Tag Archives: Iran

Ben Swann: Is ISIS Run By Millennials?

Filling in for Steve Malzberg, Ben Swann covers how ISIS—now known as the Islamic State—grew so powerful so quickly. ISIS has adopted a strategy that is using social media, video, power, violence, mystique, wealth to build and recruit a massive network. While the president continues to add more boots on the ground and we begin to move back to war with Iraq—and make no mistake, we are going back to war in Iraq—we must consider how ISIS was given this opportunity in the first place. Is there a strategy to combat ISIS with more than just bullets and bombs? Because on their end, the strategy, believe me, is far more comprehensive.

Here are three points on the Islamic State:

1. Funding—Data has proven that they now control more than $2 billion in assets, including military equipment, oil fields in Mosul and cash from bank robberies.
2. Cruelty—They endeavor in mass executions. Christians are being slaughtered, soldiers are being decapitated, and other shocking acts of violence are part of their strategy.
3. Tactically Millennial—Their social media savvy, development of a mobile app and the production behind the video of James Foley’s beheading demonstrate how different this militant group is from any other.

Egypt, China, Iran Criticize US Over Crackdown on Ferguson Protesters

“The eyes of the world are watching,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last Saturday when he announced a curfew in Ferguson, MO. Ever since the controversial officer-involved shooting death of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown, police, National Guard troops, protesters, and a handful of violent agitators have clashed in scenes that remind viewers of footage from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarized police response in Ferguson has been widely criticized by American politicos, both on the left and the right, inspiring a national conversation over the militarization of domestic police forces.

According to ABC News, political figures from around the world have also piled on to condemn the harsh crackdown on protesters and journalists in Ferguson. Quite ironically, some of the voices calling for restraint come from Egypt, China, and Iran, nations that have often been criticized by US officials over human rights abuses. Though Russia did not join other nations in criticizing the US, anti-Putin activists in Russia did, fearing that Putin himself would point to police tactics in Ferguson to justify future escalations against demonstrators.

Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, tweeted, “Today like previous years, African-Americans are still under pressure, oppressed and subjected to discrimination. #Ferguson.” The barrage of tweets from his account continued, saying, “Racial discrimination is still a dilemma in the U.S. #Ferguson,” and also pointing out, “Look at how US govt treats black community! It’s not about 50-100 years ago but it’s about today!”

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency released an article condemning the US response to Ferguson protesters. “The Ferguson incident once again demonstrates that even if in a country that has for years tried to play the role of an international human rights judge and defender, there is still much room for improvement at home,” reads the op-ed. It also said, “…it is undeniable that racial discrimination against African Americans or other ethnic minorities, though not as obvious as in the past, still persists in every aspect of US social lives, including employment, housing, education, and particularly, justice.”

The Xinhua commentary also touched on the NSA controversy, “…the US human rights flaws extend far beyond racial issues. As revealed by famous whistleblower Edward Snowden, the US government has hacked into emails and mobile phones of ordinary Americans as well as leaders of other countries, including traditional US allies.” Criticism of US drone strikes came next in the commentary by China’s press agency, “What’s more, Uncle Sam has witnessed numerous shooting sprees on its own land and launched incessant drone attacks on foreign soil, resulting in heavy civilian casualties.” The piece concluded, “Each country has its own national conditions that might lead to different social problems. Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.”

Egypt’s foreign ministry also capitalized on the opportunity to criticize the US over Ferguson, saying it would keep an eye on the situation and urging restraint. A recipient of US aid, Egypt’s government was widely criticized, even by the US, for its own crackdowns on demonstrators during tumultuous protests in 2011 and 2013.

US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf defended America’s human rights record, claiming that the Ferguson crisis has been dealt with “openly and honestly” despite the realities on the ground that journalists have been jailed by police and authorities declared a no-fly zone over the protests, preventing news helicopters from providing coverage. She also slammed comparisons by reporters between the US and nations like Egypt, China, and Iran.

Additionally, a spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reminded American officials to respect the free speech rights of protesters in Ferguson, and Amnesty International responded to the controversy by deploying human rights observers to the US for the first time in world history.

Iranian president blames Obama for ISIS terrorists: We warned Obama administration for over a year

IRAN, June 21, 2014– As Iraq stands on the verge of civil war, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a powerful condemnation at a news conference last weekend.

“The fact that terrorist groups in this region are supported by Western countries is as clear as light,” Rouhani said. “There’s no room for doubt about this.”

His remarks follow a surge of extremist violence in Iraq carried out by the terrorist network known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In recent weeks, the group has ravaged the nation in a string of devastating attacks on military personnel and civilians alike.

