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Iran’s surprising decision to move warships off the Atlantic coast poses a potential catastrophic threat to America from a nuclear or electromagnetic pulse attack, according to an expert who foresaw Iran’s move.
Peter Pry, an expert on EMP attacks, said the ships are likely a dry run for a future attack, a maneuver meant to lull Washington into complacency while also embarrassing President Obama and his effort to convince Tehran to give up production of a nuclear bomb in return for a lifting of some economic sanctions.
“Yes, patrols by the Iranian Navy off our coasts could pose threat of a surprise EMP attack,” said Pry, who with others such as former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, has convinced several state legislatures to take moves to harden their electric and energy grids from EMP attack because Washington won’t.
Pry said the ships are probably conducting a test for a future visit from an Iranian freighter that would launch the attack.
“I think the Iranian Navy patrols off our coasts may be intended to lull us into complacency, to get the U.S. Navy accustomed to an Iranian naval presence in our hemisphere, so eventually they could contribute to ‘Zero Hour’ and the great day when the Mullahs decide to drop the nuclear hammer on America,” said Pry, who staffed a former congressional EMP commission.
“I think the Iranian Navy patrols are also intended to humiliate Obama and the United States for the Geneva [nuclear] interim agreement that Tehran interprets, correctly I think, as U.S. surrendering to the inevitability of a nuclear-armed Iran,” he added.
Pry, president of EMPACT America, one of the nation’s leading authorities on EMP, revealed that Iran recently purchased Russia’s Club-K missile launcher, which can be hidden in tractor-trailer-sized cargo boxes.
“I and my colleagues, including Reza Kahlili, who warned six months ago that these Iranian patrols were coming, think it more likely Iran would make an EMP attack by launching a missile off a freighter, so they could do the deed anonymously, and escape retaliation,” Pry explained.
“Iran has demonstrated the capability to launch a missile off a freighter. Iran has also purchased Russia’s Club-K missile system. The Club-K is a complete missile launch system, disguised to look like a shipping container, that could convert any freighter into a missile launch platform. The Club-K, if armed with a nuclear warhead, could be used to execute an EMP attack.”
Woolsey recently told Secrets that Iran was just months away from finishing production of their first nuclear bomb.
He also has joined with Pry and others, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in warning about a nuclear blast in the atmosphere that would knock out electric transformers and facilities in the mid-Atlantic.
The maker of the Club-K has posted a promotional video, above, showing how a nation could use it.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted email@example.com.
Cambodia imposed an indefinite ban on demonstrations in Phnom Penh after a wave of protests in early January [AP]
|At least eight people have been injured in Cambodia’s capital as police fired smoke grenades and used electric batons to break up an anti-government demonstration.Several hundred people, led by radio station owner Mam Sonando, gathered in front of the Ministry of Information on Monday to press demand for the government critic to be allowed a license for a television channel.
The government last week rejected the application, saying there was no frequency available. All existing stations are closely linked to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cambodia has been accused of only granting television licences to pro-government media.
Protesters and journalists were hit by police batons during Monday’s rally, according to rights activists.
Activist Am Sam Ath of local rights group Licadho condemned the crackdown on the protesters as a “serious violation of human rights”.
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said police dispersed the protest because it had not been permitted and could have led to violence.
The government imposed an indefinite ban on street demonstrations in Phnom Penh after a wave of protests in early January challenging the results of last year’s election, which the opposition alleges was rigged.
“It was illegal demonstration. So the authorities just implemented the law,” Long Dimanche said.
Sonando, who has dual Cambodian-French citizenship, was convicted in October 2012 on charges including insurrection and inciting people to take up arms against the state.
He was released from jail last March after a court cleared him of a secessionist plot, slashing his 20-year jail term and ordering his release from prison.
Baton-wielding police clashed on Sunday with protesters – including Buddhist monks – demanding higher wages for garment workers and the release of 23 people arrested during a recent bloody crackdown on striking garment workers, which left at least four civilians dead.
Authorities have quelled recent street protests against Hun Sen. He faces mounting criticism by rights groups of his government’s suppression of street protests intended to challenge his nearly three-decade rule.
Human Rights Watch has condemned the recent actions by the Cambodian government and is urging the United Nations member countries to press the country’s leadership to abide by previous commitments and fulfil new rights pledges.
Cambodia is scheduled to appear before the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Hun Sen’s government violates human rights on a daily basis by violently preventing the opposition, trade unions, activists and others from gathering to demand political change,” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch.
(Reuters) – A full-scale flight from emerging market assets accelerated on Friday, setting global shares on course for their worst week this year and driving investors to safe-haven assets including U.S. Treasuries, the yen and gold.
U.S. stocks slumped, putting the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its worst drop since November 7 and pushing the index down 1.8 percent for the week. Concerns about slower growth in China, reduced support from U.S. monetary policy and political problems in Turkey, Argentina and Ukraine drove the selling.
The Turkish lira hit a record low. Argentina’s peso fell again after the country’s central bank abandoned its support of the currency.
The declines mirror moves from last June when developing country stocks fell almost 18 percent over about two months and hit global shares.
The broad nature of the selloff combines country-specific problems with the reality that reduced U.S. Federal Reserve bond buying reduces the liquidity that has in the past boosted higher-yielding emerging markets assets.
The Fed last month pared its monthly purchases of bonds by $10 billion to $75 billion. The U.S. central bank will hold a policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday and is widely expected to again pare its stimulus program.
“We expect the emerging market selloff to get worse before it starts getting better,” said Lorne Baring, managing director of B Capital Wealth Management in Geneva. “There’s definitely contagion spreading and it’s crossing over from emerging to developed in terms of sentiment.”
Activity was heavy in exchange-traded funds focused on emerging markets. The iShares Morgan Stanley EM ETF was the second-most active issue in New York trading, trailing only the S&P 500’s tracking ETF.
