Saturday, December 31, 2011

US seeks to 'terrorize' OWS protesters

Demonstrators help US Marine veteran Scott Olsen during a heavy police attack on peaceful Occupy Oakland protesters, October 25th (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, who was severely injured by US police during a recent anti-Wall Street demonstration, says the government is terrorizing people to rob them of their right to protest.

“First and foremost, they're not respecting our right to assemble, to protest and to redress our government for grievances…By the tactics they're using, they are in fact terrorizing some of us from going out at all,” Olsen said in an interview with MSNBC.

“It's sad that the Occupations have started out as politics and economics, and now it's turned into something more based on the rights, the freedoms that we are all told when we were growing up as Americans,” Olsen added.

During an October 25th protest in Oakland, police fractured Olsen's skull, forcing him to be bedridden in the hospital for one month and leaving him with a slow speech impediment and visible signs of trauma.

“If you look at me, this is at least the worst that could happen to you if you go out to one of these. And that's a sad statement for our country,” Olsen said.

Olsen, who had served two tours in Iraq, said he returned to the US physically unscathed.

So far, the occupy protesters in the US have gone through more than three months of harsh weather, police crackdowns, and arrests.

The Occupy Wall Street movement began when a group of demonstrators gathered in New York's financial district on September 17 to protest against the unjust distribution of wealth in the country and the excessive influence of big corporations on US policies.

Despite the police crackdown and mass arrests, the Occupy movement has now spread to many major US cities as well as to Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and other countries.

Yemenis hold demos, demand Saleh trial

Anti-government protesters perform Friday prayers during a rally in Sana'a on December 30, 2011

Source: Press TV

Anti-regime protesters have taken to the streets of Yemen for “Friday of together to achieve our goals” demonstrations and demanded that outgoing ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh be put on trial.

Demonstrations were held in the capital Sana'a and the flashpoint city of Taizz on Friday.

The protesters carried placards criticizing the US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, who sparked controversy by describing last week's anti-regime march from Taizz to Sana'a as a provocative act.

The protesters say the US is trying to save Saleh's regime.

The demonstrators also denounced a recent deal, brokered by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), which granted Saleh immunity from prosecution in return for stepping down from power after 33 years of iron-fist rule in the impoverished state.

According to the (P)GCC agreement, newly appointed Prime Minister Mohamed Basindwa has been tasked with forming a unity government.

Under the new unity government, the ministries of defense, foreign affairs, and oil will be controlled by Saleh loyalists, while the ministries of information, the interior, and finance will be in the hands of the opposition.

Opponents of the deal have now formed a new organization called the Revolutionary Front of Salvation, uniting members of various political parties and groups.

The founders of the group say they want to recover the real goal of the revolution to achieve what they call real democracy.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more have been injured in Yemen since the beginning of the uprising against the Saleh regime in January 2011.

US, UAE sign $3.5bn missile sales deal

Source: Press TV

The US has signed a deal to sell over three billion dollars worth of missiles and technology to the United Arab Emirates, its close ally in the Middle East.

The USD 3.48 billion agreement, which was signed on Christmas day, includes the sale of 96 missiles along with supporting technology and training, Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Friday.

On Thursday, the Obama administration announced the sale of USD 30 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in addition to a USD 1.7 billion deal to upgrade the kingdom's Patriot missiles system.

The US also announced a USD 900 million sale of 209 Patriot missiles to Kuwait.

The oil-rich Middle East is considered vital for the US energy security.

The Obama administration has assured US lawmakers that military equipment in the Middle East does not constitute a threat against Israel.

The US has demonstrated support for popular uprisings in the Middle East while at the same time propped up authoritarian regimes in the region by selling to them billions of dollars worth of various types of weaponry.

In its Yearbook 2010, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) states that the US accounts for 43 percent of world military spending and 30 percent of global arms exports, making it the world's leader in both categories.

US arms sales to the Persian Gulf will amount to USD 123 billion; a USD 67.8 billion package for Saudi Arabia, USD 35.6 billion for the United Arab Emirates, USD 12.3 billion for Oman and USD 7.1 billion for Kuwait.

'Turkish attack in SE was no blunder'

People look at the dead bodies of Kurd civilians killed in airstrikes in the village of Ortasu in the southeastern Turkish province of Sirnak, December 29, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Survivors and witnesses of a recent Turkish airstrike that killed 35 Kurdish civilians have questioned the military's claim that they had mistaken them for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists.

Turkey has admitted that its warplanes mistakenly targeted Kurdish smugglers in the village of Ortasu in Sirnak province in southeastern Turkey close to the border with Iraq on Wednesday night.

"A 10-year-old, a 13-year-old cannot be terrorists," one of the survivors, Servet Encu, said on Friday.

Local security sources confirmed the group was “smuggling gas and sugar into Turkey from northern Iraq.”

“The lightness of their load should have made it obvious the travelers were not fighters” Encu added.

According to the locals, PKK terrorists travel with fewer mules and are fully loaded.

On Thursday, at the state hospital of Uludere, another survivor said soldiers had phoned his village chief to say they could come and pick up the bodies of the smugglers.

"How could they know the dead people were smugglers if it is a mistake?" he asked.

On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the attack as “unfortunate” and “saddening,” noting that half the dead were less than 20 years old.

The incident sparked clashes between hundreds of stone-throwing protesters and police in several cities in southeast Turkey.

The Turkish military began an operation in northern Iraq in October after 24 Turkish troops were killed in an attack by the PKK in the town of Cukurca near the Iraqi border. The army killed 36 PKK members in the Kazan Valley of Hakkari province.

Over 45,000 people have lost their lives since the PKK launched an armed campaign against Ankara in Turkey's Kurdish majority southeast in 1984.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pakistan judiciary probes memo scandal

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Pakistan's Supreme Court says it has established a commission to investigate a secret memo scandal seeking to curb the power of the military.

The Supreme Court appointed a three-judge panel on Friday to look into a controversial memo allegedly drafted by Pakistan's civilian leadership asking for the US help to rein in the nation's powerful military.

The Supreme Court probe, to be led by the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court, comes against the backdrop of government opposition to a court investigation since the parliament is already looking into the matter.

Islamabad has described such a probe as unnecessary, arguing that its opponents on the Supreme Court, in the military and in the political opposition are using the scandal to try to overthrow the country's leadership.

The current political scandal focuses on a controversial memo allegedly sent to the United States in May asking for help in stopping an alleged coup plot by the army.

The plot is said to have been crafted by Pakistan's former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, with support from the country's President Asif Ali Zardari. However, both Haqqani and Zardari have denied the accusations.

Pakistan's military has staged a series of coups and ruled the country for most of its 64-year history.

Arms sales can revive US economy?

Source: Press TV

The US has finalized part of a 2010 arms sale to Saudi Arabia that sees 84 F15 fighter jets delivered plus upgrades to others, but what are the motives behind it?

Press TV talks with Jeff Steinberg, Executive Intelligence review in Washington about this part of a 60 billion dollar arms deal signed in 2010 and how it will affect the Saudi military's capabilities. The discussion also looks at motivations for the US and the Israeli response to this deal. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: The US says the arms deal with Saudi Arabia sends a strong message. What message does it send when the US hands arms over to one of the most repressive countries in the world of which a number of citizen s are in fact also blamed for the 9/11 terrorist act against the US?

