Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Bloody Horror of the Ferocious Isles

The Bloody Horror of the Ferocious Isles

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

The aftermath of the Hvannasund slaughter.The aftermath of the Hvannasund slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Rosie Kunneke
The Danish Navy and the Faroese Police are strict in enforcing the laws that protect the whalers but there seems to be a lack of concern and enforcement in response to the violation of the laws by the killers.

Illegal killing techniques are seen in this video, shot by Sea Shepherd in the Faroes yesterday – the use of the knife and the intentional infliction of suffering to the whales. The Faroese say the whales are killed instantly and do not suffer, yet the intense pain experienced can be seen in the long, bloody thrashing of these dying whales.

This video exposes the lie of the two-second kill, the myth that the Faroese constantly parrot in their justification of this horrific slaughter.

It is illegal to stress the animals, yet the driving of these whales onto the beach to be killed is intensely stressful.

Last year, Sea Shepherd crew were charged with stressing the whales by interfering with the intent to kill them and this year it is now illegal not to report sighed whales to the whale killers. Sea Shepherd volunteers – or any tourist in the Faroe Islands – can now be charged for not reporting whales to the whalers.

Denmark has laws against cruelty to animals, but not in the Faroes. The killing of whales is illegal under European Union regulations, but the Faroes, despite annually receiving millions of Euros in subsidies, are exempted from these laws.

It is illegal to feed toxic meat to the public and especially to children, but despite the dangerously high levels of methyl-mercury found in pilot whale meat, the Faroese do so without investigation or warnings.

Ripping fetuses from the wombs of the mothers, mutilating the bodies, hacking out the teeth, having children play upon and mutilate the bodies, carving numbers into their flesh, stabbing with knives, ripping their flesh with boat props, decapitating them, stressing the animals with banger poles and forcing these gentle, intelligent, social and sentient beings to witness the slaughter of their family members around them in their own blood before they are slain is viciously barbaric and has no place in any civilized society.

Why does Denmark subsidize this? Why do the Danish Navy and the Danish police defend this? Why do the Danish people tolerate this horrific cruelty and this disgracefully primitive violence that masquerades under the pretense of culture and postures under the justification of tradition?

The world must condemn this crime against nature, and Denmark must say to these killers that as a compassionate nation such an abomination of ecological principles and common decency should be tossed upon the dustbin of history with the likes of slavery and animal brothels.

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"A song for a Hero" by Maxime Ginolin
Musique dédié à Paul Watson et à la merveilleuse organisation Sea Shepherd !Song dedicated to Paul Watson and the amazing crew of Sea Shepherd !
Posted by Maxime Ginolin on Friday, May 1, 2015

Extremism and Censorship

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Extremism and Censorship

by Samuel Westrop  •  July 1, 2015 at 5:00 am
  • There are obvious shortcomings in the British government's demand that all "beliefs" deserve "mutual respect." While it is important in a free society to tolerate beliefs we dislike, we should not be required to "respect" them.
  • If the government would stop funding and backing religious separatism, and start using existing laws to prosecute preachers who incite violence and promote terrorism, these measures would go a long way to preventing extremists from operating with impunity. Censorship, on the other hand, will harm everyone.
Islamic preacher Abu Usamah at-Thahabi of Birmingham, England: "Take that homosexual man... and throw him off the mountain. If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that's my freedom of speech, isn't it." The Racial and Religious Hatred Act and various Public Order Acts prohibit incitement to violence, but, despite advocating murder, Thahabi has never been charged. (Image source: Green Lane Mosque video screenshot)
On May 27, a few weeks after the elections, Queen Elizabeth II addressed the British parliament with a speech that laid out a number of important proposed bills, including changes to immigration and the welfare system; a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, and, most importantly, a series of new measures to tackle Islamic extremism.
The "Extremism Bill," the government has announced, will "unite our country and keep you and your family safe by tackling all forms of extremism." It will also "combat groups and individuals who reject our values and promote messages of hate."

