Tag Archives: Iran

Protests in Iraq

Three days of protests in Iraq have now resulted in the deaths of 60 demonstrators, many shot by sniper fire.

The violence is the worst since Iraq put down an insurgency by Islamic State two years ago. The protests arose in the south, heartland of the Shi’ite majority, but quickly spread, with no formal leadership.

Security and medical sources gave a death toll on Friday of 60 killed across Iraq in three days of unrest, the vast majority of the deaths in the last 24 hours as the violence accelerated.

“It is sorrowful that there have been so many deaths, casualties and destruction,” Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in a letter read out by his representative during a sermon. “The government and political sides have not answered the demands of the people to fight corruption or achieved anything on the ground,” said Sistani, who stays out of day-to-day politics but whose word is law for Iraq’s Shi’ites. “Parliament holds the biggest responsibility for what is happening.”

Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads the largest opposition bloc in parliament, ordered his lawmakers to suspend participation in the legislature until the government introduces a program that would serve all Iraqis.

Many government officials and lawmakers are widely accused of siphoning off public money, unfairly awarding contracts in state institutions and other forms of corruption.

It is suggested that the demonstrators are protesting government corruption. This could easily be true, since bribery, payoffs, embezzlement, etc, are very normal in Arab culture. At the same time, the factionalism that divides Iraq has not gone away, and these demonstrations could be a tactic by the opposition to damage the ruling party. Moqtada al-Sadr (who had been nicknamed “Mookie” by U.S. troops) has a long history of using force for his own political gain. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is behind these protests.

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Apparent Iran launch failure

Just released satellite photos showing fire and smoke at an Iranian launchpad suggest that a rumored attempt by Iran this week to launch a satellite into orbit resulted instead in a launchpad failure.

[S]atellite images by Planet Labs Inc. showed a black plume of smoke rising above a launch pad there, with what appeared to be the charred remains of a rocket and its launch stand. In previous days, satellite images had shown officials there repainted the launch pad blue.

On Thursday morning, half of that paint apparently had been burned away. “Whatever happened there, it blew up and you’re looking at the smoldering remains of what used to be there,” said David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Schmerler told The Associated Press that the images of the space center suggested that the rocket either exploded during ignition or possibly briefly lifted off before crashing back down on the pad.

In July Iranian officials had said they would do three launches this year, with a communications satellite launch expected before the end of the summer. It would appear that this failure is of that launch.

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Iran says it will launch three orbital launches in 2019

The new colonial movement: Despite two launch failures already this year as well as U.S. opposition, Iranian officials earlier this week said that they still have plans to launch three more times in 2019.

I have no idea how seriously we should take this claim. Iranian officials have made a number of claims in recent years that proved nothing by bombast. This might be that, or not.

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Second orbital launch failure in a month for Iran rocket

According to U.S. officials, Iran has attempted and failed twice in the past month to place satellites in orbit.

Iran’s second try in less than a month to send a satellite into orbit apparently failed shortly after liftoff from a remote desert launch pad under daily surveillance from a fleet of commercial imaging spacecraft, according to U.S. government officials and independent analysts.

Images of the launch pad in north-central Iran taken by orbiting satellites owned by U.S. companies suggest a rocket launch occurred last week, but the U.S. military’s catalog of space objects registered no new spacecraft in orbit. A satellite launch attempt was expected in recent weeks based on statements from Iran’s government and observations of increasing activity at the launch site.

Iran has admitted to a launch failure on January 15, though it denies the failure last week, claiming instead that the February launch succeeded in placing its satellite in orbit, even though no new satellite has been detected.

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Iran rocket fails to place satellite in orbit

The new colonial movement: According to their government sources, Iran today tried and failed to place a Earth imaging satellite into orbit with their Simorgh rocket.

The rocket carrying the Payam satellite failed to reach the “necessary speed” in the third stage of its launch, Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said.

Jahromi said the rocket had successfully passed its first and second stages before developing problems in the third. He didn’t elaborate on what caused the rocket failure but promised that Iranian scientists would continue their work.

