Brief On Iran – Newsletter
Feb 2nd, 2015
| Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)|
The Islamic Republic of Iran has executed approximately sixty-four of its own citizens in the first few weeks of January, according to recent reports by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and Iran Focus.
At its current pace, Iran will put around 1000 people to death, which would shatter last year’s record under “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani, which saw 721 Iranians reportedly executed by their own government.The Iranian regime started 2015 off with a bang, executing a reported fifteen individuals,including four women. In an officially recognized execution on January 17th, the Fars Province Justice released a picture showing two men hanging from a noose.On Christmas Day, 2014, the Iranian government hanged at least nine prisoners, according to multiple reports.
Iran Human Rights
An Iranian man has been sentenced to surgical removal of one eye and one ear as retribution for an acid attack. The sentence has not been implemented yet because no doctors have been willing to carry out the sentence. Iran Human Rights (IHR) condemns the Iranian authorities’ use of barbaric punishments and urges the international community to react. Spokesperson of IHR, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: ” Removal of inhumane punishment in law and practice must be a prerequisite for any improvement of relations between Iranian authorities and the international community”.
Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle East)
HATAY, Turkey-It didn’t take long for rebel commanders in Syria who lined up to join a Central Intelligence Agency weapons and training program to start scratching their heads.
After the program was launched in mid-2013, CIA officers secretly analyzed cellphone calls and email messages of commanders to make sure they were really in charge of the men they claimed to lead. Commanders were then interviewed, sometimes for days.
Those who made the cut, earning the label “trusted commanders,” signed written agreements, submitted payroll information about their fighters and detailed their battlefield strategy. Only then did they get help, and it was far less than they were counting on.
….“We walk around Syria with a huge American flag planted on our backs, but we don’t have enough AK-47s in our hands to protect ourselves,” a leader of the Hazzm Movement, among the most trusted of the trusted commanders, told U.S. lawmakers in a meeting after Nusra’s advances.
The CIA recently stopped offering help to all but a few trusted commanders in Syria. Much of the U.S.’s focus is shifting to southern Syria, where rebels seem more unified but say they get just 5% to 20% of the arms requested from the CIA.
Angelina Jolie on the Syrians and Iraqis Who Can’t Go Home
KHANKE, Iraq – I HAVE visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I’m witnessing now.
I came to visit the camps and informal settlements where displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees are desperately seeking shelter from the fighting that has convulsed their region.
In almost four years of war, nearly half of Syria’s population of 23 million people has been uprooted. Within Iraq itself, more than two million people have fled conflict and the terror unleashed by extremist groups. These refugees and displaced people have witnessed unspeakable brutality. Their children are out of school, they are struggling to survive, and they are surrounded on all sides by violence.
For many years I have visited camps, and every time, I sit in a tent and hear stories. I try my best to give support. To say something that will show solidarity and give some kind of thoughtful guidance. On this trip I was speechless.
President Barack Obama’s retreat on insisting that President Bashar al-Assad leave power was endorsed in an editorial in The New York Times yesterday.
But the unsettling truth is that the brutal dictator is still clinging to power and the United States and its allies are going to have to live with him, at least for now.
Mr. Kerry seemed tacitly to acknowledge as much recently when he urged Mr. Assad to change his policies, while omitting the usual call for him to leave office. …
Besides, the greater threat now is not Mr. Assad but the Islamic State, especially if it continues to expand in Syria, entices more foreign fighters into its ranks and uses its territory to launch attacks on the West. A recent study by the RAND Corporation, which does research for the government, says the collapse of the Assad regime, while unlikely now, would be the “worst possible outcome” for American interests – depriving Syria of its remaining state institutions and creating more space for the Islamic State and other extremists to spread mayhem.
The Iranian budget for the coming year, which begins on March 21, gives a fairly clear snapshot of the ruling regime’s priorities. And an understanding of those priorities should prove relevant to an issue that is much more prominent in the minds of Western policymakers and their constituents: the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers.
The regime is caught between a rock and a hard place. The very things that it needs for its material survival are the same things that threaten its ideological survival.
On one hand, Iran is facing serious economic pressures that provide it with an obvious incentive to complete a deal and thus secure relief from U.S.-led sanctions. Despite its best efforts, the regime has been unable to deny that those pressures exist.
