• Saudi to reopen Baghdad embassy after 25 years

    15/Dec/2015 // 296 Viewers

     

     AFP/File | Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad, a general view of the city is pictured here on June 26, 2014, a quarter of a century after relations were broken over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, a foreign ministry official said

     

    BAGHDAD (AFP) - 

    Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad Tuesday, a quarter of a century after relations were broken over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, a foreign ministry official said.

    "The staff of the Saudi embassy arrived today in Baghdad," the official told AFP.

    "They were met at the airport by foreign ministry officials. The staff consists of 35 people, led by the ambassador's deputy."

    The ambassador himself is due to arrive by Thursday and will attend an official opening ceremony.

    A consulate is expected to open later in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

    Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq were severed in 1990 but restored in 2004 after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

    Relations remain strained between the Gulf kingdom, a Sunni powerhouse, and Shiite-dominated Iraq, where Iran and armed groups loyal to it wield huge influence.

    Iraqi officials have repeatedly accused Riyadh of abetting the Islamic State group, which took over swathes of the country last year.

     

     

     

    SOURCE:  AFP


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  • Israeli leader: Iran mocks WWII Holocaust, prepares another

    15/May/2016 // 865 Viewers

     

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Iran Sunday for staging a Holocaust-themed cartoon contest that mocked the Nazi genocide of six million Jews during World War II and said the Islamic Republic was busy planning for another one.

    Iran has long backed armed groups committed to Israel's destruction and its leaders have called for it to be wiped off the map. Israel fears that Iran's nuclear program is designed to threaten its very existence. But Netanyahu said that it not just Iran's belligerent policies that Israel opposed, but its values.

    "It denies the Holocaust, it mocks the Holocaust and it is also preparing another Holocaust," Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting. "I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this."

    State Department spokesman Mark Toner, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia, said the United States was concerned the contest could "be used as a platform for Holocaust denial and revisionism and egregiously anti-Semitic speech, as it has in the past."

    "Such offensive speech should be condemned by the authorities and civil society leaders rather than encouraged. We denounce any Holocaust denial and trivialization as inflammatory and abhorrent. It is insulting to the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust," Toner said.

    The denial or questioning of the genocide is widespread in the Middle East, where many regard it as a pretext Israel used for its creation and to excuse its actions toward the Palestinians.

    "Holocaust means mass killing," said contest organizer Masuod Shojai Tabatabaei. "We are witnessing the biggest killings by the Zionist regime in Gaza and Palestine."

    He said the purpose of the Tehran event was not to deny the Holocaust but rather to criticize alleged Western double standards regarding free expression — and particularly as a response to depictions of the Prophet Muhammad by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and others. The exhibit featured some 150 works from 50 countries, with many portraying Israel as using the Holocaust to distract from the suffering of the Palestinians. Others depicted Palestinian prisoners standing behind concentration camp-style barbed wire fences, Netanyahu likened to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and a Jerusalem mosque behind a gate bearing the motto "Arbeit Macht Frei" that appeared at the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp.

    The contest was organized by non-governmental bodies with strong support from Iran's hard-liners. A previous contest in 2006 got a boost from then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner who referred to the Holocaust as a "myth" and repeatedly predicted Israel's demise.


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  • Arab Gulf States Want to Buy Iron Dome Missile Defense System from Israel

    15/Oct/2015 // 235 Viewers

    A Sky News report suggests Arab Gulf states are interested in purchasing defensive systems from Israel to counter “a growing arsenal of Iranian missiles.”
     
    Bahrain and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are in negotiations to buy the Israeli-developed Iron Dome anti-missile systems to defend against “a growing arsenal of Iranian missiles,” Sky News reported Tuesday.
     
    The US is quietly playing the “middle man” according to the report.
    A deal for the entire GCC, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, would be worth tens, perhaps hundreds, of billions of dollars for the Israeli companies that produce the systems.
    According to the report, the sale would also include longer range interceptor missiles such, as David’s Sling, and the Arrow I and Arrow II which are capable of intercepting supersonic intercontinental ballistic missiles.
     
