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  • Masoud Dalvand 8:41 am on September 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    ‘No words left’ to describe suffering of children in Aleppo –UNICEF Video&Photos 

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    UNICEF, 28 September 2016 – Children in Aleppo are trapped in a “living nightmare,” a senior official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today, stressing yet again, the direness of the situation, particularly for the children, in Syria’s …

     

    Source: ‘No words left’ to describe suffering of children in Aleppo –UNICEF Video&Photos

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  • Masoud Dalvand 8:37 am on September 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Why Iran is more dangerous than Islamic State 

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    A long-range missile system is displayed by Iran’s army during a military parade held just outside the city of Tehran on Sept. 21.

    Why Iran is more dangerous than Islamic State

    By Moshe Yaalon

     

    Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2016 – U.S. political leaders of both parties argue that destroying Islamic State is America’s top priority in the Middle East. In reality, that’s not nearly as important as confronting the challenge posed by Iran. The nuclear deal that went into effect a year ago may have postponed the danger of an Iranian nuclear bomb, but the multifaceted threat of a militaristic, messianic Iran regime is much more menacing to Western interests.
    In negotiating the nuclear agreement, the P5+1 group of countries — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — registered several benefits. These include delaying the Iranian military nuclear project for 10 to 15 years, defusing political tensions with Iran, opening new markets there, and gaining Iranian cooperation in the fight against Islamic State. Only one of these — the delay in Iran’s nuclear program — comes at Iran’s expense, since both sides shared a desire to achieve the other objectives.
    From Tehran’s perspective, it gained much more than it gave up. In exchange for postponing its military nuclear project, it achieved the lifting of many economic sanctions, an end to its political isolation and the loosening of restrictions on its ballistic missile program.
    And out of the P5+1’s exaggerated fear of taking any steps that might give the Iranians an excuse to scuttle the deal, Tehran won a lot more too. This includes wide latitude to advance its influence throughout the region as it no longer fears a U.S.-led “military option.”
    The evidence of Iran’s rogue behavior is overwhelming. It is the prime backer of the genocidal Syrian regime, providing President Bashar Assad with funds, weapons and the support of Shiite militias. It supplies weapons, money and training to Hezbollah, using it as a strategic tool to undermine the legitimate role of the Lebanese government. In Yemen, Iran fans conflict by sending arms to the Houthi rebels. Elsewhere in the Arabian peninsula, it uses proxies to undermine Bahrain and Saudi Arabia
    For an agreement that was supposed to be narrowly limited to finding a peaceful solution to Iran’s military nuclear program, the Iranian negotiators were brilliant. They played a weak hand superbly. And in 14 years, when critical restrictions will be lifted, the world may be in a worse position to prevent Iran’s nuclear project than ever before.
    In history and international politics, 14 years is the blink of an eye. And there are many factors — such as the possibility of global events that distract international attention from Iranian violations — that could shrink that time frame significantly.
    Concerned nations need to work together now to prevent Iran from exploiting the nuclear deal to redraw the political map of the Middle East in its favor and from capitalizing on the region’s instability to prepare for an eventual nuclear breakout, either before or after the deal’s expiration.
    Such steps would include ensuring strict inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities — and not just by the International Atomic Energy Agency. After all, the vast majority of Iran’s nuclear violations were exposed by western intelligence agencies, not the IAEA. In addition, concerned nations need to pressure Iran on its ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. They must also work to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit Iran’s proliferation of weapons throughout the region. None of these steps, by the way, violates the terms of the nuclear deal.
    It is not too late to repair the impression that the West — led by the United States — views Iran as part of the solution to the problems of the Middle East, rather than the chief source of the region’s instability and radicalism. Of course, Iran fights Islamic State; the fact that the world’s leading radical Shiite government fights radical Sunnis should come as no surprise.
    Those who believed that the nuclear agreement would lead to a more moderate, open, reformist Iran, at home and abroad, regrettably suffer from wishful thinking. So long as the ayatollah’s regime governs Iran, there is no chance we will see a McDonald’s in Tehran. Instead, we will see more executions, more repression, more tyranny.
    This view of Iran is shared across the Middle East by countries that used to be antagonists. While the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians persists, any reference to the conflict between Israel and Sunni Arab states is, for now, obsolete. Today, Arabs and Israelis are in the same boat, facing Iranian-backed threats all around the region; in terms of how to address these threats, we are also generally on the same page.
    What we lack is leadership from our traditional allies in the West, especially our good friends in America. Should President Obama or his successor shift priorities and lead a campaign to pressure Iran to end its destabilizing policies — applying the same type of pressure that forced Iran to negotiate on its nuclear program — it will find willing partners among both Arabs and Israelis.

