Israel's Iran Provocations
Israel seized the strategic Golan plateau from Syria nearly 50 years ago and still occupies nearly 70 percent of it. During the Israel-Syria wars of 1967 and 1973, more than 150,000 people — most of them Syrians — fled the area. (Arab News, 11-5-2018)
On 10 May, forces on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights reportedly fired around 20 Fajr-5 rockets towards Israeli army positions, though there were no damage or injuries. Abolfazl Hassanbeigi, Vice Chairman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council denied Iran was behind the rocket attack on Israel, stating that "Teheran has nothing to do with the missiles launched at Israel from Syria...
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, confirmed that rockets were fired towards the occupied Golan. But it said the attack came after Israeli forces bombarded Al-Baath, a town in the demilitarised Golan zone. A senior source in an Iranian-led military alliance that supports Syria's government also told AFP news agency that Israeli forces had fired first.
The Israeli army stated that in response, it launched "Operation House of Cards, the "most extensive strike in Syria in decades", attacking dozens of alleged Iranian targets. According to Russia's Defense Ministry, this involved 28 warplanes and the firing of 70 missiles.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said "Israel absolutely has a sovereign right to defend itself.
The Iranian regime's deployment into Syria of offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) bears full responsibility for the consequences of its reckless actions." The White House demanded that the IRGC and Hezbollah "refrain from any further provocations," and called on "all nations to make clear that Iran's actions pose a severe threat to international peace and stability."
SHANGHAI, May 13. /TASS/. Moscow and Beijing have the potential to boost cooperation to find ways of solving the Syrian issue, and the sides should continue efforts aimed at protecting the ceasefire regime, Chinese Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan told TASS on Sunday.
"The relations between China and Russia imply a sweeping strategic partnership and collaboration. We are constantly in touch and conduct consultations (regarding the Syrian issue - TASS). Each side contributes to the Syrian problem's settlement," he said.
According to the diplomat, the two countries are maintaining an efficient cooperation on the Syrian issue, which still has a "huge space" for expansion. "I assume that both sides should continue assuming efforts in such areas as protection of the ceasefire regime, a responsible ceasefire resolution compliance, promotion of the political process, as well as regarding the issues of postwar recovery," he emphasized.
On April 14, the United States, Britain and France dealt a missile strike against Syrian military and civilian infrastructures without the authorization of the UN Security Council, saying that it was in retaliation for the alleged use of chemical weapons by government troops in Douma.
At least 38 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and more than 1700 others wounded as the Israeli army fired live ammunition, teargas and firebombs at protesters assembled along several points near the fence with Israel.
Of the 38 killed, the ministry of health said at least five were below the age of 18, including one female. And, of the 1703 wounded, at least 122 were below the age of 18, 44 were women and 11 were journalists. Some 772 were wounded by Israeli live ammunition, while 737 were wounded by tear gas attacks, the ministry said.
Since Monday morning, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip have been attempting to cross the highly fortified fence separating the enclave from Israel, as part of the Great March of Return movement.MVR> The demonstrations are part of a weeks-long protest calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas they were forcibly expelled from in 1948. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have arrived to participate in the rally.
"The number of people showing up to participate is unprecedented in comparison to the past seven weeks of protest," local journalist Maram Humaid told Al Jazeera.
The protest comes ahead of the annual commemorations of the Nakba, or "catastrophe", when the state of Israel was established on May 15, 1948, which led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages.
Demonstrations were also planned to coincide with the moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in line with the US' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, furthering stoking tensions and angering Palestinians.
Rallies also kicked off in the occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and Hebron, as a response to the US embassy move. In Ramallah, Palestinians are expected to protest from the city centre to the Qalandia military checkpoint, the main northern crossing separating Ramallah from Jerusalem.
About 70 percent of the Gaza Strip's population of two million are descendants of refugees.
Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 86 Palestinians in the coastal enclave and wounded more than 9,400.
Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump's closest evangelical advisers gave the prayer Monday at the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, a Southern Baptist megachurch in Texas, regularly talks about the significance of Jerusalem to conservative Christians — a major component of Trump’s base of supporters.
Long before Jeffress began defending Trump on cable news, he made headlines for attacking other Americans whose faith is different from his own — something former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney noted Sunday on Twitter:
“Robert Jeffress says 'you can’t be saved by being a Jew,' and 'Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.' He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem,” tweeted Romney, a candidate for the Senate in Utah and a Mormon.
Pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s most devoted supporters and defenders, said during a Dove TV interview on Thursday that Donald Trump is “the most faith-friendly president we’ve ever had.”
Christian leaders in Jerusalem strongly criticized Trump’s decision to move the embassy, warning that it would “yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.” But Religious Right leaders in the U.S. were ecstatic. Christians United for Israel’s John Hagee said that because of the embassy move, Trump “will be remembered for thousands of years.”
Jeffress, like many other Religious Right leaders, has opposed the “two-state solution,” because he believes that it would violate God’s will for Israel to give up control of land in the West Bank to a future Palestinian state.
In an interview with the Christian Post at the end of 2016, Jeffress declared that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were “on the wrong side of God on this issue” when the U.S. chose not to veto a United Nations resolution on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Jeffress said the Bible declares that “God will judge any nation that divides the land that God gave to Israel.” He said the Bible was clear that the “geography of the land that he was giving to his people” includes “what we call today the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, all of that was a part of God’s gift to his people.”
Jeffress further insisted that “the Palestinians have no claim” to the land.
