A key issue that has been ignored during the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities is Tehran’s reprehensible record on human rights, former Hungarian Ambassador to the U.S. Andras Simonyi said Mondayon Newsmax TV‘s “America’s Forum.”
It was as if Iran’s record on human rights “had been totally forgotten,” he said. Iran is “a country where they’re killing the opponents of the regime, where they’re killing, openly hunting down and killing, gay people. So there are a lot of issues, outstanding issues out there that have been missing in the debate. “But the bottom line is, we’re not there yet.”
Earlier this month, Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, led an official delegation to the United Nations in New York to attend the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. In her March 11speech to the commission, Molaverdi said that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has always had the empowerment of women and improving their status…on its agenda.”
Molaverdi described the significant progress Iranian women have made in education and science, citing unilateral economic sanctions and violence against women as factors that have impeded the full realization of women’s rights. There was little in her speech to suggest that domestic factors — including Iran’s laws and policies — play a significant role in depriving Iranian women of real gender equality and empowerment.
Former US Marine Amir Hekmati has formally renounced the Iranian half of his dual American-Iranian citizenship, three and a half years after he was arrested and accused of spying while in Iran on a trip to visit his family.
The story was conveyed to the media via Hekmati’s sister Sarah, and via a letter dictated by phone to his mother and sent to the office of the US embassy in Pakistan, which handles affairs for visitors to Iran, in absence of direct diplomatic relations between the US and the Islamic Republic.
In his letter, Hekmati affirmed the interpretation of his imprisonment that has been advanced by many of his advocates in the US. Iran has never provided evidence to support its accusations of spying, which originally led to Hekmati being sentenced to death before that sentence was thrown out and replaced with a ten year prison term on the charge of cooperating with “hostile governments.”
“It has become very clear to me that those responsible view Iranian-Americans not as citizens or even human beings, but as bargaining chips and tools for propaganda,” Hekmati explained in his letter, as quoted by the Associated Press. “Considering how little value the Ministry of Intelligence places on my Iranian citizenship and passport, I, too, place little value on them and inform you, effectively that I formally renounce my Iranian citizenship and passport.”
In a few weeks, London-based boutique investment bank First Frontier will be taking a group of European institutional investors to Tehran, Iran.This is the firm’s first trip to Iran, a country that’s been off the U.S. investment horizon for decades, but that even to many European investors, is also largely unknown and off-the-charts. But Nicholas Banszky, chairman of First Frontier, hopes the Tehran trip will result in a long and fruitful involvement in Iran, which he believes represents tremendous investment potential.
“This is something we’re very committed to and we see it as a huge opportunity,” he said.
The progress of the negotiations that have taken place thus far between Iran and the U.S. have generated a great deal of excitement in the international investment community. Many U.S. investors are believing that if the sanctions against Iran may ease, it may open the door to foreign investment-which the country desperately needs, and in large quantities, too.
In his interview with journalist Thomas Friedman this week, US President Barack Obama said that the threat to regional states, including Saudi Arabia, is not Iranian intervention, but rather “internal threats.” Can this be true?
The reality is that Obama has an incorrect view of the region, and this is something that has become increasingly clear since he took office. He is always wrong on our region, and has made the biggest mistakes here, and these mistakes have had major consequences.
Obama rushed to withdraw from Iraq, and now here we see him returning once again. He played down the Syrian revolution and Assad’s crimes. He talked about “red lines” but Assad has crossed each and every one of these, while Obama has done nothing. He played down the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) only to subsequently be forced to acknowledge the reality of the situation, although he still had enough time to blame his country’s intelligence services for failing to realize this earlier.
It is also interesting to note a recent Washington Post report that revealed the extent of ISIS’s connection with the former ruling Ba’athist regime in Iraq, and that many members of the group are ex-members of Saddam Hussein’s military. This is the same military that was controversially disbanded following the Iraq invasion. Washington has made many mistakes in Iraq, and Obama must bear some share of the responsibility for this.
The Obama administration expressed concern Monday over Russia’s possible sale of sophisticated S-300 air defense systems to Iran, after President Vladimir Putin lifted a ban on supplying the advanced surface-to-air missile systems to the Islamic Republic.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration had previously made known its objection to Russia’s possible sale of S-300s to Iran, and that Secretary of State John Kerry “had the opportunity to raise these concerns once again in a recent conversation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Earnest said Russia understands the U.S. takes seriously the safety and security of its allies in the region.
Earlier Monday, the Kremlin’s website reported that Putin had signed a decree lifting a ban on providing Iran with S-300s.
