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May 27, 2015 / 9 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Iran Tests US Resolve, Forces Maersk Vessel to Coastal Waters

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Iran appears to be testing the resolve of the United States and President Barack Obama in its latest adventure with a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. forces operating in the region heard and responded to the distress call sent by the M/S Maersk Tigris, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, during a confrontation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Marshall Islands are under a defense treaty with the United States; the U.S. is obligated to come to the defense of that nation should it be attacked.

The Iranian forces contacted the master of the cargo ship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, ordering him to divert to Iranian waters. When he refused, the Iranian vessel fired warning shots across the bow of the Danish ship. IRGC forces then boarded the ship and guided it towards southern Iran.

By the time the U.S.S. Farragut, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer reached the location – more than 60 miles away at the start of the distress call – the Maersk was heading to Iran.

Apparently under Admiralty law, a commercial firm is allowed to go to court and obtain a court order to seize a ship to satisfy a debt, according to retired U.S. Navy captain and Fox News military analyst Chuck Nash.

Nash told Fox News journalist Gretchen Carlson on Wednesday that an Iranian company did just that about 10 or 12 years ago, after cargo that was to be shipped with a Maersk vessel never arrived.

Last Friday, four Iranian ships also dogged the heels of a Maersk ship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz. But that vessel was sailing under the flag of the United States of America, and eventually the Iranians abandoned their pursuit.

This week the targeted Maersk vessel was flagged under the Marshall Islands, which clearly emboldened its pursuers.

“The U.S. is under no obligation” to do [anything to defend the vessel] in the maritime realm, Nash explained. He pointed out the treaty with the Marshall Islands is a “clear spoken defense agreement should they be attacked” – on land.

The U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense has confirmed the above facts, saying the shipping company told U.S. Central Command that the Iran Navy “contacted the vessel and directed the Maersk Tigris’s master to divert further, into Iranian waters.” He added: “The master initially declined and one of the IRGC patrol craft fired shots across the Maersk Tigris’s bow. The master then complied and diverted under escort by the IRGC vessels.”

The Maersk issued a distress call when the shots were fired. The U.S.S. Farragut received that call and immediately launched a maritime reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the situation, and itself headed to site, he added.

The real questions now are:

  • What is the status of the MaerskTigris, forced to a southern Iranian port city by Iranian forces?
  • Where are the 34 sailors who were aboard the Maersk and what is their condition? Are they now hostages of Iran?
  • Who has the obligation to rescue the crew of the Maersk? Who will ensure their safety?
  • How will the United States consider this situation as it continues to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear development activities?

It’s important not to forget that Iran continues to hold U.S. citizens hostage, even as Secretary of State John Kerry carries on his nuclear development negotiations with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. They are:

  • Saeed Abedini, 34, of Idaho, arrested during a 2012 trip to Tehran to visit family and sentenced to eight years in prison. Married father of two;
  • Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent seized by Iranian intelligence in 2007 as he was investigating a cigarette smuggling case on Kish Island, an Iranian free-trade zone — the longest-held hostage in Iranian custody, assuming he is still alive;
  • Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine arrested and charged with espionage in 2011 while visiting family in Tehran; and
  • Jason Rezaian, the bureau chief for The Washington Post in Tehran, arrested in July 2014 on undisclosed “security-related offenses.” In January 2015 an Iranian prosecutor revealed Rezaian would be tried in a revolutionary court by one of the country’s most notorious hanging judges.
  • It is important to remember the names and circumstances of each of the hostages and to remind each candidate who stands for office as elections approach in 2016.

Without This Amendment, Corker-Cardin Will Likely Do More Harm Than Good

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Today, there is no greater threat to U.S. national security than the prospect of a nuclear Iran. Led by theocratic zealots who have pledged to “annihilate Israel” and who regularly lead chants of “Death to America,” an Iran with nuclear weapons poses an unacceptably high risk of murdering millions of Americans or millions of our allies.

For that reason, the top priority for the Senate should be to stop a bad Iran deal.

The Senate is now considering the Iran Nuclear Review Agreement Act (Corker-Cardin), which provides that any Iran deal must be submitted to Congress. This legislation started out with good intentions, and I supported moving it forward in committee. Indeed, I support anything that slows down the Obama administration’s headlong rush into finalizing an Iran deal that jeopardizes U.S. national security.

On the floor of the Senate, however, I intend to press vigorously for a critical amendment to this legislation. At the end of the debate, if this bill is not strengthened, I will have a great deal of difficulty supporting it.

Right now, the President has statutory authority to relax some Iran sanctions, and he has the constitutional authority to try to negotiate with foreign nations any deal he desires. Yet we must remember that in order for any foreign deal to become binding U.S. law, there are two and only two paths under our Constitution: First, he can submit his proposal as a treaty to the Senate, which requires 67 votes for ratification. Or second, he can submit it as legislation, get a majority vote in both Houses of Congress, and then sign it into law.

