Israel has stopped hijacked planes crashing into European cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Netanyahu hints Israel has stopped hijacked planes crashing into European cities

PM tells NATO ambassadors that Israeli intel has thwarted ‘several dozen major terrorist attacks,’ some involving civil aviation

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference with NATO ambassadors to Israel at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, January 9, 2018 (Hadas Parushl/Flash90)

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference with NATO ambassadors to Israel at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, January 9, 2018 (Hadas Parushl/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday indicated that Israel has prevented hijacked airplanes from crashing into European cities.

“We have, through our intelligence services, provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries,” he told foreign diplomats in Jerusalem.

“Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind that you have experienced on the soil of Europe and even worse, because they involve civil aviation. Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives,” Netanyahu said, apparently referring to plane hijackings.

He did not provide specific details about the attacks Israel helped prevent. The Prime Minister’s Office declined to elaborate.

At a meeting of Israel-based ambassadors to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Netanyahu said Jerusalem contributes to the security of every single member of the Western defense alliance, in that it fights both Sunni and Shiite strands of radical Islam.

Injured people are evacuated from the scene of a terrorist attack on a mosque in Bir al-Abd in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt on November 24, 2017. (AP Photo)

Besides fighting Islamic State terrorism aimed at European cities, Israel is also preventing the group from creating a second stronghold in Egypt, he said.

“ISIS is being destroyed in Iraq and Syria, but it is trying to establish an alternative territorial base in the Sinai. Israel is contributing to preventing that in myriad ways,” Netanyahu said. “In general, I would say that Israel is the most powerful indigenous force in the Middle East that fights radical Islam.”

Israel further helps NATO by fighting Iran, the dominant Shiite power, the prime minister went on. The Jewish state does not only seek to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is also “absolutely committed to preventing Iran from establishing a military base in Syria. And we back our words with action,” he added, likely hinting at various airstrikes on weapon convoys and factories allegedly carried out by Israel.

Furthermore, Iran plans to import 100,000 Shiite fighters to Syria as part of its quest to dominate and eventually “conquer” the Middle East, he charged.

Israeli satellite images show results of an airstrike attributed to the IDF on a Syrian military weapons development base on September 7, 2017. (ImageSat International)

If Tehran were successful in its efforts, radical Sunni and Shiite forces would clash in Syria, sending millions of refugees to European shores, the prime minister warned.

“Where will the spillover [of a Sunni-Shiite clash in Syria] happen? In Europe. Where will the human flow go? To Europe. Who’s preventing that right now? Israel? Right now, Israel alone. But I maintain that it’s a common interest that we have,” he told the NATO ambassadors during the public part of the event.

Israel and NATO have cooperated on security matters for decades but recently upgraded their ties significantly. Last year, Israel opened its first office at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Israeli officials have repeatedly said that the Jewish state opposes the presence of Iran and its proxies, notably Hezbollah, in southern Syria and Lebanon.

Israel has been negotiating with the United States and Russia, the main brokers in Syria, to keep Iran-backed Shiite militias and the Hezbollah terrorist group away from the border.

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and others have all said that Israel’s policy is to target shipments of advanced weaponry, including accurate long-range missiles, that are heading to or in the possession of Hezbollah.

In late December, Assad’s troops, accompanied by Iranian-backed fighters, recaptured the Syrian Golan from rebels, allowing President Bashar Assad to reassert control over a small portion of the area adjacent to the Israeli border. Still, much of the area along the border, around the city of Quneitra, remains under rebel control.

Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said the most serious immediate threat to Israel was posed by Hezbollah, followed by other jihadist groups supported by Tehran positioned on the Syrian border.

Describing Iran as a “multidimensional threat,” the army chief said the most worrying aspect is the Islamic Republic’s desire to obtain nuclear capabilities, followed by its efforts to achieve hegemony in the region.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS

Corruption and Poverty Lead to Rage and Despair in Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Corruption and Poverty Lead to Rage and Despair in Iran

Screenshot from video of protests in Tehran from January 4, 2018. Available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hNNVlONyNGs

This piece was cross-posted on the website of Arseh Sevom website, a non-governmental organization that promotes peace, democracy, and human rights for Persian-speaking communities.

