The Shia Crescent Forms (Daniel 8:8)

shiacrescentBaghdad and Tehran sign a deal to boost military cooperation

Mina Aldroubi

Iraq and Iran signed an agreement on Sunday to boost military cooperation days after the US imposed new sanctions against Tehran for its “malign” activity in the region.

The agreement to help “combat terrorism” was signed a day after the Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi said Shiite militias backed by Iran would remain an integral part of the state.

Iranian military advisers have played a key role in the campaign to drive ISIL from territory seized by the extremist group in 2014 and the militias, known as Hashed Al Shaabi, have also fought against the extremists along with Iraq’s regular military and police.

But the militias have been accused of abuses against Sunni populations in areas recaptured by government forces and there are fears over their future role in the country.

The agreement between Iran and Iraq, which extends “cooperation and exchanging experiences in fighting terrorism” was signed in Tehran by the Iranian defence minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan Al Hiyali.

The agreement also covered border security, logistics and training, the Iranian official news agency IRNA reported.

Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Iran’s influence in the country has increased, empowering Shiite leaders and leaving Sunni populations neglected and resentful of the central government, which contributed to the rise of ISIL.

With the extremists defeated in Mosul, the last major city under its control, many Sunnis are fearful of a sectarian backlash as the country tries to rebuild.

The role of the Hashed Al Shaabi in Iraq has been an issue of widespread contention and will be a key issue in elections next year.

The government passed a bill in November that made the Hashed a legitimate entity of Iraq’s security forces and on Saturday Mr Al Abadi declared after meeting militias commanders that “the forces are an essential and neutral security entity and will remain within the structure of the Iraqi state”.

While maintaining that “the state is the main leader” of the security structure in the country, he said the Hashed “is a neutral security establishment, and it is here to stay”.

“It is our duty to protect it, because we are one,” Mr Al Abadi added.

The announcement is the clearest sign of support from the prime minister for the Hashed’s continued role in Iraq after ISIL’s defeat. While his predecessor, Nouri Al Malaki, was widely condemned for his sectarian policies, Mr Al Abadi has been more conciliatory.

He has condemned sectarian violence carried out by the militias and tried to build ties with Sunni countries in the region. Last month, he travelled to Jeddah and met King Salman after the Saudi foreign minister visited Baghdad in February.

But the Hashed endorsement will raise concerns among Sunni leaders in Iraq.

Sarah Allawi, advisor to Iraqi vice president Ayad Allawi, said: “We thank the security forces for their efforts in liberating Mosul from ISIL – however we now are entering a new phase rebuilding Iraq post ISIL, which is aiming to achieve national reconciliation between political forces.”

The Hashed are an amalgamation of various subgroups with allegiances to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iraq’s top Shiite clerics Ali Al Sistani and Muqtada Al Sadr, according to a report on the militias by the Carnegie Middle East Center.

“Some subgroups have assumed political roles and will seek to leverage their roles in combatting ISIL to win votes in Iraq’s 2018 elections,” said the report.

For militia members, the legitimacy of their struggle against ISIL is a direct result of a fatwa issued by Ali Al Sistani in response to the fall of Mosul in 2014 in which he called the fight a “sacred defence”.

“As of November 2016 and the passing of the Hashed Al Shaabi law, the Hashed has become a formally institutionalised part of Iraq’s security apparatus tied to the office of the commander-in-chief,” said Fanar Haddad, senior research fellow in the National University of Singapore.

“However, unlike other security units, disbanding the Hashed would not be a straightforward administrative procedure given their immense popularity and legitimacy amongst many Iraqis and given the Hashed’s powerful backers in Iraq and Iran”.

The Hashed’s role in defeating ISIL has also given them support from other sections of Iraq and not just Shiites.

“The fact is that the Hashed will be a permanent feature of Iraq’s social, political and military landscapes for the foreseeable future,” Mr Haddad added.

Iranian Hegemony in Syria (Revelation 8:4)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Warns of Growing Iranian Presence in Syria, Iraq

John Hayward

The discussion ranged from defeating ISIS and countering Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The University of Western Australia

Stephens began by asking Pompeo to identify the United States’ enemies in Syria, a question for which Pompeo said there was no singular answer. Obviously, the defeat of the Islamic State is America’s top priority at the moment, but the second name offered by the CIA director was Iran.

Today you have Iran extending its boundary, extending its reach, now making an effort to cross the borders and link up from Iraq,” said Pompeo. “It’s a very dangerous threat to the United States. Just yesterday, one more time we learned that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and they now have a significant foothold in Syria.”

Pompeo segued from Iran to Russia, saying he hoped the U.S. could find ways to work alongside the Russians in Syria, but “we really don’t have the same set of interests there.”

“When the decision was made to allow the Russians to enter into Syria, now coming on four years ago, it fundamentally changed the landscape, and it’s certainly been worse for the Syrian people,” he said.

Pompeo restated that point more forcefully later, during his question-and-answer session with the audience, recalling an editorial he co-wrote in 2013 saying that President Barack Obama should have acted in Syria, but instead he invited the Russians to step in and address the chemical weapons issue.

“The previous president instead chose to invite the Russians in, and that was a major turning point. That’s not a political statement, it’s a factual observation. It was a major turning point in the capacity of America to influence events in Syria. And so today we find ourselves in the position where we’re working to develop partners and those who are willing to work alongside us to get an outcome that’s in the best interests of America,” he said.

Pompeo said America’s objective in Syria, beyond defeating ISIS, should be enhancing the stability of the Middle East, an objective shared by America’s partners in the region as well as European allies.

Interestingly, he was somewhat ambivalent about whether the Kurds can be counted as an American friend in Syria, arguing that it is not accurate to speak of them as a unified individual element because of their complex internal politics. “Suffice to say there are places where we are definitely working alongside them and which they’re going to help us achieve the outcome that America wants,” he said.

On the biggest Syrian question, Pompeo deferred questions about whether America will push for the end of Bashar Assad’s dictatorship to the State Department. He quoted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assessment that Assad is “not a stabilizing influence” and agreed it is “difficult to imagine a stable Syria that still has Assad in power.”

He is a puppet of the Iranians. Therefore, it seems an unlikely situation where Assad will be sitting on the throne and America’s interests will be well-served,” Pompeo said.

He expressed concerns about Iran’s use of proxy forces like Hezbollah and Shiite militia groups in Syria, citing the threat posed by these forces to Israel and the Gulf states. He noted other Iranian proxy forces have gained a disturbing foothold in Iraq as well.

“This administration is going to have the task of unwinding what we found when we came in,” he said. “We’re working diligently to get the right place there. I will tell you that some of the actions we have taken have let folks know that we are at least back working this problem in a way that wasn’t the case six months ago.”

As for Russia’s interests in Syria, Pompeo pithily summed them up as: “They love a warm-water naval port, and they love to stick it to America.”

Asked if there was any evidence Russia has pursued a serious strategy against the Islamic State, instead of concentrating its fire on the more “moderate” opponents of the Assad regime, Pompeo bluntly answered, “No.”

However, he said he hoped there were other areas where counterterrorism cooperation with the Russians could be productive and explained it was his duty to work with them if they could provide valuable information about terrorist threats to Americans at home and abroad.

“We live in a world where the Russians have a massive nuclear stockpile and are firmly entrenched in Syria,” he pointed out. “They’ve retaken Crimea. They have a foothold in southeast Ukraine. Those are facts on the ground. America has an obligation to push back against that, not to allow that continued expansionism that has taken place, and to be serious in the way that we deal with them.”

“If we can do that by me working with someone who doesn’t share my value set, but works for the SVR, I’ll do it,” Pompeo said. (The SVR is Russia’s external intelligence agency, analogous to the CIA.)

Turning back to ISIS, Pompeo warned there are signs the terrorist organization is already mutating and spreading into other parts of the world to survive its inevitable defeat in Raqqa, naming Libya, the Sinai peninsula, and the hinterlands of Iraq and Syria as particular concerns.

“We broke the back of al-Qaeda. We crushed them. We didn’t do it just by taking out a handful of folks. We took down their entire network. That’s what we’re going to do again,” he promised.

He stressed that the Islamic State remains dangerous even without its “caliphate” territory, but America is “infinitely better off” with that territory liberated because holding cities in Iraq and Syria helped the Islamic State build the infrastructure it uses for recruiting and terrorist attacks around the world.

Pompeo said that, although the State Department has certified continued Iranian compliance with the JCPOA (i.e. the Iran nuclear deal), the Trump administration remains committed to pushing back against Iran in many areas. A longtime skeptic of the nuclear deal, he humorously compared Iran’s technical compliance with the behavior of a poor tenant who complies with the rules just enough to avoid eviction.

“Grudging, minimalist, temporary, with no intention really of what the agreement is designed to do,” he said. “It was designed to foster stability and have Iran become a re-entrant to the Western world, and the agreement simply hasn’t achieved that.”

Pompeo said it was not easy to articulate what would achieve those goals but stressed that “continued appeasement, continued failure to acknowledge when they do things wrong” will never be the right strategy. He expressed confidence that the Trump administration could engineer a fundamental shift in the Iranian situation.

Stephens turned to North Korea, suggesting that the competence of its nuclear and missile programs has improved to an alarming degree over the past few years. Pompeo said this was a result of “willing partners — suppliers, engineers, talented physicists who were able to come provide them with ways to get up the learning curve faster.”

He revealed that President Trump “rarely lets me escape the Oval Office without a question about North Korea. It is at the front of his mind.”

By contrast, he said previous administrations have “whistled past the graveyard” of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but it is too close to realizing those goals for the Trump administration to take the same approach.

“It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Pompeo said. “From the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two — separate capacity and someone who might well have intent, and break those two apart.”

Pompeo said it was still possible to interrupt North Korea’s march to a nuclear arsenal without resorting to military intervention, noting that there is a great difference between building a few nuclear missiles and development a large, reliable missile force along the lines of the American or Russian inventories. He suggested focusing on reducing North Korea’s access to the supplies and expertise it would need to develop anything beyond its first crude ICBMs. He also suggested the North Korean people might have some appetite for overthrowing their brutal dictatorship.

Asked if Russia attempted to intervene in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Pompeo said yes, adding they tried to interfere with many previous elections as well. “They’ve been at this a long time, and I don’t think they have any intention of backing off,” he noted.

Pompeo explained that the cost of effective political interference in other nations has been greatly reduced by the Internet.

“It used to be it was expensive to run an ad on a television station. Now you simply go online and propagate your message,” he said. “They have found an effective tool, an easy way to reach into our systems and into our culture to achieve the outcomes they are looking for.” Later, in response to a question from the audience, he said the CIA is working with German intelligence agencies to investigate possible Russian interference in German elections, although he could not comment on the status of that investigation.

Stephens proposed that one of those tools is WikiLeaks and asked if Pompeo sees that website and its founder Julian Assange as witting or unwitting agents of Moscow.

“WikiLeaks will take down America any way they can and find any willing partner to achieve that end,” Pompeo declared. “If they can work with the Chinese, they’re happy to do it. If they can work with the Iranians, they’ll be part and parcel. If they can work with young American students in our colleges and on our campuses, they’re happy to work for them. You only need to go to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account to see that every month, they remind people that you can be an intern at the CIA and become a really dynamite whistleblower.”

“This is the nature of these non-state hostile intelligence services,” he said:

I think our intelligence community has a lot of work to figure out how to respond to them. We have spent decades figuring out how to respond to nation-state intelligence services that come after us. We have authorities, and rules, and processes that are focused on countries and regions. We now need to make sure that we understand that some of the intelligence threat, some of the threat to America is coming from these folks who don’t have constituents, people who live in their country but rather are free-range chickens, running around the world with resources to spare, and who don’t intend well for the United States of America, and are happy to use cyber or other means to achieve their ends.

Pompeo noted that the First Amendment makes it difficult to combat the spread of information obtained by organizations like WikiLeaks, so it is imperative for the intelligence community and other government agencies to maintain information security and keep that information from being released into the wild. He expressed hope that potential leakers would consider their responsibilities to America and make the right decision about jeopardizing national security.

“We have a publication – you work for it, Bret – that published the name of an undercover officer at the Central Intelligence Agency. I find that unconscionable,” Pompeo said, and then stared at Stephens for a few tense moments while the Aspen Security Forum audience applauded.

Stephens retorted that President Trump was known to declare, “I love WikiLeaks!” on the 2016 campaign trail after it began releasing documents from the Democratic National Committee.

“I don’t love WikiLeaks,” Pompeo said flatly.

Pompeo agreed with Stephens that a pattern of recent incidents suggest the U.S. intelligence and defense communities have an “insider threat” problem, although he stressed that excessive compartmentalization can result in a catastrophic failure of agencies to share vital information, as in the case of the run-up to 9/11. “We’re working inside my organization to make sure we have that balance correct,” he said.

“I come home every night, my wife says, ‘How was your day? What did you do?’ I can’t tell her what I did, but I can tell her that my day was great because America is awesome, and the people who work at the CIA are doing amazing things. I just can’t always share them with you,” said Pompeo, bringing a round of applause from the audience. He stressed that some of those “amazing things” are very much directed against Russian cyber-espionage.

Later, when pressed by an audience question from former 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste about President Trump’s dismissal of the investigation into Russian election interference as a “witch hunt,” Pompeo argued that it was not out of bounds for the many high officials served by the intelligence community to challenge its work.

“It is not always the case that our answers are binary,” he said, pointing out that some of the findings in the intelligence community’s analysis of the 2016 election were expressed with more confidence than others. However, he repeated with some exasperation that he personally does not doubt the findings that efforts were made by Russia to meddle in the election.

“I think if you watch this administration’s actions with respect to Russia, it is no comparison in respect to how this administration has dealt with Russia and the previous one,” Pompeo said.

Turning to the war against terrorism, Pompeo provocatively stated that he does not believe in the “lone wolf” designation for many of the terrorists who have struck across the Western world in the past decade.

“I’ve never seen a wolf alone,” he noted. “They always know how to find the pack and where to find them. Someone is always helping each of these folks, so networks still exist.”

However, Pompeo added that terrorism has changed “to the extent it is less centralized, more diffuse, just like effective corporations in America today that have decentralized.” To combat that threat, he said he is working to “decentralize the Central Intelligence Agency, so we can be as nimble as our adversary.”

Giuliani Correct: US fears new ‘biggest enemy’ Iran

‘This country is WORSE than North Korea’ Rudy Giuliani says US fears new ‘biggest enemy’

By Rachel O’Donoghue / Published 16th July 2017

U.S. against ‘evil’ regime in Iran says ex-New York mayor

Rudy Giuliani, the ex-Mayor of New York, warned Iran is the country’s biggest fear right now.

Speaking after a conference in Paris earlier this month, he said the nation poses a greater threat than both Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin.

Mr Giuliani was attending a rally in Paris organised by the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), which is the largest and most active opposition movement to the regime.

The Paris-based group supports a totally secular political system in the hardline Islamic country.

Mr Giuliani said: “Iran is our biggest enemy, Iran is our fiercest enemy. It is the greatest danger to freedom in the world.

“Our long term danger is Iran.

Iran [is] a bigger threat than North Korea, it is expanding into an empire. North Korea is contained.

They have more technological capability and they have what is truly an insane regime.

“In North Korea, we’re not sure about Kim Jong-un and we do have the hope that China can contain him.”

Iran is our biggest enemy, Iran is our fiercest enemy. It is the greatest danger to freedom in the world” Rudy Giuliani

Tensions between the US and North Korea are at an all time high.

The secretive state has repeatedly threatened to blast the US with nuclear weapons, with supreme leader Kim even saying it would be a “piece of cake” to drop a nuke on the country.

But Mr Giuliani, who was Mayor of New York at the time of the September 11 terror attacks, warned the Iranian regime’s downfall can’t be brought about via military action.

He said it would happen through a civilian revolution within the Middle Eastern superpower, which the United States can only help bring about through economic sanctions.

“The [regime change] needs to happen from within. How did the regime change in the Soviet Union or Poland or in the Czech Republic? No army came in.

“The people finally rose up and they were just too much for the military to contain,” he explained.

His comments come as the PMOI again accused the international community of ignoring the global threat posed by Iran.

Last year, Europe and the United States, under President Barack Obama, lifted sanctions – including oil and financial penalties – placed on the country over its expanding nuclear programme.

They also unfroze approximately $100billion of its assets after inspectors said crucial parts of its nuclear capabilities had been dismantled – something the PMOI claims is a lie.

Urging the reintroduction of sanctions, Mr Giuliani said the US has the power to tighten the noose around the regime.

He said that because three-quarters of substantial global trade is done via American banks, Iran could be squeezed financially to such an extent it would spark major unrest in the country.

Iran Continues to Defy the World (Daniel 8:4)

640x392_81016_195499NEWS : NUCLEAR

Published: 11 July 2017
By INU Staff

INU – The Iranian Regime is still attempting to obtain illicit nuclear technology, in direct defiance of the 2015 deal between six world powers and Iran, according to German intelligence agencies.

The Hamburg intelligence agency’s report read: “There is no evidence of a complete about-face in Iran’s atomic policies in 2016… Iran sought missile carrier technology necessary for its rocket program.”

The nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was supposed to stop Iran from continuing development of its nuclear weapons programme for at least a decade in exchange for sanctions relief.

It was signed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China), Germany, and the European Union.

The report also revealed that three German citizens have been charged with violating export bans by sending 51 special valves to Iran. These parts could be used in Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor, to develop plutonium for nuclear weapons.

This reactor was supposed to have been shut down as a condition of the nuclear deal but has not been.

Their report documented 49 instances of the Iranian regime engaging in illegal procurement of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist activities, like cyber warfare, spying, and providing financial and military support for the terrorist group, Hezbollah.

A report from the Baden-Württemberg intelligence agency, read: “Regardless of the number of national and international sanctions and embargoes, countries like Iran, Pakistan and North Korea are making efforts to optimise corresponding technology.”

It continued: “[Iran sought] products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well missile technology.

The Iranian Regime had even been used a Chinese front company in order to buy technology that would aid Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, but thankfully they were caught.A report from the Rhineland-Palatinate intelligence agency, said: “[In 2016,] German companies located in Rhineland-Palatinate were contacted for illegal procurement attempts by [Pakistan, North Korea and Iran]. The procurement attempts involved goods that were subject to authorization and approval on account of legal export restrictions and UN embargoes. These goods, for example, could be used for a state’s nuclear and missile programs.”

These reports are consistent with those issued by German intelligence agencies in previous years.In 2015, during the nuclear deal talks, German intelligence agencies found that Iran was evading existing sanctions on obtaining both nuclear and ballistic missile technology. While in 2016, they reported that Iran was actively seeking chemical and biological weapons capabilities in Germany.

The Secret Behind Obama’s Nuclear Deal

pic_giant_022615_SM_Obama-Iran-DealThe Iran Nuclear Deal’s Secret Side

A bomb that fails to explode after it is dropped is called a dud. Occasionally that dud goes off long after the battle is over, causing casualties among people who thought they were no longer in harm’s way.

Politico published a story in April about how the Obama administration undermined its own anti-proliferation and sanctions-enforcement efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. It should have been a bombshell when it was published. But if it made any noise at all, the sound was lost amid the cacophony over supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

In reaching its 2015 deal to restrict Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international and some – but not all – U.S. sanctions, the Obama administration released seven Iranian prisoners (six of whom were Iranian-American) and dropped international extradition efforts to try to gain custody of 14 others. This much became public knowledge when the deal was implemented in January 2016.

But the report from Politico said the former president downplayed the offenses for which the detainees had been held and the others were being sought. Three of the released prisoners were part of a procurement network that sought microelectronics for Iranian anti-aircraft and cruise missiles. Another had been sentenced to eight years for supplying Iran with satellite technology. The 14 fugitives who the U.S. had sought to apprehend included the alleged ringleader of a group that acquired vital American-made parts for Iranian centrifuges via China. Those centrifuges were a key component of the very Iranian nuclear program that the administration was trying to stop.

That’s just what happened in 2016, after the deal was signed. Politico also reported that the Obama administration began slow-walking efforts to apprehend Iranian arms-smugglers and sanctions-busters as early as 2014, when talks on the potential nuclear deal were still a secret held closely within the White House and a small circle of senior executive branch officials.

Obama’s under-the-table concessions on Iran’s procurement agents, like the overall Iran nuclear deal itself, are arguably unwise but unarguably legal. The determination and execution of American foreign policy are the purview of the executive branch, subject to congressional prerogatives over appropriating funds, confirming nominees, declaring war and ratifying treaties. Despite the fact that it involved American commitments to Iran and collaboration with multiple other countries, the nuclear deal was presented as an executive agreement rather than a treaty, which is why President Trump is free to disavow it if he should choose. So far, he has not.

American allies as diverse as Israel and Saudi Arabia instantly saw the Obama agreement as a concession to an implacable enemy and a threat to their own security. No doubt they knew the extent of the concessions regarding the sanctions-evading individuals well before Politico brought this to wider attention. With America’s reliability as a bulwark against Iranian aggression undermined, the Saudis in particular embarked on a much more muscular response of their own, including the current near-blockade of neighboring Qatar for being insufficiently loyal to the anti-Tehran cause.

While Obama may have been kowtowing to the Iranians, he certainly wasn’t “colluding” with them in any reasonable sense of that word. He was acting as an elected official within what he (at least) believed to be the scope of his constitutional powers. This was true, as well, back in 2012 when Obama famously told Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” At the time Medvedev was keeping Russia’s presidential seat warm for Vladimir Putin, who had temporarily stepped down in 2008 to become prime minister due to term limits, only to reclaim the seat a few weeks after Obama’s remarks to Medvedev were inadvertently captured on an open mic. “I understand,” Medvedev replied. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

Was Obama “colluding” with the Russians amid his 2012 presidential campaign? Not unless collusion has been redefined to include the conduct of international diplomacy by a sitting president.

Trump, of course, was not a sitting president during the 2016 campaign. Nothing has surfaced to indicate that he or the people around him had anything to do with the hacking of Democratic campaign files and subsequent releases of embarrassing emails that U.S. intelligence agencies (then run by Obama appointees) concluded were the work of the Russians. And while some in Trump’s circle surely had business dealings with Russian executives and officials during that time, those likewise were not illegal, and had even been encouraged by the Obama administration.

Well after the election and just a few weeks before Trump’s inauguration, Obama retaliated against the alleged Russian electoral interference with new sanctions, including the ban of 35 Russian individuals from U.S. soil. According to news reports initially sourced to anonymously leaked intelligence, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, discussed those sanctions with a Russian diplomat and may have indicated that Trump would revisit the actions once he took office. (Thus far Trump has let Obama’s steps stand.) Flynn served in the administration for less than a month before being forced to resign, largely for telling Vice President Mike Pence that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russians – denials which were later contradicted, to Pence’s embarrassment.

So for the past four months we have been exposed to an endless deluge of columns purporting to explore and explode the alleged “cover-up” for which there is, as far as anyone yet knows, no underlying crime, based on leaks from the administration of a president who, after boasting of his own forthcoming “flexibility,” sought to tie his successor’s hands in dealing with the still-emerging disclosures of Russian interference in an American election.

It has been a lot of noise and smoke, but with very little actual explosive force. Meanwhile, an actual bombshell landed almost unnoticed and sits waiting for someone to stumble across it. It may never go off. Then again, especially if one of Obama’s catch-and-release proliferators is ever linked to a successful hostile event, it could someday yield a pretty big bang.

Iran’s Hegemony in Syria 

Khamenei ordered missile strikes on IS targets in Syria

Dwayne Harmon24 June 2017, 10:39 Newburgh Gazette

“If the regime continues attacking our positions in Raqqa province, we will be forced to retaliate”, SDF spokesman Talal Silo said.

The US military has repeatedly warned forces fighting on Assad’s side to stay away from a “deconfliction zone”, agreed with Russian Federation, near a garrison used by US Special Forces and US-backed armed groups around Al-Tanf.

Syrian Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tourjman said Iran’s missile strikes against ISIS positions in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor have sent a strong message to the government of Donald Trump to drop any potential plan for launching an attack on Iran or mounting a campaign to isolate the Islamic Republic on the global arena.

It came in response to the terrorist attack in Tehran earlier this month that was claimed by Daesh.

Iran has called in the Swiss charge d’affaires, who looks after USA interests, to protest against comments by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson backing “peaceful transition” in the Islamic republic.

Tensions between longtime rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have escalated in recent weeks after the Saudis and their Gulf partners cut ties to Qatar, citing, in part, its association to Iran and Tehran’s alleged link to terrorism.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the attack in a Twitter post on Monday.

Syrian state television, quoting army sources, said they had resumed the offensive, which took place as USA and Russian officials were holding another round of secret talks on creating a “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria that would include Daraa.

The Pentagon said a US F-15 aircraft, flying over Syrian territory, fired on the drone after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on coalition forces.

While the US military’s shootdown of a Syrian jet on Sunday was a rarity in modern warfare, the first in 18 years, it was not an isolated incident. Led by the IRGC, about 10,000 Iranian combat troops are in Syria fighting alongside thousands of fighters from Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Tehran-affiliated Shi’ite militia, and assorted Shi’ite militias.

Russian Federation reacted angrily to the USA shootdown of the Syrian jet, which the Pentagon said was dropping bombs near the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a mixed Kurdish-Arab militia fighting Islamic State.

Israel’s military Chief of Staff is disputing Iranian claims of successfully launching missiles at militants in Syria.

The operation “targeted Takfiri forces in the Deir Ezzor region in Eastern Syria”.

The coalition’s presence in Tanf, on the Damascus-Baghdad highway, was meant to stop Iranian-backed groups from opening an overland route between Iraq and Syria, intelligence sources have said. After the drone was shot down on Tuesday, Russians made an announcement that the United States coalition warplanes will be tracked and targeted flying west to the river Euphrates.

Still, analysts caution that Tehran’s rhetoric may be more for domestic consumption.

“The military and our security forces are constantly monitoring the activity of Iran in the region”, Netanyahu said, according to a statement released by the Likud.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main opposition, is planning a conference in Washington to provide information about Iran’s missile program which is advancing at a rapid pace.

Iran Nuclear at a Moment’s Notice

Has Iran laid the groundwork to develop nuclear weapons on a moment’s notice?

BY JACK CARAVELLI AND SEBASTIAN MAIER, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS

Hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough at its signing in July 2015, Iran’s nuclear agreement with leading members of the international community—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—has achieved some notable short-term successes, many in Iran’s favor. Most, not all, of Iran’s nuclear activities are either frozen or highly circumscribed. In exchange, Iran is reaping the benefit of receipt of billions of dollars in previously frozen assets as well as a return to international commerce where Europe and China, among others, are seeking to invigorate trade and investment with the theocratic regime. This will be a boon for Iran’s chronically mismanaged and struggling economy.

The bad news is that it is misleading to conclude that Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been shuttered or that those ambitions will no longer pose a threat to the security and stability of the Middle East or beyond. This is because the agreement has finite limits, ranging from 10 years to 15 years depending on the issue.

For the time being, Iran has incentives to abide by the agreement’s terms, beginning with its financial windfall and reintegration into the international community. None of that has lessened Iran’s fervor for supporting terrorism or the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Moreover, even now there are signs Iran in the long-term has no plans to abandon its nuclear program—and all that implies for the possible development of nuclear weapons.
A recent report from the highly credible Institute for Science and International Security takes note of a statement from Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. According to the Institute report and quoting Salehi, Iran “has the capability to initiate mass production of advanced centrifuges on short notice.” Centrifuges are the machinery that enriches uranium and creates the fissile material needed to make a nuclear weapon.

While Iran may make the specious claim it has the right to do so in coming years, on practical grounds there should be no reason for Iran to devote resources to this activity if it does not intend, as it so claims, to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. Mass production of advanced centrifuges, if carried out, would give Iran a decided advantage if it wanted to shorten a rush to a nuclear weapon.

Similarly, Iran continues to develop its ballistic missile program, an element of its defense regime that was left unhindered in the nuclear negotiations except for the fact that existing United Nations sanctions on the missile program are to be lifted in about six years.

The capability to deliver nuclear weapons to targets is all important; Iran recognizes this requirement and makes no secret of its commitment to maintaining and advancing its program. At present, Iran has ballistic missiles capable of attacking targets throughout the Middle East and probably beyond.

In addition, Iran also continues to defy repeated international requests to come clean on suspect activities at the Parchin military facility where suspicions for years have been high that Iran carried out high explosives testing that can only be useful in developing a nuclear weapon.

Much of the international community would be pleased to see these and related questions not resurface but they are inconvenient truths that if left unaddressed may well lead to a future crisis.

The mechanism to take up these issues is the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. Most nations around the globe are IAEA members and they merit a clear understanding of Iran’s activities, in no small measure to convince them that the international community can deal with Iran successfully and that Iranian actions can be monitored credibly.

That conclusion cannot be reached with credibility until much more is known about the pace and scope of Iran’s nuclear and missile activities. Until those questions are resolved it is fair to conclude that Iran’s actions since the signing of the JCPOA are troubling and raise new suspicions.

Jack Caravelli served on the White House National Security Council staff from 1999-2000. Sebastian Maier is an associate with the London-based corporate intelligence firm GMTL.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Iran’s Nuclear Program Continues to Grow

 

By INU Staff

INU – A new report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed that Iran’s missile program has accelerated since the signing of the nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), between Tehran and world powers in 2015.

In a press conference on Tuesday, held at the NCRI’s Washington office, the scope of Iran’s missile program was made public, and is much more extensive than was previously imagined.

According to the report, the Revolutionary Guards, who are in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile program, have been carrying out operations at 42 locations, of which 12 were previously unknown.

The report alleges that one of the missile complexes is tied to SPND, the organization in charge of building nuclear bombs.

The information was obtained by the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), who first revealed Iran’s illicit nuclear program, disclosed the NCRI.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI’s U.S. office, said in an interview with Fox News, “The findings show the first full picture of the missile program of the Iranian regime, which is very extensive and costly. It also shows a close tie between the nuclear weapons program and the missile program.”

Jafarzadeh continued,”Tehran has accelerated its missile program to make up for its domestic impotence and increasing regional isolation. The missile program of the regime is essential for its survival. Unfortunately the missile program of the Iranian regime has remained primarily unchecked.”

The nuclear accord failed to address a range of threats posed by the Iranian regime, including its involvement in other countries of the region, its ballistic missile program, and its human rights record.

The Obama administration, whose negotiations led to the deal, believed that the incentives provided by the JCPOA would curb Iran’s ambitions. Instead, Iran took advantage of the previous administration’s appeasement policy and hands-off approach to pursue its agendas, including several ballistic missile tests and launches since signing the JCPOA.

Recent developments, like last week’s passage in the U.S. Senate of a bill that, if approved by the House and signed by President Trump, will enforce new sanctions against the Iranian regime for its ballistic missile development, arms transfers, support for terrorism, and human rights violations.

The recent summit in Riyadh, where leaders of major Arab nations highlighted the menace of Iran’s ballistic missile program, and committed to confront Tehran’s subversive and destructive activities inside their countries, bodes ill for the Iranian regime.

The Iranian people deeply oppose the regime’s nuclear and missile program and its interference in the region, stated the NCRI representatives, and they called for the enactment of further sanctions against the Iranian regime’s missile program and all entities that are affiliated to it. Additionally they called for the expulsion of Iran’s forces and proxies from Syria and Iraq, and for the terrorist designation of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran’s Hegemony n Syria

Iran’s Khamenei ordered missile strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria: Guards

Reuters

FILE PHOTO - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran Thomson Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered weekend missile strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, Revolutionary Guards said, contradicting a previous report that they were authorised by the country’s security council.

The Guards fired six mid-range surface to surface missiles from western Iran into Syria’s Deir al Zour province on Sunday night, the first attack of its kind carried out by the Islamic Republic in years.

The Guards statement, published on Wednesday by Sepah News, ran counter to a statement by President Hassan Rouhani who said earlier that the strikes were authorised by the Supreme National Security Council, which includes the heads of the three branches of government as well as the head of the Guards and other ministers.

Senior Guard commanders said on Monday that the missile strikes were intended to send a message to “terrorists” who carried out attacks in Tehran two weeks ago as well as their regional and international supporters, a reference to Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Khamenei’s personal directive for the missile strikes, as reported by the Guards, highlighted their symbolic importance.

The complex attacks in Tehran included shootings and at least one suicide bombing at the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, south of the capital. Eighteen people were killed.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for these attacks but senior Iranian officials pointed a finger at Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic’s biggest regional rival.

Tensions between mostly Shi’ite Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is predominantly Sunni, have ramped up in recent months as both countries compete for power and influence across the region. The two countries support opposite sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Field operatives from the Quds Force, the branch of the Guards responsible for operations outside Iran’s borders, gathered intelligence on the targets inside Syria before the strike, the Guards’ statement said.

More than 170 “terrorists” including some commanders were killed in the missile strike, their statement said. Reuters could not independently verify the claim.

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Iran Continues to Develop Nuclear Missiles 

http://cyberwarzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/missile-iran.jpgIran Regime’s Continuing Missile Development Revealed by MEK

News : Iranian opposition

Published: 21 June 2017
By INU Staff

INU – In a press conference on Tuesday at its Washington DC office, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) presented new information gathered by MEK about missile development and testing in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Officials of the NCRI reported that Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, ordered the acceleration of missile expansion from relevant institutions after the nuclear agreement went into effect last year, in January.

Iranian ballistic missile testing has caused an ongoing dispute among those who are attempting to keep the nuclear deal enforced. These tests are alleged to be in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions that call on the Islamic Republic to avoid work on weapons that are nuclear capable. However, several tests of such missiles have taken place since negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 concluded in July 2015.

According to the NCRI, statements that seem to underscore the defiant policies, attributed to Khamenei, accompany these tests.

Although Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is described as a ‘moderate’ by Western media, he has stated that the ballistic missile program will continue to grow because “the Iranian nation has decided to be powerful.”

At the press conference, the NCRI stated that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force has been given the task of executing Khamenei’s mandate for accelerated missile work. Members of the IRGC have gone so far as to paint the words “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew on two of the pre-test missiles.

Intelligence gathered from sources inside of Iran by the NCRI’s main constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has identified 42 centers for the development, manufacture, and testing of missiles by the IRGC. It also found that one of these centers, located in Semnan Province, was actively collaborating with the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (Persian abbreviation: SPND), previously identified as the institution in charge of nuclear weapons-related work in the Islamic Republic.

The existence of SPND was revealed by the NCRI in 2011, three years before the United States placed the institution on its sanctions list. SPND’s involvement in ongoing weapons development casts doubt in regards to Tehran’s commitment to the nuclear agreement.

These new revelations from the NCRI come while the US Congress and President Donald Trump are reviewing policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Trump administration’s response to a ballistic missile test that occurred early in Trump’s presidency, was to issue a statement putting Tehran “on notice”.. Following that occurrence, the White House imposed new sanctions on entities with alleged ties to the Iranian ballistic missile program. The American legislature has done so as well, and has moved to extend terrorism-related sanctions to the entirety of the IRGC.

In a move that met with praise from the NCRI and other opponents of the Iranian regime, President Trump ordered the State Department to review the possibility of designating the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. During Tuesday’s press conference, NCRI officials also called for the expulsion of IRGC forces and proxies from Syria and Iraq, and stressed the value of unrelenting sanctions.