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January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Obama Speaks Loudly and Carries Soft Stick on War on Terror [video]

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

President Barack Obama delivered a rousing State of the Union address to Congress Wednesday night, an oratorical masterpiece that focused on a rebounding economy before shifting to a look through rose-colored glasses at the Iranian nuclear threat and worldwide terror.

Despite a headline on one Israeli news site that “Obama Condemns ‘Deplorable’ Anti-Semitism,” that was the extent of President Barack Obama’s reference to lethal attacks on Jews throughout the world, offset with a “nice Muslims” comment:

“We speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.

He was very careful not to describe terror as “Islamic,” which is fair enough since it can be assumed that most Muslims are not terrorists, just as most Jews are not Netura Karta anti-Zionists.

The problem with the politically correct speech is that it ignores the fact that radical Islam, whether it represents “true” Islam or not, drives terrorists into a the fanatic and unquenchable thirst for blood, especially Jewish blood.

“We stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris,” President Obama declared. “We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.”

Part of the statement is true. The last part is not because the Obama administration does not back Israel when it comes down to hunting down and eliminating Palestinian Authority terrorists. It always calls on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to act with “restraint” and not to “escalate” tensions.

That is not how the United States fights terror, but that is the way the President wants Israel to deal with it.

The is something Washington has not learned, despite Obama’s statement that “We’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.”

He was referring to the failed policy of “Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan.” That has been replaced by another failed policy in which “we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead.”

At the same time he was speaking, Iranian-linked terrorists took over the presidential palace in Sana’a, Yemen, in an attempt to overthrow the government that the United States has consistently tried to support.

Obama also has forgotten that Iraq, where U.S. Army personnel still are located, is in shambles.

And it was American soldiers, under the Bush administration, who trained Palestinian Authority forces and who were overwhelmed by Hamas in Gaza, not to forget that several of Abbas’s guards also have used their American–trained skills to attack Israelis, sometimes fatally.

ISIL (not “Islamic State” if you note the President’s language) is Obama’s popular target, but so far, American efforts have not stopped it from taking over more territory in Iraq and Syria.

“Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group,” he said Tuesday night,

In almost the same breath, he announced, “Tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”

Time will tell what that means. Obama has vowed never to send ground troops in to Syria, and “force” already has been used from the air.

He also kept on the tinted glasses when looking towards Iran.

“We’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material,” he said.

Maybe. Maybe not.

The problem is he still is banking on negotiating with people who don’t understand the Western meaning of the term “halt”.

“Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict,” the President said.

But as Fred Fleitz point out in the National Review:

While it is true Iran stopped enriching uranium to the 20 percent uranium-235 level as required by the November 2013 interim agreement, and is diluting 20 percent–enriched uranium to reactor-grade, this concession has had a negligible effect in reducing the threat from Iran’s nuclear program.

Most of its enriched uranium stockpile happens to be at the reactor-grade level, and Iran can convert that material into enough weapons-grade fuel for one nuclear bomb in 2.2 to 3.5 months, only about two weeks longer than it would take to do so using 20 percent enriched uranium.

Iran enrichment chart

Obama admitted, “There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.”

He will try to hang on for two years and leave a much more dangerous Iran for the next president.

Watch the 2015 State of the Union address here:

The text of the 2015 State of the Union address is available here.

Nasrallah Claims Turkey Deals With Both ISIS and al-Nusra

Monday, January 19th, 2015

In an interview aired on the Lebanese al-Manar news site on Monday, Jan. 19, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah made many of the standard blowhard assertions everyone expects. To wit: Hezbollah has much modern weaponry, Hezbollah’s military prowess and arsenal has increased and continues to increase in strength every year.

Nasrallah also claimed that his fighters are training day and night, that they will be ready to liberate the Galilee, and they will penetrate far into enemy territory “in case of a new Zionist aggression in Lebanon.”

No explanation for why this latest “Zionist aggression” was not the one they’ve been waiting for,  just more threats about the next time.

But in the course of the six minute interview, Nasrallah said something worth noting.

The interviewer asked Nassrallah whether Turkey has relations with either ISIS or the al-Nusra Front.

“It has relations with both of them,” Nasrallah replied.

