MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INSIGHT : Tehran Delays Accession to Anti-Terrorism Finance Convention

Iran has again balked at joining an international convention against terrorism finance, an action widely seen as necessary for the Islamic Republic to escape the effect of US sanctions.

Ahmad Tavakoli, an Expediency Council member, told reporters on Saturday that the Council meeting — on the bill for accession to the UN Convention on Transnational Crime — was inconclusive. He said the Council, which arbitrates between Parliament and the Guardian Council, will meet again next Saturday.

President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy for Legal affairs, Laya Joneydi, had said on Friday that the Council should accelerate the review. The Council met with Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, but Iranian media said no details of the legislation were discussed.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS ANALYS BEI FIKRA FORUM – U.S. Withdrawal in Syria: Tracking Israeli & Iranian Media Responses

Tamuz Avivi

Tamuz Avivi is a research assistant for Fikra Forum at the Washington Institute. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a degree in political science.

Arjan Ganji

Arjan Ganji, a native Persian-speaker and graduate of George Washington University’s Elliott School, is a research assistant for the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute.

Also available in العربية January 10, 2019 – FIKRA FORUM WASHINGTON

Just as President Trump’s announced decision to withdraw troops from Syria has garnered intense analysis from American media, the media outlets of regional actors involved in Syria are similarly occupied discussing likely scenarios for the country’s future. In surveying the media responses of Iran and Israel—countries who have indirectly clashed within Syria itself—reports reflect both official and in some cases popular views of how the new U.S. strategy will shape regional politics.

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EAST KURDISTAN (IRAN) MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : US National Security Council Set Out Plans for War on Iran — Officials

 by Scott Lucas | Jan 14, 2019 | EAWORLDVIEW

The US National Security Council set out plans for war on Iran last year, according to current and former American officials.The officials told The Wall Street Journal that the proposals unsettled the State Department and Pentagon. The request came after three mortars were fired on the “Green Zone” in Baghdad, Iraq, where the US Embassy is located. The attack was allegedly by a group aligned with Iran.

National Security Advisor John Bolton — a hardliner who has previously pressed for war on the Islamic Republic, including in a 2015 opinion piece in The New York Times — convened a series of meetings to discuss military options.

A “former senior Administration official” said, “It definitely rattled people. People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

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Spotlight on Iran –December 30, 2018 – January 13, 2019 Editor: Dr. Raz Zimmt

Overview –Against the backdrop of President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Iran welcomed the announcement by the spokesman of the Syrian Arab Army claiming that the Syrian military entered the city of Manbij, currently under control of the U.S.-backed Kurds, and raised the Syrian flag there. Meanwhile, the former Iranian Minister of Defense, Ahmad Vahidi, declared that whether the U.S. remains or withdraws from Syria, its decision does not matter, since it is clear that the American have been defeated in Syria.

