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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

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West Readies Oil Stocks Release As Iran Plans War Games

TEHRAN/LONDON (Reuters) - Iran announced on Friday new military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, but the West has readied plans to use strategic oil stocks to replace almost all Gulf oil lost if Iran blocks the waterway, industry sources and diplomats told Reuters.

They said senior executives of the International Energy Agency (IEA) discussed on Thursday an existing plan to release up to 14 million barrels per day (bpd) of government-owned oil stored in the United States, Europe, Japan and other importers.

This rate of release could be kept up for a month, offsetting most of the 16 million barrels a day of crude passing through the world's most important shipping lane that could be halted by an Iranian blockade.

Iranian officials have threatened in recent weeks to block the strait if new sanctions imposed by the United States and planned by the European Union, with the aim of discouraging Iran's nuclear program, harm Tehran's oil exports.



Iran Close To Starting Uranium Enrichment In Bunker, Diplomatic Sources Say

Published 19:28 06.01.12
Latest update 19:28 06.01.12

Iran has taken steps in recent weeks that bring it closer to launching uranium enrichment deep inside a mountain, diplomatic sources say, a move that would worsen its nuclear confrontation with the West.

Iran has said for months that it is preparing to conduct uranium enrichment at Fordow - a protected site deep underground where it says it wants to make material for a peaceful nuclear reactor - but it has yet to start.

The West suspects it of seeking the enriched uranium for a bomb, and wants it to halt the plans. Were Iran to begin production at the site, near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom, it could make it harder to revive nuclear talks that collapsed a year ago.

Western countries have imposed increasingly tight economic sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, culminating with a new law signed on New Year's Eve by U.S. President Barack Obama aimed at preventing buyers from paying for Iranian oil.



Envoy: Palestinians To Continue Pursuing UN Membership

The Palestinians will employ new creative ideas to gain membership at the world body despite a U.S. threat to veto such an action, Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour disclosed Friday.

Mansour presented the Security Council president with a four page letter detailing Israeli settlement activity, and the two discussed several ideas to gain UN membership for his people.

"Are we giving up because there is one powerful country that has a veto power saying the Security Council should not be involved? We're not giving up," Mansour said, without referring to the United States by name. "So now we're coming up with these new creative ideas."

Mansour's letter comes one day after an announcement by a U.S. State Department spokeswoman that Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators would hold their second round of face-to-face talks on Monday in Amman, Jordan.



Israel Should Remember: Obama Is Down, Not Out

By Yoel Marcus

While we are toying with the notion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will bring forward the elections here in order to gain a decisive majority, we are simultaneously entering the real thing: the U.S. elections. This is not only the matter of President Barack Obama's potential second term, it's also election year for the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. Although we don't vote in America, we are keeping very close tabs on the elections' progress.

Officially and unofficially, we don't usually stick our noses in, one way or the other. But Bibi's associates have been heard voicing opposition to Barack Obama, claiming he is naive, doesn't understand, makes mistakes and, chiefly, is not really on our side. It seems that Bibi, who knows how to bring the members of Congress to their feet with hysterical applause in a single speech, aspires to be the mentor of the U.S. president. It's a shame his friend, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, hasn't taught him that gambling is a dangerous business. And gambling on the possibility of a Republican president is a serious mistake.

Primarily, it contradicts Israel's policy of nonintervention in U.S. elections. In her time, Prime Minister Golda Meir scolded Yitzhak Rabin (Israel's ambassador to the U.S. at the time ) for his support of Richard Nixon. Ezer Weizman, meanwhile, flew in President Jimmy Carter's election plane in order to help him (unsuccessfully ) claim a second term in the White House, and had problems with the Democratic party.

Despite what the Arabs think, the United States is not in our pocket, and we don't intervene over the issue of who will or won't be elected in America. What is important is that Israel informs the presidential candidates of its policy. Our major failure was that we ignored Obama and didn't inform him of our problems. Instead, the first to influence his behavior toward Israel was his Jewish assistant, Rahm Emanuel. Because of him the president skipped Israel and began his peace campaign in, of all places, Cairo. And in doing so, he also gave Bibi an excuse to find an enemy in the White House.



