March 2, 2014
‘US denies airspace to Iran MPs plane’

The empire doesn’t want Iran to talk to Cuba or Venezuela.

So apparently we’re being children and making the flight nearly impossible (US airspace is range-necessary)

December 13, 2013
Former FBI agent missing in Iran was working for the CIA – report

Oh.  I wonder why the government of Iran has “insanely” refused to release this piece of shit.

September 5, 2013
"

This week’s statement by the US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, that his country’s armed forces are preparing for a strike on Syria appears to have produced a marked shift in the public position taken by the Iranian leadership on Tehran’s primary Middle Eastern ally.

Early this year, Ali Akbar Velayati, the top international affairs adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said of Syria’s embattled president: “Bashar al-Assad is our red line and we will support him to the end.” Three weeks ago, the conservative Alef website featured a letter from Assad that was hand delivered to Khamenei, which read: “With the support of steadfast, visionary and strong allies like Iran we are certain of victory.”

On Wednesday, however, in his first meeting with President Hassan Rouhani’s new cabinet, Khamenei limited himself to expressing Iran’s strong kinship with Syria and characterising a potential western attack as “a certain catastrophe”. Avoiding any pledge of specific support, he raised his palms in prayer, saying: “I hope merciful God protects this region from the menace of America and Zionism and other evils.”

Khamenei’s silence about defending Assad was underscored by a subsequent report from the semi-official Fars news agency on a speech delivered by General Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. In extensive excerpts of his address to a conference of ground force commanders, there was not a single word about Syria.

A year ago, by contrast, Colonel Mohammad Ali Asoodi, the head of the guards’ culture and propaganda office, said: “If America attacks Syria, Iran, along with Syrian allies will go into action.”

"

The Guardian on Iran’s sentiments on Syria

September 3, 2013
Robert Fisk: Iran, not Syria, is the West’s real target

Iran is ever more deeply involved in protecting the Syrian government. Thus a victory for Bashar is a victory for Iran. And Iranian victories cannot be tolerated by the West


Before the stupidest Western war in the history of the modern world begins – I am, of course, referring to the attack on Syria that we all yet have to swallow – it might be as well to say that the cruise missiles which we confidently expect to sweep onto one of mankind’s oldest cities have absolutely nothing to do with Syria. 

They are intended to harm Iran. They are intended to strike at the Islamic republic now that it has a new and vibrant president – as opposed to the crackpot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and when it just might be a little more stable.

Iran is Israel’s enemy. Iran is therefore, naturally, America’s enemy. So fire the missiles at Iran’s only Arab ally.

There is nothing pleasant about the regime in Damascus. Nor do these comments let the regime off the hook when it comes to mass gassing. But I am old enough to remember that when Iraq – then America’s ally – used gas against the Kurds of Hallabjah in 1988, we did not assault Baghdad. Indeed, that attack would have to wait until 2003, when Saddam no longer had any gas or any of the other weapons we had nightmares over.

And I also happen to remember that the CIA put it about in 1988 that Iran was responsible for the Hallabjah gassings, a palpable lie that focused on America’s enemy whom Saddam was then fighting on our behalf. And thousands – not hundreds – died in Hallabjah. But there you go. Different days, different standards.

And I suppose it’s worth noting that when Israel killed up to 17,000 men, women and children in Lebanon in 1982, in an invasion supposedly provoked by the attempted PLO murder of the Israeli ambassador in London – it was Saddam’s mate Abu Nidal who arranged the killing, not the PLO, but that doesn’t matter now – America merely called for both sides to exercise “restraint”. And when, a few months before that invasion, Hafez al-Assad – father of Bashar – sent his brother up to Hama to wipe out thousands of Muslim Brotherhood rebels, nobody muttered a word of condemnation. “Hama Rules” is how my old mate Tom Friedman cynically styled this bloodbath.

Anyway, there’s a different Brotherhood around these days – and Obama couldn’t even bring himself to say “boo” when their elected president got deposed.

But hold on. Didn’t Iraq – when it was “our” ally against Iran – also use gas on the Iranian army? It did. I saw the Ypres-like wounded of this foul attack by Saddam – US officers, I should add, toured the battlefield later and reported back to Washington – and we didn’t care a tinker’s curse about it. Thousands of Iranian soldiers in the 1980-88 war were poisoned to death by this vile weapon.

