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US Reimposes Sanctions on Iran; Israel Tells Europe ‘Time Has Come to Stop Talking’

US President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on Iran Sanctions. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

United States President Donald Trump announced the first stage of renewed American sanctions on Iran on Monday, ahead of the official reimposition of sanctions at midnight on Tuesday. The anticipated move follows Trump’s decision in May to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond,” said Trump in a statement posted to the White House website. “…By exiting the JCPOA, the United States is able to protect its national security by applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The initial round of reset sanctions focuses on cars, precious metals and Iranian currency, according to Trump’s comments. In November, banking and Iran’s energy industry—including oil—will be targeted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Trump for making the move on Monday, calling it an “important decision.” … Continue Reading

Israel, Putin Agree to ‘Counter Terrorism’ after Hezbollah Refuses Russian Call to Exit Syria

June 17, 2018 Special Feature, Syria, Terrorism

Will PM Netanyahu & Russian Pres. Putin work together to fight Hezbollah? Illustrative. Photo courtesy of the office of the President of Russia.

Russia vaguely but ominously stated their willingness to join Israel in opposing “international terrorism” last week, one day after news broke that Hezbollah had rebuffed a Russian call for the terrorist group to leave Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “expressed readiness to boost the coordination of their actions with regard to Syria, including in countering international terrorism” during a call together on Friday, according to a statement posted to the Russian Presidency’s website.

While Hezbollah was not mentioned by name, the “terrorism” reference was an unusual inclusion in the brief press release, as it did not appear in numerous Russian press summaries of Putin-Netanyahu calls throughout 2018. It also comes as the Hezbollah and Russia relationship is getting rocky, despite both being allies of the Syrian regime in that nation’s civil war.

Israel Hayom reported that Hezbollah was still in Syria as of last Thursday—according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group—despite a Russian request for the Lebanese terrorists to leave Syria per a Russia-Israel agreement. The report specifically noted the Russians and Hezbollah had not battled each other yet—which would be a dramatic development—and raises questions about how far Russia is willing to go to keep it’s Syrian plan. Israel has already made it clear how far they will go. … Continue Reading

Iran Regime Claims Unrest Defeated, But Unjustified Imprisonment May Continue Protests

January 7, 2018 Special Feature

Will Iran leadership overcome protests?
Illustrative official meeting. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The most powerful security force in Iran and a close ally of the regime has claimed that the Iranian uprising has been crushed, but media reports and Twitter are implying that hasn’t happened yet. A reason for the latest outcry in Iran is due to the hundreds of people imprisoned in response to the protests, and even an Iranian student media normally friendly to the regime is crying foul. Meanwhile, the Americans continue to push for international oversight on human rights violations in Iran.

In a Sunday report, the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted a statement released by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp claiming that various security forces had “broken down the chain of unrest.” However, Farnaz Fassihi of the Wall Street Journal tweeted that as of Saturday—just one day prior to the IRGC victory claim—there were protests in more than a dozen cities and graffiti opposing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

And that’s not all. The BBC, citing the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), reported that with over 1,000 arrested, reformist members of Iran’s parliament were saying 90 university students were among those taken. One parliamentarian, Mahmoud Sadeghi, said that a number of those students were not even involved in the protests. … Continue Reading

Analysis: Iran Protests Different This Time, and More Likely to Succeed

January 1, 2018 Special Feature

President Donald Trump is warning Iran not to hurt protestors. Illustrative. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

The 2009 Green Revolution in Iran went from hope to despair as the Iranian regime eventually crushed them and terminated an opportunity for freedom in Iran. But almost nine years later in the dark days of winter, a new hope of freedom might just spring out of the midst of that despair.

The latest Iran protests that began in the final days of 2017 don’t have a catchy nickname or even a clear leader, but so far they’re emerging across the country and lighting Twitter ablaze with images and videos.

There are four key differences between this round of protests and those in 2009, and because of them the result could be very different this time around. It also might just result in an outcome somewhat different than hoped. … Continue Reading

Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israeli Capital in Historic Move

December 6, 2017 Peace Process, Special Feature

President Donald Trump made history by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Illustrative. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

United States President Donald Trump kept a campaign promise and fulfilled 70 years of Jewish longing on Wednesday by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcing plans to move the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” said Trump in comments posted to the White House website. “This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”

Israelis on both sides of the political aisle were supportive of the move by Trump, while Palestinians in Gaza burned the American flag ahead of the anticipated announcement.

“From every corner of the earth, our people yearned to return to Jerusalem, to touch its golden stones, to walk its hallowed streets. So it’s rare to be able to speak of new and genuine milestones in the glorious history of this city. Yet today’s pronouncement by President Trump is such an occasion,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. “We’re profoundly grateful for the President for his courageous and just decision.” … Continue Reading

Iran: If Europe Threatens Missile Program, Missiles Will Threaten Europe

Will France be in range of Iran’s missles? Eiffel Tower in Paris. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

A leader in Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC) warned on Saturday that if the Europeans push to limit the Iranian missile program, the Islamic Republic might expand their missile range to reach Europe. Lieutenant Commander of the IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami, in comments to state TV and republished by the Fars News Agency, claimed that they have limited the range of their missiles intentionally to 2,000 kilometers (roughly 1,200 miles).

He said this is short of reaching Europe, but he warned that could change if the Europeans insist on negotiating the limits of Iran’s missile program, as some have wanted.

“If the Europeans want to enter the sanctum of our missiles, we may drop this limitation to the range (of our missiles),” Fars quoted Salami as saying. He claimed that their missiles are limited in range to the nations that threaten them, and that “if Europe wants to turn into a threat, the range of our missiles will increase. We respect them. They should respect us too.” … Continue Reading

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