The terrorist leader also claimed that despite what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama “say in the media,” behind the scenes the U.S. administration has revealed in “confidential letters to some regional countries” that it is “not concerned with whether President Assad remains in power or departs.”

Nasrallah said that only Turkey and Saudi Arabia really care about dethroning Assad.

The terrorist leader also said that Hamas is very interested in having close and complete relations with Iran and with Hezbollah.

Iron Dome Deployed in North, Border Farms on War Footing

Monday, January 19th, 2015

The IDF reportedly moved Iron Dome anti-missile systems to defend northern communities Monday night in the wake of Hezbollah threats to punish Israel for Sunday’s spectacular counter-terror bombing raid that killed approximately a dozen Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighters.

The IDF told The Jewish Press, “We do not confirm or deny movements” of the Iron Dome systems, although the military previously has announced their redeployment against rockets from Gaza.

A picture of the Iron Dome being transported was posted on social media, but its location could not be verified.

Farmers in Metulla, which is smack on the northern border, were ordered off their fields by the IDF in SMS messages sent out Monday morning. Farmer Chaim Hod was quoted by Yediot Acharonot as saying that he and is workers began pruning apples tress at 6 a.m. and were ordered away from the orchards by mid-morning.

Several Metulla farms are located at the border, beyond a barbed wire fence, and are off-limits to anyone except the farmers and the IDF.

Reserve units stationed along the Lebanese border are on high alert, and several leaves of absence for regular soldiers have been cancelled.

Increased patrols were observed on both sides of the border, with UNIFIL, Lebanese and Israeli troops keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity.

UNIFIL troops are using night goggle and binoculars, according to sources quoted by the Beirut Daily Star.

Israel soldiers were seen patrolling the streets of Metulla, but civilians on both sides of the border do not seem concerned,

Hod said he actually feels safer when he sees both UNIFIL and Israeli soldiers beefing up patrols, and a Lebanese construction worker told the Star, “We are not afraid. As you see we are continuing construction work just a few kilometers from the Israelis.”

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said, “The IDF is prepared, tracking all developments, and ready to act as needed.” The air strike highlights the excellent level of Israeli intelligence operations, which are the key to carrying out counter-terror strikes and make Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah think twice and three times every time he moves.

As in the past, Israel warned Lebanon that it will be held responsible for any attacks by Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon and is an influential part of the fragile government.

The threat of a fierce Israeli retaliation to any Hezbollah aggression is a strong deterrent. Hezbollah has fallen into growing disfavor in strife-torn Lebanon because it has brought the war in Syria into Lebanon by fighting rebels to the Assad regime. Lebanese hate Israel but a devastating retaliation by the IDF to Hezbollah rockets would make the terrorist army and party even more unwanted.

Below is a video of the aftermath of the attack on Hezbollah and Iranian commanders, as seen in a telecast from southern Lebanon.

 

An Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program in What was Formerly ‘Syria’

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

{Originally posted to author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

Note: This analysis takes on renewed significance in light of the Iranians’ announcement this week that they intend to build two new nuclear reactors, and the Obama administration’s insistence that such a clear expansion of the Iranian nuclear program does not constitute a violation of the Joint Plan of Action to “freeze” the program while its ultimate status is being negotiated.  The facts on the ground are busy changing under our feet, with almost no notice by the Western media.

It was evident a year and a half ago that there would be no restoration of Syria, as we know it, under the Assad regime.

That reality is something the mind of a global public hasn’t really caught up to yet.  But it is reality – Syria, as delineated after World War I, has fallen apart – and it should color our perception of a report from 9 January that remnants of Assad’s nuclear program are still alive and well.

We should not overestimate what’s going on with those remnants, which don’t have anyone close to a nuclear breakout.  The remnants are real – Western intelligence agencies think so – but the evidence of where they have been relocated is indirect, and mostly non-specific.  Assuming they are there, the best estimate would be that they are in approximately the same state they were four years ago: elements of a program not much degraded, perhaps, but not much advanced, if at all, from its earlier condition.

What matters more, however, is that if the analysis of experts is correct, the physical “stuff” in question was moved from one major battle site in Syria to another one, in 2012 and 2013, and ended up in a region on the border with Lebanon now controlled by Hezbollah and Iran.