Turkey's Wrong Bet on Syria

by Burak Bekdil  •  July 1, 2015 at 4:00 am
  • Today, instead of the free movement of labor and capital, there is, around the border area, the free movement of bombs and bullets.
  • Ankara considers the real security threat from Syria as not the jihadists, but the secular Kurds who fight the jihadists.
  • Turkey has worked so hard to create a "Peshawar" (Afghanistan) across its border with Syria -- hoping instead to create a Muslim Brotherhood zone.
Hundred of Syrian Kurds gathered along the border with Turkey in the hope of crossing over, as Kurdish militias battled ISIS in nearby Tel Abyad, June 13, 2015. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)
It was supposed to be Turkish gambit: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's days in power were numbered; the Nusayri (Alawite) man would be toppled by Syria's Sunni majority in a popular revolt. The Sunni majority would set up in Damascus a Muslim Brotherhood type of regime that would be subservient to Ankara, and Turkey's southern border with Syria would be now be a borderless Sunni "Schengen" zone; cross border trade would flourish with the free movement of labor and capital. Peace would prevail along the 900-km border, and Turkish and Syrian Sunni supremacists would advance their agenda in the not-always-so-Sunni lands of the Middle East.
Today, instead of the free movement of labor and capital, there is, around the border area, the free movement of bombs and bullets. Turkey's miscalculated foreign policy on Syria has led to the creation of a neighboring Peshawar (Afghanistan) across its border.

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NEW VIDEO: The World Stayed Silent


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We are excited to present the 7th and final film in our Iran film series, The World Stayed Silent.

We live in an era when once again the world faces a new destructive force. Iran seeks nuclear weapons while its leadership calls for the destruction of Israel.

The world stood silently by while millions of Jews were slaughtered in Europe. Now, more than ever, with the nuclear deal deadline looming, is the time to speak out against Iran and its destructive ambitions towards the US and Israel.

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WEDNESDAY Security Update: Documents Confirm White House Officials Set Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Response

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The Census Bureau numbers dramatically demonstrate America's abandonment of the traditional family.

I now belong to an exclusive club no one wants to join: parents who have lost a child.

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Indeed, if anyone has dark shadows in their history, it is Muslims.

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Eye on Iran: Iran Nuke Talks Deadline Extended to July 7

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USA Today: "U.S. and Iranian negotiators in Vienna agreed to extend the deadline from Tuesday night to July 7 as they remained far apart on key issues. Even if a deal can be reached by the new date, differences in the interpretation of the latest interim agreement show the obstacles of executing an accord. The deadline was extended 'to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution' on the Iran nuclear issue, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said... In response to concerns by Western officials that Iran has backtracked from a framework deal reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 2, Zarif said 'a solution will be possible' based on that accord. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama 'has been very clear' that if 'the Iranians refuse to agree ... to a final agreement that's consistent with the framework that was reached in April, then there won't be an agreement.' The differences in the White House and Iranian interpretations of the Lausanne deal could be a sign of danger ahead even if a deal is reached. Olli Heinonen, who spent 27 years as a weapons inspector for IAEA said that the final deal is likely to be much more specific than the framework agreement but that 'going back to the history (with Iran) we have seen differences in views and interpretations in the past.'"

NYT: "As a high-level team of Iranian officials flew here on Tuesday for what appears to be an intensive final week of negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear accord, President Obama issued a warning that he was prepared to walk away from any agreement with a verification regime that consisted of 'a few inspectors wandering around every once in a while.' ... Mr. Obama, coming off a week of historic, confidence-building victories at home, made a point at a news conference in Washington of stressing his determination to get an effective deal. 'Given past behavior on the part of Iran, that simply can't be a declaration by Iran and a few inspectors wandering around every once in a while,' he said. 'That's going to have to be a serious, rigorous verification mechanism. And that, I think, is going to be the test as to whether we get a deal or not.' In Tehran, Mr. Rouhani said that it was up to the United States to keep its word. While he, too, was talking tough, the promise that got him elected - a vow to get Western-led sanctions against Iran lifted - hangs in the balance in the next few days. 'If we reach a deal, both sides should be committed to it,' Mr. Rouhani said, the state news agency IRNA reported. 'If the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path, stronger than what they can imagine.' ... In a Twitter post on Tuesday that raised Iranians' hopes an accord might finally be at hand, Ayatollah Khamenei praised his negotiators as 'trustworthy, committed, brave and faithful.'"

Reuters: "The global nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday its boss would fly to Tehran to discuss some of the last big issues that need to be resolved so that Iran and world powers can reach a breakthrough final nuclear deal by a new deadline of next week. Among the main sticking points that remain to be resolved are issues that involve the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. The powers want guaranteed access by IAEA inspectors to Iranian military sites and a response to IAEA queries about Tehran's past activities that may have been related to weapons research. The global body said in a statement that its chief Yukiya Amano would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials on Thursday in Iran. Discussions would cover 'how to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear program, including clarification of possible military dimensions.'"

