Gov’t Official: Diplomat’s Release from Belgium Prison Victory for Iranians

May 28, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

The release of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat who was detained in Belgium on false terror-related charges, is a victory for the Iranian nation, according to a senior government official in Tehran.   

Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, said in a post on Twitter on Friday that the president of the Islamic Republic had asserted that the first step for “engagement” is the release of the diplomat.

Assadi arrived in Iran on Friday. He was released after five years, following an Oman-brokered deal.

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian tweeted that the “innocent” diplomat who was “illegally detained in Germany and Belgium for more than two years against international law” was freed after Muscat mediated a deal between Iran and Belgium to swap prisoners.

Iran released Belgian spy Olivier Vandecasteele, who was arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on charges including espionage.

In his tweet, Jamshidi said, “As Belgian officials used extreme language in parliament & media, on the phone they spoke of major engagement.”

Iran’s top human rights official also on Friday described Assadi’s detention in a Twitter post as “illegal”.

Assadi’s release is the “outcome of efforts by responsible authorities to defend the rights of their fellow citizens abroad,” said Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, promising to continue such efforts.

The Iranian administration’s spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi tweeted on Friday that Assadi’s unlawful detention failed to impact the “steely will” of the “revolutionary diplomat.”

“Asadollah Assadi, our country’s diplomat, returned to his homeland after 5 years of illegal detention,” Bahadori Jahromi said.

He said Assadi’s detention was against international law as he was under mental and physical pressure.

The Iranian administration will employ all its capacities to preserve the rights of Iranians, he added.

In June 2018, Belgian authorities said the country’s police had intercepted a car transporting homemade explosives, claiming the Iranian diplomat handed the material to two people in Belgium.

The diplomat was accused of plotting an attack against the anti-Iran Mujahedin-e-Khalq [MKO] terrorist outfit, a claim categorically dismissed by Iranian authorities.

A Belgian court then sentenced the diplomat, who serves as the third counselor at Iran’s Embassy in Vienna, to 20 years in prison.

Iran Unveils New Precision-Guided Kheibar Ballistic Missile

Friday, 26 May 2023 6:32 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 27 May 2023 1:21 AM ]

Iran’s Ministry of Defense has unveiled the newest version of the domestically-manufactured Khorramshahr ballistic missile, a medium-range precision-guided projectile named Kheibar.

Kheibar (Khoramshahr 4) was unveiled Thursday morning in the presence of Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtian during a ceremony marking the 41st anniversary of the liberation of the southwestern city of Khorramshahr.

The missile’s extended range, advanced guidance and control system, and improved structural features further solidify Iran’s status as a formidable missile power.

Kheibar is one of the most advanced missiles designed by the experts of the Ministry of Defense’s Aerospace Industries Organization.

It is a liquid-fueled missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers and a warhead weighing 1,500 kilograms with impressive strategic and tactical capabilities.

The Khorramshahr class of missiles is known for its unique guidance and control system during the mid-flight phase.

This feature allows the missile to control and adjust its trajectory outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and to deactivate its guidance system upon entering the atmosphere, giving it complete immunity against electronic warfare attacks.

Thanks to this advanced control system, Kheibar’s warhead does not require the typical thin-wing arrangement, which in turn allows the missile to pack up a heavier explosive load.

The Kheibar missile also boasts an incredibly short preparation and launch time.

The use of self-igniting (hypergolic) fuel and the absence of the need for fuel injection and horizontal alignment after the verticalization phase have cut Kheibar’s launch time to less than 12 minutes.

Thanks to its powerful engine, the Kheibar missile possesses an exceptional impact force, with a ground impact force of 280 and a vacuum impact force of 300 seconds.

The high speed at which the warhead makes impact with the designated target prevents enemy air defense systems from detecting, tracking, and taking action to shoot down the missile.

Additionally, the engine enables the missile to reach speeds of 16 Mach outside the atmosphere and 8 Mach within the atmosphere.

The unveiling of Kheibar marks a significant advancement in Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and demonstrates the country’s commitment to enhancing its defense and deterrent power.

Iranian officials have long asserted that the country’s military capabilities are entirely meant for defense, and that its missile program will never be up for negotiations.

Source: Press TV

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PCHR calls on the ICC Prosecutor to issue a public statement condemning the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip and expedite his investigation into the situation in Palestine.

Ref: 54/2023

Date: 13 May 2023

Time: 08:30 GMT

The Gaza Strip has been under attack for the fifth consecutive day in the context of a military operation launched by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on 9 May 2023. Innocent civilians have been killed and wounded, and civilian objects, including civilian houses and apartments, have been targeted and destroyed by Israeli airstrikes. 

According to the documentation by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), as of the time writing this paper, more than 31 Palestinian have been killed, including 15 civilians, amongst them 6 children and 4 women, and more than 100 Palestinians have been wounded. In addition, 30 civilian buildings have been completely destroyed and over 100 have been partially destroyed. The Israeli occupation authorities have also decided to collectively punish 2 million Palestinians in the Strip by closing the two main crossings in the Strip Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing and Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing further deteriorating the humanitarian conditions in the Strip.

PCHR monitors with great concern the silence of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor over the crimes committed by the IOF against the Palestinian people in the context of its illegal occupation in Palestine. Thus far, the ICC prosecutor has not issued any public statement regarding Palestine since assuming office.

PCHR calls on the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Mr. Karim Khan to issue a public statement condemning Israel’s crimes in an effort to contribute to the seizing of the ongoing aggression, during which apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed, and obligating Israel to respect international human rights and humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality, and military necessity.

While PCHR is aware of Mr. Karim Khan’s stance of opposing public statements in the context of Palestine, as he publicly stated in a meeting during the Assembly of State parties with non-governmental organizations in December 2022, PCHR calls on Mr. Karim Khan to reverse this policy, and prioritize the situation in Palestine  due to the scale and enormity of the crimes that have been and still being committed, and issue a public statement immediately.

While preventative public statements might not necessarily achieve the wanted goal, they have proved to have worked before and can deter Israeli practices that may contribute to the ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes. For example, when former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a preventative statement regarding the planned forced eviction of the Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar in the West Bank, the then-Israeli Foreign Minister confirmed that Israel did not evict Khan al-Ahmar out of concerns of an ICC investigation. This unequivocally shows that such preventive statements can provide sufficient deterrence.

The lack of accountability, including the non-issuance of preventive statements for the repeated crimes against the Palestinian people, means the granting of immunity to those who practice war crimes and encourages the commission of further crimes and violations against the Palestinian people. More civilians are expected to be killed and wounded and more civilian objects are expected to be targeted by the IOF if the Israeli military operation in the Strip continues. 

This is not the first time that Israel committed apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of its military operations against the Strip. Previous operations including, Operation Cast Lead (2008-200), Operation Protective Edge (2014), and Operation Guardian of the Walls (2021), prove clearly that there is a systematic pattern by the IOF in targeting civilians and civilian objects. As the Prosecutor is clearly aware of the crimes that could have been committed in the context of this military operation due the evidence of previous operations, he should have issued a preventative statement warning of the commission of violations which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity when the Israeli authorities announced the start of this operation.

In addition, PCHR calls on the ICC Prosecutor to expedite his investigation into the situation in Palestine. More than two years have passed since the former ICC Prosecutor Ms. Fatou Bensouda, opened an investigation in Palestine and eight years since the opening of a preliminary examination. Mr. Karim Khan is yet to take any action with regards to the investigation in Palestine other than his announcement that he intends to visit Palestine during 2023. As victims’ representatives, PCHR is yet to receive any communication from the Office of the Prosecutor concerning the investigation in Palestine since Mr. Karim Khan assumed office. The delay in taking practical steps is questionable given that the Palestine is amongst the most well-legally documented conflicts in the world.

At the same time, PCHR has been monitoring Mr. Karim Khan’s conduct in other situations, especially Ukraine. In less than a year, Mr. Karim Khan opened an investigation and issued arrest warrants for Russian perpetrators suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. He has also been very active in his media activity conducting numerous media interviews and issuing public statements on the Court’s website and twitter with regards to the situation in Ukraine.

PCHR believes that this is extremely important not only for the ICC but for the whole international criminal justice system. At the same time, it is also crucial that the same level of attention, activity, and resources is applied to other situations including, Palestine, to avoid perceptions of selectivity and politicization. Victims should not be competing for justice and double standards should not have a place in justice.

