Archive for December, 2013

U.S. sending missiles, drones to Iraq

Dec. 26, 2013

BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 (UPI) — The United States is sending missiles and drones to Iraq to counter attacks by al-Qaida, which have killed more than 8,000 Iraqis this year, officials said.

A shipment of 75 Hellfire missiles was sent to Iraq last week and 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones are scheduled to be delivered by March, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki warned Sunday al-Qaida-backed insurgents are “seeking to gain control of territory inside the borders of Iraq.”

The affiliate, she said, is a “common enemy of the United States and the Republic of Iraq, and a threat to the greater Middle East region.”

Michael Knights, an expert on Iraqi security at the Washington Institute for Near East policy questioned the lack of armed drones being sent to Iraq.

“The real requirement today is for a long-range, high-endurance armed drone capability,” he said. “There is one place in the world where al-Qaida can run a major affiliate without fear of a U.S. drone or air attack, and that is in Iraq and Syria.”

Iraq’s foreign minister has suggested the idea of having U.S.-operated armed Predator or Reaper drones respond to the al-Qaida threat though Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hasn’t formally requested such intervention, Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

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Iran unveils new radar able to detect small drone aircraft

Dec. 18, 2013

TEHRAN, Dec. 18 (UPI) — Iran unveiled a new advanced long range radar system capable of detecting small drone aircraft, head of the country’s air defense said.

The radar system called Arash operates on UHF, VHF and HF frequencies and will improve the country’s ability to engage in electronic warfare, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmayeeli, head of the country’s air defense saying Tuesday.

“The powerful Arash radar is one of the most important achievements of Khatam al-Anabia Air Defense Base,” he said. The radar will be stationed in an undisclosed location in the country in the coming days.

The new radar does not emit radar waves and cannot be detected by the enemy, Fars said adding the radar is also known as the Silent Radar System.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

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Iran brings monkey back safely from space

December 14, 2013

Tehran (AFP) – Iran said on Saturday that it had safely returned a monkey to Earth after blasting it into space in the second such launch this year in its controversial ballistic program.

President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the scientists involved in the mission, in a message carried by the official IRNA news agency.

The report added that the rocket reached a height of 120 kilometers (75 miles).

In January, Iran said it had successfully brought a live monkey, which it named Pishgam (Pioneer), back to Earth from orbit.

But the experiment’s success was disputed, when a different monkey was presented to the media after the landing.

An earlier attempt had failed in September 2011.

Iran’s space program has prompted concern among Western governments, which fear Tehran is trying to master the technology required to deliver a nuclear warhead.

The Islamic republic insists that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

“By the grace of God and through the efforts of Iranian space scientists, the Pajohesh (research) rocket containing the second live space monkey, named Fargam (Auspicious), was sent into space and brought back to Earth safely,” Rouhani said in his message.

State television broadcast footage of the rocket launch which state television said took place on Saturday morning.

A helicopter brought a capsule to the scene which the reporter said contained the monkey, and later footage of a monkey wearing a red shirt was shown.

Iran’s space program was heavily promoted by Rouhani’s controversial predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who quipped in February that he was “ready to be the first Iranian to be sacrificed by the scientists of my country and go into space, even though I know there are a lot of candidates”.

To the dismay of animal welfare groups, Fargam was following in the footsteps of a menagerie of dogs and monkeys that were among the early stars of the US and Soviet space programs in the 1960s.

Earlier this year, Iranian space officials raised the prospect of sending a Persian cat into space.

“Iran’s archaic experiment… is a throwback to the primitive techniques of the 1950s,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesman Ben Williamson said at the time.

The stated aim of Iran’s program is a manned launch by 2020.

The program deeply unsettles Western governments as the technology used in space rockets can also be used in ballistic missiles.

The UN Security Council has imposed an almost total embargo on the export of nuclear and space technology to Iran since 2007.

Tehran denies its space program has any link with its alleged nuclear ambitions.

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Iran sends second monkey into space

December 14, 2013

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran said Saturday it has successfully sent a monkey into space for a second time, part of an ambitious program aimed at manned space flight.

Iran’s state TV said that the launch of the rocket dubbed Pajohesh, or Research in Farsi, was Iran’s first use of liquid fuel. It reached a height of 120 kilometers (72 miles). It said the monkey, named Fargam or Auspicious, was returned to earth safely.

