WEEK OF FEBRUARY 21 THROUGH FEBRUARY 27
Ahmadinejad: Arab World will Usher in New Mideast Without Zionists
Feb. 26….(Ha Aretz) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Arab nations will usher in a new Middle East without Zionists and without colonialists. Ahmadinejad made the comments during his visit in Syria, where he met with President Bashar Assad, opening a two-day visit that follows US efforts to break up Syria's 30-year alliance with Tehran. The Iranian president also said that "if the Zionist regime wants to repeat its past mistakes, this will constitute its demise and annihilation." Assad signaled his strong support for Iran, saying America's stance toward the country is a "new situation of colonialism in the region." Ahmadinejad said Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon will all stand against Israel. "The Americans want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that," Ahmadinejad said during a news conference with Assad. "We tell them that instead of interfering in the region's affairs, to pack their things and leave." Ahmadinejad is also scheduled to meet senior officials from the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, Syria's state-run news agency said. Before leaving Tehran, Ahmadinejad told reporters that 'the Zionist regime and its sponsors' are rapidly approaching a dead-end, according to the Iranian Students News Agency. Ahmadinejad also said that Iran and Syria have common viewpoints and stances and that Syria is on the frontline against Israel. A string of high-profile visits to Damascus in recent months, from the US, France, and now Iran shows Syria's strategic importance in the Middle East. US President Barack Obama is determined to engage with Syria, a country seen as key to peace in the region but which the State Department has long considered a state sponsor of terrorism. A Syrian government newspaper stressed the alliance between Damascus and Tehran. After more than three decades of brotherly relations and friendship, Syria and Iran can confirm again their confidence in each other, the state-owned Al-Baath newspaper said in its leading article Thursday. Ahmedinejad's trip comes on the heels of several important overtures to Syria by the US, including the nomination of the first US ambassador to Damascus since 2005. Assad is hoping for US help in boosting a weak economy and for American mediation in direct peace talks with Israel, a recognition that he needs American involvement to achieve his top goal of winning the return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the decision to send an ambassador to Syria does not mean US concerns about the country have been addressed. Speaking to lawmakers, Clinton said the nomination of career diplomat Robert Ford is a sign of a slight opening with Syria. But she said Washington remains troubled by suspected Syrian support for militant groups in Iraq and elsewhere, interference in Lebanon and Syria's close relationship with Iran. Former President George W. Bush withdrew the last US ambassador to Syria in 2005 to protest its actions in Lebanon after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which his supporters blamed on Syria. Washington also has retained its sanctions on Damascus.
Feb. 26….(Ha Aretz) President Shimon Peres said Thursday that the chance of peace with Syria is about to dissipate, in a speech during a national ceremony in Tel Hai. "A peace deal with Syria could have been signed 30 years ago, as was done with Egypt. It was not us who delayed a deal, it was the Syrians," said Peres. "Syria believed that time would stand by its side." "The time has come to say the truth, the problem in the Middle East is not the Palestinian problem, the Palestinian problem will be solved in the framework of the peace process with Israel. The central problem in the Middle East is Iran's effort to control it. The central problem in the Middle East is the insanity of Ahmadinejad. Assad needs to decide, go with Iran on an axis of evil and terror or make peace with Israel." The President also said that Hezbollah threatens the fate of Lebanon and the peace in the region. "Nasrallah and his group are the ones who waste money on purchasing missiles and the ones who threaten Israel. They go against Lebanon's interests and their actions reflect the Iranian ambition to control the Arabic region." Peres blamed Iran for manipulating Hezbollah. "Iran and Hezbollah use Israel as an excuse in order to hide the real goal, which is Iranian hegemony over the Arab world in the Middle East," said Peres. Peres called on Syrian and Lebanese leaders to return to negotiations as soon as possible. "I came to once more extend a hand to peace. I came to call on Syria and Lebanon to take the only road that leads to a new and better future. The road to peace," the president said in his Tel Hai speech. "Iranian armament will not decide the fate of the region.
Feb. 26….(In The Days) Syria and Iran on Thursday signed an agreement waiving visa requirements for their nationals as the two countries’ presidents met in Damascus to reaffirm their “deeply rooted” ties. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said relations between his country and Iran were “deeply rooted” after meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, amid faltering US efforts to woo Syria away from its alliance with Iran. Their meeting followed US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent comments that Damascus should keep a distance from its “deeply troubling” relationship with Tehran, and the appointment of a new US ambassador to the country, five years after the last one was withdrawn. “How can the United States talk about security and peace in the region, and then call for distance between two countries?” al-Assad asked rhetorically at a joint press conference with Ahmadinejad. “The era of America giving orders to nations from across the sea is over,” Ahmadinejad said. “All our conflicts stem from the enemies of Islam. Look at Iraq: People from different sects were living there for thousands of years, marrying each other. It was not until the American occupation that sects became a problem,” he said. Al-Assad said he hoped the visa-waiver agreement would lead to deeper relations between the Iranian and Syrian peoples. “Bilateral relations cannot remain confined to the political domain for decades. This agreement will lead to more communication between the two countries,” al-Assad said. The agreement was signed by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem and his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, who accompanied Ahmadinejad on the visit. Ahmadinejad arrived Thursday morning for talks with al-Assad and to attend a religious ceremony to mark the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. “We meet today on this occasion to celebrate,” al-Assad said. “We hope one day to celebrate our feasts and our enemies’ failure at the same time.” Al-Assad added he and Ahmadinejad had discussed “Israeli terrorism and crimes.” “We cannot view Israeli threats as isolated events,” he said. “Rather, we must see them in the context of Israel’s history of aggression and expansion.” “The Zionist entity is heading for disappearance,” Ahmadinejad said. “The philosophy of its existence is obsolete. Time is not running in the favor of the occupiers.” “And we know, both our peoples know, and the whole region knows, that if the Zionist entity repeats its same mistakes, it will meet its inevitable end,” Ahmadinejad said, warning Israel against a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Al-Assad reiterated Syria’s support for Iran’s nuclear program, which Iran and Syria is restricted to peaceful purposes. The Western position on Iran’s nuclear program is “a new colonialism in the region,” al-Assad said.
Iran’s Muslim Terror Chiefs Called to Tehran for anti-Israel War Strategies
Feb. 26….(DEBKA) Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has summoned all the terrorist groups Tehran sponsors, Islamist and radical Palestinian, for a broad gathering Saturday, Feb. 27, to finalize their roles in military operations against Israel in the event of a Middle East conflagration. This is reported by debkafile's Iranian and intelligence sources. It will be the sequel to the preliminary discussions Ahmadinejad held with Syrian president Bashar Assad and heads of the Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian Hamas Thursday, Feb. 25, during a brief visit to Damascus. The guests of honor at the Tehran parley will be Hamas leader politburo chief Khaled Meshaal and Hizballah deputy leader Naim Kassem. The Lebanese Shiite group's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah will not be there because he never leaves his Beirut bunker for fear Israeli assassins will catch up with him, especially since the high-profile Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed mysteriously in Dubai last month. And Nasrallah is not alone; some of his fellow terror chiefs hesitate to show their faces outside their strongholds, even in friendly Tehran, since the Dubai police disclosed that three of the suspects in the Mabhouh killing, carriers of Australian passports, departed Dubai for Iran. They were said to have travelled by sea ferry to Bandar Abbas, central headquarters of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, before flying out of Tehran international airport to unknown Far East destinations. The Arab terrorist chiefs infer that even the Iranian capital and Revolutionary Guards headquarters are no longer secure against penetration by the Hamas commander's assassins. The Iranians have therefore decided that their official statement on the conference, due to end Monday, March 1, will name only a few of the participants; the presence of many other key figures will be kept secret. According to debkafile’s Iranian sources, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, assisted by a large team of aides, will lead the proceedings and steer them toward conclusions and decisions in line with Iran’s regional goals. The conference, called to pull together Iran and its allies' preparations for war with Israel, will be presented officially as an effort to reconcile the feuding Palestinian factions. Few will find this believable, especially when Hamas attends the conference on its own, except for several radical Palestinian splinter groups, and representatives of the rival Fatah and Palestinian Authority were not invited. Presidential bureau personnel have performed most of the staff work on planning and the roles assigned the various organizations in any conflict with Israeli and/or Israeli forces. Senior members of the Revolutionary Guards and other sections of Iran's armed forces will be recruited to chair discussion panels and subcommittees aided by specialists in guerrilla and terror warfare.
Assad Wants Iranian Troops Guaranteed for Battlefront Against Israel
Feb. 24….(DEBKA) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after again warning Iran's allies this week that Israel is poised to attack them, finds them less inclined to act as Tehran's surrogates in a potential conflict and more insistent on equality as partners. Thursday, Feb. 25, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drops in on President Bashar Assad in Damascus for what their spokesmen have called coordination talks attesting to the strong relations between their two governments. According to debkafile’s Iranian and military sources, their conversation will focus on how to implement the secret military pact their two governments signed in December 2009, which commits each, as well as co-signatories Hizballah of Lebanon and the Palestinian Hamas, to come to the other’s aid if any is attacked by the United States or Israel. debkafile’s sources in Damascus report that Ahmadinejad put in three phone calls to President Assad, Lebanese President General Michel Suleiman and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah to warn them that “Iran has reliable information that the Zionist regime is after finding a way to compensate for the ridiculous defeats it suffered by the people of Gaza and Lebanon’s Hizballah.” He added: “Should the Zionist regime repeat its mistakes and initiate a military operation, then it must be resisted with full force to put an end to it once and for all.” He promised Iran would come to Syria and Hizballah’s aid, should they come under Israeli attack, but left them with the impression that Tehran placed the onus of bringing about Israel's downfall "once and for all" squarely on the shoulders of Syria and Hizballah. Iran would not necessarily fight alongside them. Neither was satisfied. Ahmadinejad is due to meet all three of Iran's allies in Damascus Thursday: Assad, Nasrallah and Hamas political secretary Khaled Meshaal. He will find them refusing to go to war against Israel without clear guarantees from Tehran that Iranian military forces will fight alongside them. They want Tehran to abide by their mutual defense pact in full, meaning that Iran will not only open a third front against Israel but also send troops over to fight shoulder to shoulder with Syrian soldiers and Hizballah militia units. Ahmadinejad's talks in Damascus Thursday are causing concern in Washington and Jerusalem because they are designed to take Iran's secret military treaties a step closer to fruition. A Western source says that the Iranian and Syrian presidents will undoubtedly get down to the practicalities of the four-way military alliance, thereby ratcheting up military tensions in the region and making the potential of a looming Middle East war more tangible.
Archaeological Dig Supports Biblical Account of Solomon's Construction
Feb. 23….(IsraelNN.com) Even as spokesmen try to deny Jewish claims to the Holy Land, archaeological discoveries have recently been coming in fast and furious proving the veracity of the Biblical account of history. Hebrew University archaeologists have revealed an ancient path in Jerusalem believed to date back to the time of King Solomon, along with structures including a gateway and the foundation of a building. Dr. Eilat Mazar, the leader of the archaeological dig, said the findings match finds from the time of the First Temple. The latest find includes a 70-meter long and six-meter-high stone wall, a small house adjacent to a gateway leading to what was once the royal courtyard, a building that served city officials, and a tower that overlooked the Kidron river. According to Mazar, the wall is likely to be the wall built by King Solomon. “This is the first time a building has been found that matches descriptions of the building carried out by King Solomon in Jerusalem,” she said. The third chapter of the Biblical book of Kings describes King Solomon building “his own house, and the house of the L-rd, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.” The wall testifies to relatively advanced engineering capabilities, archaeologists said. It runs through historic Jerusalem, between the City of David and the Temple Mount. The remnants of a public building discovered along the wall contained shards of pottery that allowed researchers to estimate the date at which the building was in use in the 10th century BC. One of the shards was engraved with Hebrew writing saying “For the chief...” Mazar believes the shard, part of a jug, belonged to the royal baker. Other jugs bore a seal saying “For the king” in Hebrew. Dozens of seals were discovered using a water sifting technique. The building was ravaged by fire, researchers said, but the jugs that were found at the site were the largest discovered in Jerusalem to date.
