Archive | September 7th, 2012

Syria Rebels Declare Civilian Aircraft Legitimate Targets

NOVANEWS

France Mulls Sending Anti-Aircraft Weapons to Rebel Factions

by Jason Ditz

Interested in increasing its influence in the region, France is reportedly consideringsending rebel factions in northern Syria artillery as well as anti-aircraft guns. They have already confirmed plans to provide funds to several rebel blocs, though not the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The timing for the anti-aircraft weaponry report couldn’t be worse. Earlier today, the Free Syrian Army announced that they now consider civilian aircrafts to be “legitimate military targets” and say they will attack any airplanes flying over Syria after this weekend.

Several international airlines have already announced that they are withdrawing from Damascus airport, but 14 others remain. The FSA insisted that while they intend to shoot down civilian planes, it would be the regime “and its Russian allies” that are to blame for the resultant deaths.

Several of the Gulf nations that have been arming the rebels have openly resisted sending anti-aircraft weapons to the groups, fearing that this sort of shift might happen. The French government has yet to comment, but this must inevitably force a rethink of any plans they might have for shipping such weapons.

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Suspected hate crime: Arab man assaulted in Jerusalem

NOVANEWS

East Jerusalem man claims he was attacked by Jewish youths for being Arab, says attack left him with broken leg. ‘The minute they heard my name, they began hitting me,’ he says

ynet 

Jerusalem police are investigating an Arab man’s claim that he was attacked on Wednesday night by Jewish youths just for being an Arab.

Ibrahim Abu Ta’a, 28, an east Jerusalem resident who works at a local hotel, claims that he was the victim of a racist attack. According to Abu Ta’a, the assault occurred as he dropped off a co-worker after leaving a work event.

As result of the attack, Abu Ta’a was left with a broken leg.

Abu Ta’a said that after the work event ended, around midnight, one of his female colleagues asked him to accompany her home as she was intoxicated. “I was with two Jewish friends from work,” he said adding that “when we got to her apartment, a group of seven or eight Jewish youths, aged 16-20 asked us what we were doing there.

“When they heard my female co-worker say ‘Ibrahim, don’t talk to them,’ they began beating me on my leg with an iron rod.”

Abu Ta’a said he was convinced that this was a racially motivated attack. “They didn’t hit any of my Jewish friends,” he said.

“It lasted about a minute or two. When my friend called the police, the gang fled the scene,” he added.

He further said that he did not do anything to the Jewish youths. “I didn’t speak to them, provoke them or attack them. The minute they heard my name, they started hitting me. That was it.”

Officials at the Jerusalem District Police said that investigators are still trying to understand the motive behind the attack. “The area has been canvassed. The investigation will continue and arrests are expected to be made,” one official said.

This incident comes just weeks after a group of Jewish youths attacked several young Arab men in Jerusalem’s Zion Square.

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NY politician’s reliance on rabbi comes back to haunt him

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Congressman Michael Grimm’s association with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto leads to allegations of illegal donations, bizarre blackmail claim and potentially embarrassing links to people in pornography business

ynet

When he announced his run for congress in the fall of 2009, future Congressman Michael Grimm, then a political novice, sorely needed a rainmaker who could get the dollars flowing to his nascent campaign. He found one in an Israeli rabbi, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.

Now, that fruitful association has turned into a big headache for the Staten Island Republican – one involving allegations of illegal donations, a bizarre blackmail claim and potentially embarrassing associations with people in the pornography business.

A few evenings every month, some of Israel’s wealthiest and most powerful people can be found in living room in seaside city of Ashdod, waiting to have few minutes with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who they see as advisor, guru or miracle worker

In mid-August, FBI agents arrested an Israeli businessman who had helped Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from Pinto’s wealthy, zealous followers in New York. The entrepreneur and rabbinical aide, Ofer Biton, was charged with lying about his financial dealings in 2010 when he applied for a US visa.

The arrest came as the FBI has been investigating claims made by other Pinto followers, who say they made tens of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to Grimm during his 2010 run, including gifts that were passed through straw donors to hide the true source of the donations. FBI agents have recently been requesting records and interviewing people who were on the campaign staff.

Grimm, himself a former FBI agent, has repeatedly declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press about the matter. He has acknowledged raising $250,000 to $300,000 from Pinto’s supporters – about a third of all money contributed in the first 12 months of his campaign – but denied any knowledge of improprieties.

“My campaign and I followed the fundraising rules, and took reasonable measures to vet the contributions received by my campaign,” Grimm said in a statement to the AP. “Indeed, I relied on Rabbi Pinto’s status as a clergyman and holy man when agreeing to meet with individuals associated with his congregation.”

