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The Iranian Threat

Iran May Seek Naval Bases In Yemen Or Syria: Chief Of Staff

November 28th 2016

Iranian navy ship and guard

Iran may seek to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said in remarks published on Sunday.

His comments, likely to be of concern to Shi'ite Iran's Sunni regional rival Saudi Arabia and its allies, raised the prospect of distant footholds perhaps being more valuable militarily to Tehran than nuclear technology.

"We need distant bases, and it may become possible one day to have bases on the shores of Yemen or Syria, or bases on islands or floating (bases)," said General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, quoted by the Shargh daily newspaper.

"Is having distant bases less than nuclear technology? I say it is worth dozens of times more," added Baqeri, who was speaking at a gathering of naval commanders.

Read more ..

Japan on Edge

All Tsunami Alerts Lifted After 7.4 Quake Rocks Northern Japan

November 22nd 2016

sunset in japan

Japan lifted all tsunami alerts after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Fukushima, home to the nuclear power plant crippled in the March 2011 triple disaster.

The temblor, an aftershock of the magnitude 9 quake five years ago, briefly knocked offline a cooling system for spent nuclear fuel at a separate Fukushima plant, and prompted authorities to issue the highest tsunami warnings for five years.

It struck at 5:59 a.m. local time Tuesday at a depth of 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, causing a tsunami of more than 1 meter on the coast of Miyagi prefecture and smaller waves elsewhere. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Bernie Marcus, Home Depot Founder/Pro-Israel Philanthropist Defends Bannon

November 17th 2016

Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

The Republican Jewish Coalition is defending Breitbart News chairman and newly-named chief White House strategist Steve Bannon from charges of anti-Semitism.

“I have been shocked and saddened to see the recent personal attacks on Steve,” RJC board member Bernie Marcus said in a Tuesday statement to Time. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

President-elect Donald Trump drew criticism on Monday by granting Bannon a senior role in his administration despite Breitbart’s prominent role in promoting the anti-Semitic alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League said that “he & his alt right are so hostile to core American values,” while the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed outthat Bannon’s appointment was met with cheers from white supremacist websites. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Trump Affirms U.S. Embassy Move To Jerusalem

November 3rd 2016

Jerusalem-Temple and Wall

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has signed onto a pro-Israel letter, presented to him by a Christian Zionist group, calling for, among other things, the U.S. Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem.

The letter was initiated by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, a Christian Zionist organization, and its network, the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI), which represents 60 million evangelical Christians.

In the letter, the ACLI asked both presidential candidates to affirm the following: relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, renew and strengthen America’s Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, combat efforts to boycott, divest or sanction Israel, monitor and impose any new sanctions on Iran and oppose any outside solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

U.S. Artillery and Airstrikes Pound ISIS Defenses in Mosul

November 3rd 2016

USAF Desert Storm

As Iraqi and Kurdish forces tighten the noose around Islamic State fighters in Mosul, the U.S. is helping them blast through enemy defenses.

The offensive to liberate Mosul is in its third week. Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters plan to advance to the center of the city, but the Islamic State group has thrown suicide car and truck bombs against them to slow their progress.  Bad weather has led to a temporary halt in the operation.

Islamic State fighters have had more than two years to prepare fortifications in and around Mosul, but the U.S. is providing air and artillery support to obliterate obstacles in the Iraqis and Kurds’ path, said Lt. Gen. William Beydler, head of Marine Corps Forces Central Command. Read more ..

Vote 2016

Pennsylvania Progressive Group Accused of Voter Registration Fraud

November 2nd 2016

Election ID Support

In Delaware County, Pennsylvania, state troopers descended on the Norwood office of FieldWorks, seeking to find evidence of possible voter-registration fraud. A warrant that was filed last week in a Delaware County court indicated that prosecutors are looking for financial information, documents, and names of the employees of FieldWorks LLC, a national organization that often organizes voter canvassing and other campaigns for Democrats and progressive causes.
 
While the warrant does not describe the nature of the investigation, law enforcement is seeking "templates . . . utilized to construct fraudulent voter registration forms," as well as "completed voter registration forms containing same or similar identifying information of individuals on multiple forms."
Read more ..

Vote 2016

Clinton Emails -- A Dark Sampling

October 28th 2016

Hilary Clinton

Most Americans know very little about the leaked Clinton emails.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Major news organizations buried the most damaging. So we’re sharing some with you.

