Fifty countries on Monday signed the articles of agreement for the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the first major global financial instrument independent from the Bretton Woods system.
Seven remaining countries out of the 57 that have applied to be founding members, Denmark, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Holland, South Africa and Thailand, are awaiting domestic approval.
“This will be a significant event. The constitution will lay a solid foundation for the establishment and operation of the AIIB,” said Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.
The AIIB will have an authorized capital of $100 billion, divided into shares that have a value of $100,000.
BRICS members China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, with a voting share of 26.06 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 5.92 per cent, respectively.
Following the signing of the bank’s charter, the agreement on the $100 billion AIIB will now have to be ratified by the parliaments of the founding members.
Asian countries will contribute up to 75 per cent of the total capital and be allocated a share of the quota based on their economic size.
Chinese Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said China’s initial stake and voting share are “natural results” of current rules, and may be diluted as more members join.
Australia was first to sign the agreement in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, state media reports said.
The Bank will base its headquarters in Beijing.
The Chinese Finance Ministry said the new lender will start operations by the end of 2015 under two preconditions: At least 10 prospective members ratify the agreement, and the initial subscribed capital is no less than 50 per cent of the authorized capital.
The AIIB will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan.
China and other emerging economies, including BRICS, have long protested against their limited voice at other multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
China is grouped in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc at the World Bank while at the Asian Development Bank, China with a 5.5 per cent share is far outdone by America’s 15.7 per cent and Japan’s 15.6 per cent share.
The ADB has estimated that in the next decade Asian countries will need $8 trillion in infrastructure investments to maintain the current economic growth rate.
China scholar Asit Biswas at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, says Washington’s criticism of the China-led Bank is “childish”.
“Some critics argue that the AIIB will reduce the environmental, social and procurement standards in a race to the bottom. This is a childish criticism, especially because China has invited other governments to help with funding and governance,” he writes.
The US and Japan have not applied for the membership in the AIIB.
However, despite US pressures on its allies not to join the bank, Britain, France, Germany, Italy among others have signed on as founding members of the China-led Bank.
Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia have already announced that they will invest $87.27 million and $718 million respectively as paid-in capital to the AIIB.
The new lender will finance infrastructure projects like the construction of roads, railways, and airports in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Iran, 49 states sign Asia bank charter
Iran on Monday joined 49 countries in signing up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), bringing Asia’s largest financial lender a step closer to existence.
Finance and Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia put Iran’s signature to the bank’s articles of association at a ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, which capped six months of intense negotiations.
In April, China accepted Iran as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank.
With the signing which amounted to the creation of AIIB’s legal framework, China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said he was confident the bank could start functioning before the end of the year.
Seven more founding members would ink the articles after approval by their respective governments.
The bank will have a capital of $100 billion in the form of shares, each worth $100,000, distributed among the members. Beijing will be by far the largest shareholder at about 30%, followed by India at 8.4% and Russia at 6.5%.
China will also have 26% of the votes which are not enough to give it a veto on decision-making, while smaller members will have larger voice.
Singapore’s Senior Minister for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said the bank will provide new opportunities for its members’ businesses and promote sustainable growth in Asia.
Seventy-five percent of AIIB’s shares are distributed within the Asian region while the rest is assigned among countries beyond it.
Germany, France and Brazil are among the non-Asian members of the bank despite US efforts to dissuade allies from joining it. Another US ally joining AIIB is Australia but Japan has stayed away from it.
Countries beyond the region can expand their share but the portion cannot be bigger than 30%. Public procurement of the AIIB will be open to all countries around the world.
But the president of the bank will have to be chosen from the Asian region for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
The bank will be headquartered in Beijing and its lean structure will be overseen by an unpaid, non-resident board of directors which, architects say, would save it money and friction in decision-making.
Earlier this month, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke rebuked US lawmakers for allowing China to found the new bank, which threatens to upend Washington’s domination over the world economic order.
He said lawmakers were to blame because they refused to agree 2010 reforms that would have given greater clout to China and other emerging powers in the International Monetary Fund.
Iran’s Minister of Industry Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela Delcy Rodriguez talk to reporters in Caracas
Iran has agreed to a $500 million credit line for Venezuela to finance joint investments there, President Nicolas Maduro has announced.
