Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran ordered the Lockerbie bombing in revenge for the accidental shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet by a US navy ship, according to a former Iranian intelligence officer who defected to Germany.

An al-Jazeera documentary, Lockerbie: What Really Happened?, claims the attack was carried out on Tehran’s behalf by the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

It also says that the bomb was planted on Pan Am flight 103 at Heathrow Airport, not at Malta as suggested during the trial that convicted Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ Robert Nash]... participated in a delegation of American scholars to Iran led by Conscience International founder James Jennings.

The purpose was to meet with Iranian counterparts to discuss a wide range of topics and to make arrangements for future academic exchanges. The visit was made possible by recent diplomatic breakthroughs between Iran’s more moderate government and the United States.

Nash said he arrived home Jan. 26 encouraged that there are government and university officials in Iran who seem inclined to build on improved relations with the United States.

“I was surprised at the number of officials in the Iranian government that were trained and educated in American universities, with PhDs from places like UCLA, Boston University, Notre Dame — one after another,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senior U.S. officials said Monday they expect the United Nations to rescind its invitation to Iran to attend an international conference on Syria this week, and said prospects for the talks in Switzerland now are uncertain.

The officials said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had discussed the issue of Iran's invitation with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend and was insistent that Tehran must publicly endorse terms set out for the Geneva conference more than 18 months ago.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Aside from President Rouhani’s occasional tweets wishing Jews and Christians well on Rosh Hashanah and Christmas, Iran’s track record on religious tolerance and freedom is dismal.

Last month, the president released a draft Charter of Citizens’ Rights. Nice title, but what’s inside leaves much to be desired according to Nazila Ghanea, who teaches international human rights law at the University of Oxford. Ghanea has studied Iran’s human rights record for nearly two decades with a particular focus on freedom of religion or belief and minority rights. I spoke with her about this new charter and more generally about religious freedom in Iran. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 27, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The interim accord with Iran that would limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief “is greatly preferable to military action, which could have unpredictable and negative repercussions for the region,” said the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a November 27 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Read it all by following the link to the full letter.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For over three decades Iran and America have been blood enemies. Their hatred, like the hatred between the Palestinians and the Israelis, has framed the Middle East’s alliances and fuelled terror and war. The interim deal over Iran’s nuclear programme has not undone that—far from it. But through the keyhole it offers a tantalising glimpse of a different, better Middle East. It is a vision worth striving for.

Iran and six world powers, led by America, struck the six-month interim nuclear agreement in the early hours of November 24th.... Iran will cap its programme at more or less its capacity today, while the rest of the world will relax sanctions a little. But the deal matters mostly for what it heralds. If Iran shows restraint and the world rewards it, the negotiators might generate sufficient goodwill to reach a more durable and comprehensive agreement. And that would open up the possibility of America and Iran co-operating more, or at least feuding less, in the world’s most troubled region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The interim accord struck with Iran on Sunday interrupts the country’s nuclear progress for the first time in nearly a decade, but requires Iran to make only a modest down payment on the central problem.

The deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its “dash time” to a bomb — the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path.

Lengthening that period, so that the United States and its allies would have time to react, is the ultimate goal of President Obama’s negotiating team. It is also a major source of friction between the White House and two allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have made no secret of their belief that they are being sold down the river.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted November 24, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions.

The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the deal, which was reached after four days of hard bargaining, including an eleventh-hour intervention by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

7 Comments
Posted November 24, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Parliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter and while she is as young as 13 years.

Activists have expressed alarm that the bill, approved by parliament on Sunday, opens the door for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it is in the interests of the individual child.

Read it all (from September and from the queue of should-have-already-been-posted).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted November 1, 2013 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran’s positive attitude in its negotiations with the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia over its nuclear programme marks a clear shift in policy.

This welcome development, seen during the past week in talks in Geneva, follows Tehran’s willingness to go along with the Russian-initiated deal on chemical weapons in Syria – where Iran is backing the Assad regime. The Islamic Republic appears to be softening its longstanding policies in favour of a more conciliatory approach. The shift is caused by the country’s long-term decline in the Middle East – and Tehran’s recognition that it must act on this decline. Iran’s stance will hold the key to a number of interlocking regional conflicts, so identifying its cause helps shape policy responses to it.Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials said Iran hacked unclassified Navy computers in recent weeks in an escalation of Iranian cyberintrusions targeting the U.S. military.

The allegations, coming as the Obama administration ramps up talks with Iran over its nuclear program, show the depth and complexity of long-standing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The U.S. officials said the attacks were carried out by hackers working for Iran's government or by a group acting with the approval of Iranian leaders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran:

Before your arrival in New York this week to address the United Nations General Assembly, Iran announced that it had released 80 political prisoners. No doubt the gesture was welcomed by the prisoners and their families, but the release only makes a dent in the hundreds of prisoners being held in Iran for their beliefs—political beliefs or religious beliefs.

I know, because my husband, Saeed Abedini, is an American citizen held in an Iranian prison for the crime of practicing his Christian faith in the country of his birth. I was fortunate enough to encounter your delegation in New York during your visit this week, and while I did not get an opportunity to speak with you directly, I was encouraged that one of your associates accepted a letter that Saeed had written to you.

But I worry the letter wasn't given to you. So I write you here with Saeed's plea for justice and freedom....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2013 at 11:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

McCain and Graham have jointly expressed concerns that a military strike should be part of a broader strategy in Syria, not simply a random attack to punish the regime.

After meeting with Obama Monday, they both said they believed the White House is developing a strategy that would weaken the regime of President Bashar Assad and boost Syrian opposition forces — though they said Obama has more work to do to explain this plan.

"We still have significant concerns," McCain said, "but we believe there is in formulation a strategy to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and to degrade the capabilities of Bashar Assad. Before this meeting, we had not had that indication."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran could begin producing weapons-grade plutonium by next summer, U.S. and European officials believe, using a different nuclear technology that would be easier for foreign countries to attack.