Moscow signed a contract worth $800 million back in 2007 to supply Tehran with five S-300 batteries. Russia, however, froze the contract three years later after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran.
DAMASCUS: After enduring two years of famine and fighting, Ibrahim Abdel-Fatah said he saw heads cut off by ISIS jihadis in the Palestinian neighborhood of Yarmouk in Damascus. That was it. He fled and hasn’t looked back.
Unshaven, pale and gaunt, he has found refuge with his wife and seven children at the Zeinab al-Haliyeh school in Tadamon, a southeastern district of the Syrian capital held by the army.
“I saw severed heads. They killed children in front of their parents. We were terrorized,” he said.
“We had heard of their cruelty from the television, but when we saw it ourselves … I can tell you, their reputation is well-deserved,” the 55-year-old said.
The school is currently home to 98 displaced people, among them 40 children, who have been put up in three classrooms.
The usual occupants, schoolchildren, have been evacuated temporarily from rooms where mattresses and bedding now blanket the floor.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Iran dispatched a naval destroyer and another vessel Wednesday to waters near Yemen as the United States quickened weapons supply to the Saudi-led coalition striking rebels there, underlining how foreign powers are deepening their involvement in the conflict.
Iran’s English-language state broadcaster Press TV quoted Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the ships would be part of an anti-piracy campaign “safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region.”
The maneuver comes amid an intense Saudi-led Gulf Arab air campaign targeting the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, who come from a Shiite sect. Critics say Shiite power Iran backs the Houthis, though both the Islamic Republic and the rebels deny any direct military assistance.
I tried to ignore U.S. President Barack Obama’s interview with the New York Times because I am sure it’s part of his propaganda campaign for the initial deal with Iran. Still, the interview’s impact cannot be ignored. Obama provoked many here in the region, a lot more than he calmed their fears!
Thomas Friedman, one of the Times’ most prominent authors and one of the most knowledgeable about the region’s affairs, interviewed the president. Perhaps this was why the nation’s leader was dragged into arguing his points, instead of justifying them.
What’s strange about the conversation was that Obama commended the Iranian regime and justified its actions, while implying a sense of guilt over what the U.S. had done against Iran.
Unfortunately, it seems like too many in President Barack Obama’s administration have forgotten that the only reason this terrorist-supporting state came to the negotiating table in the first place was because of tough sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress.
Indeed, the reality is that President Obama is giving up enormous leverage in his nuclear deal with Iran — and I worry we will lose it for good.
Bleeding money, and faced with falling oil prices, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei gave his government rare permission to bargain with the “Great Satan” — the United States. But just as U.S. and European sanctions were forcing Iran to the nuclear crossroads, President Obama has given Tehran an easy exit. For Khamenei, the “framework” announced last week looks like a win-win: He gets to keep his nuclear infrastructure, and in return gets billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
—– The best predictor of its future behavior is its past behavior –– between 2004 and 2009, the Iranian government built a huge centrifuge facility named Fordo under a mountain deep in the Iranian desert.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, joined that nation’s president Thursday in saying any nuclear agreement must include the immediate lifting of economic sanctions choking the country.In his first public comments on the framework for a deal with world powers released last week, Khamenei told a gathering of religious poets he “is neither for nor against” the agreement. Because the agreement is just on a framework, not a deal itself, “nothing has been done yet,” he said.
“What has happened so far neither guarantees a deal … nor does it guarantee the content of a deal,” he said. “It doesn’t even guarantee the talks will go on until the end and will lead to a deal.”
He said the punitive “sanctions should be lifted completely on the very day of the deal.”
…….President Hassan Rouhani, in a televised address at a ceremony marking Iran’s nuclear technology day, also appeared to rule out a gradual removal of the sanctions, which have devastated Iran’s economy.“We will not sign any agreement, unless all economic sanctions are totally liftedon the first day of the implementation of the deal,” Rouhani said. “We want a win-win deal for all parties involved in the nuclear talks.
The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.
Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests-and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.
(CNN)Iran will sign a final nuclear agreement only if economic sanctions against the nation are removed on the first day of the deal’s implementation, President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic republic’s supreme leader, meanwhile, told state-run media outlets he is neither in favor nor against the proposed deal because it isn’t final, and he’s not certain it will become binding because he has “never been optimistic about negotiations with the U.S.”
Six world powers and Iran reached a preliminary deal last week that aims to limit Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.
The United States, however, has stressed that if a final deal is reached with Iran, the removal of any sanctions will come in phases.
But work on the agreement isn’t finished.
Negotiators from Iran and the United States, China, Germany, France, Britain and Russia have untilJune 30 to come up with a final deal.