Archive | December 27th, 2014

Islam’s Dysfunctional State: In Isis-controlled Syria and Iraq everyday life is falling apart

The Independent UK

Basic services such as water and rubbish collection are failing and residents are struggling to find food

Friday 26 December 2014

Isis’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling, as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules.

Residents say services are collapsing, prices are soaring and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” that Isis proclaimed in Iraq and Syria, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.

Slick videos depicting functioning governing offices and the distribution of aid fail to match the reality of growing deprivation and disorganised, erratic leadership, the residents say. A trumpeted Isis currency has not materialised, nor have the passports the group promised. Schools barely function, doctors are few and disease is on the rise.

In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the water has become undrinkable because supplies of chlorine have dried up, according to a journalist living there, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Hepatitis was spreading and flour for bread was becoming increasingly scarce, he said. “Life in the city is nearly dead, and it is as though we are living in a giant prison,” he said.

In the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s self-styled capital, water and electricity are available for no more than three or four hours a day, rubbish piles up uncollected and the city’s poor scavenge for scraps on streets crowded with people hawking anything they can find to sell, residents say.

Videos filmed in secret by an activist group show desperate women and children clamouring for handouts of food, while photographs posted on the internet portray foreign jihadists eating lavish spreads, a disparity that is starting to stir resentment.

Isis was driven out of Kobani by US-armed Kurds

Isis was driven out of Kobani by US-armed Kurds (Getty)

Much of the assistance that is being provided comes from Western aid agencies, who discreetly continue to help areas of Syria under Isis control. The US funds healthcare clinics and provides blankets, plastic sheeting and other items to enable the neediest citizens to weather the winter, according to US officials.

The government workers who help sustain what is left of the crumbling infrastructure, in Syrian as well as Iraqi cities, continue to be paid by the Syrian government, travelling each month to collect their pay from offices in government-controlled areas.

“Isis doesn’t know how to do this stuff,” the US official said. “When stuff breaks down they get desperate. It doesn’t have a whole lot of engineers and staff to run the cities, so things are breaking down.”

There are also signs of falling morale among at least some of the fighters whose expectations of quick and easy victories have been squashed by US-led air strikes. A notice distributed in Raqqa this month called on fighters who were shirking their duties to report to the front lines, and a new police force was created to go house-to-house to root them out.

There is no indication that the hardships are likely to lead to rebellion, at least not soon. Fear of draconian punishments and the absence of alternatives deter citizens from complaining too loudly.

But the deterioration is undermining at least one important aspect of Isis’s self-proclaimed identity – as a state, dedicated to reviving the seventh-century caliphate that once ruled the Muslim world.

The group’s momentum on the battlefield has been slowed by the air campaign, which has helped reverse or stall Isis offensives on numerous fronts, from the town of Kobani in northern Syria to the farmland south of Baghdad.

That the group is also failing to deliver services in the areas it does control calls into question the sustainability of its larger ambition.

Isis “is not this invincible monster that can control everything and defeat everyone,” said an activist in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, describing the ineffectual delivery of services. “The whole idea that it is well organised and an administrative entity is wrong. It is just an image.”

It is in Raqqa, the first major city to fall under Isis control more than a year ago and the cradle of its governance experiment, that the discrepancy is perhaps most conspicuous. A Raqqa businessman who travelled to Mosul recently said the Iraqi city was in far better shape than his own city, where people were being driven away by the spectre of hunger and devastating government bombing raids that have killed mostly civilians.

Syria's economy has been set back more than 30 years by its brutal civil war, and economists fear it may never recover

Syria’s economy has been set back more than 30 years by its brutal civil war, and economists fear it may never recover (AFP/Getty)

The bombardments have played a big role in straining the infrastructure. Air strikes, aimed at Isis targets, have also contributed, forcing the group to abandon many of its government buildings. American attacks on the small, makeshift oil refineries that many citizens relied on for income have deepened the deprivation, leaving many people without income and sending prices soaring.

Whether Isis’s administration was ever as capable as it has been portrayed appears to be in doubt. Syrians say those who could afford to flee areas controlled by the group have done so, disproportionately including the professionals and technocrats whose skills are needed to run  services.