Nuclear Program & Negotiations

Free Beacon: "Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Iran would be more likely to evolve into a rational actor on a world stage with a nuclear deal than without one. Rhodes made these rather hopeful remarks during an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Monday. 'We believe that an agreement is necessary and has to be good enough to be worth doing, even if Iran doesn't change,' he said. 'If 10 or 15 years from now, Iran is the same as it is today in terms of its government, the deal has to be good enough that it can exist on those merits. That said, we believe that a world in which there is a deal with Iran is much more likely to produce an evolution in Iranian behavior than a world in which there is no deal.' ... Rhodes repeated his belief that Iran would have a better chance of joining the world community during his long answer to Goldberg. 'In a world of a deal, there is a greater possibility that you will see Iran evolve in a direction in which they are more engaged with the international community and less dependent upon the types of activities that they've been engaged in,' he said."

FT: "While diplomats seek a nuclear deal with Tehran, Washington is trying to reassure Middle East allies that it will not let Iran become the dominant power in the region. A decision to resume military aid to Bahrain, announced late on Monday, is the latest move by the Obama administration aimed at mending fences with allies in the region amid concerns about the likely financial benefit that Iran will reap from a nuclear deal."

AFP: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Tuesday that the deal being negotiated between world powers and Iran would allow it to develop nuclear weapons, hours before a deadline to reach an accord expired... 'We believe that it is a fundamental mistake to enable such a terrorist regime to get to nuclear weapons, which is what the proposed agreement will give them,' the prime minister said ahead of a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. 'It will give them a definite pathway to nuclear bombs -- not a bomb, but nuclear bombs.' Netanyahu added that the lifting of sanctions against Iran would allow it to 'replenish their coffers with many billions -- actually perhaps up to hundreds of billions of dollars -- to enable them to continue their terrorism and aggression.' 'This is something that is wrong,' he said. 'It is dangerous. It is dangerous for Israel, for Italy, for Europe, for the United States, for the world.'"

Sanctions Relief

FT: "Iran is finalising details of new and more lucrative contracts for multinational energy companies as it hopes to secure $100bn of fresh investment in its oil and gas sector once international sanctions are lifted. Mehdi Hosseini, an adviser to Iran's oil ministry and the man tasked with drafting the Iran Petroleum Contract expects Hassan Rouhani, the president, to approve the new contract in the coming months, with details to be announced by the end of the year... Details of the scheme and the dozens of available upstream offshore and onshore oil and gas projects will be released at an investment conference in London, probably in December."

Human Rights

IHR: "Iranian authorities have executed at least 570 prisoners in the first half of 2015, an increase of about 40% compared to the first half of 2014. According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least 1,900 people have been executed since the election of President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. Despite the highest execution rate in more than two decades, Iranian authorities haven't met any major criticism from the international community."

Domestic Politics

AFP: "Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday unveiled the main points of the Islamic republic's next five-year plan, with the focus on the military and economic growth. According to extracts published by the official IRNA news agency, the 2016-2021 plan allocates at least five percent of the budget to defence 'as part of the regional balance of power' and to protect national interests. The plan includes developing ballistic missile capabilities, arms production and modern weaponry, the agency said... On the economy, Khamenei wanted 'quick and sustainable' growth of eight percent over the five years."

Reuters: "To Iran's leaders, solving a nuclear standoff with the West might be a question of maintaining geopolitical influence and prestige. To its ordinary citizens, it's about money, food and jobs. Years of tightening international sanctions, designed to counter Iranian evasion and secrecy and guarantee that Iran's nuclear program can have no military dimension, have closed hundreds of factories and halved living standards. No wonder, then, that the desire runs deep for negotiators to do a deal in Vienna by their self-imposed deadline of July 7."

