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The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

The John Batchelor Show

Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: Iranian official: US has accepted country’s nuclear enrichment The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Feb. 17 that negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program will lead nowhere, Al Arabiya reported. Khamenei said that he does not oppose resuming negotiations with world powers, adding that the work started by Iran’s Foreign Ministry will continue and Iran will stick to its commitments. While there will be disruptions along the way, Iran’s normalization of relations with the West is unlikely to derail, since both sides need it.

February 18, 2014

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U.N. report lambasts Syria chemical attacks

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Ake Sellstrom (L), Head of the U.N. Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, hands his report over to Ban Ki-moon. (Reuters)

Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News
Saturday, 14 December 2013

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for the sanctioning of those responsible for Syrian chemical weapons attacks documented in a newly-released report.

The U.N. report, released on Thursday, concluded that the banned weapons have been used at least five times during the two and a half-year civil war, before Damascus agreed to dismantle its arsenal.

“I deplore in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which is an offense against the universal values of humankind,” Ban told the United Nations General Assembly, according to Agence France-Presse.

The report did not attribute blame for the attacks, as it was beyond the mandate given to the team by the U.N. Security Council.

“The international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible to deter further incidents and ensure that chemical weapons can never reemerge as an instrument of warfare,” Ban was quoted as saying by AFP.

The U.N. chief added he was “encouraged” by progress made in dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal.

“The international community continues to expect the Syrian Arab Republic will implement faithfully its obligations to complete the elimination by the first half of 2014.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed in September to give up his country’s chemicals weapons stockpile to avert a threat of U.S. missile strikes following a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people outside the capital Damascus.

The deal which resulted in a landmark Security Council resolution stipulates that Syria’s most dangerous chemical weapons have to be out of the country by a Dec. 31 deadline and destroyed by June 30, 2014.

Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, who led the U.N. investigation team that compiled the report, reiterated that the mandate did not allow him to point any fingers.

“These facts could be used by others who have the mandate … I don’t have information that could stand in court,” he was quoted as saying by AFP.

Attributing the attacks “requires more efforts and resources” such as those of forensic investigators, Sellstrom said.

Western and Arab governments, human rights groups and the Syrian opposition accuse the regime of carrying out the attacks, while Assad and his allies in Moscow and Tehran place blame on the rebels.

(With AFP)

Spying from the belly of the beast!

Thursday, December 5th, 2013


A touching review on my book ‘A Time to Betray‘:

By: Helen E. Faria

This is one of the most heartrending, and at the same time, enthralling accounts I have ever read of courage, dissimulation and personal suffering in the genre of espionage memoirs. This is the story of a courageous man, who justly betrays and risks his life (and that of his family) to fight surreptitiously against the cruelties and injustices of the ruling government of his native country — Iran. This book struck a personal cord with me because it reminded me of painful and regretful similarities that beset my own family in my native country, Cuba, just before and after of the Revolution that brought to power the dictator Fidel Castro and his brother Raul in 1959.

As a very young child, I remember various members of my family arguing passionately but amicably for and against the dictatorial government of Cuban President, Fulgencio Batista, his coup and dictatorship, his trampling on the legendary Constitution of 1940, the lack of political rights, the cruel imprisonment and even systematic torture of rebels captured while fighting against his regime (an opposition in which my own parents played a clandestine part), etc. I remember one my great uncles arguing and warning us about the malevolent changes the triumph of the revolutionary “barbudos” could bring about — but my parents did not listen, and came to regret it! After the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 and the establishment of communism in Cuba, there was indeed drastic “change,” but this militated change was for the worse — the inception of a culture of deception, oppression, and horror, and there would no longer be friendly political discussions among families, but only mistrust, dissimulation, and fear.

Eerily, the same thing happened in far away Iran in 1979 with the fall of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the takeover of Iran by the mullahs and Ayatollah Khomeini, and the inception of a brutal Islamic Republic. Our hero, young Reza Kahlili (a pseudonym) was brought up in a close, prosperous family in Teheran. He remembers the “good old days” of traditional festivities, gatherings, his loving grandfather patriarch defending the ruling Shah of Iran, his ruling dynasty, and the old Persian mores in amicable and engaging conversations among family members. Living in such a warm and jovial atmosphere, Reza, could not have imagine the horrific changes that would be brought about so rapidly in Iranian society with the advent of the “Islamic Republic,” which he joined with excitement after returning to Iran from studying abroad in California.