Syria Warns: Next War Will be Ruinous For Israel
(FOJ / Prophecy of Isaiah 17 seems to be building? Oddly enough the Syrian PM echoed the very word of Isaiah 17 that holds Biblical consequences for Damascus---“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1)
Feb. 22….(Jerusalem Post) Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari on Saturday warned Israel that any new Mideast war would be catastrophic for the region and beyond. Speaking to reporters Saturday after meeting with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, he said that a new war will have dangerous repercussions not only in the Middle East but also on the international level. Syria's foreign minister warned Israel earlier this month that any new war would reach Israeli cities, to which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded that the Syrian army would be defeated and its regime would collapse in any future conflict. Otari's statements to his French counterpart on Saturday come after several weeks of quiet in the Israeli-Syrian war of words. The United States, meanwhile, has appointed a new ambassador to Syria after the previous administration led by George W. Bush withdrew its ambassador in 2005. It also withdrew travel warnings saying that American citizens would face security risks if they traveled to Syria. The US did not, however, remove Syria from its list of states sponsoring terrorism. Israel and Syria have held indirect peace talks during the tenure of former prime minister Ehud Olmert. Turkey acted as mediator. The talks came to a halt after Turkey voiced severe criticism of Israel's actions during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter and the Israeli government declared it no longer views Turkey as an honest go-between. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a visit to France late last year, hinted that Jerusalem my prefer that France take over the role previously held by Turkey. Syria demands Israel cede the Golan Heights, captured during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, as a prerequisite for peace negotiations. Israel says it will not accept Syrian preconditions. The two countries have enjoyed a stable ceasefire since 1973, but Israel conducted secret operations inside Syria, most notably destroying a fledgling nuclear reactor in the country's east in 2007. The assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah operative who was killed in his car on a Damascus street, was also attributed to Mossad, Israel's spy agency. Israel never acknowledged Mughniyeh's death was the work of Mossad. Syria did not so far react to neither of these incidents.
Ahmadinejad Urges Hezbollah to Destroy Israel if Lebanon Erupts Again
(Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday said that if the Israelis launch a new war against Hizbullah, the latter should retaliate strong enough to “close their case once and for all by annihilating Israel.” “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1 )
Ahmadinejad’s comments, in a phone conversation with Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah were the latest in a heated exchange of rhetoric between Israel and Lebanon and Syria this month in which all sides have been warning the other not to start a war. Ahmadinejad urged Nasrallah to prepare his fighters to be able to retaliate strongly against any Israeli attack. “The preparations should be of the level that, if they (the Israelis) want to repeat the mistakes of the past (by attacking Lebanon), then their case should be closed once and for all and the region delivered from their evil ways forever,” the Iranian president said, according to the state news agency IRNA. “The people of Iran will stand by the peoples of Lebanon and the region in this,” he said. For his part, Nasrallah dismissed any fears, saying Israeli “threats will lead to nothing.” In a speech aired nationally in Lebanon this week, Nasrallah vowed that if Israel attacks again, his fighters would retaliate in kind, striking Tel Aviv or Israel’s international airport on the city’s outskirts. Earlier Thursday, Ahmadinejad also made a phone conversation with President Michel Suleiman to reiterate Iran’s full support for Lebanon in the face of recent Israeli threats. For his part, Suleiman thanked Ahmadinejad for the call of support, stressing that “such threats are to be faced through fortifying national unity, military preparedness, and integration of national capabilities in order to deter any aggression.”
Checkmate - Ahmadinejad is Playing Iran's Deadly Game
Feb. 22….(News From Jerusalem) Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is playing a very dangerous game. His years of defiance in the face of international pressure to come clean about the Iran's nuclear ambitions is coming to a head. The latest IAEA report proves Iran is capable of making a nuclear weapon. With their enrichment program going from 20 to 90 percent; the process would take just six months. Israel, in the event of what looks like a ‘when’ and not ‘if’ major conflict in the middle east, is going to have its hands full with a barrage of Kassam, Grad, Mortars, Katyusha and Scuds fired at her by her neighbors in retaliation to any conflict involving their nukes, their terror proxies in Damascus, or Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. During the last Israeli-waged war on Lebanon, which was the second of its kind, more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed, more than 4,000 others were injured and Israeli landmines and cluster bombs planted in southern Lebanon continues to claim innocent lives to date. Eventually after 33 days of fire, Israel was forced to retreat without achieving any of its objectives as a result of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Ever since what became to be commonly known as "Israel's humiliating defeat in Lebanon," Tel Aviv has been threatening Beirut with another military offensive, while Israeli fighter jets have been conducting regular overflights in violation of Lebanese airspace. Recently officials in Tel Aviv have adopted a harsher and more aggressive tone, saying that another conflict with Lebanon could be imminent. Yossi Peled, an Israeli cabinet minister and a former army general who has experienced the conflict on the northern border, said on Saturday, January 23, that another confrontation with Hezbollah was almost inevitable but he could not say when it would happen. The minister without portfolio said that according to his "estimation, understanding and knowledge," it was "almost clear" to him that another conflict on the border with Lebanon was imminent. "It does not necessary have to be between us and Hezbollah, other elements may be involved in this," Peled said. The Israeli minister's use of the term "other elements" could be interpreted that Tel Aviv already knows that it has drawn the ire of the whole region and that any other act of aggression that it conducts could have a united response from the countries in the Middle East. Iran, Lebanon and Syria, along with a number of other states in the Middle East, see Israel as the main obstacle on the region's path towards peace and stability, and the heads of these states have made no efforts hiding their views. The most recent of such expressions came from Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who said on Wednesday, February 17, that he believed "stability will not be established in the Middle East region under Israel's disingenuous approaches toward peace." The Hezbollah Resistance Movement in Lebanon, and its charismatic leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, have on numerous occasions remarked that Israel is the most dangerous, if not the only, threat in the Middle East. The movement says Tel Aviv threats are the reason behind the fact that Hezbollah is maintaining its weapons despite the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls on the group to lay down its arms. "Weapons are the result of the Resistance's existence and the Resistance [Movement of Hezbollah] is there because of the presence of the enemy (Israel)," Hezbollah's Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said on Saturday, February 6. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has his own fair share of opinions about Israel. Perhaps one of his most quoted comments about the Tel Aviv regime is that Israel should be "wiped off the map," a comment which he later on explained was misunderstood and that what he actually meant was that Israel would "disappear" the same way that Apartheid and the Soviet Union disappeared. President Ahmadinejad maintains that "The Zionist regime of Israel is an artificial regime, a fictitious regime. You brought people from different parts of the world and you have built this state. No, that cannot last, it is not sustainable. If they do not listen to our solution, this will happen one day." In his recent conversation with the Hezbollah secretary general, however, President Ahmadinejad said he highly doubted that Israel would dare launch another attack on Lebanon. "The Zionists are extremely afraid of the Resistance [Movement of Hezbollah] and the people of Lebanon and the region. But they seek to make up for their previous defeats in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, because they feel that their dignity and existence is threatened. Yet they dare not do this (launching another attack on Lebanon) either, because they fear the consequences," Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling Nasrallah by the statement on the official website of the Iranian president. The statement goes on to quote the Hezbollah secretary general as saying that "strategically speaking, the Zionist regime [of Israel] is in no position to initiate a new war; however, it seeks to spread fear and intimidation through its threats and psychological warfare, although, at any rate, it will not achieve anything through such efforts." It remains to be known whether Israel will dare to launch another attack on the Lebanese territories or not. However, one thing is for sure: In the even of such an aggression the regional states will form a united front against Israel, at least that is what Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa believes. "If a new attack or aggression is in the process of being prepared, they (Israel) will not get away with it easily," Moussa said after meeting with the Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami in Beirut on Wednesday, February 17. "We learned the lessons of 2006, and the Arab position is to stand by Lebanon," he said. On top of the Iranian threat and an ever growing stockpile of conventional weapons being prepared for what seems like an inevitable conflict in the near future, Israel in the last few weeks is witnessing an escalation in the rhetoric against her from both Syria and Lebanon. Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened this week "If you bomb the airport of martyr Rafik Hariri in Beirut, we will bomb Ben Gurion's airport in Tel Aviv." Today Syria's prime minister warned Israel that any new Mideast war would be “catastrophic for the region and beyond.” Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and defiance to the UN and the rest of the international community an effort to egg Israel into a preemptive strike so Iran’s puppet nations can launce a conventional attack on Israel, while all the time yelling “self defense”? Make no mistake a Nuclear Iran is a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the rest of the world. I was reminded that the game of chess found its roots in the Middle East.
Israel Facing Severe Threat of Missile Attacks
Feb. 22….(In The Days) ‘If in the past missiles and rockets were weapons possessed by States and were thought of as strategic tools, today they are used also by terror organizations. That was the analogy of the 7th annual Jerusalem Conference, which took place at the Regency Hotel, Mt. Scopus, between Feb.15-17 and addressed many security issues facing Israel today. Speakers at the three-day event included: the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; members of the Israeli government; the Commander of the IDF delegation in Haiti, Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Ben-Aryeh; other IDF officers; as well as leaders in the political, economic, academic, media, communal, security, and military spheres. Among the issues discussed on Tuesday (Feb. 16) were the Iranian threats to the region and beyond, with keynote speaker Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead, former Director of the Research Division in the IDF Intelligence Branch. Other topics included: communicating Israel’s message through new social media, and missile threats and missile defense, which were discussed in detail by Brig. Gen. (res.) Ilan Biton, former Commander of the Air Defense Forces of the Israeli Air Force, and Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and several other speakers. Brig. Gen. Kuperwasser emphasized in his speech that “the main central military threat against Israel is the missile threat. Israel’s security situation changes all the time. Threats of missiles are becoming more severe at an extremely quick pace”. He continued by saying: “During the Second Lebanon War, Hamas had 13,000 missiles. Today, the number of rockets and missiles spread around Israel is in the tens of thousands. The reality has changed. Moreover, if in the past missiles and rockets were weapons possessed by States and were thought of as strategic tools, today they are used also by terror organizations, and the reality is much more severe. This is because these same States removed the obstacles that they imposed before and began transferring missiles to terror organizations they support under their authority.”
Are Ezekiel Prophecies on the Horizon?
Feb. 22….(Culture) The leader of a Messianic Jewish ministry believes a couple of biblical prophecies dealing with wars in the Middle East could come to fruition within the next five years. As previously reported on OneNewsNow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently proclaimed the fulfillment of the Ezekiel 37 prophecy of the dry bones coming to life, which alludes to the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. While many biblical scholars speculate about the next two chapters of Ezekiel, as well as the war of Gog and Magog, Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, believes some other prophecies are likely to precede that cataclysmic end-times event. "Frankly I believe 2010 is going to see some of the predicted wars that have not yet happened," she comments. "I do think that the Psalm 83 war could take place in 2010." That passage references the destruction of Israel's enemies who desire to cut Israel off from being a nation, and a passage in Isaiah talks about the destruction of Damascus. "Isaiah 17 says there is coming a time when Damascus will be leveled, and that probably could be sooner rather than later, in that Syria is stirring up so much trouble, and we really think that 2010, certainly by 2011, there's going to be a major spark flying," Markell predicts. The ministry founder notes that it is impossible to predict the exact dates for these events, but she believes the clock is ticking toward some volatile times in the Middle East.