He made the announcement after meeting Iranian Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh in Caracas where the two sides signed six agreements to expand financial, economic, industrial and technological cooperation.
Among the agreements, there are plans for joint production of commodity goods, including detergents and other hygiene materials in Venezuela and Iran’s sales of medical drugs and surgical equipment to the country.
Maduro said the two countries had also agreed to a “comprehensive plan” to develop a joint program in nanotechnology in which Iran is among the top seven countries.
He said the deals would ensure a higher level of cooperation and deepen the bonds between the two nations.
Moreover, Iran agreed to transfer its expertise to Venezuela in combating an “economic war” on the Latin American country, Maduro said, apparently referring to Iran’s experience in facing years of US-led sanctions.
“We are facing an economic war of monumental proportions; a brutal war (but) we are here attending to our people,” Maduro said as he invoked the vision of the late President Hugo Chavez for “the government’s union with the people and struggle against imperialism”.
The Venezuelan head of state also hailed relations with Iran as “an example of alliance between two brother nations”.
“Today we have mutual trust in our relations and we work together with results. Working with Iran has gone well and our cooperation has been a great success since Hugo Chavez began a strategic alliance and brotherhood with Iran,” Maduro said.
Relations between Iran and Venezuela — both critics of US policies — have expanded in recent years. Iran is involved in a series of joint ventures worth several billion dollars in energy, agriculture, housing, and infrastructure sectors in Venezuela.
Iran’s main industrial projects in Venezuela include a car assembly plant, a tractor manufacturing complex and a cement factory.
The Islamic Republic has also built more than 3,000 residential housing units for less privileged citizens in Venezuela, with 7,000 more to be completed.
Both countries are hugely rich in resources. Venezuela possesses the world’s biggest oil deposit while Iran owns the fourth largest oil and first largest gas reserves of the world.
Maduro has announced his intention to visit Tehran to attend a summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum planned for Nov. 23.
The United States has admitted that it has been fully aware of Turkey’s role in the transit of terrorists into Syria, but has failed to name it as a sponsor of terrorism.
Throughout 2014, Turkey served as a source and transit country for foreign terrorists seeking to enter Syria, the United States said in its annual report on terrorism.
However, the State Department report released on Friday failed to condemn Ankara or declare it as a sponsor of terrorism.
Surprisingly enough, the report leveled accusations against Iran which has supported the fight against the ISIL terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. The United States and some of its regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — have been supporting the militants operating in Syria.
According to the United Nations, more than 220,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for nearly four years.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.
They have been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
The US State Department has accused Iran of supporting international terrorist groups, claiming the country’s terrorist activities continue.
The department said in its annual report on Friday that Iran is supporting those militant groups fighting against the ISIL terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
The report also said the Islamic Republic increased its military aid to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and Shia fighters in Iraq last year.
Washington alleges that Tehran is increasing its support for Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah and Palestinian resistance movements.
This is while the report makes almost no mention of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, which are widely believed to be the main supporters of terrorists in the Middle East. The US itself stands accused of financing and arming militants in the region.
In an interview with Press TV on Friday, American political commentator Dr. Kevin Barrett said that the United States is the primary sponsor of the ISIL terrorists.
“It seems that they’re using a very self-serving definition of terrorism here and elsewhere,” he said.
“It’s ironic though that Iran has been bashed primarily for fighting against the people that this very report says are the world’s biggest terrorist threat and that would be ISIL and Takfiri terrorists,” Dr. Barrett added.
He also noted that Iran “has been the biggest single force fighting against that particular brand of terrorism that this report says it’s getting out of control.”
Israeli Middle East commentator Meir Javedanfar and political scientist Kaveh Afrasiabi shared their strongly differing opinions on the latest report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
According to the article there are fears that Israel has been testing radioactive ‘dirty bombs.’ These kinds of weapon are intended to contaminate large areas with radiation, and can potentially have a long-lasting impact on the hit zone.
RT: The report claims Israel has dirty bombs for defense purposes only. Might this include preemptive strikes against countries like Iran?
