syria, which is the principal bone of contention at the moment vis-à-vis the joint U.S./Israeli/Saudi grossly exaggerated and self-serving assessment of what Iran may or may not be doing to destabilize the Middle East.
Two organizations which have recently come under sustained attack by the neocons and their allies are the “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” (EIKO) and its associated Barakat Foundation.
The EIKO’s principal mission is to help poor families in Iran and to perform other charitable works, but it has been assailed as a major economic resource controlled by the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s office..
Leading the charge against EIKO, inevitably, has been renowned neocon Canadian import and Iranophobe Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD)...
Other outlets in the pro-neocon-inclined and friendly to Israel media have also picked up on the theme that Iran must be the target of what amounts to economic warfare.
The National Interest recently ran an article advocating the imposition of oil sanctions on Iran in general while also targeting EIKO in particular in order to “change Iran’s behavior,” which is presumed by the authors to be very bad though without any real explanation of why that is so.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a neoconservative advocacy organization that was founded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks with the goal of pushing an aggressive “war on terror” in the Middle East and “pro-Israel” policies in Washington. The group initially claimed to wage ideological combat with “militant Islamism” in “a global war … being waged against democratic societies.”
Today, FDD claims that its mission is “to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism.” Its experts push for U.S. military intervention in Iran and Syria, promote overturning the comprehensive July 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and advocate one-sided U.S. support for Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Right Web, april 2018)
There has been some pushback against the war-by-sanctions approach currently being advanced by the Trump Administration.
Robert Fontina of Counterpunch has rejected the depiction of EIKO as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that EIKO engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications.
Ahmad Noroozi of the Barakat Foundation claims that numerous Iranians have already been affected by U.S.-initiated sanctions directed against his country, restricting access to cancer treatments and other pharmaceuticals. And it is all aimed at fomenting social unrest and ultimately regime change.
It is disturbing that the abandonment of the rule of law by the Trump Administration and its allies in the media has meant that Washington is resorting more and more to sanctions as an extreme form of punishment in order to enforce its geopolitical demands.
Countries that oppose Washington’s policies are now routinely subjected to financial and trade penalties. Cuba, North Korea, and Iran have recently been joined by Russia and Syria as targets of the U.S. Treasury Department. Even America’s European allies and friends are being threatened if they seek to buy Iranian oil or cooperate with Russian energy initiatives.
The sad fact is that the pretense of U.S. global leadership now consists of a basket of new “rules” that are both arbitrary and basically illegal supported by pretexts that are essentially fabricated.
A top advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is in Russia for an official visit, shrugged off the concurrent trip to Russia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying, “Nobody cares about his words.”
Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Moscow on Wednesday, Ali Akba Velayati pointed to Netanyahu’s visit to the Russian Federation and said, “He is an itinerant person who travels to somewhere in the world every day.”
“He [Netanyahu] makes baseless and illogical remarks and nobody cares about his words,” the Iranian official said. “Therefore, his presence or absence in Russia has no effect on our strategic mission,” he added.
Velayati is in Moscow in a bid to submit messages from Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and also President Hassan Rouhani to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi. Qassemi said the letters are aimed at “emphasizing the importance of expanded relations between Iran and Russia”.
Qassemi told the IRIB that Velayati will also pay a visit to China to convey messages from Ayatollah Khamenei and Rouhani to Chinese leaders. He said that after the US’ withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was a strategic mistake made by the US president, the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to send special envoys to convey the messages of top Iranian leaders to other countries.
“In these messages, our country’s views and stances regarding the US’ selfish and illegal behavior are explained to other countries,” he said.
Liberman criticizes European hypocrisy
As the Trump administration prepares to unveil its much-vaunted plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it is likely to face an Arab public that is wary of its foreign policy in the region, and specifically on the question of Palestine.
In a survey unveiled in Washington DC, which interviewed more than 18,000 Arab citizens in 11 countries, most respondents said they held a negative view of US policy towards Palestine – 87 percent – up from 79 percent in 2016.
The Arab Opinion Index, conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, Qatar, found that 81 percent of Arabs also perceived US foreign policy towards war-ravaged Syria negatively, as did 82 percent on Iraq.
The Index, which has been published yearly since 2011, has become a barometer of Arab public opinion from Lebanon to Mauritania on issues ranging from local economy to global foreign affairs.
The poll showed that more than 75 percent of the Arab world population believes that the Palestinian cause is also an Arab one, while naming Israel and the US as the top two threats to national security. Almost 90 percent of Arabs named Israel as a source of instability in the region.