The FBI and State Department used the term “quid pro quo” in secret negotiations to alter the Clinton investigation in exchange for more embassy assignments.

The campaign strategized on political contributions from lobbyists of foreign governments.

The term “pay-to-play” was used in selling ambassadorships to donors.

The New York Times coordinated its criticism of Trump with Clinton officials.

The campaign chair [John Podesta] was disappointed the San Bernardino terrorist was Muslim and not a white guy.

[A lobbyist offered $5,000 in return for a White House meeting.

Staffers consider Chelsea “a spoiled brat kid.”]

Chelsea used charity money in her for-profit business.

Obama used Clinton’s private email while claiming he didn’t know about it.

Staff mocked Catholics, evangelicals, Bernie Sanders voters and Hispanics. And called southern states the “confederacy.” Read more ..


Vote 2016

Trump Calls to Investigate Obama

October 26th 2016

Obama speechifying

Donald Trump said today that an investigation into the involvement of President Barack Obama is warranted, following the release of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. The WikiLeaks hacking organization revealed that among the thousands of emails it stole from Podesta’s account that there is evidence that President Obama was aware of Clinton’s use of a private email server. 
 
Speaking today in an interview with Reuters, Trump said that it is “a big thing." He said, "This means that he has to be investigated."
Read more ..

Vote 2016

Alleged Assault by Trump Supporter Questioned After Undercover Video

October 22nd 2016

Hillary Clinton

Videographer and muckraker James O’Keefe has already revealed the machinations of groups affiliated with the Democratic National and Hillary Clinton that have sowed violence and disruption at rallies for Donald Trump. In another reveal, O’Keefe has found that a 69-year-old protester, who had accused of being sucker-punched by a Trump supporter this summer in North Carolina, has changed her story.

Media reported that Shirley Teeter (69) of Asheville NC claimed that Richard L. Campbell (73) “cold-cocked” her in the jaw. Teeter told ABC News “I said, ‘You better learn to speak Russian,’ and I said, ‘The first two words are going to be ha ha.’ He stopped in his tracks, and he turned around and just cold-cocked me.” She claims she was punched in the face and fell on her oxygen tank, injuring her ribs, jaw, and elbow. She later went for treatment at a hospital.

Read more ..

Vote 2016

GOP HQ Firebombed in North Carolina

October 17th 2016

Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

The Republican party of North Carolina tweeted images of a field office in the central part of the state that was allegedly firebombed today.  In a statement, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina said, “The firebombing of a local political headquarters in Orange County is clearly an attack on our democracy. Violence has no place in our society - but especially in our elections. Fortunately no one was injured; however, I will use every resource as governor to assist local authorities in this investigation.”

Donald Trump has blamed "animals representing Hillary Clinton" for an apparent firebomb attack on one of the Republican's campaign offices. The presidential candidate took to Twitter after the office in Orange County, North Carolina, had been damaged when a petrol bomb was thrown through a window. The walls of the office were charred and a sofa burned in the attack, but no one was hurt. Read more ..


The Islamic State

ISIS Crushes Revolt Plot

October 15th 2016

ISIS Group

The Islamic State group has crushed a rebellion plot in its stronghold city of Mosul in Iraq, Reuters reported Friday.

The conspiracy was reportedly lead by one of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's own aides, who along with 57 others, were executed for treason. The accused were drowned and their bodies dumped in a mass grave located somewhere in the barren outskirts of the city. The militants also known as ISIS responded to inquiries by family members regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones by refusing to provide any details except for a list of names of the "apostates" and indicating that they  could not be buried in Muslim cemeteries.

Read more ..

Vote 2016

WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton personally deleted emails as Secretary of State

October 11th 2016

Hillary Clinton

WikiLeaks has released a treasure trove of emails purloined from Hillary Clinton’s campaign that have made a number of revelations of her conduct as a candidate and as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
In an email drafted by campaign staffer Erika Rottenberg June 21, 2015 to Stephanie Hannon and Anne O'Leary, they were preparing for a meeting on strategy.
 
