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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama's 100 days - the Afghan challenge

April 29, 2009 - Thousands of US marines are heading to Afghanistan as part of Obama's strategy to combat Taliban forces and improve security in the country, but some wonder if Obama's troop plan will make a difference.Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan travelled to the US marine base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to see how US forces there are preparing for deployment and to assess the challenges they - and Obama - face.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

'US breached interim security pact in Iraq'

Sun, 26 Apr 2009 15:28:51 GMT

Iraq's Defense Ministry has arrested two of the country's army commanders over a recent US raid on a house in the southern town of al-Kut.

The two provincial commanders were arrested on charges of "permitting an American military force to carry out a security operation after 1:00 am (2200 GMT) without the knowledge of the defense ministry or the Iraqi government," the Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP on Suday.

The military carried out a deadly house raid in al-Kut earlier in the day. Two members of the family were shot dead and four others were taken to the Delta military base, some seven kilometers (4 miles) west of the city, the Voices of Iraq news agency reported.

The US military however claimed the raid was "fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government" and was aimed at "militants".

"In an operation fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government, coalition forces targeted a network financier, who is also responsible for smuggling weapons into the country," read a military statement.

In an earlier statement, the military claimed that the attack was aimed at a suspect during which a woman "moved into the line of fire" and died of her gunshot wounds after receiving treatment from an army medic.

A medic at a nearby hospital however said it had received two bodies, including a woman who had been shot in the stomach and the shoulder and a man who had been shot in the head.

Iraq signed a security military pact with the US last year under which all military operations must be conducted with the agreement of the Iraqi government and be "fully coordinated" with Iraqi authorities.

The deal also requires the US forces leave all Iraqi cities by June 30 and withdraw the country by the end of 2011.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

US to abandon Israel over Iran?

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reportedly mulling over a plan to impose sanctions on Israel if it launches an attack on Iran.

Sat, 25 Apr 2009 18:32:32 GMT

As Israeli threats of war against Iran encounter stiff opposition in the US, the new administration mulls over imposing sanctions on Tel Aviv.

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are mulling over a plan to impose sanctions again
st Israel if the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu implements its long-sought policy of countering Iran's nuclear activities by taking military action against the country.

According to a report by RIA Novosti, the Obama White House is on a collision course with longstanding Israeli plans to launch a military strike on Iranian nuclear infrastructure.

Washington favors diplomatic measures -- at least for as long as the Obama administration believes there is room for the pursuit of its plans to engage Iran "diplomatically" over its nuclear case.

President Obama has been making efforts to put his belief into practice that America should talk to its adversaries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela.

However, since hawkish Prime Minister Netanyahu took office Israel has been buzzing with rumors of a possible military strike on Iran's nuclear sites if the United States fails to achieve progress in talks with Iran.

Earlier on Wednesday Israel's Home Front Command announced plans to mobilize the Israeli army as well as the public to hold the largest military exercise in its history on June 2.

The head of Israel's Department for Population at the Home Front Command Colonel Hilik Sofer said by holding the weeklong military exercise Israel seeks to "transform the population from a passive to an active one... We want the citizens to understand that war can happen tomorrow morning."

Earlier in March, hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu raised the alarm about a major military conflict in the upcoming months.

According to Debka, which is believed to be closely connected with the Israeli spy agency Mossad, "His main consideration is that Israel expects to be embroiled in a major military confrontation in the next few months with Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah -- or all three at once."

Netanyahu's explicit threats of war on Iran as part of his top priority policy of "stopping Iran's nuclear program and what he sees as its ambition to dominate the region" comes in a stark contrast with the approach of Israel's most powerful ally -- the United States.

In an attempt to convince Israel about the new US policy vis-à-vis Iran, Secretary of State described the Bush administration's failed eight-year attempts for the total isolation of Iran as a failure earlier in the week.

"The Bush policy did not deter Iran one bit in its ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons and to support terror organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas," Clinton said.

The new US move to take a stand against Israeli war threats on Iran comes after US Vice President Joe Biden warned Israel against any such military action, saying the Netanyahu government would be "ill advised" to try to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for his part, warned that any Israeli attack on Iran would have dangerous consequences.

An attack on Iran would "cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them," Gates cautioned.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Israel fails to stop S-300 deal with Iran?

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 09:51:26 GMT | PressTV

Russia shrugs off Israeli opposition to the sale of an anti-aircraft system that would shield Iranian nuclear plants in the event of war.

Earlier in April, Israel used the sale of sophisticated $50 million spy drones as a bargaining chip to dissuade the Kremlin from equipping Iran with the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

According to Israeli sources on Monday, Moscow has been rather shady on the issue so far and has not taken the required steps to address Tel Aviv's concern.