In other words, the stuff was present in at least one and possibly two areas being fought over by Assad’s forces and rebel forces.   Natural-uranium stock and uranium fuel rods, for example, could have fallen into the hands of foreign jihadis, and/or the Al-Qaeda-backed Al-Nusra Front.

Now those materials, and probably others (including processing equipment), are thought to be stored in an area seized by Hezbollah in 2013, under the direction of the Iranian Qods Force.

This should alarm us.  While Assad controlled Syria, his nuclear aspirations were a big but boundable problem.  Now that he no longer controls Syria, what has happened to the elements of his nuclear program is likely to have non-boundable implications.  At the very least, it has the potential to empower Iran, Hezbollah, or both, with materials held in locations whose political control and accountability will be uncertain – from an official international standpoint – for the foreseeable future.

It’s a nightmare:  the very real potential for the most dangerous kind of nuclear proliferation.

The nuclear problem

Readers will remember that in September 2007, Israel attacked a nuclear reactor being constructed, with the help of North Korea, at al-Kibar in northeastern Syria.  No follow-on construction resumed at the reactor shell itself, although it was quickly covered with tarps and temporary structures after the strike, to frustrate foreign intelligence collection.

The type of reactor being put up was assessed to be a gas-graphite reactor like the one in Yongbyon, North Korea, which would produce enough plutonium as a byproduct for one to two plutonium bombs per year.

The gas-graphite reactor is different from Iran’s at Bushehr (a “light-water” reactor cooled by pressurized water), which would not be a significant source of plutonium.  Iran’s main path to nuclear weapons has been the separate one of uranium enrichment, with a uranium bomb as the end-product.  The enrichment path involves direct enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade purity, using centrifuge cascades as the principal method (although Iran is also thought to be working with laser enrichment).  No reactor is involved in the production of material for the weapons per se.

That said, Iran does have a heavy-water plutonium-producing reactor under construction at Arak, and is thus pursuing both paths to weaponization.

All of this matters, because it affects two things: the footprint of Assad’s nuclear program – what physical clues we have to look for – and the utility of his program to revolutionary Iran’s aspirations.

In Syria, we are not looking for centrifuge facilities like the vast enrichment complex at Natanz in Iran, or the smaller facility at Fordo, near Qom.  We will be looking instead for plants where yellowcake is converted to a usable form (in this case, uranium tetrafluoride, or UF4) and is metalized into fuel rods for the reactor.  We will also be looking for a facility at which plutonium can be separated out – harvested, essentially – from the spent fuel rods after they are removed from the reactor.  In North Korea, this process occurs at the “Radiochemical Laboratory” at Yongbyon, a six-story industrial building.

Reporting from February 2011 – the very outset of the Arab Spring – identified a probable uranium conversion plant at a Syrian military base, Marj as-Sultan, just east of Damascus.  The site had come under IAEA suspicion as early as 2008.  Specific types of major equipment present there were named in a 2011 report from Suddeutsche Zeitung, cited extensively in analysis by experts at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

Syria-nuke-map-1

In January 2013, an article at Financial Times (subscription required; see link in ISIS’s link in this report) indicated that “unusual activity” had been taking place at the suspect area of Marj as-Sultan, where the equipment, along with 50 tonnes of uranium and possibly more than 8,000 fuel rods, were thought, based on earlier intelligence, to be stored.

The unusual activity at the suspect site was probably a consequence of the fighting in the area between regime and rebel forces, which occurred at the same time: in the autumn of 2012.  More on that in the next segment.  The point here is that there is good reason to believe that some of the remnants of Assad’s nuclear program – at a minimum uranium stock, fuel rods, and conversion equipment – were still at the Marj as-Sultan site sometime in 2012.

This brings us to the report by Der Spiegel last week, which indicated that a site in Qusayr, Syria, on the border with Lebanon between Damascus and Homs, has been identified as a nuclear-related site.  Spiegel cites government intelligence sources who have studied activity at the site since 2009, when work on it began.  The site appears to be an underground facility for which the excavation was carefully disguised:

According to intelligence agency analysis, construction of the facility began back in 2009. The work, their findings suggest, was disguised from the very beginning, with excavated sand being disposed of at various sites, apparently to make it more difficult for observers from above to tell how deeply they were digging. Furthermore, the entrances to the facility were guarded by the military…

The most recent satellite images show six structures: a guard house and five sheds, three of which conceal entrances to the facility below. The site also has special access to the power grid, connected to the nearby city of Blosah. A particularly suspicious detail is the deep well which connects the facility with Zaita Lake, four kilometers away. Such a connection is unnecessary for a conventional weapons cache, but it is essential for a nuclear facility.

