Archive for August 19, 2018

Iran says U.S. ‘action group’ will fail to overthrow state

August 19, 2018

Source: Iran says U.S. ‘action group’ will fail to overthrow state – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

‘Americans are imposing sanctions but they claim they are supporting freedom, human rights, and global and regional security,’ said the Iranian Parliament Speaker.

 AUGUST 19, 2018 12:50

Mohammad Javad Zarif

LONDON – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Sunday that a new Iran Action Group in the US State Department aimed to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but would fail.

He was speaking on the 65th anniversary of a US-backed coup that overthrew a democratically elected Iranian prime minister, an occasion when anti-American sentiment runs particularly high in the Islamic Republic.

Comparing fresh US sanctions on Tehran imposed by President Donald Trump with the 1953 coup that ousted nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, Zarif said Tehran will not let history repeat itself.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as special representative for Iran in charge of the Iran Action Group to coordinate Trump’s pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic following Washington’s withdrawal from an international nuclear deal with Tehran.

Zarif tweeted: “65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years. Now an “Action Group” dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery. Never again.”

The United States and Britain orchestrated the removal of Mossadegh after he acted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, restoring to power Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The Western-backed shah was toppled in Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the coup was the best historical lesson that Americans cannot be trusted.

“How dare you talk about the freedom of the Iranian nation with your dark record of the Aug. 19 coup, and the appointment of a puppet totalitarian regime,” Larijani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA, referring to the shah’s rule.

“Americans are imposing sanctions but they claim they are supporting freedom, human rights, and global and regional security,” Larijani said.

The 1953 Anglo-American coup remains an open wound in Iran’s relations with the West. In March 2000, then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first senior American official to acknowledge the American role in the coup, calling it “a setback for Iran’s political development.”

Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the shah’s fall. Decades of hostility eased somewhat with the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and then-US President Barack Obama’s administration and five other world powers. But high tensions resumed after Trump pulled Washington out of the deal, calling it flawed in Iran’s favor.

PA leader admits efforts to torpedo Israel-Hamas truce talks‎ 

August 19, 2018

Source: PA leader admits efforts to torpedo Israel-Hamas truce talks‎ – Israel Hayom

On the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords 

August 19, 2018

Source: On the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords – Israel Hayom

Prof Eyal Zisser

Monday will mark 25 years to the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The peace agreement was met with much enthusiasm both in Israel and around the world and was depicted as a historic breakthrough on the path to Arab-Israeli peace. The agreement earned its signatories a Nobel Peace Prize, but ultimately imploded, leaving Israel to pick up the pieces.

The agreement was secretly signed in Oslo on Aug. 20, 1993 by then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s representative at the time. Close associates of Peres would later testify that the decision to hold the covert negotiations in Oslo was not accidental, but rather aimed at improving Peres’ chances of winning the Nobel Price Prize, which is awarded in the Norwegian capital every year.

Three weeks after the secret meeting, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat signed a joint declaration of principles at a festive ceremony attended by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn in Washington. With the signing of the joint declaration, PLO leaders returned to Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, where they established the Palestinian Authority that governs there to this day.

The Oslo accord was defined as a four-year interim agreement for a transitional stage on the path to finding a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the Israeli authors and proponents of the agreement had a clear idea of what this permanent situation demanded from the outset: Israel’s almost complete withdrawal from a majority of territory in Judea, Samaria and Gaza; Jerusalem’s division among the Israelis and Palestinians; and finally, a willingness to absorb some of the Palestinian refugees into Israeli territory.

Had they been able to, Israel’s representatives would have signed off on these conditions in Oslo. But they knew the Israeli public, and maybe even many of their colleagues in the Rabin-led government, would find it difficult to agree to such a far-reaching deal.

It was further unclear whether the Palestinians would have agreed to such a move, seeing as even for the Palestinians who took part in the dialogue with Israel and showed a willingness to live alongside it in peace, measures like forgoing the right of return for all Palestinian refugees to Israeli territory, declaring an end to the conflict and recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people were seen as painful.

