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Syria: EU ministers call for “clear and firm” response & worldwide protests held against war

EU Ministers Call for “Clear and Firm” Response over Chemical Use in Syria

Al Manar

EU foreign ministers have called for a “clear and firm” response to the alleged Damascus chemical attack, the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton said at a security policy meeting in Vilnius attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible for these attacks as it is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity,” Ashton said in a statement on the EU website.

But that call came with an appeal from the EU to the United States not to commence military operations against the Syrian regime until the publication of a UN report into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict, the Associated Press reported.

“We note the on-going UN investigation on the August 21 attack and further investigations on other chemical weapons attacks carried out in this conflict. It hopes a preliminary report of this first investigation can be released as soon as possible and welcomes [French] President Hollande‘s statement to wait for this report before any further action,” Ashton said.

The UN weapons inspectors’ report on chemical arms use in Syria is likely to be handed in at the end of next week, President Hollande said Saturday, Reuters reported.

“When the (US) Congress will have voted on Thursday or Friday and when we will have the inspectors’ report, likely at the end of the week, a decision will have to be made,” Hollande said.

Kerry expressed his gratitude to the EU ministers for their “strong position” on Syria, Reuters reported.

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Iran, Iraq Warn against Repercussions of Syria Strike

Al Manar

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif stressed that who will launch an aggression against Syria will not be able to set limits for it, noting that Obama was entrapped.

“Iran is worried about inflaming a regional war whose repercussions will reach the world,” Zarif said,” We call on the parties of the Syrian crisis to pursue the political track in order to reach a solution.”

Iran FM pointed out that Tehran will exert all possible efforts to prevent the US-led strike against Syria, adding that the role of Iraq and other states is basic to halt the war which harm the entire region.

“Iran and Iraq have the right to condemn the use of chemical weapons more than any other country as we were the victims of these weapons,” Zarif emphasized.

Iran FM had already met Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki ad Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi to view Iraq’s attitude towards the war against Syria.

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Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al Manar

The nine Latin American states (ALBA) condemned any possible aggression against Syria and announced dispatching humanitarian aids to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“The Bolivarian alliance council in American denounces any possible strike against Syria,” ALBA Secretary General said in a statement from Venezuela.

“ALBA asks the U.S. to refrain from launching a military aggression against the Syrian people and government,” he added, accusing the US administration of resorting to the same strategies that it used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

ALBA further decided to dispatch humanitarian aidss, including foodstuffs, to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

AlBA includes most of the Latin American states, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia.

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Worldwide protests held against war on Syria

Press TV

People across the world have once again held anti-war demonstrations, protesting at possible US-led military intervention in Syria.

In the Lebanese capital, Beirut, hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered outside the US Embassy for the second consecutive day.

The demonstrators condemned Washington’s efforts to gain domestic and international approval for a strike on Syria.

In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, – Muslims demonstrated against threats of war on Damascus.

Similar protests were also held in the Philippines capital, Manila, where anti-war demonstrators took to the streets.

In Canada, protesters gathered in Toronto and Ottawa.

Anti-war rallies were also held across the United States including in the US states of California, Washington, New York, Louisiana, and Michigan.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday slammed a possible war on Syria led by the US as a “commercial war to sell arms.”

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Pope Reiterates Rejection for Syria Strike

Al Manar

Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to the US-led strike against Syria and denounced the “trade war” phenomenon which has recently pervaded, calling on the leaders to pursue a political solution for the crisis.

“Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!” Francis addressed the Christians in St Peter’s Square.

“We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!” said Francis.

Francis, who two days ago branded a military solution in Syria “a futile pursuit,” led a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.

Russia: Homemade chemical ammunition used in March attack in Syria & related news

Homemade chemical ammunition used in March attack in Syria: Russia

Press TV

Russia says that home-made ammunition was used in a chemical attack carried out in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo in March, which killed over two dozen people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, “The used round of ammunition was a homemade item on the basis of rockets made in Syria’s north by the so-called Bashair Al-Nasr brigade.”

Moscow made the statement based on conclusions reached by the Russian experts who carried out an investigation into the March 19 chemical attack, which reportedly left 26 Syrian civilians and soldiers dead and nearly 100 others affected.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the chemical weapons used in the attack were not made by the Syrian army.

The findings by the Russian experts come amid a rising threat of war against Syria over the unsubstantiated accusation that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons…

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Chemical weapons sent from Turkey to Syria: Former Turkish provincial official

Press TV

A former member of a city council in the Turkish province of Hatay says the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey, Press TV reports.

“Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria,” Mohamad Gunes said.

“The Syrian president has no reason to kill his own people,” he added.

People in the southern province, which borders Syria, said the weapons were used by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants and not the Syrian government.

“America and Israel had al-Qaeda use chemical weapons in order to push us into war; none of us wants war here. In the history of Hatay, we all lived peacefully side by side, now there is Mossad, CIA and al-Qaeda all over the place. We are worried that they might use chemical weapons against us,” said Farid Mainy, a Hatay resident and an activist.

