Monday, September 30, 2013

IW News Brief: CAIR Exposed, UK Burqa Battles, and More

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IW News Brief: CAIR Exposed, UK Burqa Battles, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Sep 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm
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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.
The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:
CAIR can hide its foreign donors, but not its radicalism
September was the cruelest month for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose dirty laundry repeatedly made news. Just as CAIR was releasing a report that smears its opponents as bigots, the Justice Department's inspector general underscored the group's ugly track record by censuring FBI field offices for engaging CAIR in outreach despite a ban on such interactions due to its links to Hamas. Will greater isolation result? More damaging was a Daily Caller exposé of how CAIR uses "multiple corporate entities that conceal the large financial donations that come to CAIR from Middle East sources," including governments, in a shell game that appears to violate U.S. law. So much for CAIR's claim to speak for American Muslims.
Al-Shabaab's Kenyan mall massacre also created headaches for CAIR. Rumors that Americans were among the attackers sparked recollections of how CAIR had slammed critics of al-Shabaab and impeded investigations into the terror gang's recruitment of Muslims in the U.S. Regarding the possibility that Muslim Americans had participated in the bloodshed, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper offered this observation: "Who cares?" In yet another September embarrassment, it was revealed that representatives of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir had "met with [CAIR executive director Nihad] Awad during the 2009 UN summit seeking his help to gain access to individuals in the Obama administration." This occurred eight months after Bashir was charged with crimes against humanity.
Left: Nihad Awad compared al-Shabaab terrorists to "advocates of Islamophobia." Right: Niqabs are seen — and will continue to be seen — at Birmingham Metropolitan College.
British college drops prohibition on face coverings
In a retreat described as "humiliating," Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMC) lifted a ban on face-blocking apparel days after the policy was publicly exposed. Muslims alleged discrimination upon learning that garments such as face veils (niqabs) were not welcome because everyone must be "identifiable at all times." The principal explained that the goal was a secure and friendly campus, but these concerns went out the window once local politicians blasted the rule and activists registered their outrage. "We will modify our policies to allow individuals to wear specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values," BMC announced.
The reversal parallels one by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2010. The administration had directed that "any head covering that obscures a student's face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons," but as the press got wind of it and Islamists turned up the heat, the college quickly exempted religious garb. Note, however, that other schools, including ones in the UK, Canada, and Sweden, have exhibited less patience for the niqab and less susceptibility to pressure.
UK judge accommodates veiled defendant
Rulings by Judge Peter Murphy further disappointed British foes of the face veil. Having initially refused to accept a plea from a niqab-clad woman because he could not identify her, Murphy later allowed her to show her face in private to a female police officer who had photographed her in custody and thus could verify that it was the same person. He then agreed to another compromise that will permit the accused to remain veiled during the trial except when she is testifying. At that time a barrier will be erected to shield her from everybody but the judge, attorneys, and jurors, who must be able to see her face to evaluate her evidence. Both the BMC kerfuffle and Murphy's decisions have fueled much debate about the face veil in Britain.
As discussed in a 2012 IW article, judges often have limited guidance for handling such demands for accommodation. Most reject the niqab during testimony, but at least one Danish judge has consented to it. Also note that walling off a temporarily unveiled woman has been tried before in the UK. Murphy urges higher authorities to "provide a definite answer to the issue soon" — something that the Supreme Court of Canada failed to do in its recent ruling on niqabs.
Left: The woman at the center of the row over courtroom concessions. Right: Nidal Hasan's non-regulation beard was tolerated at his trial, but he was forcibly shaved afterward.
Fort Hood trial ends, political correctness remains
Following an expensive court-martial delayed by a dispute over facial hair, Fort Hood murderer Nidal Hasan has been sentenced to death and dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army, meaning that his handsome salary has finally been terminated. Though Hasan's guilt was never in doubt, many had hoped that the trial would prove useful by underlining his jihadist ideology, which the government has whitewashed for years. However, the judge refused both Hasan's request to argue that he had acted to defend Muslims and the prosecution's request to present evidence of his motives.
By running Hasan's Islam-infused press statements and highlighting the self-imposed blindness that served as his accomplice, the media did the job that the trial did not: Mother Jones recapped federal bungling "reminiscent of the intelligence failures prior to the 9/11 attacks." Fox News aired the first video clips of Hasan's 2007 lecture that radiated radicalism yet prompted little response. Most striking of all, the Los Angeles Times published evaluations from Hasan's superiors praising his "outstanding moral integrity" and noting that his "keen interest in Islamic culture and faith" had driven research with "extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy." Political correctness is rampant in the armed forces — and, yes, it can kill.
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.
Related Topics:  Entertainment / Media, Government, Head Coverings / Dress, Legal, Lobby Groups, Medical, Multiculturalism, Police / FBI, Schools (Non-Islamic), United Nations  |  David J. Rusin This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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Keeping Busy and How!

