Archive | November 10th, 2013

Greece intercepts mystery ship with 20,000 Kalashnikovs onboard

NOVANEWS
Reuters / Yiorgos Karahalis Reuters / Yiorgos Karahalis

The Greek Coastguard has intercepted a Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship with around 20,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles on board. The intended destination of the vessel, halted near the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean, remains unknown.

The cargo ship Nour M, intercepted on Thursday night, was taken to the island of Symi the following morning under the escort of Coastguard vessels, where it was soon thereafter led to the island of Rhodes.

The vessel’s Turkish captain and seven crew members, two of whom were Turkish and five of whom were Indian, were placed under arrest, coastguard sources told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).

The cargo was both larger than that declared on the ship’s manifest, and the ship did not have the proper UN documents to deliver cargo to a conflict zone. The Greek Coastguard issued a statement saying attempts to catalogue the firearms and munitions onboard were ongoing.

“The exact destination of the arms and ammunition has yet to be verified,” the coastguard statement read. Apart from the large quantity of firearms, the ship was also allegedly carrying a “large” quantity of explosives. A probe determined the ship had previously been used for drug trafficking.

Sources told ANA-MPA that the vessel had set sail from Ukraine, although the ship’s final destination remains unclear. Although the ports of Tartus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya had both been declared as destination ports to marine traffic systems, the Turkish Mediterranean port city of Iskenderun was declared as the destination port by the ship’s captain.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said they are attempting to determine if the Nour departed from the country.

Maritime expert Mikhail Voitenko told Ukraine’s Vesti that the ship likely picked up its cargo in Istanbul.

“I think it was there for no other purpose than to get the weapons. It is also strange that it took the ship two weeks to get from Nikolaev [Ukraine] to Greece when the trip takes a maximum of five days. What it was doing and where it was doing it at the time: that is the question.”

Voitenko said the vessel was likely detained as the result of a tip-off.

“That we have this ship sailing through the Black Sea is strange, but through Greek ‘territorial waters] it went in a straight line, so police had no reason to detain the ship,” he said.

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Iranian deputy minister of industries ‘shot dead’ in Tehran

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mossad

Haaretz

An unidentified attacker shot dead Iranian Deputy Industries Minister Safdar Rahmatabadi in Tehran on Sunday night, the state news agency IRNA reported.

Last month, the Telegraph reported that Iran’s commander of the Cyber Warfare Headquarters was found dead in a forest outside Tehran.

Mojtba Ahmadi was found with two bullets in his heart, as reported in a website affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile program have been killed since 2007. Iran has accused the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations.

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Naziyahu urges Jews: Rally behind me on halting Iran nuclear program

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eeb73-netanyahu-obama-aipac1

Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did his utmost to rally North American Jewry behind his uncompromising stand on Iran, calling on them Sunday night to stand with him in opposition to the deal under discussion in the Geneva forum.

It is a “bad and dangerous deal” that threatens Israel’s survival and “on matters of Jewish survival, I will not be silenced,” Netanyahu said.

In an address to the annual General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America, being held this year in Jerusalem, Netanyahu made a direct appeal for Jews worldwide to join him in speaking out against the deal.

He reminded them that the purpose of the “crippling” international sanctions that “brought Iran to its knees” had been “to get Iran to dismantle – dismantle – its nuclear enrichment capabilities, which are used for atomic bombs, and its heavy water plutonium reactor, which is also used for atomic bombs.”

Netanyahu scoffed at the Iranian insistence that these capabilities are being developed for civilian purposes.

“Do you suppose Iran is building those ICBM (missiles) in order to launch medical isotopes to Iranian patients orbiting the earth?” he said.

On the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu said that while he was willing to make “historic compromises” and “difficult decisions” for peace – and that he was willing to be both “creative and “flexible,” as he saw it – there were “two musts” for any agreement to take shape: Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state and “robust security arrangements” that would protect Israel if the agreement were to unravel. “In case you haven’t noticed,” he remarked, peace in the Middle East often unravels.

Just as he had made the Bar Ilan speech recognizing the Palestinian right to a state, Netanyahu said, the Palestinian leader must “give a Bir Zeit speech, stand up and say ‘I accept the Jewish state.’ “

The premier said it was obvious why Iran was seeking a nuclear deal with the six world powers. “Because the sanctions are biting, crippling their regime… What is being proposed now is a deal where Iran retains all of its capacity, not one centrifuge is dismantled, not one.”