     

     

    Moshe Ya’alon, the Rosenblatt Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute, served until May 2016 as Israel’s minister of defense.

     

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 8:33 pm on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    How the White Helmets of Syria Are Being Hunted in a Devastated Aleppo 

    New story from TIME in World : How the White Helmets of Syria Are Being Hunted in a Devastated Aleppo

    via World: How the White Helmets of Syria Are Being Hunted in a Devastated Aleppo — World News For US

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 7:56 pm on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    As UN Fetes Rouhani, Iranian Resistance Vows to Keep Fighting 

     

    By David A. Patten

    Iranian President Hasan Rouhani — who former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman says should be treated as “an international pariah” because his country “has more blood on its hands” than North Korea – has been warmly received by some members of the United Nations this week.

    Rouhani’s visit to New York follows revelations of the Obama administration’s controversial decision to ship $1.7 billion to Iran — an arrangement the administration insists did not amount to paying ransom.

    But the cash appeared to secure the release of U.S. prisoners in Iran, while consummating a deal with Iran’s mullahs that was intended to limit their nuclear enrichment activities for about a decade.

    To one small, beleaguered Iranian resistance group, the payoff to Iran and its diplomatic acceptance at the UN represented yet another setback in a long struggle to get Western powers to recognize the true nature of the regime. Appeasing the theocrats in Tehran, they warn, will only fuel more violence and repression.

    That organization, known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran or PMOI, claims 100,000 supporters and adherents worldwide. And in a region where foreign-policy experts decry a void of moderate partners for the West to work with, the PMOI, also known as MEK, stands out as a tolerant group whose views are generally acceptable to the United States and the West.

    Beginning in 2001, PMOI was credited with a series of revelations revealing Iran’s uranium enrichment activities to international watchdogs. Formerly listed as a terrorist group, it has renounced violence to achieve its ends and surrendered its weapons to U.S. forces in 2003.

    Unlike so many entities in the Persian Gulf region, PMOI respects women’s rights. In fact its leader and president, Maryam Rajavi is female.

    The PMOI say they aim to bring democracy to their beloved Iran. They also maintain government should be secular rather than religious. The organization also supports a nuclear-free Iran.

    The organization has kept a close eye on the West’s efforts to rein in the Iranian regime’s rogue nuclear program. After all, they have every reason to believe at least some of the billions of dollars that have flowed into Tehran since international sanctions were lifted will be expended to try to annihilate them.

    Before Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was deposed in February 1979, the PMOI, which denies its members had Marxist or socialist leanings at the time, fought the Shah just as they would later fight the Ayatollahs, and for many of the same reasons: Corrupt cronies, abridged freedoms, and crimes against humanity, they say.

    And just as they were persecuted by the Shah, they would later be arrested, tortured, and executed by the religious dictators who replaced him.

    In a single year, PMOI leaders say, over 30,000 Iranians were executed in what they contend was an act of genocide by the ruling mullahs in 1988. The killings followed a fatwa against them by Ayatollah Khomeini issued because they refused to support the mullahs in Tehran. That edict has never been rescinded, and Amnesty International has condemned the “staggering execution toll” in Iran.

    Anyone doubting the allegations of brutality in Iran should consider the story of Mohammad Shafaei. When he was 7, he watched them haul away his father, a doctor, for the alleged crime of treating a suspected PMOI member who was wounded. His house was also used as a local meeting place in their Isfahan neighborhood.