The Phyllis Chesler Organization

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Keeping Busy and How!

by Phyllis Chesler
September 30, 2013
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I have no time to breathe. I did an interview yesterday for a NYC newspaper and I have two more interviews scheduled for today. This is not a complaint. This is all good. This past Friday an interview with me appeared at Yahoo! Shine which is displayed here under Media Appearances and a review appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Today, I am in in the Arab Middle East (in English, of course, at Al-Arabiya.) I am also reviewed in the UK in the Jewish Chronicle which has chosen "An American Bride in Kabul" as their book of the week. An excerpt based on the NY Post excerpt appears in Germany in Bild. This weekend, interviews I have already done will appear in the Jewish Telegraph in the UK; in the New Jersey Jewish Standard; and on some major network radio and TV programs. A new piece that I've written about the heroism of Muslim and Afghan women will also appear at a UK website next weekend.

Tomorrow, I appear at the 92nd St Y together with my friends and allies: Ibn Warraq and Raquel Evita Saraswati. If you're in New York and would like to attend, click this link for more information:

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Eye on Iran: Obama, Iran's Rouhani Hold Historic Phone Call

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Top Stories

"President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran's nuclear program... The U.S. president had hoped to meet with the relatively moderate Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, but the Iranian side decided an encounter was too complicated, in what was seen by White House officials as an effort to avoid antagonizing hardliners in Tehran. On Friday, however, the Iranians said Rouhani expressed interest in a phone discussion before he left the United States, according to a senior administration official. The White House quickly arranged the call, which took place at 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) and lasted about 15 minutes. A source close to Rouhani said the United States had reached out after positive talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a day earlier. Speaking to reporters, Obama said he and Rouhani had directed their teams to work quickly toward an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. He said this was a unique opportunity to make progress with Tehran over an issue that has isolated it from the West. 'While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution,' Obama said at the White House. 'The test will be meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place' against Iran, Obama said."
Press Release: Statement by UANI's Dr. Gary Samore & Ambassador Mark D. Wallace Regarding President Obama's Telephone Call with President Rouhani
Guardian: "The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was greeted by hardliners chanting 'death to America' when he returned to Tehran following his historic telephone call with the US president, Barack Obama. One protester threw a shoe at his car - a gesture of deep insult in Islamic countries. It missed, but others pelted his official car with eggs and stones, according to witness reports on Twitter. About 100 hardline protesters were outnumbered by two to three times as many Rouhani supporters at the airport, shouting 'thank you Rouhani'. The president stood up through the sunroof to acknowledge the crowds. Rouhani was returning from New York, where he attended the UN general assembly."

NYT: "For Israel and Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, President Obama's telephone call with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Friday was the geopolitical equivalent of discovering your best friend flirting with your main rival. Though few nations have a greater interest in Mr. Obama's promise to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, his overtures to Mr. Rouhani were greeted with alarm here and in other Middle East capitals allied with the United States. They worry about Iran's sincerity, and fear that Mr. Obama's desire for a diplomatic deal will only buy Iran time to continue a march toward building a nuclear weapon... Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni-dominated gulf countries share a concern about a shift in the balance of power toward Iran's Shiite-led government and its allies. For Israel, Iran remains the sponsor of global terrorism and of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, both avowed enemies of Israel's existence."