Meir Javedanfar: Of course the state of Israel has never ever threatened to use any such weapons, Israel doesn’t even admit to having nuclear capabilities; it is something that has been reported only by foreign organizations. All that we understand is that the chances of Israel using such a weapon are almost zero. Israel’s alleged nuclear program is for defensive purposes only…
We [Israelis] are very worried if ISIS one day gets their hands on a dirty weapon they would use it against us, make no mistake. I think it’s very logical to be prepared for such a scenario.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Muslim; it doesn’t matter if you’re Sunni or Shia – this is an organization which would use such a weapon. You can’t use such a weapon back against them because ISIS leaders don’t care about their own population. So the least you can do is to be prepared.
RT: Do you think these allegations are correct? Do you think Israel is testing dirty bombs?
MJ: All I have is the same report that you’re reading from. If that report is true, Israel would only do this for defensive purposes, because if they do offensive testing of dirty bombs right now, it would carry a very high price for the state of Israel because right now we’re trying to convince Iran to stop its nuclear program. For Israel to go and test such weapons for offensive purposes it would be very counterproductive and very expensive… At the same time this is not about Iran, this is much more about ISIS; this is much more about Jihadi organizations.
RT: Israel is one of the staunchest critics of Iran’s nuclear program. Isn’t that a little hypocritical, if it really is secretly testing dirty bombs?
MJ: …The enemy in question is probably going to be the Jihadi organizations. Even in Israel we don’t think that Israel would use such weapons.
One of the reasons [there is ] this belief why the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attacks was because it is believed that [Osama] bin Laden was developing biological weapons; he was working on it, or he had plans to work on it. And this was something that they had to stop. And I think that is something that the states of Israel, Russia – and even Iran – have in common- all of us have to be prepared for the day if somebody like ISIS gets its hands on a dirty weapon, we could all be victims.
RT: There is a danger of arms escalation in region. If that is proved that Israel is experimenting with these dirty bombs, some countries might want to do the same thing, mightn’t they?
MJ: It really depends on what you use it for…. This was not aimed at any of our neighbors, we were not threatening anybody, we are not calling for anybody’s elimination, as the Iranian regime is doing to us. But you have to be realistic, this is not simulation.
RT: If this news is proved how, do you think it is going to go down in Iran?
MJ: I think this is something that Iran and Israel have in common: We are both potential victims of ISIS. ISIS is an extremist Sunni organization; so-called Sunni, I’m not sure they are real Sunnis; they are against Shia. When they take over Shia areas they are looting, they are burning, they are massacring and ethnic-cleansing Shia. Once they are finished with the Shias, the way they see it, the next target is the Jews… Both of us have to be prepared for the doomsday scenario… that if one day [ISIS] gets its hands on a chemical or biological weapon, first Iran would be the target, and then the state of Israel.
Kaveh Afrasiabi, political scientist, doesn’t agree with Meir Javedanfar’s viewpoint that the chances of Israel using dirty bombs “are almost zero.”
RT: The dirty bombs are reportedly intended for defense purposes only. Israel has the right to defend itself, doesn’t it?
Kaveh Afrasiabi: Well, so do all the other nations. I respectfully disagree with [Mr. Javedanfar] because you can’t find any nuclear weapons state that publically states that its weapons are for offensive purposes, everybody says it is for defensive. So if Israel detonated these dirty nuclear bombs, it’s in violation of its own commitments and the comprehensive test treaty, to which it is a signatory, although it hasn’t ratified. And I think it is a trial for a bigger test, and Israel is waiting to see the reaction by the international community to see if there is any will to stand up to it, and unfortunately there hasn’t been any. We saw that the US recently blocked the Middle East summit on nuclear disarmament – WMD-free in the Middle East – to appease Israel. A month later we hear this news that Israel has detonated not one or two, but 20 bombs. And I really question the timing of it coming on the verge of the deadline for the nuclear talks in Iran. One wonders if it’s part of ferocious Israeli propaganda effort to torpedo those talks.
RT: Do you think this test poses any real threat to Israel’s perceived enemies in the region?
KA: Of course, if Israel has tested these nuclear bombs, and has the capability to deliver them, as we all know they do, then that poses a clear and present danger to its Arab neighbors and beyond. And I really believe that Israel poses a nuclear threat to Iran and its allies in the region.
RT: If those weapons were being tested in Iran we would probably know what the international reaction would be. What do you expect the international reaction to be to Israel?