The second path to potentially producing a nuclear weapon could complicate international efforts to negotiate with Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, who was sworn in Sunday in Tehran. It also heightens the possibility of an Israeli strike, said U.S. and European officials.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Which direction will Mr Rouhani take? The West is anxious to see how Mr Rouhani is to renew and augment his previous persona as chief negotiator for Iran on its nuclear ambitions. It will also want him to encourage negotiations between the Assad regime (which Iran supports) and the Syrian opposition. There will, similarly, be an expectation that Iran will use its influence to calm restive Shia populations in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia.

It should be recognised, once and for all, that the West’s interest in Iranian foreign policy cannot be separated from Iran’s internal security and human rights situation. There will be little progress in Iran’s relations with the international community without progress in its human rights policies and the gradual emergence of a more inclusive and plural society.

For some years, a general ferment has been building in Iranian society. The different elements that make this up are mutually antagonistic and finding a resolution among them will be one of the major challenges of this presidency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his first news conference since Friday's election, Mr Rouhani described as "unfair" sanctions imposed on his country. He also said Tehran would not suspend uranium enrichment activities.

The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its programme is entirely peaceful.

The UK said it hoped Mr Rouhani would act on his pledge to resolve the issue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted June 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google says it has uncovered a vast Iranian spy campaign that had been targeting tens of thousands of Iranian citizens over the past three weeks.

"These campaigns, which originate from within Iran, represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region," the company said in a blog post. "The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday."

The company said that thousands of its users inside Iran had been the targets of a sophisticated email phishing campaign in which attackers sent users a link that, when clicked, sent them to a fake Google sign-in page where the attackers could steal login credentials.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/security-it/google-uncovers-iranian-spy-campaign-20130614-2o7rh.html#ixzz2W8gG8bct


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The airstrike that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese organization, American officials said Saturday.

It was the second time in four months that Israel had carried out an attack in foreign territory aimed at disrupting the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, according to an American official.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsraelSyria

0 Comments
Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently suffering from internal bleeding in Iranian prison, said that he is praying for America in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and left over 200 injured last week.

"Pastor Saeed told family members he had heard about the terrorist bombings in Boston on the prison radio, expressed his concern, and told them he is praying for the victims and their families during this very challenging time for our nation," the American Center for Law and Justice revealed on Monday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchSportsUrban/City Life and IssuesViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

2 Comments
Posted February 24, 2013 at 1:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran's supreme leader has dismissed a US offer of one-to-one talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech posted online that the US was proposing talks while "pointing a gun at Iran".

On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden suggested direct talks, separate to the wider international discussions due to take place later this month.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

1 Comments
Posted February 7, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt's top Muslim cleric told visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday that his Shi'ite-led government must refrain from interfering in the affairs of Gulf Arab states and must give full rights to Sunnis living in Iran.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of the al-Azhar mosque, also urged Mr. Ahmadinejad to "respect Bahrain as a sisterly Arab state" and rejected "the spread of Shi'ism" in Sunni countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted February 6, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our government is coalescing around Pastor Saeed, but it is still moving too slow and engaging at too low a level. Two weeks ago 49 Members of Congress (37 from the House and 12 Senators) sent letters to the State Department urging “strong and sustained” advocacy on Saeed’s behalf. On Friday we reported that the State Department and White House made near-identical comments within moments of each other that clearly and unequivocally called for Pastor Saeed’s release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

7 Comments
Posted January 31, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. State Department says an American pastor who has been jailed in Iran since September has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Spokesman Darby Holladay said Sunday that the department is calling on Iran to respect Saeed Abedini’s human rights and release him.

Read it all and also read ACLJ comments there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The people must be alert, analytically and democratically. Populist movements are gaining strength, forcing emotional, hasty, binary and often blind reactions. Political and religious leaders, intellectuals and students, women (in the heart of their legitimate struggles) as well as ordinary citizens bear a heavy responsibility. They must become the masters of their fate. If democratisation is to mean anything at all, it must be in terms of freedom and responsibility. Time has come to stop blaming the West, the neighbouring countries and the "powers" for the crises they continue to suffer.

The Great Powers undoubtedly played a role in the uprisings - they continue to wield great influence and have not stopped promoting their interests, dictatorships or not, democracy or not. Engaged as they are in a painful transition, the MENA countries must now face their destiny. However, beyond the strategic planning of the Great Powers - both the western countries and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) - these countries have a historic opportunity to take their destinies in their hands; to create a new regional balance of power, new ways of handling the religious reference. They can profit from the emerging multi-polar economic order to celebrate cultural and artistic creativity, and take seriously the welfare and the superior interests of their peoples.

Where to begin? With a true process of liberation, an intellectual and psychological revolution that must first overcome the obsession with western approval, as if, once liberated, these countries must still seek legitimacy and tolerance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Gaza Strip fighting, where a cease-fire was reached Wednesday, the Israeli military pounded Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes. Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel.

The weeklong battle temporarily diverted attention from Iran, the archenemy of Israel and a key ally of Hamas. Israeli leaders have threatened to strike Iran over its nuclear program.

Yet the Gaza fight may offer insights into what a possible confrontation between Israel and Iran would look like.

Read (or listen to) it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran is on the threshold of being able to create weapons-grade uranium at a plant it has heavily fortified against Israeli attack, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday, calling into question an Israeli claim that Iran had slowed its nuclear time table.

One of three diplomats who discussed the issue said Iran was now technically ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium at its Fordo facility by nearly 700 centrifuges. That would double present output, and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months.

Such a move would raise the stakes for Israel, which has said it believes the world has until next summer to stop Iran before it can get nuclear material and implied it would have time to decide whether to strike Fordo and other Iranian nuclear facilities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

4 Comments
Posted November 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iranian warships have arrived in Port Sudan in an apparent show of support for the government in Khartoum, one week after it accused Israel of bombing an arms factory in the Sudanese capital.