The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor.

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Russian Ships ’Able to React’ in Case of Syria Escalation

Al Manar

Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean are capable of reacting to an escalation in the Syria conflict, a military source said Wednesday, as Moscow fine tunes its maritime presence ahead of possible US military action.

“Today we consider our presence in the eastern Mediterranean to be sufficient to solve the tasks. If necessary, together with submarine forces, they (the ships) are capable even today of influencing a military situation,” a general staff source told the Interfax news agency.

“We are ready to solve sudden task. For that, the naval group is being corrected for the corresponding variants of the outcome of events,” the source added, without giving further details.

According to Interfax, the Russian destroyer Smetlivy will soon join the group in the Mediterranean as well as the destroyer Nastoichivy.

The anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev has already entered its zone of operation as the flagship of the current rotation of the naval grouping in the Mediterranean, a military source told the agency.

The missile cruiser Moskva, from the Black Sea fleet, has now left its assignment in the northern Atlantic and is now on its way to the eastern Mediterranean.

On arrival it will assume the role as the Russian flagship, Interfax said.

Already in place in the eastern Mediterranean are the frigate Neustrashimy, as well as the landing ships Alexander Shabalin, the Admiral Nevelsky and the Peresvet.

They will be joined by the large landing ships Novocherkassk and Minsk on September 5-6, Interfax said. As previously reported, the reconnaissance ship Priazovye is also on its way to join the group.

The US already has a strong naval presence in the region and the possible US military action launched against Syria is widely expected to be launched from the sea.

Russia has kept a constant presence in the eastern Mediterranean during the Syrian crisis, rotating its group every few months.

Russia also has a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

According to Russian media reports, Russian naval personnel have largely now been withdrawn from the base, a modest but hugely strategic facility which Moscow calls a “point of military-technical supply of the Russian Navy.”

Moscow vehemently opposes US-led plans for military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack outside Damascus, warning it risks destabilizing the entire region.

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Al-Nusra Attacks Ma’loula in Damascus, Destroys Aramaic Church and Institute

Al Manar

Violent clashes took place between the Syrian Army units and opposition gunmen in the historic town of Ma’loula in Rural Damascus on Thursday, after hundreds of militants attacked the Christian-majority town.

Local and international media outlets reported that that al-Nusra Front militiamen destroyed the Aramaic church and institute in the town and stole their contents.

Militants began their attack on Wednesday detonating a booby-trapped car at an army checkpoint near the town in the northern countryside of Damascus.

The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’ claimed responsibility for the bombing , which aided the gunmen to enter Ma’loula and seize control over its main square where snipers deployed over a number of buildings.

Journalists and reporters said that access to the town is not possible due to the fierce clashes between the two sides, indicating that militants have slaughtered some Syrian soldiers.

From her part, Mother Bagela said that two shells landed on the monastery of Mar Takla leaving material damage.

Media correspondents also stated the army’s military operations are cautious because of the presence of civilians, in addition to that al-Nusra’s gunmen deployed over Ma’loula building are delaying the qualitative military conduct to restore the town.

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US will definitely pay price of attack on Syria: Leader

Press TV

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has warned the US against attacking Syria, saying Washington will certainly pay the price for such a venture.

“We believe that the Americans are committing a folly and mistake in Syria and will accordingly take the blow and definitely suffer,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in address to members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Thursday.

The Leader said the main objective of the global arrogance is to dominate the Middle East, with Israel in the saddle, controlling everything.

“The goal of the recent issues regarding Syria, which started under the pretext of chemical weapons, is also the same, but the Americans are trying through rhetoric and word-manipulation to pretend that they are entering this issue for a humane goal.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, however, stressed that that US politicians do not care about humanitarian concerns at all.

“Americans are making humanitarian claims at the time that their track records include [the atrocities at] Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, silence over Saddam’s use of chemical weapons in Halabja and Iranian cities, as well as the massacre of innocent people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.”

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that what is going on in the region “is indeed the reaction of the global arrogance, led by the US, to the Islamic Awakening.”

“The presence of the global arrogance in the region is [based on] aggression, bullying and avarice, and is aimed at crushing any resistance against this presence. The arrogance front, however, has not been and will not be able to eliminate this resistance [front],” the Leader added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader referred to the ongoing turmoil in Egypt, noting that if Egypt had stood up against Israel and had not fallen for US promises, the deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would not have been freed from prison and those elected by the Egyptian people put behind the bars and tried.

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Swedes protest US plans for war on Syria amid Obama visit

Press TV

Thousands of protesters have held a demonstration in Sweden’s capital to protest against the US’s warmongering policies vis-à-vis Syria as US President Barack Obama arrived in the European country.

Angry demonstrators took to the streets of Stockholm on Wednesday to express opposition to calls by the Obama administration for a military strike on Syria.

The protesters carried banners that read, “No to Big Brother Obama,” “No to war on Syria,” and “Hands off Snowden,” in a reference to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked two top secret spying programs run by the US government.

“Send Obama away. We don’t want Obama to come to Sweden because we see him as a war criminal,” a protester said.

