Revolutionary Guards Commander Admits Iran Operates Beyond Its Borders (MEMRI)
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari told Iranian TV's Channel 1 on April 21, 2014:
"The IRGC is responsible for the security and continuity of the Islamic Revolution. This revolution is not confined to Iran's borders alone....The IRGC defends the Islamic Revolution both within the country and beyond its borders."
"The role of the IRGC is to give support - whether ideologically, or with software, knowledge, or experience - to a people within a society or country who have expressed their desire to confront the rule of hegemony."
"This rule of hegemony is headed by America, and its representative in the region is the plundering Israel, which represents America's Satanic [deeds] in the region."
Poll: 2/3 of Americans Side with Israel on Peace Talks Collapse (JNS.org)
67% of Americans said they agreed more with Israel's point of view in assessing blame for the recent collapse of the U.S.-brokered peace talks, while 33% sided with the PA, in a poll commissioned by The Israel Project.
A Nightmare Group in Syria Could Target the U.S. - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS - a terrorist group so extreme it has been rejected even by al-Qaeda - is now establishing a safe haven in the city of Raqqah in northern Syria that could soon be used to attack foreign targets.
U.S. officials believe that ISIS is providing tactical expertise and training facilities to foreign fighters in Syria, building the infrastructure for foreign terrorist operations.
In the view of these officials, ISIS could attempt an attack outside the Middle East soon, and several plots have already been disrupted.
The U.S. may be less focused on jihadists than it was a decade ago, but they remain very much interested in the U.S.
Corruption Seeps into Aid for Syrian Refugees (AP-Washington Post)
A Syrian refugee woman was told she could register to receive donated blankets from an international aid agency if she paid a shopkeeper a $13 bribe to put her name on the list.
As a host of aid agencies struggle to provide help to Syrian refugees in Lebanon,
middlemen in the distribution system are demanding bribes, adding another layer of suffering for those fleeing the war.
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- Iran Oil Exports Well Above Cap - Sarah Kent and Summer Said
Iran is exporting 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Thursday. This figure is well above the one million barrel export cap agreed with the international community last November as part of a broader interim deal over its nuclear program. Zanganeh said Iran plans to continue to increase exports. "The market is good and it's business as usual," he said.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Hillary Clinton Skeptical Iran Will Deliver on Nukes - Mario Trujillo
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the American Jewish Committee's global forum in Washington on Wednesday she is skeptical Iran will strike a deal to curtail its nuclear program, suggesting that the chance of a deal is less than 50-50.
"No deal is better than a bad deal," she said. "From my perspective, we cannot and should not accept any agreement that endangers Israel or our own national security. Now it is worth noting that even if an agreement is reached, Iran's support for terrorists and its aggressive behavior in the region remains a threat." (The Hill)
- Saudi Foreign Minister Invites Iran's Foreign Minister to Visit - Angus McDowall
Saudi Arabia has invited Iran's foreign minister to visit, Riyadh said on Tuesday, hinting at the possibility of a thaw between two bitter rivals. However, with Riyadh and Tehran giving full-throated backing to opposing sides in Syria's civil war, the prospects for any meaningful detente now appear slim, analysts say.
- Iranian Hackers, Getting More Sophisticated, Target U.S. Defense Companies - Dune Lawrence
An Iranian hacking group called Ajax Security Team is targeting U.S. defense companies in a cyber-espionage campaign that shows increasing sophistication, according to a report released on Tuesday. Researchers at FireEye discovered 77 victims in the course of analyzing malicious code.
To get at defense contractors, Ajax Team set up a fake site that looked almost identical to a legitimate site for the 2014 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Aerospace conference. They then e-mailed employees with an invitation to register at the fake site. (Business Week)
- France Accuses Syrian Regime of Multiple Chlorine Gas Attacks - Jay Solomon
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said his government has evidence the Syrian government used chemical agents, largely chlorine, in at least 14 separate attacks against rebels and civilians in recent months.
Fabius also said the U.S., France and UK erred last summer by setting aside planned military strikes on the Damascus regime designed to erode its air power and missile capabilities. "We regret this....We believe it would have changed many things."
However, a senior U.S. official said the agreement reached in September with Syria was more effective than a military operation as it resulted in Damascus giving up 92% of its chemical weapons stockpile.
"There is no evidence that strikes would have allowed us to remove that amount of chemical weapons," the official said.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel in Israel to Talk Syria, Missile Defense - Lazar Berman
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Israel Wednesday night for two days of meetings.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said Hagel will discuss the volatile situations in Syria and Egypt, as well as efforts to bolster Israel's missile defenses.
