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May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

US Navy Begins Escorting UK Ships in Strait of Hormuz

Monday, May 4th, 2015

The United States has added vessels from Britain to the list of ships to be given protection in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Navy warships have already begun to provide an escort to UK-flagged vessels as they sail through the Strait, said Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Warren told reporters at a briefing on Monday the Navy has escorted one British ship through the strait so far.

The decision followed a discussion between London and Washington over the security status in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. vessels have been under escort protection of the Navy since April 28, 2015, when Iran seized the M/V Maersk Tigris. The Maersk, a Danish ship, was flagged under the Marshall Islands at the time it was captured.

The United States is obligated to defend vessels flagged under the Marshall Islands according to a mutual defense treaty between the two countries. The 34 sailors who were aboard the captured vessel were last heard from about 24 hours after the seizure, and said they were in good condition but were being confined to quarters. They have not been heard from since, nor has there been any independent confirmation of their whereabouts or condition following that contact.

UN Peacekeepers Wounded by Syrian Shelling — Will UN Probe This One?

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Two members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were hit by mortar fire Monday in the Golan Heights in Israel in what was allegedly a “spillover” attack on their base from Syria.

One of the two was taken to a hospital in serious but stable condition. The second, a female soldier, was treated at the scene. She is in good condition, the Hebrew-language Ynet site reported. Both were stationed in their base on the Israeli side of the border with Syria at the time of the attack. There has been no confirmation of the above information from the IDF Spokesperson, who issued a terse statement saying only that two UNDOF soldiers were slightly wounded in a “spillover” attack on their base from the Syrian civil war across the border in the Golan Heights.

(Ed. Note: The UNDOF force is comprised of some 800 soldiers from the Republic of Ireland, Fiji, India, Nepal and the Netherlands. It has been monitoring the cease-fire line that separates Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights since 1974. Israel won the territory after a defensive battle with Syria in 1967, and was forced to defend in again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It was subsequently annexed by Israel.)

According to military sources, the mortar fire was launched from Syria. But it is not clear who fired the two shells.

They could have been launched by a number of terror organizations or the Free Syrian Army which whom the revolt began. It is also possible they were fired by the government troops fighting to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power.

Likewise, it is possible the mortar fire came from Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps troops, who have been fighting alongside Assad’s troops for years, together with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror guerrillas from Lebanon.

The undisputed fact is that this is not the first time mortars have been fired across the border on the Golan Heights. This time IDF designated the area a “closed military zone” following the attack – even though the IDF again determined it to be another “spillover” from the four-year-long Syrian civil war.

UNDOF transferred its Golan Heights base last year across the border from Syria to Israel due safety concerns. Irish soldiers serving in the force say “It’s a unique mission; danger lurks around every bend,” according to a report posted Monday in the Irish Times.

In that, UNDOF soldiers are facing circumstances similar to those of their colleagues in UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) and the former European Union monitors at the Rafa border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

That is, when things get a little too hot, they acknowledge the danger and back down – fast.

In this case, they were allowed to move their base to the Israeli side of the border, but today’s attack on the base — “errant mortar fire” — proves such a move is no sinecure.

This past January – just a couple of weeks after the Paris terrorist massacres, in fact – a UNIFIL unit got caught in the crossfire when Hezbollah terrorists attacked an Israeli civilian convoy with a military escort traveling along a road a few kilometers from the northern border.

Hezbollah fired six missiles at the convoy from a position three kilometers deep into southern Lebanese territory in the cross-border attack. The convoy was traveling on a road also deep into Israeli territory.

Two IDF soldiers and a civilian died; several others were wounded. A home in an Israeli Druze village took a direct hit and went up in flames; it was completely destroyed and most of the residents were badly traumatized.

State Dept.: Iran ‘Hoodwinked Countries but This Time It’s Different

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

An assistant Secretary of State has said that Iran “hoodwinked” Latin American countries and did not honor agreements, but Foggy Bottom says nuclear talks are a separate issue, so don’t worry.

Following are remarks from Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere to retirees on Foreign Service Day Friday:

The involvement of Iran in the Western Hemisphere is never benign. I want to underscore that: it is never benign. Iran signed an enormous number of agreements with countries in the region, almost none of which have come to any real fruition or benefit for those – for the countries of the hemisphere….

I do think that there are fewer countries that get kind of – that kind of get hoodwinked by Iran.

She also said that economic sanctions on Iran have made it difficult for it to follow through with several agreements and that Iran’s desire to be a greater influence in the West requires close monitoring.