Iran's state news agency confirmed yesterday that two vessels, a destroyer and a helicopter carrier have docked in Sudan's main port on the Red Sea and their commanders will be meeting Sudanese officials.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South SudanMiddle EastIranIsrael

1 Comments
Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israeli military experts Sunday worked around the clock to examine the remains of a mysterious drone that was shot down after penetrating Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli military announced Saturday that the unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down over the northern Negev Desert. They say the drone did not take off from Gaza, leading them to consider the possibility that it originated in Lebanon.

Israeli security experts point the finger at Israel's longstanding rival Hezbollah, the Shiite militia based in southern Lebanon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraqIsraelLebanonSyriaThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Events in recent days have illustrated just how quickly the violence in Syria could spiral into a regional war. After Syrian mortar bombs once again fell on Turkish soil, this time killing five civilians, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan felt compelled to act. The Turkish military's retaliation on Wednesday and Thursday startled the international community.

With its actions, Turkey obviously proceeded with caution: It answered the repeated attacks from Syria with a few artillery shots -- not missiles. And the permission for further military action granted to Erdogan by his parliament is intended primarily as an intimidation measure. There is no apparent intent to declare all-out war -- at least for the time being. The United Nations Security Council, meanwhile, has strongly condemned the Syrian attack on Turkish soil and called on both sides to show restraint.
The fact of the matter is that the longer Syrian civil war continues, the more often incidents like that seen earlier this week will occur -- particularly in Turkey and Lebanon. A large part of the border region around Syria has already become a war zone. Previously, the international community had worried that a military intervention could fuel a regional wildfire, but now it is being forced to look on as this increasingly appears to be the reality -- without it ever even having gotten involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanLebanonSyria

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When a senior Iraqi intelligence official traveled to Tehran in the summer of 2007 to meet with the Iranian leadership, he quickly figured out who was in charge of Iran’s policy toward its neighbor to the west.

It was not the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was Qassim Suleimani, the shadowy commander of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force, who calmly explained that he was the “sole authority for Iranian actions in Iraq,” according to an account the Iraqi official later provided to American officials in Baghdad.

A soft-spoken, gray-haired operative who carries himself with the confidence that comes from having the backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, General Suleimani is the antithesis of the bombastic Iranian president. Now a major general — the highest rank in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — after a promotion last year, he has been the mastermind behind two central Iranian foreign policy initiatives, exerting and expanding Tehran’s influence in the internal politics of Iraq and providing military support for the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraqSyria

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his "red line" for Iran's nuclear program on Thursday despite a U.S. refusal to set an ultimatum, saying Tehran will be on the brink of a nuclear weapon in less than a year.

By citing a time frame in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu - who has clashed with President Barack Obama over the urgency of military action against Iran - appeared to suggest no Israeli attack was imminent before the November 6 U.S. presidential election....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious rights activists are hailing the release over the weekend of an Iranian pastor accused of apostasy and a Pakistani girl who was charged with blasphemy.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released Saturday (Sept. 8) after a six-hour hearing, reported the American Center for Law and Justice, which worked to garner American support for the minister’s release. The Christian convert had faced possible execution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistanMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches

3 Comments
Posted September 12, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rift between top U.S. and Israeli leaders appeared to deepen Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leveled the sharpest attacks in years by an Israeli leader against Washington, over differences on how to address Iran's nuclear program.

Tensions had so escalated that President Barack Obama spent an hour on the phone with the Israeli leader in a hastily arranged call hours after both governments said the White House wouldn't agree to an Israeli request for a meeting between the two leaders at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this month.

The Israelis said their request was refused; the White House said there was a scheduling conflict and there could be a meeting elsewhere at another time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been acquitted of apostasy and released, ending a saga that drew international attention and saw him spend more than 1,000 days in jail in the face of a death sentence -- simply for being a Christian.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported Saturday (Sept. 8) that Nadarkhani, in jail since 2009, was acquitted of apostasy -- that is, converting from Islam to Christianity -- but found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. CSW said Nadarkhani was sentenced to three years in prison for that latter charge, but released due to time already served. Nadarkhani said he never was a Muslim.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyPastoral Theology

7 Comments
Posted September 8, 2012 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I find it very disturbing that one of the first trips by Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will be to attend the Nonaligned Movement’s summit meeting in Tehran this week. Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason the Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran’s people that the world approves of their country’s clerical leadership and therefore they should never, ever, ever again think about launching a democracy movement — the exact same kind of democracy movement that brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIran

1 Comments
Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A brightly colored tent suspected of shielding the site of nuclear activities from the prying eyes of satellites and an apparently growing number of underground centrifuges to create enriched uranium are among the items the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog will want to discuss with Iran when the two meet Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is playing down the prospects of getting what it wants from the meeting. The IAEA is seeking a go-ahead from Iran to inspect a military research-and-development site south of Tehran known as Parchin. The international body suspects Iran has used the secrecy-cloaked site to develop military applications for its nuclear know-how, a claim Iran denies.

The lead-up to Friday’s meeting has provided a window into Iran’s activities that suggest, as IAEA director general Yukiya Amano indicates, that Iran has something to hide.

Read it all and there is more there as well.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeMiddle EastIran

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Posted August 24, 2012 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The West often sees Islam as a monolith but in reality it is a patchwork of sects, schools and ways, not to mention some fully fledged religions wearing Islamic masks to avoid persecution. And as always in Islam, religious differences are a cover for political rivalries.

Involved in the schism are three camps. One consists of traditional Sunni Muslims who have just won a share of power in several countries, notably Egypt. The second camp is that of Salafis, Sunni Muslims who dream of reconquering “lost Islamic lands” such as Spain and parts of Russia and to revive the caliphate. In the third camp are Shia militants who hope to overthrow Sunni regimes and extend their influence in southern Asia, Africa and Latin America....