Russia Rebuffs Israel over Tougher Sanctions on Iran
Feb. 22….(Press TV) Russia's Foreign Ministry has announced that Moscow is against imposing "crippling sanctions" on Iran over its nuclear energy program. "The term 'crippling sanctions' on Iran is totally unacceptable to us. The sanctions should aim at strengthening the regime of non-proliferation," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday. He made the comments in opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had asked Russia to help slap biting sanctions on the Islamic Republic. "What is needed now is biting sanctions that have the power to influence the regime, bitter sanctions that have to hit, in a convincing way, the (Iranian) oil industry, imports, exports and refining," visiting Netanyahu told reporters after holding talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, as part of his efforts to garner support for tough sanctions against Iran. However, the Russian side rejected the idea saying, "We have always favored the resolution of problems regarding the Iranian nuclear program through dialogue and, if possible, interaction with Iran." Israel, along with the West, accused Iran of pursuing military ends through its nuclear program, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied. The Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is solely aimed at the civilian application of the technology. Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry official said Moscow is committed to supply Iran with the S-300 air defense system according to the existing contract between the two states. "There is a contract to supply these systems to Iran and we will fulfill it. The delays are linked to technical problems with adjusting these systems," he said. Israel and the United States have repeatedly asked Russia to scrap the deal. However, Ryabkov has warned against politicizing Russia's arms exports to Iran.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 14 THROUGH FEBRUARY 20
UN Nuke Agency Suddenly Worried Iran is Making Nuclear Bombs
Feb. 19….(AP) The UN nuclear agency has suddenly reversed itself and said it is now worried Iran may currently be working on making a nuclear warhead, suggesting for the first time that Tehran had either resumed such work or never stopped at the time US intelligence thought it did. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency appeared to put the UN nuclear monitor on the side of Germany, France, Britain and Israel. These nations and other US allies have disputed the conclusions of a US intelligence assessment published three years ago that said Tehran appeared to have suspended such work in 2003. The US assessment itself may be revised and is being looked at again by American intelligence agencies. While US officials continue to say the 2007 conclusion was valid at the time, they have not ruled out the possibility that Tehran resumed such work some time after that. Iran denies any interest in developing nuclear arms. But the confidential report, made available to The Associated Press, said Iran's resistance to agency attempts to probe for signs of a nuclear cover-up "give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program." Iran is weathering three sets of Security Council sanctions meant to punish its refusal to freeze its uranium enrichment program. It's recent rejection of a plan meant to strip it of most of its enriched stockpile plus its belated acknowledgment that it had been secretly building a new enrichment facility has increased sentiment for a fourth set. The US, Britain and France support such a measure, with Russia undecided and fellow permanent Security Council member China, which depends on Iran for much of its energy needs opposed.
IAEA: Iran Likely Building Nuclear Warhead
(IAEA changes course: First report under new Chief Amano uses unusually blunt language; information available to agency is extensive, raises concerns about undisclosed Iranian activities, confidential document says)
Feb. 19….(YNET) The UN nuclear watchdog fears Iran may be working now to develop a nuclear payload for a missile, the agency said in a confidential report. The International Atomic Energy Agency report also confirmed Iran had produced its first, small batch of uranium enriched to a higher purity, 20 percent, but said the Islamic Republic had failed to give inspectors the required advance notice. Both developments will stoke Western concerns that Iran is secretly bent on developing nuclear weapons capacity from the enrichment process. The IAEA has been investigating for several years Western intelligence reports indicating Iran has coordinated efforts to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude d revamp a ballistic missile cone in a way suitable for a nuclear warhead. In 2007 the United States issued an assessment saying Iran had halted such research in 2003 and probably not resumed it. But its key Western allies believe Iran continued the program, and the IAEA report offered independent support for that perception for the first time. "The information available to the agency is extensive, broadly consistent and credible in terms of the technical detail, the time frame in which the activities were conducted and the people and organizations involved," the report said. "Altogether this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile." It was unusually blunt language in the first IAEA report on Iran under new Director-General Yukiya Amano, who is seen as more inclined to confront Iran over its behavior than his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei.
Peres Warns of A Nuclear Mideast
Feb. 19….(Jerusalem Post) If the world does not unite to stop Iran’s nuclear program, the upshot will be a nuclear Middle East, where ongoing conflicts will be accompanied by nuclear bombs, President Shimon Peres warned yesterday during a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. Peres said that he was surprised by the foot-dragging of the international community which still seemed reluctant to recognize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for what he is, “a dictator and a murderer who hangs people in the streets, shoots at unarmed civilians, calls for the destruction of a nation and travels the world as if he was a legitimate leader.” Spindelegger said that the urgency of the Iranian issue was understood in Europe as was the need to act in response to statements made by Ahmadinejad. “There is no other way,” he said. Spindelegger pledged that Austria, as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, would take constructive measures to ensure that sanctions are imposed on Iran. He was hopeful that the Security Council would not delay its discussions of effective sanctions. He also promised that Austria would work within the European Union towards the advancement of such discussions.
Russia Won't Sanction Iran, US Urges Israel not to Attack
Feb. 17….(Israel Today) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday resisted pressure from visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join other world powers in imposing "severe and paralyzing" sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu had hoped to impress upon Medvedev that time has run out for more gentle diplomatic efforts, considering how close Iran is today to producing a nuclear weapon. Officials in Netanyahu's entourage who spoke to the Israeli media tried to put a positive spin on the meeting's outcome, insisting that regardless of a lack of a firm commitment by Medvedev to oppose Iran's nuclear program, they are sure the Russian leader will ultimately do the right thing. Netanyahu also brought up Russia's sale of an advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, after Russian defense officials on Sunday defended providing the Islamic Republic with such a weapon. The S-300 air defense system would make it all the more difficult for Israel to militarily intervene in Iran's nuclear program, if it becomes necessary. Meanwhile, visiting US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told his Israeli hosts that he continues to view a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as a very bad idea. Mullen suggested that the consequences of such action would be just as bad as Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad: Iran Will 'Retaliate' Against Sanctions
Feb. 17….(Newsmax) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday any country that tried to impose new sanctions on Iran would regret its actions, as the United States and Russia voiced shared concern about Tehran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad was speaking a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought oil giant Saudi Arabia's support to help win Chinese backing for additional sanctions. Clinton said a new round of sanctions should target Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "Iran will retaliate, of course, if somebody acts against Iran our response will definitely be firm enough to make them regretful," Ahmadinejad told a news conference, without elaborating. "Sanctions will not harm Iran." In Washington, the White House would not rule out any options including a military option for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions. "I wouldn't rule out anything," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a news briefing, adding that Iran's refusal to engage on its nuclear program was proof that the program "is not of the means and type that they have tried to convince others that it's for." A joint letter from the United States, Russia and France expressed concern about Tehran's nuclear work and said its decision to escalate uranium enrichment, rather than implement a nuclear fuel swap was unjustified. Ahmadinejad said talks were still under way on the proposed fuel exchange and the issue was not yet closed. He did not give details, but Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was visiting Tehran on Tuesday to try to salvage the UN-brokered uranium exchange deal amid growing calls for new sanctions against Iran. The State Department said it was not aware that any talks were under way, and repeated that any negotiations would have to take place with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which brokered the fuel swap proposal. Western powers had hoped the IAEA proposal would result in Iran sending most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for processing and ease their concerns that it might build a nuclear bomb. Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity so it can export more of its oil and gas. "The case is not yet closed. We have already announced that we are ready for a fuel exchange within a fair framework. We are still ready for an exchange, even with America," Ahmadinejad said. But he added that such a swap should take place inside Iran, a likely non-starter for the West. His order last week to start production of higher-grade uranium, rather than agree to the UN-brokered swap proposal, exposed Tehran to new calls for UN sanctions.
The Kremlin said Iran could face sanctions if it failed to allay international fears about its nuclear program, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a visit to Moscow, called for "paralyzing sanctions" on Iran. The joint letter from the United States, Russia and France said Iran's move to escalate uranium enrichment was unjustified because the draft nuclear fuel deal lists guarantees for Tehran's benefit. "This is wholly unjustified. If Iran goes forward with this escalation, it would raise new concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions," the letter to the IAEA said. It said the plan for Iran to swap enriched uranium for nuclear medicine fuel had legal assurances it would be fulfilled, contrary to Iran's assertions. Ahmadinejad said Iran had been willing to send its uranium abroad rather than enrich it further at home, but that it had "found that there is no goodwill in this regard." He dismissed Clinton's accusations that Iran was moving toward a military dictatorship. Ahmadinejad said Iran was not worried about sanctions targeting its gasoline imports as the country could become an exporter of the fuel. "There are several refineries under construction, and as soon as they become operational we can even export gasoline." "The United States imagine that they can prevent Iran's oil exports and it is just dreaming. They are not able to do that," he said, saying the United States should instead cooperate constructively with Iran.
Saudi Arabia Questions Sanctions on Iran, Blames Israeli Nukes for Problems
Feb. 17….(Yahoo) Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Monday expressed doubts about the usefulness of more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference in the Saudi capital that the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions demands a more immediate solution than sanctions. He described sanctions as a long-term solution, and he said the threat is more pressing. The Saudi minister spoke at a joint appearance with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is in the Persian Gulf to shore up support for new sanctions against Iran. The Saudi minister also said efforts supported by the US to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons must apply to Israel. "Sanctions are a long-term solution," the Saudi minister said. "But we see the issue in the shorter term because we are closer to the threat," referring to Iran. "We need immediate resolution rather than gradual resolution." He didn't identify a preferred short-term resolution. US officials traveling with Clinton said privately they were uncertain what al-Faisal meant, since the Saudi government has been explicit in its support of sanctions against Iran. They said he appeared to be suggesting that sanctions may not be effective and that other action could be required.
Jews Hated Across Mideast, Except by Israeli Arabs
Feb. 15….(Israel Today) The Pew Research Center's annual Global Attitudes survey published this month had some unsurprising numbers in regards to Israel, the most prominent being that the vast majority of people in the Middle East hate Jews and the Jewish state. But the poll also revealed some surprises, most notably that the non-Jews that live closest to Jews, the Israeli Arabs, have a generally positive view of Jews. International media tries to paint a picture that Israel and the Jews are only disliked because they "stole" land from the Palestinian Arabs, and that the rest of the region would get alone fine with the Jewish state if that land was surrendered. But in nations that Israel has given land to and that are officially at peace with the Jewish state hatred for Jews was actually at its highest. Ninety-seven percent of respondents in Jordan and 95 percent in Egypt said they do not like Jews. A similar number of Palestinians, Israel's ostensible peace partners, expressed the same view. Taking it a step further, a majority in both Jordan and Egypt said they fully back Hamas and Hizballah, the two terrorist groups that have done the most harm to Israel in recent years. By contrast, 56 percent of Israeli Arabs, the non-Jews supposedly living under harsh oppression in the Jewish State, said they hold positive views of their Jewish countrymen.