    Mohammad Shafaei.JPG

    Mohammad Shafaei

    When his mother arranged a memorial service for a teenager, age 16, who had been shot and killed while delivering a popular PMOI newspapers in the neighborhood, she was arrested as well.

    He recalls trying to deliver heart medication to his father after he was imprisoned. The guards confiscated the medicine and refused to let him see his father.

    When he looks at a picture of his family now, remembering happier days, only one other family member, his sister, has survived the regime’s attacks.

    Mohammad was sent to live with an uncle, made his way to Paris, and fulfilled his lifelong dream of coming to the United States to study medicine so he could follow in his father’s footsteps.

    He studied at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was by all accounts an extraordinary student, receiving straight As. He could go out for a pizza or go shopping like any American student. Once he was granted refugee status, he could have enjoyed life in America indefinitely.

    But in 1994, he learned that Iranian operatives had launched deadly attacks against PMOI members in Baghdad. Under the dictatorship of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, the PMOI experienced over 140 attacks by Iranian operatives against PMOI refugees.

    The group fought back, both inside and outside of Iran. Combined with its revolutionary activities that contributed to the Shah’s overthrow, the State Department in 1997 made the controversial move of listing PMOI as a terrorist organization — although investigators were never able to identify terrorists among the group’s members.

     Mohammad read the accounts of his countrymen being massacred in Iraq, and their bravery in captivity reminded him of his parents’ sacrifice. After an agonizing period of soul searching, Mohammad felt he must leave his easy life as a college student in America, and return to be with the exiled PMOI members in Iraq.

    It was the hardest decision of his life, he says.
    “I had a prosperous future in front of me without fear and suppression of [the] mullahs,” he says. “I had an opportunity to enter top U.S. medical colleges. Many youths might have a dream of being in such a position.

    “On the other hand, I could not imagine how my life was going to be if I started struggling with mullahs. I might get arrested like my mom, or get killed like my Dad, or get tortured to death like my older brother.”

    But how could he enjoy his freedom, knowing that others were living under a constant threat? Shafaei felt a higher calling to take up the cause that his parents had lost their lives for — bringing liberty to his country.

    As soon as he walked into Camp Ashraf, he knew he’d made the right decision.

    “I could see thousands of people who had the same goals as my family,” he recalls. “I felt myself in my family again and did feel to be alone. I had a feeling that I knew them from a long time. I found all people of MEK in camp Ashraf full of love and compassion, distinguished people who were seeking love, freedom, democracy, and peace. My hope was back.”

    The group renounced the use of violence in 2001. When U.S. troops arrived in Iraq in 2003, PMOI surrendered its weapons in return for the promise U.S. forces would protect them. As an occupying power under the Geneva Convention, the United States had a legal responsibility to protect them as a religious minority.
    Continue Reading…

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 7:16 pm on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Why So Many Children Are Being Killed in Aleppo 

    They cannot play, sleep or attend school. Increasingly, they cannot eat. Injury or illness could be fatal. Many just huddle with their parents in windowless underground shelters — which offer no protection from the powerful bombs that have turned east Aleppo into a kill zone.

    Among the roughly 250,000 people trapped in the insurgent redoubt of the divided northern Syrian city are 100,000 children, the most vulnerable victims of intensified bombings by Syrian forces and their Russian allies.

    Though the world is jolted periodically by the suffering of children in theSyria conflict — the photographs of Alan Kurdi’s drowned body and Omran Daqneesh’s bloodied face are prime examples — dead and traumatized children are increasingly common.

    The routine in east Aleppo, where shellshocked children are exhumed from rubble and left writhing in bloody clothes on dirty hospital gurneys, is a confluence of Syria’s young population, failed diplomacy and the reality of a war that appears to be worsening after more than five years.

    Boys playing in water from a pipe damaged by shelling in Aleppo last month. CreditAbdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

    ‘The Worst We Have Seen’

    “They’re trapped, and they have no way of escaping,” said Alun McDonald, a spokesman for the Middle East operations of Save the Children, the international charity. “That’s one reason we’re seeing such big numbers of child casualties.”

