Shiraz officials arrested 500 people in the city alone, the group reports. The authoritiesissued verdicts “for 480 cases within 24 hours.” The majo
rity of those found guilty, especially the younger people, received lashings “by the henchmen from ‘Implementation of Verdicts Unit.'” They also sent out 3,000 warnings to other citizens. But those not from Iran also face punishment:On June 22, ninety-two boys and girls were arrested in Shahriar International Hotel of Tabriz on similar charges. Many of the arrestees were travelers that based on Islamic regulations were not in a condition to fast.
In the first week of Ramadan in Ilam alone, security forces arrested 200 and within a day barbaric decrees to flog them were issued.
Iran Human Rights, June 29, 2015: According to official reports, Iranian authorities carried out two amputation sentences in the Central Prison of Mashhad on Sunday (during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan).
One of the prisoners was identified by Khorassan newspaper as M.A., 26 years old, accused of theft by breaking into a residential home and stealing money. However, hours after its publication, the paper removed the prisoner’s name from the report. The amputation sentence was reportedly issued in branch 136 of Mashhad’s public and criminal court. The other prisoner, reportedly charged with ten counts of theft, was transferred to the Central Prison of Mashhad for the execution of his sentence (Ferdowsi Prison, where he is held, is reportedly not equipped to carry out amputations).
Civil and political activist Minoo Mortazi Langroudi has launched an appeal against the six-year prison sentence she received for her peaceful activism. Ms. Langroudi was convicted on charges of disturbing national security and propaganda against the state, based on her activities with a peaceful group that is critical of government policies.
“Ms. Langroudi’s activities have been within the law,” a source close to the family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “All her life she has shown that she is not an extremist or a law breaker and now she expects the sentence against her will be quashed.”
Minoo Mortazi Langroudi is a member of the Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists, a political organization that advocates for political reform and greater democratization in Iran and which is banned by the Islamic Republic. She is also one of the founders of Mothers for Peace, a grassroots group formed to campaign against military action against Iran, and a board member of the Center to Defend Prisoners’ Rights, an informal civil society organization focused on obtaining due process and better conditions for political prisoners as well as their release, which is also banned in Iran.
BEIRUT – Dramatic reports have emerged in Jordan that the country’s security forces have stopped an Iranian terror plot following the arrest of a man affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Jordan’s leading Al-Rai newspaper first broke the story of the thwarted terror plot early Monday, reporting that security forces had arrested an Iraqi-Norwegian national in possession of 45 kilograms of explosives in the north of the country.
A source told the daily that the man was affiliated with an Iranian group and was plotting terror attacks in Jordan.
Yemen: Classified document reveals extent of Iranian support for Houthis
Tehran, Asharq Al-Awsat-A copy of a high-level classified document obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat has revealed the extent of Tehran’s support for the Houthi movement currently in control of large parts of Yemen.
The document, marked “secret,” is a message from Mohammad Ali Shahidi, the head of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation, a charitable organization overseen by Iran’s Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressed to the organization’s subsidiary the Yemen Martyrs Foundation.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the message is a reply to a request by the Quds Force on behalf of the Yemen Martyrs Foundation.
The Quds Force is an elite division of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps involved in various operations outside Iran, including fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq.
The sources say the Quds Force requested the Iranian Martyrs Foundation to increase its financial support for the Houthis to 3.7 million US dollars due to the heavy losses the Houthis have sustained in recent months following Saudi-led airstrikes targeting the group in Yemen.
In the message, Shahrati says the Iranian Martyrs Foundation is ready to meet the requests for support to the families of the Houthis, addressing them as “Ansar Allah,” an alternative moniker for the group.
Ret. Vice Chief Of Staff: Obama Administration Does Anything Iranians Tell Them To Do
Retired Army three-star general and former Army Asst. Vice Chief of Staff Jay Garner told Howard Altmanof The Tampa Tribune that the U.S. Administration is taking orders from Tehran not to arm the Kurdish militia in northern Iraq and Syria.