Iran Now a Nuclear Power, Like it or Not
Feb. 15….(Washington Times) Iran has emerged as a nuclear state, and there is nothing the United States can do about it. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Thursday that Tehran has the capability to produce weapons-grade uranium but has no intention of building atomic bombs. "At the present time, we have the capability to produce very highly enriched fuel," he said, from 20 percent to 80 percent enriched, in other words, from weapons-usable to weapons-grade. But this is no reason for concern, he assured, because Iran "is brave enough to explicitly announce it if it wants to make a nuclear bomb; it will build it and is not afraid of you." There is a reason that highly enriched uranium is called "weapons-grade," and it has nothing to do with peaceful uses of nuclear power. It is a measure of Western impotence that the United States went to war with Iraq in 2003 to prevent the very things Iran is announcing with pride in 2010. Had Saddam Hussein made the same claim, the question over weapons of mass destruction would have been settled at once. What is going on in Iran is not the "weapons of mass destruction-related activities" with which Saddam was charged; this is the stuff of nightmares. Ahmadinejad also "officially announced" that "the era of superpowers and bullying" is over. He may be on to something. The United States has failed consistently to prevent Iran from pursuing a nuclear program. Repeated assertions from Washington that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable must be measured against the reality that Tehran can now produce nuclear weapons if it so desires. The unacceptable is rapidly becoming the undeniable. The national security establishment sends signals that indicate it doesn't consider the mullahs' nuclear threat much of a problem. The section of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) dealing with preventing proliferation and countering weapons of mass destruction does not mention Iran, and the review in general seems to focus more on conflict management, things like containment and post-strike cleanup rather than prevention. The confident claim that the problem is mainly one of adequate resourcing is unwarranted, as the failure of a missile-defense exercise against a simulated Iranian missile attack earlier this month illustrated. Elsewhere, discussion swirls around various forms of sanctions: smart sanctions, focused sanctions, effective sanctions, sanctions that bite, and so forth. However, there is no reason to think that any sanctions regime will dissuade Tehran from its current course of action. If anything, sanctions could serve as an excuse for the Islamic regime to construct and test a nuclear weapon as a response to purported Western economic genocide, or some such claim. Ahmadinejad appealed to President Obama to open his heart to change, essentially saying Tehran would reach out a hand if Washington would unclench its fist. However, he also underscored the growing irrelevance of the United States to influence events in the region. This is true. The limited courses of action being discussed in Washington are irrelevant. The Iranian nuclear issue will be decided by others. Tehran will pursue its revolutionary interests. Israel will act to guarantee its national survival. Other states in the region will do what they need to do as events unfold. The United States should begin planning for the inevitable. Conflict is coming; it won't be managed away.
Retired Admiral-Senator Sees 'Imminent Death of US'
Feb. 15….(WND) Retired Admiral and former US Sen. Jeremiah Denton had some tough words in the mess hall of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, packed with fellow servicemen, including some who spent time with him as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton. In an emotional speech last night about his newly updated classic work, “When Hell was in Session.” Denton said he feared the imminent death of the United States of America due to immorality, lack of patriotism and lack of appreciation for the unique form of government bestowed by the country's founders. Denton, a devout Christian, used his time to exhort his fellow servicemen to rally behind moral issues including bringing abortion to an end and fighting against homosexual marriage. He also criticized the current administration and what he sees as a lack of patriotism on the president's part. At the end of his speech, he exclaimed, "Semper Fi!" the motto of the United States Marine Corps, which means "always faithful," to tell the men in the room to continue to be active in faithful to fight for the future of this country. During the Vietnam War, Denton served as commanding officer to Attack Squadron 75 aboard the USS Independence. He was shot down on July 18, 1965, while leading an air strike against North Vietnamese stronghold, Thanh Hoa. During his years in the POW camp, Denton refused to betray his country, at his own expense. He famously blinked Morse code the word "torture" to confirm the atrocious acts that were being committed on imprisoned soldiers during an interview with a foreign journalist.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 7 THROUGH FEBRUARY 13
Lebanese PM: We'll Back Hezbollah if War with Israel Breaks Out
(Prime Minister Hariri says Israel making a huge mistake by 'threatening' Lebanon, Syria. 'We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people)
Feb. 11….(YNET) Days after Syria and Israel exchanged hostile accusations, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC he is concerned about "escalating threats" posed to the Middle East by Israel. In an interview published overnight Wednesday, Hariri told the BBC that Israeli planes were entering Lebanese airspace every day, and he feared the prospect of another war with Israel. He accused Israel of making a huge mistake by allegedly threatening both Lebanon and neighboring Syria. "We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats, we see what's happening on the ground and in our airspace and what's happening all the time during the past two months, every day we have Israeli planes entering Lebanese airspace," Hariri was quoted by the BBC as saying. "This is something that is escalating, and this is something that is really dangerous," he said. Hariri added that Lebanon was united, and that his government would stand by Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group which fought Israel in 2006. "I think they're (Israel) betting that there might be some division in Lebanon, if there is a war against us," he said, "Well, there won't be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people." Syrian President Bashar Assad told Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Sunday that Syria would support Lebanon in the event of any attack by Israel, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported. “Syria will stand alongside the government and people of Lebanon against any possible Israeli aggression launched on Lebanon,” SANA quoted Assad as saying to Berri in Damascus. Assad and Berri discussed “repeated Israeli threats on countries in the region and Israeli extremism which can kill chances of peace and bring war to the region,” SANA reported. Israeli officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that any attack by Lebanon’s Syrian-backed Hizbullah would spark a tough response. Syria and Israel have also been locked in a bitter war of words for several days. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned on Wednesday that war against his country would become a wider conflict. “Israelis, do not test the power of Syria since you know the war will move into your cities,” Moallem said. His Israeli counterpart Avignor Lieberman retorted on Thursday that any war would cost Assad his grip on power. “When there is another war, you will not just lose it, but you and your family will lose power,” Lieberman said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to ease tensions on Sunday, saying that Israel wants peace with all of its neighbors. “We made peace with Egypt and Jordan and we seek peace with Syria and the Palestinians,” he said.
Russia Signals Sudden Change in Attitude Over Iran Nukes
Russia described western anxiety over Iran’s nuclear programme as “valid” yesterday, raising US hopes that Moscow will agree the passage of a United Nations resolution imposing new sanctions on Tehran.
Feb. 11….(YNET) Nikolai Patrushev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, said there was a “limit” to how much diplomacy could be used to solve the crisis. He singled out Iran’s decision to enrich uranium to 20 per cent purity, a step closer to the 90 per cent needed to build nuclear weapons. At an unscheduled appearance yesterday at the White House’s regular press conference, Barack Obama, US president, said he was pleased by Russia’s, ”forward looking” stance on sanctions against Tehran but was less certain about what position China would take. He added that the US was looking to agree a UN resolution in the next few weeks accusing Iran of pursuing a path towards nuclear armament. The process of achieving a higher level of enrichment began inside Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz yesterday. Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s presidential security council, noted that Iran claimed it was not seeking nuclear weapons. But he told journalists in Moscow: “The actions it is taking, including when it began enriching low enriched uranium to 20 per cent, raise doubts in other countries and those doubts are quite valid.” He added: “Political-diplomatic methods are important for a resolution, but there is a limit to everything.” Hours later the Russian foreign ministry made further criticism of Iran’s plans. “The decision by Iran to start its own enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent, intensifies doubts about the sincerity of Iran’s intention to remove, the existing concerns of the international community,” said the ministry. Senior US diplomats believe that Russia, which previously opposed punishing Iran with more economic sanctions, is softening its position. Robert Gates, the US defense secretary, was confident enough to say that Washington would press the UN Security Council to pass another sanctions resolution within “weeks”. China, however, remains firmly opposed and may maintain that stance whatever Russia decides. There is still doubt over whether the Kremlin will actually allow the passage of a sanctions resolution. However, senior US diplomats believe that Iran’s decision to press ahead with higher levels of enrichment has backfired. A senior US official said this was a “hollow” and “provocative” gesture that would make new sanctions more likely. “I think there is sufficient support in the council for sanctions,” said the official. “The Iranians see the Russians clearly moving towards joining us in a sanctions resolution.” The official said there might be efforts to delay the passage of a resolution and to dilute it. “But I think before long it will be possible to achieve it,” he said. “That means the Chinese will vote Yes or abstain, and I think they are likely to vote Yes.” In Moscow, the changing mood on Iran was signaled earlier this week by Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, who said that stronger sanctions should be considered. “The international community should swiftly react to the news of the 20 per cent enrichment plans to send Tehran a new signal of its intent to react with serious measures, right up to a strengthening of economic sanctions,” a spokeswoman quoted him as saying. Western diplomats believe that Russia, which remains a big arms supplier to Iran, has been angered by Tehran’s behavior. Last autumn Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, was put in the embarrassing position of being told by Obama that Iran had built a hitherto secret uranium enrichment facility near Qom.
Ahmadinejad: Iran is Now a 'Nuclear State'
Feb. 11….(Times on Line) Iran is now a 'nuclear state', President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced this morning. As Gordon Brown warned that the world's patience is wearing thin, Ahmadinejad told scores of cheering Iranians that the Islamic Republic is capable of producing weapons-grade uranium. He spoke as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Despite fears of violence, opposition supporters found themselves largely overwhelmed by the clerical regime and pro-government demonstrators. The massive security clampdown appeared to succeed in preventing protesters from converging into a cohesive demonstrations. Large numbers of riot police, members of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij militiamen, some on motorcycles, deployed in back streets near key squares and major avenues in the capital to move against protesters. He said it had produced its first batch of 20 per cent enriched uranium - and had the capability to enrich to far higher levels at its Natanz plant. Enriching uranium produces fuel for a nuclear power plants but can also be used to create material for atomic weapons. The international community has warned Iran against further enrichment activities, threatening new UN sanctions. Thousands of supporters had been brought in on buses to hear Ahmadinejad speak as security forces threatened to crush any opposition protests. Witnesses say security forces fired paint balls to disperse anti-government protesters in one of the first clashes of the day's ceremonies. The unrest began after protesters began to chant opposition slogans in Sadeqieh Square, which is about a half-mile (one kilometer) from a huge pro-government gathering where President Ahmadinejad delivered his speech. Attending February 11 events is a tradition for many in the country of 70 million, over half of whom have only ever known the Islamic Republic established by the revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 'If we all stay at home, our youngsters will be left alone on Bahman 22 (February 11). We should support them,' said Laleh, a 67-year-old housewife. 'I have nothing to lose.' Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said on Wednesday her country faced a catastrophe that would wreck peace in the whole Middle East if what she called government repression of the people were not halted.
Lebanese PM: We'll Back Hezbollah if War with Israel Breaks Out
(Prime Minister Hariri says Israel making a huge mistake by 'threatening' Lebanon, Syria. 'We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people)
Feb. 10….(YNET) Days after Syria and Israel exchanged hostile accusations, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC he is concerned about "escalating threats" posed to the Middle East by Israel. In an interview published overnight Wednesday, Hariri told the BBC that Israeli planes were entering Lebanese airspace every day, and he feared the prospect of another war with Israel. He accused Israel of making a huge mistake by allegedly threatening both Lebanon and neighboring Syria. "We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats, we see what's happening on the ground and in our airspace and what's happening all the time during the past two months, every day we have Israeli planes entering Lebanese airspace," Hariri was quoted by the BBC as saying. "This is something that is escalating, and this is something that is really dangerous," he said. Hariri added that Lebanon was united, and that his government would stand by Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group which fought Israel in 2006. "I think they're (Israel) betting that there might be some division in Lebanon, if there is a war against us," he said, "Well, there won't be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people." Syrian President Bashar Assad told Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Sunday that Syria would support Lebanon in the event of any attack by Israel, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported. “Syria will stand alongside the government and people of Lebanon against any possible Israeli aggression launched on Lebanon,” SANA quoted Assad as saying to Berri in Damascus. Assad and Berri discussed “repeated Israeli threats on countries in the region and Israeli extremism which can kill chances of peace and bring war to the region,” SANA reported. Israeli officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that any attack by Lebanon’s Syrian-backed Hizbullah would spark a tough response. Syria and Israel have also been locked in a bitter war of words for several days. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned on Wednesday that war against his country would become a wider conflict. “Israelis, do not test the power of Syria since you know the war will move into your cities,” Moallem said. His Israeli counterpart Avignor Lieberman retorted on Thursday that any war would cost Assad his grip on power. “When there is another war, you will not just lose it, but you and your family will lose power,” Lieberman said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to ease tensions on Sunday, saying that Israel wants peace with all of its neighbors. “We made peace with Egypt and Jordan and we seek peace with Syria and the Palestinians,” he said.