An MSCI index of emerging market shares fell as much as 1.6 percent. Since mid-October, the index has lost more than 9 percent. The MSCI all-country world equity index was down 1.6 percent.
Funds have continued to flee emerging market equities. In the week ended January 22, data from Thomson Reuters Lipper service showed outflows from U.S.-domiciled emerging market equity funds of $422.41 million, the sixth week of outflows out of the last seven.
Emerging market debt funds saw a 32nd week of outflows out of the last 35, with $200 million in net redemptions from the 250 funds tracked by Lipper.
“It’s just the final realization that they can’t continue to grow as an economy the same way they did before,” said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York. “It’s a combination of less liquidity for these countries that depended on foreign money and China kind of throwing some curve balls as well.”
The Turkish lira hit a record low of 2.33 to the dollar, even after the central bank spent at least $2 billion trying to prop it up on Thursday.
Turkey’s new dollar bond, first sold on Wednesday, fell below its launch price. The cost of insuring against a Turkish default rose to an 18-month high and Ukraine’s debt insurance costs hit their highest level since Kiev agreed a rescue deal with Russia in December.
Argentina decided to loosen strict foreign exchange controls a day after the peso suffered its steepest daily decline since the country’s 2002 financial crisis [ID:nL2N0KY0FC]. On Friday, it was down 2.8 percent.
On Wall Street shares sank.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 205.12 points, or 1.27 percent, at 15,992.23. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 24.93 points, or 1.36 percent, at 1,803.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 66.82 points, or 1.58 percent, at 4,152.05.
But in a signal that the selling may be overextended, investors were willing to pay more for protection against a drop in the S&P 500 on Friday than for three months down the road. The last time the spread between the CBOE volatility index and three-month VIX futuresturned negative was in mid- October, shortly after a 4.8 percent pullback in the S&P 500 opened the door to the last leg of the 2013 market rally.
European shares suffered their biggest fall in seven months. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed down 2.4 percent at 1,301.34 points. The index has now erased all its gains for 2014, and is down 1.1 percent on the year.
Spain’s IBEX index, highly exposed to Latin America, was the worst-hit in Europe, falling 3.69 percent.
The dollar index was flat, a day after falling 0.9 percent against a basket of majorcurrencies, including the euro, yen, Swiss franc and sterling. That was its worst one-day performance in three months.
A flight to safety lifted currencies backed by a current account surplus, such as the Japanese yen and Swiss franc, and highly rated government bonds. German Bund futures rose and 10-year U.S. Treasury yields hit an eight-week low below 2.75 percent.
Gold traded close to its highest level in nine weeks and was poised for a fifth straight weekly climb as weaker equities burnished its safe-haven appeal. Spot gold rose to $1265.10, up from $1263.95.
(Reporting by Barani Krishnan; Additional reporting by Dan Bases and Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Nigel Stephenson, Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)
Geneva II – Syrian Foreign Minister: “The West Publicly Claims to Be Fighting Terrorism, Whilst It Is Covertly Nourishing It.” | Global Research
Montreux, (SANA) – The international conference on Syria, Geneva2, kicked off on Wednesday morning with the participation of Syria’s official delegation, headed by Deputy Premier, Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Walid al-Moallem.
Minister al-Moallem said at the opening session of the conference:
Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of the Syrian Arab Republic, SYRIAN – steeped in history for seven thousand years. ARAB – proud of its steadfast pan-Arab heritage despite the deliberate acts of aggression of supposed brotherly Arabs. REPUBLIC – a civil state that some, sitting in this room, have tried to return to medieval times. Never have I been in a more difficult position; my delegation and I carry the weight of three years of hardship endured by my fellow countrymen – the blood of our martyrs, the tears of our bereaved, the anguish of families waiting for news of a loved one – kidnapped or missing, the cries of our children whose tender fingers were the targets of mortar shelling into their classrooms, the hopes of an entire generation destroyed before their very eyes, the courage of mothers and fathers who have sent all their sons to defend our country, the heartbreak of families whose homes have been destroyed and are now displaced or refugees.
My delegation and I also carry the hope of a nation for the years to come – the right of every child to safely go to school again, the right of women to leave their homes without fear of being kidnapped, killed or raped; the dream of our youth to fulfill their vast potential; the return of security so that every man can leave his family safe in the knowledge that he will return.
Finally, today, the moment of truth; the truth that many have systematically tried to bury in a series of campaigns of misinformation, deception and fabrication leading to killing and terror. A truth that refused to be buried, a truth clear for all to see – the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic representing the Syrian people, the government, the state, the Army and the President – Bashar al-Assad.
It is regrettable, Ladies and Gentlemen, that seated amongst us today in this room, are representatives of countries that have the blood of Syrians on their hands, countries that have exported terrorism along with clemency for the perpetrators, as if it was their God given right to determine who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. Countries that have prevented believers from visiting holy places of worship whilst abetting, financing and supporting terrorists. Countries that gave themselves the authority to grant and deny legitimacy to others as they saw fit, never looking at their own archaic glasshouses before throwing stones at acclaimed fortified towers. Countries that shamelessly lecture us in democracy, in development and in progress whilst drowning in their own ignorance and medieval norms. Countries that have become accustomed to being entirely owned by kings and princes who have the sole right to distribute their national wealth granting their associates whilst denying those who fall out of favor.
They lectured Syria – a distinguished, virtuous, sovereign state, they lectured her on honour whilst they themselves were immersed in the mud of enslavement, infanticide and other medieval practices. After all their efforts and subsequent failures, their masks fell from their quivering faces, to reveal their perverse ambitions. A desire to destabilize and destroy Syria by exporting their national product: terrorism. They used their petrodollars to buy weapons, recruit mercenaries and saturate airtime covering up their mindless brutality with lies under the guise of the so-called “ Syrian revolution that will fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, how is what has happened and continues to plague Syria, meeting these aspirations? How can a Chechen, Afghani, Saudi, Turkish or even French and English terrorists deliver on the aspirations of the Syrian people, and with what? An Islamic state that knows nothing of Islam except perverse Wahhabism? Who declared anyway that the Syrian people aspire to live thousands of years in the past?
