The bloc Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud formed Israeli Beitenu polled a disappointing 31 seats (in the 120-member Knesset) in Tuesday, Jan. 22, general election, according to 99 percent count of ballots of exit polls Tuesday night. The big winner is a newcomer to Israeli politics, Yair Lapid, with 19 seats, who managed to push Shelly Yacimovich’s veteran Labor party down to third place with only 15 seats. Jewish Home under its new leader, proNaftali Bennett and ultra-religious Shas – draw 11 each, Tzipi Livni’s Hatenua, 6, level with Meretz, Kadima is fighting for 2. The left-of-center bloc along with the 11 Arab parties might make it to 60 seats if Yair Lapid opts to lead it.
Final results are promised Thursday morning.
Netanyahu’s election letdown hinders stable government. Lapid wins big
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 23, 2013, 6:52 AM (GMT+02:00)
The bloc Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud formed Israeli Beitenu polled a disappointing 31 seats (in the 120-member Knesset) in Tuesday, Jan. 22, general election, according to 99 percent count of ballots of exit polls Tuesday night. The big winner is a newcomer to Israeli politics, centrist ex-journalist Yair Lapid, with 19 seats, who managed to push Shelly Yacimovich’s veteran Labor party down to third place with only 15 seats. Jewish Home under its new leader, pro-settlement high-tech tycoon Naftali Bennett and ultra-religious Shas – 11 each, Tzipi Livni’s Hatenua, 6, level with Meretz, Kadima is fighting for 2. The left-of-center bloc along with the 11 Arab parties might make it to 60 seats if Yair Lapid opts to lead it. Final results are due Thursday morning.
The election outcome seriously challenge Netanyahu’s chances of gathering a majority of 61 for forming a stable government coalition, the primary consideration for President Shimon Peres when assigning the task of prime minister to the leader who collects the most recommendations from fellow party leaders. debkafile: The paring down of the Likud-Beitenu bloc sharpens the horse-trading with potential coalition partiers, which started Tuesday night straight after the exit polls and increases the chances of a deadlock. Netanyahu was heard during the day to suggest that a new election may be unavoidable.
(CNN) — As numerous news organizations have reported, Russia has sent two planes so that about 100 of its citizens who want to can leave Syria. Tellingly, the planes were not sent to Damascus where the security situation around the airport has reportedly deteriorated, but to Beirut instead to which the Russians departing Syria traveled by bus.
In its characteristic fashion, the Russian government has denied that this is an evacuation. An unnamed Russian diplomat in Damascus, though, did not rule out the possibility of further flights. Russian naval exercises in the Mediterranean may also be the prelude to a seaborne evacuation from the Syrian coast.
These actions are not the first indication that Moscow expects the Assad regime may fall. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov acknowledged this possibility in December, and President Vladimir Putin himself seemed to distance himself from President Bashar al-Assad a week later. Arranging for the emergency departure of Russian citizens from Syria though, is the most serious indication to date that the Kremlin is preparing for the further weakening or even the downfall of the Assad regime.
These Russian moves, of course, are not ones that the Assad regime can be pleased with. The top leaders as well as officers in its security services, though, may have a strong incentive to protect the Russian exodus in order to secure their own prospects for fleeing to Russia in the event that the regime falls.
An analyst says the US siding with terrorist rebel groups prevents a UNSC resolution on Syria and guarantees that if the rebels win, there will be no democracy.
In the background of more than two dozen people have been killed in an explosion in Syria’s central province of Hama and foreign-backed insurgents are also targeting the capital city of Damascus. The terror unleashed on Syria by the United States and allied forces including some Gulf countries has gripped Syria for 22 months now. Syrian government forces remain strong in defense of their sovereignty though thousands of civilians and security forces have lost their lives during the aggression.
Press TV has interviewed Mr. Lajos Szaszdi political commentator in Virginia about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Taking a look at how Damascus specifically has been the target of such bombings in the past as well. The UN Security Council last week failed to condemn these terrorist attacks. Why do you think that is so?
Szaszdi: Well, because members of the United Nations Security Council and the permanent members of the United States, United Kingdom and France are very much showing support of the rebellion inside of Syria.
And as you know as well, Russia and China are backing the government in Damascus – the Syrian government; and they are opposed to what they consider to be intervention by aiding foreign powers rebels now against the government in Damascus.
So, the fact that there is this polarization inside the Security Council with Western powers backing the rebels while the Eurasian powers and permanent members are supporting the government of Syria, it is no surprise the Security Council would not have approved a resolution, a decision condemning these terrorist acts because that would have meant for these Western powers supporting the rebels, siding with the government of Syria.
And that’s what they don’t want. They want the power of the government of Syria that’s why they are supporting the rebels in the first place.
An American citizen stands trial before an infamous “hanging judge” after sustaining beatings and abuse by his Iranian captors simply because of his Christian faith. Yet, with his sham trial and unthinkable mockery of justice at hand, has our government abandoned Pastor Saeed Abedini?
The State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and his Press Secretary have failed to call for this American citizen’s release. Yet, we know that each have spoken out in the past when Iran has threatened an Iranian Christian pastor; why not for one of our own?
In the case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was imprisoned in Iran facing execution for his faith, the White House made multiple statements “condemn[ing] the conviction of Pastor Youcef” and “demand[ing] Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate release.” The White House Press Secretary publicly urged “people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities” to secure his release. And when he was eventually released, Deputy National Security Advisor, Denis McDonough, publicly stated that the Administration “welcome[d] the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.” So too, the State Department and Secretary of State Clinton made multiple statements on Pastor Youcef’s behalf, calling for his “immediate release.”
Yet, the White House has been nearly silent when it comes to a US citizen who has been told he “will hang” for his faith. The only thing we have heard from the White House is a statement from the National Security Counsel spokesman, provided only to those who specifically requested it, calling for Pastor Saeed’s immediate release.
Even worse, the State Department has expressed its “serious concerns about the fate” of Pastor Saeed, acknowledging that he is a US citizen facing a “hearing soon” on “charges related to his religious beliefs,” but has still failed to call for his release. Even now, the State Department has refused to simply call for this American citizen’s release.
An Iranian-American Christian pastor charged with plotting against state security appeared in a Tehran court on Monday, but will be released on bail, his lawyer told ISNA news agency.
Saeed Abedini, a naturalised US citizen and Christian convert, denied “charges of establishing churches to disrupt national security” in Iran and colluding to carry out crimes, his Iran-based lawyer Nasser Sarbazi was quoted as saying.
Abedini was not accused of espionage, Sarbazi said.
The 32-year-old was arrested in September on a return visit to Iran and alleged in a recent letter that he was beaten in prison, his wife Naghmeh and his US-based lawyer said last week.
Sarbazi said Abedini was to be temporarily released “in the next few days” after he posts a bail of four billion rials (nearly $115,000).
He will then be able to leave the country, Sarbazi added.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States had “serious concerns” about the case and urged Iran to grant Abedini access to an attorney.
His wife said he has not seen a lawyer since his arrest.
Iran’s constitution following the 1979 Islamic revolution recognises the rights of several religious minorities including Christians, but the regime has targeted converted former Muslims.
Another Iranian Christian convert condemned to death, Youcef Nadarkhani, was released in September having spent two years in prison after his detention prompted international outcry.
Three killed in US drone attack in Yemen’s al-Jawf
At least three people have been killed in a US assassination drone attack in the northern Yemeni province of al-Jawf, near the Saudi border.
Several others were also wounded in the Tuesday attack.
At least four people were killed in a US airstrike in the central Yemeni province of Marib, northeast of the capital Sana’a, on Monday, two days after a similar attack on the province killed eight people.
According to AFP news agency, Tuesday’s attack brings to at least 32 the number of people killed in US drone strikes since December 24 in Yemen.
Washington uses its assassination drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, claiming that they target the terrorists. The attacks, however, have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.
The United Nations has censured the US drone attacks as targeted killings, stressing that the raids flout international law. Reports, however, say the CIA is seeking to expand its covert drone attacks in Yemen.