Video: UANI President Dr. Gary Samore discusses Iran's nuclear program and negotiations on "Meet The Press"
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Nuclear Program

Reuters: "Secretary of State John Kerry said a deal on Iran's nuclear weapons program could be reached relatively quickly, and it would have the potential to dramatically improve the relationship between the two countries. Kerry said intensifying diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program could produce an agreement within the three- to six-month time frame that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for. 'It's possible to have a deal sooner than that depending on how forthcoming and clear Iran is prepared to be,' Kerry said in an interview aired on CBS's '60 Minutes' on Sunday. 'If it is a peaceful program, and we can all see that - the whole world sees that - the relationship with Iran can change dramatically for the better and it can change fast,' he said." 
Video: Kerry: "Bad deal is worse than no deal"

Times of Israel: "Despite signals that Iran and the US were working towards a nuclear deal, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday that sanctions against the Islamic Republic would remain in place until the US and its allies are satisfied Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. 'Obviously, we and others in the international community have every reason to be skeptical of that and we need to test it, and any agreement must be fully verifiable and enforceable,' said Rice in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. She said it had been clear to Iran that it 'had to meet its international obligations under Security Council resolutions and that the sanctions would remain until those obligations were satisfied.' The White House national security adviser and former ambassador to the UN said the US wouldn't agree to let Iran enrich its own uranium. She said US President Barack Obama made clear that Washington accepted Iran's right to use enriched uranium for peaceful energy purposes - apparently from supervised overseas sources - but not to enrich the material itself."

Reuters: "Iran's foreign minister said on Sunday the country's right to peaceful nuclear enrichment was not negotiable in talks with the United States but it does not need to enrich uranium to military-grade levels. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was willing to open its nuclear facilities to international inspections but the United States must end economic sanctions as part of any deal on Iran's nuclear program... 'Negotiations are on the table to discuss various aspects of Iran's enrichment program. Our right to enrich is non-negotiable,' Zarif told ABC's 'This Week' program."

Reuters: "France's foreign minister challenged Iran on Friday to address concerns about its atomic program sooner than the one year it has proposed, because of concern that Tehran could forge ahead with nuclear production despite negotiations with major powers. 'The Iranian foreign minister discussed the heart of the matter ... he spoke about taking a year to move forward, but I reminded him that his president had spoken about three to six months, and he said that he'd be pleased if things could be done more quickly,' French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in New York. 'I told him that we had to move quickly and that's one of the issues that needs to be dealt with, because does nuclear production continue during the negotiations?' Fabius added."

Reuters: "Iran and the U.N. nuclear agency held 'constructive' talks on Friday and made plans to meet again in one month, adding to momentum for a negotiated end to a standoff that could otherwise potentially flare into war... Herman Nackaerts, IAEA deputy director general, said the discussions, at Iran's diplomatic mission in Vienna, had been 'very constructive' but gave no details. At the next meeting on October 28, Iran and the IAEA would 'start substantial discussions on the way forward to resolve all outstanding issues,' he said. That would be almost two weeks after Iran meets the six world powers again, in Geneva on October 15-16, as part of what European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called an 'ambitious timetable' to address Western concerns." 


Reuters: "Iran's top four crude buyers cut their purchases by 16 percent in the first eight months of the year, with oil shipments set to remain under pressure from sanctions, despite tentative signs of better relations between Tehran and Washington. Western sanctions have forced China, India, Japan and South Korea to reduce their reliance on Iranian oil, more than halving the OPEC nation's exports since early 2012 and costing it billions of dollars a month in lost revenue... The four major Asian buyers between January and August imported 927,860 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude, down 16 percent from the same eight months in 2012, according to government statistics and oil tanker arrival schedules. The four imported 865,650 bpd of Iranian oil in August, up nearly a third from a year earlier, the data showed. The big monthly jump was mostly due to South Korea not taking any Iranian crude in August 2012 because of EU restrictions on shipping insurance."