Nor could he have ventured to guess that most of his family and closest childhood friends would so soon be devoured by the Revolution and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in which he compliantly served the tyranny. The proverb says “be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.” Alas, that is what happened for those who wanted change in Cuba and Iran, deriding and helping to overthrow Batista in Cuba and the Shah in Iran by revolution. Many of those citizens would end up crushed by Castro and the Ayatollah — who were significantly worse tyrannical figures than their predecessors. And the tragic concatenations that followed in both countries in their wake have not yet ended!

But let us now part from the comparison and focus on Iran and our hero, the subjects of this book. This is an excellent tome, expertly written, personal, passionate, and although it reads fast, like a suspense thriller, it also has interspersed background material recounting brief episodes in the history of Iran that are necessary to the narrative. For example, we learn the Iranians had mixed feelings about (and many resented) the British and Americans, among other reasons, because of interference in their nation’s affair. For example, in 1953 those governments, using the CIA as a vehicle, helped overthrow the democratically elected president of Iran, a (militant) nationalist, Muhammad Mussadegh, who had nationalized the oil industry, and had forced the Shah (a friend of the West) to flee the country.

It is also of historic interest that, as I remember a few years back in 2007, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, defending his country’s right to a nuclear program, stated, “the country of Iran was heir to a great empire and home to a 2,500-year civilization.” I was surprised at the statement, as I always thought the conquests of Mohammed and the religious and cultural revolution of the 7th century, imposed by the victorious Arabs on the conquered Sassanid Persians, had resulted in a new and distinct Islamic nation. Moreover, with the fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty, the last Persian monarchy, the drastic changes brought about by the revolution of 1979, and the inception of an Islamic Republic (a virtual theocracy), had brought about yet another distinct nation. Iranians have a long history as Persians and speak Farsi. Arabs have a more recent civilization, attaining historical distinction with the conquests of Mohammed and speak Arabic. I was gratified that Reza’s loving grandfather and many other more secular Iranians, cognizant of their heritage, agree with my cultural interpretation. These Iranian nationalist and traditionalists think of themselves heir to a distinct but vanishing Persian civilization that had been suppressed culturally by Arab Islamism, and more recently politically with the tyranny of the mullahs and the ayatollahs.

I will not reveal the heartrending stories of cruelty and betrayal, as well as dissimulation and courage, that revolve precariously around our hero Reza, who, as a member of the feared Iranian Revolutionary Guard, courageously spied against the cruel regime he ostensibly served. Suffice to say, the brutality of the regime against his friends and the Iranian people changed him into leading a double life, spying for the CIA for over a decade. Among the information Reza provided to the CIA was vital intelligence that probably prevented the collapse of the Saudi government. The Iranians had planned to use the hajj, the religious pilgrimage that Moslems must make to Mecca, to stage a coup d’etat. Armaments were sent for the hajj, but most of these were intercepted and many of the militants arrested beforehand, foiling the insurrection. Other information was communicated to the U.S. at great peril, but not necessarily used properly by the American government, which was bent on placating the mullahs through various administrations.

The double life took its toll, but Reza persisted in his clandestine espionage with the thought of bringing about genuinely real change for the betterment, the attainment of freedom, and improving the life of his countrymen. How he did his self-appointed mission, and how he survived spying at great personal risk from within the belly of the infernal beast are the enthralling subjects of this book.

Without reservations, this heartrending thriller is highly recommended for those who enjoy non-fiction thrillers, recent history, and passionate espionage accounts. Be ready to stay anxiously at the edge of your seat and hold back irrepressible tears of commiseration, sorrow and outrage! I assign it a 5-star rating.