Jeff Steinberg: What it tells you is that the US is looking to offset the fact that there is going to be significant cuts in US defense spending because of the economic crisis in the US and therefore we're leaning on certain countries to provide off-sets by making very large weapons purchases. The big question mark is what use are the Saudis going to be able to make of this?

The Saudi military is of very limited significance. They were able to move a few tanks and armored personnel carriers across the causeway into Bahrain earlier this year, but the idea that there's some kind of Saudi air force that represents an actual military capability is questionable maybe even laughable.

So it s a subsidy operation and frankly it's going to create an offset to job losses that's very same defense companies because arms sales to the Pentagon are going to be stretched out and slowed down.

I see this more as an economic deal and probably there'll be a lot of angry people in Britain because since 1985 there have been enormous arms deals under the old program between Britain and Saudi Arabia and frankly I think one of the interesting things that we're going to see on this big Saudi arms deal is that the Israeli lobby in the Us is not going to lift a finger to stop it.

And this is because you have a growing ironic convergence of Saudi and Israeli interests including and especially in the targeting of Iran. I therefore find it frankly quite amusing that the Israeli lobby is going to sit on the side lines with this 60 billion dollar program. I wouldn't be surprised to even find out that people like Richard Perle have some kind of consulting contract and are going to make some money off of this deal.

So it's really about money and combinations of political arrangements much more than it is about the idea about Saudi Arabia getting some kind of genuine military capabilities that anybody in the area should be concerned about.

Press TV: I know you made the point that this is related to the economy, I wanted to ask you, what it the game plan in the region by giving the Saudis this large cache of arms? Is there do you think a sense that may be throwing money or arms at the problem of extremism or terrorism that stems from Saudi Arabia and spreads across the region is the solution in a sense to win the war on terror?

Jeff Steinberg: No. not at all. We've given the Saudis a free ride on 9/11; on al-Qaeda; on the spread of an extreme form of neo-Salafi Sunni fundamentalism and now that's something that is going to be coming back to bite us.

We had the results of the first round of Egyptian elections where the Salafi parties did shockingly well - way beyond what anybody expected and the simple reason was that they were flooded with money coming in from the Persian Gulf especially from Saudi Arabia. So yes you're right that this is a wrong policy placating these kinds of problems is only going to build up towards greater problems and I hope we don't wind up a few years from now talking about a second 9/11 as a result of this kind of silliness

'US empire heading toward collapse'

Source: Press TV (YouTube)

Russia has strongly criticized the US over what it calls violations of human rights, citing torture, Guantanamo Bay and death of innocent death row inmates. The situation in the United States is a far cry from the ideals that Washington proclaims, the report has said, a view that is becoming more common for a country that is supposed to set the ideal for democracy.

In this News Analysis, we will ask our guests why the US is on a downward trend on human rights, and whether the way Occupy protesters have been handled spells the new status-quo when it comes to how Americans will be treated.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Iran sanctions, 'acts of war': Ron Paul

US Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (file photo)

Source: Press TV

US Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran are “acts of war” which can pave the way for a real conflict in the Middle East.

"I think we're looking for trouble because we put these horrendous sanctions on Iran," Paul said in a speech to a gathering at the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa, on Thursday.

He added that Iranians are "planning to be bombed" and would understandably make the necessary arrangements to counter the threat, even though there is "no evidence whatsoever" that they have "enriched" uranium.

In an earlier article titled, 'The Folly of Sanctions,' the Texas congressman had criticized the US foreign policy for imposing more sanctions against Iran and warned about its "unintended consequences."

"Sanctions were the first step in our wars against Iraq and Libya, and now more sanctions planned against Syria and Iran are leading down the same destructive path," he had warned. "Sanctions against Iran are definite steps toward a US attack."

Paul went on in his address to compare the western penalties against the Islamic Republic to an imagined move by China to block the Gulf of Mexico, which the US would regard as an act of war.

Referring to Iran, he further pointed out that, "If you want to quiet things down, don't put sanctions on them" as it is "just going to cause more trouble."

Iran's threat to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, he explained, is the most probable response to stricter sanctions because Tehran has "no weapons of mass destruction" whereby to deter menaces.

Paul finally concluded that, "I think the solution" to the existing friction with Iran "is to do a lot less a lot sooner and mind our own business and then we would not have this threat of another war.”

'Iran war very dangerous scenario'

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin

Source: Press TV

Russia has denounced US and Israeli threats of launching a military action against Iran as “a very dangerous scenario” which could result in a “regional catastrophe.”

Russia will not “accept the proposition that the best way to prevent a war is to start a war,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said in an interview with Russia Today on Thursday.

“Our consistent stand, our effort, is going to be targeted at doing whatever we can in order to prevent this scenario of regional catastrophe being carried out in 2012,” he added.

“We do believe that a peaceful solution is possible,” Churkin said, further adding the West should instead direct its efforts towards engaging in negotiations with Tehran to avoid any serious consequences.

Washington and the Tel Aviv regime have repeatedly threatened Tehran with military strikes on the false pretext that Iran's nuclear program may have a covert military diversion.

Tehran has categorically refuted allegations by US-led Western powers, saying that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Iranian officials have vowed to deliver a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would certainly reach far beyond the Middle East.

US seeks options for Syria intervention

US President Barack Obama (R) attends a National Security Council meeting. (File photo)

Source: Press TV

The United States has instructed the National Security Council to begin seeking options for Washington's intervention in Syria, especially through the Syrian opposition.

The options for US interference include what American officials have called the “unlikely” option of imposing a no-fly zone over the Arab country.

The process led by US National Security Council Director Steve Simon is expected to involve top members of the State, Defense and Treasury Departments and focus on ways to “aid” the Syrian opposition.

Other possibilities include providing “humanitarian aid” to rebel forces and establishing a “safe zone” inside Syrian territory, presumably through military means, near the Turkish border.

Establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria would likely involve large-scale attacks on the Syrian air defense and military command-and-control systems.

The possible resort to military force is believed to indicate the futility of a new round of sanctions the US has slapped against Damascus.

Many people, including a large number of security forces, have been killed in months of deadly unrest across Syria. The unrelenting bout of violence erupted when protests were held against and in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The Syrian opposition accuses the government of cracking down on anti-government protests. But Damascus blames the ongoing unrest on foreign-backed armed gangs, arguing that army and security personnel have been given clear orders not to harm civilians.

On Wednesday, the head of an Arab League (AL) delegation investigating the unrest in Syria described the situation in the crisis-hit city of Homs as ''reassuring''.

"There were some places where the situation was not good. But there wasn't anything frightening, at least while we were there. Things were calm and there were no clashes," Sudanese General Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi said.

Dabi's remarks disappointed a number of Western countries, who were expecting an anti-Syria report from the AL delegation.

Pakistan defies US, honors Iran gas deal

Source: Press TV

Islamabad has stepped up work on its bilateral agreements with Tehran including the implementation of a Pak-Iran gas pipeline project despite US threats.

