Posts tagged us
Iran is ramping up its threats to the United States even as the American effort against Iranian client state Syria has ground to a crawl.
President Obama made his case to the American people and the world community Tuesday night that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad must not be allowed to escape the consequences of using chemical weapons on civilians as the two-year-long Syrian civil war drags on.
Iran, a staunch ally of the Assad regime, is warning that any military action against Syria will cause a military and terrorist reaction on U.S. targets and allies. Despite overwhelming evidence from the horrific August 21 sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 civilians, hundreds of them children, Iran says it won’t sit idly by if the U.S. attacks Syria.
For now, Obama said in an East Room address Tuesday night, he will delay any proposal to Congress authorizing a punitive strike if diplomatic efforts result in Syria agreeing to verifiable destruction of its chemical weapons cache. Obama warned that to not act against Syrian atrocities would give the green light to Iran to develop nuclear weapons and terrorists to use chemical weapons.
But if diplomacy fails, unintended consequences could result from a U.S. assault. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both should know that all options are on the table, including the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv, should the U.S. attack Syria, Iran has declared.
That blunt warning came in Mashregh News, the Islamic Republic’s official media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit, in an alarming commentary last week.
“Despite the analysis by some in the country (Iran),” Mashregh wrote, “the U.S. posture and its saber-rattling are just a psychological war against Syria. The fact is that the current military preparation of the (U.S.) enemy points to a military confrontation and today we are facing a complete security and military scenario.”
Mashregh said the most important part of this scenario is how Iran would respond to a limited attack on Syria. The goal of the American strategists is not to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for the use of chemical weapons or even Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strong supporter of Syria, but rather to impose a “small military punishment” against Iran.
If Iran is going to respond to such U.S. aggression, “the response must be firm, decisive and powerful,” Mashregh said. The Islamic regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday warned that America was sure to “suffer loss” should it attack Syria. source – Daily Caller
This “incident” was purposely and willfully kept from the America people for a full week before the election and was not made public for a full 24 hours after the election. Obama can do nothing except by deceit, lies and cover-ups. And in typical Obama fashion, he refused to take action against his fellow Muslims. Just like at Fort Hood…just like in Benghazi…just like in Tunisia….
From Yahoo News: WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iranian warplanes fired at an unarmed U.S. drone in international airspace last week but did not hit the aircraft, the Pentagon said on Thursday, disclosing details of an unprecedented incident that triggered a formal warning to Tehran through diplomatic channels.
The November 1 intercept was the first time Tehran had fired at an unmanned American aircraft, in a stark reminder of how tensions between the United States and Iran could escalate quickly into violence.
If Iran had hit the drone, as the Pentagon believes it was trying to do, it could have forced American retaliation – with the potential consequences that entails.
According to the timeline provided by the Pentagon, two Iranian SU-25 “Frogfoot” aircraft intercepted the American drone at about 4:50 a.m. EST (0850 GMT) as it conducted a routine, but classified, surveillance mission over Gulf waters about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the aircraft fired multiple rounds at the Predator drone and followed it for at least several miles as it moved farther away from Iranian airspace.
“We believe that they fired at least twice and made at least two passes,” he said.
International airspace begins after 12 nautical miles and Little said the drone at no point entered Iranian airspace. Last year, a crashed CIA drone was recovered inside Iran.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was quickly notified of the incident, as were members of Congress and the White House, Little added. The United States also sent Iran a warning through diplomatic channels, saying it would defend its military assets and would keep sending aircraft on such surveillance operations.
“There is absolutely no precedence for this,” Little said. “This is the first time that a (drone) has been fired upon to our knowledge by Iranian aircraft.”
Many questions about the incident remain, including why Iranian warplanes could not manage – if they wanted – to shoot down an unarmed drone, which lacks advanced capabilities to outmaneuver them.