In the email, Rottenberg expressed puzzlement over why it was that Hillary Clinton, while serving as secretary of state, actually deleted emails after reviewing them “without providing anyone outside her circle a chance to weigh in.” Rottenberg said that her lawyer friends were “struggling with what happened to the emails and aren’t satisfied with the answers to date.” Here follows the relevant excerpt:
 
*For my question*, it's basically some variation of [not quite phrased right yet]: I know when I talk to my friends who are attorneys we are all struggling with what happened to the emails and aren't satisfied with answers to date. While we all know of the occasional use of personal email addresses for business, none of my friends circle can understand how it was viewed as ok/secure/appropriate to use a private server for secure documents AND why further Hillary took it upon herself to review them and delete documents without providing anyone outside her circle a chance to weigh in. It smacks of acting above the law and it smacks of the type of thing I've either gotten discovery sanctions for, fired people for, etc."
Read more ..

Vote 2016

Republican Voters Ready to Stand by Trump Despite Lewd Comments Video

October 10th 2016

Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

Republican voters are very aware of the released video of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women, but a majority of them are willing to stand by their Republican nominee, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll.

Seventy-four percent of Republicans think that party leaders should stand behind Trump, while 13 percent think they should abandon him.

A huge majority of Americans are aware of the video (79 percent), and agree that it makes Trump look bad, (74 percent), but they don’t think it’s enough to kick him to the curb. Forty-five percent of all voters think that Trump should not drop out of the presidential race, while 39 percent think he should drop out — a six point margin. Read more ..


Significant Lives

Former Israeli President, Prime Minister Shimon Peres Dead at 93

September 28th 2016

Israeli flag and clouds

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres died early Wednesday morning at the age of 93, according to Hebrew media reports.

His condition had deteriorated on Tuesday, two weeks after he suffered a major stroke, and his family was summoned to his side at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital to say their final goodbyes.

Peres, who also served in a host of other government positions, was most recently the Jewish state’s president from 2007-2014. He emigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1932, before the founding of modern Israel in 1948. He was considered the last of Israel’s founding fathers.

He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria Announces New Offensive, Truce Collapses

September 26th 2016

Syria fighting injured baby

Syria announced a new offensive against rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Thursday while diplomats failed to find a way in New York to revive a U.S. and Russian-brokered ceasefire that collapsed this week.

Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of Syria's commercial hub and largest city, dealing a fresh blow to efforts to end Syrian civil war that has raged since 2011.

Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained down on Aleppo. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters 45 people were killed."It's as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn't drop bombs" during the ceasefire, Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defense rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo, told Reuters.

Read more ..

Vote 2016

MSNBC Claims Democrats to Consider Replacement for Hillary

September 13th 2016

Hillary Clinton in blue

MSNBC reporter David Shuster has tweeted, following Hillary Clinton's collapse in New York City after unexpectedly leaving a commemoration of 9/11, that officials within the Democratic party are planning to convene an emergency meeting to consider a replacement for Clinton.
 
While Clinton's personal physician announced today that the candidate is receiving antibiotics for pneumonia, it was revealed later that the diagnosis came on September 9.
 
Earlier, Clinton's persistent coughing fits have been attributed to "allergies." After a two-minute coughing jab on Labor Day in Cleveland, Clinton joked that it came because she is "allergic to Trump."
Read more ..

Israel and the New Palestinians

Israel and Palestinians May Return to Peace Talks in Moscow

September 9th 2016

Bibi arguing

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed "in principle" to resume peace talks in Moscow, the Kremlin announced Thursday.

There is no timetable yet for the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he would meet with Abbas anywhere and at any time, as long as there were no preconditions for the talks.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said both sides have to show they are committed to a two-state solution before there can be any successful negotiations.

"It's our belief that — and this speaks broadly to any peace negotiations, but certainly in this case ... if you don't have the right climate for them to be successful, then it's not worth having it," Toner said.

Read more ..