I wonder how much of a failure this launch is. If they were testing an ICBM capability, then the successful operation of the first and second stages would likely rank this as a success. And even if their main goal wasn’t ICBM testing, in the end they have done so, as they can apply what they learn here to all military missile technology.

Update: You can see video of the launch at this Iranian press story, along with other details about Iran’s space effort. I found the comments there most educational however. Here’s one sample: “Iran needs to use its space technology to fire invincible hyper-sonic missiles from space at the Jews in Israel.” The comments are all not like this, but there are enough to give you a sense of Iran’s social culture.

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Farrakhan leads “Death to America” chants in Iran

They’re coming for you next: Louis Farrakhan, friend and ally to the Democratic Party and its leadership, this week visited Iran where he led of chants “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan led a chant of “Death to America!” on a solidarity visit to Iran this weekend, according to Iranian news sources. He also led a chant of “Death to Israel!”

Farrakhan visited Iran ahead of the renewal of U.S. sanctions against the regime at midnight on November 5. The renewed sanctions are the result of the American withdrawal from the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, which purported to prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons but merely delayed it.

Any vote for any Democrat on election day will essentially be an endorsement of this behavior, as the Democratic Party at all levels for many years has shown strong ties and sympathy for Farrakhan and his brand of bigotry and anti-American hate.

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Satellite images of Iran’s missile program

Using images produced by the private satellite company Planet, experts have exposed Iran’s secret rocket program.

The images are fascinating and definitive. They even reveal what must be solid rocket motor test stands, with the ground scars left over after tests.

These pictures were the proof outlined in a recent news article that showed the joke that was the Iran nuclear deal.

ICBMs are not defensive weapons. They are by nature offensive weapons, used as a deterrent in some contexts, but the deterrent value lies in their offensive nature. They are designed to strike long distances away from borders and frontiers as a means of extending offensive capabilities. Paired with a nuclear-weapons program, they become an even greater offensive threat, one that would destabilize the entire region.

Defenders of the [nuclear deal] will argue that the deal eliminated the threat of that pairing, but that’s nonsense. Even if Iran abided by the terms of the [deal], it would only have had to wait ten years to produce a nuclear weapon. Having an ICBM platform available for a nuclear warhead to fit it would fit perfectly into a strategy of dominating the region by nuclear blackmail, and would force others in the region to develop or acquire their own systems to counter it.

This is just another reminder that we cut a deal with a terrorist state that didn’t do anything to restrict its terrorist or its ability to develop platforms for later use against us. If anything, the [nuclear deal] provided financial support for these efforts and others in the region, fueling conflict and pushing Iranian hegemony all the way to the Mediterranean, all without getting anything in return other than a piece of paper. We didn’t even get American detainees out of Iran. It’s a complete debacle, only becoming even more apparent with the passage of time.

But the leftist elitists who run our cultural and intellectual communities continue to think Trump is an idiot for pulling out of the deal. I ask, who is the real idiot here?

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The Middle East following Trump’s rejection of Iran deal

Many pundits had predicted that Donald Trump as president would lead to war with North Korea.

They were wrong. Completely, utterly, and foolishly. Instead, Trump’s hardline approach finally forced North Korea’s allies to force that nation to come to the negotiating table. For the first time in decades it appears we are going to see some substantive and positive changes in North Korea’s relations with the world.

This same pundit class, all operatives of the Democratic Party, have for the last few days been screaming that Trump’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal would also lead to war. Will these predictions be right this time? At this moment it is hard to say. Almost immediately after Trump’s announcement Iran and Israel exchanged missile fire. Overall, however, that exchange has turned out badly for Iran, the world’s biggest financier of terrorism and the instigator of most of the problems that presently exist in the Middle East.

First, it appears that militarily Iran did badly in the missile exchange, with Israel doing their capabilities in Syria serious harm. Second, Iran apparently did not tell anyone in Syria it was going to do use that country as a military launch site, and this is already causing them problems with their allies. For example, Russia announced today that it will not deliver new missiles to Syria, despite an earlier promise to do so.