Israel Claims Palestinian Resistance Rockets Found in Occupied West Bank (VIDEO)

May 25, 2023

Videos circulated on social media showing a failed launch of a rudimentary rocket in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Israeli media confirmed on Wednesday social media footage that a rocket launcher was found in the West Bank. 

Israeli reports claim that the occupation army has located a rocket launcher in a Palestinian village near the city of Tulkarm, in the northwest of the West Bank. 

The news cited a statement made by the spokesperson of the Israeli army, who had claimed that the Israeli military has located the rocket launcher in the village of Nazleh, confirming that the launcher has been removed by the Israeli military for examination. 

The reports in Israeli media followed videos circulated on social media by unknown sources showing a failed launch of a rudimentary rocket, without specifying the time or the target. 

Israeli army radio, however, claimed that no such rockets were fired. 

The video made a reference to the name of the rocket, calling it Qassam 1, also naming the group behind it as the ‘Ayash Brigade.” 

No Palestinian resistance group has claimed responsibility for the video or the launcher. 

Qassam 1 is a reference to early rockets ever launched from occupied Gaza toward Israel. 

Since then, the Gaza Resistance has grown in strength, enlisted thousands of fighters and an arsenal of thousands of mostly homemade rockets, often used to retaliate against Israeli attacks or provocations. 

(The Palestine Chronicle) 

China’s Peace in West Asia

May 18, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Janna Kadri 

The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the US as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan.

Under the auspices of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations on March 10. At the time of the deal’s announcement, US President Joe Biden said better relations between “Israel” and their Arab neighbors are better for everybody rather than relations with Iran. Better for “everybody” depends on what is meant for everybody. If it means the US financial classes and their Arab and Zionist comprador in the region, then Biden is spot on. However, for the masses of the Arab World that experience declining living standards, whether by peace or war, the US-Israeli aggression against them will not stop. What must be understood is that the aggression is necessary for Western wealth-making because it extracts regional resources, which should otherwise better Arab social conditions, and ships them to US-European markets in order to feed exponential growth and profits.

Moreover, the aggression, whether military or ideological, is itself an industry in its own right, which fuels wealth accumulation. At a first-principle level, the policies that dominate the air-waves, all aim to foment wars. To extoll the virtues of the market, erect a cultural identity that aborts the potential of labor as a historical agent, and push down the throat of indebted states policies of privatization and private property, leaves little resources for the peoples of the region and delivers them into inter-communal strife. The case of Sudan is one such blatant example. The wars visited upon the Arabs drive away their resources and are therefore a must for the global financial class.

However, capital or the principal social relation governing the remaking of the global order is a two-pronged process. At first, capital is of the same class fabric, and it initially aims at oppressing workers everywhere. This capital against labor is a first contradiction. A second but not secondary contradiction is the inter-capitalist competition for power, which determines the shares of the various circles of capital. For instance, the US sits atop the capital pyramid and receives a fallout in rent depending on its power standing. It would not want lower suzerains to catch more of the rents. It sometimes sacrifices its bourgeois allies to grab their shares. Saudi Arabia was one such candidate readied to be sacrificed along with some sections of its ruling class.

With the rise of China, the global balance of forces shifted, and bourgeois classes disgruntled with the US’s avarice for rents saw a window of opportunity to save themselves. After years of war with Yemen at the behest of empire to secure the Mandeb straits, it was left weakened and alone. Sensing the danger of bourgeois fratricide, the Saudis intelligently decided to maneuver into a position backed by Chinese guarantees of security. China builds capacity and détente abroad, which are measures anathema to US imperialism whose goal is to destabilize in order to snatch resources.

For the US, War Masquerades as Peace

In efforts to normalize relations between “Israel” and the Arab world, the US brokered a series of agreements called The Abraham Accords. They propose a strategy of forging alliances with “Israel” to counterbalance the Axis of Resistance. They base the rationale for joining Arab and Israeli forces on an alleged Iranian threat. Already, these Arab ruling classes were extensions of and under the purview of the US-Israeli ruling classes. Their coming out is nothing less than a sign of weakness to reposition forces around a strengthening Axis of resistance.

These Abrahamic shenanigans provide new venues for class allies to enhance their own aggressive capabilities through the purchase of arms from “Israel”. “Israel”, by the way, is the largest exporter of arms per capita in the world. So far, “Israel” normalizes with Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Sudan, in addition to the earlier trophies of peace, Jordan and Egypt. It shares an informal relation with Saudi Arabia and Doha. It for instance conducts diamond trade in Doha while Saudi Arabia has recently opened its airspace for Israeli commercial airplanes.

The so-called Abraham Accords are an unthinkable ‘promise’ for peace without Palestine and the right of return. They supposedly foster incremental developments with the GCC by precluding even the lowly option of a two-state solution which was endorsed by the Arab Peace Initiative (API). Saudi Arabia maintained that its position remains solely expressed through its commitment to the API, wherein normalization with “Israel” would only be conceivable once the conditions listed in the Arab-brokered initiative are fulfilled. But the fact that UAE, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain normalized their relations with “Israel” is indicative of consent by Saudi Arabia. As observed by Israeli writer Henrique Zimmerman, the signatories of the Accords “would not have signed the agreement without the approval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the most influential country in the Arab world.” So what would have really prevented an alliance between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia?

In a previous article, I showed how the US failed to fulfill its security commitments toward Saudi Arabia. Whereas Saudi Arabia has boosted the US status as a world hegemon by denominating its oil in dollars, the US has failed to stick to its side of the bargain by ensuring that the Saudi Kingdom has all its security needs, foremost its regime, or ruling class security answered. Fearing the tightening grip of the Axis of resistance around it, normalization with “Israel” went out of the window, while China provided the face-saving arrangement with Iran.  

An agreement “Made in China”

Unlike the US, China needs peace to expand. The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the US as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan. It is retaliatory because it presents a strategic threat to US interests and its hegemonic influence across the Arab region. It is also retaliatory because it threatens to undermine the petrodollar system upon which the dollar supremacy is based on. Since the Saudi-Iran agreement went into effect, it is only fair to characterize the scale of the changes that ensued following its implementation as unprecedented. Very much like a drop of water falling into a puddle, the agreement rippled across the region, bearing fruits in Yemen and Syria.

First are the developments that ensued between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. For eight years Yemen endured a US-sponsored war that has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people. On April 9, Saudi officials met with high-ranking officials from the Sanaa government for peace negotiations, and on April 14, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that a massive prisoner exchange operation had kicked off. On April 29, senior member of the Ansar Allah political bureau Ali Al-Qahoum admitted that China played a pivotal role in the negotiations for restoring regional peace and warding off Western hegemony. Some challenges however remain with regards to US and UK interference in pushing for another escalation. Yet a positive outlook persist as officials from both sides mobilize efforts for dialogue. 

Secondly, there has been the push to re-integrate Syria into the Arab League through the collective efforts of several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has in spearheaded the move. The US and the UK had on the other hand reaffirmed their commitment to remain opposed to the restoring of ties with Damascus but they would continue to work with Arab states that rekindle diplomatic relations.  

Thirdly, there has been news of Saudi Arabia expressing an interest in holding talks with Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia was largely a precursor for designating Hezbollah as a terror organization both at the GCC level as well as in the Arab League. With a shift in policy that appears to be more driven from the Saudi side than from Iran, prospects for political stability in Lebanon are also looming. But the fact remains that Lebanon is sickened with a sectarianism fueled by geopolitical rents that easily plays into the hand of “Israel” and the US.

Fourthly, prospects for normalization with Hamas are likewise on the horizon as talks were recently held between Hamas and Saudi officials. On April 16, the two parties had met in Riyadh to hold discussions on the release of Hamas-affiliated individuals detained in Saudi jails. There are also hopes for relations to improve between Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s movement for resistance, the Kataib Hezbollah.

Finally, whether the deal restores relations between Turkey and Syria is still up to discussion. However, chances are they might broach the issue considering that the project of restoring peace in Syria is part of the wider Iran-Saudi deal agenda. Yet the presence of US troops in Syria remains problematic for two reasons: the first, US troops are stationed in Syria for the sole purpose of toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad. To loot Syria’s oil resources in the north is simply means towards that end; and secondly, because Saudi Arabia’s institutions are closely tied to the US, while the latter holds much leverage inside the Kingdom. As a key regional player, Saudi Arabia could exert pressure to restore Ankara-Damascus relations, but it is unclear how able it is to do so. 

What now?                      

