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Archive for February, 2013

In Burning Rage for Water, Iran Farmers Take On Security Forces

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

An anonymous video on YouTube shows angry farmers from eastern part of Isfahan in Iran on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 among burning busses in ongoing protests against water busses-burn-in-isfahan-375x263shortages. There are credible reports of clashes with security forces, but detailed information is limited and official media is silent.

Another video shows that only days earlier, farmers busted open a water pipe carrying water from Zayanderood to Yazd as part of their protest for access to water which is vital to the survival of their crops.

Iranglobal reports that the farmers had been protesting for at least one month about their lack of resources, but received no official response to their demands.

There are some photos and video from the farmers protest Read more…

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A Look at Syria’s Civil War

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

BEIRUT – CASUALTIES: The number of people killed in Syria’s civil war is nearing 70,000, according to U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Mideast SyriaRights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, claims 56,416 people have been killed. The Observatory’s figure includes 13,787 Syrian government troops. There are no precise death tolls available from the Syrian regime.

REFUGEES: U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos says the growing number of Syrians affected by the civil war in Syria is now 4 million and rising. They include an estimated 2 million displaced within Syria and nearly 925,000 who have fled the country. Most of the refugees have gone to neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and the influx is outstripping those countries’ and the international community’s ability to help. Read more…

Bipartisan House Bill Toughens Penalties on Iran

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON – House leaders are pushing for tougher penalties on Iran to thwart its nuclear House Foreign affairs commambitions, introducing a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would pressure the U.S. to work with the European Union in cutting off Tehran’s access to the euro.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the panel’s top Democrat, said their measure builds on current laws that have undercut the Iranian economy, causing high unemployment and inflation while daily oil production and the value of the country’s currency, the rial, have dropped.

The legislation would extend penalties, targeted now at financial entities, to human rights violators and individuals who transfer technologies to Iran that are used by Read more…

World Powers Coax Iran into Saving Nuclear Talks

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

World powers offered broader concessions than ever to Iran in attempts Wednesday to keep alive diplomatic channels that seek to rein in the Islamic Republic’s Kazakhstan meeting on Iran nuclear prognuclear program and prevent it from building an atomic weapon.

The offer was hailed by Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top official at diplomatic talks in Kazakhstan, who said it represented a “turning point” by world powers to compromise on Tehran’s uranium enrichment program after years of delicate negotiations that nearly dissolved last June.

The proposal allows Iran to keep a limited amount of highly enriched uranium – but not make any more – stops short of demanding the full shutdown of an underground nuclear facility, and offers to remove some trade sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy. Read more…

‘Obama to Tell Netanyahu US Gearing up for Iran Strike’

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

When he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister BenjaminObama_Horo-635x357 Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.

Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials. Read more…

Senate Confirms Hagel For Defense Secretary

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — A deeply divided Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Republican Chuck Hagel Chuck Hagelto be the nation’s next defense secretary, handing President Barack Obama’s pick the top Pentagon job just days before billions of dollars in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts hit the military.

The vote was 58-41, with four Republicans joining the Democrats in backing the contentious choice. Hagel’s only GOP support came from former colleagues Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Dick Shelby of Alabama and Mike Johanns of Nebraska – all three had announced their support earlier – and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The vote came just hours after Republicans dropped their unprecedented delay of a Pentagon choice and allowed the nomination to move forward on a 71-27 vote. Read more…

Sanctions Relief Offered In Iranian Nuclear Talks

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — World powers, fearful of scuttling negotiations beginning this week with Iran, are offering the Islamic republic some small new sanctions relief in return for curbing nuclear talk in kazakhstan1 its nuclear program. But officials warned Monday that it’s unlikely that any compromise will be reached soon.

Negotiators set low expectations for the latest round of high-level diplomatic talks to begin Tuesday in Kazakhstan’s largest city – the first since last June’s meeting in Moscow that threatened to derail delicate efforts to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level close to that used for nuclear warheads.

