Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen signify creation of an Islamic Middle-East.

Fars News online
28 Jan 2011

“Incidents that are happening in the Middle-East and the Arab world should not be regarded simply,” Ayatollah Khatami said, addressing a large and fervent congregation of people on Tehran University campus.

“To those who do not see the realities I clarify that an Islamic Middle-East is being created based on Islam, religion, and democracy with prevailing religious principals,” Ayatollah Khatami stressed.

He was referring to the recent historic revolution in Tunisia and massive protests in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen.

Egypt’s largest opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday called on the country’s people to continue protests. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Essam al-Arian warned that Egypt would “explode” if the government does not listen to the people.

Meantime, Police clamped down on anti-government protesters in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Friday.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8911080828

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Internet, Phones Down as Egypt Braces for ‘Day of Rage’
Fox News online 28 Jan 2011

A small gathering of Egyptian anti-government activists tried to stage a second day of protests in Cairo Wednesday in defiance of a ban on any gatherings, but police quickly moved in and used force to disperse the group.

The Internet and cell-phone data service appeared to be cut across Egypt on Friday as authorities braced for demonstrations backed by both the country’s biggest opposition group and newly returned Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei.

The government deployed an elite special operations force in Cairo on Thursday night as violence escalated outside the capital, and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood called on its members to take to the streets after Friday afternoon prayers.

Uniformed security forces at least temporarily disappeared from the streets of central Cairo mid-morning Friday, but truckloads of riot police and armored cars started moving back about an hour later.

Unconfirmed reports circulated early Friday on Twitter that police were splashing gas around key squares ready to set them alight when protesters approached.

The Muslim Brotherhood said at least five of its leaders and five former members of parliament had been arrested. The group’s lawyer, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, and spokesman, Walid Shalaby, said a large number of rank-and-file Brotherhood members also had been detained.

Egypt’s four primary Internet providers — Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr — all stopped moving data in and out of the country at 12:34 a.m., according to a network security firm monitoring the traffic. Telecom experts said Egyptian authorities could have engineered the cutoff with a simple change to the instructions for the companies’ networking equipment.

The Internet appeared to remain cut off Friday morning, and cell-phone text and Blackberry Messenger services were all cut or operating sporadically in what appeared to be a move by authorities to disrupt the organization of demonstrations.

Egyptians outside the country were posting updates on Twitter after getting information in voice calls from people inside the country. Many urged their friends to keep up the flow of information over the phones.

The developments were a sign that President Hosni Mubarak’s regime is toughening its crackdown following the biggest protests in years against his nearly 30-year rule.

The counter-terror force, rarely seen on the streets, took up positions in strategic locations, including central Tahrir Square, site of the biggest demonstrations this week.

The real test for the protest movement will be whether Egypt’s fragmented opposition can come together, with Friday’s rallies expected to be some of the biggest so far.

The movement’s momentum appeared to gather Thursday with the return of Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Social networking sites were abuzz that the gatherings called after Friday prayers could attract huge numbers of protesters demanding the ouster of Mubarak. Millions gather at mosques across the city on Fridays, giving organizers a vast pool of people to tap into.

The 82-year-old Mubarak has not been seen in public or heard from since the protests began Tuesday with tens of thousands marching in Cairo and a string of other cities. While he may still have a chance to ride out this latest challenge, his choices are limited, and all are likely to lead to a loosening of his grip on power.

Violence escalated on Thursday at protests outside the capital. In the flashpoint city of Suez, along the strategic Suez Canal, protesters torched a fire station and looted weapons that they then turned on police. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that more than 90 police officers were injured in those clashes. There were no immediate figures on the number of injured protesters.

In the northern Sinai area of Sheik Zuweid, several hundred Bedouins and police exchanged gunfire, killing a 17-year-old. About 300 protesters surrounded a police station from rooftops of nearby buildings and fired two rocket-propelled grenades at it, damaging the walls.

The United States, Mubarak’s main Western backer, has been publicly counseling reform and an end to the use of violence against protesters, signs the Egyptian leader may no longer be enjoying Washington’s full backing.

