Iran and the Shi’a Horn: Daniel

Factbox: Iranian influence and presence in Syria

During the last several years, the Iranian military involvement in Syria has grown and become more visible, which has made targeting them an easy job for the Israeli air force. As a result, in 2017-2018, Iran had to find a different approach for its military involvement in order to protect its militias. Iran then began the ambitious plan of redefining its presence in Syria by creating the Local Defense Forces (LDF), supporting specific brigades within the Syrian army and, most recently, establishing local private security companies.

Iranian militias recruitment

Local Militias

Iran encouraged the Shia minority in Syria to form special militias and recruited Sunnis—especially clans—in the provinces of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor. In addition, some of the Shia militias in Syria were and continue to be recruited on a sectarian basis under the pretext of defending places considered holy by the Shia community. For example, campaigns are being conducted in the areas housing holy Shia shrines in Damascus in the Sayeda Zeinab district. 

After individuals are recruited, they are sent for about twenty-one to forty-five days of light and medium arms training and sometimes for six months for heavy weapons training. The Syrian militias backed or formed by Iran are divided into several groups.

• National Defense Forces: The formation of the National Defense Forces (NDF) began in 2012 with Iranian guidance and support in the city of Homs. It included members of all sects—Sunnis, Alawites, and Druze—and has headquarters in each province. The NDF was considered the largest Syrian militia in terms of number and outreach, with an estimated forty thousand fighters. Iran demanded that the Syrian regime legitimize these forces like the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq and integrate them into the Assad regime’s military. In 2016, the regime dismantled the NDF, which forced Iran to fully neglect the militia and focus more on the LDF. It’s worth noting that the Russians started communicating with the NDF in late 2018 in order to integrate them with the Fifth Corp, so as to bring militias and ex-Free Syrian Army into Assad’s military to fight on the battlefronts of Hama, Daraa, and Homs.

• Local Defense Forces: Iran recruited fighters from the provinces of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa under the name of the Local Defense Forces (LDF). The LDF are considered part of the Syrian army and have over fifty thousand fighters. The most prominent militias within the framework are considered to be the Nayrab Brigades (Special Operations), al-Sefira Corps, al-Baqir Brigade, the Nubul and Zahra Brigades, and the Qatraji forces. 

• Syrian Shia militias: Iran recruited from the Shia minority in Syria; mainly from northern Aleppo, northern Homs, and parts of Raqqa. The Syrian Shia militias have an estimated five thousand to eight thousand fighters. The most prominent of these militias include: the Aleppo branch of the Imam al-Hajjah, the Mahdi soldiers and the Mahdi Army in Nubul and Zahra, the Damascus branch of the Rukia Brigade, the Idlib branch of the al-Waed al-Sadiq Corps, the Homs branch of the forces of Imam Reza, Zin El Abidin Brigade, the Deir ez-Zor branch of the Brigade 313 Busra al-Sham in Daraa, and Al-Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi Brigade (Lattakia and Hama), among others.  

Foreign Militias

Iran uses several mechanisms to recruit foreign fighters. It employs the ideological factor through its own “Husseiniat Scouts” to recruit Shia volunteers under the motto of “Protecting Shia shrines.” 

Iran also lures fighters to Syria with salaries. For example, every fighter in the Fatemiyoun brigade is given anywhere from $450 to $700 monthly, which makes the militia the highest paid by Iran. For other militias, Iran pays salaries between $200 to $300 and, for local militias, such as Nubl and Zahra Brigades, it gives less than $100 month. The militia salaries are funded from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) budget of approximately $7.6 billion. 

The IRGC and Hezbollah typically train members of these militias in camps in Mashhad, northeastern Iran and then transfer them to Syria either by land through Iraq or by air. When they aren’t sent to Iran, the IRGC can rely on several military bases and camps inside Syria, such as Damascus International Airport, al-Tayfour Airport, Azraa Base, Sayeda Zeinab Base, al-Kaswa Camp, Zabadani Camp, and al-Qusayr Camp. 

• Iraqi militias: Iraqi Shia militias began to appear in Syria at the end of 2012, after Iran directed them to support the Assad regime. Of note are the Zulfiqar Brigade, Abu al-Fadl Abbas Brigade, Asaad Allah al-Ghalib Brigade, the Imam Ali Brigade, and Asayeb Ahl al-Haq Brigade. However, a number of these militias were forced to return to Iraq in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), following its takeover of the city of Mosul. 