City’s best adult video store
Campaign records and other public documents make it clear, however, that after tapping the rabbi’s followers for money, Grimm wound up getting help from people who candidates normally keep at arm’s length.

One of the rabbi’s closest aides, Benzion Suky, owned a company that distributed porn videos and has settled lawsuits by adult film studios who accused him of selling bootlegged DVDs, according to court records. Suky and his wife gave a combined $9,600 to Grimm’s 2010 campaign and a real estate partnership that lists Suky as its managing member gave $4,800, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Another big donor was Rafi Maman, proprietor of companies in New Jersey that distribute adult films and sex toys. He also has settled lawsuits accusing him of bootlegging, including two which also named Suky as a defendant. Maman, his wife and a real estate partnership that he listed as his employer gave $19,200 to Grimm’s campaign. That total includes $7,200 in individual contributions from Maman, or $2,400 more than is allowed by law.

A third Grimm contributor, Eli Halali, is listed in business records as the agent of another company that distributed pornographic movies. His name also appears on at least one such video, “Blonde & Beautiful Vol. 1,” as the keeper of records verifying that the film’s performers were over age 18. He gave $4,800. Two apparent relatives, Bluria Halali and Jaclyn Halali, each contributed $4,800.

Biton, formerly one of Pinto’s top aides, also had a hand in adult entertainment. Florida business records list him as being the president of AMOB Inc. The company is registered at the same address as the Miami Playground, a shop once named by an alternative newspaper as the city’s the best adult video store.

Election records do not list any donations from Biton, who, as an Israeli citizen without permanent residency in the US, is barred from giving money to political candidates.

But the Israeli helped Grimm in other ways that are allowed, including accompanying him on fundraising visits to congregation members, several of whom were heavy hitters in New York’s real estate and jewelry businesses.

Suky, who is also a real estate investor, says he is no longer involved in distributing adult films and has now devoted his life to helping Pinto spread his message. During the bootlegging lawsuits, he had argued that he was unaware DVDs he purchased from a supplier were knockoffs.

Halali, who is also a co-owner of a popular chain of New York pizza shops, declined through a relative to comment about his donations. Maman didn’t return numerous phone messages. It was unclear whether either man was actively involved in Pinto’s congregation.

Grimm told his hometown newspaper on New York’s Staten Island, The Advance, that he began cultivating a relationship with Pinto in October of 2009 on the advice of a friend, who thought the rabbi might be helpful raising money.

Rabbi ‘satisfied with arrest’
At age 38, Pinto has achieved a fervent following in Israel, and has become famous there for his connections to political figures and business tycoons, some of whom credit him with mystical powers to bless their deals.

His success as an adviser to the rich and famous has made his organization wealthy; the Israeli edition of Forbes magazine recently ranked Pinto as Israel’s 7th richest rabbi, based on organizational holdings. Long based in the Mediterranean port city of Ashdod, Pinto opened a second headquarters in 2002 in New York, where he resides in a $6.5 million town house and delivers sermons in a building purchased in 2009 for $28.5 million.

When Grimm’s campaign began, Pinto’s US followers had also begun to establish themselves as a source of campaign cash for pro-Israel candidates. A handful had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to political committees controlled by US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, and US Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat.

Grimm, a Catholic ex-Marine and a ferocious supporter of Israel, received his first bundle of checks from the rabbi’s supporters in December of 2009, just two months after entering the race.

One donor, New York deli owner Josef Ben Moha, said he and his wife gave a combined $4,800.
“It’s not something that I had to have my arm twisted. I was asked nicely. I decided he was a nice guy,” said Ben Moha, who has been one of Suky’s partners in a real estate venture. “The people who seemed to be helping him, they saw good qualities in him. I guess I did too.”

In the two years since the election, Pinto’s religious organization, Mosdot Shuva Israel, has been a frequent target of media scrutiny. News articles in the Jewish press accused it of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxury travel and raised questions about its handling of millions of dollars in donations.

Pinto’s own father-in-law, an influential rabbi in Argentina, complained in a court filing that Pinto – who professes to have no worldly possessions – had enlisted him in a scheme to conceal his ownership of luxury apartments in Jerusalem.

More recently, a Pinto aide, rabbi Abraham Israel, was detained by Israeli police in April as part of an ongoing investigation into suspected money laundering and theft at an anti-poverty charity, Hazon Yeshaya. A spokesman for Pinto said he had no involvement in that charity.

