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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jundullah claim responsibility for Iran blast

Sat, 30 May 2009 | PressTV

The Jundullah terror group has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack that killed at least 25 people in southeastern of Iran.

The group's spokesman Abdolrauf Rigi contacted the Pakistan-based office of the al-Arabiya television network to report a bombing in a mosque in the Sistan-Balouchestan province. The group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Thursday blast in the southeastern city of Zahedan, Iran, left more than 20 dead and injured 125 others.

A bomb blast rocked a mosque in the city of Zahedan on Thursday night as mourners participated in a ceremony marking the death of the daughter of the prophet of Islam.

The bloody attack injured 125 others. A second explosive was also defused at the mosque within minutes of the explosion.

Iranian officials condemned the attack, calling it in line with attempts to divide Iranians, specifically just before the June 12 presidential election.

In a Friday statement, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, expressed his deepest condolences and warned against such seditious acts.

Blaming Iran's enemies and their intelligence services for trying to sow discord among Muslims, the Leader said the terrorist attack was designed to destabilize the country.

Tehran's Interim Friday Prayers Leader, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, put the finger of blame on the US and Israel, calling the attack "a scheme to drive a wedge between the Shia population and the Sunni minority in Iran."

US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly, however, denounced the bombing and rejected the notion that the US had had a hand in the attack.

The attacks came as the Jundullah terrorist group said earlier that they were planning new acts of sabotage ahead of the election.

In a message, the group's ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi recently called on Sunni clerics to discourage people in Sistan-Balouchestan province from participating in the upcoming election, threatening them with assassination should they encourage voter turnout.

The Pakistan-based terrorist organization denies having any link to Washington but ABC news reported in 2007, citing US and Pakistani intelligence sources, that the terrorist group "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials" to destabilize the government in Iran.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed another report in July 2008 that US congressional leaders had secretly agreed to former president George W. Bush's USD 400 million funding request, which gives the US a free hand in arming and funding terrorist groups such as Jundullah militants.

Justify Full

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gunmen attack Ahmadinejad campaign office

Fri, 29 May 2009 | PressTV

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Unidentified gunmen have reportedly opened fire on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign outpost in the southern city of Zahedan.

According to Mohammad-Reza Zahed-Sheikhi, who presides over President Ahmadineajd's election office in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, three people including a two-year-old child have been wounded in the attack.

"Three motorcyclists carrying knives stopped outside the outpost and started cursing and ripping our billboards," Sheikhi said in an interview with IRNA.

He added that the men pulled out their guns and started shooting when some of the campaign staff rushed to protest.

Two campaign workers, received arm, stomach and shoulder wounds and were taken to hospital, while the child, who was shot in the stomach, was undergoing surgery, he continued.

Sheikhi said the men attempted to make a run for it, but were eventually arrested by police authorities.

The incident comes only a day after a terrorist attack rocked the city of Zahedan to its core.

At least 25 people were killed and 125 others were injured on Thursday after bombers targeted a religious ceremony in the Shia Amir al-Momenin mosque. The mosque was partially destroyed by the blast.

The latest developments in southern Iran come as the country prepares to hold presidential election in two week's time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

5 decry jail terms in Holy Land Foundation case

Wednesday, May 27, 2009
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

The five defendants in the Holy Land Foundation case were defiant Wednesday while being sentenced for their roles in funneling money to overseas terrorists, expressing disbelief that American law could criminalize the feeding of needy Palestinian people.

Three maintained their steadfast innocence.

The judge in the largest terrorism financing case in U.S. history disagreed, handing down sentences to two that will likely mean they'll spend the rest of their lives behind bars for financing the terrorist group Hamas. The others were given sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years.

"Your function in life was raising money to support Hamas," U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis told one of them in words that were repeated in some fashion as each defendant learned his fate.

"You stated it was to help people, but the motive was to support Hamas," the judge said. "You state that you are innocent, but the evidence shows the opposite."

If the federal judge, the FBI and prosecutors were expecting contriteness, they were sorely disappointed.

"We gave the essentials of life – oil, rice, flour," former Holy Land board chairman Ghassan Elashi said before receiving his 65-year sentence.

"The [Israeli] occupation was providing them with death and destruction. The Holy Land Foundation was to assist the Palestinians in their steadfastness against the brutal apartheid regime.

"I would like to declare my innocence of all the charges," he said.

