city:tehran

  • Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/13/iran-was-closer-to-a-nuclear-bomb-than-intelligence-agencies-thought

    ecret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

    That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

    Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

    Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.
    […]
    The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.
    […]
    Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


  • The Illogic of the U.S. #Sanctions Snapback on #Iran | Crisis Group
    https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/b64-illogic-us-sanctions-snapback-iran

    A 40-year analysis of Iran’s economic performance and regional policy reveals little to no correlation between the two, as Tehran has continued to pursue policies it deems central to its national security no matter its degree of economic wellbeing at home.

    En Iran, les #pauvres, premières victimes des sanctions américaines
    https://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2018/10/23/en-iran-les-pauvres-premieres-victimes-des-sanctions-americaines_5373267_321

    #Etats-Unis


  • 56,800 migrant dead and missing : ’They are human beings’

    One by one, five to a grave, the coffins are buried in the red earth of this ill-kept corner of a South African cemetery. The scrawl on the cheap wood attests to their anonymity: “Unknown B/Male.”

    These men were migrants from elsewhere in Africa with next to nothing who sought a living in the thriving underground economy of Gauteng province, a name that roughly translates to “land of gold.” Instead of fortune, many found death, their bodies unnamed and unclaimed — more than 4,300 in Gauteng between 2014 and 2017 alone.

    Some of those lives ended here at the Olifantsvlei cemetery, in silence, among tufts of grass growing over tiny placards that read: Pauper Block. There are coffins so tiny that they could belong only to children.

    As migration worldwide soars to record highs, far less visible has been its toll: The tens of thousands of people who die or simply disappear during their journeys, never to be seen again. In most cases, nobody is keeping track: Barely counted in life, these people don’t register in death , as if they never lived at all.

    An Associated Press tally has documented at least 56,800 migrants dead or missing worldwide since 2014 — almost double the number found in the world’s only official attempt to try to count them, by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. The IOM toll as of Oct. 1 was more than 28,500. The AP came up with almost 28,300 additional dead or missing migrants by compiling information from other international groups, requesting forensic records, missing persons reports and death records, and sifting through data from thousands of interviews with migrants.

    The toll is the result of migration that is up 49 percent since the turn of the century, with more than 258 million international migrants in 2017, according to the United Nations. A growing number have drowned, died in deserts or fallen prey to traffickers, leaving their families to wonder what on earth happened to them. At the same time, anonymous bodies are filling cemeteries around the world, like the one in Gauteng.

    The AP’s tally is still low. More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea. And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.

    The official U.N. toll focuses mostly on Europe, but even there cases fall through the cracks. The political tide is turning against migrants in Europe just as in the United States, where the government is cracking down heavily on caravans of Central Americans trying to get in . One result is that money is drying up for projects to track migration and its costs.

    For example, when more than 800 people died in an April 2015 shipwreck off the coast of Italy, Europe’s deadliest migrant sea disaster, Italian investigators pledged to identify them and find their families. More than three years later, under a new populist government, funding for this work is being cut off.

    Beyond Europe, information is even more scarce. Little is known about the toll in South America, where the Venezuelan migration is among the world’s biggest today, and in Asia, the top region for numbers of migrants.

    The result is that governments vastly underestimate the toll of migration, a major political and social issue in most of the world today.

    “No matter where you stand on the whole migration management debate....these are still human beings on the move,” said Bram Frouws, the head of the Mixed Migration Centre , based in Geneva, which has done surveys of more than 20,000 migrants in its 4Mi project since 2014. “Whether it’s refugees or people moving for jobs, they are human beings.”

    They leave behind families caught between hope and mourning, like that of Safi al-Bahri. Her son, Majdi Barhoumi, left their hometown of Ras Jebel, Tunisia, on May 7, 2011, headed for Europe in a small boat with a dozen other migrants. The boat sank and Barhoumi hasn’t been heard from since. In a sign of faith that he is still alive, his parents built an animal pen with a brood of hens, a few cows and a dog to stand watch until he returns.

    “I just wait for him. I always imagine him behind me, at home, in the market, everywhere,” said al-Bahari. “When I hear a voice at night, I think he’s come back. When I hear the sound of a motorcycle, I think my son is back.”

    ———————————————————————

    EUROPE: BOATS THAT NEVER ARRIVE

    Of the world’s migration crises, Europe’s has been the most cruelly visible. Images of the lifeless body of a Kurdish toddler on a beach, frozen tent camps in Eastern Europe, and a nearly numbing succession of deadly shipwrecks have been transmitted around the world, adding to the furor over migration.

    In the Mediterranean, scores of tankers, cargo boats, cruise ships and military vessels tower over tiny, crowded rafts powered by an outboard motor for a one-way trip. Even larger boats carrying hundreds of migrants may go down when soft breezes turn into battering winds and thrashing waves further from shore.

    Two shipwrecks and the deaths of at least 368 people off the coast of Italy in October 2013 prompted the IOM’s research into migrant deaths. The organization has focused on deaths in the Mediterranean, although its researchers plead for more data from elsewhere in the world. This year alone, the IOM has found more than 1,700 deaths in the waters that divide Africa and Europe.

    Like the lost Tunisians of Ras Jebel, most of them set off to look for work. Barhoumi, his friends, cousins and other would-be migrants camped in the seaside brush the night before their departure, listening to the crash of the waves that ultimately would sink their raft.

    Khalid Arfaoui had planned to be among them. When the group knocked at his door, it wasn’t fear that held him back, but a lack of cash. Everyone needed to chip in to pay for the boat, gas and supplies, and he was short about $100. So he sat inside and watched as they left for the beachside campsite where even today locals spend the night before embarking to Europe.

    Propelled by a feeble outboard motor and overburdened with its passengers, the rubber raft flipped, possibly after grazing rocks below the surface on an uninhabited island just offshore. Two bodies were retrieved. The lone survivor was found clinging to debris eight hours later.

    The Tunisian government has never tallied its missing, and the group never made it close enough to Europe to catch the attention of authorities there. So these migrants never have been counted among the dead and missing.

    “If I had gone with them, I’d be lost like the others,” Arfaoui said recently, standing on the rocky shoreline with a group of friends, all of whom vaguely planned to leave for Europe. “If I get the chance, I’ll do it. Even if I fear the sea and I know I might die, I’ll do it.”

    With him that day was 30-year-old Mounir Aguida, who had already made the trip once, drifting for 19 hours after the boat engine cut out. In late August this year, he crammed into another raft with seven friends, feeling the waves slam the flimsy bow. At the last minute he and another young man jumped out.

    “It didn’t feel right,” Aguida said.

    There has been no word from the other six — yet another group of Ras Jebel’s youth lost to the sea. With no shipwreck reported, no survivors to rescue and no bodies to identify, the six young men are not counted in any toll.

    In addition to watching its own youth flee, Tunisia and to a lesser degree neighboring Algeria are transit points for other Africans north bound for Europe. Tunisia has its own cemetery for unidentified migrants, as do Greece, Italy and Turkey. The one at Tunisia’s southern coast is tended by an unemployed sailor named Chamseddin Marzouk.

    Of around 400 bodies interred in the coastal graveyard since it opened in 2005, only one has ever been identified. As for the others who lie beneath piles of dirt, Marzouk couldn’t imagine how their families would ever learn their fate.

    “Their families may think that the person is still alive, or that he’ll return one day to visit,” Marzouk said. “They don’t know that those they await are buried here, in Zarzis, Tunisia.”

    ——————

    AFRICA: VANISHING WITHOUT A TRACE

    Despite talk of the ’waves’ of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, as many migrate within Africa — 16 million — as leave for Europe. In all, since 2014, at least 18,400 African migrants have died traveling within Africa, according to the figures compiled from AP and IOM records. That includes more than 4,300 unidentified bodies in a single South African province, and 8,700 whose traveling companions reported their disappearance en route out of the Horn of Africa in interviews with 4Mi.

    When people vanish while migrating in Africa, it is often without a trace. The IOM says the Sahara Desert may well have killed more migrants than the Mediterranean. But no one will ever know for sure in a region where borders are little more than lines drawn on maps and no government is searching an expanse as large as the continental United States. The harsh sun and swirling desert sands quickly decompose and bury bodies of migrants, so that even when they turn up, they are usually impossible to identify .

    With a prosperous economy and stable government, South Africa draws more migrants than any other country in Africa. The government is a meticulous collector of fingerprints — nearly every legal resident and citizen has a file somewhere — so bodies without any records are assumed to have been living and working in the country illegally. The corpses are fingerprinted when possible, but there is no regular DNA collection.