The Refugee Crisis

Emulating Trump, Britain is Building a Wall

September 8th 2016

Syrian Refugees

The United Kingdom has announced plans to build a "big new wall" to prevent illegal immigrants from entering British territory. The wall would be built at the border port at Calais in France. Nearby there are camps of migrants from a number of countries who seek admission to the UK. Known as "The Jungle," the camp has been noted for several years for riots and occasional raids by French police. Of late, squatters have assaulted vehicles headed for the Chunnel that goes beneath the English Channel and leads to the UK. British nationals and others have been injured and frightened by a number of spectacular attacks by migrants. Migrants have sought to commandeer vehicles, including commercial trucks, in order to enter the UK.
Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Iran Nuclear Exemptions Revealed

September 5th 2016

Bushehr plant and guard

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) placed detailed limitations on facets of Iran’s nuclear program that needed to be met by Implementation Day, which took place on January 16, 2016. Most of the conditions were met by Iran. However, we have learned that some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA limits on Implementation Day, but in anticipation the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits. The exemptions and in one case, a loophole, involved the low enriched uranium (LEU) cap of 300 kilograms (kg), some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in Iran. One senior knowledgeable official stated that if the Joint Commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Trump Surging in Iowa and Virginia

September 4th 2016

Click to select Image

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is surging in battleground states Iowa and Virginia in newly released polls, consistent with the national trend reported this week by Reuters-Ipsos and other major polling operations.

A handful of swing states—experts always mention at least five, and no more than eleven—will determine the winner of the presidential race, mainly concentrated in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southwest.
Polling numbers from two of those states seem to fit a larger trend over the past two weeks of improving chances for Donald Trump to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Read more ..


The Edge of Technology

Apples Owes $14.5 Billion in Back Taxes, EU Rules

August 31st 2016

Euro Symbol

The European Commission has ruled that over several years Ireland has granted unjustifiable tax benefits to Apple worth up to €13 billion (about $14.5 billion), which the US computer company must now pay back to the Irish state – plus interest.

The ruling is that Ireland allowed Apple to organize its business in a way that allowed it pay substantially less tax than other businesses and that this is illegal under European Union state aid legislation.

The conclusion comes at the end of a European Commission investigation that began in June 2014 and found that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991. The European Commission ruling only covers the period 2003 to 2014.

Read more ..

The Edge of Space

Mysterious Signal Prompts SETI Hopes

August 30th 2016

Solar System Birth

A powerful signal has been spotted coming from the vicinity of a sunlike star, and now astronomers are trying to figure out what it means.

In May 2015, researchers using a radio telescope in Russia detected a candidate SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal that seems to originate from HD 164595, a star system that lies about 94 light-years from Earth, the website Centauri Dreams reported over the weekend.

The astronomers have not yet published a study about the detection; they plan to discuss it next month at the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster, who wrote that one of the team members forwarded him the IAC presentation. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

17,000 Killed in Syrian Prisons Since 2011, Says Amnesty International

August 18th 2016

Syrian security forces

A new Amnesty International report details allegations of systematic torture of political prisoners and accuses the Syrian government of killing more than 17,000 people held in custody from the outset of the conflict in 2011 to December 2015.

The report is based on the recollections of 65 torture survivors.

The "catalog of horror stories" included in the report "depicts in gruesome detail the dreadful abuse detainees routinely suffer ... in Syria's notorious intelligence facilities," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Torture has long been used in Syrian prisons, but its scale has increased “dramatically" since the 2011 conflict began, according to Amnesty’s Syria expert Claudia Scheufler, who was instrumental in putting the report together. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Obama Slams Trump-- Calls on GOP to Repudiate Candidacy

August 2nd 2016

Obama downcast

President Barack Obama said today that Donald Trump is “unfit to serve as president,” while calling on Republicans to repudiate their nominee. Obama claimed that criticisms coming from the GOP “ring hollow” if its’ leaders support the Trump candidacy, especially since the dust-up between Trump and Pakistani-born lawyer, Khizr Khan, that began when Khan excoriated Trump at the Democratic National Convention.
 
“The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?”  Obama said at a news conference. 
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Islamic Terrorists Slaughter Catholic Priest in France

July 26th 2016

ISIS Army

Two Muslim terrorists allied with the Islamic State stormed into a Catholic church in northern France during the midst of the celebration of Mass. They took hostages and then cut the throat of the 86-year-old priest in the church. A team of police trained in special weapons and techniques came to the scene and shot the two militants to death. Bomb disposal units are on hand, seeking any possible explosive devices left behind by the attackers. Two of the hostages were nuns.
 
In Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, about 35 miles southeast of the port of Le Havre in Normandy, French soldiers are patrolling the narrow streets near the church where the martyrdom took place. Mourners are gathering at the little church. One of the hostages who survived the assault is being treated for life-threatening injuries, said Pierre-Henry Brandet.
Read more ..

