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Category: Iran (page 2 of 3)

Iran Can Make a Nuclear Bomb in a Year

The situation with Iran and their nuclear program has been on the front of the world agenda for a long time now. It’s a rich history of accusations and denials. Now, to add to the fire, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talked in a CBS interview about the fact that in his opinion, Iran could make a nuclear bomb inside of a year, which is sure to reignite the debate of whether that’s the case or not, and what to do about it, if anything. It’s not the first time that the subject was brought to the public’ attention, and will clearly not be the last either.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are nothing new. The country has been working on various projects including radioactive materials for decades. In itself, refining uranium isn’t necessarily evil. In fact their claims have always been that they are building nuclear reactors to power their cities. The question of course is whether that’s true, or if they have a secret nuclear bomb program. For Defense Secretary Panetta, there’s no question about it, Iran has all the necessary tools and technology to start working on a bomb. It would apparently take them one year to manufacture enough radioactive material to create the bomb, and then up to another year to create the infrastructure to be able and aim it at any country in the world. He said that the US is fully prepared to stop them if they get the intelligence that they’re in process of doing that.

Of course, we don’t know what the intelligence currently says, and he did not specify any of it. Iran has always claimed that the rest of the world was mistaken, and that the only facilities they had was to create nuclear fuel for their reactors. The process is very similar, where there’s a need to get the base material pure enough to be used as a source of fuel. The difference is how pure it needs to be. For a reactor, this can be around 25% to 75%, whereas for a nuclear bomb, it needs to be higher than 95%. That’s a big difference, and why it’s much more complex to get enough fuel for a bomb. With many countries both in the western hemisphere and in Europe suspecting that Iran has every intention of developing a nuclear bomb, there’s no doubt that they have highly damning suspicions, but without any hard proof, it’s hard to know how things will proceed next.

The situation remains volatile, and this type of talk doesn’t help reassuring people. It seems likely that if proof were to come out of Iran’s true motives, then it may start yet another large scale war in the region, which would destabilize the area. Until then, countries stay on alert, and we all watch.

Nuclear Professor Assasinated in Tehran

Mysterious blast in Iranian capital leaves one dead, injures two. Local media reports say blast ‘reminiscent’ of previous attacks on nuclear scientists.

According to Iranian media reports, the incident “looks similar to attacks on nuclear scientists in the city,” more than one year ago. The semi-official Fars news agency cited witnesses as saying a motorcyclist stuck a bomb on the side of the car which then exploded, killing one and injuring two people inside.

Fars identified the victim as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan. State-run Press TV said he was a university professor. Another Iranian nuclear professor was killed earlier this year when a motorcycle rigged with explosives was detonated outside his home. Iranian authorities, who claim Western governments seeking to thwart the country’s nuclear ambitions are behind the attacks on nuclear scientists, issued a statement blaming today’s attacks on “Zionist agents” and vowing revenge.

The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a key element of the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead.

Iran has claimed that Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and Britain’s spy agency are engaged in an underground “terrorism” campaign against nuclear-related targets, including at least three slayings since early 2010 and the release of a malicious computer virus known at Stuxnet in 2010 that Iran says disrupted controls of some centrifuges a key component in nuclear fuel production. Both countries have denied the Iranian accusations.

Israeli officials have hinted about covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement. On Tuesday, Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.”

“Many bad things have been happening to Iran in the recent period,” added Mickey Segal, a former director of the Israeli military’s Iranian intelligence department. “Iran is in a situation where pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the pressure that the Iranian regime is facing.”

Iran Sentences US Man to Death for Spying

According to Reuters, the Iran Revolutionary Court has sentenced an American-Iranian man to death for reportedly spying for the CIA. This move could likely aggravate the tension between Iran and the US, which is already high due to the Tehran nuclear dispute.

Amir Mirza Hekmati is being held by Iran and the White is trying to verify the verdict. Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said on Monday:

“If true, we strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with out partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government.”

The west has expanded punitive sanctions against the country recently over the suspicions of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of an atomic energy program for their civilians. The Islamic Republic denies the development of nuclear weapons.

“Amir Mirza Hekmati was sentenced to death…for cooperating with the hostile country America and spying for the CIA” was a statement issued by Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, a spokesman for the ISNA. “The court found him Corrupt on the Earth and Mohareb (somebody who wages war against God). Hekmati has the ability to appeal his case to the Supreme Court.