Asked whether the Iranian aircraft were simply firing warning shots, Little said: “Our working assumption is that they fired to take it down. You’ll have to ask the Iranians why they engaged in this action.” There was no immediate comment by Iranian officials.
President Barack Obama has resisted calls from inside the United States and Israel for military action against Iran, focusing instead on crushing rounds of sanctions, which were tightened again on Thursday.
The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s communications minister and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for jamming international satellite broadcasts to Iran and censoring and closing newspapers and detaining journalists.
The sanctions are part of broader efforts to isolate Tehran, which denies U.S. accusations that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. In an effort to drive Iran to compromise, the United States and the European Union have gone for the jugular – Iran’s oil exports – over the past year.
The United States and Israel, which regards a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence, have also hinted at the possibility of military strikes on Iran as a last resort.
Obama has said the United States will “do what we must” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and has repeatedly said that all options are on the table – code for the possibility of using force. source – Yahoo News
Signs of the times
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3
Flashing the peace sign, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the UN on Monday that Iran is unconcerned by Israeli threats of attack but prepared to defend itself, adding that Israel has ‘no roots’ in the history of the Middle East and would be ‘eliminated’.
The Iranian president made the remarks as he attended the first full day of the annual UN General Assembly in New York. Israeli delegates walked out of the conference as he began to speak.
Ahmadinejad also said it was not too late for dialogue with the United States to resolve differences.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran’s nuclear sites and has criticized U.S. President Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful, aimed at generating electricity.
‘Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists. … We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves,’ Ahmadinejad told reporters in New York, where he is due to attend the UN General Assembly.
He refused to speak of the state of Israel by name and instead referred only to the ‘Zionists’, and when asked about author Salman Rushdie he made no attempt to distance himself from recent renewed threats on the author’s life emanating from an Iranian semi-official religious foundation.
He said: ‘If he is in the U.S., you should not broadcast it for his own safety.’
Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the video, was condemned to death in 1989 by Khomeini, Iran’s late leader, over his novel The Satanic Verses, saying its depiction of the Prophet Mohammad was blasphemous.
“My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121
An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme. Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.
Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.
A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.
The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.
In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.
The war games are the largest ever undertaken in the region. They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.
The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.
The carriers are supported by at least 12 battleships, including ballistic missile cruisers, frigates, destroyers and assault ships carrying thousand of US Marines and special forces.
The British component consists of four British minesweepers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, a logistics vessel. HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1billion Type 45 destroyer, one of the most powerful ships in the British fleet, will also be operating in the region.
In addition, commanders will also simulate destroying Iranian combat jets, ships and coastal missile batteries.
In the event of war, the main threat to the multi-national force will come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy, which is expected to adopt an “access-denial” strategy in the wake of an attack, by directly targeting US warships, attacking merchant shipping and mining vital maritime chokepoints in the Persian Gulf.
Defence sources say that although Iran’s capability may not be technologically sophisticated, it could deliver a series of lethal blows against British and US ships using mini-subs, fast attack boats, mines and shore-based anti-ship missile batteries.
Next month, Iran will stage massive military manoeuvres of its own, to show that it is prepared to defend its nuclear installations against the threat of aerial bombardment.
The exercise is being showcased as the biggest air defence war game in the Islamic Republic’s history, and will be its most visible response yet to the prospect of an Israeli military strike.
Using surface-to-air missiles, unmanned drones and state-of-the-art radar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and air force will combine to test the defences of 3,600 sensitive locations throughout the country, including oil refineries and uranium enrichment facilities.
Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya air defence base, told a conference this month that the manoeuvres would “identify vulnerabilities, try out new tactics and practise old ones”.
At the same time as the Western manoeuvres in the Gulf, the British Response Task Forces Group — which includes the carrier HMS Illustrious, equipped with Apache attack helicopters, along with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – will be conducting a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean. The task force could easily be diverted to the Gulf region via the Suez Canal within a week of being ordered to do so.