Large amounts of Shuva Israel’s money have also disappeared, according to the organization’s lawyers. In December, Pinto and his supporters publicly blamed Biton, claiming he had embezzled large sums. They also made allegations, first reported last year in The New York Times, that Biton had conspired with another member of the congregation to extort money from the rabbi by threatening to plant damaging stories about him in the media.

Biton has called the extortion and embezzlement allegations lies.

Grimm has called any suggestion that he was tied up in some sort of plot with Biton, “profoundly absurd.”
The criminal complaint filed against Biton in August makes no mention of blackmail, embezzlement or the campaign allegations, but focuses instead on information he submitted in 2010 when he applied for a visa available to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in a US business.

In his application, Biton said most of his investment money had been loaned to him by a family friend. But the FBI said it had bank records showing that the money had actually been funneled through an account controlled by an unnamed “co-conspirator,” who, in turn, had demanded most of the cash from an unnamed witness to pay off a debt. Biton’s lawyer, Jeffrey Udell, declined to comment.

Pinto’s attorney in New York, Arthur Aidala, said the rabbi was “very satisfied with the arrest, and looks forward to the prosecution of this defendant and others who have done harm to rabbi Pinto and his family.”

The investigation has been more than a distraction for Grimm as he battles for re-election against Democratic challenger Mark Murphy. His campaign has incurred $320,000 in legal fees this year, according to campaign records.

Grimm’s lawyer, William McGinley, confirmed that the FBI is probing claims of illegal donations by Pinto’s followers, and that the campaign has turned over documents, but he said there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. He said Grimm was being victimized by a smear campaign and “malicious leaks” by law enforcement.

“Yes, there is an investigation, but we have no reason to believe that it will lead to charges and every reason to believe that … the (Department of Justice) investigation will vindicate Congressman Grimm,” McGinley said.

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Ultras and Egyptian security forces gear up for renewed confrontation

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Ultras confront security forces

By James M. Dorsey

With the lifting of a seven-month ban on professional soccer, militant Egyptian fans and security forces are gearing up for a new round of street battles during the country’s Super Cup final on Sunday, the first domestic match since February.

At stake in the escalating conflict are core issues that prompted the militants or ultras – highly politicized, well-organized, street battle-hardened soccer fans – to play a key role in last year’s overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak and violently oppose post-Mubarak military rule: corruption, police and security force brutality, lack of reform of the security forces and the barring of spectators at matches.

Expectations that Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist who replaced the military in July after winning Egypt’s first free and fair election, will tackle the police and security forces, widely despised as the corrupt enforcers of the repressive Mubarak regime, are running high after he last month sidelined senior military leaders to regain executive and legislative powers.

Reforming the police, who fought soccer fans – the second largest, most organized group in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood — for the four years prior to Mr. Mubarak’s downfall for control of Egypt’s stadium, is likely to prove far more difficult than sidelining country’s two most senior military commanders with the help of the next echelon of officers. Reform will have to mean changing the culture of a force that counts 450,000 policemen and 350,000 members of the General Security and Central Security Forces, which both fall under the dreaded interior minister. That is no mean task.

Just how big the gap is between a popular yearning for change and security forces that brutally crushed any opposition to Mr. Mubarak and forced residents in poor neighborhoods to pay them bribes was evident at Mr. Morsi’s presidential swearing in ceremony. Reuters news agency quoted police officials as saying “He is your president, not ours” and “how can a man we had arrested not very long ago suddenly become a president over us?” referring to the jailing of Mr. Morsi under Mr.  Mubarak’s rule.

A slow moving trial against 74 people, including nine security officials, on charges of having been responsible for the death of 74 soccer fans of crowned Cairo club Al Ahly SC in a politically loaded brawl in February has done little to convince the fans and the broader public that Mr. Morsi will be able to reform what is seen as a bastion of the ancien regime. The proceedings were postponed on Wednesday until September 17 to allow the court time to review a request by the defense to replace the judge. The brawl, which widely was believed to have been provoked by security forces in a bid to punish the ultras for their role in the ousting of Mr. Mubarak and violent opposition to the military, sparked the banning of soccer for most of this year,

To their credit, Mr. Morsi and his sports minister, El-Amry Farouq, this month overruled interior ministry opposition to lifting the ban on soccer. The victory came at a price that is fuelling the conflict with the ultras: soccer matches are to be played in military stadiums behind closed doors without spectators.

Nevertheless, interior ministry officials have privately vowed to thwart efforts by Mr. Morsi’s interior minister, Ahmed Gamal el-Din, a respected career police officer to bridge the gap between the police and security forces and the public and the fans. Mr. El-Din gained credibility by liaising with the militants and the protesters during last year’s 18 days of mass demonstration that forced Mr. Mubarak from office. Since recently taking office, Mr. El-Din has removed several senior commanders, sent an officer to a disciplinary committee for mishandling complaints and paid unscheduled visits to police stations.