First of all, sanctions work. Second of all, Iran cannot be trusted.

The third statement would seem to be that the United States cannot trust Iran to honor an agreement on its nuclear activity and should not lift sanctions, but the State Dept. differs.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked State Dept. spokesman Jeff Rathke on Friday to explain otherwise, and here is how he tried to wiggle out of Logic 101:

That is a separate issue from the nuclear talks which are focused on Iran’s nuclear program…: I think there’s a difference between the types of agreements you’re talking about.  You’re referring to agreements …on economic cooperation and other such things.

What we’re talking about in the nuclear context is, first of all, a situation where there is a unified international community where there are international sanctions, a wide variety of them, UN sanctions, United States sanctions, European Union sanctions, as well as others, that put pressure on Iran and also that make it in Iran’s interest to deal with those sanctions and to negotiate on the nuclear program.

And how about the billions of dollars that would flow into Iran’s coffers when sanctions are lifted in return for a deal? “Are you not concerned at all that what you don’t see now in terms of a growing Iranian threat in the Western Hemisphere will become a concern if Iran suddenly has a windfall of billions and billions of dollars in money? Lee asked.

No problem, Rathke answered.

“We have separate ways of dealing with other problematic behavior by Iran, whether it’s in regional context, whether it’s support for terrorism, and so forth.  So that’s why we’re focused on the nuclear issue.  And if Iran meets all of its required steps under an eventual joint comprehensive plan of action, then the world will be a safer place because of it.” he said.

Note the two-letter word “if.”

But didn’t Asst. Sec. of State Jacobson say Iran’s presence in the west is “never benign”? So this time it will be different?

“Well,” Rathke said, “we remain concerned about those – about Iran’s activities and we will remain vigilant about them and we retain the tools to deal with them.”

Vice-President Joe Biden is very concerned, or at least that is what he said last week to a Washington think tank, to wit:

“Despite good reasons to think that most of it [money] will go to urgent domestic needs, some or all of it may fund further mischief in the region.”

Rathke reiterated “we are vigilant.”

Therefore, so the “logic” goes, Obama won’t get hoodwinked.

 

Free Ice Cream to Celebrate Iran’s 1000th Hanging

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Iran hanged over 1,000 people in the past year and a half. On April 29, 2015, David Keyes, executive director of Advancing Human Rights, threw an ice cream party outside of the Iranian foreign ministers speech at NYU to celebrate this milestone. Mr. Zarif and his deputy foreign ministers didn’t seem too hungry.

Which dictator should David punk next? Send your recommendations to david.keyes@advancinghumanrights.org or follow him on Twitter @DavidMKeyes

Netanyahu Tells US Think Tank Obama’s Deal with Iran Endangers Mideast [video]

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a Washington think tank Friday that the proposed deal with Iran to restrict its nuclear program “would make the world would a much more dangerous place.”

He spoke through a video message at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where Vice President Joe Biden insisted the deal was “reasonable” and that the United States “has Israel’s back.”

Netanyahu said reminded his audience that Iran “repeatedly threatens to annihilate Israel” and has created “terrorist bases across three of Israel’s borders in Lebanon and Gaza and now on the Syrian Golan.

The Prime Minister asserted:

The international community cannot let Iran’s aggression in the region — in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and elsewhere – to continue under the protection of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And the international community cannot afford to let the planet’s foremost sponsor of terrorism have nuclear capabilities with which to terrorize the entire world….

The Lausanne framework….would make the world would a much more dangerous place…. Now there are those who say that the Lausanne framework will make Israel safer.

As the prime minister of Israel I can tell you categorically this deal will endanger Israel — big time. But it’s not just Israel that will be in danger: The Middle East and the entire world will be threatened.

Biden told the think tank, “Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other. They [Iran] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material. Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”

What he didn’t say is that Iran has gotten that far while Obama and Biden were in office. Netanyahu is saying that the proposed deal guarantees that Iran can achieve its goal.

The vice-president said that the United States will go to war with Iran if necessary to keep it from procuring a nuclear weapon.

The inference from Netanyahu’s position is that war can be prevented if Iran can be stopped from becoming a nuclear power, which is why the Prime Minister told the think tank, “A better deal is necessary. A better deal is possible. A better deal must and can be achieved. But if not, no deal is better than this bad deal.”

Tom Cotton Challenges Iran’s Zarif to Debate on US Constitution

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton called Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif a “cowardly” on Wednesday and challenged him on Twitter to a debate on the U.S. constitution “to debate Iran’s record of tyranny, treachery, & terror.”