Iran, he noted, would “get to keep tons of enriched uranium and they can take these centrifuges which are not dismantled underground … and, within a few weeks or months and at the time of their choosing, the fissile material can be used for a bomb,” Netanyahu said.

He added that “Iran does not give up anything of that. It makes a minor concession that is meaningless with today’s technology and with current capacities. In other words, none of the Security Council resolution which the P5+1 powers passed are met. But what is being given to them is the beginning of the rollback of sanctions.”

Netanyahu, who was greeted by a standing ovation when he stood to speak, said he would not rest until Iran’s nukes were “dismantled” and challenged the assembled GA participants to “speak up” – not only for Israel’s security but for their own. It won’t be long before Iran builds missiles with the capability to reach the United States, he noted, and they could carry nuclear weapons, should it achieve that capacity.

“Do you want that?” he asked the crowd, which responded, with an emphatic “No!”

“So do something about it,” he shot back

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Obama warns against further Iran sanctions

NOVANEWS

By Julian Pecquet

President Obama on Thursday warned against “ratcheting up” conflict with Iran, a swipe at lawmakers clamoring for more sanctions.

In an interview with NBC, Obama said he’s ready to offer Iran “very modest relief” from current sanctions as part of a preliminary deal. In exchange, Iran will have to freeze progress on its program and open it up to international inspection.

“We don’t have to trust them,” Obama said. “What we have to do is to make sure that there is a good deal in place from the perspective of us verifying what they’re doing.”

Such a deal, he said, would be “greatly preferable to us ratcheting up that conflict higher and higher, which ultimately might lead to some sort of confrontation.”

Negotiators from the United States and five other countries are offering the confidence-building proposal to the Iranians as part of the latest round of talks in Geneva. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Geneva on Friday in the latest sign that the negotiations have been successful.Obama described the talks as the “first phase” of a “phased agreement.”

“We don’t have to trust them,” he said. “What we have to do is to make sure that there is a good deal in place from the perspective of us verifying what they’re doing. And that they’re actually moving in the right direction. We can test it.”

He said he would keep “the sanctions architecture in place” so that “if it turned out during the course of the six months … that they’re backing out of the deal,” then “we can crank that dial back up.”

The White House has been pressuring Senate leaders to hold off on new sanctions as it tests the overtures from President Hassan Rouhani. Many lawmakers — particularly Republicans — are skeptical.

Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said this week he was considering legislation that would make it more difficult for the administration to loosen sanctions. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed to bring up new sanctions as an amendment to a defense bill if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) won’t bring a bill to the floor. The House voted 400-20 in July to tighten sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.

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Peres, 90, said considering political comeback

NOVANEWS

peres2

President, whose term ends next summer, reportedly planning to set up new party

Times of Israel

Peres, 90, is considering making a comeback by setting up a new political party when he steps down, Israel’s Channel 1 reported Friday night.

It named former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin as two other possible members of a new Peres-led political grouping.

There was no confirmation of the report from the president’s office.

Dagan and Diskin have been two of the most outspoken critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Iranian nuclear crisis in recent years. Peres, for his part, has been more subtly at odds with Netanyahu over the issue, repeatedly declaring that he has full confidence in President Barack Obama’s handling of the matter, while Netanyahu has indicated profound concern that the US and others are being duped by Iran.

On Friday, Netanyahu castigated the deal taking shape in Geneva between the P5+1 countries (the US, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany) and Iran, saying it was a “very, very bad deal” in which the Iranians would get everything and give nothing.

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‘Crisis of faith’ between I$raHell and US over possible Iran deal

NOVANEWS

catfight

Netanyahu ‘in a state of shock’ over terms, believes agreement would enable Iran to become ‘nuclear breakout state,’ TV reports say; deal seen as putting an end to any Israeli military option

Times of Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “in a state of shocked disbelief” at the deal apparently taking shape in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli television news reports said Friday night.

Netanyahu, the reports on Israel’s Channel 10 and Channel 2 news said, had “an unprecedented confrontation” with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Tel Aviv on Friday morning over the possible deal, which he publicly described as “a very, very bad deal” and which he implored Kerry “not to rush to sign” and to “reconsider.”

