A large number of representatives of Majlis in a statement on Sunday voiced full support for the people and government of Syria.
In the statement signed by 245 lawmakers, the parliamentarians urged the people and government of Syria to firmly confront any foreign intervention in the internal affairs of their country, Fars News Agency reported.
The parliamentarians expressed pleasure over the failure of plots by the arrogant powers and Israel as well as the reactionary Arab regimes’ all-out support for extremist and violent groups.
They said that the Zionist regime of Israel is plotting against Syria because of Damascus’s support for resistance movements in the region, but assured that ‘resistance can thwart all conspiracies’.
They voiced their support for reforms or solutions which would lead to strengthening the role of the Syrians in determining their own destiny.
They stressed that the anti-Islamic powers have never had any goodwill for other nations, including the people and government of Syria.
Effective Role Urged
Iran’s Ambassador to Oman Hossein Noushabadi in a meeting with Omani Prime Minister Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said called on Muscat to play a more effective role in settling the Syrian crisis.
Noushabadi underlined the two countries’ important role in regional developments, specially in Syria.
“On one hand, the Syrian nation is the victim of the expansionism of certain internal and foreign streams, and on the other hand, certain countries which claim to be advocates of human rights and democracy are after military intervention in the country,” he said.
He described talks between the Syrian government and the opposition groups, proposed by Iran, as the only solution to solve the crisis in the Arab country, and called on the Omani government to play a more effective role in settling the Syrian crisis.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.
Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes.
The government blames ‘outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups’ for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.
Iran Attack Catastrophic
Israel’s former defense minister Shaul Mofaz warned of the ‘catastrophic’ consequences of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“We need to ask ourselves… two questions,” Mofaz said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday.
“Will an early attack by Israel change Iran’s strategic situation regarding the nuclear program. My answer is no. And the second question is, will an early strike by Israel, in the current circumstances, in the existing situation in the Middle East…will an early attack lead to war?” Mofaz questioned.
“My answer is that the probability for this is very high,” he stated.
The Kadima leader further criticized his hawkish rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his ‘manipulative’ posing of a nuclear Iran as an ‘existential threat’ to Israel.
He also said such an attack will not hinder Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Washington and Tel Aviv have repeatedly threatened Tehran with a military strike to force it to halt its nuclear energy program which they claim to have been directed towards the acquisition of military nuclear capability.
However, Iran has dismissed the allegations and the threats, pledging a crushing response to any attack on its soil.
Unlike Israel, Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its nuclear activities have been frequently inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog, however, has not found a shred of evidence to substantiate US and Israeli claims.
Israel is widely known to be the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East with an arsenal of estimated 200 to 300 atomic warheads.
Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon informed Israel of Washington’s ‘contingency plans’ for a possible attack on Iran, should negotiations between Tehran and the G5+1 fail (5 permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in talks with Iran), an Israeli paper said.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Sunday that US President Barack Obama’s national security adviser briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu about the plan during his visit to Tel Aviv two weeks ago.
Citing a senior American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the report said Donilon assured the Israeli premier that the US ‘is seriously preparing for the possibility that negotiations will reach a dead end and military action will become necessary’.
Donilon also shared information on US weaponry and military capabilities for dealing with Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Last week, Secretary of US Air Force Michael Donley said the force’s new bunker buster bombs, each weighing 15 tons, were ready to be used in an attack.
According to the report, these bombs are intended for fortified bunkers deep underground where chemical or nuclear weapons are stored.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represent G5+1 in talks with Iran, that the ‘stalled talks proved that the time had come to move from talk to action to stop Iran’.
However, Ashton, who is scheduled to meet secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in the coming days, said she was still hopeful the standoff could be resolved diplomatically.
Are US Sanctions Self-Defeating?
Last month, a young American woman was blocked from purchasing an Apple product at a local store in Alpharetta, Georgia. After overhearing her speaking Farsi, the second generation Iranian-American was informed that selling the product to her went against the company’s policy. Apple’s export compliance policy states that direct or indirect sales of Apple goods to any embargoed country are prohibited, apparently categorizing domestic sales to Iranian-Americans as an indirect channel of distribution--but such policies are essentially unenforceable. Current embargoed countries include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. By such logic, corporations would turn away any consumers who are Cuban-American, Syrian-American--you get the idea.
Although the Apple store incident could be minimized and considered a misinterpretation of Apple’s policy by an individual location or clerk, the incident is just the newest in a series of unfortunate misapplications and misinterpretations of sanctions legislations towards Iranians and Iranian-Americans, many of which have had stronger implications against the inherent freedom of intellectual engagement.