The Edge of the Solar System

Juno Arrives at Jupiter

July 8th 2016

Jupiter

NASA's Juno spacecraft has successfully entered orbit around Jupiter. At 8:53 P.M. Pacific time, ground controllers received a telemetry tone of 2,327 hertz -- equivalent to the highest D note on a piano keyboard—indicating that Juno's 35-minute engine burn had slowed the spacecraft enough to slip into the giant planet’s gravitational embrace. Launched in 2011 on a nearly five-year interplanetary voyage, Juno is only the second spacecraft to ever orbit Jupiter, after the Galileo mission that explored the giant planet from 1995 to 2003. During its capture into orbit Juno passed just 4,490 kilometers above the Jovian cloud tops, so close that the planet filled half its sky. Even so, Jupiter is so immense that an astronaut riding along would have seen only about 5 percent of the planet’s cloud-shrouded face.

At 9:50 P.M., the maneuver was officially complete as the spacecraft turned its solar arrays back toward the sun. “I won't exhale until we’re sun-pointed again,” Juno's principal investigator Scott Bolton had said at a press conference earlier in the day.

The spacecraft plummeted in from interplanetary space over Jupiter's north pole at about 7:30 P.M., falling ever faster as it plunged deeper into the planet’s gravitational field. Just two days ago its speed relative to Jupiter was nine kilometers per second; midday yesterday, 12 kilometers per second; and by the rocket burn, 54 kilometers per second. The burn reduced its speed by just 1 percent, but that was enough. (Theoretically, the spacecraft was captured by the planet at 8:38 P.M., about halfway through the burn, but confirmation did not come until later.) After skimming so close to Jupiter's upper atmosphere, the spacecraft soared back up from the planet’s cloud tops at about 9:30 P.M. into a looping, elongated orbit out to 8.1 million kilometers.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Iran Orders Hezbollah to target Saudi Arabia

May 18th 2016

Hezbollah

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE. 

Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.

Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. 

A graduate of the Imam Hussein University in Tehran, Shukr is regarded as well trained. Soleimani not only named the new head of Hezbollah’s military wing, but his two deputies as well, sources told MEE. They are Ibrahim Aqil, also know as al-Hajj Tahsin, but whose current pseudonym is al-Hajj Abdul Khader, and Talal Hamiah.

Shukr's appointment comes despite earlier reports in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat suggesting that Badreddine’s nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor.

MEE understands these reports to be incorrect.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement.

It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area."

The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they held Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.

Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. 

The latest sign of this was the failure to agree on arrangements for Iranian pilgrims to travel to this year’s Hajj.

The failure of four days of talks between the two sides last month has led to statements of mutual recrimination which will mean that Iranian pilgrims will almost certainly miss this year’s ceremonies.

Iran said that its citizens would not participate in the Hajj and blamed Saudi Arabia for the problem. Last year’s Hajj was marred by the death of at least 769 pilgrims, many of them Iranian, in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

According to MEE sources the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.

Hezbollah operatives have been used in the past in the Gulf. A member of the al-Dawa militant group, Badreddine was arrested along with 17 others after the truck bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983. In 1985 Badreddine was also reportedly involved in a failed assassination attempt of the Kuwaiti emir.

Amed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shia member of Saudi Hezbollah who allegedly masterminded the attack on the US military barracks in Khobar in 1996, was captured last year after a 20-year manhunt. Saudi Hezbollah, also called Hezbollah el-Hajaz, is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the IRGC.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-iran-orders-hezbollah-target-saudi-arabia-903428016#sthash.IOChq2UG.dpuf

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE. 

Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.

Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. 

A graduate of the Imam Hussein University in Tehran, Shukr is regarded as well trained. Soleimani not only named the new head of Hezbollah’s military wing, but his two deputies as well, sources told MEE. They are Ibrahim Aqil, also know as al-Hajj Tahsin, but whose current pseudonym is al-Hajj Abdul Khader, and Talal Hamiah.

Shukr's appointment comes despite earlier reports in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat suggesting that Badreddine’s nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor.

MEE understands these reports to be incorrect.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement.

It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area."

The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they held Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.

Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. 