Militant soccer fans have been warning for months that they would return to their violent tactics if justice was not meted out in the Port Said case. The militants have made further clear that their battle is about far more than revenge for the deaths of the 74 comrades. As far back as February, the Al Ahly support group said in a statement on its Facebook page that has some 255,000 followers, that its defiance served to deliver a message to “all remnants of the ousted regime” that they would not obey their “manipulated regime.” The statement laid out the ultras’ agenda. “The issue is bigger than football. We want to settle the score with remnants of the former regime,” the statement said.

The ultras this week expressed their lack of confidence in the Port Said-related legal proceedings as well as reform of the police and security forces in statements and actions. In a statement on their Facebook page, Ultras Ahlawy warned that “we remained silent for seven months, during which we were committed to peaceful ways to ask for the rights of 74 martyrs who died in the world’s worst football tragedy. Now, after seven months, we call on everybody to revolt against the football system before action is resumed. We also call on fellow Ultras groups to reunite and support us in our demands.”

On Tuesday, ultras stormed the ground where Al Ahly players were training with a banner rebuking them and the club’s management for agreeing to Sunday’s Super Cup final against ENPPI. A day later they attacked the headquarters of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) after EFA spokesman Azmy Megahed challenged them saying, “my message to those who oppose the league resumption is: if you can do anything to stop it, just do it.”

The ultras are certain to insist on meeting a list of demands they issued while storming the EFA offices in protests at Sunday’s match, possibly by seeking to force their way into the stadium. They have also called for protests on Cairo Mohammed Mahmoud’s street close to the fortified interior ministry where last year at least 40 people were killed and more than a 1,000 injured in almost a week of vicious street battles with security forces.

The demands reflect the ultras’ determination to cleanup Egyptian soccer and media, whom they accuse of fanning the flames of confrontation, and force reform of the security forces. They include taking responsibility for security in the stadiums away from the interior ministry; allowing fans to attend all matches; the resignation of the boards of the EFA and Al Ahly; and the withdrawal of the candidacy of Mubarak era officials, among whom world soccer body FIFA executive committee member Hani Abou-Reida, as candidates in upcoming EFA elections.

American University of Cairo (AUC) political scientist Rabab El Mahdi believes that the most recent developments reflect the ultras’ politicization. “There is power in numbers. As the events of (last year’s mass protests on) January 25 unfolded, they realized that power does not lie with the elite. The masses had the upper hand, and they constituted a good majority,” Ms. El Mahdi told AUC’s newsletter.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

 

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Zio-Nazi investigation reveals IsraHell had early warning of Sinai terror attack

NOVANEWS

Israel shared some of the intelligence it received with the Egyptian army prior to the incident, but there is no evidence Egypt acted on the information.

Haaretz

Southern Command had received intelligence warnings of a possible attack from Sinai last Friday, according to an IDF investigation of Sunday’s cross-border attack near the border with Sinai.

IDF forces were on heightened alert when the attack took place at about 7 P.M. on Sunday. Israel also shared some of the intelligence it received with the Egyptian army prior to the incident. But there is no evidence that Egypt responded by beefing up security along the border.

According to the report, an Egyptian armored personnel carrier spent 15 minutes and traveled two kilometers inside Israel before an air force missile took it out as it approached two military bases.

The missile strike was approved by GOC Southern Command Tal Russo.

At first, soldiers merely noticed unusual activity across the border. Only later did it
become clear that terrorists had exploited the Ramadan post-fast meal to take over an Egyptian border post located some two kilometers from Israel. The terrorists then raced toward Israel in two of the vehicles they captured.

Soldiers initially attributed no special importance to the vehicles approaching the
border, since Egyptian vehicles patrol there periodically. First came an APC, and behind it a van apparently loaded with half a ton of explosives. They reached an unused border crossing and sped up.

The APC succeeded in getting over the obstacle at the border, but the van apparently got stuck. A few minutes later, it exploded ­ whether due to a technical mishap or to the terrorists’ decision remains unknown.

The explosion occurred very near an IDF pillbox, but the post was empty due to the special deployment mandated by the heightened alert.

Meanwhile, the APC continued on into Israel and began heading south along Route 10, toward Eilat. The IDF’s best guess is that the terrorists, who had planned to commit a mass-casualty suicide attack, simply got confused and headed south by mistake. A Bedouin reconnaissance unit stationed nearby began firing at the APC, but the terrorists did a U-turn and headed back toward the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

After about 50 meters, the APC was spotted by a paratroops unit. It also opened fire, but again failed to stop it.

