DEBKAfile Special Report March 20, 2015, 7:54 PM (IDT)
debkafile’s exclusive Iranian sources report that the delegation to the nuclear talks taking place in Lausanne received orders from Tehran Friday, March 20, to break off negotiations and return home for consultations. Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif and Iran’s national security chief Ali Akhbar Salehi used the funeral of President Hassan Rouhani’s 90-year-old mother as a pretext for packing their bags and leaving the deadlocked talks behind them in Lausanne. This followed the sixth round of talks in the Swiss city with US Secretary of State John Kerry that failed to break the impasse on a nuclear accord.
The Iranians said they would return to resume the talks next week but set no date, although other sources mentioned Wednesday, March 25. Another sign of a crisis was the cancellation of briefing Friday in Brussels of British, German, French and European Union leaders on progress in the negotiations that was supposed to reflect progress toward a deal by the March 31 deadline.
An hour before France, Britain and Germany were to join the talks in Lausanne, the Iranians announced they were about to leave.
It was announced subsequently that Kerry would hold the cancelled Brussels briefing in France Saturday for officials rather than top leaders.
Speaking to Western news agencies Friday, Western and Iranian officials admitted that all the sides were very far apart. “We are not close to anything resembling a draft agreement,” said a European negotiator. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the length of an agreement, the pace of sanctions relief and international monitoring remain points of contention. No draft would be circulated until closer to the June 30 deadline for technical annexes, said the Russian official.
In other words, the March 31 deadline for a framework accord appeared to have gone by the board.
Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39
DEBKAfile Special Report March 20, 2015, 7:54 PM (IDT)
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7094
Saudi Arabia Says That “Iran Is Taking Over Iraq” And Is Worried That Its Next. Prophecy Is Nearing.
By Walid Shoebat
Shoebat.com explained in detail yesterday what is happening in Iraq stating that: “It is not only a bomb that Tehran is after, they are slowly taking over Iraq. Iran will soon arise as a bear to consume much flesh. Today in Iraq, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), the Badr Brigades and Hezbollah are the three militias that have been instrumental in battling ISIS, the rival Sunni sect. These militias are the three small Iraqi Shi’ite armies, all backed by Iran, which together have become the most powerful military force in Iraq and are key to Iran’s power and influence inside neighboring Iraq.”
And now the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a joint press release, while both warned on Thursday of Iran’s ‘destabilizing’ policies in the region and stressed on ensuring Tehran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia was still not satisfied. In a strongly worded statement, al-Faisal told reporters during a joint conference with Kerry in Riyadh that “Iran is taking over Iraq.”
This is a major concern for Saudi Arabia.
Kerry, as the usual mantra goes, trying to comfort the Saudis said the United States was keeping an eye on Iran’s ‘destabilizing’ acts even as the two nations try to reach a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Even as we engage in these discussions with Iran around this program, we will not take our eye off Iran’s destabilizing actions” in the region,” he told reporters.
But Al-Feisal was very concerned while Kerry said Iran is still considered a state-sponsor of terrorism. In other words, he is saying that the U.S. is in bed with terrorists. Kerry added that his country was aware of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani’s presence and activity in Iraq.
In other words, Kerry is telling Saudi Arabia that he is aware that Iran is in Iraq, but not to worry, that the U.S. will back Saudi Arabia if needed.
Soleimani, a major concern for Saudi Arabia, is reportedly overseeing Shiite militias in the major offensive to expel Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants from the city of Tikrit.
Al-Faisal said that Kerry had given him assurances that Washington would not forget about other Iranian behavior in the region while it pursued a nuclear deal.
The Saudi top diplomat said Tikrit is an example of what is worrying the kingdom.
The kingdom “stresses the need to provide the military means needed to face this challenge on the ground,” al-Faisal said, adding that the Syrian crisis is providing shelter for terrorism, “with Assad’s blessing.”
Kerry, meanwhile, said military pressure may be needed to oust the Syrian president.
“He’s lost any semblance of legitimacy, but we have no higher priority than disrupting and defeating ISIS… Ultimately a combination of diplomacy and pressure will be needed to bring about a political transition,” he told reporters, adding that “military pressure may be needed.”
Despite Kerry’s assurances, Saudi Arabia is extremely concerned. Qassem Suleimani is the commander of the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). So it is not ‘Iraq cleaning the ISIS mess’, but Iran encroaching into Iraq. Saudi Arabia is not fooled, Suleimani is fiercely loyal to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. While he is viewed as a useful man to have by Shiite Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, who is scrambling to organize a counterattack against the Sunni jihadis of ISIS, this deal is not free.
Since the U.S. lacks the will to have its ground forces embroiled in another Middle East war it is resorting to Iran which worries Saudi Arabia that the U.S. is disengaging from the Middle East which leaves its nation on its own to defend itself from Iran.