The most we have at this point is "a vague assurance" that the deal is not going ahead, an Israeli source told Reuters on conditions of anonymity.

"The Russians don't make promises of this kind," said another Israeli defense source while criticizing Russia's mixed message on its alleged $800 million deal with Iran.

Moscow walked a tightrope of criticism after Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport confirmed in December that it is supplying Iran with a number of defensive systems -- one of which was the S-300 interceptor.

The S-300 missile defense system is capable of intercepting 100 ballistic missiles or aircraft at once, at low and high altitudes within a range of over 150 kilometers.

Washington and Tel Aviv responded angrily to the delivery of the S-300 which, according to Israeli and American intelligence sources, would make Iran's nuclear facilities difficult to reach in the face of an Israeli attack.

Tehran decided to purchase the sophisticated system following an escalation in Israeli military threats against the country's nuclear infrastructure.

'Israel secretly exploited Egypt's uranium'

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:31:08 GMT | PressTV

Israel secretly exploited and used uranium resources found in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula during the 1950s, a book by an Israeli scientist says.

In his book The Power of Knowledge, Professor Uriel Bachrach said he and his colleagues who traveled to Sinai in 1949 under the guise of a German delegation, found considerable uranium resources in the Sinai Peninsula's phosphate mines, the Lebanese daily al-Balad reported on Tuesday.

Based on the report, when Bachrach's team informed Israeli officials about their findings they decided to secretly exploit and transfer uranium to Israel in order to use it in the regime's nuclear program.

The 83-year-old Israeli scholar worked for the Science Corps of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). According to the book, Bachrach's team pretended to be engineers who were conducting geological research projects in Sinai.

The book also quoted the remarks made by Dr. Ernest David Bergman-the former head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and father of Israel's nuclear program-in which he admitted to exploiting uranium from phosphate resources.

The daily added the book sparked controversy in Israel as many viewed its contents in violation of Israel's secrecy code regarding its nuclear program.

The book's contents were confirmed by Ephraim Katzir who in its introduction recommended those interested in nuclear studies to read the book, the daily reported.

Egypt, Israel, Saudi 'plotting to kill Nasrallah'

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 16:51:06 GMT | PressTV

Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia have plotted to kill the Hezbollah leader over his growing sway among Muslim nations, a new report says.

Citing an informed Egyptian source, Shia Online news website reported that the security services of Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia have devised a joint plan to assassinate Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah after his recent speech which has increased his popularity among Muslims.

According to the report, the three sides have come to the conclusion that the killing of Nasrallah is the only way to confront the spread of Hezbollah's policy of resistance in the Middle East.

The report added that a team of three senior Egyptian security officials secretly traveled to Israel to meet Mossad officials and discuss the plan and that the two sides have reached a preliminary agreement about the details of the plot.

Based on the plot, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan who has close relations with the Americans play the role of a broker between Saudi officials and the Israelis.

Israel has recently called for the assassination of the Hezbollah Secretary General as Egypt has stepped up its efforts against the movement.

Egyptian security forces have arrested a group of youths over alleged links with the Lebanese movement. They claim that the group was plotting "terrorist attacks" against Egyptians and Israeli targets.

Taliban vows to extend rule over Pakistan

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 16:10:31 GMT | PressTV

Taliban insurgents have vowed to extend their influence to major cities in Pakistan

Taliban leaders in Pakistan vow to eventually extend insurgents' rule from the troubled northwestern region to other parts of the country.

Sufi Mohammad, a pro-Taliban cleric, mediating talks between the Islamabad government and the Taliban insurgents, emphasized that once Taliban rule is implemented in the restive Swat valley and its adjoining areas it would soon after be extended to other parts of the country as well, Dawn reported Tuesday.

He urged all of his loyalists to work towards furthering the insurgents' influence in the so-called settled areas in Pakistan.

The remarks come after President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday night approved the final draft of a bill that legitimizes the Taliban rule in the troubled valley.

Also, the Islamabad parliament passed the measure without debate as the militants had warned MPs against opposing the deal.

Taliban had warned the lawmakers who opposed the deal in parliament would be considered apostates and would face the death penalty in the insurgents' self-style courts.

Although at least one major political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) boycotted the parliament process, saying deal in Swat is an effort to enforce a law, which is parallel to the country's law.

MQM's lawmakers also emphasized that this was a sensitive issue, since there were people with different schools of thoughts and orders in the region.

They maintained that MQM was strongly against the Taliban culture spread forcefully by Kalashnikov.