In an interview broadcast live on YouTube, President Barack Obama said the anti-government protests filling the streets show the frustrations of Egypt’s citizens. “It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express their grievances,” Obama said.

On its website, the Muslim Brotherhood said it would join “with all the national Egyptian forces, the Egyptian people, so that this coming Friday will be the general day of rage for the Egyptian nation.”

The Brotherhood has sought to depict itself as a force pushing for democratic change in Egypt’s authoritarian system, and is trying to shed an image among critics that it aims to seize power and impose Islamic law. The group was involved in political violence for decades until it renounced violence in the 1970s.

ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog and a leading Mubarak opponent, has sought to recreate himself as a pro-democracy campaigner in his homeland. He is viewed by some supporters as a figure capable of uniting the country’s fractious opposition and providing the movement with a road map for the future.

Speaking to reporters Thursday before his departure for Cairo, ElBaradei said: “If people, in particular young people, … want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down. My priority right now … is to see a new regime and to see a new Egypt through peaceful transition.”

Once on Egyptian soil, he struck a conciliatory note. “We’re still reaching out to the regime to work with them for the process of change. Every Egyptian doesn’t want to see the country going into violence,” he said.

With Mubarak out of sight, the ruling National Democratic Party said Thursday it was ready for a dialogue with the public but offered no concessions to address demands for a solution to rampant poverty, unemployment and political change.

Its comments were likely to reinforce the belief held by many protesters that Mubarak’s regime is incapable, or unwilling, to introduce reforms that will meet their demands. That could give opposition parties an opening to win popular support if they close ranks and promise changes sought by the youths at the forefront of the unrest.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition. According to leaked U.S. memos, hereditary succession also does not meet with the approval of the powerful military.

Mubarak has seen to it that no viable alternative to him has been allowed to emerge. Constitutional amendments adopted in 2005 by the NDP-dominated parliament has made it virtually impossible for independents like ElBaradei to run for president.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/01/27/egypt-restricts-internet-access-bolsters-security-forces-anticipation-future/#ixzz1CKj38RyJ

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
October 12, 2010

Chinese Su-27 over Iran and TurkeyThe arrival of a new Middle East player startled Washington and Jerusalem: debkafile’s military sources disclose that when Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan met Syrian president Bashar Assad in Damascus Monday, Oct. 11, they talked less about the Kurdish question and more about the role China is willing to play in the military-intelligence alliance binding Syria, Iran and Turkey.

Erdogan took the credit for China’s unfolding involvement in the alliance in the role of big-power backer. Two recent events illustrate Beijing’s intent:

1. From Sept. 20 to Oct. 6, the Turkish Air Force conducted its regular annual Anatolian Eagle exercise, this time without US and Israeli participation. Israel was not invited and America opted out. However, their place was taken by Chinese Sukhoi Su-27 and Mig-29 warplanes making their first appearance in Turkish skies.

Our military sources report that the Chinese warplanes began touching down at the big Konya air base in central Turkey in mid-September for their debut performance in the Middle East and Europe. Konya has served NATO and the United States for decades as one of their most important air bases.

2. Our sources add that the Chinese planes refueled only once on their journey to Turkey – in Iran. When they touched down at the Gayem al-Mohammad air base in central Iran, their crews were made welcome by the Iranian air force commander Gen. Ahmad Migani.

It was the first time Chinese fighter-bombers are known to have visited the Islamic Republic.

The Gayem al-Mohammed facility, located near the town of Birjand in South Khorasan, is situated directly opposite the big American base of East Afghanistan near the Afghan-Iranian border town of Herat.

The Turkish prime minister painted the military alliance binding Tehran, Ankara and Damascus in rosy colors for Assad’s benefit as more central to the region and more powerful than Israel’s armed forces after overcoming the IDF’s military edge.

If you can’t bomb them from above, bomb them from within… their computer control systems, that is.