I travelled back to Tehran overnight on a train of military wounded and actually smelled the stuff, opening the windows in the corridors to release the stench of the gas. These young men had wounds upon wounds – quite literally. They had horrible sores wherein floated even more painful sores that were close to indescribable. Yet when the soldiers were sent to Western hospitals for treatment, we journos called these wounded – after evidence from the UN infinitely more convincing than what we’re likely to get from outside Damascus – “alleged” gas victims.

 So what in heaven’s name are we doing? After countless thousands have died in Syria’s awesome tragedy, suddenly – now, after months and years of prevarication – we are getting upset about a few hundred deaths. Terrible. Unconscionable. Yes, that is true. But we should have been traumatised into action by this war in 2011. And 2012. But why now? 

I suspect I know the reason. I think that Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless army might just be winning against the rebels whom we secretly arm. With the assistance of the Lebanese Hezbollah – Iran’s ally in Lebanon – the Damascus regime broke the rebels in Qusayr and may be in the process of breaking them north of Homs. Iran is ever more deeply involved in protecting the Syrian government. Thus a victory for Bashar is a victory for Iran. And Iranian victories cannot be tolerated by the West.

 And while we’re on the subject of war, what happened to those magnificent Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that John Kerry was boasting about? While we express our anguish at the hideous gassings in Syria, the land of Palestine continues to be gobbled up. Israel’s Likudist policy – to negotiate for peace until there is no Palestine left – continues apace, which is why King Abdullah of Jordan’s nightmare (a much more potent one than the “weapons of mass destruction” we dreamed up in 2003) grows larger: that “Palestine” will be in Jordan, not in Palestine.

 But if we are to believe the nonsense coming out of Washington, London, Paris and the rest of the “civilised” world, it’s only a matter of time before our swift and avenging sword smiteth the Damascenes. To observe the leadership of the rest of the Arab world applauding this destruction is perhaps the most painful historical experience for the region to endure. And the most shameful. Save for the fact that we will be attacking Shia Muslims and their allies to the handclapping of Sunni Muslims. And that’s what civil war is made of.

August 31, 2013
cartoonpolitics:

that’d be a first ..

cartoonpolitics:

that’d be a first ..

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)

August 30, 2013
"

US spending on intelligence has doubled since 9/11, with the National Security Agency and the CIA taking the biggest share, according to the top secret budget leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Details of the $52.6bn request for 2013 by America’s 16 spy agencies were revealed by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The budget shows the US targeting predictable rivals such as Russia and China but also countries regarded as allies, such as Israel. 1 in 25 federal employees is indicated to work in intelligence.

Pakistan, a long-time though troublesome ally, is described as “an intractable target”, while counter-intelligence operations are focused against “priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel”.

Huge gaps in knowledge about Iran, China and Russia are acknowledged, with North Korea identified as the most difficult to penetrate, mainly because of its relative lack of internet and other modern communications.

The intelligence agencies, according to the budget, aim to “maintain and support existing collection and exploitation capabilities, infrastructure, and operations” for internet and phone communications. Targeted communications include “fax, telex, modem, email, webmail, instant messaging, VoIP, Virtual Private Network (VPN), mobile and land-line voice, and video teleconferencing.”

The document also reveals an apparent shortage of staff who are proficient in languages spoken in the regions that are the focus of much of the intelligence communities’ work.

While there are almost 3,000 Spanish speakers – unsurprising, perhaps given the large Hispanic population in the US – there are just over 1,100 Arabic speakers, and tiny numbers of Pashto and Urdu speakers. There are 900 Chinese speakers, according to the document.

"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/29/us-intelligence-spending-double-9-11-secret-budget

July 1, 2013
"

“If Syria falls into the hands of America, Israel and Takfiris [Sunni extremists], the resistance will be besieged and Israel will enter Lebanon and impose its will.” This is what Nasrallah said on the huge screen erected in the town of Mashgara on the 13th anniversary of south Lebanon’s liberation from Israeli occupation on Saturday night. What he meant was that if Assad falls, Hezbollah’s own political support and weaponry – originating in Iran – will come to an end. And then there will be no more Hezbollah to drive out the Israelis when they return.