Finally, a host of Arab Middle East countries have not only celebrated Trump’s actions, it has prompted some to reveal support for Israel, something that would have seemed impossible only two years ago.

It remains unclear if Trump’s actions will have the same positive effect on Iran as his actions did on North Korea. The two situations are not identical. Iran’s leaders have more flexibility and options that North Korea’s. Still, what Trump has accomplished is to get some important Arab nations to move to our side against Iran, and in doing so to increasingly ally themselves with Israel as well. This cannot be a bad thing.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic leader of Hamas announced yesterday that the protests next week in Gaza will be “decisive” and that many will die. Whether this really happens, it is apparent that such protests are not garnering Hamas the same worldwide support they once did. The same Middle East countries that have celebrated Trump’s actions have also made it clear they no longer support the terrorist tactics of the leaders in both the West Bank and Gaza. These Arab nations have quietly made it clear that they actually back Israel now.

Trump’s actions in the Middle East appear to have shifted the balance of power, and that shift has been in favor of Israel, the only democratically-elected nation in the area. This cannot be a bad thing.

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Trump pulls U.S. from Iran nuclear deal

As he promised during the campaign as well as several times since he became President, Trump today announced that the U.S. is leaving the Iran nuclear treaty that had been negotiated by the Obama administration.

Laying out his case, Trump contended, “If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

The administration said it would re-impose sanctions on Iran immediately but allow grace periods for businesses to wind down activity. Companies and banks doing business with Iran will have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. government.

…Trump, who repeatedly criticized the accord during his presidential campaign, said Tuesday that documents recently released by Netanyahu showed Iran had attempted to develop a nuclear bomb in the previous decade, especially before 2003. Although Trump gave no explicit evidence that Iran violated the deal, he said Iran had clearly lied in the past and could not be trusted.

The AP article at the link is a decidedly anti-Trump partisan hit job, less interested in reporting this news story than telling us how terrible Trump’s actions are. Nor should we be surprised, as two of the AP writers who contributed to the story are based in Tehran.

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Is Iran on the edge of collapse?

Link here. This short essay outlines a range of financial, economic, and fundamental problems facing Iran’s government that might lead to that country’s entire collapse.

Before we wax too eloquent about the democratic aspirations of the great Iranian people, we should keep in the mind that the most probable scenario for Iran under any likely regime is a sickening spiral into poverty and depopulation. Iran has the fastest-aging population of any country in the world, indeed, the fast-aging population of any country in history. It has the highest rate of venereal disease infection and the highest rate of infertility of any country in the world. It has a youth unemployment rate of 35% (adjusted for warehousing young people in state-run diploma mills). And worst of all, it has run out of water.

We might be observing the birth of Iranian democracy in the protests of the past few weeks, but it is more likely that we are watching the slow-motion train wreck of a once-great nation in all its gory detail. As I noted in an Asia Times analysis this morning, the most violent protests, e.g. the burning of a police station near Isfahan captured on this video, happened in the boondocks where water has run out. The river that runs through Isfahan, a legendary city of gardens in the desert, literally has run dry. Some Iranian officials warn that tens of millions of Iranians will have to leave their homes for lack of water. The country has used up 70% of its groundwater and its literally drying up major rivers to maintain consumption. It’s the worst ecological disaster in modern history.

If this analysis is even close to correct, things are going to get deadly interesting in the coming years. And it might not be just Iranians who face death. Iran will be like a cornered animal. The world, the Middle East, and especially Israel, will be in great danger because this particular cornered animal will have nothing to lose by doing very evil and violent things.

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An educated perspective on on the Iran protests

Link here. The author is a writer who has lived in Iran and seems very knowledgeable about the country and the specific cities where the protests are occurring. His comments about the city where the protests began, Mashad, are very revealing. They suggest that the Islamic mullahs that have been controlling Iran for the past few decades might have forgotten their base, and thus their base is now revolting.