• Afghan militias: The IRGC recruited Afghan Shia in Iran and Afghanistan and formed the Fatemiyoun Brigade, which began to appear in Syria in November 2012. The brigade has an estimated three thousand to fourteen thousand fighters spread between three battalions in Damascus, Aleppo, and Hama provinces. Some of the leaders of the Fatemiyoun Brigade fought in the Abu Thar Brigade during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and the Army of Muhammad during the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan war.

• Pakistani militias: The IRGC recruited Pakistani Shias and formed the Zaynibion Brigade, which began to appear publicly in Syria in early 2013. The brigade has an estimated one thousand to five thousand fighters deployed in Damascus, Aleppo, Daraa, and Hama provinces. 

• Lebanese militias: Hezbollah intervened early in the Syrian crisis in May 2011. The Lebanese militant group provided training and technical support to security forces and the Syrian army. Hezbollah has also launched field combat missions since 2013 and has an estimated five thousand to eight thousand fighters in Syria. 

Syrian private security companies affiliated with Iran

Before May 2013, the activities of private security companies in Syria were limited to securing shopping malls, banks, and concerts. The growing need for legal armed forces not bound by government regulation led to the issuance of Legislative Decree No. 55: a legal contract that allows militias to operate in Syria and use military force—depending on their contract—thereby allowing these entities to operate freely without needing to report to Assad’s army or security branches.

Iran used private security companies to insert Iranian influence in sensitive Syrian areas, such as the capital, Damascus, without concerns about maintaining this presence in the future, because private security companies are under the guise of a registered Syrian company. Iran found private security to be an ideal way to maintain a presence in strategic locations, like the Baghdad-Damascus highway in the eastern desert of Syria.

Iranian influence and presence beyond the military and security

The Syrian opposition forces’ gains between 2014-2015 was one of Iran’s most important triggers to strengthen its military presence and direct involvement in Syria. Map 2 shows the reality of the current territorial control and influence of Iran, as well as on its local and foreign militias.

As for the Iran-backed foreign militias, the IRGC used a completely different tactic in 2018 to mitigate the risk of Israeli airstrikes. First, it reduced the activity of these militias and used local brokers to work on their behalf, such as the Iraqi Badr Brigade. The militia still maintains three bases in southern Aleppo and near Aleppo international airport. It’s worth noting that all its social media accounts stopped posting about their activity in the area and have since worked under the umbrella of the Syrian LDF.

As the map shows, Iran’s plan was to spread in almost all parts of Syria using a combination of local and foreign militias. The following table explains the actual military strength and involvement of Iran and its allies in Syria in 2020.

The aforementioned Iranian control is no longer limited to military and security presence. Iran’s focus continues to be infiltrating Syrian society and strengthening its presence in the Syrian economic system in order to ensure its survival in Syria—especially in the event that an international agreement is made to neutralize its military presence. The following figures show Iran’s influence and the extent of its military, security, social, and economic control in various Syrian provinces. For example, when it comes to economic control, Iran reactivated the Syrian-Iranian Business Forum in 2018, which played a fundamental role in the spread of Iranian projects in various areas in Syria, mostly focusing on power generation projects.

Iran also works with charitable organizations to better integrate into Syrian society. One of the most significant Iran-backed organizations is Jihad Al-Bina Organization, which focuses mostly on the issue of restoring schools and health centers. The organization is currently active in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo provinces.

Iran has also recently focused on education outreach, with the number of constructed educational facilities now up to seven, in addition to Iranian cultural centers, which play an important role in spreading Iranian culture in Syrian society. In 2019, Jihad Al-Bina restored sixteen schools in Deir ez-Zor alone. Each had a placard confirming that Iran had supported the operation. Jihad Al-Bina periodically distributes food aid to civilians in an effort to gain loyalty from the local population. During the coronavirus pandemic, Iran established several small medical points in Deir ez-Zor to supply civilians with Vitamin C and surgical masks. Though a minute gesture, many civilians saw the aid as a big deal, while some even saw it as a sign that Iran would never abandon them.

The spread of Iran’s influence in Syria is working accordingly, though not in a fast or clear-cut way. Iran is in Syria for the long term and is taking the time it needs to get results.