In Syria, Ladies and Gentlemen, the wombs of pregnant women are butchered and their foetuses killed; women are raped, dead or alive, in practices so heinous, so vile and repulsive that they can only be attributed to their perverse doctrine. In Syria, Ladies and Gentlemen, men are slaughtered in front of their children in the name of this revolution; worse still, this is done whilst the children of these foreign perpetrators sing and dance. In Syria, how can so-called revolutionaries cannibalize a man’s heart and claim to promote freedom, democracy and a better life?
Under the pretext of the “Great Syrian Revolution,” civilians, clergymen, women and children are killed, victims are indiscriminately blown up in streets and buildings regardless of their political views or ideologies; books and libraries are burned, graves are dug up and artifacts stolen. In the name of the revolution, children are killed in their schools and students in their universities, women are extorted in the name of jihad al-nikah and other forms, mosques are shelled whilst worshipers kneel at prayer, heads are severed and hung in the streets, people are burned alive in a true holocaust that history and many countries will deny without being accused of anti-Semitism.
In the name of a revolution, “to free the oppressed Syrian people from the regime and to spread democracy,” does a father blow himself up with his wife and children to prevent foreign intruders from entering his home? Most of us in this room are fathers – I ask you then, what would compel a man to kill his own family to protect them from freedom fighting monsters. This is what happened in Adra, a place that most of you have not heard of but where the same alien monsters attacked: killing, looting, beheading, slaughtering, raping and burning people alive. You have heard nothing of this brutality for sure, yet you have heard of other places where the same heinous crimes were committed and where the same blood soaked finger was pointed at the Syrian Army and government. And when these flagrant lies were no longer credible, they stopped spinning their web of deceit.
This is what their masters ordered them to do, these countries that spearheaded the war against Syria, trying to increase their influence in the region with bribes and money, exporting human monsters fully soaked in abhorrent Wahabi ideology, all at the expense of Syrian blood. From this stage, loud and clear, you know as well as I do that they will not stop in Syria, even if some sitting in this room refuse to acknowledge or consider themselves immune.
Ladies and Gentlemen, everything you have heard would not have been possible, had our border sharing countries been good neighbours during these challenging years. Unfortunately they were far from it; with backstabbers to the North, silent bystanders to the truth in the West, a weak South accustomed to doing the bidding of others, or the tired and exhausted East still reeling from the plots to destroy it along with Syria.
Indeed, this misery and destruction, wich has engulfed Syria, has been made possible by the decision of Erdogan’s government to invite and host these criminal terrorists before they entered into Syria. Clearly, oblivious to the fact that magic eventually turns on the magician, it is now beginning to taste the sour seed it has sown. For terrorism knows no religion, and is loyal only unto itself. Erdogan’s government has recklessly morphed from a zero problems with its neighbours policy to zero foreign policy and international diplomacy altogether, crucially leaving it with zero credibility.
Nevertheless, it continued on the same atrocious path falsely believing that the dream of Sayyid Qutb and Mohammad Abdel Wahab before him was finally being realized. They wreaked havoc from Tunisia, to Libya, to Egypt and then to Syria, determined to achieve an illusion that only exists in their sick minds. Despite the fact that it has proven to be a failure, they nevertheless are still determined to pursue it. Logically speaking, this can only be described as stupidity, because if you don’t learn from history, you will lose sight of the present; and history tells us: if your neighbor’s house is on fire, it is impossible for you to remain safe.
Some neighbours started fires within Syria whilst others recruited terrorists from around the globe – and here we are confronted with shockingly farcical double standards: 83 nationalities are fighting in Syria – nobody denounces this, nobody condemns it, nobody reconsiders their position – and they impertinently continue to call it a glorious SYRIAN Revolution! While when a few scores of young resistant fighters supported the Syrian Army in a few places, all hell broke loose and it suddenly became foreign intervention! Demands were made for the departure of foreign troops and the protection of Syrian sovereignty and for it not to be violated. Here I affirm, Syria – the sovereign and independent state, will continue to do whatever it takes to defend herself with whatever means it deems necessary, without paying the least bit of attention to any uproar, denunciations, statements or positions expressed by others. These have been and always will be Syria’s sovereign decisions.
Despite all of this, the Syrian people remained steadfast; and the response was to impose sanctions on our food, our bread and our children’s milk. To starve the population, pushing them into sickness and death under the injustice of these sanctions. At the same time, factories were looted and burned, crippling our food and pharmaceutical industries; hospitals and healthcare centers were destroyed; our railroads and electricity lines sabotaged, and even our places of worship – Christian and Muslim – were not spared their terrorism.
When all of this failed, America threatened to strike Syria, fabricating with her allies, Western and Arab, the story about the use of chemical weapons, which failed to convince even their own public, let alone ours. Countries that celebrate democracy, freedom and human rights regrettably only choose to speak the language of blood, war, colonialism and hegemony. Democracy is imposed with fire, freedom with warplanes and human rights by human killing, because they have become accustomed to the world doing their bidding: if they want something, it will happen; if they don’t, it won’t. They have heedlessly forgotten that the perpetrators who blew themselves up in New York follow the same doctrine and come from the same source as those blowing themselves up in Syria. They have heedlessly forgotten that the terrorist that was in America yesterday is in Syria today, and who knows where he will be tomorrow. What is certain, however, is that he will not stop here. Afghanistan is an ideal lesson for anyone who wants to learn – anyone! Unfortunately, most do not want to learn; neither America nor some of the ‘civilized’ western countries that follow its lead, starting from the city of lights to the kingdom over which “the sun never set,” in the past; despite the fact that they have all felt the bitter taste of terrorism in the past.