    South Africa also has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and police are more focused on solving domestic cases than identifying migrants.

    “There’s logic to that, as sad as it is....You want to find the killer if you’re a policeman, because the killer could kill more people,” said Jeanine Vellema, the chief specialist of the province’s eight mortuaries. Migrant identification, meanwhile, is largely an issue for foreign families — and poor ones at that.

    Vellema has tried to patch into the police missing persons system, to build a system of electronic mortuary records and to establish a protocol where a DNA sample is taken from every set of remains that arrive at the morgue. She sighs: “Resources.” It’s a word that comes up 10 times in a half-hour conversation.

    So the bodies end up at Olifantsvlei or a cemetery like it, in unnamed graves. On a recent visit by AP, a series of open rectangles awaited the bodies of the unidentified and unclaimed. They did not wait long: a pickup truck drove up, piled with about 10 coffins, five per grave. There were at least 180 grave markers for the anonymous dead, with multiple bodies in each grave.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is working with Vellema, has started a pilot project with one Gauteng morgue to take detailed photos, fingerprints, dental information and DNA samples of unidentified bodies. That information goes to a database where, in theory, the bodies can be traced.

    “Every person has a right to their dignity. And to their identity,” said Stephen Fonseca, the ICRC regional forensic manager.

    ————————————

    THE UNITED STATES: “THAT’S HOW MY BROTHER USED TO SLEEP”

    More than 6,000 miles (9,000 kilometers) away, in the deserts that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border, lie the bodies of migrants who perished trying to cross land as unforgiving as the waters of the Mediterranean. Many fled the violence and poverty of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Mexico. Some are found months or years later as mere skeletons. Others make a last, desperate phone call and are never heard from again.

    In 2010 the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and the local morgue in Pima County, Ariz., began to organize efforts to put names to the anonymous bodies found on both sides of the border. The “Border Project” has since identified more than 183 people — a fraction of the total.

    At least 3,861 migrants are dead and missing on the route from Mexico to the United States since 2014, according to the combined AP and IOM total. The tally includes missing person reports from the Colibri Center for Human Rights on the U.S. side as well as the Argentine group’s data from the Mexican side. The painstaking work of identification can take years, hampered by a lack of resources, official records and coordination between countries — and even between states.

    For many families of the missing, it is their only hope, but for the families of Juan Lorenzo Luna and Armando Reyes, that hope is fading.

    Luna, 27, and Reyes, 22, were brothers-in-law who left their small northern Mexico town of Gomez Palacio in August 2016. They had tried to cross to the U.S. four months earlier, but surrendered to border patrol agents in exhaustion and were deported.

    They knew they were risking their lives — Reyes’ father died migrating in 1995, and an uncle went missing in 2004. But Luna, a quiet family man, wanted to make enough money to buy a pickup truck and then return to his wife and two children. Reyes wanted a job where he wouldn’t get his shoes dirty and could give his newborn daughter a better life.

    Of the five who left Gomez Palacio together, two men made it to safety, and one man turned back. The only information he gave was that the brothers-in-law had stopped walking and planned to turn themselves in again. That is the last that is known of them.

    Officials told their families that they had scoured prisons and detention centers, but there was no sign of the missing men. Cesaria Orona even consulted a fortune teller about her missing son, Armando, and was told he had died in the desert.

    One weekend in June 2017, volunteers found eight bodies next to a military area of the Arizona desert and posted the images online in the hopes of finding family. Maria Elena Luna came across a Facebook photo of a decaying body found in an arid landscape dotted with cactus and shrubs, lying face-up with one leg bent outward. There was something horribly familiar about the pose.

    “That’s how my brother used to sleep,” she whispered.

    Along with the bodies, the volunteers found a credential of a boy from Guatemala, a photo and a piece of paper with a number written on it. The photo was of Juan Lorenzo Luna, and the number on the paper was for cousins of the family. But investigators warned that a wallet or credential could have been stolen, as migrants are frequently robbed.

    “We all cried,” Luna recalled. “But I said, we cannot be sure until we have the DNA test. Let’s wait.”

    Luna and Orona gave DNA samples to the Mexican government and the Argentine group. In November 2017, Orona received a letter from the Mexican government saying that there was the possibility of a match for Armando with some bone remains found in Nuevo Leon, a state that borders Texas. But the test was negative.

    The women are still waiting for results from the Argentine pathologists. Until then, their relatives remain among the uncounted.

    Orona holds out hope that the men may be locked up, or held by “bad people.” Every time Luna hears about clandestine graves or unidentified bodies in the news, the anguish is sharp.

    “Suddenly all the memories come back,” she said. “I do not want to think.”

    ————————

    SOUTH AMERICA: “NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT THIS IS A REALITY”

    The toll of the dead and the missing has been all but ignored in one of the largest population movements in the world today — that of nearly 2 million Venezuelans fleeing from their country’s collapse. These migrants have hopped buses across the borders, boarded flimsy boats in the Caribbean, and — when all else failed — walked for days along scorching highways and freezing mountain trails. Vulnerable to violence from drug cartels, hunger and illness that lingers even after reaching their destination, they have disappeared or died by the hundreds.

    “They can’t withstand a trip that hard, because the journey is very long,” said Carlos Valdes, director of neighboring Colombia’s national forensic institute. “And many times, they only eat once a day. They don’t eat. And they die.” Valdes said authorities don’t always recover the bodies of those who die, as some migrants who have entered the country illegally are afraid to seek help.

    Valdes believes hypothermia has killed some as they trek through the mountain tundra region, but he had no idea how many. One migrant told the AP he saw a family burying someone wrapped in a white blanket with red flowers along the frigid journey.

    Marta Duque, 55, has had a front seat to the Venezuela migration crisis from her home in Pamplona, Colombia. She opens her doors nightly to provide shelter for families with young children. Pamplona is one of the last cities migrants reach before venturing up a frigid mountain paramo, one of the most dangerous parts of the trip for migrants traveling by foot. Temperatures dip well below freezing.

    She said inaction from authorities has forced citizens like her to step in.

    “Everyone just seems to pass the ball,” she said. “No one wants to admit this is a reality.”

    Those deaths are uncounted, as are dozens in the sea. Also uncounted are those reported missing in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. In all at least 3,410 Venezuelans have been reported missing or dead in a migration within Latin America whose dangers have gone relatively unnoticed; many of the dead perished from illnesses on the rise in Venezuela that easily would have found treatment in better times.

    Among the missing is Randy Javier Gutierrez, who was walking through Colombia with a cousin and his aunt in hopes of reaching Peru to reunite with his mother.

    Gutierrez’s mother, Mariela Gamboa, said that a driver offered a ride to the two women, but refused to take her son. The women agreed to wait for him at the bus station in Cali, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) ahead, but he never arrived. Messages sent to his phone since that day four months ago have gone unread.

    “I’m very worried,” his mother said. “I don’t even know what to do.”

    ———————————

    ASIA: A VAST UNKNOWN

    The region with the largest overall migration, Asia, also has the least information on the fate of those who disappear after leaving their homelands. Governments are unwilling or unable to account for citizens who leave for elsewhere in the region or in the Mideast, two of the most common destinations, although there’s a growing push to do so.

    Asians make up 40 percent of the world’s migrants, and more than half of them never leave the region. The Associated Press was able to document more than 8,200 migrants who disappeared or died after leaving home in Asia and the Mideast, including thousands in the Philippines and Indonesia.

    Thirteen of the top 20 migration pathways from Asia take place within the region. These include Indian workers heading to the United Arab Emirates, Bangladeshis heading to India, Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar, and Afghans crossing the nearest border to escape war. But with large-scale smuggling and trafficking of labor, and violent displacements, the low numbers of dead and missing indicate not safe travel but rather a vast unknown.

    Almass was just 14 when his widowed mother reluctantly sent him and his 11-year-old brother from their home in Khost, Afghanistan, into that unknown. The payment for their trip was supposed to get them away from the Taliban and all the way to Germany via a chain of smugglers. The pair crammed first into a pickup with around 40 people, walked for a few days at the border, crammed into a car, waited a bit in Tehran, and walked a few more days.

    His brother Murtaza was exhausted by the time they reached the Iran-Turkey border. But the smuggler said it wasn’t the time to rest — there were at least two border posts nearby and the risk that children far younger travelling with them would make noise.