The US president traveled to Sweden to discuss issues related to economy, employment, free trade, climate and energy.

However, the demonstrators in Stockholm said Obama is trying to convince the Swedish government to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and support the US attack on Syria.

“No negotiation about Sweden being a member of NATO, because I think that’s on the agenda today, that Obama wants Sweden to be [a] NATO member and we’re opposing all of that,” another protester said.

A view from Tehran… countdown to apocalypse NOW?

(Patient, Iran-file photo)

by Franklin Lamb, Al Manar

Tehran

Truth told, it’s a bit intense these days in Tehran as in most other countries in this region, and this observer, may fairly soon be on what just might be the last Tehran-Damascus flight for some time, given calculations and speculations of what is likely to occur in the coming days. Not that one is in any hurry to leave the Islamic Republic. I love Iran and its people who are in their basic values and outlook on life about as American as apple pie. Iranians think a lot like me and my friends back home and Americans think a lot like them despite the extremist politically motivated portrayals designed by both governments for their people.

Iran, USAttending the Habilian Association (families of Iranian terror victims) Congress on terrorism and terror victims in Tehran, while continuing an undertaking with students from Tehran University, surveying the effects of the US-led economic sanctions that target a civilian population presented an excellent opportunity to listen to Iranian views on a number of current events. The students are examining the subject of US-led sanctions that target their families and countrymen for the political purpose of achieving regime change. Part of their work employs the definition of “economic terrorism” used by the Pentagon if done by someone other than the US government or its allies. The students are amazing in their clarity of thinking while exhibiting truly inspiring optimism and humanity especially during these ominous times.

One of the topics at the Iranian Congress on Terrorism was “Economic Terrorism” and the American delegation decided to focus solely on that subject during its presentation, which was months in preparation. As part of its work, it presented a Draft International Convention outlawing the use of Economic Sanctions targeting civilians for political purposes, including regime change. The US delegation elaborated on the history of “economic terrorism” and urged the Tehran based Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to use its new found international political power to lead the campaign for global ratification of the new Draft Convention outlawing civilian targeting economic sanctions and to present it to the United Nations during next month’s opening session of the General Assembly. NAM leaders promised to study the draft and arrange a consultative follow-up meeting (s).

The American delegation also argued to the Iranian Congress that when a government, including their own, which continues to be the main global sanctioning entity with a deep history of targeting peoples with economic sanctions, (Cuba, Vietnam, China, Korea, Iran, Nicaragua among others come to mind) targets a civilian population for the political purpose of forcing regime change as is its objective in Syria and Iran, it commits terrorism as defined by several US government agencies.

FeltmanFor accuracy sake, it should be said that, unexpectedly, due to last minute visa problems, the whole US delegation at the Congress ended up being comprised of a total number of— well, one international lawyer. A last minute effort was indeed made to coax Jeffrey Feltman, who never has visa problems to this observer’s knowledge, and who was staying at the same hotel, to attend the Terrorism Congress hence doubling the size, weight, and authority of the US delegation. Mr. Feltman was even offered the chairmanship of the American delegation as an incentive. But, regretfully, the gentleman declined citing other commitments.

Americans getting visas to visit Iran and especially Syria these days, is no easy feat given ‘pay-back’ or reciprocal changes in policy at both countries Ministries of Foreign Affairs and last years revised guidelines both governments sent out to their embassies on how to process visa requests submitted by Americans. Americans who want to travel to certain countries these days pay a stiff price for their government’s actions that target civilian populations.

Talking with average Iranians and shop keepers, and especially students, one gets a fairly good idea of just how engaged public opinion is in Iran on current events. Being a very different a picture than is presented by western media, beholden as it is, to its corporate paymasters. But that is true of much of the non-western media as well.

Nuclear technology: yesOne finds pride in Tehran at how this country has resisted US-led political economic sanctions while the average citizen has doubtless suffered given the ever rising cost of living and near rampant inflation. A common view expressed at the Congress as well as in informal discussions is the belief that while there are many states in the international community who practice terrorism of one kind or another, including economic terrorism, the United States is unusual in that its modern history of foreign relations argues strongly that it is officially committed to international economic terrorism, and on a scale that far exceeds other actors on the world stage.

One professor summarized for this observer his analysis of the effect of US-led politically motivated economic sanctions which he claims amount to ‘economic terrorism.’ He noted the severe impact on Iranian consumers at the grocery store, dramatically shrinking real income, government efforts to maintain some subsidies to lessen their impact, innovative ways both the government and private sectors have been able to lessen the impact of some of the sanctions while completely skirting others. As well as how the US-led sanctions have spread a sort of ‘circle the wagons’ public spirit and in an unexpected ways, have led to more public organized neighborhood initiatives designed help one neighbors with economic problems.

One finds among Iranian a still deep smoldering anger over the current chemical weapons ‘red line’ issue in Syria that may well lead to regional war. The American campaign to bomb Syria is viewed here as utmost American government hypocrisy. More than one interlocutor expressed their country’s disdain regarding the Reagan administration’s actions during the late 1980s when not only did the White House take no action when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and his own people but the United States also aided the attacks by providing intelligence and firing coordinates on where to find Iranians to kill and providing gas to murder them with.