TV footage showed the rocket blasting off and then showed the monkey, strapped snugly into a seat. The report said Fargam’s capsule parachuted safely to earth after detaching from the rocket in a mission that lasted 15 minutes.

Iran frequently claims technological breakthroughs that are impossible to independently verify. The Islamic Republic has said it aims to send an astronaut into space. “The launch of Pajohesh is another long step getting the Islamic Republic of Iran closer to sending a man into space,” the official IRNA news agency said.

Fargam is a male monkey of rhesus macaque race with brown fur and a pink face. The primate weighs three kilograms and has a height of 56 centimeters (22 inches). Iranian scientists say a bigger monkey or another animal will be tested in the next space flight.

State TV said the rocket was equipped with new features including sonic sensors and electronic devices that enabled scientists to monitor the monkey, its vital signs and voice. Mohammad Ebrahimi said Iran’s first use of liquid fuel meant the rocket’s speed was about half that of a rocket using solid fuel.

Iran said it sent its first monkey into space in January, reaching the same height of 120 kilometers (72 miles). “The rocket carrying the first monkey used solid fuel and had a high speed. But a liquid fuel rocket has a lower speed and is better for the safety and protection of the living creature because it causes less pressure,” IRNA quoted him as saying. “The capsule was equipped with a shock absorber to provide better protection for the monkey.”

Ebrahimi said the monkey’s appetite showed it was in good health after the journey. Iran aerospace program is a source of national pride. It’s also one of the pillars of its aspirations to be seen as the technological hub for Islamic and developing countries.

The U.S. and its allies worry that technology from the space program could also be used to develop long-range missiles that could potentially be armed with nuclear warheads. In the January mission, one of two official packages of photos of the simian space traveler depicted the wrong monkey, causing some international observers to wonder whether the monkey had died in space or that the launch didn’t go well.

But Iranian officials later said one set of pictures showed an archive photo of one of the alternate monkeys. They said three to five monkeys are simultaneously tested for such a flight and two or three are chosen for the launch. Finally, the one that is best suited for the mission is chosen for the voyage.

The Islamic Republic has not revealed where the rocket launch took place, but it has a major satellite launch complex near Semnan, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Tehran. Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance of the region.

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Egypt halts tourism with Iran

October 1, 2013

Cairo: Egypt halted tourism activities with Iran on Tuesday citing security concerns, a Tourism Ministry spokeswoman said, further distancing itself from Tehran after former Islamist President Mohammad Mursi tried to improve ties.

“At the moment the security situation does not allow the ministry to support travel with Iran, including flights and tourist visits,” spokeswoman Rasha Azaizi said, without giving details.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Cairo in February, the first visit by an Iranian leader in more than three decades.

The first commercial flight between Egypt and Iran in 34 years took off in March as Mursi tried to normalize ties broken after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Diplomatic relations remain severed. The state news agency said 43 Iranian tourists visited Egypt in April. But regular commercial flights never got underway.

Mursi, elected in 2012, was overthrown by the army in July after street protests against his rule. Azaizi said Mursi’s government’s plans to increase tourism with Iran had been put on hold.

Relations between Egypt and Iran broke down in 1979 when Cairo gave sanctuary to the deposed shah. Many in Egypt, a majority Sunni country, still harbor strong feelings against Shiite Iran.

The army-backed government views Tehran with deep suspicion.

In July, Egypt accused Iran of “unacceptable interference” in its domestic affairs for criticizing the military’s removal of Mursi. Iran called the ousting of Mursi a “cause for concern” and suggested “foreign hands” were at work in the Arab state.

Egypt historically has much stronger ties with Gulf Arab states, who have vied with Iran for regional influence.

Source: Gulf News.

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IRAN. Statement of unity between Hizbul Furqan and Harakat Al-Ansar in Baluchistan

6 December 2013

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful!

Praise be to Allah, peace and prayer be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

And then:

Allah Almighty says:

“And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way”
(The Holy Koran, Chapter 3. “The Family of Imran”, verse 103)

And the Most High says:

“Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall”.
(The Holy Koran, Chapter 61. “The Ranks”, verse 4)

Nu’man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:

Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever”, narrated by Muslim, and in another narration: “Muslims are like one body of a person; if the eye is sore, the whole body aches, and if the head aches, the whole body aches”.

