Islamic Republic of Iran’s Presidential Election 1400

Islamic Republic of Iran’s Presidential Election 1400

June 03, 2021

by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

The list of candidates for the 1400 Islamic Republic of Iran Presidential Election has shocked and surprised only those analysts and reporters whose investigative skills have been rendered dull perhaps by covidus lifeosis (abnormal life caused by covid) or by sourcepenia crediblerrhexis (ruptured credibility due to an abnormal reduction in the number of informed sources) or by some other malady of unknown etiology. Had the baffled and the bewildered had their fingers on the right non-digitized social and political pulses inside Iran, especially those of the past twelve years, it is likely they would not have found the list shocking.

As a general personal rule, I do not get into peripheral details of political factions, personalities, and transient political lather, froth, and intrigues peculiar to election times and their aftermaths with audiences either inside or outside Iran. I often use the opportunity, however, to remind people of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, relevant bodies and laws with respect to a specific election, and the degree to which given organs, oversight bodies, hopefuls, and candidates follow or deviate from those laws based on proven and credible public sources and records. When the Saker kindly asked me to write about the rationale behind the most recent finalized list of presidential candidates, I thought I could do something similar for this blog.

I am going to briefly discuss with you what I would, more or less, present inside Iran when I am invited to talk and hope the discussion proves useful in making sense of what is happening right now and what to expect in the future. I will focus this essay on three key areas: 1) The role and conduct of the Guardian Council as a review & decision-making body with respect to elections and candidates based on the constitution of the Islamic Republic; 2) Overview of “Who is Who” in the Iranian political scene as various political groups, factions, and personalities emerge and how these personalities and groups treating the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran with their words and deeds; and 3) The importance of the outcome of this year’s election for the Iranians, the people of the region, and the Resistance using an important official document released by the Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, on the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic in 1397 [2019], titled “Gaam_e Dovvom_e Enghlaab,” or The 2nd Phase of the Revolution.[1]

1. The Guardian Council and the Final List of Candidates for Presidential Election 1400

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran entrusts the Guardian Council with three major responsibilities: a) Oversight of all laws, legislations, and rules to make sure they are in accordance with the constitution AND fiqh according to Shi’a Islam; b) Interpretation of the Constitution where and when such interpretation is needed; and c) Oversight over all elections and their components including the qualifications and records of the applicants and their approval as candidates.[2] In a nutshell, the Council is obligated to use the tools and the authority given to it by law to guard and protect the Constitution and when an interpretation is needed, to make sure that interpretation is in accordance with Shi’a Islam fiqh.

As far as the presidential candidates are concerned, if someone openly and publicly expresses his rejection of the Constitution or its key components, for example, and there is solid proof of that, or if he acts in violation of key components of the Constitution and there is solid proof of that, or if he breaks the law and has a file in the legal system, then he should not expect to be approved as a candidate to run for the position of the president, which is the 2nd most important position in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is regardless of how popular that person may imagine himself to be. Should the person of that caliber be approved, then the Guardian Council must be held accountable for breach of duties. This is not some revolutionary idea or practice. It is a wise and reasonable expectation of a body with responsibilities of that nature in any system of governance anywhere in the world.

Related to the approved list, a key question we must ask is this: Does the Guardian Council apply its evaluation and assessment of the applicants in a fair and unbiased manner, or does it appear that some applicants are being treated as more equal than others?

To answer the above question, I explain the structure of the Council and we could take a look at a few records of their past decisions.

The Guardian Council consists of 12 members. Six members must be “faqih adil wa jame’ushumul,” or well-rounded, just and pious religious jurist with proven records in fiqh and in justice. These members are selected and appointed by Wali Faqih, or the Supreme Leader, in consultation with Majlis Khobregan Rahbari, or the Assembly of the Experts in Leadership which is an 88- member assembly directly elected by the people. The other six members must be just, pious, and knowledgeable legal experts with proven records in their expertise. These members are nominated by the head of the judiciary and approved by a majority vote by the members of Majlis Shoraye Islami, or the Iranian Parliament. So, six legal experts and six religious experts are responsible for safeguarding the laws of the Constitution and the laws of the Religion (Shi’a Islam).

Perhaps the nearest similar body to the Guardian Council in terms of function is the United States Supreme Court. Of course, I am using the term “similar function” extremely loosely here since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Guardian Council is in charge of guarding and protecting a constitution that has defense of the oppressed in the world as one of its important principles and the US Supreme Court is in charge of guarding and protecting whatever it is guarding and protecting to ensure the Global Arrogance can continue to arrogate, aggress, and wreak havoc upon the defenseless.

At least 7 out of 12 votes are required for an applicant to be approved as a presidential candidate. Once the list is submitted and published by the Ministry of Interior, it is considered final. According to the law, however, the Supreme Leader can use what is called “Hokm_e Rahbari,” or the Leader’s Decree, to make a change to that list. In the past 40+ years, only once did this happen. During the 1384 [2005] presidential election, when the list was published, Ayatullah Khamenei sent a letter the Council and asked them to add two additional names to the list of candidates for that year’s election. The text of that letter is as follows:

“Ayatullay Jannati, the Secretary General of the Guardian Council,

With salaam and greetings. Thank you for the great efforts of the esteemed Council and the important task of determining the competencies of the presidential candidates for the 9th presidential election. With due observance of the law in this order, it is desirable for people with diverse political preferences to have the occasion as well as the opportunity for their great test in the election. Therefore, you should consider the announcement of the gentlemen, Dr. Mostafa Mueen and Engineer Mehralizadeh as candidates.

Wasalaam Alaykum.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei,

1384/3/2.”[3]

The phrase “great test” in the Leader’s statement carries with it a significant message. From the perspective of our responsibilities before God, these positions of power, regardless of the position and level, are tests through which the strength of our characters and purity of our beliefs get authenticated.

The two candidates added to the list by the Leader belonged to the reformist camp. The augmented list now reflected a more representative list of the most notable political factions of that time. Some analysts later speculated that this addition led to a split in votes for Hashemi Rafsanjani and an ultimate victory for Mahmoud Ahamadinejad who was supported by the principlist camp during that election. Their speculation was based on an assumption that those who voted for Mueen and Mehralizadeh (the reformist camp) would have voted for Rafsanjani (the technocrat liberal economy camp).

Perhaps a parallel to this phenomenon could be drawn with the 1992 US presidential election when Ross Perot entered the race as an independent candidate and that led to a split in votes for Bush Sr. and handed a victory to Bill Clinton.

I find the claims regarding a split in Rafsanjani’s vote unsubstantiated though. I think a widespread sense of “anyone but Rafsanjani” at that time was much stronger than what some of those analysts are willing to admit.

At any rate, in subsequent elections and since then, every time the Guardian Council released the final list, given personalities sent letters to the Leader and asked him to add specific people to the list. However, the Leader never intervened again. Those who sent letters to the Leader, I think, do not really “get” why the Leader used his Hokm_e Rahbari authority that once and why he is unlikely to use it unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Despite what foreign media and their echo chambers inside Iran propagate, I think the Guardian Council’s decision-making calculus has been ameliorated in favor of a more diversified and less conservative list in reviewing applications by the Council. I also think that one-time mandate by the Leader had something to do with this change. There has been a few names in the 1388 (2009), 1392 (2013), and 1396 (2017) list of candidates that should not have been there had the Council’s vetting been more by the letter of the law.

2. “Who is Who” in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Current Political Scene

If we use the Pareto principle and apply the general 80-20 rule to the socio-political scene in Iran and assume that 80% of the general voting population is influenced by the 20% political elites, then we could divvy up the 20% so-called elites into six somewhat loose categories based on what we see of the present political currents. I constructed the table below to give an overall sense of various groups and notable personalities in three areas of social, economic, and foreign policy stance. I based this categorization on what each group’s actual records show and not what they theoretically claim. The candidacy of the names in green was approved by the Guardian Council. The names that are crossed are known personalities that did not make it to the final list.

Each member of the Guardian Council casts its vote in writing and it is “Gheyre Alani”. That means, the Council members discuss each candidate’s application among themselves but cast a secret vote. So, none of the members knows who exactly voted “yes” or who voted “no” for a given application. In cases when an applicant did not make it to the list and he wants to know why, the Council reveals the content of the discussion to him and him only. However, if the applicant wishes for the discussion to be made public, then he must submit a written request to the Council and the specific discussions will be revealed. So far, I could not find any records of any candidates having submitted any such written request.

Since we do not have any credible report from the Council’s discussions, I will briefly review some of the publicly available records on two of the notable personalities who did not make the list. We examine potential reasons for why these two candidates did not earn at least 7 out of 12 votes. I would like to reiterate that these are my assessments and I have absolutely no access nor am I privy to the records of undisclosed discussions by the Guardian Council. The two applicants are Ali Larijani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ali Larijani. He is a well-known figure in the Principlist camp and most recently served as the head of the Majlis Shoraye Islami, or the Parliament. His brother, Ayatullah Amoli Larijani, who was the head of the Judiciary is also one of the 12 members of the Guardian Council. It appears Ayatullah Larijani was not able to persuade enough other members of the Council in favor of his brother. After the final list had been released, Ayatullah Larijani made the following public statement:

“Since the beginning of my participation in the Guardian Council in 1380 [2001] nearly 20 years has passed. In all this time, I have defended the Guardian Council even during the years I was in the Judiciary. But I had never found the decision of the Council so much indefensible whether in approval or in lack of approval for qualifications. This chaos is to a large degree related to the interference by security organs through false reports that exert undue influence on the decision of the members of the Guardian Council.”[4]

Ugh. I find the fact that Ayatullah Larijani participated in the discussion and did not recuse himself due to conflict of interest disturbing. But let us assume he has reached a level of Taqwa that he can keep his bias on a tight leash and explore if his displeasure with fellow council members is warranted.

One factual, publicly available, and verifiable information is this: Fatemeh Ardeshir Larijani is Ali Larijani’s daughter, (Ayatullah Amoli Larijani’s niece). In 2010, she relocated to the United States and has been living and working there for the past 10 years. Whether she is a citizen, permanent resident, or on an H1 visa or what not is not an issue. It is also a fact that Ali Larijani, her father, the rejected candidate, has served as a key member of the Supreme Council on National Security, the head of the parliament, and in many other important high profile positions for decades. The relation between Fatemeh Larijani and her family and relatives is intact, quite close, and ongoing.

Here is another fact: Many times, Iran’s nuclear programs, generals, and scientists have been openly, publicly, and shamelessly sabotaged, threatened, and assassinated respectively under direct order from top officials in the United States of America. The role the United States played in bringing the Iranian society to a brink of collapse in 2009 is quite public and azharu mina-Shams (more evident than the sun).

This is where things get even worse: In certain instances, security breaches led to significant damages to critical infrastructures as well as to the assassination of key scientists and top commanders in Iran. Disturbingly, some of the intelligence leaks (let us suppose inadvertently) were traced to close family members of top ranking officials with access to classified information as discovered by members of the Intelligence Ministry.

Here is one of the core concerns: should the Guardian Council wait until leaks linked to this particular person and this particular candidate actually occur and another disaster to happen in order to take a stance and say enough is enough? If Larijanies and the likes of them want to be free to do as they wish as private citizens, then so be it. They must relinquish their sensitive positions and do as they wish according to the law. But if they aim to occupy extremely critical positions of authority and responsibility in the country, then they must know there are constraints for themselves and their family members. It is not just about them. It has something to do with life, death, security, and the fate of a nation. Why should a whole nation pay the price for the self-indulgences of a few families?

In 2018, some families of Americans who had been detained in Iran on espionage charges, wrote letters to Trump administration to deny US visas to the children of top-ranking officials in the Iranian government. An excerpt from an NBC report at the time reads:

“The families have provided the administration and several lawmakers with a list of Iranian nationals living in the U.S. alleged to be the children or relatives of senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani himself… The daughter of the powerful speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, is also on the list. She is a resident in internal medicine at an Ohio hospital, according to medical directories. The nephew of President Hassan Rouhani attended college in New York City and now works there, according to LinkedIn. The nephew’s father was the former top adviser to Rouhani, who stepped down after coming under fire from hardline opponents of the Iranian president.” [5]

Double ugh. It is not surprising that the Guardian Council did not place Ali Larijani on the final approved list for presidential candidates. It is surprising that the Council members grew a spine.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Among all post-war presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, from the construction era to present, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be viewed, without a doubt, as the most active and the most productive president in terms of construction, social justice programs, and public service during his 1st term of as the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His excellent record of public service continued well into the 2nd year of his 2nd term. I do not believe any fair and unbiased person would deny this.