A senior leader Dr. Farooq Sattar said Swat deal was only forced at gunpoint; therefore, MQM can't support it at any cost.

MQM has a greater political clout in southern port city of Karachi and other major towns in Sindh province. It is also extending its influence in some cities and towns across Punjab province.

The bill passed by the parliament and signed by the president will introduce a harsh Taliban judicial system in the troubled Malakand division, comprising of six north-western districts including Swat.

The developments come after Taliban stormed the district of Buner -- some 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad, took control of adjoining areas in the district, and threatened to take over Islamabad.

The Taliban militants have set up a parallel administration with courts and checkpoints in the Valley and the most of the troubled northwestern region.

The Taliban have repeatedly hinted that they would take their war to the capital Islamabad and other major cities. "The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the mujahideen," a Taliban Commander said on Wednesday.

In late February, local authorities in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) agreed to recognize Taliban's rule in Swat Valley as military surrendered to the insurgents in the volatile area.

The Taliban has long campaigned to impose Wahhabi style laws, which include beheading and storming female educational centers.

The insurgents have also formed forces in the region to punish people who violate their decrees.

The US along with Saudi Arabia encouraged the formation of militant groups in the troubled region in the 1980s to counter the then Soviet Union influence in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents carry the legacy of such groups.

Pakistan suffers from the wave of violence seven and a half years after US-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 allegedly to oust the Taliban, to destroy al-Qaeda, to capture Osama bin Laden and bring security to the volatile region.

Despite the presence of more than 70,000 US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan, insurgency has escalated in the war-torn country and spilled over into neighboring Pakistan as well.

Mossad, CIA hatch Egypt's anti-Hezbollah plot

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 15:11:14 GMT | PressTV

Egypt has been collaborating with Israeli and US intelligence agencies in their latest conspiracy against Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

Citing Philippe Vasset, editor of Intelligence Online daily, Haaretz reported Tuesday that the Egyptian security forces have been operating entirely on the basis of intelligence "provided to them by several foreign intelligence services" in their latest move against the Lebanese movement.

Egypt arrested 49 people last Tuesday, accusing Hezbollah of recruiting the group to stage attacks against tourist areas frequented by foreigners in the country during Israel's devastating 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

According to the online biweekly report, Israel's Mossad and the CIA, contributed to the arrest of the people accused of "planning attacks in the country".

Cairo later claimed that the group was also masterminding attacks against Israeli targets in Sinai Peninsula and against targets in the Suez Canal.

Earlier on Monday, the security forces also added espionage to the charges of the detainees and claimed that another group of 13 suspects has been holed up in the Sinai Peninsula.

The officials claimed that the suspects, who had taken shelter in the central Sinai town of al-Nakhl, may either try to escape north into Gaza some 200 km (120 miles) away through secret tunnels or head south to the tourist resorts on the coast.

Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah rejected the allegations in a televised speech on Friday.

"I fully reject and deny all charges that Hezbollah was intending to launch an act of aggression in Egypt or at any other part of the world," Nasrallah said.

He however confirmed that one of the 49 people was a Hezbollah member.

"The brother Sami Shihab is a member of Hezbollah. We do not deny it and we are not ashamed of it ... Sami was providing logistics to help the Palestinian resistance at the Egyptian-Palestinian borders ... all other charges against him are false," Nasrallah (photo above) explained.

Israel, US to flex military muscles for Iran

A graphic illustration shows the Arrow ballistic missile interception system in action against a simulated missile attack. Tel Aviv believes the system may be a necessary part of its preparations for a war with Iran.

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 07:55:58 GMT | PressTV

Israel has sketched out plans for a "massive" joint military exercise with the US amid preparations for an all-out war with Iran.

The exercise, code named 'Juniper Cobra', will test three different missile anti-missile systems, including an upgraded version of Israel's arrow interceptor, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

Designed and constructed via American funding for Israel, the Arrow ABM system is a multi-billion dollar development program, which intercepts targets high in the stratosphere.

Two other American-made anti-missile systems, namely the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and the ship-based Aegis combat system, are also to be tested during the war games.

Like the arrow, THAAD intercepts ballistic missiles in the high stratosphere but has the capability to intercept targets both in and coming from the outer reaches of outer space.

The Aegis combat system is one of the most advanced and capable defense systems currently in use. It can simultaneously detect, track and destroy a multitude of targets.

While a date has not been publicized for the maneuvers, they are likely to happen during the current year.

During the past five years, the White House of former US president George W. Bush has ordered similar military exercises but the recent Juniper Cobra exercise will be the "most complex and extensive yet", The Jerusalem Post revealed.