“Construction work on the pipeline in Iranian area was completed. And on remaining portion that was to be constructed in Pakistani area the survey has been completed. Pakistan is bearing losses due to energy crises and it would go ahead with different options including Iran,” The Nation quoted a Pakistani official as saying on Thursday.

The Pakistani source added Islamabad had not backed down from its trade agreement with Iran.

On December 19, high-ranking Islamabad diplomats said the administration of Barack Obama is frustrated with the “rapid progress” of Pakistan's gas project with Iran, and is exhausting all its resources to sabotage the deal.

“They (US officials) have gone to the extent of threatening [Pakistan's] President [Asif Ali] Zardari of economic sanctions if work is not stopped immediately,” the official said.

Zardari, however, reportedly dismissed the threats, bluntly asserting that the commissioning of the project is vital and inevitable for the wellbeing of Pakistan's “fast crumbling” economy.

The USD 7.6 billion gas pipeline deal, which was signed in June 2010, aims to export a daily amount of 21.5 million cubic meters (or 8.7 billion cubic meters per year) of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan.

Iran and Pakistan finalized the details of the deal during bilateral talks held in Tehran in October 2007.

In addition to exporting gas to Turkey, Armenia, and Pakistan, Iran is currently negotiating gas exports to Iraq.

British Government's appalling decision

Source: Press TV

We see another draconian decision being made here in London to silence yet another TV channel that has always attempted to tell the truth.

Britain's Office of Communications (Ofcom) has moved a step closer to total censorship of the British Media when it decided to remove the Iranian English-language news channel from the Sky platform.

This decision is yet another nail in the coffin of democracy that David Cameron boasts so much about........what democracy?

Press TV has since its inception broadcast a very balanced view on a multitude of international topics. It has in my opinion been the very foundation of free speech and has always attempted to bring guest speaking onboard from both sides of the argument.

I guess the saying “The truth hurts” has at long last struck at the heart of the British Government with some stories that Press TV has been able to uncover.

What I find rather ironic is the fact that the BBC has now also fallen victim to Government censorship and my question would have to be “what is now left to watch that has not been doctored by the Government or our secret services”?

For many years I was always proud of my country and as a dedicated citizen served in the armed forces but I now have to say in my retirement that the image of my country has now been badly tarnished.

We have now become a country that focuses on far away wars, created mass hysteria about the possibility of some untrue Islamic attack, started systematic rape of Middle Eastern natural resources such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We are now looking at conflict with Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan with the ultimate target being that of Iran.

We are a country that is ravaged by out of control massive fraud and corruption that involves senior executives of many companies, banks, financial institutions and extremely senior politicians, including our own pass and current Prime Ministers.

We are sending our troops off to faraway lands to fight for no just cause and at the same time using weapons of mass destruction that are killing many thousands (if not millions) of innocent civilians and contaminating our own troops with severe medical consequences.

Press TV is but one of a few that has flown the flag of “free speech & democracy” that we the British have been so proud to promote and yet we have now allowed our current government to remove this unbiased channel from our shores.

It was the words of Press TV's CEO, Dr. Mohammad Sarafraz that hit the nail on the head in his response to Ofcom:

This letter is written in response to your government-controlled organization's decision to ban Press TV's broadcast in a desperate effort to silence an alternative voice in the UK.

Your decision to remove Press TV from the Sky platform was made after confidential documents from the US Embassy in London about Washington and London's concerted effort to block Press TV in Britain were leaked.

I could not have said it better myself but unfortunately we are not likely to see a change of heart by David Cameron or the British Government....they have a beautiful explanation when it comes to such they would say “It is not in the interest of the British public.” response would be to such a pathetic response “Why don't you ask the British public what they want to watch”......I guess we already know the reply and our request would fall on deaf that's true democracy for you!!!!

I myself have played a major part in actively becoming involved with Press TV both in Tehran and in London and found their topics extremely balanced and interesting..........I believe they always attempted to show both signs of the coin and frequently found myself up against some hard line Zionist or some US Congressmen that always kept the debate very much alive.

I found the closing comment by CEO Mohammad Sarafraz very inspirational when he said the following:

“What the British government fails to grasp is that the truth cannot be concealed forever, and those in the UK that want to hear Press TV's alternative voice will inevitably find a way to watch the channel of their choice. History will be unforgiving of such futile efforts to suppress free speech.”

From my perspective one can only hope that the Press TV “Flagship” continues to sail on with its gallant Captain (Mohammad Safarfaz) at the helm and that the crew of this wonderful channel of “Truth” continue to expose those that wish to deceive us...........Press TV reminds me of some very meaningful sayings by Ghandi which in my opinion fit perfectly with their ethos:

“There are times when you have to obey a call which is the highest of all, i.e., the voice of conscience even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being”

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.”

Jefferson once said: "If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest." "Conquest is not in our principles; it is inconsistent with our government." Another very famous American William Jennings Bryan made the following comments during one of his many public speeches:

In 1859 Lincoln said that the Republican Party believed in the man and the dollar, but that in case of conflict it believed in the man before the dollar. This is the proper relation which should exist between the two. Man, the handiwork of God, comes first; money, the handiwork of man, is of inferior importance. Man is the master, money the servant.” Jefferson said “Equal rights to all and special privileges to none.” Lincoln added “This should be a government of the people, by the people and for the people”

How things have changed since those early days and many famous people have now destroyed the very principal of good ethics and morality.......the top of the list would have to be such people as Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Bremer, John Bolton, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz, George Bush Snr and Jnr, Obama, Blair, Brown and now our dear David Cameron. They have extended their own “Geo Political Master Plan” by progressively raping the world of its resources. They all state that Globalisation is good and that they all want to “Make Poverty History”..........for my part it is totally the opposite........”Globalisation has increased poverty” and only serves one purpose, to break down trade tariffs allowing the west to destroy their markets.

One has to fully understand that Western Imperialism breeds Self Induced Conflicts and Terrorism and the two together create Massive Poverty.
Lincoln stated “The safety of this Nation was not in its fleets, its armies, or its forts, but in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.”

Finally Bryan puts everything into perspective “It is not necessary to own people in order to trade with them. We carry on trade today with every part of the world, and our commerce has expanded more rapidly than the commerce of any European empire. We do not own Japan or China, but we trade with their people. We have not absorbed the republics of Central and South America, but we trade with them. It has not been necessary to have any political connection with Canada or the nations of Europe in order to trade with them. Trade cannot be permanently profitable unless it is voluntary. When trade is secured by force, the cost of securing it and retaining it must be taken out of the profits and the profits are never large enough to cover the expense. Such a system would never be defended but for the fact that the expense is borne by all the people, while the profits are enjoyed by a few.”

“Imperialism would be profitable to the army contractors; it would be profitable to the ship owners, who would carry live soldiers to the Philippines and bring dead soldiers back; it would be profitable to those who would seize upon the franchises, and it would be profitable to the officials whose salaries would be fixed here and paid over there; but to the farmer, to the labouring man and to the vast majority of those engaged in other occupations it would bring expenditure without return and risk without reward.”