The Netanyahu government is “in a crisis of faith” with the Obama administration over the possible deal, Israel’s Channel 1 News further reported, in part because it apparently differs in content from the terms that Kerry had previously described to Netanyahu. Other Israeli reports said Netanyahu felt he had been “misled” by the US over the terms of the deal.

Netanyahu, who blasted the possible accord as the “deal of the century” for Iran, believes it would enable the Islamic Republic to become a “nuclear breakout state,” the TV reports said — since Iran would retain its nuclear enrichment capabilities, and would thus be capable of racing to a bomb at short notice at a time of its choosing.

Israel, the TV reports said, also believes the US has been negotiating with Iran in a secret channel, without disclosing the content of those discussions to Israel.

The TV reports quoted unnamed sources on the Israeli political right accusing the Obama administration of “throwing Israel under the bus,” and leaning toward an agreement with Iran that would fatally puncture the carefully constructed international sanctions regime against Iran.

A series of analysts on the Friday night Israeli TV news broadcasts also assessed that Israel could not possibly strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities itself if the international community finalizes the mooted deal in Geneva. Israel “has no more military option,” a Channel 10 news analyst stated flatly, despite Netanyahu’s public declaration after his meeting with Kerry Friday morning that “Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself.” The report also said Vice President Joe Biden had recently assured President Barack Obama that Netanyahu would not strike at Iran.

“Netanyahu is in a state of shocked disbelief” at the imminent deal, Channel 10 news reported. It said the prime minister had not believed that a significant easing of sanctions was on the table in Geneva, but now was horrified to see that the emerging deal provided for a dramatic easing of sanctions against a mere Iranian promise to restrict uranium enrichment to 3.5%.

In his public comments Friday, a clearly agitated Netanyahu said that, under the deal, “Iran gets everything it wanted at this stage and pays nothing.”

Netanyahu — who in a clear sign of the Israel-US crisis, delivered the remarks alone, rather than at a traditional joint appearance with the visiting Kerry — added: “I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider.”

The Channel 10 report said Israel’s security establishment was also “shocked” at the reported terms.

Kerry headed from Israel to Geneva, to take an unscheduled role in the nuclear talks there. Hours after he left, Obama spoke with Netanyahu by phone and was said to have underscored Washington’s “strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

According to Britain’s Telegraph, the Iranian deal’s four main points are that Iran would stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and convert its existing stockpile into harmless uranium oxide. Iran would be able to continue enrichment to 3.5% purity necessary for nuclear power plants — but would agree to limit the number of centrifuges running for this purpose. The inactive centrifuges would be able to remain intact. Iran would also agree not to activate its plutonium reactor at Arak, which could provide an alternative route to a nuclear weapon, during the six-month period in which Iran would limit uranium enrichment to 3.5%. Lastly, Iran would agree not to use the advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which enrich uranium three to five times faster than the older model.

In return, the British paper reported, the US “would ease economic sanctions, possibly by releasing some Iranian foreign exchange reserves currently held in frozen accounts” and ease “some restrictions on Iran’s petrochemical, motor and precious metals industries.”

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 Thursday, Kerry stressed the negotiators in Geneva were requiring Iran to “provide a complete freeze over where they are today.” He argued that it was “better” to be talking to Iran, and seeking to “expand” the time it would take Iran to break out to the bomb, than not to be talking to Iran, and have it continuing to advance its nuclear program. “We have not taken away any of the sanctions yet,” Kerry said. “We will not undo the major sanctions regime until we have absolute clarity,” he said.

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On The Warning Track Broadcast

On The Warning Track Broadcast Nov 9, 2013

by crescentandcross

otwt–november-9-2013.mp3

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I$raHell detains 25 Palestinian activists over Facebook posts

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File photo of a Palestinian protester by Damascus Gate in East
Jerusalem.(MaanImages/file)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police detained 25 Palestinian social media activists in East Jerusalem on Thursday, a prisoners rights group said.

Nasser Qous, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told official news agency Wafa that Israeli forces raided the homes of 25 Palestinian activists and detained them on charges of “incitement” due to their posts on Facebook.

Israeli police also seized their computers.

Fifteen of the activists were later released and 10 will be brought before an Israeli court, Qous said.

In October, Haifa resident Razi al-Nabulsi, 23, was arrested and kept under house arrest for a week as a result of Facebook posts Israeli authorities argued constituted “incitement.”