Reuters: "Behind Iran's overtures to Washington lie pent-up pressures for change - from sanctions and internal dissent to regional turmoil - that are shaping a rare chance to end decades of hostility... Mehrdad Emadi, an economist at Betamatrix consultancy, said knock on effects of sanctions on businesses included lack of investment and job losses. In the car and related components sector, about a third of workers had lost jobs in an industry that is Iran's largest after oil, he said... Iran might also like to reduce the cost of its support of Assad. A top Lebanese security official said Iran was paying $600-700 million a month towards the cost of Hezbollah fighters in Syria. Those figures could not be confirmed."

Reuters: "Iran resumed payments on old loans to the World Bank, the bank said on Friday, just as the country held the highest level conversation with the United States in more than three decades. The poverty-fighting World Bank, which did not provide a reason for the resumption of payments, announced in July that Iran had not made any payments for more than half a year, a possible sign of the strain on the sanctions-hit Iranian economy. At the time, Iran denied that it had failed to make payments on its loans, which now total $616 million, and blamed Western sanctions for preventing an intermediary from forwarding funds to the global lender. All of the payments are for old loans, as Iran has not had a World Bank program since 2005. The Washington-based World Bank said it is in compliance with all U.N. and international sanctions against Iran."

WSJ: "Pakistan will go ahead with a planned pipeline to pump gas from neighboring Iran, it says. But the project risks upsetting the U.S. 'The way it appears at this point, the pipeline would attract sanctions,' a U.S. State Department official said Thursday, indicating that Pakistan could be hit by the same embargoes that prevent trade between Iran and much of the rest of the world... The Iran-Pakistan pipeline plan has been on the table since the previous Pakistani government signed agreements earlier this year. The pipe is already completed on the Iranian side, but Pakistan needs to find $1.5 billion to build the rest."

Reuters: "If Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's dream of reaching a deal with world powers on Tehran's nuclear program in six months comes true, Oman, an important intermediary in the dispute, could be a big winner... But in the weeks leading up to Rouhani's first foreign trip since he became president in August, Omani officials have been visiting Tehran in a bid to buy Iranian gas in the hope that some day sanctions on Iran will be lifted and Oman can finally get the supplies it desperately needs over the Strait of Hormuz... Price disagreements, Western sanctions that have stunted Iranian energy projects and U.S. pressure on Oman to find other suppliers have prevented any real progress with the pipeline project since then. But Oman is ahead in a queue like that which formed at Myanmar's door as sanctions against the southeast Asian state were eased."

Today's Zaman: "As the Iranian economy struggles under economic sanctions, Iran is using a broker in Dubai to invest in the transportation sector and thus find alternative routes into world markets, an act which places Turkey in a difficult position. A businessman of Iranian origin in Dubai has started to invest in Turkey's transportation sector on behalf of another Iranian businessman, Babak Zanjani, whose name is blacklisted by EU and US sanctions. The broker from Dubai's investments could cause trouble for Turkey, as a Turkey-based company is helping to defy the sanctions on Iran. In an indication that Iranian investors are in contact with global markets, a businessman from Dubai, Mahdi Shams, increased his investments in the Turkish transportation sector by buying Onur Air, a private Turkish airline company, for $250 million, and half of the shares of Ulusoy-Varan, a land transportation business, for $100 million. After buying seven of Onur Air's aircraft, Shams delivered them to Zanjani's Iranian company, Qeshm Airlines... According to the reports of Turkish dailies, Iran placed $7-8 billion in cash aside for investment in Turkey and created a fund to buy companies that would then make direct investments in Turkey. The fund, planned to be used in various areas of the Turkish market, will be managed by Sami Alan, the former chief executive officer of private airway company Atlasjet." 