Iran, the leading Shia power, and Saudi Arabia, its Sunni rival, have been fighting sectarian proxy wars for years, notably in Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Last year more than 5,000 people died in sectarian clashes in Pakistan. Under its neo-Ottoman leadership Turkey has abandoned the ringside to join the fray, notably in Libya and Syria. Now Egypt is also testing the waters....

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistanMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqSaudi ArabiaSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

3 Comments
Posted August 22, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called Israel "an insult to humankind". It follows a week in which Israel has been carrying out an increasingly public debate about whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

Some people have suggested that an attack is more likely to happen before America's presidential election in November, because it would be harder for President Obama to stop it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

1 Comments
Posted August 18, 2012 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This NIE report on Iran was supposed to have been submitted to Obama a few weeks ago, but it was revised to include new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran's nuclear program. Haaretz has learned that the report's conclusions are quite similar to those drawn by Israel's intelligence community.

The NIE report contends that Iran has made surprising, notable progress in the research and development of key components of its military nuclear program.

The NIE reports are the most important assessments compiled by the U.S. intelligence community and are submitted to the president and other top governmental officials. This NIE report was compiled by an inter-departmental team headed by director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Its contents articulate the views of American intelligence agencies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted August 13, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran is rapidly gaining new capabilities to strike at U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, amassing an arsenal of sophisticated anti-ship missiles while expanding its fleet of fast-attack boats and submarines, U.S. and Middle Eastern analysts say.

The new systems, many of them developed with foreign assistance, are giving Iran’s commanders new confidence that they could quickly damage or destroy U.S. ships if hostilities erupt, the officials say....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

1 Comments
Posted July 27, 2012 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Said [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta: “Well, there’s no question that if a cyber attack, you know, crippled our power grid in this country, took down our financial systems, took down our government systems, that that would constitute an act of war.”

The comment takes on added resonance given the scoop in David Sanger’s new book, “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” to be published by Crown on Tuesday and excerpted in today’s New York Times.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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Posted June 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past 28 months, assassins have targeted at least five Iranians scientists or engineers, men linked by Western intelligence agencies to the country’s controversial nuclear program.

One was Darioush Rezaeinejad, an Iranian electrical engineer working at a national security research facility. Last July, he was driving home with his wife after picking up their daughter from kindergarten. Outside the front gate of the family home, two gunmen in sunglasses approached, pulled out handguns and opened fire.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

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Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of international talks in Baghdad over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, the leader of the United Nations nuclear monitoring arm announced what appeared to be a significant concession from Tehran, saying that, despite unspecified differences, he expected a deal “quite soon” on arrangements for an investigation into potential military applications of the program.

The comments by Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, came after his first visit to Iran since his appointment in 2009. Iran’s invitation to Mr. Amano, announced unexpectedly on Friday, and the apparent shift by Tehran he announced on Tuesday, offered significant signals of Iranian flexibility.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

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Posted May 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of the Assemblies of God’s (AG) Central Church of Tehran told its congregation on May 6 that authorities have demanded a list of names and identification numbers of church members, a major risk to converts from Islam.

Church leaders then asked members in attendance to volunteer their information. The AG church holds two Sunday services, both conducted in Farsi. It is the only church remaining in Tehran that offers Farsi-language worship on Sundays.

“This [government move] is basically to make sure the church is not taking in new members and to make it difficult and risky for non-Christians to attend,” Monsour Borji, an Iranian Christian and advocacy officer for rights initiative Article 18, told Compass. “It is an effort to limit the church, basically.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

1 Comments
Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel’s military chief said in an interview published Wednesday that he believes Iran will choose not to build a nuclear bomb, an assessment that contrasted with the gloomier statements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pointed to differences over the Iran issue at the top levels of Israeli leadership.

The comments by Maj. Gen Benny Gantz, who said international sanctions have begun to show results, could relieve pressure on the Obama administration and undercut efforts by Israeli political leaders to urge the United States to get as tough as possible on Iran.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

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Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

T he discovery this week of a massive light crude oil field in southern Iran adds another layer of complexity to one of the world's most acute problems. Iran and Israel appear to be heading for war unless something unexpected happens and this week's discovery will only strengthen the resolve and confidence of Tehran.

For many Australians the name Iran conjures images of bearded and severe Ayatollahs and a wide-eyed President Ahmadinejad occupying the no-man's land between sanity and fanaticism. We see a persistent stream of refugees who seem to validate the assumption they must be fleeing a toxic regime. Since this country could easily become the biggest, cataclysmic news story of the year, it is worth spending a few minutes trying to understand its pathology....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Any "success" in new nuclear talks between Iran and world powers will depend on bridging a trust gap that has widened since the last round of talks failed 15 months ago.

In that time, Iran has advanced its uranium enrichment expertise and material stockpiles, and not resolved questions about possible past nuclear weapons-related efforts.

Though Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declares that having nuclear weapons is a "sin," and vows that the Islamic Republic will never pursue them, the US and some other nations demand incontrovertible proof.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeMiddle EastIran

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Posted April 13, 2012 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just hours after it was revealed that American soldiers had burned Korans seized at an Afghan detention center in late February, Iran secretly ordered its agents operating inside Afghanistan to exploit the anticipated public outrage by trying to instigate violent protests in the capital, Kabul, and across the western part of the country, according to American officials.

For the most part, the efforts by Iranian agents and local surrogates failed to provoke widespread or lasting unrest, the officials said. Yet with NATO governments preparing for the possibility of retaliation by Iran in the event of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, the issue of Iran’s willingness and ability to foment violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere has taken on added urgency.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIran

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Posted April 5, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Obama had two main objectives — to deflect Israeli pressure to conduct or acquiesce in a premature war, and to neutralize Republican criticism that he is too soft on Iran and too hard on Israel,” said Robert Malley, program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group. “On those fronts, mission accomplished.”