As we enter into a New Year one would have to ask the question will this bring in WW3........the west certainly has every intention of starting one and Iran clearly appears to be the prime target........however I would ask of you all “When has Iran ever attacked anyone” who helped in promoting the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980´s, yes folks you have it right,the main offenders were the US and the UK who deliberately gave Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction and who both wanted Iraq to win the war. Both these nations intentionally elongated the war to their own advantage. That my friends certainly reveals the “True Axis of Evil.”

Whatever the New Year brings us we must all remember that those that are suppressed or who live in absolute poverty will always survive as they have the spirit to live on....the final comments from Ghandi says it all:

“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind”.

My own thank go to the good ship “Press TV” and may God Bless all who sail in her........”Bon Voyage”

Peter Eyre - Middle East Consultant- 29/12/2011

DISCLAIMER: The authors' views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Press TV News Network.

'US to sell scores of warplanes to KSA'

F-15 fighter jets (file photo)

Source: Press TV

The United States is reportedly poised to announce a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which includes the sales of 84 fighter jets to Riyadh.

The $29.4 billion agreement, also stipulates the upgrading of over 70 Saudi warplanes, a US official said on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, adding that President Barack Obama's administration has not made the pact public yet.

About a year ago, the White House gained congressional approval for a 10-year USD 60 billion arms deal with Riyadh, which included the sale of F-15s, helicopters, missiles, bombs, radar warning systems and night-vision goggles.

The Obama administration has assured US lawmakers that the military equipment provided under the contract does not constitute a threat against Israel.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is considered vital for the US energy security and the main platform for Washington's political sway in the Middle East.

Over the course of the spreading popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa since early 2011, Riyadh has been a staunch supporter of the autocratic regimes in the region in their crackdowns on the ongoing pro-democracy movements.

In Yemen, anti-government protesters hold President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who enjoys Saudi and US support, responsible for the killing of hundreds of people since the beginning of the popular uprising in late January.

On March 14, the Saudi troops, together with forces from the United Arab Emirates, invaded Bahrain to assist the Bahraini government in its quelling of the popular peaceful protests in the Persian Gulf island nation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Venezuela's Chavez: did U.S. give Latin American leaders cancer?

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speculated on Wednesday that the United States might have developed a way to give Latin American leaders cancer, after Argentina's Cristina Fernandez joined the list of presidents diagnosed with the disease.

It was a typically controversial statement by Venezuela's socialist leader, who underwent surgery in June to remove a tumor from his pelvis. But he stressed that he was not making any accusations, just thinking aloud.

"It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now ... I don't know. I'm just reflecting," he said in a televised speech to troops at a military base.

"But this is very, very, very strange ... it's a bit difficult to explain this, to reason it, including using the law of probabilities."

Chavez, Fernandez, Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have all been diagnosed recently with cancer. All of them are leftists.

Doctors say Fernandez has a very good chance of recovery and will not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Her diagnosis was made public on Tuesday.

Chavez said other regional leaders should beware, including his close ally, Bolivian President Evo Morales.

"We'll have to take good care of Evo. Take care Evo!" he said.

The 57-year-old is Latin America's loudest critic of U.S. foreign policy along with Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, and he frequently lashes out at what he calls the "Yankee Empire".


"Fidel always told me, 'Chavez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat ... a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what,'" he said.

In his comments on Wednesday, Chavez also slammed Washington and its European allies for criticizing Russia's recent parliamentary elections - and said they were planning the same thing for Venezuela's presidential election in October, when he will seek re-election.

"They are crying fraud and saying the elections need to be re-run ... They're trying to destabilize no less than Russia, a nuclear power. That's the madness of the Empire," Chavez said.

"I say this because here in Venezuela, the Imperial Yankee, the local bourgeoisie, and a good part of what they call the opposition parties here, are preparing a similar plan," he said.

"I call on the armed forces to be alert, on the Venezuelan people to be alert. Because we are not going to let the Imperial Yankee destabilize Venezuela again like they did in the past."

Details about Chavez's health remain a closely guarded secret, although he now appears to be recovering and is making longer and longer televised appearances.

Earlier this month he made his first official foreign trip after his surgery, to a regional summit in Uruguay.

Since his return he has often appeared sporting something of a younger, new look: a dark sports coat over an open-necked maroon shirt, and is hair is growing back after chemotherapy.

It is far cry from the green fatigues and red beret that he became famous for wearing for much of his 13 years in power.

Japan, India sign currency swap deal

Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda (L) and Indian PM Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on December 28, 2011

Source: Press TV

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has signed a 15-billion-dollar currency swap agreement with India to shore up Indian rupees.

"I am convinced we need to strengthen the economic partnership," Noda said during his visit to New Delhi on Wednesday.

"Japan and India will expand their currency swap from a current USD3 billion to USD15 billion," the Japanese premier announced.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "extremely happy" with the outcome of his talks with Noda.

Under the currency swap, Tokyo could lend New Delhi dollars to defend the ailing rupee. The deal is an expansion of a USD3 billion accord that expired earlier this year.

With USD1.2 trillion in foreign currency reserves, Japan has been moving to enhance its global financial role and struck a similar swap deal with South Korea in October.

The currency agreement is an extra weapon for India, which has USD300 billion in reserves, to use for propping up the rupee.

The rupee has slid 15 percent against the dollar this year as overseas investors have withdrawn funds as they hunt for safe havens in the midst of the global financial turmoil.

Israel preparing for another Gaza war

Israeli army chief-of-staff Benny Gantz

Source: Press TV

Israel has threatened to launch another all-out war on the Gaza Strip, saying attacking the Palestinian territory is not a matter of choice, but a war of necessity for Tel Aviv.

Marking the third anniversary of Israel's deadly attack on Gaza, the chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lt. General Benny Gantz, said on Tuesday that Tel Aviv will ''sooner or later'' need to launch a large-scale operation against Hamas, the democratically-elected ruler of Gaza because Tel Aviv is losing its grip on the coastal strip.

Gantz said Operation Cast Lead, which Israel launched against Gaza on December 27, 2008 and lasted for three week, had a deterrent effect on Israeli security, in which cracks were starting to show over time, forcing Israel to launch another war.

Gantz also said that Tel Aviv is looking for the right time to launch a military offensive against the Gaza Strip and that the new war ''must be initiated by Israel and must be swift and painful".

The Israeli regime waged a 22-day Christmas war on the densely populated coastal sliver in 2008 left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead including at least 300 children.

The offensive also destroyed 4,000 houses and devastated a large portion of infrastructures in the blockaded strip. Israeli military forces also targeted UN-run schools and centers.

More than 50,000 people were also displaced as a result of the three-week war.

Tel Aviv also used internationally-banned weapons, including white phosphorus bombs, against the Gazans during the three-week war.

'US won't brook disruption in Hormuz'

Source: Press TV

The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet says it will not “tolerate” any disruption in the Strait of Hormuz after Iran announced its forces are capable of closing the route if necessary.

"[The fleet] maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities," a spokesperson for the fleet said on Wednesday.

"The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity… any disruption will not be tolerated."

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway that leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman.