     
    The sale of Israeli-developed weapons to a Gulf states would have been controversial for both the Israelis and the buyers a few years ago, Sky News explains, but both now perceive Iran’s military strength and ambitions as the primary threat to their existence.
     
    “Iran has been trying to undermine and topple government in our region for years,” Khalid bin Mohammed, Bahrain’s foreign minister, charged.
     
    He said that Iran’s precision missile capacity was certain to increase as a consequence of the lifting of sanctions by the UN Security Council and the US following the nuclear deal with Tehran
     
    .”They [Iran] will put a lot of money into this program to develop techniques and tactics to defeat our missile defences … the strategy appears to be one of saturation to stockpile enough missiles to overwhelm any defence system we build in the Gulf,” Sky News quoted al Khalifa as saying.
     
    Talks are understood to be well into the advanced stages, Sky News reports.
     
    Israel developed its anti-missile systems to defend against Gaza’s rockets in part, but overwhelmingly against Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal in southern Lebanon, supplied by Iran.
     
    The Israeli-developed defensive system has reduced the effectiveness of rockets fired by terrorists out of Gaza into Israel by about 90% and has saved many Israeli lives during Operation Protective Edge.
     
    By: United with Israel Staff
     
     


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  • Israeli government approves new measures to fight terrorism

    15/Oct/2015 // 706 Viewers

    Looking for new ways to fight the recent wave of Palestinian terror, the government authorized a new list of measures to stem the attacks.
     
    By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
     
     
    Police forces at the site of a suicide terror attack. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israel’s Security Cabinet convened Tuesday night for another emergency meeting to continue its discussions on the security situation and the wave of Palestinian terror, and approved a series of additional steps to deal with the seemingly endless string of Palestinian terror attacks.
     
    The government announced that Israel’s Police is authorized to impose a closure on centers of friction and incitement in Jerusalem, in accordance with security considerations. Many of the terrorists have come from the eastern neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and a closure of these neighborhoods could minimize the volume of terror attacks.
     
    The police force will likewise be enlarged and expanded, and 300 additional security guards will be recruited to guard public transportation in Jerusalem at a cost of NIS 80 million.
     
    In addition to the demolition of terrorists’ homes, the process of which is supposed to be sped up and has already begun, no new construction will be permitted at the site where a terrorist’s home has been demolished.
     
    The property of terrorists who perpetrate attacks will be confiscated. The government believes that financial penalties will serve as a powerful deterrence.
     
    The permanent residency rights of terrorists will likewise be revoked.
     
    In an unprecedented decision, IDF units will reinforce the Israel Police in cities and along roads.
     
    The Security Cabinet is slated to reconvene on Wednesday to deal with additional issues, including the key factor of Palestinian incitement, which has been a primary driving force behind the recent wave of terror.
     
    ‘Israel Will Settle Accounts with the Murderers’
     
    While addressing the Knesset during a special session to mark 14 years since the assassination of Israeli Minister Rechavam Ze’evi, Netanyahu said the recent further deterioration in the security situation is due to the incitement by Hamas, the Islamic Movement and the Palestinian Authority. “You will be held responsible,” he declared.

    suicide bombing attack

    Relating to the newly approved measure, Netanyahu said that “Israel will settle accounts with the murderers, those who attempt murder, and all those who assist them. Not only will they not enjoy their privileges, but we will exact from them the full cost. Anyone who raises his hand to harm us – will pay dearly. And we will not hesitate to use all means at our disposal to restore peace to the cities of Israel.”

    To Israel’s citizens he said, “we are in a struggle, a struggle for us all, and we will face it together. We knew waves of terrorism in the past and we overcame them. They did not achieve their aim to uproot us from our land, to destroy our country. They will not achieve it this time either. We are focused on our mission to fight the murderers and inciters, and I am confident that the actions we take will lead to the other side’s recognition that terrorism does not pay. Its perpetrators will pay the full price, and above all – Israel is strong, and in spite of them it will be here forever.”