But, Mr. Malley added, “victory came at a price.” By stating clearly that containment of a nuclear-armed Iran is off the table, Mr. Obama may have committed America to military action to halt Iran if other means fail to do so, Mr. Malley said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

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Posted March 30, 2012 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please remember him in prayer.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

2 Comments
Posted March 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone willing to follow the Lord is supposed to have listened in some way to this seemingly imperious command: “Come!” a command which implies an act of faith, referred to sometimes as the “leap of faith.” As it is clear from the Scriptures, what we are able to see is not faith, as the biblical faith is defined as : “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We have to decide “in spite of”’, in order to experience the power of God. But we need to remember that everything must be done according the Word of God. Peter did not experience the possibility to walk on water because he decided to leave the boat but because of the Word, the Command of the Lord.

The Word of God tell us to “expect to suffer hardship” and dishonor for the sake of His Name. Our Christian confession is not acceptable if we ignore this statement, if we do not manifest the patience of the Lord in our sufferings. Anybody ignoring it will be ashamed in that day.

Let us remember that sometimes the leap of faith leads us towards some impasses. Just as the Word led the sons of Israel leaving Egypt toward the impasse of the Red sea. These impasses are midway between promises of God and their fulfillments and they challenge our faith. Believers are to accept these challenges as a part of their spiritual course. The Son was challenged at Calvary in the hardest way, as it is written in the Scriptures....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

9 Comments
Posted March 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in excerpts of the interviews shown late Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu reiterated the point he had sought to make forcefully in Washington: that if Iran did not change course, Israel, which considers a nuclear Iran a threat to its existence, would not allow itself to be in a position where its fate was left in others’ hands.

“The United States is big and distant, Israel is smaller and closer to Iran, and naturally, we have different capabilities,” Mr. Netanyahu told Channel One, the public television channel. “So the American clock regarding preventing Iranian nuclearization is not the Israeli one. The Israeli clock works, obviously, according to a different schedule.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

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Posted March 10, 2012 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid an escalating din among Israeli leaders about the threat of a potentially nuclear Iran, the Israeli public has displayed little enthusiasm for a solo preemptive military strike. A handful of recent polls have shown that ordinary Israelis are firmly against the idea of going it alone.

“Israelis are much more careful, much more cautious than their government,” said Ephraim Yaar, a Tel Aviv University professor who co-directs a monthly public opinion survey. This week, more than 60 percent of Israelis polled said they opposed an attack on Iran without U.S. cooperation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

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Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The international community is set to restart talks with Iran on its nuclear program, the European Union's top diplomat said Tuesday, opening a diplomatic channel at a time of increased tensions between Tehran and Western powers.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign-policy chief, on Tuesday wrote to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, that the EU proposed resuming talks "as soon as possible." The agreement was a response to a letter from Mr. Jalili in February asking for talks at the "earliest" opportunity.

The announcement comes a day after U.S. and Israeli leaders met in Washington to discuss Iran's nuclear-development program. The U.S. and many EU states have accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran has denied.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeMiddle EastIranIsrael

5 Comments
Posted March 7, 2012 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"What started as targeted sanctions to push back the nuclear program has in reality turned into comprehensive, broad sanctions that have hurt the Iranian people," said Ali Vaez, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Iran Project in Washington.

If Western governments are counting on economic deprivation to bring radical change in Iran, analysts say they are likely to be disappointed.

"History shows that sanctions do not yield regime change -- this is particularly true for states that emerged out of revolutions," said Middle East analyst Arshin Adib-Moghaddam of the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Curiously missing in this flurry of coverage has been a more considered assessment of the internal dynamics in play for Israeli decision-makers and how those might be most effectively influenced. Too often, the calculations of Israel's leaders are depicted as if this were a collection of think-tankers and trauma victims given a very big and high-tech army to play with. Netanyahu represents the latter, guided by his "existentialist mindset" and his 101-year-old historian father. (The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg drew heavily on the father-son relationship in his assessment 18 months ago that an Israeli strike on Iran was imminent.) Peter Beinart has written, "Benjamin Netanyahu has only one mode: apocalyptic." And the prime minister often depicts contemporary realities as akin to 1938.

In Shalom Auslander's new novel, Hope: A Tragedy, the lead protagonist, Solomon Kugel, discovers a living and elderly Anne Frank in his attic, at one level seemingly a metaphor for the identity politics of contemporary American Jewry -- we all carry Anne Frank around with us in our heads. Bibi Netanyahu can sometimes sound like an Israeli version of Solomon Kugel, the difference being that in the Israeli "attic" we keep both Anne Frank and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the two apparently merging when it comes to the prime minister's depiction of the threat posed by Iran and how it should be handled....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

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Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials say they see Iran’s hand in the increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition strongholds in Syria, including evidence of Iranian military and intelligence support for government troops accused of mass executions and other atrocities in the past week.

Three U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports from the region described a spike in Iran­ian-supplied arms and other aid for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad at a time when the regime is mounting an unprecedented offensive to crush resistance in the key city of Homs.

“The aid from Iran is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal assistance,” said one of the officials, insisting on anonymity to discuss intelligence reports from the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranSyria

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Posted March 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

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Posted March 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

1 Comments
Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith. This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right. The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. The United States calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. The United States renews its calls for people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani's immediate release.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

2 Comments
Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.

Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.

At the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

17 Comments
Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran dramatically boosted its production of a purer form of nuclear fuel in recent months, with much of the increased output coming from a newly opened plant built inside a mountain bunker, U.N. officials said Friday, further exacerbating worries about Iran’s march toward nuclear-weapons capability.