With respect to Iran’s foreign policy and anti-imperial and anti-Zionist stance as well, one can name very few politicians that demonstrated the same level of boldness and courage as him. For sure, he pulled no punches.

Half way through his second term and beyond his time as president, however, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s priorities, statements, and conduct changed. The areas in which he was the strongest dimmed and areas in which he had weaknesses became more prominent. I do not wish to go into details of the political games into which he was drawn and questionable conducts of some of his closest associates from whom he failed to distance himself and a combination of factors that resulted in his political fall. Whatever the condition of his environment and associates, ultimately, he was the one who made the choice and he was the one who presented his application for the position of president.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had an excellent team of hardworking and honest ministers working with him. Many of those excellent workers and ministers, however, have long distanced themselves from him and have expressed unwillingness to work with him again for various reasons. A domineering and overbearing quality to his relationship with those who worked with him seem to be among those reasons. An attitude of “either my way exactly as I say or highway,” with various ministers and organs in the executive branch, with members of Majlis, with the Judiciary, with the Leader, and with many others and of a clear disregard for the law is not exactly an appropriate attitude for a wise chief executive officer of a country, an Islamic Republic at that.

Muhammad Vahdati, the former head of the Center for Studies of the Ministry of Interior, has spoken at length about what may have happened. I would like to quote for you here excerpts from his statements that I found illuminating:

“Of course, those public service works were the product of a team work that was done by a system consisting of the administration, the ministers, the governors who themselves now, those very same hardworking ministers and governors, more than 90 percent of them have distanced themselves from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s current position. Now, here is the question, a person who was once an eyesore for the arrogant powers such as the US and Israel, why is he marked and regarded today as a prey and a beacon of hope for those very arrogant powers? And why do the enemies sense that they must invest in him and that he could deal such hard blows to the system that the US Americans themselves are incapable of doing?”[6]

What Dr. Vahdati is alluding to is a series of interviews with Ahmadinejad conducted by Western/Saudi-financed media outlets and aired by their lie factories regarding the war in Syria. About three months ago, in a televised interview with the Lebanese TV Channel, Al-Jadid[7], Ahmadinejad lumped together the Resistance fighters and Russia in Syria with the ISIS, Jubhatu-Nusrah, and other West-Zionist backed fighters. He said they must all leave Syria as none of them are helping the Syrian people. He also made other noteworthy remarks of similar nature that one could usually hear from Zionist-controlled media.

I seek refuge in God Himself when He seeks to test us.

Here, I would like to bring a bit more of Dr. Vahdati’s interview from the archive of the Ministry of Interior since it sheds some light not only regarding Ahmadinejad’s attitude and conduct but also on social and historical context that ushered him into the office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran about 15 years ago. He states:

“But the reasons for his [Ahmadinejad’s] fall: the first one is his pride. Pride knocks down a human being. It is one of those types of sins that God will punish in this very world. Even if he is a believer, even if he is a warrior of God fighting in the warfront. If one becomes afflicted with pride, God will very quickly pinch his ear. Who do you think Satan was? An angel very high up in God’s Presence. Who had worshiped God as much as Satan?! Several thousand years of worship. But its pride and arrogance caused it to be rejected and become Satan, the Outcast.”

“The 2nd reason, I think, is Mr. Ahmadinejad’s inaccurate analysis of the reasons for his victory during his first presidential term. This incorrect analysis of his own situation caused his pride to be further inflated. He had this thinking that he and he alone had made this wave. So, you do know that main Principlists and other conservative camps at that time sought after more famous people. Even the Isargaran camp that Mr. Ahmadinejad was part of its main council, that council, too, went after another candidate. Well, at that time, Mr. Ahmadinejad was not very well known. He had just recently become the Mayor of Tehran. Even that opportunity was provided to him by the Principlists. He claimed that the Principlist factions did not support him. He even claimed that the Leader’s office had suggested to him to remain in Tehran’s Mayoral Office since he had just become the Mayor of Tehran. He, therefore, claimed, “I myself created this wave therefore I do not need any support from the Priciplists.” But the truth is this: Mr. Ahmadinejad did not create that wave. He rode it. Even the Leader and the Revolutionary forces had done a lot to raise awareness in those years and unravel the enemy’s complex plot. In those days, there were even talks of silent dismantling of the government. Many people did a lot to reveal the true essence and aim of the so-called Reformist movement that was being superintended by the [US] Americans.”

“It was the efforts of all these people that once again brought to the fore the revolutionary dialogue and a need for skillful management of the society. In the very first achievement of that wave, you saw in the victory of Chamran’s Team in Tehran City Council elections. But before that, a very different dialogue had dominated the scene. The atmosphere at that time was such that whoever was the most extremist and the most bellicose against the system, he would get the most attention.”

“For example, someone would say the religion and power must be separated. Another would say we must run bullets through Imam’s thoughts. Another would say religion is not only the opium of the masses but it is also the opium of rulers. Yet another would say ‘are our people monkeys to emulate?’ Mr. Abbas Abdi, for instance, was saying, ‘we could do street demonstration against God.’ And things like this.”

“Okay then, it took a lot to change those sorts of dialogues. Mr. Ahmadinejad relied on this new wave of reviving the revolutionary dialogue and began riding that wave and claimed he was more revolutionary than others. It was because now that dialogue had gained currency. On the other side, the Principlists who had gained an opportunity, they provided that opportunity to Mr. Ahmadinejad in Tehran Mayoral Office. It was under these circumstances that Ahmadinejad was able to beat his rivals in that particular arena and use the opportunity as a springboard.”

“The third factor was his grab onto power and an emergence of a serious power-seeking spirit from within him. That means, Mr. Ahmadinejad was gradually afflicted with the very same problem against which he had gone to war. His main reason to oppose Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] was Mr. Hashemi’s [Rafsanjani’s] affliction with power grab and exclusivism. For instance, those around Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] during his second term had been saying they should do something so that Mr. Hashemi’s [Rafsanjani’s] presidency becomes a life-long position but the Leader vigorously opposed this and said it is against the constitution. Mr. Mohajerani who was at the time the president’s [Rafsanjani’s] legal advisor was saying, ‘We need to change the constitution, to reform it, so that he could become a president for at least one more term.’”

“So, what they did to remain in power was the establishment of the Kargozaran Sazandegi and the formation of a coalition with the Leftists who had by then become isolated. Eventually, we saw those with whom the public was dissatisfied because of hardships and widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. So, those people returned with a new slogan and kept their grip on power.”

“Mr. Khatami’s administration in fact revolved around the Kargozaran as its main axis. This was a left-over administration from Mr. Hashimi’s [Rafsanjani’s] presidency. Similarly, Mr. Ahmadinejad, in the final days of his first term and the beginning of his 2nd term, had reached the conclusion that in fact the only one who can save the country is him. He believed the reformers had no religion and the Principlists did not have what it takes. Consequently, his main preoccupation was what would happen after his 2nd term was up.”

“So, we remember that the first appointment he made in his second term, he made Mashaei as his first assistant secretary. The Leader privately wrote to him that that decision is neither a prudent decision for the country nor a wise decision for himself. But in order for him to push this decision on the system, he brought forth all he had. In doing so, he set fire on his entire political capital. From 11-day Sulking to abandoning his office to picking fights with Majlis.”

“It is not necessarily a bad thing for a political current to try to bring its most powerful people to the scene in order to remain in power but Mr. Ahamadinejad’s idea was not this. He had very capable ministers in his team like Mr. Lankarani, Mr. Nikzad, Mr. Babaee, and Mr. Fattah. However, he told them if they came forward for candidacy, he would publically announce that they were not with him and he would not support them. He viewed them as the ‘system’s people.’ He wanted to bring someone to power who was his person.”

“The other factor was that ideological deviation with which Mr. Ahmadinejad became afflicted. Or, we could say his presence in power caused that disease to manifest itself. And the role the ring around him played to worsen his situation cannot be denied. Gradually, this mentality was formed in Mr. Ahamadinejad that ‘following a Wali Faqih is for the time that we have no direct access to an Infallible Imam (AS). Today, we are directly connected to the Imam (AS) and we no longer need to accept the wilayat of this faqih.’”

“So, you see we are facing two Ahmadinejads: One is the Ahmadinejad belonging to the beginning of the 9th Administration and with those worldviews and the other is the Ahmadinejad in the 10th Administration fully deviating from the frame of mind he had started his first term and, in many places, he even became defiantly oppositional with the first one.”

If I were to summarize Ahmadinejad’s situation, I must say that had he been on the approved list of the 1400 presidential candidates released by the Guardian Council, it would have been quite shocking. It would have demonstrated the Council was not living up to the responsibility of guarding the Constitution.

Just to close the file on the 20% political elites and all their protests and grievances, I would like to re-post a segment of Imam Ali’s (AS) letter to Malik Ashtar about the elites in the society that I had quoted in one of my previous articles regarding Imamat and Wilayat:

“O, Malik! Your most favored tasks must consist of the ones that are the most balanced with the truth, the most encompassing in justice, and the most comprehensive in gaining the public’s gratitude. That is because the public’s anger makes the satisfaction of a few elites useless and the anger of a few elites become null and void when countered with the satisfaction of the public. At the time of great abundance and comfort, no one is more wasteful for a governor than the elites. At the time of hardship and challenges, no one is more useless than the elites. At the time of fairness, no one is less pleased than the elites. At the time of asking and wanting, no one is more persistent than the elites. At the time of generosity, no one is more ungrateful than the elites. At the time of refusing to cater, no one is more unforgiving than the elites. At the time of calamities, no one less patient than the elites. So, the pillar of religion, the crowd of Muslims, and the most ready to fight with the enemies are in fact the public. So, your attentions and your desires must be devoted to them.”[8]

3. Election 1400 and the 2nd Phase of the Revolution

As stated in the introduction, on the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1397 [2019], the Wali Faqih Ayatullah Khamenei released a declaration titled “Gaam_e Dovvom_e Enghlaab,” or The 2nd Phase of the Revolution directly addressing the Iranian Nation. The document is important in that it gives a concise and significant overview of the past 40 years and notable lessons, a general assessment of the present, and a clear map and direction for the future.

When the document was released two years ago, many people, organizations, and movements at all levels from local mosques to academic centers of higher education took it and said “Labbayk” (i.e. “we heard your call and we will do what we must”). Several of the candidates that submitted their application for the presidency actually stated they were doing so in order to have responded to the Leader’s call. Those interested could find the link to the entire document here. I would like to highlight segments that I think provide important cues to what is ahead in terms of the upcoming election, the qualities of the next president, and the areas where both the nation and the officials must focus.

The Ideals of the Revolution: In the introduction segment, the Leader states,

“From among all oppressed nations, very few nations undertake a revolution. And among those who rise up and have a revolution, even fewer are able to carry the work to its final phase. Except for changing the ruling system, few have been able to preserve their revolutionary ideals. With the great revolution of the Iranian nation, however, which is the most significant people-based revolution in modern era, it is the only revolution that went through a forty-year honorable period without betraying its ideals. It protected and preserved the authenticity and dignity of its slogans despite all sorts of seemingly irresistible temptations. Now, it has entered into the 2nd phase of building self, the society, and the civilization. Salutations from the bottom of my heart to this nation, to the generation that began the revolution, and to the generation that is ushering it into the grand global process of its 2nd Forty-Year.”

Therefore, the next president must not only believe in the Revolution’s ideals but help realize them for the nation inside and for the oppressed outside.

Balance and Justice in Foreign Policy: In another segment of the document, the Leader clarifies:

“The Islamic Revolution of the Iranian nation has been strong but kind and tolerant even when unjustly treated. It has never committed the excesses and deviations that brought dishonor to many other uprisings and movements in the world. In no challenge, not even with the [US] America and Sadam, did it ever fire the first shot but always and in all cases, after the enemy had attacked, it defended itself and of course executed the counter attack with force. This Revolution, from the start until today, has neither been ruthless and bloodthirsty nor cowardly and hesitant. It has stood up unambiguously and courageously against arrogant bullies and transgressors and has defended the unjustly treated and the oppressed. This revolutionary valor and affability, this truthfulness, transparency, and strength, and this global and regional domain of action on the side of the oppressed of the world, is an honor for Iran and the Iranians. May it always remain so.”