Quoting unnamed senior Israeli officials, the newspaper said the exercise meant "to enable interoperability between Israeli and American BMD systems ... in the event of a conflict with Iran."

Tel Aviv has intensified its preparations for a war against Iran since Benjamin Netanyahu took power and became the Israeli prime minister.

Israel, the sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, accuses Tehran of making efforts to build a nuclear bomb and threatens Iran with a military strike should the country continue uranium enrichment.

Echelons in Tel Aviv have voiced concern that the launch of air strikes against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure may trigger a war of raining missiles.

The preparations come at a time that the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran and has conceded that the country enriches uranium to a level of around 5 percent -- consistent with the development of a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear weapons production requires a rate of over 90 percent.

Monday, April 13, 2009

'Hezbollah's legitimacy growing in the West'

Mon, 13 Apr 2009 21:32:56 GMT | PressTV

Hezbollah says Western states should stop their support of Israel stating that the resistance movement has been enjoying increased legitimacy.

"In recent years, the Western perception of Hezbollah has changed. Even governments have started to look for reasons to communicate and have relations with Hezbollah ... This indicates that the Islamic resistance has convinced the West it is a popular, authentic and important movement that cannot be ignored," Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Naim Qassem (photo) ,said on Monday in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Qassem also noted that the more the Hezbollah resistance movement presents its image to the western public opinion, the more pressure the people of the West will exert on their governments to stop supporting Israel.

Hezbollah's second-in-command also noted, "Hezbollah has a single leadership. All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership. The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel."

Israel fought a 33-day war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 to destroy the defense power of the Lebanese resistance group. According to a recently published Israeli report called the Winograd, the attack backfired and wreaked a humiliating defeat on Israel.

Turning to the US President Barack Obama's recent attempts to outreach Iran and the Muslim world, Qassem commented that he was skeptical about the US president's remarks.

"His ideas seem to support dialogue instead of military pressure and threats. But will America's policy toward the Middle East, including Iran, actually change? I am waiting to see his actions, not just his words," he commented.

Hezbollah's second-in-command concluded that Hezbollah is not carrying out any sort of military operations outside of Lebanon.

Six years of agony in Israeli prisons

Mon, 13 Apr 2009 18:14:02 GMT | PressTV

The following is an exclusive Press TV interview with Shrirn Sehikh Khalil (photo) a former Palestinian prisoner who had been held in Israeli custody for six years. Shirin is a resident of the occupied West Bank but has been released in the Gaza Strip.

Press TV: Shirin tell us what it was like to spend six years in Israeli jails?

Khalil: I was in Israeli prisons for six years and they [Israelis] kept transferring me from one prison to another. I did not visit my family for six years because although my family lives in the West Bank, they hold Gazan ID cards and Gazans were not allowed to meet me. I had a hard time not being able to see my family.

Press TV: Shirin you were there for six years, tell us how the Israelis treat Palestinians prisoners?

Khalil: Their treatment was definitely terrible. They adopt a policy of solitary confinement and punishment toward us.

They moved detainees from one prison to another to destroy their morale and in the latest of such moves they transferred female prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to HaSharon prison and female detainees with Fatah and the Popular Front [for Liberation of Palestine] to Damun Prison.

Press TV: What can you tell us about the situation of the detainees -- especially women -- held in Israeli jails?

Khalil: Like other prisoners in Israeli jails who are subject to mistreatment, they ill-treated me; they were no difference between male and female detainees in this regard.

For example, Amal Joma suffered from uterine cancer and Amni Mona developed another disease, Sina Abu Qalam suffered from gastrointestinal and other chronic diseases and Israelis did not provide us with adequate medical care -- they would just give us analgesics.

Press TV: Many describe Gaza as an open air prison. How do you describe it?

Khalil: The situation in Gaza is certainly very painful. No body has been able to enter or leave the Gaza Strip for two years, while unemployment and the lack of vital supplies have made life difficult for the Gaza people.

Egypt-Hezbollah relations strained

April 13, 2009 - Relations between Egypt and Hezbollah have deteriorated, after the arrest of 49 people supposedly linked to the Lebanese group. Are Hezbollah's sights really set on Egypt? Was the group sent to help Palestinians in Gaza? Or is this all political brinkmanship?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan boost regional coop

Sat, 11 Apr 2009 01:25:07 GMT | PressTV

Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan will pursue a common vision for regional peace, says a statement after a trilateral ministerial meeting.