And then suddenly they became “Friends of Syria.” Four of these ‘friends’ are autocratic, oppressive monarchies that know nothing of a civil state or democracy, whilst others are the same colonial powers which occupied, pillaged and partitioned Syria less than one hundred years ago. These so called ‘friends’ are now convening conferences to publicly declare their friendship with the Syrian people, whilst covertly facilitating their hardship and destroying their livelihoods. They openly express their outrage over the humanitarian plight of Syrians whilst deceiving the international community of their complicity. If you were truly concerned about the humanitarian situation in Syria, you would remove your strangle hold on her economy by lifting the sanctions and the embargo, and by partnering with her government in tightening security by fighting the influx of weapons and terrorists. Only then can we assure you that we will be well as we once were, without your deep concern for our wellbeing.
Some of you may be asking yourselves: Are foreigners the sole manufacturers of the happenings in Syria? No Ladies and Gentlemen, Syrians amongst us here, having been legitimized by foreign agendas, have played a contributing role as facilitators and implementers. They did this at the expense of Syrian blood and the people whose aspirations they claim to represent, whilst they themselves were divided hundreds of times and their leaders on the ground were fleeing far and wide. They sold themselves to Israel becoming her eyes on the ground, and her fingers on the trigger for Syria’s destruction; and when they failed, Israel intervened directly to reduce the capabilities of the Syrian Army and thus ensuring the continued implementation of her decades old plan for Syria.
Our people were being slaughtered while they were living in five star hotels; they opposed from abroad, met abroad betraying Syria and selling themselves to the highest foreign bidder. And yet, they still claim to speak in the name of the Syrian people! No, Ladies and Gentlemen, anyone wishing to speak on behalf of the Syrian people cannot be a traitor to their cause and an agent for their enemies. Those wishing to speak on behalf of the people of Syria should do so from within her borders: living in her destroyed houses, sending their children to her schools in the morning not knowing if they will return safe from mortar shelling, tolerating the freezing cold winters because of the shortage in heating oil and queuing for hours to buy bread for their families because sanctions have prevented us from importing wheat when we were once exporters. Anyone wanting to speak in the name of the Syrian people should first endure three years of terrorism, confronting it head on, and then come here and speak on behalf of the Syrian people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
the Syrian Arab Republic – people and state, has fulfilled its duties. It has welcomed hundreds of international journalists and facilitated their mobility, security and access; and they in turn have reflected the stark and horrific realities they witnessed to their audiences, realities that have perplexed many Western media organisations who couldn’t bear their propaganda and narrative being exposed and contradicted. The examples are too many to count. We allowed international aid and relief organizations into the country, but the clandestine agents of certain parties sitting here, obstructed them from reaching those in dire need of aid. They came under terrorist attack several times, whilst we, as a state, did our duty in protecting them and facilitating their work. We issued numerous amnesties and released thousands of prisoners, some even members of armed groups, at the anger and dismay of their victim’s families; these families though, like the rest of us, ultimately accepted that Syria’s interests come before anything else, and hence we must conceal our wounds and rise above hatred and rancor.
What have you done, you who claim to speak on behalf of the Syrian people. Where is your vision for this great country? Where are your ideas or your political manifesto? Who are your agents of change on the ground other than your armed criminal gangs? I am certain that you have nothing and this is only too apparent in the areas that your mercenaries have occupied or to use your words “liberated.”
In these areas, have you freed the population or have you hijacked their moderate culture to enforce your radical and oppressive practices? Have you implemented your development agenda by building schools and health centres? No, you have destroyed them and allowed polio to return after it had previously been eradicated in Syria. Have you protected Syria’s artifacts and museums? No, you have looted our national sites for your personal profit. Have you demonstrated your commitment to justice and human rights? No, you have enforced public executions and beheadings. In short, you have done nothing at all except muster the disgrace and shame of begging America to strike Syria. Even the opposition, over which you are the self-appointed masters and guardians, do not acknowledge you or the methods in which you manage your own affairs, let alone the affairs of a country.
A country they want to homogenize; not in the sectarian, ethnic or religious sense, but rather in a warped ideological sense. Anyone against them, whether Christian or Muslim, is an infidel; they killed Muslims of all sects and targeted Syrian Christians with severity. Even nuns and bishops were targeted, kidnapping them after they attacked Ma’loula, the last community that still speaks the language of Jesus Christ. They did all this to force Syrian Christians to flee their country. But little did they know, that in Syria we are one. When Christianity is attacked all Syrians are Christians, when mosques are targeted all Syrians are Muslims. Every Syrian is from Raqqa, Lattakia, Sweida, Homs or the bleeding Aleppo when any one of these places is targeted. Their abhorrent attempts to sow sectarian and religious sedition will never be embraced by any levelheaded Syrian. In short, Ladies and Gentlemen, your “glorious Syrian revolution” has left no mortal sin uncommitted.
There is another side to this dark gloomy picture. A light at the end of the tunnel shinning through the Syrian people’s determination and steadfastness, the Syrian Army’s courage in protecting our citizens and the Syrian state’s resilience and perseverance. During everything that has happened, there are states that have shown us true friendship, honest states that stood on the side of right against wrong, even when the wrong was clear for all to see. On behalf of the Syrian people and state, I would like to thank Russia and China for respecting Syria’s sovereignty and independence. Russia has been a true champion on the international stage strongly defending, not only with words but also with deeds, the founding principles of the United Nations of respecting the sovereignty of states. Similarly China, the BRICS countries, Iran, Iraq and other Arab and Muslim countries, in addition to African and Latin American countries, have also genuinely safeguarded the aspirations of the Syrian people and not the ambitions of other governments for Syria.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Syrian people, like other people of the region, aspire to more freedom, justice and human rights; they aspire to more plurality and democracy, to a better Syria, a safe, prosperous and healthy Syria. They aspire to building strong institutions not destroying them, to safeguarding our national artifacts and heritage sites not looting and demolishing them. They aspire to a strong national army, which protects our honour, our people and our national wealth, an army that defends Syria’s borders, her sovereignty and independence. They do not, Ladies and Gentlemen, aspire to a mercenary army ‘Free’ to kidnap civilians for ransom or to use them as human shields, ‘Free’ to steal humanitarian aid, extort the poor and illegally trade in the organs of living women and children, ‘Free’ to canibalise human hearts and livers, barbequing heads, recruiting child soldiers and raping women. All of this is done with the might of arms; arms provided by countries, represented here, who claim to be championing “moderate groups”. Tell us, for God’s sake, where is the moderation in everything I have described?