“Where’s my money?” That’s what many in Iran have been asking over the past few years as they’ve watched inflation and corruption decimate their earnings.

Inflation has hit the poor and working class the hardest. The costs of food, utilities, and healthcare have risen dramatically over the past five years. In 2013, the cost of food increased by just over 57%; in 2017, it rose by a further 13.9%. Meanwhile, the youth unemployment rate hovers at about 25%.

Simply put, there is plenty of economic despair to go around. But it doesn’t end there. Desperate people have invested in pyramid schemes that enriched a few at the cost of the many. Workers all over Iran have waited up to a year to be paid for completed work. This traps them in inescapable debt and many land up in prison for using bad checks, placing even more stress on already struggling households.

In the last half of 2017, there were near-daily protests in front of Iran’s parliament. Teachers, laborers, and bus drivers demonstrated to demand higher pay and better working conditions. This is not new: these protests are more than a decade old now.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been unable to deliver the freedoms and financial stability that its citizens long for. Some of this is the result of sanctions imposed by the United States; much of it, however, is due to corruption and bad governance.

US-imposed financial sanctions have actually provided excuses for bad planning and rampant corruption. As long as they are in place, the Iranian government can hide behind them, blaming everything from milk shortages to poor aircraft maintenance on sanctions.

Meanwhile, those who learned to game the system have raked in the big bucks. A perfect example is Iran’s Babak Zanjani who became a billionaire many times over thanks to international sanctions against Iran and his clever manipulation of his position as the Islamic Republic’s money launderer. In late 2013, he was arrested

We’re not all in this together

Paykans in Northern Tehran. Photo by Wikipaykan – Own workCC BY-SA 3.0Link

In 2003, Iran’s streets were filled with the boxy white Paykan sedans and the occasional foreign-made compact car. Cafes were rare; any public signs of wealth, subtle. Many people lived on salaries that wouldn’t pay even a month’s rent — $1,000 a month seemed like an extravagant amount of money.

By the time I left Tehran in 2007, consumerism was on the rise. International companies and luxury products were finding a market in Iran. Soon after, couples would be eating gold-flaked ice cream in tower-top restaurants and flaunting their wealth in Jaguars and Porsches. Soon, there would be a rise in evictions of long-term tenants in order to build apartment towers. Soon, all pretense of shared struggle would be gone.

Wealth can’t protect you from environmental collapse

Screenshot from Al Jazeera Earthrise documentary: Iran’s Water Crisis by Gelareh Darabi

Tehran is being smothered in smog. Bad air days are increasing. People are suffering. In 2011, the Iranian government reported that nearly 3,000 people died every month because of complications resulting from pollution. That number may be higher, as research begins to show that many deaths from cardiovascular disease are actually the result of pollution, not lifestyle or diet.

Poor water management worsened during the Ahmadinejad administration from 2005 to 2013. During that time, newly constructed damns led to dry rivers, lakes, and aquifers. Once-fertile areas have been destroyed.

Private industry, with connections to the state, warned people against “exaggerating” the magnitude of the environmental crisis in Iran. An investigative report by environmental researchers found that scientific research on the crisis is often stifled.

Meanwhile, analysts predict millions of internal climate refugees. That’s something to prepare for, not ignore.

Protests are growing and waning

Many people in Iran have looked at the conflict in the surrounding region and felt lucky to have been somewhat insulated from it. They feel threatened by Daesh (also known as ISIL or ISIS, the brutal militant group that has taken over areas of Iraq and Syria) and by Saudi Arabia. They are afraid of the possibility of national disintegration and the type of government violence seen in Syria. This fear has put a damper on public protest.

The director of non-governmental organization Arseh Sevom (and also my life partner) Kamran Ashtary stated:

Iranians again show us that they are unpredictable. Those who had claimed that people were so afraid of a Syria-type scenario that they would not come to the streets, were wrong. As we say again and again, Iranians are always full of surprises. Violence and suppression won’t work forever.