For most citizens, the main interaction with Isis is with its ubiquitous police and security agencies, including the notorious Hesbah, which patrols the streets in quest of those transgressing the group’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

Tensions are emerging between the local populace and the foreign fighters, estimated by US officials and analysts to number around 15,000, or about half of the total fighting force. Foreigners get paid in dollars, while Syrian recruits are paid in Syrian pounds.

Isis fighters get treated in their own secretly located field hospitals, while civilians are forced to rely on the collapsing private hospitals, according to an activist with Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group that works to draw attention to conditions under Isis.

“People are fed up with them and would like to get rid of them,” he said. “But they don’t have the ability.”

Posted in Iraq, SyriaComments Off on Islam’s Dysfunctional State: In Isis-controlled Syria and Iraq everyday life is falling apart

Judge orders arrest of ‘pro-Taliban’ imam


Refused to condemn Peshawar school massacre

Protesters say the radical cleric threatened them outside his mosque

Saturday 27 December 2014

A judge in Pakistan has issued an arrest warrant for a radical imam who refused to condemn the Taliban’s recent attack on children at an army-run school.

Imam Abdul Aziz is also accused of threatening demonstrators as they protested against him outside the Red Mosque, in Islamabad.

The cleric told the BBC: “The government should arrest those accused of more significant cases, like murder and kidnapping.

“My case is very small and even a sub-inspector can grant me bail.”

Last week, Taliban fighters attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 152 people, including 133 children. Activists lodged a complaint against Mr Aziz, saying that they had been threatened by mosque employees during a protest about his refusal to condemn this massacre.

According to Anbarasan Ethirajan, of the BBC’s World Service, Mr Aziz is well-known for his pro-Taliban views. Earlier this year, a school run by the imam renamed its library “Bin Laden”, in honour of the former al-Qaeda leader.

The Red Mosque said it would resist the arrest of Mr Aziz.

The demonstrators are also being investigated for holding an unlawful protest.

Pakistan has stepped up its anti-terror operations since the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “The Peshawar attack has shocked the nation. We will not let the blood of our children go in vain.”

He added that there was a “changed Pakistan” since the tragedy, and that now there would be “no place for terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance.”

Earlier this week, the Pakistani government announced new measures to tackle terrorism, including the establishment of military courts to hear terrorism-related cases and the reinstatement of the death penalty.

At least six people have already been executed after being sentenced to death in the military courts.

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North Korea calls Barack Obama ‘A MONKEY’


latest attack as ‘The Interview’ row festers

The racial slur was reported by the official Korean news agency

Saturday 27 December 201

North Korea compared President Barack Obama to a monkey, and blamed him today for internet blackouts as well as the US release of The Interview film this week, that depicts an assassination of dictator Kim Jong Un.

“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” said an unidentified spokesman at the National Defence Commission in a statement reported by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The country led by Kim Jong Un has denied involvement in a cyber attack on Sony Pictures, after the controversial film was screened yesterday, but has expressed fury over Obama criticizing the company’s decision to pull the movie amid threats of terror made against cinemas.

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UK: Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness

Sir Bernard Hogan
Friday 24 May 2013

Police in north London have seized blankets, sleeping bags and food donations from rough sleepers in a crackdown on homelessness.

A local paper reported that the belongings, mostly donated by sympathetic members of the community, were snatched by police from a group of homeless people as they sheltered in an abandoned public baths for the night.

The nine people, including a man in his sixties, were seeking cover from a cold night in Redbridge and were left stunned when their worldly possessions disappeared into the back of a police car.

One of the men targeted in the action, Adam Jaskowiak, pleaded with officers to be allowed to keep his possessions for warmth. The  34-year-old said: “They [the police officers] were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything. I asked to keep it, and the food, but they said ‘No’.

“I just grabbed as many of my things as possible and put them into a bag and ran.”