Russia Signals Sudden Change in Attitude Over Iran Nukes
Russia described western anxiety over Iran’s nuclear programme as “valid” yesterday, raising US hopes that Moscow will agree the passage of a United Nations resolution imposing new sanctions on Tehran.
Feb. 10….(YNET) Nikolai Patrushev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, said there was a “limit” to how much diplomacy could be used to solve the crisis. He singled out Iran’s decision to enrich uranium to 20 per cent purity, a step closer to the 90 per cent needed to build nuclear weapons. At an unscheduled appearance yesterday at the White House’s regular press conference, Barack Obama, US president, said he was pleased by Russia’s, ”forward looking” stance on sanctions against Tehran but was less certain about what position China would take. He added that the US was looking to agree a UN resolution in the next few weeks accusing Iran of pursuing a path towards nuclear armament. The process of achieving a higher level of enrichment began inside Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz yesterday. Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s presidential security council, noted that Iran claimed it was not seeking nuclear weapons. But he told journalists in Moscow: “The actions it is taking, including when it began enriching low enriched uranium to 20 per cent, raise doubts in other countries and those doubts are quite valid.” He added: “Political-diplomatic methods are important for a resolution, but there is a limit to everything.” Hours later the Russian foreign ministry made further criticism of Iran’s plans. “The decision by Iran to start its own enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent, intensifies doubts about the sincerity of Iran’s intention to remove, the existing concerns of the international community,” said the ministry. Senior US diplomats believe that Russia, which previously opposed punishing Iran with more economic sanctions, is softening its position. Robert Gates, the US defense secretary, was confident enough to say that Washington would press the UN Security Council to pass another sanctions resolution within “weeks”. China, however, remains firmly opposed and may maintain that stance whatever Russia decides. There is still doubt over whether the Kremlin will actually allow the passage of a sanctions resolution. However, senior US diplomats believe that Iran’s decision to press ahead with higher levels of enrichment has backfired. A senior US official said this was a “hollow” and “provocative” gesture that would make new sanctions more likely. “I think there is sufficient support in the council for sanctions,” said the official. “The Iranians see the Russians clearly moving towards joining us in a sanctions resolution.” The official said there might be efforts to delay the passage of a resolution and to dilute it. “But I think before long it will be possible to achieve it,” he said. “That means the Chinese will vote Yes or abstain, and I think they are likely to vote Yes.” In Moscow, the changing mood on Iran was signaled earlier this week by Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, who said that stronger sanctions should be considered. “The international community should swiftly react to the news of the 20 per cent enrichment plans to send Tehran a new signal of its intent to react with serious measures, right up to a strengthening of economic sanctions,” a spokeswoman quoted him as saying. Western diplomats believe that Russia, which remains a big arms supplier to Iran, has been angered by Tehran’s behavior. Last autumn Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, was put in the embarrassing position of being told by Obama that Iran had built a hitherto secret uranium enrichment facility near Qom.
King Abdullah: Iran Might Give Up Nukes if Mideast Conflict Resolved
Feb. 9….(Ha Aretz) Jordan's King Abdullah said on Sunday that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could lead to Iran giving up its nuclear weapons program. "If we solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, why would Iran want to spend so much money on a nuclear program? It makes no sense," Abdullah said in a CNN interview with correspondent Fareed Zakaria aired on Sunday. During the interview, Abdullah said negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were in "desperate need" of the undivided attention of the United States. While recognizing the numerous demands the Obama government is facing, Abdullah was still critical about the US role in negotiations in the region. "I think the credibility of the US is under question now," Abdullah said. Speaking about the general situation in the Middle East, Abdullah said "The core issue is the Israeli-Palestinian problem. All the conflicts in our part of the world lead to Jerusalem." "If we solve this problem, we begin to relieve all the other pressure points inside of the Middle East," Abdullah said. Abdullah rejected the notion that Jordan could be turned into a Palestinian state, asking "What sense would that make?" "Jordan absolutely does not want anything to do with anything to do with the West Bank. The Palestinians want their own state," Abdullah said, "We will not have any role in the West Bank." Meanwhile last week, Abdullah met with President Shimon Peres in Davos, Switzerland where the two leaders discussed restarting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Abdullah expressed concern to Peres over the standstill in the peace process, saying that it could affect the entire region. "There could be regional ramifications," Abdullah told Peres, adding that he hopes the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will restart soon based on a mutual agreement for a two-state solution. "There is a consensus amongst the Israeli people regarding a two-state solution," Peres told Abdullah. "Israel is willing to return to the negotiations table right away, and we must make the great efforts to restart the peace process."
Do You Get Exhausted Spiritually?
("The everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary." Isaiah 40:28)
Feb. 9….(Oswald Chambers) Exhaustion means that the vital forces are worn right out. Spiritual exhaustion never comes through sin but only through service, and whether or not you are exhausted will depend upon where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter - "Feed My sheep," but He gave him nothing to feed them with. The process of being made broken bread and poured out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you to the dregs. Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted. Before other souls learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus direct, they have to draw on it through you; you have to be literally "sucked," until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and His sheep as well as for Himself. Has the way in which you have been serving God betrayed you into exhaustion? If so, then rally your affections. Where did you start the service from? From your own sympathy or from the basis of the Redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually go back to the foundation of your affections and recollect where the source of power is. You have no right to say, "O Lord, I am so exhausted." He saved and sanctified you in order to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that your supply comes from Him.
Feb. 9….(YNET) The Saudi government on Monday urged a firm stance by the international community regarding what it called threats by Israel against Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians. "(The cabinet) appeals to the international community on the need for a rigorous position about these (Israeli threats) and to step up efforts to end the continuous inhumane Israeli practices against the Palestinian people," the cabinet said after its weekly meeting chaired by King Abdullah. Israeli Foreign Minister Avignor Lieberman, responding to Syria's accusation Israel was pushing for a war, said earlier this month that Damascus would be defeated and President Bashar Assad would lose power in any future conflict. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier said that "the absence of an agreement with Syria could lead to armed conflict that could develop into all-out war". Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reassured Syria that Israel sought peace after Lieberman's remarks. The statement followed comments by Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal in which he sought to downplay the significance of his handshake with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a conference in Munich on Saturday. Prince Turki, an ex-head of Saudi intelligence touted by Western diplomats to be the kingdom's next foreign minister, said the handshake did not mean that the kingdom recognized Israel.
Syria Supplies Hizballah With Dangerous Fateh-110 Missiles
(Gives Hezbollah ability to destroy Israeli cities)
Feb. 8….(DEBKAfile Special Report) The secret transfer of the mobile surface-to-surface Syrian-made Fateh-110 (range 250km) missile to Hizballah sparked the prediction Friday, Feb. 5 from an unnamed US official that cross-border arms smuggling from Syria into Lebanon outside state control was "very dangerous" and "paved the way to war similar to Israel-Hizballah conflict of 2006. Military sources report that Israel warned Syria through at least two diplomatic channels against Hizballah using this lethal weapon, which is capable of reaching almost every Israel city. Our sources disclose: Syria pulled the wool of Israel's eyes for the transfer by openly training Hizballah in the use of SA-2 and SA-6 surface-to-surface missiles. Israel had warned it would deem their passage into Lebanon Syrian casus belli by Syria. The Fateh-110 is still more lethal, accurate and dangerous than the SA-2 and SA-3. It confronts Israel now with a Hizballah armed with a solid-fuel propellant, road-mobile, single-stage, short-range ballistic system weighing three tons with a half-ton warhead and a range of 250 kilometers. It is not deployed in surface batteries but fired from mobile launchers, which the solid propellant renders capable of firing at speed with little advance preparation, before returning to the fortified underground silos Hizballah has sunk in mountain areas across Lebanon. These features make the Fateh-110 a very tough target for Israeli bombers to strike. According to our intelligence sources, Israel posted warnings against Hizballah using the weapon through US Middle East envoy George missile who conveyed the warning to president Bashar Assad in Damascus on January 20 after talks in Jerusalem. The message he carried was that if Hizballah ventured to fire the Fateh-110, Israel was determined to hit back at strategic and military targets inside Syria. This warning instantly prompted the war rhetoric which emanated from Assad and his foreign minister Walid Moallem. Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, known for his undiplomatic, blunt style, responded by warning Syria that it stood to lose the next war and the Assad family would lose its grip on power in Damascus.
Assad: Syria Will Back Lebanon if Israel Attacks
Feb. 8….(AFP) Syria will support Lebanon in the event of any attack from Israel, President Bashar al-Assad told the speaker of Beirut's parliament on Sunday, the official SANA news agency reported. "Syria will stand alongside the government and people of Lebanon against any possible Israeli aggression launched on Lebanon," the agency quoted Assad as saying to Nabih Berri in Damascus. Assad and Berri discussed "repeated Israeli threats on countries in the region and Israeli extremism which can kill chances for peace and bring war to the region," SANA said.
Israeli officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that any attack by Lebanon's Syrian-backed Hezbollah Shiite movement will spark a tough response. Syria and Israel have also been locked in a bitter war of words for several days. Foreign Minister Walid Muallem warned on Wednesday that war against his country would become a wider conflict. "Israelis, do not test the power of Syria since you know the war will move into your cities," he said. His Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman retorted on Thursday that any war would cost Assad his grip on power. "When there is another war, you will not just lose it, but you and your family will lose power," Lieberman said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to ease tensions on Sunday, saying that Israel wants peace with all of its neighbors. "We made peace with Egypt and Jordan and we seek peace with Syria and the Palestinians," he said. On Tuesday Netanyahu had accused Beirut of allowing Hezbollah to smuggle weapons into Lebanon in "blatant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701" which led to an end to the 34-day conflict. Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in 2006, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Tensions in the Middle East-(Damascus in the Middle of it All)……Surprise!
(Iranian reactions becoming more extreme as sanctions decision nears)
FOJ Note: Bible prophecy clearly forecasts ominous events for Damascus in the latter days, only the timing of that event can be debated. It is highly likely that Iran will push any proxy lever at its terrorist disposal to save its nuclear strategy for the region, even at the expense of Syria!
Feb. 5….(YNET) The repeated Israeli messages in recent weeks meant to lower the level of tension vis-à-vis Syria are falling on deaf ears. The Syrians don’t believe us. Even if the IDF intelligence chief travels to Damascus and personally reads the army’s annual intelligence assessment to Assad, noting that Israel does not predict a confrontation with Syria this year, the Syrian leader will not be persuaded. This is very reminiscent of the period ahead of the Six Day War, when the Russians made sure to fan the flames and feed the Syrians with horror stories. A hint regarding the identity of the war-monger at this time may be found in the words of US National Security Advisor Jim Jones last week. The American general spoke about the planned US sanctions against Iran. In response to the sanctions, he said, there is a possibility that Tehran will encourage its satellites in the region, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas to attack Israel and set the whole region on fire. Jones’ words indicate that the Syrians are being provoked by the Iranians. Tehran is presenting its own tangible threat in the face of the American threat: If you mess with us, we will set fire to the Middle East. The flames are increasingly being fanned on the northern border as the decision on Iran sanctions approaches. The US Administration has already decided that it would first attempt to impose sanctions via the United Nations Security Council. Should this fail and the Chinese torpedo the move, the US will turn to independent sanctions, in the hopes that other major European countries, including Russia, join it. These are not empty words. The Americans have already started to take some steps on the ground: This week they deployed active anti-missile defense systems in Persian Gulf states. And so, on the one hand the Americans intend to tighten the chokehold on Iran, while at the same time they are preparing for an Iranian military response. The Iranians are well familiar with the American target date. Hence, their reactions are increasingly becoming more extreme. On the one hand they are suddenly conveying a sense of moderation and declaring that they are willing to transfer their uranium for enrichment in another country, yet at the same time they are publicly displaying ballistic missiles and issuing threats in all directions. And what about the Syrians and the Lebanese? They are merely pawns on the Iranian chessboard. About two weeks ago, IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkott characterized the tensions on the northern border as “virtual.” There is no real Israeli threat on Syria. The problem is that in our region, virtual tensions that are not handled properly can quickly turn into reality.