Iran has repeatedly warned that in the event of a military attack on the country, it will not hesitate in taking all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty one of which would be to close the strategic oil passage.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, “Iran has total control over the strategic water way,” adding that, “Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces.”

On Tuesday Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi also warned that not a drop of oil would be allowed to pass through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed against Iran's oil exports.

Iran's Navy is currently conducting a massive 10-day naval drill, codenamed “Velayat 90”, in an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

Iran to US: Stop leveling accusations

Source: Press TV

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the only option for the US is to respect the rights of the Iranian nation and stop leveling baseless allegations.

Addressing the citizens of Ilam on Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iranians will not back down in the face of US expansionism.

“Given the fact that you (the US) have worked against the Iranian nation for 32 years, what have you gained to make you keep pressuring the Iranian nation through various means?” he added.

Ahmadinejad further pointed to the latest developments, saying that Western powers have used some regional regimes as tools to topple other governments in the region.

The Iranian president said the US and its allies have always deceived their hypothetical friends, adding that they are currently exerting pressure on certain regional countries by spending large sums of money on propaganda campaigns.

He said the ridiculous point is that a group consisting of the heads of the states that lack democracy, freedom and election, gather together to issue resolutions against another country and call for democratic elections in that country.

President Ahmadinejad advised regional countries to open their eyes and realize that if the enemy is currently using you "to mount pressure on other governments, it will be your turn next.”

“If you (certain regional states) think that by giving oil money to Europe and the US, buying weapons and giving those weapons to the opposition groups of other regional states, the US and its allies may take pity on you, you are mistaken,” he added.

'Closing Strait of Hormuz easy for Iran'

Source: Press TV

Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari has reiterated that the country's naval forces can readily block the strategic Strait of Hormuz if need be, Press TV reports.

“Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces,” Sayyari told Press TV on Wednesday as the Iranian Navy continued with the ten-day “Velayat 90” naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman, which began on December 24.

“Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic water way,” the Iranian commander added.

Sayyari's comment came a day after Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that not a drop of oil would be allowed to pass through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are placed against Iran's oil exports.

Sayyari, however, noted that the Islamic Republic steadfastly maintains its interest in “establishing sustainable security and stability in the region.”

He further said that Iran hopes to convey a message of friendship and reassurance to the Middle Eastern nations by engaging in the ongoing naval exercises.

The maneuvers, which have been designed to showcase and put to test defensive strategies of Iran's naval forces, were planned as response to repeated enemy threats against the interests of the Islamic Republic, the Iranian commander added.

Sayyari also announced Iran's willingness to engage in joint naval maneuvers with other nations, particularly the regional countries.

The remarks by the navy commander come as Iran's naval forces are midway through their 10 days of drills in the Strait of Hormuz and beyond.

Among the objectives of the Velayat-90 maneuvers is to expand the presence of Iranian armed forces in international waters and prepare against piracy, terrorism or induced disruption to regional trade.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow shipping channel that leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman.

Statistically, the waterway is one of the world's most important shipping lanes, with a daily flow of about 15 million barrels of oil.

The amount accounts for 90 percent of oil exports from oil-rich coastal countries of the Persian Gulf and nearly 40 percent of the entire global oil consumption.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Russia test fires long-range missile

Russian missiles. (File photo)

Source: Press TV

Russia has successfully test fired its long-range ballistic missile with a new warhead aimed at developing a domestic missile shield capable of encountering US-NATO missile threats.

On Tuesday, Russia tested its long-range ballistic missile RS-18, known as Stilet (Stileto) to the West, from its Baiknonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

According to a statement by the Russian defense ministry, the missile hit its target on the Kamchatka Peninsula on the Pacific

This is while tension is on the rise between Moscow and Washington over a US-NATO missile system in Europe which excludes Russia's participation.

The US claims that its missile system is designed to avert possible missile attacks by either Iran or North Korea, the two major countries that have fiercely resisted US interference in their respective counties.

However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he is not convinced with Washington's claims and wants legal guarantees that the system will not be aimed at Russia.

The US, Israel and their allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and have used this allegation as a pretext to convince the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions on Iran.

Tehran has categorically refuted Western allegations, saying that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has the right to acquire and develop atomic technology for peaceful purposes.

China-Japan pact to sideline dollar

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (R) reviews an honor guard with China's Premier Wen Jiabao during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on December. 25, 2011

Source: Press TV

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihiko Noda have reached an agreement to promote direct use of their currencies in bilateral trade, limiting the use of dollar in Asia.

The announcement was made in a statement by the Japanese government on Monday after the Asian leaders met in China's capital Beijing.

Both sides also agreed that Japan will hold Chinese currency, yuan, in its foreign-exchange reserves, now largely denominated in dollars.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said after the meeting that the agreement “benefits the ease of trade and investments between the two countries.”

“It strengthens the region's ability to protect against risks and deal with challenges,” Lei added.

The direct currency swap between the world's second- and third-largest economies reflects efforts to reduce risks stemming from fluctuations of foreign exchange rates and transaction costs.

"As implications from the current global financial crisis continue to spread and the complexity and severity of the world and regional situations are worse than expected, it is necessary and possible that China and Japan join efforts to address the challenges and deepen strategic reciprocal ties," the Chinese premier said.

China is Japan's biggest trading partner, with transactions between the two amounting to $340 billion in 2010, from $120 billion a decade earlier.

China also forged a deal with Thailand for a direct currency swap worth $11 billion last week as part of a plan outlined in October to promote the use of the yuan in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and establish free trade zones.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

World banks brace for euro collapse

Banks are preparing for a possible euro collapse

Source: Press TV

Banks around the world are preparing for the possible collapse of the euro as fears of the European debt crisis increase.

Several banks are even installing systems capable of coping with trading in old European currencies.

Meanwhile finance firms, corporations, and different governments have also turned to plans that aim at preparing them for harsh times.

Regulators have asked banks in the US and UK to provide updates on readiness levels in case of a possible euro collapse.

Some corporate firms have also started transferring their cash on a daily basis out of European countries, including debt-ridden Greece instead of once every two weeks.

Europe has for months grappled with an economic and financial crisis. Insolvency now threatens in-debt countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain.

Since its formation, the European Union had been a haven for those seeking refuge from war, persecution and poverty in other parts of the world.

The worsening debt crisis, however, has forced European governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms. Tens of thousands of Europeans are migrating from their homelands as a result of these difficulties.

There are fears that more delays in resolving the eurozone debt crisis could push not only Europe, but also much of the rest of the Western world back into recession.

US, Israel to blame for attacks: Syria

A delegation of Arab League officials visits a site of the blast to inspect damages to buildings after the terrorist attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus on December 23, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Syria has accused the United States and Israel of involvement in the two deadly attacks on Friday which claimed the lives of 55 innocent people and injured more than 100 others.

Syria's ruling Baath Party said on Saturday that the attack was a plot to destroy the Syrian establishment.

The party added that the plot was also aimed at undermining the national unity of Syrians, and their confidence in the leadership of the country.

Thousands of Syrians had on Saturday held a funeral ceremony for the victims of the terror attacks.

