Hezbollah Parliamentary Bloc Confronts US Sanctions, Stresses Saudi, ‘Israel’ to Pay Heavily for Any War on Iran

July 11, 2019

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The Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc held Thursday at its headquarters in Haret Hreik its weekly meeting chaired by its head Hajj Mohammad Raad, tackling the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Hezbollah bloc considered that the US sanctions on its head MP Hajj Mohammad Raad and member MP Hajj Amin Sherri as well as the party’s security official Wafiq Safa as a persistence on the aggression against the Lebanese, stressing that they may never affect the resistance in face of the Israeli enemy and the terrorist groups.

The statement also reiterated Hezbollah support to the Yemeni people in face of the Saudi ongoing aggression, pointing to the looming victory of the Yemenis whose intensified military operations have pushed the coalition states to start withdrawing from Yemen.

Hezbollah parliamentary bloc further highlighted Iran’s right to increase the Uranium enrichment and back the resistance groups in the region in face of the US policy based on withdrawing from the nuclear deal and tightening sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In this regard, the statement warned that any US war on Iran would lead the region and the whole would into a major turmoil, stressing that Saudi and the Zionist entity would pay heavily during such a confrontation.

Locally, the Loyalty to Resistance bloc called on the political parties to adopt the reconciliatory approach in coping with the Qabrshmoun incident, highlighting Hezbollah insistence on protecting the poor from any financial pressure that may be exerted by the 2019 state budget law.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Zarif Mocks US for its Defeat at Yesterday’s IAEA Meeting – General Suleimani: US Administration Inherently Brings Insecurity

July 11, 2019
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

The US requested a meeting of the Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors against Iran, but it ended up in its own isolation, according to the Iranian foreign minister on Thursday.

Speaking at a conference attended by Iranian governors from across the country in Tehran on Thursday, the Iranian top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to the yesterday’s meeting of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, which was held on Wednesday at the request of the United States to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s nuclear program, saying that “the US held a meeting of the Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors but it ended up in its own isolation. The world superpower failed to gain even a ‘one single line statement’ from the Board of the Governors at the presence of all its allies.”

The foreign minister also said that the US has held four UN Security Council meetings against Iran since last year, one of which was chaired by its president, but they failed to gain a ‘single-word statement’ or a resolution from the Security Council.

Zarif referred to the US National Security Adviser John Bolton who had predicted that the Islamic Republic would not see its 40th anniversary two years ago, saying  “the United States miscalculated that the Islamic Republic would collapse…and conveyed this belief to its allies that if they kill time, the Islamic Republic would collapse.” He added that “but with reliance on the people, the Iranian nation have proven the Westerners and the US calculations to be wrong.”

July 11, 2019

Iran's Quds Force Chief, Major General Qassem Suleimani

Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qasem Suleimani stressed that security destabilization is part and parcel of the US administration’s nature.

“The U.S. government inherently brings insecurity. You can’t find any region where they could have brought security by their force and presence,” Suleimani said via Twitter.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Taking a Minute to Walk in Iran’s Shoes

Iran Feature photo

Feature photo | Mourners carry flag-draped caskets in a funeral procession for 150 soldiers whose remains were recently recovered. The soldiers were killed during the war with then-US-backed-Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran, Iran, June 27, 2019. Vahid Salemi | AP

If one can learn anything from the modern history of Iran, it’s that great powers will sell — and have sold — them out at a moment’s notice.

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Iran has seen its fair share of the damage imperialism has inflicted on the world — joint Russian and British control over Iran during the Qajar era, then the killing of one fifth of the Iranian population between 1917-19 (as documented in Barry Rubin’s The Middle East: A Guide to Politics, Economics, Society and Culture, p. 508) from famine brought on by the confiscating of foodstuff by occupying British forces that had violated Iran’s neutrality in World War I. This was followed in WWII by a coup that ousted Reza Shah, the then-king of Iran, also at a time when Iran had declared neutrality, in a British coup that put his son Mohammad Reza Shah on the throne of the kingdom. We need not mention the joint American-British coup, in which hundreds were killed, that toppled the popular Mosaddegh government because of its nationalization of the Iranian oil industry (which would have damaged American and British interests in Iranian oil).

The only time Iran saw an actual democratic movement succeed in giving power to the people that foreign powers were not able to abort was with the Islamic Revolution of 1979; and, even after that, the AmericansEuropeans, and even Arab countries of the Persian Gulf aided Saddam Hussein in a war he instigated against Iran — providing him with arms and chemical weapons, as well as intelligence.