But none of this was necessary. Had the U.S. played the chips correctly, it would rely on smaller powers like Egypt and Syria to take on ISIS instead of deteriorating the relationships with the two nations. Obama intentionally alienated these two mini-powers for a reason. In order to fight ISIS it is best to work with Arab states struggling to survive ISIS rather than work with Iran and Turkey who will only fight ISIS in order to consume. Obama is more interested in the second, which will advance and catapult the Islamic revolution globally. From a practical standpoint, the uniformity of interests between the Assad government and the Islamic Republic of Iran were independent of the Shia roots of the Syrian Alawite government while Egypt is against the coming threat of the neo-Ottoman Turks, Obama’s closest ally.
Soleimani, the Iranian commander is a major threat to Saudi Arabia. He submitted to Iraq’s military in order to give instructions to the army and volunteers in the region. Today the Iraqi forces, composed of 27 thousand troops in addition to the volunteer fighters, are nearing the control of the city of Tikrit.
And now we see Soleimani working with Qais al-Khazali, the head of a militia called Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) that is backed by Iran. He is one of the most feared and respected militia leaders in Iraq, and one of Iran’s most important representatives in the country. Alongside Asaib Ahl al–Haq, there are the Badr Brigades, formed in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War, and the younger and more secretive Kataib Hezbollah, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by the State Department. The three militias have been instrumental in battling ISIS. These militias are the three small Iraqi Shi’ite armies, all backed by Iran, which together have become the most powerfulmilitary force in Iraq since the collapse of the national army in June and are key to Iran’s power and influence inside neighboring Iraq and further, into Saudi Arabia.
In 2012, Shoebat stated on a TV show that Iran will gain the nuke while many disagreed stating that Israel will take them out. Shoebat even said that Iran will attack Saudi Arabia: “They could launch them against Israel. But remember, the Israelis have the Arrow missile. It could meet any missile coming from Iran mid-way over the top of Saudi Arabia. And if you look at the Bible, remember, the Harlot is destroyed by two entities. By … the hand of My people, Israel, and then you have in Isaiah 21, Arise O Elam to destroy what? Arabia. Elam is Iran. Persia will destroy Arabia. I believe Arabia is the Harlot of Babylon. If you look at the Bible — when you read Babylon in the Bible — all the names of the cities, entities, regions within those [areas of] Babylon in the Bible, you will never find any ancient name of any Babylonian city … Every single vicinity [mentioned in Isaiah 21] is in Arabia. The burden against Dumah. Dumah is in Arabia… Dedan, Kedar, those are all in Arabia. It’s born from Babylon. That’s why it’s called the daughter of Babylon. We need to focus on Saudi Arabia because it is mentioned heavily in the Bible.”
Jeremiah 50:9, “For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon An assembly of great nations from the north country, And they shall array themselves against her; From there she shall be captured. Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; None shall return in vain.”
Start at 5:00 this video:
We can now see clearer, Iran is gulping up Iraq, exactly as we said years ago. Saudi Arabia is more fearful of Iran, biblical Elam, who in Isaiah 21 destroys Arabia, the harlot, whom her clients will finally dump since the U.S. is favoring a new partner: Iran. Kerry is simply comforting the old hag telling her that he still cares for her and is why his name is Kerry
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7039
Throws wrench in Obama’s negotiations with Islamic regime
Published: 14 hours ago
WASHINGTON – As the Obama administration negotiates a controversial nuclear agreement with Iran, a dissident group is revealing evidence Tehran is operating a secret uranium-enrichment site northeast of the capital city.
The disclosure Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, NCRI, threatens to undermine the credibility of any nuclear agreement the Obama administration might reach with the radical Islamic clerics that have controlled the government in Tehran since Ayatollah Khomeni’s revolution in 1979.
NCRI’s deputy director, Alireza Jafarzadeh, said Iran cannot be trusted.
“How in the world can the United States expect to get an agreement from Iran to end their nuclear program, when we continue to find Iran is developing and operating secret nuclear facilities that are withheld even from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Administration?” Jafarzadeh asked.
“Iran has lied repeatedly about its secret nuclear facilities, and then when Iran is caught, the government gives you two more lies,” he said.
Jafarzadeh and Soona Samsami, U.S. representative of NCRI, identified the secret nuclear site as Lavizan-3, located in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.
They said it operates advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges under the cover of an Intelligence Ministry center.
The NCRI disclosure was developed by the Mujahedin-e Klaq, MEK, the group’s political arm in Iran founded in 1965 to oppose Khomeini’s radical Islamic revolution.
NCRI has a track record of accurately disclosing secret Iranian uranium enrichment sites. In 2002, NCRI revealed Iran’s top secret uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, some 100 miles north of Isfahan, and a second top secret Iranian nuclear plant in Arak, approximately 150 miles south of Tehran, designed to produce heavy water for the production of plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.