The highest court in Iran must confirm every death sentence, but the ruling is not yet known for Hekmati. Hekmati is a 28-year-old man of Iranian decent and was born in Arizona. He was arrested by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in December with the accusation of receiving training from the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a letter published on the site created by his family FreeAmir.org the parents published the following letter yesterday:

My husband Ali and I are shocked and terrified by the news that our son, Amir, has been sentenced to death.
We believe that this verdict is the result of a process that was neither transparent nor fair.
The Iranian authorities are denying that Amir is a United States citizen, despite the fact he was born in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Amir did not engage in any acts of spying, or “fighting against God,” as the convicting Judge has claimed in his sentence. Amir is not a criminal. His very life is being exploited for political gain.
A grave error has been committed, and we have authorized our legal representatives to make direct contact with the Iranian authorities to find a solution to this misunderstanding.
We pray that Iran will show compassion and not murder our son, Amir, a natural born American citizen, who was visiting Iran and his relatives for the first time.
Behnaz Hekmati
(Amir’s mother)

Vietor later released a statement saying “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false. The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

The United States is urging Iran to give Hekmati legal council and to release him. The Iranian judiciary has said that Hekmati has admitted to being tied to the CIA, but denied all intention of going against Iran. Iran has had not relationship with the US since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Hekmati’s mother has said that he was visiting relatives in Iran for the first time in December when he was arrested on charges of espionage.

Iran To Open Second Enrichment Site Near Qum

A top official with Iran’s nuclear program announced over the weekend that the country is on the verge of breaking ground on a second uranium enrichment site. This rebellious announcement comes amid new international sanctions against the country due to its dispute over their nuclear program. The announcement was made through new media reports and came after weeks of escalading confrontations between Tehran and Washing. This included a threat that Iran could potentially respond through military force if the US tried to send their aircraft carriers through the Strait of Hormuz.

The second enrichment site, the Fordo plant, which is located near Qum, puts the US in a difficult position about how far they will need to go in order to limit the nuclear abilities of Iran. The Fordo plan is located underground and is well defended against attacks. This makes the plant more resistant to missiles and other forms of air strikes than the first plant at Natanz.

The Fordo plant was first talked about in 2009 by President Barack Obama. At the time, the US, France and Great Britain were not convinced that Iran would go far enough to develop the plant. Once the plant goes into operation it will be much more difficult to disable it. Fereydoon Abbasi made the announcement on Saturday that the facility was nearly completed. Abbasi was made the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in 2010 after surviving an assassination attempt.

Iran has been known to exaggerate their abilities, however, nuclear experts claim that an operational site is plausible. Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency reported enrichment centrifuges in December, which makes the story even more probable.

Iran has been deeply hurt by four years of sanctions, but it appears that the nuclear energy program is flourishing. The oil embargo in Europe and the new sanctions by America could undercut the government and lead to a cutoff of their biggest revenue source: oil. These sanctions seem to have only made Iran more determined to proceed with their enrichment program.

Iran has threatened to close shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, which could increase oil prices immensely. Iran has conducted exercises with their military to close the waterway and stated that they would use military force to bar the reentry of the John C Stennis, a US aircraft Carrier.

Iran Warns the US to Stay Out of the Persian Gulf

A US Navy aircraft carrier was warned by an Iranian Army commander to not enter the Persian Gulf. The aircraft carrier that had left the Persian Gulf during the Iran’s Navy drills was coming back into the region that primarily makes up Iran’s southern border when it received the warning. Reuters broke this story after receiving word that Ataollah Salehi told the IRNA network that Iran would take action against the carrier if it entered Iran’s waters.

The USS John Stennis was leaving through the Strait of Hormuz one week ago after porting in Dubai. According Reuters, the US ships will sail despite the threats from Iran. Salehi was reported in saying “Iran will not repeat its warning. The enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf.” Salehi was later reported to say “I advise, recommend and warn them over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”

Commander Bill Speaks wrote to Reuters in an email stating “These are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations.” He followed this by stating “The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce.”

The US Naval vessel is based out of the Gulf from Bahrain. There have been as many as 5 aircraft carriers in the region since the beginning of the war in Iraq. This number has been reduced as the amount of American troops has become considerably less over the past year.