KA: This reflects the tremendous double standard that is operative in the international community that consistently turns a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear status and its refusal to allow the slightest inspection of its nuclear facilities. A part of that hypocrisy was demonstrated by the head of the UN’s Atomic Agency, Mr. [Yukiya] Amano, who about a year and half ago praised Israel’s nuclear air force instead of pressuring them to open up these facilities.
I really think that the time has come to stop [treating]Israel with kid gloves and put[ting] it into an exceptional bracket above international law, above proliferation concerns, and so on. At the time when Iran, which is a party to the non-proliferation treaty, has allowed the most extensive inspection of civilian nuclear facilities is under international sanctions and all the related pressures, and even military threat.
So the time has come to stop this hypocritical double standard on the part of the international community, and especially the Western states led by the US, which is the main defender and protector of Israel and its nuclear status.
Director of the US spy agency CIA John Brennan has reportedly made a secret visit to Israel to brief the regime’s officials over the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 states.
Brennan traveled to Israel on June 4 and met with high-ranking Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and one of his advisers Yossi Cohen, to discuss the developments in the talks between Iran and the six world powers, Haaretz quoted two senior Israeli officials as saying on Tuesday.
The officials, who asked not to be named, said the CIA chief also held meetings with the head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad Tamir Pardo and the regime’s military intelligence chief Major General Herzl Halevi.
It is unclear whether Brennan conveyed a message from US President Barack Obama to Netanyahu about a possible comprehensive agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The CIA has not yet commented on the report of Brennan’s trip.
Diplomatic efforts aimed at reaching a final agreement over Iran’s nuclear program have drawn angry reactions from Israel. The Tel Aviv regime has been lobbying intensely to thwart such a deal.
Brennan’s visit to Israel came at a sensitive juncture, less than a month ahead of the June 30 deadline set by Tehran and its negotiating sides to finalize a deal, which seeks to end the Western dispute over Tehran’s nuclear case.
A few days before his visit to Israel, Brennan told the US-based CBS network that Washington and Tel Aviv are closely cooperating on the issue of Iran’s nuclear negotiations.
“The CIA, NSA (the US National Security Agency) and other intelligence community entities are working very close with their Israeli … counterparts” regarding the talks, Brennan said.
Iran and the P5+1 states– Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany — have been working on the text of the final deal since they reached mutual understanding on key parameters of such an accord in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.
Anwar Majed Eshki, a former top adviser to the Saudi government (R), and Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shook hands during the Jun 4, 2015 meeting in Washington.
A report has revealed that representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have secretly met five times since the beginning of last year to discuss their positions against Iran.
The five bilateral meetings were held over the last 17 months in India, Italy, and the Czech Republic, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
The outlet cited one participant, Shimon Shapira, a retired Israeli general, as saying, “We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers.”
Also on Thursday, well-known former Saudi and Israeli officials attended a rare meeting of the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations think tank.
The event saw Anwar Majed Eshki, a former top adviser to the Saudi government, and Dore Gold joining former Israeli ambassador close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Riyadh and Tel Aviv both oppose, what they call, the expansion of Iran’s regional influence and have not refused in the past to show fierce opposition to the potential of a final agreement between world powers and Tehran on the Islamic Republic‘s peaceful nuclear energy program.
The two sides also share alliance with the United States and opposition – emerging in the form of an overt bloody aggression on the part of Riyadh – to the Houthi Ansarullah movement of Yemen.
On May 23, a London-based paper reported that Israel had offered to provide the technology used in its Iron Dome missile system against rockets from Yemen, with the proposal being sent via American diplomats during a meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Extracts of the interview of Muhammad Raad on Al-Mayadeen Channel, May 22, 2015
Journalist: My question is: In your view at Hezbollah, when will this war (Syrian Crisis) end? Could it last for years more?
Mohammad Raad: When the US Administration and the West that orbits around it, and the regional guards and agents who are supporting the armed terrorists, when they take the decision to stop financing (the terrorists) & close the border crossings & prevent sneaking into Syria, the war will end in Syria, and the opportunity for national dialogue will open, (this very dialogue) which was supposed to take place since the beginning of the crisis.
Journalist: Do you mean by ‘the regional agents': Saudi, Qatar, Turkey and Israel?
Mohammad Raad: I mean all those who support the armed terrorists.