NYT: "In the little shade provided by Tehran's Freedom Tower, a group of about 200 Iranian hard-liners, some with hats made of folded newspapers to protect them against the sun's rays, sat in the searing heat Tuesday on blue plastic chairs next to blaring loudspeakers. Speakers railed against the devil, a.k.a. the United States, and its 'oppressive' actions, drawing the usual chants of 'Death to America' from the participants. They called for a 'good nuclear deal' in the negotiations this week in Vienna, meaning one with few, or preferably no, Iranian compromises... In the distance Ali, 35, revved his 250-cc Honda motorcycle, shaking his head. The reality of those demonstrating was completely different from the one he lived in, he said. A factory worker, he said he had increasing trouble making ends meet, even working a double shift. 'I do not care about nuclear energy. These people do not represent me,' he said, pointing at the rally far off across the square. 'They are 200 out of 12 million.' Ali, who asked that his last name be withheld to avoid retribution, said there were many more like him. 'I want a normal life,' he said, driving off into the traffic. Few Iranians are as outspoken. Yet, most urban Iranians, forbidden to organize or hold demonstrations, want no part of confrontational policies, at home or abroad, asking instead for a more relaxed atmosphere, socially and politically."

Foreign Affairs

AP: "A nuclear deal may serve Russia's own needs on a strategic level, and work against the United States. It could strengthen Tehran as a regional power allied with Moscow, both as a proxy backing the Syrian government and as a rival to U.S-backed Saudi Arabia in the struggle for Mideast influence. Economic interests also play a role in Moscow's support for a nuclear deal, even if the lifting of sanctions trigged by an agreement would hurt Russia in the short run. These would put more Iranian oil on the market in competition with Russian crude. But Moscow is reportedly working on a solution by offering cash for Iranian oil. Tehran then would spend the money on Russian goods. And Russia can sell the Islamic Republic state-of-the-art drilling equipment and other technology it needs to rebuild its sanctions-battered oil sector. And in the long run, the Kremlin, which already helped construct Iran's working reactor, will benefit from an already signed multibillion-dollar deal to build two additional reactors and supply them with fuel. More such projects are planned, along with military cooperation and Russian arms sales to Tehran, including the long-delayed transfer of S-300 advanced air defense systems."

Opinion & Analysis

UANI Advisory Board Member Michael Singh in WSJ: "The deadline in the Iran nuclear negotiations has just been extended. But if an agreement is ultimately reached, Tehran is expected to receive a substantial financial windfall. Critics have argued that an influx of funds will permit Iran to expand its destabilizing regional activities. The Obama administration has argued that Iran will use the funds primarily for domestic needs. Who is correct? An estimated $100 billion to $140 billion in Iranian foreign exchange reserves are being held in escrow in banks overseas (primarily oil revenues that U.S. sanctions block from being repatriated to Iran). It is not clear how much of these funds would be made available to Iran under a nuclear agreement, or when. U.S. officials have reportedly indicated that Iran would receive $30 billion to $50 billion after completing initial steps to comply with an agreement (deactivating centrifuges in excess of those it is permitted to operate, reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium, and converting its heavy-water reactor). That work could take six months or more. In his most recent budget, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani proposed government expenditures of approximately $300 billion. While some domestic programs were increased-health-care spending rose 59%-so were security expenditures. Saeed Ghasseminejad and Emanuele Ottolenghi of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted that funding was up 48% for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and 40% for the Ministry of Intelligence and Security; overall defense spending, which amounts to 3% of Iran's gross domestic product, rose 33%. These figures likely understate Iran's security spending; as the Congressional Research Service recently noted, the Revolutionary Guard Corps spends 'significant amounts of unbudgeted funds on arms, technology, support to pro-Iranian movements, and other functions.' The Obama administration's position assumes that while Iran was willing to substantially increase security spending when sanctions were in effect it will not do so in the wake of a deal, when economic conditions would improve. This thinking is likely based on the notion that in the wake of a deal Iran will feel pressure to satisfy public expectations that the deal will yield tangible benefits and spend more at home. But there are good reasons to think this will not be the case. Iran's security spending is driven by more than tensions over its nuclear program. The Revolutionary Guards are heavily engaged in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan; none of these conflicts will end if an Iran deal is reached-and the situations may get worse. To the extent that a deal is seen as a 'win' for pragmatists led by President Rouhani, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may want to placate hard-liners by boosting his financial support to the security apparatus they dominate. Iran's security spending goes to both foreign endeavors and monitoring its own people, an imperative that is likely to grow if the deal permits greater economic and diplomatic openness to the outside world... The Obama administration has also argued that unfreezing Iran's assets will not lead to an increase in its destabilizing regional activities because 'the cost of Iran's support for terrorism and regional interventions is relatively small.' This conflates two very distinct activities. It is arguably correct that the cost of individual terrorist acts is small; this is one reason that terrorism is so widespread and difficult to prevent. There is, however, little reason to believe that Iran's sponsorship of terrorist organizations and efforts to coopt or subvert governments (see: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq) is inexpensive. Consider that Iran's declared military budget is $12 billion to $15 billion. Iranian annual support for Syria's Assad regime was recently estimated at $6 billion to $15 billion. Iran's funding of Hezbollah has been estimated at $200 million per year, though that may have increased with the organization's heavy losses in Syria.  Iran also funds Shiite militias in Iraq, and it sponsors groups in Gaza, Yemen, and elsewhere. In short, Iran is likely to spend any financial windfall from a nuclear agreement on both domestic and foreign priorities-as it has done in good economic times and bad. The two are not mutually exclusive, and Iran is not likely to reorder its priorities. The agreement terms reportedly under discussion provide Iran with substantial economic relief while demanding precisely nothing from it regarding its sponsorship of terrorism and destabilizing regional behavior. Good policymaking demands that the benefit of any nuclear agreement be weighed against this cost, rather than pretending it does not exist."