108 charges

Last fall, all five men were convicted on 108 charges that they funneled more than $12 million to the Palestinian group Hamas after the Clinton administration in 1995 declared it a terrorist group for sponsoring suicide bombings targeting Israelis.

The convictions were a major counterterrorism victory for the Justice Department, which has failed to get guilty verdicts on the most serious charges in other similar trials around the country.

"Today's sentences mark the culmination of many years of painstaking investigative and prosecutorial work at the federal, state and local levels," David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a prepared statement Wednesday. "These sentences should serve as a strong warning to anyone who knowingly provides financial support to terrorists under the guise of humanitarian relief."

Holy Land prosecutor Jim Jacks noted the defiant nature of the men's remarks while arguing for maximum penalties for the charity's former leadership.

"There's been no acknowledgment by any of these defendants regarding their connection to Hamas," Jacks said. "They haven't been deterred. Their entire sentencing presentation is they're being punished for providing charity. It's important for the court to impose a sentence that says this is not a case about punishing people for doing nice things."

The government acknowledged that the former Richardson organization, once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., did provide aid to Palestinians. But the evidence showed that they sent money to Palestinian charity offices controlled by Hamas. U.S. law prohibits any aid, even humanitarian, going to any designated terrorist group.

Hamas, the evidence showed during trial, parlayed that aid into support for its violent agenda to destroy Israel. That included funneling aid to family members of suicide bombers, ensuring a steady stream of new suicide recruits, testimony showed.

Plea for leniency

Defense attorneys hoping for leniency fought an uphill battle with Solis on Wednesday, who repeatedly disputed arguments that the defendants broke no laws and did not support Hamas.

"You did support Hamas in violation of the law," Solis told Elashi. "If the Holy Land Foundation did have a face, it was the face of Hamas."

Nancy Hollander, attorney for former Holy Land CEO Shukri Abu Baker, tried to use the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri to persuade to judge to go easy. Al-Marri pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda.

"This is a man who admits he came to the U.S. as a sleeper agent and the government believes 15 years is sufficient," Hollander said.

Solis retorted that "raising millions of dollars to fund terrorism, that's a different situation." He said that al-Marri is an example of someone who wanted to "commit 'an' act of terrorism, as bad as that is. This is support over years."

He sentenced Abu Baker to 65 years.

Mohammad El-Mezain, former Holy Land endowments director and a Muslim prayer leader who delivered fiery speeches on confiscated videotapes in the case, spoke passionately about his devotion to charity, which he said was "more important to me than any political agenda."

"We did it all in the name of America," said El-Mezain, who received 15 years. "The Holy Land Foundation was no different than any other Jewish or Baptist charity."


Dennis Lormel, who created the FBI's Terrorist Financing Operations Section and now is a security consultant, said after the sentencings that the punishments were appropriate.

"Holy Land and the five guilty principals fully deserve the sentences handed down," he said. "Anyone criticizing the U.S. government in this matter should redirect their criticism to where it's deserved. Hamas is a terrorist organization that clearly exploited the vulnerability of charitable giving for their organizational benefit as opposed to the benefit of the Palestinian people."

Mark Briskman, head of the regional office of the pro-Jewish Anti-Defamation League, lauded Solis as a "no-nonsense judge who gets it."

"The implication of this trial is significant, and the sentencing handed down by the judge indicates that seriousness."

Kay Guinane, program manager for the Charity and Security Network, a project of the government watchdog group OMB Watch, predicted more trouble for U.S. charities doing international outreach, which is already suffering because of the Holy Land prosecution.

"The ... sentences handed down in the Holy Land Foundation trial indicate that this situation is likely to get worse," she said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Israel proposed a Palestinian state within Jordan

Wed, 27 May 2009 | PressTV

An Israeli proposal to set up a Palestinian state within the kingdom of Jordan has enraged Amman officials who asked for an explanation from Tel Aviv.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser "Judeh summoned the Israeli ambassador today to inform him of Jordan's protest and absolute rejection of the proposal at the Knesset [Israeli parliament]," a foreign ministry statement said on Tuesday.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh

The controversial proposal reportedly suggested "creating two states on the two banks of the Jordan River, one for the Israelis and one for the Palestinians."
Judeh demanded an official clarification from the Israeli government, reiterating his country's stance on the issue of a Palestinian homeland. Jordan "believes in establishing an independent and viable Palestinian state on Palestinian soil," stressed the minister, adding "This is a strategic Jordanian interest that comes in line with a two-state solution and the Arab peace initiative."