“The Iranians have told the administration not to arm the Kurds. They back the government in Baghdad, which is a puppet government to Iran. Our administration is so immersed in this nuclear deal (with Iran) that I think they will do anything the Iranians tell them to do,” Garner said.
Garner is convinced that the Kurds can defeat Islamic State if they receive the necessary weapons. He claims that if the U.S. would give the Kurds A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and Apache attack helicopters, Javelin and TOW anti-tank weapons, 81 mm mortars, and M113 armored personnel carriers and armored Humvees, they would be able to continue their advances toward Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
“They have over 600 miles of frontage,” Garner said. “They have to guard the whole front and all that they have is light infantry.”
The Kurds need anti-tank weapons to eliminate the threat of the truck bombs Islamic State uses. Islamic State now uses three plates of armor to stop RPG’s from destroying their truck bombs that are often packed with thousands of pounds of explosives.
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. This past weekend it looked like negotiations were progressing, but Iran has once again upped its demands and is now pushing for the end of UN weapons sanctions.
The deadline for a deal has long since transpired, but negotiators continue to work towards an agreement. Two of the biggest issues holding up a potential Iran nuclear deal are the missile and warms embargoes being placed on Iran. The Iranian government has demanded that these be lifted, but so far Western envoys have refused.Apparently, the Iranian government has argued that the ballistic missiles have nothing to do with the country’s nuclear technology programs, and thus should be lifted. So far, Western officials have balked at the claim and also the demands to lift sanctions. Given on-going concerns with Iran’s military ambitions in the Middle East, and the potential that nuclear technology development could continue in secret even after negotiations are concluded, it’s unlikely that Western powers will budge on this key issue.
BEIRUT – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a law ratifying a $1 billion credit line from top regional ally Iran, Syria’s state news agency SANA said on Wednesday, funds which will help ease economic strains from the costly war.
The agreement was between two state-owned banks, the Syrian Commercial Bank and Export Development Bank of Iran, it said. Syria signed a previous $3.6 billion credit line with Iran in July 2013 which has been used up mostly for oil imports, bankers have said.
The new deal was signed on May 19 and approved by the Syrian parliament on Tuesday, SANA said. The money would be used for funding imports of goods and commodities and implementing projects, it said, without giving details.
Tehran’s financial aid has been seen as pivotal to the Syrian government and the economy, which has more than halved in the four years since the conflict erupted, researchers say.
Iran is believed to have sent dozens of military advisers and President Hassan Rouhani has said Tehran will back Assad “until the end of the road”. Several senior Iranian military figures have been killed in recent months.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has written an op-ed in the Financial Times which sets forward a distinct sequence for ostensibly resolving the daunting security challenges of the Middle East.
First, the P5+1 – the group of powerful nations negotiating with Iran – should come to a deal over its nuclear program. As a result, he argues, Tehran will “open new horizons” and join “the international battle” against “the increasingly brutal extremism that is engulfing the Middle East.”
The idea that Iran is a partner in the fight against terrorism is not only disingenuous but also absurd. What Zarif is seeking is a leap of faith by his Western readers, who are asked to believe that a country which has been repeatedly identified as the largest state supporter of terrorism in the world will suddenly be altered by an agreement over its nuclear program into an ally against terrorism. He is asking the world to simply trust Iran that this transformation is about to happen.
Iran’s leader calls for continued anti-US struggle
George Jahn & Mathew Lee
VIENNA (AP) – As negotiators at Iran nuclear talks labored to make headway, the country’s supreme leader called Saturday for the struggle against the U.S. to continue, in comments suggesting that Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist no matter what the outcome of the talks.
The negotiations entered their 15th day Saturday with no indications of major progress after three extensions and four target dates for a deal, and diplomats said it remained unclear whether an agreement could be reached by Monday, the latest deadline.
Iran and the U.S. have threatened to walk away unless the other side makes concessions. Although it was unclear whether Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was preparing the ground for the failure of the talks, his comments were likely to add to skepticism over the outcome at the negotiating table.
Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Khamenei as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It said Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate and US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter:
Who will leave office first, Syrian President Bashar Assad or US President Barack Obama?
The Pentagon chief reportedly answered, “I hope Assad, but I don’t think so.”