Yemenis have held several anti-US rallies across the country over the past months and have called on their government to cut all ties with Washington over the deadly airstrikes.
Some reports say US drone operations in Yemen nearly tripled in 2012 compared to the previous year.
Iraqi authorities claim to have released 888 prisoners
Iraqi authorities claimed on Tuesday to have freed 888 prisoners in two weeks to placate month-long rallies in the country’s Sunni areas that have hardened opposition against the Shiite prime minister.
The demonstrations come amid a political crisis that has pitted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against several of his erstwhile government partners just months ahead of provincial elections.
The protesters have railed against the alleged exploitation of anti-terror laws by the Shiite-led authorities to target their minority community and demanded the release of prisoners they say were wrongfully detained.
Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday that 888 prisoners had been freed since January 7, with a further 1,041 prisoners released on bail. He promised the releases would continue on a daily basis.
Shahristani said priority would be given to female detainees when it came to being discharged on bail.
The move has formed the centrepiece of the government’s response to rallies in western and northern Iraq, with Shahristani also apologising this month for authorities holding detainees without charge for prolonged periods.
Officials have not provided any breakdown of the prisoners freed, and have not given details on how many had finished jail terms and how many had been held without charge.
Anti-government rallies have been ongoing since December 23 in mostly Sunni areas of Iraq, with the longest-running of the protests blocking off a key highway linking Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.
“In October, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a “disposition matrix” to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: “among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade.” As Miller puts it: “That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”*
When will the War on Terror finally conclude? Some, including high-ranking U.S. military members say no, that by design, the war will continue on for years to come. How did we get into this quagmire, and how on earth can we possibly get out? Will we? Cenk Uygur breaks it down.
Military strike will draw stinging response from Iran: Larijani
Iranian Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani has downplayed threats of military action against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities, warning of a bitter response to any such attack.
“As the peaceful nuclear (energy) program of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been indigenized, it will not be destroyed by any strike or pressure,” Larijani said at a news conference on the sidelines of the 8th General Assembly Meeting of the Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union (IIPU) in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Tuesday.
“Moreover, the country’s response to any possible attack against its nuclear installations will be stinging,” he added.
Larijani told reporters that the US-led sanctions against Iran and the pressure imposed on its economy have failed to stop the country from pursuing its nuclear energy program.
The Iranian official further downplayed threats of a military attack by Israel and the United States, and argued, “Since they have a little wisdom [left], they fear Iran’s response.”
The Majlis speaker also dismissed concerns about a possible radiation crisis at the nuclear power plant in Iran’s southern city of Bushehr and assured that the facility meets standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The US and Israel have been spearheading a campaign against Iran, accusing Tehran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. The US and its European allies have also imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic over the unfounded allegation.
Iran has strongly refuted the accusation and argues that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The Unfortunately Long List of Children In Yemen and Pakistan Who Were Murdered By Drones
Whenever the mainstream media breaks news about a drone strike, they are always careful to say that it was “militants” who were killed, sometimes they even label the victims as members of “Al-Qaeda”.
However, reality paints a totally different picture. Sure, some terrorists do lose their lives in drone strikes from time to time. But for every terrorist killed there is an equal amount of civilians and children who are indiscriminatly killed in these horrific attacks.
I found a list of these victims through droneswatch.org, and the list reads as follows:
Name | Age | Gender
Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male
Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19
What is even more alarming is that it is highly possible that there are way more casualties than this that have not been counted in Yemen and Pakistan, and obviously there are also the innocent adults that were killed who weren’t on this specific list.
Additionally, there are at least a dozen other countries throughout the middle east and Africa that the US government and NATO are attacking, one can only imagine the body counts in those countries.
Prince Harry targeted Afghan civilians in cowardly air attacks: Daoud Abedi
Political analyst Mohammad Daoud Abedi says British Prince Harry’s ‘hunting Afghans from the air’ during his Afghan mission in the southern province of Helmand bears no resemblance to the way a member of a royal family ought to act.
The comment comes as Prince Harry, the third-in-line to the UK’s throne, has acknowledged and justified killing Afghan people during his most recent deployment in the war-torn nation.
The 28 year-old prince has just finished his five-month second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He said he fired at Afghans from an Apache attack helicopter.
Harry revealed this in an interview before he left Afghanistan on Monday. He was seeking to justify his hostility towards Afghans while on duty in the southern province of Helmand.
The prince is back home after a five-month tour of Afghanistan as an Apache pilot gunner.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Mohammad Daoud Abedi, the chairman of the Afghan Nation Peace Council in London to further discuss the issue. What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Many thanks for joining us here Mr. Abedi. Now a British prince laughing and smiling into a camera boasting as if killing Afghans is some sort of an accomplishment. What do you make of that?
Abedi: Bismillah arrahmane rahim [In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful]. Thank you for having me again in your show. Well, Prince Harry is a Jackal. He is planning to hunt Afghans from the air but he was about to be hunted himself in the military base in Helmand when the Mojahedin attacked the base he was looking for a hole to hide. So this is not the way a prince should act. A prince should be really different.
He is acting like a prince but unfortunately he is not a prince because hunting the poor Afghans from the airplane is not a man’s way to behave in order for Prince Harry to say things like that he can hunt Afghans from the air. If he really is a prince he should face the Afghans face to face and fight them and he must be defeated as his grandfathers have been defeated three times in Afghanistan. We defeated them three times. Last time they were defeated there were at least 16,000 people in … of Afghanistan.
Only those who were wounded in Afghanistan had the British flag on their wounds. So maybe Prince Harry was one of those guys that was wearing the British flag on his wounds and that…
Press TV: Mr. Abedi let me just cut in there well you see the way the media specifically has responded to Prince Harry’s adventures in Afghanistan and the way he is a public figure for most Britons and people across the world. He is seen as a celebrity some children even trying to emulate what he does. Do you think this is the media’s way as well as the royal family’s way of glorifying the war and the atrocities that are being committed in Afghanistan?
Abedi: Actually there are three things in the deployment of Harry to Afghanistan. One, they would like his resume to look good in the future that he was the guy that fought one of the hardest wars, actually the fourth Afghan England war. So they want to have that in his resume.
The second thing is that the Brits have not had a strong ruler in the Afghan war so far from 2001 until now. They’ve been just following now warmongers of the United States working like a puppet just like Tony Blair was working in the foreign ministry of the United States so they are fighting a war that they had no role in it and in the end they didn’t gain anything.
First reason they send him there is one resume; the second is to give a lot of morale to those soldiers that have been defeated in Afghanistan showing that you are going to win this war and you should fight harder. These are one of the reasons that is there. Other than that there are hundreds of other pilots in the UK why didn’t they send him there?
WEF’s Schwab Says Iran, Syria Are ‘Black Swans’
By Olivia Sterns & Zoe Schneeweiss – Jan 22, 2013 3:29 AM MT
Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, sees political “black-swan” events threatening global security even as economic risks subside, with confidence returning to the euro area.
“The world is still full of risks and we do not have only to address the economic risks, I think it is very important that we become more resilient in terms of the political risks,” Schwab, 78, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday. “There are many black swans around,” he said, referring to the Japan-China dispute in the East China Sea, the Syrian civil war and the nuclear inspections in Iran.
Dozens of people have been killed in two successive US-led assassination drone strikes in eastern Afghanistan, Press TV reports.
The deadly attacks took place in eastern Nuristan province late on Monday.
There have been conflicting reports about the identity of the victims. Local officials say the strikes targeted Taliban militants, but villagers report that those killed were all unarmed civilians.
Provincial police chief Ghulamullah Nuristani on Tuesday confirmed the attacks, saying the strikes targeted Taliban militants.
He added that at least 35 militants including the foreign nationals were killed or wounded in the strikes.
The latest attacks come on day after a US-led drone killed two people in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan,
Foreign troops have already been under fire from both Afghan government and public over the deadly airstrikes.
Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops.
Tepid Vote for Netanyahu in Israel Is Seen as Rebuke
TEL AVIV — A weakened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged Wednesday from Israel’s national election likely to serve a third term, according to preliminary results and political analysts, after voters on Tuesday gave a surprising second place to a new centrist party founded by a television celebrity who emphasized kitchen-table issues like class size and apartment prices.