Syria-nuke-Qusayr

Beyond the observed developments at the site, Spiegel quotes a source as offering communications intelligence confirmation:

But the clearest proof that it is a nuclear facility comes from radio traffic recently intercepted by a network of spies. A voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary can be heard referring to the “atomic factory” and mentions Qusayr. The Hezbollah man is clearly familiar with the site. And he frequently provides telephone updates to a particularly important man: Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission.

There is, moreover, an intriguing possibility suggested by the disappearance of the North Korean scientist, Chou Ji Bu, who has been most closely associated with the Syrian nuclear program.  The possibility is that Chou has been in Syria since sometime in 2007Spiegel again:

Chou was long thought to have disappeared. Some thought that he had fallen victim to a purge back home. Now, though, Western intelligence experts believe that he went underground in Damascus.

In sum: prior to the Arab Spring, Syria had accumulated important elements of a program to build a working reactor like the one at Yongbyon and produce material for plutonium bombs.  Although Israel destroyed the reactor itself while it was under construction, several elements of the program remained intact in Syrian hands.  It is not clear what progress, if any, has been made with them in the nearly four years since the Arab Spring began, but there is credible evidence not only that the nuclear program continues, but that the previously-accumulated elements of it are still in Syria.

The question, however, is who is really in charge of them at this point.

The political control problem

That a Hezbollah operative is making reports on the “atomic factory” to the godfather of Assad’s nuclear program – Ibrahim Othman – is hardly meaningless.  It means at least that Iran still works through Assad in Syria, for important purposes.  There is still a convention of gestures between the two governments.  Othman himself, as we should expect, retains a unique significance.

But given everything else about this situation, including the location of a suspect site at Qusayr, and the history of the site at Marj as-Sultan in the civil war, we would be wrong to think of the nuclear program in Syria as still being Assad’s nuclear program, to do with as he wants.  Like the territory of Syria itself, the true ownership of the nuclear program is now a question more of who has local control – and who will set boundaries for Assad, since he is unable to reconsolidate “Syria” in his own power.

First, we must stipulate that the activity at the Qusayr site, which began in 2009, was directed originally by the Assad regime.  Revolutionary Iran has always had an interest in Assad’s nuclear program, and some degree of influence over it, but in 2009, Assad was still making his own decisions.

Fast-forward, however, to the critical period in 2012 and 2013 when the nuclear program was imperiled by local fighting in the civil war.  The regime’s air base at Marj as-Sultan was endangered by fighting in the larger Eastern Ghouta area in 2012, and rebel forces made significant headway there throughout the year.  In late November 2012, they overran the air base as part of their campaign in Eastern Ghouta.  Later reporting revealed that Assad’s forces had evacuated the operable military equipment from the base before it was overrun; that information, and the imagery observation of unusual activity at the suspect nuclear site, support the assessment that the nuclear-program material was also removed.

The Telegraph’s characterization (link above) was the common one at the time: the rebels, making gains in Eastern Ghouta, just outside Damascus, were “tightening the noose” on Assad.  The period from late 2012 to mid-2013 was actually a critical inflection point in the fortunes of the Syrian civil war.  Assad was on the ropes, losing strategic ground in the north as well as around Damascus.

Syria-nuke-map-2

A big part of what changed the momentum in his favor was a decision in the early spring of 2013 to shift regime forces from the Qusayr area, where they were in a standoff with the Al-Nusra Front, and bring them to Eastern Ghouta and Daraya, east and south of Damascus.  This shift enabled the turning tide that saw regime gains later in 2013, a campaign that included the battle in Eastern Ghouta in which Assad is alleged to have used chemical weapons.

Syria-nuke-map-3Syria-nuke-map-4

Qusayr would not be left to fall, of course.  Situated at the north end of the Beqaa Valley, Qusayr commands the approach from Lebanon to Homs, and must be held in order to keep the entire province secure, and prevent Homs from being cut off from Damascus.