The Tehran Times wrote yesterday: “U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Saddam Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.” The effects of these US facilitated gas attacks are seen everywhere in Iran in the skin scars and poor health of its hundreds of thousands of victims.

“How can the American people accept this double standard where it’s ok and your government will help to gas Iranians and your enemies’ population?” is a common question put to this observer.

There is visible excitement and even a sort of joy this morning that the UK Parliament, to its great credit, just voted to reject the Cameron government’s motion authorizing British forces to boom Syria. A taxi driver expressed his hope that “Your Congress will follow the lead of the British Parliament.? Iranian appears to view the Parliamentary vote as a victory for themselves because few, if any here, fail to believe the US attack on Syria is aimed at them, given the Islamic Republic’s role as a key pillar of resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine and to US-Israel regional hegemonic goals.

Public expressions in Iran regarding the grave prospects that are looming as the war drums become nearly deafening in curtain capitols appear to this observer less knee-jerk rhetoric than in recent years. No doubt there are many reasons for this including the results of the recent elections in Iran which is viewed here as an encouraging sign of stability and democracy in the region. Tehran made clear to Jeffrey Feltman this week that it is ready for serious cooperation in order to peacefully resolve the crisis in Syria.

As Hossein Mousavian, a researcher at Princeton University has pointed out this week, the cooperation of the US and Iran in 2001 regarding Afghanistan, resulting in the fall of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, (at least for a while) is a blueprint for a new collaboration. Writes Mousavian: “This collaboration should not be limited to Syria. The Middle East requires management for the time, and therefore, crisis management (of this and other crises) would be a useful path for this collaboration.” This observer believes much of the Iranian and American public agrees and that there are hopeful signs during this feared apocalyptic period.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Russia rejects US claims on Syria & Iran: US intervention will cause disaster

Russia Rejects US Claims on Syria: Situation Undermining Efforts

Al Manar

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow rejects Washington’s claim the Syrian government was behind a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, the foreign ministry said.

Lavrov, KerryIn a phone call Tuesday, Lavrov also told Kerry of Moscow’s alarm the situation was undermining diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, as expectations grow of Western military action against Syria.

“John Kerry put forward judgments which he said were based on information from reliable sources and according to which the Syrian government is to blame for the incidents with the probable use of chemical weapons,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “This argument was rejected by Sergei Lavrov, who put forward the corresponding position of the Russian side.”

Lavrov said Moscow wanted an objective and substantive exchange of information on the evidence of chemical attacks in Syria. “Moscow is, as before, particularly worried about the dangerous and already clear line towards a conscious undermining by a number of countries of the conditions for a political-diplomatic solution to the conflict,” the statement added.

Lavrov, BrahimiIn another telephone conversation with UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Lavrov warned against a military solution to the Syria conflict, saying it would destabilize the country and the Middle East region.

Lavrov “emphasized the lack of alternative to a diplomatic solution and that attempts for a military solution will lead only to a further destabilization of the situation in the country and the region,” the ministry said.

It said both Brahimi and Lavrov agreed “that at this critical moment all sides — including external players — must act with the maximum responsibility and not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

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Imam Khamenei: US Intervention Will Cause Disaster for the Whole Region

Al Ahed news

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has warned against any US military intervention in Syria, noting that the repercussions of such action would be unpredictable.

Imam Khamenei stressed that foreign intervention in Syria is nothing but warmongering.

Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei in a meeting with the Iranian president Sheikh Hassan Rouhani and cabinet members, pointing that the Middle East is like a gunpowder warehouse where nothing can be predicted stated: “Any intervention by the United States will cause a disaster for the whole region.”

He assured that any foreign meddling in Syria or any other country will only mean stirring the flames of war and conflict.

Imam Khamenei further warned that the US will reap losses in Syria like it did in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution went on to say “The region lives sensitive and critical moments, adding “Iran does not want to meddle with internal Egyptian affairs at all, but it vehemently condemns the assailants -whoever they are- for committing massacres and shooting unarmed civilians.”

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New poll: Syria intervention even less popular than Congress (click to read)

Iran Majlis to take legal action against US over 1953 coup

Press TV

Iranian parliamentarians have approved fast tracking debate on a bill that seeks to sue the United States for its involvement in the 1953 coup d’état against the democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.

During an open session of the Majlis on Tuesday, 173 Iranian lawmakers voted in favor of the urgency of discussing the motion for taking legal action against the US.

Iran Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani urged the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee to discuss the motion later in the day and hold detailed discussions about it on Wednesday.

In case of final approval, an ad hoc committee will be set up to debate ways of lodging a formal complaint against the US government for its meddling in Iran’s internal affairs and demanding damages.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has for the first time published a document that confirms Washington’s role in the 1953 coup.

The open acknowledgment by the US intelligence community comes some six decades after the British- and American-backed military overthrow.