For Mr. Netanyahu, who entered the race an overwhelming favorite with no obvious challenger, the outcome was a humbling rebuke as his ticket lost seats in the new Parliament. Over all, his conservative team came in first, but it was the center, led by the political novice Yair Lapid, 49, that emerged newly invigorated, suggesting that at the very least Israel’s rightward tilt may be stalled.
Mr. Lapid, a telegenic celebrity whose father made a splash with his own short-lived centrist party a decade ago, ran a campaign that resonated with the middle class. His signature issue is a call to integrate the ultra-Orthodox into the army and the work force.
Perhaps as important, he also avoided antagonizing the right, having not emphasized traditional issues of the left, like the peace process. Like a large majority of the Israeli public, he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but is skeptical of the Palestinian leadership’s willingness to negotiate seriously; he has called for a return to peace talks but has not made it a priority.
Sensing his message of strength was not penetrating, Mr. Netanyahu posted a panicky message on Facebook before the polls closed, saying, “The Likud government is in danger, go vote for us for the sake of the country’s future.” Tuesday ended with Mr. Netanyahu reaching out again — this time to Mr. Lapid, Israel’s newest kingmaker, offering to work with him as part of the “broadest coalition possible.”
In all the haze and confusion of Obama conspiracies, the simple and raw facts of his administration, which should be enough to impeach him alone, get lost. Those who remember Nixon will not be able to find anything as bad as what happened in Benghazi, yet Obama gets a pass.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes a farewell appearance before Congress to address questions about the Benghazi terror attack last Sept. 11, and likely will be confronted by the very warning her ambassador from Libya sent just hours before his death.
Just hours before he died in a terrorist attack at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Ambassador Chris Stevens sent a cable to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton painting a chaotic, violent portrait of the eastern Libya city and warning that local militias were threatening to pull the security they afforded U.S. officials.
Militia leaders told U.S. officials just two days before the attack that they were angered by U.S. support of a particular candidate for Libyan prime minister and warned “they would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi, a critical function they asserted they were currently providing,” Stevens wrote in the cable the morning of Sept. 11, 2012. He also cited several other episodes that raised questions about the reliability of local Libya security.
“Growing problems with security would discourage foreign investment and led to persistent economic stagnation in eastern Libya,” Stevens cautioned.
Russia has begun a partial evacuation of its citizens from Syria, with 80 people crossing into Lebanon, where two military planes are waiting to fly them home. The move is being interepreted as a lack of faith by Moscow in the Syrian regime’s ability to safeguard Russian citizens from the civil war that is steadily consuming much of the country.
Up to 150 Russians will be flown home from Beirut, a three-hour drive from Damascus, where Syria’s main international airport has in recent months been a battleground for pro-regime forces and an opposition that has been fighting for nearly two years to oust the president, Bashar al-Assad.
A further 25,000 Russians, many of them married to Syrian nationals, are thought to remain in the country. Moscow says it has made no plans for a mass evacuation, but its warships remain on standby in the eastern Mediterranean.
“This is in no way an evacuation,” an unidentified Russian diplomat told the news agency Interfax. “These two emergencies-ministry flights will send to Moscow whomever wishes to go. These are mainly those whose houses were destroyed, who are from ‘hotspots’.
“We’re talking about around 100 people.” Embassy officials would remain in the country, the diplomat said.
Russia is keenly aware that a mass evacuation would signal it had given up hope of achieving the negotiated solution it has insisted upon to end the conflict, analysts said. However, Mikhail Bogdanov, a deputy foreign minister, said last month that evacuation plans had been drawn up.
All diplomatic efforts to bring the crisis to a halt have failed, and no new initiatives have been tabled by any diplomatic stakeholder since a speech by Assad earlier this month, which was dismissed by the main oppisition groups.
The regime insists it has been fighting a foreign-backed terrorist insurrection since the outset, in March 2011. The uprising against the regime began as a series of unarmed demonstrations against state rule, but by August of that year it had morphed into an armed uprising.
The conflict has intensified every month since, with al-Qaida-inspired groups taking prominent roles in many battles and friction with non-jihadist rebel groups growing markedly.
Reza Kahlili served in CIA Directorate of Operations, as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, counterterrorism expert; currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board authorized by Congress. He is the author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray”and regularly appears in national and international media as an expert on Iran and counterterrorism in the Middle East.
Iranian scientists – with Russian help – have set up two sites to use laser technology to enrich uranium for the regime’s nuclear bomb program, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit.
The Russians had argued that due to IAEA monitoring and Western countries’ lurking satellites, it would be wise to use lasers to enrich uranium as, the source added, it is 16 times more productive, requires less space and energy, and is much easier to hide.
In 2010, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that Iran possessed laser enrichment technology, but the regime refused to respond to demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency to explain its laser program.
The IAEA in a visit to a laboratory in Lashka Abad, Iran, in 2003 had noticed work on laser isotope separation but could not determine the full extent of Iran’s research and development with laser enrichment technology.
Hans Ruhle, the German nuclear weapons expert, in a commentary published in the daily Die Welt last May, argued that Iran can enrich uranium using laser technology, which would be more difficult to detect. He also stated that American spy agencies in 2000 discovered a pilot program for laser enrichment between Iran and the Russian D.V.-Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg.
The laser technology SILEX (separation of isotopes by laser excitation) is used to separate uranium isotopes and refine fuel-grade uranium to weapons grade in fewer steps and, since it produces no distinctive chemical or thermal emissions, make nuclear proliferation easier.
“Laser enrichment technology provides the Iranian nuclear weapons program with a highly efficient means of producing weapons grade uranium (WGU) using a process that is relatively easily concealed and yet potentially can deliver more WGU faster than the now-public gas centrifuge enrichment sites at Natanz and Fordow,” said Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
“As the IAEA has been seeking verification about Iran’s laser enrichment program since 2003 while the Iranian regime consistently has obfuscated and stalled for time, the maturity and scope of its laser enrichment pathway to a nuclear bomb must remain a serious concern,” she said.
“The Iranian intelligence service learned well its denial and deceit tactics from the Russian KGB, whose response to discovery of the massive Biopreparat biological weapons program in the early 1990s, for instance, was to open wide certain installations to international view – while hiding away its real, continuing program at other secret sites. The same pattern of behavior is evident with the opening of the Natanz enrichment facility to IAEA inspections while other enrichment sites, including laser enrichment facilities, likely remain undetected and uninspected.”
In a 155-page report, four US nuclear experts have called upon the Obama administration to impose tougher economic sanctions against Iran and resort to ‘overt operations’ through using warplanes and missiles on Iranian nuclear sites.
Apart from the fact that morbid mindset of this nature only helps fan up chaos and serves as an impetus to widespread pandemonium in the region, any mention of any such policy let alone an adoption of it will gradually terminate in an endless array of military legitimizations.
Co-authored by Mark Dubowitz, who runs the Zionist Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and David Albright, a physicist who heads the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and who was responsible for concocting lies and myths about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and drawing the country into an abysmal vortex of destruction and devastation, the report can be but seen in the light of yet another overtly brash attempt by the US to push ahead with further militarism in the Middle East.
Dubbed as ‘U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East,’ the report falls short of mentioning any other Middle Eastern countries, which may be seeking a nuclear weapons program, and instead focuses heavily on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The authors of the conspiratorial report urge Washington to “undertake additional overt preparations for the use of warplanes and/or missiles to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities with high explosives” and “increase Iranian isolation, including through regime change in Syria and deepening Iran’s diplomatic isolation.”
Naturally, the words have been deliberately and carefully chosen in the report. By ‘overt preparations’, the authors explicitly admit that the US government has in the past used ‘covert operations’ as well i.e. assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and infiltrating and disrupting the computer systems. Somewhere in the report, the authors unambiguously refer to Washington’s sabotage activities in Iran. They say, “Press reports indicate that sabotage has been used to slow the Iranian nuclear program, including through infiltration and disruption of procurement networks and cyberattacks designed to inflict physical damage to the program. Judicious use of this tool should be included in continued U.S. efforts to constrain the Iranian nuclear program.”