The idea of a Palestinian state within Jordan was floated by hawkish lawmaker Aryeh Eldad last week; it was debated in a Knesset meeting organized by the Likud party on alternatives to the US-backed two-state solution.
The proposal envisages the annexation of parts of the West Bank occupied in the 1967 war and a handover of the rest to Jordan - which is among the very few Arab states with Israeli ties.

Jordan -- already home to nearly six million people of Palestinian origin -- has repeatedly rejected proposals for a controversial annexation of a half-occupied West Bank, citing fears that the addition of the 2.4 million Palestinians in the territory would seriously disturb the kingdom's population balance.
Despite international criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far failed to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state -- the core issue in all peace negotiations over the past 20 years.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flu could reschedule Meccan Hajj

Fri, 15 May 2009 | pressTV

As if the wild-fire spread of swine flu had not caused enough misery, now it is making itself known in that most swine-free of places - Mecca, the destination for millions of Muslims from across the world.

For, no less than the persons of Egypt's Grand Mufti Sheikh Ali Jumua, and the Grand Imam of the country's al-Azhar Mosque, Muhammad Tantawi, have opined that Muslims might have to be called upon to postpone their annual Hajj pilgrimage due to the danger of the epidemic. The al-Azhar Mosque is the prime source of religious edicts among Sunni Muslims.

Speaking on BBC's Arabic-language radio on Friday, Dr. Ibrahim Negm, an advisor to the Grand Mufti, said that he (the Mufti) believed that a fatwa or religious edict might be called for to describe to Muslims how to postpone the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Dr. Negm said that, if the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert from five to the maximum six, then Muslim scholars should meet to consider calling for a possible postponement of the pilgrimage.

Every Muslim is required to carry out the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime, subject to certain preconditions, and this year, the annual pilgrimage is set to start in November.

In addition to the main or tamattu' Hajj pilgrimage in the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, millions of Muslims visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia during other times of the year, in what is known as the 'lesser', or umra Hajj.

Separately, the Mufti of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdel Aziz Haddad, has called on Muslims to delay any pilgrimage to Mecca for the next two or three weeks because of the outbreak. He also recommended that Muslims pray in the open air to avoid contracting, or spreading the swine flu.

So far, there have been no reported cases of the flu in the Persian Gulf littoral states, which include Saudi Arabia, but there is a growing concern among the Muslim clerical and medical bodies that the gathering of millions of Muslims from around the globe could provide the ideal venue for the transmission of the virus.

According to WHO, there are 7,500 confirmed cases of the disease in 34 countries, 1,000 of which were reported in the past 24 hours. At least 65 cases of fatalities have been reported, mainly in Mexico, where the outbreak first started.

Palestinian Americans commemorate Nakba

Jihan Hafiz, Press TV, Washington
Fri, 15 May 2009 19:58:26 GMT

US to be buried in 'Graveyard of Empires'

Fri, 15 May 2009 | PressTV

US efforts to cut out a friendly Afghan administration could end up as disastrous as the previous international approaches on the country, says a former presidential assistant.

"The idea of trying to establish a central government…that is going to be pro-American is foolish," said political analyst and former special assistant to ex-US president Ronald Reagan, Douglas Bandow on Thursday.

He cited the unsuccessful British and Russian invasions of Afghanistan which respectively pursued colonial and Marxist goals. "We've certainly seen the Soviets run into that, as well as British before them. It's called the 'Graveyard of Empires' for a reason," Bandow said in an interview with Russia Today.

Afghanistan earned the notoriety following the 1842 massacre of the British army during their retreat from the capital, Kabul and the inconclusive 10-year Soviet presence there.

Of the 16,000 British soldiers, who had departed on the retreat, only one survived the attackers who had swooped on the troops from the encompassing mountains. The 1978-1988 Soviet confrontation with the Mujahideen insurgents has also been likened to the US war on Vietnam in its damaging and futile nature.

Bandow, however, doubted the objective of Americanization to be Washington's prime target after the stated aim of counter-insurgency, from which, it had deviated.

"The question is what is America doing? What is America's goal? It is very hard to know."

The comments came while President Barack Obama has assigned 21,000 soldiers and a great number of civilian experts to the Afghan-based contingents.

This is while the civilian deaths from the US attacks on suspected militant sanctuaries continue to rise and conjure up anti-American sentiment.

The Taliban insurgents have, as well, been fleeing from the attacks to neighboring Pakistan where main towns and cities are now tainted with militant influence - a pretext Washington has used to extend it military presence to the country.