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is the author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape from a Lost Paradise (2002) and of other books and numerous articles on politics, espionage, and history, including “Stalin’s Mysterious Death” (2011), “The Political Spectrum — From the Extreme Right and Anarchism to the Extreme Left and Communism” (2011); “America, Guns and Freedom” (2012);”Violence, Mental Illness, and the Brain — A Brief History of Psychosurgery” (2013), etc., all posted at his website haciendapublishingdotcom


Also Read:

The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake

Los Angeles Times
Former CIA spy advocates overthrow of Iranian regime
By: David Zucchino / July 6, 2012

Ex-soldier in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard writes of life as CIA spy
By: Elise Labott, CNN Senior State Department Producer
July 10, 2010

Q&A With Reza Kahlili, Iranian Double Agent.
By: Hannah Elliott / May 20, 2010

Washington Post
David Ignatius reviews ‘A Time to Betray,’ the memoir of an Iranian double agent
By: David Ignatius / April 11, 2010

For all reviews on A Time to Betray, please visit: Praise & reviews

‘Secret talks with Iran led Obama to shelve strike on Syria’

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Israeli TV suggests Iran persuaded Assad to give up chemical weapons in exchange for US abandoning planned punitive attack this summer

Members of a UN investigative team take samples near the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack, in Syria, August 28, 2013 (photo credit: AP/United Media Office of Arbeen)

Members of a UN investigative team take samples near the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack, in Syria, August 28, 2013 (photo credit: AP/United Media Office of Arbeen)

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF November 30, 2013, 4:02 pm

Pesident Barack Obama’s last-minute decision not to carry out an intended punitive strike against Syria’s President Bashar Assad this summer, after Assad killed almost 1,500 of his own people with chemical weapons, was influenced by secret US back-channel discussions with Iran, Israel’s security and intelligence community reportedly believes.

The issue of Assad’s chemical weapons use came up in the secret US-Iran contacts held in recent months in Oman, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Friday, and it quoted unnamed Israeli intelligence and security sources asserting Obama’s change of heart was affected by those contacts.

The report speculated that Iran persuaded Assad to agree to dismantle his chemical weapons capability in return for Obama not carrying out the intended attack.

The report underlines Israeli concerns, frequently stated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that Iran is fooling the US about its ostensibly moderate intentions, and that the US is being duped into unjustifiably warming relations with Iran, while Israel is gradually becoming isolated in its unbending opposition to Iran’s nuclear program. The same TV news broadcast also quoted unnamed Israeli government officials denouncing Obama for mishandling the Geneva nuclear negotiations, with the result that Iran has been granted the “right” to enrich uranium and economic sanctions pressure on Iran is collapsing.

The Obama administration last week acknowledged holding months of secret back-channel talks with Iran ahead of the interim deal on Iran’s rogue nuclear program that was signed last week by the P5+1 powers and Iran in Geneva. The president reportedly informed Netanyahu of those contacts when he visited the White House in late September soon after they became “substantive.” Israeli reports have claimed that the back-channel was opened much earlier than acknowledged by the Obama administration, and Israeli officials have privately protested that the US did not inform Israel fully of those contacts.

Friday’s Channel 2 report recalled that the Obama administration was so certain that its forces were about to attack Syria in the chemical weapons crisis at the end of August that US officials telephoned Israel’s prime minister and defense minister to give them “advance warning” the attack was about to take place. The phone calls were made shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry on August 31 had accused Assad’s regime of an August 21 chemical weapons attack that killed 1,429 Syrians. Israel’s leaders were told explicitly that the US would be taking punitive military action against the Assad regime within 24-48 hours.

Friday’s report said that Kerry personally telephoned Israel’s leaders to inform them of the imminent attack, and that Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague also made such a call. The calls were made so that Israel could take steps to defend itself against any potential Syrian retaliation that might target the Jewish state.

In fact, however, Obama on September 1 surprisingly announced that he would seek Congressional authorization before a strike on Syria. Ultimately Obama did not carry out the narrow, punitive action he had said he was planning, instead joining a Russian-led initiative for a diplomatic solution aimed at stripping Assad of his chemical weapons.

The Times of Israel reported claims Friday that the secret back channel of negotiations between Iran and the United States began several years ago, and that it has also led to a series of prisoner releases by both sides, which have played a central role in bridging the distance between the two nations.

In the most dramatic of those releases, the US in April released a top Iranian scientist, Mojtaba Atarodi, who had been arrested in 2011 for attempting to acquire equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs.