But this feature of the campaign is where the sand shifted under Assad’s feet, so to speak.  He couldn’t regain momentum in Damascus and also establish control of Qusayr.

Iran and Hezbollah, executing an Iranian plan, stepped in to do the fighting and defeat the rebels at Qusayr.

The Hezbollah campaign at Qusayr in the spring of 2013 marked a significant break in Hezbollah’s level of political and military involvement in the Syrian civil war, which had hitherto been minimal – a fact quickly noted by analysts.  There was no question who had seized control of Qusayr when the battle was won: Hezbollah was in charge, not the forces of the Assad regime.  In fact, when the defeated rebels sought safe passage out of the city, their flight was negotiated by Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a long-time associate of Hezbollah in the ever-shifting politics of Beirut.

Some of the impact on Lebanon of the disposition of Qusayr, and Hezbollah’s control of the city, is hinted at by this brief report from April 2014, which notes the arrest by the Lebanese army of a “military council leader” from Qusayr.  The report suggests he was engaged in arms trafficking; he would have been a Hezbollah operative.  Hezbollah has been an encroaching force in Lebanon for decades, controlling parts of the country and resisted in others.  With Assad’s status on the other side of the border increasingly subject to an Iranian veto, Hezbollah is on the cusp of holding a worrisome new strategic advantage.

A new picture emerges

It is no accident that the site of a nuclear facility in Syria has ended up under the control of Hezbollah and Iran.  It’s a question for another time what the Assad regime’s original purpose was in locating it in Qusayr, but we do know that in 2013, the commander of the Iranian paramilitary Qods force, Qassem Soleimani, is reported to have fully orchestrated the Hezbollah takeover in Qusayr:

According to Will Fulton, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute, Hezbollah fighters encircled Qusayr, cutting off the roads, then moved in. Dozens of them were killed, as were at least eight Iranian officers. On June 5th, the town fell. “The whole operation was orchestrated by Suleimani,” [said former CIA officer John] Maguire, who is still active in the region. “It was a great victory for him.”

There has been extensive recognition of Iran’s involvement in Syria; see here, here, and here, for example.  Much of that discussion has already understood that the battle of Qusayr was both a turning point in the civil war and a key feature of the Iranian strategy.  But the emerging information about the nuclear site at Qusayr sheds a new light on the strategic import of the Iranian involvement, and on the critical inflection point in Assad’s fortunes in late 2012 and early 2013.

Qusayr’s geographic features are an important reason for Hezbollah to have wanted to make an investment there.  But the existence of a nuclear site would have intensified Iran’s interest, explaining the focus Tehran put on orchestrating a victory there – a victory by Hezbollah, and not by Assad’s forces.  The before-and-after implied in that sentence speaks volumes.

Put that development in the context of growing recognition that there is no “Syria” anymore – see, for example, the treatments here and here – and a new picture begins to emerge of what Iran is really doing in what used to be Syria.

Take that picture, moreover, and add to it data points from the last few days.  After the Spiegel piece came out, members of the Free Syrian Army in the Qusayr area reported on 12 January that Iranian officers were there supervising the suspect facility, and that Hezbollah was mounting an “unprecedented” security presence for it.

[FSA official] Al-Bitar said the Friday report [in] Der Spiegel has been discussed at length in command meetings of rebel factions in the Kalamoon area.

He went on to say that “what can be confirmed is that what’s going on there is happening under direct Iranian supervision and the Syrian regime is only a cover-up for this.”

On 13 January, Adam Kredo reported at Washington Free Beacon that Iran acknowledges building missile manufacturing plants in Syria.

IRGC Aerospace Commander Haji Zadeh touted Iran’s capabilities and bragged that Iran has gone from importing most of its military hardware to producing it domestically, as well as for regional partners such as Assad.

“A country such as Syria which used to sell us arms, was later on to buy our missiles,” Zadeh was quoted as saying earlier this week by the Young Journalists Club. “Right now the missile manufacturing firms in Syria are built by Iran.”

Iran’s involvement in weapons manufacturing in Syria was already well known.  But the statement by Zadeh is a reminder of the scope of what Iran does in Syria – and the potential created by that array of activities for hemispheric power projection, through terror and intimidation.