Washington has, meanwhile, been warning that the insurgents could get hold of the Pakistani nuclear facilities any time -- an excuse, which critics say, threatened to explain the US presence in Pakistan after Afghanistan.

"I don't think that further militarization of this conflict is going to be the answer. So I am afraid that if Obama does not seriously engage in a new approach in terms of looking for diplomatic options and figuring out what his objective really is, the US could find itself here for another six years not achieving anything," the former official concluded.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Palestinians keep hope of return alive on Nakba Day

Yousef Al-Helou, Press TV, Gaza
Thu, 14 May 2009 21:09:39 GMT

Egyptians slam gas sale to Israel

Heba Fahmy, Press TV, Cairo
Wed, 13 May 2009 22:02:11 GMT

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Deadly clashes continue in Somalia

At least eight people have been killed in renewed fighting between pro-government forces and armed fighters in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Witnesses said gunfire could be heard in the north of Mogadishu as fighters exchanged fire with government forces on Wednesday.

Mogadishu has seen intense fighting since the weekend as fighters from the al-Shabab group seek to topple Sharif Ahmed, the Somali president, and his government.

The clashes have prompted thousands of Mogadishu residents to flee the city.

Help needed

Ali Sheik Yasin Fadhaa, the vice-chairman of the local Elman Human Rights Organisation, said: "Some of them do not know where to go. They need urgent help."

Fadhaa said that his staff throughout Mogadishu had counted at least 5,200 people fleeing on Monday, taking the total since Saturday to more than 17,000.

While vowing to defend his government, Sharif Ahmed has endorsed plans to introduce Islamic law, a key demand by the fighters for their co-operation with his administration.

However, several armed groups such as al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam have refused to hold talks with him, saying Sharif Ahmed is too close to the West.

Years of conflict in Somala has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and created a security vacuum that has spawned piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

source aljazeera

Monday, May 11, 2009

Iran could elect first female president

Sun, 10 May 2009 | PressTV

More than 40 women have registered as prospective candidates for Iran's tenth Presidential elections, a top election official says. "Of the 475 who signed up as candidates, 433 are men and 42 are women," Kamran Daneshjoo, the head of Iran's election committee told reporters on Sunday.

That means the Islamic Republic could see a woman as its head of state, becoming the first Muslim country to have a female president.

However, the four candidates with the highest chance to win the race to the Presidential palace are incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's last prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, two times parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the Secretary of Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei.

Hours after registration closed in the country's capital of Tehran, Daneshjoo said the oldest Iranian to seek the presidency was an 86 year-old, while the youngest was a 19-year-old teenager.
"From among the candidates one had obtained a high ranking clerical degree, one was a professor, 35 people had a PhD. and 216 were post graduates," he added.

A former member of Iran's 290-seat parliament, Rafat Bayat is considered the most prominent female figure to register for the elections, scheduled for June 12.
The Sociologist, whose last bid for presidency was rejected four years ago, has announced that if elected, her first deputy will be a woman.

After registering at the Interior Ministry on Saturday, Bayat criticized the Ahmadinejad administration for missing so many 'golden opportunities', a reference to the government's failure to take advantage of skyrocketing oil prices last year.

Under the Islamic Republic constitution, candidates for the presidency be among "rejal", a word meaning 'men' in Arabic but translates into renowned political figures in Persian.
The word has caused controversy in the past, with some interpretations claiming that the constitution bars women from running for president.

However, Iran's constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, declared in April that there is no restriction on women standing in this year's presidential elections.
"The council has never put an interpretation on the word 'rejal'," Abbas-Ali Kadkodaye, a spokesman for the Guardians Council said.

US attacked Afghanistan with white phosphorus?

Sun, 10 May 2009 | PressTV

One of the victims of last week's
US attack on Bala Baluk.

Human rights and medical officials say that they suspect white phosphorus was used by US-led forces in an attack last week on civilians in Afghanistan.

More than 140 civilians were killed on Tuesday when US warplanes dropped bombs on two villages in the Bala Baluk district in the western province of Farah.

Britain's Observer weekly reported on Sunday that Dr. Mohammad Aref Jalali, who heads the internationally-funded burns hospital in Herat, said the victims among villagers taken to his hospital showed 'highly unusual burns' on their hands and feet, of a type that they had not seen before. "We cannot be 100% sure what type of chemical it was and we do not have the equipment here to find out. One of the women who came here told us that 22 members of her family were totally burned. She said a bomb distributed white powder that caught fire and then set people's clothes alight."