This current wave of protests was apparently sparked by hardliners who initiated demonstrations in the eastern city of Mashhad against the moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani. The hardliners soon lost control, though, and people took to the streets in anger and desperation.

Ashtary added:

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the administration of President Rouhani have seen this coming. Over the past few months, there have been many protests from all sides: from teachers, bus drivers, and the working class. People all over Iran have become frustrated with Rouhani’s government. They see that the lifting of sanctions has pumped money into the country, but regular people, people who have been working very hard in Iran, have not seen the benefits.The level of corruption is high. The national budget shows money flowing into religious organizations without any accountability. The moderates and reformists have been quiet and have not taken the side of people suffering in Iran. Iranians have been quite patient with the Islamic Republic. That won’t last. This may be the last chance for non-violent change.

For the first time in decades, many people on the streets of Iran have been openly calling for an end to clerical rule. Some chanted for reinstatement of the Shah, while others have railed against the president and supreme leader.

This is in stark contrast to demonstrations in the aftermath of the 2009 elections, which was the last time masses of people took to the streets in Iran. Those protests called for a recount of the vote, for “small changes”. People sang nursery rhymes, not political slogans. One of the most chanted was:

Don’t fear, don’t fear, we are all together here

Revolution?

The people of Iran have been struggling for just governance since their 1905 constitutional revolution. The country’s democratic hopes have been dashed again and again. This is most notable in the case of the 1953 US- and British-led coup against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh (see this Twitter essay by @_chloi for a good overview). In recent years many inside Iran have spoken of evolution, not revolution. These protesters are different though. Many feel that there is nothing left to lose.

The Iranian government is calling the protesters “counter-revolutionary.” Others are calling them revolutionary. In an unprecedented move, more than 40 students were preemptively arrested because of fears what they might do if they became involved in the protests. The Center for Human Rights in Iran has more information on this: Iranian Security Forces Have Arrested More Than 40 University Students.

Is this a revolution? Probably not. In a post on Facebook, Iran analyst Peyman Jafari noted:

History shows that protests have their own dynamics. They can grow, radicalize, and lead to revolution. But the same history shows that they can end in repression and concessions. What we know of Iranian society and government point to the second outcome.

What can civil society do?

IranWire’s Maziar Bahari suggested some changes to US policy to better support demonstrators:

Three simple suggestions for the US government and others:
1- impose sanctions on Iranian state TV, IRIB 2- lift travel ban for Iranians 3- condemn violence from all sides, both violence by the government and those who promote violence against mosques and banks in Iran.

Journalist Mostafa Khosravi told Global Voices:

This is a very critical time for reformists in Iran. If they don’t find a way to support those demonstrating in the streets, they will lose all of the backing they’ve gained over the past six years. By this I mean, the seats gained by Reformists in Parliament and on city councils. Protesters are asking them for support. So far, their only response has been to tell them to calm down. If that’s the best they can do, there is no hope for them as a party.

With reports of nearly 1,000 arrested, the crackdown seems more effective than the “calm down”.  Journalist Golnaz Esfandiari reported that hardline news outlets are using Twitter to crowdsource the identification of protesters:

Iranian hardline news outlets endanger anti-establishment protesters by calling for their identification https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-revolutionary-guards-crowdsource-protester-crackdown/28955120.html 

Iran’s IRGC, Allies Enlist Public, And Twitter, To Chase Suspected Protesters

Some Iranians are calling out local media and Twitter over apparent vigilantism on behalf of the feared Revolutionary Guards.

rferl.org

In a letter from prison, the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights, Narges Mohammadi, published recommendations for supporting the demonstrations without violence. She asks that civil society put pressure on government to reevaluate the budget, and feels that this is the best way to support peaceful protests and bring about change:

Instead of talking, the government needs to take concrete steps to support and protect the rights of the people by making fundamental reforms.

In this critical situation, the members of parliament need to listen to the concerns of the people. They need to ensure that the proposed budget is not ratified.

We, the people, with determination and without violence, must stand firm in demanding our rights. The protest will be costly but it must also pay off. For now, the most urgent matter in the struggle against corruption and poverty is the 2018 budget proposal. We need to engage in peaceful protest in order to prevent its passage.