Also read:

The Washington Times
KAHLILI: Obama’s re-election deal with Iran
By: Reza Kahlili / October 30, 2012

By: Reza Kahlili / October 28, 2012

By: Reza Kahlili / October 24, 2012

By: Reza Kahlili / October 23, 2012

By: Reza Kahlili / October 19, 2012

By: Reza Kahlili / October 04, 2012

The Daily Caller
Obama, Iran in secret nuclear deal
By: Reza Kahlili / February 27, 2012


The Islamic regime’s media coverage on this story:

Keyhan (Monday OCT 29)- Keyhan (Wednesday OCT 31) - Keyhan (Sunday NOV 04) –  Mashregh - Farhikhtegan - Fararu - IRdiplomacy - Ebetekar News - Khabar Online - Tabnak - Inn IR

Opposition Site: Kaleme - Kaleme (Thursday NOV 01)

Also: BBC Farsi


Iran open to negotiations with America ‘even in hell:’ top official
By MASOUD AL-ZAHID / November 08, 2012

It’s Official! Iran Fulfills Obama Surprise
November 05, 2012

New English Review
Kahlili: Iran’s Supreme Leader Continues Secret Discussions
By: Jerry Gordon / October 30, 2012

Renew America
Part 12 – 2012: America’s last free election?
Behind the Iranian “October surprise”: attack on the U.S. homeland?
By: Wes Vernon / October 25, 2012

The Record
Dick Morris: An election year deal with Iran
By: Dick Morris / October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

Israel National News
US-Iran Secret Nuclear Deal tied to US Elections
By: Dr. Joe Tuzara / October 22, 2012

Iran Deal: The October Surprise?
By Dick Morris on October 22, 2012

October Surprise: Direct Talks with Iran?
By: Joseph Klein / October 22, 2012

Did Obama Cut a Nuke Deal with Iran?
By: Daniel Greenfield / October 21, 2012

October 20, 2012

The October Surprise
By: Michael Ledeen / October 20, 2012

NY Times
U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks
By HELENE COOPER and MARK LANDLER / October 20, 2012

October 20, 2012
BREAKING – Obama Springs His Iran Nuke Negotiations October Surprise As Predicted
By WILLIAM MAYER / October 20, 2012

New English Review
New York Times Confirms Obama Iran Nuke Deal October Surprise
By: Jerry Gordon / October 20, 2012

The Washington Times
Dick Morris predicts an Obama-Iran ‘October surprise’
By: David Eldridge / October 20, 2012

New English Review
Obama’s October Surprise Nuke Deal with Iran Emerges
By: Jerry Gordon / October 19, 2012
Is Team Obama Secretly Negotiating With Iran In Ploy To Influence Election?
By WILLIAM MAYER / October 15, 2012

Northern Colorado Gazette
Could Obama, Iran make secret deal prior to election?
by: Matt Lacy / October 14, 2012

BY: F. MICHAEL MALOOF / October 14, 2012

Report: US warns Saudis to back away from Iranian ally Syria

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Report: US warns Saudis to back away from Iranian ally Syria

The Daily Caller

By: Reza Kahlili

November 24, 2013

U.S. Secretary of the State John Kerry has warned Saudi Arabia to back off interfering in the Syrian civil war, according to Fars News Agency, the Islamic Republic media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards.

Kerry had been in Riyadh recently to calm Saudi fears of an upcoming agreement with Iran that would leave the Islamic Republic’s nuclear infrastructure largely intact. The Sunni kingdom is one of the main sponsors of the rebels trying to take down Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, while Shiite Iran is Assad’s staunchest ally. Saudi Arabia and Iran are battling each other for leadership of the region.

The Fars report comes in the wake of what is being called a historic agreement with Iran that leaves much of its nuclear program untouched and allows it to continue enrichment to the 5 percent level. Israel and Saudi Arabia oppose any Iranian nuclear capability.

Fars, quoting the Lebanese Al-Manar news channel, reported that Kerry had pressured the Saudi kingdom to curtail the espionage activities of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.

The report indicated that the Obama administration is so serious about this issue that the CIA has halted its collaboration with the Saudi Intelligence Agency.