Where are these vague moderate groups that you are hiding behind? Are they the same old groups that continue to be supported militarily and publicly by the West, that have undergone an even uglier face-lift in the hope of convincing us that they are fighting terrorism? We all know that no matter how hard their propaganda machine tries to polish their image under the name of moderation, their extremism and terrorism is one and the same. They know, as we all do, that under the pretext of supporting these groups, al-Qaeda and its affiliates are being armed in Syria, Iraq and other countries in the region.
This is the reality, Ladies and Gentlemen, so wake up to the undeniable reality that the West is supporting some Arab countries to supply lethal weapons to al-Qaeda. The West publically claims to be fighting terrorism, whilst in fact it is covertly nourishing it. Anyone who cannot see this truth is either ignorantly blind or willfully so in order to finish what they have begun.
Is this the Syria that you want? The loss of thousands of martyrs and our once cherished safety and national security replaced with apocalyptic devastation. Are these the aspirations of the Syrian people that you wanted to fulfill? No, Ladies and Gentlemen, Syria will not remain so, and that is why we are here. Despite all that has been done by some, we have come to save Syria: to stop the beheadings, to stop the cannibalizing and the butchering. We have come to help mothers and children return to the homes they were driven out of by terrorists. We have come to protect the civil and open-minded nature of the state, to stop the march of the Tatars and the Mongols across our region. We have come to prevent the collapse of the entire Middle East, to protect civilization, culture and diversity, and to preserve the dialogue of civilizations in the birthplace of religions. We have come to protect tolerant Islam that has been distorted, and to protect the Christians of the Levant. We are here to tell our Syrian expatriates, to return to their home country because they will always be foreigners anywhere else, and regardless of our differences we are all still brothers and sisters.
We have come to stop terrorism as other countries that have experienced its bitter taste have done, whilst affirming loudly and consistently that a dialogue between Syrians is the only solution; but as with other countries that have been struck by terrorism, we have a constitutional duty to defend our citizens and we shall continue to strike terrorism that attacks Syrians regardless of their political affiliations. We have come to hold those accountable, for as long as particular countries continue to support terrorism, this conference will bear no fruit. Political pluralism and terrorism cannot coexist in the same landscape. Politics can only prosper by fighting terrorism; it cannot grow in its shadow.
We are here as representatives of the Syrian people and the state; but let it be clear to all, – and experience is the best proof – that nobody has the authority to grant or withdraw legitimacy from a president, a government, a constitution, a law or anything else in Syria except Syrians themselves; this is their constitutional right and duty. Therefore, whatever agreement is reached here will be subject to a national referendum. We are tasked with conveying our people’s desires, not with determining their destiny; those who want to listen to the will of the Syrian people should not appoint themselves as their spokesperson. Syrians alone have the right to choose their government, their parliament and their constitution; everything else is just talk and has no significance.
Finally, to all those here and everyone watching around the world: in Syria we are fighting terrorism, terrorism which has destroyed and continues to destroy; terrorism which since the 1980’s Syria has been calling, on deaf ears, for a unified front to defeat it. Terrorism has struck in America, France, Britain, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan; the list goes on and it continues to spread. Let us all cooperate to fight it, let’s work hand in hand to stop its black, horrifying and obscurantist ideology. Then, let us as Syrians stand united to focus on Syria and start rebuilding its social fabric and material structures. As I said, dialogue is the foundation to this process, and despite our gratitude to the host country, we affirm that the real dialogue between Syrians should in fact be on Syrian soil and under Syrian skies. Exactly one year ago, the Syrian government put forward its vision for a political solution; think of how much innocent blood we would have saved had some countries resorted to reason instead of terrorism and destruction. For a whole year, we have been calling for dialogue, but terrorism continued to strike at the Syrian state, her people and institutions.
Today, in this gathering of Arab and Western powers, we are presented with a simple choice: we can choose to fight terrorism and extremism together and to start a new political process, or you can continue to support terrorism in Syria. Let us reject and isolate the black hands and the false faces, which publicly smile but covertly feed terrorist ideology, striking Syria today, but ultimately spreading to infect us all. This is the moment of truth and destiny; let us rise to the challenge.
Thank you .
The Syrian peace talks – much heralded by investors and politicians worldwide as a brave step towards a better future – are on the ropes this morning. Following the UN acquiescence to the US demand that they rescind Iran’s invite to the so-called Geneva II conference,and yet another suicide bombing in Lebanon, this morning’s incredible SNAFU is thanks to the Greeks:
- GREECE REFUSES TO REFUEL SYRIAN GENEVA TEAM AIRCRAFT: SYRIA TV
- SYRIAN AIRCRAFT DELAY CANCELS MEETING WITH UN’S BAN: STATE TV
The peace accord set to begin tomorrow will be delayed and are in further jeopardy as CNN reports further evidence of Syrian President al-Assad systematically killing and torturng around 11,000 people.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s unexpected, last-minute decision on Sunday to invite President Assad’s main foreign backer Iran – only to withdraw the invitation a day later – proved a diplomatic fiasco, undermining talks that are already given little chance of success.
The peace conference set to begin on Wednesday will include the first talks between Assad and his opponents. But hopes of a breakthrough are negligible at a time when fighting has escalated and neither side shows any sign of retreating from its demands or being able to end the war with a victory.
