Secretary of State John Kerry issued demands to the Syrian opposition over the weekend that were “dictated by Iran and Russia,” according to reports, while the Syrian opposition claimed Kerry was taking Iran and Russia’s side in the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian civil war. Kerry reportedly told the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiating Committee chief, Riad Hijab, in a meeting in Saudi Arabia that the opposition risked “losing friends,” if they failed to attend the Syrian peace talks, scheduled to start on Friday. According to The Jerusalem Post, Kerry threatened to “stop US military and financial aid” if they do not participate. Reports also indicate that Secretary Kerry instructed the opposition to agree to a unity government, instead of a transitional government that would eventually lead to current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure. Some media reports, according to The Wall Street Journal, also claimed that in the meeting Kerry hinted that Assad “might be able to run in coming elections.” Allowing Assad to run in an election would be a significant departure from previous U.S. positions, despite the U.S. weakening its position on the future of Assad in December and moving closer to the Russian and Iranian view. In Moscow, Secretary Kerry told reporters that the U.S. is “not seeking so-called regime change” in Syria.
The opposition has long demanded that Assad must go and fears that the peace talks with the Syrian regime will not achieve their goals but will serve the interests of Iran and Russia, the primary backers of the Assad regime. It was also reported that in the meeting Kerry signaled support for Iran’s proposed peace plan in Syria. Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tweeted that the administration endorsed the plan “verbatim.” He continued, "Then again, Obama has recognized Syria as an Iranian sphere.” The opposition has repeatedly stated that they will not participate in the peace talks until “air strikes are halted, government sieges of rebel held territory are lifted and detainees freed.” According to Reuters, these conditions are outlined in the UN resolution passed on December 18. Secretary Kerry told reporters on Monday that there should be no preconditions for the talks. The Syrian opposition spokesperson Salim al-Muslat stated: “We want to realize pure humanitarian matters. They are not preconditions.” The Syrian regime, as a tactic of war, has engaged in the systematic starvation of civilians, including in the town of Madaya, where thousands are starving and dozens have starved to death. The Assad regime, with the support of Iran and Hezbollah fighters, has also indiscriminately murdered tens of thousands and displaced millions through the use of barrel bombs, air raids, massacres, and chemical weapons attacks. Middle East analyst Kyle Orton tweeted: “#Syria's opposition is being hammered on all sides militarily and politically and not even getting the starvation-sieges raised as an issue.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the capture of ten American sailors “God’s deed” in a tweet posted Sunday.
Khamenei’s comment was part of a a series of tweets praising Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for seizing American naval vessels and taking their crews hostage two weeks ago. In one tweet he is seen congratulating the IRGC troops who captured the Americans.
After similar instances of Iranian aggression in the past, Khamenei often praised or promoted those responsible. As Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, noted in Newsweek, the commander of the IRGC operation that seized British sailors in 2007 “later was decorated as soldier of the year.”
Khamenei’s record of rewarding Iranian aggression would not have happened, Rubin wrote, if the bad behavior “was not blessed, encouraged, and supported from the very top” of Iran’s leadership.
Khamanei has used Twitter in the past to express extreme views. In November 2014, Khamenei tweeted a nine-step plan for eliminating Israel. Last July, just after the nuclear deal was announced, he tweeted an image purporting to be President Barack Obama with a gun to his head, with text threatening the “aggressive and criminal” United States.
A bio-digester from Israel’s HomeBiogas is now converting organic waste into clean renewable energy at the Buvundya Orphanage in Uganda, thanks to a donor who bought the system. “These children lit up when they discovered the HomeBiogas magic — that they can transform their waste and produce their very own energy,” according to the company’s chief scientist and cofounder, Yair Teller. HomeBiogas provides a sustainable solution in warmer climates for off-grid urban and rural families, environmentally conscious homeowners and small farm owners. Previously, Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection purchased and installed HomeBiogas units in two Bedouin Negev villages without access to clean energy and garbage removal. They now can produce their own clean biogas for cooking, heating and lighting, as well as organic liquid crop fertilizer. The backyard units, available as an easy-to-assemble kit made in Israel, perform bacterial anaerobic digestion of organic waste such as food scraps and animal manure. A bio-filter reduces odors, and a chlorine filter eliminates pathogens in the fertilizer produced. (via Israel21c)
Most people assume that the Sunni terrorist group ISIS is the natural and mortal enemy of Shia Iran, but this is not always the case. In fact, in at least one part of the Middle East, Iran has become a crucial, if indirect, sponsor of its supposed enemy.
As the world’s eyes are focused on ISIS terrorism in Europe, the Middle East, and even the U.S., the group’s branch in the Sinai has become one of the most powerful, dangerous, and effective in the region. Recent reports indicate that Iran, through the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, is primarily responsible for this.
The Iran-Hamas-ISIS axis is part of Iran’s strategy of using proxy forces against U.S. allies like Egypt and Israel as part of a larger strategy to achieve hegemony over the Middle East. This has resulted in one of the region’s best kept secrets: An intensive cooperation mechanism between Iran, Hamas, and ISIS, based on money, weapons, military equipment, and training.
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