Carter’s answer highlights the basic contradiction of the US policy regarding Assad. Over the past four years, the Obama administration has repeatedly said that Assad needs to step down – but has done very little to make that a reality.
“Are you actively discussing ways to remove [Assad] as a part of that political transition?” a journalist asked Obama in November.
Recent reports filtering down from Iraq are further confirmation that U.S. President Barack Obama believes Iran and its proxies can play a constructive role in re-establishing security in this war-torn corner of the Middle East and rolling back the advances of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), the extremist group that has taken large swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory under its control. According to a Bloomberg scoop, U.S. forces are now sharing base Taqqadum with Iran-backed Shiite militia groups. Although proponents of this approach might argue that Shiite militias are the only viable option to fight I.S., a broader examination proves that such an undertaking is a risky business that will prove detrimental to the goals pursued by a U.S.-led campaign that is now nearing the end of its first year.
From a moral standpoint, it is plain wrong to align oneself with forces that are allegedly involved in crimes against humanity and the torture and murder of innocent civilians, no matter what short-lived gains such a choice might yield. According to reports by the international bodies such as Amnesty International and the U.N., these same forces are responsible for the abduction and brutal murder of Iraqi Sunnis, and have on several accounts proceeded with the looting and burning of Sunni towns after reclaiming them from I.S.
VIENNA – Uncertainty prevailed over the Iran nuclear talksSunday, with some diplomats suggesting that a final agreement is on the verge of completion and others saying significant issues remain unresolved one day before the latest deadline is due to elapse.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Viennaon Sunday evening, leaving the sextet of countries negotiating with Iran absent only one foreign minister, Wang Yi of China. Lavrov’s presence suggested a comprehensive deal is in the last stages of being prepared. And the Associated Press sent out an alert quoting two unnamed diplomats saying a draft agreement could be sent to the capitals as early as Sunday night, for an announcement Monday.
US Secretary of State says “genuine progress” made in talks but US still “prepared to walk away” if terms unacceptable.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said negotiating teams are close to a historic agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme byt cautioned that the talks could still go either way, and that Washington is still willing to walk away if an acceptable deal is not reached.
“It is now time to see whether or not we are able to close an agreement,” Kerry told reporters on Sunday in Vienna, ahead of a July 7 deadline.
“We have made genuine progress. We want a good agreement. We are not going to shave anywhere in the margins just to get to an agreement.”
On Monday, Mohammad Javad Zarif , the Iranian foreign minister, said that some differences still remained between the Islamic Republic and the six powers over the country’s disputed nuclear programme.
HANOVER, N.H. – Hillary Clinton warned voters here ahead of the Fourth of July weekend that even if President Obama reaches a deal with the Iranian government over its nuclear program, the regime in Tehran will still pose a major threat to the United States.
“I so hope that we are able to get a deal in the next week that puts a lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, because that is going to be a singular step in the right direction,” Clinton, the former secretary of state who is now running for president as a Democrat, told about 850 spectators in an outdoor amphitheater on the Dartmouth College campus.
But Clinton, despite her words of encouragement for Obama’s efforts to reach a deal with Iran, did not wholeheartedly endorse the process.
“We don’t know yet. It’s too soon. These things always go down to the wire,” she said.
And she quickly positioned herself in a more neutral way toward the entire process, saying that even if a deal is reached, it will not reduce the need to be vigilant against Tehran.
“But even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran,” she said. “They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism. They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and to create insurgencies, to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel.”
Tehran (AFP) – US President Barack Obama recently sent a private message to Iran’s leadership via Iraq’s prime minister, an Iranian newspaper reported Monday on the eve of a deadline for a nuclear deal.
Hamshahri, Iran’s highest-circulation daily, citing a lawmaker, said “one of the leaders of a neighbouring country” took the message from Obama to officials in Tehran.
The subject discussed was the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers led by the United States it said, without giving further details on its content.
The newspaper suggested that the message bearer was Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who met Obama on June 8 on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Germany.
Abadi visited Tehran on June 17, meeting Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as President Hassan Rouhani.