The agreement was made after the meeting between Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, Mohammad Mehdi Akhundzadeh, the Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Mohammad Kabir Farahi, and Pakistan's Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir, in Islamabad on Friday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The officials agreed on pursuing a common vision for peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region by enhancing partnership based on mutual interest and respect and in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The officials also agreed on imparting a strong impetus to trilateral cooperation in the political, economic, development, reconstruction, cultural and social fields.

In the regional context, the three sides underscored their strong resolve to fight terrorism and extremism, combat narcotics and organized crime, and promote trans-regional development cooperation.

The pledge was made in pursuance of the decision taken by the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran at their trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ECO Summit in Tehran on March 2009.

The Ministerial meeting will set the date for the next trilateral summit to be held in Tehran.

Focus on Gaza - The Spin Battle

April 10, 2009 - This week we will discuss a controversial cartoon published in America and visit an Israeli family of reservists to find out how they feel about their countrys public relations war. We also met with Gerry Adams who spoke to us about his feelings on the impact of media bias in conflict.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Muslim Brotherhood: Egyptian Claims against Hezbollah Fabricated

10/04/2009 | Hussein Assi - almanar

The Egyptian aggressive claims against Hezbollah continue to trigger furious reactions here and there…

Indeed, while Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah is scheduled to declare his party's official stance over the claims during a speech to be delivered Friday night, the refutation of Egypt's accusations came from its own ground putting these claims as part of a campaign against the Resistance party over its objection to the Egyptian regime's behavior during the Israeli aggression against Gaza.

In this context, the general supervisor of the Muslim Brotherhood's mission in Egypt, Ibrahim Munir, denounced on Friday the Egyptian regime's charges against Hezbollah as fabricated.

Munir said that the feelings of failure and fiasco were dominating on the Egyptian regime nowadays following the Western attempts, namely the American, to approach to Turkey and Iran and also as a result of its deadlock at the internal and external levels.

"The Egyptian regime is seeking, through its claims against Hezbollah, to tell the West and the Zionist entity that it was still able to achieve the goal of wiping out the Resistance in the region," Munir emphasized.

Munir added that Hezbollah Secretary General was very popular among Egyptians for the achievements made by his brave Resistance against the Zionist enemy.

On Wednesday, Egypt's state prosecutor claimed that Hezbollah was plotting to carry out attacks inside the country and "spreading Shiite ideology in Egypt."

According to a statement from the prosecutor, "Egypt's attorney general received a note from state security about information confirmed by questioning about Hezbollah leaders sending some elements to the country to attract members to work with the organization and persuade them to join its ranks with the aim of carrying out acts of aggression inside the country."

However, the statement did not give details of possible attacks.

Hezbollah stressed on many occasions that it had no activity outside Lebanon and that its sole focus was on countering Israeli threats against Lebanon and confronting any Zionist aggression on its soil.

'Saniora's Decision to Run Was Made in US to Create Tension'

10/04/2009 | Almanar

Former Member of Parliament Nasser Qandil said that Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's decision to run for the legislature in June ends the Doha agreement, adding that the decision to run was "made in America to create tensions in the city."

In a press conference on Friday, Qandil said that "Saniora's nomination ends the Doha agreement, for the prime minister is supposed to be neutral." He called for forming a new cabinet with a neutral prime minister that would oversee the June parliamentary elections.

He called on former Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who's, according to Qandil, "the most excelled candidate to head a national unity government," to reject any possibility to enter into any coalition that does not include Omar Karami (a former Prime Minister as well), former Foreign Minister Jean Obeid and someone representing the Allawite sect.

The former MP called on President Michel Sleiman to intervene and foster the prime minister to withdraw his nomination or pull out of the race. He also accused US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman of indirect interference in the Lebanese parliamentary elections, saying that Feltman fostered the nomination of candidate Samer Saade in Tripoli and other Christian members of the March 14 Forces in the Shouf, Aley and Baabda regions.

"This matter would certainly lead to an open civil war in the country on the eve of the parliament.

Sayyed Nasrallah Denies Claims, Rejects Enmity with Any Arab State

10/04/2009 - Hussein Assi - almanar

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah denied on Friday the Egyptian aggressive claims against the Resistance party, stressing that his party has no intentions or plans at all to destabilize the Egyptian security.

Speaking through a TV screen, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah has no intention to be enemy with any Arab system or with any other state, confirming that Hezbollah's sole enemy was represented through the Zionist entity. His eminence expressed regret over the attempts of some Arabs to present Hezbollah as Al-Qaeda, confirming that Hezbollah does not have extensions abroad and is not involved in any conflict in other Arab countries.