KSA – USA partnership dinner: High-level speakers, including Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Lindsey Graham, James Baker, William Cohen, Cindy Schwarzkopf, daughter of the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and Ambassador Khalid bin Salman, delivered stirring remarks commemorating the historic American and Saudi Arabian leaders of the past who further reinforced the foundations of the unshakable alliance between the two nations. Al-Arabiya, 23-3-2018
Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar discussed on Thursday with a delegation from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee the status of the Palestinian refugees in Syria and the general conditions of the Palestinian camps, especially the Yarmouk Camp in addition to the war on terrorism.
The Minister affirmed that the Palestinian cause was and will remain a priority for the Syrian state and people. He pointed out that what happened in Yarmouk Camp was a systematic part of the war that was launched against Syria.
He added that the Syrian state supports the rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to return and the establishment of the Palestinian state on their land, and rejects any projects or schemes seeking to liquidate this cause.
The Labor Party sent a sternly worded letter to the Socialist International organization Tuesday after it adopted a resolution joining the Boycott Divest and Sanction Israel campaign, saying that the party would immediately leave the organization.
The Socialist International resolution that passed “calls all governments and civil society organizations to activate boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli occupation, all the occupation institutions, and the illegal Israeli settlements including the total embargo on all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel as long as it continues its policies of occupation and Apartheid against the Palestinian people.”
Labor’s international secretary, MK Hilik Bar, called the decision hypocritical and said Labor’s decision to suspend its membership was immediate and would become permanent if the decision is not canceled
. He asked the organization to stop including any reference to Labor or its party members in any of its membership information, publications, speeches, or events.
“Needless to say, the Declaration on the Palestinian Question is biased, blind to facts or reality, and partially antisemitic,” Bar wrote.
“The Declaration further weakens the alleged legitimacy of the organization you lead. The language and arguments of the Declaration makes it clear that until its cancellation - there is no real dialogue to have with you, or with your organization on this issue.”
“Let me assure you that until the full and formal cancellation of this poor one-sided and miserable declaration, your ‘solidarity’ is not desirable by us.”
The Socialist International is the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties. It currently brings together 140 political parties and organizations from all continents.
Khan al-Ahmar symbolizes the demise of the two-state solution
Russian presidentVladimir Putin has announced plans for investment of up to $50 billion in Iran’s oil and gas sector, Iran’s special envoy Ali Akbar Velayati said, adding that Russian firms could replace the western oil companies that have left the Islamic Republic.
Speaking to IRIB after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin near Moscow on Thursday, Velayati said he met with Putin to convey the message of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Khamenei regards Iran’s relations with Russia as “strategic”, Velayati said, adding that Putin holds the same belief.
Highlighting Putin’s satisfaction with a 36-percent increase in the value of trade exchange between Iran and Russia in the first 4 months of 2018, Velayati said the Russian leader has emphasized the necessity for close cooperation with Iran in the oil industry, peaceful nuclear energy, communications and the North-South railroad corridor connecting the Russian city of St. Petersburg to Iran’s southeastern port city of Chabahar. As regards cooperation in the energy industry, Velayati said one of Russia’s major oil companies has signed a $4-billion agreement with Iran, which will be implemented soon.
Two other large Russian oil companies, namely Rosneft and Gazprom Neft, have started negotiations with Iran to sign agreements worth up to $10 billion, he added.
Velayati also quoted Putin as hailing the oil cooperation between Iran and Russia, saying Russia has announced readiness to make investment as high as $50 billion in Iran’s oil and gas industry, and that Russian firms could replace the western companies that have left Iran.
As for cooperation in the nuclear industry, Velayati said Iran has already built a 1000-MW reactor with the help of Russia, adding that Putin was personally updated on details of construction of two other reactors Russia is building in Iran.
The two new reactors, a 100-MW and a 35-MW one, are being built along Iran’s southern coasts and will be employed to generate electricity and desalinate water, he noted.
On regional cooperation, Velayati said Putin has emphasized that Russia and Iran will keep working together to support Syria’s legitimate government and also cooperate in Iraq to defend the territorial integrity of the two nations.
Putin underlined that Russia, Iran and Turkey will stick to the Astana process for peace in Syria, he added.
The Russian leader also denounced the US sanctions against Iran, saying such measures that are out of step with the United Nations Security Council’s decisions are unacceptable, Velayati went on to say.
He said Putin has voiced support for Iran’s rights under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and given an assurance that Moscow will stand with Tehran and defend its rights.
TEHRAN (FNA, 12-7-2018) People in Iran see their lives filled
with world of football as FIFA World Cup 2018 continues.
The current state of inter-Arab and intra-Arab affairs is entirely unacceptable. For decades, there have been jealousies, frictions and even levels of animosity among Arab countries. Nevertheless, never has the state of pan-Arab affairs been so disappointing, and in shambles.