The 2016 Republican Party platform, shaped strongly by Religious Right leaders, dropped the party’s previous support for a two-state solution.
Liberty Counsel praised Trump’s choice of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel in part because he has been “an opponent of the so-called two-state solution.”
Liberty Counsel’s Matt Staver has also praised the Trump administration’s decision to drop the term “occupied” in reference to the West Bank and Golan Heights; Religious Right leaders refer to disputed territories by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria and insist that Israel has a divine deed to all the territory.
Republican Party platform, 2016: We believe in American exceptionalism. We believe the United States of America is unlike any other nation on earth. We believe political freedom and economic freedom are indivisible. When political freedom and economic freedom are separated — both are in peril; when united, they are invincible...
President Barack Obama has been regulating to death a free market economy that he does not like and does not understand. [..] We, as Republicans and Americans, cannot allow this to continue..
We reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel’s security and we will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over any and all adversaries. ..
We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier and specifically recognize that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel.
Last Monday, the Trump administration, led by the U.S. president's daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, held a ceremony in al-Quds (Jerusalem) to celebrate a very grotesque event - the opening of the U.S. Embassy in the city.
The highest-ranking Israeli officials such as President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the opening as it was a historic [and bloody] day for Israel.
Also, two Christian evangelical pastors, Robert Jeffress and John C. Hagee were there to give prayer and benediction.
The selection of the two Texas pastors who are known for insulting other religions and controversial quotes was a sign that, for some Christians, the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was U.S. President Donald Trump's gift to the evangelicals...
According to the American evangelist belief, Jesus is going to return to earth soon. But for that to happen, most of these Christians believe that Jerusalem has to become the capital of Israel.
While for some American Christians on the right, the move to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was an important act of solidarity with the hardliner Israelis, for some others, the biblical prophecy in question was being fulfilled.
A 2010 Pew poll revealed that 41 percent of all Americans and 58 percent of white evangelicals are eagerly anticipating the second coming of Jesus, and they believe that Jesus is "definitely" or "probably" going to return by 2050....
According to the evangelist belief concerning the battle of Armageddon, three events will occur.
First, the Jews would retake Palestine, which was accomplished in 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel.
Second, Jerusalem will be the capital of the Jewish state, which Trump made possible, according to the evangelicals.
And third, they would rebuild King Solomon's temple on the Temple Mount, on which the Muslim holy site al-Aqsa Mosque has been located for centuries.
The Religious/Political Poisoning of America
|According to Gitlin and Leibovitz, the idea of 'choseness' has been misconstrued by Americans and Israelis alike as “an invitation to superiority.” What it should be, they write, is a calling to pursue justice and peace, a “slow and harrowing process of self-discovery and social repair.”|
Men without a future
The Deist Albert Einstein was born a Jew but rejected Judaism.
Einstein wrote, “For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong … have no different quality for me than all other people..." "I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”
Two more quotes from Einstein could spur sincere people to think about the idea of Israel over all. One is Albert Einstein describing his take on Jews praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during his 1923 trip to the city.
Einstein wrote, “Where dull-witted clansmen of our tribe were praying aloud, their faces turned to the wall, their bodies swaying to and fro. A pathetic sight of men with a past but without a future.”
The other is what Einstein wrote regarding the new Jewish state of Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors.
Einstein wrote, “Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us.”
In a clever play on words using the names of several parties and coalitions, Sadr seemed to call for a nonpartisan, cross-sectarian government.
“We are Sayirun (Marching) with Hikma (Wisdom) and Watanyah (Patriotism) so that the Iradah (Will) of the people be our aim and to build Jilan Jadidan (a New Generation) and to witness Taghir (Gorran/Change) to the better and for the Al-Qarar (Decision) to be Iraqi,” the tweet on his official account reads.
“So we raise the Bayariq (Banners) of Al-Nasr (Victory), and let Baghdad, the capital, be Hawiyatuna (Baghdad Is Our Identity) and for our Hirakuna (Movement) Democratic (possibly KDP) towards the formation of a paternal government from technocratic Kawadur (Cadres) without partisanship,” the tweet adds.
It is not clear whether Sadr deliberately omitted the PUK, the KIU, and Hashd al-Shaabi’s al-Fatih.
Al-Sayirun (Marching Towards Reform), is a coalition of Sadr’s supporters, some secularists, and the Iraqi Communist Party.
According to preliminary election results, the alliance has won the most seats, followed by al-Fatih, pushing Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr (Victory) Alliance into third place.
Sadr has long called for a technocratic government in Iraq. Some have interpreted Sadr’s tweet as a statement of intent to form a roughly cross-sectarian, all-inclusive coalition government.
The proponents of Shia majoritarianism – namely Abadi’s Nasr (Victory) Alliance and Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law of Coalition – performed poorly in Saturday’s election.
Question: Many people are wondering why you took part in a political proces that is corrupted...
Answer: "..to find efficient persons to protect people, poor people and the oppressed people, from the corruption of the corruptors..
Moqtada al-Sadr, the 44-year-old Shia cleric (born 12-8-1973) whose Sairoon coalition has emerged as a leading player on Iraq’s political scene, first came to prominence as a preacher in the weeks after the US invasion of Iraq, in 2003, opposing the US-led occupation.
His militant followers, including the Mahdi army, were responsible for attacks on US and British soldiers, fuelled violent sectarianism against Iraq’s Sunni Muslims, and dabbled in protection rackets and kidnapping.