Human Rights

IHR: "Several international news agencies published a report on the latest statement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani regarding the release of several political prisoners in Iran... Iran Human Rights (IHR) has issued the following response to Mr. Rouhani's statement: 'Mr. Rouhani, don't empty the prisons by executing prisoners.' Recently, in a meeting with the forum of the Asia Society and Council on Foreign Relations, referring to the release of political prisoners, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as saying, 'We want to empty prisons.' Welcoming the release of a number of political prisoners in Iran, IHR urges the international community to pay closer attention to the wave of executions in Iran. Since the Presidential election of June 14, 2013, at least 213 prisoners have been executed in Iran."


Reuters: "Iran has approved a deal with Argentina to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that courts in the South American country accuse Tehran of sponsoring, Argentine official state news service Telam said. Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman met in New York on Saturday with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who assured him Iran 'would honor all points of the agreement' to shed light on the bombing that killed 85 people, Telam said. The two countries will form investigative teams to meet in Geneva in November to get on with the probe."

Cyber Warfare

WSJ: "U.S. officials said Iran hacked unclassified Navy computers in recent weeks in an escalation of Iranian cyberintrusions targeting the U.S. military. The allegations, coming as the Obama administration ramps up talks with Iran over its nuclear program, show the depth and complexity of long-standing tensions between Washington and Tehran. The U.S. officials said the attacks were carried out by hackers working for Iran's government or by a group acting with the approval of Iranian leaders. The most recent incident came in the week starting Sept. 15, before a security upgrade, the officials said. Iranian officials didn't respond to requests to comment. The allegations would mark one of the most serious infiltrations of U.S. government computer systems by Iran. Previously, Iranian-backed infiltration and surveillance efforts have targeted U.S. banks and computer networks running energy companies, current and former U.S. officials have said."

Domestic Politics

AP: "Iran sought Sunday to calm hard-liners worried over groundbreaking exchanges with Washington, saying a single phone conversation between the American and Iranian presidents is not a sign that relations will be quickly restored. The comments by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi appeared tailored to address Iranian factions, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard, that have grown uneasy over fast-paced outreach last week between the White House and President Hassan Rouhani, which was capped by a 15-minute phone call with President Barack Obama. 'Definitely, a history of high tensions between Tehran and Washington will not go back to normal relations due to a phone call, meeting or negotiation,' Araghchi was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying... 'We never trust America 100 percent,' said Araghchi. 'And, in the future, we will remain on the same path. We will never trust them 100 percent.'"

AFP: "The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said on Monday that President Hasan Rouhani should have refused to take last week's historic telephone call from US counterpart Barack Obama. 'The president took a firm and appropriate position during his stay' in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, General Mohammad Ali Jafari said in an interview with the website. 'But just as he refused to meet Obama, he should also have refused to speak with him on the telephone and should have waited for concrete action by the United States.' It was the first public criticism by a senior Iranian official of Friday's landmark first contact between leaders of the two countries since the rupture of diplomatic relations in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution."

LAT: "The Sunday morning front pages in Iran told the story of how the first tentative signs of a thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations are seen in the Islamic republic... The daily newspaper Shargh (Orient), which is considered aligned to reformist forces, ran a front-page photo of angry students punching the air and beating the window of the car containing President Hassan Rouhani on his return from the United States. 'The extremists disturbed the welcome ceremony,' the newspaper wrote, clearly disapprovingly. 'Their blow to negotiation.' But Kayhan, a newspaper that serves as the mouthpiece of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, expressed deep skepticism about what Rouhani had accomplished in his five-day trip to the United States."

Free Beacon: "The controversy over whether Iranian President Hassan Rowhani actually acknowledged the Holocaust continued on Sunday, when the president's top aide reiterated the Iranian stance that Rowhani never used the term. 'Mr. Rowhani did not at all used the word Holocaust even a single time all throughout his five day visit to New York that he was posed to the reporters questions and when they talked about the incidents in the World War II,' Presidential Adviser Mohammad Reza Sadeq told Iran's state-run Fars News Agency. 'Mr. Rowhani never used the word Holocaust,' Sadeq maintained. Rowhani was quoted as using the term in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour."