Deadly new Stuxnet, soldier in cyber war against Iranian nuclear facilities
DEBKAfile 23 Sept 2010

Debkafile’s military and intelligence sources note US press leaks appearing since Monday, Sept. 20, which maintain that the United States has embarked on a clandestine cyber war against Iran, and that Israel has established elite cyber war units for this purpose.

According to Washington sources, Obama has resolved to deal with the nuclear impasse with Iran by going after the Islamic republic on two tracks: UN and unilateral sanctions for biting deep into the financial resources Iran has earmarked for its nuclear program, and a secret cyber war which the US is conducting jointly with Israel for crippling its nuclear facilities.

Debkafile’s sources disclose that Israel has had special elite units carrying out such assignments for some time. Three years ago, for instance, cyber raiders played a role in the destruction of the plutonium reactor North Korea was building at A-Zur in northern Syria.

On Monday the Christian Science Monitor and several American technical journals carried revelations about a new virus called Stuxnet capable of attacking and severely damaging the servers of large projects, such as power stations and nuclear reactors. All the leaked reports agreed on three points:

1. Stuxnet is the most advanced and dangerous piece of Malware every devised.
2. The experts don’t believe any private or individual hackers are capable of producing this virus, only a high-tech state such as America or Israel.
3. Although Stuxnet was identified four months ago, the only servers known to have been affected and seriously damaged are located in Iran.

Some computer security specialists report lively speculation that the virus was invented specifically to target part of the Iranian nuclear infrastructure, either the Bushehr nuclear plant activated last month or the centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Debkafile’s sources add: Since August, American and UN nuclear watchdog sources have been reporting a slowdown in Iran’s enrichment processing due to technical problems which have knocked out a large number of centrifuges and which its nuclear technicians have been unable to repair. It is estimated that at Natanz alone, 3,000 centrifuges have been idled.

None of the reports indicate whether other parts of Iran’s nuclear program have been affected by Stuxnet or the scale of the damage it may have caused.

DEBKAfile Special Report August 14, 2010, 11:40 PM (GMT+02:00)
Photo caption: Iran’s first nuclear reactor at Bushehr

The sudden announcement in Moscow and Tehran on Aug. 11 that Russia is set to activate Iran’s first nuclear power reactor by loading the fuel on Aug. 21 has caused a major flap in Israel in view of the military aspects of the plant.

Debkafile’s military sources report that only last week, high Israeli officials asked Washington for clarifications on the latest intelligence information that Moscow had decided to finally activate the Bushehr reactor after innumerable delays.

The White House called the Kremlin and was assured that President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minster Vladimir Putin stood by their pledge to President Barack Obama that the Russian-built nuclear plant would not go on line this year. This pledge now proves worthless. Indeed, Rostratom director Sergei Kiryenko will attend the Bushehr launching ceremony.

Jerusalem is also worried by the news that Russia has stationed S-300 anti-missile batteries in Abkhazia on the Black Sea because it ties in with the imminent activation of the Bushehr reactor. It is taken as a signal that Israel’s air route to Iran is hereby closed and Moscow will do its utmost to thwart an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations and adviser to the Bush administration, defined Moscow’s date for loading nuclear fuel rods into the Iranian reactor as touching off a point of no return. Talking to Fox News Friday, Aug. 11, he said Aug. 21 is a deadline “by which Israel would have to launch an attack on Iran’s Bushehr reactor before it becomes effectively ‘immune’ to assault.”

Once they are loaded, he warned, “an attack risks spreading radiation in the air and perhaps in the water of the Persian Gulf.”

Bolton gave Israel no more than a week to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. “If they’re going to do it, that’s all the window they have,” he said, noting that Israel attacked the Iraqi Osirak reactor in 1981 and the nuclear plant Syria was building in 2007, before the fuel rods were in place.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said Friday, Aug. 13, “The process of loading fresh fuel into the reactor building would begin on Aug. 21. Then the reactor will be officially classified as a nuclear energy installation. The testing phase will be complete and the physical launch begin.”

According to debkafile’s military sources, the Bushehr reactor billed as a peaceful project is in fact integral to Iran’s military program because the fuel rods powering it can also produce weapons-grade plutonium. Attached to the main plant too are a number of smaller facilities connected to the weapons program.

An earlier report in the Atlantic magazine estimated that the chances of a military strike against Iran in the next 12 months are “better than 50%.” It is the result of extensive research for the magazine by Middle East expert Jeffrey Goldberg. After interviewing some 40 current and past Israeli decision makers and as many American and Arab officials, Goldberg expects Israel to launch an attack with the next few months, possibly supported by the US and UK.

But that was before the rescheduled Bushehr launching. Bolton has since made a point of narrowing the window of months to days.

http://www.debka.com/article/8970/

DEBKAfile Special Report July 29, 2010, 8:07 AM (GMT+02:00)

Photo: In this photo released by the Emirates News Agency (WAM), damage is seen on the side of the M. Star oil supertanker as it arrives at Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates Wednesday.

The Japanese supertanker M. STAR carrying 270,000 tons of oil was damaged by an explosion Wednesday, July 28, caused by a suspected attack in Omani territorial waters near the Strait of Hormuz, which passes Iran and Oman. One lifeboat was blown off the ship and a large dent made in its hull. A crew member was slightly injured, but there was no oil leak.

The spokesperson for the tanker’s owners Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd said: “We believe it’s highly likely an attack from the outside, maybe a terrorist incident. There is nothing that could cause a spontaneous explosion in that part of the vessel.”

But the most striking feature of the incident, noted by debkafile’s military and intelligence sources, is the unusual degree of assent between US Navy and Iranian officials that the damage to the supertanker was caused by an explosion by an unknown hand.

“The fire which was triggered by an explosion on the deck of the vessel was contained with the help of the crew and regional forces,” Fars News Agency quoted head of marine department of southern Hormozgan Province, Ali Akbar Saffai, as saying, after two Iranian officials before him had attributed the blast to a low-magnitude earthquake.

Clearly both Washington and Tehran were taken unawares by the first attack ever mounted on a commercial vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow transit channel for some 40 percent of the oil shipped worldwide and one of the most carefully secured waterways in the world.

Both the US and Iran need time to find its cause and decide what to do. Meanwhile, this exceptional circumstance finds them of one mind on at least one issue, the incident must not be allowed to spiral out of control into a larger event.

According to our sources in Washington and Tehran, while waiting for evidence, both speculate that the perpetrators may be either pirates in the pay of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or even a rogue element in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which is bent on settling scores for the latest UN, US and European sanctions against their country.

Tehran has repeatedly warned it will fight back if sanctions hurt its economy and energy supplies.

The attack on the Japanese supertanker intensified Saudi and the Gulf emirates’ concerns over a possible threat to their oil exporting routes. Wednesday night, fearing an unidentified assailant may also go for their oil ports and shore installations, Persian Gulf navies, the Fifth Fleet Bahrain-based headquarters and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards naval installations at Bandar Abbas went on a high alert.

Our military sources report some 100 warships of different navies are currently present in the Persian Gulf.

After the attack, the Japanese supertanker, which took on crude oil Tuesday at the United Arab Emirates port of Das Island, headed for Fujairah in the UAE to assess the damage. Straight after the first inspection, both American and Iranian naval experts no doubt received an interim diagnosis of what caused the explosion from their local agents.

The forensic analysis of the means used to damage the M STAR would offer the first lead to the perpetrators, indicate whether it was caused by a missile, torpedo or some other means, and from what direction it was fired.

http://www.debka.com/article/8934/

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 28, 2010, 10:45 PM (GMT+02:00)

Image: USS Nassau: More US naval-air-marine muscle off Iran. (Wikipedia: The second USS Nassau (LHA-4) is a Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship, capable of transporting over 3,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.)

Debkafile’s military sources report that Washington has posted a third carrier opposite Iran’s shores.

It is supported by amphibious assault ships and up to 4,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel, bringing the total US strength in these waters to three carriers and 10,000 combat personnel.