On August 15, 1953, the British and US intelligence agencies initiated a coup by the Iranian military, setting off a chain of events including riots on the streets of Iran’s capital, Tehran, that led to the overthrow and arrest of Mosaddeq four days later.

Mosaddeq, convicted of treason, served three years in prison and died under house arrest in 1967.

CIA files: US knew about Saadam chemical attacks, gave him a hand

RB comment: This information was already known but how ironic, the US wants to launch a war on Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons yet they helped Saddam with them and then invaded Iraq for having them. We live in a world were the law and human rights mean nothing to governments who just use them for their own ends.

Al Ahed news

Afresh declassified CIA documents show that the United States had a hand in Iraq’s chemical attacks on Iran during the 1980-1988 war against the Islamic Republic.

America’s military and intelligence communities knew about Saddam’s deadly attacks and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks.

A new report revealed that during the war, the Iraqi military attacked Iran several times using mustard gas and sarin with the help of satellite imagery, maps and other intelligence provided by the US government, the Foreign Policy magazine said, citing CIA documents and interviews with former US intelligence officials.

The CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior US officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.
US officials have long denied having knowledge of the US involvement but retired Air Force Colonel Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, said the American officials knew of Iraq’s intention.
“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.
According to the newly declassified documents, in 1983, the Iraqi military carried out a chemical attack on Iranian forces and the Islamic Republic tried to take the issue to the United Nations.

Much of the evidence implicating Iraq was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. However, the US concealed the facts to block Iran’s bid at the UN.
“As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings,” the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. “Tehran would take such evidence to the UN and charge US complicity in violating international law.”

The FP wrote that earlier in 1988, “during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. US intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.”

According to the documents, the satellite images, provided to Iraq in 1988, showed that Iran was going to gain a strategic advantage by using a hole in Iraqi defenses. CIA agents provided the Iraqi military with information on the movements of the Iranian troops and the location of the country’s logistics facilities as well as details about Iranian air defenses.

Barbaric US-led sanctions killing Iranian children: Dr. Alireza Marandi

(Iran-file photo)

Press TV

In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences Dr. Alireza Marandi has blasted Washington for exacting sadistic revenge on Iranian children through their inhuman sanctions against the nation.

Following is the complete text of the letter received by Press TV.

21 Aug 2013
United Nations Secretary General
His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon

Excellency,

Following my letters of 26 November 2012 and 26 January 2013, regarding the highly adverse effect of the comprehensive sanctions imposed by western countries on the health and welfare of the Iranian general population, I write again to underscore that these inhumane sanctions–along with new sanctions against those holding or transacting the Iranian national currency, soon to be implemented by the United States government–are definitely having a significant and negative impact on the health of the Iranian public including women, children, hospital patients, and anyone on medication.

As an individual responsible for monitoring the health of my country’s people at a national level, I again warn you, as one who bears the responsibility of defending fundamental human rights, that the applied sanctions have caused and will continue to cause acute shortages of necessary food and medicine. The sanctions are also making these essential items increasingly more expensive. As a result, these indispensable supplies have become inaccessible to the most vulnerable of society including children, mothers, and the elderly, as well as disease-specific and cancer patients. This has literally stopped many patients from being able to prepare or collect essential medications required for their treatment; we are, therefore, witnessing more and more cases of the gradual malnutrition and death of children and of patients with specific diseases.

For over three decades, Iran has implemented highly successful healthcare plans and programs, backed by the World Health Organization, which have significantly improved the overall health of the entire nation. These achievements are now seriously threatened by the escalation of barbaric sanctions in the past few weeks, particularly by the US government.

Therefore, once again I draw your attention to this extremely vital point. The gross negligence of the United Nations and other international organizations towards this issue of great importance, besides being recorded on the pages of history, will further weaken these already diminished international bodies in defending the inalienable rights of innocent individuals and populations in the face of sadistic collective punishment.

Yours sincerely,
Seyed Alireza Marandi , M.D.

President,
Academy of Medical Sciences

CIA publishes document showing role in 1953 Iran coup against PM

Al Ahed news

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has declassified a document that confirms Washington’s role in the 1953 coup d’état against the democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadeq.

“The military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front Cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy,” read a brief segment from an internal report by an in-house CIA historian in the mid-1970s, according to Press TV.

The document was published on the National Security Archive website and was initially released in 1981 but most of it was blacked out at the time.

On August 15, 1953, the British and US intelligence agencies initiated a coup by the Iranian military through a chain of events including riots in the streets Tehran that ultimately led to the overthrow and arrest of Mosadeq four days later.

The coup then saw the formation of an absolute US-backed monarchy under Iran’s last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran, Russia, China, EU atop NSA piority list

Al Manar

Russia, alongside the EU, China and Iran, are on top of the NSA’s spying priority list, according to a document leaked by fugitive Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel weekly.

In the classified document, dated April 2013, countries are assigned levels of interest for NSA surveillance from 1 (the highest) to 5 (the lowest).