A lesson in wariness

Taking these historical events (and many more instances) into account, it is no wonder that Iranians would be very wary of any moves made by the United States and other global powers, namely those with a colonial track record. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal) could have very well marked a paradigm shift in relations with Iran, but instead, the Europeans did not abide by their commitments, and the Americans just up-and-left the agreement as soon as Trump got around to Iran. Not only that but, instead of abiding by their commitments, they’re trying to milk even more out of the deal — promising they’ll abide by their commitments if Iran offers more to an already done deal. What this means is they are being asked to add concessions in their ballistic missile program, much to the benefit of Arab Persian Gulf monarchies that are on a trend of increased militarization.

Trump's War On Iran. (Image: Carlos Latuff For MintPress News)

Credit | Carlos Latuff

Which brings us to the region’s latest round of tensions.

Given the already-stated facts, one has to understand, first and foremost, that Iran is dealing with a number of countries that have a history of falsifying facts, not standing by their agreements, and going into war in order to secure their own economic interests at the expense of other peoples. One must not forget the Indian famine in WWII, caused by food being exported from India to Britain, killing more than 20 million Indians, in reference to which Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

Living in such a flammable neighborhood — where the United States and its allies recently occupied its neighbors to the east and west and built military bases — and with such historical baggage, it’s not far-fetched that Iran, being the region’s most stable country, would rather rely on deterrence and defensive capabilities to secure itself than give concessions that could damage its security to powers that can hardly be trusted to keep their own word, as their own history suggests.

 

A wise decision

Iran made a wise decision in its downing of the RQ-4 drone. Usually, the shooting down of military surveillance drones does not lead to military escalation, though it does lead to an increase in tension. By doing so, Tehran was successful in warning any aggressor — be it the United States or any other country, for that matter — that it is not willing to compromise on matters of security or national pride (though the U.S. claims the drone was flying above international waters — 8000 miles away from U.S. soil — the debris has since been recovered by Iranian authorities in Iranian waters).

Iran US Drone

An Iranian general looks at debris from a U.S. military drone shot down by Iran’s air defense system, June 21, 2019. Meghdad Madadi | Tasnim via AP

The wisdom of this decision is that Iran delivered the intended message without causing any escalation — which doubtless would have been the outcome if it had downed a manned military plane that was also in its sites in the vicinity of the drone. It was a message that Trump had clearly received, and for which he expressed appreciation to Iranian authorities (although why he would bother to thank Iran if it was attacking a plane flying over “international waters” as he said is truly baffling).

In addition to that — although it had the legal right to shoot down the drone for flying over its airspace, which extends to 12 nautical miles from its borders — Iran also has the right to demand identification from any aircraft flying close to its territory. For more perspective, U.S. Air Defense Identification Zones extend 200 miles from the U.S. border and, as testified to by a former U.S. Air Force navigator, any unidentified drone flying that close to the U.S. border would most likely be shot down. The shooting down of this unidentified drone, even supposing the U.S.’s version of events were true, is perfectly warranted on Iran’s part, and does not allow the U.S. any measure of retaliation in “self-defense,” because no lives were lost in its downing.

Moreover, Iran clearly showed other countries what it was able to achieve independently through its reliance on its own capabilities. It downed the world’s leading military power’s aircraft for infringing on its airspace, and did so without hesitation because it sees itself as truly “sovereign.” Although the U.S. may threaten Iran with its military might and its presence in the region, Iran’s ballistic missile program has allowed it to turn that very strength into a weakness by having American bases, and 25,000 American troops, within targeting range.

A war with Iran would devastate the region. A war with Iran, Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Ansarullah is in the interest of no one, and God only knows what other surprises Iran might have in store for conspiring Arab monarchies. The smart move would be to repair the JCPOA in order to avoid further escalation in the region.

Karim Sharara is a Lebanese PhD student who’s lived in Tehran since 2013 studying political science at the University of Tehran with a focus on Iranian affairs. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Member of Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy Commission: We’ll Force the West to Back Down

Mokhtar Haddad

Tehran – The announcement by the Islamic Republic of Iran to increase its uranium enrichment rate beyond 3.67% has triggered various reactions worldwide.

Al-Ahed News sat down with the second deputy chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Mohammad Javad Jamali Nobandegani to discuss the issue.

Nobandegani explained that “a few years ago Iran signed an agreement on joint action with the P5+1.”