When 500,000 Iraqis fled Mosul after ISIS seized the city on June 9, one thing became clear: the terrorists have their eyes set on Baghdad. The fallout has compelled the region’s major players to begin developing a counterinsurgency strategy.

Rouhani knows the clock is ticking, and he is not shying away from casting blame on those nations he deems responsible for the crisis.

“Powerful Western countries are supporting terror politically, with propaganda, with finances and weapons,” he declared to the audience.

Who is Rouhani targeting? His response to a question posed by New York Times Tehran bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink may hold the answer.

When asked whether Iran would cooperate with the United States in combating ISIS in Iraq, Rouhani responded that the only forces fighting the spread of terrorism are the Iraqi people and government. If the US were to involve itself against ISIS, he said Iran might consider it.

The prospect of a joint US-Iranian presence is unprecedented and, given the two nations’ tumultuous history, it would be a rare show of common ground. Both have incentives for a stable Iraqi state, with Rouhani seeking to expand Iran’s sphere of Shiite influence and President Obama attempting to live up to his 2011 claim of “leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” Both presidents have each dispatched hundreds of soldiers to the country.

Rouhani proceeded to elaborate on America’s specific role in the growing regional instability.

“For over a year, this administration has warned the US not to support these terrorists,” he said. He further expressed his concern that America and the West have “acted in favor of terrorists and their allies,” specifically through the supply of weaponry.

The White House authorized the transfer of arms to Syrian rebels in June 2013, and since then, Congress has approved the distribution of weapons to anti-Assad Sunni fighters in the war-ridden country. It may soon see an even greater influx of American weaponry, however, as ISIS militants transfer seized US military equipment to al Qaeda rebels waging the civil war.

After more than a year of tension surrounding foreign intervention in neighboring Syria, the chaos in Iraq represents a pivotal moment for the future of US-Iranian diplomatic relations. Furthermore, with the July 20 nuclear negotiations deadline rapidly approaching, the stakes have never been higher.

*The video subscript translation of Rouhani’s statements has been independently verified by a native Persian speaker for the purposes of this report.

Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook & Twitter.

Report: Military action in Iraq would hurt, not help

A new report from the Crisis Group on the ISIS crisis in Iraq claims any military intervention from outside of the country would not stop further actions, but runs the risk of “stoking the conflict.”

This report comes in the wake of President Obama vowing to send up to 300 military advisers to the country to help contain and end the conflict.  There has been no word yet as to whether or not the U.S. government will use airstrikes in Iraq as requested by the Iraqi government.

Iran has already sent about 500 Revolutionary Guards into Iraq to aid the local government according to CNN.

The report claims the attacks, and method ISIS has captured towns and strongholds, is not a military achievement or great military feat by any means, but rather the string of events has been likened to a person simply leaning on a “house of cards.”

The crisis has further polarized the divide between Sunni and Shiite denominations as well as ethnic Kurds across the country. ISIS is made of Sunni followers, according to Iraqi News, while the majority of government forces are made of Shiite forces.

These two groups have been divided across the globe for many years, and the discord can be traced back to the schism which occurred across Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

Military intervention within the country, according to the report, would only bolster further support for ISIS as the military forces would be seen as fighting for the current, Shiite dominant, Iraqi government.

The report from the Crisis Group claims in order to stop further bloodshed and prevent a civil war across the country, the Iraqi government needs to form a “genuine government of national unity,” where all three major political and ethnic forces within the country are included and given equal political sway.

The Crisis Group’s senior adviser on the Middle East and Africa, Peter Harling, said in relation to the crisis, “A U.S. military response alone will achieve very little… Counter-insurgency cannot be successful without an effective Iraqi army to ‘clear’, an accepted Iraqi police to ‘hold’, and a legitimate Iraqi political leadership to build.”

Did Lindsey Graham Change His Mind About Iran?


It seems like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is suffering from a serious case of Graham-nesia when it comes to his own position about Iran.  His current position is explosively different than his previous view. He must have forgotten all about it. Thankfully, there is video to remind him.

Appearing on CBS’s Face The Nation on Sunday, Graham said he wanted the U.S. to work with Iran in order to help stabilize Iraq.

“We’re going to probably need to their help to hold Baghdad,” Graham said, while cautioning that Tehran’s goal is to “create a sectarian Iraq. To have a puppet in Baghdad that is a Shia-dominated government where they control the outcome.”

“”But in the short term, why did we deal with Stalin? Because he was not as bad as Hitler, in our eyes,” he added. “We’re going to have to have some dialog with the Iranians that says let’s coordinate our efforts but has some red lines with the Iranians.”

Now rewind two years, when Graham again appeared on “Face the Nation.” But this time, he wants to completely disarm Iran, not ask for their assistance.