In addition, the next president must be wise and courageous at the same time. Neither should he be bellicose to pick fights nor fearful to face a challenge with strength. Being on the side of the oppressed of the world is given. Ayatullah Khamenei highlights 7 specific areas that require great attention and defines each area in a way they serve as a roadmap for those who are willing to take action. I will close the essay with a particularly uplifting segment for the region.

“Strong Iran of today, just like the beginning of the Revolution, is facing many challenges from the Arrogant Powers but with a meaningful difference. If the challenge [for Iran] in those days was to cut off the [US] America’s and foreign hands from the nation or to close the Zionist regime’s embassy in Tehran or to expose the Den of Spies [the term that refers to US embassy in Tehran], today, the challenge for the US with Iran’s presence at the borders surrounding the Zionist regime and dismantling the illegitimate influence and presence of the [US] America from West Asia, Islamic Republic’s defense of Palestinian fighters at the heart of the occupied territories, and defense of holy flag of Hizbullah and the Resistance in the entire region. If in those days, the West’s problem was preventing Iran from buying even the most primitive forms of arms for its defense, today, its challenge is to prevent the Iranian arms, military equipment, and drones reaching Hizbullah and the Resistance everywhere in the region. If in those days, the [US] America imagined it can overcome the Islamic System and the Iranian nation with the help of a few self-selling Iranian traitors, today, it is finding itself in need of a large coalition of tens of hostile yet impotent governments to fight Iran. Yet, it fails.”

References

[1] Sayyed Ali Khamenei, “Gaam_e Dovvom_e Enghlaab” [The 2nd Phase of the Revolution]. 1397/11/22 [Feb. 11, 2019]. Accessed online at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/message-content?id=41673

[2] The Islamic Republic of Iran Guardian Council. “The Responsibilities and the Authority of the Council.” Accessed online at: https://www.shora-gc.ir/fa/guardian-council

[3] IRI Guardian Council News Site. “The 9th Election: Participation and Competition in Two Rounds.” News Code: 3152; Published on line on Khordad 21, 1392 [June 11, 2013]. Accessed online at: Shora-GC.ir

[4] Mehr News Agency, “Amoli Larijani’s Criticism of the results regarding approved candidates list.” Khordad 4th, 1400, @ 17:31. News Code: 5220521. Accessed online at: mehrnews.com/xVpkg

[5] Dan De Luce, NBC News. “Families of Americans held in Iran ask Trump to pull visas for kids of top Iran officials.” Dec. 3, 2018, @1:22pm. Accessed online at: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/families-americans-held-iran-ask-trump-pull-visas-kids-top-n942781

[6] The reasons for Ahmadinejad’s fall: Sedaye Enghelab, Number 237; Muhammad Vahdati

[7] Al-Jadid TV Channel, Lebanon. https://www.aparat.com/v/rUAwg

[8] Ahdnameh Malik Ashtar (Letter #53), Nahjul-Balaqhah. Edit Sayyed Razi. Trans. Hussain Ansarian. Page 292. Darul-Irfan Publishing.

The Vienna shadowplay

The Vienna shadowplay

April 27, 2021

None of the actors can admit that revival of JCPOA pales compared with the real issue: Iranian missile power

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Few people, apart from specialists, may have heard of the JCPOA Joint Commission. That’s the group in charge of a Sisyphean task: the attempt to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal through a series of negotiations in Vienna.

The Iranian negotiating team was back in Vienna yesterday, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi. Shadowplay starts with the fact the Iranians negotiate with the other members of the P+1 – Russia, China, France, UK and Germany – but not directly with the US.

That’s quite something: after all, it was the Trump administration that blew up the JCPOA. There is an American delegation in Vienna, but they only talk with the Europeans.

Shadowplay goes turbo when every Viennese coffee table knows about Tehran’s red lines: either it’s back to the original JCPOA as it was agreed in Vienna in 2015 and then ratified by the UN Security Council, or nothing.

Araghchi, mild-mannered and polite, has had to go on the record once again to stress that Tehran will leave if the talks veer towards “bullying”, time wasting or even a step-by-step ballroom dance, which is time wasting under different terminology.

Neither flat out optimistic nor pessimistic, he remains, let’s say, cautiously upbeat, at least in public: “We are not disappointed and we will do our job. Our positions are very clear and firm. The sanctions must be lifted, verified and then Iran must return to its commitments.”

So, at least in the thesis, the debate is still on. Araghchi: “There are two types of U.S. sanctions against Iran. First, categorized or so-called divisional sanctions, such as oil, banking and insurance, shipping, petrochemical, building and automobile sanctions, and second, sanctions against real and legal individuals.”

“Second” is the key issue. There’s absolutely no guarantee the US Congress will lift most or at least a significant part of these sanctions.

Everyone in Washington knows it – and the American delegation knows it.

When the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, for instance, says that 60% or 70% has been agreed upon, that’s code for lifting of divisional sanctions. When it comes to “second”, Araghchi has to be evasive: “There are complex issues in this area that we are examining”.

Now compare it with the assessment of informed Iranian insiders in Washington such as nuclear policy expert Seyed Hossein Mousavian:  they’re more like pessimistic realists.

That takes into consideration the non-negotiable red lines established by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei himself. Plus non-stop pressure by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who are all JCPOA-adverse.

But then there’s extra shadowplay. Israeli intel has already notified the security cabinet that a deal most certainly will be reached in Vienna. After all, the narrative of a successful deal is already being constructed as a foreign policy victory by the Biden-Harris administration – or, as cynics prefer, Obama-Biden 3.0.

Meanwhile, Iranian diplomacy remains on overdrive. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is visiting Qatar and Iraq, and has already met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al Thani.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, virtually at the end of his term before the June presidential elections, always goes back to the same point: no more US sanctions; Iran’s verification; then Iran will return to its “nuclear obligations”.

The Foreign Ministry has even released a quite detailed fact sheet once again stressing the need to remove “all sanctions imposed, re-imposed and re-labeled since January 20, 2017”.

The window of opportunity for a deal won’t last long. Hardliners in Tehran couldn’t care less. At least 80% of Tehran members of Parliament are now hardliners. The next President most certainly will be a hardliner. Team Rouhani’s efforts have been branded a failure since the onset of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Hardliners are already in post-JCPOA mode.

That fateful Fateh

What none of the actors in the shadowplay can admit is that the revival of the JCPOA pales compared to the real issue: the power of Iranian missiles.

In the original 2015 negotiations in Vienna – follow them in my Persian Miniatures e-book – Obama-Biden 2.0 did everything in their power to include missiles in the deal.

Every grain of sand in the Negev desert knows that Israel will go no holds barred to retain its nuclear weapon primacy in the Middle East. Via a spectacular kabuki, the fact that Israel is a nuclear power happens to remain “invisible” to most of world public opinion.

While Khamenei has issued a fatwa clearly stating that producing, stockpiling and using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear included – is haram (banned by Islam), Israel’s leadership feels free to order stunts such as the sabotage via Mossad of the (civilian) Iranian nuclear complex at Natanz.

The head of Iran’s Parliament Energy Committee, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, even accused Washington and London of being accomplices to the sabotage of Natanz, as they arguably supplied intel to Tel Aviv.

Yet now a lone missile is literally exploding a great deal of the shadowplay.

On April 22, in the dead of night before dawn, a Syrian missile exploded only 30 km away from the ultra-sensitive Israeli nuclear reactor of Dimona. The official – and insistent – Israeli spin: this was an “errant”.

Well, not really.

Here – third video from the top – is footage of the quite significant explosion. Also significantly, Tel Aviv remained absolutely mum when it comes to offering a missile proof of ID. Was it an old Soviet 1967 SA-5? Or, rather more likely, a 2012 Iranian Fateh-110 short range surface-to-surface, manufactured in Syria as the M-600, and also possessed by Hezbollah?

A Fateh family tree can be seen in the attached chart. The inestimable Elijah Magnier has posed some very good questions about the Dimona near-hit. I complemented it with a quite enlightening discussion with physicists, with input by a military intel expert.

The Fateh-110 operates as a classic ballistic missile, until the moment the warhead starts maneuvering to evade ABM defenses. Precision is up to 10 meters, nominally 6 meters. So it hit exactly where it was supposed to hit. Israel officially confirmed that the missile was not intercepted – after a trajectory of roughly 266 km.

This opens a brand new can of worms. It implies that the performance of the much hyped and recently upgraded Iron Dome is far from stellar – and talk about an euphemism. The Fateh flew so low that Iron Dome could not identify it.

The inevitable conclusion is this was a message/warning combo. From Damascus. With a personal stamp from Bashar al-Assad, who had to clear such a sensitive missile launch. A message/warning delivered via Iranian missile technology fully available to the Axis of Resistance – proving that regional actors have serious stealth capability.

It’s crucial to remember that when Tehran dispatched a volley of deliberately older Fateh-313 versions at the US base Ayn al-Assad in Iraq, as a response to the assassination of Gen Soleimani in January 2020, the American radars went blank.

Iranian missile technology as top strategic deterrence. Now that’s the shadowplay that turns Vienna into a sideshow.

China, Iran sign 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership deal

March 27, 2021

Crossposted from PressTV

Video Player

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif have signed a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, marking a milestone in bilateral relations between the two countries.   

The two diplomats put their signatures on the document in Tehran Saturday in a ceremony carried live on national television.

Wang and Zarif also marked “half a century of friendly dilomatic relations” by opening an exhibition of documents on the two countries’ bilateral ties.

Wang said China’s relations with Iran will be “permanent and strategic” and will not be affected by the current situation.

“Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call,” he said in his meeting with Ali Larijani, an advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Referring to historic and friendly relations between Tehran and Beijing, Wang stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation within the framework of the 25-year strategic partnership agreement and expressed his satisfaction with the deal’s finalization.

The two sides further explored ways to develop political, economic and strategic ties, underlining the need for close consultations between the two countries to promote long-term cooperation.

The top Chinese diplomat who is in Tehran for a two-day visit also met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

The Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was announced in a joint statement during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tehran in 2016.

The cooperation roadmap consists of 20 articles, covering Tehran-Beijing ties in “Political,” “Executive Cooperation,” “Human and Cultural,” “Judiciary, Security and Defense,” and “Regional and International” domains, according to the statement released back then.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the document is a “roadmap” for trade, economic and transportation cooperation, with a “special focus on the private sectors of the two sides.”

First Batch of Iran’s 20% Enriched Uranium Products Ready

First Batch of Iran’s 20% Enriched Uranium Products Ready

By Staff, Agencies

Iran says it has produced its first UF6 [uranium hexafluoride or hex] product a few hours after restarting the enrichment of uranium up to a purity level of 20 percent at Fordow nuclear facility.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran [AEOI], announced late Monday that the first UF6 product was prepared a few hours ago.

The process of injecting gas into the centrifuges and resuming uranium enrichment up to 20% started earlier in the day after informing inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], the spokesman said.

“Considering the previous experience of enrichment in Fordow facility, the new production line for enriching uranium to 20% was prepared very quickly,” Kamalvandi said.

He also noted that the country is prepared to enrich uranium at purity levels beyond 20 percent.

According to the AEOI, the resumption of uranium enrichment at this level of purity came in line with the legislation earlier passed by the Iranian Parliament, which obliges the administration of President Hassan Rouhani to expand the country’s nuclear activities in a bid to have the sanctions lifted.

Earlier in the day, Iran’s government spokesman announced the beginning of the process to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity at Fordow nuclear facility.

“President [Hassan Rouhani] had ordered the beginning of 20-percent enrichment a couple of days ago, and the process of injecting gas [into centrifuges] has started after informing the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] … and the first UF6 product will be out a few hours from now,” Ali Rabiei said.

Following Iranian government spokesman’s announcement, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took to Twitter, saying that resumption of 20% uranium enrichment by Iran is totally legal and based on a recent legislation by the country’s Parliament while keeping the IAEA fully abreast of Tehran’s decision.

“We resumed 20% enrichment, as legislated by our Parliament. IAEA has been duly notified,” Zarif said in his tweet.