Lawyer Aram Mahameed explained that the charges stemmed from “a number of comments on al-Nabulsi’s Facebook page concerning issues like normalization (with the State of Israel), as well as the Prawer Plan,” a proposed Israeli plan that if carried out with displace 40,000 Bedouins from the southern Negev.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Israel 112th in the world for press freedom in its 2013 report, arguing that while Israeli journalists enjoy freedom of expression, there are major structural barriers related to military control and security issues that prevent a free press more generally.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on I$raHell detains 25 Palestinian activists over Facebook posts

‘Death to Arabs’ sprayed on Palestinian kindergarten in Hebron

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972mag.com

The only Palestinian kindergarten in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron is vandalized with threatening hate speech. Similar slogans found elsewhere in the H-2 part of the city.

Israeli settlers vandalized a Palestinian kindergarten in Hebron, spray-painting “Death to Arabs” on its wall, it was discovered this week. This is the only kindergarten in the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron to which Palestinian parents can send their three- to five- year-old children without them having to pass through an Israeli checkpoint. This is what the children saw then they arrived:

The kindergarten is located near Shuhada Street in H-2, the part of Hebron entirely under Israeli control and is home to about 30,000 Palestinians and 500 settlers. It is the site of some of the harshest restrictions on freedom of Palestinian movement in the West Bank.

The kindergarten was built over the last few months by volunteers from Youth Against Settlements (YAS), a Palestinian activist group coordinated by Issa Amro. Amro is the same activist whose home was stormed by IDF troops and used as a military training site during the Iftar holiday following Ramadan a few months ago.

Watch: IDF soldiers train inside Hebron Muslim cemetery

Earlier this week YAS reported that settlers came to the kindergarten and tried to prevent them from working on it, in some cases pushing and shoving them. When Israeli forces arrived, they arrested Amro and a 15 year old based on settlers’ claims that they were attacked. After police saw a video recording of the incident, however, Amro and the teenager were released, according to YAS.

In a separate and weird incident this week, Israeli settlers sprayed the same signature “Death to Arabs” slogan on a door in Hebron’s wholesale market, also in H-2, right across the street from the largest settlement, Avraham Avinu.

Avner Gvaryahu from Breaking the Silence, who serves as a tour guide for the group in Hebron, described the second set of graffiti as bizarre because no Palestinians ever walk around that area because they are totally barred from it. In other words, no Palestinians will even see it. It’s just there for the Israeli settlers.

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Confessions Of A Syrian Activist: “I Want Assad To Win”

NOVANEWS

To one prominent activist, Syria’s revolution is already lost. “If we keep going down this line, I think this will be known in history as the Islamic revolution in Syria.”

Handout / Reuters

ANTAKYA, Turkey — The activist threw himself into Syria’s revolution from its early days. He organized protests, documented the deadly crackdowns and disseminated the news, risking his life. When the opposition took up arms, he worked closely with rebel groups, helping to spread their message of resistance and taking toll of the war’s carnage in places journalists couldn’t reach. He has won widespread recognition for his work, and he remains deeply involved in the struggle today — though he no longer calls it a revolution. In fact, he thinks it needs to end.

The activist works under his real name, but he requested anonymity to give the candid assessment of the conflict laid out in these remarks, which are compiled from a recent in-depth interview. Asked to speak on the record, he deliberated with friends and colleagues and ultimately declined. He says he fears a backlash: His words could be used to undermine his work, or he could be misunderstood. He also cites safety concerns. But he believes that his message, unpopular among his revolutionary colleagues, is one they need to hear — that their revolution has ended; that a dangerous wave of Islamic extremism has welled up in its place; that they should work to stop the fighting now; and that if they can’t, they should hope it’s Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who wins.

“To simply say I want Assad to win would be a disaster if anyone heard it,” the activist says. “But we’ve created a monster. For too long on the ground, there was too much focus on the crimes the regime was committing and not enough on our own problems. And addressing these problems was always being delayed.

“So we knew there was some sort of Islamism in the fighting even when it was starting back in 2012 and we would ignore this, because we would say it would all end soon — Assad is going to fall in two weeks; Assad is going to fall in a month; Assad’s going to fall in Aleppo. At each moment, we thought it was going to end very soon, and that meant we were neglecting the mistakes that were being made [among the revolution]. We were thinking, OK, the regime’s going to fall, and we can solve this later. We just need to get rid of Assad. This was a big mistake.

“To that extent, we’ve created ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a powerful al-Qaeda affiliate that is gaining ground in the rebellion]. And we’ve created Jabhat al-Nusra [another Qaeda-linked group].”

The activist has little hope for a political solution — a peace conference expected in Geneva this month was delayed again this week. Even if talks moved ahead, he adds, the moderate opposition wouldn’t have much say. “We’ve reached this point where we have two powers that are recognized by the international community — the Syrian regime and the extremist groups on the ground,” he says. “The third group [the moderate opposition] is very weak, even though it’s the majority in Syria. We don’t have anyone to defend the group. We don’t have weapons. We don’t have finances. We don’t have media.

“So yes, if I’m going to choose which side I wish would win at this stage, I would choose the side that’s already in power rather than seeing the extremist side jump into power and destroy everyone else. The extremist groups do not seek a revolution in Syria — or at least, not a democratic one. They seek an Islamic one. And it’s something that’s not accepted by the majority of the country, whether you support Assad or you don’t. I would prefer that Assad wins at a stage like this for one reason: all of the other alternatives are totally unacceptable.

“I would not cheer the idea of Assad winning. I would not help in any way,” the activist says, adding that he’d keep up his fight against the government. “But I will accept it.

“I have no guarantees to offer in government-controlled areas that if those areas are ‘liberated,’ we can keep you safe. That it will not be ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra in charge, and that you won’t live under their laws. If I could make that guarantee, then I would support the idea of bringing down the regime without a political solution.”

The Islamic extremists threatening to overtake the rebellion, the activist says, pose more of a threat than Assad. “There is no language between civil society and Islamic authority in Syria right now,” he says. “There’s no dialogue. It’s unacceptable.

“In the same way that if you say anything about Assad you’re doomed, if you say anything about God, you’re also doomed. It’s the same way of reacting, but the Islamic system is a much more lethal system, because it depends on an ideology that says, ‘God, who is the creator of the universe, says that we’re in charge. And if you stand against that, then you stand against the creator of the universe. And we will chop your heads off, chop your hands off. We will whip you. We will prevent you from speaking out.’ I think the ability of this Islamic authority and these extremist groups to abuse the citizens of Syria is much higher than that of the Syrian regime.

“A lot of people would argue that, if the regime wins, there would be no space whatsoever for another revolution, because the regime would come back 10 times stronger. The majority of people say that. I think that’s total nonsense.”

The activist says that the moderate opposition is much more capable of resisting Assad than it was before the revolution, when political life was stifled and activists worked in the shadows, often unknown even to each other. “What we have in Syria now is local councils,” the activist says, referring to the civilian administrative groups that have sprouted up in rebel-held territory across the country, “and political and activist groups, whereas before March 2011 we had nothing. It was just a few people that were anonymous online.

“We have groups now. We have experience. We know how to perform demonstrations now. We know how to have contact with the media. We know how to provide aid and how to set up field hospitals. It’s a totally different situation now. And we learned from our mistakes.

“I think it’s definitely possible to see a revolution in the future. But if we don’t accept that we have lost now—that our revolution has stopped, or been put on pause, and that is a big dispute among activists—then that means that everything that’s happening now, and all the crimes that are being committed by Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, will be written in history as part of the Syrian revolution. Do you see what I mean? If we can differentiate between this period that was the Syrian revolution, and this period now that is a messy situation that came as a result of a dictator standing against a revolution, then I think we can keep our revolution clean and our aspirations clean and our ideals in place. But if we keep going down this line, then we will turn our revolution into an Islamic revolution, and I think this will be known in history as the Islamic revolution in Syria.

“I’m not going to be able to say things like this publicly—because it would be misunderstood and misinterpreted, in a very messy situation in Syria where now it’s easy for you to be accused of being an agent for the West or an agent for the government. It’s very easy for people to point fingers and accuse you of working against the Syrian revolution. I worry about being misinterpreted or misunderstood and not being able to remain a player on Syria. I’m involved, and I have some sort of effect. I want to continue to be able to do that.

“It’s really about being responsible and saying, ‘OK, 100,000 people have been killed. Do we want another 100,000 to be killed?’ Maybe another 100,000 would be killed anyway. But do we want them to die for the exact reason that we were stubborn? And that’s the question.”

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