Babylon the Great Snapback Against Iran

Iran Nuclear Deal: United Nations Proves Useless, U.S. Must Lead | National Review

August 30, 2020 6:30 AM

Iran’s growing defiance of its nuclear-nonproliferation commitments led to tensions over the last year with IAEA officials and European states. In addition to refusing to cooperate with IAEA investigations of the Nuclear Archive revelations, between May 2019 and January 2020 Iran withdrew from all of its JCPOA commitments. Tehran is now enriching uranium over the agreement’s 300-kg maximum and producing enriched uranium that exceeds a 3.67 percent uranium-235 cap; it has resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow facility and activated advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges.

There was a new development on August 26 when the IAEA released a statement that Iran has agreed to allow IAEA inspectors access to two suspect nuclear sites identified in the Nuclear Archive. This appeared to be an Iranian concession to discourage Security Council members from snapping back sanctions. But the significance of that concession was outweighed by what was essentially an IAEA concession: The statement included language saying that the IAEA had no further questions for Iran or inspection requests beyond these two sites. Although the door was left open for future inspections in response to new information, it was clear that the IAEA did not plan to investigate the dozens of other nuclear sites revealed by the Nuclear Archive. The result was a huge win for Iran and another embarrassing retreat by the U.N.

Iran’s increasingly belligerent behavior, which almost led to war several times over the last year, gives the U.S. further reason to want to snap back U.N. sanctions. In June 2019, Iran shot down a U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf. Last September, drones fired from Iranian soil heavily damaged two Saudi oil facilities. In January, Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at a U.S. airbase in Iraq.

On April 1, in response to intelligence that Iranian proxies were planning new attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, President Trump warned in a tweet that Iran was planning a “sneak attack” on U.S. forces and pledged it would pay “a very heavy price” for such attacks. On April 22, after Iranian gunboats made “dangerous and harassing approaches” near American ships in the Persian Gulf, Trump announced that the United States would “shoot down and destroy” any Iranian ships that attempted this in the future. This was followed by a lull in Iranian harassment of ships in the gulf until August 12, when Iran attempted to seize a Greek-owned oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The threat from Iran’s missile arsenal continued to grow this year with tests of advanced missiles and drones with greater ranges and accuracy. This includes the “358” cruise missile, which is designed to evade defensive measures and shoot down U.S. military helicopters and the tilt-rotor Osprey. Last February, the U.S. Navy intercepted two shipments of these missiles sent from Iran to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The growing list of dangerous and belligerent actions by Iran and clear evidence of its cheating on the JCPOA more than justify President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and implement his successful “maximum pressure” strategy, which is limiting Iran’s access to advanced technology it could use in its nuclear weapons and missile programs as well as funds to spend on terrorism and the Iranian military.

The U.N. Security Council’s rejection of U.S. demands to increase pressure on Tehran vindicates President Trump’s judgment that America needed to act alone to counter the growing Iranian threat. For example, on August 14 the council overwhelmingly rejected a U.S. resolution to indefinitely extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran that is scheduled to be lifted in October. The council is refusing snap-backs because a majority of its members — including all European members — want to protect the moribund nuclear agreement so as to appease Iran’s ruling mullahs.

In response to the Security Council’s recalcitrance, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “America will not join in this failure of leadership. America will not appease, America will lead.”

The refusal of Security Council members to agree to increase the pressure on Iran in response to its recent warlike behavior further shreds the U.N.’s already tattered moral authority. But it also shows the urgent need for decisive U.S. global leadership.

President Trump has provided this leadership, which has reduced the threat from Iran and increased stability in the Middle East. These gains will quickly vanish if Joe Biden wins the 2020 presidential election: He has promised to rejoin the JCPOA and work through the U.N. to resolve issues over Iran’s nuclear program. Biden also will restore the weak foreign policies of President Obama such as appeasing Iran and “leading from behind” in the Middle East. It therefore was no surprise when the U.S. intelligence community recently revealed that Iran’s ruling mullahs are rooting for a Biden win this November.

FRED FLEITZ, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is the editor of the 2020 book DEFENDING AGAINST BIOTHREATS. @fredfleitz

Khamenei is Correct: Babylon the Great is a Failed Model

US a truly failed model in running a society: Leader

TEHRAN, Aug. 23 (MNA) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the US is a real model of failure in governing human society.