To enable this, his movement effectively exploited the network set up by his father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, who was assassinated in 1999...
In person, his rivals have confided to journalists, Moqtada al-Sadr is not regarded as particularly impressive, with the epithet “firebrand” acting as a cover for instability and the shortcomings in his clerical education.
Moqtada at first attended public schools, but around ninth grade he switched to the hawza, the seminary in Najaf that is the center of Shiite learning, in part because he struggled with his studies, neighbors said. He earned the nickname Moqtada Atari because of his love of video games.
Increasingly, however, it is Sadr’s relationship with Tehran that has come to define his political identity. While his Mahdi army was once regarded as being heavily reliant on Iranian-supplied expertise, Sadr has now positioned himself as an opponent of Iranian influence – at least when his rivals such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani are involved.
Like his father, who saw Sistani as an “Iranian” interloper, Sadr is an Iraqi Arab nationalist. The family has long seen themselves as representing a rival Iraqi seat of Shia learning and influence to Tehran...
The latest reinvention of his image is as populist as ever. In 2015, he formed an alliance with the Iraqi Communist party and secular groups under an umbrella of security and corruption concerns, two issues that have long dogged day-to-day Iraqi life, and his constituency.
"The world needs justice based on fairness"
MOSCOW, May 15. European countries have begun to face US pressure in relation to the Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on Tuesday.
According to him, following the US withdrawal from the deal, three European Countries - France, Great Britain and Germany - "reaffirmed that they remain committed to the agreement."
Lavrov stressed that Moscow could see pressure being exerted on them.
"Ultimatums have been issued citing the need to stop trade with Iran, including the exports of certain goods and the imports of Iranian oil, the deadlines of 60 and 90 days have been set. It is kind of a plan to exert strong pressure," the Russian top diplomat pointed out.
The US lost all its rights under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear program by withdrawing from this agreement, Lavrov said.
"By withdrawing from the JCPOA, the United States lost all its rights under this document, as there are a number of provisions in it that vest its participants with certain rights. The US - and it seems not to be denying this fact - already lost all these rights," he said.
Flashback 2002: France joins chorus
Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia can all secretly help to advance regime change in Iran, former top Mossad official Haim Tomer told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Tomer, who held top positions until 2014 in the Mossad was focused on two prior dilemmas regarding Iran: “How to deter Iran; and can Israel… promote regime change?”
He explained that, “the big problem isn’t that Iran has conventional missiles or potentially worse. The problem is this Islamic state has a defining goal of destroying Israel” which, combined with “weapons of mass destruction, [presents] a very deadly scenario.” “We can defend against them. But [US] President [Donald] Trump’s actions on the Iran situation have created a major opening… to carefully weigh pushing for regime change as a formal goal,” he said...
He said that Israel could clandestinely help facilitate regime change, while the Saudis could help finance it and the US could support it on various fronts – if all of the parties worked together as part of a cohesive strategy...
“I am not saying it will be a piece of cake. But even if regime change does not succeed… it is better to have the Iranians fighting among themselves.”
Asked what specifically Israel could do, he said, “there is potential… clandestine actions can lead to change… There is a lot that the Mossad can do when it gets a mission. I cannot go into the details… but it would be clandestine....”
Tehran has strongly condemned Washington for imposing sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran's chief, Valiollah Seif, over a week after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, saying such moves are meant to derail the ongoing negotiations to save the now six-party agreement.
The US Treasury Department named Valiollah Seif and another senior official in Iran’s Central Bank as “specially designated global terrorists” for allegedly assisting Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accused Seif of covertly funneling money on behalf of the IRGC’s Quds Force through Iraq-based Al Bilad Islamic Bank to support Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.
The latest anti-Iran sanctions follow President Donald Trump’s announcement on May 8 of the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal. Trump also vowed to reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
Days later, the US Treasury sanctioned six Iranian individuals and three entities for allegedly operating a currency exchange network that transferred millions of US dollars to the IRGC’s Quds Force.
All the remaining signatories censured Washington’s pullout, saying they would stay committed to the landmark accord and work to find ways to keep the deal in place.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reiterated the bloc’s determination to keep the deal in place, adding that the remaining parties had agreed to find practical solutions in the weeks to come, including continuing to sell Iran’s oil and gas products, maintaining effective banking transactions and protecting European investments in the Iranian market.
The United States has proven that it cannot play the part of an honest broker of peace in the Middle East. The last vestiges of a just and honorable policy expected from the US administration have all but evaporated.
On Monday (May 14), 55 protesting Palestinians were murdered by the Israelis in cold blood, and the US quickly blocked the adoption of a United Nations Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence and the massacre.
By opening the newly relocated US embassy in the divided city of Jerusalem, and thus adding weight to Israel’s illegal occupation of that city, President Donald Trump has removed layers and layers of smooth talk about reaching a consensual agreement between Palestinian and Israeli factions and has awarded a plum to the land-hungry Israelis.
The plan for the transfer from Tel Aviv was engineered by a growing faction of Zionists among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, with son-in-law Jared Kushner leading the charge accompanied by his wife Ivanka.
The move is calculated to deprive Palestinians of all legitimacy over their lands and what better way to do it than to deny them their rightful ownership of their piece of Jerusalem, the third holiest city for Muslims everywhere.
For decades, talk of bringing about peace to the region by the United States has been followed by actions that would regretfully prove otherwise...
Israel has long learned to play the game craftily. It started by portraying itself as a victim as it began its journey in a strange land and slowly began pushing out the lawful residents, albeit with massive support from Western nations who were burdened with the collective guilt of the first holocaust during World War II, and who were goaded to make amends for past deeds by defying all democratic norms and siding with this monster. It did not matter that their victims - the Palestinians - had had nothing to do with events of the past. It was simply an expedient solution.
Unquestionably, the single largest collection of human rights violations by any country in the region is being carried out by Israel and in broad daylight and yet the United States of America fails to rebuke its golden child.
The war on Iraq was never about the attacks on the World Trade Center or Saddam. It was to safeguard the interests of Israel and to ensure that Israel remains the dominant military force in the region...
The Zionist machine engineered sending American soldiers to their deaths and costing the US billions of dollars for a war that never should have been.
And by factionalizing Arab countries gradually and sowing the seeds of distrust between them, the situation today for the Israelis and their Zionist hosts in the US government has become much easier, allowing them to proceed with their vision of Pan-Israel, a vision that encompasses lands beyond what remains of Palestine.
Such a Machiavellian design remains unchecked as long as Uncle Sam has the Israeli back covered....
Machiavellianism is "the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct". The word comes from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, born in 1469, who wrote Il Principe (The Prince), among other works.
In modern psychology, Machiavellianism is one of the dark triad personalities, characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and personal gain.
President Donald Trump is "the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history" — bucking global critics by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, abandoning the Iran nuclear deal, and backing Israeli military operations in Syria, a prominent Israeli columnist says.
In an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick lauds Trump for understanding that having "Israel in your corner" means the United States "is not isolated."
"From moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, to walking away from the nuclear deal which guaranteed Iran's eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons and financed its regional aggression and terrorism sponsorship, to unconditionally supporting Israel's military operations against Iranian positions in Syria, Trump has demonstrated that he is the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history. "No other president comes close."
Glick argues the difference between Trump and previous presidents is "Trump accepts Israel on its own terms."
"He doesn't expect Israel to do anything to 'earn' American support. So long as Israel is in America's corner, he respects the Jewish state as America's ally."
She said Trump "has earned all the credit for transforming the U.S.-Israel relationship into a full-blown strategic relationship." And she praised Netanyahu for preparing "the groundwork for his actions," calling him "the greatest statesman in Israel's history."
Caroline Glick (born 1969) is an American-born Israeli journalist, newspaper editor, and writer. Glick immigrated to Israel in 1991, and joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Following the Oslo Accords, she worked as coordinator of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. She retired from the military with the rank of captain at the end of 1996. She [then] served as assistant foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Glick returned to the US in 2000. Upon her return to Israel, she became, and remains, the chief diplomatic correspondent for the Makor Rishon newspaper, for which she writes a weekly column in Hebrew. She is also the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.
She is the Senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, a far-right, Washington, D.C.-based think tank, founded by Frank Gaffney, and is one of several co-authors of the Center’s latest book, War Footing.
In 2002, a prominent British newspaper listed Frank Gaffney with Iraq invasion cheerleaders Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle as one of the men “directing” then-President George W. Bush’s post 9/11 security doctrine.
A primary target of CSP’s work is Iran. Since the 2013 election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani —widely regarded as a relative moderate willing to seek accommodation with the West— CSP figures have been quick to protest any signs of diplomatic rapprochement between Tehran and Washington. (Wikipedia info)
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Thursday that the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people is a "moral and political disgrace" for which the international community bears responsibility.
All Palestinians can get is the right to be 'residents' in 'Judea & Samaria' (strangers in their own land). Residents are not citizens, and like other residents they can’t vote.
The Syrian government retook full control of central Syria on Wednesday as rebels and their relatives were evacuated from final pockets of territory still outside the regime’s grasp, an AFP correspondent reported.
The evacuations from areas straddling the boundary between Homs and Hama provinces came under a deal between rebel factions and the government.
Hundreds of people gathered in the centre of the town of Rastan in Homs province to welcome the return of government security forces and attend a flag-raising ceremony on the main square.
Nearby towns and villages in the areas of Talbiseh and Al-Hula were also evacuated, the official SANA news agency and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported.
“The last convoy of terrorists and their families exits northern Homs province and southern Hama province,” SANA reported.
The armed factions, which the government systematically refers to as “terrorists”, were transferred to Idlib province, which still largely escapes regime control. A total of 34,500 people — armed men and their families — were transferred out of the area as part of the deal, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
“As of today, there is not one gunman left, no weapons left in the whole of Homs province,” the province’s governor, Talal Barazai, told AFP in Rastan.
With Iranian and Russian support, the Syrian government has reconquered swathes of territory it lost following the outbreak of the conflict in 2011. Government and allied forces have almost finished retaking areas around the capital Damascus that had been held by jihadist and Islamist groups for year. They have yet to seize back a small pocket still controlled by IS in southern Damascus...
BAGHDAD - Iraqis overwhelmingly cast their ballot for the Sairoun Alliance, a coalition of supporters of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), as well as the smaller Iraqi Republican Party.
Not many could have predicted the formation of such an alliance a few years ago, much less anticipated that it would end up resonating with so many Iraqis. The unity of the religiously conservative Sadrist movement with the ultra-secular ICP seemed baffling to outside observers, but it appears to have created a successful synthesis.
One of those who appears to best typify the new politics is Suhad al-Khateeb, a communist who won a parliamentary seat for the religious city of Najaf - one of the most important hubs of Shia Islamic theology.