    Addressing Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas directly, Netanyahu demanded “stop lying, stop inciting. A true leader must demonstrate responsibility. You must stop the incitement originating from the PA areas, both in regard to the Temple Mount and in respect to the legitimate defensive actions taken by the Israeli security forces and Israeli citizens who are attacked by murderers. You must fight the extremists that make innocent people pay so dearly,” and “do not turn murderers into heroes.”

    PM Netanyahu addresses the Knesset

    Palestinian terrorists have murdered seven Israeli civilians and wounded 92 in multiple terror attacks over the past weeks, irreversibly changing forever, and for the worse, the lives of hundreds of Israeli families.

     

     
     
     


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  • Islam Will Conquer Europe through Refugees, Muslim Cleric Declares

    15/Oct/2015 // 343 Viewers

    The wave of Syrian refugees coming to Europe will serve as a vehicle for Muslim conquest, a Palestinian cleric declared in Jerusalem.
     
    A Muslim cleric preaching from the pulpit at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem said that the massive migration of Syrian refugees to Europe will serve as a means for Muslim conquest of the Continent.
     
    In an address delivered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque earlier this month, Sheikh Muhammad Ayed claimed that European countries are not motivated by compassion toward the refugees, but by their need for labor. However, “we shall conquer their countries,” he declared.
     
    According to a transcript of his sermon published by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), Ayed asserted that “the infidels,” the Christians and Jews, want the Muslim refuges “to be tormented. They want us to be humiliated.”
    His source was the Koran he continued. “It says: ‘the Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with you,’ but we will never follow their religion,” he stated.

    “This dark night will be over, and soon, we will trample them [the infidels] underfoot, Allah willing,” Ayed declared. “Germany is not a compassionate country that wishes to absorb refugees from Syria and Iraq, and Palestinian refugees in the Levant and elsewhere.”

    Europe has “become old and decrepit,” he continued, and it needs “human reinforcement.”

    “No force is more powerful than the human force of us Muslims. Oh Muslims, the Germans say, in their economic reports, that they need 50,000 young workers. Now, they have got 20,000, and they want another 30,000 and more, to work in their factories. They are not motivated by compassion for the Levant, its people, and its refugees. Throughout Europe, all the hearts are infused with hatred toward Muslims. They wish that we were dead,” he preached

    “But they have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in their midst. We will give them fertility!”

    He called on the refugees to “breed children with them,” and by doing so, “we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you.”

    “Take the refugees! We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming Caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you,” he concluded.

    Ayed’s words are reminiscent of similar calls made by the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization, which has repeatedly stated its desire to conquer Europe.

    By: United with Israel Staff
    With files from MEMRI


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  • We regret betraying Saddam to US, Britain, life much better under him - Iraqis lament 10 yrs after

    15/Sep/2016 // 979 Viewers

     

    News that Islamic extremists have conquered Mosul took me back 30 years, to memories of a weekend in the city when I responded to the latest caesura between me and my then-girlfriend in a sane, mature fashion, by drinking as much of a bottle of whisky as I could before passing out.

    Iraq, it seems, is about to descend once more into anarchy and chaos, but it wasn’t like that when I worked there in 1983 and ’84, and again in ’86.

    When the US and Britain led the invasion in 2003, for what turned out to be no good reason, I found myself wondering whether the removal of Saddam Hussain was all it was cracked up to be.

    And that question has come back into my head this week. Did the lives of most ordinary Iraqis get better? I don’t think so. And now they’re about to get a whole lot worse.

    I was working as an operating department assistant in Baghdad – like a theatre nurse, but trained just for theatre – in a hospital the Iraqi government had set up to carry out big operations that previously they would have sent abroad.

    There was universal health care in Iraq, and universal education. Few people were well off but nobody, as far as I could tell, starved.