It has been 18 months since a previous international peace conference in Geneva ended in failure, and all other diplomatic initiatives have also proven fruitless.
“At best, Geneva 2 will reconfirm agreements made during the first Geneva conference, call for ceasefires, maybe prisoners swap and so on,” said one Western diplomat.
“At the same time, those taking part in the talks are de facto giving legitimization to Damascus. They are talking to Assad’s government on the other side of the table
“And so the show would go on while Assad stays in power.”
Via The Times of India,
Former international prosecutors said Tuesday they have evidence from a defector proving that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has systematically killed and tortured around 11,000 people.
A report by three top investigators commissioned by Qatar, which backs the Syrian rebels, examined thousands of pictures said to have been smuggled out by a former military police photographer.
The report, which was first released in Guardian and on CNN, shows evidence of starvation, strangulation and beatings, and features pictures of emaciated corpses with livid wounds.
So amid all of this one has to wonder if those warships that the US moved into position to “rescue stranded US citizen if a Sochi even happened” is nothing more than cover for a build up in front of Syria.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after UN chief Ban surprised the US and others by inviting Iran to the Syria peace talks [AP]
|The UN secretary-general has withdrawn his invitation to Iran to join this week’s Syria peace talks, saying he is “deeply disappointed” by Iran’s statements on Monday.
A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon announced the withdrawal less than 24 hours after Ban surprised the US and others by saying he had invited Syria’s closest regional ally.
The withdrawn invitation came shortly after Iran’s UN ambassador declared the Islamic Republic wouldn’t join the Syria talks if required to accept 2012 Geneva roadmap.
“The statement today in Tehran by the foreign ministry spokesperson fell short by some measure of what the secretary-general expected to hear,” said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, adding that the UN has been in close contact with the US and Russians over the weekend.
Nesirky said senior Iranian officials had assured Ban that Iran understood the terms of his invitation.
“The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment,” Nesirky said.
“He continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva Communiqué.”
The talks are set to begin Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux, with delegations from the United States, Russia and close to 40 other countries attending. Face-to-face negotiations between the Syrian government and its opponents, the first since the three-year civil war began, start Friday in Geneva.
‘Return to focus’
But Ban’s announcement on Sunday night that Iran was invited to Montreux angered Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group, which over the weekend had announced it would join the talks after intense international pressure.
The United States said on Monday it was hopeful after the UN withdrew Iran’s invitation and that all parties could refocus their efforts to end the Syrian civil war.
“We are hopeful that, in the wake of today’s announcement, all parties can now return to focus on the task at hand, which is bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and beginning a process toward a long overdue political transition,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Psaki said the purpose of the conference was to implement a 2012 plan to establish a political transition in Syria.
Negotiators are poised to seal the first global trade deal for more than a decade, in a rare victory for the World Trade Organisation, whose struggle to secure an international pact has increasingly threatened its relevance.
The US and powerful developing-nation players, including China and India, have overcome differences in agriculture. This leaves negotiators in Geneva to put the final touches to a deal that will impose binding requirements to reduce red tape and ease the path for goods at borders around the world.
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It could add about $1tn to annual global trade worth more than $18tn, some analysts have said.
Roberto Azevêdo, the recently appointed head of the WTO, is expected to present a finished draft of the agreement to the body’s highest organ, the general council, in a meeting as soon as Sunday or Monday.
Barring any unforeseen problems – and negotiators gave warning on Thursday that they could still emerge – the agreement would be signed by trade ministers from the WTO’s 159 member countries in Bali next month. “They have crossed over the threshold,” said a senior trade official in Geneva.
Sealed, the deal would be a victory for Mr Azevêdo, who warned that the WTO risked irrelevancy if it did not deliver something substantive in Bali when took over in September.
The deal’s three broad pillars – tackling bureaucratic barriers at borders, a series of agriculture issues, and several development-related subjects – were plucked from the wider Doha agenda two years ago as watered-down but “deliverable” elements of a deal.
But they have still been the subject of difficult negotiations and officials and observers of the process insist the deal at hand is important in both substance and what it says about the state of the WTO as a forum for trade negotiations.
“We can do negotiations on a multilateral basis and deliver. That’s the big lesson,” one senior ambassador to the WTO said.
Mr Azevêdo, a former Brazilian diplomat, and others want to use the deal to re-energise the now 12-year-old Doha Round of trade negotiations which for years has been stalled due to differences between the US and developing world countries over agriculture.
The biggest element of the Bali deal is the chapter on “trade facilitation”, WTO jargon for removing bureaucratic barriers at borders. It will set binding standards for WTO members on matters such as how long goods should take to clear borders, how customs officials can charge tariffs and penalties and what paperwork can be required at borders.
Some details of the facilitation deal need to be finalised, such as how poor countries should be required to meet the obligations. Mr Azevêdo is due to present a potential wording on that issue to negotiators on Friday and officials in Geneva expect negotiations through the weekend.
But the most prickly issues in Geneva have been related to agriculture and involved India, China, and Argentina.
After months of haggling, negotiators earlier this week settled on a four-year “peace clause” that will give India and other countries latitude to buy staples from farmers and operate food programmes for the poor.
The US and China have also agreed to set aside a dispute over certain agricultural tariffs, while Argentina appeared set to allow compromise language linked to eliminating subsidies for agricultural exports, a long-standing bone of contention in the developing world.
President Francois Hollande believes comments by Iran’s supreme leader about Israel are “unacceptable” and complicate talks between world powers and the Islamic regime over its nuclear program, a spokeswoman says.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters that Hollande’s cabinet discussed the Iran nuclear dossier just hours before negotiations between Iran and six world powers were set to resume in Geneva. She said, however, that France still hopes for a deal and its position has not changed in the talks.