If I were not in prison, I would be in front of Parliament every day that the budget bill was under discussion. The members of parliament need to know that they are accountable to the people, that they represent the people, and that the eyes of the people are upon them.

Mostafa Khosravi contributed research for this article.

Israeli Minister Encourages Iran Protests, Says Israel Is Not Involved

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ISRAELI NEWS AGENCY ‘FARDA’)

 

Israeli Minister Encourages Iran Protests, Says Israel Is Not Involved


In this March 7, 2017 file photo, Israel's transportation and intelligence minister Yisrael Katz speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in his office in Tel Aviv, Israel.

In this March 7, 2017 file photo, Israel’s transportation and intelligence minister Yisrael Katz speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in his office in Tel Aviv, Israel.

JERUSALEM, Jan 1 (Reuters) – Israel’s intelligence minister on Monday voiced encouragement for Iranian anti-government protesters but added that Israeli policy was not to get involved in Tehran’s internal affairs.

Four days of demonstrations in Iran have posed the boldest challenge to its clerical leadership since pro-reform unrest in 2009. At least four people have been killed as some confrontations with police turned violent.

“I can only wish success to the Iranian people in the struggle for freedom and democracy,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said in an Army Radio interview.

“If the people succeed in achieving freedom and democracy, many of the threats on Israel and the entire region today will disappear.”

Israel has long voiced alarm over the Shi’ite power’s nuclear programme and its support for Islamist guerrillas in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories – concerns shared by Sunni Arab states.

Asked why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not following U.S. President Donald Trump’s example in offering more open endorsement for the protesters, Katz said: “Israel has undertaken not to get involved in this internal affair”.

Trump’s tough approach to Tehran, which has included the threat of U.S. sanctions, had disrupted the Iranian government’s “illusion of economic betterment”, he said.

On Sunday, an Iranian official blamed “foreign agents” for a clash in which two protesters were killed.

Katz dismissed such allegations as standard fare from “a mendacious and propagandistic regime”.

President Trump Did Not Hurt The ‘Middle-East’ Peace Process

 

As those of you who know me, you know very well that I am not a fan of President Trump at all. I still believe that he will be impeached before the November 2018 elections because of his many illegal actions before, during and after the past election. I am simply making my point clear to new readers that I am not a fan of his at all. But, yesterdays (12-06-2017) comments he made about the U.S. recognizing that Jerusalem is the rightful and historic Capital of the Nation of Israel is one of the very few things that I agree with him on. Jerusalem has been the Capital of the Hebrew/Jewish people for at least 2,600 years. Yet I do believe that Jerusalem is the Capital of all people of Palestine, Jewish and otherwise. In fact, I do believe that Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ so Jerusalem should be considered the whole Worlds Capital City. Yes I know that this view would make all Nations current Capitals actually secondary Capitals to Jerusalem. You see, I believe the Scriptures so I know that after Armageddon that the ‘New Jerusalem’ will come down from Heaven and sit over the ruins of the current Jerusalem and that ‘The Christ’ will rule all of the World from the Temple Mount for evermore.

 

Now, let’s get to this Trump speech yesterday and this farce called the ‘Middle-East Peace Process’. The reason that I call it a farce is because there never has been a ‘Middle-East Peace Process’ and there never will be one. Reality is that there could be peace in all of Palestine if today all of the Islamic terrorist groups would throw all of their weapons into the Sea. If this happened Israel would be forced by all of the World Governments to except a binding two State settlement solution. I believe that the vast majority of the citizens of Israel would also force their Government to adhere to peace, at once, even the Hawks within the Government would be forced to lay down their arms.