Since the advent of the ominous "Arab spring", not only have several major Arab countries become, in effect, failed states, but relations among Arab countries as a whole deteriorated and worsened in unprecedented ways. Such an unwelcome development affected all negatively.
Individually, most Arab countries, both those which fell prey to the violence brought by the so-called Arab spring "revolutions" and those which were spared the violence, have weakened, due to both political and economic mishaps.
Collectively, Arab countries are in an equally vulnerable and weak position, and they are all prey now to foreign intervention, both from within and without the region.
More than seven years have passed since 2011, and we see no winners in the Arab world, as a result of this state of discord and chaos.
Such a sorry state has got to come to an end, and inter-Arab relations need to be reconstructed and built according to a new vision, a new order. Bickering, jealousies, tension and violence lead only to more bickering, jealousies, tension and violence.
All countries belonging to a certain region and sharing the same geography need to be on good terms with each other, socially, politically and economically, if they are to count in today's world. South East Asia, Latin America and Europe furnish important examples in this regard.
It is time for the Arab countries to follow suit and learn important lessons that countries in specific regions survive, develop and thrive through wise diplomacy, through dialogue and understanding, through recognition and respect of each and all within the region, big and small and through "evolution" rather than "revolution".
Flashback 2011 - Georgetown University Professor:
Syria's Daraa, Cradle of the Revolt
Islamist opposition: Washington holds secret talks with Muslim "Brotherhood" ChamPress, 28-9-2011
WASHINGTON — American media reports on Tuesday said that the administration of President Barack Obama has been quietly consulting with the "Islamic opposition" in Syria. Within this context, the American "World Tribune" Newspaper revealed that senior U.S. officials have been meeting with the "Muslim Brotherhood" of Syria as well as its lobbyists in the United States.
MB-Islamists: "We will bring back Islam to Syria"
On Sept. 24, the council, regarded as a lobbyist for the "Brotherhood", held a meeting in Anaheim, Calif. to discuss the situation in Syria. The session was addressed by U.S. special envoy Frederic Hof, responsible for U.S. policy on Damascus.
President Xi Jinping of China last week pledged $20 billion in loans to Arab countries and over $100 million in financial aid to countries in most need, including Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Yemen. China and Arab countries will also set up a consortium of banks to manage a dedicated $3 billion fund.
Labelled by President Xi “oil and gas plus,” due to the loans’ focus on the revival of industries and cooperation on oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources of energy, the measures seek to foster regional development as a stabilizing and pacifying force.
The president also said China aimed to form a strategic partnership with the Arab League to become “the keeper of peace and stability in the Middle East.”
These measures, part of China’s signature foreign policy enterprise, the Belt and Road Initiative, have been touted as a recognition by China’s leadership that its hands-off approach to the Middle East’s political and security problems is untenable....
President Xi’s announcement coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan.
From 1948 to 1952, billions of dollars of economic assistance from the US supported Western and Southern Europe’s post-war rebuilding. While its economic impact may be exaggerated (it averaged less than 2.5 percent of the recipients’ GDP), its political and geostrategic significance is unquestionable...
Although underpinned by a different set of values and goals and with Eurasia at its core, the Chinese initiative is likely to prove at least as momentous as that of US Secretary of State George Marshall seven decades ago.
“the organizational underpinnings of the White Helmets can be sourced to a March 2013 meeting in Istanbul between a retired British military officer, James Le Mesurier, and representatives of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Qatari Red Crescent Society. Earlier that month, the SNC was given Syria’s seat in the Arab League at a meeting of the league held in Qatar.”
Western countries have reportedly been scrambling to evacuate "volunteer" White Helmets from Syria, who have been accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks.
The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier. The White Helmets were formally organised as Syrian Civil Defense in October 2014.
Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.
A US government official stressed that efforts to evacuate the White Helmets from Syria are in line with the Trump administration's plans for a withdrawal from the Arab country.
"This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can't remain," he said. "Or else the regime will take repercussions on them."
syria - civil defense (white helmets)
Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region on April 7.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as "a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra" militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the group claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but actually supports terrorists and covers up their crimes.
"The White Helmets not only feel at home on Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh-controlled territories but openly sympathize with them and provide them with information and even financial support. How is that for double standards? There is documentary evidence of the White Helmets’ involvement in some of al-Nusra’s operations and cover-up over civilian deaths," she said.
Four suspected Islamic State group militants were beheaded by Syrian rebels in Idlib over the weekend, following a wave of assassinations in the opposition province, a monitor reported on Sunday.
"Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) executed four persons on charges of being members of [IS]... in Salqin town in [the] Idlib countryside," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The monitor reported that a leading figure of an "IS cell" was also beheaded by the al-Qaeda linked rebel group on Saturday, while another militant committed suicide a day earlier after his home was surrounded by HTS fighters.
HTS have launched a security sweep in Idlib province to track down suspected IS sleeper cells. This follows a spike in assassinations and bombings targeting rebel fighters and civilians in Idlib over the past week.
Bombings and shootings in Idlib have become so common over the past week that one local writer describing the threat posed by IS as being greater than the one posed by the regime.
The monitor reported that 237 people in rebel areas have been killed in assassinations, including civilians who have died from frequent bomb attacks in Idlib, Aleppo and Hamas - some of the last opposition areas in Syria.
Syrian-based Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini has been targeted by several bombings. The radical sheikh arrived to Syria in 2013, and has been prominant in jihadi factions opposed to Bashar al-Assad. Muhaysini is a popular figure among Salafi-jihadis and frequently makes speeches from Idlib which are widely shared by supporters on social media.
Idlib is one of the last opposition strongholds in Syria, and has seen thousands of rebel fighters and civilians find refuge in the province over the past months following so-called "evacuation deals" in other parts of the country.
Turkish troops have assumed full control of dozens of villages in the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin after evicting their Syrian rebel allies from positions they captured together from Syrian Kurdish forces in March, local sources told Ahval.
After weeks of conflicting information about whether Turkey was in charge of security of the villages, people in the countryside around Afrin said Turkish soldiers were manning checkpoints and Syrian rebel forces had pulled out.
“In the past five days, several rebel groups have pulled out from nine villages near the border town of Bulbul as well as villages near the town of Jinderes,” said a resident of Kotana, one of the villages.
The resident, who declined to be named, said the Sultan Murad Division, one of the largest Turkish-backed rebel groups in Afrin, had been in charge of his village. Its fighters now have moved to the town of Bulbul, near the border with Turkey, he said.
Another resident from the village of Kaza near Jinderes said rebel groups that used to control the village had suddenly disappeared. “We used to see (rebel) fighters everywhere, on the streets and at checkpoints,” he said. “But right now we only see Turkish soldiers and their presence looks more organised than before.”
Afrin residents have complained about regular abuses committed by Turkish-backed rebel fighters, especially in the countryside around the town. The Sultan Murad Division, al-Hamzat Brigade and the Suqour al-Shamal Brigade are the most cruel groups in Afrin, according to Abu Jamil, a resident of Jinderes.
In its June report on Syria, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had documented an increase in armed clashes between different armed groups reported to be under the control of Turkish forces. The clashes, it said, had a serious impact on civilians and resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.
New York-based Human Rights Watch also released a report in June in which it said Turkish-backed rebels “have seized, looted, and destroyed property of Kurdish civilians in the Afrin district of northern Syria”.
Analysts said the negative reports had stung Turkey. “Afrin is a sensitive topic for the Turkish government,” said Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who closely follows Islamist groups in the country.
“So by removing some rogue rebel groups from several villages, Turkey wants to show the local population and the outside world that it is serious about establishing good governance in Afrin.”
Rebels in the southwest province of Quneitra in Syria have started leaving the area after giving up their fight against government forces near the frontier with Israel, according to Syrian state media.
A convoy of buses on Friday mid-afternoon carried the first batch of rebels, their family members and assorted civilians to opposition-held territory in the north where they will live among more than one million others displaced by Syria's seven-year-long civil war.
The surrender in Quneitra, in line with a deal that was struck between rebels and pro-government forces, is a big victory for President Bashar al-Assad whose troops are close to reclaiming complete control of the country's south.
According to state media, the agreement "stipulates the departure to Idlib [province] of terrorists who reject the settlements", and allow those who wish to remain to "settle" their status with the authorities, meaning accepting a return of state rule.
The state-controlled al-Ikhbariya TV station broadcast footage on Friday of fighters dressed in fatigues boarding buses in the village of Um Batina in Quneitra, which adjoins the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The pro-government Central Military Media outlet said there were 50 buses ready to transport rebels to the opposition-held Idlib province in northwest Syria.
The developments in Quineitra came as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday urged all parties to the conflict to provide safe passage for the estimated 140,000 civilians displaced as a result of the recent surge in violence.
The UNHCR also expressed its readiness to discuss its plans to set up centres for returning Syrian refugees, insisting that returns must be safe and voluntary.
An estimated 13,000 Syrian refugees returned from neighbouring countries in the first half of 2018 with some 750,000 internally displaced also going back to their homes, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said at a news conference in Geneva.