The US has been setback by the China-sponsored peace. Its “rules-based” world order hangs by a thread, while its dollar supremacy wanes. Doubtless, the blow was hard for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who just a month prior to the Iran-Saudi deal said that “Israel” and Saudi Arabia were planning to join forces on the basis of a common goal of stopping Iran. By more sober analysis, normalizing with “Israel” for any regime in the region is an act of suicide, unless the march of history eliminates the working classes as subject of history.

After all the Israeli-Arab war is a war of capital against labor. The principal lesson learnt so far is that regional peace is global-relations-derived peace. The saddest part of this is that Arab progressive forces still prioritize internal demands for higher working-class wages over struggles against imperialism. Without Arab national security, there is no working-class living security.  While the region’s future and much of the Third World will depend on how China unseats the US hegemon, the Arab vanguard is fast asleep.

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Iran to Back Resistance Front until ‘Israel’ Fully Destroyed: General Qaani

 May 13, 2023

The commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Iran will continue to provide unwavering support for the Palestinian Resistance until the final annihilation of the apartheid Israeli regime.

Brigadier General Esmail Qaani made the remarks at a ceremony in commemoration of his fallen comrades in Iran’s northeastern holy city of Mashhad on Saturday.

He said Iran will continue to provide support for young Palestinian resistance forces and their “strong heroic front” to the greatest extent possible, both verbally and in practice.

The IRGC commander asserted that such support and concerted efforts will continue until the Israeli regime is fully annihilated.

Young Palestinian fighters have at times carried out more than 30 retaliatory operations in a single day against the Israeli regime in the occupied West Bank, Qaani said, adding that this is the fruit of the resistance front and global mobilization of Muslims.

He said the resistance front has grown into an extensive axis, which has connected different sources and points of resistance in the world together.

“This front has drawn together altruist, educated and erudite people who share many points in common,” he said. “The main commonality among them is their longing to defend Islam, the honor of Muslims. They defend themselves and others collectively.”

Brigadier General Qaani described the mass mobilization of Muslim resistance fighters as an ideal commanded by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, and achieved by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei.

The chief commander of the IRGC Quds Force also stressed that it does not now last long for resistance fighters in Lebanon, Yemen or anywhere else across the globe to voice solidarity with Palestinians anytime the Zionist regime commits a crime in the occupied territories.

Source: Agencies

Brigadier General Qaani confirms: Gaza won as a result of the cooperation of the people and the resistance, and we will continue to strengthen the axis of resistance.

US embassy intensifies meddling in Lebanon’s presidential selection: Report

May 10 2023

(Photo Credit: @LF_ForeignAff)

ByNews Desk

Washington is reportedly pushing once again to secure the army chief’s presidency after Saudi Arabia clarified that it will not ‘veto’ Hezbollah-backed candidate Suleiman Franjieh

US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea has redoubled efforts to meddle in Lebanon’s presidential deadlock in a bid to dissuade political leaders from backing Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh and instead pick Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) commander General Joseph Aoun for the post, according to diplomatic sources that spoke with Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

According to Al-Akhbar, this came after Saudi Arabia’s recent clarification that it would not ‘veto’ Franjieh over his close ties to Hezbollah. It also followed Syria’s Saudi-sponsored return to the Arab League, it added.

“American [disappointment in] the countries (France, Saudi Arabia) that they believed could prevent Franjieh’s election prompted Washington … to reenter the game,” the newspaper added.

Just a day ago, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Bukhari, categorically denied that his country interferes in Lebanon’s presidential process.

Regarding Paris’ position, Al-Akhbar reported last month, citing a French official, that “France supports Franjieh as president at the head of a reformist government, and that ‘there is no other solution.’”

“A meeting for the five-party group (France, U.S., KSA, Egypt and Qatar) had been scheduled for the current month, but the differences [on the Lebanese presidency] within the group led to postponing it to next month without specifying an exact date,” French sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper this week.

Sources ‘connected to US diplomatic circles’ in Lebanon confirmed the “change of [US] rhetoric” regarding the presidency, which contradicted Washington’s claims from a few weeks ago that it was neutral and would support whoever is elected.

The report goes on to quote Shea as saying recently in front of a group of politicians that “there is an opportunity” to undermine Franjieh’s candidacy.

Shea reportedly said that those who ‘hold on to Franjieh’ extoll him in the media, but behind closed doors, are actually open to other options.

“[Aoun’s candidacy] was approved by the majority of those opposing Franjieh’s candidacy,” Shea was further quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the head of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), Walid Jumblatt, told Parliament Speaker and Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri recently that he will not support Franjieh, given that the Marada leader does not have approval from the two largest Christian blocs.

Separately, Berri was quoted to have said that “the Americans have begun to [make their] move.”

بلبلة في باريس: خصوم فرنجية ينشطون

الأربعاء 10 أيار 2023

ابراهيم الأمين  


خصوم المرشح سليمان فرنجية في لبنان كثر. لكنّ لديه خصوماً في الخارج أيضاً. تنوّعُ الأسباب واختلافها بين الداخل والخارج، لا يعالج أصل المشكلة التي تواجه الرجل. بمعنى أن من يريده رئيساً، يفعل ذلك من ضمن سياق يتصل بعلاقة لبنان بالإقليم، وبالإقرار الضمني بصعوبة أو استحالة التغيير في تركيبة النظام. ولأنّ معظم ردود الفعل المؤيدة أو المعارضة تنطلق من هذين الاعتبارين، فإن الانقسام حوله لا يبقى ثابتاً، بل هو عرضة لتغيير دائم.

وفق هذا المنطق، بدأت معركة ترشيح فرنجية الذي لا يدّعي امتلاكه عناصر قوة خاصة به وحده، بل يتصرف بواقعية وبكثير من الصراحة إزاء عناصر القوة الأساسية التي يستند إليها. فخارجياً، يتصرّف على أنه يمثل امتداداً لمحور يحقّق انتصارات في المنطقة، وأن هذا السند القوي يجعله أقل قلقاً. أما داخلياً، فينطلق من أنه لا يمثل انقلاباً على الصيغة الحاكمة منذ اتفاق الطائف، وأنه المسيحي الذي يقرّ بالتغييرات الكبيرة التي طرأت على لبنان في العقود الخمسة الأخيرة، ويقدّم نفسه كاستمرار لسياسات الفترة السابقة. وربما يتاح له الاستدلال بتجربة عهد الرئيس ميشال عون من زاوية أن الطموحات الكبيرة للتغيير التي حملها الأخير تشظّت على أعتاب النظام الطائفي.
بهذا المعنى، يظهر فرنجية مرشحاً قليل النشاط والتفاعل مع العناصر الداخلية المعنية. فهو، عملياً، لم يعتبر ترشيحه بداية لعملية سياسية تتطلب منه أن «يهجم» باتجاه الخصوم أو المترددين. وحتى عندما زار البطريرك الماروني بشارة الراعي، فإنه فعل ذلك لأن لبكركي رمزية يستعين بها أي مسيحي يريد شرعية من مرجعية الطائفة التي يمثل، وليس ليطلب منه مقترحات أو خريطة طريق. فقد اعتذر، مثلاً، عن عدم تلبية طلب الراعي عقد اجتماعات مع أقطاب القوى المسيحية البارزة للبحث في الملف الرئاسي، منطلقاً من أن لقاءً كهذا سيحضره ممثلون عن قوى لديها تمثيلها الشعبي الأكبر من تمثيله بحسب نتائج الانتخابات النيابية الأخيرة. كما أنه يرفض الدخول في لعبة التصويت التي ستشطب اسمه فوراً من لائحة المرشحين. إذ يكفي أن يقول سمير جعجع وجبران باسيل وسامي الجميل إن الظروف لا تساعدهم على الترشح، حتى يخلصوا إلى أن على فرنجية عدم الترشح ليفتح الباب أمام تسوية تنتهي باختيار اسم آخر.

في هذه النقطة، يبدو فرنجية أكثر اتكالاً على الماكينة الحليفة له في المعركة الداخلية. فلا يجد نفسه معنياً بجولات حوارية أو عروضات أو نقاش مفصّل مع القوى الناخبة في المجلس النيابي. لا بل يعتقد بأنه لن يتمكن من نيل أصوات القوات اللبنانية وحزب الكتائب، ويترك الباب مفتوحاً علّ حليفه الأساسي، حزب الله، يتمكّن من الوصول الى اتفاق مع باسيل. وحتى في ما يتعلق ببقية النواب المسيحيين المستقلين، يرى فرنجية أن أيّ جهد يبذله لن يكون حاسماً في قرارهم، لأن هؤلاء ينتظرون إشارات من الخارج أو من مرجعيات كبيرة في الداخل. هذا كله يدفعه الى عدم القيام بحركة مطلوبة منه كمرشح، ما يمثل نقطة ضعف كبيرة في معركته، تضاف الى النقطة السلبية التي نجمت عن طريقة الإعلان عن ترشيحه، سواء من خلال المبادرة المستقلة التي قام بها الرئيس نبيه بري، أو حتى عبر التأييد الإلزامي الذي اضطرّ الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله إلى إعلانه. ففرنجية، في الحالتين، تحوّل الى مرشح لفريق يقوده طرف يواجه خصوماً في لبنان والخارج.