This description of material, that spontaneously ignite after contact with air are very close to what was seen earlier in the year in Gaza, when Israel subjected the Palestinian enclave to attacks by white phosphorus dispersed by air-burst shells.

Human Rights Watch identified the Israeli white phosphorus shells as being of the 155mm, M825E1 type of US origin.

The US forces have acknowledged using white phosphorus bombs in other theaters of operations too, including the November 2004 suppression of uprising in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions that prohibit the use of incendiary weapons against human targets.

According to the Human Rights Watch, other than serious burns, white phosphorus can cause poisoning through the production of 'systemic poisoning', resulting in deaths with even less than 10 percent burns.

Nader Nadery, a senior officer at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said that his organization also feared about the type of chemical used in the latest attacks on Afghan villagers.

Local Afghan sources reported that as many as 147 civilians were killed in the attacks by US-led forces.

The newspaper reported one official in Afghanistan who did not want his name to be published as saying, "The stories that are emerging are quite frankly horrifying. It is quite apparent that the large bulk of civilian casualties were called in after the initial fighting had subsided and both the troops and the Taliban had withdrawn."

The high number of casualties among the Afghan civilians has been blamed for the resurgence of the Taliban, whose ranks are replenished by Afghans who may seek revenge for the slaughter of their relatives and neighbors.

Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is seeking reelection in the ballots set for August, last week called for a halt to attacks against civilians.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pakistanis flee Swat

May 10, 2009 - The Pakistani military has ordered hundreds of thousands of people in Swat valley to leave the area, ahead of an expected assault on Taliban fighters there.

This exclusive raw footage from Al Jazeera shows some of those fleeing the fighting in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Pakistan Crisis

The latest news from Al Jazeera.

Pakistan's army says it's now engaged in a full-scale battle to root out Taliban fighters holed up in Swat Valley. And reports from Al Jazeera sources on the ground say the fighting is spreading. About one million civilians have made homeless by the conflict. Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman reports on the effort underway to help them

Russia 'losing to China on Iran S-300 quest'

Sat, 09 May 2009 | PressTV

Iran is reportedly seeking to buy a Chinese-made air defense system which is a variant of the Russian S-300.

In its quest for an advanced air defense system, Iran has reportedly shifted its hopes from Russia to China which owns a replica of the controversial Russian S-300.

As Iran's quest for the advanced Russian-made S-300 air defense system is believed to have hit rock bottom, a report by RIA Novosti said Tehran is eying a Chinese-made HQ-9 surface-to-air missile under the name FD-2000 -- recently put on the export market.

The HongQi-9/FD-2000 reportedly combines elements "borrowed" from Russia's S-300 and America's MIM-104 Patriot.
It uses elements of the Russian system's "solid rocket, aerodynamic layout, gas-dynamic spoilers, and launcher technologies, as well as some search and guidance systems."

The missile has a range of 7-125 kilometers for airborne targets -- a range much lower than the 150-kilometer range of the Russian S-300 PMU1. The Chinese system's range for missile targets, or air-to-ground missiles, is 7-50 kilometers, with a firing altitude of 1-18 kilometers. Its range for cruise missiles is 7-15 kilometers, at a firing altitude of 0.025 kilometers. The range for ballistic missiles is 7-25 kilometers at a firing altitude of 2-15 kilometers.

Iran has been negotiating a deal with Russia to obtain the sophisticated defense system since 2007. However, neither side has so far issued an official confirmation on the delivery of the S-300 to Iran. Later media reports claimed that Russia's plan to turn a "new page" in its ties with the United States is likely to prompt Moscow to shelve the delivery of the S-300 system to Iran.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari, however, said in April that the contract to buy Russia's S-300 advance missile system is still effective. "There are no problems with this [S-300] contract," RIA Novosti quoted Safari as saying at the end of his visit to Moscow. "After all, these are purely defensive weapons, and any country has the right to buy them. I believe this could only worry those states that have plans to attack others," he said.

Following an escalation in Israeli rhetoric, Iran has moved to upgrade its defenses and has reportedly opted to acquire the S-300 system -- which, according to Western experts, would rule out the possibility of an Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear sites.
"If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran," says long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure.

The S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which can track targets and fire at aircraft 120 km (75 miles) away, features high jamming immunity and is able to simultaneously engage up to 100 targets.

Iran's move to equip itself with the Chinese air defense system comes as an earlier report by the Jerusalem Post revealed that Israeli missile operators have begun weekly drills to hone their skills for a war on Iran. According to the report, Israeli Air Force (IAF) reservists who operate the ballistic missile destroyer, the Arrow, and the surface-to-air missile, Patriot, have been called up by the Defense Ministry to spend one day a week on duty to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran.

The weekly military drills come on top of another report revealing that Israel is set to mobilize its army to hold the largest military exercise in its history on June 2.
One of the missions of the nationwide military drill is to psych up the public for the breaking out of war and to convince the people that in the event of a war the entire country could "become a front without warning".

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian police ahead of election

Shahana Butt, Press TV, Indian Kashmir
Sat, 09 May 2009 11:51:28 GMT

Netanyahu : Israel will never return Golan

Sat, 09 May 2009 - PressTV

Israeli hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares that Tel Aviv will never return the occupied Golan Heights to Syria.

Benjamin Netanyahu made the remarks in an interview with Russian-language reporters on Friday, saying "remaining on the Golan will ensure Israel has a strategic advantage in cases of military conflict with Syria", Israeli online daily, Ha'aretz reported.

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the Syrian territory in 1981, a move never recognized by the international community.

Syria wants the return of all of the Golan Heights, saying the strategic Golan Heights will always belong to Syria and Israel's departure from Golan is the only way to peace.

According to Ha'aretz, Netanyahu also said that he is now ready to stand up to the US President Barack Obama to tell him that Israel would not give up on "matters that affect Israel's security".

Ahead of a scheduled visit to Washington, Netanyahu said that he would discuss the Iranian nuclear issue and Israeli-Palestinian peace process with Obama during the visit.

Netanyahu said that he intends to emphasize to Obama the need to deal with Iran and its "nuclear program, which is a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East". He also described Iran as an obstacle for normalizing ties between Israel and Arabs.

Recent reports suggested that Israel attempts to win back the United State's support for its stance on Iran and Palestine as US President Barack Obama is mulling over plans to impose sanctions against Israel should the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu implement its long-sought policy of countering Iran's nuclear activities by taking military action against the country.

US slammed for military operations in Afghanistan

Colin Campbell, Press TV, Washington
Fri, 08 May 2009 23:48:30 GMT

Friday, May 8, 2009

Russia stands firm on Iran arms sale

Fri, 08 May 2009 | PressTV

Moscow stands firm on its military-technical cooperation with Tehran, saying Iran has a clean record when it comes to using Russian-made weapons.

"The weapons [Moscow] has sold to Iran have never been used against any other country," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a Friday interview with Russia Today.

Lavrov said that Georgia, as opposed to Iran, has used Russian-made weapons "to kill Russians, to kill civilians, including Russian peacekeepers who are serving under the international agreement signed by Georgia."

The top Russian diplomat asserted that Moscow sells exclusively defensive systems to Tehran; therefore, there is no room for Western concern.

"Whatever we sell to Iran or to any other country is not covered by any prohibitions internationally or nationally. In the Russian Federation, we have one of the strictest export control legislation. And whatever we sell to Iran in particular is only of defensive nature," Lavrov added.

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.

Iran has been interested in the sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air system to enhance its defensive prowess against a potential Israeli attack on the country's nuclear infrastructure.

Washington and Tel Aviv, meanwhile, lashed out in fury over the sale of the S-300, which according to Israeli and American intelligence sources, would make Iran's nuclear facilities "inviolable" in the face of Israeli air strikes.

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.

Taliban turning fire on foreign troops in Afghanistan

Fayez Khorshid, Press TV, Kabul
Fri, 08 May 2009 15:39:01 GMT

Jews to blame for US recession: poll

Fri, 08 May 2009 - PressTV

Twenty-five percent of Americans blame Jews a moderate amount for the economic collapse.

Results from a recent opinion poll show at least one third of Americans more or less blame the Jewish community for the current economic recession.

A survey by the Boston Review in its May/June issue indicates some 38 percent of the non-Jews in the United States blame the Jews in some way for the financial crisis, while an estimated 25 percent blame the Jews a moderate amount or more for the global economic slump.

The study was conducted by Neil Malhotra, Assistant Professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and Dr. Yotam Margalit from the same university.

2,768 American adults participated in the survey.

The survey further suggested a considerable number of participants explicitly opposed to tax cuts for Wall Street giants as soon as they were introduced to be affiliated with Jewish financiers such as infamous fraud convict Bernard Madoff.

The Jewish respondents surprisingly displayed almost the same results when questioned on the same issue, staging more federal support for state governments and tax breaks for the middle class rather than big business.

The research also notes that 32 percent of the US Democrats attributed at least moderate blame to the Jews despite the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party's electoral coalition.

The financial crisis in the US has swept off nearly six million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007 with American taxpayers, the working class in particular, growing a grudge against bailed-out businesses.

Mustapha Barghouti: We are Heading For A Third Intifada

08/05/2009 | AlmanarTV

Mustafa Barghouti, an eminent personality and exponent of Palestinian civil society, a former candidate at the presidential elections of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005, then Information Minister in the national unity government headed by Ismail Haniye, is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

He participated at the VII International Conference of the Palestinians in Europe for the Right of Return, held in Milan, at the sidelines of which Arabmonitor met with him to get his opinion on crucial issues.

How do you evaluate the ongoing reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo ? Is there any possibility of an understanding coming out from them ?

“Reaching an understanding would be of vital importance for the Palestinians. On some points progress was achieved, for example regarding the need to reform the PLO and on the call for simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections as well as regarding the necessity to form a unity government. On other issues however, the gap between the parties remains huge, for instance regarding the future government's program and the management of the security issue”.

Has any agreement been reached regarding the name of the eventual future Prime Minister ?

“That argument was not yet discussed. What was agreed upon is that the government would be formed by independents or technicians instead of by members of either one of the blocs”.

Do you see any chance for an accord to be reached ?

“It all depends on (US President Barack) Obama”.

On Obama ?

“Yes, certainly, because it's the White House which must guarantee that the future Palestinian government does not get boycotted, otherwise no understanding will be possible”.

Are you optimistic ?

“At least, with the present (US) administration we can say: let's wait and see”.

In the present administration who could be considered to be the most sympathetic towards the Palestinians, certainly not the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton ?

“That's absolutely right, in fact, it's the first time that the President is more open than his own Secretary of State”.

What about the Arab states, what kind of support do they give the Palestinians ?

“For the Arab states, what's on the table is the Arab Peace Initiative. They're not discussing anything else”.

Is Egypt interfering heavily with the talks among Hamas and Fatah ?

“No, they seem to have taken upon themselves an authentic role of facilitators for the talks, apparently they are not putting any pressure on the parties”.

Should an understanding with Hamas not be forthcoming, how would Fatah react?

“They would be absolutely relaxed. They've got all the power in the West Bank. They collect the international donations and manage them. For all the rest they have little concern”.

And there are no divisions inside the Fatah bloc ?

“Oh, yes there are, and how, but they are sparked essentially by a struggle for power: who gets a hold on power and on how much of it”.

And what about the struggle between the old and the new generation ?

“That's a Western simplification. There's much talking about the old ones being corrupt, however they forget that the most corrupt of them all is a so-called young leader (Mohammed Dahlan ?)".

And Marwan Barghouti, does he still enjoy grass-root support ?

“He certainly is the most popular among the leaders, but I wouldn't exaggerate”.

How about Abu Mazen, what's the degree of popularity he can rely on ?

“Well, he never actually enjoyed such a great deal of popularity to start with and with the Israeli war against Gaza he lost some more of it”.

And Salam Fayyad ?

“He's cleverer. He gets around much, talks to the people, claims to be against armed resistance, but he keeps himself active. His appeal is greater than that of Abu Mazen”.

But Abu Mazen also declares himself opposed to armed resistance ?

“Abu Mazen is opposed also to verbal resistance”.

The question about the end of Abu Mazen's term as President (expired in January) doesn't come up any more in the talks between Hamas and Fatah ?

“Hamas doesn't mention it. As of now, the issue has been put on hold. If the reconciliation talks will succeed, this issue won't come up any more. If they fail, it will resurface prominently”.

Do you recognize any Israeli partner with whom peace talks might be forthcoming ?

“At this point in time, I see nobody”.

Not even Ehud Barak ?

“I would say, he's the worst of all sitting cabinet ministers, he's the one committed to perform the role of Labourist”.

You came to Milan to talk about the Right of Return.

“That is the central issue of the Palestinian question. It is a right and as such it is not negotiable. Would you forsake your rights ? Your right to your citizenship ? The right to live as a free man in your country ?”.

Thinking about the upcoming visit of the Pope to Palestine, do you believe it will have an impact on the situation on the ground ?