Syria And The Flames of War
Feb. 5….(Israel Today) The Syrian leadership on Wednesday of pushing the region toward full-scale war, and threatened to devastate Israel's cities if it dares to use military force against terrorist threats such as Lebanon's Hizballah. In a meeting with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, Syrian President Bashar Assad said, "All the facts point that Israel is driving the region toward war, not peace. Israel is not serious about wanting peace." Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem added at a press conference following the meeting that Israel knows "that war at this time will reach your cities. If such a war breaks out, it will indeed be total war, whether it begins in south Lebanon or Syria." Late last month, a pan-Arab newspaper reported that Syria and Hezbollah were mobilizing their forces for war with Israel, while telling the rest of the Arab world that the Jewish state was about to attack. Meanwhile, Israel's defense establishment is actually pushing for a renewal of peace talks with Syria, even if Damascus continues to push hardline preconditions. Addressing senior Israeli army officers on Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that if peace talks didn't resume soon, war could break out. In the aftermath of such a conflict, the peace talks will be about the same things they are today, insisted Barak, questioning the need for war and hostile rhetoric. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained cool to the idea of restarting talks at this time, noting that Syria continues to place obstacle by demanding preconditions, like a guaranteed full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
Israel Warns Syria It Would Lose Future War
Feb. 5….(Newsmax) Israel's foreign minister harshly warned Syria Thursday against drawing the Jewish state into another war, saying its troops would be trounced and its regime would collapse in a future conflict. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also advised Syria to abandon its dreams of recovering the Israeli-held Golan Heights in a speech that ratcheted up simmering political tensions between the two foes. The exceptionally harsh words followed Syrian President Bashar Assad's accusation on Wednesday that Israel was the one avoiding peace, and his foreign minister earlier threat that Israel's cities would be attacked in a future conflict. The Syrians "have crossed a red line that cannot be ignored," Lieberman said in a speech at a Tel Aviv-area university. "Our message must be clear to Assad: 'In the next war, not only will you lose but you and your family will lose power,'" he added. Lieberman's bellicose language contrasted sharply with the statement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued late Wednesday, saying the Jewish state seeks peace. It said Netanyahu "would be willing to go anywhere in the world, and doesn't rule out any assistance by a fair third party, to promote the political process in order to begin peace talks with Syria without any preconditions." Syria demands the return of the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau Israel captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as the price of any deal. But Lieberman, echoing Netanyahu's position, said there would be no such thing. "We must make Syria recognize that just as it relinquished its dream of a greater Syria that controls Lebanon, it will have to relinquish its ultimate demand regarding the Golan Heights," Lieberman said. There was no immediate comment from Syrian officials to Lieberman's remarks. Several rounds of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel in 2008 ended without a breakthrough. Damascus has expressed interest in having Turkey resume its mediation role, but Israel and Turkey have clashed diplomatically since Israel's war in Gaza last winter, and Israeli officials have said they no longer consider Turkey to be an honest broker. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned earlier this week that absence of peacemaking with Syria could result in a regional war.
"Any Country Using Nukes Would be Destroyed in 30 Seconds"
Feb. 3….(JPOST) Any country which attacks another with nuclear weapons, will enjoy a grace period of 30 minutes before it is wiped off the map, former chairman of the NATO Military Committee said at the Herzliya Conference Tuesday evening. The history of the Cold War teaches us that the only deterrence against nuclear weapons is nuclear weapons, he said. Naumann was referring to the possibility that Israel might one day come under nuclear attack. He said Iran’s nuclear program has all the characteristics of a military program. A country that spends 10 billion dollars just to enrich uranium to military grade is not a country with a peaceful program, Naumann said. He said public opinion in the West must be prepared for the eventuality that Iran will pass the nuclear threshold and NATO will need to use its deterrence.
CIA: Terror Attack on US 'Coming Soon
Feb. 3….(Washington Times) The five senior leaders of the US intelligence community told a Senate panel Tuesday they are "certain" that terrorists will attempt another attack on the United States in the next three to six months. The warning came during the annual threat briefing to Congress in response to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who asked, "What is the likelihood of another terrorist-attempted attack on the U.S homeland in the next three to six months? High or low?" "An attempted attack, the priority is certain, I would say," said Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, a retired admiral. Four other intelligence agency leaders who appeared at the hearing with Adm. Blair said they agreed with the assessment. They included CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr., the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and John Dinger, the acting assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research.
Adm. Blair outlined the major threats facing the United States in addition to a possible terrorist attack. They include:
-- The threat of major attacks on US computer networks and infrastructure.
-- The increasingly dangerous Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
-- Instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan.
-- Iranian and North Korean missile and nuclear programs.
-- China's military buildup.
-- Efforts by the anti-US government of Venezuela to develop closer ties with Iran, China and Russia.
The warning about the threat of another attempted attack, like the failed Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet, was in keeping with the sober public assessment of threats outlined last year by Adm. Blair. "In our judgment, al Qaeda also retains the capability to recruit, train and deploy operatives to mount some kind of an attack against the homeland," according to his written testimony. The recent arrests of an al Qaeda cell led by Najibullah Zazi, the attempted bombing of the Northwest Airlines jet en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, and the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting rampage, allegedly by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, all suggest al Qaeda has come close to pulling off mayhem inside the United States. Adm. Blair's message was sobering: "Counter-terrorism efforts against al Qaeda have put the organization in one of its most difficult positions since the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in late 2001," he said. "However, while these efforts have slowed the pace of anti-US planning and hindered progress on new external operations, they have not been sufficient to stop them." The testimony specifically warned that al Qaeda is capable of another attack on the United States, marking a change from the 2009 assessment that emphasized the group's intentions to attack US soil but said their capabilities to launch an attack on the homeland were limited. Meanwhile, Metro Transit Police on Tuesday conducted an anti-terrorist exercise at a busy underground Metro station in Washington, DC, Adm. Blair testified that al Qaeda is eyeing targets the group in the past attempted to attack, including commercial jets and financial institutions in New York City, and the Washington Metro system. Blair's testimony also focused on al Qaeda's continuing efforts to obtain biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, but he said he would only discuss details in a closed session. Following Blair's testimony, CIA Director Panetta pointed out that the biggest problem for America's spies is tracking the "lone wolf" operative who has no background in terrorism. Mr. Blair said part of the problem is that al Qaeda has switched tactics from spectacular "multiple-cell-based attacks" to harder to detect smaller-scale operations. "The recent successful and attempted attacks represent an evolving threat in which it is even more difficult to identify and track small numbers of terrorists recently recruited and trained and short-term plots than to find and follow terrorist cells engaged in plots that have been ongoing for years," Mr. Blair said. Mr. Blair's written testimony touched on a wide range of topics, from Latin America to the effects of global climate change on US strategic interests in the world. He began his testimony with a stark warning to Congress about the capability of hackers to launch devastating attacks on US computer networks. "Malicious cyber-activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication," he said. The director added that the technology today favors hackers and other criminals and not nations looking to protect their networks. On Iran, Mr. Blair said the intelligence community believed that Iran was preparing the groundwork for building nuclear weapons, but that Tehran had made no political decision to build the arms. Despite political turmoil that has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets since the June 12 presidential elections, Iran's decision-making process would remain the same, he said. Overall, Mr. Blair said he gave he protesters little chance for success. "Strengthened conservative control will limit opportunities for reformers to participate in politics or organize opposition," he stated. "The regime will work to marginalize opposition elites, disrupt or intimidate efforts to organize dissent and use force to put down unrest." The US intelligence community in the past failed to predict political events in Iran. For example, a noted CIA assessment of Iran in the fall of 1978 predicted there was no prospect for an Islamic revolution, a prediction that proved wrong within five months.
Seven Myths About Iran and its Nukes
We have been trying to negotiate [with the Iranians] for five, six years. We’ve tried everything. We have met every Iranian. We have tried to open every possible channel. We’ve had new ideas and the result is this: nothing.”
Feb. 3….(In The Days) Thus did a senior Western diplomat recently describe to me his country’s efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with Tehran over its nuclear programs. In doing so, he also finally disposed of the myth, nearly a decade in the making, that Iran was ready to abandon those programs in exchange for a “grand bargain” with the West. Let’s dispose of a few other myths, and hope it doesn’t take years for the lesson to stick:
(1) Military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities would accomplish nothing.
That’s the argument made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who last year told a Senate Committee that “a military attack will only buy us time and send the program deeper and more covert.” Maybe so, but what’s wrong with buying time? Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor also bought time while driving Saddam’s nuclear programs underground. But it ensured that it was a non-nuclear Iraq that invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia nine years later, a point recognized by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney when he thanked the Israeli commander of the Osirak operation for making “our job much easier in Desert Storm.”
(2) A strike would rally Iranians to the side of the regime.
The case would be more persuasive if the regime had any remaining claims on Iranian patriotism. It no longer does, if it ever did. It also would be more persuasive if the nuclear program were as broadly popular as some of the regime’s apologists claim. On the contrary, one of the more popular chants of the demonstrators goes, “Iran is green and fertile, it doesn’t need nukes.” Yet even if the nuclear program enjoyed widespread support, it isn’t clear how Iranians would react in the event of military strikes. Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri whooped up a nationalist fervor when he invaded the Falklands in 1982, but was ousted from office just a week after Port Stanley fell to the British. When a regime gambles its prestige on a single controversial enterprise, it cannot afford to lose it.
(3) Sanctions don’t work, and usually wind up strengthening the regime at the expense of its own people. That’s only true when the sanctioned regimes have strong internal controls, relatively pliant populations, and zero interest in international respectability. It’s also true that sanctions alone are never a silver bullet. But as Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies points out, they can be “silver shrapnel,” particularly when the target country is as politically vulnerable as Iran is now, and when it is also critically reliant on the consumption of imported gasoline. That’s why the House was right when it overwhelmingly approved the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act in December, and when the Senate unanimously passed a similar bill last Thursday. Over time, the regime will surely find ways to skirt the sanctions, which prohibit companies that do business in Iran’s energy sector from also doing business in the US But in the critical short term, these sanctions might provoke the kind of mass unrest that could tip the scales against the regime.
(4) The world can live with a nuclear Iran, just as we live with other nasty nuclear powers. Assume that’s true. (I don’t.) Can we also live with nuclear Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey? The problem with the “realist” view is that it fails to take account of the fears a nuclear Iran inspires among the status quo regimes in its neighborhood. Containment was complicated enough during the Cold War. Now imagine a four-or five-way standoff among Arabs, Persians, Turks and Israelis, some religiously fanatic, in the world’s most volatile neighborhood.
(5) The Iranian regime is headed for the ash heap of history. The best policy is to do as little as possible until it crumbles from within. Communist regimes were also destined for the ash heap. Unfortunately, it took them decades to get there, during which they murdered tens of millions of people. It matters a great deal to Iran’s people, and its neighbors, that the regime go quietly. But it also matters that it go quickly, and waiting on events is not a policy.
(6) The more support we show Iran’s demonstrators, the more we hurt their cause.
This was the administration’s view after the June 12 election, as it walked on tiptoes to avoid the perception of “meddling.” The regime accused the US of meddling all the same. But protest movements like Iran’s (or Poland’s, or South Africa’s) are sustained by a sense of moral legitimacy that global support uniquely conveys. When will American liberals get behind Iranian rights, as they have, say, Tibetan ones? Maybe when President Obama tells them to.
(7) Israel will ultimately dispose of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The more policy makers fall for the first six myths, the less mythical the seventh one becomes.