Among the top surveillance targets are China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Afghanistan. The EU, as a whole is also ranking high, though individually its 28 member-states are of lesser importance to the US intelligence, with Germany and France representing mid-level interest, while countries like Finland, Croatia and Denmark are denoted as almost irrelevant in data gathering.

Specification is also provided on what areas of interest are to be mostly looked at in different countries. Der Spiegel, which published the leaked document on Saturday, focuses on which German issues interested US spying agency the most.

The top ranking areas marked with a ‘3’ are the country’s foreign policy and economic issues. Arms exports, new technology, advanced conventional weapons and international trade were all assigned a lesser priority of ‘4’. When it comes to the whole of the European Union, the spheres of interest are almost identical.

This most recent leak is complementary to the earlier ones, stating that EU offices in Brussels, Washington and New York were under NSA surveillance and that Germany was the most spied upon of all EU countries.

Chancellor Merkel has been criticized for the lack of response to the leaks, suggesting that Germany was not only spied on extensively, but actually cooperated with the NSA in its surveillance programs.

Merkel first denied all knowledge of the NSA spying, but soon afterwards turned to justifying the US, saying “intelligence was essential for democracies”.

Germans are seemingly not convinced by this type of reasoning, as Snowden’s revelations have sparked massive rallies across the country.

Indictment of Iran for ’94 terror bombing relied on MEK

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS — Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman based his 2006 warrant for the arrest of top Iranian officials in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 on the claims of representatives of the armed Iranian opposition Mujahedin E Khalq (MEK), the full text of the document reveals.

The central piece of evidence cited in Nisman’s original 900-page arrest warrant against seven senior Iranian leaders is an alleged Aug. 14, 1993 meeting of top Iranian leaders, including both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then president Hashemi Rafsanjani, at which Nisman claims the official decision was made to go ahead with the planning of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA).

But the document, recently available in English for the first time, shows that his only sources for the claim were representatives of the MEK or People’s Mujahideen of Iran. The MEK has an unsavoury history of terrorist bombings against civilian targets in Iran, as well as of serving as an Iraq-based mercenary army for Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

The organisation was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist groups last year after a campaign by prominent former U.S. officials who had gotten large payments from pro-MEK groups and individuals to call for its “delisting”.

Nisman’s rambling and repetitious report cites statements by four members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the MEK, as the sources for the charge that Iran decided on the AMIA bombing in August 1993.

The primary source is Reza Zakeri Kouchaksaraee, president of the Security and Intelligence Committee of the NCRI. The report quotes Kouchaksaraee as testifying to an Argentine Oral Court in 2003, “The decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council at a meeting that was held on 14 August, 1993. This meeting lasted only two hours from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.”

Nisman also quotes Hadi Roshanravani, a member of the International Affairs Committee of the NCRI, who claimed to know the same exact starting time of the meeting – 4:30 pm – but gave the date as Aug. 12, 1993 rather than Aug. 14.

Roshanravani also claimed to know the precise agenda of the meeting. The NCRI official said that three subjects were discussed: “The progress and assessment of the Palestinian Council; the strategy of exporting fundamentalism throughout the world; and the future of Iraq.” Roshanravani said “the idea for an attack in Argentina” had been discussed “during the dialogue on the second point”.

The NCRI/MEK was claiming that the Rafsanjani government had decided on a terrorist bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina as part of a policy of “exporting fundamentalism throughout the world”.

But that MEK propaganda line about the Iranian regime was contradicted by the U.S. intelligence assessment at the time. In its National Intelligence Estimate 34-91 on Iranian foreign policy, completed on Oct. 17, 1991, U.S. intelligence concluded that Rafsanjani had been “gradually turning away from the revolutionary excesses of the past decade…toward more conventional behavior” since taking over as president in 1989.

Ali Reza Ahmadi and Hamid Reza Eshagi, identified as “defectors” who were affiliated with NCRI, offered further corroboration of the testimony by the leading NCRI officials. Ahmadi was said by Nisman to have worked as an Iranian foreign service officer from 1981 to 1985. Eshagi is not otherwise identified.

Nisman quotes Ahmadi and Eshagi, who made only joint statements, as saying, “It was during a meeting held at 4:30 pm in August 1993 that the Supreme National Security Council decided to carry out activities in Argentina.”

Nisman does not cite any non-MEK source as claiming such a meeting took place. He cites court testimony by Abolghassem Mesbahi, a “defector” who had not worked for the Iranian intelligence agency since 1985, according to his own account, but only to the effect that the Iranian government made the decision on AMIA sometime in 1993. Mesbahi offered no evidence to support the claim.

Nisman repeatedly cites the same four NCRI members to document the alleged participation of each of the seven senior Iranians for whom he requested arrest warrants. A review of the entire document shows that Kouchaksaraee is cited by Nisman 29 times, Roshanravani 16 times and Ahmadi and Eshagi 16 times, always together making the same statement for a total of 61 references to their testimony.

Nisman cited no evidence or reason to believe that any of the MEK members were in a position to have known about such a high-level Iranian meeting. Although MEK propaganda has long claimed access to secrets, their information has been at best from low-level functionaries in the regime.