خارجياً، يدرك رئيس المردة أن التوافق العربي – الدولي حول رئاسة الجمهورية لم يعد يقوم على «سيبة» ثلاثية كانت تضم سوريا والسعودية وأميركا بعد حدوث تغييرات كثيرة، أبرزها أن الأميركيين غير قادرين على فرض رأي على اللبنانيين، ولا على إلزام السعودية بتوجّه معين، ولا تربطهم بسوريا أي علاقات جدية. كما أن الرياض نفسها باتت تتعامل مع لبنان بطريقة مختلفة، وأن الأوان آن لكي يدرك معظم اللبنانيين حجم المتغيّر في السياسة السعودية التي يفرضها محمد بن سلمان، والتي لا تنظر الى لبنان كقيمة إضافية. وهو لم يكن ليغضب من هذا أو يراعي ذاك، لولا أن لديه مشكلة كبيرة في لبنان اسمها حزب الله الذي تتّهمه الرياض بأنه منع سقوط بشار الأسد في سوريا وساعد أنصار الله في اليمن على الصمود.

عثرات واجهت ترشيح زعيم المردة، بعضها سببه بعض الحلفاء وبعضها الآخر امتناعه هو عن المبادرة

لذلك، وجد فرنجية ضالّته في فرنسا. ورغم أنه ينتمي اجتماعياً إلى مكوّن تربطه بفرنسا، تاريخياً، علاقات قوية، إلا أنه يحرص على التفاهم الشامل مع الفرنسيين، لاتكاله على باريس كلاعب أساسي في معركة تليين مواقف خصومه. فهو، من جهة، يرى أن فرنسا حصلت بشكل أو بآخر على تفويض أميركي – أوروبي للقيام بهذه المهمة، وأن لها ثقلاً يتيح لها التفاوض مع السعودية وأطراف عربية أخرى حول الرئاسة في لبنان. ويستند في موقفه هذا الى أن لباريس مصالح تحتاج الى تسويات كبيرة في المنطقة، وهي مضطرّة إلى عقد اتفاق مع قوى في محور المقاومة وليس مع قوى في المحور الآخر. بهذا المعنى، لمس فرنجية «واقعية» فرنسية تمثلت بالقبول بعرض التسوية التي تسمح بوصوله الى الرئاسة الأولى، مقابل وصول نواف سلام (المرشح الأقرب الى الولايات المتحدة والسعودية) الى الرئاسة الثالثة.

لكن يبدو أن العثرات التي رافقت ترشيح فرنجية في بيروت، لديها ما يوازيها في الخارج أيضاً. إذ تفيد المعطيات الواردة من باريس بوجود حملة ضغط قوية ضد الخيار الذي اعتمده الرئيس إيمانويل ماكرون، ويبدو أن هناك فريقاً يأخذ على المستشار الرئاسي باتريك دوريل أنه يتصرف بعشوائية ويحاول فرض رأيه داخل خلية الإليزيه، وعلى القوى اللبنانية، وأنه كان فظاً في التحاور مع السعوديين أيضا. ويرى الفريق المعارض لدوريل أن الأخير يتسبب بمشكلات بعيدة المدى لفرنسا مع قوى لبنانية بارزة، ومع قوى ودول نافذة في المنطقة، من السعودية الى قطر وغيرهما ممن لديها حسابات مختلفة في لبنان. ويبدو أن هذا المناخ بات أكثر انتشاراً في الآونة الأخيرة، ووصل إلى مسامع ساكن الإليزية، حيث بدأت الأصوات ترتفع داعية ماكرون الى مراجعة موقفه، ونفض يده من ترشيح «حليف نصر الله وبشار الأسد»، بإبلاغ حلفاء فرنجية أن فرنسا بذلت قصارى جهدها ولم تنجح في الحصول على تأييد بقية القوى لانتخابه.

دوريل عرضة لانتقادات حول طريقة إدارته الملف، وانتفاضة لخصوم حزب الله وسوريا في الإدارة الفرنسية

لكن مشكلة خصوم فرنجية، في باريس والخارج، تكمن أساساً في عدم قدرتهم على تقديم بديل، وهذه ليست مشكلة بسيطة، بسبب فشل خصوم الرجل في الداخل في الاتفاق على مرشح يحرجون به ثنائي أمل وحزب الله. وهذا عنصر يستند إليه فريق ماكرون ليبقى متمسكا بموقفه، ساعياً الى خطف الورقة الرئاسية في لحظة إقليمية مناسبة.
لكن، هذه اللحظة تحتاج الى تبدّل حقيقي في الموقف السعودي خصوصاً، لأن «الحياد» السعودي الذي يُروّج له ليس سوى حيلة لم تنطلِ على أحد. فلا الفريق المعارض لفرنجية أصابه الفزع ليهرول إلى التسوية، ولا حلفاء فرنجية تلقّوا جرعة دعم تتيح لهم الانتقال من مرحلة جمع الأصوات الـ 65 الى مرحلة تأمين النصاب لجلسة الانتخاب.

كل ذلك يقود الى استنتاج بأن حسم الأمر ليس وشيكاً. إلا أن مشاورات ولقاءات متوقعة عشية القمة العربية في 19 أيار وبعدها قد تقلب الصورة، بما يتيح للبنان إجراء انتخابات رئاسية تفتح الباب أمام حل حقيقي… أو النزول أكثر الى قعر جهنّم!

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Young Palestinian Man Buries His Murdered Fiancée a Month Before Wedding (VIDEO)

May 9, 2023

The fiancé of Dania Adas, stands at her body and recites the Holy Qur’an. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

A video clip showed touching scenes of a young Palestinian man’s farewell to his fiancée, who was killed in the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a month before their wedding date.

A picture of the young man, the fiancé of Dania Adas, was spread across social media platforms as he stood at her body and recited the Holy Qur’an. 

Other footage showed him crying in agony and looking at her body, which was wrapped in a white shroud instead of a wedding dress. 

Adas’s uncle published a picture of her fiancé as he bid her farewell on Facebook and wrote,

“He reads the Qur’an for the soul of his fiancée, the martyr Dania Adas, my sister’s daughter, who was supposed to give him the hand of his bride a month from now. May Allah grant you patience.”

Ensaf Habib wrote, 

“What did he mutter to her before her final resting place? Did he tell her about his wish to see her in a white dress in the hereafter? Did he tell her how much he longed for their life together in the marital nest and under one roof! Perhaps he admonished her for why she let go of his hand .. “ 

Wael Abu Omar commented, 

“The (Israeli) occupation planes and missiles turned the white dress of joy into a white shroud. God’s mercy.”


Assange’s letter to King Charles III

May 06, 2023

Information Clearing House 

By Julian Assange

May 06, 2023: Information Clearing House — ON THE coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh.

You will no doubt recall the wise words of a renowned playwright: ‘The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.’

Ah, but what would that bard know of mercy faced with the reckoning at the dawn of your historic reign? After all, one can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners, and your kingdom has surely excelled in that regard.

Your Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is located at the prestigious address of One Western Way, London, just a short foxhunt from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. How delightful it must be to have such an esteemed establishment bear your name.

It is here that 687 of your loyal subjects are held, supporting the United Kingdom’s record as the nation with the largest prison population in Western Europe. As your noble government has recently declared, your kingdom is currently undergoing ‘the biggest expansion of prison places in over a century’, with its ambitious projections showing an increase of the prison population from 82,000 to 106,000 within the next four years. Quite the legacy, indeed.

As a political prisoner, held at Your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honoured to reside within the walls of this world class institution. Truly, your kingdom knows no bounds.

During your visit, you will have the opportunity to feast upon the culinary delights prepared for your loyal subjects on a generous budget of two pounds per day. Savour the blended tuna heads and the ubiquitous reconstituted forms that are purportedly made from chicken. And worry not, for unlike lesser institutions such as Alcatraz or San Quentin, there is no communal dining in a mess hall. At Belmarsh, prisoners dine alone in their cells, ensuring the utmost intimacy with their meal.