Guest Lineups For The Sunday TV News Shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC's "This Week" — David Axelrod, top political adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign; former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Republican presidential debate from New Hampshire.

CBS'"Face the Nation" — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.


CNN's "State of the Union" — 2012 GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman; House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

"Fox News Sunday" — 2012 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul; Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee; Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Intramural War of Words Raises Question of Who Loves Israel More

A growing controversy in Democratic and pro-Israel circles over U.S. policy toward Israel, the security threat posed by Iran and what some journalists and bloggers are writing about these issues has unleashed a bitter feud involving the Center for American Progress (CAP) and charges and counter-charges about who actually has Israel’s best interests at heart.

Terms like “Israel Firster” are being thrown around, along with claims that many members of Congress take their cues on Middle East policy from the Israel lobby. Pro-Israel activists have countered with accusations that those writing such things, many of whom are Jewish, are “anti-Israel”, “anti-Zionist” and “anti-Semitic.”

It seems like almost everyone who writes about Israel and the Middle East has been dragged into the maelstrom.

To most people, this may seem a little like a dog whistle that only the small circle of people whose work focuses on Israel and U.S. Middle East policy can hear. It would be easy to dismiss the fuss as a tempest in a teapot or so much inside baseball. But the fight actually centers on vital issues about what should be the future of U.S. policy toward Israel, and it could affect U.S. relations with the Arab world and our allies.



Iran To Hold New Wargames Soon In Key Oil Waterway

Iran is to hold fresh military exercises in and around the strategic Strait of Hormuz within weeks, the naval commander of its powerful Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying on Friday.

The manoeuvres are to be held in the Iranian calendar month that runs from January 21 to February 19, the Fars news agency quoted Ali Fadavi as saying.

They will underline Iran’s assertion that it has “full control over the Strait of Hormuz area and controls all movements in it,” Fadavi added.

The announcement — which narrowed down a timeframe for the exercises the Guards had previously only given as “soon” — risked aggravating tensions with the West over the strait.



Hamas Witnesses Fundamental Changes, But Not Enough To Join Peace Process

by Osama Radi, Emad Drimly

GAZA, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Analysts said the discourse and approach of the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, recently witnessed fundamental changes and seemed to be more moderate and pragmatic than what it used to be.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has recently accepted the principle of adopting popular resistance against Israel instead of armed struggle that the movement was always sticking to.

The Islamic movement, founded in late 1987 with the destruction of Israel as its charter, has become closer than before to join the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), although it avoids recognizing or abiding by the peace treaties signed by the PLO and Israel.

In addition, the ongoing decline of Hamas' strategic ties with Iran and Syria might be considered as a new chapter in the Hamas policy. Most of the movement's leaders and their families had left Damascus and moved to other Arab states.



Turkey Assures Iran U.S. Radar No Threat To Tehran

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ISTANBUL, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Turkey assured its neighbor Iran on Thursday that U.S. radar to be deployed in Turkey as part of a Europe-wide missile defense system is not a threat to Tehran.

During his visit to Tehran, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the statement at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.

"This is for defensive purposes only. We guarantee that this is not a threat to Iran. We would never take any step that could negatively affect our relations with our neighbor," he said at the televised press conference.

The Turkish minister said: "We underlined it very clearly that the missile defense system cannot be directed at any of Turkey's neighbors. NATO documents confirm this ... There is no reference to Iran in any NATO document as a source of threats."



Pro-Israel Group Asks For Separate DNC Protest Zones

In a preview of the protests expected at September's Democratic National Convention, a pro-Israel group this week asked Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to create separate protest zones for its supporters and adversaries.

The Florida-based Shalom International, which made a similar request to police in Tampa for the Republican convention, plans to protest Obama administration policies at both conventions.

Shalom president Bob Kunst asked police to create separate free-speech zones for "those who support Israel and the Holocaust Survivors and one for the Jews haters and Israel haters.

"We don't want to be drowned out by 15,000 crazies," Kunst told the Observer.


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