Police later confirmed that the shocking intervention was part of a co-ordinated effort to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers”. ” ??? Shoah”

Chief Inspector John Fish told the Ilford Recorder: “The public rely on the police  ” THE PUBLIC THE RICH Shoah”  to reduce the negative impact; this includes the need for us to assist in the removal of tents and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”

In response, Joanne McCartney, chair of the Police and Crime Committee at the Greater London Assembly, has written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner asking for an explanation for the seizure.

Her letter, seen by The Independent, raises doubts over the legality of the police’s approach and asks Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe on whose authority the officers acted.

“These are the most vulnerable people in society and they have to be offered assistance,” Mrs McCartney said. “To take someone’s only source of food and warmth seems to be extremely draconian and misguided to say the least.”

The move has also sparked outrage from the voluntary sector. Rita Chadha, head of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London, said the move was dangerous as well as confusing. “We are going through one of the coldest summers we have ever had, it’s a strong possibility that someone could die,” she said.

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This is the second edition of the Global Slavery Index (the Index). It is the first Index of its kind – providing an estimate, country by country, of the number of people living in modern slavery today. The prevalence of modern slavery is highest in:







Democratic Republic

of the Congo



Central African Republic

The governments that are taking the most action to end modern slavery are:



United States





United Kingdom



In absolute terms, the countries with the highest number of people in modern slavery are:







Democratic Republic of the Congo




When economic capacity is taken into account, these countries are taking strong efforts to respond to modern slavery with relatively limited resources:





The governments that are taking the least action to end modern slavery are:

North Korea




Central African Republic


Equatorial Guinea


Republic of the Congo


The governments that should be doing more, given their wealth are:

Hong Kong





Estimated people in modern slavery globally 35.8 MILLION

61% Of those living in modern slavery are in five countries:

India, China, Pakistan,

Uzbekistan, Russia

About the Index:

● It provides an analysis of the prevalence of modern slavery in terms of the percentage of a national population and the total number of people living in modern slavery – country by country, region by region.
● For the first time, the Index includes an analysis of what governments are doing to eradicate modern slavery.
● It also looks at the contextual factors that make people vulnerable to modern slavery.6. 7.
When the absolute number of people in modern slavery per country is considered, the country ranking shifts. The ten countries with the largest estimated numbers of people in modern slavery are: India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand. Taken together, these ten countries account for 71 percent of the total estimate of 35.8 million people living in modern slavery
The regions with the lowest estimates of people enslaved are Europe and North America. Iceland and Ireland have the lowest prevalence of modern slavery in the world. Scandinavian countries with comparatively low prevalence include Norway, Finland and Denmark. Canada has the
lowest estimated prevalence in the Americas, and New Zealand, Taiwan and Australia have the smallest concentration of people enslaved in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2014, the Index includes an analysis of 167 government responses based on five objectives that every single country should seek to accomplish in order to eradicate modern slavery: ● Survivors are identified, supported to exit and remain out of modern slavery.
● Criminal justice mechanisms address modern slavery. ● Coordination and accountability mechanisms for the central government are in place.
● Attitudes, social systems and institutions that enable modern slavery are addressed.
● Businesses and governments through their public procurement stop sourcing goods and services that use modern slavery It is promising that the majority of countries have a basic national action plan to address some forms of modern slavery, and/or a national body tasked with coordinating responses to this crime. However, implementation continues to be weak.

Aside from North Korea, all countries also have national laws that criminalise at least some form of modern slavery. While most countries have patchy, basic victim support services, very few countries have comprehensive services for men, women and children, covering both emergency support and long term reintegration services. Norway is one of the few countries in the world which provides holistic services for victims of modern slavery.