President Obama chafes at these constitutional requirements. The current Iran deal is so bad on the merits that he knows that it cannot meet either threshold. Hence, the Administration has suggested it wants to circumvent Congress, perhaps by trying to go the United Nations for ratification. But the UN, likewise, lacks the authority to create binding U.S. law. If it is not codified in a treaty or a statute, a UN resolution cannot bind the next President.

So what does Corker-Cardin do? It requires the President to submit an Iran deal to Congress, and then it provides that Congress can pass a “resolution of disapproval” to kill the deal. Any such resolution would be subject to a possible Democratic filibuster, which would take 60 votes to overcome. And, even if both Houses were to pass a resolution of disapproval, President Obama could veto it, which would then require two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to override.

If those super-majorities cannot be mustered, the President’s bad Iran deal would go into effect.

Thus, Corker-Cardin motion of disapproval reverses the ordinary presumptions. Instead of the President needing 67 Senate votes to ratify the Iran deal, it would now require 67 votes to stop an Iran deal.

This makes no sense. Why is the current legislation so weak? Because the price of getting support from Democratic senators has been to water down the legislation to the point where it is almost entirely meaningless.

As written, the legislation would do two things. First, it would provide Democratic senators with a show vote to say they were tough on Iran (before tacitly approving it). Second, it would virtually ensure that President Obama’s bad Iran deal—which endangers the lives of millions of Americans—stands.

President Obama’s proposed deal makes military conflict with Iran a virtual certainty. Under the terms that have been publicly announced, Iran will keep its nuclear centrifuges, will keep its enriched uranium, and will keep developing its ICBM program (which exists for the sole purpose of carrying a nuclear weapon to America). Under the terms of the deal, Iran will receive billions of dollars — which it will surely use to keep developing nuclear weapons. And, because Iran will remain the leading state sponsor of terrorism (the deal does nothing to change that), those billions of dollars will also be funneled directly to Hezbollah and Hamas and radical Islamic terrorists across the world.

Along with Sen. Pat Toomey, I have introduced an amendment to switch the presumption of power back where it belongs: to Congress.

If the President cannot secure either a majority in both Houses, no sanctions relief should be implemented.

Without this amendment, Corker-Cardin will likely do more harm than good—simply providing political cover for a bad Iran deal (which is why the Obama administration is now supportive of the legislation).

President Obama is fond of posing a false dichotomy: either you support his current Iran deal, or you want war. But, as Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly observed, “a bad deal is worse than no deal.” As it stands, Corker-Cardin is a bad deal that paves the way for the President’s worse deal with Iran.

In January 2017, we will have a new President. He or she will likely encounter an Iran on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. If President Obama has implemented his bad deal—if he has unraveled the international consensus in favor of strict sanctions on Iran—then sanctions will in all likelihood be impossible to re-impose. Doing so would take months or years (if at all), probably too far out to prevent a nuclear Iran.

Thus, the next president would be left with two choices: acquiesce to Iran having nuclear weapons (which it could then use to murder Americans and our allies), or launch a targeted military attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity.

The Obama deal makes those the only two realistic options in 2017. That’s why the Senate should stop it. Peace through strength is the only way both to avoid war and to prevent a nuclear Iran.

And that is why we need Iran sanctions legislation with teeth.

The article originally appeared in The Washington Times

Latest EU Brilliance: Have Iran Star in Syrian Civil War Negotiations

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Federica Mogherini, foreign policy chief of the European Union, expressed hope that Iran would play an important but constructive role in a renewed United Nations effort to restart negotiations towards ending the years-long Syrian civil war.

Mogherini met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on Tuesday, April 28. Prior to her meeting, Mogherini said that she sees her role as ensuring that “negotiations proceed in a speedy and good way.”

What she meant by “good,” she explained to reporters in New York, is that the negotiations should result in Iran being prevented from developing nuclear weapons, but that it be allowed the “right to deploy a peaceful program as everybody else.”

Mogherini told Zarif it is crucial that the P5+1 powers successfully conclude nuclear negotiations with Iran. She said that doing so could boost Iran’s regional role in a positive manner, Reuters reported.

The EU foreign policy chief said she understands the concerns of many countries regarding Iran, but said it would be “naive to imagine that a country like Iran could simply disappear from the map.”

Mogherini said it was important “for Iran to play a major, major but positive, role on Syria in particular, to encourage the regime to … (support) a Syrian-led transition,” she said, referring to a 2012 U.N. plan for a political transition in Syria.

The deadline for a final nuclear deal with Iran is June 30. Iran and the six major global powers – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany – reached a tentative framework agreement on April 2.

