Iran Theater

Syria: flashpoint for war with Iran?

Now here's a delicious irony. The New York Times reports that US officials say Iran is supplying Syria with arms through Iraqi airspace, and Washington is quietly putting pressure on Baghdad to shut the air corridor down. We noted last year that the Iraq pull-out (which is largely fictional anyway) could paradoxically lead to war with Iran: the Bush/neocon strategy of playing a Shi'ite card against Iraq's Sunni jihadists and Baathists has resulted in a state as much in Tehran's orbit as Washington's. So holding on to Iraq (with its decisively critical oil reserves) as a US client state could necessitate a severe humbling (at least) of Iran. Now the Syria crisis ups the ante further. We've already noted that the US and UK have established an office block in Istanbul to jointly coordinate aid to the Syrian rebels. Now Reuters reports that France is supplying "aid and money" to rebel-controlled "liberated zones" in the northern provinces of Deir al-Zor, Aleppo and Idlib. (See map.) Just as the US is supposed to be drawing down its military commitments in the Greater Middle East, the Syrian dilemma could be propelling the West towards a virtual reconstitution of the Seleucid Empire, which in the Third Century BCE ruled over Syria, Babylon (Iraq), Parthia (Iran) and Bactria (Afghanistan). Only this time, of course, under US-led multinational rule, not Greek.

Families of slain Iran scientists sue US, UK, Israel

Families of murdered Iranian nuclear scientists told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 15 that they have filed lawsuits against the US, UK and Israel for their governments' alleged involvement in the assassinations. The father of one of the scientists revealed that the families would ask Iran's judiciary to pursue their complaint internationally. At least five nuclear scientists have been murdered since 2010. Iranian authorities announced earlier this month that 14 individuals have given confessions in association with the killings and that some had confessed to being trained in Israel. The US and UK have repeatedly denied involvement in the killing of the nuclear scientists despite their objections to Iran's nuclear program.

Saber-rattling in Strait of Hormuz as UAE opens bypass pipeline

Oil prices rose by over dollar to approximately $103 a barrel July 16 after a US Navy ship fired at a fishing boat off the United Arab Emirates (UAE), killing one on board and injuring three. The fishing boat reportedly failed to heed warnings. No link to Iran was claimed in the incident, but it came two days after an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commander boasted that Iran has the capability to blockade the Strait of Hormuz. Iran's parliament is currently considering a bill calling for the strait to be closed until sanctions are lifted. (Reuters, The Nation, Pakistan, July 16) The UAE has meanwhile just completed a new overland pipeline that strategically bypasses the Strait of Hormuz. Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE states, has started exporting its first crude from the new pipeline, shipping the oil from the sheikhdom of Fujairah to a refinery in Pakistan. (Bloomberg, July 16) (See map.)

Iran: labor activists detained

A meeting of 60 Iranian trade unionists was raided by security forces June 17 in the northern city of Karaj, and all were arrested. Most were members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations, including longtime labor activist Mahmoud Salehi. Most were released the following day, including Salehi, but nine remain in the custody and have been transferred to the special Intelligence Office in the city of Rasht. Advocates note that the meeting was peaceful, and authorities showed to warrants for the arrests.

Iran: workers' statement against war and sanctions

From the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI), Feb. 14:

Resolution against the economic sanctions and threat of war on Iran
The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) strongly condemns militaristic policies of capitalism. IASWI is a part of the anti-capitalist movement, of the working class global front and the 99% of the world's population, for a real and enduring peace based on freedom, equality, social and economic justice and the abolition of exploitation.

Protests in Tehran; brinkmanship in Strait of Hormuz

Protesters took to the streets of Tehran Feb. 14, one year after opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi were put under house arrest for supporting Iran's last protest wave. Since their detention, their whereabouts have not been known. The opposition website Kaleme, which supports the opposition Green Movement, reported convergences of protesters at several points around the capital, holding generally silent marches, despite a heavy presence of riot police. (BBC News, DPA, Feb. 14)

Israel blames Hezbollah, Iran in twin embassy attentats

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran Feb. 13 atfter an Israeli diplomat's wife in New Delhi was injured by a car bomb, and a second bomb was disabled in a staff member's car at the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. "Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world," Netanyahu said in a statement. Citing recent incidents in Azerbaijan and Thailand, Netanyahu said: "In each instance we succeeded in foiling the attacks in cooperation with local authorities. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks." The attacks came the day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh in a Damascus car bomb blast.

Azerbaijan drawn into Iranian spy-vesus-spy intrigues

Two citizens of Azerbaijan have been arrested in connection with an alleged Iranian-backed plot to kill two Jewish educators and the Israeli ambassador in Baku, the capital, local media reported this week. Three men reportedly were charged with weapons smuggling as part of a plot to kill a teacher and a rabbi at the newly opened Chabad Or Avner Jewish school in Baku, as well as the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan, Michael Lotem. Two of those charged are reported to be in custody; one is still at large. It is alleged that Iranian intelligence agencies promised to pay the three men $150,000 to carry out the murders. The National Security Ministry said the men were connected to an Iranian citizen who had links with Iran's intelligence services. Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau has issued a travel warning for Azerbaijan. The US embassy also issued a warning saying "the possibility remains for actions against US or other high-profile foreign interests in Azerbaijan."

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