Globally, only three of 167 governments are making some effort to address modern slavery in government procurement and in the supply chains of businesses operating in their countries: the United States of America, Brazil and Australia
Considered overall, countries taking the most action to end modern slavery are: the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Georgia, and Austria.
Despite the fact that the highest ranking countries have comparatively more robust policies in place, most have the economic capacity to do significantly more to end modern slavery. When national economic capacity is taken into account, countries that are making comparatively strong efforts with limited resources include: Georgia, the Philippines and Jamaica, with criminal justice responses in place, and Macedonia, with relatively strong support services for victims of modern slavery
The countries with the weakest responses to modern slaveryare: North Korea, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, the Central African Republic, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, the Republic of the Congo, and Iraq. Many of these countries have weak economies, such as Equatorial Guinea, or have
been plagued by conflict and political instability in recent years – for example, Libya, Central African Republic and Syria. Some governments impose state-sponsored modern slavery, as experienced by the 1.2 million people forced to harvest cotton in Uzbekistan, or those forced to labour in prison camps in North Korea. Lastly, the vulnerability of individuals to enslavement
within countries was investigated by analysing five dimensions, including, state policy on modern slavery, human rights, human development, state stability, and levels of discrimination.

The findings illustrate a strong link between the stability or instability of a country and the vulnerability of its population to modern slavery. Antislavery policies will have little impact when a country’s rule of law has broken down because of civil war, or ethnic or religious conflict.
High levels of prejudice and discrimination in a society can also create a context that marks some people as less important and less deserving of rights and protection, which in turn makes the crime of modern slavery easier to commit against them. Statistical testing confirms the connectionbetween discrimination and modern slavery.

This is the second edition of the Global Slavery Index (‘the Index’). The Index estimates the number of people in modern slavery in 167 countries. This year’s Index also includes an analysis of what governments are doing to eradicate modern slavery. In addition to measuring the extent of the problem and the actions taken, the Index increases our understanding of the contextual factors that make people vulnerable to modern slavery.

The Index is the flagship report produced by the Walk Free Foundation, a global human rights organisation dedicated to ending modern slavery. The Walk Free Foundation was founded by Australian philanthropists, Andrew and Nicola Forrest. The methodology for the Index was
developed by an internal research team and through external consultations with an international and independent Expert Advisory Group.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index estimates there are 35.8 million people living in some form of modern slavery globally.

The estimated prevalence of people in modern slavery has increased from 2013. It is important to note that we are not asserting that there has been an increase in modern slavery around the world over the last year. We believe that the majority of this increase is due to the improved accuracy
and precision of our measures, and that we are uncovering modern slavery where it was not found before.

This year’s improved methodology includes nationally representative random sample surveys undertaken in seven countries, which provided data points for ten countries. In addition, we obtained data from a further nine random sample surveys, increasing the number of countries where survey data is available to a total of 19. In 2013, we released the Index with a sense of urgency to raise awareness of modern slavery while acknowledging that the figures were an imperfect estimate. As modern slavery is a hidden crime and notoriously difficult to measure, in 2014, these surveys have enabled us to have a more precise measurement of the number of people enslaved. We will continue to improve the methodology by including more random sample surveys every year.

For 2014, the ten countries with the highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population are:







The Democratic Republic of the Congo,


Syria and the Central African Republic.

These countries span different regions, they have diverse political systems, and range from low to

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX

Bangladesh Should Rectify Anti-Pakistan Policy


By Sajjad Shaukat

It is regrettable that Sheikh Hasina Wajid, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and leader of the ruling

party, Awami League (AL) has continuously been acting upon anti-Pakistan policy in order to

appease India which had played a key role in separation of the East Pakistan by manipulating

differences between the Bengalis and the no-Bengalis.

While following pro-Indian tilt, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid maintains an anti-Pakistan posture

with sinister designs of expressing animosity and antagonism. The aim is to exploit feelings of

masses by keeping the “hate Pakistan” agenda alive. This enables Awami League and Hasina

Wajid to remain significant in Bangladesh’s power politics despite their failure to deliver good

governance to the people.

In this regard, obsessed with strong motives of revenge and political expediency, and after

passing of 42 years to the events of 1971, which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan, the

government led by Prime Minister Hasina Wajid hurriedly executed her political opponent,

Abdul Quader Mullah-leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jl) because of his loyalty to Pakistan.

When Pakistan’s National Assembly expressed concern over the execution of Quader Mullah,

with the backing of Bangladesh government, a majority of the workers of AL and Bengali

Hindus continued demonstrating outside the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka, demanding

the expulsion of the Pakistani envoy. While chanting anti-Pakistani slogans, officially-arranged

protesters in Bangladesh also burnt Pakistan’s flag.