Cotton was replying to Zarif’s  comments at New York University Wednesday that a deal with Iran will be accompanied by the removal of sanctions “whether Sen. Cotton likes it or not.”

Cotton then dared Zarif to a debate but assumed that Zarif would turn down the opportunity because of his “cowardly character” he demonstrated by deciding to “hide” in the United States during the Iran-Iraq war.

Zarif, speaking about the next president after Obama, said at the university:

The resolution will endorse the agreement, will terminate all previous resolutions including all sanctions, will set in place the termination of EU sanctions and the cessation of applications of all U.S. sanctions…

I’ve studied and lived in the U.S. I know enough about the U.S. Constitution and U.S. procedures, but as a foreign government I only deal with U.S. government. I do not deal with U.S. Congress.

Cotton, who last month penned a letter to the Iranian government that it “may not fully understand our constitutional system,” tweeted yesterday:

Hey @JZarif, I hear you called me out today.  If you’re so confident, let’s debate the Constitution.

Here’s offer: meet in DC, @JZarif, time of your choosing to debate Iran’s record of tyranny, treachery, & terror.

I understand if you decline @JZarif after all, in your 20s, you hid in US during Iran-Iraq war while peasants & kids were marched to die.

Rubio’s ‘Poison Pill’ May Force Democrats to Get Off the Fence on Israel

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio’s insistence  on amending the proposed Senate bill for review of a deal with Iran by requiring  the Islamic Republic to recognize Israel is beginning to make Democrats squirm.

Iran has repeatedly stated that Israel should be wiped off the map. It is building Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and by all accounts, except Tehran’s, is not far from being able to obtain a nuclear warhead.

It doesn’t take an evangelist Republican to connect the dots despite Iran’s position that it would never never even dream of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Iran never would accept Rubio’s proposal that it recognize Israel, at least not in Ayatollah Khamenei’s lifetime, and Rubio knows it.

So does President Barack Obama, who warned on Wednesday he would veto a Congressional bill if it makes negotiations with Iran impossible.

Democrats, especially the Jewish ones, also know that supporting the president and voting against the suggestion that a Muslim country recognize the Jewish state will be recorded in the history book on warped thinking, with the notion the way to peace is to allow an enemy to scheme to destroy an enemy instead of dismantling the scheme, admitting defeat and recognizing that the enemy is its own hallucinations.

Where is Shimon Peres when we need him? Peres has said dozens of times that “one makes peace with enemies, not with friends.” The cliché is more ridiculous than it is trite, but if that is his philosophy, why isn’t he out there backing Rubio?

The Senate began on Tuesday to debate the proposed law that any deal with Iran on its nuclear development must be submitted to Congress for review.

President Obama originally said he would veto such a law, but after Republic Sen. Bob Corker toned down its original language so that the legislation would have a veto-proof majority, he changed his mind.

That was until Rubio, who has announced he is running to be the GOP’s presidential nominee next year, came up with seven amendments,  known as the “poison pills” because there is no chance Obama and Iran would accept them.

Besides demanding that Iran recognize Israel, the Florida Republican wants Iran to release American it is holding. He also demands that sanctions having nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear development be retained on Tehran.

Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, Jewish and strongly identified with Israel, blocked Rubio’s effort on Wednesday to bring the “recognize Israel” amendment to a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I appreciate the senator from Maryland’s passion,” Rubio said, “but I want a vote on the amendment,” and he intends to do so when the bill comes to the floor of the Senate.

Rubio has managed to scare Republicans as well as Democrats.

Several GOP Leaders are angry with Rubio because his “poison pill” amendments would destroy the bi-partisan support for a watered-down bill for Congressional review of a deal with Iran.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a strong backer of Israel, said he would vote against Rubio’s amendments.

Graham explained:

I don’t think anybody is going to accuse Lindsey Graham of being anti-Israel. I’ve been working for a year … to put this coalition together. And failure is not an option.\

Politico reported that “GOP leaders appear to siding with Rubio [and] so far, they have not moved to orchestrate Republicans to vote against problematic amendments.”

Rubio has the Democrats in a tight corner. He said, “Do Democrats not support Israel?”

The oddity is that Democrats are holding their collective breath for Corker, a Republican, to convince Rubio to back off or convince his colleagues to vote against the amendments.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rubios-poison-pill-may-force-democrats-to-get-off-the-fence-on-israel/2015/04/30/

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