Iran will save itself, the report says, only if it accepts the terms set by the authors. In other words, Iran has to kowtow to the terms set by the report which are as follows:
1) Suspension by Iran of the following proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities: (a) all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA; and (b) work on all heavy water-related projects, including the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water, also to be verified by the IAEA;
2) Provision by Iran of such access and cooperation as the IAEA requests to be able to verify the suspensions and to resolve all outstanding issues, as identified in IAEA reports;
3) A full accounting and resolution of all outstanding questions about Iran’s past and any current (as of the time of agreement) nuclear weapons related activities;
4) Complete closure of the Fordow facility and any other deeply buried enrichment facility that is either complete or under construction; and
5) Iran’s binding agreement to intrusive and comprehensive inspections that are at a minimum as stringent as those outlined in the IAEA’s Additional.
If truth be told, these terms are nothing new and only reek of a Zionist influence contaminating the already decomposing American policy. On May 9, 2012, just ahead of the May 23 talks in Baghdad, where six world powers were slated to sit down with Iranian officials and resolve the so-called nuclear issue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the talks will be successful only if Iran agrees to “halt all uranium enrichment, ship its current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country and dismantle an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom (Fordow).” Interestingly, when the IAEA-Iran meeting took place in May, these three demands were exactly (but not coincidently) put on IAEA’s agenda and the Iranian side was demanded to abide by these if it sought any resolution of the issue.
What strikes the mind as reasonably acceptable is that the authors are no political well-wishers; rather, they are indeed so morbidly obsessed with paving the way for another ravaging war in the Middle East that they are cooking up another fairy tale as David Albright and his ‘company’ did in Iraq.
In point of fact, similar lies were told about Iraq before the US invaded the country. US intelligence agencies announced in 2003 that Iraq “could be planning a chemical or biological attack on American cities through the use of remote-controlled “drone” planes equipped with GPS tracking maps”. They even said that these “vehicles have already been, or could be, transported” inside the United States. Add to this a more blatant lie: Iraq could be ‘months away’ from building a nuclear bomb. Analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said in 2002 that Saddam Hussein could be “months” away from assembling a nuclear bomb and has stockpiled possibly thousands of liters of deadly anthrax”.
Former US president George W. Bush who was extremely keen on launching a war in the Middle East came up with ‘new evidence’ which he said showed Iraq’s ‘continued appetite’ for nuclear bombs. His evidence: Iraq had tried to buy thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes which Bush said “were used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon”. Bush presented this as a document to the UN to justify his future invasion of Iraq. However, UN weapons inspectors conducted investigations for weeks and acquired conviction that the tubes were never meant to be used for enriching uranium (See Iraq, Lies, Cover-Ups, and Consequences By Rodney Stich p. 141).The Iraq war was waged on the strength of a heap of lies disseminated by all and sundry in the US government and that which claimed the lives of over one million people.
The bitter irony is that those who are responsible for playing havoc with the lives of a million people are not surprisingly fettered by shackles to await a sore chastisement as the essence of humanity necessitates it; instead, they are free and to crown it all, they are even allowed the latitude to continue with their myths and engage in yet another military mischief.
John McCain to meet with Chuck Hagel
By GINGER GIBSON | 1/22/13 1:48 PM EST Updated: 1/22/13 4:46 PM EST
Sen. John McCain met with Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel on Tuesday, but the Arizona Republican is waiting to grill him at next week’s hearing before deciding how to vote.
“Sen. Hagel and I are old friends and we had a very frank and candid conversation,” McCain said after meeting Hagel. “I’ll be looking forward to the hearing and asking questions… He should be given the opportunity of a hearing before any of us make a judgement.”
McCain would not say if the meeting assuaged some of his concerns about Hagel.
“We did discuss my concerns,” said McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We’ll be talking more about them in the hearing.”
Prior to the meeting, McCain said he was worried about some of Hagel’s previous statements about the Iraq war. “For example, one of them is the bizarre statement that the surge in Iraq was the worst blunder since Vietnam,” McCain said. “That is a bizarre statement.”
UPDATE 2-Two blasts, suicide attack kill 17 in Baghdad
Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:14pm EST
* Sunni protests, violence increasing tensions
* Islamist insurgents seeking to stir sectarian strife
* War in neighbouring Syria worsening Iraq’s crisis (Adds details on demands)
By Kareem Raheem
BAGHDAD, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Three blasts, including a suicide attack near an army base, killed least 17 people across Baghdad on Tuesday, the latest violence to feed worries that Iraq’s unrest may slide into widespread sectarian confrontation.
Insurgent bombers are seeking to enflame tensions as Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faces increasing pressure from mass Sunni Muslim protests and a separate dispute with the country’s autonomous Kurdistan region over the control of oil.
The most deadly of Tuesday’s explosions took place in Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated his bomb near an army base, killing at least seven people and wounding 24.
Another parked car bomb exploded in a crowded market in the Shi’ite neighbourhood of Shula, northwestern Baghdad, killing five people and wounded 13, police and hospital sources said.
“We received a call for us to head to the blast site, it was a car bomb. A woman was laying dead with a sack of groceries still beside her, and the wounded were screaming,” said policeman Ghalib Ameer, whose patrol was called to Shula.
In Mahmudiya, a town 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, a car bomb attack near an army checkpoint killed five people, including two soldiers and wounded 14 more.
Violence in Iraq has eased since the widespread sectarian carnage of 2006-7, but Sunni Islamist insurgents often tied to a local al Qaeda affiliate still launch frequent attacks to reignite confrontation among the Shi’ite majority, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds.
An overwhelming majority of 72 percent of respondents to a Press TV poll from across the globe say Iran’s media are attacked by Zionist lobbies for their revelation of truth about Israel and the West.
Of 11,312 people participating in the online poll, 8,124 believed that Iranian media reveal the true colors of the West and Israel.
Only 1,127 (10 percent) maintained that Iranian media spread lies about the Zionist regime and the Western governments, while 2,061 (18 percent) were of the view that Iran’s media do not cover the mainstream media’s news agenda.
Twenty-three percent of the respondents were from the United States, eleven percent from Britain, five percent from Canada and sixty-one percent from other countries.
In a clear violation of freedom of speech, European satellite providers Eutelsat, Hotbird and Hispasat have taken Press TV off the air.
The Spain’s satellite provider took Iran’s Press TV and Hispan TV off the air on December 21, 2012 and ordered Overon, a subsidiary satellite company, to stop the transmission of the two international TV channels.
Overon’s ban on Press TV and Hispan TV followed a similar move by France’s Eutelsat company, which had already taken several Iranian satellite channels and radio stations off the air. It said the channels were removed because of “a wider interpretation of EU regulations.”
After stopping the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels, the Eutelsat SA and Intelsat SA cited pressure by the European Union as the main reason behind the decision.
The EU has, however, denied the claims by the European satellite companies.
“Combined Force Arrests Haqqani Network Facilitator”
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2013 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani network facilitator in the Pul-e Alam district of Afghanistan’s Logar province today, military officials reported.
The facilitator acquired and delivered weapons to Haqqani fighters in the province and was directly involved in attacks against local police and Afghan government officials.
During the operation, the security force seized weapons, ammunition and $5,800 in Afghan currency.
In other Afghanistan operations today:
— A combined security force in Helmand province’s Lashkar Gah district arrested a Taliban leader who controlled improvised explosive device operations. Insurgents under his control recently began using magnetic IEDs to target Afghan army vehicles. He also was responsible for directing insurgent attacks against coalition forces.
— In Kandahar province’s Spin Boldak district, a combined force arrested a local Taliban leader who was directly responsible for IED attacks. The security force also detained a suspected insurgent.
In operations yesterday:
— A combined force in Paktia province’s Dzadran district detained a suspected insurgent while searching for a Haqqani network facilitator who provides weapons and IEDs to insurgents.
— A combined force killed a Taliban leader and his subordinate in Kunduz province’s Khanabad district. The pair worked together to coordinate and execute IED attacks. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents and seized firearms with associated gear and ammunition.