“You open Pandora’s box if you attack Iran. If they get a nuclear weapon, you empty Pandora’s box. That’s the world we live in. I support the idea of a military option as a last resort.”

Graham then explains that its not just stopping Iran from having a nuclear weapon, it’s about completely disarming Iran.

“You have to neuter this regime. Destroy their air force, sink their navy. Go after the revolutionary guard and try and get the people in the country to overthrow this regime,” he said.

Ron Paul offered his perspective on Iraq as well outlining three options the U.S. can take.

Paul said in a statement, “Because of the government’s foolish policy of foreign interventionism, the US is faced with two equally stupid choices: either pour in resources to prop up an Iraqi government that is a close ally with Iran, or throw our support in with al-Qaida in Iraq (as we have done in Syria). I say we must follow a third choice: ally with the American people and spend not one more dollar or one more life attempting to re-make the Middle East. Haven’t we have already done enough damage?”

Iran Deploys Troops to Guard Baghdad, Fight al-Qaeda

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

Reports coming out of security sources in Iran say that two battalions of Quds Force troops from the nation’s Revolutionary Guard have deployed into neighboring Iraq to guard Shi’ite holy sites as well as taking the lead in defending the capital city of Baghdad. Some have also reportedly taken part in fighting in Tikrit.

The move comes in response to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) taking most of the country’s Sunni west, and moving dangerously close to Baghdad on multiple fronts. Iraq’s Shi’ite government is on good terms with Iran.

Earlier today, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country can’t tolerate the growth of a terrorist group so close to their borders, and promised unspecified aid to the Maliki government.

Iran has already been aiding the Assad government in Syria against AQI’s advances there, albeit without much success. As the problem of this new AQI-run state grows, Iran is likely to try to increase support for its struggling allies, out of whose territory the state is being carved.


This article is from Antiwar.com.  A friend in need is a friend indeed – and we need your help to fight this brazen state repression. We’re fighting to restore constitutional government in America – but we need your tax-deductible donation to do it. Please, make your contribution today!”


Reports came out from U.S. prosecutors that an engineer for a major U.S. defense contractor tried to smuggle thousands of secret documents and blueprints on F-35 stealth fighters to Iran.

Dual Iranian-American citizen, Mozaffar Khazaee, was arrested during travel last week. He was intercepted at a layover in Germany, on his way to his final destination in his home country of Iran.

Court documents say engineer Khazaee worked at several different defense contractors. Court documents say the most recent employer was based in Connecticut that built F-22 Raptor’s F-119 engines.

Khazaee had shipped 44 boxes labeled “Household Goods” that were filled with thousands of pages in dozens of binders related to the JSF [F-35 Joint Strike Fighter] program.

A court affidavit shows Khazaee has traveled to Iran five times in the last seven years. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive defense program in history, and is estimated to cost $400 billion.

At this time Khazaee is accused of interstate transport of stolen property of the value of $5,000 or more. If convicted he could pay a fine or up to 10 years in prison.

Deal Reached with Iran In Nuclear Program

This article was submitted by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

The first confirmation came shortly after 3 AM on Sunday morning Geneva time, when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that the P5+1 talks with Iran had concluded, and an interim deal has been reached on Iran’s civilian nuclear program. Other P5+1 leaders, including President Obama, have since confirmed it.

iranFull details of the final pact are still not a matter of public record, but are said to include a halt of 20 percent enrichment, continue enrichment at 3.5 percent, and $4.2 billion in Iranian assets will be unfrozen, along with unspecified easing to sanctions. Comments throughout the pact few weeks suggested that most of the deal was already finalized, and it was only a few minor issues of wording that had yet to be settled.

Interestingly, Iran and the US are disputing what the pact says about Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, as Iran insists the  deal does grant that right, but the White House has claimed it does not.

The Saturday talks never ended, but continued overnight into Sunday before the pact was reached. It is intended to cover six months, involving some limitations to Iran’s civilian enrichment of uranium and other aspects of its program in return for sanctions relief.

The six months is intended to give both sides time to work out a permanent agreement on ending the sanctions as well as international complaints about the nuclear program.


This article is from Antiwar.com.  A friend in need is a friend indeed – and we need your help to fight this brazen state repression. We’re fighting to restore constitutional government in America – but we need your tax-deductible donation to do it. Please, make your contribution today!”

Obama Unwilling To Negotiate With House Republicans Amid Govt. Shutdown

In the midst of the government shutdown, there has been plenty of blame to go around. But is President Obama in the wrong for not negotiating with Republicans? More on that in a minute.