Beyond the gustatory pleasures, I can assure you that Belmarsh provides ample educational opportunities for your subjects. As Proverbs 22:6 has it: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ Observe the shuffling queues at the medicine hatch, where inmates gather their prescriptions, not for daily use, but for the horizon-expanding experience of a ‘big day out’ — all at once.

You will also have the opportunity to pay your respects to my late friend Manoel Santos, a gay man facing deportation to Bolsonaro’s Brazil, who took his own life just eight yards from my cell using a crude rope fashioned from his bedsheets. His exquisite tenor voice now silenced forever.

Venture further into the depths of Belmarsh and you will find the most isolated place within its walls: Healthcare, or ‘Hellcare’ as its inhabitants lovingly call it. Here, you will marvel at sensible rules designed for everyone’s safety, such as the prohibition of chess, whilst permitting the far less dangerous game of checkers.

Deep within Hellcare lies the most gloriously uplifting place in all of Belmarsh, nay, the whole of the United Kingdom: the sublimely named Belmarsh End of Life Suite. Listen closely, and you may hear the prisoners’ cries of ‘Brother, I’m going to die in here’, a testament to the quality of both life and death within your prison.

But fear not, for there is beauty to be found within these walls. Feast your eyes upon the picturesque crows nesting in the razor wire and the hundreds of hungry rats that call Belmarsh home. And if you come in the spring, you may even catch a glimpse of the ducklings laid by wayward mallards within the prison grounds. But don’t delay, for the ravenous rats ensure their lives are fleeting.

I implore you, King Charles, to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, for it is an honour befitting a king. As you embark upon your reign, may you always remember the words of the King James Bible: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Matthew 5:7). And may mercy be the guiding light of your kingdom, both within and without the walls of Belmarsh.

Your most devoted subject,

Julian Assange

Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Iraqi resistance group’s leader: 5,000 operations carried out against occupying American forces

Sunday, 07 May 2023 12:24 AM  [ Last Update: Sunday, 07 May 2023 2:14 AM ]

Qais al-Khazali, the secretary general of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group (via IRNA)

The leader of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group says the group has so far carried out 5,000 operations against occupying American forces present in the Arab country.

Qais al-Khazali was speaking on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the movement’s establishment on Saturday.

“Operations against American occupiers will continue in Iraq,” Khazali added.

He noted that the movement has been established on the basis of tenets and principles that it firmly believes in.

Khazali said Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq has played a crucial role in defending Iraq’s holy shrines against Takfiri terrorists, adding, “We are ready to be the first people to lay down our lives for Iraq and its people.”

He noted that resistance groups have also played a significant role in defending the holy shrines in Syria as well, when Takfiri terrorist tried to demolish them.

His remarks came after a high-ranking official with Iraq’s Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, which is part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), denounced the US military presence in the Arab country, saying the American soldiers are a legitimate target as long as they are present on Iraqi soil.

Nasr al-Shammari, made the remarks in late April, saying the group has not struck a deal with US forces to ease tensions and suspend retaliatory operations against American soldiers.

“Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba does not adhere to any political agreement that includes a ceasefire or reduction of tensions with American occupation forces,” he said, adding, ““Our official position concerning the deployment of US forces to Iraq has not changed at all.”

“We reiterate once again that the occupation forces are a legitimate target in Iraq and elsewhere across the West Asian region as long as they are present in Iraqi territories,” Shammari said.

While the United States claims it has ended its combat mission in Iraq, some 2,500 US troops still remain in the country. Under pressure from Iraqi people, US President Joe Biden and Iraq’s then Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi declared in July 2021 that the US mission in Iraq would transition from combat to an “advisory” role by the end of that year.

Anti-American sentiments have been simmering in Iraq over US military adventurism in the region, in particular since Washington’s assassination of the top anti-terror commanders of Iraq and Iran three years ago.

General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the PMU, were martyred along with their comrades in a US drone strike that was authorized by then President Donald Trump near the Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

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Medvedev calls for elimination of Zelensky, Antonov slams US statement

May 5 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov slams the US for what he described as “cynical and absurd” statements following an attempt at Putin’s life.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev (TASS)

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov vowed to respond to what he described as “Ukraine’s act of terrorism” in the form of an attempted drone attack on the Kremlin at a time suitable for Russia.

Elsewhere in his remarks, he stated that the US officials’ statements on an attempt at Putin’s life “are striking in their cynicism and absurdity.” 

“The U.S. did not find it possible to recognize the obvious thing – it was a terrorist action planned by the Zelensky regime and an assassination attempt targeting the President of the Russian Federation. Moreover, the timing was not chosen by chance – ahead of Victory Day and the May 9 Parade, where foreign guests are planned to take part in,” Antonov added. 

“How would Americans react if a drone hit the White House, the Capitol, or the Pentagon? The answer is obvious for any politician as well as for an average citizen: the punishment will be harsh and inevitable,” he said.

“The theses that this act of terrorism was allegedly a “false flag operation” are blasphemous and deceitful. That is, it was Russia itself that staged a provocation against the heart of our statehood?!”

This comes after US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said when asked about the suspected Ukranian drone attack against the Kremlin that he was aware of the reports without ascertaining its legitimacy, noting that he would take any piece of information from Moscow with a “very large shaker of salt.”

“I’ve seen the reports. I can’t in any way validate them. I’d take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt,” Blinken said during an interview for The Washington Post

The top Russian diplomat further accused the United States of shielding the “Kiev criminals”.

“The statements of high-ranking officials that Kiev can choose how to defend itself are the textbook example of double standards, a policy of encouraging the Zelensky regime to attack the Russian Federation. The words of the bureaucrats about allegedly deterring the Kiev Nazi regime from hitting targets outside its borders are a false farce,” he said.

Antonov acknowledged that Ukraine has no desire to seek peace, warning that the attempt at Putin’s life will be put into account “while working out our strategy to implement the goals and objectives of the special military operation.” 

On his part, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, called for the elimination of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky “and his clique” following the attempt at Putin’s life.

“After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left other than the physical elimination of Zelensky and his clique,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky “is not even needed for signing an instrument of unconditional surrender; Hitler, as is known, did not sign it either. There will always be some substitute,” Medvedev stressed.

This comes just one day after the press service of the Kremlin said that two UAVs attempted to target the Kremlin residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Two unmanned aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin,” the statement said.

The Kremlin stated that Putin was left unharmed by the attack and that Russia reserves the right to initiate retaliation against Kiev’s attempt to strike at the Kremlin. 

“As a result of this terrorist act, the President of the Russian Federation was not injured. The schedule of his work has not changed, it continues as usual,” the statement said. 

“The Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit,” it added. 

The Kremlin further stated that it considered the attempted drone attack on the presidential palace as a planned terrorist act and an attempted assassination against Putin. 

“We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the Russian president, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 Parade, at which the presence of foreign guests is also planned,” the statement read.

Read more: Ukraine concealing spring offensive plans from US after Pentagon leak


Assad Welcomes Raisi at Al-Shaab Palace: Syrian-Iranian Relations Stable despite Political and Security Storms

 May 3, 2023

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday received Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who has arrived in Syria, heading a large ministerial delegation on a two-day historic visit to Syria aimed at deepening relations between the two key regional states.

The two leaders signed a memo of understanding for the long-term strategic comprehensive cooperation plan between both countries.

During the plenary talks with the Iranian President, President Bashar al-Assad said “the Syrian-Iranian relations are rich in content, rich in experiences and rich in the insights that constituted them, and therefore, these relations were, during hard times, stable and firm despite of the severe political and security storms which struck the Middle East Region.”

For his part, President Raisi said “Syria, Government and People, have gone through large difficulties, and today we can say that you have surpassed all these problems and achieved victory despite of the threats and sanctions imposed on you.”

The two presidents discussed the bilateral relations in various fields and means of developing them.

Talks also dealt with the latest developments in the Middle East region and the reflections of the global changes on the region, and unifying efforts to invest these changes for the benefit of the two countries and the people of the region.

An official reception ceremony was held for the Iranian President upon his arrival at al-Shaab Palace, the two national anthems of Syria and Iran were played, then the two Presidents reviewed the guard of honor, and shook hands with members of the two official delegations.

Raisi arrived in Damascus International Airport on Wednesday morning in the first visit by an Iranian president in 13 years. He was welcomed by the Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil.

The Iranian president is in Syria upon an official invitation from President Bashar Al-Assad.