The finding, in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, showed a nearly 50 percent jump since the fall in Iran’s stockpile of a kind of highly enriched uranium that is closer to weapons-grade than the type normally used in nuclear power plants.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

.... the world should [not] just let Iran get the bomb. The government will soon be starved of revenues, because of an oil embargo. Sanctions are biting, the financial system is increasingly isolated and the currency has plunged in value. Proponents of an attack argue that military humiliation would finish the regime off. But it is as likely to rally Iranians around their leaders. Meanwhile, political change is sweeping across the Middle East. The regime in Tehran is divided and it has lost the faith of its people. Eventually, popular resistance will spring up as it did in 2009. A new regime brought about by the Iranians themselves is more likely to renounce the bomb than one that has just witnessed an American assault.

Is there a danger that Iran will get a nuclear weapon before that happens? Yes, but bombing might only increase the risk. Can you stop Iran from getting a bomb if it is determined to have one? Not indefinitely, and bombing it might make it all the more desperate. Short of occupation, the world cannot eliminate Iran’s capacity to gain the bomb. It can only change its will to possess one. Just now that is more likely to come about through sanctions and diplomacy than war.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.

Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.

It is unclear whether Nadarkhani can appeal the execution order.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

19 Comments
Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should Israel decide to launch a strike on Iran, its pilots would have to fly more than 1,000 miles across unfriendly airspace, refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran’s air defenses, attack multiple underground sites simultaneously — and use at least 100 planes.

That is the assessment of American defense officials and military analysts close to the Pentagon, who say that an Israeli attack meant to set back Iran’s nuclear program would be a huge and highly complex operation. They describe it as far different from Israel’s “surgical” strikes on a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 and Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

12 Comments
Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran’s government ordered a halt to oil exports to Britain and France on Sunday, in what may be only an initial response to the European Union decision to cut off Iranian oil imports and freeze central bank assets beginning in July.

Britain and France depend little on Iranian oil, however, so their targeting may be a mostly symbolic act, a function of the strong positions Paris and London have taken in trying to halt Iranian nuclear enrichment and bring pressure to bear on Syria, one of Tehran’s closest allies.

Tehran may also be reluctant, when its economy has been damaged by existing sanctions, to deprive itself of revenues from its larger European customers. At the same time, it may be seeking to divide the 27-nation European Union between those who depend on Iranian oil and those who do not

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFranceMiddle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eliat, Israel--Vacationers in this glittering holiday city by the Israeli-Egyptian border, stroll along a seaside promenade trying to forget their nation's troubles.

"We try not to think about politics too much," said Nikhama Prat, pushing her 3-year-old son in a carriage along the wood-planked walkway. "There is always something happening with Israel. We're threatened all the time."
In a country endemic with strife, there are mixed feelings among Israelis over whether growing threats from Iran, or immediate localized issues, are of greatest concern.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted February 5, 2012 at 5:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran has said an oil embargo adopted by European Union foreign ministers over the country's nuclear programme is "unfair" and "doomed to fail".

The measures would not prevent Iran's "progress for achieving its basic rights", foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

The sanctions ban all new oil contracts with Iran and freeze the assets of Iran's central bank in the EU.

The EU currently buys about 20% of Iran's oil exports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran’s rulers are feeling the heat. The Islamic Republic was forced to prop up its currency on Jan. 4, just days after the U.S. imposed tough new sanctions to goad it into abandoning its nuclear weapons program. A European curb on Iranian crude imports would add to pressure on Tehran ahead of elections in March.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a problem. But more sanctions may not be a solution. If China doesn’t co-operate, they may just end up distorting oil markets.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaEuropeMiddle EastIran

2 Comments
Posted January 9, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Congress's point of view is that we may be running a risk that this will increase the price of oil but that compared to [the risk of ] Israeli or U.S. military strikes on Iran or a nuclear-armed Iran, the oil market impact of these sanctions will pale in comparison," says Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Energy analyst Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, says there are no easy answers.

"There are only trade-offs, and many of the trade-offs are difficult ones," Yergin says.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted December 22, 2011 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta landed in the Iraqi capital on Thursday for the ceremony officially ending the military mission here and closing out a bloody and controversial chapter of American relations with the Islamic world.

Pentagon officials said Mr. Panetta would thank all American service members who served here since the 2003 invasion, and would laud them for “the remarkable progress we have seen here in Baghdad and across this country.”

Mr. Panetta also was expected to note that the American effort "helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside and to offer hope for prosperity and peace to this country’s future generations.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq

1 Comments
Posted December 15, 2011 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran will not return a U.S. surveillance drone captured by its armed forces, a senior commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.

Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guard, said in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. drone was a “hostile act” and warned of a “bigger” response. He did not elaborate on what Tehran might do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

5 Comments
Posted December 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The radar-evading drone that crash-landed over the weekend in Iran was on a mission for the CIA, according to a senior U.S. official, raising fears that the aircraft's sophisticated technology could be exploited by Tehran or shared with other American rivals.

It was unclear whether the drone's mission took it over Iran or whether it strayed there accidentally because of technical malfunctions, the official said.

Though the drone flight was a CIA operation, U.S. military personnel were involved in flying the aircraft, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted December 6, 2011 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed, Iran is getting closer to acquiring a nuclear bomb - it might be able to do so in less than two years. A Persian nuclear bomb threatens Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states as much as it does Israel. Europe and the United States also have reason to be deeply concerned.

And then there is what many had hoped would become the Arab Spring. It may be that a majority of Muslims in North Africa reject the form of democracy favoured in the West. Young Muslims have shown enormous courage in demonstrating for freedoms in the face of repression in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and the like. Yet, when relatively free elections have been conducted in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, the Islamist parties have prevailed.

This does not mean such nations will become Islamic theocracies like Iran any time soon. It is likely that, in the short term at least, the Islamist parties will share power with other organisations, including the army.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted December 6, 2011 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Could civil war erupt again? How fragile is the ramshackle coalition government of Shia, Kurd and Sunni led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki? Iraqi leaders I spoke to say the capacity to keep the present power-sharing agreement going is far more significant for the stability of the country than any enhanced security threat from al-Qa'ida following the departure of the last American soldiers. "The leaders behave like adversaries even when they are in the same government," says Dr Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish member of parliament. "It would be better to have a government and an opposition, but nobody in Iraq feels safe enough to be in the opposition."