The USS Nassau (LHA-4) Amphibious Ready Group 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, tasked with supporting the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet area of operations, is cruising around the Bab al-Mandeb Straits where the Gulf of Aden flows into the Red Sea.

Its presence there accounts for Tehran announcing Sunday, June 27 that its “aid ship for Gaza” had been called off, for fear an American military boarding party would intercept the vessel and search it. This would be permissible under the latest UN sanctions punishing the Islamic Republic for its nuclear program.

The third US carrier group to reach waters around Iran consists of three vessels:

1. The USS Nassau Amphibious Assault ship is not just an enormous landing craft for the 3,000 Marines aboard; its decks carry 6 vertical take-off AV-HB Harrier attack planes; four AH-1W Super Cobra, twelve CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, as well as choppers that are convertible to fast V-22 Osprey airplanes capable of landing in any conditions. This vast warship has 1,400 cabinets for sleeping the entire Marine-24th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard.

2. The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde which carries 800 Marines equipped for instantaneous landing.

3. The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland which carries 400 Marines and 102 commandos trained for special operations behind enemy lines.

Debkafile adds: The USS Ashland was the target of an al Qaeda Katyusha rocket attack in 2005 when it was docked in Jordan’s Aqaba port next door to the Israeli port of Eilat. One of the rockets exploded in Eilat airport. The ship exited harbor in time to escape harm.

These new arrivals are a massive injection of naval, air and marine muscle to the strength Washington has deployed in the Persian Gulf-Red Sea-Indian Ocean arena in recent months.

The USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group consisting of twelve warships is cruising in the Arabian Sea opposite Chah Bahar, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards biggest naval base not far from the Iranian-Pakistan border. It is there that most of Iran’s special commando units are housed.

Also posted in the Arabian Sea, further to the west, is the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group.

http://www.debka.com/article/8879/

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 23, 2010, 1:23 PM (GMT+02:00)

In a rare move, Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border, Debkafile’s military and Iranian sources report. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps men and equipment units are being massed in the Caspian Sea region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The announcement came on Tuesday, June 22 from Brig.-Gen Mehdi Moini of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), commander of the forces tasked with “repelling” this American-Israeli offensive. He said: “The mobilization is due to the presence of American and Israeli forces on the western border,” adding, “Reinforcements are being dispatched to West Azerbaijan Province because some western countries are fueling ethnic conflicts to destabilize the situation in the region.”

In the past, Iranian officials have spoken of US and Israel attacks in general terms. Debkafile’s Iranian sources note that this is the first time that a specific location was mentioned and large reinforcements dispatched to give the threat substance.

Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.

No comment has come from Azerbaijan about any of these reports. Iranian Azerbaijan, the destination of the Revolutionary Guards forces reinforcements, borders on Turkey, Iran and Armenia. Witnesses say long IRGC convoys of tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft units and infantry are seen heading up the main highways to Azerbaijan and then further north to the Caspian Sea.

On Tuesday, June 22, Dr. Uzi Arad, head of Israel’s National Security Council and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest adviser, said “The latest round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran is inadequate for thwarting its nuclear progress. A preemptive military strike might eventually be necessary.”

Debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources point to three other developments as setting off Iran’s war alert:

1. A certain (limited) reinforcement of American and Israeli forces has taken place in Azerbaijan. Neither Washington nor Jerusalem has ever acknowledged a military presence in this country that borders on Iran, but Western intelligence sources say that both keep a wary eye on the goings-on inside Iran from electronic surveillance bases in that country.

2. Iran feels moved to respond to certain US steps: The arrival of the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea and its war games with France and Israel, which included live-fire bombing practices against targets in Iran.

3. The execution of Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni Baluchi rebel organization (including the Iranian Baluchis), on June 20 was intended as a deterrent for Iran’s other minorities. Instead, they are more restive than ever. Several Azeri breakaway movements operate in Iranian Azerbaijan in combination with their brethren across the border. Tehran decided a substantial buildup in the province would serve as a timely measure against possible upheavals.

http://www.debka.com/article/8868/