 

Here is another reality though, if Israel were to throw all of their weapons into the Sea today, there would be no such thing as a living Jew in Palestine, or even a Jewish graveyard tomorrow. The reason is the great hate of the believers of Islam toward the Jewish People. The Islamic Countries do not want peace with Israel, they want there to be no such thing as Israel. The whole concept of Middle-East peace talks is just for ‘outside’ viewers who want to feel good about themselves. Palestine is the center point of Armageddon, there will be a time where there won’t be one stone left upon another in Jerusalem. Only through ignorance, blindness, or just plain stupidity some people believe that Islam will ever tolerate Jews, Christians, Buddhist, Hindu’s or any other non-Islamic believers to occupy Palestine, it is not going to happen. Even if it did happen that there was no such thing as the Nation of Israel the Sunni’s and the Shiite’s would have a Civil War between themselves thus turning Jerusalem and all of Palestine into their own waste land.

 

So, what President Trump did yesterday was just words because Jerusalem has been the Capital of the Jewish People for over 2,600 years and the claimed Capital of most Islamic Believers for about 1,400 years. Israel has had its Government facilities in Jerusalem for decades now, what Mr. Trump did was just symbolic words. There will be some bloodshed I am sure over Mr. Trumps statement yet in reality those who commit these terrorist acts are not even religious Zealots, they are and have always been Demonic Zealots. For in the name of God, no one harms another, only in the name of the Devil Himself does one person go out and commit bloodshed upon another person. It is simple, God is peace and kindness, the Devil is hate and violence. If a person is committing violence, they are worshiping and serving Satan, not God! So, do not blame Mr. Trump for the coming bloodshed, blame the ones committing the bloodshed!!!

 

 

Sufi Islam: What you need to know after Egypt’s deadly mosque attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EGYPT INDEPENDENT NEWS PAPER)

((oped) Folks, this is a great article to help people to understand the differences within the sects of Islam!)(trs)

Sufi Islam: What you need to know after Egypt’s deadly mosque attack



A suspected “Islamic State” militant attack on a mosque in the Sinai peninsula on Friday was the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history.

The motive behind the attack that killed more than 300 worshipers remains unclear. But the prospect of IS targeting a mosque frequented by Sufis has raised the specter of further violence against a form of mystical Islam with deep roots in the Muslim world.

What is Sufism?

Sufism is a mystical and acetic Islam practiced by tens of millions of Muslims. Known as “Tasawwuf” in the Muslim world, in the West it is often erroneously thought of as a separate sect.

Sufism is more prominent among Sunnis, but there are also Shiite Sufi orders, or “tariqa.”

Followers of Sufism believe they can become closer to Allah through inner purification and introspection. They do this by meditating and receiving guidance from their spiritual leaders, or “murshid” (guide).

Adherents of Sufism follow the five pillars of Islam just as other practicing Muslims. They declare faith in one God Allah and Mohammed as his messenger, pray five times a day, give to charity, fast and perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Timothy Winter, an Islamic scholar at the University of Cambridge, describes Sufism as “a broad devotional tendency.”

“There are no practices or beliefs characteristic of all Sufis. It is too diverse for that,” he told DW.

The most well-known “tariqa” in the Western world is the Mevlevi Order, founded by the followers of the 13th Century Persian poet and mystic Rumi after his death in the Turkish city of Konya.

The Mevlevi Order performs the Sufi practice of “dhikr” in a musical ceremony and dance, giving them the moniker “Whirling Dervishes.”

Dhikr is a central practice in Sufism, whereby adherents recite divine verses and intone the name of Allah. It can be performed individually or in a group, and can be quiet or out loud. Dhikr practices vary among Sufi orders.

‘Sufism provides for joy in life’

Sheikh Esref Efendi, the spiritual head of the Germany-based Sufi Center Rabbaniya, which is part of the Naqshbandi Order, described Sufism for DW.

“The Sufis are Muslims and live Islam in perfection with body and soul. The body of Islam is Sharia, the law, and soul of Islam is Sufism, spirituality. For Sufis, Sharia is indispensable, because law provides order in life and Sufism provides for joy in life. The daily remembrance of God in the dhikr and the different forms of meditation in the community, strengthen the conscious feeling of closeness to God and the charity for the other.”

He continued: “Sufis adhere to the prophet’s tradition of loving every creature for the sake of the Creator’s love. So they overlook the mistakes and blemishes of the people they encounter and only look at the light of God in them. By recognizing the light of God, the Sufis practice forgiveness of mistakes of man.”