The recent assassination of Alberto Nisman, the top Argentinean prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the bombing of AMIA Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 – one of the biggest terrorist attacks in the Western hemisphere before 9/11 – has created furious reactions around the world.
Some have called this murder on Jan. 18, 2015 more serious than the AMIA bombing itself as it is one of the country’s highest judicial authorities, tasked with the investigation of the initial crime, who has been ruthlessly eliminated.
Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has claimed that Nisman was murdered as part of an internal plot against her government.What has been less noted in the media is the main party who would benefit most from Nismans’ death: The Iranian government. Eight of the Iranian regimes’ top officials were listed as suspects and received Red Notices by Interpol for the AMIA bombing, a case that had been studied in detail by Nisman for the past 11 years.
Two essential requirements: congressional approval of any deal and new sanctions if the negotiations fail.
Anuclear-capable Iran is the gravest threat facing America today. The Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, the so-called P5+1 talks, were supposed to stop Iran’s rush to a nuclear bomb. Regrettably, what began as an unwise gamble has descended into a dangerous series of unending concessions, which is why the time has come for Congress to act.
There is an escalating row between Congress and President Barack Obama over Iran sanctions and the process of negotiations over that country’s nuclear program. Congress will introduce legislation within the next few weeks that would trigger sanctions if Iran fails to sign on to a compromise by theJune 30 deadline for nuclear talks.
The Obama administration has promised to veto any such legislation, arguing that its passage would spell the end of the talks, leading others to blame U.S. overreach for that failure. The president himself said recently, “My main message to Congress at this point is just hold your fire. Nobody around the world, least of all the Iranians, doubt my ability to get additional sanctions passed if these negotiations fail.”
But if the practical result is the same, why does it matter whether we pass the sanctions bill before or after the talks fail?
Contrary to the president’s warnings, there must be something different about the two situations. Advance sanctions legislation leaves no doubt that the United States is serious about securing a favorable nuclear deal. Conversely, the administration’s staunch opposition to that legislation suggests that it is staying true to a soft strategy that may let the Islamic Republic off the hook, whether by giving away sanctions relief in exchange for little Iranian commitment or by merely maintaining the status quo if talks collapse.
This was a bold statement by the president regarding the interim “Joint Plan of Action” governing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. In defending the talks against efforts in Congress to pass a sanctions package if the talks fail, the president made two key points: one, progress on Iran’s nuclear program has been “halted” and two, Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material has been “reduced.”
We realize that White House speechwriters probably don’t want to be bothered with technical issues in such a high-profile speech but here’s a case where some further wordsmithing was needed. This isn’t the first time. A year ago, in the 2014 State of the Union, The Fact Checker handed out Pinocchios when the president claimed that the inspections allowed under the agreement were “unprecedented.” That’s way too sweeping a statement.
President Obama opposes the Iran sanctions debate in Congress, but action on Capitol Hill will in fact strengthen the president’s hand at the negotiating table.
On Tuesday, Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015. The bill would lay a tough new round of sanctions on Tehran should negotiators fail to limit Iran’s nuclear program. The act has strong bipartisan support, with eight Republican and six Democratic co-sponsors.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama asked Congress not to move forward with the sanctions bill, saying it would make negotiations more difficult and could even lead to war. But Congress is taking a highly deferential approach. In a nod to White House concerns, Democratic backers of the bill agreed to hold off support for floor action until after the March 24 deadline the P5+1 nations have targeted for an agreement with Iran. In addition, even if the bill passes, sanctions do not kick in until July 6. Furthermore, the bill grants the president month by month waiver authority if a deal with Tehran is imminent.
The US House of Representatives has begun working on its own Iran sanctions bill rather than simply agreeing to pass whatever the Senate comes up with, Al-Monitor has learned.
The dual-track effort presents an additional challenge for the White House, which has repeatedly warned Congress that new sanctions could derail nuclear talks. It could, however, end up buying time for negotiators to strike a final agreement, since both chambers must pass the same bill for legislation to become law.”We feel very strongly that the House needs to play an important role, not just rubber-stamp whatever the Senate decides to do,” the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., told Al-Monitor. “So we’re going to put our heads together [with Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif.] and see what’s the best way to proceed.”