This elevated sign of tension comes just one week after drills were implemented to practice shutting down the Strait of Hormuz. A little over 40% of the world’s oil is shipped through the Strait of Hormuz and then to the rest of the world. Although Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the US has vowed to protect any ships coming through the strait.

Missile Test Brings In The New Year for Iran

The test firing of two long range missiles on Monday by Iran’s Navy solidifies the fear that 2012 is going to be a year or tension between the Iranian government in Tehran and the United States. There were also claims on Monday that Iran has made a breakthrough with their nuclear program. Both of these factors could lead to a dangerous showdown with the allies of the West and the Iranian government.

Mahmoud Mousavi, Iran’s deputy navy commander, made a statement on Iranian television saying “successfully test-fired long-range ground to water and ground to ground missiles.” These missile tests came toward the end of the 10-day navy exercises to close the Strait of Hormuz. If Iran does close the Strait of Hormuz, the rest of the world could feel the increase in gas prices.

Tehran announced on Sunday that they had successfully produced their first nuclear fuel rod. The Iranian government is claiming that they are making radioisotopes for cancer treatment within the country; however, US intelligence officers and nuclear inspectors believe the country is producing nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued a call to other nations to sanction the Tehran government in an effort to cease the creation of nuclear weapons. These sanctions have created revolts inside the government, an organization that has been feeling stressed financially since the sanctions were put in place.

James Carafano, a defense analyst for The Heritage Foundation, was quoted saying “the weakness shown by the Obama White House has only encouraged Iran to adopt a more reckless foreign policy. Meanwhile, with dissent growing at home and in neighboring Syria, Tehran has been looking for any excuse to focus on the ‘external’ enemy and divert attention from domestic problems.”

Many analysts are dead set on branding Iran as a nuclear threat, citing peace talks a null option. These analysts are vying for the Iranian government to be pushed hard during 2012 to resolve any issues with nuclear capabilities.

2011 Iranian Year In Review

2011 has been a tumultuous year for tensions between Iran and the west. In January, the talk of Iran’s nuclear weapons program was stalled. Britain, China, Russia, France and the US were forced to walk away after the Iranian delegation implemented preconditions that the UN drop sanctions concerning the Tehran nuclear program. In February, protests broke out across the Mid East and in Northern Africa as “Arab Spring” hit very close to it’s home. Thousands of protesters rallied in Tehran in support of the Tunisia and Egypt uprisings.

In June, the protesters used a different tactic on the second anniversary of the 2009 reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Special forces were deployed to block the streets, but this didn’t stop the protesters. They took to the streets and chanted protest mantras anyway. In October, the US Department of Justice uncovered a plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat. The two men were working for the Iranian government. Iran called the allegations “laughable”, however, a UN resolution that condemned the action was supported by over one hundred countries. President Barack Obama did not rule out any options in making Iran pay for their mistakes and said, “this is part of a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior by the Iranian government.”

November was the month of nuclear activities when the International Atomic Energy Agency announced their assessment of Tehran’s nuclear program. Director Yukiya Amano was quoted as saying “The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” Amano said. “It also indicates that, prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program and that some activities may still be ongoing.” Iran still maintains that all of their nuclear activity is to support their country by a means of providing energy to their citizens.

The west did not take these allegations so lightly. Later in the month, Central Bank and was sanctioned. Britain was the first to take most of the blame from Iran and their Tehran embassy was stormed by protesters on November 29th. In December, Iran claimed to have shot down an American drone. On December 12th, Iran announced that they were running a drill to practice closing the Straigh Of Hormuz, a region where about 40 percent of the world’s oil passes through. Parliament deputy Parviz Sorouri gave a warning of”If the world wants to make the region insecure we will make the world insecure.”

Yalda Night


December 21 is known as Yalda Night for Iran, the longest night of the Iranian solar year. Yalda Night is a night with very special ceremonies. Families gather together on Yalda Night with elders until well after midnight. During Yalda Night dried fruits and winter fruits such as watermelon and pomegranate is feasted on to symbolize the sky’s red color. Iranians recite their favorite poems by Hafez, a highly respected Iranian poet.