(Times of Israel)
- American Escapee Arrested in Jerusalem
Mohammed Abu Nakhla, an American-Jordanian man who escaped from the U.S. to Jordan after being sentenced in 2005 to 24 years in prison for opening fire on motorists in Chicago, was arrested by Israeli police in Jerusalem on Tuesday. (Ha'aretz)
- Making Iran Come Clean about Its Nukes - David Albright and Bruno Tertrais
Despite great expectations that Tehran would clear up suspicions about its past and possibly current nuclear-weapons development, Iran has so far clarified little. Alarm bells should be going off in the West. A prerequisite for any final agreement is for Iran to address nuclear-weapons questions raised by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
If Iran is able to successfully evade questions about a weapons program now, when biting sanctions are in place, why would it address them later when these sanctions are lifted? What use will an agreement be if Iran can hide a capacity to secretly build nuclear bombs?
It is critical to know whether Iran had a nuclear-weapons program in the past, how far the work on warheads advanced and whether it continues. Without clear answers, outsiders will be unable to determine how fast the Iranian regime could construct a nuclear weapon.
Mr. Albright, a former UN inspector in Iraq, is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security. Mr. Tertrais is a senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.
(Wall Street Journal)
- America Should Not Soften Its Nuclear Demands of Iran - Michael Singh
As nuclear negotiations with Iran resume this week, a "good deal" is often framed more in terms of Iranian President Rouhani's capacity to deliver than our own requirements. Issues such as Syria and Iran's missile programs are often dismissed by observers as off the table because they are not in Rouhani's purview. But softening our nuclear demands in the hope of strengthening Rouhani would be a mistake.
Rouhani's presence across the table may make an agreement possible, but it should not dictate the substance of the deal.
The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2005 to 2008, he worked on Middle East issues at the U.S. National Security Council.
- The Palestinian Reconciliation Agreement: Tactical Relief or Strategic Opportunity? - Kobi Michael and Udi Dekel
The reconciliation agreement reached recently by Fatah and Hamas is a result of the internal weakness of both organizations, with each suffering a steady erosion of legitimacy and public support.
The government of technocrats to be formed is a mechanism meant to make a show of both sides living under the same roof without either one having to give up its fundamental ideology.
The agreement does not change Hamas' essence as a terrorist organization and does nothing to make the PA or the PLO or Abbas into authorized representatives of the Palestinians in Gaza.
The reconciliation will likely not last because Hamas will not cede its control of Gaza and will not disarm its military wing.
Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at INSS, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Ariel University. Brig. Gen. (ret.) Udi Dekel was head of the Strategic Planning Division in the Planning Directorate of the IDF General Staff.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
Impact of Interim Deal
with Iran - Eric Edelman and Dennis Ross (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
- Evidence suggests that the interim deal with Iran over its nuclear program, formally known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), has set back Iran's breakout timing by nearly one month.
- However, that benefit is more than offset by provisions which allow Iran to enrich uranium more rapidly than before the deal; steadily reduce the pressure on Tehran from sanctions; and fail to resolve international concerns about Iran's weaponization activities. As a result, in our judgment the JPA is not making a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program more likely to be achieved.
- This is based on three key trends we observe thus far, all of which are permitted under the JPA.
- First, increased centrifuge efficiency could negate the ongoing neutralization of Iran's most advanced uranium stockpile. As a result, Tehran's overall progress toward nuclear weapons capability could be unchanged, or even advanced, during the interim period.
- Second, even as the JPA leaves Iran's potential breakout timing unchanged, it is decreasing U.S. leverage for compelling Iran to conclude and adhere to an acceptable final deal. Specifically, we estimate increased oil exports resulting from the JPA's unlacing of sanctions will yield Iran $9-13 billion more in revenue between the deal's announcement in November 2013 and the end of the six-month interim deal than if it had not been agreed.
- Third, despite some transparency improvements, Iran continues to deny the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full access to suspected military dimensions of its nuclear program. As before the JPA, this leaves inspectors largely in the dark about the true extent of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
- Tehran remains the leading international sponsor of terrorism and the backbone of the Syrian regime's brutal suppression of its own citizens. It continues rejecting international law and global norms - including binding UN Security Council resolutions calling on it to suspend its nuclear program and comply with its non-proliferation obligations.
Amb. Eric Edelman and Amb. Dennis Ross are co-chairs of JINSA's Gemunder Center Iran Task Force.
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