For its initiators, the agreement served as leverage to gradually build trust between the sides. It was designed so that both sides would profit from the agreement and receive compensation that would make continuing the negotiations worthwhile, and in this manner, was aimed at accustoming both the Israeli and Palestinian public to a path to a resolution of the conflict, as envisioned by its authors.

But the experiment failed. As could be expected, the Palestinian leadership found it difficult – and quite possibly never even intended – to meet the commitments it took upon itself. The PA never tried to prepare the Palestinian public for the concessions that would be necessary in order to make peace. Worse still, it refused to abandon the use of violence and terrorism as a means to achieving its goals, leaving many Israelis skeptical of the plan.

An interview that Mohammed Dahlan, seen by many as a possible successor to Abbas, gave at the height of the Second Intifada illustrates this point quite well. When asked whether the Oslo Accords had been a mistake, Dahlan replied that the agreement had laid the groundwork for the struggle against Israel. As proof, he said hyperbolically, the number of Israelis killed in the Second Intifada was “100 times higher” than the number of Israelis killed in the first. (In fact, it was about three and a half times higher.)

This is all water under the bridge, but from Israel’s standpoint, the problem lies in the reality created by the accord; a reality that, while meant to be temporary in nature, has become permanent. The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas regime in Gaza have become faits accomplis and bones in Israel’s throat it can neither throw up nor swallow. This is a problematic reality, which continues to present endless political and security challenges for Israel.

A quarter of a century after the signing of the Oslo Accords, it seems it would be fitting for Israel to look for out-of-the-box solutions and find a way to escape the uncomfortable reality it has since found itself in.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

Bolton to Discuss Syria, Iran, with Netanyahu Sunday Night 

August 19, 2018

Source: Bolton to Discuss Syria, Iran, with Netanyahu Sunday Night | The Jewish Press – | David Israel | 8 Elul 5778 – August 19, 2018 |

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton will arrive in Israel on Sunday, to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two are expected to hold a joint dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, then meet again Monday morning for an official working session in Netanyahu’s office.

Bolton’s visit to Israel will be the first since his appointment in March.

Bolton will eventually continue to Geneva, where he will meet with his Russian counterpart, Director of the Russian Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev, in what the White House called a direct continuation of the July 16 Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki.

The two security advisers are expected to discuss the situation in Syria and the relations between the United States and Iran.

Bolton, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations for the GW Bush administration, is known for his tough approach to Iran and is considered a major factor in the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. Prior to his appointment to his current post, Bolton called on Trump to attack North Korea.

Bolton’s appointment which was announced last April, was welcomed by many in the Israeli coalition government, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who tweeted: “President Trump continues to appoint true friends of Israel to senior positions,” noting that “John Bolton is one of the most outstanding among them, an excellent appointment, Bolton comes with great experience and original thinking. The Trump administration continues to emerge as the most supportive of Israel ever.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that Bolton is a “true friend” and an “extraordinary” expert on matters of security.

German firms in line with U.S. Iran sanctions 

August 19, 2018

Source: German firms in line with U.S. Iran sanctions – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions.

 AUGUST 19, 2018 06:53
Euro (illustrative)

BERLIN – German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are ending projects in Iran after Washington imposed new sanctions against Tehran and said firms doing business with Iran would be barred from doing business with the United States.

New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions, including oil major Total as well as carmakers PSA, Renault and Daimler.

State-owned Deutsche Bahn is involved in two projects in Iran via its subsidiary DB Engineering&Consulting, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

“Both projects will be ended in August and September 2018 respectively,” she said. “Due to the altered banking practice we have sought to bring the contract to an amicable and timely conclusion.”

Deutsche Bahn signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian rail operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) in May 2017 for the first project, which aimed to identify and address potential in rolling stock and organization, she said.

The second project, which started around 1-1/2 years ago, was a consulting contract for Iranian state railway RAI that included restructuring the company, the spokeswoman added.