The Lavizan-3 site is about 500 by 500 yards, with the primary nuclear facility buried deep underground, NCRI said. It consists of four parallel halls, each more than 200 yards long. The facility was constructed by the Iranian Defense Ministry under the direction of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brig. Gen. Seyyed Ali Hosseini-Tash, then the deputy defense minister, and Kalaye Electric Company, affiliated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, responsible for the enrichment of uranium.
Jafarzadeh said there is “no way to insure Iran is not developing secret nuclear weapons if Tehran keeps nuclear sites like Lavizan-3 hidden even from the IAEA such that the sites cannot be subject to international inspection.”
“This is especially important when you are talking about a regime that has a track record of lying, cheating and deceiving the whole world,” he said. “That is why the U.S. government and the IAEA should take this information very seriously.”
Jafarzadeh emphasized the importance of the disclosure of yet another secret Iranian nuclear site as the negotiations with the U.S. in Geneva are approach a March 31 deadline.
“This site, Levizan-3, must be inspected and there should be no delay,” he said. “It is absolutely senseless to continue the negotiations discussing how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed to have going forward when we have these serious outstanding issues lingering out there.”
Jafarzadeh said NCRI shared the disclosures with top levels of the U.S. government and with the IAEA.
The disclosures were a “revelation” to the IAEA, he said.
“Under current IAEA agreements, the operation of Levizan-3 is in clear violation of IAEA requirements to inform the IAEA of all developments in Iranian nuclear research and development, as well as a violation of numerous United Nations Security Council decrees, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” he said.
An NCRI statement said the “notion that the mullahs will abandon their nuclear weapons program through nuclear talks is a misguided narrative, which is the byproduct of the mullahs’ duplicity and western economic and political expediency.”
“Those who hope to secure the regime’s cooperation in the campaign against fundamentalism by offering nuclear concessions to the mullahs are both increasing the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran and contributing to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism,” NCRI said.
In a prepared statement she read at the press conference,
Samsami said in a prepared statement that research and development with advanced centrifuges in secret sites are only intended to advance Iran’s nuclear weapons project.
“Why else would the Iranian regime deceive the world into believing it had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, when Levizan-3 was in preparation from 2004 through 2008?” she asked.
“If the United States is serious about preventing the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, the United States must make the continuation of talks conditional on the IAEA’s immediate inspection of the Levizan-3 site,” she stressed. “Any delay in doing so will enable the Iranian regime to destroy the evidence as it has done in the past.”
In 2005, WND Books published “Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.” The author, senior staff writer Jerome Corsi, argued Iranian supporters in the U.S. of the Islamic regime, including New York-based investment banker Hassan Nemazee, had influenced U.S. politicians such as then-Sen. John Kerry to take campaign contributions in exchange for accepting an Iranian promise of developing nuclear capabilities only for energy.
In 2004, Nemazee served as the New York finance chairman for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, followed by serving as finance chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
In her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton chose Nemazee to serve as her national finance director.
On March 2010, Nemazee, then 60, pleaded guilty in federal court to fraudulently applying for and receiving some $292 million in loans. As chairman of Nemazee Capital, he received the loans from Citicorp, Bank of America and HSBC to buy property in Westchester County, make campaign contributions to Democratic Party politicians, donate to charity and to support his lavish society lifestyle.
On July 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Namazee to more than 12 years in federal prison on multiple federal criminal counts of bank and wire fraud.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7018
The Ukraine crisis has turned into a potentially apocalyptic nuclear stand-off as President Vladimir Putin primes Russia for conflict with the West. But how scared should we really be?
By Marc Bennetts
7:00AM GMT 15 Feb 2015
Earlier this month, as fighting raged in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and forces loyal to the Western-backed government in Kiev, Dmitry Kiselyov, the pugnacious, middle-aged journalist who heads Russia’s main state news agency, gazed defiantly into a TV studio camera. “What is Russia preparing for?” he asked. As if in reply, the director cut to an ominous backdrop image of an intercontinental ballistic missile emerging from an underground launch silo.
“During the era of political romanticism, the Soviet Union pledged never to use nuclear weapons first,” Kiselyov told the audience of Vesti Nedeli, his current affairs show, one of the country’s most widely watched programmes. “But Russia’s current military doctrine does not.” He paused briefly for effect. “No more illusions.”
There was nothing out of the ordinary about this reminder that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a “threat” to its statehood. Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, which has massive geostrategic importance for Russia, state-controlled TV has engineered an upsurge in aggressive anti-Western sentiment, with Kiselyov as the Kremlin’s top attack dog.
Last spring, as Washington warned of sanctions over Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Kiselyov boasted about his country’s fearsome nuclear arsenal. “Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the US into radioactive ash,” he declared.