While mourning the dead, they also condemned the attacks and chanted slogans in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Explosives on two booby-trapped cars were detonated within minutes of each other on Friday morning, one outside the main headquarters of the General Intelligence Agency and the other in the vicinity of a branch of the military intelligence.

The blasts happened as an Arab League delegation was visiting Damascus to help end months of violence in Syria.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March, with demonstrations being held both against and in favor of President Assad. Hundreds of people, including security forces, have been killed in the turmoil.

While the West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of the killings, Damascus blames ''outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups'' for the unrest that erupted in mid-March, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

In interviews with Israeli news outlets over the past few months, the Syrian opposition members have clearly expressed their vision for the future of Syria and their interest in establishing ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

However, Syrian people have repeatedly expressed solidarity with the government. Figures show that during the past weeks, about 12 million people have demonstrated in support of al-Assad.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Russia revises anti-Syria UNSC draft

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Russia has revised an anti-Syria draft resolution forwarded by the United Nations Security Council, removing condemnation of Damascus.

Russia has removed the statement in the previous draft, which calls on the Council to “strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Syrian authorities.”

Submitting the revised draft to the UNSC on Friday, the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that his country was concerned about Western plans for Syria.

He said Moscow has its own limits on agreeing with the European and US demands and threatening Damascus with sanctions over the ongoing protests in Syria, while ignoring all reference to violence perpetrated by the opposition groups.

"If the requirement is that we drop all reference to violence coming from extreme opposition, that's not going to happen," Churkin told reporters.

Syria has been experiencing deadly violence since mid-March, with demonstrations being held both against and in favor of the head of state. Damascus says more than 2,000 members of its Army and security forces have been killed in the violence.

Damascus blames foreign-backed armed gangs for the tension. However, the Syrian opposition says the responsibility for the unrest rests squarely with the government.

Churkin rejected the part of the draft, which demands imposition of an arms embargo on Syria.

He accused that such embargo favored by the West is a disproportionate one, in which the siege is enforced against the Syrian government, while the country's opposition are supplied with weapons.

The German ambassador, Peter Wittig, said that the Russian proposals were insufficient, saying that the revised draft resolution did not meet the Western demands. The United States and French envoys also accused Russia of distracting the Security Council from taking action in Syria.

The draft resolution came on the same day, when the Syrian capital suffered from two explosions that killed at least 55 people, mostly civilians, injured more than a hundred people, and caused serious destruction to the buildings and cars in the vicinity.

Churkin also said the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had become the target of 'regime change.'

Friday, December 16, 2011

Over 146 millions live in poverty in US

A man looks through the trash in New York City. (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Nearly 1 in 2 Americans have now fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income, a report by the US Census Bureau says.

Based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau more than ninety seven million Americans are considered to have low-income, defined as between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level.

Another 49.1 million Americans live below the poverty line, meaning 146.4 million Americans, or 48 percent are considered low-income or poor, Associated Press reported on Thursday.

The new measure of poverty takes into account medical, commuting and other living costs. The new method raised the number of people below 200 percent of the poverty level up from 104 million, or 1 in 3 Americans that was officially reported in September.

The new data shows that children were most likely to be poor or low-income - about 57 percent, followed by seniors over 65.

Meanwhile Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

Among low-income families, about one-third was considered poor while the remainder - 6.9 million - earned income just above the poverty line.

The US recession began in 2007. More than a year after the recession officially ended in 2009, the US unemployment rate remains above 9 percent, and the poverty rate rose to 15.3 percent in 2010 from 14.3 percent in 2009.

The “incredibly unequal top-down distribution of wealth” in the US has formed an elite group who controls most aspects of the country's affluence, according to analysts.

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement emerged on September 17 in the financial district of New York City to protest at a number of issues including the wars in the Middle East, US financial crisis, rising poverty, soaring unemployment, and high bonuses for Wall Street executives.

Russia: US seeks to enslave world

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) speaks during a televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on December 15, 2011

Source: Press TV

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that the United States intends to dominate other countries, adding that the world is sick and tired of taking orders from Washington.

"Sometimes it seems to me that America does not need allies, it needs vassals," Putin said on Thursday during an annual televised call-in show, Reuters reported.

He added that "people are tired of the dictates of one country."

Putin said that Russia once wanted to be a US ally, but now he could not see any alliance between the two countries.

As an instance of the US imposing its political will on its allies, he cited its invasion of Iraq in 2003, when Washington attacked the Middle Eastern country and then forced its allies to join the war.

“Is that alliance? Is that mutual decision-making? Alliance means discussion, making a joint decision, outlining an agenda concerning common threats and ways to tackle them,” the premier questioned.

He also attacked former US presidential candidate John McCain for his comments on Russia's December 4 parliamentary election.

The polls were followed by protests, alleging electoral fraud, and calls for a rerun. McCain used the tense atmosphere to accuse Moscow of holding 'disputed parliamentary polls' and said the country was awaiting an 'Arab Spring.'

Putin stated that the results echoed the will of the people.

The returns “reflects the actual line-up of forces in the country, as well as the fact that the ruling force, the United Russia party, has lost certain positions,” he noted.

The premier rejected the opposition's calls for a rerun and accused those, who had organized the massive protest rallies, of working to weaken Russia on behalf of certain Western states.

Elsewhere in his remarks, he accused Washington of illegally using its surveillance drones to track down the deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and have him killed by the Libyan opposition without subjecting him to any investigation or trial.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

US House OKs indefinite lockup bill

US lawmakers have voted for a bill mandating the indefinite detention of 'terrorism' suspects

Source: Press TV

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill which allows authorities to jail terrorism suspects for an indefinite period, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

The bill, named the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would deny terror suspects including US citizens of the right to trial.

The measure was passed after US President Barack Obama failed to veto the bid as he originally vowed. It allows US officials to indefinitely hold suspects without charge in military custody.

American citizens can also be jailed indefinitely upon the decision of the US Supreme Court or future presidents.

The measure also forbids transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to US soil, making it harder to close down the infamous prison.

International rights groups including Human Rights Watch said Obama's decision to back the bill puts him on the wrong side of the history.

"By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

"In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.", Roth added.

The Democratic-held senate is also expected to vote on the proposal, which is part of a wider USD 662 billion defense bill, as early as Thursday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'US military base attacked in Iraq'

A view of Basra International Airport (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Unknown gunmen have attacked a US military base in the southern Iraq city of Basra with several mortar shells, military sources say.

Possible casualties or damages are yet to be reported.

The outpost is located in Basra International Airport, the second largest international airport in Iraq.

On Wednesday, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of the western Iraq city of Fallujah to celebrate the expected yearend withdrawal of the US troops from the country's soil.

Also on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama marked the end of the eight-year-long US-led military invasion and occupation of Iraq.

There are currently some 5,500 US troops left in Iraq, down from more than 170,000 at the height of the war started by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush. In line with a bilateral security accord, all the forces are expected to leave Iraq by the end of the year.

Obama claimed that the final preparations for the pullout had been made and that the remaining troops were expected to withdraw in the coming days.