    Almass was carrying a baby in his arms and holding his brother’s hand when they heard the shout of Iranian guards. Bullets whistled past as he tumbled head over heels into a ravine and lost consciousness.

    Alone all that day and the next, Almass stumbled upon three other boys in the ravine who had also become separated from the group, then another four. No one had seen his brother. And although the younger boy had his ID, it had been up to Almass to memorize the crucial contact information for the smuggler.

    When Almass eventually called home, from Turkey, he couldn’t bear to tell his mother what had happened. He said Murtaza couldn’t come to the phone but sent his love.

    That was in early 2014. Almass, who is now 18, hasn’t spoken to his family since.

    Almass said he searched for his brother among the 2,773 children reported to the Red Cross as missing en route to Europe. He also looked for himself among the 2,097 adults reported missing by children. They weren’t on the list.

    With one of the world’s longest-running exoduses, Afghans face particular dangers in bordering countries that are neither safe nor welcoming. Over a period of 10 months from June 2017 to April 2018, 4Mi carried out a total of 962 interviews with Afghan migrants and refugees in their native languages around the world, systematically asking a series of questions about the specific dangers they had faced and what they had witnessed.

    A total of 247 migrant deaths were witnessed by the interviewed migrants, who reported seeing people killed in violence from security forces or starving to death. The effort is the first time any organization has successfully captured the perils facing Afghans in transit to destinations in Asia and Europe.

    Almass made it from Asia to Europe and speaks halting French now to the woman who has given him a home in a drafty 400-year-old farmhouse in France’s Limousin region. But his family is lost to him. Their phone number in Afghanistan no longer works, their village is overrun with Taliban, and he has no idea how to find them — or the child whose hand slipped from his grasp four years ago.

    “I don’t know now where they are,” he said, his face anguished, as he sat on a sun-dappled bench. “They also don’t know where I am.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/global-lost-56800-migrants-dead-missing-years-58890913
    #décès #morts #migrations #réfugiés #asile #statistiques #chiffres #monde #Europe #Asie #Amérique_latine #Afrique #USA #Etats-Unis #2014 #2015 #2016 #2017 #2018
    ping @reka @simplicissimus



  • The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-real-reasons-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-wanted-khasho

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

    #Arabie_Saoudite #Turquie #politique #terrorisme #putsch


  • Why the Khashoggi murder is a disaster for Israel -
    The grisly hit-job on Khashoggi has implications far beyond its exposure of the Saudi Crown Prince as brutal and reckless. In Jerusalem and D.C., they’re mourning their whole strategic concept for the Mideast - not least, for countering Iran

    Daniel B. Shapiro
    Oct 17, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-the-khashoggi-murder-is-a-disaster-for-israel-1.6569996

    For Israel, this sordid episode raises the prospects that the anchor of the new Middle East realities it has sought to promote - an Israeli-Sunni Arab coalition, under a U.S. umbrella, to check Iran and Sunni jihadists - cannot be counted upon.
    And Israel must be careful how it plays its hand. There will, without question, be a U.S. response to Khashoggi’s murder, even if it is resisted by the Trump administration. It will not lead to a total dismantlement of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, but Congressional and public revulsion will have its price. 

    President Hassan Rouhani giving a speech on Iranian TV in Tehran on May 8, 2018.HO/AFP
    The price could include significant restrictions on arms sales that had been contemplated. It is already leading key U.S. investors to distance themselves from the major development projects MBS has promoted. At a minimum, there will be no replay of the warm, PR-friendly visit by MBS to multiple U.S. cities last March, no more lionizing of him in the American press as a reformer who will reshape the Middle East.
    Israel, which has a clear interest in keeping Saudi Arabia in the fold of U.S. allies to maximize the strategic alignment on Iran, will need to avoid becoming MBS’s lobbyist in Washington. Israel’s coordination with its partners in the region is still necessary and desirable. Simple realpolitik requires it. But there is a new risk of reputational damage from a close association with Saudi Arabia. 
    It won’t be easy for Israel to navigate these waters, as the Washington foreign policy establishment has quickly splintered into anti-Iran and anti-Saudi camps. The idea that the United States should equally oppose Iranian and Saudi brutality toward their peoples, and not let MBS’s crimes lead to a lessening of pressure on Iran over its malign regional activities, is in danger of being lost.
    For Israelis, that may be the biggest blow in the fallout of Khashoggi’s murder. MBS, in his obsession with silencing his critics, has actually undermined the attempt to build an international consensus to pressure Iran.
    The damage is broad. Trump may be an outlier. But what Member of Congress, what European leader, would be willing to sit with MBS for a consultation on Iran now?
    That is the greatest evidence of MBS’s strategic blindness, and the damage will likely persist as long as he rules the kingdom.
    Daniel B. Shapiro is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama Administration. Twitter: @DanielBShapiro


  • The Vulnerability Contest

    Traumatized Afghan child soldiers who were forced to fight in Syria struggle to find protection in Europe’s asylum lottery.

    Mosa did not choose to come forward. Word had spread among the thousands of asylum seekers huddled inside Moria that social workers were looking for lone children among the general population. High up on the hillside, in the Afghan area of the chaotic refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, some residents knew someone they suspected was still a minor. They led the aid workers to Mosa.

    The boy, whose broad and beardless face mark him out as a member of the Hazara ethnic group, had little reason to trust strangers. It was hard to persuade him just to sit with them and listen. Like many lone children, Mosa had slipped through the age assessment carried out on first arrival at Moria: He was registered as 27 years old. With the help of a translator, the social worker explained that there was still time to challenge his classification as an adult. But Mosa did not seem to be able to engage with what he was being told. It would take weeks to establish trust and reveal his real age and background.

    Most new arrivals experience shock when their hopes of a new life in Europe collide with Moria, the refugee camp most synonymous with the miserable consequences of Europe’s efforts to contain the flow of refugees and migrants across the Aegean. When it was built, the camp was meant to provide temporary shelter for fewer than 2,000 people. Since the European Union struck a deal in March 2016 with Turkey under which new arrivals are confined to Greece’s islands, Moria’s population has swollen to 9,000. It has become notorious for overcrowding, snowbound tents, freezing winter deaths, violent protests and suicides by adults and children alike.

    While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Stathis Poularakis is a lawyer who previously served for two years on an appeal committee dealing with asylum cases in Greece and has worked extensively on Lesbos. While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Asylum claims on Lesbos can take anywhere between six months and more than two years to be resolved. In the second quarter of 2018, Greece faced nearly four times as many asylum claims per capita as Germany. The E.U. has responded by increasing the presence of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and broadening its remit so that EASO officials can conduct asylum interviews. But the promises that EASO will bring Dutch-style efficiency conceal the fact that the vast majority of its hires are not seconded from other member states but drawn from the same pool of Greeks as the national asylum service.

    Asylum caseworkers at Moria face an overwhelming backlog and plummeting morale. A serving EASO official describes extraordinary “pressure to go faster” and said there was “so much subjectivity in the system.” The official also said that it was human nature to reject more claims “when you see every other country is closing its borders.”

    Meanwhile, the only way to escape Moria while your claim is being processed is to be recognized as a “vulnerable” case. Vulnerables get permission to move to the mainland or to more humane accommodation elsewhere on the island. The term is elastic and can apply to lone children and women, families or severely physically or mentally ill people. In all cases the onus is on the asylum seeker ultimately to persuade the asylum service, Greek doctors or the United Nations Refugee Agency that they are especially vulnerable.

    The ensuing scramble to get out of Moria has turned the camp into a vast “vulnerability contest,” said Poularakis. It is a ruthless competition that the most heavily traumatized are often in no condition to understand, let alone win.

    Twice a Refugee

    Mosa arrived at Moria in October 2017 and spent his first night in Europe sleeping rough outside the arrivals tent. While he slept someone stole his phone. When he awoke he was more worried about the lost phone than disputing the decision of the Frontex officer who registered him as an adult. Poularakis said age assessors are on the lookout for adults claiming to be children, but “if you say you’re an adult, no one is going to object.”

    Being a child has never afforded Mosa any protection in the past: He did not understand that his entire future could be at stake. Smugglers often warn refugee children not to reveal their real age, telling them that they will be prevented from traveling further if they do not pretend to be over 18 years old.

    Like many other Hazara of his generation, Mosa was born in Iran, the child of refugees who fled Afghanistan. Sometimes called “the cursed people,” the Hazara are followers of Shia Islam and an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan, a country whose wars are usually won by larger ethnic groups and followers of Sunni Islam. Their ancestry, traced by some historians to Genghis Khan, also means they are highly visible and have been targets for persecution by Afghan warlords from 19th-century Pashtun kings to today’s Taliban.

    In recent decades, millions of Hazara have fled Afghanistan, many of them to Iran, where their language, Dari, is a dialect of Persian Farsi, the country’s main language.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    Iran hosts 950,000 Afghan refugees who are registered with the U.N. and another 1.5 million undocumented Afghans. There are no official refugee camps, making displaced Afghans one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world. For those without the money to pay bribes, there is no route to permanent residency or citizenship. Most refugees survive without papers on the outskirts of cities such as the capital, Tehran. Those who received permits, before Iran stopped issuing them altogether in 2007, must renew them annually. The charges are unpredictable and high. Mostly, the Afghan Hazara survive as an underclass, providing cheap labor in workshops and constructions sites. This was how Mosa grew up.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    But he could not remain invisible forever and one day in October 2016, on his way home from work, he was detained by police for not having papers.

    Sitting in one of the cantinas opposite the entrance to Moria, Mosa haltingly explained what happened next. How he was threatened with prison in Iran or deportation to Afghanistan, a country in which he has never set foot. How he was told that that the only way out was to agree to fight in Syria – for which they would pay him and reward him with legal residence in Iran.

    “In Iran, you have to pay for papers,” said Mosa. “If you don’t pay, you don’t have papers. I do not know Afghanistan. I did not have a choice.”

    As he talked, Mosa spread out a sheaf of papers from a battered plastic wallet. Along with asylum documents was a small notepad decorated with pink and mauve elephants where he keeps the phone numbers of friends and family. It also contains a passport-sized green booklet with the crest of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a temporary residence permit. Inside its shiny cover is the photograph of a scared-looking boy, whom the document claims was born 27 years ago. It is the only I.D. he has ever owned and the date of birth has been faked to hide the fact that the country that issues it has been sending children to war.

    Mosa is not alone among the Hazara boys who have arrived in Greece seeking protection, carrying identification papers with inflated ages. Refugees Deeply has documented the cases of three Hazara child soldiers and corroborated their accounts with testimony from two other underage survivors. Their stories are of childhoods twice denied: once in Syria, where they were forced to fight, and then again after fleeing to Europe, where they are caught up in a system more focused on hard borders than on identifying the most damaged and vulnerable refugees.

    From Teenage Kicks to Adult Nightmares

    Karim’s descent into hell began with a prank. Together with a couple of friends, he recorded an angsty song riffing on growing up as a Hazara teenager in Tehran. Made when he was 16 years old, the song was meant to be funny. His band did not even have a name. The boys uploaded the track on a local file-sharing platform in 2014 and were as surprised as anyone when it was downloaded thousands of times. But after the surprise came a creeping sense of fear. Undocumented Afghan refugee families living in Tehran usually try to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Karim tried to have the song deleted, but after two months there was a knock on the door. It was the police.

    “I asked them how they found me,” he said. “I had no documents but they knew where I lived.”

    Already estranged from his family, the teenager was transported from his life of working in a pharmacy and staying with friends to life in a prison outside the capital. After two weeks inside, he was given three choices: to serve a five-year sentence; to be deported to Afghanistan; or to redeem himself by joining the Fatemiyoun.

    According to Iranian propaganda, the Fatemiyoun are Afghan volunteers deployed to Syria to protect the tomb of Zainab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad. In reality, the Fatemiyoun Brigade is a unit of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, drawn overwhelmingly from Hazara communities, and it has fought in Iraq and Yemen, as well as Syria. Some estimates put its full strength at 15,000, which would make it the second-largest foreign force in support of the Assad regime, behind the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah.

    Karim was told he would be paid and given a one-year residence permit during leave back in Iran. Conscripts are promised that if they are “martyred,” their family will receive a pension and permanent status. “I wasn’t going to Afghanistan and I wasn’t going to prison,” said Karim. So he found himself forced to serve in the #Fatemiyoun.

    His first taste of the new life came when he was transferred to a training base outside Tehran, where the recruits, including other children, were given basic weapons training and religious indoctrination. They marched, crawled and prayed under the brigade’s yellow flag with a green arch, crossed by assault rifles and a Koranic phrase: “With the Help of God.”

    “Imagine me at 16,” said Karim. “I have no idea how to kill a bird. They got us to slaughter animals to get us ready. First, they prepare your brain to kill.”

    The 16-year-old’s first deployment was to Mosul in Iraq, where he served four months. When he was given leave back in Iran, Karim was told that to qualify for his residence permit he would need to serve a second term, this time in Syria. They were first sent into the fight against the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa. Because of his age and physique, Karim and some of the other underage soldiers were moved to the medical corps. He said that there were boys as young as 14 and he remembers a 15-year-old who fought using a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    “I knew nothing about Syria. I was just trying to survive. They were making us hate ISIS, dehumanizing them. Telling us not to leave one of them alive.” Since media reports revealed the existence of the Fatemiyoun, the brigade has set up a page on Facebook. Among pictures of “proud volunteers,” it shows stories of captured ISIS prisoners being fed and cared for. Karim recalls a different story.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    The casualties on both sides were overwhelming. At the al-Razi hospital in Aleppo, the young medic saw the morgue overwhelmed with bodies being stored two or three to a compartment. Despite promises to reward the families of martyrs, Karim said many of the bodies were not sent back to Iran.

    Mosa’s basic training passed in a blur. A shy boy whose parents had divorced when he was young and whose father became an opium addict, he had always shrunk from violence. He never wanted to touch the toy guns that other boys played with. Now he was being taught to break down, clean and fire an assault rifle.

    The trainees were taken three times a day to the imam, who preached to them about their holy duty and the iniquities of ISIS, often referred to as Daesh.

    “They told us that Daesh was the same but worse than the Taliban,” said Mosa. “I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t go to Syria by choice. They forced me to. I just needed the paper.”

    Mosa was born in 2001. Before being deployed to Syria, the recruits were given I.D. tags and papers that deliberately overstated their age: In 2017, Human Rights Watch released photographs of the tombstones of eight Afghan children who had died in Syria and whose families identified them as having been under 18 years old. The clerk who filled out Mosa’s forms did not trouble himself with complex math: He just changed 2001 to 1991. Mosa was one of four underage soldiers in his group. The boys were scared – their hands shook so hard they kept dropping their weapons. Two of them were dead within days of reaching the front lines.

    “I didn’t even know where we were exactly, somewhere in the mountains in a foreign country. I was scared all the time. Every time I saw a friend dying in front of my eyes I was thinking I would be next,” said Mosa.

    He has flashbacks of a friend who died next to him after being shot in the face by a sniper. After the incident, he could not sleep for four nights. The worst, he said, were the sudden raids by ISIS when they would capture Fatemiyoun fighters: “God knows what happened to them.”

    Iran does not release figures on the number of Fatemiyoun casualties. In a rare interview earlier this year, a senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard suggested as many as 1,500 Fatemiyoun had been killed in Syria. In Mashhad, an Iranian city near the border with Afghanistan where the brigade was first recruited, video footage has emerged of families demanding the bodies of their young men believed to have died in Syria. Mosa recalls patrols in Syria where 150 men and boys would go out and only 120 would return.

    Escaping Syria

    Abbas had two weeks left in Syria before going back to Iran on leave. After 10 weeks in what he describes as a “living hell,” he had begun to believe he might make it out alive. It was his second stint in Syria and, still only 17 years old, he had been chosen to be a paramedic, riding in the back of a 2008 Chevrolet truck converted into a makeshift ambulance.

    He remembers thinking that the ambulance and the hospital would have to be better than the bitter cold of the front line. His abiding memory from then was the sound of incoming 120mm shells. “They had a special voice,” Abbas said. “And when you hear it, you must lie down.”

    Following 15 days of nursing training, during which he was taught how to find a vein and administer injections, he was now an ambulance man, collecting the dead and wounded from the battlefields on which the Fatemiyoun were fighting ISIS.

    Abbas grew up in Ghazni in Afghanistan, but his childhood ended when his father died from cancer in 2013. Now the provider for the family, he traveled with smugglers across the border into Iran, to work for a tailor in Tehran who had known his father. He worked without documents and faced the same threats as the undocumented Hazara children born in Iran. Even more dangerous were the few attempts he made to return to Ghazni. The third time he attempted to hop the border he was captured by Iranian police.

    Abbas was packed onto a transport, along with 23 other children, and sent to Ordugah-i Muhaceran, a camplike detention center outside Mashhad. When they got there the Shia Hazara boys were separated from Sunni Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, who were pushed back across the border. Abbas was given the same choice as Karim and Mosa before him: Afghanistan or Syria. Many of the other forced recruits Abbas met in training, and later fought alongside in Syria, were addicts with a history of substance abuse.

    Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that Tramadol was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time.

    The Fatemiyoun officers dealt with withdrawal symptoms by handing out Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is used to treat back pain but sometimes abused as a cheap alternative to methadone. The drug is a slow-release analgesic. Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that it was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time. One of the children reiterated that the painkiller meant he felt nothing. Users describe feeling intensely thirsty but say they avoid drinking water because it triggers serious nausea and vomiting. Tramadol is addictive and prolonged use can lead to insomnia and seizures.

    Life in the ambulance had not met Abbas’ expectations. He was still sent to the front line, only now it was to collect the dead and mutilated. Some soldiers shot themselves in the feet to escape the conflict.

    “We picked up people with no feet and no hands. Some of them were my friends,” Abbas said. “One man was in small, small pieces. We collected body parts I could not recognize and I didn’t know if they were Syrian or Iranian or Afghan. We just put them in bags.”

    Abbas did not make it to the 12th week. One morning, driving along a rubble-strewn road, his ambulance collided with an anti-tank mine. Abbas’ last memory of Syria is seeing the back doors of the vehicle blasted outward as he was thrown onto the road.

    When he awoke he was in a hospital bed in Iran. He would later learn that the Syrian ambulance driver had been killed and that the other Afghan medic in the vehicle had lost both his legs. At the time, his only thought was to escape.

    The Toll on Child Soldiers

    Alice Roorda first came into contact with child soldiers in 2001 in the refugee camps of Sierra Leone in West Africa. A child psychologist, she was sent there by the United Kingdom-based charity War Child. She was one of three psychologists for a camp of more than 5,000 heavily traumatized survivors of one of West Africa’s more brutal conflicts.

    “There was almost nothing we could do,” she admitted.

    The experience, together with later work in Uganda, has given her a deep grounding in the effects of war and post-conflict trauma on children. She said prolonged exposure to conflict zones has physical as well as psychological effects.

    “If you are chronically stressed, as in a war zone, you have consistently high levels of the two basic stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.”

    Even after reaching a calmer situation, the “stress baseline” remains high, she said. This impacts everything from the immune system to bowel movements. Veterans often suffer from complications related to the continual engagement of the psoas, or “fear muscle” – the deepest muscles in the body’s core, which connect the spine, through the pelvis, to the femurs.

    “With prolonged stress you start to see the world around you as more dangerous.” The medial prefrontal cortex, the section of the brain that interprets threat levels, is also affected, said Roorda. This part of the brain is sometimes called the “watchtower.”

    “When your watchtower isn’t functioning well you see everything as more dangerous. You are on high alert. This is not a conscious response; it is because the stress is already so close to the surface.”

    Psychological conditions that can be expected to develop include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Left untreated, these stress levels can lead to physical symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME) to high blood pressure or irritable bowel syndrome. Also common are heightened sensitivity to noise and insomnia.

    The trauma of war can also leave children frozen at the point when they were traumatized. “Their life is organized as if the trauma is still ongoing,” said Roorda. “It is difficult for them to take care of themselves, to make rational well informed choices, and to trust people.”

    The starting point for any treatment of child soldiers, said Roorda, is a calm environment. They need to release the tension with support groups and physical therapy, she said, and “a normal bedtime.”

    The Dutch psychologist, who is now based in Athens, acknowledged that what she is describing is the exact opposite of the conditions at #Moria.

    Endgame

    Karim is convinced that his facility for English has saved his life. While most Hazara boys arrive in Europe speaking only Farsi, Karim had taught himself some basic English before reaching Greece. As a boy in Tehran he had spent hours every day trying to pick up words and phrases from movies that he watched with subtitles on his phone. His favorite was The Godfather, which he said he must have seen 25 times. He now calls English his “safe zone” and said he prefers it to Farsi.

    When Karim reached Greece in March 2016, new arrivals were not yet confined to the islands. No one asked him if he was a child or an adult. He paid smugglers to help him escape Iran while on leave from Syria and after crossing through Turkey landed on Chios. Within a day and a half, he had passed through the port of Piraeus and reached Greece’s northern border with Macedonia, at Idomeni.

    When he realized the border was closed, he talked to some of the international aid workers who had come to help at the makeshift encampment where tens of thousands of refugees and migrants waited for a border that would not reopen. They ended up hiring him as a translator. Two years on, his English is now much improved and Karim has worked for a string of international NGOs and a branch of the Greek armed forces, where he was helped to successfully apply for asylum.

    The same job has also brought him to Moria. He earns an above-average salary for Greece and at first he said that his work on Lesbos is positive: “I’m not the only one who has a shitty background. It balances my mind to know that I’m not the only one.”

    But then he admits that it is difficult hearing and interpreting versions of his own life story from Afghan asylum seekers every day at work. He has had problems with depression and suffered flashbacks, “even though I’m in a safe country now.”

    Abbas got the help he needed to win the vulnerability contest. After he was initially registered as an adult, his age assessment was overturned and he was transferred from Moria to a shelter for children on Lesbos. He has since been moved again to a shelter in mainland Greece. While he waits to hear the decision on his protection status, Abbas – like other asylum seekers in Greece – receives 150 euros ($170) a month. This amount needs to cover all his expenses, from food and clothing to phone credit. The money is not enough to cover a regular course of the antidepressant Prozac and the sleeping pills he was prescribed by the psychiatrist he was able to see on Lesbos.

    “I save them for when it gets really bad,” he said.

    Since moving to the mainland he has been hospitalized once with convulsions, but his main worry is the pain in his groin. Abbas underwent a hernia operation in Iran, the result of injuries sustained as a child lifting adult bodies into the ambulance. He has been told that he will need to wait for four months to see a doctor in Greece who can tell him if he needs another operation.

    “I would like to go back to school,” he said. But in reality, Abbas knows that he will need to work and there is little future for an Afghan boy who can no longer lift heavy weights.

    Walking into an Afghan restaurant in downtown Athens – near Victoria Square, where the people smugglers do business – Abbas is thrilled to see Farsi singers performing on the television above the door. “I haven’t been in an Afghan restaurant for maybe three years,” he said to explain his excitement. His face brightens again when he catches sight of Ghormeh sabzi, a herb stew popular in Afghanistan and Iran that reminds him of his mother. “I miss being with them,” he said, “being among my family.”

    When the dish arrives he pauses before eating, taking out his phone and carefully photographing the plate from every angle.

    Mosa is about to mark the end of a full year in Moria. He remains in the same drab tent that reminds him every day of Syria. Serious weight loss has made his long limbs – the ones that made it easier for adults to pretend he was not a child – almost comically thin. His skin is laced with scars, but he refuses to go into detail about how he got them. Mosa has now turned 18 and seems to realize that his best chance of getting help may have gone.

    “Those people who don’t have problems, they give them vulnerability (status),” he said with evident anger. “If you tell them the truth, they don’t help you.”

    Then he apologises for the flash of temper. “I get upset and angry and my body shakes,” he said.

    Mosa explained that now when he gets angry he has learned to remove himself: “Sometimes I stuff my ears with toilet paper to make it quiet.”

    It is 10 months since Mosa had his asylum interview. The questions he expected about his time in the Fatemiyoun never came up. Instead, the interviewers asked him why he had not stayed in Turkey after reaching that country, having run away while on leave in Iran.

    The questions they did ask him point to his likely rejection and deportation. Why, he was asked, was his fear of being persecuted in Afghanistan credible? He told them that he has heard from other Afghan boys that police and security services in the capital, Kabul, were arresting ex-combatants from Syria.

    Like teenagers everywhere, many of the younger Fatemiyoun conscripts took selfies in Syria and posted them on Facebook or shared them on WhatsApp. The images, which include uniforms and insignia, can make him a target for Sunni reprisals. These pictures now haunt him as much as the faces of his dead comrades.

    Meanwhile, the fate he suffered two tours in Syria to avoid now seems to be the most that Europe can offer him. Without any of his earlier anger, he said, “I prefer to kill myself here than go to Afghanistan.”

    #enfants-soldats #syrie #réfugiés #asile #migrations #guerre #conflit #réfugiés_afghans #Afghanistan #ISIS #EI #Etat_islamique #trauma #traumatisme #vulnérabilité

    ping @isskein


  • German firms lead exodus out of Iran | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 21.09.2018
    https://www.dw.com/en/german-firms-lead-exodus-out-of-iran/a-45577191

    The EU has responded to the sanctions by updating a Blocking Statute to protect EU companies doing business with Iran from the impact of US sanctions.

    But the EU signatories to the  deal — Germany, France and the UK — have failed so far to convince US President Donald Trump not to reimpose sanctions, or to persuade him to grant waivers for EU-based companies doing business with Tehran.

    Many observers expect many more big firms to leave Iran. “We expect almost all of the European and Japanese companies along with major Korean companies to leave #Iran,” Sara Vakhshouri, the president of SVB Energy International in Washington DC, told DW.

    #ue


  • Oman’s Port Strategy – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/omans-port-strategy

    Within the Arabian Peninsula, Duqm and Salalah have much potential to further shape geopolitical relations amid strategic shifts in the regional balance of power. Any major investments by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Duqm (and other Omani projects) should be watched closely for their effect on intra-Gulf politics. Some analysts contend that both countries are attempting to restrict the Sultanate’s geopolitical maneuverability as Muscat and Tehran try to maintain cooperative relations. As Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may use their petro-dollars to influence Oman’s future position in an increasingly polarized Gulf, they could use investments in Omani infrastructure projects as another way to gain leverage. Likewise, Oman’s trade infrastructure proved highly useful to Qatar last year when Doha needed alternatives to Jebel Ali as a logistics hub linking the emirate to the global economy.

    It goes without saying that Iran itself is a key factor in this equation. If tensions in the Strait of Hormuz escalate, Duqm and Salalah would need to prepare for any trade-related ramifications. The Omani government must stay vigilant and aware of any escalations of friction amid increasingly harsh rhetoric from Washington and Tehran that threaten to unleash an armed conflict in or near the strait. Yet the ports’ advantageous geographic locations could help Gulf states continue to sell their oil and gas in the event of such a crisis, as shipments via Duqm and Salalah will not need to travel through the strait. Whereas Saudi Arabia has its Red Sea coast and the UAE has one Emirate (Fujairah) outside the strait, which would enable these two states to continue exporting oil in the event of the strait’s closure, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are fully dependent on that artery for their hydrocarbon exports. As Amer No’man Ashour, chief analyst and economist at CNBC Arabia, explains:

    We all know that more than 30 per cent of oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz and with this shift via the Port of Fujairah and the Duqm port, the GCC countries will ensure that their oil shipments are safe, and this will decrease the risk and the cost of insurance on ships… Al-Duqm Port is one of the best ever solutions to the oil issue… It is 800 kilometres away from UAE borders. We know that the UAE has had a partial solution via Fujairah with a capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day, but the production of the UAE is almost 3 million barrels per day. Most of Kuwait, Qatari and Saudi oil is produced in the eastern parts of the Gulf area and this new Omani port will be very suitable for exporting oil to the world.

    #oman #grand_jeu


  • Iran says it has full control of Gulf, U.S. Navy does not belong there | Reuters
    https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKCN1LC0NJ

    Iran has full control of the Gulf and the U.S. Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, was quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying on Monday.

    Tehran has suggested it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes.

    Tangsiri said Iran had full control of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping.

    We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here,” he said in the quote, which appeared in English translation on Tasnim.


  • What Would Happen if the United States Were to Recognize Israel’s Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights? -

    Carnegie Middle East Center - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/76889?lang=en

    Alain Gresh | Editor of OrientXXI.info

    Such a decision by the United States would only add to the ongoing instability in the Middle East. After the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, it would confirm that the United States is no longer even a “dishonest broker” in Arab-Israel peace negotiations, but rather has become a direct party in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This will make it even more difficult for Washington to broker “the deal of the century” between Israelis and Palestinians. Talks are in limbo, despite many statements this past year on the imminence of a peace plan.

    This situation will strengthen the hand of Russia, which is now seen as an important actor maintaining working relations with all regional leaders, from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It will also play into the hands of Iran, allowing Tehran to widen its alliance with certain “Sunni groups.” We can even imagine that it may play into Assad’s hands as well. After the 2006 war in Lebanon, some Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leaders were ready to engage with Assad in the name of the struggle against Israel. Today, U.S. recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights may revive such impulses.


  • Mattis’s Last Stand Is Iran – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/28/mattiss-last-stand-is-iran

    As the U.S. defense secretary drifts further from President Donald Trump’s inner circle, his mission gets clearer: preventing war with Tehran.

    Long point de vue de Mark Perry (The Pentagon’s Wars). Après avoir décrit l’état d’usure et de fatigue des différentes forces armées états-uniennes, puis décrit en détail une attaque en règle de l’Iran,…

    At the end of the air campaign, Iran’s nuclear and military capabilities would be in ruins. But the worry for senior military war planners is that the end of the U.S. campaign would not mark the end of the war, but its beginning. Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War and a former professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program (and one of the Army’s most sophisticated strategic thinkers), argued that a conflict with Iran would not be confined to a U.S. attack — or Iran’s immediate response. Tehran, he said, would not surrender. “We should not go into a war with Iran thinking that they will capitulate,” he argued. “Al Qaeda did not capitulate; the Taliban did not capitulate. Enemies don’t capitulate. And Iran won’t capitulate.” Nor, Dubik speculated, would the kind of air campaign likely envisioned by U.S. military planners necessarily lead to the collapse of the Tehran government — a notion seconded by Farley. “There is very little reason to suppose that anything other than an Iraq-style war would lead to regime change in Iran,” Farley said. “Even in a very extensive campaign, and absent the use of ground troops in a major invasion, the Iranian regime would survive.” That is to say that, while Iran’s military would be devastated by a U.S. attack, the results of such a campaign would only deepen and expand the conflict.

    Shaping and executing an exit strategy after an attack is likely the most difficult task we will face,” [John Allen] Gay [the co-author of the 2013 book War with Iran] said. “While an overwhelming airstrike may end the war for us, it will not end it for Iran. Our conventional capabilities overawe theirs, but their unconventional capabilities favor them. Assassinations, terror attacks, the use of Hezbollah against Israel, and other options will likely be used by them over an extended period of time. All of this has to be factored in: Even if we destroy their nuclear capabilities, we will have to ask whether it will be worth it.
    […]
    In truth, the unease over any future conflict goes much deeper — and is seeded by what one senior and influential military officer called “an underlying anxiety that after 17 years of sprinkling the Middle East with corpses, the U.S. is not any closer to a victory over terrorism now than it was on September 12.

    #sprinkle_the_Middle_East_with_corpses
    #parsemer_le_Moyen-Orient_de_cadavres


  • #Maskan_Mehr Project

    World’s largest social housing project awarded with a single contract.

    Maskan Mehr Project - Pardis, located in the Iranian capital Tehran and constructed under a contract which is signed by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urbanization, consists of 37.000 apartments and infrastructure works.


    http://www.kuzugrup.com/en/maskan-mehr-project
    #urban_matter #villes #méga-projets #Iran #urbanisation #logement_social #HLM #Téhéran #désert

    signalé par @franz42
    cc @reka


  • How US sanctions on Iran can help Russia win trade battle with European rivals — RT Business News
    https://www.rt.com/business/428532-russia-iran-us-sanctions

    Russian companies working in Iran have an advantage over European rivals – they are already under US sanctions, so they have nothing to lose, TeleTrade Chief Analyst Petr Pushkarev told RT.

    Russian companies will continue doing business in Iran as if nothing happened at all – in oil, gas and nuclear energy. They have this advantage over the Europeans, who, like Total or Airbus, have major businesses in the US and are listed on American exchanges,” Pushkarev said.

    India & Iran drop dollar in oil trade to bypass US sanctions – report
    Companies from Russia can simply ignore Washington’s threats of imposing fines for trade with Iran or for conducting projects in Iran, the analyst says. Russian trade with Iran accounts only for $2 billion, but it can grow significantly, Pushkarev notes.

    This is quite real because Russia and Iran are natural allies in Syria. #Rosneft has preliminary agreements with Iran worth up to $30 billion, and even if only a small part of these plans are implemented with Russia, and not with European partners, it can be a significant gain for Moscow,” he said.