  • Iran is expanding its efforts to entrench its economic and civilian influence in Syria. In late December, the joint Syrian-Iranian economic committee convened in Tehran to discuss expanding cooperation between the two countries. The head of the joint economic committee announced the opening of an Iranian trade center in Damascus in the near future, as well as the establishment of a joint transportation company operated by Iran, Syria and Iraq. In addition, a Syrian website reported that Iran recently established two associations in southern Syria to provide financial assistance to needy families and relatives of pro-Iranian militiamen killed while fighting in Syria. It appears that due to the challenges Iran faces, particularly from Israel, in trying to establish strategic military infrastructure on Syrian soil, Iran is striving to preserve and even expand its influence in Syria by increasingly relying on Syrian manpower and on pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias, as well as by expanding economic and non-military activities.
  • The increasingly close cooperation between Iran and militant Palestinian organizations manifested in the visit to Tehran in late December of a delegation headed by the Secretary General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhla. The delegation met with senior Iranian officials, chief among them the Supreme Leader, the president, the minister of foreign affairs, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and the commander of Iran’s law enforcement forces, who all emphasized Iran’s commitment to continue supporting the Palestinians. The Iranian officials also reiterated that “resistance” is the only way to achieve the goals of the Palestinians. The growing cooperation between Iran and the Palestinian factions stem from a desire of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to increase their deterrence vis-à-vis Israel and boost Iran’s reputation for the military and financial aid it offers them. Iran, for its part, wishes to portray itself as the main supporter of the Palestinian organizations to increase its sway in the Gaza Strip.
Iranian Involvement in Syria
  • Iran welcomed the announcement of the Syrian Arab Army claiming that the Syrian military entered the town of Manbij, east of the Euphrates, and raised the Syrian flag there. The town is currently under the control of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia. The Spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahram Qasemi, stated that Iran welcomes the raising of the Syrian flag in the city and sees it as an important step in reestablish the sovereignty of Syria’s legitimate government over all of Syria’s territory and a step toward resolving the crisis in the country (Tasnim, December 28, 2018).
  • The former Iranian Minister of Defense, Ahmad Vahidi, who heads the Supreme National Defense University, stated during a conference in Tehran that it is still unclear if the United States will indeed withdraw from Syria, but it makes no difference whether the decision is implemented or not, since it is clear that the American have been defeated in Syria. He asserted that the United States is unable to implement its regional policy due to the clout of the “Resistance Axis” (Tasnim, January 7, 2019).
  • In late December, the joint Iranian-Syrian economic committee met in Tehran. At the helm of the committee were the Iranian Minister of Transportation, Mohammad Eslami and the Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Mohammad Samer al-Khalil. The delegates discussed expanding economic cooperation between the two countries. The Syrian minister of economy declared that the two countries are determined to develop the economic ties between them and that Syria trusts Iranian companies to play a central role in its reconstruction and economic rehabilitation. Al-Khalil emphasized that Syria will give priority to Iranian firms – from the public and private sectors – in awarding development projects in Syria.
  • The Iranian minister of transportation reported that an Iranian economic delegation will leave for Syria in the next month to hold talks concerning the reconstruction process in Syria. He invited Iranian businesspeople to participate in the delegation. He commented that the signing of the strategic economic cooperation agreement between the two nations during the conference in Tehran will make it easier to Iranian businesspeople to take part in economic projects in Syria (Mehr, December 30, 2018; al-Nashra, December 30, 2018).
  • During his visit to Tehran, the Syrian minister of economy met with the Iranian Central Bank Chairman, Abdolnasser Hemmati, who reported that Tehran and Damascus agreed to expand banking ties between the two countries. He stated that the Syrian and Iranian delegates discussed various matters, including money transfers between the two countries, bolstering ties between commercial banks and establishing joint banks (Fars, January 1, 2019).
  • The chairman of the joint Iranian-Syria economic committee, Keyvan Kashefi, announced the opening of an “Iranian commercial center” in the near future in Damascus. Kashefi reported that the preparations for the establishment of the center were carried out during the recent visit to Syria of a delegation of economists and businesspeople. He added that during the delegation’s visit, the representatives of the two countries also discussed establishing a joint transportation company operated by Iran, Syria and Iraq to ferry Iranian goods to Syria via Iraq. The delegations also discussed the possibility of executing financial deals through foreign reserve bureaus and banks of the two countries (ISNA, January 5, 2019).
  • On the occasion of the Gregorian New Year, the Representative of the Supreme Leader of Iran in Syria, Ayatollah Seyyed Abolfazl Tabatabaei Ashkezari, met with Christian pastors, most prominent among them the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of the Levant, Yohanna al-Yazeji, and declared that there is no contradiction between Islam and Christianity, arguing that the two religions complement each other. He claimed that since its establishment, the Islamic Republic strove to create a unified nation, comprised of different faiths and religious, which can serve as a united front against the enemies. According to him, Israel fears this unity and solidarity. He argued that the activities of the enemies in Syria in recent years harmed not the Shi’ite alone but also the Christians (Aleph, January 2, 2019).
  • The Syrian opposition website, Suriya Net, reported on growing efforts by Iran to expand its influence in the civilian sphere in southern Syria. The report on the website (December 31, 2018) stated that following a visit to southern Syria in September 2018 of the representative of the Supreme Leader to Syria, Abolfazl Tabatabaei Ashkezari, Iran established the al-Zahraa Association, which operates in Daraa and provides financial assistance to needy families as well as relatives of fighters of pro-Iranian militias killed in the war in Syria. According to this report, in recent months, Iran disbursed a total of 35 million Syrian liras through the new association, which is supervised by senior officials and clerics in Daraa, including a high-ranking commander in the pro-Iranian Syrian militia “Saraya al-Areen.” Following the success of the activities of this association, Iran established another association in the Daraa countryside, which is supported by the “Martyr Institute” and assists families of Hezbollah fallen fighters.
Iranian Involvement in Iraq
  • The Adviser to the Iranian Deputy President and former Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Danaeifar, reported that export of good from Iran to Iraq rose over the past Iranian year (which started on March 21, 2018) by 40% compared to the previous year. He detailed that 14 border crossings currently operate between Iran and Iraq, most of them for economic activity, which attests to the importance Iran sees in trade with Iraq. Meanwhile, the head of the Department on Arab and African Affairs at the Iranian Trade Promotion Organization announced that the joint Iranian-Iraqi economic committee will convene in the coming months to discuss commercial cooperation and problems in the border crossings between the two countries (IRNA, January 6, 2019).
  • The Iraqi cleric Hashem al-Haydari stated in a conference held in the city of Hamadan that the establishment of the Shi’ite militias in Iraq, with Iran’s assistance, prevented ISIS from precipitating a major civil war in Iraq. Haydari, who serves as the Deputy for Cultural Affairs at the Popular Mobilization Units (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) called the Islamic Revolution in Iran “a great miracle” and emphasized its great influence on the “Resistance Front.” He addressed the major role played by Iran in ISIS’ defeat in Syria and Iraq, arguing that without Iran’s intervention, ISIS would have been able to achieve its goals. He added that although Iran faces several domestic challenges, when the Islamic Revolution succeeds beyond Iran’s borders, it can succeed within it as well (Tasnim, January 8, 2019).

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : US-Außenminister lädt Netanyahu zu Iran-Konferenz ein


14 Jan 2019 – MESOP – US-Außenminister Mike Pompeo hat Israels Ministerpräsident Binjamin Netanyahu zu einer internationalen Iran-Konferenz eingeladen.

Wie Channel 10 des israelischen Fernsehens berichtet, soll die internationale Konferenz in Washington stattfinden und Strategien gegen die Bedrohung durch die Isloamische Republik Iran (IRI) beraten und koordinieren.An der Konferenz werden arabische Außenminister aus Ländern wie Ägypten, Jordanien, Saudi-Arabien, Bahrain, Marokko und den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten teilnehmen.

Quelle: US-Botschaft in Israel

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PKK to ally with Iran against US, says Cemil Bayik

posted onJanuary 3, 2019 AVATODAY

Cemil Bayik, co-chairman of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), claimed on Wednesday the United States is forming a new coalition consisting Turkey, Iraq and Kurds against Iran and that Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) will be against such coalition.

“America wants to bring Turkey, Iraq and Kurds in a coalition against Iran,” Bayik told PKK affiliated news agency ANF NEWS, “the coalition would act against Iran under the monitoring of the US.”

“At this time, the role of PKK is very important, the US wants to eliminate PKK because we are and we will stand against this coalition.”

According to Bayik Americans, for their interests, are designing a new Middle East.

“The US sees PKK a great problem ahead of itself, meantime, Iran is also a problem in front of America,” Bayik said.

He believes that US Sanction on Iran, which was imposed on Tehran on December 5, 2018 and at the same time announcing five million Dollar in bounty for PKK leaders is not just a coincidence, but it is part of the US plan to destroy Iran and PKK.

The Interview was published in Turkish but not in Kurdish and Persian sections of their website.

PKK to ally with Iran against US, says Cemil Bayik

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : Die Terrorgefahr durch den Iran und die Hisbollah in Europa

Von Redaktion Audiatur – 9. Januar 2019  –  Seit fast 40 Jahren ist der Iran der weltweit führende staatliche Förderer des Terrorismus und verfügt über eine lange und blutige Geschichte von Terroranschlägen.

von Dr. Shaul Shay – Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay ist Forschungsleiter des Instituts für Politik und Strategie am israelischen Forschungsinstitut IDC Herzliya und ehemaliger stellvertretender Leiter des Nationalen Sicherheitsrates Israels.

Seit 2017 scheinen die terroristischen Aktivitäten des iranischen Regimes auf europäischem Boden zu steigen. Dank guter Nachrichtendienste haben die jüngsten terroristischen Anschläge des Iran nicht zu schweren Verlusten geführt, aber diese Anschläge sind nur die Spitze des Eisbergs.Die jüngsten iranischen Terroranschläge in Europa sind eine Warnung und ein Weckruf an die Regierungen in Europa, um die Appeasement Politik gegenüber dem iranischen Regime zu überprüfen.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : Tehran Gives Up on Europe for Economic Salvation

by Scott Lucas | Jan 9, 2019 | eaworldview  – The Iranian Government has signalled the end of its hopes that the European Union can prop up Iran’s economy amid US sanctions.

Days of criticism culminated in a statement by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, made in India on Tuesday. He said the stalled pursuit of a Special Purpose Vehicle, bypassing the US sanctions with non-dollar payments for oil and other commodities and goods, pointed to a change in Tehran’s approach.

We continue to work with the Europeans for the Special Purpose Vehicle but we will not wait for them.

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Pompeo Meets Iraq Parliament Speaker in Surprise Visit to Baghdad

Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 –  Asharq Al-Awsat  – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Wednesday where he held talks with parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.The US official is on an eight-nation tour of the Middle East that he kicked off in Jordan on Tuesday.

His tour comes weeks after President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement that he will pull all 2,000 US troops from Syria, which caused alarm among US allies in the region.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Advocate of Iran Sanctions Joins US National Security Council

Tuesday, 8 January, 2019 – 09:45 – ASHARQ AL AWSAT – Richard Goldberg (Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)  – Washington – Heba al-Qodsi

 One of Washington’s most vocal critics of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal has joined the Trump administration in a senior policy role, according to several sources in Washington.Richard Goldberg will become Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) at the National Security Council, and he will work closely with Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State.

 Goldberg is a leading analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based think tank chaired by Mark Dubowitz. 

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