Sen. Mitch McConnell in Politico: "The Obama Administration recently announced another extension of nuclear negotiations with Iran after failing to abide by its own, already-extended June 30 deadline. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry should use the opportunity to pause negotiations, take a step back and re-examine the point of the talks in the first place. Because, as a senior Democrat Senator recently put it, 'the trend lines of the Iran talks are deeply worrying' and 'our red lines have turned into green lights.' This pause should allow time for the P5+1 to agree on the basic objectives of a deal: to establish complete agreement on 'anytime, anywhere' inspections, to complete the disclosure of previous Iranian military-related nuclear research (including access to Iranian documents, facilities, scientists and officials), and to agree on the phased relief of sanctions tied to Iranian compliance. Reaching the best deal acceptable to Iran, rather than actually furthering our goal of ending Iran's nuclear program, is a flawed premise. Establishing an internationally recognized Iranian nuclear program is not in the interest of the American people. But it now seems to be the premise upon which the Obama Administration is approaching these talks. Consider the worrying interim agreement announced in April. It proposed bestowing international blessing for Iran to become a 'nuclear threshold' state-forever on the edge of obtaining a nuclear weapon-and a global go-ahead for Iran to pursue a 10-year nuclear research and development program. The interim agreement would also allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium, to retain thousands of nuclear centrifuges and to pursue development of even more advanced centrifuges. That deal was bad enough, but apparently it was the high point-nearly every day since seems to bring news of a further weakening of an already-weakened Obama Administration position, encouraging hardliners in Tehran to insist upon additional concessions. This, as Iran pursues a full-spectrum campaign to expand its sphere of influence and undermine America's standing in the region. Beyond its nuclear program, Tehran is also working overtime to expand its ballistic missile and conventional military capabilities and to support terrorist proxies like Hezbollah, the Assad regime and Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Iran's aggressive behavior poses grave challenges to the world, to the region, to allies like Israel and to our own country. It also presents a host of problems for President Obama's successor in the Oval Office. Entering into a bad agreement with Iran now would only make those problems worse. And yet, that seems exactly what the Obama Administration intends to do. It seems intent on muddling toward an unacceptable deal with Iran instead of pausing for a thoughtful reexamination of the P5+1's bottom line. Their current course would only grant Iran additional legitimacy as it seeks to blame the West for anything short of instantaneous sanctions relief. It would also allow Iran to continue to press for additional concessions on verification and disclosures on the possible military dimensions of its nuclear research. Until we know more about Iran's previous research, no nation can be sure of what Iran may have developed covertly already. But we can be sure of one thing: Iran would use funding derived from any sanctions relief to support proxy forces and advance its stockpile of missiles. I hope the Obama Administration will make the right decision now and press pause before heading further toward a bad deal with Iran; I hope the administration will have the courage to explain why a deal that undermines international security is worse than no deal at all."