Khateeb, who is a teacher, anti-poverty activist and womens rights activist, had not considered running in previous parliamentary elections. "I didn’t run in the  election, but I was part of a group that visited people all over the Najaf," she told Middle East Eye.
"We visited them to listen to their problems and help them, in the slums of Najaf and the poor neighbourhoods. I had not thought about running in elections."
However, she was motivated to run on the Sairoun Alliance ticket this time around after garnering support from her colleagues and students.
"People visited me at school. They looked up to me and saw me as a role model of how a politician should be," she explained. "My colleagues, who support various political parties, respect me and support me."
"Someone who is successful in his work, as simple as running a school, could be successful in running a state institution."
The ICP's general secretary, Raid Jahid Fahmi, explained that in preparation for the elections, his party and the Sadrists had agreed to focus on a number of issues with shared goals - fighting unemployment and corruption and combatting external influence on Iraq - rather than emphasising ideological differences evident in issues like women's rights or secularism.
"The social base is quite close - the social base of the left and the social base of the Sadrist movement," he said.
"Sairoun supports the people in many different ways. It represents Iraqis, and we the Iraqi Communist party have a long history of honesty - we were not agents for foreign occupations," said Khateeb.
"We want social justice, citizenship, and are against sectarianism, and this is also what Iraqis want."
A meeting between nationalist cleric Moqtada Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was held a day after the announcement of the Iraqi parliamentary election results to reaffirm close ties between both parties in forming a future government, a source close to Sadr revealed.
A statement released by Abadi on Saturday said that the meeting with Sadr came for the sake of working together to speed up the process of forming a new government, and ensure that the government will be strong, provide services for the people and job opportunities, as well as increasing people’s standard of living and fight corruption.
“During our meeting, we agreed to work together and with other parties to expedite the process of forming a new Iraqi government,” Abadi said at a joint press conference. The statement added that there was an understanding between both parties in the meeting that the future government needs to be inclusive.
Sadr said that the meeting is a message of reassurance that the next government will be a “paternal” one, including and caring for all people of Iraq.
“We extend our hands to everyone building the country, and for the decision to be an Iraqi one,” Sadr said, reaffirming the importance of speeding the government forming process that prioritizes the Iraqi people’s needs.
Two days ago, Sadr invited Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the al-Hikma bloc who won 20 seats in parliament trailing in seventh place, to create a joint vision for the future.
TEHRAN, May 19 (MNA) – Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has said that the Israeli occupation is the biggest threat against the Islamic world, adding the new US administration is also the biggest threat for the world order, peace, and stability. He made the remarks at the extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Friday.
The Iranian president said that today, we are mourning the last act of the 70-year-old genocide against the innocent in Palestine. The criminal Zionists have challenged the global community before the tearful eyes of the world by trampling human dignity and belittling all values.
While hundreds of thousands of innocent people are deprived of the most basic human rights, the Zionist regime is falsely introducing its own apartheid and ethnocentric system as democracy, calling its religious extremism secularism...
Rouhani then lashed at the US move in relocating of his embassy to al-Quds [Jerusalem], saying, “in these conditions, the government of the United States moved its embassy to Bayt al-Maqdis. This arbitrary action which is contrary to international regulations gave the Zionist regime the go-ahead to commit another brutal killing...
The White House has shown that it does not hesitate to destroy foundations and rules of international order... Just days before the US embassy was transferred to Bayt al-Maqdis, the President of the United States delivered another blow to international security and credibility of the international community and withdrew from a multilateral nuclear agreement that had been approved by the UN Security Council.
Rouhani called for a UN General Assembly meeting to discuss the US illegal action in relocating its embassy to Quds and the latest Israeli regime crimes, and he proposed the formation of a working group comprised of law, political and economic experts to survey the US illegal action and find ways to appropriately deal with it.
Flashback 2002: The Arab Peace Plan
"Abdallah bin Abdul Aziz is offering Israel full peace, including political, economic and cultural normalization, in return for a full withdrawal from the territories. This is more than a mere license to exist in peace in the region and recognition of the existence of Israel...
The importance of the initiative lies in the fact that it is Saudi Arabia that is putting it forward. It comes from the deepest heart of the Arab, and even more importantly, the Islamic world...
All of the 57 states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference) expressed their support for the Arab Peace Initiative. (The Peaceplan)
It has the backing of all Arabs
Saudi political commentator Khaled Al Maeena called the prince's initiative “very genuine ... It has the backing of all Arabs.”
AMMAN – King Abdullah on Friday urged the international community to uphold its responsibilities in protecting the Palestinian people and enabling them to gain their rights and end occupation, injustice, and despair.
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,
Jerusalem is our First Qibla. Jerusalem is Amman’s twin. Jerusalem is the key to peace and harmony. And the sole path to peace is through ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the two-state solution.
Let me stress, once again, that our region will never enjoy comprehensive peace unless the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is resolved according to international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative.
My brothers, Nearly five months ago, we met to counter the dangerous implications of the United States’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And here we are today, witnessing the very implications we had warned against — the undermining of the foundations of peace and stability, the dominance of unilateralism, and a deepening state of despair that breeds violence.
Throughout that period, Jordan worked in coordination with brothers and friends to limit the ramifications of this decision. Our steadfast position continues to affirm that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and that it is a final status issue whose future is decided through direct negotiations, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.