In this connection, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that Quader Mullah’s execution

was internal matter of Bangladesh which “is our neighbouring Islamic country…Bangladesh

should avoid blame game and try to further strengthen relations with Pakistan.”

But, by neglecting Islamabad’s positive approach, Bangladesh government has continued its

anti-Pakistan policy to please India. It could be judged from the statement of Prime Minister

Hasina Wajid who vocally said, “Bangladesh has no room for the people loving Pakistan.”

In fact, India has also been employing various tactics to entrap Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-

Indian tilt to fulfill its strategic interests against Pakistan. In this context, Prime Minister Hasina

has been pursuing Indian directions by conducting anti-Pakistan campaign.

In this respect, on the secret insistence of India, unlike the past years, a ceremony was held in

Dhaka on March 24, 2013, with full pump and show to honour ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh

Award,’ in relation to the separation of East Pakistan. For this aim, several foreign friends who

included various institutions and media anchors from various countries, particularly India were

invited. The main purpose behind was to distort the image of Pakistan and its armed forces

regarding alleged atrocities, committed against the Bengalis. Notably, in December, 2012, Prime

Minister Hasina Wajid had refused to attend D-8 conference in Islamabad unless Pakistan

tendered apology for the alleged genocide of Bengalis.

While, a famous Bengali journalist Sarmila Bose authored a book, “Dead Reckoning: Memories

of the 1971 Bangladesh War” after thorough investigation. Her book was published in 2011.

While countering exaggerations of the Indian and Bengali Journalists, Bose argues that the

number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000, while Bengalis were

equally involved in the bloodshed of Punjabis, Biharis, Pashtoons and Balochis.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh and father of Hasina Wajid was already in

connivance with India for separation of East Pakistan. Therefore, when East Pakistan was

occupied by Indian Army in 1971, he stated with pleasure that his 24 years old dream of an

independent Bangladesh had been fulfilled. He had earlier developed his contacts with Indian

rulers and training camps of Mukti Bahini, established by Indian army and RAW which also

funded Mujibur Rehman’s general elections in 1970.

It is mentionable that by ignoring public protests and strikes by students and Islamic parties due

to pro-Indian tilt, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has given secular orientation to the country by

purging the society from religious touch. She has issued instructions for the removal of some

Islamic books from academic courses.

Particularly, a survey conducted by a local agency pointed out that 98% Bangladeshis do not

want to leave Islamic culture, and also hate undue interference of India in Bangladesh’s affairs.

It is notable that Pakistani businessmen motivated by business interests of both the countries, and

driven by their deeply entrenched longings to revive old relations with Bangladeshi brethren,

decided to invest their capital in Bangladesh. According to the media reports, more than ten

thousand Pakistanis invested billions of dollars in Bangladesh. It was a matter of satisfaction for

all Pakistanis who always wish that the two countries flourish in economic field and acquire

socio-political stability. But, it is misfortune that Bangladesh is rapidly moving towards chaos

and uncertainty. Hence, Pakistani investors in that country are in state of fear because Ms.

Hasina Wajid, and the workers her party, have especially been targeting them in on way or the

Now, it is right hour that Bangladesh should rectify anti-Pakistan policy in order to save the

country from further unrest, and also for regional stability. In this context, Prime Minister Hasina

Wajid must abandon pursuing Indian agenda at the cost of Islamabad which always prefer to

strengthen Pak-Bangladesh relationship. She should also give up politics of revulsion, division

and discord which has been creating anti-Pakistan environment, besides causing uncertainty in

In this regard, S.M. Hali in his article, “Let Bygones be Bygones,” suggest, “The time has come

to bury hatchet and for people of both Bangladesh and Pakistan to let bygones be bygones and

move forward. If we continue to dwell upon the past and do not get rid of the cancer of revulsion

and abhorrence, loss will be ours. The people of Bangladesh must introspectively think who is

behind this machination and driving a wedge between Bangladesh and Pakistan. Awami League

would be better advised to serve its people and solve their domestic issues rather than inculcating

hate. Sheikh Hasina should heed the words of Madeleine L’Engle: “Hate hurts the hater more’n