The latest sign of this was the failure to agree on arrangements for Iranian pilgrims to travel to this year’s Hajj.

The failure of four days of talks between the two sides last month has led to statements of mutual recrimination which will mean that Iranian pilgrims will almost certainly miss this year’s ceremonies.

Iran said that its citizens would not participate in the Hajj and blamed Saudi Arabia for the problem. Last year’s Hajj was marred by the death of at least 769 pilgrims, many of them Iranian, in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

According to MEE sources the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.

Hezbollah operatives have been used in the past in the Gulf. A member of the al-Dawa militant group, Badreddine was arrested along with 17 others after the truck bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983. In 1985 Badreddine was also reportedly involved in a failed assassination attempt of the Kuwaiti emir.

Amed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shia member of Saudi Hezbollah who allegedly masterminded the attack on the US military barracks in Khobar in 1996, was captured last year after a 20-year manhunt. Saudi Hezbollah, also called Hezbollah el-Hajaz, is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the IRGC.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-iran-orders-hezbollah-target-saudi-arabia-903428016#sthash.IOChq2UG.dpuf

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE. 

Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.

Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. 

A graduate of the Imam Hussein University in Tehran, Shukr is regarded as well trained. Soleimani not only named the new head of Hezbollah’s military wing, but his two deputies as well, sources told MEE. They are Ibrahim Aqil, also know as al-Hajj Tahsin, but whose current pseudonym is al-Hajj Abdul Khader, and Talal Hamiah.

Shukr's appointment comes despite earlier reports in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat suggesting that Badreddine’s nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor.

MEE understands these reports to be incorrect.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement.

It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area."

The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they held Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.

Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. 

The latest sign of this was the failure to agree on arrangements for Iranian pilgrims to travel to this year’s Hajj.

The failure of four days of talks between the two sides last month has led to statements of mutual recrimination which will mean that Iranian pilgrims will almost certainly miss this year’s ceremonies.

Iran said that its citizens would not participate in the Hajj and blamed Saudi Arabia for the problem. Last year’s Hajj was marred by the death of at least 769 pilgrims, many of them Iranian, in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

According to MEE sources the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.

Hezbollah operatives have been used in the past in the Gulf. A member of the al-Dawa militant group, Badreddine was arrested along with 17 others after the truck bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983. In 1985 Badreddine was also reportedly involved in a failed assassination attempt of the Kuwaiti emir.

Amed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shia member of Saudi Hezbollah who allegedly masterminded the attack on the US military barracks in Khobar in 1996, was captured last year after a 20-year manhunt. Saudi Hezbollah, also called Hezbollah el-Hajaz, is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the IRGC.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-iran-orders-hezbollah-target-saudi-arabia-903428016#sthash.IOChq2UG.dpuf

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

CUFI Action Fund Expands Legislative Staff

March 18th 2016

Pastor John Hagee

The Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Action Fund has hired longtime political operative Jason Stverak to lead its legislative efforts in Washington and state capitals around the country. Stverak, who will serve as the Action Fund’s Legislative Director, most recently worked as Communications Director for Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and previously served as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Republican Party and later as the founder and President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

"The year ahead promises to be full of challenges for the U.S.-Israel alliance and Middle East peace. But given Jason's stellar record and astute understanding of Washington’s inner workings, I know he will be a tremendous asset to our team," said Gary Bauer, Washington Director of the CUFI Action Fund.

"I’m very excited to be joining the Action Fund at this pivotal time. With an ascendant Iran, near daily Palestinian terror attacks, relentless persecution of Christians at the hands of radical Islamic extremists, and the rise of the BDS movement across the United States, now more than ever America’s Christian Zionists need to ensure our elected officials know exactly where we stand," said Stverak. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Seized U.S. Navy Sat-Phone SIM Cards; May Have Accessed Classified Information

January 24th 2016

Iranian navy ship and guard

Read more ..