He emphasized that the move is in conformity with Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, once again reiterating that all Iran’s measures are reversible if other signatories to the landmark nuclear deal remain committed to their obligations.

“Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of noncompliance by several other JCPOA participants. Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL,” the top Iranian diplomat tweeted.

Zarif’s deputy Abbas Araqchi later echoed his remarks in a televised interview, and said the 20-percent uranium enrichment at Fordow is not going to kill the 2015 nuclear deal, and is in conformity with the multilateral accord.

“The 20-percent enriched uranium is what Tehran’s atomic reactor needs, and we restarted the process based on the Parliament’s legislation. If the other parties return to their commitments, we can also get back to our JCPOA commitments. We started enrichment to 20 percent in 12 hours,” Araqchi said.

He said the law recently passed by the Parliament says the country can technically enrich uranium at purity levels beyond 20 percent, but Iran enriches its uranium based on its need, and does not believe in nuclear weapons.

“These weapons have no position in our security and defense doctrine. Our programs are based on on-the-ground needs, and we don’t need enrichment beyond 20 percent,” he clarified.

His comments came after the IAEA confirmed in a statement that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to 20 percent.

“Iran today began feeding uranium already enriched up to 4.1 percent U-235 into six centrifuge cascades at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant for further enrichment up to 20 percent,” the statement said.

It added, “IAEA inspectors were present at the site to detach the Agency’s seal from a cylinder with the feed material” and that “the cylinder was then connected to the feeding line to start the production of uranium enriched up to 20 percent.”

A total of 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges were being used in the process, the IAEA said.

Will Joe Biden Push Iran and Pakistan Closer Together?

Political ties between Iran and Pakistan are warm, but their relationship has grossly underperformed in the economic and security domains.

by Rupert Stone

Shortly after Joe Biden’s win in the U.S. presidential election, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif traveled to Islamabad for two days of talks. Political ties between Iran and Pakistan are warm, but their relationship has grossly underperformed in the economic and security domains.

That is partly owing to Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 and reimposed draconian sanctions, while adding a raft of new penalties relating to terrorism and human rights. But Trump will soon be gone, and his replacement, Joe Biden, has vowed to re-enter the JCPOA.

Zarif and his Pakistani counterpart discussed ways to expand trade and economic cooperation. In theory, sanctions relief resulting from a revived JCPOA could help to realize their goals. But there is reason to doubt that Iran-Pakistan relations will significantly improve during Biden’s presidency.

First of all, it is far from guaranteed that Biden will be able to re-join the JCPOA. The current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is a political moderate who negotiated the Iran deal from 2013-15 but is due to leave office next year. Iran’s reformers have been losing popularity, and it is likely Rouhani will be replaced by an anti-American hardliner.

Moreover, the Iran deal is now quite unpopular with Iranians, who have not seen the sort of economic benefits that they expected. And trust in the United States is low, given that Trump abrogated the JCPOA unilaterally, even though Iran was complying with its terms, and proceeded to cripple the Iranian economy amid an escalating pandemic.

There is also the risk that Trump will pile on more pressure and provoke retaliation from Iran before he leaves office. He reportedly considered a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities soon after the election. Such tactics could trigger a military confrontation, greatly complicating a U.S. return to the JCPOA.

Added to that, Trump is apparently planning a “flood” of lame-duck sanctions before January. Iran might respond by dialing up its nuclear activities in further violation of the JCPOA. Tehran started breaching the agreement in 2019 when the United States revoked oil waivers. While those steps are currently reversible, continued infringements could ruin the deal.

Even if the JCPOA does survive, resuscitating it will be a fraught and drawn-out process. Biden has vowed to pursue a follow-on agreement that addresses Iran’s ballistic missile program, use of regional proxies (such as Hezbollah), and sunsets in the original deal which see limitations on Iranian nuclear activity expire.

Any attempt to rein in Iran’s defensive capabilities by constraining its missile program or use of proxies, while addressing nuclear sunsets, may well be rejected by Tehran. Iran might also demand compensation from the United States for re-imposing sanctions, which would likely be a non-starter in Washington.

Then there is the tricky issue of the United States’ regional partners, principally Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, who were very uncomfortable with the initial nuclear deal and would surely be displeased with an attempt to revive it. Added to that, Iran will not be a priority for the Biden administration as it tries to grapple with the coronavirus health and economic crises.

On the plus side, the Democratic Party is more united behind the JCPOA than it was in 2015. Almost all of the party’s presidential candidates pledged to return to the deal. However, the Senate will likely remain in Republican hands, potentially throwing congressional obstacles in Biden’s way.

To help the next president navigate through this minefield, analysts have proposed a sequenced approach to resuscitating the agreement. The United States and Iran would gradually return to compliance with the JCPOA by 2021, when Rouhani leaves office. Then they could proceed to broader talks about missiles and regional security.

But restoring the JCPOA is no panacea. The deal only lifts ‘secondary sanctions’ that prohibit third parties from doing business with Iran. It does not remove ‘primary sanctions,’ which apply to American companies but also affect non-U.S. entities by restricting their ability to trade in dollars.

This helps explain why commerce between Iran and Pakistan remained low even after the nuclear deal was implemented. In 2015 the two countries pledged to boost trade to $5 billion by 2021, but they never got close to achieving that goal. If history is any guide, Pakistan would only see meager economic benefits from JCPOA sanctions relief.

Of course, there are other factors constraining trade, including high tariff barriers in Iran and woefully inadequate transport connectivity between the two countries. Moreover, years of economic mismanagement have left Pakistan with a chronic trade deficit. Efforts to boost exports have been further hampered by the coronavirus economic slump.

Another obstacle may come from Iran’s nemesis, Saudi Arabia, which has close economic and security ties with Pakistan and exerts considerable influence there. Saudi pressure apparently blocked the progress of a long-delayed and now-defunct gas pipeline between Pakistan and Iran. While Saudi-Pakistan ties are waning, somewhat, they remain strong.

Worse still, for Islamabad, its arch-enemy India would likely benefit more from a revival of the JCPOA than Pakistan would. Before Trump withdrew from the deal, India imported significant amounts of oil from Iran and also moved forward with gas and infrastructure deals, such as the Chabahar port project. Those deals have stalled but might be revamped.

Closer ties between India and Iran could also mitigate Tehran’s support for the Kashmir cause. In recent years, the Iranian supreme leader and other officials have been more supportive of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. But a renewal of Indian trade and investment may force Iran to moderate its tone.

The read-outs from Zarif’s meeting in Islamabad were revealing for what they did not mention. While the Pakistani statement referred to Kashmir, there was no explicit reference in the Iranian text. In previous bilateral visits, the two sides pledged to connect Chabahar with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). But there was no talk of CPEC this time.

With a revival of the JCPOA on the horizon, Iran will not want to antagonize Delhi by courting its main strategic rivals in Beijing and Islamabad. Tehran must tread carefully, as it is currently negotiating a strategic partnership with China at the same time as Chinese and Indian troops are locked in a protracted stand-off on the disputed Himalayan border.

A restoration of the JCPOA could actually inflame tensions between Pakistan and Iran. If India capitalizes on sanctions relief to re-enter the Iranian market and improve its political relations with Tehran, we may see a resurgence of old Pakistani fears that India is using Iran as a launch-pad for intelligence operations inside Pakistan.

Those fears were seemingly confirmed in 2016 when alleged spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan after entering the country via Iran. And, since then, Pakistani concerns about Indian covert operations have only increased. The government recently issued a dossier detailing Delhi’s apparent links to various terrorist groups.

In this feverish environment, sparks could fly on the Iran-Pakistan border. Both countries have long accused the other of harboring militant groups. Terror attacks have sometimes led to cross-border shelling and could result in further violence if Islamabad sees an Indian hand in Iran-based terrorist activity.

Afghanistan is another possible flashpoint. The two countries were on opposing sides in the 1990s, when Pakistan backed the Afghan Taliban and Tehran supported their adversaries, the Northern Alliance. Since then, Iran has cultivated closer ties to the Taliban, while cooperating with Pakistan on the peace process.

But they are not entirely on the same page. Iran is more eager than Pakistan to see a broad, inclusive government in Kabul that is not monopolized by the Taliban. Indeed, Tehran opposed the peace settlement signed in Doha in February 2020 as it excluded the Afghan government.

However, Pakistan and Iran might collaborate more closely if Biden pursues a regional security dialogue as part of his follow-on agreement to the JCPOA. Because Islamabad has good political relations with both Tehran and Riyadh, it has helped mediate between the two rivals to defuse regional crises in recent years and could do so again.

But, while the Biden era might see a modest improvement in Iran-Pakistan ties, major progress is unlikely.

Rupert Stone is a freelance journalist working on issues related to South Asia and the Middle East. He has written for various publications, including Newsweek, VICE News, Al Jazeera, and The Independent.

Image: Reuters.

Imam Khamenei’s Advisor: US Attack on Iran Could Trigger ‘Full-Fledged’ Regional War

Imam Khamenei’s Advisor: US Attack on Iran Could Trigger ‘Full-Fledged’ Regional War

By Staff, Agencies

A military advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei warns that an act of military aggression by the US against Iran that could lead to an even limited conflict is likely to set off a full-scale war that would afflict other parts of the region too.

The remarks were made by Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, defense minister during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s previous tenure and former commander of the Air Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC]. He made the comments to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the news agency published a day later.

“A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war,” Dehqan said.

He, however, not only clearly distanced Iran from any intention to trigger such a conflict, but also cautioned strongly about such confrontation’s repercussions for the region and, by extension, the world.

“We don’t welcome a crisis. We don’t welcome war. We are not after starting a war,” he said.

“Definitely, the United States, the region, and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis,” the military expert noted.

He, accordingly, warned against any American military escalation in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.

Dehqan, meanwhile, addressed the likelihood of fresh negotiations with the US and the quality that such talks could partake of.

He reminded that the US’ atrocities under Trump had made it extremely difficult for Iran to accept its return to the negotiation table. Among the rest, he referred to the US’ assassination of Iran’s senior anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani on Trump’s direct order near Baghdad airport in January.

He called the IRGC’s retaliatory missile strikes against US bases in Iraq that came almost immediately after the assassination a mere “initial slap,” and asserted that the Islamic Republic continued to seek the expulsion of all American forces from the region as revenge for the barbaric assassination.

“We do not seek a situation in which [the other party] buys time to weaken our nation,” he also said – apparently signaling that Tehran would not tolerate any American trickery in the event of any fresh talks – and said, “We are not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations either.”

Further, the advisor reiterated the country’s principled stance that its missile power is non-negotiable due to its forming part of Iran’s “deterrent” might.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power … with anybody under any circumstances,” Dehqan said. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is possessed by our experts, young people, and industrial centers.”

The official also warned about the “Israeli” entity’s regional expansionist ambitions that saw the regime normalizing its relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan earlier in the year. Dehqan warned that the ambitious march was a “strategic mistake” that could put Tel Aviv in a parlous state.

“It is opening an extensive front,” he said. “Just imagine every ‘Israeli’ in any military base can be a target for groups who are opposed to ‘Israel’”.

Separately, the official said the United Nations nuclear agency could keep monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities as long as no inspector is a “spy.” He was seemingly referring to a case of apparent attempted sabotage last year that came amid the US and the “Israeli” entity’s escalated attempts at demonizing Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Last November, Iran revealed that a detector for explosive nitrates had gone off at the country’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant when an inspector with the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, attempted to enter the facility on October 28.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s envoy to the agency, noted back then that the woman “sneaked out” to the bathroom while officials looked for a female employee to search her.

After her return, he added, the alarms did not go off again, but authorities found contamination in the bathroom and later on her empty handbag during a house search.

Trump’s 1st win gutted Iran’s moderates – will 2nd win push a military man into office?

Source

November 01, 2020

Trump’s 1st win gutted Iran’s moderates – will 2nd win push a military man into office?

By: Habib A. Abdolhossein for the Saker Blog

Habib is the editor-in-chief at PressTV, Iran’s English-language media organisation. He is an Iranian media expert and holds an M.A. in Media management from the University of Tehran.

With less than two days to the US election many Iranians are eagerly following the news, as they expect the outcome to impact their own futures.

The ultimate fate of the fragile 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the future of ties between Tehran and Washington truly hinge on the outcome of the November 3 vote.