Nonetheless, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid should take cognizance of the modern world

trends like peaceful settlement of disputes, political stability and regional blocks for economic

development instead of creating an atmosphere of hatred and vengeance. For the purpose, she

should rectify anti-Pakistan policy.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Bad Reporting and Nuclear Alarmism Return to The Guardian

By Nima Shirazi 

Tehran Bureau/Digarban/The Guardian article from December 17, 2014

Last week, the Iran-focused blog, Tehran Bureau, housed online by The Guardian, posted an alarming headline: “Senior cleric: Iran has knowledge to build a nuclear bomb.” The accompanying article, co-authored by Tehran Bureau‘s new partnerDigarban, was posted below a guaranteed-to-scare image simultaneously containing three beardy clerics, two Supreme Leaders, and an angry looking partridge in a pear tree.

The report announced:

An official site belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has quoted a senior conservative cleric as saying that Iran has attained the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb but doesn’t want to use it.

The IRGC site of Kurdistan province today quoted Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a leading cleric who often leads Friday prayers in Tehran, as telling a group of IRGC commanders in Iran’s Kurdistan province that Iran had the expertise to enrich uranium not just to the 5% and 20% levels required for civilian uses but to higher levels required for a bomb. “[We] can enrich uranium at 5% or 20%, as well as 40% to 50%, and even 90%,” he was quoted as saying. But he said the Islamic republic believed that the building of a bomb is religiously forbidden.

Furthermore, Tehran Bureau boasts, “Khatami’s speech was widely covered by the Iranian press, but the remarks about Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities were not reported.”

What an exclusive! What breaking news!

Except not really.

Before addressing the details of the disingenuous reportage, a larger point looms. Tehran Bureau‘s headline and lede claiming that, according to a senior cleric, Iran now has “the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb” are not only irresponsible and misleading, they are genuinely incorrect.

The reporting wholly conflates uranium enrichment with nuclear bomb-making; this is absurd. Obtaining enriched uranium at weapons-grade levels (90% or more) is but one component of manufacturing a nuclear weapon, but one that pales in relative comparison to mastering the detonation process, requisite missile technology, and making a bomb deliverable. It’s like standing next to a pile of steel, plastic and glass, and claiming an ability to make a Ferrari.

Iran has the technical ability to enrich uranium up to roughly 19.75%; it began enriching to this level in February 2010, under strict IAEA monitoring. By early 2013, Iran had already begun voluntarily converting its stockpile of 19.75% LEU to reactor fuel, a process rendering such material incapable of weaponization. Conversion of all remaining 19.75% stocks was agreed to under themultilateral interim nuclear deal struck between Iran and six world powers in November 2013. Earlier this year, the IAEAconfirmed that Iran had completed the conversion process, leaving no 19.75% LEU in the country.

As is often pointed out, the technical capacity to enrich uranium to nearly 20%, “accomplishes much of the technical leap towards 90% – or weapons-grade – uranium.”

Last year, Rob Wile explained in Business Insider:

Uranium enrichment has a kind of momentum curve, where it takes much more effort to go from 0% enriched to 20% enriched than it does 20% enriched to 90% enriched. Here’s the chart: The vertical axis represents “effort” as measured in things called Separate Work Units, which is basically the given quantity of uranium measured in kilograms needed to reach a given level of enrichment. The horizontal axis is enrichment percentage.

By virtue of having functional uranium enrichment facilities and technical expertise to spin centrifuges, Iran – like any other nationwith that technology – can create weapons-grade material if it decided to. But this doesn’t mean it can already “build a nuclear bomb.”

Moreover, Tehran Bureau‘s paraphrased quote from Khatami is itself misleading. The source of the quote can be found here, although Tehran Bureau does not provide a link over to it, a highly unprofessional reporting practice.