The iranian Threat

Iranian Naval Commander Says US Aircraft Carrier Was Potential Target of Missile Attack

January 14th 2016

Iranian Admiral Habibullah

An Iranian naval commander revealed that his forces had locked their missiles on a US aircraft carrier, semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, said that the incident occurred during Iran’s seizure Tuesday of two US naval boats and their 10 sailors — who were released Wednesday. Fadavi said that after the aircraft carrier USS Truman displayed “unprofessional moves,” Iranian naval forces went on high alert. “We prepared our coast-to-sea missiles, missile-launching speedboats and our numerous capabilities, to strike if they made a hostile move,” he said. Fadavi said that the IRGC Navy warned the Truman to change course. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Minnesota Man Facing Terrorism Charge Once Worked at Airport

December 23rd 2015

United Airlines jet liner

A Minnesota man who faces terrorism-related charges once boasted that he was capable of building rockets that could threaten planes landing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and also once worked at the airport as a baggage handler, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.

FBI Special Agent Daniel Higgins spoke at a hearing for Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan. Warsame was the 10th young man from Minnesota's Somali community to be charged since April with terrorism-related counts accusing them of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. He was arrested and charged Dec. 9 with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of providing such support. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Russia Is Using Space Power in Its Attack on Syria

December 17th 2015

Vladmir Putin attempts modesty

Vladimir Putin’s military is unveiling a new arsenal in its battle with ISIS and other insurgents in Syria. Much of that new military hardware is hundreds of miles above Earth.
Russia’s two-month-old military intervention in Syria on behalf of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has involved dramatic, and highly visible, strikes by high-tech jet fighters, lumbering heavy bombers, powerful ground-based artillery, and even ships and submarines launching missiles over long distances.

Less visible but no less impressive has been Russia’s mobilization in Earth’s orbit. Moscow claimed it has positioned 10 satellites—representing more than 10 percent of Russia’s space arsenal—over Syria to map terrain, spot targets and gather other intelligence, and relay radio signals between far-flung ground, air, and sea forces. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

DOJ May Intervene in Terror Judgment Against Palestinian Authority

August 5th 2015

Hamas head

The Justice Department is "carefully considering" whether to intervene in a federal civil suit in New York which generated a $218 million judgment against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for supporting and enabling terrorist attacks during the second Intifada.

Under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, that award can triple to $655 million.

A decision whether to weigh in on the case should come by Monday, a letter sent to U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels on July 27 said. Reuters first reported on the letter last week.

The lawsuit, Sokolow v. PLO, was brought by 10 American families whose loved ones were killed or who suffered injuries themselves in those attacks between 2001 and 2004. The evidence included internal PA and PLO records detailing a program to pay surviving relatives of Palestinians who died in suicide terror attacks or who were in Israeli jails after being convicted of terrorist acts. While the PA says it no longer provides support for terror attacks, payments to the families of dead terrorists and to prisoners in Israeli jails continues. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Strike Kills Ruthless, Hizballah/PFLP Terrorist

July 30th 2015

IAF Fighter

An Israeli airstrike Wednesday reportedly killed a senior Hizballah operative in the Golan Heights; a man considered one of the most reviled terrorists in Israeli history.

Samir Kuntar reportedly was among five men killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian Druze village Hader. That community is considered strongly loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

Kuntar was among five prisoners Israel released in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Kuntar was 16 years old in 1979, when he and three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) sneaked into Israel, killing a policeman and kidnapping a man and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat Haran. Kuntar killed the little girl by smashing her head with his rifle butt. Compounding the tragedy, Haran's other daughter, a 2-year-old, was accidentally suffocated by her mother as she tried to keep the girl from crying out as they hide from the terrorists in their apartment. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Dems Clash with Kerry over Iran Nuke Deal

July 29th 2015

John Kerry

Democrats harshly criticized the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran during a testy hearing Tuesday, underscoring the difficulty the White House faces in winning over its own party. Secretary of State John Kerry had several sharp exchanges with Jewish Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including ranking member Eliot Engel (N.Y.), who said he was “very disappointed” with the agreement.

Supporters and opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have focused on Jewish Democrats as both influencers and bellwethers in the debate.

“I have a fundamental concern that 15 years from now, Iran will essentially be off the hook,” Engel said. “My big question is this: What happens then? Are we back to square one? Is this deal just pushing the pause button for 15 years?” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) argued the deal was not legally binding and that a future administration could turn away from it.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Leader of Khorasan Group Killed in U.S. Airstrike

July 24th 2015

MQ-1 Predator Drone

A U.S. airstrike killed a seasoned member of al-Qaeda, Muhsin al-Fadhli, 31, as he traveled by car in the northwest Syrian town of Sarmada on July 8th, according to recently released information from officials in Washington. Al-Fadhli was leader of Khorasan, a terrorist group focused on launching attacks on the U.S and Europe.