Here, we must also emphasise the need for immediate measures by brotherly Arab and Muslim countries to support the perseverance of Palestinians and empower them economically, while countering attempts to Judaise Jerusalem and alter its Arab, Islamic, and Christian identity.
My brothers, The violence, aggression, and violations perpetrated by Israel against the brotherly Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere in the Palestinian Territories must stop.
The international community must uphold its responsibilities before history; peoples of the world and all people of conscience must uphold their responsibilities in protecting the Palestinian people and enabling them to gain their rights and end occupation, injustice, and despair.
We genuinely seek peace, and everyone is called upon to end the prevalent anguish and frustration by advancing and achieving a peace that fulfils the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people — a peace where the holy city of Jerusalem stands as a symbol of harmony among the followers of the monotheistic faiths, not a cause for conflict.
Syrian Army in full control of Damascus for first time since 2011
Tehran will struggle to “keep its economy alive” if it does not comply with a list of 12 US demands, including Iranian withdrawal from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on Monday.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing Washington think tank, Pompeo laid out a list of 12 “basic requirements” for Iran.
The demands call on Iran to withdraw from Syria, “release all US citizens,” end support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, stop “enrichment” of uranium, and promise never to process plutonium. Iran must also allow “unqualified access to all nuclear sites throughout the country,” Pompeo said.
He promised that the US would impose the “strongest sanctions in history” if Iran failed to comply with these demands.
Pompeo said that “the sting of sanctions will be painful” and Iran will struggle to “keep its economy alive” if Tehran “does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen.”
The secretary of state also pledged that the US “will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world, and we will crush them. Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”
Washington’s strategy is to weaken Iran economically, rather than engage in an actual war, Dr. Said Sadik, Professor of political sociology at the American university of Cairo, told RT in response to Pompeo’s address.
“What the [US] is doing now is increase sanctions trying to undermine the power of Iran regionally, economically with the hope that that would lead to unrest and disturbances in Iran, that it would make the Iranian government stop trying to help its allies or extend its influence in the area. This is basically what they want.”
"What they want is to weaken Iran financially, economically, with the hope that the Iranian government will not be that powerful in the area as it is now.”
Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank. Its stated mission is to formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
The Heritage Foundation is an "associate" member of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country.
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles - right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries - are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN).
It was a monumental day for freedom and Israeli-American ties on April 14, when the new embassy in Jerusalem opened.
President Trump is making the right move by officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and The Heritage Foundation has encouraged and bolstered the move every step of the way.
The day after the president announced the move of the embassy, Heritage expert James Phillips released a commentary praising the President’s decision and looking downstream at what the move might mean for our foreign policy and our relationships in the Middle East.
Fellow expert Peter Brookes also addressed the move a few days later, where he stands up for the President’s actions against the naysaying mainstream media, and repeats that Israel has the right to choose its own capital city.
As Hamas continued to ramp up hostilities toward Israel following the move, Phillips published an article in USA TODAY acknowledging that while the embassy move could complicate short-term peace negotiations, in the long run it should benefit peace in the region by pressuring the Middle East to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol.
"Pompeo's Iran strategy leaves zero chance for diplomacy with Iran," said Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former spokesman for Tehran during its nuclear negotiations with the international community in 2005.
"It repeats the same coercive policy the US administration has implemented for four decades on Iran. This approach has already failed," he added.
Ellie Geranmayeh, fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations, described the new US terms "as conditions of surrender".
They are not intended at effecting a change in Iran's calculation, she said, but rather aimed at "imploding the Iranian state, by undermining the Iranian leadership at home and abroad, as well as economically, through waging sanctions warfare, not only against Iran but every other country that engages in business with Iran". For some, the new US policy came across as "regime change", she added...
Others warned that the US move had done nothing else but to raise the spectre of war between Washington, its regional allies and Iran.
Calling the demands "completely unrealistic", Trita Parsi, author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy, said they revealed that "the Plan B of the Trump administration is designed to fail and then pave the way for Plan C, which is most likely war". That's because "when you combine unrealistic demands with massive pressure then you are by design creating a pathway to confrontation", he explained.
Mohammad Marandi, a professor at University of Tehran who was part of the nuclear deal negotiations in 2015, said the US withdrawal has led to an "overwhelming consensus in Iran that the US simply cannot be trusted".
"China and Russia feel also threatened by the Trump regime, which seems to be out of control," said Marandi, the Iranian scholar. "This decision will force Iran closer to these two countries."
While acknowledging that renewed sanctions will be "very painful" and exacerbate Iran's economic woes, Marandi said Pompeo's threats were not new and would "not change anything" in Iran. "In fact, what it is going to do is unite the country more than ever."
The distrust of the US will also harden Iran's position on its missile programme, Marandi said.
"Iran has to be able to defend itself. What prevents the US from attacking Iran is its defence capabilities," he said, adding that Trump's decision will "not change Iran's behaviour in any way or form".
Avi Gabbay: "Israel will lead the Middle East"
Flashback: "There is no chosen people on this earth"
Amy DePaul interviews Seyed Mohammad Marandi
Guernica: In an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC, you mentioned President Ahmadinejad being mistranslated on some of the things he has said about Israel. How was he mistranslated?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi: President Ahmadinejad said that the Zionist state of Israel should no longer exist as a political entity. This has always been the policy of successive Iranian governments such as those of President Khatami and President Rafsanjani.