He also notes this detail:

Now, there’s rioting in Qom. Qom is THE religious center for Shia Islam. Rioters burned a SEMINARY. Anti-mullah riots in Qom is a VERY BAD SIGN. That’s comparable to anti-Catholic riots in Vatican City. If you’re burning pictures of Khomeini and Khameini (two different people) in the religious center of Shia Islam… The Mullahs have lost their base and not just on the subject of payments.

So, this is, yeah, a very serious revolt. Not just some minor anti-government protests or some people arguing for better pay-offs. Posters weren’t being burned in Qom in the Green Revolution. (Which was very much centered on the middle class and students.) ‘Blue-collar’ protesters are chanting in favor of Reza Pahlavi, the guy who reestablished the Peacock Throne.

He also concludes by saying that if the mullahs do not stamp this revolt out soon this could very well end up to be a fight to the death.

Hat tip from reader Geoffrey Carman.

Update: More information here, including some details about why our mainstream press seems incapable of reporting on these protests with any knowledge or depth.

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Protests in Iran escalate

The protests in Iran this week that began over food prices and unemployment have now escalated into protests calling for the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

We shall see if these protests result in anything, or will be successfully squelched by the regime, as it did to similar protests in 2009. One difference between then and now is the American president. Obama spent most of his administration making nice to the Iranians, hoping that would make them less radical. He thus did nothing to support the protests, and if anything indicated his support for the regime at that time. Trump appears to think such an approach to be a waste of time, and has already indicated that he is sympathetic to the protesters, not the Iranian leadership.

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Saudi Arabia has launched a military strike against Yemen

Saudi Arabia has launched a military strike against Yemen’s defense ministry.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the attacks were air or missile strikes, but they came following reports that Iran had manufactured the ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite rebels toward the Saudi capital a week ago.

Remnants of the missile bore “Iranian markings,” the top US Air Force official in the Mideast said Friday, backing the kingdom’s earlier allegations.

This isn’t that much of a surprise, considering the recent purge in Saudi Arabia as well as the recent reports of both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait warning their citizens to leave Lebanon. The military strike today in Yemen appears to therefore merely be a precursor of a more significant escalation.

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Update on five Iranian satellite projects

During a recent press conference the head of the Iranian Space Agency has provided an update on the status of five long-delayed Iranian satellites.

Only one of the satellites appears ready for launch, and is awaiting a rocket to put it in orbit. The satellites are either designed to do remote sensing of the Earth or communications, with some having unstated military applications.

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Iranian scientist sentenced to death

An Iranian judge has sentenced an Iranian scientist to execution in 20 days.

The scientist, who appears to have mostly worked in Sweden, was convicted of spying for Israel. He in turn says he was railroaded because he refused to spy on his colleagues for the Iranian intelligence service.

What baffles me here is that he was arrested when returned to Iran for a short visit. He must have known that going back was going to put him in great risk. Why do it?

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Egyptian leader demands Palestinians accept Israel in UN speech

While the main buzz in the American press has been President Trump’s UN speech this week, no one has noticed that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in his own UN speech called for the Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel and to co-exist with it.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Tuesday urged Palestinian Arabs to overcome their differences and be ready to co-exist with each other and with Israelis in safety and security. “I tell the Palestinian people it’s extremely important … to overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security,” Sisi said in a speech before the UN General Assembly, as quoted by Reuters.

Sisi also had his first pubic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week. Furthermore, earlier in the week the king of Bahrain endorsed an event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles by sending his prince as a representative, while simultaneously calling for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel.

[Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,] told The Times of Israel in a phone interview Monday that he was in Dubai on a mission for his organization when the king personally invited him to visit his palace. While the meeting took place in February, Hier said that he was ready now to discuss its contents after receiving “a clear signal” from the king that the royal meant business. In this case, the signal was that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa attended a large event for the Weisenthal Center on Thursday, and also visited the unabashedly pro-Israeli Museum of Tolerance, also located in Los Angeles.

There have been other indications recently that the covert cooperation that has existed in recent years between Israel and some Arab nations against Iran and Islamic terrorism is about to become more public. If so, we might be on the cusp of some real positive change in the Middle East. (I realize I am being absurdly optimistic with this statement, but one can always hope.)