The U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said he will begin meeting in May with the various players both within and outside Syria, in order to assess whether there is any hope of brokering an end to the war.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked de Mistura earlier this month to “focus much more to re-launch a political process” after his attempt to broker a local truce in Aleppo failed.

Many Arab countries in the region, Israel and the United States have resisted the inclusion of Iran in Syrian peace talks. That is because they, understandably, consider Tehran to be the problem, not the solution.

Iran has been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a staunch ally. It was the widespread belief of many inside the country, and certainly of the current U.S. administration, that Assad had to step down. His refusal to do so, and the regime’s resort to extreme violence including the use of gas to murder citizens of his own nation, ignited the conflagration that has consumed entire cities and killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians over the past four years.

Mogherini is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Wednesday.

US Sends Destroyer to Persian Gulf after Iran Boards Freighter

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

The U.S. Navy Farragut destroyer is speeding to the Persian Gulf Wednesday after Iran boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged freighter that the regime said had trespassed into its waters while sailing through the key oil and gas tanker route of the Straits of Hormuz, also known as the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Navy fired shots at the ship, which the Pentagon says was in international waters.

The United States also has ordered an aircraft carrier to remain on standby in another mini-crisis that Iran seems to have created to put pressure on the Obama administration during the new round of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran on an agreement to allow Tehran to continue its nuclear development program.

The Marshall Islands, once an American territory, is independent of the United States but has a “free relationship” with Washington that includes a security pact.

A spokesman for the Maersk shipping company said that the vessel charted by Rickers Shipmanagment was in international waters and was sailing from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with cargo that could range from  “anything from food to machinery to electronics,” he said.

Rickers spokesman Cor Radings wrote in an e-mail to The New York Times he does not know of any previous incident of Iran seizing a ship in open seas. He stated, “I cannot exclude it has happened before, but would believe we have to go back” to World War II.

Last week, Iran caved into American and Western pressure and turned back one of its ships that was approaching Aden, Yemen with a cargo of what was assumed to be weapons for Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Jeff Rathke, the State Dept.’s tight-lipped spokesman, told reporters Tuesday:

It’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in the region remain open and safe… We remain committed to our regional partners and to maintaining security in the maritime environment.

So what is the United States going to do about it, especially since the United States has what Rathke called a “security compact” with the Marshall Islands?

“Is the U.S. prepared to use force to defend the Marshall Islands?” one reporter asked.

Rathke answered,” “Well, I think that’s premature to jump to that conclusion.”

And did Iran commit an act of piracy or aggression?

Rathke:  “I’m not going to apply an adjective to it right now. We are following the situation very carefully, but I’m not going to label it.

Well, does the United States condemn it?

Rathke:” Well, again, we’re gathering more information. I don’t have a further reaction at this point.

But what about the security compact that Rathke said “gives the U.S. authority and responsibility for security and defense matters that relate to the Marshall Islands, including matters related to vessels flying the Marshallese flag?”

Well, he says, “Certainly, that’s something we’re looking at.”

And could it be, just possibly by a stretch of the imagination, that Iran the seizure and previous threats from Iran to block the Persian Gulf are linked to the proposed nuclear negotiations?

Rathke, of course, “is not going to speculate on what their motives might be.

In case you missed it, Kerry said yesterday:

We are, in fact, closer than ever to the good, comprehensive deal that we have been seeking, and if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.

If finalized and implemented, (an agreement) will close off all of Iran’s possible pathways to the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon and give the international community the confidence that it needs to know that Iran’s nuclear program is indeed exclusively peaceful.

And if the United States does not agree, Iran will close the Persian Gulf and raise the price of oil as part of its program to make the entire safer.

Lauder at 70th Bergen-Belsen Liberation Ceremony: ‘Silence Emboldens Tyrants’

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

A ceremony was held today, April 26, in Lohheide, Germany, to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Nazi death camp which took place on April 15, 1945.

More than fifty thousand people perished in the Bergen-Belsen camp, which was really several connected camps that housed and killed Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and others considered “undesirable” by the Nazi regime. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were among the tens of thousands who died at Bergen-Belsen.

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, gave an impassioned speech to the gathered crowd.

Lauder spoke not only of the specifics of the horrors visited upon the world and, in particular, the Jewish people, during World War II, but he also made pointed references to the dangers of similar horrors lurking on the horizons at the present time.

Lauder reminds everyone that it was not only the Nazis, and not only the German people and not only the rest of Europe which were complicit in this horror, but everyone who was silent and failed to act.

Lauder also points out that there was a voice that was silent, but not because they chose to look elsewhere, but because they were silenced: the Jews. And he points out that the Jews need not be silent ever again in the face of threats to their existence, because there is a Jewish homeland whose purpose is to ensure the continuance of the Jewish people.