Kiselyov’s blood-curdling comments will have had the Kremlin’s implicit backing, analysts say. “This threat of nuclear war should be taken seriously,” said Sergey Markov, a political strategist. “In Russia, we believe that Ukraine has been occupied by the US. And that this occupation is not about democracy, or even money, but that it is the first step in a war against Russia. The US is seeking to undermine our sovereignty, neutralise our nuclear potential, and steal our oil and gas. Under these circumstances, the danger of nuclear confrontation is very real.”
Some 5,500 lives have been lost in the almost year-long conflict in Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels in the east have carved out two self-declared “people’s republics”. The crisis was sparked by the February 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in what Kremlin officials say was a coup orchestrated by the US. In addition, President Vladimir Putin has spoken of what he called a “Nato legion” fighting alongside the Ukrainian army.
While there is no proof that Nato forces are in action in Ukraine, US officials have suggested that Washington could supply weapons to Kiev to assist its battered army. The proposal sparked a furious response: Viktor Zavarzin, of Russia’s defence committee, warned of the “irrevocable consequences” of such a move.
In turn, the West has accused Russia of providing both troops and weaponry to the rebels, a charge Putin has consistently denied.
A ceasefire thrashed out by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – the second attempt to bring peace to the devastated region – was set to come into effect today at one minute past midnight.
Amid these tensions, Kiselyov is not the only one pushing the possibility of nuclear confrontation with the West. Russia’s Zvezda TV channel, owned by the defence ministry, has also been preparing its audience for the worst. “Russia and the US are on the verge of nuclear war,” read a headline on its website last week. The article cited an analyst from the Moscow-based Politika think tank, Vyacheslav Nikonov, which said a nuclear exchange between the two former Cold War-era foes was increasingly likely because the US wanted Russia to “disappear” as an independent country. “This is not in our plans,” he said.
Russia has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, with 8,400 warheads compared with a US total of 7,500. A day after last week’s peace talks in Belarus, Russia’s nuclear forces staged large-scale exercises, soon after navy nuclear combat drills in the Arctic. All of which causes concern in the West. Michael Fallon, the UK Defence Secretary, said earlier this month that he was worried Russia had “lowered its threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons, while “integrating nuclear with conventional forces in a rather threatening way.”
The prospect of nuclear war is also being talked up by pro-Kremlin movements. In a clip posted online last month, a Kalashnikov-wielding member of the Moscow-based, pro-Kremlin National Liberation Movement (NOD) vows global nuclear devastation in the event of the defeat of Russia’s interests in Ukraine. “If we lose, we will destroy the whole world,” intones a young NOD activist named Maria Katasonova. She sweeps a circle with her arm, and the screen is filled with a virtual image of an explosion as the planet is consumed in an atomic inferno.
“Russians will not sit by and watch as their country’s sovereignty is threatened by the US,” Katasonova told The Sunday Telegraph last week. “If our country is in genuine danger, we really will use nuclear weapons.”
Katasonova is a follower of Alexander Dugin, a hardline nationalist thinker who has called for the destruction of the US. Dugin – described as “Putin’s brain” by the respected US-based Foreign Affairs journal – is something of a fanatic. He combines political activities with occultism, and often speaks of his belief that the world must be “brought to an end”.
So what’s going on? Is Moscow really preparing its people for the unthinkable – nuclear confrontation? Or is all this simply North Korean-style bluff and bluster? How many minutes are left until the Kremlin’s doomsday clock strikes midnight?
“It is, of course, a disgrace and an embarrassment to my country that such things are being said on national television,” said Lev Ponomaryov, a veteran human rights activist and Soviet-era dissident. “But statements about nuclear war are mainly for domestic consumption. In particular, they are directed at the more radical, nationalist members of society – those who have been fighting as volunteers in Ukraine, or support the rebels there.”
While Putin denies that regular Russian troops are fighting in Ukraine, he has hailed the hundreds, if not thousands, of apparent volunteers who have travelled to what the rebels call “Novorossiya” – “New Russia”. A number of these fighters have become folk heroes back home; in particular, Igor Strelkov, the ultra-conservative enthusiast who spent much of last year commanding rebel forces in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
“I think these people frighten the Kremlin even more than they scare me,” said Ponomaryov. “The authorities are afraid that they could one day turn their weapons against them, and the government will do anything to keep them on side.”
State television’s war rhetoric is not confined to the nuclear. In recent days, one Kremlin-run channel has discussed how long it would take for Russian tanks to “reach Berlin”, while in east Ukraine, bloody and bruised government soldiers were abused by a notorious rebel commander in front of Russian television cameras.
But state-run media’s fever-pitch, anti-Western TV programming is not only pandering to the radicals, it is also creating them. “Nationally televised broadcasts, such as those presented by Dmitry Kiselyov, have scared people, and led to increased hostility in society,” said Lev Gudkov, who heads the independent, Moscow-based Levada-Center polling agency. “We have seen a drastic change in the collective consciousness of the Russian people over the last year or so.”