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Iran to put man in space in 8 years?

According to one Iranian aviation official, Iran plans to put a man into space within the next 8 years.

[H]ead of the Aviation Research Centre at Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, Fat’hollah Ami, says Iran’s space programme is going on smoothly and efforts are underway to send a manned spaceship into space within the next eight years.

He said the Aviation Research Centre is now focused on its main goal to send man into the space by the next eight years. “We have had serious negotiations with Russian space centres and they are expected to give us their final reply,” he said.

The key fact revealed here is Russia. Iran isn’t going to do the flying. It is trying to purchase a seat in a Soyuz capsule from the Russians. Whether Russia will sell it to them depends on many factors, including Iran’s status in world politics and how cash desperate the Russians are.

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The head of Iran’s space effort to step down

Mahmoud Vaezi, Iran’s minister of communications and information technology as well as the person responsible for the management of the Iran Space Agency, is stepping down.

It is likely that Vaezi is simply retiring. He is 65. It is also possible that there are developments in Iran that caused him to leave his post. While Iran had what it claimed was a successful test launch of its Simorgh rocket last week, that rocket put nothing in orbit. Furthermore, in the past two years there have been repeated delays in the launch of a number of announced satellites.

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Video of Iranian launch today

The Iranians have released video of today’s rocket launch.

I’d love a translation of what the crowd is chanting. I would also encourage the engineers in my readership to look at this and tell me if the launch looks right, and if there is any way to judge whether it is an rocket for orbital satellites or a missile. We still have no evidence the rocket successfully put anything in orbit.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has called this launch a breach of a UN resolution forbidding Iran from developing ballistic missiles.

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Iran launches satellite

According to its state news services, Iran today successfully launched a satellite into orbit.

Iranian state television described the launch as involving a “Simorgh” rocket that is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 550 pounds. The state media report did not elaborate on the rocket’s payload. “Simorgh” means “phoenix” in Farsi.

The website YJC.ir, which is affiliated with Iranian state television, as well as the semi-official Fars news agency, also reported the launch on Thursday, saying it was successful.

No information as yet on the payload. That the launch itself has not yet been recognized by websites that track these things, it is possible the launch was not successful, but they do not want to admit it.

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The confusing Iranian space program

Link here. While written as an op-ed outlining the chaotic state of the Iranian space effort, the article highlights two pieces of interesting information.

First, Iran wants to create its own GPS satellite system, which the article refers to as a “pointing, navigation, and timing” (PNT) system.

Mojtaba Saradeghi, a deputy director of the Iran Space Agency (ISA), recently told Iranian media that the ISA plans to develop an indigenous PNT capability. Saradeghi said that the PNT programme is a long-term one and that the ISA is still figuring out how it will be funded.

This announcement is almost certainly pure bluster, instigated by the agreements signed last week between Israel and India, one of which involved working together to develop their own atomic clocks used in GPS satellites.

Second, Iran has decided that instead of launching an already built smallsat they will put it on display in a museum. The smallsat, Mesbah, was built in partnership with Italy back in the early 2000s but never launched because it was seized by Russia and Italy in 2006 due to international sanctions. Though negotiations are on-going now to get it released with the easing of sanctions, the head of the Iran Space Agency, Mohsen Bahrami, on July 2 still said it was going to be mothballed if they get it back.

This incoherence fits with other recent announcements by Iran. They have repeatedly been promising that a number of satellites will be launched in the coming months, but those launches seem to never happen. In addition, they announced in early June that they were shutting down any further work on a human space mission, citing cost.

I would not be surprised it missile tests continue, however. Iran is a corrupt theocracy and semi-dictatorship, and it is typical of these kinds of top-down governments to focus their effort on military technology.

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Submarine test launch by Iran of cruise missile fails

How’s that Iran deal working out for you? An Iranian test launch of a cruise missile from a submarine yesterday appears to have been a failure.

Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a submarine in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday but the test failed, two U.S. officials told Fox News. An Iranian Yono-class “midget” submarine conducted the missile launch. North Korea and Iran are the only two countries in the world that operate this type of submarine.

In February, Iran claimed to have successfully tested a submarine-launched missile. It was not immediately clear if Tuesday’s test was the first time Iran had attempted to launch a missile underwater from a submarine.

This test is not surprising, considering that it also appears that Iran is using the billions they obtained from the Obama administration as part of the nuclear deal to fund a massive military buildup.

Iranian officials announced late last month that Iran’s defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it “a forward moving force,” according to regional reports.

Iranian leaders have stated since the Iran deal was enacted that they are using the massive amounts of cash released under the agreement to fund the purchase of new military equipment and other armaments. Iran also has pursued multi-million dollar arms deals with Russia since economic sanctions were nixed as part of the deal.

But hey, what’s a few bombs between enemies, eh?

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Iran announces launch plans for 2018

Iran’s Aerospace Research Instititue (ARI) has announced that it plans to launch its Nahid-2 communications satellite in 2018.

Interestingly, Iran’s first Nahid communications satellite, Nahid-1, has missed its announced March 2017 launch date. Worse, that satellite had been first scheduled for launch in 2012. Similarly, a remote sensing satellite that was supposed to have been launched in the early part of this year, Dousti, has also been delayed.

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Iranian owner of Middle East satellite TV company assassinated in Istanbul

Coming soon to your local neighborhood! The Iranian owner of GemTV, a Middle East satellite TV company that is banned in Iran, was assassinated in Istanbul on Saturday.

Saeed Karimian, a 45-year old Iranian-British citizen living in Istanbul, and his as yet unnamed Kuwaiti business associate, were driving in a car in an Istanbul suburb on Saturday evening when another car driven by unidentified assailants blocked their way and its occupants opened fire. Karimian was pronounced dead at the scene while his Kuwaiti associate died later that evening from his wounds in hospital.

Karimian was the founder and owner of Gem TV, a satellite television company that broadcast multiple channels in Farsi, Arabic, and Azeri. Gem TV maintains offices in London, Istanbul, and Dubai, and broadcasts numerous Turkish and other foreign soap operas, and Western programming, into Iran. Karimian was sentenced to six years in prison in absentia in January 2017 by the Iranian government for broadcasting banned content in Iran, described by Tehran as “propaganda.”

While it is not certain whether this was a hit job by Iran, or by business competitors, it seems the circumstantial evidence makes Iran the prime suspect.

Increasingly, the free world is under siege by those who do not like it, whether on American college campuses or on the streets of Istanbul. Worse, that it is increasingly becoming acceptable that a businessman could be gunned down so nonchalantly, whether by a foreign power or by business rivals, bodes badly for freedom and civilization. We are not fighting back, and the bad guys are beginning to realize it.

Update: In related news, Boeing officials travel to Iran to negotiate airplane deal.

Representatives from Boeing traveled to Iran last month to meet with Hossein Alaei, CEO of Aseman Airlines, which is owned and controlled by the state. Boeing is moving forward with a $3 billion dollar deal to sell new planes to Aseman despite fierce opposition on Capitol Hill and direct evidence Iran has used commercial aircraft to ferry weapons and fighters across the region.

A photograph from the meeting shows a Boeing representative shaking hands with Alaei, who has been identified by Congress as a “prominent and longtime member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” which is responsible for killing and wounding scores of U.S. troops. The Boeing representative was not named in reports from the Iranian-controlled press or in information provided by U.S. foreign policy insiders.

Alaei, who was a senior figure in the IRGC before being installed as CEO of Aseman Airlines, served as commander of the IRGC Navy until 1990. Alaei oversaw the harassment of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and efforts by the IRGC Navy to plant mines in international waters. Alaei was quoted during this time as threatening to “destroy” U.S. Navy assets in the region. “We have drawn up plans whereby we will utilize all our military capability to destroy the U.S. fleet and solve the Persian Gulf issue once and forever,” Alaei was quoted as saying in 1987. “The Americans are here to fight us.”