“The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is angry at the positions adopted by Prince Bandar on the Syrian case since it thinks that he manages the case through collaboration and collusion with the neoconservative groups in Washington that seek to spoil Obama’s policies on Syria, Iran and even Russia,” al-Manar stated.

Fars asserted that an informed source told the news agency that Prince Bandar has spent tens of millions of dollars in Washington to try to convince American politicians to support an attack on Syria. The source said that Bandar’s failure to affect the events in Syria have caused differences within the ruling family, with many members writing a letter to King Abdullah protesting the lack of progress in toppling the Assad regime.

As reported in the Daily Caller in August of 2012, Iran at one point was preparing for a direct attack on Saudi Arabia, should Syria’s Assad be in danger of falling to rebel forces. Iran also blames the Saudis for unrest in two of its provinces.

“Dozens of Iranian ballistic missiles have been preprogrammed to hit Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia,” a source said then. “Qatar will also be hit at the same time as it is directly involved with the events in Syria.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaged in a proxy war from Yemen to Bahrain, Iraq and Syria where the ruling Shiite clerics in Iran have tried to undermine the Saudi influence in the region and vice versa.

Iran has accused the Saudis of arming the rebels to destabilize Assad’s regime while the Saudis blame the Shiite regime for trying to destabilize the Sunni monarch in Bahrain by sabotage and incitement to uprising among the majority Shiites.

Iranian leaders have on several occasions called for the removal of the Saudi monarch.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).

Syria snipers targeted pregnant women, says British surgeon

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

The surgeon said that he regularly treated gunshot wounds that indicated that bored snipers were targeting particular parts of civilians’ bodies. (File photo: AFP)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Syrian snipers targeted pregnant women on more than one occasion, a British surgeon said Saturday after returning from a five-week stint in the conflict zone.

According to an interview with The Times newspaper David Nott, who spent five weeks volunteering at a Syrian hospital, said he treated more than half a dozen shot pregnant women on one day in a Syrian city.

He did not identify the city for security reasons but said that he regularly treated gunshot wounds that indicated that bored snipers were targeting particular parts of civilians’ bodies in a bid to entertain themselves, reported Agence France-Presse.

“One day it would be shots to the groin. The next, it would only be the left chest,” he told the newspaper.

“From the first patients that came in in the morning, you could almost tell what you would see for the rest of the day. It was a game.”

On one day, two consecutive gunshot patients were heavily pregnant women, both of whom lost their babies.

“The women were all shot through the uterus, so that must have been where they were aiming for,” he told The Times.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how awful it was. Usually, civilians are caught in the crossfire. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this. This was deliberate. It was hell beyond hell.”

Nott is a prominent surgeon in the UK who counts former Prime Minister Tony Blair as an ex-patient and has volunteered as an emergency surgeon in warzones for 20 years.

He usually works as a vascular surgeon at London’s Westminster and Chelsea hospital but has served in warzones in countries including Bosnia, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Phil Valentine Show

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Phil Valentine Show

Discussion on the nuclear negotiations, Iran cleric derogatory statement on Israel and the situation in the Middle East with the Saudi – Iran proxy war.

October 15, 2013

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Top Iran cleric says Israel must be destroyed, warns US

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The Daily Caller


By: Reza Kahlili

The recognition of Israel as illegitimate is one of the principles of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, and even today the Islamic Republic believes Israel must be destroyed, a senior Iranian cleric close to the supreme leader said Saturday night.

Ayatollah Sayyid Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts — the body that chooses the supreme leader — also condemned any effort for improved relations with America and warned that nothing is ruled out against the United States, according to Tasnim News Agency, a regime media outlet.

Referring to those who believe talks with the U.S. would be beneficial, Khatami said, “If we take one step back, then we have to retreat 10 steps.”

The ayatollah said that during President Hassan Rouhani’s recent trip to the United States to attend the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, “The American politicians put out many diplomatic smiles.”

But at a meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the same time, “The American president stated that all options are on the table, including the military option. We too have all the options on the table against America, one of those a strong punch in the mouth to America, the world’s oppressor.”