Out of keenness on unity and rejecting division and disagreement, and to unite the rank and word, the Jihadi Harakat Al-Ansar with the mujahidin of Hizbul Furqan under the banner of (La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah) and jihad for the sake of Allah to topple the Iranian regime, and raise the word of Allah, and lift the injustice, and support the oppressed, and establish the Sharia of the Lord of the Worlds, and that our jihad be a brick for the Khilafah which our trustful prophet the best peace and blessings be upon him preached us of its return.

The two groups merged under the name of Jamaat Ansar Al-Furqan.

In conclusion we ask Allah Almighty guidance and success, and peace and blessings be on the messenger of Allah and his family and Sahabah and allies.

Shura of Jamaat Ansar Al-Furqan

Source: Islamic media

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.

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Saudi activist says money given to Egyptian general to oust Morsi

July 30, 2013

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, July 30 (UPI) — The Saudi government gave Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi $1 billion to oust Mohamed Morsi from power, a Saudi activist says.

Saudi political activist Mujtahid bin Hareth bin Hammaam, known for his Twitter campaign against the Saudi government, said el-Sisi received the money July 3, the Tehran-based news network Alalam reported Tuesday. The Saudi government had hoped the money would help el-Sisi ensure a calm transition of power, the network said.

The Saudi government is concerned el-Sisi will be unable to restore order amid ongoing violence and demands by Morsi’s followers he be reinstated, the network said.

“King Abdullah knows well that failure of the coup in Egypt will be a disaster for al-Saud because any new government will be stronger and will adopt anti-Saudi Arabia policies,” Mujtahid tweeted. “That is why King Abdullah is one of the supporters of unlimited use of force in cracking down protesters. … King Abdullah not only supported the coup and tried to convince others to accept new changes, he also helped el-Sisi,” he said.

The Saudi king is using his political and financial powers to convince the West to refrain from adopting a strong stance toward the crisis in Egypt, Mujtahid charged. The Saudi government has yet to respond to the allegations.

Wikipedia describes Mujtahid as known for tweeting controversial information about the Saudi royal family. He has been nicknamed the Julian Assange of Saudi Arabia.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

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Egypt and UAE plot to topple Hamas

Wednesday, 04 September 2013

A retired Egyptian general has revealed details of an Egypt-UAE plot to impose a stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and overthrow the Hamas-led government. The plot, claims General Sami Hassan, is for the Egyptian army to act, with funding from the UAE government.

“The plan is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” tweeted Hassan. “He aims to achieve political and military gains in the coming days.”

General Hassan said that the military will impose even more restrictions on the Palestinians in Gaza, cutting all essential supplies which currently pass through the tunnels. Fuel supplies in particular are being targeted. The Gaza Strip relies on Egypt for 80 per cent of its fuel.

According to Hassan, the process has already started with a media demonisation campaign against the Palestinians and Hamas. As soon as the army creates calm in the Sinai Peninsula, he asserted, it will stir up popular demonstrations.

Al-Sisi has already met with Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed, an adviser to the UAE National Security Authority, and ex-Fatah “strongman” Mohammed Dahlan, said General Hassan. “A sum of $750 million has been allocated for the plot,” he claims, “which will involve returning Gaza to Egyptian control or handing it over to the Palestinian Authority [in Ramallah].”

The decisive meeting, he noted, lasted one and a half hours in Al-Sisi’s office. The following objectives were agreed upon:

Sinai will be “cleansed” of militant groups and nomadic tribes on the border with Gaza will be disarmed.

A drone base will be established by Egypt in Sinai under international supervision. Air strikes will be launched against the “global jihadist movement”.

All tunnels between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, and Egypt will cut off all essential supplies going to Gaza.

Electricity supplies from Egypt to Gaza will be cut off altogether.

An agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel will be reactivated with the return of international observers to the Rafah Border Crossing.

Hamas will be toppled and the Gaza Strip will be returned to President Mahmoud Abbas’s control.

Power in Gaza will handed over to the PA or people in the UAE’s pay and control, such as Dahlan.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

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Iran, Russia in talks on new Bushehr nuclear plant

Tehran (AFP)
Dec 01, 2013

Iran and Russia are in talks to build another nuclear plant at Bushehr, with construction set to begin in 2014, media Sunday reported nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

“With the progress made in the Geneva talks, next year we will see the start of construction on another nuclear power plant in Bushehr,” said Salehi of the landmark deal clinched with world powers on Tehran’s disputed nuclear drive.

He did not elaborate on the new plant’s power capacity, but Iran has planned to build 1,000-megawatt plants.