Hollande was referring to comments attributed earlier to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking to a gathering of the Basij force, which is controlled by Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard. In them, the Iranian leader referred to Israel — “the Zionist regime” — as “the rabid dog of the region.”
Khamenei said Wednesday Iran would not step back “one iota” from its nuclear rights on as talks over the country’s disputed nuclear program are set to resume in Geneva.
Speaking to tens of thousands of Basij militiamen in Tehran, Khamenei said his officials had his full support, but that Iran’s rights to a nuclear program must be safeguarded.
“We do insist that we will not step back one iota from the rights of the Iranian nation,” he added.
The Basij militiamen chanted “Death to America, death to Israel” in response, one of the main rallying cries for supporters of the Islamic Republic.
Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, added: “We do not intervene in the details of these talks. There are certain red lines and limits. These have to be observed. They are instructed to abide by those limits.”
Talks resume today
The Iranian leader also criticized France. Hollande assured Israel on Sunday that France would continue to oppose an easing of economic sanctions against Iran until it was convinced Tehran had given up any pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Delegates from the European Union and the United States gathered in Geneva on Wednesday for a further round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program with the hope that a preliminary deal can be reached in what have been politically charged talks.
The EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. delegates including Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman left the Intercontinental Hotel and arrived minutes later at the European Mission building where discussions were expected to continue.
Seeking to end a long stand-off and head off the risk of a wider Middle East war, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany came close to winning concessions from Iran on its nuclear work in return for some sanctions relief at negotiations earlier this month.
Top policymakers from the six have since said that an interim accord on confidence-building steps could finally be within reach. But diplomats caution that differences remain and could still prevent an agreement.
Russia is hopeful that a preliminary deal will emerge this week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
‘Death to America’
“We hope the efforts that are being made will be crowned with success at the meeting that opens today in Geneva,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would not step back from its nuclear rights and he had set “red lines” for his negotiators in Geneva. But Tehran wanted friendly ties with all countries, including the United States.
“We want to have friendly relations with all nations, even the United States,” he told an audience of Basij militiamen.
“Death to America,” the militiamen chanted in response, repeating one of the main rallying cries for supporters of the Islamic Republic.
The last meeting stumbled over Iran’s insistence that its “right” to enrich uranium be recognized, and disagreement over its work on a heavy-water reactor near Arak, which could yield plutonium for atomic bombs once it becomes operational.
No new components
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has since indicated a way around the first sticking point, saying Tehran has the right to refine uranium but is not insisting others recognize that right.
A UN report last week showed Iran had stopped expanding its enrichment of uranium and had not added major new components at Arak since August, when moderate Hassan Rouhani replaced hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
Nuclear analyst Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group think-tank said the “body language” showed that the sides were ready for a deal, pointing to Iran slowing its nuclear push and Washington refraining, so far, from imposing more sanctions.
“(They) have demonstrated that they are looking to transform stumbling blocks into stepping stones,” Vaez said.
Zarif, Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said on the eve of the meeting there was “every possibility” of a successful conclusion provided there was good faith and the political will among all involved to resolve problems.
Tougher line urged
U.S. President Barack Obama sounded a more cautious note on Tuesday, saying it was unclear whether the world powers and Iran will be able to reach an agreement soon.
American lawmakers urged the Obama administration on Tuesday to take a tougher line with Iran.
The talks are expected to resume with a meeting between Zarif and Europe’s Ashton, who co-ordinates contacts with Iran on behalf of the powers.
Western governments suspect Iran has enriched uranium with the covert aim of developing the means to fuel nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies. Refined uranium can fuel nuclear power plants — Iran’s stated goal — but also provide the core of a nuclear bomb, if enriched further.
After years of confrontation, a shift towards meaningful diplomacy between Iran and the world powers began after the June election of Rouhani on a platform to relieve the Islamic Republic’s increasing international isolation and get sanctions strangling its oil-dependent economy lifted.
20% fissile purity
Rouhani wants to move quickly: Western sanctions have reduced Iran’s daily oil export revenue by 60 per cent since 2011 and caused its currency to collapse.
But diplomats say Iran has so far refused to meet all of the powers’ demands. They include suspending enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent fissile purity — a significant advance toward the threshold for bomb fuel — as well as limiting its enrichment capacity and mothballing the Arak reactor project.
The Iranian assets that would be unfrozen as part of any deal this week would amount to less than $10 billion, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice told CNN.
Western diplomats have kept much of the details of the proposed deal under wraps but said Iran would not win relief from the most painful sanctions on oil trade and banking that many believe finally forced into serious negotiations.
Under an initial deal the OPEC producer is likely to regain access to precious metals markets and trade in petrochemicals, an important source of export income, and could see the release of some of its oil revenues frozen in oversees accounts.
West wary of critics
If an agreement is struck in the coming days, it is intended to be the first step on the road towards a broader settlement that would avert the threat a new Middle East war.
In crafting a deal, Western governments are wary of critics across the Middle East, especially in Israel and Saudi Arabia, who view Iran as a deadly threat, and of hawks in the U.S. Congress who want stiffer sanctions and terms for Tehran.
Obama warned Congress on Tuesday that Iran would make progress towards nuclear arms status if there were no deal to halt or roll back its nuclear program and urged lawmakers to hold off on tightening sanctions while talks continue.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Washington, Israel’s main ally, to avoid making a “historical mistake” when negotiators appeared close to a deal this month. Israel wants Iran to scrap its entire nuclear energy infrastructure.
Israel, widely assumed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has warned it may bomb Iranian nuclear facilities if it deems diplomacy futile in reining in Tehran before it attains nuclear “breakout” capability.