Separately, Detecon, a subsidiary of T-Systems – Deutsche Telekom’s IT services arm – has terminated its business in Iran, a spokesman said. Detecon offers consulting services to companies in the telecommunications industry.

“Until the decision to stop operations was made, sales in Iran in 2018 amounted to around 300,000 euros,” he said.

“Given the sensitivity in relations with Iran worldwide, Detecon ended its business in Iran with immediate effect in mid-May 2018.”

The ending of Telekom’s involvement in Iran followed soon after the announcement that its US unit, T-Mobile, would buy Sprint Corp in a $26 billion deal that remains subject to the approval of US regulators.

Iran says will unveil new fighter jet, continue developing missiles

August 19, 2018

Source: Iran says will unveil new fighter jet, continue developing missiles | The Times of Israel

Tehran’s defense minister claims aircraft, believed to be the Qaher F-313, will fly over Iranian skies as part of National Defense Industry Day celebrations next week

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, listens to an unidentified pilot during a ceremony to unveil Iran’s newest fighter jet, the Qaher-313, in Tehran, Iran, February 2, 2013 (AP/Mehr News Agency/Younes Khani)

Iran’s defense minister said Saturday that the Islamic Republic is set to unveil a new fighter jet next week and, despite new US sanctions, will continue developing its missile program.

“Our top priority has been development of our missile program. We are in a good position in this field, but we need to develop it,” Brigadier General Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency, according to Reuters.

“We will present a plane on National Defense Industry Day, and people will see it fly, and the equipment designed for it,” he added, referring to the August 22 celebrations.

Hatami is believed to have been referring to the Qaher F-313 fighter plane which Tehran said it had began testing last year.

The Qaher is one of several aircraft designs the Iranian military has rolled out since 2007. Tehran has repeatedly claimed to have developed advanced military technologies in recent years, but its claims cannot be independently verified because the country does not release technical details of its arsenals.

In 2013, then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that building the Qaher F-313, or “Dominant” F-313, shows Iran’s will to “conquer scientific peaks.”

Hatami’s announcement came after Iran’s navy on Saturday unveiled its first-ever advanced defense system for its warships, amid rising tensions with the US in the Strait of Hormuz.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi told reporters in Tehran the domestically made Kamand system would protect Iran’s naval destroyers against anti-ship cruise missiles.

In remarks carried by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Khanzadi said the Kamand system was based on the American-made Phalanx CIWS, and could destroy any target up to 2 kilometers away.

For the time being, Khanzadi said, the defense system would only be installed on Iranian warships “that carry out missions in deep and distant waters.”

The announcement came two weeks after Iran launched naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz as a show of force while Washington prepared to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi speaks at a Tehran press conference on July 31, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube/PressTV)

Iran routinely operates small boats in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area, and has often threatened to shut down the vital waterway where one third of all oil traded by sea passes.

In recent weeks, President Hassan Rouhani renewed the threat, saying that if US sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Mideast’s exports would be threatened as well.

Earlier in August, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard confirmed that it had carried out a naval exercise in the Gulf, days before the US re-imposed the economic sanctions that were eased under the 2015-Obama era nuclear deal.

The general overseeing US military operations in the Middle East said Tehran was trying “to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach the period of the sanctions here that they had some capabilities.”

The capabilities include ocean mines, explosive boats, coastal defense missiles and radars, US Central Command head General Joseph Votel said.

In May, the US announced it was abandoning the 2015 agreement and reimposing nuclear-related sanctions, threatening global companies with heavy penalties if they continue to operate in Iran.

In a bid to salvage the accord, the EU and European parties to the deal — Britain, France, and Germany — presented a series of economic “guarantees” to Iran last month, but they were deemed “insufficient” by Tehran.

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with a group of foreign ministry officials in Tehran, Iran. Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The sanctions that went into effect earlier in August target US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector, and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November.

US President Donald Trump has offered talks on a “more comprehensive deal” but Iran has balked at negotiating under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leaned on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.

Agencies contributed to this report.