“We are negotiating with the Russians to produce 4,000 megawatts of electricity, and they have expressed their readiness to build,” added Salehi, according to the website of state broadcaster IRIB.

He said that in the next phase, Iran sought to produce 5,000 megawatts in electricity output from nuclear power.

Iran’s sole Bushehr nuclear power plant, which produces 1,000 megawatts, came into service in 2011 after several delays blamed on technical problems.

In September this year, Iranian engineers took complete control of the Bushehr facility.

Iran has said it aims to produce 20,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear power, which would necessitate building 20 such reactors.

Western powers and Israel suspect that the Islamic republic’s nuclear program masks a covert weapons drive, a charge Tehran denies, saying it is entirely for peaceful purposes.

Under the interim Geneva agreement, Iran agreed to roll back some parts of its nuclear program in exchange for partial easing of punitive sanctions choking its economy.

Source: Nuclear Power Daily.

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Iran readies for big oil production hike

December 04, 2013

VIENNA (AP) — Iran indirectly challenged OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, announcing it plans to pump as much oil as it can once sanctions on its crude exports are lifted, even if its extra output drives prices into the basement.

The comments by Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh reflected Tehran’s determination to regain its global role as an oil power if it is freed of the sanctions under any nuclear deal with six world powers meant to ensure that its atomic activities cannot be used to make weapons.

It also raised the prospect of a production war inside the cartel, which is keen to project an image of unity among its 12 members. If Iran does ramp up its output — and Iraq and Libya make good on promises to do so as well — other OPEC members would have to reduce theirs to keep prices from dropping too much and hurting them all.

Iranian rival Saudi Arabia would be particularly under pressure. It is now producing about a third of OPEC’s daily output of about 30 million barrels Under such a scenario, “it would be difficult for the Saudis to maintain production levels without risking lower prices,” said analyst Jason Schenker of Prestige Economics.

That potential problem was not on the top of the agenda at Wednesday’s meeting, where the oil ministers agreed to extend present output targets of 30 million barrels a day. But the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries may have to focus on the prospect of overproduction as early as their next meeting on June 11.

Iran’s agreement to limit its nuclear program is still only a preliminary one. Sanctions on its oil exports are likely to stay in place until a final deal is reached, which— if it happens — is unlikely before mid-2014.

If and when the sanctions are lifted, Iran says it wants to ramp up production to pre-sanctions levels of 4 million barrels a day. Iraq also wants to reach that target within a year, while Libya hopes to increase output to 2 million barrels a day once unrest ebbs. In all, that would add close to 4 million barrels to total daily production, meaning some members would likely have to cut back.

OPEC has had little success in the past at asking member countries to respect individual targets. But OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Badry sought to downplay looming problems from any surplus production, saying his organization would deal with it if and when that happened.

“We are watching this situation very carefully,” he told reporters. Zanganeh said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting that his country was determined to regain its share “under all circumstances.” “We will produce 4 million even if the price drops to $20,” he told reporters. Benchmark Brent crude on international markets now sells for nearly six times as much, and a drop to anywhere near $20 would spark a crisis among oil exporters by leaving production costs far outstripping sales revenue.

Although the Iranian comments posed a potential challenge for Saudi Arabia, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi sought to ease concerns, telling reporters he did not see a price war on the horizon. “I hope Iran comes back (and) produces all it can,” he said. But he gave no sign that his country was ready to reduce output.

Zanganeh on Tuesday suggested oil sanctions may be incrementally relaxed even earlier than mid-2014. In a nod to the Saudis, he said he hoped OPEC members understand that “when a member country comes back … they should open the doors for him and not fight with him.”

Strong U.S. shale oil production could add to internal OPEC pressures beyond political tensions caused by Sunni Saudi Arabia vying with Shiite-led Iran and Iraq. As in the past meetings, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia all put forward candidates for the post of OPEC secretary general, who acts as the voice of the organization between meetings.

But with their rivalries strong and potentially harmful to OPEC unity, the meeting skirted the issue and extended Libya’s Al-Badry for another year in the post — a move described as wise by analyst John Hall of Alfa Energy.

With an Iranian in that position, Tehran “will do its utmost to use OPEC as a political weapon, while Saudi (Arabia) will continue to run OPEC as it does anyway but in the foreground as opposed to the background,” he said. ”

Iraq in turn would push to have its output target upped to 4 million barrels a day, Hall added.

Margaret Childs contributed to this report.

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