Foreign Affairs

AP: "Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service said Sunday it has arrested a Belgian citizen of Iranian origin whom it claims was sent by Iran to spy on Israel under the guise of a windows and roofing salesman, an announcement that coincided with a trip by Israel's prime minister to the U.S. aimed at casting doubt on Iran's recent overtures to the West. The Shin Bet said the accused spy, identified as Belgian-Iranian businessman Ali Mansouri, had admitted to interrogators that he was recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force last year and sent to Israel to set up business ties as a front for spying on Israeli and Western targets. For his services, the Shin Bet said, Mansouri's Iranian handlers promised him $1 million. The Shin Bet said Mansouri entered Israel on Sept. 6 with a Belgian passport under the name Alex Mans, and that they arrested him five days later at Israel's international airport as he was to board a flight to Europe. He was found with photos of sites throughout Israel 'that interest Iranian intelligence,' including the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Shin Bet said."

AP: "Iran's president is asking aviation authorities to study the possibility of resuming direct flights between Iran and the United States for the first time in more than three decades. Hassan Rouhani's request reflects Iranian efforts to possibly build on the groundbreaking exchanges with Washington that included a telephone chat last week between the new Iranian president and President Barack Obama."

Opinion & Analysis

Senator Robert Menendez & Senator Lindsey Graham in WashPost: "The new face of Iran we anticipated seeing at the United Nations last week sounded and looked quite similar to the old face of Iran we have come to know. We expected a charm offensive. We readied ourselves for a possible diplomatic breakthrough. But we were left underwhelmed. For weeks now, we have followed the rhetoric originating from Iran. We had been cautiously hopeful. As proponents of a series of bipartisan bills legislating sanctions targeting Iran's oil and banking industries and lawmakers who have worked with our European allies to isolate Iran from international financial markets, we understand full well the result of crippling sanctions. Iran expressed an interest in negotiations because the economic pain levied on it by Congress and the international community has become unbearable. This outreach was borne out of necessity, not a sudden gesture of goodwill. For Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to tell commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that Iran would pursue a diplomatic course of 'heroic flexibility' was significant, even a breakthrough. When Hassan Rouhani campaigned and resoundingly won a presidential election on a platform of 'prudence and hope,' then penned an op-ed in this paper headlined 'Time to engage; Iran's new approach to the world' days before traveling to the U.N. General Assembly, we had reason for guarded optimism. The sanctions efforts we support in Congress, alongside the four U.N. Security Council resolutions criticizing Iran's nuclear program and applying multilateral sanctions against the regime, seek to impel Iran to walk itself back from the nuclear precipice. We remain skeptical about Tehran's intentions. Iranian leaders are skilled negotiators with expertise in delay tactics and obfuscation. Yet to ignore the overtures coming from Iran during this period of furious public diplomacy would have been imprudent, especially when a peaceful resolution preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capability is the outcome we all aspire to achieve. But what happens in Tehran seems to stay in Tehran, and President Rouhani's charm offensive didn't quite follow him to New York. Rouhani was betwixt and between, reaching out to our world, but still shackled by his world. He spoke of tolerance and responsibility during his General Assembly speech, while listing grievances against the West and launching into a diatribe against Israel - a familiar refrain we've heard before. Rouhani's inability to reciprocate to President Obama's offer of a handshake at the United Nations was weak, yet Rouhani accepted Obama's phone call on Friday. As Rouhani returns home, diplomacy remains our hope and goal. But our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged... In the coming days, we will be outspoken in our support for furthering sanctions against Iran, requiring countries to again reduce their purchases of Iranian petroleum and imposing further prohibitions on strategic sectors of the Iranian economy. We proceed with an open hand, but there can be a deal only when Iran's actions align with its rhetoric."