And before we bellow with hollow laughter, let’s just remember that the destruction of the Islamic Republic of Iran – as a theological state created by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 – is currently the be-all and end-all of US and Israeli policy towards the country once called Persia. The 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah was an attempt to destroy Iran’s Shia ally in Lebanon. The battle against Assad – a struggle supported by the US, the EU and those wonderful, freedom-loving demo¬cracies in the Gulf – is an attempt to strike down Iran’s only Arab ally. western-supported rebel battle for Syria is therefore a proxy war against Iran. No wonder Hezbollah has come clean about their involvement.

"

Robert Fist for The Independent


The most simple two paragraph breakdown of US policy in the Middle East ATM

February 26, 2013
Symantec discovers 2005 US computer virus attack on Iran nuclear plants

Internet security firm finds early ‘Stuxnet O.5’ version revealing espionage and sabotage virus released under George W Bush

February 22, 2013
Australia must use its new position in the UN Security Council to push for conciliation with Iran.

Within three days of Australia taking the chair of the UN Security Council committees overseeing “Iran’s WMD proliferation activities”, Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that Australia is to adopt severe economic sanctions against Iran that are “broadly aligned” with those already actioned by the US, Britain and European Union.

Thursday’s announcement is bitterly disappointing, for it draws to the fore a deep moral inconsistency in Australia’s recent nuclear dealings.

Simply put, Iran is alleged to have an active nuclear weapons programme, despite it having undertaken a number of international obligations - including the primary instrument of the nuclear regime, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By contrast, Israel has never been a state party to the Treaty, and has possessed a nuclear weapons capability since the late 1960s, yet receives billions of dollars in funding from the US for its conventional weapons programmes a year. India - another liberal democracy - first acquired nuclear weapons in 1998 after it had signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty, yet later scored a nuclear technology transfer deal with the US in 2008, followed by related moves by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to open up uranium sales to India only last year.

Put another way: Iran is under a greater level of scrutiny for allegedly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability than either Israel or India have been for having a readily-deployable nuclear arsenal. As Australian National University researcher and former assistant secretary-general of the UN Ramesh Thakur pointed out last week, economic sanctions like those outlined by Bob Carr:

… cause death and destruction through structural violence - starvation, malnutrition, the spread of deadly diseases, curtailed access to medicines that can exceed the cleaner alternative of war. John Mueller and Karl Mueller argued in Foreign Affairs that sanctions caused more deaths in the 20th century than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.

January 23, 2013
Anti-Muslim violence spiralling out of control in New York, and America

On the evening of December 27, an Indian immigrant to America named Sunando Sen was pushed by a stranger onto the subway tracks in New York City and struck and killed by an oncoming train. Sen had called New York home for years, and after years of hard work and struggle had recently managed to achieve his lifelong goal of opening a small business of his own, a copy shop in Upper Manhattan.

His roommate, MD Khan expressed shock at the death of his friend, a soft spoken man who liked to stay up late watching comedy shows and listening to music: “He was so nice, gentle and quiet… It’s broken my heart.”

The following day, the NYPD announced the arrest of Erika Menendez, a 31-year-old woman who had been spotted on security footage fleeing the scene after Sen had been pushed. Upon being detained and taken to a 112th Precinct police station for questioning, Menendez confessed to Sen’s murder and revealed as her motivation a desire to commit violence against Muslims. As she told detectives:

"I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims… Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I’ve been beating them up."

Sunando Sen was not a Muslim, but as a brown-skinned foreigner living in the United States, he was targeted and killed in an act of hate which is the by-product of an ongoing campaign of bigotry and demonisation against Muslims living in America. 

Muslim-Americans, as well as Hindus, Sikhs and others who purportedly “look Muslim” have been humiliated, assaulted and in many cases murdered by individuals often galvanised to violence by politicians and media figures who have enthusiastically engaged in public hatemongering against the Muslim community in the country. 

Anti-Muslim violence increases 

The 9/11 attacks precipitated a surge in hate crimes, but even as the events themselves recede further into history, the level of hatred and violence directed at Muslim communities is paradoxically increasing. Within the past month, in New York alone, police have suspected racial hatred as being the motive behind several crimes. 

This includes a string of murders specifically targeting Middle Eastern storekeepers in Brooklyn, the last of whom, a 78-year old Iranian immigrant named Rahmatollah Vahidipour, was shot to death while closing his boutique and whose lifeless body was then dragged to a backroom and covered over with merchandise from his store. 