Mehr News Agency

Human values such as health, justice and security are being trampled on more in the United States than anywhere else,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a video conference meeting with President Rouhani and his cabinet members on Sunday on the occasion of the National Government Week.

“The social gap in the US is terrible; the number and proportion of hungry and homeless people in the United States is higher than the rest of the world,” he added.

Referring to the statistics revealed by US presidential candidates in their campaigns, the Leader said, “One out of every five American children is hungry, while insecurity and crime rates in the United States are also very high.”

Murder, warmongering and creating insecurity are common actions carried out by the Americans in Syria, Palestine, and Yemen, and before that in Iraq, Afghanistan and areas such as Vietnam and Hiroshima.”

“The fact that the US is headed by people who are a source of humiliation for that country is another sign of the defeat of western models and the decline of western civilization in the world.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader called on the government to pave the way for boosting domestic production and reduce reliance on external sources.

“Production is key to employment, to livelihood, to reducing inflation, and to boosting the national currency’s value; therefore, we need to exert every effort possible regarding domestic production,” he said.

Addressing the cabinet members, the Leader stressed, “Try to remove the production obstacles; many of such issues pertain to excessive imports, parts [supply] challenges, and inconsistencies in downstream sectors,”

Hailing the considerable developments, including those made by the Defense Ministry and armed forces, advising to turn into domestic capabilities to supply the needs of the industry.

Iran says sabotage caused fire at Natanz nuclear site. Israel?

Iran admits sabotage caused fire at Natanz nuclear site

Iran’s nuclear body has said that a fire last month at a major nuclear facility was caused by sabotage.

But the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) did not say who it believed was behind the incident at the Natanz uranium enrichment site.

Some Iranian officials have previously said the fire might have been the result of cyber sabotage.

There were several fires and explosions at power facilities and other sites in the weeks surrounding the incident.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a AEOI spokesperson, told state TV channel al-Alam on Sunday that “security authorities will reveal in due time the reason behind the [Natanz] blast”.

• What is behind mysterious ‘attacks’ at key sites?

• Why do the limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment matter?

The fire hit a central centrifuge assembly workshop. Centrifuges are needed to produce enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also material for nuclear weapons.

Mr Kamalvandi said last month that Iran would replace the damaged building with more advanced equipment, but acknowledged that the fire could slow down the development and production of advanced centrifuges “in the medium term”.

An article by Iran’s state news agency Irna previously addressed the possibility of sabotage by adversaries such as the United States and Israel, but did not accuse either of the countries directly.

Why is Natanz significant?

Natanz, about 250km (150 miles) south of the capital Tehran, is Iran’s largest uranium enrichment facility.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg published details of a report by the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, which concluded that Iran was attempting to boost uranium enrichment at the plant.

If true, the move would be in violation of a 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with several world powers.

As part of the deal, Iran agreed only to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3-4% concentration of U-235 isotopes and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more.

Iran also agreed to install no more than 5,060 of the oldest and least efficient centrifuges at Natanz until 2026, and not to carry out any enrichment at its other underground facility, Fordo, until 2031.

In exchange for concessions to it’s nuclear programme, Iran was granted relief from international sanctions.

In November, Iran unveiled advanced centrifuges at Natanz

But last year, Iran began rolling back its commitments after US President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear accord and reinstated crippling economic sanctions.

In November, Iran said it had doubled the number of advanced centrifuges being operated at Natanz and had begun injecting uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges at Fordo .

Natanz is one of several facilities being monitored by the IAEA to ensure Iran’s compliance with the 2015 deal.

The IAEA’s new director general Rafael Grossi has said he will visit Tehran on Monday to request access to two suspected former nuclear sites.

The IAEA has criticised Iran for not answering questions about possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at these sites in the early 2000s.

Iran has previously insisted its nuclear programme is not intended for military use. Officials have also denied that Mr Grossi’s visit is related to moves by the United States at the UN Security Council to reimpose international sanctions on Tehran, state media reported.

Babylon the Great Finally Leaving the Iraqi Horn

US President Donald Trump (Photo: AFP)

Donald Trump meets Iraq PM, says US troops to exit ‘at some point’

The US leader also said that military considerations as well as oil projects and development were on the agenda for his meeting with PM Kadhemi, who took office in May.