Michael Herzog in FT: "Israel is not at the table negotiating the deal on Iran's nuclear programme. Yet it is Israel's national security, perhaps more than anyone else's, that will be affected. Threatened by Iran's nuclear and hegemonic ambitions, Israel and most of its Arab neighbours question whether the expected agreement will stem either. The choice is not between a good deal and a bad deal. A good deal - permanently rolling back Iran's nuclear capacity, as was done in Libya - is no longer possible. The question is whether the deal is acceptable, given the confines of the framework agreed in April. That framework in effect legitimises Iran as a nuclear-threshold state and focuses on stopping it from crossing that threshold. In the first decade the deal limits Iran's capacity to quickly make enough nuclear material for a weapon. But in the second decade Iran is allowed to reduce its breakout time almost to zero, as restrictions on enrichment and stockpiling of uranium expire. Iran's nuclear threshold status could trigger nuclear proliferation. Regional rivals, not least the Saudis, may race to catch up. It could also embolden the Iranians to advance their radical and sectarian agenda. In addressing these risks, the context of the deal matters no less than its fine print. The six world powers negotiating with Iran should insist on certain critical elements: anytime, anywhere inspection and verification; irreversible conversion of excess enriched material in Iran; significant restrictions on research and development relating to centrifuges; a clear and binding pathway to resolving concerns expressed by international inspectors about the possible military dimensions of Iran's programme. Sanctions relief should be phased over years and be conditional on Tehran meeting these requirements. But that is not enough. The key to stopping Iran from crossing the threshold at short notice is deterrence. Most of all, the US needs to make clear there will be punishing consequences for violations. In addition, the international community should formally affirm its determination to prevent Iran from acquiring enough fissile material for a weapon, even after the restrictions lapse. The US should also adopt a tough stance against Iran's hegemonic regional ambitions, to reassure traditional allies who have lost faith in American political will to guarantee their security. Unfortunately, US deterrence has been badly eroded of late, both due to its reluctance to project power in the region, and its overeager approach to negotiating with Iran... Viewed from the region, one thing seems obvious: the best chance to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb comes if the US reasserts its willingness to use military force."

Aaron David Miller in CNN: "Any really good deal was lost once Iran mastered the fuel cycle; the international community conceded Iran's right to enrich uranium and the regime created a vast nuclear infrastructure. The issue for any deal now is managing and reducing risk through constraints on Iran's enrichment, stockpile, limits on research and development, punitive measures should Iran cheat, and inspections. But even all of this can't, won't, and never was intended to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations. The agreement will produce a slower, smaller, more easily monitored Iranian nuclear program. And this, to be sure, is a rational, logical response if the goal is to defuse an emerging crisis and to buy time. Diplomacy is always worth pursuing before turning to military action. But we should be under no illusion that this agreement will produce an end state, one in which Iran will give up its nuclear weapons aspirations. It's the cruelest of ironies that the key to getting Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons aspirations may have nothing to do with anything in the agreement. Tehran's interest in acquiring nuclear weapons potential isn't really a technical matter. Instead, it has everything to do with the regime's character -- its regional aspirations and its own self-image as a great power. Arguably, and paradoxically, nuclear weapons may be most useful if they're not used. Indeed, for a highly suspicious regime -- grandiose and insecure at the same time -- nuclear weapons offer more than a means to intimidate Israel. They can function as a hedge against foreign pressures to undermine the regime, be a way to intimidate weaker regional states, and can send a message of defiance to the international community that Iran will not be treated as a second-class power. This raises the real possibility that the drive to become a nuclear weapons threshold state is inextricably linked to Iran's unique identity -- its sense of entitlement and vulnerability -- that has driven it toward the nuclear weapons option. If this is in fact the case, only transformation of the regime into something else -- a more moderate, normal state -- might allow for the possibility that Iran would give up permanently its desire to remain a nuclear weapons threshold state. So, will Iran transform? Obama has argued that regardless of Iran's behavior at home and in the region, a constrained nuclear program is worth achieving in its own right because Iran will be less dangerous. But the odds of a quick transformation are pretty small. And freed from sanctions relief and open for business, Iran will have additional resources to pursue its regional aspirations. Nor is it likely that Iran is likely to open up at home. After all, the point of the nuclear agreement isn't to undermine the mullahs' control; it's to manage public expectations through an improved economy in order to secure the revolution. More likely what we're witnessing in this nuclear diplomacy is a transaction, not a transformation. In exchange for constraints on its nuclear program, Iran will get sanctions relief, an improved economy and a defusing of the issue that has made it an international outlier. Ultimately, the deal would be good for the mullahs because, arguably, they've traded constraints on nuclear weapons they really don't have to (or even want to) develop now for sanctions relief that will position them to continue their rise in the region and their control at home. It's a smart play -- for them. But as I know well, the U.S. State Department mantra has been that we should not make perfect the enemy of good. On the Iran deal, the perfect was never available. The problem now is that 'good' might not be either."