Khatami said that in resolving the nuclear issue, the West “will then raise the issue of human rights, stating that women must have all the rights that men have.” He added that the holy slogans of “death to America” and “death to Israel” will never be removed and reiterated the regime’s position that Israel must be annihilated, and anyone stating otherwise is “Anti-Supreme Leader,” which carries a death penalty under the laws of the Islamic Republic.

“Even if one day there are negotiations and contact with America, our hatred for infidels and oppressors will never cease,” Khatami said. “… the end of the story by America is this, that they want us to open the way for them to come and loot this country [of its resources]. However America must know that it will take this dream to its grave.”

Rouhani, in an effort to ease tensions between Iran and America to remove some of the sanctions that are crushing the regime’s economy, has requested a moderation in tone from regime officials. At the same time, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and an influential politician since the early days of the revolution, recently pushed for the removal of the “death to America” slogan, which hardliners strongly opposed.

According to a source in the regime’s intelligence ministry — one who cannot be named for security purposes — the regime is unified in this new tactic of showing a moderate face in order to deceive the West into relieving some sanctions. Those officials are fully aware that Iran’s foreign currency reserves are almost depleted and that their economy soon will be on the verge of collapse. However, the source added, the loyalists can only tolerate a certain level of rapprochement even though they know it’s only for show.

Iranian television Sunday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi that the transfer of Iran’s nuclear material out of the country is its red line. Other officials previously stated that the regime might negotiate over the level of enrichment but will not stop its enrichment program.

Iran and the world powers 5+1 are set to discuss the country’s nuclear program on Tuesday in Geneva.

Despite several United Nations resolutions and sanctions by the U.N., United States and European Union demanding a halt to Iran’s illicit nuclear program, the Islamic Regime has significantly expanded the program and currently has over 18,000 centrifuges, with enough enriched uranium for more than six nuclear bombs. At the same time, it is set to complete its heavy-water plant, which would give the regime a second path to nuclear weapons by acquiring weapons-grade plutonium.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray“ (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).

Jihadist rebel clashes kill 50 in Syria’s Aleppo

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to launch a rocket towards forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, beside Al-Safira area in Aleppo countryside October 10, 2013. (Reuters)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Almost 50 fighters have been killed in three days of skirmishes between jihadists and mainstream rebels in the Syria’s second city of Aleppo.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that the violence began on Thursday between militants of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and a battalion linked to the Arab and Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), both of which are fighting to overthrow Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

“At least 30 fighters from the Ababil Brigade and 14 from ISIL have been killed in combat, and that toll could rise further,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman said, according to AFP.

Rahman said that fighting broke out in several district of the city, with ISIL making gains in several areas.

Since July last year, Aleppo’s east district has been held by the rebels, and the west has been held by forces loyal to Assad.

Violence has for some time plagued Syria’s biggest cities.

On Friday, Syrian army troops and pro-Assad Shiite fighters killed at least 70 people as they captured two southern suburbs of Damascus.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011, when peaceful protests calling for political change were met with a massive crackdown from the Syrian regime.

It has since developed into an all-out war with many fragmented opposition groups, with ongoing violence forcing millions of people to flee their homes.


(With AFP)

High-profile journalist gets temporary leave from prison

Thursday, October 10th, 2013


Thu, 10/10/2013
Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi

Prominent jailed journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi has been given temporary leave from Rejai Shahr Prison.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that Ahmadi Amouyi, who is serving a sentence of five and a half years, was released on Wednesday October 9.

Ahmadi Amouyi was arrested in June of 2009 with his wife, Jila Bani Yaghoub, another well-known journalist. Many journalists were arrested in the aftermath of the controversial 2009 presidential election result, which was challenged by allegations of vote fraud and mass protests.

Bahmad Ahmadi Amouyi was released in March of this year and then called back to jail just before the presidential election in June.

Many political prisoners have been released since reformist president Hassan Rohani was elected with strong popular support in June of this year.

Report: Obama confronted Erdoğan over support for radicals in Syria

Thursday, October 10th, 2013


OCT 10, 2013

US President Barack Obama reportedly confronted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a “difficult meeting” in May about what Washington saw as indiscriminate support for fighters seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a sign of disagreement between the two NATO allies over how to respond to the crisis in Syria.