David Sanger in NYT: "During his travels through New York, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran answered hundreds of questions, and even took a historic call from President Obama as he left town. But to the American diplomats and intelligence officials who will conduct negotiations with Iran, the one question that really matters remained in the air, unaddressed, as Mr. Rouhani flew home to the difficult politics of dealing with Iran's military and its mullahs. At the heart of the 'significant concerns' that Mr. Obama said the two countries would have to address is whether Iran's divided leadership is really willing to dismantle vast parts of the multibillion-dollar atomic infrastructure it has amassed over the past decade as just part of the price for ridding the country of the sanctions that have crippled daily life. In both Washington and Tehran, the internal politics of getting to an accord may be as hard as the negotiations that begin in Geneva in two weeks. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the thousands of scientists, engineers and workers it has spread out across Iran will almost certainly face what Gary Samore, Mr. Obama's former top nuclear adviser, recently termed 'sticker shock' at the price of easing the crippling sanctions imposed on their country. On the list is dismantling a multibillion-dollar heavy-water reactor nearing completion - a potential source of plutonium - and halting production at, and ultimately destroying, a deep underground site, called Fordo, designed to be immune from Israeli air attack and American cyberattack... At the core of the case for wariness is a word Mr. Rouhani kept repeating: 'transparency.' He was suggesting that after years of dodging inspectors on many issues, and cooperating on others, he was now prepared to let outsiders see enough to convince themselves that Iran's intentions are peaceful. But when Mr. Rouhani was Iran's nuclear negotiator a decade ago, the country had only 164 centrifuges, the machines that spin at supersonic speeds to enrich uranium. That was essentially a science experiment, more worrisome than dangerous. Today there are 18,000, enough to enable Iran, if it decided, to race for a bomb, perhaps quickly enough to avoid detection. Additionally, Iran's first heavy-water reactor (a potential source of plutonium, another bomb fuel) is nearing completion in the desert. Israel has told American officials it cannot allow this to go into operation. Crucial questions - of not only which nuclear fuel production facilities Iran will be permitted to maintain, but also what limits will be imposed on their capabilities - are at the heart of what will make the negotiation so difficult, American officials say and some Iranian officials acknowledge. 'People have been telling them transparency is not enough,' said Robert Einhorn, formerly one of the State Department's top Iran nuclear strategists and now at the Brookings Institution. It would not be enough 'to see a robust program where there is lots of I.A.E.A. monitoring,' he said, referring to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. 'The monitoring can be terminated suddenly. And once you have a robust program, breakout is relatively quick.' The Obama administration has seen what can happen when inspectors are thrown out. North Korea appears to have just restarted a reactor that was disabled in the last days of the Bush administration. So the issue is not simply getting the Iranians to remove and destroy most of the 18,000 centrifuges; it is also about what kinds of centrifuges Iran would build in the future. As Mr. Rouhani was on his Manhattan tour, Iran was pressing ahead with installing a new generation of machines, now being deployed after a huge investment, in the same plant that the United States and Israel attacked from 2007 to 2010 with the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever used by one state against another. The new machines are believed to be four or five times more efficient than the aging, rickety models that the United States attacked, meaning it would take less time to produce bomb-grade material, should Iran elect to do so. The new heavy-water reactor at Arak, nearing completion, adds urgency to any negotiations. Israel has made it clear it will not tolerate the start-up of that plant, and it has destroyed two similar plants - one in Iraq in 1981, another in Syria in 2007 - before they were fueled. Attacking it after fueling, experts say, invites creating a disaster as radioactive fuel is released into the environment. And then comes the hardest question: whether, as part of the deal, Iran will let international inspectors talk with the man the C.I.A. and the West are most worried about, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Considered by the West to be Iran's equivalent to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the Manhattan Project, which developed America's nuclear weapons in the 1940s, Mr. Fakhrizadeh has been hidden away, partly to avoid Israeli assassins. Inspectors have never gotten answers to questions about documents that they say came out of his labs - and that the Iranians say are fabrications. For Mr. Obama, the question will be whether to look forward, hoping to stop the production of nuclear material, or to insist on a detailed excavation of Iran's nuclear past."