    The people living in besieged rebel-held areas of Aleppo have shown a high level of resilience, moving schools and hospitals underground for protection. So too, life has continued on the government-held western side of the city, where, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 49 children were killed by rebel mortar fire in July alone.

    But lately on the eastern side, Mr. McDonald said, “the bombing has become so intense, with such high-powered bombs, that even underground shelters aren’t safe anymore.”

    Continue reading the main story

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 4:16 pm on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Iranian Women’s Rights Activist Is Given 16-Year Sentence 

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    Narges Mohammadi

    TEHRAN — An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a 16-year sentence for one of Iran’s most prominent women’s rights activists, her lawyer said Wednesday.

    The activist, Narges Mohammadi, 44, a human rights lawyer, has been in and out of jail over the past 15 years and has had several confrontations with Iran’s hard-line dominated judiciary. Her arrest in 2015 and conviction a year later were severe blows to Iran’s small and embattled community of women’s rights activists, highlighting the severe pressures they face.

    “She has committed no crime and has just been doing her job as a lawyer and citizen,” said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and prominent activist who spent two years in prison but who was granted an early release in 2013.

    Ms. Sotoudeh characterized her colleague as a law-abiding citizen who defended victims of acid attacks and voted while in prison during the 2015 parliamentary elections. “Every day Narges is behind bars is one too many,” Ms. Sotoudeh said.

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    Narges Mohammadi in Tehran in 2008.CreditVahid Salemi/Associated Press
    Ms. Mohammadi’s lawyer, Massoud Behzadi, said: “I expect that she will only have to serve 10 out of 16 years. If Narges agrees we will appeal to the Supreme Court.”

    The prison term comes as Iran’s government is trying to reach out to the West to restore political and business relations. In January, the country’s nuclear deal was put into effect and some of the economic sanctions against Iran were lifted.

    Ms. Mohammadi’s original sentence was handed down by Abolghassem Salavati, a hard-line jurist who heads a revolutionary court that usually handles cases involving activists and Iranians with dual nationalities, a status Iran does not recognize.

    He found her guilty of “gathering and conspiring with the aim of committing crimes against national security,” sentencing her to five years in prison. He added one year for “propaganda against the state” and 10 years for “forming and managing an illegal group.” Ms. Mohammadi ran Legham, an organization calling for the abolishment of the death penalty.

    In May, Ms. Mohammadi, who has had health problems, wrote a letter from Evin prison to PEN International describing how she was kept with 25 other “female political prisoners” who faced a combined 177 years in prison. She said the “pain and suffering in Evin prison is beyond tolerance,” and that the long periods of solitary confinement were the worst. She called it “psychological torture.”

    In June, Ms. Mohammadi went on a hunger strike after she was prohibited from receiving phone calls from her children in France, where they are living with their father, also an activist. After an intense social media campaign, the restrictions were eased and Ms. Mohammadi halted her hunger strike.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 7:05 am on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    US Congress Resolution Condemns Iran’s Mass Executions And Calls For Action 

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    By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

    A resolution (H.Res. 159) was recently introduced in the U.S. Congress in reference to one of the worst mass executions of political prisoners since WWII by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The House Homeland Security Chair, Mike McCaul, introduced the resolution, which was cosponsored by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce, Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and Rules Committee Chair Rep. Peter Sessions. The resolution came as Hassan Rouhani, president of a government that ranked as the world’s top executioner per capita, was addressing the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

    In the run-up to his speech, the Associated Press reported that thousands of protesters gathered outside the United Nations protesting Iran’s human rights abuses, executions, and the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 prisoners. The speakers included former Democratic vice presidential candidate and Senator Joe Lieberman, and Sir Geoffrey Robertson, former Head of UN war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone who wrote a report on Iran 1988 massacre published on the United Nations Arts Initiative.

    The resolution introduced in Congress “condemns the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and [calls] for justice for the victims.”