Within the same week as Vahidipour’s murder another Muslim man was viciously beaten by two men who preceded their attack by asking him whether he was “a Hindu or a Muslim”, while another man was stabbed several times outside of a mosque in a random attack by an assailant who screamed “I’m going to kill you Muslim”, while repeatedly plunging a knife into his victims’ body.

Far from being aberrations, these incidents are in line with national statistics which show anti-Muslim violence in America nearing record highs, a trend which comes in tandem with highly public campaigns against mosque construction as well as fear-mongering by politicians and media figures regarding alleged plots by Muslim-Americans to override the constitution and impose Islamic law on the country.

The US election cycle also saw Muslims used as convenient targets for politicians seeking office, with one example being incumbent Illinois House of Representatives Republican Joe Walsh who told a cheering crowd at a campaign rally that “Muslims are here trying to kill Americans everyday”, before making a baseless and highly incendiary claim that radical Islam had “infiltrated” the Chicago suburbs and that Muslims there were planning an attack that would “make 9/11 look like child’s play”.

While working the crowd into hysterics was a convenient campaign strategy for Walsh, just days later the Muslim community experienced the consequences of his rhetoric. A man opened fire on an Illinois mosque while it was packed with hundreds of congregants for Ramadan. The next day, another mosque was hit with an acid bomb thrown at a window while worshippers had gathered for night services.

Despite these attacks against Illinois Muslims in the wake of his statements, Walsh steadfastly refused to apologise for his rhetoric demonising the Muslim-Americans and instead doubled-down on his blanket accusations against them, a reflection of the mainstream acceptability of anti-Muslim rhetoric by political figures in the US today.

Indeed the use of Muslims as a punching bag by opportunistic politicians seeking a minority group to scapegoat has become a regular feature of American political life which shows no signs of abating, despite the “trickle-down” effect by which this bigotry is now manifesting itself in real violence against innocent Muslim-Americans on a regular basis.

Behind this hatemongering lies a deep cynicism, as leading anti-Muslim politicians such as Newt Gingrich who have warned of “stealth jihad” and other nefarious plots by Muslims in America were within recent years helping facilitate Sharia-compliant finance programmes in the country and who maintained notably cordial relations with prominent Muslim leaders.

Political hatemongering

With Muslim-bashing becoming politically fashionable in recent years, politicians such as Gingrich have markedly changed their tune and it has been to the detriment of Muslim-Americans, as well as to the general level of social cohesion and tolerance in the country.

In addition to political hatemongering, the past several years have seen a highly organised and well-funded group of anti-Muslim activists who have been sponsoring campaigns targeting Muslims across the country.

Leading figures in this movement such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have led a crusade to vilify Muslims throughout the country and to exclude them from public life through campaigns of smears and hate-mongering which have cast Muslim-Americans as an insidious fifth column within the country.

Their views have gotten considerable popular attention, and thanks to a documented network of funders and media associates they have managed to bring their message to people across the United States.

In the past few months, a major controversy erupted when Geller’s anti-Muslim organisation sponsored the placement of Islamophobic advertisements at major subway stations in New York as well as in other cities across the country.

Some advertisements depicted pictures of the 9/11 attacks with verses from the Quran superimposed, while others called Muslims "savages" and implored people to “fight Jihad”. While the campaign has been challenged by many liberal commentators, including one infamous incident in which Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy was arrested for attempting to cover a sign with pink spray paint, they continue to run across the country and to spread a message of indiscriminate, vitriolic hatred towards Muslim-Americans in a manner unlikely to be tolerated were it to pertain to any other minority group.

While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, the question must be asked - what effect do advertisements such as these have on the psyches’ of people such as Erika Menendez? Was Sunando Sen, a law-abiding, hardworking immigrant who had given his life to achieving the American dream and who was pushed to his death by a woman who “hated Muslims” a direct victim of this campaign of bigotry? That he lost his life on the same subway system which for months has played host to hateful, incendiary advertisements such as Geller’s is a tragic irony but is in many ways the natural result of a national culture of anti-Muslim bigotry that has become mainstream in both politics and popular culture.

The sad, inescapable truth is that Sen will likely not be the last victim of the accelerating phenomena of violence against Muslims in the United States - the only question today is how far into the darkness America must travel before it decides to take a stand against it.

Murtaza Hussain is a Toronto-based writer and analyst focused on issues related to Middle Eastern politics.

Follow him on Twitter: @MazMHussain

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »