Tag Archives: Iran

2020 Ends as It Began: With the Looming Threat of a US War With Iran

2020 began and ended with high-profile assassinations of Iranians, a buildup of the US military on Iran’s borders, and fears of another major war in the Middle East.

By Alan Macleod. Published 12-28-2020 by MintPress News

The guided-missile submarine USS Georgia transits the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, Dec. 21, 2020. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid increasing hostility towards Tehran, the United States is building up its military presence on Iran’s borders. In the past three weeks alone, the U.S. has flown in a squadron of fighter jets and extra B-52 bombers while deploying the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier (with its strike group) and a large submarine to the Persian Gulf. This comes on top of the 2,500 troops it sent to Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, the first build-up of forces in the country in 17 years. The nuclear powered Nimitz is home to nine squadrons of fighting aircraft and has also long been rumored to carry nuclear weapons.

The military insists that all the new measures are purely “in the name of deterrence.” However, the few journalists who have paid attention to the news appear skeptical. “That’s provocation!” wrote Rania Khalek. “You’re sending this shit thousands of miles away from your border to try to provoke Iran and then playing the victim.” Continue reading

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Number of Journalists Murdered in Retaliation for Their Work More Than Doubled in 2020: Report

“The fact that murder is on the rise and the number of journalists imprisoned around the world hit a record is a clear demonstration that press freedom is under unprecedented assault.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2020

Graphic: Committee to Protect Journalists

In what one leading advocate called “a failure by the international community,” the number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, according to a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ’s annual report contains a database of 30 journalists who were killed in 15 countries during the course of the year. Of these, six died while working “dangerous assignments,” three were caught in the crossfire during the ongoing Syrian civil war, and 21 were murdered. Continue reading

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‘Insane and Pathological’: Head of Iran’s Central Bank Says US Blocking Covid-19 Vaccine Purchases

The Trump administration is allegedly using sanctions to thwart Iran’s efforts to obtain vaccine stock through the WHO’s COVAX program.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2020

Coronavirus patients at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran in March 2020. Photo: Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0

The head of Iran’s central bank on Monday accused the U.S. government of actively blocking the country from purchasing stocks of coronavirus vaccine through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.

Al Jazeera reports Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Instagram that it should be “recorded in historical memory” that crippling U.S.-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic are preventing the country from buying vaccines against the potentially deadly virus through COVAX, the WHO-led global initiative to fast-track development, production, and equitable worldwide distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. Continue reading

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France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment

Sparked by a new bill that would make publishing photos of police illegal and a viral video soon after that shows French police brutally beating a black man, it appears that France may be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment.

By Alan Macleod. Published 11-30-2020 by MintPress News

Screenshot: EuroNews

Award-winning Syrian photographer Ameer Alhalbi lies dazed on the ground. His head is heavily bruised and bandaged, blood covers his face, arms, and much of his body. Lengths of cotton wool have been stuffed up his broken nose, giving him an almost comical appearance. Alhalbi has been badly beaten by police. But this is not Syria, it is Paris, where he was covering — ironically — huge, nationwide protests against police brutality this weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning is that new laws pushed through by the government of Emmanuel Macron and passed by France’s National Assembly (akin to the U.S. House of Representatives) mean that sharing images of Alhalbi or other victims of police brutality might soon be considered illegal.

Article 24 of the country’s new national security bill, which now only needs to be ratified by the Senate, specifically outlaws the publishing and dissemination of images of police that undermine their physical or psychological “integrity,” and is punishable with a fine of up to €45,000 and up to one year in jail. The bill specifically states that filming police in such a manner would be against the law, but questions have been raised about how liberally authorities would interpret the nebulous language of the new edict. Media unions and human rights groups warn that it could prevent journalists from documenting police abuses.

The National Assembly’s decision to approve the law last week sparked large protests in many major cities around France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, and Nantes. However, an incident caught on camera on Saturday threw large amounts of fuel on the fire of resentment, drastically increasing the demonstrations’ size and intensity.