Pentagon spokesperson, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis made the announcement Tuesday morning saying that Al-Fadhli's "death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operation of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners."

According to U.S. reports, Fadhli was a confidant of Osama bin Laden and one of the few members of al-Qaeda to receive a warning prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Fadhli was active in terrorist operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade and is considered a close ally of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, before his death in 2006. Officials suspect Fadhli's involvment in two 2002 terrorist attacks, one that killed a United States Marine in Kuwait as well as a deadly explosion on the French oil tanker MV Limburg off the coast of Yemen. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

"Stop Iran" Protest In Times Square

July 19th 2015

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

The "STOP IRAN RALLY," the largest, grassroots bipartisan American protest against the deal granting Iran a fast track to a nuclear bomb, will be held in Times Square on Wednesday, July 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thousands of Americans from all faith traditions, political interests and communities, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, registered Democrats and Republicans, LGBT, Iranian-Americans, and others will demand that Congress vote down the Iran deal.

Under the umbrella of the STOP IRAN RALLY COALITION, more than 100 organizations spanning the nation's political, religious and social spectrum will participate. A roster of preeminent experts from senior levels of the military, government, academic, and media establishments will speak at the rally.

"Strip away the administration's rhetoric and it's clear this deal gives the Mullahs – the world's foremost sponsors of terrorism, $150 billion in return for effectively nothing: no dismantlement of Iran's nuclear program; no anytime or anywhere inspections; no eradication of Iran's ballistic missile program; no maintenance of the arms embargo; and no halt to Iran's sponsorship of terror," said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, STOP IRAN RALLY's co-organizer. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iranian Nuclear Deal Reached

July 14th 2015

Iran Long-Range Missile

In the UN complex in Vienna, Austria, the foreign ministers of the six world powers and Iran announced that a nuclear deal was reached after months of intensive negotiations.   Israel is following with concern the partial easing of sanctions that Iran received in exchange for the monitoring of their nuclear sites.  â€œThis is a new chapter in international relations,” EU Foreign Minister Frederica Moghini stated this morning.

In the meeting that was conducted, Moghini added, “We will overcome the decades of tension between Iran and the rest of the world.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif added, “This is a solution that only has winners. It opens a new horizon with the international community. We are opening a new chapter and we need to relate to it as a great achievement for all of us.” Read more ..


Greece on Edge

Juncker Vents Fury Over Greek Bailout Talks At G7 Summit

June 8th 2015

Greek and EU flags

European Union officials delivered a blistering attack on the Greek government at the G7 summit in Bavaria, and world leaders including Barack Obama sought to avoid a transatlantic split over Ukraine by agreeing to maintain sanctions against Russia.

In a day of secluded talks in the Alpine resort of Schloss Elmau, the biggest drama was provided by a verbal attack on the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The summit’s host, Angela Merkel, had hoped to solve the Greek bailout crisis before the summit, but instead Juncker felt forced to open proceedings by staging a press conference accusing Tsipras of undermining negotiations over new terms for a bailout and of effectively lying to the Greek parliament.

Read more ..

Broken Government

Sen. Paul Says NSA Bulk Data Collections Leads to 'Systemic Bias'

May 26th 2015

Click to select Image

Presidential hopeful and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday defended his role in scuttling Senate compromise on government surveillance reauthorizations, a move that could lead to the controversial intelligence programs expiring outright at the end of the month.

“I’m right in line with what the founders would have fought for and I am proud of the fight,” Paul said on CBS’s “This Morning.”

“The Constitution is inconvenient, but the thing is, we obey the Constitution because it protects the rights of all individuals.”

The Senate adjourned last weekend without a compromise on extending expiring portions of the Patriot Act. Paul led an effort to block a compromise bill, called the USA Freedom Act, as well as a number of short-term extensions of the program meant to carry the policies through a congressional recess.

Paul bucked criticism from other lawmakers that his efforts are just for show or to help shore up fundraising for his presidential campaign. He noted that a recent Justice Department Inspector General report found that “the bulk collection of data hasn’t cracked one case."

While that report said that the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act “did not identify any major case developments,” intelligence officials said it served other important purposes. Read more ..



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