    Another possible sphere for boosting business ties between Moscow and Tehran are contracts for the delivery of civil aviation aircraft, Pushkarev says. Iran planned the purchase of 100 aircraft from Boeing, 80 from Airbus and another 20 from the Franco-Italian ATR. “Russia will have a chance to deliver its MC-21 jets, if Iran agrees to wait for a couple of years, since  the aircraft is just on the way and ends the testing phase,” he said.

    Une ouverture à l’exportation pour le tout nouveau Irkout #MS-21 ?

    Irkout MS-21 — Wikipédia
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irkout_MS-21

    En 2009, Irkut annonce une première sortie de chaîne en 2014 et une certification européenne en 2016. Sa version de base MS-21-200 de 150 places devrait être suivie du MS-21-300 de 180 places et du MS-21-400 de 210 places.

    En septembre 2014, à la suite de retards, on déclare qu’il fera son premier vol en avril 2016 et entrera en service en 2017. Il est prévu d’en construire 50 exemplaires par an à partir de 2018.

    Le MS-21-300 effectue son premier vol le 28 mai 2017 à Irkoutsk. Il est rejoint par un deuxième prototype le 12 mai 2018.


  • Why the West Needs #Azerbaijan – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/28/why-the-west-needs-azerbaijan


    Teenagers from a boxing school take part in a training session in the Caspian Sea near Soviet oil rigs in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on June 27, 2015.
    KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

    There are only three ways for energy and trade to flow overland between Asia and Europe: through Iran, through Russia, and through Azerbaijan. With relations between the West, Moscow, and Tehran in tatters, that leaves onlyone viable route for hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of trade: through the tiny Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan.

    When you factor in Armenia’s occupation of almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory, all that is left is a narrow 60-mile-wide chokepoint for trade. We call this trade chokepoint the " #Ganja_Gap ” — named after Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja, which sits in the middle of this narrow passage. And right now, the Russians hold enough influence over Azerbaijan’s rival neighbor Armenia to potentially reignite the bloody #Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of the late 1980s and early 1990s — giving them a dangerous opportunity to threaten the “Gap” itself.
    […]
    It is not just oil and gas pipelines that connect Europe with the heart of Asia. Fiber-optic cables linking Western Europe with the Caspian region also pass through the Ganja Gap. The second-longest European motorway, the E60, which connects Brest, France, on the Atlantic coast with Irkeshtam, Kyrgyzstan, on the Chinese border, passes through the city of Ganja, as does the east-west rail link in the South Caucasus, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. These are set to become potentially vital connections.

    The ongoing campaign in Afghanistan has also proven how important the Ganja Gap is for resupplying U.S. and NATO troops. At the peak of the war, more than one-third of U.S. nonlethal military supplies such as fuel, food, and clothing passed through the Ganja Gap either overland or in the air.


  • The First Saudi-Iranian War Will Be an Even Fight – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/07/the-first-saudi-iranian-war-will-be-an-even-fight

    Since 2011, first in Syria and then in Yemen, proxy forces of Iran and Saudi Arabi have been in constant, brutal competition. Both sides seem to have concluded that a direct war isn’t in their interest, with neither having ever directly attacked the other. But there has always been a risk of escalation — and that risk will heighten dramatically on Tuesday if President Donald Trump withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal, as seems likely. That could lead to an increase in military provocations by Iran in the region, and embolden any Saudi response.

    It’s far easier to assess the likelihood of direct conflict between Tehran and Riyadh, however, than to predict a winner. The outcome of the first Saudi-Iranian war would ultimately depend on the shape it ended up taking.

    The two countries differ markedly in the size and capabilities of their forces. Iran has the larger military, with two forces — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Artesh regular military — composed of complementary air, naval, and land branches. The Artesh has an estimated 350,000 active-duty soldiers and controls most of Iran’s more sophisticated conventional capabilities, especially in the air and maritime domains. By comparison, the IRGC, with an estimated force of 125,000, has maintained a focus on asymmetric warfare but also oversees Iran’s growing unmanned aerial vehicle fleet and strategic ballistic missile programs. Additionally, through its special forces division, known as the Quds Force, the IRGC commands Iran’s foreign military operations and relations with client allies, such as in Syria and Iraq.

    Since the 1980s, intermittent sanctions and political pressure from the United States have severely degraded Iran’s ability to procure military technology and weapons from other countries, which has made some of its military capabilities relatively outmoded and weak. Iran’s defense spending (around $12.3 billion in 2016) is modest compared with Saudi Arabia’s as one of the top defense budgets in the world ($63.7 billion in 2016 and $69.4 billion in 2017), and its defense technology generally falls well below that of other regional states. Iran’s air forces fly dated platforms, such as F-5 and F-14 Tomcat variants, which have been updated domestically from aircraft inherited from the pre-revolution Pahlavi state, but struggle with intermittent inoperability. Similarly, Iran’s mechanized armor is mostly a hodgepodge of pre-1979 U.S. stock (such as the M60A1) and older Soviet tanks (such as the T-72S) procured from Russia during the 1990s.

    • L’Arabie est, comme Israël, une entité ultra-raciste créée par les puissances coloniales européennes.
      L’Iran est un grand pays multi-ethnique où l’on vote, même si la hiérarchie religieuse a un pouvoir dominant. Où les femmes sont très nombreuses à l’Université. Et c’est une très ancienne nation, encore une fois, multi-ethnique, dont une communauté juive.


  • Israel in major raids on ’Iran’ targets in Syria after rocket fire | AFP.com
    https://www.afp.com/en/news/205/israel-major-raids-iran-targets-syria-after-rocket-fire-doc-14q3b14

    Elle est pas belle la vie ? Ça fait une bonne semaine que l’armée israélienne est en alerte maximale dans le Golan occupé. C’est donc le moment idéal pour lui envoyer une bordée de roquettes dont aucune n’a atteint le territoire israélien…
    Israël est forcément obligé de riposter.

    Israel carried out widespread deadly raids against what it said were Iranian targets in Syria on Thursday after rocket fire towards its forces which it blamed on Iran, marking a sharp escalation between the two enemies.

    The incident came after weeks of rising tensions and followed US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a key 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a move Israel had long advocated.

    It led to immediate calls for restraint from Russia, France and Germany. “The escalation of the last hours shows us that it’s really about war and peace,” warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    The raids that a monitor said killed 23 fighters were one of the largest Israeli military operations in recent years and the biggest such assault on Iranian targets, the military said.

    We hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a security conference.

    I hope we’ve finished this episode and everyone understood.

    Israel carried out the raids after it said 20 rockets, either Fajr or Grad type, were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights at around midnight.

    It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Al-Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four while the rest did not land in its territory.

    No Israelis were wounded.


  • Europe must make #Trump pay for wrecking the #Iran nuclear deal | Simon Tisdall | Opinion | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/09/europe-trump-wreck-iran-nuclear-deal-cancel-visit-sanctions

    Donald Trump’s torpedoing of the Iran nuclear deal on highly specious and misleading grounds is an act of wanton diplomatic vandalism fraught with dangers. While the 2015 agreement may not yet be wholly sunk, it is holed below the waterline. Many in Tehran will see the sweeping reimposition of US sanctions as a declaration of war. As for Trump, he has once again proved himself the master of chaos.

    This aggressive bid to further isolate Iran appears designed to ultimately enforce regime change. In the short-term it will destroy remaining mutual goodwill, undermine pro-western Iranian opinion, empower hardliners, trigger an oil price crisis, and increase the risk of conflict centred on Syria and Israel. It raises the spectre of a regional nuclear arms race, and damages the western alliance to the advantage, among others, of Russia. It is a Crimea-sized blow to the primacy of international law.

    • Ce n’est pas un acte gratuit. Dans le même temps, les USA ont remis la pression sur le Vénézuéla. Ne pas oublier que juste avant les déclaration de Trump, l’Iran avait annoncé passer à l’euro pour ses échanges.
      Le truc, le seul truc, c’est le despotisme hydraulique sur le pétrole. Les USA ne peuvent plus développer leur propre industrie extractiviste à cause des cours du baril trop bas pour amortir le surcoût de la fracturation hydraulique. Or, leur stratégie est d’assurer leur indépendance énergétique en développant cette industrie. Une crise au Moyen-Orient n’a que des avantages objectifs : remettre la pression sur le marché du pétrole ce qui rouvre la voie des bénéfices pour les USA tout en rabattant sérieusement le caquet de l’Europe et de la Chine, les deux principales puissances concurrentes qui sont horriblement dépendantes des importations ; redonner une occasion aux USA de renforcer leur emprise militaire sur cette région.