James Stavridis in FP: "The headlines: A charismatic and wily Iranian leader seeks to expand the borders of his nation, pushing aggressively against neighbors in the region and especially to the West. Iran exerts dominance in a wide range of regional capitals, from Baghdad to Beirut. Trade routes are opening, and wealth will begin into flow to the nation, enabling further adventurism. Sound familiar? Actually, this describes the foundation of the Persian Empire about 2,500 years ago by Cyrus the Great. The empire at its peak ruled over 40 percent of the global population, the highest figure for any empire in history. It stretched from the littoral of the eastern Mediterranean to the coast of the Arabian Gulf, encompassing what are today Libya, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Afghanistan. Cyrus the Great said, 'You cannot be buried in obscurity: You are exposed upon a grand theater to the view of the world.' We don't tend to think of today's Iran as an imperial power, but the Iranians certainly do - indeed, it is woven into their national DNA and cultural outlook. And we need to decide how to deal with the reality of Iranian geopolitical outreach, which will only increase if the sanctions come off. Tehran's geopolitical strategy - underpinned by the Shiite faith as a religious movement - is taken directly from the playbooks of the first three Persian empires, which stretched over a thousand years. Iran seeks regional dominance, a significant global level of influence, and the development of a power center that is not a bridge between East and West, but rather a force in its own right. As the West grapples with the significant issues surrounding Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction - and rightly tries to resolve them through diplomacy - we need to be keenly aware of the imperial ambitions of Iran and how they will be significantly empowered by the lifting of economic sanctions. A full lifting of the economic sanctions would, by some estimates, cause a surge of revenue to Iranian coffers in the range of $100 billion a year or more, by putting to work as much as a third of the economy that has idled due to the economic barriers. Some of this would be used to improve the economy in Iran, of course, but it would at a minimum provide much additional funding for external activities around the region and the world."

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

Iranian-backed Hizballah and Hamas Bolster Worldwide Terrorist Presence

Steven Emerson, Executive Director
July 1, 2015

Iranian-backed Hizballah and Hamas Bolster Worldwide Terrorist Presence

by IPT News  •  Jul 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm
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While the West extends nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to enhance its international terrorism infrastructure through its proxies. Hizballah has 950 active operatives in the Western European state while Hamas maintains 300 operatives, according to a German intelligence report summarized by the Jerusalem Post.
The number of Islamists in Germany rose from 43,190 in 2013 to 43,890 in 2014, the report said.
Radical Islamists are "the greatest danger to Germany...Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists," said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of German's domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).
The report's chapter on "Islamism and Islamic terrorism" reveals that "Hamas was successful" in organizing people beyond its main support base to participate in anti-Israel protests. There were "more Hamas- supporting events than peace demonstrations, and there was clearly public anti-Semitism" during last summer's war in Gaza.
A reminder about Hizballah's reach came this week in a Cyprus criminal court, where an operative was sentenced to six years in jail following a guilty plea to all eight charges levied against him in connection with a plot to attack Israeli and Jewish targets. Authorities seized nine tons of ammonium nitrate from Hussein Bassam Abdallah, a Lebanese-Canadian. Prosecutors revealed that Abdallah was recruited into Hizballah's military wing roughly five years ago and visited Cyprus approximately 10 times since 2012. This incident marks the second time a Cypriot court sentenced a Hizballah operative to prison for planning attacks against Israeli targets in the last three years.
These developments demonstrate that Iranian backed terrorist organizations continue to bolster their presence internationally and plot attacks throughout the world. Over the last few years, Hizballah has planned attacks against Israeli and Western targets in Thailand, India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Nepal, and Nigeria among others. In 2012, the terrorist group was responsible for a deadly suicide bus bombing which killed five Israeli tourists and the bus driver in Bulgaria.
Hamas, a terrorist group with long-standing Iranian support, is also enhancing its international terrorist infrastructure. For example, recent reports show that Hamas is actively recruiting Palestinians studying in Malaysia, who are then sent to train in Turkey, to conduct terrorist attacks against Israelis upon returning to the West Bank.
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