“We saw the APC five meters from us, and after recognizing it as Egyptian, opened fire,” the paratroops unit commander related yesterday during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “Our goal was to stop it before it reached the [nearby] towns.”

Meanwhile, the IDF had alerted all communities in the area and ordered residents to stay in their houses with the doors locked.

The APC kept going, at a speed of about 70 kilometers per hour, and the IDF decided tosend tanks to block it from three sides. One tank, stationed near the town of Sufa, had orders to shell the APC if the blocking maneuver didn’t work.

Only after the APC had traveled two kilometers inside Israel did a missile strike finally cripple it. The strike killed six armed terrorists, but others continued
shooting from inside the damaged vehicle. Two of them eventually fled the APC and continued shooting at the soldiers until they were killed by fire from a combined tankand infantry force.

Upon inspecting the bodies, the IDF discovered that most of the terrorists were wearing explosive belts and carried a vast quantity of arms and ammunition. The IDF believes the terrorists were associated with the global jihad movement and were probably from Sinai, but has no additional information about their identities.

Lt. Col. Wahid al-Huzayl, who led the Bedouin unit, said he was pleased with the outcome. “In the end, we succeeded in trapping the vehicle, liquidating the terrorists, and preventing them from attacking our forces or innocent civilians,” he said.

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Democrats change platform to add God, Jerusalem

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Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa blows a kiss to he delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. President Barack Obama may face the voters in two months, but several Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a future White House run. Up-and-coming Democratic stars like Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, Booker and others, including Villaraigosa, are making the rounds before state delegations and at private events surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

ed note–this kind of pandering took place with any other country, the American people would be up in arms. When it is Israel however, they think nothing of it, speak nothing of it.

news.yahoo.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Embarrassed by Republicans, Democrats amended their convention platform Wednesday to add a mention of God and declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Many in the audience booed after the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ruled that the amendments had been approved despite the fact that a large group of delegates had objected. He called for a vote three times before ruling.

The party reinstated language from the 2008 platform that said “we need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”

It also reinstated its 2008 language that Jerusalem “is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Democrats had approved a platform on Tuesday that made no mention of God or Jerusalem. Instead, it expressed “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”

Republicans pounced quickly on both omissions.

GOP officials argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem’s status in the party platform showed the president was weak in his support of Israel. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said omitting God “suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people.”

“I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that American’s don’t recognize,” Romney said.

The Democratic Party’s decision to restore the mention of Jerusalem reflected what advisers said was the president’s personal view, if not the policy of his administration. The administration has long said determining Jerusalem’s status was an issue that should be decided by Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks, but has been careful not to state that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Romney’s campaign quickly sought to capitalize on the slight, but important difference.

“Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” said Andrea Saul, Romney’s spokeswoman. “President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

The White House wouldn’t say whether the change in the Democratic platform language reflected a change in administration policy.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the reinstated party language reflected “the policy of both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades.”

Following the decision, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told reporters, “It was an effort to bring clarification.”

But the decision to amend the platform did not rest well with some delegates.

Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City, Utah, said she felt it went against the principle of the separation of church and state.

“There are people who don’t believe in God and you have to respect that as well,” Ul-Hasan said. She also questioned whether the convention had enough of a quorum to even amend the platform. “There was no discussion. We didn’t even see it coming. We were blindsided by it.”

Angela Urrea, a delegate from Roy, Utah, said she felt it was sprung on the convention without any discussion.

“The majority spoke last night,” Urrae said, noting the platform was approved Tuesday. “We shouldn’t be declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Republicans declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the platform the party approved last week at its convention in Tampa, Fla.

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US-Led Iran Sanctions Blocking Medical Treatment to Thousands of Infirm

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America’s economic warfare on Iran for a weapons program it doesn’t even have amounts to collective punishment

antiwar.com
The sweeping US-led economic sanctions being imposed on Iran are blocking necessary pharmaceuticals and medical treatment for Iran’s sick and infirm, in what appears to be a cruel for of collective punishment that deliberately puts innocent lives at risk.

 

Althought the sanctions don’t target medicine and humanitarian needs, they are “increasingly hitting vulnerable medical patients as deliveries of medicine and raw materials for Iranian pharmaceutical companies are either stopped or delayed,” reports the Washington Post.