The Night Of Yalda literally means The Night Of Birth. This gives Iranians a good time to spend with friends, family, and other loved ones. Yalda is deeply rooted in Iranian history and is known to demonstrate the eagerness of Iran’s strong family ties. The tradition of Yalda Night dates back to ancient Persia thousands of years ago and is still celebrated. Yalda is primarily celebrated in the Northern hemisphere of the country on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Depending on the calendar year, Yalda Night can either be celebrated on Decement 20th or 21st every year. In 2008, Yalda Night was added to Iran’s List Of National Treasures.

According to the Iranian mythology, Yalda night is the bringing of light and triump over darkness for the days to come. This celebration takes place on the darkest and longest night each year. Yalda Night’s traditions are intended to help protect people from any misfortune in the coming year. Iranian television and radio will offer special programming for Yalda Night.

Many Iranians will be seen in mahali, the traditional clothing. Food is placed on the Korsi, a traditional table used for Yalda, so friends and family can eat. Although this is a highly celebrated tradition, some families will choose to simply make phone calls to their friends and family instead of getting together. As a parting gift, many families offer bags of dried fruits to family and friends.

Former Iran President Says Elections Meaningless

Mohammad Khatami, a former Iranian president, announced that the political situation in the country has not improved to a degree where reformists should be participating in the parliamentary elections.

Khatami said in a short interview on Monday that “All indicators show that we should refrain from participating in the elections and, therefore, participation in them would be meaningless.” He added later “My statement is the same as that of the Coordination Council of the Reformist Front, which announced that the reformists cannot and should not have a candidate list in the elections.”

Ali Mohammad Gharibani, the head of the Iran’s reformist coordination council, issued a statement to the press saying that the completive nature of political interests are continuing to squeeze reformists out of the elections. He also stated that since “reformists have no possibility to advertise and inform the public while the competition is in control of all advertising venues.” Because of this, the council has not and will not endorse any candidates in the election. To take a step further, the council has even refused to compile a list.

Khatami was sited in the saying that the decision of the council does not mean that they are promoting a boycott of the elections. Khatami added that reformists will be able to participate in the parliamentary elections if all political prisoners are released and if all of the political parties are given equal chance to engage in a free political activity. His last request was for all of the elections to be open and transparent.

Since the presidential elections of 2009 when there were allegations of voter fraud, the establishment has accused reformists of playing a part with Iran’s foreign enemies. Because of this accusation, man y of the senior reformists have been sentenced to jail and other more long-term prison terms. MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, former reformist candidates have been under house arrest since early February.

Iran to Move Nuclear Facilities to Safer Location


The AP has reported that Iran might be moving their uranium enrichment facilities, as safety becomes an issue. Iran is reportedly concerned against a Western strike on their facilities. Neither Israel nor the US have ruled out a possible military strike again the nuclear program, citing that they believe Iran could be developing atomic weapons. However Iran is adamant that their facilities are creating electricity and radioisotopes for treating cancer patients.

Gholam Reza Jalali, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s anti-sabotage unit has said that an attack is not probable, but that the move may still occur for protection of the facilities. The Natanz enrichment site is the most central to Iran and most of the site is built underground. The Fordo facility is built into a mountain to protect against aerial attacks. Jalali also said that he believes the West would have already attacked if they intended to do so.

Most of the country’s centrifuges are located at the Natanz site. This is a main concern of Iran because this technology is used for the uranium enrichment procedure. Uranium can be used as a fuel for power plants or it can be used as a fissile material in nuclear warheads.

In 2009 A sophisticated computer worm called Stuxnet targeted the Natanz computers. This specific computer worm is designed to make centrifuges uncontrollable. Iran has since acknowledged that Stuxnet did affect a number of their centrifuges, but that it was neutralized before major damage was inflicted.

Iran has not elaborated on where they might move the enrichment sites. This could be a very large process in moving the equipment and there are not very many sites that could house the equipment safely. In August, Iran moved some of their centrifuges to the Fordo site. This is located just north of Qom. Fordo is known to offer better protection from airstrikes. It is not known if the units cam from Natanz.

Iran Not to Return Lost Drone

According to the AP, Iran will not be returning a US drone that was captured by their armed forces, says a commander of the Revolutionary Guard. General Hossein Salami made remarks in a broadcast to state television that the US had violated Iran’s airspace by sending a US drone. He called this a “hostile act” and then warned the nation of a “bigger” response. He didn’t elaborate on what this biggest response could be.
 
Salami was quoted by saying “”No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country.”
 
In a broadcast on Thursday, Iranian military officials were caught inspecting what seemed to be an RQ-170 sentinel drone. Iran has said that they detected the drone over Kashmar, a town in the eastern part of the country. This is about 140 miles from the border of Afghanistan. The US has made a statement that it is their drone.
 
Salami went on to call the capturing of the drone a victory for Iranian people and a loss for the United States. The two countries are known to be in a technological and intelligence based battle. “Iran is among the few countries that possesses the most modern technology in the field of pilotless drones. The technology gap between Iran and the U.S. is not much,” Salami also commented.
 
The Revolutionary Guard has claimed that it is responsible for bringing the drone down with an electric ambush. This caused the drone to come down without major damage tot eh unit. However, the US is claiming that Iran did not shoot the drone out of the sky or use a technology-based attack to bring it down.
 
Salami himself did not go into how the drone was brought down. He said that an intelligence agency cannot reveal their methods.

Iranian Protesters Break into UK Embassy In Tehran

The ransacked offices of the UK embassy in Tehran are said to be the work of militant students in the area. The embassy’s smashed windows and a burning British flag have become the picture of today’s newspapers. This move has come directly after the UK has vowed to endorse further sanctions to Iran.

In a press release, the UK’s Foreign Offices have said to be “outraged” by the backlash. Iranian offices have also released a statement of regret. The UK Foreign office has also advised all Britons in Iran to stay indoors and to keep a very low profile while in the country.

Onlookers have said that they heard “death To England” being chanted as the students rioted against police. One protester has been reported as waving a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II while turning over desktops and rummaging through the files of the embassy.

Pictures of the event showed embassy paperwork set aflame while a car inside the compound was also on fire. Embassy staff is said to have escaped through the backdoor of the facility. Tear gas was fired as the security forces tried to get a handle on the situation.

The US has condemned the attack and support the UK as it tries to pick up the pieces of their embassy. France and Russia have also expressed their concern and stand by the UK.

This has all been sparked by the theory of Iran’s nuclear development program as the UK has imposed monetary sanctions on the banks of Iran. They have accused the banks of funding the nuclear program. Iran has denied these claims and insists that their nuclear program is solely for energy purposes for their people.

On Sunday, the Iranian parliament voted by a vast majority to reduce their relations with the UK.

Iran Calls Nuclear Sanctions “Vain”


The US and Canada have announced that new measures will be taken to target Iran’s nuclear program. A senior Iranian political official has said that the sanctions imposed on the Iranian nuclear program would be “in vain” despite Western authority claiming the sanctions would unite the Iranian people. Russia has come to Iran’s defense calling the sanctions “against international law.”

Ramin Mehmanparast of the Iranian Foreign Ministry has told reporters in Tehran that the attempts of the west will simply unite the Iranian people to support their nuclear program. Although Iran has firmly denied the claims that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons, a UN report published just two weeks ago has the strongest evidence leading against the claims.

Although Tehran is insisting that the nuclear program is a civilian endeavor, a UN nuclear watchdog group has said that the tests Iran is performing are congruent with that of the development of a nuclear weapon. With China and Russia opposed to the sanctions, Iran was not referred to the UN Security Council. Abdolhossein Bayat, Iran’s deputy oil minister, has said that if the sactions are implemented, Iran will not stop exporting their petrochemical to the European Unions.

The UK announced on Monday that they were cutting all ties with Iran’s banks. Canada has said that they are banning the export of petrochemical, gas and oil. Hilary Clinton, US Secretary Of State, has said that they will be monitoring Iran with greater authority in the coming weeks. The US has also accused Iran as a “primary money laundering concern.”

US President Barack Obama has said through a written statement that the United States has identified Iranian banking sector as a threat to financial institutions and governments that have business with Iran’s banks. The UK has since ceased all trade with Iran’s banks.

Will NATO Get Syrias About Assad? What Will It Mean For Iran?

On Sunday Iran told NATO not to get any big ideas about invading Syria. The hypothetical situation, warned Iran, would be akin to NATO’s “quagmire” situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to the United Nations, 2,200 people have been killed since Assad sent in tanks and troops to crush demonstrations which erupted in March after the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia were toppled by popular protests.

Israel is concerned that the Syrian military could transfer chemical weapons to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or Hamas because of instability within Syria.