In using the testimony of the most violent opponents of the Iranian regime to accuse the most senior Iranian officials of having decided on the AMIA terrorist bombing, Nisman sought to deny the obvious political aim of all MEK information output of building support in the United States and Europe for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.

“The fact that the individuals are opponents of the Iranian regime does not detract in the least from the significance of their statements,” Nisman declared.

In an effort to lend the group’s testimony credibility, Nisman described their statements as being made “with honesty and rigor in a manner that respects nuances and details while still maintaining a sense of the larger picture”.

The MEK witnesses, Nisman wrote, could be trusted as “completely truthful”.

The record of MEK officials over the years, however, has been one of putting out one communiqué after another that contained information about alleged covert Iranian work on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, nearly all of which turned out to be false when they were investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The only significant exception to the MEK’s overall record of false information on the Iranian nuclear programme was its discovery of Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility and its Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.

But even in that case, the MEK official who announced the Natanz discovery, U.S. representative Alireza Jafarzadeh, incorrectly identified it as a “fuel fabrication facility” rather than as an enrichment facility. He also said it was near completion, although it was actually several months from having the equipment necessary to begin enrichment.

Contrary to the MEK claims that it got the information on Natanz from sources in the Iranian government, moreover, the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh reported, a “senior IAEA official” told him in 2004 that Israeli intelligence had passed their satellite intelligence on Natanz to the MEK.

An adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the heir to the Shah, later told journalist Connie Bruck that the information about Natanz had come from “a friendly government”, which had provided it to both the Pahlavi organisation and the MEK.

Nisman has long been treated in pro-Israel, anti-Iran political circles as the authoritative source on the AMIA bombing case and the broader subject of Iran and terrorism. Last May, Nisman issued a new 500-page report accusing Iran of creating terrorist networks in the Western hemisphere that builds on his indictment of Iran for the 1994 bombing.

But Nisman’s readiness to base the crucial accusation against Iran in the AMIA case solely on MEK sources and his denial of their obvious unreliability highlights the fact that he has been playing a political role on behalf of certain powerful interests rather than uncovering the facts.

Rohani urges West to stop using language of sanctions & Saudi Arabia denies Bashir Iran-bound plane permission

Rohani urges West to stop using language of sanctions with Iran

Press TV

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has called on Western governments to stop using the language of sanctions to address the Islamic Republic.

“I say candidly that if you want a proper response, speak to Iran not with the language of sanctions but with the language of respect,” Rohani said in his inauguration ceremony in the Iranian Majlis (parliament) on Sunday.

The new chief executive noted that the only way for interaction with Iran is “dialog on equal footing, mutual confidence-building, mutual respect and reduction of hostilities.”

Rohani stated that his policy would be based on “reducing tensions, mutual confidence-building and constructive interaction” with the world.

“I make it clear here that Iran has never been at war with the world,” he said, adding that the Islamic Republic will concentrate its efforts on “reining in warmongers.”

“The Islamic Republic seeks peace and stability in the region. Iran is the harbor of stability in this tumultuous region. We do not seek to change borders and governments,” noted Rohani.

The US has imposed several rounds of illegal sanctions on Iran, which Washington claims to be aimed at pressuring Tehran to abandon its nuclear energy program.

In its latest measure against Iran, the US House of Representatives last Wednesday approved a bill to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports and financial sector.

Tehran has categorically rejected West’s accusations, arguing that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a committed member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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Saudi Arabia denies Bashir Iran-bound plane permission: Sudan

Press TV

Saudi Arabia has blocked an Iran-bound plane carrying Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from its airspace, Khartoum says.

“The Saudi authorities refused to give the plane carrying President Bashir permission to cross their airspace,” AFP quoted Emad Sayed Ahmed, the presidential press secretary as saying.

Bashir was heading for Iranian capital, Tehran to attend the swearing-in of Iran’s new President Hassan Rohani on Sunday.

Ahmed explained that when the plane entered the airspace of the Saudi Arabia, the pilot informed authorities that it had approval and “that it was carrying President Bashir.”

However, “they said the plane didn’t have permission,” forcing the plane to turn back, he said, noting that President Bashir was traveling by a Saudi plane.

This is while Khartoum said it had announced that the Sudanese President “leaves for Tehran on an official two-day visit.”

Delegations from more than 50 countries have attended Rohani’s inauguration ceremony.

Among the participating foreign dignitaries are ten presidents, six vice-presidents, two prime ministers, eight parliament speakers as well as several prominent former officials.

Millions mark Quds Day around globe

Millions mark Quds Day around globe

Press TV

Millions of people around the world have held demonstrations to mark the International Quds Day to show support for the Palestinian resistance against Israel.

Millions of people in different countries held massive rallies on Friday in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian nation, voicing their anger at the policies of the Israeli regime and its allies and calling for the liberation of Palestine.

Quds Day is held annually on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan during which demonstrators call for the liberation of Palestine and an end to Israeli occupation.