Origins

Sufism originated after the death of Mohammed in 632, but it did not develop into orders until the 12th Century.

The orders were formed around spiritual founders, who gained saint status and shrines built in their names. There are dozens of Sufi orders and offshoots.

Sufism spread throughout the Muslim world, becoming a central component of many peoples’ religious practice from Indonesia and South Asia to Africa and the Balkans.

Sufi orders were sometimes close to the ruling powers such as the Ottoman Empire, helping their spread and influence.

As it spread, it often adapted to and incorporated local beliefs and customs that made it popular, but would later become to be viewed by Islamic extremist groups as heretical.

Salafism and Wahhabism

The 18th Century saw the emergence of a new puritanical Islamic ideology and movement on the Arab peninsula that would later give birth to violent extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and IS.

Wahhabism sought to purge Sunni Islam of accretions and innovations such as the widespread Sufi practice of venerating saints and visiting tombs and shrines. The goal was to create a “pure” Islam.

The Wahhabi movement allied with the House of Saud, which eventually established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

From the 1960s onward, Saudi and Arab Gulf oil wealth helped fuel the global expansion of Wahhabism ideology, which is often associated with hardline Salafism.

Salafist jihadists have repeatedly targeted Sufis, deeming them heretics. They have also targeted Christians, Shiites and others they deem apostates.

Al-Qaeda linked militants in 2012 destroyed ancient Sufi shrines in Timbuktu, Mali, drawing international condemnation. But IS that has taken the jihadist violent ideology further.

Earlier this year, an IS suicide bomber killed more than 70 people at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan.

While no group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on a mosque attended by Sufis in the Sinai peninsula, it bore all the signs of IS.

It comes as the Egyptian IS affiliate last year beheaded the blind Sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, a Sufi figure.  In January, IS’ online propaganda magazine advocated targeting Sufis and warned it would “not permit (their) presence.”

Wahhabism vs everything else

For centuries, most of the Muslim world has accepted Sufism, a stance that has been supported by leading mainstream Sunni Muslim scholars and centers of learning.

“The current disputes in the Middle East are not really between ‘Sufism’ and ‘extremism,’ but between Wahhabism and everything else,” said Winter, adding that mainstream Sunni Islam advocates tolerance and peace.

As Sheikh Esref Efendi explains, IS only sees perceived violations within Islam and “not the people and the light in the people, and therefore call Sufis traitors of Islam.”

“IS thinks that any wrong must be punished. They think and commit even the greatest sin of Islam: They declare themselves Gods who can decide on life and death and use violence to kill.”

Saudi Crown Prince: Biggest Danger of Terrorism is Distorting the Name of Islam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

((oped) The biggest issue that will determine if this group of 40 Nations (including Saudia Arabia) is if the are willing to work just as hard at ending Sunni terrorism as they are at attacking Shiite terrorism. If they only go after groups like Hezbollah but not groups like Hamas, then they will have no credibility around the world, nor in the Islamic world.)

Saudi Crown Prince: Biggest Danger of Terrorism is Distorting the Name of Islam

Sunday, 26 November, 2017 – 12:30
Saudi Crown Prince and Ministers of Defense during the inauguration of meeting of IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council. SPA
Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense opened on Sunday the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) Ministers of Defense Council under the slogan “Allied Against Terrorism” with participation of the ministers of Defense of the Islamic State’s Coalition and international delegations.

The meeting marks the official launch of the IMCTC which will discuss the fight against the financing of terrorism and the identification of future mechanisms and frameworks that will guide the efforts of Islamic countries to eliminate terrorism, and unifying efforts to maintain international peace and security.

The Crown Prince said in his inauguration speech that the biggest threat of terrorism is the distortion it has imposed on Islam.

The prince also highlighted that today more than 40 Islamic countries strongly reaffirm their commitment to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.

“IMCTC members have gathered in Riyadh to pledge to do all that we can until terrorism is uprooted and is erased from the face of the Earth” the Crown Prince said.

He also sent his condolences to the brothers in Egypt for the attack in Sinai.