The figures are startling. The number of Russians who believe their country and the US are now mutual enemies has increased tenfold in a year to 42 per cent, according to an opinion poll. The total professing a negative attitude to the US has almost doubled.
The statistics are backed by everyday incidents, from the racist image of a banana-munching President Barack Obama laser-beamed on to the wall of the US embassy in Moscow, to the T-shirts with slogans hailing Russia’s nuclear missiles, on sale across the country.
“Of course I don’t want an atomic war with the West,” said Yegor Denisov, a twentysomething computer programmer. “But we have to defend ourselves from our enemies. And this,” he said, gesturing at the ballistic missile on his newly bought T-shirt, “will help us do that.”
Although state media broadcasts have clearly had a pernicious influence on society, putting the country on a war footing and boosting Putin’s approval ratings, Peter Pomerantsev, a UK journalist who worked in Russian TV in the 2000s, believes they are mainly intended for a Western audience.
“I wouldn’t take these statements about nuclear war literally,” said Pomerantsev, whose book, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, dissects the Kremlin’s media manipulation tactics. Talk of impending nuclear conflict is “one of Putin’s mind-benders”, part of what he called an attempt to convince the West that the former KGB officer is this “crazy, unpredictable” leader whom it would be advisable not to push too far.
But the lines between fantasy and reality can all too often get blurred.
“There is always the danger that games somehow slip into reality – you start off playing with these narratives, and you end up stumbling into a real conflict,” said Pomerantsev.
The Kremlin’s masters of reality have uncorked the atomic genie. It is to be hoped they show the same aptitude when it comes to putting it back in the bottle.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7004
US president says difference in stance on Tehran is separate from the decision not to meet with PM during his Washington visit; Netanyahu says he’s determined to speak to Congress to ‘prevent dangerous agreement’ with Iran.
Yitzhak Benhorin, Gilad Morag
US President Barack Obama on Monday warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against souring nuclear negotiations with Iran with his planned Congress address.
“It does not make sense to sour the negotiations a month or two before they’re about to be completed and we should play that out. If, in fact, we can get a deal, then we should embrace that,” the president said in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“If we can’t get a deal, then we’ll have to make a set of decisions and, as I’ve said to Congress, I’ll be the first one to work with them to apply even stronger measures against Iran,” he said.
“But what’s the rush? Unless your view is that it’s not possible to get a deal with Iran and it shouldn’t even be tested. And that, I cannot agree with, because as the president of the United States, I’m looking at what the options are if we don’t get a diplomatic resolution. And those options are narrow, and they’re not attractive,” the president added.
However, despite the “real differences” between the American administration’s position and that of Israel on Iran, “that’s separate and apart from Mr. Netanyahu coming to Washington,” Obama said.
When asked about the decision not to meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister visits Washington next month to address Congress on the Iranian threat, Obama reiterated that the decision was made due to the proximity to the elections in Israel.
Her added that “as much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House, and I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one.”
He went on to say that the decision also “has to do with how we do business, and I think it’s important for us to maintain these protocols because the US-Israeli relationship is not about a particular party.”
Netanyahu is due to address a joint session of Congress about Iran’s nuclear program on March 3, just two weeks before Israeli elections, following an invitation from John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House.
Boehner’s invitation has caused consternation in both Israel and the United States, largely because it is seen as Netanyahu, a hawk on Iran, working with the Republicans to thumb their noses at Obama’s policy on Iran.
As a result, Israeli officials told Reuters they are considering whether Netanyahu should speak to a closed-door session of Congress, rather than in a prime-time TV address, so as to drain some of the intensity from the event, a source said.
Another option is for the prime minister to make his speech at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington the same week, rather than in Congress.
Officials in Netanyahu’s office said that for now his schedule had not changed. “In the past days the prime minister has been approached several times about his trip to the United States,” one official said. “At the moment there is no change in the plans.”
The American president warned the prime minister not to let the relationship between the United States and Israel be “clouded with what could be perceived as partisan politics.”
“This isn’t a relationship founded on affinity between the Labor Party and the Democratic Party or the Likud and the Republican Party. This is the US-Israeli relationship that extends beyond parties and has to do with that unbreakable bond that we feel and – and our commitment to Israel’s security and the shared values that we have,” Obama said.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, was not concerned about what his visit may do to US-Israel ties. “From the state’s establishment to this day, there have been significant disagreements between Israel and the US and relations remained strong. This will be the case this time as well,” he said during a launch event for the Likud’s Russian-language elections campaign.
On nuclear negotiations with Iran, the US president said issues and gaps in negotiations have been “sufficiently narrowed and sufficiently clarified” and that the so-called P5+1 group has now offered Iran a deal that “allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable that they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
The issues, he said, were no longer technical but rather political. “The issue now is whether Iran has the political will and desire to get a deal done,” Obama said.
The US president also said he does not believe an extension would be “useful” unless Iran can agree to the basic outlines of a deal.