With files from The Associated Press
Iran Nuclear Programme Deal Fails Due To French Block: New Saudi-French Alliance Emerging? | Zero Hedge
While most pragmatists knew well in advance that optimism over an Iran nuclear programme deal emerging out of Geneva was very much displaced, few anticipated what the actual reason for the failure would be. Indeed, most had expected that the staunchest opponent to the deal, Israel PM Netanyahu who moments ago appeared on Face the Nation and made his case (saying Iran would have given up “almost nothing”) would have used his influence over the US as a key member of the 5+1 group of nations (US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Iran) to block any Iranian detente with the US, even though none other than John Kerry has been urging for the Iranian deal for weeks. So when news hit that it was France who had scuttled a deal with a last minute block, many were surprised.
“There was a possibility to reach an agreement with the majority of 5+1 but there was a need to have the consent of all and as you have heard . . . one of the delegations had some problems,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a Facebook post referring to the six nations involved in the talks – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Iran. Three days of intense negotiations in Geneva, which went into early Sunday morning, failed to produce an interim agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme despite earlier optimistic predictions.
France appeared to be concerned that the proposal, which involved Tehran halting key parts of its nuclear programme in return for modest relief from tough international sanctions, did not apply the brakes hard enough on the country’s agenda.
Iran’s negotiating team was blessed last week with the strong support of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and ultimate decision maker, who urged hardliners not to weaken the diplomatic team during nuclear talks and said they were “children of the revolution”.
But the top leader’s official Twitter account on Sunday reposted his comments from a speech earlier this year in which he had condemned France’s alleged enmity toward Iran. “The officials of French government in recent years have shown explicit hostility toward the Iranian nation. This is a thoughtless and imprudent move,” the tweet said.
This means that once again the traditional narrative of Iran as an intransigent, obstinate negotiator falls apart, even if there had been an ulterior motive: the removal of Western sanctions against the improverished nation. So it will be up to the west to come up with yet another provocation that makes Iran seem like an irrational actor on the international arena.
However, a bigger questions arises: why did France break away from the US-led negotiating axis, just to side not only with Israel but with Saudi Arabia.
Many ordinary Iranians, including the reform-minded public and those educated in the west, expressed outrage at France and accused it of trying to appease Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have been against any nuclear deal that would give Iran the right to enrich uranium.
“French cars occupy Tehran’s streets but instead France stabs Iran in the back,” said Mina, a 32-year-old businesswoman.
“France’s alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran is nothing new and we had seen it during the Iran-Iraq war [1980-88] when the Saudis paid France to give fighter bombers and missiles to Saddam [Hussein] to kill us,” said Narges, a university student of politics.
“We should boycott French fries and baguettes in a symbolic move,” said Mahdi, an electric engineer.
Even Iran’s hardliners who are in principle against any deal attacked France. Fars news agency, close to the elite Revolutionary Guards, ran a headline: “Tough negotiations in Geneva and a French gun-wielding frog.”
Which should at least partially answer the nagging question about who it is that Saudi Arabia has picked to fill the diplomatic void in the aftermath of the deterioration in relations between the oil-rich nation and the US.
Then again, a Saudi Arabia alligned with a France, which by implication is now operating against US interests should result in some truly comic events in the international diplomacy arena very soon. We can’t wait to find out just how Hollande’s socialist government proceeds to entertain the world with its foreign policy foibles.
Finally, for those who missed it, here is Netanyahu earlier today saying “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
Experts say the evidence that climate change is being driven by human activities is convincing [GALLO/GETTY]
|Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change have hit a new record in 2012, the World Meteorological Organisation says.
Heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas was measured at 393.1 parts per million last year, up 2.2 ppm from the previous year, said the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation in its annual greenhouse gas inventory.
That is far beyond the 350 ppm that some scientists and environmental groups promote as the absolute upper limit for a safe level.
“For all these major greenhouse gases the concentrations are reaching once again record levels,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference.
Worse than ever
He said the accelerating trend was driving climate change, making it harder to keep global warming to within 2C of pre-industrial levels, a target agreed at a Copenhagen summit in 2009.
“This year is worse than last year, 2011. 2011 was worse than 2010,” he said. “Every passing year makes the situation somewhat more difficult to handle, it makes it more challenging to stay under this symbolic two degree global average.”
Greenhouse gas emissions are set to be 8-12 billion tons higher in 2020 than the level needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees, the UN Environment Programme said on Tuesday.
If the world pursues its “business as usual” trajectory, it will probably hit the 2C mark in the middle of the century, Jarraud said, noting that this would also affect the water cycle, sea levels and extreme weather events.
“The more we wait for action, the more difficult it will be to stay under this limit and the more the impact will be for many countries, and therefore the more difficult it will be to adapt.”
Delegates from more than 190 nations meet in Warsaw next week for a UN conference to work on emission cuts under a new climate pact to be signed by 2015, but to come into force only in 2020.
The WMO bulletin said the volume of carbon dioxide, or CO2, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, grew faster in 2012 than in the previous decade, reaching 393.1 parts per million (ppm), 41 percent above the pre-industrial level.
The amount of the gas in the atmosphere grew by 2.2 ppm, higher the average of 2.02 ppm over the past 10 years.
Based on that rate, the organisation says the world’s carbon dioxide pollution level is expected to cross the 400 ppm threshold by 2016. That level already was reached at some individual measurement stations in 2012 and 2013.
Carbon dioxide is very stable and is likely to remain in the atmosphere for a long time, Jarraud said. The concentrations were the highest for more than 800,000 years, he said.
“The increase in CO2 is mostly due to human activities,” Jarraud said. “The actions we take now or don’t take now will have consequences for a very, very long period.”
- Greenhouse gas volumes reached new high in 2012: WMO (reuters.com)
- Greenhouse gases continue relentless rise (irishtimes.com)
- Greenhouse Gases Rise to Record Levels in Atmosphere, WMO Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Concentrations of warming gases break record (syndicatednewsservices.com)
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reached New Highs In 2012, World Meterological Organization Says (huffingtonpost.com)
- Concentrations of warming gases breaks record (arunbabyveranakunnel.wordpress.com)
- Greenhouse gas at record high – 141% increase on pre-industrial levels (blueandgreentomorrow.com)