    It adds that “over a 4-month period in 1988, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran carried out the barbaric mass executions of thousands of political prisoners and many unrelated political groups. … [A]ccording to a report by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the massacre was carried out pursuant to a fatwa, or religious decree, issued by then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that targeted the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK);”

    The resolution quotes one of Iran’s own senior former officials, who said the 1988 massacre was ‘’the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us.” Accordingly, in 1988, the Islamic Republic executed the thousands of prisoners, primarily affiliated with the main opposition movement Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), due to their political beliefs. The victims were buried in mass graves in Iran after they were shot or hung in matter of a few months.

    According to a November 2, 2007, report by Amnesty International, ‘’between 27 July 1988 and the end of that year, thousands of political prisoners [in Iran], including prisoners of conscience, were executed in prisons nationwide.”

    The resolution adds that “Those personally responsible for these mass executions include senior officials serving in the current Government of Iran; … [P]risoners were reportedly brought before the commissions and briefly questioned about their political affiliation, and any prisoner who refused to renounce his or her affiliation with groups perceived as enemies by the regime was then taken away for execution,” H.Res. 159 noted.

    Accordingly, the victims included “thousands of people, including teenagers and pregnant women, imprisoned merely for participating in peaceful street protests and for possessing political reading material, many of whom had already served or were currently serving prison sentences.”

    The congressional resolution states, “[P]risoners were executed in groups, some in mass hangings and others by firing squad, with their bodies disposed of in mass graves.”

    According to Amnesty International, ‘’the majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI [MEK], but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups . . . were also among the execution victims.’’

    Based on the Congressional resolution, “The later waves of executions targeted religious minorities, such as members of the Baha’i faith, many of whom were often subjected to brutal torture before they were killed.” It add “The families of the executed were denied information about their loved ones and were prohibited from mourning them in public”.

    The resolution mentions that “in a recently disclosed audiotape, the late Hussein Ali Montazeri, a grand ayatollah who served as Khomeini’s chief deputy, noted the regime’s efforts to target the MEK and said that the 1988 mass killings were ‘’the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us’.”

    A report by Amnesty International has concluded ‘’there should be no impunity for human rights violations, no matter where or when they took place. The 1988 executions should be subject to an independent impartial investigation, and all those responsible should be brought to justice, and receive appropriate penalties’’

    According to the resolution, “The current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was reportedly aware of, and later publicly condoned the massacre.”

    The Montazeri audiotape was disclosed by Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, a moderate cleric, who posted the confidential audio of his father on his website but was ordered by the intelligence to remove it.

    Continue Reading…

     

    Dr. Majid Rafizadeh.pngDr. Majid Rafizadeh is an American political scientist, president of the International American Council on the Middle East, business advisor, and best-selling author.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:22 am on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Shanghai Top Pick to Become Next Financial Hub Video 

    shanghai

    China, Shanghai, Reuters, Septl 28, 2016 – Shanghai ranks as the top pick among the world’s cities expected to become significant global financial centers in the next few years, according to a survey of finance professionals. Qingdao, Shenzhen, Dalian and Beijing are the other mainland …

     

     

    Source: Shanghai Top Pick to Become Next Financial Hub Video

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:20 am on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Blue topaz gemstone, largest of its kind, to go in display in UK Video 

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    London – Reuters-Sep 27, 2016-A flawless blue topaz gemstone, said to be the largest of its kind, is set to go on display at London’s Natural History Museum. The Ostro stone weighs around 2 kg (4.4 lb) and will be exhibited from Oct. 19, on permanent loan from British entrepreneur and …

     

    Source: Blue topaz gemstone, largest of its kind, to go in display in UK Video

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:40 am on September 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Aleppo battered, Russia involved in War Crimes 

    aleppo

    AFP, Sept. 26, 2016 – Syria’s Aleppo faced worsening food and medical shortages on Monday and warplanes again pounded the city. A fresh wave of intense air strikes battered Aleppo’s opposition-controlled east, said an AFP correspondent in the city facing its worst violence in years. During an …

    Source: Aleppo battered, Russia involved in War Crimes

     
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