The US leader also said that military considerations as well as oil projects and development were on the agenda for his meeting with PM Kadhemi, who took office in May.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that American troops would leave Iraq but gave no timetable for the withdrawal, as he met the country’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi for the first time in Washington.

The meeting comes with attacks on American targets by pro-Iranian fighters on the rise and the Iraqi government facing calls to expel the 5,000 US troops deployed in the country as part of anti-jihadist efforts.

Trump said alongside PM Kadhemi at the White House, “So at some point, we obviously will be gone,”

“We’ve brought it down to a very, very low level”, he added.

The US leader also said that military considerations as well as oil projects and development were on the agenda for his meeting with PM Kadhemi, who took office in May.

PM Kadhemi said at the White House that he was “grateful” for US support in the war against the Islamic State jihadist group, which “strengthens our partnership for the best interest for our nation.”

The US military withdrew from Iraq in late 2011, leaving a small mission attached to the US embassy.

Kadhemi faces challenges from factions of the Hashed al-Shaabi, a coalition of Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “armed groups not under the full control of the prime minister have impeded our progress,” calling for them to “be replaced by local police as soon as possible.”

On being asked about the plan for cutting the 5,000 US troops now in Iraq, Pompeo said that he had no numbers and urged people “not to focus on that.”

PM Kadhemi has angered armed groups by seizing border posts where they ran lucrative smuggling networks and imposed taxes on traders.

Attacks have risen in recent weeks, with the Iraqi army reporting another rocket attack on Tuesday evening targeting Baghdad airport, where US troops are based. The projectile did not cause damage or casualties, the army said.

Earlier in May, an American soldier and a British soldier, as well as one US contractor, were killed after rockets hit an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Baghdad and Tehran must be “state-to-state and not via militias,” the source quoted Kadhemi as saying, adding that groups that “draw their strength from Iran” had bombed Iraqi targets and embezzled money.

In January, the attack at the Baghdad International Airport also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

The Iranian attack came after a US drone attacked on January 3 a convoy at Baghdad International Airport that killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

(With inputs from agency)

Babylon the Great to demand ‘snapback’ of UN sanctions

Iran nuclear deal: US to demand ‘snapback’ of UN sanctions – BBC News


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will submit a complaint to the UN Security Council

The US is to controversially initiate a process at the UN Security Council to reinstate international sanctions on Iran lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will submit a complaint accusing Iran of significant non-compliance and trigger the sanctions “snapback” mechanism.

However, other world powers insist he has no legal right to do so.

The US itself stopped complying with the accord two years ago, when President Donald Trump abandoned it.

Once the complaint has been submitted, other countries on the Security Council will have 30 days to adopt a resolution to avert the snapback. But, as a permanent member, the US will be able to exercise its veto power.

The Trump administration’s move comes a week after the council rejected its bid to extend indefinitely an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October.

How did we get here?

The nuclear deal saw the P5+1 group of powers – the US, China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany – give Iran sanctions relief in return for limits on its sensitive activities and international inspections to show it was not developing nuclear weapons.

The accord has been close to collapse since the US withdrew and reinstated economic sanctions in 2018 in an attempt to force Iran to negotiate a replacement that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear programme and also halt its development of ballistic missiles.


Iran’s leaders insist that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful

Iran has so far refused and retaliated by rolling back key commitments, including those on the production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear warheads.

The five powers still party to the deal have tried to keep it alive, although the UK, France and Germany triggered a formal dispute mechanism over the Iranian breaches in January that could ultimately lead to the snapback of UN sanctions.

What does the US want?

After its defeat at the Security Council last week, US permanent representative Kelly Craft declared that the Trump administration would “stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo” on Iran.

On Wednesday, the president announced that the US intended to “restore virtually all of the previously suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran”.

“It’s a snapback. Not uncommon,” he told reporters in Washington. “My administration will not allow this Iran nuclear situation to go on. They will never have a nuclear weapon.”

Mr Pompeo stressed that under Security Council resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal, the US had a legal right to trigger the snapback.

“It has a set of provisions, it has a set of rights and obligations, and we will be in full compliance with that, and we have every expectation that every country in the world will live up to its obligations, including every member of the P5,” he said.

In addition to maintaining the arms embargo, the snapped-back sanctions would force Iran to suspend all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, and ban imports of anything that could contribute to those activities or the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.

Sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities would also be reinstated.

How have other countries reacted?

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Sunday : “US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON.”