  • The #Iran deal explained: what is it and why does Trump want to scrap it? | World news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/08/iran-nuclear-deal-what-is-it-why-does-trump-want-to-scrap-it

    Au cas où on aurait oublié.

    What is the Iran nuclear deal?

    Iran and a six-nation negotiating group reached a landmark agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in July 2015. It ended 12 years of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Struck in Vienna after nearly two years of intensive talks, the deal limited the Iranian programme to reassure the rest of the world that it would be unable to develop nuclear weapons, in return for sanctions relief.

    At its core, the JCPOA is a straightforward bargain. Iran’s acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for an escape from the sanctions that grew up around its economy over a decade prior to the accord. Under the deal, Iran unplugged two-thirds of its centrifuges, shipped out 98% of its enriched uranium and filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete.
    Iran deal: Donald Trump says US will no longer abide by nuclear agreement – live
    Read more

    Tehran also accepted extensive monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has verified 10 times since the agreement, and as recently as February, that Tehran has complied with its terms. In return, all nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in January 2016, reconnecting Iran to global markets.
    Which countries are involved?

    The six major powers involved in the nuclear talks with Iran were in a group known as the P5+1: the UN security council’s five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – and Germany. The nuclear deal is also enshrined in a UN security council resolution that incorporated it into international law. The 15 members of the council at the time unanimously endorsed the agreement.

    #nucléaire


  • Israel braces for Iran missile attack from Syria over last month’s deadly strike

    Israeli officials believe Iran is determined to retaliate for the April 9 airstrike on Syria’s T4 airbase, which killed seven Iranian military advisers and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards

    Amos Harel May 06, 2018
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-braces-for-iran-missile-attack-from-syria-over-t4-airstrike

    Israeli defense officials are bracing for the possibility of an Iranian revenge attack from Syria in the near future, in the form of rocket and missile launches at northern Israel.
    Officials believe Iran is determined to retaliate for the April 9 airstrike on Syria’s T4 airbase, which killed seven Iranian military advisers and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran blames Israel for this attack.
    >> Iran’s proxy wars: The four battlegrounds Iran uses to threaten Israel and the Middle East | Analysis: Despite Iran’s threats, Israeli army pushes aggressive line against Tehran in Syria >>
    Israel has detected unusual involvement by Hezbollah in Iran’s preparations for retaliation, even though the organization has been trying to keep its activity low-profile so as not to affect its position within Lebanon. Aside from Hezbollah commanders, operatives from the Shi’ite militias that Iran funds in Syria have also been active in the preparations.
    The operational planning, however, is being done by members of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force.


  • US special forces operations in Yemen presage wider regional war - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/05/05/pers-m05.html

    US special forces operations in Yemen presage wider regional war
    5 May 2018

    The revelation that US special forces have been operating secretively on the ground in Yemen since December underscores once again Washington’s reckless drive towards a regional conflagration with Iran.

    Coming just a week before President Donald Trump is due to announce whether he will abrogate the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran, Thursday’s report in the New York Times that Green Berets are fighting alongside Saudi forces in their genocidal war against the Yemeni people demonstrates that US imperialism will stop at nothing to consolidate its hegemony over the Middle East. Having supplied the Saudis with intelligence and weaponry to continue their murderous assault on the impoverished country, resulting in the deaths of at least 13,000 civilians, the United States has now become a direct participant in the ground conflict.

    #yémen #arabie_saoudite #états_unis #guerre #armement


  • Despite Iran’s threats, Israeli army pushes aggressive line against Tehran in Syria

    IDF believes Iran won’t strike back before Trump’s deadline on nuclear deal, elections in Lebanon

    Amos Harel May 04, 2018
    Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-israeli-army-chief-eisenkot-stay-forceful-in-syria-despite-iran-1.

    Both the government and the military are sticking to an aggressive policy on Iran, arguing that Israel must continue to act in any way possible to stop Iran’s military consolidation in Syria.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Even after the two latest airstrikes attributed to Israel in Syria, on April 9 and April 29, and despite Iran’s threats of revenge, there has been no sign of any change in Israeli policy.
    The person spearheading this activist policy in the north is Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, whose position is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Reportedly, no cabinet minister has voiced opposition to the IDF’s stance, despite the risks it entails.
    According to the defense establishment’s analysis, Iran continues to send advanced weapons systems to Syria. But these arms are no longer necessarily slated to be passed on to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Instead, they are being used to bolster Iran’s military deployment in Syria, and may even be meant to prepare an Iranian military response against Israel.

    For now, however, Tehran seems to be debating over the nature of its promised retaliation against Israel, and even more, over its timing.
    One theory being advanced is that Tehran may be reluctant to respond prior to Lebanon’s parliamentary elections this coming Sunday and U.S. President Donald Trump’s expected announcement on May 12 as to whether his country is quitting the nuclear agreement with Iran. Israel’s announcement of the theft of Iran’s nuclear archive by Mossad agents is likely to increase Iranian leaders’ embarrassment.


  • US judge orders Iran to pay billions to families of 9/11 victims — RT US News
    https://www.rt.com/usa/425625-judge-iran-pay-911-victims

    Tehran has been ordered by a US court to pay more than $6 billion to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite the fact that most of the plane hijackers were Saudi nationals, and no direct link was ever found to Iran.

    On Tuesday, a federal judge in New York found Iran, the country’s central bank, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps liable for the deaths of more than 1,000 people in the September 11 attacks. As a consequence, District Judge George Daniels ordered Iran and its entities to pay over $6 billion in compensation to the victims’ families.

    #9/11 #fake_judgment #iran


  • Decades in the making: The Iranian drone program | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    https://thebulletin.org/decades-making-iranian-drone-program11185

    This summer, Iran’s drone program became the latest component of the country’s defense sector to make headlines. In August, an unarmed Iranian drone reportedly came within 100 feet of an American fighter jet in the Persian Gulf. Earlier in the summer, the United States downed two Iranian drones, which it said, were flying in close proximity to US-backed ground forces in Syria. In June, Pakistan too stated it had shot down an Iranian drone flying in its airspace.

    These incidents put the Iranian drone program on Western observers’ radars as a new potential threat associated with the Islamic Republic. But Iran’s drone program actually started decades ago and serves a number of military and civil purposes. As Tehran deploys its drones more regularly, for more purposes and in more locations, policy-makers will have to understand the program’s nature, scope, strengths, and limitations if they want to effectively respond to it.

    #drones #iran #syrie #israël #bombardement


  • What’s at Stake for Oil as Trump Appoints Another Iran Hawk? - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/what-s-at-stake-for-oil-as-trump-appoints-another-iran-hawk

    Iran is trying to attract more than $100 billion from international oil companies to boost crude and condensate output by about 25 percent to more than 5 million barrels a day. Without new investment from international companies production will stagnate.

    Trump’s disdain for the nuclear deal has already deterred investors from the country, the third-biggest producer in OPEC. Of the Western energy majors, only France’s Total SA has returned, and its gas venture is proceeding slowly. Iranian officials are already complaining that western oil companies are too cautious to return to the country and there are signs that Russian companies are stepping in to fill the vacuum.

    Total has the biggest financial stake of any international energy major, having pledged to invest $1 billion in the first phase of an offshore natural gas project. Overall investment in the project could reach $5 billion, and while the company is determined to press ahead, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne has promised to review the legal consequences of any new U.S. restrictions.
    […]
    Three years ago, in a New York Times op-ed titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,” Bolton argued that the only way to prevent Tehran obtaining nuclear weapons was a military strike. He cited Israel’s preemptive strike in 1981 on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor as an example of effective action.

    Bolton downplayed the significance of his past public statements in an interview with Fox News shortly after the appointment was announced, saying he would defer to the president’s judgment.

    I’ve never been shy about what my views are,” Bolton said. But, he added, that “now is behind me, at least effective April 9, and the important thing is what the president says and what advice I give him.

    Bolton’s appointment has lots of implications beyond just Iran, Ian Bremmer, president of consultant Eurasia Group, said on Twitter. It also makes Trump’s scheduled talks with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un riskier, he said.

    Thursday was “probably the worst/biggest single day for geopolitical risk since I started Eurasia Group in 1998,” Bremmer said on Twitter.