American intelligence agencies believe that Syria has large caches of chemical weapons. The United States considers Syria among largest distributors of weapons of mass destruction, along with North Korea and Iran, and accuses Syria of smuggling such weapons to the likes of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Meanwhile, three Scud missiles flying between Iraq and Kuwait last Friday were launched by the Iran-backed Ketaeb Hezbollah of Iraq. These are the first such attacks since the US invaded Iraq in 2003. It also marks the first time that any Middle East terrorist group has used Scud missiles.

The round was a warning for Kuwait to cease construction of the Grand Mubarak Port opposite the Iraqi shore.

Earlier in August, Kuwait massed troops on Boubiyan Island opposite from Iraq to defend the $1.1b Grand Mubarak Port that is under construction there – an odd reaction to Iraq’s demand that Kuwait freeze construction of the Persian Gulf port until guarantees are provided the new facility will not be a hindrance to the operations of Iraq’s own planned harbor in the southern region of Basra. A government spokesman in Baghdad demanded reassurance that safe and free navigation will not be affected by the Kuwait port scheduled for completion in 2016.

This dispute did not account for Kuwait’s heavy military deployment on its largest island. This came after Tehran discovered that Mubarak Port is also projected to house a large naval base to serve the fleets of Kuwait, the US and Saudi Arabia in the

Persian Gulf. Until last Friday, there was no confirmation of the group’s claim to have recovered the majority of the 250 Scuds held by Saddam Hussein before the US invasion in 2003.

Last week, Iraqi Hezbollah activities staged a demonstration against the port on the Iraqi-Kuwait border. Kuwait said it would show no tolerance for any border incursions whatsoever.

Meanwhile, reports out of Washington indicate that the rebels of Libya’s National Transitional Council will recognize Israel diplomatically, and Israeli businessmen are already arriving in Libya to establish future business relations.

This will represent a major shift in Libya’s foreign policy toward Israel and will provide the Jewish state with a much needed strategic ally among the Arab countries, since ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Lesser of two evils: Mousavi or Ahmadinejad?

46 million Iranians voted Friday in what was declared to be the first really contested election in that country since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that “lovely” man who continues to say that Israel is an “illegal” state and should be “wiped of the face of the map“, was opposed by former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who presented himself as a “reformist candidate”, although he still backs his country’s nuclear program. What Mr. Mousavi may have meant as being “reformist” is probably similar to former president Mohammad Khatami, who was really one of the Mullah religious leaders, and said to wield the real power in the Islamic Republic, with people like Ahmadinejad only being front men.

Mahmoud AhmadinejadWhat all this means for Israel is that no great surprises were in store, no matter who would win, and that the anti-Israel rhetoric will continue, as well as the nuclear program, which went into high gear when Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005. Mousavi is even said to have begun the nuclear program back in the 1980’s.

Reform means a lot of different things to different people, especially in a country like Iran, where Sharia Islamic law is practiced to a large extent, although not to the extreme as it is in Saudi Arabia, or in the former Taliban controlled Afghanistan. What this means for Iranian women is that they are allowed to drive, not completely cover their faces (even a bit of fashion is permitted), achieve a higher education, work in most professions, and vote. The voting right by women was definitely exercised in the election, although the way many women exercised their vote was probably influenced by their husband or father (if they are not married yet). The Iranian legal system continues to try, and punish, both men and women according to strict Islamic law, meaning that people committing acts that are contrary to Islamic Law are often given the harshest punishment – including death.

It is well known that the real holder of the reins of power in Iran is the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is as bad or worse than the Ayatollah Hasni Komeni, who presided over the country following the Islamic Revolution.

Iran has a number of problems that should be dealt with by no matter who wins this election. These include a 17% unemployment rate, and an energy and industrial infrastructure that is in complete shambles. For a country with the world’s second biggest oil reserves (said to be anywhere from 14 to 25 %) it must import most of its refined petroleum products; and many Iranians still drive around old locally made versions of British Hillman Hunter automobiles from pre-revolutionary days. And at least half of the population is 27 years old or younger, making available careers for university graduates even scarcer.

In the end no earthshaking changes came about, as the “reform candidate” Moussavi didn’t win. As for people living in Israel, being prepared for the worst case scenario is a matter of acute reality in these current times.

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