Several ministers are accompanying the Iranian president during his visit to Syria, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahia, Oil Minister Javad Owji, transportation minister Mehrdad Bazrpash, Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani, and the ICT minister Eisa Zarepour.

During the two-day visit, Raisi and his accompanying delegation are set to hold meetings with Syrian officials to discuss ways to strengthen and deepen political relations, as well as enhance the level of economic and trade cooperation between Tehran and Damascus.

Before his departure for Damascus, Raisi was quoted by Iranian media as saying: “Today, it is clear to everyone in the region that the Islamic Republic of Iran is considered a strong pillar that everyone can trust.”

“Iran’s positions and status are considered as a main and effective player in the developments of the region,” the Iranian president stressed.

“The will of the two countries is on the development of relations and there are many fields for expanding cooperation. In our talks, we are also pursuing the acceleration of the implementation of the agreements between the two countries, and I am sure that the expansion of relations between Tehran and Damascus will benefit the two nations and the region.”

The visit comes amid growing relations between the two countries that are leading members of a regional alliance against the Zionist regime.

Source: Agencies

Imam Khamenei: Enemy Seeking to Polarize Iranian Nation

April 19, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the enemy has always sought to polarize the Iranian nation, calling on the country’s student community to adhere to the principles of realism in its demands.

Imam Khamenei made the remarks on the 27th day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Tuesday in an address to a group of university students and campaigners of student movements.

“Student activities should not polarize the student community and the country. Polarization is the will of the enemy. Students’ demands must be accompanied by realism and providing scientific and practical solutions,” His Eminence said.

Imam Khamenei dismissed the idea that any dismay about the resolution of the country’s problems has an internal origin, saying it is the enemy’s strategy to make the Iranian nation feel disappointed about itself.

“Hardships do not demoralize a motivated young student. He studies and fights to solve problems,” he said.

Emphasizing that “everyone should be up-to-date in getting to know the enemy’s plan and strategy,” His Eminence said, “Whether we understand it or not, the enemy is constantly working against the ‘righteous front’ by spending money and resources.”

Imam Khamenei also said the ill-wishing media insist that the Iranian nation has turned away from religious beliefs and revolutionary ideals, but this year’s Laylat al-Qadr, which marks the night when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH], and International Quds Day were more vibrant than last year.

Responding to a question about the possibility of holding referendums on the country’s issues, Sayyed Ali Khamenei said, “Is it possible to hold referendums on various issues in the country? Where in the world do they do this? Do all the people who have to participate in the referendum have the ability to analyze that issue?”

Imam Khamenei called on the Iranian youths to resolutely follow the path of the Islamic Revolution and Islam while keeping hope and rationality alive, and warned, “Enemies hold a grudge against the Iranian youths” as they are afraid of the Iranian young generation’s presence, work and motivation.


Yemen and Saudi Arabia Meet to End War


Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi, member of the Supreme Political Council in Yemen


Saudi delegation arrives in Sanaa to discuss details of the final peace plan with member of the Supreme Political Council Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi on Sunday.

A Saudi delegation traveled to Sanaa to meet with high-ranking officials from the Ansar Allah movement to discuss further details of the final ceasefire agreement and the end of the 8-year Saudi-led war on Yemen.

The delegation arrived on Saturday evening and held talks with Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi, a senior member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council and important figures of the National Salvation Government of Yemen.

Pictures were circulated in Yemeni media outlets today, showing a Saudi official shaking hands with Al-Houthi. The Saudis reportedly asked for their identities to remain secret in the meantime.

According to sources of Yemen’s Saba news agency, issues such as the “removal of the tight naval and air blockade on Yemen, an end to the eight-year-long aggression, the restoration of Yemeni national rights, the payment of civil servant salaries, and payments related to oil and gas revenues,” were discussed with Mahdi Al-Mashat, the Chairman of the Supreme Political Council.

The recent visit adds to the diplomatic efforts taken by both sides.

Omani Mediation

On April 8, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Saeed Al-Jaber met with members of the National Salvation Government and the Ansar Allah movement under Omani mediation.

Sources told Al Mayadeen on April 8 that the meeting is part of the effort to extend the armistice between the two parties and lift the blockade on Hudaydah port.

The Omani and Saudi team met with the head of the Sanaa delegation, negotiator Mohammad Abdul Salam, who said, “We hope that this will be achieved, that the damage will be remedied, and efforts will be crowned with a peace agreement that meets the demands of our dear Yemeni people, from Saada to Mahra.”

Informed Yemeni sources revealed on Friday that Saudi officials met with the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council to inform them of their decision to end the war and conclude the Yemeni file permanently.

The officials also detailed a two-year transitional period which includes a future form of the state and the ruling government. The sources added that the Saudi vision for a solution comes in accordance with its understanding of Sanaa which is still being discussed and is almost final.

The UAE is Unbothered

The UAE, which occupies strategic Yemeni territory including the Socotra island, has not made any diplomatic initiative yet.

Mohammad Al Bukhaiti told Al Mayadeen on Friday that Sanaa will “not allow the presence of any UAE forces on any inch of Yemeni territory.”

However, Al Bukhaiti also stated that Sanaa supports “proposals and efforts by Saudi Arabia or other parties to pacify the Yemeni crisis and reach a comprehensive political resolution to the conflict.”

This might indicate a possible rift between the Gulf countries’ approach to the Yemen war.

Improved Saudi Iranian Relations

Regional conflicts have begun to ease after China mediated diplomatic talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in early March.

Talks between the two countries produced the first meeting between the Foreign Ministers of both countries in 7 years.

China played a crucial role in the restoration of ties between the two countries. However, it is speculated that the success of Ansar Allah in Yemen has pushed Saudi Arabia to the negotiation table after 8 tormenting years of what was supposed to be a quick military victory for the country.

Al Mayadeen

Brutal Israeli Raid Kills 2 Palestinians in Nablus, IOF Attacks Worshippers in Al-Aqsa

 April 3, 2023

Israeli occupation forces raided Nablus and killed two Palestinians (Monday, April 3, 2023).

Israeli aggression against Palestinian people is on the rise as occupation forces brutally raid and kill two Palestinians in Nablus, few hours after IOF attacked female worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Clashes erupted in Nablus early on Monday after Israeli occupation forces raided the northern West Bank city, Palestinian media reported.

Palestinian resistance fighters rushed to defend Nablus against IOF who entered the city from several directions.

Mohammad Abu Bakr and Mohammad Al-Hallaq were shot dead by Israeli gunfire, with at least one of them was shot by an Israeli sniper, Al-Quds News Network quoted medical sources as saying.

Funeral of the two martyrs was then held in the city, as a general strike was in protest against the continous Israeli aggression.

Palestinian martyrs Nablus
Martyrs Mohammad Al-Hallaq (L) and Mohammad ABu Bakr (R).

Commenting on the raid, Hamas Spokesman Abdul Latif Al-Qanoua called for escalating all forms of resistance against Israeli occupation, vowing that Israeli oppression won’t undermine the Palestinian spirit of resistance.

Meanwhile on Monday, Israeli attacks against Palestinian worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque proceeded.

Dozens of Zionist settlers broke into the holy compound, backed by occupation forces, amid calls for slaughtering animal sacrifices inside Al-Aqsa, a move considered as highly provocative to Palestinian Muslims.

Earlier on Sunday night, IOF attacked Palestinian women from the Al-Qibali prayer hall in Al-Aqsa Mosque. Occupation forces stormed Al-Qibali prayer hall and forced Palestinian wome to leave the holy compound.

Source: Palestinian media (Translated and edited by Al-Manar English Website)

Xi’s ‘Chilling’ Remarks: A Multipolar World Offers Challenges and Opportunities to the Middle East and Africa

March 28, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Presidential Executive Office of Russia, via Wikimedia Commons)
– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

By Ramzy Baroud

The final exchange, caught on camera between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian host and counterpart, Vladimir Putin, sums up the current geopolitical conflict, still in its nascent stages, between the United States and its Western allies on the one hand, and Russia, China and their allies, on the other.

Xi was leaving the Kremlin following a three-day visit that can only be described as historic. “Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years and we are driving this change together,” Xi said while clasping Putin’s hand.

“I agree,” Putin replied while holding Xi’s arm. ‘Please take care, dear friend,” he added.

In no time, social media exploded by sharing that scene repeatedly. Corporate western media analysts went into overdrive, trying to understand what these few words meant.

“Is that part of the change that is coming, that they will drive together?” Ian Williamson raised the question in the Spectator. Though he did not offer a straight answer, he alluded to one: “It is a chilling prospect, for which the west needs to be prepared.”

Xi’s statement was, of course, uttered by design. It means that the Chinese-Russian strong ties, and possible future unity, are not an outcome of immediate geopolitical interests resulting from the Ukraine war, or a response to US provocations in Taiwan. Even before the Ukraine war commenced in February 2022, much evidence pointed to the fact that Russia and China’s goal was hardly temporary or impulsive. Indeed, it runs deep.

The very language of multipolarity has defined both countries’ discourse for years, a discourse that was mostly inspired by the two countries’ displeasure with US militarism from the Middle East to Southeast Asia; their frustration with Washington’s bullying tactics whenever a disagreement arises, be it in trade or border demarcations; the punitive language; the constant threats; the military expansion of NATO and much more.

One month before the war, I argued with my co-writer, Romana Rubeo, that both Russia and China might be at the cusp of some kind of unity. That conclusion was drawn based on a simple discourse analysis of the official language emanating from both capitals and the actual deepening of relations.

At the time, we wrote,

“Some kind of an alliance is already forming between China and Russia. The fact that the Chinese people are taking note of this and are supporting their government’s drive towards greater integration – political, economic and geostrategic – between Beijing and Moscow, indicates that the informal and potentially formal alliance is a long-term strategy for both nations”.

Even then, like other analysts, we did not expect that such a possibility could be realized so quickly. The Ukraine war, in itself, was not indicative that Moscow and Beijing will grow closer. Instead, it was Washington’s response, threatening and humiliating China, that did most of the work. The visit by then-US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan in August 2022 was a diplomatic disaster. It left Beijing with no alternative but to escalate and strengthen its ties with Russia, with the hope that the latter would fortify its naval presence in the Sea of Japan. In fact, this was the case.

But the “100 years” reference by Xi tells of a much bigger geopolitical story than any of us had expected. As Washington continues to pursue aggressive policies – with US President Joe Biden prioritizing Russia and his Republican foes prioritizing China as the main enemy of the US – the two Asian giants are now forced to merge into one unified political unit, with a common political discourse.

“We signed a statement on deepening the strategic partnership and bilateral ties which are entering a new era,” Xi said in his final statement.

This ‘no-limits friendship’ is more possible now than ever before, as neither country is constrained by ideological confines or competition. Moreover, they are both keen on ending the US global hegemony, not only in the Asia and Pacific region, but in Africa, the Middle East and, eventually, worldwide as well.

On the first day of Xi’s visit to Moscow, Russia’s President Putin issued a decree in which he has written off debts of African countries worth more than $20 billion. Moreover, he promised that Russia is “ready to supply the whole volume sent during the past time to African countries particularly requiring it, from Russia free of charge ..,” should Moscow decide “not to extend the (grain) deal in sixty days”.

For both countries, Africa is a major ally in the upcoming global conflict. The Middle East, too, is vital. The latest agreement, which normalized ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia is earth-shattering, not only because it ends seven years of animosity and conflict, but because the arbitrator was no other than China itself. Beijing is now a peace broker in the very Middle East which was dominated by failed US diplomacy for decades.

What this means for the Palestinians remains to be seen, as too many variables are still at work. But for these global shifts to serve Palestinian interests in any way, the current leadership, or a new leadership, would have to slowly break away from its reliance on western handouts and validation, and, with the support of Arab and African allies, adopt a different political strategy.

The US government, however, continues to read the situation entirely within the Russia-Ukraine war context. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded to Xi’s trip to Moscow by saying that “the world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war (in Ukraine) on its own terms.” It is rather strange, but also telling that the outright rejection of the potential call for a ceasefire was made by Washington, not Kyiv.

Xi’s visit, however, is truly historic from a geopolitical sense. It is comparable in scope and possible consequences to former US President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing, which contributed to the deterioration of ties between the Soviet Union and China under Chairman Mao Zedong.

The improved relationship between China and the US back then helped Washington further extend its global dominance, while putting the USSR on the defensive. The rest is history, one that was rife with geostrategic rivalry and divisions in Asia, thus, ultimately, the rise of the US as the uncontested power in that region.

Nixon’s visit to Beijing was described by then-Ambassador Nicholas Platt as “the week that changed the world”. Judging that statement from an American-centric view of the world, Platt was, in fact, correct in his assessment. The world, however, seems to be changing back. Though it took 51 years for that reversal to take place, the consequences are likely to be earth-shattering, to say the least.

Regions that have long been dominated by the US and its western allies, like the Middle East and Africa, are processing all of these changes and potential opportunities. If this geopolitical shift continues, the world will, once again, find itself divided into camps. While it is too early to determine, with any degree of certainty, the winners and losers of this new configuration, it is most certain that a US-western-dominated world is no longer possible.

Russia Deploys Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus: Escalation or Deterrence?

March 27, 2023

Global Research,

By Drago Bosnic


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On March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will start deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Construction of designated storage facilities for the weapons is planned to be completed by July 1.

The decision to transfer nuclear weapons to Belarus was made after Minsk [allegedly] issued a formal request, essentially mirroring Washington DC’s nuclear sharing agreements with several NATO member states. And while the decision was officially made after the United Kingdom announced it would supply depleted uranium munitions to the Kiev regime, the actual reasoning might have to do with much more sinister plans by the United States.

Namely, Warsaw and Washington DC have been floating the idea of transferring some of the US nuclear weapons stockpiled in Europe to Poland. The move has been mentioned several times in recent years, including in early October last year, when Polish President Andrzej Duda mentioned it in an interview with Gazeta Polska. The US has nuclear sharing agreements with the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Turkey, with approximately 100 (mainly air-launched) tactical nuclear weapons deployed in all five countries. Greece also took part in the program, but discontinued its participation in 2001, although it’s widely believed Athens still keeps the necessary storage facilities functional.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko advised against UK plans to deliver depleted uranium munitions to the Kiev regime and warned that Russia would soon supply Belarus with “munitions with real uranium”. However, Putin himself stated that “even outside the context of these events”, Belarus still has legitimate security concerns and that “Alexander Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] has long raised the question of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus”. This clearly implies that threats to Minsk transcend the immediate danger of depleted uranium munitions deliveries to the Neo-Nazi junta in Kiev.

NY Times: “Frustrated” Putin Could Use Nukes in Ukraine

“There is nothing unusual in such a decision, as the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territories of their allies, NATO countries, and in Europe. In six states – the Federal Republic of Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Greece – well, not in Greece now, but there is still a storage facility,” Putin stressed, further adding: “[Russia and Belarus] will do the same, without violating our international obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”.

He added that Russia is indeed mirroring the United States in this regard and that it’s not transferring the ownership of its tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, but that it’s simply deploying them to the country and training the Belarussian military to operate and use them in the case of a wider escalation by the US and NATO. The Russian military has already provided Belarus with the necessary upgrades to be able to deliver tactical nuclear warheads. At least 10 (presumably Belarussian Air Force) jets have been assigned and equipped to carry such weapons, although neither side specified what type of aircraft received the said upgrades.

Belarus operates several types of nuclear-capable fighter jets, including the recently acquired Su-30SM and the Soviet-era MiG-29. In addition to air-launched nuclear weapons, Russia already deploys ground-based assets in Belarus, including the “Iskander” systems capable of launching nuclear-tipped hypersonic and regular cruise missiles. Minsk also operates its own “Iskander” units, meaning that those too could be equipped with tactical nuclear warheads, further bolstering the country’s deterrence capabilities. This is particularly important as Belarus has also been targeted by US/NATO covert/black operations in recent years, including an attempted Maidan-style color revolution in 2020.

“We have handed over to Belarus our well-known and very effective ‘Iskander’ system that can carry [nuclear weapons],” Putin stated, adding: “On April 3, we will start training the crews and on July 1 we will complete the construction of a special storage [facility] for tactical nuclear weapons on the Belarussian territory.”

In addition to the “Iskander”, Belarus still maintains a number of Soviet-era nuclear-capable assets, including a substantial arsenal of “Tochka-U” tactical ballistic missiles. These could serve as a secondary delivery option given their shorter range and inferior accuracy when compared to the “Iskander” which boasts a 500 km range, high precision, extreme maneuverability at every stage of flight, as well as a hypersonic speed estimated to be at least Mach 5.9, although military sources indicate that it can go up to Mach 8.7. This makes the “Iskander” virtually impossible to intercept, as evidenced by its performance during the SMO (special military operation). The system also provides a significant advantage over NATO forces in Eastern Europe.