“I would say it will have zero impact. The Palestinians don't overestimate this visit, although Israel will surely try to exploit it”.

In case the Gaza Strip remains isolated for a longer time to come, do you see any risk of a renewed upsurge in violence ?

“What I see on the horizon is the outbreak of a new Intifada in all of the Occupied Territories of Palestine and that is going to be pretty tumultuous”.

Within short ?

“I wouldn't be able to predict a timeline, but the suffering is enormous”.

AIPAC meeting hints at Obama's obvious policy shift

Jihan Hafiz, Press TV, Washington
Fri, 08 May 2009 08:28:09 GMT


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weapons grade uranium found in Egypt

Wed, 06 May 2009 - PressTV

The UN nuclear watchdog is investigating the discovery of traces of highly enriched uranium (HEU) -- at or near weapons grade level -- in Egypt, reports say.

According to a restricted report conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UN nuclear inspectors found the traces while verifying Egypt's Non-Proliferation Treaty compliance in 2008.

Although the IAEA report did not specify whether the retrieved samples were weapon grade uranium or not, a senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that the particles were at or near weapons grade level, or in the stage that could be used for atomic arms.

The report's page-long section on Egypt said the highly enriched uranium (HEU) traces were found in swipe samples taken at Insha's nuclear research site near Cairo 2007-08.

Uranium can be enriched to high enough levels to be used in nuclear warheads.

Egypt has given an explanation about the HEU traces, saying that the traces may have been imported to the country on "contaminated radio isotopes containers.

Radio isotopes are mainly used in scientific and medical research. HEU and low enriched uranium can both be used in making radio isotopes.

The IAEA says that it is the first time such traces have been found since Egypt failed to notify the agency of its nuclear activities in 2004 and that it was continuing its investigation into the matter.

Candidates register for Iran's presidential elections

Gisoo Misha Ahmadi, Press TV, Tehran
Wed, 06 May 2009 17:28:26 GMT

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Israel grits teeth as 'doom day' draws near

Sun, 03 May 2009 - PressTV

Israel Air Force (IAF) missile operators have been called up to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran.

As the Israeli-predicted date for war on Iran draws closer, a report says Israeli's missile operators have begun weekly drills to hone their skills.

Israeli Air Force (IAF) reservists who operate the ballistic missile destroyer, the Arrow, and the surface-to-air missile, Patriot, have been called up by the Defense Ministry to spend one day a week on duty to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran.

The drills carried out by the missile operators are to improve their skills in countering dozens of long-range Iranian Shahab missiles expected to be fired at Israel in the event of a war on Iran.

"We are working hard to be ready for the Iranian threat," a top IAF officer was quoted by the Jerusalem Post. "We are preparing for barrages, split warheads and other surprises and therefore we need to retain a high operational level by everyone, including reservists."

While such drills have been carried out since last year those involved in them were "only pilots". The current duty, however, includes soldiers from the Air Defense Division who are on study leave.

"They come once a week to simulate different scenarios," the IAF officer explained.

The scenarios that are practiced include "the firing of large barrages at Israel from different countries at once, and the need for the operator to decide which missile to intercept first and at what stage of its flight."

"There are difficult dilemmas that the operators face when it comes to missile defense," the officer added.

According to the report, Israel test-fired its Arrow 2 interceptor earlier last month and shot down a missile which acted as Iran's Shahab missile.

The military drills are conducted as earlier in April Israel announced that it is set to mobilize its army to hold the largest military exercise in its history on June 2.

One of the missions of the nationwide military drill is to psych up the public for the breaking out of war and to convince the people that in the event of a war the entire country would "become a front without warning".

The US-made THAAD, which uses a hit-to-kill approach to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and the advanced Aegis combat system are scheduled to be brought to Israel especially for the large-scale exercise.

The latest development in Israel's military circles comes at a time when Tel Aviv has been heading steadily toward a confrontation with Tehran over its nuclear activity, citing fears that a "nuclear Iran" is the prime existential threat to its security.

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

According to Debka, "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."

While Israel's relentless calls for war on Iran have so far received stiff opposition in the US, top Israeli leaders have moved to launch high-profile diplomatic activities in an effort to convince the US government and European countries about what they describe as "the Iranian nuclear threat."

Israeli President Shimon Peres headed for Washington on Sunday for a four-day visit to meet with US President Barack Obama and discuss Iran's nuclear issue.

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with US leaders in Washington later this month where the "Iranian threat" is expected to top the agenda.


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