The main naval exercise comes as President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, today to discuss the Iranian crisis.
Many within the Obama administration believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the US presidential elections, an act which would signal the failure of one of Washington’s key foreign policy objectives.
Both Downing Street and Washington hope that the show of force will demonstrate to Iran that Nato and the West will not allow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, to develop a nuclear armoury or close Hormuz.
Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, reportedly met the Israeli prime minister and Ehud Barak, his defence secretary, two weeks ago in an attempt to avert military action against Iran.
But just last week Mr Netanyahu signalled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: “The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’
“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
The crisis hinges on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, which Israel believes is designed to build an atomic weapon. Tehran has long argued that the programme is for civil use only and says it has no plans to an build a nuclear bomb, but that claim has been disputed by the West, with even the head of MI6 stating that the Islamic Republic is on course to develop atomic weapons by 2014.
The Strait of Hormuz has long been disputed territory, with the Iranians claiming control of the region and the entire Persian Gulf.
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps recently boasted that “any plots of enemies” would be foiled and a heavy price exacted, adding: “We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”
But Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, warned that Iranian attempts to exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz could be met with force.
He said: “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region — by Iran or, for that matter, by its surrogates.”
Mr Panetta said that the United States was “fully prepared for all contingencies” and added: “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat if they make that decision.”
That announcement was supported by Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, who added: “We are determined to work as part of the international community effort to ensure freedom of passage in the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz.”
One defence source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “If it came to war, there would be carnage. The Iranian casualties would be huge but they would be able to inflict severe blows against the US and British.
“The Iranian Republican Guard are well versed in asymmetrical warfare and would use swarm attacks to sink or seriously damage ships. This is a conflict nobody wants, but the rhetoric from Israel is unrelenting.” source – Telegraph UK
The Obama administration is blaming Israel for the recent rise in global crude oil prices, according to a Sunday report in The World Tribune. The rise in fuel prices is deemed as harming the U.S. economy and has also hurt Obama in the polls as he seeks re-election in November.
The report cited a leading U.S. analyst, Robert Satloff, who returned from talks with Israeli officials.
Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, according to The World Tribune, that the Israeli leadership saw Washington as attributing the higher gas prices to “Israel’s posturing” on Iran.
“They think the Iranians should be held responsible for the higher gasoline prices,” Satloff was quoted as having said.
He added that the officials told him the Obama administration was staging a campaign to undermine Israel.
“I cannot underscore how deep and visceral the [Israeli] comments of the leaking that came out of Washington were,” Satloff said, noting Israel is alarmed by what officials determined were leaks by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama of purported Israeli preparations to attack Iran.
The Israeli concerns come in the wake of a report in Foreign Policy magazine last week, according to which Israel has purchased an airfield in Azerbaijan on Iran’s northern border, prompting the United States to watch very closely.
Journalist Mark Perry wrote that the Obama administration is monitoring Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan, particularly its military ties.
The Americans believe Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran’s nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one. The site could also be used for aircraft needed for search, rescue and recovery in the wake of an attack.
“We’re watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we’re not happy about it,” an official told the Foreign Policy writer. Azeri president Ilham Aliyev later dismissed the speculation and said, “Azerbaijan’s territory will never be used to launch an attack against its neighbor, Iran.” source – Israel National News
AFP – Iran declared on Monday it will not be swayed from its nuclear “path” by sanctions, a week before talks with world powers that are increasingly seen as a last chance for diplomacy in its showdown with the West.
“The sanctions may have caused us small problems but we will continue our path,” Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi vowed in an interview with the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
“We do not underestimate any enemy, no matter how tiny and lowly they are. The regime’s officials — the supreme leader, the president, the army, the (Revolutionary) Guards and Basij (militia) — are completely vigilant. And the nation is prepared to defend the achievements of Islamic Iran,” he said.
The defiant words came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that the talks between Iran and the world powers would take place April 13 and 14 in Istanbul. She and US President Barack Obama have both publicly said that the window for diplomacy in the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme is closing.