— In Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district, a combined force arrested a Haqqani network leader responsible for coordinating attacks targeting Afghan and coalition force, and overseeing the procurement and distribution of weapons to insurgents. He recently coordinated the acquisition of suicide vest materials in preparation for a future attack. The security force also detained one suspected insurgent.
In Jan. 20 operations:
— A precision airstrike in Kunduz province’s Khanabad district killed a Taliban attack facilitator involved in planning and executing IED attacks and facilitating the movement of weapons and explosives. The strike also killed a second insurgent.
— A combined force in Paktia province’s Zurmat district arrested a Taliban leader who acted as a liaison with senior Haqqani network leaders and oversaw the purchase and storage of rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons and ammunition. He also facilitated the movement of suicide bombers in the Afghan capital and was planning an attack at the time of his arrest. The security force also detained several suspected insurgents and seized grenades, weapons and ammunition.
— In Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force arrested a Taliban leader who planned and directed suicide attacks and coordinated the movement of materials used to build suicide vests. He also provided direct financial support to the Taliban.
— A combined force in Paktia province’s Sayyid Karam district arrested a senior Haqqani network leader who oversaw IED construction, storage, transportation and emplacement. He also oversaw the acquisition of weapons and ammunition. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents and seized firearms.
— In Kandahar province’s Maiwand district, a combined force arrested a Taliban leader who planned and conducted attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and facilitated the movement of IEDs, rockets, mortars and other weapons. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents.
— A combined force in Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district arrested a local Taliban leader who worked closely with senior Taliban leaders to coordinate insurgent attacks across several provinces. He also organized the transfer and delivery of weapons and ammunition to insurgents and was coordinating the movement of suicide bombers for a future attack.
In Jan. 19 operations:
— Afghan and coalition forces in Kunar province’s Ghaziabad district killed two insurgents during a search for a Taliban leader who organizes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and enabled the movement of insurgents.
— In Nangarhar province’s Sherzad district, a combined force killed a local Taliban leader and arrested another. Both were involved in IED operations. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents and seized weapons and ammunition.
— A combined force in Khost province’s Terayzai district arrested a Haqqani network leader who directed attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also oversaw the construction and delivery of IEDs to insurgents and helped acquire IED components, ammunition and detonation materials. The security force also detained a suspected insurgent.
In Jan. 18 operations:
— In Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force arrested a local Taliban leader who planned IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The security force also detained one suspected insurgent.
— A combined force in Kandahar province’s Arghandab district arrested a local Taliban leader who coordinated and executed IED attacks and oversaw the distribution of IEDs, weapons and ammunition to insurgents. The security force also detained a suspected insurgent.
Afghan President Hamed Karzai has appointed a team to investigate a United Nation report on systematic torture of prisoners in Afghanistan’s detention facilities.
According to a statement released by Afghan presidential office on January 22, the delegation will “fully investigate the claims of torture, mistreatment, death threats, and sexual abuse” in the country’s prisons.
The members of the delegation are expected to prepare a report regarding the state of torture in the prisons and submit it to President Karzai within two weeks “so that follow-up measures can be taken,” the statement added.
On January 20, a new report by the United Nations claimed that Afghanistan is using torture and abuse tactics against detainees recently transferred to Afghan control by US-led forces.According to the 139-page report, over half of the detainees interviewed between October 2011 and October 2012 had experienced torture or abuse.
“The (Afghan) government’s efforts to address torture and those of ISAF (NATO’s International Security Assistance Force), although significant, have not resulted in a marked improvement and reduction in the use of torture,” said the report.
A number of Afghan officials have questioned the credibility of the report, saying it is not based on facts but on claims of former detainees.
Earlier this year, Kabul released over two hundred of Afghan prisoners formerly held by US military forces in Bagram prison in Afghanistan.
“Up to 129 prisoners, who have been detained and held in Bagram prison over the last couple of years but there was no evidence to prove their involvement in the insurgency, were released,” Gen. Mohammad Yar Barakzai, an Afghan Defense Ministry official in charge of prisons, said on January 5 in Kandahar.
Netanyahu claims election win despite losses
By Alistair Lyon
JERUSALEM | Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:23pm EST
(Reuters) – Hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged the bruised winner of Israel’s election on Tuesday, claiming victory despite unexpected losses to resurgent center-left challengers.
Exit polls showed the Israeli leader’s Likud party, yoked with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, would still be the biggest bloc in the 120-member assembly with 31 seats, 11 fewer than the 42 they held in the previous parliament.
If the exit polls compiled by three local broadcasters prove correct – and they normally do in Israel – Netanyahu would be on course for a third term in office, perhaps leading a hardline coalition that would promote Jewish settlement on occupied land.
But his weakened showing in an election he himself called earlier than necessary could complicate the struggle to forge an alliance with a stable majority in parliament.
The 63-year-old Israeli leader promised during his election campaign to focus on tackling Iran’s nuclear ambitions if he won, shunting Palestinian peacemaking well down the agenda despite Western concern to keep the quest for a solution alive.
The projections showed right-wing parties with a combined strength of 61-62 seats against 58-59 for the center-left.
“According to the exit poll results, it is clear that Israel’s citizens have decided that they want me to continue in the job of prime minister of Israel and to form as broad a government as possible,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.
The centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, led by former television talk show host Yair Lapid, came second with 18 or 19 seats, exit polls showed – a stunning result for a newcomer to politics in a field of 32 contending parties.
Lapid won support amongst middle-class, secular voters by promising to resolve a growing housing shortage, abolish military draft exemptions for Jewish seminary students and seek an overhaul of the failing education system.
The once dominant Labour party led by Shelly Yachimovich was projected to take third place with 17 seats.
“YESH ATID SWEEP”
The mood was subdued at Netanyahu’s Likud party election headquarters after the polls closed, with only a few hundred supporters in a venue that could house thousands.
“We anticipated we would lose some votes to Lapid, but not to this extent. This was a Yesh Atid sweep,” Likud campaign adviser Ronen Moshe told Reuters.
Israelis voted Tuesday in an election expected to keep hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm of government for a third term despite his rocky record: No peace process with Palestinians, growing diplomatic isolation and signs of economic trouble ahead.
The balloting will likely leave Netanyahu, 63, leading an even more hawkish coalition than the current one — dominated by hard-liners opposed to concessions that could bring Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Such a result would probably keep peace efforts deadlocked and put Israel on a path to further run-ins with key ally Washington.
President Barack Obama has had a turbulent relationship with Netanyahu, and the two leaders could find themselves on a collision course in their new terms.
The Obama administration said Tuesday that regardless of the results of the election, the U.S. approach to the conflict would not change.
“We will continue to make clear that only through direct negotiations can the Palestinians and the Israelis … achieve the peace they both deserve,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. He said the complexity of the conflict, not Obama’s relationship with the Israeli leader, was the main impediment.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Obama to now make the Middle East peace process his top priority.
Israel’s January 22 legislative election is pitting a new figure affiliated with the right-wing Zionist Orthodox against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Naftali Bennett, a young politician from the religious far-right camp, has attracted attention.
Netanyahu has lost votes in favor of this candidate of the religious right-wing camp. Bennett leads Jewish Home Party, which has so far had only three seats in the Israeli parliament. But his rising popularity is likely to give him 12 to 14 seats in the Knesset.
Who is Naftali Bennett?
Political analysts say Bennett has given a fresh and modern image to his party. A large number of Israeli youth pin their hopes on Bennett, who has spoken of Jewish Spring in his election campaigning tours.
Bennett recently said, “Our priority is to resolve the problems inside Israel.”
He is opposed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Bennett believes that Israel should annex the so-called Area C to its territory. This area makes nearly 60 percent of the West Bank.
The public mood in Israel is not optimistic. A pessimistic atmosphere specifically dominates protestors who organized “Summer of Protest” in Tel Aviv center two years ago.
Bennett revealed recently that he and Netanyahu’s wife were in “a terrorism class together.”
Bennett was Netanyahu’s bureau chief and ran his campaign for the Likud Party leadership in 2007. However, he later resigned from his position after quarreling with Netanyahu’s wife.