Despite this anxious mood, Baghdad is less dangerous than it was in 2009, and infinitely better than it was in 2007, when more than a thousand bodies were turning up in the city every month.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraq

1 Comments
Posted December 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration on Monday will name Iran, including its central bank, as a territory of "primary money laundering concern," say senior U.S. officials, in an effort to further pressure Tehran after recent disclosures about its alleged role in terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The U.S. Treasury Department won't formally sanction Iran's central bank, Bank Markazi, as many Republican and Democratic lawmakers are demanding.

But U.S. officials said this new action would serve as a warning to governments and businesses in Europe, Asia and Latin America to wind down their ties to Bank Markazi and their purchases of Iranian crude oil, as even tougher actions likely will be coming down the road.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the last U.S. troops pack up to leave Iraq by the end of next month, Pentagon officials and senior military commanders are warning that Iran will rush to fill a power vacuum created by the American exit unless Washington limits its pullback from the region.

That broad assessment has taken on urgency in recent weeks against a backdrop of new intelligence that indicates the government in Tehran also is aggressively courting proxy forces in Yemen and, according to United Nations nuclear inspectors, is fast approaching the capability to build nuclear weapons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2011 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Nations weapons inspectors have amassed a trove of new evidence that they say makes a “credible” case that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” and that the project may still be under way.

The long-awaited report, released by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday, represents the strongest judgment the agency has issued in its decade-long struggle to pierce the secrecy surrounding the Iranian program. The findings, drawn from evidence of far greater scope and depth than the agency has previously made public, have already rekindled a debate among the Western allies and Israel about whether increased diplomatic pressure, sanctions, sabotage or military action could stop Iran’s program.

Knowing that their findings would be compared with the flawed Iraq intelligence that preceded the 2003 invasion — and has complicated American moves on Iran — the inspectors devoted a section of the report to “credibility of information.” The information was from a range of independent sources, they said; some was backed up by interviews with foreigners who had helped Iran.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

2 Comments
Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran may be the most challenging test of the Obama administration’s focus on new, cheap technologies that could avoid expensive boots on the ground; drones are the most obvious, cyberweapons the least discussed. It does not quite add up to a new Obama Doctrine, but the methods are defining a new era of nearly constant confrontation and containment. Drones are part of a tactic to keep America’s adversaries off balance and preoccupied with defending themselves. And in the past two and a half years, they have been used more aggressively than ever. There are now five or six secret American drone bases around the world. Some recently discovered new computer worms suggest that a new, improved Stuxnet 2.0 may be in the works for Iran.

“There were a lot of mistakes made the first time,” said an American official, avoiding any acknowledgment that the United States played a role in the cyber attack on Iran. “This was a first-generation product. Think of Edison’s initial light bulbs, or the Apple II.”

Not surprisingly, the Iranians are refusing to sit back and take it — which is one reason many believe the long shadow war with Iran is about to ramp up dramatically. At the White House and the C.I.A., officials say the recently disclosed Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States — by blowing up a tony Georgetown restaurant frequented by senators, lobbyists and journalists — was just the tip of the iceberg.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

4 Comments
Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says the thwarted Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States shows the "collision course" that awaits unless Iran changes directions.

“To cross to the other side of the world and try and attack in this country is an escalation," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on "Fox News Sunday." "And that’s what concerns us.”

U.S. officials revealed last week that two men have been charged in New York federal court with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite are Islamic rivals in the Middle East.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials on Tuesday said that they had foiled an elaborate terrorist plot backed by factions of the Iranian government aimed at assassinating the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

At a news conference, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said two Iranians have been charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges. One of the suspects, an Iranian with U.S. citizenship, was arrested in New York last month; the other, an Iranian, remains at large.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranSaudi Arabia

1 Comments
Posted October 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last year, two pastors have caused sufficient international concern that the White House has spoken about them. But only one has been mentioned in the Australian media.

Both pastors profess to lead Bible-believing churches. Both have come into conflict with Islam. Both have been criticised by their own governments.

Yet, in many respects, they are very different. One operates freely in an open society, while the other is imprisoned by an Islamic regime. One is proud of the actions he is accused of, while the other suffers from trumped up accusations. One is an embarrassment to the Christian cause; the other is a hero whose stand for the gospel gladdens the heart of all who love the truth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2011 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

1 Comments
Posted October 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials have scrambled this past week to redraw a 2012 military training plan after Iraqi leaders announced they would not grant immunity to troops who remain past the Dec. 31 deadline for withdrawal.

Since Tuesday, when Iraqi leaders formally requested that U.S. military training continue into next year, military and diplomatic officials in Washington and Baghdad have been sketching alternative proposals that could place training in the hands of private security contractors or NATO, entities that can be legally covered some other way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the United States draws down its forces in Iraq, fears abound that Iran will simply move into the vacuum and extend its already substantial political influence more deeply through the soft powers of culture and commerce. But here, in this region that is a center of Shiite Islam, some officials say that Iran wore out its welcome long ago.

Surely, Iran has emerged empowered in Iraq over the last eight years, and it has a sympathetic Shiite-dominated government to show for it, as well as close ties to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr. But for what so far are rather obscure reasons — perhaps the struggling Iranian economy and mistrust toward Iranians that has been nurtured for centuries — it has been unable to extend its reach.

In fact, a host of countries led by Turkey — but not including the United States — have made the biggest inroads, much to the chagrin of people here in Najaf like the governor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reports by the semi-official Fars News Agency indicated that the charges against Nadarkhani have since changed and the pastor is now charged with rape and extortion.

"He is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes,” Gholomali Rezvanii said in the Fars News report. Renvanii is the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted.

