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The Jewish Press » » Iran
May 6, 2016 / 28 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

American Jew Bob Levinson Sacrificed, 5 Other Americans Freed From Iran

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Where is Robert Levinson?

Five U.S. families celebrated the reported release of their loved ones from Iran as “implementation day” got underway on Sunday.

Sanctions were rolled back as the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Iran had complied with the terms of the nuclear pact it made with world leaders. Interpol deleted 11 Iranians from its “wanted” list.

But one American Jewish family in Coral Springs, Florida was crushed.

“We are happy for the other families,” said the family of Robert Levinson in a statement on Facebook. “But once again, Bob Levinson has been left behind. We are devastated.”

Seven Iranian prisoners were traded in exchange for the five Americans who were freed on Sunday, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and a Christian pastor.

But Iranian government officials who originally discussed his release with American negotiators now deny knowing the 67-year-old Levinson’s whereabouts.

In March 2007, Bob Levinson disappeared off Kish Island in Iran. An American Jew in his sixties with diabetes at the time, his family and friends were deeply concerned about his fate.

The U.S. government said at the time the retired FBI agent had been working as a private investigator, and the family confirmed the tale.

But according to a report by the U.S. television network ABC News, Levinson was actually working at the time for the CIA. The family held their peace about the operation for a long time – until they realized that their silence and loyalty was not being reciprocated at the top echelon with equal efforts to free Levinson.

Family attorney David McGee expressed the family’s disillusionment with the government, and his own feeling that the CIA and FBI had betrayed Levinson. “Rather than acknowledge what they had done and try to save Bob’s life, they denied him,” McGee told ABC News.

A U.S. official told a news briefing, “Iran has also committed to continue cooperating with the United States to determine the whereabouts of Robert Levinson.”

But for Iranian officials to act as if they don’t know the whereabouts of an American citizen who has been in the country for more than eight years is beyond disingenuous: it’s ridiculous. U.S. officials supporting the behavior insult the intelligence of anyone to whom they repeat such nonsense.

FBI Agents Association President Renaldo Tariche stated that Levinson’s former colleagues have not forgotten him. “Bob, married for 38 years with seven children, has missed more than nine years of accomplishments and milestones in the lives of his children,” he said in a statement. “Each day brings renewed heartache to his family and friends.

“We celebrate today’s release of Americans but the world should not forget Levinson’s continued unjustified imprisonment and continue to work for his release.”

There is a fear among some U.S. officials and analysts that Levinson was left out of the prisoner release because he may not be alive.

Iranian claims of not knowing where he is ring hollow to anyone familiar with Iranian intelligence operations.

The question remains whether he was captured by Iranians, Iranian proxies, or others the Iranians simply refuse to discuss. The other question is whether American authorities have been informed of those details and choose not to disclose that information – and if so, why?

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Humiliates US on Ballistic Missile Sanctions

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

(JNi.media) If you thought America suffered its biggest humiliation when US Navy soldiers were forced on their hands and knees for the benefit of the cameras before being granted their freedom — after having committed the international crime of a navigational error — think again. According to a Reuters exclusive, the day before the Obama administration was about to impose new sanctions on Iran in late December, for violating the UN prohibition on developing long range ballistic missiles, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Secretary of State John Kerry if the sanctions are declared, the four prisoner deal that was going to be the cherry on top of the Iran nuke deal sundae would be pulled. And Kerry acquiesced.

There were several long distance conference calls between Kerry, some top aides, and President Barack Obama—who was vacationing in Hawaii—and they all decided it was better to blink on the sanctions and not risk the chance to free the four dual-nationality Americans in Iranian captivity.

And so the Obama administration “delayed” a package of limited sanctions penalizing Iran for test-firing ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to Israel and Europe.

Unlike the US, which has kept quiet on the capitulation to Iran’s long range missile ambitions, the Iranians have been bragging about it. Ever the victim in its own narrative, Iran made its threats public vociferously, merging the two separate sets of sanctions, one imposed on its nuclear program, the other a UN Security Council resolution against its ballistic missiles program. Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani, chief of the Iranian Judiciary, declared last week: “For them to say, ‘we have lifted sanctions as regards enrichment, but we can adopt new sanctions for missile activities and the human rights issue’ is not sensible or acceptable. With such an approach, they would take the Islamic Republic of Iran to the point of a revision on the JCPOA issue.”

A US official on Saturday insisted there was no connection between the nuclear deal and the release of the four Americans. But, as Reuters reports, Kerry’s decision not to call Iran’s bluff in December shows how months of clandestine negotiations to free the Americans were completely intertwined with the implementation of the nuclear deal.

You can get over a nasty bit of Iranian choreography forcing helpless US Navy men on their knees. But having given up the sanctions weapon on Iranian illegal ballistic missile development goes a long way to curtail US options in the region. Even without a fully developed nuclear weapon, Iran today may be capable of sending conventional warheads to Tel Aviv and a good part of Europe. When would the Administration start imposing sanctions—when there are forests of those missiles at the ready, targeting the Jewish State?

JNi.Media

Iran Releases Jason Rezaian +4 in Prisoner Exchange with Major Concessions

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmat and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, four dual US-Iranian citizens were released from an Iranian jail on Saturday by Iran in an apparent prisoner exchange with the United States.

Jason Rezaian is an Iranian-American journalist who served as Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post. He was convicted of espionage in a closed-door trial in Iran in 2015.

The four were transported to Switzerland, and will then continue on to to a US base in Germany.

A fifth American citizen, Matthew Trevithick, was released in a separate deal.

Former FBI agent Robert “Bob” Levinson was not released.

In exchange, the US will offer clemency to 7 Iranian prisoners, 6 of them who hold dual US-Iranian citizenship: Nader Modanlou, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afqahi, Arash Ghahreman, Touraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Sabounchi.

The Obama administration also delayed a  series of sanctions that were supposed to be imposed on Iran, after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the sanctions would derail the prisoner exchange, according to an Haaretz report.

FARS reports that part of the deal includes US dropping its charges against 14 Iranians for trying to transfer arms to Iran:  Saeed Jamili, Jalal Salami, Matin Sadeqi, Alireza Moazzemi Goudarzi, Mohammad Abbas Mohammadi, Kourosh Taherkhani, Sajjad Farhadi, Seyed Ahmad Abtahi, Gholamreza Mahmoudi, Hamid Arabnejad, Ali Moattar, Mohammad Ali She’rbaf, Amin Ravan and Behrouz Dolatzadeh.

Dropping the charges, will apparently allow them to travel freely outside of Iran without fear of arrest via Interpol or setting off warning flags, according to a Politico report.

FARS originally also reported that the US will also demand Interpol end its investigations of Iranian involvement in the bombing of the Jewish Center in Argentina, but that has subsequently been removed from their website.

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson, still missing in Iran

 

Related story: As Its $100 Billion Are Released Iran Buying 114 Airbus Planes

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

As Its $100 Billion Are Released Iran Buying 114 Airbus Planes

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

According to the Tasnim news agency, Iran is in contract talks to purchase 114 civil aircraft from European manufacturer Airbus, which has plants in France, Germany, Spain, China and the UK. The announcement was made by Iran’s transportation minister Abbas Akhoondi on Saturday, ahead of the lifting of international sanctions on Iran.

“We have taken the first step in agreeing with Airbus to buy 114 planes,” Akhoondi said.

Airbus told Reuters it was not yet involved in contractual talks with Iran, and was waiting until the official lifting of the sanctions later on Saturday. “Although Iran clearly has a need for new aircraft, we must conform strictly to the law and, until all measures concerning the embargo are lifted, no commercial discussions can take place,” an Airbus spokesman said.

Eager to close the sanctions lifting deal, Iran on Saturday released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other dual-nationality prisoners. The announcement was made as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified on Saturday that Iran has fulfilled its commitments to limit its development of a nuclear weapon in exchange for getting back $100 billion in frozen assets.

American pastor Saeed Abedini is among the freed prisoners, along with Marine Amir Hekmati, In exchange, the US released seven Iranians from American prisons.

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and officials from the five other world leaders in Vienna.

At some point on Saturday night, as soon as the sanctions are lifted, folks will be uncorking champagne bottles in Toulouse, France, where the Airbus offices are located. At $65 million a pop, the Airbus A320 is the most expensive aircraft in its category. That’s $7,410,000,000 for 114 of them — so you’ll understand why they’re waiting for those assets to be unfrozen before they sign.

JNi.Media

Iranian Government Humiliates U.S. After Freeing Sailors

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Iran kept its promise and released the U.S. Navy sailors with their two small boats back into the Persian Gulf late Wednesday, but not before snapping a wealth of images and probably scrutinizing the vessels right down to the last bolt.

Tehran made certain to get as much mileage as possible from the unexpected windfall of the boats that drifted Tuesday a scant mile (two kilometers, 1.2 miles) into its territorial waters.

Seizing both, Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the crews of a lone female and nine male sailors would be released “promptly.”

But they were held for 24 hours on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf – home to a base of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — for as long as could reasonably be managed without an international public relations disaster. Although Iran does not usually concern itself with public relations, this time it was important.

After all, Iran is on track for “implementation day” shortly — the day when the economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are to be lifted. On that day billions of dollars are to start flowing again into its coffers, and oil can once again begin flowing in the other direction, towards its still-loyal European customers.

Meanwhile, the IRGC technicians had plenty of time to examine previously inaccessible American technology and equipment, photograph it from every angle and probably sample it as well. Perhaps some tinkering? Anything taken? These are questions that will only be answered once the sailors are safely back to base and debriefed, and engineers can go over the equipment.

The sailors were also filmed in humiliating circumstances, on their knees with hands behind their heads — good footage for reminding folks on the home front and abroad who’s the boss on the high seas, and at home, when it counts.

That footage and those snaps are now being released to the Iranian and global public. The images will also jog the memories of anyone old enough to remember the days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, those who watched the coverage of the American Embassy hostages in Tehran.

The message is crystal clear:  If you choose to sail into Persian Gulf waters, beware. We await you, and at any opportunity we will pounce. This is an area under our complete control. Enter at your own risk.

The lack of response by Washington when a Middle East nation violates UN Security Council resolutions – like the test of a ballistic missile by Iran last October – is an invitation to an escalation at some point down the line.

More to the point, the message to Tehran when its Navy fires a rocket almost directly at an American military vessel — as it did last month — and life continues with “business as usual” is one that is dangerous and very unwise.

In the Middle East, a non-response is perceived as weakness, vulnerability and availability for more of the same. For those who look to the U.S. as an ally, this is a very bad message indeed.

Hana Levi Julian

US Navy Vessels Seized in Persian Gulf, Held by Iran

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Ten crew members of two U.S. Navy vessels were picked up by the Iranian Coast Guard on Tuesday while in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian state-run FARS News reported the two vessels were two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Iranian territorial waters. Nine men and one woman are being held, according to EA Worldview.

The incident occurred while the two crews were trying to sort out mechanical trouble with one of the boats near Farsi Island, in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials told the Associated Press Tuesday that both crews and vessels were being held by Tehran.

However, “We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,” said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

A senior American official said Secretary of State John Kerry “personally engaged with [Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad] Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome.”

The boats were in the process of traveling between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

Farsi Island is home to an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps base, EA Worldview reported.

Senior U.S. military officials said the boats were on a training mission Tuesday night when one vessel lost power and drifted into Iranian territorial waters.

One official said the Iranians ‘understand the territorial incursion was not deliberate’ and have agreed to release the Americans in international waters within hours.

“We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel.

“We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey,” the unnamed American official said.

Less than a month ago, Iran fired a rocket towards U.S. vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Hana Levi Julian

Kuwait Joins Sunni Nations Cutting Ties With Iran

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Kuwait became the fourth Sunni Muslim nation on Tuesday to cut diplomatic ties with Iran following a crisis that began last weekend between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia.

Citing “torching and sabotage activities” at the Saudi Arabian embassy by an Iranian mob in Tehran, Kuwait recalled its ambassador from the Iranian capital.

Kuwait follows Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, all of whom have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran over the incident as well.

“Such action constitutes a flagrant breach of international conventions and violation of Iran’s international commitment over security and safety of diplomatic missions on its lands,” said the Kuwaiti foreign ministry in a statement.

Rioters in Tehran stormed the Saudi Arabian embassy over the weekend, smashing furnishings and other items inside the building and then torching the offices. The attack came in response to the execution by Saudi Arabia of prominent Shi’ite Muslim Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The cleric was among 47 convicts executed Saturday in the Sunni Muslim kingdom on charges of terrorism.

The United Nations Security Council has also stepped into the breach, condemning “in the strongest terms” the attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy, as well as on a Saudi Arabian consulate in Iran.

The Council called on Iran to “protect diplomatic and consular premises against any intrusion or damage.”

But Saudi Arabia is not likely to provide Iran with that opportunity at this point: Riyadh has already severed its ties with Tehran and ejected Iran’s ambassador from the kingdom.

Moreover, an unrepentant President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Riyadh could not cover its “crime” by severing political relations with Tehran, Press TV reported.

Both Russia and China have issued statements calling on the two sides to “use restraint” and reconsider their actions in view of the impact such a conflict might have on the stability of the region. But the long-simmering tensions between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims have been cooking in nearly every Arab nation in the Middle East.

Those issues have been responsible to a great extent for the savage civil war that has completely destroyed Syria, and still rages in what once was a single Arab nation in that place. The same issues are responsible for the lack of a new president in Lebanon, for more than a year.

Ultimately, the conflict between Sunni and Shi’a Islam will either be resolved between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Ayatollahs — in which case the two will united against Israel — or it will likely become responsible for a new breakdown of order in Arab nations where governments have no adequate grip on their societies.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kuwait-joins-sunni-nations-cutting-ties-with-iran/2016/01/05/

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