No doubt he is talking about Iran.

Lauder also speaks at length about the resilience and self-reliance of the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Holocaust. How the Jews left the Displaced Persons camps and never looked back.

“They refused to be victims,” Lauder said. “Jews all over the world helped their fellow Jews get back on their feet. They were never used as political pawns.”

Do you have any doubt to whom he is referring?

The following is Lauder’s speech in its entirety. It is worth your while to read the whole thing.

We come here today to remember. We remember the evil of this terrible place. We also remember that world silence led to this evil.

And we gather with an uncomfortable awareness that anti-Semitism has returned to Europe once again.

Seventy years ago, as Nazi Germany was collapsing, and the greatest war in history was coming to an end. The saddest irony was that Jews, the people who should have been happiest about Hitler’s defeat, were not to be heard.

There were no Jewish victory celebrations like those in New York or Trafalgar Square or Moscow. There was no jubilation. The reason is all around you. For Jews, the awful realization of loss suddenly set in. Mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, over one million children – all gone. Half of the world’s Jews murdered.

Right now, we stand on one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world. But there are no gravestones. There are no markers. The victims buried here lost not just their lives; the Nazis took their identities as well.

When British troops entered the gates here at Bergen-Belsen they took pictures and, for the first time, the world finally understood the extent of the Nazi horror.

We saw the bulldozers pushing naked bodies into open pits. The walking skeletons. The unbelievable sadness and loss. It has always struck me that battle-hardened soldiers, who saw some of the worst combat in Europe, became emotional years later when they talked about entering Bergen-Belsen.

Seventy years on, we all know about the crime. We know the perpetrators – but they were not just Germans and Austrians. There was complicity in practically every country in Europe. My own country, the United States – the beacon of liberty – shut its doors to Jews desperately trying to leave.

NY Times Notices That Obama Pushes Off Netanyahu Meeting (Again)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

President Obama has again pushed off a potential meeting with PM Netanyahu.

The NY Times reported on Thursday that President Obama informed a group of American leaders on April 13th that he would only meet with Netanyahu after negotiations with Iran were over. Obama is afraid that Netanyahu would publicly criticize the Iran deal if they met before the negotiations were over.

If the NY Times had read JewishPress.com, they would have known that this is the second time Obama has delayed a Netanyahu meeting since the Israeli elections ended.

JewishPress.com first reported on April 6, that Obama said he would only meet with Netanyahu, after Netanyahu set up a coalition, which is expected to be mid-May.

This latest report pushes off that potential meeting off by at least an additional month and a half.

On the other hand, despite reports that Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, is persona non grata in the White House, and that Obama wants a different Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer is hosting Vice President Joe Biden at Israel’s Independence Day bash in Washington D.C., which some are interpreting as an attempt by the administration to mend fences with the Netanyahu government, or at least reduce the tension.

Muslim Brotherhood-backed Former Egyptian Pres. Morsi Gets 20 Years in Prison

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Muslim Brotherhood-backed former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Muslim Brotherhood organization founded the Gaza-based Hamas terror organization that now is generously patronized by Iran.

Morsi was held responsible by an Egyptian court for the torture of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012. He stood trial with 14 co-defendants, including some of his staff.

All 14 co-defendants were convicted on charges of violence and inciting violence. However, all were acquitted of murder, as was the former president.

Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party – the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – called the trial a “travesty of justice” according to CNN. In a statement released to media, the party said, “This is a sad and terrible day in Egyptian history. Coup leaders have sentenced Mohamed Morsi to decades in prison for nothing more than championing the democratic will of the people.”

Morsi was deposed one year after taking office in a coup that was supported by more than one million protesters in the streets of Egypt. His Islamist administration, which also had control of both houses of parliament, came into office through a democratic electoral process that many in Egypt said was rigged. Numerous others simply refused to participate, convinced a fair process would never take place.

Turkey criticized the verdict on Wednesday in a written statement issued by its Foreign Ministry. The two countries declared each other’s ambassadors persona non grata late in 2013, after Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected president of Egypt in June of that year following the coup.

“We deplore the sentencing of former President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted from his position as a result of a military coup staged in 2013 even though he was the first democratically elected president of Egypt, to 20 years in the case in which he was tried with other suspects,” the statement read.

It went on to say that “arbitrary” trials in Egypt further doubts over the objectiveness of the trial that convicted the former president and “reinforced concerns” over the future of democracy in Egypt.

“Our sincere calls for heeding the legitimate demands of the Egyptian people for a genuine democracy and rule of law continue,” it read.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/muslim-brotherhood-backed-former-egyptian-pres-morsi-sentenced-to-20-years-in-prison/2015/04/22/

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