“If Iran has no aspiration to get nuclear weapon, there should be a possibility to get a deal,” Obama said. “They have to make a decision.”
Netanyahu, meanwhile, said he was determined to go to Washington and address Congress.
“While there are those who are focusing on protocol or politics, “A bad deal with Iran is forming in Munich that will endanger Israel’s existence. According to reports, the agreement will allow them to produce dozens of nuclear bombs. As prime minister, it is my duty to do everything to prevent this dangerous agreement and that’s why I’m determined to go to Washington and present Israel’s position before the members of Congress and the American people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sen Bernie Sanders, an independent, is the first senator to announce he won’t attend Netanyahu’s speech. Democratic Reps. John Lewis and Jim Clyburn are among a handful in their party who have pledged to boycott Netanyahu’s speech.
“The president of the United States heads up our foreign policy and the idea that the president wasn’t even consulted – that is wrong,” Sanders said. “I am not going. I may watch it on TV, but I’m not going.”
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6991
by Mac Slavo | SHTFplan.com | February 10, 2015
The world is now on the cusp of total war. This is the claim made by former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts in arecent editorial. And though doom predictions are quite popular given what’s going on in the world as of late, to disregard Roberts’ assessment as fear-mongering or hype would be short-sighted and dangerous. No, this time is not different, and if political leaders around the world, especially in the United States, Russia and Europe, don’t come to an agreement on the future of Ukraine then it is only a matter of time before we eventually cross the line into a scenario from which there is no return – for all we know, we may have already crossed it at this point.
While the American media has generally ignored the broader implications of what’s happening in Ukraine, often dismissing it as Europe’s problem and one that has no long-term ramifications for the U.S., the fact is that the United States is directly involved in not only the political machinations behind the scenes of Ukraine’s new government, but military operations as evidenced by recent videos showing armed American-English speaking personnel on the ground during the recent artillery shelling of the city of Mariupol.
This weekend European leaders from France and Germany met with Vladimir Putin to negotiate a peace settlement. President Obama attended as well, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner seems to be there just as a formality because he made no effort to put forth a peace plan of any kind.
In fact, if anything, Obama suggested that he is prepared to take things to the next level if Vladimir Putin doesn’t agree to the West’s demands. According to a report from the BBC President Obama has made it clear that the United States is on a war footing with Russia and we are now exploring all available options to deal with Putin should things in the Ukraine sour.
US President Barack Obama says yes to diplomacy, but then adds: “Now, it is true that if, in fact, diplomacy fails, what I’ve asked my team to do is to look at all options.
“What other means can we put in place to change Mr Putin’s calculus? And the possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that’s being examined.”
While Europe maintains that they want to find a solution in the Ukraine, it seems that the United States is making demands that Russia refuses to agree to.
But Russia is having none of it. This morning a Kremlin spokesman was quoted by Russian media as saying that “nobody has ever talked to the president in the tone of an ultimatum – and could not do so even if they wanted to,” an obvious response to whatever negotiations were taking place behind closed doors.
Russia and the United States have sparred back and forth for decades, but the situation in the Ukraine seems to be the most serious since the end of the cold war and one that could escalate to widespread conflict should cooler heads not prevail.
President Obama, of course, isn’t the only one leaving military options on the table.
Vladimir Putin himself recently warned that Russia will not put up with the West’s “hostile acts” and suggested nuclear consequences are one possible outcome if a peace deal is not reached:
He accused Barack Obama of adopting a “hostile” approach in naming Russia as a threat to the world in the U.S. president’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24.
“We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability,” Putin told Serbia’s Politika newspaper on the eve of his visit to the Balkan nation today.
Putin said that Obama had identified Russian aggression in Europe as one of the three “major threats facing humanity,” alongside the Ebola virus and Islamic State.
“Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile,” Putin said.
Last month the Russian President ordered strategic nuclear bombers to fly over the English channel into civilian air traffic corridors as a show of force to the West. He’s also reportedly sent bombers along the west coast of the United States from Alaska to California, and it has been suggested that the flybys may have also been responsible for a widespread outage of air traffic control systems in Los Angeles.
What’s happening behind the closed doors of national security meetings in the United States and Russia will remain hidden from the public. Unfortunately, we’ll be the last to know and should these leaders fail to come to an agreement in Europe we may only find out once the missiles start flying.
It’s starting to look like the world really is on the cusp of total war.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6989
By Times of Israel staff January 21, 2015, 9:21 pm
A satellite image shown on Israel’s Channel 2 news, January 21, 2015, said to show a new long-range Iranian missile on a launch pad outside Tehran. (Channel 2 screenshot)
Iran has built a 27-meter-long missile, capable of delivering a warhead “far beyond Europe,” and placed it on a launch pad at a site close to Tehran, an Israeli television report said Wednesday, showing what it said were the first satellite images of the missile ever seen in the West.