His eminence also tackled the Lebanese forthcoming parliamentary elections, stressing that all rumors about conflicts between his party and the Amal movement were baseless, stressing that the fact that Amal nominated two of its members for the Shiite seat in Beirut-2 district was part of a consensus. His eminence also denied any intention to topple the Lebanese President following the elections, accusing some parties of attempting to disrupt the good relations between Hezbollah and President Michel Sleiman.

Sayyed Nasrallah began his speech by noting that his speech was programmed to be one of a series of weekly speeches to tackle the forthcoming parliamentary elections and other domestic issues. "However, the Egyptian accusations against Hezbollah and myself turned to be the talk of the town, and we found that the issue deserves more than a press statement," Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence noted that addressing the latest Egyptian accusations against him would be an opportunity to explain, once again, Hezbollah view and policy towards the Arab world and the Arab different regimes.

Sayyed Nasrallah then began the first axis of his speech by recalling of the main facts related to the whole case. According to his eminence, the Egyptian authorities have detained on November 19, 2008, a Lebanese citizen and accused him alongside other people of attempting to smuggle arms and equipment to Gaza.

"One month later, the Zionist entity launched its deadly aggression against Gaza," Sayyed Nasrallah noted, recalling that Hezbollah's position during the offensive was transparent and public. His eminence recalled that he has personally urged the Egyptian regime to open crossing with Gaza. "Then, it was our duty to denounce the Egyptian regime for its refusal to open the crossings," Sayyed Nasrallah said. "Right after this stance, a political and commercial huge campaign was launched in Egypt against me and Hezbollah, under the instructions of the Egyptian authorities and intelligence. Yet, we considered the campaign as a reaction and a natural price for our stance and we were ready to pay it."

Hezbollah Secretary General noted that the volume of the campaign launched by the Egyptian regime against his party was remarkable, recalling that some Sunni scholars also condemned the Egyptian President and even accused him of betrayal. "Yet, the Egyptian authorities didn't condemn those scholars as they did with Hezbollah," his eminence pointed out to conclude that their position with Hebollah was different "because Hezbollah was a Resistance." Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say that there are parties in the Arab world that are offensive against the Resistance and are very close to their American and Israeli masters in dealing with this issue.

Turning into facts, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that Hezbollah is clear in its positions and has nothing to hide in whatever circumstances. Hence, his eminence declared that the Lebanese citizen Sami Chehab, who was detained in Egypt, was actually a member of Hezbollah. "Our brother Sami, is a member of Hezbollah, we don’t deny this," Sayyed Nasrallah announced. "He was providing logistic help to the Palestinian resistance at the Egyptian-Palestinian borders," his eminence added, noting that this was the only right thing that actually didn't figure in the Egyptian claims. "All other charges against him are false."

"If aiding the Palestinians is a crime, then I am proud of it," Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized. His eminence noted "that the aim here is to agitate the Egyptian people and to defame Hezbollah's pure and bright image. This aims to only please the Americans and Israelis for the Egyptian regime has failed by all means."

Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that the one who should be charged and condemned over this case was not Sami or his friends but the Egyption regime. "The Egyptian regime should be charged and condemned for besieging Gaza," his eminence said, noting that the mentioned regime is working day and night on destroying Gaza tunnels.

The Resistance leader expressed regret because the Egyptian regime was escalating its aggression against the resistance movements in the region instead of backing and supporting them. "We were expecting the Egyptian regime to take the initiative and invite the Arabs to discuss how to face the Israeli threats, but unfortunately we saw that the Egyptian regime decided instead to increase his conflict with the Resistance."

To conclude on the topic, Sayyed Nasrallah fully rejected and denied all charges that Hezbollah was intending to launch an act of aggression in Egypt or at any part of the world. His eminence stressed that his party does not intend to enter into any form of enmity and conflict with any Arab, Islamic or international regime in the world, confirming that its sole enemy remains the Zionist entity.

"The charge of attempting to spread the Shiite way of thinking and practices is baseless," Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that no single individual can do so in Egypt. "To accuse us of being agents working for others is also meaningless," his eminence emphasized.

Sayyed Nasrallah, meanwhile, expressed regret over the attempts of some Arabs to present Hezbollah as Al-Qaeda, confirming that Hezbollah does not have extensions abroad and is not involved in any conflict in other Arab countries.

"Hezbollah is a purely Lebanese party from its leadership to its base and it has no branches anywhere else," the Resistance leader asserted. "Hebzollah's mission is to protect Lebanon from the Zionist danger," his eminence recalled, stressing that the party doesn't actually interfere in any internal conflict of any state in the world. "However, in facing the Zionist criminality, it's our duty to help the Palestinians, just as it's their duty to help us in the same circumstances."
Sayyed Nasrallah also stressed that his party had nothing to do with what is going on in Yemen and Bahrain. "Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Hezbollah members have helped the Huthies (a rebel group in Yemen) behind the back of their leadership," Sayyed Nasrallah recalled. His eminence stressed that Hezbollah is a well disciplined party and there are no Hezbollah members who operate alone but stressed his party has nothing to do with the whole issue. His eminence also emphasized the claims in some Gulf dailies over backing opposition figures in Bahrain. "No one in Bahrain has asked anything from us, and even if there was such request, we can't respond favorably."

Sayyed Nasrallah then addressed the Arab regimes and leaders, urging them to leave Hezbollah alone. "Don't put on Hezbollah's back more than it can bear," Sayyed Nasrallah said. "We're clear and transparent and whenever we do something wrong we have the necessary courage to admit it," Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence called on the media to verify of all their news stories, and examine all what the intelligence branches are doing and making up. His eminence concluded by stressing that his party was not engaging into a battle with the Egyptian regime. "We disagreed with them over the Gaza aggression and we're still in disagreement with them over this issue, and that's it."

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah devoted the last part of his speech to the forthcoming parliamentary elections. His eminence started by commenting on some "analyzes" of his last speech that claimed that the opposition was preparing to topple the Lebanese President.

"There are parties who insist on strife, unrest and struggle, and that is what they opt for. They don't want the country to come together," Sayyed Nasrallah said. His eminence recalled that when he said that the Parliament elects the President, he was enumerating the general roles assumed by the Members of the Parliament and what makes any parliamentary elections important.

"We were fully convinced to vote for President Michel Sleiman and we're in good terms with him," Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized. "We and the Free Patriotic Movement have elected President Sleiman by our free and full will, and we have good and confident relations with him since he was an army commander," his eminence added.

To end, Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that the relations between his party and the Amal Movement were strategic, denying the presence of any conflicts between the two parties. "We agreed on Amal movement nominating two of its members for the Shiite candidate in Beirut's second district," his eminence declared.

"The opposition will work hard to carry on honest and democratic elections, which we hope will be in our favor," Sayyed Nasrallah said at the end of his speech.

Russia in Unprecedented Israeli Drones Purchase

10/04/2009 | source Almanar

Russia has concluded a contract with an Israeli firm for the sale of drones, a defense official said on Friday, in Moscow's first purchase of military hardware from the Jewish state.

"We have concluded a contract with an Israeli firm on supplying Russia with several drones," Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said after returning from a trip to Israel, quoted by Russian news agencies.

The minister did not name the Israeli company, but press reports have identified it as Israel Aerospace Industries and put the value of the deal at 50 million dollars (37 million Euros). Negotiations with Israel are likely to have been colored by tensions over Russian ties with some of the Jewish state's Middle Eastern adversaries, such as Iran, say analysts.

Popovkin on Friday echoed earlier dissatisfaction voiced by Russia's military with the drones produced by his country's own defense industry. The purpose of the latest purchase is "for our manufacturers to see what it is we're talking about," he said.

Moscow began shopping for foreign unmanned aircraft after last year's war in Georgia. Defense analysts say Georgia made effective use of its Israeli drones in the conflict, while Russia's home-made drones turned out to be inferior.

Russia is in the midst of an ongoing effort to modernize its military and equip its armed forces with up-to-date technology, despite disagreements among some in the military over the priorities that have been set.

According to Kommersant, Russia is purchasing Bird-Eye 400, I-View MK150 and Search MK II drones from Israel Aerospace Industries.

Burns urges Russia, China sanctions on Iran

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 18:26:45 GMT | PressTV

Former US undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns urges Washington to dissuade Russia and China from backing Iran's nuclear program.

Burns, who was the Bush administration's point person on Iran, said all major powers, including Moscow and Beijing, should agree to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, if future negotiations fall.

“This a strong challenge to China and Russia: China is Iran's leading trade partner. Russia has been an important arms supporter. This is undercutting the unity of the UN sanctions,” Burns suggested.

The UN Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran due to Western allegations that Iran seeks weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

Iran has rejected the accusations, insisting that its nuclear activities are aimed at producing electricity to meet the country's growing demand.

Burns, who stepped down from his post at the State Department last year for “personal reasons”, urged European countries to follow Washington's example and 'sacrifice' their business ties with the Islamic Republic.

“The European nations need to make the same sacrifices we Americans have made by cutting our trade relationship with Iran. We need to have a unified approach,” he argued.