Mohammad Ali Shabani, a doctoral researcher at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), notes that the focus of Khatami’s speech before the IRGC gathering was not the nuclear issue, but rather Iran’s Kurdistan province and Syria. While Khatami is by no means an expert on nuclear technology, when he did touch briefly on the subject, this is what he said, according to Shabani’s translation:

[But] even if we could build a bomb, we would not do such a thing as our Guardian Jurist [Ayatollah Khamenei] deems use [of such weapons] impermissible (haraam). The West’s concerns are not about a bomb, but Iran’s capabilities; just as our nuclear scientists enriched uranium from 5% to 20%, undoubtedly they can [do so] to 40%, 50% and finally 90%, which is needed in order to build a bomb, and they [Iran’s scientists] posses this knowledge. Our role model is our Dear Prophet, who even forbade the poisoning of an enemy city, and this is our evidence [basis] for not building a bomb.

This is a political statement, not a technical declaration. Nowhere does Khatami state that Iran can build a nuclear weapon. Tehran Bureau‘s reporting also omits the fact that such statements about such scientific capabilities and the nation’s official, absolute prohibition on nuclear weapons are nothing new for Iranian officials.

For instance, in February 2010, then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that “right now in Natanz, we have the capacity to enrich uranium at high levels.” He added, “We have the capability to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent but we don’t enrich (to this level) because we don’t need it.”

A couple years later, in April 2012, The Guardian itself reported on a nearly identical statement made by Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam, a minister of the Iranian parliament. The framing in both that piece and the latest report are very similar:

Iran has the technological capability to produce nuclear weapons but will never do so, a prominent politician in the Islamic republic has said.

The statement by Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam is the first time an Iranian politician has publicly stated that the country has the knowledge and skills to produce a nuclear weapon.

Moghadam, whose views do not represent the government’s policy, said Iran could easily create the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs, but it was not Tehran’s policy to go down that route.

Moghadam told the parliament’s news website, “Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce [a] nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path.”

The 2012 Guardian report sparked false conclusions and predictable reactions from Israeli officials,  who eagerly exploited the non-news for political posturing. The following year, a number of different reports published by The Guardian contained bad analysisdubious allegations and sloppy journalism.

Unfortunately, The Guardian, now in partnership with Tehran Bureau, is at it again.

Posted in IranComments Off on Bad Reporting and Nuclear Alarmism Return to The Guardian

Barghouti criticizes UN draft resolution on Palestinian statehood



Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti criticized on Monday the UN resolution submitted to the Security Council by the PLO, urging the Palestinian Authority (PA) to reword the proposal.

In a letter sent to Ma’an news agency from jail, Barghouti said the UN resolution is an “unjustified fallback which will have a very negative impact on the Palestinian position.”

The senior Fatah leader said he always urged the leadership to take the question of Palestine to the UN to obtain a security council resolution, but any proposal must be in line with inalienable national principles.

Barghouti urged the leadership to comprehensively revise the wording of the draft resolution to focus on the major issues of settlement expansion, Jerusalem, prisoners, and the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

He added that any talk of land swap will weaken the sovereignty of any future Palestinian state on the lands occupied in 1967, and its right for self-determination, noting that such a measure would be used to legalize settlement building.

Barghouti urged the PA to insist on the illegality of the Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem, slamming settlement building as a “war crime.”

According to the Fatah leader, the PA should continue to assert on the centrality of East Jerusalem as a capital of the state of Palestine and the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Occupied Palestine as stated in UN General Assembly resolution 194.

Moreover, Barghouti criticized the UN resolution’s lack of emphasis on the issue of Palestinian prisoners.

“The PA should make it clear that freeing all prisoners is an absolute right and a precondition for peace.”

He also said the draft resolution must include an article demanding the immediate lifting of Israel’s “crippling siege” on Gaza.

“Unless all these demands are ensured, we should put an end to these useless negotiations,” Barghouti stated.

A senior figure within the Fatah, Barghouti was arrested in 2002 and sentenced two years later. He is serving five life sentences for alleged involvement in attacks on Israeli targets.

Barghouti’s letter comes after Jordan presented a resolution draft to the UN Security Council last Wednesday.