President Lukashenko strongly indicated that Minsk could host Russian nuclear weapons as soon as NATO implied it could deploy US B61 nuclear bombs to Poland, highlighting that his country’s Soviet-era infrastructure for such weapons remains intact despite US pressure to destroy it during the 1990s.

Belarus is home to a growing arsenal of state-of-the-art Russian military units and equipment, including strategic assets such as the S-400 SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems, as well as the advanced Su-35S air superiority fighter jets and MiG-31 interceptors, including the K/I variants capable of deploying the already legendary “Kinzhal” hypersonic missiles, which are also nuclear-capable.


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Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

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Copyright © Drago BosnicInfoBrics, 2023

The Zionist Regime in Chaos as ‘Judicial Reform’ Plans Draw Mass Protests

March 27, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition plunged into chaos on Monday, after mass overnight protests over the sacking of his war minister piled pressure on the government to halt its bitterly contested plans on the so-called ‘judicial reform.’

Netanyahu had been expected to make a televised statement on Monday morning announcing the plans had been suspended. But, amid reports that his coalition risked breaking apart, ‘Israeli’ media announced the statement was postponed.

Earlier, a source in his Likud party and another source closely involved in the ‘legislation’ said Netanyahu would suspend the overhaul, which has ignited some of the Zionist entity’s biggest-ever demonstrations and drew an intervention by the regime’s ‘president.’

“For the sake of the unity of the people of ‘Israel’, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately,” President Isaac Herzog pleaded on Twitter.

The warning by Herzog, who is supposed to stand above politics and whose function is largely ceremonial, underlined the alarm that the divisions triggered by the proposals have caused.

It followed a dramatic night of protests in cities across the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories, with tens of thousands flooding streets following Netanyahu’s announcement that he had dismissed War Minister Yoav Gallant.

A day earlier, Gallant had made a televised appeal for the government to halt its flagship overhaul of the ‘judicial system,’ warning that the deep split it had opened up in the Zionist society was affecting the military and threatening the entity’s security.

During furious scenes in the Knesset early on Monday, opposition Knesset [Zionist parliament] members attacked Simcha Rothman, the committee chairman who has shepherded the bill, with cries of “Shame! Shame!”

Three months after taking power, Gallant’s removal has plunged Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition into crisis as it also faces a deepening security emergency in the occupied West Bank.

In a sign of the tensions within the coalition, so-called ‘National Security’ Minister far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir, called for the overhaul to go ahead.

“We must not stop the ‘judiciary reform’ and must not surrender to anarchy,” he tweeted.

At the same time, the ‘Israeli’ currency, Shekel, which has seen big swings over recent weeks as the political turbulence has played out, fell 0.7% in early trading before recovering some ground as expectations grew the legislation would be halted.

As opposition spread, the head of the Histadrut labor union, Arnon Bar-David, called for a general strike if the proposals were not halted.

“If you don’t announce in a news conference today that you changed your mind, we will go on strike.”

The ‘judicial overhaul,’ which would give the executive more control over appointing judges to the ‘Supreme Court’ and allow the government to override court rulings on the basis of a simple parliamentary majority, has drawn mass protests for weeks.

While the government says the overhaul is needed to rein in activist judges and set a proper balance between the elected government and the ‘judiciary,’ opponents see it as an undermining of legal checks and balances and a threat to the ‘Israeli’ entity.

Netanyahu, on trial on corruption charges that he denies, has so far vowed to continue with the project and a central part of the overhaul package, a bill that would tighten political control over ‘judicial’ appointments, is due to be voted on in parliament this week.

As well as drawing opposition from the business establishment, the project has caused alarm among the Tel Aviv regime’s allies. The United States said it was deeply concerned by Sunday’s events and saw an urgent need for compromise, while repeating calls to safeguard values.

Iran’s Report on Riots: Foreign Agencies Behind Murder of Police Forces

March 27, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s High Council for Human Rights [HCHR] published a new report highlighting the circumstances surrounding the gruesome murder of Iranian security forces during the recent riots in Iran as well as the evident role that certain Western countries and their agents played in orchestrating the deadly riots.

The 83-page report starts with acknowledging the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always endeavored to have the highest security factor among the West Asian countries, and has followed the strategy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of others and reciprocally not allowing other countries to interfere in those of its own.

It says such independence has come at a high price for arrogant powers, which define their survival in the exploitation of other countries’ state of affairs and consider it their right to meddle in the internal affairs of others.

The report notes that these countries aggressively seek to destabilize and foster insecurity in Iran through different modus operandi, and employment of terrorism is among the tactics that the enemies have used against the country following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“Over the past four decades, more than 17,000 Iranians have been assassinated,” Iran’s High Council for Human Rights stated, emphasizing that the enemies have left no stone unturned to materialize their destabilization strategy as they cannot stomach Iran’s independence and the resistance of the Iranian nation against the avarice of arrogant powers.

The report added that enemies “grasped the opportunity to ride the wave of unrest and fan the flames of protests” following the tragic death of young Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on September 17, 2022.

The Iranian rights council then lambasted the accompanying of those who went along with the enemies’ fiendish plots and scenarios, arguing that the mistaken step caused the protests to fade away and morph into riots quickly, dealing a heavy blow to and inflicting a dramatic loss on the country and the nation.

“Iranian people, having prioritized their national interests, soon parted ways with rioters and separatists, emerging victorious from such a test once again,” the report said.

It then pointed to the death and injury of members of law enforcement forces during the recent unrest in Iran.

“During three months of riots, a significant number of young Iranians – more than 7,000 people – were injured by the rioters for merely defending the country’s national security, and some were even brutally murdered.”

“The death and injury of members of security forces come as, according to official instructions and available documents, they did not even carry any firearms to defend themselves against rioters and armed terrorists. On the other hand, rioters and terrorists took to the streets with firearms and shot security and police forces and even passers-by, killing many of them,” the report read.

Iran’s High Council for Human Rights underscored that over 8,314 weapons were recovered and confiscated during the riots, of which 6,314 were firearms.

The rights council identified some of the fallen Iranian security forces who were gunned down by armed rioters as Reza Zare’ Moayyedi, Davuod Abdollahi, Esmaeil Cheraghi, Seyyed Hamidreza Hashemi, Mohammad Amin Abdarshekar, Ali Beik Darzi, and Mohammad Amin Aref.

It added that some members of Iranian law enforcement forces, like Hossein Ojaghi, Mohammad Rasoul Doust-Mohammadi, Mehdi Zahedlouei, Hossein Zeinalzadeh and Danial Rezazadeh Motlagh, were also stabbed to death.

The report highlighted that a number of security forces, including Arman Aliverdi and Seyyed Rouhollah Ajamian, were mercilessly tortured and killed by rioters. Aliverdi was ruthlessly beaten and bludgeoned to death, while Ajamian suffered great torment before being stabbed to death.

Moreover, several Iranian security members, namely Farid Karampor Hassanvand, Majid Yousefi and Erfan Hamzeh, were run over by cars driven by rioters.

In Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad, the rioters, who were after shuttering down shops by means of threats and coercion, suddenly turned on ordinary people and knifed two innocent students to death. 

Iran’s High Council for Human Rights reported that groups of people also harassed veiled women in different cities, pulled their chadors off, disrupted people’s lives and disrupted their freedom of movement by blocking streets and highways.

The council stressed that mass funerals for victims of recent riots and nationwide rallies staged by millions of Iranians on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, followed by huge funeral processions for the victims of last October’s terrorist attack on the holy shrine of Shah Cheragh in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz are a testament to the fact that Iranians draw a clear line and distance themselves from anyone who would seek to cause instability in their homeland and inflict damage upon the territorial integrity and national security of the country.

Foreign-backed riots broke out in Iran in mid-September after the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. She fainted at a police station in the capital Tehran and was pronounced dead three days later at the hospital. An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization concluded that Amini’s death was caused by illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iran’s intelligence community has said several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have used their spy and propaganda apparatuses to provoke violent riots in the country.

Rioters went on a rampage, brutally attacking security officers and causing massive damage to public property.

On February 5, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei pardoned or commuted the sentences of a large number of Iranian prisoners who had been arrested during the riots.

Imam Khamenei issued the amnesty on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the glorious victory of the Islamic Revolution, which put an end to the ruling of the US-backed Pahlavi regime in the country in 1979, and the birthday anniversary of the first Shia Imam, Imam Ali [AS].

The Leader’s amnesty included all but murderers and terrorists.

Iran Tehran terrorism mashhad UnitedStates UnitedKingdom IslamicRevolution MahsaAmini

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