    True, all we had to go on was the English-language newspaper the Baghdad Observer, with its daily cover stories about Saddam’s latest visit to an adoring Kurd village (this was before the notorious gas attack on Halabja), but national misery is difficult to keep off the streets, and people seemed happy.

    Baghdad was noisy and mucky and full of building sites, but it was bustling and thriving. There wasn’t a huge amount in the shops, but people had all they needed to get by.

    If you were Kurdish, or a dissident, life wasn’t like that, and I’m not suggesting for a second that we should forget their suffering. But by and large, life was OK in Saddam’s dictatorship.

    It was a secular state, and Sunnis and Shias seemed to bump along together; there were plenty of Christians, and even a few Jews left (though they had experienced persecution).

    It may have been brainwashing, but Iraqis I came across adored Saddam. Often, as patients drifted off in the anaesthetic room they would invoke his name, sometimes screaming, “Saddaaaaam! Sadaaaaam!” Those who knew some English might mutter to me, “Saddam will take care of me” as their eyes closed.

    I’m not saying that this is necessarily a good thing – the psychology of living under a dictator has been much explored, and I doubt much of it makes pleasant reading – but the fact that it was usually just me, them and the anaesthetist there suggests that it wasn’t done out of fear.

    So Iraq, when I was there, was a fully functioning state in which it was possible to live a fulfilled life. I’m aware that what I’m saying may be the equivalent of observing that Hitler made the trains run on time. But I wonder how many Iraqis today – particularly those in flight, with nothing but their children and a few hastily gathered possessions – look back on the Saddam years.

    Years of oppression? Or years of tolerable normality, when life wasn’t so bad at all?


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  • Gunmen in Iraq kidnap 26 members of Qatari hunting party

    16/Dec/2015 // 250 Viewers

    Gunmen kidnapped 26 members of a Qatari hunting party in southern Iraq, officials said on Wednesday, the second high-profile seizure of foreign nationals in the country in three months.

    "Twenty-six Qatari hunters were kidnapped at about 3:00 am (0000 GMT) by unknown gunmen," according to a police major from Muthanna province, where the kidnappings took place.

    A local council member from the province confirmed the number of people kidnapped but did not specify their nationality.

    "Unknown gunmen in dozens of pick-up trucks attacked a place where Qatari hunters were located," the official said.

    Two officials said that members of Qatar's ruling family were among those kidnapped but did not identify them by name.

    Doha has not confirmed or commented on the kidnapping.

    Two Iraqi officers providing security for the party were also seized, officials said.

    Wealthy citizens of Sunni Gulf states venture to countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq to hunt with falcons without the bag limits and conservation measures restricting the killing of certain species that they face at home.

    There is significant hostility in Iraq, especially in the Shiite-majority south, over the Gulf countries' policies on the Syrian civil war and perceived complicity in the rise of the Islamic State jihadist group.

    Qatar is especially reviled on this front.

    The kidnappings come a little over three months after gunmen seized 18 employees of a major Turkish construction firm working in Baghdad.

    The Turkish workers were later freed unharmed.

    (AFP)


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  • UN experts say Iran missile launch violated resolution

    16/Dec/2015 // 261 Viewers

    Iran violated a UN resolution in October when it test-launched a medium-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, a UN panel of experts concluded in a report that could lead to sanctions.

    Britain, France, Germany and the United States had asked a UN Security Council sanctions committee to investigate the launch of the Emad missile on October 10, three months after the historic nuclear deal was reached.

    “On the basis of its analysis and findings, the panel concludes that Emad launch is a violation by Iran of paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 1929”, said the report presented to the council last week and obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

    Adopted in 2010, Resolution 1929 prohibits Tehran from conducting launches of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

    “The panel assesses that the launch of the Emad has a range of no less than 1,000 kilometers with a payload of at least 1,000 kilograms and that Emad was a launch ‘using ballistic missile technology’”, the report said.