US President Donald Trump left the nuclear agreement in tatters by abandoning it in May 2018. He imposed the “strongest sanctions ever” against Iran as part his “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing Iran to make compromises on crucial issues, including its nuclear activities and its highly-touted missile program.

The feeling in Tehran is that Tump’s re-election would mean the continuation of the “maximum pressure” campaign. In fact, the incumbent says if he wins the vote Iran will be forced to seek a deal “within the first month” of his second term. But as his hands are still wet with the blood of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, he is not the desirable option for Iran to resume talks with.

Joe Biden’s victory, on the other hand, is expected to genuinely shift US policy on Iran. In an opinion article published by CNN, Biden said if elected president he would, “offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy”.

Biden’s presidency could be a game-changer for Iran’s reformists and moderate politicians who are vying for a political comeback by championing enhanced relations with the West.

“If Biden becomes U.S. president and rejoins the JCPOA, Iran will get a major achievement… But if Trump is re-elected, he will continue his maximum pressure against Iran and will pose new challenges for the Iranian economy,” confirms Dr. Ahmad Naghibzadeh, Tehran University professor and a member of Executives of Construction Party, a reformist party in Iran.

Reformists, who are already under fire for their support for President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, thus consider pursuing diplomacy with Biden as a more feasible way to promote their agenda.

“The new government should take advantage of the opportunities made after the U.S. elections to normalize ties with the world and tackle the sanctions…. Reformists view power as a tool for entering into negotiations with the world,” says Seyed Hossein Marashi, spokesman of the pro-reform Kargozaran Sazandegi Party.

However, the obvious reality is that such an attitude barely strikes a chord with the general public in Iran – geopolitical concerns have been put on the back burner after years of being a regularly-discussed topic. A majority of Iranians are instead obsessed with economy, which is cracking under sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

Vote of no-confidence for Reformists

Back in 2013, Rouhani swept to a landslide, first-round victory as a centrist with a campaign of “prudence and hope”. Rouhani promised to rescue the economy by ending Iran’s international isolation. Seven years on, with the economy reeling from re-imposed US sanctions, those hopes have clearly been dashed. Many of his supporters are disappointed and even outraged with Rouhani’s “empty” promises of change.

Rouhani’s victories in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections actually had less to do with his own popularity than with a tacit alliance with the reformists. Support from key reformist figures, including ex-President Mohammad Khatami, who had pinned hopes onto Rouhani’s pro-reform pledges, played a key role.

Many voters see too big a gap between Rouhani’s campaign rhetoric and the reality of his governance. Furthermore, his performance has also inflicted a heavy toll on the popularity of moderates who threw their weight behind him.

“Rouhani was not a reformist but the reformists put their social capital on sale by supporting him…” says former MP Nasser Qavami, who believes reformists have already lost the game by supporting a non-reformist.

Reformists and other moderates now have almost no selling point to entice even their own disillusioned supporters to vote. They can no longer hope to defeat the conservatives who have already conquered parliament.

The 2020 parliamentary elections were a litmus test for moderates: With the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution (admittedly affected by the pandemic), reformists didn’t just lose the vote but were annihilated: they dropped from a plurality of 121 seats to just 20 seats.

Trump or Biden? Yes, it does it make a difference for Iran

Whether the incumbent Donald Trump is re-elected or his Democratic rival Joe Biden wins the White House cannot help but decisively impact Iran’s immediate foreign policy strategy because, from the point of view of moderates, the two candidates have genuinely different approaches to Iran. This runs counter to the conservatives’ view, which is that an anti-Iran policy is the only policy possible from Washington no matter who is elected.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a key political analyst and a professor at Tehran University, believes Iran will be in a better position if Trump wins the U.S. election.

“An internationally isolated US under Trump will have little chance of gaining any serious accomplishment against Iran. But if Biden wins, he will act better in forging consensus against Iran,” Marandi asserts.

Despite his bellicose rhetoric, Trump has indicated that he doesn’t want a war with Iran, and he has employed military intervention far less than his recent predecessors. However, there is no guarantee he will follow this same strategy in his second term, worrying many.

“Since he doesn’t need voters’ support in his second term, the possibility of military confrontation with Iran increases,” suggests Afshar Soleimani, an Iranian political analyst.

With that in mind, a Trump victory may cause Iran to ultimately lean towards a more aggressive approach: ditching the landmark nuclear deal and boosting the controversial missile program. Much to the chagrin of the US, Iran is now allowed to export arms after a 13-year old ban was just lifted under the JCPOA. Houthis in Yemen and Lebanon’s Hezbollah top the list of allies whom Iran may supply with weapons.

The best option to enforce this type of a change to foreign policy could be a president who has served in the military.

Military-turned president in the making?

This should be viewed as a major strategic shift as the Islamic Republic has always had a civilian president.

“This position should be run by a strategic individual who has a better military and security expertise to take on a pivotal role in the strategic management of the country,” says Hossein Allahkaram, a conservative pundit and former IRGC officer.

There are mounting speculations that former defense minister and IRGC commander General Hossein Dehqan may run for president in the 2021 election. A senior military advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Dehqan has already served in the defense ministry in the Khatami and Rouhani administrations. He also headed the key Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs during Ahmadinejad’s first term.

But the vital question is whether Iranian society is ready to accept a military commander as president?

“This depends on the national strategy. A military president is not likely to win a landslide victory,” says reformist analyst Mohammad Sadeq Javadi Hessari. “This could be an option by conservatives to take advantage when low voter turnout is expected,” he crucially emphasizes.

Iranians have already indicated that they have great reverence for their military commanders – millions turned out in nationwide funerals and commemorations after Soleimani was killed.

For many Iranians Trump’s re-election means more tensions with the US are certain. With low voter turnout expected, a soldier-turned president could be an option unless Washington’s “maximum pressure” stops before Iran’s June 18th presidential vote.

Such a choice could even work with Biden as president: It could pressure the White House to not set impossible preconditions for returning to the JCPOA, or not attempt to keep the sanctions in place as leverage.

What’s certain is that the new US president will have little chance to negotiate a new deal with outgoing Iranian president Rouhani, whose term ends in almost eight months.

Iranians will certainly be more demanding should they enter any talks with US again. They have lost their top general Soleimani and incurred serious damages under Trump-era sanctions. They expect US compensation to be offered just to resume talks.

Opening the window of diplomacy seems to be more conceivable with Biden than Trump. The victor would be wise to remember that resistance is expected to remain an option for Iran – as usual – regardless of who is finally elected in the United States.

Iran Preparing to Unveil New Chopper, Drone and Missile-Laden Warship Capable of Reaching US Coast

13:26 GMT 10.10.2020

In this Feb. 21, 2010 photo, two clerics stand at left as Iran's Jamaran guided-missile destroyer and navy members prepare for an exercise in the Persian Gulf, along the coast of Iran.

by Ilya Tsukanov

The Islamic Republic Navy’s fleet of surface warships includes vessels ranging from small patrol boats and corvettes to Moudge-class frigates. Over the last decade, Iranian ships have made port visits to countries ranging from Syria and South Africa to China. But Tehran has yet to make good on plans to send its ships to the Western Hemisphere.

Iran is preparing to unveil a new warship capable of circumnavigating the globe three times over without refueling, enabling it to reach any point on the planet and giving Tehran a tit-for-tat capability to respond to the deployment of US warships off Iran’s coast.

Speaking to Iranian media on Saturday, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi revealed that the auxiliary ship, named the ‘Persian Gulf’, will be equipped with a range of weapons systems, including missiles, drones and helicopters.

The ship is expected to be formally unveiled sometime between November 21 and December 20.

According to Khanzadi, the Persian Gulf’s deployment will help ensure “defence and security stability” in the region and beyond.

The commander did not provide any more details about the Persian Gulf’s characteristics or capabilities. Last month however, he announced that the Navy would soon unveil a 231-meter-long dock ship capable of carrying up to seven choppers, as well as drones, missiles and electronic warfare equipment. It’s not clear whether the ‘Persian Gulf’ and this new dock ship are one and the same vessel.

Iran will mark Navy Day on November 28. This year, the force is expected to take delivery of several new warships, including the Dena Moudge-class frigate, the Saba minesweeper and a new class of missile boats.

Khanzadi did not specify where his force’s new ultra-long range vessel might be deployed. In recent years, Iranian warships have made port visits throughout the Middle East, East Asia and the east coast of Africa, and have taken part in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden against Somali pirates. However, despite repeated talk of plans to sail ships further west into the Atlantic Ocean and the Western Hemisphere, Tehran has yet to do so.

Guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110)

© WIKIPEDIA / U.S. NAVY

US Sails Warship Off Venezuela’s Coastal Waters Citing Treaty Washington Itself Hasn’t Ratified

This spring, Iran did send civilian tanker ships filled with fuel, food and supplies to sanctions-starved Venezuela, with the latest flotilla arriving in the Latin American country in late September.

Tehran has also repeatedly urged the US to stop deploying its warships in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East generally, proposing that regional powers take care of the region’s security instead. In 2019, at the UN, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani proposed the creation of a ‘Coalition of Hope’ including all nations which border on the Persian Gulf.

Late last month, after the US parked a carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf, Rouhani accused US forces in the Middle East of undermining regional stability and security, and called on all nations in the region where American troops are based to make a concerted effort to expel them.

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تقليص أجنحة الإمارات يجمع إيران وتركيا

تقليص أجنحة الإمارات يجمع إيران وتركيا - ميدل ايست نيوز بالعربي

عباس بوصفوان

الخميس 17 أيلول 2020

أتقنت الإمارات، على نحو لم يحدث من قبل، تجميع خصوم أشدّاء ضدها، يملكون مشروعاً وطنياً يرتكز على القومية، والإسلام، والتاريخ المديد المتعدد الطبقات، وسردية دستورية تستند إلى بُعدَي الجمهورية (البعد الشعبي والانتخابات، على علاتها) والدين في شكله الشيعي أو السني، وعقيدة سياسية ذات قوام ناعم قابلة للنمذجة والتصدير والجذب، وموقعاً استراتيجياً، وغنى ثقافياً، وعدداً سكانياً ضخماً، وقوة اقتصادية ذاتية، وعتاداً عسكرياً يحسب له ألف حساب، وحلفاء عقائديين، وحضوراً عالمياً… وكذا تحديات جمّة تجعل من الإمارات الصغيرة غير قادرة على إزعاج النّمرين الآسيويين الصاعدين.

أهداف طهران وتركيا

يبدو أن ما يشغل طهران وأنقرة، بعد التطبيع الإماراتي مع الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، ليس الدخول مع الإمارة الصغيرة الطموحة في حرب ساخنة، فذاك ما تكرهه إيران، التي تجيد القيادة من الخلف. وهو أمر تعلّمته تركيا، في ما يبدو، في تدخلها المثير للجدل في ليبيا، لكن «المتوازن» إن صح القول مقارنة بتدخلها الفج والقبيح والدموي في سوريا.
الأرجح أن الدولتين المسلمتين الكبيرتين، ستضعان الخطط الساعية إلى تقليص أجنحة الإمارات، بما يعيد الدولة الخليجية الفتية الغنية إلى ما كانت عليه تقليدياً، من سوق تجارية كبرى، لا خصماً سياسياً متقدماً، ولا موطئ قدم للمخابرات المعادية، ولا منصّة لإطلاق النار، ولا مقراً لتغذية النزاعات الإقليمية، ولا بؤرة للتناحر الإقليمي والدولي، وإن احتفظت لنفسها بموقع المنبر الإعلامي المعادي فذاك من الأمور المتفهمة. ولا شك في أن هذا الموضوع كان في صلب النقاش الإيراني التركي في الاجتماع الذي التأم افتراضياً قبل أيام، ودعا فيه الرئيس روحاني نظيره التركي إردوغان إلى موقف مشترك من التطبيع الإماراتي.