Israel is encouraging and financing a new form of patriotism by offering bonuses to high school teachers who succeed in motivating students to do their army service. The move has sparked a wave of criticism of the Ministry of Education.
The initiative by the Ministry of Education that circulated in schools last year outlined the new policy of granting end of year bonuses to full-time teachers in Israel’s schools based on “achievements in learning”, ”social achievements”, and “achievements in values”.
The top 40 per cent of schools with a “high rate of enlistment for military, national or civil service” will receive funds to award their teachers with bonuses, according to the circular obtained by the Christian Science Monitor.
Those ranked among top ten percent will receive funds to grant bonuses in the amount of $2,160, while an equivalent of $1,620 will be paid for the next 10 per cent.
Critics of the move by the ministry say the militarization of the education system infringes on the future generation’s ability to participate in Middle East peace-making. Supporters say recuitment must remain high to ensure the security of the nation, citing army complaints that the percentage of young people taking up military service has dropped in recent years.
Those who oppose the pay scheme say that military propaganda comes at the cost of student education.
“Educating to prepare for the army and to encourage enlistment comes at the expense of regular education, which is meant to educate for democracy and citizenship,” Sharaf Hassan, educational director for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel told the Monitor.
Iraq’s premier Monday called on ExxonMobil to respect the country’s constitution in rare talks with the US firm’s chief, an apparent reference to a deal with the Kurdish region Baghdad says is illegal.
Nuri al-Maliki also appeared to once again rule out production-sharing deals that Exxon has signed with Kurdistan, arguing that Iraq’s substantial oil reserves “belong to all Iraqis,” an oft-cited phrase in Iraq’s constitution that central government officials see as justifying per-barrel service fees.
The meeting was the first between Maliki and Exxon chief Rex Tillerson since the firm signed an agreement in October 2011 for oil exploration with Kurdistan, angering the central government in Baghdad, which regards deals signed without the expressed approval of the federal oil ministry as illegal.
“Iraqis are partners in the oil that is discovered in any part of Iraq, they can not be partners in Basra and not partners in other areas”, Maliki said, according to a statement from his office, referring to Iraq’s southern oil-rich province.
The Russian emergency ministry is sending two planes to Beirut to start evacuating Russians from Syria – the first such effort since the uprising against Bashar Assad began in March 2011. The two planes will bring home more than 100 Russians. The foreign ministry in Moscow said it has contingency plans to evacuate 30,000 Russian nationals from Syria.
The last electoral campaign in Israel has been dominated by racism. It is not just racism against Arabs, which is as old as the existence of the Zionist entity, but also racism against Black people, whose life is becoming more and more miserable in Israel.
According to the statistics, there are currently about 60,000 African immigrants in the Zionist entity. Most of them come from South Sudan, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Congo and other countries.
The situation of Africans in Israel, both Jews and non-Jews, is actually desperate. Some thousands have low-quality jobs where they are unscrupulously exploited by Israeli employers. Others are homeless and are begging on the streets of Israeli cities to survive. In spite of claims of rampant crime in the suburbs of South Tel Aviv where most Africans live, a senior police commander, David Gez, was quoted as saying the level of crime among this population was actually relatively low.
The last episode of anti-Black racism was a recent video made by the religious Shas party – which represents Sephardi Jews, who ironically have also been historically subjected to discrimination by Jews of European-origin (Ashkenazis). The five-minute video sought to fuel fear of Africans and increase support for the Shas’s anti-immigration platform ahead of the January 22 parliamentary elections.
The message of the video was that only the leader of the Shas party, Eli Yishai, who is also currently interior minister, can successfully fight against the “threat” allegedly posed by African immigrants, whom Yishai and other Israeli politicians repeatedly refer to as “infiltrators.” In an interview with Ynet, Yishai said “the threat from infiltrators is no less severe than the Iranian nuclear threat.”
In May, Yishai told Maariv that in the previous months dozens of Israeli women had been raped by “infiltrators” in South Tel Aviv but they had decided not to report the attacks so that people would not think they had “contracted AIDS.”
The content of the video was not different to other similar ones made by far-right European parties. There were in it remarks by local residents who express their fear for their safety and anger over a housing shortage – all allegedly due to the African immigrants. According to Times of Israel, one woman says that “it is their fault that there are no apartments. It is their fault that housing is very expensive.” A man complains that “tomorrow the Sudanese will keep on walking around here, continue to beat (people) up, continue to stab and continue to rape our women.”
The narrator says that the Black “infiltrators” “control neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv, Eilat, Ashdod, and other cities,” and pose a “social, religious and security threat.” He goes on to assert that the “greatest threat of all is the demographic threat.” The video also claims that the majority of African migrants are Muslim, and that they therefore “do not believe in the State of Israel’s right to exist.”
Ironically, the Shas has also denounced the racial bias of the other Israeli parties. Recently, Aryeh Deri, the number three of the party, accused the Likud-Yisraeli Beitenu party of “being a party of Russians and whites” and having ostensible bias against Sephardi Jews, who have been considered second-class citizens in the Zionist entity, where the power has been traditionally in the hands of Ashkenazi Jews, who mostly came from Eastern Europe.
For his part, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he wants to expel tens of thousands of African undocumented immigrants and that the inflow into Israel from Egypt has been brought to a halt due to the new barrier. “Our aim is to repatriate tens of thousands of infiltrators now in Israel to their countries of origin,” he said, adding Israel was in contact with some governments from Africa “to solve this problem.”
On May 23, 2012, Likud leading members took part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv’s impoverished suburb of Hatikva to protest against the presence of Africans in Israel. Miri Regev of Likud addressed the rally to which more than 1,000 people attended. There, she described the Africans as a “cancer in our body” and pledged to do everything she could “in order to bring them back to where they belong.” She attacked human rights and “left-wing” groups aiding the immigrants.
Danny Danon, another leader of Likud, said that the only solution to the issue of the “infiltrators” would be to “start to talk about their expulsion.” “We must expel the infiltrators from Israel. We should not be afraid to say the words ‘expulsion now,’” he said.
Shortly after the speeches, violent incidents broke out. Demonstrators smashed shops, properties and cars belonging to the African immigrants and beat up men and women while chanting “Blacks out.”
In April 2012, apartments where Africans lived as well as a kindergarten were attacked with Molotov cocktails in Shapira in south Tel Aviv.
On July 12, 2012, an Eritrean man was badly burned and his pregnant wife suffered smoke inhalation after attackers tried to burn down their apartment in central al-Quds (Jerusalem). The incident, the second arson attack on African immigrants in the city within six weeks, took place near the city’s Mahane Yehuda market, AFP quoted a police source as saying.
The Israeli government has refused to condemn these attacks on African immigrants and instead used them as an excuse to promote its anti-migrant agenda, which included a new law allowing the authorities to keep undocumented Africans imprisoned for three years and jail those who help them for up to 15 years. According to recent polls, one in three Israelis supports those attacks.
Even “left-leaning” parties, such as the Labor, support racist policies. The Labor leader, Shelly Yachimovich, accused recently the government of “having failed… and let the slums be flooded by migrant workers and refugees, thereby helping to kindle wild passions” and claimed the need to “protect the country from facing a huge mass of migrant workers.”
In March 2012, Israel started to build a huge prison camp, the world’s largest, in the Negev desert. Such a facility is situated near the Ketziot prison, where thousands of Palestinian prisoners have been jailed. The camp will be run by the prison service and thousands of Africans will be locked there. A spokesperson for the Israeli ministry of interior confirmed that Yishai wanted to eventually jail all of the thousands of undocumented African immigrants currently in the Zionist entity.
Other immigrants have already started to be expelled. On June 10, the immigration police began a mass roundup operation, which was initially focused on South Sudanese nationals but was then expanded to include those from the Ivory Coast. Hundreds of these Africans were detained and around 240 were sent to Juba, capital of South Sudan.
There is no doubt that racism and xenophobia are being fueled by the current Israeli government and nearly all the Zionist parties. Their main goal is to divert growing outrage over the decline of living standards and rising social problems by promoting racist claims and demands to preserve the “Jewish identity” of the Zionist entity at a time when the latter is getting weaker and more internationally isolated due to its settlement policies.