It stressed that the missile could be used to launch spacecraft or satellites, but also to carry warheads.
The Channel 2 news report showed satellite imagery documenting what it said was Iran’s “very rapid progress” on long-range missile manufacture.
It showed one photograph of a site near Tehran, which it said the West had known about for two years, where Iran was working on engines for its long-range missiles.
It then showed a satellite photograph of a second site, nearby, which featured a launch pad, with the 27-meter missile on it — an Iranian missile “never seen before” by the West.
The missile is capable of taking a manned spacecraft or satellite into space, the TV report said.
It is also capable of carrying a conventional or non-conventional warhead “far beyond Europe,” the report added.
The TV report said the satellite images were taken by the Eros B commercial Earth observation satellite, which was designed and manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries, launched in 2006, and is owned by the Israeli firm ImageSat International.
Israel has long charged that Iran is working toward a nuclear weapons capability, and has publicly opposed any negotiated accommodation with Iran that would leave it with a uranium enrichment capability for potential nuclear weapons use.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6955
WASHINGTON – As the Obama administration opens up diplomatic relations with Cuba after a half-century, concern is looming over whether the United States similarly will extend diplomatic recognition to Iran and restore connections severed in 1979 when the Islamic revolution brought conservative clerics to power following the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Unlike Cuba, however, Iran today is a major Shiite power that is battling for influence in the Middle East against Sunni Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally. Its military is estimated to be more powerful than all the Sunni Arab countries’ militaries combined.
But its interests have aligned lately with the U.S. Like America, it similarly seeks the defeat of the radical Sunni Islamic State, or ISIS.
The two diverge over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, which Washington regards as a prelude to developing nuclear weapons, but the administration realizes it can only curtail, not eliminate, it.
The concern is that President Barack Obama will reprise his December Cuba surprise by re-opening diplomatic ties with the Islamic clerics in Tehran.
WND sought comment on this prospect from the State Department but, to date, there has been no response.
In fact, there appears to be efforts under way to curtail such a possibility.
Middle East expert Andres Cala tells Consortiumnews.com that those efforts could occur even at the expense of furthering American interests.
Former assistant secretary of State for Latin America and Middle East expert Elliott Abrams raised this concern in a recent article in the Weekly Standard.
“Imagine for a moment that you are a Saudi, Emirati, Jordanian, or Israeli,” Abrams said. “Your main national security worry these days is Iran – Iran’s rise, its nuclear program, its troops fighting in Iraq and Syria, its growing influence from Yemen through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. Your main ally against Iran for the past decades has been the United States. Naturally, you worry about American policy.
“And now, you turn on the TV and see the announcement about the change in American policy in Cuba,” he said. “Re-establishment of diplomatic relations. Lots of changes in the embargo that will mean plenty more cash for the Castros. A change in the whole American official position vis-à-vis Cuba. … As to real changes in the regime – changes in its foreign or domestic policies – none. Zero. Zip. So, you conclude that in the long struggle between the United States and the Castro regime since 1959, the Americans have finally blinked.”
Cala points out that the reaction to opening of relations with Cuba generally was “mild to positive,” suggesting to Obama that any fallout from a nuclear agreement with Iran might also be manageable.
While such an agreement is within reach, the administration without hesitation agreed to an extension of talks to March 2015.
Cala said that such a deal could have been reached at the November meeting but Obama balked, believing that the timing wasn’t quite right.
“Possibly he didn’t want to complicate the politically easier Cuba opening,” Cala said. “(Obama) does seem to favor a methodical approach toward taking on challenges, first one, then another, rather than bunching them into a package.
“Both Israeli and Saudi officials have complained about the alleged threat from the Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut,” Cala said. “And (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that the possibility Iran might eventually produce a nuclear bomb is an ‘existential threat’ to Israel, though Israel has a large undeclared nuclear arsenal of its own.”
Cala believes, however, that Obama’s delay could give those against opening up to Iran more time to consolidate their opposition, especially now that both Houses of Congress will be under Republican control, which tends to show more favor to Israel’s position.
“Along with Israel and the Sunni Arab countries, U.S. hardliners are pushing to expand the war in Syria to have the U.S. military join in attacking the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad,” Cala said.
On the other hand, Cala sees U.S. strategic interests aligning with those of Iran, especially over the fight against ISIS and the need to bolster the embattled Iraqi military. Iran is providing support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, as is the U.S.
Cala also believes the strained U.S. relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia will make Obama unwilling “to carry water for them in their rivalry with Shiite Iran.”
“If Obama finally decides to complete the deal with Iran,” Cala said, “he can expect a difficult time with not just Republicans but even Democrats in Congress, where the Israel lobby remains one of the most powerful and effective. Indeed, the likely congressional pressure would be toward increasing sanctions on Iran, not removing them.”
Unless a nuclear deal can be reached, Cala sees Iran moving strategically closer to Russia.