Right now, the House blames the Senate for being unwilling to compromise, while the Senate accuses the House of “holding the American people hostage” by refusing to fully fund and implement Obamacare.

Whatever the case may be, President Obama has made it clear that he is unwilling to “negotiate” with House Republicans, who are pushing for a one-year delay in Obamacare’s individual mandate.

President Obama reportedly told House Speaker John Boehner “I’m not going to negotiate. I’m not going to negotiate, I’m not going to do this.”

During an interview with NPR on Monday, Obama offered an explanation for why he will not make an offer to House Republicans as a compromise to avoid government shutdown. The President explained, “I shouldn’t have to offer [Republicans] anything. They’re not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do. That’s part of their basic function of government; that’s not doing me a favor. That’s doing what the American people sent them here to do, carrying out their responsibilities.”

Press Secretary Jay Carney has had to respond to tough questions from the press regarding Obama’s silence.
At a Monday press conference, reporter Ed Henry asked Carney why Obama has been unwilling to communicate with House Republicans. “Why don’t you at least talk to them, even if they’re wrong?” Henry asked.

After thanking Henry for his “reassertion of GOP talking points,” Carney responded, “Ed, maybe you didn’t catch up to what the president just said, but he said he would be talking to leaders of Congress. I have nothing new to report on the president’s schedule.”

That press conference was on Monday, and the president has yet to sit down and talk with House Republicans despite the federal government having shut down on Tuesday morning. Republicans have been making the claim that the President “is willing to talk with Iran but not with Republicans.” That of course is a talking point that has no merit. One case has nothing to do with the other.

When the federal government shut down in 1995, President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich communicated almost constantly until the government was back up and running, despite being fierce political enemies. Clinton and Gingrich likely exchanged more words in one day than President Obama has with the House Republicans since these current issues began.

But is President Obama wrong to not “negotiate”? After all, the President is right that Congress is attempting to stop a law that was legally passed, signed into law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Millions of Americans are claiming that the law is bad for country, while millions more will be signing up for healthcare exchanges over the next few weeks.

Regardless of how we feel about this law, the Affordable Care Act IS the law of the land. Should any President be forced to negotiate over whether laws are enforced?

Lindsey Graham to Charleston: support war in Syria or be nuked!

War Hawks are getting so desperate that they are using fear tactics in order to motivate constituents to support the war in Syria. Syria and Iran maybe allies, but Sen. Lindsay Graham’s analysis of their connection is simplistic and misguided.  According to the senator, if the US does not intervene in Syria, Iran will not take the US seriously and will have a nuclear weapon by the end of 2014.  If Iran gets nuclear weapons, such weapons will end up in the hands of terrorists.  He ended his analysis by describing the fear-inducing-if-unrealistic situation of a nuclear bomb dropping on Charleston Harbor.

Charleston Nuke Strike

The graphic above is from nuclearsecrecy.com which projects a rough estimate of how devastating a nuclear attack would be in Charleston harbor.

At an invitation-only breakfast at Mount Pleasant this week, Graham offered his assessment of the Syria situation, saying that it will destabilize the entire Middle East, and that “if we get Syria wrong, within six months – and you can quote me on this – there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program.”

He also said that any terrorist nuclear device “won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor.”  The prospect of Iran acquiring a nuclear device is a legitimate threat, not a fear-mongering talking point to justify hasty foreign policy decisions.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are the two main powers in what could be seen as a regional Cold War (and indeed Russia and the US come down on opposite sides of the conflict).  Both countries’ regimes are brutal, oppressive and fundamentalist, and both wish to become the dominant regional power.  Syria is merely the current battleground.  Iran supports Assad, while Saudi Arabia supports the rebel forces, which include Al Qaida and Chechen extremists.

As for Graham’s statement that Syria will destabilize the Middle East, that happened two years ago with the Arab Spring, which again was US-backed.  Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, and even Pakistan, which had admittedly been ruled by brutal governments in the past, were plunged into revolution followed by extremist Islamic governments, though the majority of the populations haven’t supported them.

Indeed the best way to oppose Iranian acquisition of nuclear devices would have been to support the Iranian Green Revolution in 2009.  Iran’s fundamentalist government is immensely unpopular amongst its younger generation, and is itself the product of a revolution which overthrew the more secular Shaw in the 1970s.  Obama, however, failed to do that.

In a statement responding to Graham’s analysis, a high ranking military officer told blogger Joshua Cook, “Graham is going off the deep end with this rhetoric about nuke strikes in Charleston.  What a crock.”  He continued, “He has a deep insecurity complex due to many personal issues and that causes his attachment to John McCain and the attempts to appear like ‘Mr. Tough Guy.’  He really needs to go.”