Journalist: There is a view that says that Saudi Arabia, whom you always accuse, is still supporting (the terrorists) while other countries have stepped back like Qatar. And that Turkey is still giving a great amount of support to (the terrorists).
Mohammad Raad: Let us talk in general in order to avoid miscalculations and leave the assumptions to those who are concerned. In general, whoever supports, finances & facilitates the terrorists’ sneaking into Syria in order to destroy and sabotage Syria should cease to do so.
Journalist: That means the war might last for years.
Mohammad Raad: Yes, the military option can take some time.
Journalist: Today, after what was achieved in Qalamoun and the great victory you presented in this difficult region where the fighting was fierce, as we understand, today we see that Palmyra might have fallen, yesterday Al Mastouma and other areas fell. It looks like the fighting is a win here then a defeat there, a defeat then a victory, etc. It seems that no one can use military means to resolve the situation in a decisive way.
Mohammad Raad: Sami, now the media and the propaganda machine works on propagating false and hasty news about partial matters that have nothing to do with the strategic movement or even with the battlefield, the very issues which will define the results and the outcome of the war. We have an evaluation of the situation: in Syria, the military situation on the ground is in the favor of the regime and what we witness is a tightening of the (Syrian Arab Army’s) grip on the areas under the regime’s control.
Journalist: How can you explain this to us? The image circulated now in the other media is that the State doesn’t have control over many areas, and there’s a new offensive by the armed terrorists under Fatah Army and other groups. And the armed opposition, or the rebels or the Takfiris or terrorists, whatever you may call them, are achieving big gains on the ground. In your strategic evaluation, how do you see that your side, along with your ally the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, has actually started to achieve strategic gains on the ground?
Mohammad Raad: Before I answer your question, we should remember all the (previous) experiences of false propaganda talking about these terrorists & enlarging their achievements, their numbers, and their situation. Isn’t it about time for the public opinion to realize that this inflated image of the (terrorists) situation is untrue? Take what happened in Qalamoun: how many were the terrorists in Qalamoun? How long did they withstand their positions?
Journalist: Some would also say that they are in the Damascus countryside, in Jobar and in areas adjacent to Damascus, also in Aleppo…
Mohammad Raad: Sometimes there are areas and positions the regime ignores because they are not important, and he (knows he) can contain them whenever he wants. But he goes towards the strategic areas the control of which defines the preservation of the State’s structure. Isn’t it strange, in the opinion of all international observers, that after 4 years and a half, the State’s institutions are still functioning in Syria?
Journalist: Excellent, this is a very good point as the Army has been fighting for more than 4 years; the Syrian diplomacy is still functioning and maybe more actively than before. Now, I saw by myself that there is a head of a Syrian diplomatic mission in Egypt, Dr. Riadh Sneih, at an ambassador level, and he is an ambassador in fact, he was abroad; and the State institutions are still paying salaries, to the Army and even to students, scholarships and others… All this is important.
Mohammad Raad: Can you imagine a state suffering a devastating war like what is happening in Syria, and still you’ll find a traffic police officer issuing traffic violation tickets?
Journalist: It is said for that, Hajj Mohammad Raad, that if it wasn’t for the direct financial support from a country like Iran, maybe the State wouldn’t function until now, in addition to the military support, of course.
Mohammad Raad: This is not a shortfall in Syria’s ability to withstand. Why are alliances forged between countries and forces at the first place? Isn’t it to benefit from them during crises and during difficult times?
It is much emphasized now, and there is an abuse of this feeling that Iran is controlling Syria, while in Syria there is an Army that is still fighting after 4 years so far. This is part of the misinformation image being circulated.
First of all, do not believe that anybody would fight on behalf of anybody else for free. Maybe there will be mutual strategic or tactical interests imposing on two parties to fight on the same field for the same goal, but each party defends its goal within this mutual interest. Iran is supporting Syria also not only as a gratitude for the Syrian stance towards the Saddam imposed 8-years war against Iran, which was financed by all those who are now contributing in the war against Syria. Iran is standing by Syria because Iran is in an alliance with Syria within the same strategic choice, but if it wasn’t for the fact that the Syrian structure is capable of preserving its choice in the stance against (Israel), all the support Syria is receiving wouldn’t be enough to save the situation.