Images from mobile phones and closed-circuit television showed an unprovoked police attack on a young black music producer at his place of work. A group of four officers can be seen chasing after Michel Zecler, following him from outside into his studio, where they kick, punch and beat him with truncheons. Zecler also alleges they shouted racial abuse while they assailed him.

Before the videos went viral on social media, the officers testified that Zecler had, in fact, attacked them, and was resisting arrest. The officers have now been charged with “deliberate violence” and with “falsifying statements.” Two of the gang of four, including a 44-year-old senior officer with the rank of brigadier, remain in custody, while two others have been released.

The viral images provoked a storm of condemnation across the country this weekend, and propelled as many as 500,000 people into the streets, with demonstrations in dozens of cities. Protestors marched through the streets, setting light to cars, damaging buildings, and clashing with police, of whom a reported 98 were injured nationwide. Many of Paris’ iconic boulevards resembled a war zone as thousands of demonstrators pitched battle with lines of police in riot gear.

President Macron said he was “very shocked” by the footage of the police attack on Zecler, yet continues to be a driving force behind the new security law, under which many have noted that the images might never have come to light, given as they essentially identify the Parisien officers and clearly undermine their integrity or authority. Without the footage, it is possible that Zecler would have been facing prosecution himself.

Although the bill and the protests against it are dominating French politics, the story has been covered sparsely in the American corporate press, with no coverage whatsoever in MSNBCCBS News, or CNBC. Fox News, meanwhile, reprinted one Associated Press article, featuring an egregious, uncorrected error in its subheadline, asserting that protestors were shooting tear gas at themselves.

While foreign desks have been seriously cut in recent years, huge demonstrations in central Paris should not have been too difficult to cover. Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah suggested that if the rallies had been happening in countries antagonistic to the United States, they would have been front-page news. Certainly, similar protests in Iran and Hong Kong dominated the news cycles last year, prompting constant reaction from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State is yet to comment on the events in France, suggesting that they are not at the front and center of his thoughts.

President Macron came to power in 2017, winning in the final round of the election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. A strong believer in neoliberalism and an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he has insisted that France must not merely be reformed, but transformed, and has attempted to radically alter the shape of French society, away from a social democratic model to one more resembling the United States. Almost immediately after gaining the presidency, however, his average approval rating tumbled and has not risen above 40% since.

Indeed, the 42-year-old former investment banker has faced almost constant resistance to his agenda from the general public. His attempts to increase the cost of fuel in 2018 sparked the Yellow Vest movement across the country. Meanwhile, his plans to raise the age of retirement and reform France’s pension system was met with a months-long general strike that paralyzed the country last winter. Despite losing over 50,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen his popularity increase this year due to the government’s financial response to the virus, which included aid to small businesses and paying employees to stay home. Despite this, it appears possible that France might be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment, where its racial injustices are finally reckoned with.

This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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‘Iran in the Crosshairs?’ Reports of Secret Meeting Between Netanyahu, MbS, and Pompeo Spark Fears of War Plot

“It is extremely alarming that the warmongers most reliant on Trump’s blank checks are secretly meeting in the middle of the night as the clock nearly runs out on the Trump administration.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-23-2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Ben Gurion airport in Israel, on November 18, 2020. The secretary was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Chief of Protocol Gil Haskel. Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr

The alarming possibility of a military attack on Iran—a nation that has long been in the sights of war hawks in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—was immediately invoked by foreign policy analysts Monday following reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in secret late Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

First divulged by unnamed Israeli officials and publicly denied Monday morning by the Saudi foreign minister, the reported covert meeting in Neom, Saudi Arabia comes on the heels of news last week that U.S. President Donald Trump asked his senior advisers for options to bomb Iran’s primary nuclear energy site, prompting Iran to vow a “crushing response” to any attack. Continue reading

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Biden Signals a Desire To End the Yemen War. Here’s Why Yemenis Aren’t Buying It

If Biden is serious about reaching a diplomatic end to the war, he has a real chance to add ending one of the twenty-first century’s most violent conflicts to his presidential legacy, but the chance of the happening may be slim

By Ahmed Abdulkareem. Published 11-13-2020 by MintPress News

A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa. Photo: DJANDYW.COM/flickr

As news broke that Joe Biden almost certainly won the U.S. presidential election, some Americans became hopeful that the new administration could hearken in an era of calm in the Middle East. In Yemen, however, that sentiment was not shared.