In general, Iranians believe that all Palestinians have the right to return home and that there is no chosen people on this earth, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
Iran had the same policy towards apartheid South Africa...
Guernica: What’s the most important point you’d like Americans to know about Iran?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi: Americans should know that Iranians are just as decent, human and rational as other human beings. Sadly, the mainstream media in the U.S. regularly fails to recognize and reflect this.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the United States cannot make decisions for Iran and other independent countries after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded broad changes in the course of the Islamic Republic's foreign and domestic policy.
"All world countries want independence in their decisions and perhaps Americans are able to advance their agenda in some places through pressure, but logic does not accept them making decisions for the world," Rouhani said on Monday.
"Today, we must help each other more" because the current US administration has regressed to 15 years ago and is repeating the same remarks made by former US president, George W. Bush, in 2003, he added.
"Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?" Rouhani asked.
NEW YORK — Donald Trump’s renunciation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and the reimposition of US sanctions on that country threaten global peace.
Europe’s security depends on defending the agreement with Iran despite the US withdrawal. That, in turn, requires Europe, along with Russia, China and other United Nations member states, to ensure that economic relations with Iran can develop. And that can happen only if Europe confronts, and ultimately overturns, America’s extraterritorial sanctions, which aim to deter trade and financial activities with Iran by non-US actors.
The purpose of Trump’s move is clear and indeed explicit: to topple the Iranian regime. Given this folly, European citizens accurately sense that Europe’s security interests are no longer closely aligned with those of the United States.
America’s bullying approach to Iran has been seconded, indeed championed, by two Middle Eastern allies of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Israel invokes US power to avoid having to make any compromises with the Palestinians. Saudi Arabia invokes US military power to contain its regional rival, Iran. Both are hoping for a direct US war with Iran...
European leaders are not powerless. The agreement with Iran can still be salvaged, precisely because it is a multilateral agreement, endorsed by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2231), not an agreement solely between the US and Iran. Indeed, under Article 25 of the UN Charter, all UN member states, including the US, are obligated to fulfill the JCPOA.
Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA is itself a violation of international law.
The EU should insist that extraterritorial sanctions violate international law, including the Resolution 2231 and therefore the UN Charter, and the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
They should recognise that acquiescence would be tantamount to handing the US a blank check to set the rules of war and peace beyond the UN Security Council, and the rules of global trade beyond the WTO.
The EU should be prepared to use the WTO dispute resolution process against the US, and to bring its case to the UN Security Council and General Assembly. Where Europe is afraid to tread, China will surely swoop in to capitalise on business opportunities in Iran. And China would be right to do so.
Europe’s biggest challenge is not legal or even geopolitical. It is psychological. European leaders act as if the US still cares about a trans-Atlantic alliance of shared interests, values and approaches. Sadly, this is no longer the case.
Europe needs its own security policy, just as it needs its own trade and environmental policies. The showdown over the JCPOA is therefore a moment of truth. World peace depends on Europe’s defence of the UN Charter and the rules of international trade.
Russia, Iran and Turkey have completed the establishment of observation points in the Idlib de-escalation zone, Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi said on Wednesday.
"The establishment of observation points along the disengagement line has been completed," he said, adding that military servicemen from the guarantor countries of the Astana agreements - Russia, Iran and Turkey - had been deployed there.
"Russia set up a total of ten observation points, another 12 were established by Turkey and seven by Iran.
These observation points are being used to monitor the ceasefire between government troops and armed opposition units," Rudskoi added.
According to him, strong communication links have been created between the points to ensure constant exchange of information about the current situation and ceasefire violations. In addition, measures are being taken to prevent ceasefire violations and resolve conflict situations. In accordance with a decision made by Russia, Iran and Turkey - the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire - de-escalation zones were set up in Syria in 2017.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that militant groups comprising more than 40,000 members had been active in these areas as of September 2017, when the establishment of the de-escalation zones had been completed.
In order to prevent incidents and clashes, security areas were set up along the borders of the zones, while local residents’ access to medical assistance and food aid was ensured. Russian,
The establishment of de-escalation zones does not imply that the fight against terrorists from the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusar and their affiliated groups is over.
MOSCOW - Senior Russian military officials on Wednesday called for the United Nations and other international organisations to help rebuild Syrian territory recaptured by government forces, in order to consolidate the "successes" of the military campaign.
"To completely restore the areas that were damaged by military action against terrorist groups in Syria, and the economy of Syria as a whole, the help of all the international community is needed," senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi said at a Moscow briefing.
"We call on the UN and other international organisations to get involved in this process," Rudskoi said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned while meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday that Syria needed aid to ensure that refugees return home from Europe.
"We need to depoliticise the process of humanitarian aid and restoration of the Syrian economy," Putin said at a joint press conference with Merkel.
"If Europeans want people to go back to their homes from Europe, they need to remove restrictions on help to Syria that are incomprehensible to us, at least in the territories under control of the Syrian government."
Rudskoi on Wednesday hailed the "significant successes" of Syrian government troops with the support of Russian forces in "liberating key areas of Syria from the remnants of terrorist groups".
Currently "all the conditions have been created to restore Syria as a single, undivided state. But to achieve this aim, not only Russia needs to make efforts, but also the other members of the international community," Rudskoi said.
Some 6.1 million people are now internally displaced in Syria, more than five million have fled the country and 13 million including six million children are in need of aid, according to the UN.
President Bashar al-Assad received on Wednesday the Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and the accompanying delegation.