“The parties to this agreement were supposed to implement the commitments agreed upon. The Islamic Republic fulfilled all of its commitments in this regard. The world was supposed to see a new atmosphere. But the United States under [US] President [Donald] Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran and did not fulfill its commitments. The European side was content to say that this is a good agreement and Iran must remain committed to it. Instead of practical measures, they only talked and did nothing,” he added.

“After Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal more than a year ago, the Europeans promised Iran that within a few weeks they would fulfill their obligations in the framework of 11 items, including buying oil, lifting sanctions on petrochemical companies and paying money to Iran’s accounts,” Nobandegani said. “They, unfortunately, turned out to be wasting time.”

According to the Iranian MP, Brussels and Washington are playing the good cop, bad cop routine.

“It appears that there is an undeclared agreement between the Europeans and the Americans, in which they divided the roles so that Iran does not enjoy the potentially positive benefits of the nuclear agreement, and we are seeing it today,”

Nobandegani opined.

“As a result of this behavior, we recently decided to implement articles 26 and 36 of the nuclear accord,”

Nobandegani stated.

“But unfortunately today, we see some of these countries are still behaving badly. In this context, we saw Britain’s recent act of piracy in Gibraltar … This European behavior is an escape forward. “

“Everyone in the Islamic Republic, including the political parties, the political movements, the three authorities and the Iranian people today have one voice that this Western behavior must be confronted with all force. Just as the West cannot undermine the will and steadfastness of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its people, Iran has proved that it can return to its previous nuclear activities,” Nobandegani stressed.

“Iran’s steadfastness, will and resistance will force the West and the Americans to back down,” he warned. “Iran will continue to wait for a positive reaction from the Europeans so that it can determine the best course of action.”

Nobandegani concluded by saying that the

“Europeans must prove that their decisions are independent of the US, and they know the importance and impact of the nuclear agreement at the international level.”

“If this agreement interests them as they claim, they should pay the price even if sanctions are imposed on some European companies.”

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US Sanctions Hezbollah Elected Parliamentarians

 

July 9, 2019

Hezbollah Flag

The US Treasury placed two Hezbollah members of Lebanon’s parliament on its sanctions blacklist on Tuesday — the first time Washington has taken aim at the party’s elected politicians.

The Treasury named the head of the Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc Hajj Mohammad Raad and MP Amin Sherri to a ‘terror-related’ blacklist, claiming that Hezbollah uses its parliamentary power to advance its alleged ‘violent’ activities.

Also placed on the blacklist was Hajj Wafiq Safa, Hezbollah top security official.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese resistance group that defends the nation against the Israeli and takfiri enemies. Because of its huge popular representation, it managed to have a 13-member parliamentary bloc, mainly tasked with securing the socioeconomic rights of the citizens and advocating the resistance political principles.

The US administration, which supports the Zionist entity and the Arab dictators against the will of most of the Muslims and Arabs, has always viewed Hezbollah resistance as an enemy, blacklisting both its military and political wings.

Source: Al-Manar English Website and AFP

 

Hypocrisies About Refugees

July 05, 2019

Hypocrisies About Refugees

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Here are two visuals from the latest annual U.N. report about the world’s refugee situation, “UNHCR Global Trends 2018”, and though these images don’t pack the emotional punch of a child’s corpse that has just been washed upon a beach after drowning when his family had attempted to escape from a country that the U.S. and its allies were ‘trying to make free’ by bombing it to hell, each of these two pictures below contains a much bigger and more important message than does any such tear-jerking image or anecdote, but each of these pictures requires a bit of intelligence in order to understand it:

The first picture shows the result of the U.S. regime’s regime-change wars under Obama and Trump, in Syria and Venezuela especially. (Syria by using Al Qaeda in Syria to lead jihadists to bring down the Government, and Venezuela by strangulating sanctions that have produced an economic blockade which prohibits food and medicine from being able to reach the population). The 9-year earlier “UNHCR Global Trends 2009”, which covered the end of the George W. Bush Presidency, had reported that “There were 43.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2009,” and that this was up from 42.0 million in 2008. The “UNHCR Global Trends 2007” said only that “available information suggests that a total of 67 million people had been forcibly displaced at the end of 2007”, and so there might have been a reduction during the later years of Bush’s Presidency. In any case, the number of “forcibly displaced people” was stable during the final years of Bush’s second term and the entirety of Barack Obama’s first term, until 2012. 2011 was the first year of the Arab Spring uprisings, which were a CIA production, as was documented by two books from Ahmed Bensada, each of which was well reviewed by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, in her two articles, one on 18 January 2014, and the other on 25 October 2015. Of course, the impression that the American public was presented about the Arab Spring uprisings is that those were spontaneous. Actually, Obama came into office in 2009 hoping to overthrow Syria’s Government.