The five other remaining parties to the nuclear deal, all of which currently sit on the Security Council, are also opposed to the US plan.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that it was “absurd”, adding that the administration had no legal grounds to do so.

European countries have said that President Trump made it clear in 2018 that the US had ended its participation in the nuclear deal and given up any rights.

It is not clear how the other countries might try to stop the US.

All UN member states would be obligated to enforce the snapped-back sanctions, although diplomats told Reuters news agency that some might refuse to do so.

Trump Confirms the Iran Snapback

Trump: US demands restoration of UN sanctions against Iran | Newser

FILE – In this July 20, 2015, file photo, members of the Security Council vote at United Nations headquarters on the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The United States is planning a new diplomatic line of attack on Iran after a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council….   (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will demand Thursday that all United Nations sanctions be reimposed against Iran, President Donald Trump said Wednesday, a move that follows America’s embarrassing defeat to extend an arms embargo against Tehran.

The administration’s insistence on snapping back international sanctions against Iran sets the stage for a contentious dispute. It’s possible that the U.S. call will be ignored by other U.N. members — an outcome that could call into question the U.N. Security Council’s ability to enforce its own legally binding decisions.

“It’s a snap back,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to New York on Thursday to present the U.S. demand to reimpose the sanctions, accusing Iran of significant non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Trump administration wants to reimpose all international sanctions that had been eased under that deal. Other nations claim the U.S. has no standing to make the demand because the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal two years ago.

“Iran will never have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said.

Babylon the Great Concedes to Iraq and Iran

US-led site handover to Iraq proceeds after attacks by suspected Iran-allied fighters

The U.S.-backed anti-Islamic State coalition handed over an ammunition storage site at Camp Taji to the Iraqi security forces, Aug. 16, 2020. The coalition has delivered $11 million worth of ammunition to the Iraqis this year, they said in a statement.


The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq transferred about 50 ammunition storage bunkers and facilities to Iraqi forces at Camp Taji, part of a continuing force consolidation as the Islamic State fight wanes and conflict with Iran-backed fighters ramps up.

The handover Sunday was long-scheduled, officials said, but it came hours after two small rockets struck near the base on Saturday night, the latest attack targeting bases where coalition forces are housed, which the U.S. has blamed on Iranian proxy groups.

The rocket strike at the base north of Baghdad did not impact near coalition forces, Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the coalition, said on Twitter on Saturday.

Also last week, three rockets fell on Balad Air Base, the Iraqi government said Thursday, then on Friday three more fell on Baghdad’s international airport, it said. On Sunday, one landed inside Baghdad’s Green Zone, where diplomatic and military mission headquarters are based. None of the attacks resulted in significant damage, the Iraqi government said on Twitter.

The strikes all came after the U.S. seized more than 1 million barrels of Iranian oil from four tankers bound for Venezuela last week.

The U.S.-backed anti-Islamic State coalition handed over an ammunition storage site at Camp Taji to the Iraqi security forces, Aug. 16, 2020. The coalition has delivered $11 million worth of ammunition to the Iraqis this year, they said in a statement.


They also come ahead of expected U.S.-Iraq talks, which Central Command boss Gen. Frank McKenzie said would likely involve the long-term presence of American and allied troops.

“I think that is a grave concern to the Iranians because that works against what they want, which is for Iraq to be pretty directly under their control and for us to be out of the theater,” the Marine general said in an online panel hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace on Wednesday.

McKenzie acknowledged that the rocket attacks have forced the coalition to pull back from the ISIS fight somewhat and divert resources to self-protection. He also expected Iran to launch a fresh “response” after failing to expel the U.S. from Iraq earlier this year.

“I do not know what the nature of that response will be, but we will certainly be ready for it, should it occur,” he said.

U.S.-Iran tensions have risen steadily over the past two years, as President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to pressure Tehran into renegotiating an Obama-era nuclear treaty that Trump withdrew the U.S. from.

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Sporadic rocket attacks have become commonplace since last fall, and in January a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, leading Tehran to respond with a barrage of ballistic missiles that hit U.S.-occupied bases in Iraq and left more than 100 American troops with traumatic brain injuries.

Meanwhile, the coalition has removed forces from smaller Iraqi bases, a long-planned effort which officials have said was sped up by the increased threat from Iran-backed militias.