    The experts said a rocket must be capable of delivering at least a 500 kilogram payload to a range of at least 300 kilometers to be deemed capable of firing a nuclear weapon.

    Iran had denied that the missile launch was in violation of the resolution, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying that it was not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

    Iran insists it has no plans to develop atomic weapons.

    The finding from the panel could trigger moves to impose sanctions on Iran, although such a decision would require agreement from China and Russia.

    The two countries along with Britain, France, Germany and the United States took part in successful negotiations on the landmark deal reached with Iran in July on curbing Tehran’s nuclear program.

    Sanctions will remain

    The UN report came as the Security Council was preparing to lift sanctions on Iran, possibly in January, once the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, confirms that Tehran has delivered on its commitments under the deal.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday closed its long-running probe of Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons, removing an important obstacle to implementing the deal.

    Despite progress on the nuclear track, US Ambassador Samantha Power emphasized that some sanctions will remain in place even after the international agreement is put into motion.

    “We will continue to hold Iran accountable for violations of measures imposed by the council,” Power told a council meeting.

    Restrictions on arms transfers to Iran and on ballistic missile technology “will remain for many years” after the nuclear deal is implemented, she said.

    In Washington, a senior US administration official stressed that sanctionns had already been imposed over the UN ban on ballistic missile launches but that more Iranian entities could be blacklisted.

    “These entities will not be let off the hook for their involvement in Iran’s ballistic missile program,” said the official.

    France emphasized the importance of an “appropriate response” after the UN report’s findings and Britain’s envoy Matthew Rycroft said the council must “respond effectively to what appears to be a breach.”

    The United States is also looking at reports of a new ballistic missile test on November 24.

    (AFP)


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  • New IS video marks US out for attacks

    16/Nov/2015 // 385 Viewers

    In a video released on Monday, the Islamic State group warned that countries taking part in the ongoing air strikes against Syria have been marked out for attacks and further threatened to carry out attacks in Washington DC, USA.
     
    "We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day God willing, like France's and by God, as we struck France in the centre of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its centre in Washington," said a certain man whose face was hidden behind a black veil.


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  • Iran to cut IS threat at Afghan, Iraqi borders: army

    16/Nov/2015 // 303 Viewers

    TEHRAN (AFP) - 

    A top Iranian army commander said Monday that his troops would take "decisive" action if Islamic State group militants come within 40 kilometres of its borders with Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Iran, the major Shiite power in the Middle East, is heavily involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq against the jihadists, primarily Sunni Muslims who denounce Shiites as apostates who must be killed.

    The comments from General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, who heads Iran's ground forces, came after Iraq's foreign minister said intelligence sources showed Iran was among countries IS had plans to attack.

    The remarks came after IS claimed responsibility for Friday's gun and bomb attacks in Paris which killed 129 people.

    "The Iraqi foreign ministry warned us but the Islamic Republic of Iran's army states that it has no fear of such threats and a red line has been drawn in Iraq 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the border," Pourdastan said.

    France, the United States and Iran were among the countries that Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said IS had targeted.

    "We have strongly warned that if any action is taken (by IS), it will face a decisive response from Iranian armed forces and we will do the same in Afghanistan," Pourdastan said, quoted by state media.

    "Today part of Daesh is in north Afghanistan and interested to approach Iran's border but the Iranian nation should rest assured that its sons in the army, the Guards, and police are ready," he added.

    "Before the enemy reaches borders, its actions will be neutralised."

    Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is independent of the army, has advisory missions in Iraq and Syria at the invitation of the Baghdad and Damascus governments.

    Pourdastan's statement comes just weeks before Iranian pilgrims prepare to travel to Iraq for the annual Arbaeen commemorations, which have been targeted by militants in past years.

    Almost one million Iranians have signed up online to attend this year's 70-kilometre religious walk between Najaf and Karbala on December 2, marking the death of Imam Hussein.

    Local media reports say up to three million Iranians may participate.

    Source: AFP


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