“Our policy is one of prevention, not containment,” Clinton said in Saudi Arabia after talks with her Gulf Arab counterparts. It is up to Iran to engage in the talks “with an effort to obtain concrete results,” Clinton said.
Israel — the sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state in the Middle East — and the United States have threatened military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomacy and sanctions fail to curb the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.
The UN Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran because of suspicions over its nuclear programme, which the United States and its allies believe includes a drive to develop atomic weapons capability.
The West has imposed its own unilateral economic sanctions on Iran. But Iran’s oil minister, Rostam Qasemi, told the Mehr news agency on Monday that the West’s efforts to curb Iranian oil exports “have been a failure”.
“We have seen off what they describe as ‘rigorous sanctions’ against the oil industry,” he said. Iran denies any military dimension to its nuclear activities. Its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called nuclear weapons a “sin”. But he has also refused to bow to sanctions, and warned Iran would retaliate in kind if attacked.
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in an interview with the Fars news agency that Iran considered the talk of war to be a “psychological” gambit “to affect the Iranian nation, to lower the support of the people for the system.”
But, he said, “our readiness (to ward off any threat) is at its peak. We take any threat, even those with a low probability of happening, seriously. “If any practical action, either surgical or long-lasting, is taken, we will respond decisively.”
The talks between Iran and the P5+1 group — the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany — are seen as an opportunity to defuse the tense situation. EU officials in Brussels said that, despite Clinton’s affirmation, Istanbul had not yet been fully confirmed as the venue.
“The talks are scheduled to start late on the 13th and will be held primarily on the 14th,” one EU diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. They will “very likely” take place in Istanbul, but all parties had not yet reached complete agreement, the diplomat said.
A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the P5+1 in the negotiations, said only: “We will announce it (the venue) formally once we have full agreement.” The last round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group was held in Istanbul in January 2011 and ended in failure. Geneva hosted the round before that in late 2010.
The United States is poised to bolster unilateral sanctions that are already making it harder for Iran to sell its vital oil exports. Countries that do not reduce Iranian oil imports risk being targeted by US sanctions. But Salehi stressed to IRNA: “The West thinks that Iran is like many other countries who will yield under America’s pressure. But they are mistaken.”
source – France 24
UN seeks to silence the Internet
Like most people, it is likely that you have never heard of the ITU before now. So please allow us to get you up to speed. The ITU, or International Telecommunication Union, is a treaty-based organization under the direct control of the United Nations. As you will see in this WSJ article, there is a major push on right now to wreste control on the Internet from it’s current public domain, and place it under “international control” (read ‘censorship’). This current assualt starts February 27th, 6 days from today.
From WSJ: On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year’s end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish “international control over the Internet” through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices.
If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the Internet’s flourishing regime, which has been in place since 1988. That year, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications. This insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly became the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.
Russia, China and their allies within the 193 member states of the ITU want to renegotiate the 1988 treaty to expand its reach into previously unregulated areas. Reading even a partial list of proposals that could be codified into international law next December at a conference in Dubai is chilling:
• Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control;
• Allow foreign phone companies to charge fees for “international” Internet traffic, perhaps even on a “per-click” basis for certain Web destinations, with the goal of generating revenue for state-owned phone companies and government treasuries;
• Impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates, terms and conditions for currently unregulated traffic-swapping agreements known as “peering.”
• Establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder Internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that coordinates the .com and .org Web addresses of the world;
• Subsume under intergovernmental control many functions of the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder groups that establish the engineering and technical standards that allow the Internet to work;
• Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.
While precious time ticks away, the U.S. has not named a leader for the treaty negotiation. We must awake from our slumber and engage before it is too late. Not only do these developments have the potential to affect the daily lives of all Americans, they also threaten freedom and prosperity across the globe. source – Wall Street Journal