Two American troops and a British soldier were killed at Taji in March, but many of the coalition troops that were once at the base to train Iraqi forces have since gone elsewhere in Iraq or been sent home. There remains a small presence of troops who coordinate logistics and security operations, the coalition said.

Some 5,200 American troops remain in Iraq, but as the government forces take on more responsibility for fighting ISIS, the number of U.S. and coalition troops is expected to shrink, McKenzie said last week.

“We don’t want to maintain a huge number of soldiers forever in Iraq,” McKenzie said.
Twitter: @chadgarland

Babylon the Great will trigger a ‘snapback’ of U.N. sanctions on Iran

Explainer: What is the U.S. threat to trigger ‘snapback’ of U.N. sanctions on Iran? | Article [AMP] | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to try this week to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran after the U.N. Security Council rejected Washington’s bid to extend an arms embargo on the country.

Here is a look at the events leading to this showdown and an explanation of what could happen next.


The Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Iran in 2007.

The embargo is due to expire in mid-October, as agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal among Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the United States that prevents Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for economic sanctions relief. That accord is enshrined in a 2015 Security Council resolution.

In 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump quit the accord reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, calling it “the worst deal ever.”

The United States failed on Friday in a bid to extend the Iran embargo at the Security Council.


Even though the United States has withdrawn from the nuclear deal, Washington has threatened to use a provision in the agreement to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran if the Security Council does not extend the arms embargo.

While diplomats have predicted that the so-called sanctions snapback process at the Security Council would be messy – with the remaining parties to the nuclear deal opposed to such a move – it could ultimately kill the nuclear deal because Iran would lose a major incentive for limiting its nuclear activities.

After the United States quit the deal, it imposed strong unilateral sanctions. In response, Iran has breached parts of the nuclear pact.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has described the next few weeks and months as critical.


A snapback of U.N. sanctions would require Iran to suspend all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and ban imports of anything that could contribute to those activities or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.

It would reimpose the arms embargo, ban Iran from developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and reimpose targeted sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities. Countries also would be urged to inspect shipments to and from Iran and authorized to seize any banned cargo.


The United States would have to submit a complaint about Iran breaching the nuclear deal to the Security Council.

The council would then have to vote within 30 days on a resolution to continue Iran’s sanctions relief. If such a resolution is not adopted by the deadline, all U.N. sanctions in place before the 2015 nuclear deal would be automatically reimposed.

Trump said the United States was likely to submit its complaint this week.


It was not immediately clear how Russia, China or any other Security Council members might try to stop the United States from triggering a sanctions snapback or if procedurally there is any way they can.

Diplomats have said several countries are likely to argue that the United States legally could not activate a return of U.N. sanctions and therefore they simply would not reimpose the measures on Iran themselves.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Will Dunham and Alistair Bell)

No Obstacle to Developing Nuclear Weapons: Iran (Daniel 8:4)

No Obstacle to Development of Strategic Arms in Iran: Defense Minister

No Obstacle to Development of Strategic Arms in Iran: Defense Minister

  • August, 18, 2020 – 18:12

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami gave an assurance that Tehran faces no infrastructural hurdle in manufacturing strategic weapons inside the country.

In a meeting with members of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission on Tuesday, Brigadier General Hatami said the Defense Ministry does not face any problem in the production of strategic weapons and products, thanks to various infrastructures inside the country.

He also noted that the Defense Ministry has successfully carried out the strategies to strengthen national security and maintain the deterrent power in cooperation with the Parliament.

Highlighting the abundant capacities and infrastructures available at the Defense Ministry for supplying the defense needs, the general said the Defense Ministry is prepared to help the country’s economic and civilian sectors with the surplus of its defense technologies and knowledge.

He further pointed to the great role that parliamentary support plays in preserving and boosting the Defense Ministry’s efforts to ensure security and national power, proposing that special funds for the defense-related research studies will help the country attain emerging technologies and respond to the threats, according to the Iranian government’s official website.

Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the country will not hesitate to strengthen its military capabilities, including its missile power, which are entirely meant for defense, and that Iran’s defense capabilities will be never subject to negotiations.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has also called for efforts to maintain and boost Iran’s defense capabilities, hitting back at the enemies for disputing the country’s missile program.

“Without a moment of hesitation, the country must move to acquire whatever is necessary for defense, even if the whole world is opposed to it,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in February 2018.