So, whereas the numbers had been stable for Obama’s first term of office, all hell broke loose throughout his second term, with his invasions of Libya and Syria, plus his continuation of George W. Bush’s occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq. And, now, under Trump, the number is back again to GWB’s peak level and rising.

As I noted on June 30th under the headline “U.S. Government Tops All For Creating Refugees”, “the U.S. regime’s regime-change operations produce around half of the entire world’s refugee-problem.” That fact is shown in the second visual here. (Just look at Syria and Venezuela there.) What the first visual shows is that the U.S. regime’s attempts to overthrow the Governments of Syria and of Venezuela caused those global totals to soar. Those two nations alone accounted for nearly half of the global total, and part of the rest was from America’s prior invasions: Afghanistan, Iraq, the U.S.-backed coup in Honduras in 2009, etc. America’s invasions and attempted coups (such as in Venezuela) provided the dynamos that drove those rising numbers of refugees.

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton at The Gray Zone headlined on June 19th, “This celebrated Western-funded nonprofit collaborated with al-Qaeda to wage lawfare on Syria” and documented how U.S.-and-allied billionaires and the U.S. Government fund “lawfare,” a war in international courts, and not only a huge international propaganda campaign to demonize Bashar al-Assad, in order to overthrow him. I had previously documented that “U.S. Protects Al Qaeda in Syria”. Actually, Obama bombed Syria’s army at the oil center city of Deir Ezzor on 17 September 2016 in order to enable both Al Qaeda and ISIS to take over that city. The U.S. team talk a storm against “terrorism” but quietly (along with the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar) sponsor it as being “boots-on-the-ground” fighters — proxies there, instead of U.S. troops — to bring down leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad.

So, when the U.S. and its allies complain about the refugee crisis, and pontificate against “dictators,” and assert international law when they are the worst violators of international law, maybe they enjoy fooling their own public, but outside the U.S. alliance, their lying and evil are obvious. It even shows up clearly in the UNHCR’s statistics (such as those visuals). Obviously, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other nations that the U.S. regime labels as ‘enemies’, are not to blame for those tens of millions of refugees. The U.S. and its allies definitely are to blame for it. This isn’t a situation where the pot is calling the kettle black, but instead it’s one where the pot is calling the fresh-fallen snow black, and in which only propagandistic ’news’ media refuse to reveal this to their audiences. The snow is white, and the U.S. regime and its allies are red, covered with their tens of millions of victims’ blood and flaming misery.

International poll after international poll finds that the country which is considered to be “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” by the most people worldwide is the U.S., but that Americans don’t think it’s true. So: who is right? Americans? Or the rest of the world? Now, why would people outside the U.S. believe that way? Maybe it’s because of “communist propaganda”? The most important thing to recognize is that the U.S. is a dictatorship. That scientifically demonstrated fact explains a lot. None of these sanctions and coups and invasions against countries that had never invaded nor in any way endangered the U.S. could exist otherwise than this, because any dictatorship is based upon lies. Invading Iraq was based upon lies. Invading Afghanistan was based upon lies. Invading Syria was based upon lies. Invading Libya was based upon lies. The economic sanctions against Russia are based upon lies.American foreign policies are based upon lies. It’s no wonder, then, why Americans are so misinformed.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Trump Admin Dangles $50Bn Bribe for Palestinian Surrender

Image result for Trump Admin Dangles $50Bn Bribe for Palestinian Surrender
Finian Cunningham
July 3, 2019

President Trump’s senior aide on Mideast affairs Jared Kushner tried last week to sell his much-vaunted “deal of the century” for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement. The core of it was a purported foreign investment plan worth $50 billion.

The sales pitch made at a conference in Bahrain amounted to a $50Bn bribe dangled at the Palestinians to accept permanent illegal occupation of their ancestral lands in exchange for foreign investment. Kushner rebranded it as the “opportunity of the century”.

He claimed that political peace depends on a viable economic plan. Others would see that formulation as back-to-front: economic development and prosperity depends on a political solution to decades of injustice against Palestinians.

American diplomacy has been an utter failure for decades with regard to settling this bitter dispute. It would therefore be impossibly naive to expect the Trump administration to succeed. More likely, its blundering and bias will only make this historic problem a whole lot worse.