Enough of simplifying the issues; now it is said that we (Hezbollah) are helping the Syrian Army. Of course, we are carrying out an assistant role to the Syrian Army in the areas where we have an interest to be present in, either in defending the Resistance (Hezbollah) or to preserve the Syrian positive position in supporting the Resistance. But why is it that the heroism and bravery of the Syrian Arab Army are neglected, the army that is holding the keys of the battlefield struggle and manages the struggle until now?!
Journalist: Do you fight in the north (of Syria) Hajj Mohammad Raad? like in Aleppo, are there fighters (of Hezbollah)?
Mohammad Raad: I’m not In favour of talking about details, but I can tell you: We fight where we have to fight.
Journalist: And this is what Sayyed Nasrallah said. He recently said that after the last Qalamoun battle, Hezbollah lost 13 martyrs. Can we know the total number of Hezbollah’s martyrs since the beginning of the Syrian war? Approximately? Some say they reached a thousand (martyrs), is this correct?
Mohammad Raad: I do not believe the figure reached this much, but it is nearing five hundred. Five hundred approximately.
Journalist: Nearing five hundred. Less or a bit more? If it is nearing, it means less… Did President Bashar Al-Assad’s administration manage to survive collapsing? Now the talks saying that ‘There is no solution with the Syrian president involved’ are renewed. And even some of the fighters factions, 13 of them, gathered in Turkey recently and raised this slogan again that by force, he will fall. While for the past 4 years and now in the 5th year, he is still here? Will President Assad’s administration survive?
Mohammad Raad: Our belief is that the solution in Syria depends on the presence and the partnership of President Assad in this solution.
Journalist: Him in person?
Mohammad Raad: Him in person.
Journalist: OK. Can you tell us, Haj Mohammad Raad, why president Assad’s allies like Iran & Hezbollah at the utmost, maybe Russia to the same degree as you or less, I don’t know, why do they hold on to President Bashar Al-Assad in person? As some might argue that if President Al-Assad leaves, maybe the situation in Syria would become better. Is he (President Assad) in person the base to any solution for you?
Mohammad Raad: No, we are holding on him because the matter is not about the person, it is about the position and choice this person is committed to. You might say that there might be other persons like him, but this very person who defended Syria due to his commitment to this choice (resistance), why replace him?!
Journalist: It is said that his presence on top of the current Syrian State has maintained this State due to his personal features, his nerves of steel. I hear about this even among your ranks, that due to his calm, while most of his allies have collapsed, the veteran ones and even in Lebanon, he remained… This proves that he should remain in the partnership position to find a solution. But he’s also blamed by his foes inside Syria and abroad to be responsible for where we have reached. I want to know if Hezbollah and Iran (as Russia will not state its position) are insisting on the person of President Assad in any coming solution, whatever happens. There won’t be any solution found without President Assad?
Mohammad Raad: First of all, as long as the Syrian people are holding on to President Bashar Al-Assad, we cannot overlook this Syrian public opinion.
Journalist: Half of the people… More than half of the people are with President Assad?
Mohammad Raad: Of course
Journalist: How do you know? How do we know? Who is measuring the Syrian public opinion for us to know who is with him and who is not?
Mohammad Raad: First: who said there is anybody in the world who would accept his country to be destroyed? The hesitating portion at the beginning of the crisis of the Syrian people now joined those supporting President Assad to stay in power, because they found out that the alternative is the destruction of Syria and the end of its position and role, and making Syria a satellite in the orbit of the West and subjugating it to the Israeli conditions.
Journalist: So in your opinion President Assad is staying until the last day in his term?
Mohammad Raad: And maybe beyond…
Translation : Arabi Souri
When Jeb Bush (Jon Ellis Bush – J.E.B.) announced that, like his dimwitted and bloodthirsty brother, he too would have invaded Iraq had he been president at the time, ire was drawn in virtually all corners of the American populace with the exception, of course, of the typical warmongering Neo-Con segments.
After all, how could anyone suggest that he would have also invaded Iraq despite the fact that there were never any weapons of mass destruction (a term that itself was created by Western governments and their media mouthpieces), that Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 or al-Qaeda, and that the weakened country posed absolutely no threat to the US? How could anyone suggest that the Iraq invasion was legitimate 12 years on with American forces still involved and the situation on the ground millions of times worse?
The answer is simple – Jeb Bush had always wanted to invade Iraq. A staunch and longstanding member of the Neo-Con network, Jeb had taken his stand in favor of American imperialism when he signed on to the Project For A New American Century’s Statement of Principles in 1997.
Although the Statement of Principles did not specifically advocate for an attack on Iraq, it did argue against the perceived “cuts,” “inattention,” and bad “leadership” of the previous administration despite the fact that Bill Clinton acted as a complete tool of the very same network that encompasses the PNAC. This statement did, however, clearly state that America must “challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values,” a position that would become realized in an even more obvious and direct manner in the years following its publication.
Perhaps most notably, however, is the PNAC document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a piece published by the organization in 1999 expressing the desire to destroy regimes in the Middle East that were hostile toward America’s ambitions abroad. The document was also seen as more-than-coincidentally prophetic of 9/11, a “new Pearl Harbor” style event that was alluded to in the document.
Rebuilding America’s Defenses reads,
Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets. The United States cannot simply declare a “strategic pause” while experimenting with new technologies and operational concepts. Nor can it choose to pursue a transformation strategy that would decouple American and allied interests. A transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States, for example, and sacrificed forward basing and presence, would be at odds with larger American Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century 51 policy goals and would trouble American allies. Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
Notably, in this document, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and North Korea are listed as the most important targets of the “transformed” US military. It is no coincidence that four of these listed countries were also listed by General Wesley Clark as slated for destruction per classified information he received on a visit to the Pentagon.
In 1996, a policy document prepared for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was written by Richard Perle and entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” In this document Perle, a notorious Neo-Con and fellow member of PNAC with Jeb Bush, described the strategic importance of removing Saddam Hussein from power as well as the necessity to weaken Syria.
Perle wrote that “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”
PNAC also sent an open letter to President Bill Clinton after a Clinton administration and Western media propaganda campaign presenting Hussein as uncooperative in weapons inspections, calling for Hussein’s removal from power.
Soon after the 9/11 attacks, PNAC sent a letter to President George W. Bush demanding an immediate attack on Iraq, regardless of whether or not there was any evidence linking Hussein to the attacks or al-Qaeda. The letter stated that,
We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….” It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.
With Jeb Bush’s ties to PNAC and with his public signature on the organization’s “Statement of Principles,” there can be no doubt that Bush would have invaded Iraq had he been president at the time. There is also no doubt that he is part of the same Neo-Con network that brought us that war, the war in Afghanistan, 9/11, destabilizations, a crippled economy, and a shredded Constitution. A Jeb Bush presidency will no doubt bring about a continuation of those policies witnessed under his brother and those subsequently built upon by Barack Obama.
A senior Iranian official has described as “successful” negotiations on the delivery of Russia’s S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran.
“Negotiations on the delivery of the S-300 [missile system] to Iran has been successful”, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday during a press conference after a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in the Russian capital, Moscow.
Amir-Abdollahian also stressed that all issues surrounding the delivery of the system to Iran are progressing well.
He further noted that the delivery of S-300 to Iran will happen at the soonest opportunity possible.
On April 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree paving the way for the long-overdue delivery of the missile system to Iran.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
The decision to deliver the missile system came after Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – reached a mutual understanding on Tehran’s nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.
Moscow had banned the delivery of the S-300 system to Tehran in 2010 under the pretext that the agreement it signed with Iran in 2007 was covered by the fourth round of the Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The resolution bars hi-tech weapons sales to the Islamic Republic.
The Russian president defended Moscow’s decision on S-300 supply to Iran, saying the system is meant for deterrence amid ongoing developments in war-torn Yemen.
The UN says since March, nearly 2,000 people have been killed and 7,330 others injured due to the conflict in Yemen. However, according to Yemen’s Freedom House Foundation, the Saudi airstrikes have claimed the lives of about 4,000 Yemeni people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Russia over its decision to lift the ban on the delivery of S-300 missile system to Iran, saying Tel Aviv sees the plan with “utmost gravity.”
Press TV has interviewed two journalists and political commentators Hafsa Kara-Mustapha from London and Maxine Dovere from New York, to discuss the United States’ rejection of a proposal made by Arab countries to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.