The stakes couldn’t be higher: the Obama administration is pushing for diplomacy to solve the impasse but has not ruled out the possibility of military intervention in Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And Israel has threatened it will use all means to stop Iran from being able to building a bomb, potentially as soon as this summer, raising the specter of a possible Mideast war. Read more…

Syrian Opposition Pulls Out of International Talks

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, is pulling out of international meetings to protest what it calls “shameful” world inaction on crimes committed against the Syrian 2-25-2013 11-39-01 AMpeople. In a statement, the coalition criticized what it called “international silence” on daily crimes in Syria, saying the silence “amounts to participating in two years of killings.”

The most prominent Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), has announced it is pulling out of the upcoming Friends of Syria meeting in Rome and scheduled talks in Russia and the United States.

After missiles killed dozens in Aleppo on Friday, the SNC released a statement saying the move was to protest the lack of international condemnation of the “crimes committed against the Syrian people”. Read more…

Al Nusra: Al Qaeda’s Syria Offensive

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

The terror group’s Syrian front, al Nusra, is not only attacking Assad, but building a base from which it can threaten U.S. interests in the region. A fighter from Jabhat al-Nusra

Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, just one year old, is now the fastest growing al Qaeda front in the world, attracting fighters from across the Islamic world. Jabhat al Nusra, translated variously as the Victory Front or the Support Front for the Syrian People, was founded in January 2012, almost a year after the first demonstrations against the dictatorship of President Basher al Assad. It was created with the assistance of the al Qaeda franchise in Iraq that was formed nearly a decade ago during the American invasion. The Iraqi base provided a safe haven for setting up the front in Syria and still provides sanctuary for the Syrian group to this day. Read more…

Iran Claims It Has Found New Deposits of Uranium

February 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Days before resuming talks over its disputed nuclear programIran said Saturday that it had found significant new deposits of raw uranium and new deposits of uranium in iranidentified sites for 16 more nuclear power stations.

The state news agency IRNA quoted a report by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which said that the reserves were discovered in northern and southern coastal areas and had tripled the amount outlined in previous estimates.

There was no independent confirmation. Western experts had previously thought that Iran, with few uranium mines of its own, might be close to exhausting its supply of raw uranium.

“We have discovered new sources of uranium in the country and we will put them to use in the near future,” Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying at Iran’s annual nuclear industry conference. Read more…

Life in a G-Zero World

February 24, 2013 Leave a comment

The nature of world politics has changed more rapidly in the past four years than anyone expected. From the fall of the Berlin Wall up to the financial crisis of 2008, the United States had Life in a G-Zero World1enjoyed a unprecedented period of hegemony. A decade ago, the US defense budget by itself was larger than the combined defense budgets of all other countries in the world combined, and the US felt free to launch a “war of choice” in Iraq.

While the US remains the dominant military power, its weakened financial condition today means that it is much less willing to use it. The Obama administration’s reluctance to take leading roles in the crises in Libya, Syria, and now Mali are evidence of a shift to a much more passive role. And with the ongoing euro crisis, it is not clear than the European powers are going to fill in this void anytime soon. Read more…

Sassanid Palace Ruins Found in Western Iran

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Iranian archaeologists have discovered the ancient ruins of a Sassanid palace in the western province of Lorestan.Sassanid-Palace-Ruins-Lorestan-1

The Mehr News Agency reports that the remains of the 1,500-year-old edifice, possibly a court summerhouse, were discovered 70 kilometres from Koohdasht.

The palace is described as having five interconnected halls, two columned halls and a yard.

The dig has also uncovered several pieces of glazed earthenware with carving and designs, geometric stuccoes with natural, human and animal motifs, which despite their age are still relatively solid and stable.

The head of the Lorestan Cultural Heritage Organization, Ghassem Ghorbani, said the discoveries will be put on public display in time for the Iranian New Year, which begins next month. Read more…