Most Yemenis have little hope that the new White House will end the blockade and the devastating war in their country, which is now nearing the end of its sixth year. Nor are they hopeful that the announcement that U.S. support for the Saudi military intervention in Yemen could end during Biden’s presidential term will materialize into action after he is sworn into office on January 20, 2021. Continue reading

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Trump lost the election, but he won the online disinformation war

Social media platforms have allowed US conservatives to delegitimise the election and sow mistrust of democracy.

By Peter Geoghegan. Published 11-9-2020 by openDemocracy

Screenshot: WNCT

In late August, roughly five weeks before Americans went to the polls, a story appeared in The New York Times reporting new data about the reach of fringe US conservative outlets on Facebook. The numbers were staggering.

Posts by far-right news site Breitbart had been shared three times as often as posts from the official pages of every Democratic member of the US senate combined in the previous 30 days. Conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro had chalked up 56 million interactions, more than the main pages of ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR put together. Continue reading

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‘A Farce’: Trump Critics, European Allies Challenge Pompeo Claim About Snapback of UN Sanctions on Iran

“With a track record of failure on Iran, the Trump administration’s spin machine appears to be going into overdrive heading into November.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2020

Mike Pompeo. Photo: kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons

The international community is pushing back against U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Saturday night claim that United Nations sanctions on Iran have been restored—the administration’s latest attempt to escalate tensions with the country—by noting that President Donald Trump ditched the related nuclear deal two years ago.

“With a track record of failure on Iran, the Trump administration’s spin machine appears to be going into overdrive heading into November,” Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), declared in a statement Saturday. “Whether this is mere bluster or portends a potential October surprise remains to be seen but anyone opposed to more reckless wars should be on high alert.” Continue reading

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Further Escalating Tensions, Trump Administration Seizes Alleged Iranian Fuel Bound for Venezuela

Iran’s ambassador to Venezuela, Hojad Soltani, said that neither the ships nor their owners are Iranian but did not address whether the gasoline came from his country.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-14-2020

The U.S. government seized the cargo of four ships, including the Bella, the U.S. Justice Department confirmed Friday. (Photo: DOJ)

In an escalation of President Donald Trump’s sanction regimes against Iran and Venezuela, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the U.S. has for the first time confiscated cargo from four ships that federal prosecutors allege were transporting 1.1 million barrels of Iranian gasoline to the South American country.

The seizure, confirmed Friday by the U.S. Justice Department, comes after federal prosecutors filed a civil-forfeiture complaint in July claiming that the sale was set up Mahmoud Madanipour, an Iranian businessman with supposed ties to his country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which last year the Trump administration designated a foreign terrorist organization. Continue reading

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Disbelief as Trump Appoints Disgraced Iran-Contra Criminal Elliott Abrams as Iran Envoy

Activists, the UN, and even mainstream news outlets expressed dismay at the Trump administration’s decision to appoint regime-change champion Elliot Abrahams to the role of Special Representative for Iran.

By Alan Macleod.  Published 8-7-2020 by MintPress News

Elliott Abrams speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. Photo:Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

The Trump administration has appointed disgraced neoconservative hawk Elliott Abrams to the new position of chief advisor on Iran after former insider Brian Hook handed in his resignation earlier this week. “Special Representative Hook has been my point person on Iran for over two years and he has achieved historic results countering the Iranian regime,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday, “Following a transition period with Brian Hook, Elliott Abrams will assume the position of Special Representative for Iran, in addition to his responsibilities as Special Representative for Venezuela.” Continue reading

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