That’s no doubt why so many regional players decided to give the Bahrain event this week a clunking big miss.

Like his father-in-law in the White House, Kushner comes from a real estate background before Trump appointed him as his top aide on the Palestinian-Israeli issue. For the past two years, Kushner has been working on a “master plan” to end the eight-decade-old conflict. That conflict has been at the center of most other disputes and tensions in the region. Trump has billed his son-in-law’s peace plan as the “deal of the century”.

In Bahrain, the Trump administration gave the first-ever preview of its peace plans. Skeptics of Kushner’s ability to deliver a realistic, workable framework were not to be surprised. The boyish-looking Kushner looked way out of his depth as he presented his vision of business and investment as the supposed key to peace. He invited the audience to “imagine” Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza bustling with enterprise and trade. That entrepreneurial “promised land” would arrive if the Palestinians accepted Kushner’s vision of a $50Bn foreign investor fund.

What that boils down to is Palestinians accepting the present status quo of illegal occupation by Israel and in effect surrendering their historic claims for sovereign statehood. Moreover, the $5oBn in investments that Kushner was swooning about are not existing funds. They are only promises of potential investment, which may never actually be delivered.

Nowhere in the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” is there any attempt to redress historical violations of Palestinian national rights. There is no mention of the right of return of millions of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 war that established the sate of Israel. Nor of returning land annexed during the 1967 war. Illegal occupation is merely a fact on the ground that needs to be officially recognized as Israeli territory, according to the Trump administration. In the same way that Trump earlier this year officially recognized the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Kushner’s bias in a supposedly peace mediator role is flagrant. He is Jewish and a family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kushner’s wife, Ivanka, Trump’s daughter, is a convert to Judaism. Last year, she personally unveiled the controversial new American embassy in Jerusalem, which Trump had promised to Netanyahu on his election in 2016 in recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. That move was seen by Palestinians as a betrayal of their historic claim to East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

During the past two years, the Trump administration has cut off development aid and diplomatic links with Palestinian authorities. Respected Palestinian negotiators like veteran envoy Hanan Ashrawi have been denied travel visas to the US. The consultation conducted by Kushner with the Palestinian side in formulating his peace plan has been minimal.

During a recent interview in the US, Kushner revealed his colonial-type mindset when he asserted that the “Palestinians were not ready yet for self-government”. In other words, in this supposed mediator’s view, he is saying that there will be no foreseeable state of Palestine. That is, the Palestinians must accept their inferior status as an occupied people while the state of Israel is permitted to continue annexing more and more of their ancestral land. Indeed, Kushner is believed to have personal business investments in the construction of new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

It’s no wonder then than his so-called “deal of the century” amounts to a shallow business plan bereft of any deep historical, political issues. Palestinians are expected to shut up and surrender their historic rights for statehood by accepting a quixotic vision of economic wonders descending on them while living under permanent marginalization and deprivation. A UN report last year found that Gaza will no longer be habitable in a few years due to water and power shortages.

The Trump-Kushner proposal is the sort of con job that real estate agents excel at. Everything is reduced to the value of money while prospects are talked up with the most ludicrous glamor. Unscrupulous real estate agents would have the temerity to sell a cardboard box as if it were a penthouse suite. Trump and his son-in-law would seem to be of that same wheeler-dealer ilk.

After two years of bragging about its big Middle East “vision”, what people saw this week was little more than a glossy brochure of hype over historical realities. Indeed, it would seem that the purpose of the hype is to bury the hard historical problems that underly the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The excessive emphasis on billions of dollars of investment by Kushner is an attempt to seduce Palestinians into relinquishing their political and moral rights.

This week, however, while the Trump administration was making its sales pitch in Bahrain, it was notable that there was no Palestinian delegation present. All across the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians shut their businesses in protest and took to the streets to burn effigies of the “deal of the century”.

Israeli government representatives were also not in attendance. That was only after the White House belatedly pulled their invitations in the weeks before the Bahrain conference took place. No doubt that hasty move by the White House was meant to minimize the embarrassing spectacle of a Palestinian boycott by also not having an official Israeli delegation.

Russia and China also gave the Kushner presentation a miss. Some Arab countries, such as Iraq and Lebanon, did not attend either. Iran, a major regional player and supporter of the Palestinian cause, was not represented. The European Union sent only technical-level officials; EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was not present.

The glaring absences reflect the lack of international credibility of this White House’s peace efforts for the Middle East. The “deal of the century” is more seen as the “con of the century”.

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