Italy/Berlusconi: Bring Israel into the EU
Feb. 3….(AP) Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday he hopes to bring Israel into the European Union, at the start of a three-day visit to the Jewish state. Berlusconi brought eight top ministers for a joint Cabinet meeting with their Israeli counterparts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cabinet ministers and a military honor guard welcomed the Italian delegation. Under Berlusconi's leadership, Italy has become one of Israel's strongest allies in Europe. Berlusconi's efforts to strengthen ties with Israel followed decades of a pro-Arab tilt by previous Italian governments. At the same time, Italy also remains Iran's largest trading partner within the EU. Israel considers Iran to be its greatest threat, accusing it of trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, but its president has repeatedly referred to Israel's eventual destruction. Italy says it will act responsibly if new sanctions are imposed on Iran despite the vast interests of Italian companies there. Italy has indicated that halting Iranian nuclear ambitions will take precedence over commercial considerations. Speaking on arrival in Israel, Berlusconi told Netanyahu that "my greatest desire, as long as I am a protagonist in politics, is to bring Israel into membership of the European Union." Israel has close trade ties with the EU but is not pressing to join the bloc. The European Commission was unavailable for comment about Israel's possible inclusion into union. The EU has had a tricky relationship with prospective members around the Mediterranean in the past. It turned down Morocco as a candidate in 1987, saying it was not European, and has stalled negotiations with Turkey for 23 years. Some EU nations, such as France, firmly oppose Turkey's membership on the grounds that it is also "not European." Netanyahu embraced his guest warmly, calling his arrival a "historic visit." "Not every day do we get the privilege to host one of Israel's greatest friends, a brave leader who is a great fighter for freedom and an enthusiastic supporter of peace," Netanyahu said of Berlusconi. Netanyahu said the sides expected to sign a series of agreements during the visit, on subjects including energy, the environment and health. He also spoke of the historic common bond between the two nations. "I can think of very few nations who have made such a contribution to Western culture as our two nations. In Rome and Jerusalem, the foundations for Western culture were laid," he said. Berlusconi echoed the same theme, expressing his "pride of the Judeo-Christian culture that formed the base of Western civilization."
'Iran Will Deliver Blow to Global Powers on Feb. 11'
Feb. 2….(Press TV) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the nation will deliver a harsh blow to the "global arrogance" on this year's anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. "The Islamic Revolution opened a window to liberty for the human race, which was trapped in the dead ends of materialism," Ahmadinejad said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday. "If the Islamic Revolution had not occurred, liberalism and Marxism would have crushed all human dignity in their power-seeking and money-grubbing claws. Nothing would have remained of human and spiritual principles," he added. Ahmadinejad said that in the three decades of its history, the Islamic Revolution had inspired some great developments in the world. The Iranian president made the remarks as the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution approaches. Iranians are expected to pour into the streets on February 11 to celebrate the occasion in public rallies across the country, as they have done annually over the past three decades.
US Sends Battleships and Missiles to Oppose Iran
Feb. 2….(Guardian) Tension between the US and Iran heightened dramatically today with the disclosure that Barack Obama is deploying a missile shield to protect American allies in the Gulf from attack by Tehran. The US is dispatching Patriot defensive missiles to four countries, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait, and keeping two ships in the Gulf capable of shooting down Iranian missiles. Washington is also helping Saudi Arabia develop a force to protect its oil installations. American officials said the move is aimed at deterring an attack by Iran and reassuring Gulf states fearful that Tehran might react to sanctions by striking at US allies in the region. Washington is also seeking to discourage Israel from a strike against Iran by demonstrating that the US is prepared to contain any threat. Chris McGreal: 'The US is prepared to move decisively against any threat from Iran'. The deployment comes after Obama's attempts to emphasize diplomacy over confrontation in dealing with Iran, a contrast to the Bush administration's approach, have failed to persuade Tehran to open its nuclear installations to international controls. The White House is now trying to engineer agreement for sanctions focused on Iran's Revolutionary Guard, believed to be in charge of the atomic program. Washington has not formally announced the deployment of the Patriots and other anti-missile systems, but by leaking it to American newspapers the administration is evidently seeking to alert Tehran to a hardening of its position. The administration is deploying two Patriot batteries, capable of shooting down incoming missiles, in each of the four Gulf countries. Kuwait already has an older version of the missile, deployed after Iraq's invasion. Saudi Arabia has long had the missiles, as has Israel. An unnamed senior administration official told the New York Times: "Our first goal is to deter the Iranians. A second is to reassure the Arab states, so they don't feel they have to go nuclear themselves. But there is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well." The chief of the US central command, General David Petraeus, said in a speech 10 days ago that countries in the region are concerned about Tehran's military ambitions and the prospect of it becoming a dominant power in the Gulf: "Iran is clearly seen as a very serious threat by those on the other side of the Gulf front." Petraeus said the US is keeping cruisers equipped with advanced anti-missile systems in the Gulf at all times to act as a buffer between Iran and the Gulf states. Washington is also concerned at the threat of action by Israel, which is predicting that Iran will be able to build a nuclear missile within a year, a much faster timetable than assessed by the US, and is warning that it will not let Tehran come close to completion if diplomacy fails. The director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, met the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and other senior officials in Jerusalem last week to discuss Iran. Pro-Israel lobby groups in the US have joined Republican party leaders in trying to build public pressure on the administration to take a tougher line with Iran. One group, the Israel Project, has been running a TV campaign warning that Iran might supply nuclear weapons to terrorists. "Imagine Washington DC under missile attack from nearby Baltimore," it says. "A nuclear Iran is a threat to peace, emboldens extremists, and could give nuclear materials to terrorists with the ability to strike anywhere." Washington is also concerned that if Iran is able to build nuclear weapons, other states in the region will feel the need to follow. Israel is the only country in the Middle East to already have atomic bombs, although it does not officially acknowledge it. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said in London last week that the US will press for additional sanctions against Iran if it fails to curb its nuclear program. Europe's foreign affairs minister, Catherine Ashton, today said the UN Security Council should now take up the issue. "We are worried about what's happening in Iran. I'm disappointed at the failure of Iran to accept the dialogue and we now need to look again at what needs to happen there," she told Sky News. "The next step for us is to take our discussions into the security council. When I was meeting with Hillary Clinton last week we talked about Iran and we were very clear this is a problem we will have to deal with." However, China and Russia are still pressing for a diplomatic solution. Tony Blair, Middle East envoy on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU, continually referred to what he described as the Iranian threat during his evidence at the Chilcot inquiry last Friday. Textual analysis now shows that he mentioned Iran 58 times. Besides the new missile deployment, Washington is also helping Saudi Arabia to create a 30,000-strong force to protect oil installations and other infrastructure, as well as expanded joint exercises between the US and military forces in the region. The move is a continuation of the military build-up begun under former president George W Bush. In the past two years, Abu Dhabi has bought $17bn (£11bn) worth of weapons from the US, including the Patriot anti-missile batteries and an advanced anti-missile system. UAE recently bought 80 US-made fighter jets. It is also buying fighters from France. Petraeus said in a speech in Bahrain last year the UAE air force "could take out the entire Iranian air force, I believe". Patriot missiles are designed to intercept enemy missiles before they reach their target. Since production began in 1980, 9,000 missiles have been delivered to countries including Germany, Greece, Taiwan and Japan. During the first Gulf war Patriot success was 70% in Saudi Arabia and 40% in Israel. Since then the US has spent more than $10bn (£6.3bn) improving, among other aspects, the system's radar and computer compatibility for joint forces action. Once in position, the system requires a crew of only three people to operate. Each missile weighs 700kg and has a range of about 100 miles.
The Chinese Game at Gwadar
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” (Revelation 16:12)
Feb. 2….(In The Days) At present Chinese warships operating over 4,500 nautical miles (nm) from their home bases are deployed for four to six months in the Gulf of Aden, without access to ports. Given the international concern about China seeking bases in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Chinese government distanced itself from the retired admiral’s proposal. However, the fact is that the farsighted Chinese already have a suitable base available (Gwadar, a port they built in Pakistan), and will soon have another one in Sri Lanka (Hambantota port, which they are building), even as media reports hint at another Chinese-built port that is to come up in Burma. The Chinese, as part of their “string of pearls” policy of having suitable bases in the IOR, not only helped Pakistan to build the Gwadar port, but practically provided all the funding. This strategically-located port on the Balochistan coast, near the Iranian border, some 180 nm from the exit of the strategic Straits of Hormuz, will enable Chinese oil tanker ships to offload crude oil from West Asia at this port. From Gwadar, a proposed rail, road and pipeline will transport oil and other goods to China, thus avoiding the Malacca and Singapore straits which can be closed during wartime or are vulnerable to piracy. This port also provides another option to Pakistan for ensuring oil imports, should Karachi get blocked during wartime. Work on Phase 1 of Gwadar port commenced in March 2002 and was formally completed in March 2005, though ships had started using it by 2003. The total project cost of this phase was $248 million (of which the Chinese contributed $198 million). The Gwadar port has a 4.5 km approach channel of 11.5m depth, and three multipurpose berths. Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf is reported to have stated that “in the event of war with India, Pakistan will not hesitate to invite the Chinese Navy to Gwadar”. Phase 2 (adjacent to Phase 1), was completed in January 2006, with nine additional berths and the approach channel was deepened to 14.5 m, thus permitting larger ships of about 50,000 DWT (deadweight tonnes) to enter and leave the port. The port was formally inaugurated in March 2007, and Pakistan Navy was reported to have set up a base at the port. It may be noted that all oil tankers from the Gulf bound for India’s Vadinar Oil Terminal in the Gulf of Kutch generally pass about 40 nm south of Gwadar Port and would be vulnerable to interdiction by Pakistani or Chinese units based in Gwadar. Some unconfirmed media reports indicate the possible presence of a Chinese electronic “listening post” at Gwadar. To fully understand the serious strategic implications for India, we need to note that 70 per cent of India’s oil imports come by sea, from the Gulf (with tankers exiting through the Strait of Hormuz). Seventy per cent of our imported oil arrives at ports in the Gulf of Kutch, the Gulf of Cambay and the Mumbai port. Indeed, in 2007, the Gulf of Kutch received 1,100 oil tankers (passing some 40 nm from Gwadar), and this number will grow to 2,100 by 2012 and over 4,000 tanker ships by 2025, when India’s oil imports would have quadrupled to 320 million tonnes (China’s imports would also rise to over 600 million tonnes and hence the possibility of conflict of interests between these two largest consumers of oil). Similarly, the ships carrying imported oil from the Gulf to Mumbai Port and ports in the Gulf of Cambay, would increase manifold, with some shipping being diverted to other Indian ports. The global strategic implications are also serious since the Gulf region has 75 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 50 per cent of the world’s proven gas reserves. About 16 million barrels of oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz daily on tanker ships (worth over $200 billion annually). This amounts to over 90 per cent of the oil exported by the Gulf region and over 40 per cent of the entire world’s oil trade. All this oil passes in vicinity of Gwadar port whose facilities can be assumed to be made available to the Chinese Navy in an emergent situation. Notwithstanding the facts, to allay fears of neighbouring countries regarding Chinese intentions in the region, the Pakistani government signed an agreement with Singapore’s PSA Corporation in March 2007 to operate Gwadar port under a 40-year agreement. PSA’s concession holding company (CHC), a subsidiary that operates 22 ports in 11 countries, will invest $550 million in the next five years in the port. While India’s security and intelligence agencies deserve a pat on the back for ensuring that 2009 and Republic Day 2010 were largely terror free, we cannot be complacent. The present peace may be the proverbial lull before the storm, given the fact that Pakistan is continuously receiving arms from the Chinese at “friendship prices” and from the Americans as “gifts”, with the recent gift of F-16 (Block 52) fighter jets and a dozen UAVs. The Chinese Navy’s activities in the IOR need to be monitored as closely as we monitor Pakistani-based terrorist moves.