IMCTC has established the Counter Terrorism Center as its operational arm. The Center’s mission is to build up the member country’s Counter Terrorism capacity, exchange global best practice on specific IMCTC initiatives and create coordinated efforts across the four IMCTC domains; ideology, communications, counter terrorist financing, and military.

Two years ago in December 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the formation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) to form a unified Pan-Islamic front against terrorism and to reinforce solidarity and collaboration among coalition member countries to present a unified front against terrorist organizations trying to tarnish the name of Islam.

France Adopting Biased Stance on Regional Crises: Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TASNIM NEWS AGENCY OF IRAN)

 

France Adopting Biased Stance on Regional Crises: Iran

News ID: 1576462 Service: Politics

بهرام قاسمی

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi slammed French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for his recent anti-Tehran remarks and said the western European country has a “one-sided and biased” stance on crises facing the Middle East region.

Qassemi made the remarks on Thursday in response to comments made by Le Drian, who earlier in the day expressed concern about what he called Iran’s “hegemonic” intentions in the Middle East.

At a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir during a trip to Saudi Arabia, Le Drian said, “I’m thinking specifically about Iran’s ballistic program.”

In reply, Qassemi said, “Unfortunately, it seems that France has a one-sided and biased view of the crises and humanitarian catastrophes in the Middle East.”

This view only exacerbates regional conflicts, “whether intentionally or unintentionally,” he added.

The Iranian spokesman also stressed the need for stability and security in the region and advised leaders of France and other nations to take a “realistic and responsible” stance on the conflicts.

Qassemi also pointed to arms sales by “trans-regional countries” to Middle Eastern governments, including those used in Saudi Arabia’s ongoing military aggression against Yemen and said the western support has only led to “more instability and insecurity” in the region.

Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by the coalition for more than two years but Riyadh has reached none of its objectives in Yemen so far.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

Over 14,000 Yemenis, including thousands of women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly military campaign.

Iran Recruits Afghans to Defend Assad, their Numbers Are a ‘Military Secret’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran Recruits Afghans to Defend Assad, their Numbers is a ‘Military Secret’

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 – 08:15
Syrian pro-regime forces hold a position in Aleppo’s Sheikh Saeed district, on December 12, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / GEORGE OURFALIAN)
Kabul – London – Asharq Al-Awsat

Fleeing grinding poverty and unemployment, thousands of Afghan Shi’ites have been recruited by Iran to defend the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.

“For me it was just about money,” Shams, a former fighter, told Agence France Presse.

Hurman Rights Watch says the Iranians refuse to provide accurate figures, but estimates there are nearly 15,000 Afghans fighting for Fatemiyoun.

Shams, a 25-year-old member of the Hazara ethnic group, went to Syria twice in 2016 to fight in a conflict that has now been raging for more than six years.

“I went there (Iran) because I was jobless and it was a way to get money for my family,” said Shams.

“My idea was to find a job in Iran. I had no plan to go to fight in Syria but after a month of being jobless I decided to go.

“They were encouraging us saying ‘you will be a freedom fighter and if you return to Iran alive you can stay with a 10-year residence permit’.”

Afghan Shi’ites are given 1.5 million toman (about $450) to register at a recruitment center for the Fatemiyoun, Shams said. Once they have signed up they receive three million toman a month, a fortune for many poor Afghans.

Shams’ first mission was in June 2016 in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where he was assigned to protect a barracks for two months.

He went back to the country in September and was deployed to Aleppo, where he was given his first AK-47 after receiving rudimentary weapons training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

On the front line of the battle between ISIS militants and Al-Nusra Front group, Shams said he found himself caught up in an intense and deadly battle.

“In Aleppo we faced an ambush — out of 100 fighters we lost almost all of them. There were 15 of us left alive,” Shams said.

“The bodies were sent back to Iran and the families in Afghanistan held funeral ceremonies in mosques without a coffin or grave.”

Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, estimates more than 760 Afghans have been killed in Syria since September 2013.

The number of Afghans fighting for the Fatemiyoun is a “military secret,” said Ramazan Bashardost, a Hazara member of parliament in Kabul.

“They are used by the Iranian government, which treats them like slaves,” he said.