More than one million Iraqis have been killed in the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored

Iraqis mark end of US occupation

Iraqi protesters burned Israeli and US flags during a rally in Fallujah to celebrate the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Dec. 14, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Thousands of Iraqis have taken into the streets in the western city of Fallujah to celebrate the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

Burning US and Israeli flags and carrying photos of Fallujah residents killed by US forces after the 2003 US-led invasion, the demonstrators on Wednesday described resistance against American invaders key to their country's freedom.

The demonstration was dubbed the first annual "festival to celebrate the role of the resistance".

"Celebrations mark a historical day for the city of Fallujah and we should remember in pride the martyrs who sacrificed their blood for the sake of this city," Reuters quoted Dhabi al-Arsan, deputy governor of Anbar province, as saying.

"I'm glad to see the Americans are leaving Iraq. It's only now we truly feel the taste of freedom and independence. We will not see American forces anymore. They remind us of strife and destruction," said a Fallujah resident.

Fallujah, located about 60 kilometers west of the capital Baghdad, was once a center of resistance against US-led occupation of Iraq. The US military launched two massive offensives against the city 2004 and 2005, in which over 2,000 Iraqi civilians were killed.

The signs of the deadly attacks are still visible today in collapsed buildings and bullet holes in walls and a rise in the number of birth defects in the city in the years following the attacks. The US military used white phosphorous and depleted uranium in the attacks.

Iran attack spells calamity for world

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal

Source: Press TV

Former Saudi intelligence agency chief Prince Turki al-Faisal has warned that launching an attack on Iran will have 'calamitous' consequences.

Speaking at Alfaisal University in Riyadh on Tuesday, al-Faisal said the impact of a military strike against Iran will be “calamitous … cataclysmic, not just catastrophic.”

Al-Faisal added that the adverse implications of such an attack would be felt worldwide.

The United States and Israeli regime have repeatedly threatened Tehran with military strikes under the false pretext that Iran's nuclear program may have a covert military diversion.

Iran has refuted the allegations, saying that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Iranian officials have vowed to deliver a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would certainly reach far beyond the Middle East.

The Saudi official criticized singling out Iran's nuclear program while Israel is being given a clean chit.

Israel is considered to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

While Israel refuses to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities or to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity, Iran has been subjected to snap International Atomic Energy Agency inspections due to its policy of nuclear transparency.

Israel recently test fired a new long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The test was carried out at the Palmahim air base in central Israel.

This three-stage Jericho-3 missile, which is capable of delivering a 750-kilo warhead to a distance, is estimated to have a range of up to 10,000 kilometers.

Paul: Obama gunning for martial law

US Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul (file photo)

Source: Press TV

US Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has accused the US President Barack Obama of pushing for institutionalization of martial law in the country.

Paul (R-TX) made the comments during an interview with famous American radio talk show host Alex Jones on his program the Alex Jones Show on Tuesday, the US alternative media outlet reported.

The congressman criticized the Obama administration's attempt to include an 'indefinite detention' provision in a defense budget authorization bill.

The Republican cited an example from the National Defense Authorization Act, which he said, was worded in such a way that allowed the government to detain the US citizens indefinitely without trial.

Paul said that the act institutionalized martial law, jeopardizing the freedom of the US citizens.

The congressman has urged the Americans to wake up against, what he calls, the arrogance of the administration.

In addition, the frontrunner called for the immediate dismissal and interrogation of Attorney General Eric Holder over a gun-smuggling scandal, saying that Holder's involvement in the affair should provide enough substance justifying his removal.

He also called on the United States to pull out of the Western military alliance of NATO - as part of which the country has been leading a years-long deadly war in Afghanistan.

Lately, Paul has been relentlessly critical of the Obama administration and has largely been the only presidential aspirant to take on the issue of civil liberties, which neither Obama nor his fellow Republican frontrunners seem concerned with.

“Today it seems too easy that our government and our congresses are so willing to give up our liberties for our security,” he said during a presidential debate earlier this election season.

“I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights,” he noted.

US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Source: Russia Today

A former official from within the ranks of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reporting that US and NATO forces have landed outside of Syria and are training militants to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, formerly a translator with the FBI, wrote over the weekend that American soldiers are among the NATO troops that have mysteriously and suddenly landed on the Jordanian and Syrian border. According to her, several sources internationally have confirmed the news, although the US media has been instructed to temporarily censor itself from reporting the news.

Additionally, Edmonds says that American and NATO forces are training Turkish troops as well, to possibly launch a strike from the north of Syria.

Edmonds writes that an Iraqi journalist based out of London has confirmed that US forces that vacated the Ain al-Assad Air Base in Iraq last week did in fact leave the country as part of President Obama’s drawdown of troops, but rather than return home, the soldiers were transferred into Jordan during the late hours of Thursday evening. Another source, writes Edmonds, informs her that “soldiers who speak languages other than Arabic” have been moving through Jordan mere miles from the country’s border with Syria. Troops believed to be NATO/American-affiliated have been spotted between the King Hussein Air Base in al-Mafraq and the Jordanian village of Albaej and its vicinity.

Nizar Nayouf, a correspondent for Edmond’s Boiling Frog Post whistleblower site, says an employee of the London-based offices of Royal Jordanian Airlines has further confirmed that at least one US aircraft transporting military personnel has brought American troops into Jordan in recent days. Nayouf, the former editor-in-chief of Sawt al-Democratiyya (Democracy's Vote), had previously been sentenced to a decade behind bars for critiquing the Syrian government. He later won several human rights awards and the 2000 UNISCO prize for press freedom.

Since the uprising of rebel forces opposing al-Assad’s regime over Syria nearly a year ago, American officials have been critical of the country’s government but insist that they have otherwise distanced themselves from becoming involved in the protests. Following the deaths of dozens of protesters in the spring of 2011, the United States imposed strict sanctions against the official government of Syria.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, revealed this week that the uprising in Syria has caused over 5,000 deaths since it began in early 2011. In the case of the crackdown against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, NATO involvement began only one month into the uprising. Nine months later, the total death toll of the Libyan Civil War is estimated to be close to 30,000.

In her report, Edmonds says that NATO troops have been training soldiers just outside of Syria since as early as May, and that US media is prohibited from reporting on it until today. The Turkish paper Milliyet also reports that defected Syrian colonel Riad al-Assad is preparing troops to take over the Syrian government as well

'Returning US spy drone out of question'

Lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi

Source: Press TV

A senior Iranian lawmaker says Iran will definitely not return the RQ-170 spy drone to the US, and Washington has to compensate Tehran for violating the country's airspace.

The White House must face the consequences of violating Iran's airspace and not request its drone back, Chairman of Iran's Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Tuesday, adding that returning the RQ-170 drone is out of the question.

The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was landed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit on December 4 while flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) away from the Afghan border.

On Monday the Obama administration delivered a formal request to Iran for the return of the drone.

“[US President Barack] Obama is ignoring the fact that a spy drone has violated Iran's airspace and according to international law this is a violation [of the law],” Boroujerdi said.

The Iranian lawmaker added that the US has not officially requested the return of the drone, since the plea must be submitted through the Swiss ambassador to Iran and “this has not happened yet.”