RussiaToday: Israeli settlers slam govt for lives left in limbo over holy land grabs
Israel is advancing its settlement plans – issueing tenders for two hundred more housing units to be built in the West Bank. Meanwhile an Israeli anti-settlement group has released a report, saying the government is stepping up construction in strategic areas to ‘prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state’. And many Israeli settlers share the feeling that the issue has a purely political agenda.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki held talks with ExxonMobil’s chief on Monday, a rare meeting with the US energy giant whose disputed deal with the autonomous Kurdish region has drawn Baghdad’s ire.
Nuri al-Maliki also appeared to once again rule out production-sharing deals that Exxon has signed with Kurdistan, arguing that Iraq’s substantial oil reserves “belong to all Iraqis,” an oft-cited phrase in Iraq’s constitution that central government officials see as justifying per-barrel service fees.
The meeting was the first between Maliki and Exxon chief Rex Tillerson since the firm signed an agreement in October 2011 for oil exploration with Kurdistan, angering the central government, which has said the US company must choose between its deals with Baghdad and with the autonomous region.
“Iraqis are partners in the oil that is discovered in any part of Iraq, they cannot be partners in Basra and not partners in other areas”, Maliki said, according to his office, referring to Iraq’s southern oil-rich province.
The statement said Tillerson voiced keenness for Exxon to “continue its work and expand in Iraq” with the US firm’s chief also apparently mentioning “important decisions in this area” that would be taken, though no further details were provided.
Exxon and Anglo-Dutch giant Shell completed a deal in January 2010 to develop production at West Qurna-1, an oil field in south Iraq, but late last year, the American company informed Baghdad that it wanted to sell its stake in the project, indicating it would focus on the controversial Kurdish deal.
In a Monday interview, Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr noted that during the previous Iranian year (ended March 19, 2012), the country discovered 20 billion barrels of crude oil.
“A total of 14 billion barrels of crude oil reserves has been also discovered in the first nine months of the current year,” he added.
The official pointed to Iran’s 300-percent progress in discovery of oil and natural gas resources and noted that the oil ministry is currently ahead of its discovery plans.
“Even in the absence of new discoveries, Iran will be capable of producing oil for the next 140 years,” Khojasteh-Mehr pointed out.
Iran holds the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves.The country’s total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Moreover, heavy and extra-heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.
Israel grounds UAVs in Azerbaijan for fear of Iran seizure
Israel has grounded its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Azerbaijan after Iran’s capture of two US-made RQ-150 drones.
Israeli drones, including its medium size multi-payload Hermes 450, have stopped flying after senior Azeri Defense Ministry experts notified the Zionist regime of their concerns about the possible seizure of the drones by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Israeli officials are convinced that Iran is trying to seize their drones, currently under Azerbaijan’s control.
Iranian military experts are capable of disrupting the navigation system of the Israeli drones even before takeoff and when parked in the hangar. That has infuriated the Israelis.
Designed for tactical reconnaissance missions, surveillance and communications, Hermes 450 has an endurance of 20 hours.Equipped with global positioning system (GPS), this UAV can take off from 260-meter taxiways and due to its composite structure, anti-aerial batteries cannot detect it.
Earlier this month, Iran Navy’s aerial defense division announced it has downed two US RQ-11 drones in the last two years. The drones were respectively captured in August 2011 and October 2012.
In December 2012, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced that a ScanEagle drone had been captured after it entered the country’s airspace over the waters of the Persian Gulf.
Palestinian ghettos were always the plan
Right-wing politician Naftali Bennett’s plan to annex Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank is just the logical next step in Israel’s historic effort to ghettoize the Palestinians.
When Habayit Hayehudi party leader and rising political star Naftali Bennett calls for annexing Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civil control, he is following the logic of every single Israeli government: maximize the territory, minimize the Arabs.
Saudi minister: Economic summit must tackle Arab Spring
The government of Pakistan is so corrupt that it has no means to ensure democratic processes, cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has told RT in an exclusive interview, urging reforms to “put the country on the right track.”
RT: Do you think the march will derail democracy in Pakistan, especially if the general election takes place within the next few months?
Cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri: Democracy is not going to be derailed. It has already been derailed by corrupt political leaders. We want to put democracy on the right track. And we want to put democracy in place in its true letter and spirit. We don’t want any kind of delay in elections. The electorate reforms which I have suggested, they are already mentioned in the constitution of Pakistan. All the details which I am demanding are already there in the law, constitution and electoral laws.
And the whole thing, my electorate reforms agenda has been endorsed by the supreme court of Pakistan in its judgment which was issued on the 8 June 2012. This year we just have to enforce these articles of the constitution and sections of electoral law and the judgment of the Supreme Court. It will not take more than a month to implement and we still have three months of caretaker government. So there is no chance of derailing democracy. Elections can take place on time.
RT: You have accused the political leaders of Pakistan of corruption and other crimes. What do you expect to change?
MQ: First of all, let me substantiate what I had stated. The majority of these people are corrupt. There is a department of the government, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and its chairman retired Admiral Fasih Bokhari is appointed by the president of Pakistan, Mr. Zardari himself. He has stated in his press conference and he has said in his official NAB statement that five thousand million rupees per annum are going to corruption. So these are the affectionate figures given by the government department. And at the same time it is declared and it’s not denied that seventy percent of members of Parliament in Pakistan are tax evaders. They do not bother to file tax returns. They conceal their source of income. So the corruption, there is nobody that can deny this reality.
So our march and movement is anti-corruption to eradicate corruption from our society and indeed the whole Muslim world, the whole third world and developing Muslim countries. We have to get rid of corruption and corrupt leaders. We have to get rid of tax evaders and law breakers. This is why we have started this struggle as a Tahrir Square of Pakistan.
Supporters of Pakistani Muslim cleric Tahir-ul Qadri flash the V-sign as they celebrate the victory of a demand for electoral reform at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Asif Hassan)
RT:You mentioned Egypt and some other countries, it’s a very famous saying “ the revolution is its own children” and what happened in Egypt, Libya and other countries, those who cause the revolutions, they are not the rulers now. Do you feel that the fruits of your efforts could go to somebody else?
MQ: I do not think that somebody else will gain, because somebody else has no intention to take over power. They have lost a lot of their reputation because of past experiences and they, in fact, are not specialists at controlling civil society. They have not been trained for it.
When I say a revolution, you should keep in your mind in Egypt, in Tunis, in Libya and all these countries, there was a military dictatorship for years and years, for a really long time and the people stood up against that. In Iran, it was the monarchical rule of the Shah, people stood up against that. Pakistan’s case is a little bit different, there is neither monarchical rule or a military dictatorship.
Here it’s electoral authoritarianism. A dictatorship-democracy as far as the term exists. There’re political parties and they manipulate the elections to come back into parliament every five years. But true democracy does not exist in this society, neither in the political field, neither in social field, nor economic field. No democracy. The people are not in fact participating in the real process of democracy. They are not getting a job, they are not getting the rule of law. They are not getting protection of their life. There is no protection for their wealth and business. There are targeted killings. People are being kidnapped.
You know in the last four days, 125 dead bodies have been sitting there without a burial. No state minister was there, no provincial government was there, no members of the assembly was there. Even the Prime Minister arrived there, four days later. So there is lawlessness, total chaos and anarchy in this country. Government is totally dysfunctional.
So, this is the single nation, single country in the whole Muslim world having nuclear capability and if the same situation continues, that would be a very big disaster if we collapse. So we have to put democracy on the right track. We have to stabilize society on true basis of constitution and law. This is what this movement is for.
RT: Don’t you feel that if force is used, a lot of innocent lives could be sacrificed?
MQ: We have to stand up. The people have to stand up for their rights. People want a peaceful society.
RT: But what if they used the force?
MQ: I don’t think they are going to be able to. I know thousands of commandos have arrived from the government of Pundjab. Shabazz Sharif sent thousands of commandos this night. They have already made an attempt to drive us out – the first night that we had arrived here, and they were defeated. Our security guards and ladies moved in front of them and they ran away. They ran away. I know, and I tell you, thousands of commandoes have been sent from the government of Pundjab. And they’ve arranged more from the capital too. They are thinking of a joint venture but hundreds of thousands of people are sitting here, although, they are unarmed and peaceful. They do not have any weapons. But still, hundreds of thousands of people, despite of being peaceful, they are enough to stop these kind of terrorist attacks by the government.
RT: There are a lot of question marks on how you fund your campaign and this march in particular. Do you receive any foreign aid or funds?
MQ: A simple answer. Who funded revolution of Ahwan and people in Egypt? Who funded them? Who funded the people in Libya? Who funded the people in Tunis? These are the people. Who funded the people in Iran, in the very old days, when the people got up for revolution? They give their lives as sacrifice. But to talk about the money, every single poor person is selling his …we sold…we gave…I gave myself, my wife, my children, my daughters, my daughter in law, all of them, my whole family gave jewellery. The ladies give their jewellery, the girls give their jewellery. People are selling their house, their motorbikes , their cars, whatever savings they have, they are spending on publicity. They are spending everything for this purpose.
Supporters of Pakistani Muslim cleric Tahir-ul Qadri celebrate the victory of a demand for electoral reform at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Asif Hassan)
RT: It is an open secret that the Americans and some western powers, have a role in shaping the political events and scenarios in Pakistan. How do you see their role and what is your strategy towards these Americans and these Western powers?
MQ: This is because of this incompetent political leadership. If you have a competent leadership who fixes and prescribes and who knows that what are our supreme national interests and then it develops or formulates as foreign policy, exactly on the basis of our own national interest. Nobody in this world whether America or any other country is your permanent friend nor your permanent enemy. We don’t want to become the enemy of other countries and we don’t want other countries, including America to be our enemies. We want a fair, friendly relationship with them but at the same time, we want to safeguard our national interests. We want to become a peaceful country. We want to protect our neighbors and region and we want to participate in the development of peace for the whole world.
RT: Some accuse you of pursuing a foreign agenda that you’re trying to implement here in Pakistan. How do you respond to these accusations?
MQ: Can you tell me a single day when there is no crisis in Pakistan, when there is no targeted killing, where there is no bomb terrorist attack, when there is no kidnapping? Every single day is a day of crisis in the history of Pakistan because of the inability and incompetency of these rulers. My coming here, this is a farce accusation. I totally reject it. I totally rebut it, refute it. I do not come here with any agenda, my agenda is the nation of Pakistan.
Some critics can say anything to anybody. Hosni Mubarak would have said the same thing to the revolutionary people of Egypt. Colonel Gaddafi would have said the same thing. So whenever you get up for change, the people who want to maintain the status quo, they make these types of allegations and tell lies.
And this time, rising up and standing up for change and democratic revolution, it is the best time, because we do not want to disturb the political mandate of the current rulers. They got their five year term and we wanted them to complete their term. Now their term is up, almost complete. The elections are due in March, do you understand, their term is coming to an end. So without disturbing their term, we gave them time to deliver, if they could deliver anything, but they could not deliver to the people.
So this is the best time to bring in electoral reforms before we enter the process of elections. If the elections take place according to the same corrupt practices and the same corrupt traditions as has been taken place throughout the history, it means the same corrupt people, with fake degrees, the law breakers, corrupt people, tax evaders like the PM, who’s arrest has been ordered by the Supreme Court, these terrible people will once again be in parliament and they will ruin this country for the next five years. So I think this time, is the best time to bring electoral reforms and then elections should take place within the time given by the constitution without any delay.
RT: Do you have any political ambitions?
MQ: I’m not here to empower myself, I’m here to empower the people of Pakistan. I’ve already declared that I’m not a candidate to become caretaker Prime Minister, absolutely not.
The media’s claims about 30,000-strong Iranian “terror and assassination force” are dubious at bestMadison Ruppert, Contributor Activist Post
Recently several mainstream media outlets jumped on a report from the Federal Research Division, a branch of the Library of Congress, that claims Iran’s intelligence ministry, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, has what CNN called “a terror and assassination force 30,000 strong,” a number which is at best highly questionable.
The most insane part is that all of the unsubstantiated claims were based on “an obscure, anonymous website that was simply citing another source,” according to an investigative report by ProPublica.
Ultimately, the 30,000 number can be traced back to Magnus Ranstorp, a Swedish terrorism researcher, quoted in a 2008 Christian Science Monitor article.
Ranstorp isn’t even sure where the number came from. “I think obviously that it would be an inflated number” of formal employees, Ranstorp said.
One of the most astounding perspectives on the Federal Research Division study comes from Gary Sick. According to Columbia University, “Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.”
Sick said the entire study “has all the appearance of a very cheap piece of propaganda and should not be trusted.”
This would hardly be surprising given that the study was produced under an agreement with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), a branch of the Pentagon.
Sick pointed out how the study not only uses highly questionable internet sources, but also contains blatant errors.
“In one section, for example, the study lays out in detail how ‘Iran’s constitution defines’ the intelligence ministry’s official functions,” writes ProPublica. “The problem, as Sick notes: Iran’s constitution doesn’t mention an intelligence ministry, let alone define its functions.”
“Whether the figures emanate from Iran or from western reporting, they are generally exaggerated and either meant as self-aggrandizing propaganda, if self-reported by Iran, or just approximations based on usually scant data or evidence,” said Afshon Ostovar, a senior Middle East analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses who frequently writes on Iran.
The number “could be more or less accurate, but there’s no way to know,” Ostovar said.
When asked about the report, Federal Research Division Chief David Osborne told ProPublica it “was leaked to the media without authorization” and declined to comment further “because it is proprietary to the agency for which it was written.”
While the study indeed claims that Iran’s intelligence ministry employs “more than 30,000 officers and support personnel,” it also notes that Iranian intelligence is “a difficult subject to study because so little information about it is publicly available.”
The study doesn’t even pretend to include any original intelligence or reporting whatsoever, instead stating that the sources are Iranian blogs and news websites.
“The reliability of blog-based information may be questionable at times,” the report admits. “But it seems prudent to evaluate and present it in the absence of alternatives.”
In other words, they’re saying that even though they know the information could very well be completely inaccurate, they’re going to publish it anyway.
It seems that the media sources couldn’t even be bothered with questioning the veracity of the report, although a CNN spokeswoman told ProPublica that CNN “checked the number with sources that led us to feel comfortable that the report was in line with the national security community’s understanding.”
CNN then aired a report (see below) detailing what they claimed were “troubling new details” about Iranian intelligence.
The source for the number parroted throughout the media? According to the study, it is IranChannel, a website aggregating news critical of the Iranian government.
IranChannel was citing a 2010 study, “Shariah: the Threat,” published by the Center for Security Policy. That study cited the Christian Science Monitor’s 2008 article.
Interestingly, Ranstorp told ProPublica he “did not recall citing the figure to the Monitor,” although it “might have originated with Kenneth Katzman, a Mideast specialist with the Congressional Research Service who often writes on Iran.”
However, Katzman said that he was not the source of the 30,000 figure and didn’t know of any evidence supporting it, though he said it did not seem “inordinately unreasonable.”
Instead of owning up to the dubious number Gertz said, “In my 30-plus years in reporting on national security issues, I have found that such unclassified reports often use press reporting of such numbers to avoid having to use classified information.”
“I also know that most of the people who write such reports have access to classified information about the subjects they write about and I doubt they would publish a figure that would be contradicted by classified assessments of the number of personnel in the [intelligence ministry],” Gertz added.
In an attempt to support the number and his use of it, Gertz pointed to a 2010 report published by Stratfor which said that as of 2006 Iran’s intelligence ministry had only 15,000 employees.
To make matters even worse, Stratfor didn’t cite a source for the figure.
This just goes to show how easily and shamelessly a highly questionable figure can be used to support the U.S. mainstream media’s narrative. This isn’t all that surprising given the fact that the media has no problem pushing propaganda reports published by groups affiliated with terrorists so long as it is in line with the rest of the propaganda.
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