“The sorrow, pain and hunger of the people is not a major concern of the Afghan government,” he added.

Suicide Bombing Strikes NATO Convoy in Afghanistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

7:42 AM ET

Suicide Bombing Strikes NATO Convoy in Afghanistan

(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) — A suicide bomber struck a NATO convoy near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Wednesday, causing casualties, the U.S. military said.

Lt. Damien E. Horvath, a military spokesman, could not say how many casualties there were, or provide their nationalities. The NATO mission, known as Resolute Support, “can confirm that a NATO convoy was attacked in Kandahar. The attack did cause casualties,” he said.

Kandahar police spokesman Zia Durrani also confirmed the attack and the area on the edge Kandahar was quickly cordoned off.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Eyewitness Ghulam Ali, who runs a mechanics shop near the attack site, said the intensity of the blast knocked him out. When he came to he saw one military vehicle ablaze on the road. He stepped out of his shop but a sudden burst of gunfire drove him back inside.

He heard helicopters arriving and saw soldiers being taken away from the scene but could not determine the extent of their injuries.

Shah Agha Popal, who runs a vehicle parts shop also nearby, said he also saw soldiers being taken away by two helicopters. “But I couldn’t tell if they were wounded or if they were dead,” he said.

The combined U.S. and NATO troop contingent currently in Afghanistan is about 13,500. The Trump administration is deciding whether to send about 4,000 or more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan in an attempt to stem Taliban gains.

The attack came as Afghan authorities in western Herat province tightened security ahead of a mass funeral for the victims there of an attack the previous evening that killed 29.

A suicide attacker opened fire inside a mosque packed with worshippers at evening prayers, before detonating his explosives. A second explosion came 10 minutes later.

No one has claimed responsibility for that attack either, but it came a day after the Islamic State group warned it would strike Shiites. The Sunni militant group considers Shiite Muslims as apostates.

Herat provincial spokesman Jilani Farhad said that to reduce the possibility of more attacks, a planned Shiite protest against the attack was to be held just before the burial on Wednesday afternoon, rather than at a separate time and location.

Along with the 29 killed, 64 people were wounded, 10 of them critically.

Is Iran is moving toward moderation?

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Iran is moving toward moderation

May 28 at 7:11 PM
Charles Krauthammer’s May 26 op-ed, “Why Middle East peace starts in Saudi Arabia,” omitted a crucial detail: the recent elections in Iran. By entrusting President Hassan Rouhani with another four-year term, the Iranian people soundly rejected extremist alternatives. By demonizing the Iranian people in order to take a shot at the Obama administration, Mr. Krauthammer seated himself firmly in the camp known as “part of the problem.” The elections in Austria, the Netherlands, France and now Iran showed that the people of the world are rejecting Mr. Krauthammer’s worldview and are instead reaching toward peace, with or without the catastrophe that is today’s so-called American foreign policy.Ben Hayes, Washington

Charles Krauthammer’s assertion that the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran amounted to “appeasement” was a gross misrepresentation. The policy’s primary objective was to block Iran’s nuclear weapons development program. It was Iran that conceded ground on this, not the United States.

subscribe
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.

Mr. Krauthammer also was wrong to claim that this agreement has failed to encourage more moderate Iranian behavior. In the recent presidential election, the Iranian people overwhelmingly rejected the conservative candidate. And the moderate victor immediately reached out to the West.

Mr. Krauthammer accused Iran of “worldwide support for terrorism.” However, as Fareed Zakaria reported the same day, Saudi-inspired Sunni jihadists are responsible for more than 94 percent of the deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since 2001.

Robin Broadfield, Washington

Damien Parrott

Challenging Believers To “Be” The Church

ABSTRACT POSTCARDS

MarkovichUniverse AT gmail DOT com

Manifest Joy

Spread a smile :)

Gaston Bessette, Photographie

La passion de la photo-Photographs as a passion

The Comic Vault

Unlock your inner geek and step inside!

luvtoread

in pursuit of good books

The Culture Tome

An Online Journal For Appreciating The Past

Love From Meg

Wags. Forever&Always. 23/1/17

%d bloggers like this: