War on Terrorism

Analysis: Little chance for new tough sanctions by the United Nations imposed on Iran

November 7, 2011

“There is little chance that the U.N. Security Council will impose tough new sanctions on Iran anytime soon, despite a new U.N. report expected this week to contain evidence suggesting Iran wants atomic weapons.

The reason for this, Western diplomats say, is the reluctance of Tehran’s traditional sympathizers China and Russia, which have the power to veto any council resolution, to sanction Iran’s oil and gas sectors.

As a result, it will be hard to get anything out of the U.N. that is tougher than the last round of Iran sanctions passed in June 2010.

“The reality is that a new substantive step forward on sanctions will be very difficult,” a senior Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“The last set of sanctions were very substantive, and essentially the next stage would be to go into the oil and gas sector,” he said. “If you get into the oil and gas sector, then obviously there will be opposition from China in particular, but also from Russia. More so China.”

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Three bombings in Baghdad kill 8 civilians and injure dozens

November 7, 2011

“At least eight people have been killed and dozens of others injured in a series of bomb attacks targeting a busy market in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, local reports quoting officials said late Sunday.

According to officials, three well-coordinated explosions had ripped through the busy market in the commercial district of Shurja one after the other as people were out in numbers shopping for food and other items for the major Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.”

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Egyptian Newspaper: Iran President Ahmadinejad defiant as the U.S. increases pressure on Iran

November 7, 2011

“The United States fears Iran’s growing military power because it is now able to compete with Israel and the West, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in comments carried by an Egyptian newspaper on Monday.

Responding to a toughening stance from the United States and Israel against Tehran, Ahmadinejad accused Washington of inventing conspiracies to discredit Iran and sowing discord with its near neighbor Saudi Arabia.

“Yes, we have military capabilities that are different from any other country in the region,” Egyptian daily al-Akhbar cited Ahmadinejad as saying. “Iran is increasing in capability and advancement and therefore we are able to compete with Israel and the West and especially the United States.”

“The U.S. fears Iran’s capability,” he told the paper. “Iran will not permit (anyone from making) a move against it.”

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Russian Prime Minister Putin to meet with China’s Party Secretary Wen Jiabao about expanding its ‘loose Central Asian security alliance’ to include Pakistan and Iran

November 7, 2011

“Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabaowill meet Monday to discuss expanding their loose Central Asian security alliance to include Pakistan and Iran.

Putin will host host Wen in his native city of Saint Petersburg almost exactly 10 years after the two countries joined forces with the four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics to form the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Russia has previously billed the alliance as a regional alternative to NATO and discussed at past meetings the option of including other regional powers in its ranks.

“We are talking about Pakistan and Iran, which have applied for membership,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters ahead of the talks.”

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United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency to release most detailed report on Iran’s research towards a nuclear bomb this week

November 6, 2011

“The U.N. nuclear watchdog is expected this week to issue its most detailed report yet on research in Iran seen as geared to developing atomic bombs, heightening international suspicions of Tehran’s agenda and stoking Middle East tensions.

Western powers are likely to seize on the International Atomic Energy Agency document, which has been preceded by media speculation in Israel of military strikes against Iranian nuclear sites, to press for more sanctions on the oil producer.

But Russia and China fear the publication now of the IAEA’s findings could hurt any chance of diplomacy resolving the long-running nuclear row and they have lobbied against it, signaling opposition to any new punitive U.N. measures against Iran.

Iran rejects allegations of atomic weapons ambitions, saying its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity.

The report is tentatively scheduled to be submitted to IAEA member states on November 9 before a quarterly meeting the following week of the agency’s 35-nation board of governors in Vienna.

It “will be followed by a U.S.-European Union push for harsher sanctions against Iran at the U.N. Security Council, where Western powers will meet stiff resistance from Russia and China,” said Trita Parsi, an expert on U.S.-Iran relations.”

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Israel President Shimon Peres: Chance for diplomacy with Iran is fading; The military option is ‘closer’

November 6, 2011

“President Shimon Peres on Friday said that he believes Israel is closer to utilizing the military option in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program than it is to finding a diplomatic solution to the threat.

In an interview with Channel 2, the president suggested that the media speculation about a potential attack on Iran may have some basis in truth. “Intelligence services in many countries are looking at the clock and warning their leaders that not much time remains. I do not know if these world leaders will act on this advice.”

Peres said that Iran could be as close as six months from becoming nuclear-armed and it is Israel’s role to warn the world of the danger. He suggested that the speculation about an attack on Iran may be a way of reminding the world of the Iranian threat.”

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Syrian forces kill 15 civilians as the country’s peace plan falters

November 6, 2011

“Fresh violence has erupted in the restive city of Homs as tank shells slammed into a city that has turned into one of Syria’s main centres of both protest and reprisal during the seven-month uprising, activists said.

Bloodshed linked to the military crackdown on dissent and what appear to be sectarian revenge killings have engulfed Homs in recent weeks, killing scores of people in the country’s third-largest city.

Two main activist groups, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Co-ordinating Committees, said there were casualties but the exact figure was not immediately clear.

On Friday, a peace plan brokered by the Arab League appeared to unravel as security forces killed more than 15 people, opening fire on thousands of protesters who denounced President Bashar Assad and said he never intended to hold up his end of the deal to end the violence.”

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Top U.S. General in Afghanistan relieved of duties after “inappropriate public comments” when he called the Afghan government “isolated from reality” and President Karzai “erratic”

November 6, 2011

“A top U.S. general in Afghanistan was relieved of duty Friday for “inappropriate public comments” after calling the Afghan government “isolated from reality” and President Hamid Karzai “erratic.”

Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander for training Afghan security forces, blasted the Afghan government, military and Karzai in an interview with POLITICO published on Thursday.

He called Karzai “erratic” for recently saying Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if the latter declared war on the U.S.

“Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle!,” Fuller was quoted as saying. “You’ve got to be kidding me … I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care’?”

Fuller also said he had trouble explaining to Afghan officials that Western funds were limited. “You guys are isolated from reality” he said he told Afghan generals. “If you’re in a very poor country like Afghanistan, you think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood.”

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Taliban Leader warns foreign troops of punishment under Islamic Law for killing civilians

November 6, 2011

“The leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, has urged his fighters to avoid civilian casualties.

Omar released a message on the Taliban’s website, warning of punishments under Islamic law if insurgents are responsible for civilian casualties.

He said the Taliban must take every step to protect the lives and wealth of ordinary people.

He also called for foreign troops to leave the country.”

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Iraqi Shiite Cleric: U.S. seeking to ‘occupy’ the Middle East

November 4, 2011

“U.S. plans to station troops across the Mideast after withdrawing from Iraq amount to occupying other Islamic countries, Iraq’s most outspoken anti-American cleric said in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he’s not satisfied with President Barack Obama’s pledge to pull all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, calling it a partial withdrawal because of the thousands of diplomats and security guards who will stay behind.

“The American occupation will stay in Iraq under different names,” al-Sadr told Al-Arabiya TV in his first interview since Obama announced the troop pullout last month.

Al-Sadr noted the Pentagon’s recent reminders that it will keep an estimated 40,000 troops across the region.”

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Iran warns Israel, United States it may retaliate against a strike on its nuclear program in a “surprising way”

November 3, 2011

“Iran would cause serious damage to the United States and Israel should Jewish state strike the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Iran’s top military official said on Wednesday.

The “Zionist regime’s military attack against Iran would lead to heavy damages to the US as well as [to the] Zionist regime,” Iran’s Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Hassan Fayrouz Abadi said.

Iran would attack Israel in a “surprising” way, he was quoted by Army Radio as saying.”

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U.S. “Kill Team” in Afghanistan that treated Afghani people like “savages” facing court martial

November 2, 2011

“The so-called “kill team” led by Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs was “out of control,” prosecutors added as grisly photos of soldiers posing with a corpse were shown in court. Gibbs, who sat expressionless in a tiny courtroom where the week-long case is being heard, also allegedly brandished fingers cut off dead bodies in a failed attempt to silence members of his team. The 26-year-old faces life in prison if convicted on charges including three counts of premeditated murder, in a scandal that has threatened Abu Ghraib-style embarrassment for the US military.

Gibbs, the fourth member of the rogue unit to face court martial, is accused of staging killings between January and May 2010 to make them look like legitimate combat casualties. Jeremy Morlock, described as Gibbs’ “right hand man,” said his former boss had frequent conversations about “drop weapons,” or weapons found on the battlefield which could be planted on a body.

“He had a general disdain for Afghans, and called them savages,” Morlock — who agreed to testify against Gibbs as part of a deal in which he pled guilty in March — told the court martial, expected to last a week. Morlock told how Gibbs took over the platoon, stationed in volatile Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, in November 2009, after its previous leader suffered serious injuries in a roadside bomb attack.

“We talked about payback,” Morlock said, adding that the first “opportunity” took place on January 15, 2010 during a patrol of a village called La Mohammad Kalay. Morlock said he and another soldier, Private Andrew Holmes, came across a teenage farmer alone in a field. They waved him over, and when he approached Morlock threw a grenade, and Holmes opened fire to make it look like a real firefight. Photographs of the boy’s bloody corpse were shown to the jurors, a five-member military panel. One of the pictures showed Morlock posing with the lifeless body.”

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Iran dismisses renewed dialogue offer by Secretary Clinton over “contradictions”

November 1, 2011

“Iran on Saturday dismissed a renewed US offer of dialogue by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the “contradictions” of pursuing talks at the same time as threats undermined the proposal. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made the comment at a joint media conference in Tehran with the visiting leader of the autonomous Kurdish regionin neighbouring Iraq, Massud Barzani.

Salehi was responding to remarks Clinton made on Wednesday to Farsi-language programmes on BBC Farsi and Voice of America (VOA) in which she said Washington was “prepared to engage” with Iran, even as it maintains sanctions. Salehi was quoted by Iran’s state television website as saying: “We have heard such remarks a lot but unfortunately they are full of contradictions.”

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Syrian President Assad warns the West that actions against Syria would cause an “earthquake” that would “burn the whole region”

November 1, 2011

“Western countries “are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely,” he said. “But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different. “Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake … Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans? “Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”"

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13 Americans killed in suicide bombing in Afghanistan

October 29, 2011

“At least 13 Americans were killed Saturday when a suicide bomber struck an armored military bus in Kabul, in the single deadliest attack on U.S. citizens in the Afghan capital since the war began a decade ago. [Updated, at 11:40 a.m., Oct. 29, 2011: NATO officials said that five troops and eight civilian contractors were killed in the attack.] The attack represents a propaganda coup for the Taliban, which claimed responsibility in text messages to news organizations, saying it packed a four-wheel-drive vehicle with at least 700 pounds of explosives.”

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