The six countries -- made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), also known as the E3+3 -- have devised plans to resume negotiations with Iran over its nuclear activities.

Washington confirmed that it would participate in the P5+1 negotiations with Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Tehran is open for nuclear talks as long as they are based on “justice and respect”.

Iraqis hold 'anti-occupation' rally

Thu, 09 Apr 2009 09:12:05 GMT | PressTV

Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets, on the 6th anniversary of the US-led invasion of the country, calling for a complete US troop pullout.

The demonstrations held on Thursday also marked the fall of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath regime.

The protesters, including Iraqi officials and lawmakers, demanded immediate withdrawal of 'the occupier forces' from the oil-rich country and the release of innocent Iraqis held by US forces.

The demonstrators were chanting slogans saying "NO, No, America" and "No, No, Israel."

The nearly 1.2-million-strong rally also called on the "the government to open investigation about all the crimes that were committed by US soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion," Press TV's Wisam al-Bayati reported.

They also warned against the restoration of the former Ba'athist officials whom they see as 'people with Iraqi blood on their hand'.

The anti-occupation march held just hours after US President Barack Obama paid a surprised visit to the war-torn country on his first trip to Baghdad as commander-in-chief of US forces. Obama has ordered to withdraw all US troops by 2011.

Sadr bloc in the Iraqi parliament has accused the foreign occupiers of inciting violence and orchestrating the recent bomb attacks across the country. The group says the foreign occupiers seek to dominate all internal affairs of Iraq.

Ahmadinejad questions efficiency of capitalism

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 07:45:12 GMT | PressTV

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warns against the US-backed capitalist system.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned against the spread of a capitalist system by the United States and its allies.

"The US administration and certain capitalist countries seek to pin the blame for the current global economic crisis on others and call for collective cooperation to settle the problem," Ahmadinejad told reporters in the Kazakh capital city Astana on Monday.

"The economic crisis gripping the world is a crisis caused by a capitalist system," he added.

He called on regional countries to work to create a common currency for their trade exchanges as proposed by Iran during the 10th summit of the Economic cooperation Organization (ECO) in Tehran in March, 2009.

President Ahmadinejad had earlier recommended that the 10 ECO member states formulate a plan to use a common currency.

According to Ahmadinejad, such a currency could lessen the impact of the growing global financial crisis.

In his Monday address to reporters, the Iranian president explained, however, that such plans would require adequate preparation.

Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are the members of the ECO.

With their combined population of 400 million people, ECO member nations may significantly impact the world economy if they adopt a single currency.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Taliban nearing Pakistan capital

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 18:22:42 GMT | PressTV

Taliban insurgents have captured Buner district, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad

The Taliban in Pakistan have moved deeper into areas near the capital Islamabad after they established their rule in the restive Swat valley.

About 20 vehicles carrying defiant militants entered Buner district, some 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad on Monday.

The local officials confirmed on Wednesday that the insurgents were moving into the town, clashing with police in some parts of the district.

Several people were reported to have been killed in the battles after the security forces backed by local militia tried to confront the militants in the region.

A recently signed deal between the authorities and the Taliban in the region has strengthened the militants' grip on the power.

Pakistani authorities in early March agreed to establish Taliban rule in the troubled restive Swat Valley. Following the agreement the militants set up an administration with courts, taxes, patrols and checkpoints in the troubled region.

The valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan is located 160 km (100 miles) from Islamabad.

Taliban claim that the recent violence in Pakistan has been in retaliation for the suspected US drone attacks and threatened more attacks should the aerial raids continue. The insurgents have repeatedly hinted that they would take their war to the capital in response.

The insurgents have been rapidly extending their influence throughout major cities over the past few months, posing a threat to Pakistan's sovereignty.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Ministry Chief Rehman Malik have also warned that the al-Qaeda and Taliban linked militants want to take over the whole state of Pakistan

Despite the presence of more than 70,000 US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan, insurgency has escalated in the war-torn country spilling over to neighboring Pakistan.

Pakistan has been hit a wave of violence more than seven years after US-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban, to destroy al-Qaeda, to capture Osama bin Laden and bring security to the volatile region.

Taliban have killed 1,700 Pakistanis in several suicide bombings across the violence-hit country since July 2007. Around 1,500 Pakistani troops have also lost their lives in fighting with the militants since 2002.

Defiant Iran opens nuclear fuel facility

April 09, 2009 - Iran's president has inaugurated the country's first nuclear fuel production plant in Isfahan.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marked Iran's National Nuclear Day with a speech, saying his country is open to talks based on "justice and respect".

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reports.

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