Boroujerdi said the US must “pay compensation for the violating Iran's airspace,” in addition to apologizing to the Islamic Republic.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Obama: Give us our drone back

Source: Press TV

Following days of silence on the American spy drone captured and unveiled by Iranian armed forces, US President Barack Obama says Washington has asked Tehran to return the US reconnaissance drone.

“We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said in a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.

The plea comes as the US and CIA refused to adopt an official position after Iran aired footage of the captured unmanned aerial vehicle on December 8.

The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was brought down with minimal damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit on Sunday, December 4, 2011, when flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) away from the Afghan border.

On December 6, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNN that the drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the US intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.

They claimed the reconnaissance capability of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone enabled it to gather information from inside Iran by flying along Afghanistan's border with the Islamic Republic.

The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.

Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering on the aircraft, which is similar in design to a US Air Force B2 stealth bomber.

Tehran says that the US drone spy mission was a “hostile act,” adding that it will lodge a complaint with the United Nations over the violation of its air sovereignty by the intelligence gathering aircraft.

Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei on December 8 called on the world body to condemn US aggressive moves against the Islamic Republic with respect to the reconnaissance drone that violated the Iranian airspace.

He made the plea in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz a-Nasser, and Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for December.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents US interests in the country, and the Afghan ambassador to condemn the US violation of Iranian airspace.

Spy drone loss deals blow to US security

US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft

Source: Press TV

A US public-policy think tank says the RQ-170 is one of Washington's “most prized intelligence platforms,” adding that Iran's downing of the reconnaissance drone has dealt a “major blow to US security.”

“There is the risk of compromise to a host of very sensitive intelligence capabilities possibly including hyperspectral imaging systems, specialized listening devices, nuclear particle 'sniffers' and communications encryption devices,” said David Goure, Vice President with the Lexington Institute.

The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was brought down with minimal damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit on Sunday, December 4, 2011, when flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) away from the Afghan border.

Goure added that even if the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) “was destroyed on impact with the ground, there will undoubtedly be recoverable parts.”

“Long-range UAVs are programmed to return to base if contact is lost with their controllers,” Goure added, thus dismissing the US claims that the drone had simply 'malfunctioned' or crashed in Iran.

“They are not supposed to fly around aimlessly or simply land. A platform as sensitive as the RQ-170 would have had such a 'carrier pigeon' program in its guidance computer and, under normal conditions, would have flown home.”

On December 6, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNN that the drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the US intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.

They claimed the reconnaissance capability of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone enabled it to gather information from inside Iran by flying along Afghanistan's border with the Islamic Republic.

The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.

Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering on the aircraft, which is similar in design to a US Air Force B2 stealth bomber.

Tehran says that the US drone spy mission was a “hostile act,” adding that it will lodge a complaint with the United Nations over the violation of its air sovereignty by the intelligence gathering aircraft.

Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei on December 8 called on the world body to condemn US aggressive moves against the Islamic Republic with respect to the reconnaissance drone that violated the Iranian airspace.

He made the plea in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz a-Nasser, and Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for December.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents US interests in the country, and the Afghan ambassador to condemn the US violation of Iranian airspace.

Israel woes over Iran's hunt of US drone

The RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was downed by Iran's armed forces in the east of the country on December 4, 2011.

Source: Press TV

The US officials are gradually coming forth with confessions over Iran's downing of Washington's RQ-170 unmanned reconnaissance drone.

This highly advanced aircraft had been assigned various missions, including operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Military experts and specialists know very well what invaluable technological information this aircraft carries with it," an Iranian military commander-in-chief said.

Some of the US military analysts say that this aircraft was used to spy on Iran's nuclear sites.

The similarity of the technology used in this aircraft with that of B-2 stealth bombers and F-35 fighters adds to its significance. The special color of this aircraft gives it a unique feature to evade radars. RQ-170 is even capable of lingering in the sky for days. This aircraft can eavesdrop on the wireless and wired radio connections to a wide radius around its flight region. And if necessary, it is also capable of widespread electronic jamming around its flying region. Its radar is very advanced and one of a kind. It's equipped with cameras, lenses and sensors that enable it to take unique pictures.

Perhaps even more important than the very advanced and unique features of the RQ-170 is the manner in which it was ambushed. It's obvious that military analysts will speculate diversely, but none can be sure of their guesses. The most comic claim is that this aircraft had crashed in Afghanistan and Afghan groups have sold it to Iran. New intelligence reveals that the navigation system of this aircraft was hacked and the drone was subsequently grounded. The broadcast footage of the aircraft was so important for some analysts they speculated the rear end of the aircraft might have been damaged after its supposed crash and so only anterior images of the aircraft was shown.

Nonetheless, it is clear that there had been no crashes, and those who had seized control of the drone in Iran had landed it safely.

Washington's silence over the past few days was because the US army commanders knew very well what region the aircraft was flying over, when connections with it were cut off and where it landed.

One Israeli paper wrote that the US had initially intended to destroy the hunted aircraft, but it refrained from such an act for fear that a limited military measure against Iran might escalate into a full-scale war.

The Invasion of Iran's airspace by the US warplanes and helicopters, which were subsequently destroyed in a sandstorm near the eastern desert city of Tabas on April 25, 1979, has taught the Iranians to take the RQ-170 spy drone to a safe place and analyze its sensitive equipment to prevent a possible US attack from destroying the aircraft.

Undoubtedly, many governments and organizations from Russia and China to some regional Arab states will stand in line to buy the plane or, at least, get information on its advanced technology. They may also be ready to sign large military contracts with Tehran to get their hands on it. Iran, however, is wiser than easily losing the bird it has captured.

Of course, capturing this aircraft will not be the end of the world and will not change the military balance of power. Such planes lose importance when compared to US bombers and fighter planes. However, their technological resemblance to other advanced American aircraft is the bitter fact for the American military and government. Some US analysts have even noted that Washington will be first in line to buy the plane back from Iran.

But at what price? Will that price be paid through a compromise on Iran's nuclear case?

Israel and the US have been launching relentless propaganda hype about attacking Iran's nuclear facilities in the past few months. The Western press even reported that the US has contacted the Iranian officials telling them that it cannot prevent Israel's airstrike against Iran beyond March 2012. Some analysts have also noted that after US troops leave Iraq in late December, the country's sky will be unprotected and nobody will be able to prevent Israeli planes from crossing Iraq's airspace to reach Iran.

The propagandists wanted everybody to believe that Israel was ready to attack Iran on its own, but the United States has thus far barred that attack. Iranian political officials and military commanders have answered those claims by declaring the country's readiness to repel attacks.

Israeli and American press have also claimed in the past few weeks that Israel will use radar-evading drones, for which it has spent a few billion dollars, to attack Iran.

Such aircraft can stay aloft for a long time on low fuel in order to reach the target. But will few drones be all it takes to destroy Iran's nuclear capability?

Even if the answer is positive, downing the US RQ-170 spy drone will make Israel think twice. The mere idea that Israeli drones may be also captured will most probably make Israeli military commanders to review their plans.

Israel's drones have already played an important part in the assassination of Palestinian fighters living in 1967 occupied territories.

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