Doyle McManus in LAT: "How long does it take for a charm offensive to wear thin? By the end of a long week of glad-handing at the United Nations, even Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, was beginning to sound a little tired of his hazy talking points. 'Global challenges require collective responses,' he told foreign policy pundits in a hotel ballroom on Thursday through an interpreter, his voice slightly hoarse after too many meetings and interviews. 'We can turn the turbulent past into a beacon lighting the path ahead.' Whatever that means. Rouhani's main message to the U.S. and the rest of the world was undeniably refreshing: Iran wants to work quickly and seriously to end the dangerous confrontation over its nuclear programs. 'My government is prepared to leave no stone unturned in seeking a mutually acceptable resolution,' he promised. 'We are prepared to remove any ambiguity and answer any reasonable question.' But when it came to specifics - what concrete steps is Iran prepared to take to meet the rest of the world's concerns? - Rouhani was just as vague as his predecessors. When pressed, he either ducked the question or retreated to Iran's insistence that it has the same right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes as any other country. (He doesn't mention Iran's secret enrichment facilities.) Retaining the right to enrich uranium is a pillar of Iran's foreign policy. In a meeting with nuclear experts and former diplomats Wednesday, Rouhani was more specific, saying Iran wants to enrich enough uranium to provide a reliable fuel supply for at least one nuclear power reactor. But if Iran insists on that, it will be a major sticking point in negotiations. 'That would require tens of thousands more centrifuges than they have now,' warned Gary Samore, a former Obama administration official who was in the meeting. 'That wouldn't provide the assurance we need that they couldn't move toward nuclear weapons.... I went in pretty skeptical, and my skepticism was reinforced.' Of course, Rouhani didn't want to make concessions in advance of real negotiations. But on other issues too the professorial president bumped into the limits on the amount of charm his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, had authorized him to employ."

UANI Outreach Director Bob Feferman in Algemeiner: "Of all the pictures coming out of Syria over the past two years, one has especially caught my attention. It is a picture of a young Syrian boy holding a sign that says, 'Silence is a war crime. Save childhood in Syria.' For too long, an indifferent world remained silent while it watched the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. And while that silence has finally come to an end, the world must not ignore the role of another actor in this tragedy - Iran. Sadly, the world has largely turned a blind eye to the destructive role Iran has played in assisting the brutal Assad regime in murdering more than 100,000 Syrian civilians. A handful of reporters and scholars, however, have done excellent research on the issue. For example, a May 2013 joint report by the American Enterprise Institute, and the Institute for the Study of War found that: 'The Iranian security and intelligence services are advising and assisting the Syrian military in order to preserve Bashar al-Assad's hold on power. These efforts have evolved into an expeditionary training mission using Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces, Quds Forces, intelligence services, and law enforcement forces.' The report goes on to state that Iran "has provided support to Syria's chemical weapons programs, including the deployment of Iranian scientists, the supply of equipment and precursor chemicals and technical training." The report further discusses the extensive role played by Iran's proxy, Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the same group that the U.S. Treasury Department in 2012 found to have 'provided training, advice and extensive logistical support to the Government of Syria's increasingly ruthless efforts to fight against the opposition...' In the September 30th edition of The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins provides an in-depth profile of Major General Qassem Suleimani, the shadowy commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and describes the extent of Iranian involvement in Syria. Filkins writes, 'Suleimani began flying into Damascus frequently so that he could assume personal control of the Iranian intervention. He's running the war himself, an American defense official told me. In Damascus, he is said to work out of a heavily fortified command post in a nondescript building, where he has installed a multinational array of officers: the heads of the Syrian military, a Hezbollah commander, and a coordinator of Iraqi Shiite militias, which Suleimani mobilized and brought to the fight.' It is important to recognize the linkage between Iran's support for Syria and its own pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is indeed frightening to think of a Iranian regime that already feels emboldened enough to prop up the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad. Now imagine Iran with nuclear weapons... We must not look away any more. The Syrian boy in the picture reminds us with his plea for help that 'Silence is a war crime.' That's why UANI is asking citizens to end their silence, to become activists, and to serve as a voice for the innocent victims of the war crimes of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah."

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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.