التطبيع إيرانياً وتركياً

تستثمر كل من إيران وتركيا الكثير في القضية الفلسطينية، بعدما أدركت أنقرة أن نفوذ طهران عميق بين فصائل المقاومة، في وقت يظهر فيه الخطاب السعودي – الإماراتي رغبة متزايدة في إسدال الستار على قضية العرب الأولى. بيد أنه يجدر أن نلحظ فارقاً نوعياً بين مقاربة طهران مقارنة بأنقرة في موضوع إسرائيل، ووجودها في المنطقة، وتالياً إرساء علاقات دبلوماسية معها، وخصوصاً في الوقت الراهن، حيث يتنافس محور تركيا – قطر – «الإخوان» من جهة، مع محور السعوديين والإماراتيين والمصريين من جهة أخرى، على كسب ود أميركا، الحاضن الرئيسي للاحتلال. يفرض ذلك على تركيا، التي تملك علاقة دبلوماسية قديمة مع تل أبيب، وقطر التي سبق لها أن استقبلت مكتباً إسرائيلياً في قلب الدوحة، أن لا يظهرا رفضاً مبدئياً لوجود الكيان الإسرائيلي والتطبيع معه.

يحرص المحور التركي على تمييز مساره عن المحور السعودي


يحرص المحور التركي على إبراز معارضته للتطبيع استناداً إلى رفض إسرائيل الإقرار بالحقوق الفلسطينية، كما يحرص على تمييز مساره عن المحور السعودي، المتحالف هو الآخر مع واشنطن. تظهر قناة «الجزيرة»، «توازناً» لافتاً بين مختلف الآراء، فلا تعطي وقتاً أوسع للأصوات المعبرة عن موقف مبدئي للاحتلال، بل تمنح متسعاً عريضاً للمثقفين العرب «المعتدلين»، الداعين إلى تسوية مع إسرائيل تفضي إلى التطبيع، وأولئك الذين يبررون العلاقة معها، حتى من دون تسوية.
السعوديون يسعون، من جهتهم، إلى القول بأنهم أقرب إلى أميركا، بيد أن القطري والتركي نجحا في السنوات الماضية في شد عصب العلاقة مع واشنطن، وحتى واشنطن ترامب، الأقرب إلى السعودي. من ناحيتها، تعتقد إيران وحلفاوها أن المنطقة لن تبلغ مستوى الاستقلال الحقيقي إلا بإخراج القوات الأميركية، التي تتحالف معها تركيا وقطر. أمّا إسرائيل، فهي إيرانياً قاعدة أميركية متقدمة، وجب اجتثاثها، ولمّا كان من الصعب أن تقوم إيران مباشرة بذلك، فإنها تحتضن ما بات يعرف بحركات المقاومة، التي تهدد الكيان وتحشره في الزاوية.

ما الذي أجّج الخلافات؟

ما يجعل الأتراك والإيرانيين يرفعون الصوت عالياً تجاه أبو ظبي، هو مضيّ الأخيرة في رفع عقيرتها إلى درجة إرسال طائرات للمشاركة في مناورات يونانية، موجهة ضد تركيا، والمضيّ – بالمقابل – في إرساء علاقة متينة مع تل أبيب، موجهة ضد طهران. اعتاد الطرفان التركي والإماراتي أن يتصادما في ليبيا وسوريا ومصر، لكن الإمارات تمضي بعيداً حين تنقل الصراع إلى حدود أنقرة، كما على حدود قطر. وطالما اصطدم الإماراتي والإيراني في اليمن ولبنان والعراق والبحرين، لكن إدخال أبو ظبي إسرائيل على خط المواجهة يفرض على طهران تعاملاً مختلفاً.
سمعنا تنديداً من إردوغان وروحاني بالإماراتيين، والتقديرات المرجحة أن أبو ظبي ستضطر، على الأرجح، ولو في هذه الفترة التجريبية، إلى دعوة إسرائيل وأميركا إلى أن لا تحوّلا المدينة التجارية إلى منصة عسكرية موجّهة نحو إيران، بيد أن ذلك لن يطمئن طهران إلا بعد أن تتحول الفرضية إلى واقع، وإلا باتت «المدينة التي من زجاج» هدفاً إيرانياً مشروعاً.
ولا ننسى أن الحصار ضدّ قطر وإيران وتركيا يجمعها ضد الإمارات، التي يعني تحجيمها تحجيم الرياض.

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Iran’s response to any move by Mossad in region will include UAE, says aide to parliament speaker

Source

September 7, 2020 – 21:50

TEHRAN – In a clear warning to the United Arab Emirates, Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, the special aide to the speaker of the Iranian Parliament on international affairs, said Iran’s response to any provocative move by the Israeli intelligence services would include the UAE.

“Since the UAE disclosed the normalization of its relations with the fake regime of Israel, Iran’s response to any overt or covert move by Israel’s Mossad spy agency or their agents in the Islamic Republic or the region will not be directed at the Zionist entity only, but the UAE will also be part of the response,” Amir-Abdollahian told al-Alam news network.

The special aide was referring to a recent U.S.-brokered normalization deal between the UAE and Israel, which was announced on August 13 during a ceremony at the White House attended by senior U.S. officials including President Donald Trump.

Under the deal, officially known as the Abraham Accords, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” according to a joint statement issued by the U.S., Israel and the UAE.

The two leaders have also “committed to the exchange of embassies and ambassadors, and to begin cooperation in a broad range of fields including education, healthcare, trade, and security,” the White House said in a statement on August 13.

Amir-Abdollahian said the UAE has not only endangered its security by cooperating with Israel, but it also has put the security of the whole region in danger, including the security of both energy supply routes and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Netanyahu has treated the leaders of the Emirates so derogatorily that he felt the entire Emirates was like a Zionist settlement that he was going to unveil. This is a humiliation that was brought about by Mohammad bin Zayed to the people of the Emirates and the people of the entire region. We strongly deplore this. And we really hope that the sages of the Emirates change tack,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
 
He also warned Saudi Arabia against cooperation with Israel, saying his warning to the UAE also applies to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have committed a “big betrayal” to the cause of Palestine by opening their airspace to an Israeli airline to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to the UAE, Amir-Abdollahian noted, referring to the first direct commercial flight operated by the Israeli airline El Al between Israel and the UAE on August 31.


‘disintegration plot’

The special aide warned that the Israelis sought to normalize relations with Arab countries to gain broad access to Arab and Muslim countries to disintegrate the region’s countries including the UAE itself.
 
The Israelis want to carry out their “big Zionists plot,” which aims to disintegrate the region as soon as possible, said Amir-Abdollahian, adding that Israel plans to partition even a small country like the UAE.

“Saudi Arabia will conclude from its relationship with the Zionist entity that the U.S.-Zionist plots to disintegrate Saudi Arabia will be implemented faster, and there is a similar view about the UAE as well. You might say that the UAE is not a big country, but the Zionists want, through their secret plots, to divide the UAE into seven separate states or regions, and this is what they have sought to achieve in recent years against Iran, Iraq, Syria, and even Egypt and Turkey,” the Iranian official warned.

Iran has strongly criticized the UAE for deciding to sign the normalization deal with Israel to normalize ties with Tel Aviv, calling it a “strategic stupidity” and a “treason” against the Palestinians.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers this ‘shameful’ action of Abu Dhabi in normalizing ties with the fake, anti-human and illegitimate Zionist regime a dangerous action and warns about any interference of the Zionist regime in equations of the Persian Gulf region and announces that the government of the Emirates and other accompanying governments must admit responsibility for consequences of this action,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on August 14.

Iranian high-ranking officials including President Hassan Rouhani has warned the UAE against giving Israel a stronghold on Iran’s doorstep, a move that could further ratchet up tensions between Iran and the UAE.

“They thought that if they approach the Zionist regime, their security and economy would be ensured, while this is wrong and 100% condemned, and it is a clear betrayal to the Palestinian people, the cause of al-Quds and Muslims,” the presidential website quoted President Rouhani as saying, days after the UAE announced the normalization deal with Israel.

“The rulers of the United Arab Emirates should know that they have gone in the wrong direction if they think that they can buy security for themselves by getting closer to the enemies of Islam and Iran,” the president said, warning that “unfortunately, the United Arab Emirates has made a big mistake and we hope it would change its wrong tack. We warn them against giving Israel a foothold in the region, then they will be treated differently.”

In a separate warning to the UAE, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hussein Bagheri also warned that the UAE would bear the responsibility for any harm to the national interest of Iran. He said that Iran will fundamentally change its approach toward the UAE.

“Definitely, the Iranian nation’s approach towards this neighboring state [the UAE] will change fundamentally, and the Islamic Republic’s Armed Forces will also deal with that country according to different calculations,” the top general warned.

RELATED NEWS

Analyst expects Hezbollah to play a constructive role in Gov. formation

By Mohammad Mazhari

September 5, 2020 – 23:16

TEHRAN – Ghassan Javad, a Lebanese analyst, expects Hezbollah to contribute constructively information of a new government in Lebanon based on “the resistance’s understanding of the Lebanese reality and necessity of Lebanese consensus.”

On the role of Hezbollah in the next Lebanese government, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Hezbollah is a political group that has the right to be in power.

Contrary to all comments that say Hezbollah should be eliminated from the Lebanese decision-making process, the French think that the party has a meaningful social base in Lebanon.

The French push for a systematic involvement of Hezbollah in Lebanese institutions, believing that it will be in the interest of the country and other groups.

The Lebanese analyst tells the Tehran Times that Hezbollah will be a participant in the next government and will help prepare the conditions to form a national unity government.

“Of course, Hezbollah will have a constructive role in the process of forming a new government in Lebanon, based on the resistance’s understanding of the Lebanese reality and necessity of Lebanese consensus,” Javad points out.

After naming the Lebanese prime minister on August 31, Macron said in Beirut that the Lebanese political groups had pledged to form a new government headed by Mustafa Adib within 15 days.

He warned about the consequences of a failure by the Lebanese parties to fulfill what they had pledged by the end of October.

Javad underlines that it was clear that there was a great French effort to form a national unity government or national consensus government.

“This government is a salvation government, and its mission is to unify the Lebanese to contain the economic, social, financial, and political crises that we are living in,” Javad remarks.

Macron added in a press conference that he had contacted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and international leaders to discuss ways of helping Lebanon, explaining that he felt these leaders had a will to allow Lebanon to follow its path.

In fact, Macron’s domain of activities has been very wide, starting from Iran, which was flexible in response to efforts to form a new government, and Hezbollah, which responded positively to what the French president has proposed and its willingness to cooperate based on a set of considerations.

On the other hand, some Lebanese observers believe that the French try to exploit the shock caused by the Beirut blast and take the initiative when the Americans are busy with their elections.

Javad confirms that there was a French pressure on the Lebanese factions to form a government of national unity, or at the very least, a government supported by a vast majority of political groups.

 According to Lebanese media outlets, there was a meeting between the Lebanese political blocs to reach a consensus about the next prime minister, and this matter was evident

during the visit of the French leader to Lebanon.

“In his meetings with the Lebanese politicians and officials, Macron insisted on French interests and concerns in Lebanon, pointing to French-Iranian and French-American convergence there,” the Lebanese analyst says.

Javad notes that “apparently there is no objection by the United States and regional countries to the French role on the basis of consensus at this difficult historical phase.”

Responding to a question about the possibility of a fundamental change in Lebanon’s political structure, the Lebanese analyst believes that “we need a completely new political structure, but there will be a transitional phase and preparation for the parliamentary elections.”

 “Afterwards, it is possible to talk about a move towards a new political system and a new political formula. Currently, we are in a transitional phase, and of course, Lebanon needs an internal and external consensus in order to move towards political stability,” according to Javad.

RELATED NEWS

Velayati: “Israel’s” Disintegration to Speed Up after Normalization

Velayati: “Israel’s” Disintegration to Speed Up after Normalization

By Staff, Agencies

A senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said normalization between “Israel” and the United Arab Emirates serves to further galvanize the regional peoples against the occupying regime, thus bringing its ultimate disintegration closer.

Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises the Leader on foreign policy matters, made the remarks in a statement on Saturday in his capacity as secretary general of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening. The body was formed after the 2010 protests that sprung in Tunisia before spreading throughout much of the Arab world, toppling several tyrannical rulers.

The United Arab Emirates and the “Israeli” entity announced a deal enabling eventual full normalization of their relations on Thursday. It was met with uniform condemnation of all Palestinian factions, who called it a stab in the back of the Palestinians and sheer betrayal of their cause.

Velayati called the agreement “ignominious and reprehensible.” The deal would only result in Abu Dhabi’s isolation, alienation from the rest of the international Muslim nation, and engender such level of Islamic awakening among the regional peoples that “will precipitate the Zionist regime’s disintegration,” he added.