Erdoğan met with Obama during a visit to Washington in May, and the two had talks focusing primarily on Syria. The two leaders projected a united front after the talks despite disagreement over how much the US should intervene to end the Syrian crisis. Turkey has pressed the US for a more aggressive stance to bring down the Assad regime while the Obama administration, partly out of concern over radical Islamist groups within the opposition, has refrained from military action or more active support for the opposition.

Behind closed doors, Obama complained about Turkish dealings with the Syrian opposition, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. According to the report, Obama delivered “what US officials describe as an unusually blunt message: The US believed Turkey was letting arms and fighters flow into Syria indiscriminately and sometimes to the wrong rebels, including anti-Western jihadists.”

At the White House meeting, the Turkish side pushed back at the suggestion that they were aiding radicals and sought to enlist the US to aggressively arm the opposition, the report said, citing US officials briefed on the discussions.

Turkey and the US have both said Assad must go, but they differ significantly in their approach to the threat stemming from radical groups fighting against the regime, including those affiliated with al-Qaeda. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ankara believes the threat posed by such groups could be dealt with later. A US decision in December to designate one of al-Qaeda-linked groups, the al-Nusra Front, as a terrorist group was “in part to send a message to Ankara about the need to more tightly control the arms flow.”

The report said the Turkish government has recalibrated its stance in recent months, reducing its efforts to arm anti-Assad groups as groups linked with al-Qaeda expanded their influence in northern towns near the border with Turkey. But this was out of concern over possible threats from radical groups to Turkey’s security, not because of US complaints, it added.

The report said Turkey’s Syria policy that put Ankara at odds with the US was carried out by Hakan Fidan, the head of the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT), calling him “a driving force behind [Turkey's] efforts to supply the rebels and topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Fidan directed a secret effort to bolster opposition groups’ capabilities by allowing arms, including those coming from Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, money and logistical support to funnel into northern Syria, where radical groups are active.

The decision to provide aid to Syrian rebels through MİT was made in early 2012 and it ensured “Erdoğan’s office had control over the effort and that it would be relatively invisible,” the report said.

“Syrian opposition leaders, American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats who worked with Mr. Fidan say the MİT acted like a ‘traffic cop’ that arranged weapons drops and let convoys through checkpoints along Turkey’s 565-mile border with Syria,” the report said. It also cited some moderate Syrian opposition leaders saying that the arms shipment bypassed them and went directly to groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Highlighting the US-Turkish mistrust, the report also said the CIA “spies on Turkey and the MİT runs an aggressive counterintelligence campaign against the CIA.”

Fidan has also caused US and Israeli unease because he passed “several pieces of intelligence to Iran, including classified US assessments about the Iranian government” when Turkey was enjoying close ties with Iran three years ago.

Video shows Hezbollah fighters executing wounded Syrian rebels

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The video is expected to revive tensions in Lebanon between the Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Islamists supporting the Syrian uprising. (Al Arabiya)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Al Arabiya

A video posted on the internet shows members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia executing wounded Syrian rebels who were captured when the Syrian town of al-Qusair was recaptured in June by the Syrian regime forces backed by Hezbollah’s army.

The battle over al-Qusair marked the first publically declared engagement of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, with group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah vowing not to allow Syrian rebels take Syrian towns bordering Lebanon.

The video is expected to revive tensions in Lebanon between the Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Islamists supporting the Syrian uprising.

Lebanese journalist Lokman Sleem said the video further indicts Hezbollah and “confirms that the group’s intervention in Syria wasn’t in the name of Allah but in the name of Iran and its interests.”

But Lebanese political analyst Kassem Kassir defended Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria saying that it “protected Lebanon from the repercussions of war” and sided with the Syrian people against “extremist groups.”

He said Syria is a strategic passage of military aid flowing from Iran to Hezbollah, and that the militia group would not allow the supply routes to be controlled by its foes –the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He pointed out that the video’s authenticity cannot be confirmed and that Nasrallah previously pledged to respect to the moral rule of war, a claim Journalist Sleem rejected.

Sleem said Hezbollah fighters previously exhibited and offered for sale in northern Lebanon the boots of dead Syrian rebels.

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