“The effect,” the Post continues, “is being felt by cancer patients and those being treated for complex disorders such as hemophilia, multiple sclerosis and thalassemia, as well as transplant and kidney dialysis patients, none of whom can afford interruptions or delays in medical supplies.”

The Iranian Hemophilia Society (IHS) came out last month to say “the lives of tens of thousands of children are being endangered by the lack of proper drugs caused by international economic sanctions,” reported Muhammad Sahimi at Antiwar.com in August. They claim one young man “recently died in southern Iran after an accident when the blood-clotting injection he needed was not available.”

“This is a blatant hostage-taking of the most vulnerable people by countries which claim they care about human rights,” Ahmad Ghavidel, head of IHS, told the Post. “Even a few days of delay can have serious consequences like hemorrhage and disability.”

In addition to this, unemployment is rising and inflation is spiraling out of control. “Prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have soared – in some cases showing threefold and fourfold increases,” Saeed Kamali Dehghan wrote in the Guardian last month. “The price of meat, an essential ingredient of Iranian food, has gone up to such an extent that many now eat it only on special occasions.” This is Iran’s punishment for their non-existent nuclear weapons program.

It’s increasingly obvious that Washington’s aim is to harm the Iranian people. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has admitted they aren’t changing the policies of the regime, but has insisted on their continuance nevertheless. As one of the top supporters of sanctions, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), said, “Critics [of the sanctions] argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people.  Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”

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Israeli tank kills three Palestinians in Gaza’s Beit Hanoun

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Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli airstrike on the northern Gaza Strip, June 18, 2012.

Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli airstrike on the northern Gaza Strip, J
Israeli tank shelling has killed at least three Palestinians in the north of the besieged Gaza Strip, Press TV reports.

Witnesses said an Israeli tank fired a Flechette shell at a group of Palestinians in the town of Beit Hanoun on Thursday morning.

Several others were also injured in the attack, which was confirmed by the Tel Aviv regime.

The Israeli military carries out ground incursions and airstrikes against Gaza on an almost regular basis. Tel Aviv claims the attacks are conducted for defensive purposes.

However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.

Over a dozen Palestinians were killed in airstrikes carried out by the Israeli regime on the besieged Palestinian territory during the six-day period of June 18-23.

Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, which is a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

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US Complicit in Israel War Plans for Iran

NOVANEWS

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi, 

Asia Times

After supplying Israel with the massive bunker-buster bombs that would be critical in any Israeli military strike on Iran, the US government now wants to have it both ways, trying to shield itself from any backlash by insisting it would not be “complicit” in such an Israeli gambit.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised some eyebrows last week, especially in the Israeli media, by stating publicly: “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.” As if intent on convincing Iran of US’s determination to stay out of a Tehran-Tel Aviv duel, over the weekend there were unconfirmed reports of secret talks between Tehran and Washington, although this has been adamantly denied by the White House.

Regardless, according to various sources, including Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Iran could strike at US bases in the region if attacked by Israel. This echoes the sentiment of several Iranian military officials including commanders of the revolutionary guards who have warned in the past of making no distinctions between US and Israel if the latter dared to attack Iran.

From Iran’s vantage point, Iran’s threat against the US forces stationed in Iran’s vicinity acts as a deterrent against any Israeli strike and, therefore, the US’s attempt to jettison itself out of the equation is actually an inducement to the military scenario, much as it is interpreted in Israel and the West as a sign of US’s disapproval of an Israeli strike.

According to a Tehran political science professor who spoke with the author on the condition of anonymity, the US’s “neutrality posture” rings hollow because Washington has supplied the “30,000 pounds deep-earth penetrators” that will likely be used against Iran. “During the Iran-Iraq war Iran made the mistake of not holding the Western suppliers of chemical weapons to Saddam Hussain accountable and Iran will not make that mistake again,” says the Tehran professor.

Regarding those bunker-buster bombs, last September the US admitted that it had delivered 55 of those monster bombs (sure to inflict major “collateral damage”) to Israel, after being approved by the Obama administration in 2009. In effect, this means that by making the fateful decision to arm Israel with the necessary military muscle to initiate a unilateral attack on Iran, the US has sealed its image as “complicit” irrespective of how its top generals want to create a safe buffer for their forces in the region; this is not to mention the likely US intelligence sharing with Israel that would go into preparation for any attack on Iran.

Henceforth, the only scenario whereby Iran would not retaliate against the US would be a US guarantee that the US-made bombs would not be used by Israel, ie, a virtual impossibility. This is partly because although the US arms sales to Israel are rationalized as purely defensive and, yet, Israel’s rationalization of “preemptive strike” on Iran as an act of “self-defense” brings it into line with the terms of those arms sales.