US Intelligence: Hizballah Training to Seize Galilee
Feb. 2….(DEBKAfile Special Expose) Jones was not talking out of the top of his head, but on the strength of solid US intelligence gathered over months on detailed war plans Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas have drawn up to send five Hizballah brigades sweeping across the border to seize five sectors of Galilee, while also organizing a massive Israeli-Arab uprising against the Jewish state. Hamas would open a second front in the south and in the east. Syria is expected to step in at some stage. This plan with attached special map was first published exclusively by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 430 on Jan. 22, 2010. Key excerpts appear here. Iran's Revolutionary Guards instructors at especially established training facilities near Tehran are already well advanced in training a cadre of 5,000 Hizballah fighters in special operations and urban combat tactics to standards equivalent to those current in similar US and Israeli military forces. At the outset of the course, the group was split up into five battalions, each given a specific northern Israeli sector for capture with details of its topography and population for close study.
1st Battalion-This unit will break through the Naqura-Rosh Haniqra border pass and sweep south along seven kilometers to seize Nahariya, the Israeli Mediterranean city of 55,000, or parts thereof. UN peacekeepers have their headquarters at Naqura, the other side of Rosh Haniqra, and Israel defenses there are lax, so no military or geographic obstacles to this Hizballah drive are anticipated. This battalion will capture a large number of Israeli hostages for use as live shields against an Israeli counter-attack. A small group of 150 fighters, trained by Revolutionary Guards marines, will also try and reach the coast by swift boats. They are already standing by in Lebanon.
2nd Battalion-This unit is assigned to capture the northern Israeli town of Shlomi, 300 meters southeast of the Naqura border pass and home to 6,500 inhabitants. Holding this town and its environs will give Hizballah control of a key road hub and stand in the path of Israeli reinforcements heading for Nahariya through routes 89 and 899 from key Israeli bases in the Galilee and Upper Galilee regions to the east.
3rd Battalion-Driving further south than any other Hizballah unit, this battalion must reach the three Israeli-Arab villages of B'ina, Deir al-Asad and Majd el-Krum, which are located north of the town of Carmiel and alongside Israel's Route 85 which connects Acre on the Mediterranean with Safad in the central Galilee mountains. Iranian war planners want Hizballah to control the three Israeli-Arab locations for two advantages: One: As a commanding position for stirring up the disaffected Israeli-Arab villages and towns of Lower Galilee and Wadi Ara to the south into a full-blown uprising. The incoming combat force will be backed up by clandestine Hizballah cells which for some years have established, armed and funded the underground "Galilee Liberation Battalions” in Sakhnin, Araba and Deir Hana, by means of drug smugglers. Hizballah's West Bank cells have been active for some time in the Wadi Ara region, through which National Route 65 connects central Israel to the North. Two: To gain fire control of Acre-Safed Route 85 from positions in occupied Arab villages and so have a shield ready for the Hizballah units holding Nahariya and Shlomi, and seriously impede the passage of Israeli forces from bases in the center of the country to relieve these northern towns. The Israeli Air Force will be constrained from attacking the areas held by Hizballah by the presence of large civilian populations.
4th Battalion-This battalion will push southeast into the Kadesh Valley, on the rim of which the Makia and Yiftah kibbutzim and Makia moshav are clustered. Capture of these locations would afford Hizballah fire coverage of Israel's northernmost Galilee Panhandle.
5th Battalion: Hizballah's Strategic Reserve-Rocket attacks from Lebanon will focus on disabling Israel's strategic military sites, such as air force bases, missile bases, its nuclear facilities and naval bases. Targeting Israeli population centers is a lower Iranian priority.
Syria's initial involvement will be limited to cover by artillery or air for Hizballah operations. But if the fighting escalates or drags on, Hizballah will invite Syrian back-up forces to go into Lebanon; Damascus will open Front No. 4 against Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The Tehran-Hizballah war strategy is all but ready for any contingency. The obvious trigger would be an Israeli military operation against Iran's nuclear facilities, but once all the elements are in place, they could be activated by any other pretext conjured up in Tehran or Damascus. In recent weeks, both Hizballah and its Syrian allies have mobilized their forces while telling the Arab world that the Jewish state is about to attack Lebanon. Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is straining at the leash to attack Israel however the crisis over Iran's nuclear program turns out. Sunday, January 17, he said: "I promise you, in view of all the threats you hear today, that should a new war with the Zionists erupt, we will crush the enemy, come out victorious, and change the face of the region. "God willing, Israel, the occupation, hegemony, and arrogance are in the process of disappearing!" Nasrallah was not alone in anticipating a troubled year for the Middle East.
US Gearing Up For Gulf Clash with Iran
Feb. 2….(DEBKAfile Special Report) The Obama administration took the unusual step Saturday night, Jan. 30, of leaking word to major US media that the United States, Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies - the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain, have accelerated the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks. They are preparing for Iran, or its surrogate Hizballah, to hit back for a possible US or strikes on Tehran's nuclear facilities. debkafile's US military sources confirm that Washington plans to treble the 10,000-strong US troop contingent, already present in Saudi Arabia for guarding its oil fields and port facilities against medium or short-range Iranian missile attack, or sabotage by Hizballah marine units trained for their mission by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. Additional US Aegis missile interceptor cruisers with advanced radar and anti-missile systems were also reported to be heading for round-the-clock patrol around Iranian shores, with more Patriot anti-missile missiles to reinforce the eight batteries already deployed in the four emirates. The Obama administration set these exceptional steps in motion, debkafile reports, in anticipation of nuclear provocations from Tehran while the regime celebrates the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution from Feb.1-11. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised to announce Iran's attainment of a 20 percent uranium enrichment capability, a short step to weapons grade material. Some high-ranking Revolutionary Guards officers have also said that Iran will parade a new type of surface missile during the celebrations, without revealing its features, while Iranian space scientists predicted the launch of a new spy satellite of the Toloo series. All this was taken in Washington as a challenge that could not be left without an appropriate response. Administration officials also feared that Israel might be goaded into going forward with a military operation against Iran's nuclear facilities. The Gulf Arab states were in need of reassurance too. The White House's decision to deploy additional defenses in the Gulf came only a day after National Security Adviser James Jones warned that Iran was liable to react to pressure by having its proxies Hizballah and Hamas attack Israel. The abruptness of this step pointed to the administration having woken up to the realization that its diplomatic and military position in the region was in grave jeopardy and in dire need of shoring up without delay.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 1 THROUGH FEBRUARY 6
Clinton: China Risks Isolation Over Iran
(US secretary of state warns Beijing it risks disruption to its energy supplies unless it helps keep Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons)
Feb. 1….(AP) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned China on Friday it risks diplomatic isolation and disruption to its energy supplies unless it helps keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Speaking in Paris, Clinton said she and others who support additional sanctions on Iran for refusing to prove it has peaceful nuclear intentions are lobbying China to back new UN penalties on the Iranian government. She said she understood China's reluctance to impose new penalties on Iran, its third-largest supplier of oil. But she stressed that a nuclear-armed Iran would destabilize the Persian Gulf and imperil oil shipments China gets from other Arab states in the region. There is a new push for sanctions at the UN because of Iran's continued refusal to engage on the matter with the five permanent members of the Security Council, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, and Germany. Administration officials have invited new talks with Iran, but with no sign that Iran wants to do business, the focus has turned to penalties. "As we move away from the engagement track, which has not produced the result that some had hoped for, and move forward on the pressure and sanctions track, China will be under a lot of pressure to recognize the destabilizing impact that a nuclear-armed Iran would have in the Gulf, from which they receive a significant percentage of their oil supplies," Clinton said. The United States is the most visible leader in the new push for UN Security Council sanctions, and Clinton spent much of her time in Europe this week lobbying major powers whose support she needs to pass and enforce new economic penalties. Some of the additional measures that will be proposed target elements of Iran's powerful militia structure, US officials said.
'Risks of Iranian bomb are manifold'
The Obama administration has said Iran appears bent on developing nuclear weapons, although Iran claims its nuclear work is peaceful. Iran is thought to have stockpiled more than enough nuclear material to manufacture a single bomb, and more is being made daily. The risks of an Iranian bomb are manifold, Clinton said. "It will produce an arms race," in the Persian Gulf, and Israel will feel its very existence threatened, Clinton said in response to a question from an audience member during a speech at a French military academy. "All of that is incredibly dangerous." The United States has cautioned Israel publicly against a pre-emptive strike on Iran's known nuclear facilities, arguing that such an attack would invite an arms race and retaliation. China has traditionally resisted UN Security Council sanctions, saying they are counterproductive and harm efforts to persuade Iran to prove its claim that the nuclear program is peaceful. Clinton met Thursday in London with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to make the case to move ahead with sanctions at the United Nations. US officials said Yang's response was noncommittal. In Paris, Clinton said her message to the Chinese had been this: "We understand that right now it seems counterproductive to you to sanction a country from which you get so much of the natural resources your growing economy needs. But think about the longer-term implications."
China Protests US Arms Sales to Taiwan, Warns of 'Serious' Impact
(China has announced a series of moves against the US in retaliation for a proposed weapons sale to Taiwan worth $6.4bn (£4bn))
Feb. 1….(Beitbart) Beijing said it would suspend military exchanges with the US, review co-operation on major issues and impose sanctions on companies selling arms. Ties are already strained by rows over trade and internet censorship. Taiwan's president welcomed the sale, saying it would make his country "more confident and secure". The US State Department also defended the move on Saturday, saying the arms sales contributed to security and stability between Taiwan and China, Reuters reported. Beijing has hundreds of missiles pointed at the island and has threatened to use force to bring it under its control if Taiwan moved towards formal independence. Taiwan and China have been ruled by separate governments since the end of a civil war in 1949. China's Xinhua state news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying: "Considering the severe harm and odious effect of US arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits." "We strongly demand that the US respect the Chinese side's interests", it added, calling for the sale to be stopped. The foreign ministry, meanwhile, said it would impose sanctions on US companies selling weapons to Taiwan, and that co-operation on major international issues would be affected. But the US, like the EU, has banned its companies selling arms to China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, so it was not clear what effect the Chinese move would have. Xinhua also said the US defence attache had been summoned. Defense ties between the two countries have been difficult for several years because of differences over Taiwan, but the two countries' leaders pledged to improve them in 2009. The moves came after Mr He said the arms deal would have "repercussions that neither side wishes to see". "The United States' announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and co-operation between the two countries," Mr He said in a statement published on the foreign ministry website. Earlier China summoned US Ambassador Jon Huntsman to give a warning about the consequences of the deal and to urge its immediate cancellation. Taiwan, meanwhile, welcomed the US move. "It will let Taiwan feel more confident and secure so we can have more interactions with China," the Central News Agency quoted President Ma Ying-jeou as saying. The Pentagon earlier notified the US Congress of the proposed arms sale, which forms part of a package first pledged by the Bush administration. Friday's notification to Congress by the Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) was required by law. It does not mean the sale has been concluded. US lawmakers have 30 days to comment on the proposed sale, Associated Press reported. If there are no objections, it would proceed. The arms package includes 114 Patriot missiles, 60 Black Hawk helicopters and communications equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fleet, the agency said in a statement. It does not include F-16 fighter jets, which Taiwan's military has been seeking. Our correspondent says the deal has been in the pipeline for a long time and is nearing its conclusion, but China does want to stop it. Beijing has previously warned the US not to go ahead with arms sales to Taiwan. Last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Beijing with a call to China to investigate cyber attacks on search giant Google, after the company said email accounts of human rights activists had been hacked. The DSCA said the proposed sale would support Taiwan's "continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and enhance its defensive capability." It added: "The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region." The US is the leading arms supplier to Taiwan, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Washington regards it as an obligation to provide Taiwan with defensive arms.