Lavrentiev conveyed to President al-Assad the congratulations of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership over establishing full control on capital Damascus and its countryside, with president al-Assad praising the Russian people and leadership, describing Russia as a partner in these victories which will not stop until the elimination of the last terrorist and liberating the remaining terrorist hotbeds.
During the meeting, an emphasis was put on the importance of developing mechanisms to implement the outcomes of the recent Sochi summit in terms of continuing counterterrorism, ramping up Russia’s participation in the reconstruction, as well invigorating and pushing the political process forward.
"Some international parties which are separated from reality when it comes to approaching the situation in Syria are an obstacle to any breakthrough in the political track", President Assad pointed out, urging them to show a minimum amount of political realism, halt the support for terrorism and embrace political work.
Lavrentiev, for his part, said Sochi’s recent meeting and the talks during it have given fresh impetus to bilateral relations between the two countries and the various aspects of mutual cooperation.
He urged all international parties which have a genuine desire to back the political process to seize the positive developments in Syria and the Syrian government’s efforts to push the political process forward, and to support endeavors to reach conclusions that will put an end to the war and stop bloodshed in Syria.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been re-elected to lead the country until 2025. In the recent presidential elections, he received more than 69 percent of the votes. But the controversy around Maduro still continues in and outside Venezuela – mainly because of the U.S.' "close interests" in the country.
Since Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez adopted a more Bolivarianist and anti-imperialist discourse, and took some courageous steps like nationalizing Venezuela's monopolized energy companies, the country went through a number of coup attempts backed by the U.S.
The U.S. is again disturbed by the situation in Venezuela as Maduro has followed in Chavez's footsteps and insisted on the same policies. The country has set an example for the other countries in the region that are colonized by the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently condemned the Venezuelan election claiming it was rigged. "The U.S. condemns the fraudulent election that took place in Venezuela on May 20. This so-called ‘election' is an attack on constitutional order and an affront to Venezuela's tradition of democracy," he said in a statement.
One of U.S.' major talking points was the low voter turnout in the election. Officials put the figure at 46 percent, which is actually very close to rates observed in many European countries. As for the U.S., only 55 percent of Americans cast ballots in the last presidential election.
In the Venezuelan presidential election, all the candidates competed freely whereas foreign observers and U.S.-backed dissident media outlets in the country carefully observed the election. Current president Maduro received around 5,800,000 votes, his nearest rival Henry Falcon received 1,820,000, while Javier Bertucci got 925,000 and Reinaldo Quijada got 34,614 votes.
We all know that the baseless accusations against Maduro and his administration are the product of U.S. efforts to justify its intervention in the country's internal affairs.
Even if there were doubts over the election, it is only obvious that different international organizations would be quick to slap different sanctions. But no state has the right to declare the results, refusing to obey them illegitimately or by ignoring international law and diplomatic practices.
But this is the U.S. From the Far East to Latin America and Africa to Europe, everywhere is like its backyard. It is the one who sets the rules.
For instance, if you are a client like Saudi Arabia, which purchases weapons worth billions of dollars annually and prefers dollars over its national currency, even the monarchy would be regarded as a democracy by the U.S. and Uncle Sam would abruptly turn a king into an elected and esteemed politician...
Why did Trump win? In part because voter turnout plunged.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says if Iranian leaders accept U.S. demands to behave like a normal nation, Americans will visit Iran and treat it as a friend. In an exclusive interview with VOA's Persian service broadcast Friday, Pompeo said the goal of the new Iran strategy that he revealed earlier this week is to set conditions for Iran's Islamist rulers to behave like "normal leaders."
Speaking to VOA at the State Department on Thursday, he said "normal" leaders do not loot from their people or waste their money on "adventures" in Syria and Yemen, as he put it.
nato-adventures - libya 2011
The top U.S. diplomat elaborated on one of the 12 conditions from his strategy speech by saying Iran should allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect military sites and research laboratories. In the May 21 speech, he had called for the IAEA to have unqualified access to "all sites throughout the entire country."
In his VOA Persian interview, Pompeo also expanded on the U.S. demand for Iran to end threats to destroy Israel and end other threatening behaviors toward neighboring states. He said Iranian leaders should not only stop encouraging public chants of "Death to Israel," but also "Death to America."
But if they turn away, We have not sent you ˹O Prophet˺ as a keeper over them.
Your duty is only to deliver ˹the message˺. (Quran 42,48)
Pompeo reiterated that the U.S. does not seek regime change in Iran and advised exiled Iranian opposition groups not to do so, either.
"We do not want them advocating for regime change," he said. Pompeo said that as long as such groups are working toward the same goals as the U.S., he welcomes their efforts.
But, Pompeo said some "smaller" opposition groups have not always aligned themselves with U.S. goals, without naming which groups he was referring to.
"We want them working on behalf of the Iranian people, ordinary Iranian citizens who want nothing more than to live their lives, to be able to take their hijab off, to be able to go to work and raise their families and worship in the way they want to worship."
working on behalf of ordinary citizens
Pompeo said the Trump administration will support congressional efforts to pass legislation that would try to expose the hidden wealth of top Iranian leaders, whose many critics inside Iran view as corrupt.
"The Iranian people deserve the truth.
You have senior leaders that are pocketing money, using businesses that are nominally fronts, and frankly, just stealing. To the extent we can prove that and demonstrate that, I would welcome the chance to expose it so the Iranian people can judge for themselves whether these are the individuals they want to lead their country," he said.