The PA has sought Arab backing for a draft UN resolution that would set a two-year deadline for reaching a final settlement with Israel and pave the way for a two-state solution.

The draft resolution calls for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation” of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and “fulfills the vision” of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the “shared capital.”

The measure also provides for a phased Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 according to a timeframe that doesn’t “exceed the end of 2017.”

If the resolution is to be put to vote, the US State Department will most probably use its right to veto.

Many international players have long insisted that a promised Palestinian state must come through negotiations with Israel. Palestinians have retorted that repeated rounds of talks have gone nowhere, with Israel unwilling to compromise on the issues of illegal settlements and prisoners.

European politicians have become more active in pushing for a sovereign Palestine since the collapse of US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in April, and the ensuing conflict in Gaza, where more than 2,000 Palestinians, at least 70 percent of them civilians, and 72 Israelis were killed this summer.

Sweden’s decision in October to recognize Palestine preceded non-binding votes by parliaments in Britain, France, Ireland, and Spain in favor of recognition demonstrated growing European impatience with the stalled peace process.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1988, Palestinian leaders led by Yasser Arafat declared the existence of a state of Palestine inside the 1967 borders and the state’s belief “in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charter and resolutions of the United Nations.”

Heralded as a “historic compromise,” the move implied that Palestinians would agree to accept only 22 percent of historic Palestine in exchange for peace with Israel. It is now believed that only 17 percent of historic Palestine is under Palestinian control following the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

It is worth noting that numerous Palestinian factions and pro-Palestine advocates support a one-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would be treated equally, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable and that it would mean recognizing a state of Israel on territories seized forcefully by Zionists before 1967.

They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.

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Republican strategist McLaughlin will advise Prime Minister Naziyahu’s campaign

Republican strategist John McLaughlin will advise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign.


Republican strategist John McLaughlin will advise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the March 17 election, Likud sources said Tuesday.

McLaughlin has strategized for Netanyahu and Likud in the past. He will work together with Netanyahu’s Israeli strategist Aron Shaviv in the current race.

For more than 30 years McLaughlin has worked successfully for candidates across the United States and internationally. His past clients include six sitting Republican US Senators and 22 Congressmen, including Lee Zeldin, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, He also has had successes with former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Earlier this year he helped Georgia Governor Nathan Deal beat Jason Carter, former US president Jimmy Carter’s grandson, who was endorsed by US president Barack Obama.

But in a notable failure, McLaughlin failed to get Republican minority leader Eric Cantor re-elected in Virginia.

In the past, Netanyahu worked with other strategists, including Arthur Finkelstein, who predicted incorrectly ahead of the 2013 election that the Likud Beytenu joint list will win 45 seats. Netanyahu is no longer on good terms with Finkelstein.

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Homeland ruffles Zionist feathers by likening Nazi Menachem Begin to Taliban leader


Nazi Menachem Begin
Director of  Nazi Menachem Begin Center protests a scene in which the former Nazi prime minister is likened to a terrorist over the 1946 bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem.

Viewers of “Homeland” may have mixed feelings about the season finale that aired this week, but some Israeli viewers were particular uneasy over a specific scene, in which a former Israeli prime minister was likened to a fictional Taliban leader.

In the scene, former CIA chief Saul Berenson confronts CIA black ops handler Dar Adal about the latter’s deal with wanted militant Haissam Haqqani. The Taliban warlord promised the Americans not to harbor terrorists in Afghanistan, in exchange for his name being crossed off the U.S.’ terror list.

“He just massacred 36 Americans,” Berenson protests in the scene, to which Adal responds: “Menachem Begin killed 91 British soldiers at the King David Hotel before becoming prime minister” – a reference to the 1946 bombing of the Jerusalem hotel by the Irgun, a right-wing Jewish underground group.

Herzl Makov, director of the Menachem Begin Center, was quoted in Ynet as saying that those allegations are libelous. “Begin wasn’t there. The organization was under his command.” He added that three warnings were given to the British to evacuate the hotel. “This is especially infuriating because ‘Homeland’ is based on the Israeli format ‘Hatufim,’” he said.

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