“Iran and Russia broadened economic ties only days after the failure to sign the nuclear deal in November,” Cala said. “Though the two countries have historically had tense relations, they also have been stepping up their strategic cooperation around shared objectives in Syria and the Caucasus. But both now have something else in common, sanctions from the West.”
Moscow has agreed to build two more nuclear plants in Iran and also has offered to supply nuclear fuel for them.
At the same time, Cala sees Russia using Iran as a bargaining chip against further Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. And that relationship could only deepen if no nuclear deal is struck between Iran and the West.
“From the view of some U.S. diplomats,” Cala said, “Russian-Iranian cooperation could even unlock the stalemate in Syria by brokering Assad’s departure and his replacement with a leader who could gain more support from the Sunni population.
“Iran and Russia have signaled they would accept Assad stepping down and the inclusion of Assad’s opposition, as long as the status quo is otherwise maintained and the Alawites, Shiites, Christians and other minorities are protected,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration is concerned about upsetting Turkey and Saudi Arabia which want Assad removed by force.
In addition, the Ukraine crisis has made it more complicated for the administration to work with Russia in resolving the Syrian civil war.
For the Obama administration, Cala said, more could be lost if a deal with Iran over its nuclear program isn’t struck.
“Obama can judge a deal as too risky and close the diplomatic window with Iran,” Cala said. “That, however, could lead to worsening Middle Eastern instability and feed a new Cold War with Russia. Iran has explicitly said it will bolster its ties with Russia and China if negotiations break off. It has also said it will not extend negotiations again.”
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6902
TEL AVIV – Russia is preparing a contingency plan to prompt Hezbollah and possibly the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into a direct military conflict with Israel, according to a French official who has been apprised of the situation.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the contingency was meant to be used as a card against the West, particularly the U.S. and European Union, which has been engaged in efforts to isolate Moscow.
This past week, the U.S. and E.U. adapted tighter sanctions on the Russian economy, including restrictions on investments in the Crimea, with emphasis on Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration and tourism.
The official said there is information Russia in recent weeks successfully shipped to Hezbollah a large convoy of Iskandar ballistic missiles and surface-to-air missiles. The missiles were received, despite Israel’s alleged airstrikes in Syria targeting Russian-shipped weapons earlier this month, the official said.
The official said Russia has not made any decision about agitating a Hezbollah attack on Israel, but views a possible conflict in the Mideast as a card it can play in its confrontation with the West, particularly in Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem traveled to Russia to meet with the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.
WND reported at the time that according to a source in Assad’s regime, Putin and Lavrov assured Moualem that Russia “won’t stand for” any Western attack on Assad and that the Russians pledged “support” and “protection” to the Assad regime.
That pledge came amid pressure from Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the Obama administration to expand the fight against ISIS in Syria to also target Assad’s forces.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6896
Posted by lamarzulli on December 17, 2014
Russia’s next financial option may be ‘nuclear’
Russian companies need to buy dollars now in order to pay off foreign debts in December, this month we have to pay over $30 billion to foreign creditors. In January we don’t have much to pay in dollars, so the rate may stabilize,” Prosviryakov said.
The collapse of the Russian Ruble, in my opinion is deliberate and it comes on the heels of the tumbling price of oil, as crude fell to below $60 per barrel.
I would posit that this has been a deliberate push-back by the US in retaliation to BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—who want another default currency other than the US petro-dollar.
This whole international scenario is being manipulated by the US and the Saudi’s. Of course here in the USA we are all enjoying the low price at the pump. But here’s the rub, with this sudden fall of the price of a barrel of oil, it begs the question, why didn’t this happen let’s say a few years ago, when the price at the pump was almost $6 bucks a gallon?
What I’m getting at is this. The whole game is controlled and rigged. The Saudi’s are in bed with us as we sell them arms and buy their oil.
The BRICS nations pose a direct threat to the US petro-dollar and this is why the price of oil has dropped. Russia is the second largest exporter of oil, in the world, which sells over 7.2 million barrels a day just behind Saudi Arabia. Another point to consider is this, when Saddam was in control or Iraq, and started to trade oil in Euro’s, rather than the US dollar. This is one reason I believe we invaded that country.
Examine the quote above: Russian companies need to buy dollars now in order to pay off foreign debts in December, this month we have to pay over $30 billion to foreign creditors. In January we don’t have much to pay in dollars, so the rate may stabilize,”
What Americans should be outraged at is the blatant manipulation of the gas prices in this country. There is no gas shortage only greed and avarice on the part of Big Oil!
In closing todays post. It will be interesting to see what Putin does to counterbalance this financial attack by the US. Another point to consider is this. If the US looses its grip on the petro-dollar it could cause a major financial collapse in this country. Meanwhile keep looking at the Bill Cosby stories that won’t go away instead of the fact that Congress just passed another 1.2 TRILLION dollar budget. It’s beyond the pale at this point…
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6884