Velayati stated that historically, since the “occupation” of Palestinian and other Arab territories by the “Israeli” entity, all of Tel Aviv’s victories were owed to a “lack of alignment and necessary cooperation within the Arab world” as well as to “some Arab states’ clandestine collaboration with the global arrogant powers and the Zionist lobby”. He added that the situation was balanced following Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The official said that the removal of the country’s US-backed and “Israel”-allied former regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi “invited a new phase in the developments that concerned Palestine, and the course of the [regional] resistance tipped the balance of power in favor of the oppressed people of Palestine”.

Velayati said that the entity’s biggest ally, the US, suffered a “terrible defeat” after its failure to adopt the so-called “Deal of the Century”, which would have granted the entity another large part of Palestinian lands on the occupied West Bank, suggested by Trump earlier this year. He also argued that the Trump administration failed to “break down the axis of resistance in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen”.

The advisor called on Muslim nations across the world to “openly condemn” the UAE-“Israel” deal and to “spare no effort until the final victory of the Palestinian cause, i.e. disintegration and fall of the usurping Zionist government.”

On Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani fiercely denounced the UAE-“Israeli” normalization attempt as a “huge mistake” and a betrayal of the Muslim and Arab world, arguing that the move was made primarily to support Trump’s November re-election bid.

“They [the UAE] have committed a huge mistake, a treacherous act. We hope they will realise this and abandon this wrong path,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Saturday. “Why then did it happen now? If it weren’t a wrong deal, why was it then announced in a third country, in America? So a gentleman in Washington wins votes, you betray your country, your people, Muslims and the Arab world?”

تركيا تقدّم عرضاً لروسيا وإيران

ناصر قنديل

بعد اجتماعات القمّة الافتراضية التي ضمّت الرؤساء الروسي فلاديمير بوتين والإيراني الشيخ حسن روحاني والتركي رجب أردوغان، سادت أجواء إيجابية حول إمكانية تغيير في السلوك التركي في شمال غرب سورية ومحوره حسم مصير الجماعات المسلّحة هناك. وربط الكثيرون بين هذه التوقعات والاهتمام التركيّ بالمواجهة في ليبيا بعد الموقف المصري واحتمالات تطوره باتجاه تدخل عسكري، سيجعل من الصعب مواجهته من دون الخروج التركي من سورية، سواء للحاجة لدعم روسي إيراني أوسع سياسياً يستدعي خطوة بحجم الانسحاب من سورية، أو نظراً للحاجات الميدانية التي ستفرضها المواجهة وما تتطلّبه من نقل كل القوات الموجودة في سورية إلى ليبيا، لكن بعض التحليلات تحدثت عن شيء أكبر ومضمونه عرض تركيّ قدّمه الرئيس أردوغان لكل من روسيا وإيران.

يرتكز العرض التركي على قاعدتين، الأولى الإقرار التركيّ بصراع مفتوح على زعامة سنّة العالم الإسلامي مع السعودية وطلب الدعم الروسي الإيراني لتركيا على قاعدة كشف قدّمه أردوغان عن فشل رهانات موسكو وطهران على مساعي التقرّب من الرياض التي تناصبهما العداء وتنفذ سياسات أميركيّة صرفة، بخلاف تركيا التي تراعي المصالح الروسية والإيرانية ولو ترتّبت عليها مسافة واسعة عن السياسات الأميركية وتحمّل تبعات ذلك، الثاني الاستعداد لرسم مسافة تركية أوسع من العلاقة بالأميركيين تراعي حدود طلبات روسية وإيرانية مثل عدم ربط البقاء في سورية بالبقاء الأميركي، وبالتوازي الاستعداد لمسافة موازية من العلاقة مع كيان الاحتلال في ضوء صفقة القرن ونيات ضمّ الضفة الغربية، والتعاون مع إيران بمساعدة قطر لدعم حركة حماس وتعزيز صمود قطاع غزة أمام الضغوط “الإسرائيليّة”.

المقابل الذي يطلبه الأتراك وفقاً لعرض أردوغان، هو إضافة للتعاون التركيّ السوريّ الروسي الإيراني لإنهاء دويلة الجماعات الكرديّة المسلحة في شرق سورية، فتح الساحات التي تملك روسيا وإيران قدرة التأثير فيها أمام تنمية نفوذ تركيّ في البيئة السنيّة التي تسيطر عليها السعودية، خصوصاً أن تنظيم الأخوان المسلمين موجود بصيغ مختلفة في هذه البيئات، من لبنان إلى العراق وليبيا وسواها، ويتضمّن العرض استعداد أردوغان لضمان عدم تخطّي هذه الجماعات لسقوف يتفق عليها حسب خصوصيّة كل ساحة. وتقول التحليلات إن الرئيس الروسي الذي وعد بالسعي لترتيب لقاءات سوريّة تركيّة بدعم إيراني، أبدى حذراً مشتركاً مع الرئيس الإيرانيّ من اعتبار فتح الباب لدور الأخوان المسلمين في سورية ممكناً في ظل موقف حاسم لسورية من هذا الطرح، بالإضافة لحذر الرئيس بوتين من التورّط في صراع مصريّ تركيّ ترغب موسكو بلعب دور الوسيط وليس الطرف فيه.

المشكلة وفقاً للتحليلات المذكورة، أن السياسات السعوديّة وبنسبة معينة المواقف المصرية، خير نصير لعرض أردوغان. فالسعودية تنضبط بمواقف أميركية و”إسرائيلية” عدائية نسبياً لروسيا ولإيران أكثر، وتقدّم جغرافيتها ونفطها وإعلامها كأدوات لهذه السياسات، ومصر تورطت بخط لنقل الغاز بالتعاون مع كيان الاحتلال نحو أوروبا لمنافسة الغاز الروسي، بينما تشارك تركيا روسيا خطها الأوروبيّ، ونجم عن تدخلها في ليبيا عرقلة الخط المصري – “الإسرائيلي”. وتقول هذه التحليلات إن العقبات التي تعترض طريق الطرح التركي ربما تنخفض أهميتها إذا ارتفع منسوب التصعيد في المنطقة، وتورّطت السعودية في سياسات العداء والتجاهل أكثر وأكثر، خصوصاً أن العروض التركية تتضمن توظيف قدرات قطر المالية للمساهمة في حل بعض الأزمات المالية في لبنان والعراق وفلسطين وسورية.

Schizophrenic Erdogan Condemns Himself in a Summit with Putin and Rouhani

Source

July 1, 2020 Arabi Souri

Russian Putin Iranian Rouhani Turkish Erdogan - Video conference on Syria

The joint statement issued after the video conference meeting between the Russian President Mr. Putin, the Iranian President Mr. Rouhani, and the head of the Turkish regime the madman Erodgan today 01 July 2020 stated:


The Presidents:
Rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries.”

Does Erdogan understand that ‘rejecting all attempts to create new realities on the ground’ includes the Turkification of the lands under the Turkish illegal occupation northwest and northeast of Syria?

Did Erdogan read the statement? Does he understand the meaning of ‘standing against separatist agendas aimed to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria’, that it includes illegal incursion into Syria’s territories by his military and his terrorists?

The joint statement adds:

“Expressed their opposition to the illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenues that should belong to the Syrian Arab Republic.”

That this also includes the oil seized and stolen by the Turkish-backed FSA (and all the terrorist organizations under its banner including ISIS and Nusra Front and others)?

“Reaffirmed the determination to continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council, while ensuring the protection of the civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with the international humanitarian law.”

All of these entities named in this paragraph are sponsored directly by the Turkish regime, they receive all their logistic support and all the protection they need from Turkey and the al-Qaeda terrorists were even embedded with the Turkish Army TSK in their attacks against the Syrian Arab Army on Syrian soil…!

Erdogan stealing Syrian Wheat - Burning Syrian Wheat Fields
Erdogan stealing Syrian Wheat – Burning Syrian Wheat Fields – Cartoon by @Natali_AlA

The statement adds that The Presidents:

“Reviewed in detail the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and underscored the necessity to maintain calm on the ground by fully implementing all agreements on Idlib.

Expressed grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Syria and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rejected all unilateral sanctions which are in contravention of international law, international humanitarian law, and the UN Charter, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emphasized, in this regard, the critical need to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria in order to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, and, called upon the international community, particularly the UN and its humanitarian agencies, to increase their assistance to all Syrians without discrimination, politicization, and preconditions.”

A safe and unhindered humanitarian access means not controlled or targeted by al-Qaeda, Nusra Front, Grey Wolves, Muslim Brotherhood fanatics, Turkestan Islamist Party, and all other FSA groups sponsored by Turkey. The UN and its humanitarian agencies do not include as well the Nusra Front’s ‘first responders’ aka the White Helmets.

“Reaffirmed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it could only be resolved through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Emphasized in this regard the important role of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, created as a result of the decisive contribution of the Astana guarantors and the implementation of the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Welcomed the agreement to hold the third meeting of the Constitutional Committee in August 2020 and reaffirmed the readiness to support its work through continuous interaction with its members and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen, as facilitator, in order to ensure its sustainable and effective work.”

The statement clearly says: ‘Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process,’ which means without Turkish interference to influence or insert members of the Turkish regime and on its payroll.

“Highlighted the need to facilitate safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria, ensuring their right to return and right to be supported.”

This literally means not to use the refugees to threaten Europe with, or to push them into despair and have them join Erdogan’s military and terrorist adventures in Libya, Yemen, and Qatar, and elsewhere as well.

“Reaffirmed the necessity to respect universally recognized international legal decisions, including those provisions of the relevant UN resolutions rejecting the occupation of Syrian Golan, first and foremost UN Security Council Resolution 497 and thus condemned the decision of the US Administration on the occupied Syrian Golan, which constitutes a grave violation of international law and threatens regional peace and security. They consider Israeli military attacks in Syria as destabilizing and violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country and intensifying the tension in the region.”

Condemning the US decision on the occupied Syrian Golan means bringing up the topic with both the Israelis and Donald Trump’s regime of war and terror, not to be part of the ‘Greater Israel Project‘ as tasked by George W. Bush and continue to do so many years later until this very day.

And considering Israeli military attacks in Syria as violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity also means not to allow the Israelis safe passage to bomb Syrian facilities in Aleppo from the north!

I’m speechless, the Turkish Madman Erdogan is known to be opportunistic, a backstabber, and a hypocrite, but his ability of acting and appearing like a decent human being is really astonishing, well, unless there are two different Erdogans with totally opposite manners?!

Video report:

Hearing is Not Like Seeing: NATO’s Terrorists Burning Syrian Wheat Crops – Video

Strategic Oil Pipeline Project Launched in Iran

Source

Strategic Oil Pipeline Project Launched in Iran

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday launched a major oil pipeline project which enables the country to export its oil without relying on the Strait of Hormuz.

“What is strategic about this project is that many countries in the region have managed to find a second way so that they can export their oil using other routes whenever the Strait of Hormuz faces danger,” Rouhani said while inaugurating the project.

With the launch of the 1,000-kilometer pipeline from Goreh to Jask, the country’s oil exports will no longer be linked to the Hormuz Strait and will not be stopped even if the international maritime passage was to be closed one day, he added.

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important chokepoint for oil, where almost a fifth of the world’s crude or about 20 million barrels per day [bpd] passes through to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.

Shipping through the narrow strait, with the lane just three kilometers wide in either direction at its narrowest point, has become fraught since the US began building its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The pipeline will bring oil from Goreh in Bushehr to Jask, making it strategically important as the country’s second-largest crude oil export terminal.

The Kharg Island terminal deep in the Gulf is currently Iran’s key outlet, accounting for 90 percent of its oil exports. To reach Kharg, tankers must pass the Strait of Hormuz.

Rouhani said that Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei had told him that the project was “the most strategic work” his administration had undertaken.

The new terminal is close to Chabahar which Iran is developing in cooperation with other countries, most notably India.

Chabahar is about to become a key link in the International North South Transport Corridor [INSTC], a multi-modal network of ship, rail and road routes to move freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

It offers a key trade and transport corridor that presents a cheaper and shorter alternative to the traditional route through the Suez Canal.

The terminal would be connected to Iran’s Caspian Sea port of Neka, enabling Tehran to boost shipments of oil from Caspian producers.

Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break ‘Criminal’ US Blockade on Venezuela

Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break ‘Criminal’ US Blockade on Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said that the Iranian oil tankers’ arrival in Venezuela broke the US “unacceptable and criminal” blockade against the country.

The official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina quoted Diaz-Canel as making the remarks on Monday.

Earlier, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro thanked Iranian support, stressing that Caracas and Tehran are both after peace, and have right to do free trade.

Iran’s second oil tanker, Forest, arrived in Venezuela amid the US threats.

Forest entered the Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] of Venezuela early Sunday, met by the country’s navy.

It follows the first of five Iranian vessels carrying an estimated total of 1.53 barrels of gasoline between them, Sputnik reported.

The first vessel, ‘Fortune’, successfully reached Venezuela the day before and was escorted into the port by the Bolivarian Navy.

Three more oil tankers are expected to arrive in Venezuela from Iran. The five vessels are carrying an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline between them.

Iran has warned of repercussions from the potential interception of Iranian tankers by the US.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is always entitled to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and warned that if his country’s oil tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world get into trouble by the Americans, Tehran will definitely retaliate.

Rouhani to US: Our Waterway Is Not ‘New York or Washington’ Gulf

Rouhani to US: Our Waterway Is Not ‘New York or Washington’ Gulf

By Staff, Agencies

In light of Washington’s incessant acts of military adventurism in the Gulf region, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has once again reminded the United States to whom the waterway truly belongs.

“The Americans should know that this waterway is called ‘the Persian Gulf.’ It is not called ‘the New York Gulf’ or ‘the Washington Gulf,’” Rouhani told a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday, in remarks on the occasion of the National Persian Gulf Day.

“They should understand the circumstances [surrounding the body of water] by taking into consideration both its name and the nation that has preserved it for thousands of years, and, therefore, stop hatching plots against the Iranian nation every day,” Rouhani stated.

The Americans, he added, can clearly witness how the Iranian nation has been and continues to be successful in all areas, including providing security for the maritime area.

The Iranian Armed Forces, including the naval forces serving either the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps [IRGC] or the Army, as well as the forces enlisted with Iran’s Law Enforcement Force and volunteer Basij force have invariably guaranteed the security of the waterways and its coastline, Rouhani explained.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump alleged in a recent tweet that he had ordered the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats that “harass” American ships, following a recent confrontation between US warships and Iranian military boats in the waters.

The IRGC denounced the American vessels for their “unprofessional and perilous” behavior in the waterway, and said they had “caused trouble” for one of the elite force’s logistics ships that was on a routine patrol.

إيران تنصح الأميركيّين بالتفكير بتداعيات أيّ عمليات استفزازيّة.. وترامب يحذّر! روحانيّ: أميركا أضاعت فرصة رفع العقوبات عن إيران

البناء

قال الرئيس الإيراني حسن روحاني أمس، إن «الولايات المتحدة أضاعت فرصة تاريخية لرفع العقوبات عن بلاده أثناء أزمة تفشي فيروس كورونا»، لكنه، أكد أن «العقوبات لم تعرقل مكافحة طهران للعدوى».

وأثار وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو أول أمس، احتمال أن تدرس واشنطن تخفيف العقوبات المفروضة على طهران وبلدان أخرى للمساعدة في مكافحة فيروس كورونا، لكنه لم يعطِ أي مؤشر ملموس على كونها تخطط لذلك.

وقال روحاني في اجتماع مع الحكومة بثّه التلفزيون «أضاعت الولايات المتحدة أفضل فرصة لرفع العقوبات، كانت فرصة كبيرة لكي يعتذر الأميركيون… وليرفعوا العقوبات الظالمة الجائرة عن إيران».

وتسبب فيروس كورونا في وفاة 3036 شخصاً وإصابة 47593 في إيران مما يعني أنها البلد الأكثر تضرراً في الشرق الأوسط وهو ما دفع الصين والأمم المتحدة لحث الولايات المتحدة على تخفيف العقوبات.

وقال روحاني «كان يمكن للأميركيين استغلال هذه الفرصة وإبلاغ الشعب الإيراني أنهم ليسوا ضده. عداؤهم (للإيرانيين) واضح».

وزاد الخلاف بين طهران وواشنطن منذ 2018 بعدما سحب الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بلده من الاتفاق النووي الذي أبرمته طهران مع ست قوى عالمية في 2015 وأعاد فرض عقوبات كبلت الاقتصاد الإيراني.

وعرضت واشنطن تقديم مساعدات إنسانية لطهران، لكن الزعيم الأعلى الإيراني آية الله علي خامنئي رفض هذا العرض.

وعلى الرغم من أن السلطات الإيرانية ذكرت أن العقوبات الأميركية عرقلت جهودها لاحتواء تفشي الفيروس فإن روحاني قال «العقوبات لم تعرقل جهودنا لمكافحة تفشي فيروس كورونا».

وأضاف «لدينا اكتفاء ذاتي تقريباً في إنتاج كافة المعدّات الضرورية لمكافحة كورونا. كنا أكثر نجاحاً بكثير من العديد من البلدان في مكافحة هذا المرض».

وأرسلت بلدان عدة منها الإمارات والصين وبريطانيا وفرنسا وقطر وتركيا شحنات من الإمدادات الطبية إلى إيران تشمل قفازات وكمامات طبية.

وقالت ألمانيا أول أمس، إنها «قامت مع فرنسا وبريطانيا بإرسال إمدادات طبية إلى إيران في أول معاملات بموجب آلية تجارية تأسست لمقايضة السلع الإنسانية والغذائية بعد انسحاب واشنطن من الاتفاق النووي».

من جهة أخرى، حذر الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب أمس، إيران و»وكلاءها» من «الهجوم على القوات أو الأصول الأميركية في العراق»، مشيراً إلى «احتمال شن هجوم خاطف لكنه لم يقدّم تفاصيل».

وكتب ترامب على تويتر «استناداً إلى قناعة ومعلومات، تخطط إيران أو وكلاؤها لهجوم خاطف على القوات الأميركية أو الأصول الأميركية في العراق. في الحقيقة ستدفع إيران ثمناً باهظاً للغاية إذا حدث هذا».

بدوره، دعا يحيى رحيم صفوي المستشار العسكري للمرشد الإيراني علي خامنئي الولايات المتحدة إلى «التفكير بعواقب أي عمليات استفزازية قبل تنفيذها في العراق».

وقال صفوي: «على الولايات المتحدة أن تتقبّل تواجدها غير القانوني في العراق واحتلالها أراضيه، ودفاع العراق عن نفسه أمام المغامرات الأميركية لا يمكن تجنبه».

وأضاف: «انتهاك السيادة العراقية لن يكون لصالح الجيش الأميركي والإدارة الأميركية ولا يمكن للمنطقة تحمل أزمة جديدة».

وشدد صفوي، على «ضرورة أن تفكر الإدارة الأميركية ملياً بـالنتائج قبل اتخاذ أي قرار مستفز في العراق».

وقال: «يمكن تفسير التحركات العسكرية في القواعد الأميركية على أنها إعادة تنظيم للصفوف والتقليل من أي خسائر، لكننا لا نستبعد أن تقوم بإثارة التوتر نظراً لاستمرار تمركزها الاحتلالي في العراق».

Iran president: US Offer of Coronavirus Aid ‘biggest lie in History’

March 23, 2020

ROUHANI

President Hassan Rouhani says the US offer to help Iran in its fight against the coronavirus is one of the biggest lies in history where American sanctions are hindering Tehran’s access to medical supplies.

Rouhani on Monday noted that Washington’s “unjust, illegal and terrorist” sanctions against Iran as well as other countries’ submission to the US pressure over fear of punishment “have created many problems for our country”.

Iran is battling the coronavirus under the harshest sanctions which the US imposed after leaving a UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers in 2018.

After leaving the landmark nuclear deal, Washington began forcing its European allies and other countries to toe its sanctions line.

As a result, Britain, France, and Germany have stopped their transactions with the Islamic Republic in breach of the nuclear deal which requires the signatories to protect Iran from the sanctions.

Rouhani said American leaders are lying when they claim that they want to help Iran, adding all they need to do is to lift sanctions. “Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak,” he added.

US officials have refused to lift draconian sanctions which are hampering Iran’s efforts to contain the coronavirus. They have instead claimed readiness to aid Iranians, with President Donald Trump saying “all they have to do is ask”.

Rouhani said the US president “is like someone who has blocked the path to a well and not allowing anybody to approach the clean water of the well … and in return compliments a glass of muddy water and says, ‘I have come to help and I know you are thirsty’.”

The Iranian president blamed the US for the shortage of some essential medicines and making life difficult for Iranians.

“We don’t need the US’ glass of muddy water,” he said, adding the Americans had better remove the barriers.

“They would rather go away and remove the barriers and do not harm nations and companies, buyers and importers and exporters. Our nation and our businessmen, doctors and scientists themselves know well what to do,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani stressed that the Iranian nation will stand on its own feet.

In late January, the United States and Switzerland announced the launch of a channel to ship food and medicine to Iran from the Scandinavian country.

Washington alleges that it has exempted foodstuffs and medicine from its anti-Iran sanctions, something that Tehran rejects as a “brazen” lie as the bans have deterred several foreign banks from doing any business with Tehran.

Iran has written to the United Nations and all international organizations, urging the removal of the draconian measures that have come in the way of the country’s fight against the virus.

Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Monday that the number of coronavirus deaths had increased to 1,812 and the total infections to 23,049 during the past 24 hours.

“There have been 127 new deaths and 1,411 new infections since Sunday,” he said.

Jahanpour further put the number of patients who have recovered from the viral disease at 8,376.

Related News

Source: Iranian Agencies

Turkish drone strikes kill over two dozen Syrian soldiers in Idlib: Monitor

Sunday, 01 March 2020 2:51 AM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 01 March 2012 2:57 AM ]

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by the Syrian army shows government orces in the area of al-Lirmoun, north of Aleppo, on February 17, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish drone strikes have reportedly killed 26 Syrian soldiers in northwestern Syria, in an apparent response to the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers who were killed on Thursday during a Syrian army offensive against terrorists in Idlib.

“Twenty-six members of the Syrian army were killed when Turkish drones targeted positions of the Syrian government forces in the Idlib and Aleppo countryside,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Saturday.

The apparent retaliation came after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Syrian forces on Thursday. A 34th soldier later died from his injuries.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened reprisals for the killing of dozens of Turkish troops in Syria on Thursday.

With diplomacy sponsored by Ankara and Moscow to ease tensions in tatters, Turkey has come closer than ever to confrontation with Russia on the battlefield in Syria.

Ankara urges Moscow to step aside

The Turkish president says he has asked President Vladimir Putin for Russia to stand aside in Syria and let Turkey fight Syrian forces alone.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “do what is necessary” with the Syrian government. He said Turkey did not intend to leave Syria right now.Russia cites Syria agreement but Erdogan sounds belligerentRussia says it has agreed with Turkey to ease tensions in Syria

Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, have kept up air strikes in Idlib, attacking the strategic city of Saraqeb which sits on an important road connecting Damascus and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory war monitor reported.

The Syrian army’s air strikes are part of a major offensive to cleanse the province, part of the last remaining territory held by Turkey-backed terrorists.

Macron calls for ceasefire, urges Turkey to stop flow of migrants

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Russian and Turkish counterparts on Saturday to halt hostilities in Syria and agree to a lasting ceasefire, his office said.

Macron told the Russian and Turkish leaders in separate phone calls that he was “deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” caused by the Syrian offensive in the province of Idlib.

“The President of the Republic stressed that an immediate cease to hostilities was needed and called on Russia and Turkey to establish a durable and verifiable ceasefire as they committed to France and Germany at the four-way summit in Istanbul in the autumn 2018,” his office said in a statement.

Macron also expressed solidarity with Turkey over the recent deaths of its soldiers in Syria, and urged Turkey to cooperate with the European Union on migrant flows.

The remarks came after Erdogan threatened to let thousands of refugees cross into Europe.

Around 13,000 migrants have gathered along the Turkish-Greek border, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said as several thousand migrants were in skirmishes with Greek police firing tear gas across the frontier.

“What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors,” Erdogan said in Istanbul.

“We will not close those doors…. Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”

He was referring to a 2016 deal with the European Union to stop refugee flows in exchange for billions of euros in aid. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.


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