I am somehow reminded of the phrase, “buying from them the rope to hang them.”

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Iran tests short range missile

Does this make you feel safer? Iran today launched a short range Mersad surface-to-air missile on a 35 mile test flight.

The launch took place on the same launchpad where earlier in the week they had placed and then removed an orbital Safir rocket, designed to put satellites into orbit. Why they removed it and launched the short range missile instead remains unknown

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Iran officials thumb their noses at Trump

Responding to Trump administration statements “putting Iran on notice” for its ballistic missile tests in violation of UN resolutions, Iran officials responded today by saying they don’t care and that there is nothing the U.S. can do to stop them.

The most frightening quote from this story however is this:

While Iran says its missile program is aimed at displaying the country’s “deterrent power and its ability to confront any threat”, some IRGC commanders have said that Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles were designed to be able to hit Israel.

Iran refuses to recognize Israel.

Remember, Iran has already had one leader who advocated wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.

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Iran tests ballistic missile despite UN ban

Does this make you feel safer? In direct defiance of a UN ban on such tests, Iran on Sunday completed a new test of a medium range ballistic missile.

The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, officials said. Iran defense minister Brigadier Gen. Hossein Dehqan said in September that Iran would start production of the missile.

I am very curious what Trump will do to try to rein in Iran. I suspect his options will be as limited as Obama’s were, except that he is not likely to sign any make-believe nuclear deals, as Obama did.

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Pentagon makes believe Iran isn’t using $1.7 billion for military

Does this make you feel safer? General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress last week that the Pentagon does not believe Iran’s military development is being funded by the $1.7 billion given to them by the Obama administration.

“Intelligence assesses that the $1.7 billion transferred to Iran probably was allocated predominately to Iran’s economic sector, in accordance with Tehran’s stated emphasis on economic expansion, modernization, and diversification,” Dunford said in response to multiple questions from lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and 17 other senators.

Lawmakers suspect that Iran has used this cash infusion to boost its military operations in the region, including in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

However, Dunford maintained this is not the case. “Iran continues to seek improved missile systems and the replacement of aging military equipment, particularly aircraft and naval vessels,” he wrote. “However, there is a lack of information to suggest Iran is attempting to use the $1.7 billion towards these interests.”

Either this guy and everyone in the Pentagon is downright stupid, or they think everyone else is. The Obama administration handed Iran $1.7 billion, and almost immediately Iran announced it was going to spend $1.7 billion more on military development. And that means there is “a lack of information to suggest Iran is attempting to use the $1.7 billion” for military purposes?

I think this guy, and his cohorts at the Pentagon, should find work they are better qualified to do, such as serving burgers at McDonalds.

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Are thousands of Kurds abandoning Islam?

The article, published by a Kurdish news source, describes what appears to be a growing disenchantment with Islam in that region as a result of the violence and destruction of the Islamic State.

Many Muslims are confronted by the violent extremism of the Islamic State (ISIS) and wonder how to reconcile their personal beliefs with the actions of the extremist group. The Kurdish population is approximately 94% nominally Muslim. Recently, however, there have been many reports of Kurds leaving Islam or converting to other religions. The Zoroastrian movement claims to have as many as 100,000 followers in Iraqi Kurdistan. Christian organizations assert that thousands in the region have been seeking out Christianity as they reject ISIS’ interpretation of Islam. There are also reports of growing numbers of atheists and agnostics.

This quote however by an ordinary citizen I think is more significant:

[Sanger Najim, a young man living in Erbil] points the finger of blame at religious leaders for the rise of extremism and growing number of people turning away from Islam. “We don’t have [a] response when people from [the] West [are] telling us that Islam is cruel, Islam is Daesh. We don’t have a response for this. Why? The Mullahs never tell us what real Islam is. They are just reading us some history facts. They are just telling us some history… from old times. They are not able to link it with present society… They have to link Quran with the real life.”

He is horrified by the actions of the Islamic State, but cannot get a satisfactory answer about why this is not Islam from his own Islamic Mullahs.

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