The beauty of the territory of “Syria” for Iran is not only that it is in political turmoil.  It’s also that Syria is a wedge into the West, with a coastline on the Mediterranean: on the “other side” of both Israel and the Suez Canal from Iran’s regional encroachments on the Red Sea.  Under today’s chaotic conditions, Iran has an “interior” line of communication between her territory and Syria.  She can move men and material in and out of Syria via that LOC for many purposes, without being interdicted.  Eventually, Iran can foresee consolidating her position on the Syrian Mediterranean coast, and using it for purposes that can’t be accomplished without that unfettered access to points west.

Opportunity for Iran

All that said, however, Syria is now uniquely important to Iran’s nuclear aspirations because of the internal turmoil.  There is no meaningful mechanism for enforcing “national” Syrian accountability to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.  This is an ideal situation for Iran, and is only enhanced by the fact that the Syrian nuclear program has been on the alternate path to a plutonium bomb, as opposed to Iran’s well-advanced path to a uranium bomb.

Syria-nuke-map-5

Omri Ceren, an analyst with The Israel Project, made the following point in correspondence with me this week:

Between Hezbollah and the IRGC, Syria hasn’t existed as Syria for a long time. Even without the IRGC and Hezbollah physically there – which they are – a Syrian nuclear plant is an Iranian nuclear plant. The Iranians are building redundancy into their program. They’re just putting some of their facilities across what used to be the Syrian border. It’s the equivalent of building a new plant inside northern Iran, except it’s a little farther out in their frontier.

It’s actually better than building a new plant inside Iran.  It’s taking the work already done in Syria under Iran’s wing, and, by keeping it geographically distinct, putting a whole segment of the Iran-supervised effort outside any reasonable prospect of international inspection or accountability.

The State Department made it clear on Monday that the Obama administration has no intention of pursuing this as an issue with Iran.  Under questioning from reporters, Marie Harf was adamant about that (emphasis added):

QUESTION: On the Spiegel story, you said you’re seeking – who are you seeking more – I mean, you know – you should know this area better than anybody –

HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — certainly better than a German, although highly respected, news magazine

HARF: I would agree with you that we probably have information they don’t.

QUESTION: So who are you seeking information from or are you —

HARF: Seeking internally or from our partners to see what more we can – if we can cooperate this, but again, not sure we can.

QUESTION: Is that – well, you couldn’t corroborate it because of intelligence reasons or because the story’s false and you want to leave it out there?

HARF: We don’t know yet. We just saw the reports and we’re looking into it.

QUESTION: Will you discuss this issue with the Iranians in the upcoming talks?

HARF: No. The upcoming talks are about the Iranian nuclear program.

QUESTION: Yeah, but if they are helping the –

HARF: Yes, but we don’t discuss other issues with them at those talks, as you all know.

QUESTION: But if they are –

HARF: Let’s move on to North Korea and let’s —

QUESTION: But if they are helping the Assad regime to build a nuclear facility –

HARF: I just said we’re not going to. I’m not sure what you don’t understand about that. We’re moving on to North Korea.

Not only will we not address this with Iran: we have only long-term and ineffectual plans to address the turmoil in Syria.  Our plan to train and equip an opposition force capable of fighting either the ISIS jihadi group or the Assad regime hasn’t even started yet.  It is, in any case, a plan with a long lead-time – at least a year – which the Obama administration does not intend to accomplish through its longstanding association with the Free Syrian Army.  (See here as well.)  Just this week, the commander of Special Operations Forces in CENTCOM met with Syrian opposition leaders to begin laying out a strategic vision.

The plan, moreover, doesn’t envision pacifying or unifying Syria, or taking territory from Assad or ISIS.  It’s a wholly defensive plan, which will apparently result only in setting up defended enclaves in a Syria left divided and unsettled.

In other words, nothing we plan to do will make the slightest headway against the very real problem of Syria as an unsupervised storage shed and back-room manufactory, for Iran or for whoever can manage to get hold of its contents.  Some of those contents are still from the Assad regime’s nuclear program.  It’s by no means impossible for ISIS to get hold of them; we don’t know where everything from the old program is.

If they are under the active supervision of Iran today, and are incorporated in a strategic plan of the mullahs’ devising, it is suicidal to be complacent about where they may end up, or how they may be used.

Iran Celebrated Christmas by Hanging 7 People

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Iran hanged seven people at dawn on Christmas and 12 others before and after the Christian holiday, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian opposition group.

Several days earlier, President Barack Obama praised Iran and said that it could be a “successful” member of the international community if it decides to relinquish some portions of its nuclear weapons program, according to the interview.

”They’ve got a chance to get right with the world,” Obama stated.

Hamas Wants to Clean Up It’s Image, Just Like Iran Did

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Clearly learning a lesson from Iran, how a “charm offensive” can make your terrorism and anti-social behavior completely palatable to the West, some Hamas officials and ideologues and throwing out ideas on how to clean up their public image and gain global acceptance for their war on Israel.

Though their brutality, Islamic extremism and terrorist behavior are similar if not the same as ISIS and al-Qaida, Sheikh Ahmad Yousef, one of Hamas’s ideologues, doesn’t want Hamas associated with al-Qaida or ISIS anymore, according to a report in the British Independent.

Both terrorist groups, al-Qaida and ISIS, are considered enemies by Iran, which would certainly explain why Hamas, an Iranian client, doesn’t want their image associated with their fellow Islamic terrorists with whom they share so much in common.

To some extent, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to get the West to see the similarity between Hamas and ISIS worked, and that effort didn’t go unnoticed by Hamas.

As part of cleaning up their public image, the British Independent reports that Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political chief of Hamas said,

“We have negotiated with Israel using weapons; so it is possible to negotiate with words.”

Sheikh Ahmad Yousef wants direct talks not just with Israel, but also the West, just like Iran:

“We have to acknowledge that there is a negative image of us among some in Europe and America. We can carry on and let that continue, or we can talk to these countries, put forward our case, exchange ideas: that seems to us to be the practical way forward.”

According to the Independent, the Sheikh continued,

Hamas needs to rethink its whole strategy, held Sheikh Ahmad, looking at what has been learnt from successive rounds of conflicts and negotiations and also be prepared to make changes to its 27-year-old manifesto, especially the parts in it which can be viewed as anti-Semitic. At the same time everything possible must be done to distance the movement from al-Qaeda and Isis, “making it very clear that the Islam we believe in is very different from theirs”.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, which hasn’t given up its efforts to build a nuclear bomb as it gets sanctions removed from a gullible West, is clearly a good teacher.

Hamas isn’t changing its plan to destroy Israel, but now they’ll put a happy face sticker on it.

Palestinian Authority Envoy to Tehran Says Israel will be Destroyed

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Iran has said that Israel is a cancer” that “will be destroyed,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday morning.

He also said, ‘We have seen increased Iranian efforts for terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria. ”The PA ambassador’s remarks, quoted by the Prime Minister, are a carbon copy of those of Hamas and exposes the Ramallah regime headed by Mahmoud Abbas as a terrorist organization in a shirt and tie.

Netanyahu said:

The ambassador said he is happy with orders from the ruler of Iran, [Ali Hosseini] Khamenei, to send weapons to the West Bank.

He added, and I quote, ‘The Zionist regime is an aggressive cancerous regime that sooner or later will be eliminated.’

Netanyahu emphasized that the ambassador is not a Hamas official but one from the Palestinian Authority headed by “peace partner” Mahmoud Abbas.

He asked rhetorically what will be the reaction of the United Nations.

“They give Iran a place of honor instead of dealing with incitement like this, which leads to terrorism such as we have experienced lately,” referring to last week’s firebombing of an 11-year-old and her father by two Palestinian Authority terrorists.

Netanyahu said Israel will not allow the Palestinian Authority “to force a second Hamastan on us and endanger our security” by going to the U.N. Security Council to circumvent negotiations with Israel.

“This is the same United Nations whose Human Rights Council last year brought 20 decisions against Israel, one against Iran and one against Syria,” Netanyahu added.

The Prime Minister said he expects the international community to unite against the Palestinian Authority effort.

We also can expect  the Palestinian Authority  observer to the United Nations tell the international community how much Abbas  wants peace and that Israel refuses to make peace with a regime that publicly states that Israel is a “cancer that, sooner or later, will be eliminated.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/palestinian-authority-envoy-to-tehran-says-israel-will-be-destroyed/2014/12/28/

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