Muslims in more than 80 countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Australia and Indonesia, attended Quds Day demonstrations to support the Palestinians and condemn the Israeli occupation…

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Bahrainis Commemorate Quds Day under Regime’s Teargas, Gunshot Bullets

Al Manar

Protests in solidarity with the holy al-Quds swept Bahrain on Friday despite the regime’s repression which had injured several people.Bahrain rallies in al-Quds day

Security forces fired on Friday teargas and the internationally-banned gunshot bullet at protesters who gathered in several regions across the country in al-Quds day.

The residential area of Sar, in the country’s center, witnessed at the morning a protest in which Palestinian and Bahraini flags were raised. Several protesters were injured in the demo where security forces fired teargas and gunshot bullets.

The same scene was repeated in the region of Nuwaidrat, south of the capital, where security forces fired teargas.Bahraini security forces fired teargas at protesters in al-Quds day

Later on, following Friday prayers, crowds took to streets in the areas of Juffair, Sahla, Malkiya, Dair, Jablat Habashi, Karzakan, Sitra island, Diraz and other areas. These rallies were called for by February 14 Youth coalition and other movements.

The protests statement stressed that al-Quds remains in the minds and the hearts of the free people, adding that it stays the central issue for the Arab and the Muslim world.

The statement noted that the Bahraini people took out to streets in al-Quds day, despite the oppression, repression and crimes committed by the Bahraini regime in order to stress that al-Quds issue can’t stay away of these people’s minds, in any event.

US approves new Iran sanctions, Russia: step won’t end nuclear issue

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Al Ahed news

Russia said on Thursday a vote by the US House of Representatives to tighten sanctions against Iran would not help resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that United Nations Security Council sanctions already in place against Tehran were sufficient. He suggested the US bill, which still has more steps to clear before becoming law, was counterproductive.

“Any additional sanctions are actually aimed at the economic strangulation of Iran, but not at solving the problem of non-proliferation,” Gatilov told Interfax news agency. “What has been done through the Security Council is quite adequate and sufficient.”

This comes after the US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to tighten sanctions on Iran, days before President-elect Sheikh Hassan Rouhani is sworn in.

The vote also highlighted a growing divide between Congress and the Obama administration on Iran policy ahead of international talks on the nuclear program in coming months. Iran insists the nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes.

The bill would cut Iran’s oil exports by another 1 million barrels per day over a year to near zero, in an attempt to reduce the flow of funds to the Islamic Republic. It is the first sanctions bill to put a number on exactly how much Iran’s oil exports would be cut.

The Treasury Department last week partially eased sanctions on Iran by expanding a list of medical devices that can be exported there without special permission.

One of the 20 lawmakers to vote against the bill, Jim McDermott, a Washington-state Democrat, said shortly before the vote that the rush to sanction Iran before Rouhani takes office could hurt efforts to deflate the nuclear issue.

“It’s a dangerous sign to send and it limits our ability to find a diplomatic solution to nuclear arms in Iran,” McDermott said.

Iran campaigning for key position on UN committee: Diplomat

Press TV

Iran is campaigning for a key position on a UN committee that deals with disarmament and international security despite opposition from the Israeli regime, an Iranian diplomat says.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Iran’s UN mission confirmed Tehran’s bid to be the rapporteur of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee for its 68th session due to begin in October, Reuters reported.

Kuwait is another contender for the position. The 193-member committee deals with all disarmament and international security issues, cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments.

Campaigning for the position is a “normal routine by a member state,” said the Iranian diplomat.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, in a statement expressed the opposition of the Israeli regime to Tehran’s bid for the key position.

Israel’s opposition to Iran’s plan comes as Tel Aviv is widely believed to be the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Furthermore, Israel, believed to possess between 200 to 400 nuclear warheads, is a non-signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and continues to defy international calls to join the treaty.

This is while Iran is a committed signatory to the NPT and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

US easing medical sanctions on Iran, farce: Analyst

Press TV

Washington’s recent move to ease sanctions on exports of some medical equipment to Iran and portray itself as a humanitarian government is a farce, a human rights activist tells Press TV.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Friday, human rights activist Randy Short said that the US government has no concern for the Iranian people as its hostility towards Iranians has been going on for over 30 years.

“If there’s real concern for the Iranian people, the United States has a lot of explaining to do…,” the activists said.

Randy Short pointed that “the United States put Saddam Hussein up to invading Iran in 1980” and “as many as 950,000 Iranians were killed …by [the] American action” against Iranians.

The activist further noted that Washington continues its hostility towards the Iranian nation and government to undermine the country’s independence and freedom.

“As long as you stand [up]for the Palestinians, as long as the people want some dignity, as long as Iran represents some model of being able to stand its own ground to other nations, you will be hated by the people who wish to undermine your freedom – unfortunately,” he said.

The US Treasury Department conceded on Thursday that its bans have created major challenges for pharmaceutical companies to conduct transactions with Iran.

The treasury department said it was now expanding the list of medical items that can be exported to Iran without a special application.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran may be pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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