Regardless of such pseudo-rationalizations that would certainly not wash with the rest of the international community, in light of the Tehran summit of the Non-Aligned Movement last week that resulted in a unanimous statement in support of Iran’s nuclear program, not to mention Germany’s and France’s warning to Israel not to attack Iran, it is amply clear now that US would inevitably be dragged into any Iran-Israel conflict. This could well take the form of naval confrontations in the Persian Gulf in case Iran retaliates by closing the Strait of Hormuz.

Meanwhile, as if realizing that Israel has a great deal of work to do to convince the Western governments and publics regarding the imminent Iran “nuclear threat,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new tactic is to exhort the West to draw a “clear red line” on Iran. Yet, chances are that Netanyahu’s call will go unanswered, due principally to the absence of a legal justification for the western opposition to Iran’s possession of dual nature nuclear technology that gives it latent nuclear weapons capability.

In other words, neither the US nor any of its Western allies can possibly declare a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability by virtue of its potential to cross the threshold of “weaponization” above all by producing weapons-grade enriched uranium. But, as long as all of Iran’s enrichment activities are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and there is no evidence of either military diversion or weapons-grade enrichment, Iran theoretically remains immune from the impositions of any “red line”.

“In essence what Israel is requesting from Americans is to draw an arbitrary line,” says the Tehran professor, adding that the US “would only isolate itself in the world if it appeased Israel.”

Tehran’s counter-strategy has been to give further assurance of its peaceful nuclear activities, in part by showcasing the enrichment facilities to the visiting Mongolian president over the weekend. Such efforts are meant to alleviate the international concerns over the latest IAEA report that cites a doubling of Iran’s centrifuges in the underground facility known as Fordo.

Yet, Iran’s position is that it has not breached its obligations by increasing its enrichment activities that are “fully monitored by the IAEA inspections as well as cameras,” to paraphrase Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh in a recent conversation with the author. In fact, the US media often give the misleading impression that Fordo is outside the IAEA inspection regime and that the atomic agency would fail to detect any weapons grade enrichment and or military diversion.

Conclusion: Need for new US-Iran dialogue

In conclusion, there are compelling reasons for a bilateral US-Iran dialogue that would cover both the nuclear standoff as well as a host of regional issues, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. Indeed there is more than sufficient reason for a superpower and a regional power to set aside their hesitations and engage in face-to-face communication on a broad range of issues of mutual concern.

With respect to Syria, Iran has endorsed Egypt’s proposal for a four-country contact group consisting of Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, which is a timely regional initiative to address the deadly Syrian quagmire. Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy on Syria, has explicitly opposed the idea of foreign intervention in Syria, and the economically hard-pressed Europeans simply lack the resources to embark on a Libyan-style “no-fly” operation. These, together with the huge influx of radical Jihadists into the Syrian civil war, raise the chances for the regional effort mentioned above. The Israelis and their lobbyists in Washington may dread the mere thought of a behind-the-scene US-Iran talks, yet few in the US nowadays fail to recognize the importance of such an initiative.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) and Looking for rights at Harvard. His latest book is UN Management Reform: Selected Articles and Interviews on United Nations CreateSpace (November 12, 2011).

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, IranComments Off on US Complicit in Israel War Plans for Iran

After Dempsey Warning, Israel May Curb War Threat

NOVANEWS

antiwar.com

President Barack Obama’s explicit warning that he will not accept a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran may force Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step back from his ostensible threat of war.

Netanyahu had hoped that the Obama administration could be put under domestic political pressure during the election campaign to shift its policy on Iran to the much more confrontational stance that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been demanding.

But that political pressure has not materialized, and Obama has gone further than ever before in warning Netanyahu not to expect U.S. backing in any war with Iran. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in Britain Aug. 30 that an Israeli strike would be ineffective and then said, “I don’t want to be complicit if they [the Israelis] choose to do it.”

It was the first time that a senior U.S. official had made such an explicit public statement indicating the administration’s unwillingness to be a party to a war provoked by a unilateral Israeli attack.

Dempsey had conveyed such a warning during meetings with Israeli leaders last January, as IPS reported Feb. 1, but a series of moves by the administration over the next several months, including the adoption of Israeli demands during two rounds of negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue in May and June, appeared to represent a retreat from that private warning.

Dempsey’s warning was followed by an as-yet unconfirmed report by Time magazine that the Pentagon has decided to sharply cut back on its participation in the largest-ever joint military exercise with Israel designed to test the two countries’ missile-defense systems in late October.

Originally scheduled for last spring, the exercise was delayed in January following an earlier round of Israeli saber-rattling and the apparent Israeli assassination of an Iranian scientist, which had further increased tensions between Netanyahu and President Obama.

Former Israeli national security adviser Giora Eiland suggested in an interview with Reuters Tuesday that the Dempsey statement had changed the political and policy calculus in Jerusalem. “Israeli leaders cannot do anything in the face of a very explicit ‘no’ from the U.S. president,” Eiland said. “So they are exploring what space is left to operate.”

Eiland explained that Netanyahu had previously maintained that the U.S. “might not like [an Israeli attack] but they will accept it the day after. However, such a public, bold statement meant the situation had to be reassessed.”

Netanyahu and Barak have never explicitly threatened to attack Iran but have instead used news leaks and other means to create the impression that they are seriously considering a unilateral airstrike.

The Netanyahu campaign, aimed at leveraging a shift in U.S. policy toward confrontation with Iran, appeared to climax during the first two weeks of August amid a torrent of stories in the Israeli press suggesting that Netanyahu and Barak were getting closer to a decision on war.

An unnamed senior official — almost certainly Barak — indicated in an interview that the Israeli leader would reconsider the unilateral military option if Obama were to adopt the Israeli red line — in effect an ultimatum to Iran to end all enrichment or face war.

As Eiland suggests, however, Netanyahu may no longer feel that he is in a position to make such a demand when he meets Obama later this month. Not only has Obama drawn a clear line against unilateral Israeli action, but the Republican Party and its presidential candidate Mitt Romney have failed to signal that Obama’s rejection of Netanyahu’s belligerence on Iran will be a central issue in the presidential campaign.

Although the party platform said the threshold for military action should be Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons “capability” rather than the construction of an actual weapon, Romney did not embrace the threat to go to war unless Iran agrees to shut down its nuclear program, as Netanyahu would have hoped.

That omission appeared to reflect the growing influence in his campaign of the “realist” faction of the Republican Party that opposed the radical post-9/11 trajectory of George W. Bush’s first presidential term in office and reasserted itself in the second term.

The party’s marquee speaker on foreign policy was not a neoconservative but former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom the neoconservatives viewed with disdain, not least because of her effort to begin diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Rice mentioned Iran only in connection with its crackdown against dissidents during her prime-time speech.

Until recently, prominent neoconservatives, such as Dan Senor, Elliott Abrams, and Eric Edelman, as well as aggressive pro-Israel nationalists such as former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, had appeared dominant among Romney’s foreign policy advisers.

The fact that the billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a strong supporter of Netanyahu and the Israeli far right, has pledged up to $100 million to support the Republican campaign seemed to assure them of the upper hand on Israel and Iran.

But neoconservatives may have lost influence to the realists as a result of Romney’s ill-fated trip in July to Britain, Israel, and Poland — all neoconservative favorites — as well as recent polling showing ever-growing war-weariness, if not isolationism, among both Republicans and the all-important independents in the electorate.

On the convention’s eve, Lee Smith, a neoconservative scribe based at The WeeklyStandard, published an article at TabletMag.com entitled “Why Romney Won’t Strike Iran.”

One of Romney’s senior advisers, former CIA chief Gen. Michael Hayden, has even partially echoed Dempsey, telling the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Thursday that an Israeli raid against Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely be counterproductive.

Both Hayden’s and Dempsey’s remarks about the futility or counterproductivity of an Israeli attack on Iran echoed those of a broad range of Israel’s national-security elite, including President Shimon Peres and the former chiefs of Israel’s intelligence agencies and armed forces, who, provoked by Netanyahu’s and Barak’s war talk, have come out more strongly than ever against the idea.

In addition to publicly casting doubt on whether an attack would be effective, many of the national-security critics have warned that a unilateral strike could seriously damage relations with the U.S.

That argument, which resonates strongly in Israeli politics, was given much greater weight by Dempsey’s warning last week.

Further eroding Israeli tolerance of Netanyahu’s talk of war was a blog post on The Atlantic magazine’s website by Jeffrey Goldberg, an influential advocate of Israeli interests who has helped propagate the notion that Israel would indeed act unilaterally in the past. As the Netanyahu campaign reached its climax last month, Goldberg offered “7 Reasons Why Israel Should Not Attack Iran’s Nuclear Facilities.”

Goldberg worried that an Israeli “strike could be a disaster for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” especially if Iran retaliated against U.S. targets. “Americans are tired of the Middle East, and I’m not sure how they would feel if they believed that Israeli action brought harm to Americans,” he wrote.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on After Dempsey Warning, Israel May Curb War Threat

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