The White House and State Department released statements on Thursday and Friday, respectively. The White House stated that Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people."

Read it all and there is a lot more there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

5 Comments
Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
Update: I also see a USCIRF statement there.

Marco Rubio has a piece here as well.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

12 Comments
Posted September 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is privately telling American officials that it wants their army to stay here after this year.

The Americans are privately telling their Iraqi counterparts that they want to stay.

But under what conditions, and at what price to the Americans who stay behind?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2011 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. will not "walk away" from the challenge of Iran's stepped-up arming of Iraqi insurgents who are targeting and killing American troops, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.

"We're very concerned about Iran and the weapons they're providing to extremists in Iraq," he told soldiers on his first visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief.

"We cannot sit back and simply allow this to continue to happen" he said. "This is not something we're going to walk away from. It's something we're going to take on head-on."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq War* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

2 Comments
Posted July 12, 2011 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran said on Saturday it test-fired two long-range missiles into the Indian Ocean earlier this year, the first time it has fired missiles into that sea, according to state television.

"In the month of Bahman (Jan 21-Feb 19) two missiles with a range of 1,900 km (1,180 miles) were fired from Semnan province(in northern Iran) into the mouth of the Indian Ocean," Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, told a news conference some of which was shown on television.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

1 Comments
Posted July 9, 2011 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Mossad spy chief's name is on everyone's lips in Israel — with good reason.

Meir Dagan was the head of Israel's spy agency for eight years and has been credited with raising the international prestige of the agency. So it came as a shock to many that upon leaving office he would talk about one of the most sensitive issues here: Iran.

Dagan has said that a military strike on that nation targeting its suspect nuclear program would be disastrous, and he lambasted the current Israeli leadership for being reckless in pursuing that aim. This past week, Dagan was stripped of his diplomatic passport, in apparent retaliation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2011 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that the Bushehr power plant is operational, Press TV reported on Wednesday.

"As we have previously announced, Bushehr power plant has reached the criticality stage, meaning it has been successfully launched," Salehi reportedly said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A fightback by repressive governments is putting at risk a historic struggle for freedom and justice in the Arab world, Amnesty International says.

Publishing its annual report, the rights group highlights the fight for control over communications technology.

It criticises Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen for targeting peaceful protesters to stay in power.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaAsiaBahrainChinaYemenMiddle EastIranSyria

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Democracy is part of America's very identity, and thus we benefit in a world of more democracies. But this is no reason to delude ourselves about grand historical schemes or to forget our wider interests. Precisely because so much of the Middle East is in upheaval, we must avoid entanglements and stay out of the domestic affairs of the region. We must keep our powder dry for crises ahead that might matter much more than those of today.

Our most important national-security resource is the time that our top policy makers can devote to a problem, so it is crucial to avoid distractions. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fragility of Pakistan, Iran's rush to nuclear power, a possible Israeli military response—these are all major challenges that have not gone away. This is to say nothing of rising Chinese naval power and Beijing's ongoing attempt to Finlandize much of East Asia.

We should not kid ourselves. In foreign policy, all moral questions are really questions of power. We intervened twice in the Balkans in the 1990s only because Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic had no nuclear weapons and could not retaliate against us, unlike the Russians, whose destruction of Chechnya prompted no thought of intervention on our part (nor did ethnic cleansing elsewhere in the Caucasus, because it was in Russia's sphere of influence). At present, helping the embattled Libyan rebels does not affect our interests, so we stand up for human rights there. But helping Bahrain's embattled Shia, or Yemen's antiregime protesters, would undermine key allies, so we do nothing as demonstrators are killed in the streets.

Of course, just because we can't help everywhere does not mean we can't help somewhere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanSaudi ArabiaSyria

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The tiny Island of Bahrain could become a battleground for regional influence between two historical rivals—with Saudi Arabia backing Bahrain's Sunni monarchy, and Iran supporting the Shiite opposition.

A coalition of about 2,000 soldiers deployed by Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states, part of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, rolled into Bahrain's capital Monday to help restore order and save a government challenged by an opposition seeking an end to the monarchy. It was the first time Gulf countries deployed troops to an Arab nation to settle an internal dispute.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryAsiaBahrainMiddle EastIranSaudi Arabia

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2011 at 7:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five Iranian house church Christians were behind bars Wednesday, March 15, after being sentenced to one year imprisonment on charges of "crimes against the Islamic order" and there were reports that Iranian authorities have been burning Bibles.

Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad, who are members of the Church of Iran house church movement, were found guilty by the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, according to trial observers. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an advocacy group closely monitoring the case, said the have 20 days to appeal the sentence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted March 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The popular revolts shaking the Arab world have begun to shift the balance of power in the region, bolstering Iran’s position while weakening and unnerving its rival, Saudi Arabia, regional experts said.

While it is far too soon to write the final chapter on the uprisings’ impact, Iran has already benefited from the ouster or undermining of Arab leaders who were its strong adversaries and has begun to project its growing influence, the analysts said. This week Iran sent two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time since its revolution in 1979, and Egypt’s new military leaders allowed them to pass.

Saudi Arabia, an American ally and a Sunni nation that jousts with Shiite Iran for regional influence, has been shaken. King Abdullah on Wednesday signaled his concern by announcing a $10 billion increase in welfare spending to help young people marry, buy homes and open businesses, a gesture seen as trying to head off the kind of unrest that fueled protests around the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaMiddle EastEgyptIranSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iranian authorities have released about half of the Christians arrested for their faith across the country in December and January, as well as one held in Shiraz since June, sources said.

In December and January authorities arrested up to 120 believers after Iranian religious and political figures acknowledged the existence of home fellowships and condemned them as a threat to the state. Sources estimate at least 62 of those arrested during late December and January have been released, some on bail. A typical bail amount in Iran can range between a few thousand dollars and the deed on a house.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2011 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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