In 2003, Iranian scholars, scientists and writers faced discrimination when the Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) imposed a ruling of the Berman Amendment that prohibited US publishers from engaging in any publishing activity with an author from a sanctioned country without first applying for a special license. This broad interpretation of sanction legislation directly affected a sensitive demographic such as authors, scientists and activists.
The Iranian intellectuals criticized the regulations as contrary to the free exchange of ideas claimed to be valued by the US, as it hindered their abilities to work with American educational and academic instates. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) were two professional societies affected by the OFAC regulations, reluctantly forced to temporarily revoke membership and deny publication benefits to their Iranian scientists.
The Association of American University Presses and co-plaintiffs filed a suit against OFAC in 2004 arguing that its interpretative ruling of the Berman Amendment was illegal as it violated the First Amendment right to select, process and publish information without restriction. The plaintiffs successfully resolved the lawsuit three years later, only after OFAC revised the regulations and eliminated the need for prior licensing.
Impacts of sanction legislation, however, are not limited to the scope of property and information. With the Iranian economy deteriorating under the ever increasing sanctions, Iranian students studying or having the aspiration to study abroad are shouldering the burden of sanctions as they are often unable to access currency, transfer funds or afford tuition due to spiraling inflation. Despite encouraging statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging Iranian students to attend American universities, the sanction restrictions that ban transactions between Iranian banks and US financial institutions prohibit students from making direct payments to educational institutions, encouraging black market growth as students are forced to solicit brokers to bypass sanctions laws.
Even the recent initiative taken by the Obama Administration to allow multiple entry visa options for Iranian students has incurred problems from its own policy restrictions. Outside of the financial burden and risk attributed to returning to Iran to reapply for a visa, this new policy limits issuance of multiple entry visas to those in the non-sensitive, non-technical fields of study and research. This policy restriction creates more obstacles for student exchange. According to a recent survey, out of a sample of 148 successful student visa applications issued to Iranian students between July and December 2011, only 20 percent were issued as multiple entry visas.
While these sanctions are currently preferred to more severe alternatives in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, these so-called ‘smart sanctions’ are increasingly violating the basic human rights and inherent freedoms of the Iranian people. The sanctions and resulting regulations that restrict the free flow of information and ideas are contradictory to the authors’ intended goals of protecting American security. As the promotion of democracy coincides directly with a population’s ability to freely access information and facilitate meaningful exchanges, policy makers should know that that sanction legislation is so broad and undefined that it becomes self-defeating and prohibits the very freedoms it claims to protect.
Foreign Ministry Expresses Grief Over Tajik Clashes
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast lamented the recent bloody clashes in Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan province which left dozens of people dead.
“We hope that the recent events in Tajikistan’s Badakhshan province will end as soon as possible and with minimal human and financial losses and security and peace will be continued [in the region],” Mehmanparast said on Sunday, IRNA reported.
Tajik security service issued a statement on Tuesday saying at least 12 government troops and 30 militants were killed in clashes near the town of Khorog in the Badakhshan region. The fighting reportedly erupted in four neighborhoods in the town.
On Wednesday, the Tajik government declared a truce to allow negotiations between Tajikistan’s Defense Minister Sherali Khayrulloyev and delegates from the town of Khorog, a military source said.
It was the worst outbreak of violence in Tajikistan since 2010, when 40 security forces were killed in a prison break.
The autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan province is a mountainous region bordering Afghanistan, China, and Kyrgyzstan. The inhabitants of the region are mainly Ismaili Shia Muslims. The region is also home to the Pamiri minority.
First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi extended condolences over the death of almost 150 Zanzibari people in a recent ferry disaster.
In a message to Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohamed Shein on Sunday, Rahimi conveyed the Islamic Republic’s condolences to the Zanzibari government and nation.
The fatalities were caused after the Tanzanian MV Skagit/Kalama ferry, with 290 people on board, sank off the coast of the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar in East Africa on July 18. It was en route from the city of Dar-es Salaam in mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar when it capsized near Chumbe Island.
Authorities in Zanzibar said on July 22 that 145 people were killed in the ferry disaster in the Indian Ocean, one day after a rescue operation was called off.
“We have recovered five more bodies today, bringing the total number of bodies found so far to 73. The ferry had 290 people onboard and 145 were rescued, which means that 72 people are still unaccounted for,” Mohammed Mhina, a spokesman for Zanzibari police, said.
Meanwhile, the High Court of Zanzibar charged three people, including the ship’s owner and captain, with manslaughter in connection with last week’s incident.
Owner Saidi Abdulrahman Juma, 46, captain Mussa Makame Mussa, 49, and company manager Omar Hassan Mkoje, 50, were indicted on Wednesday. They were released on bail and are expected to attend a hearing due on Augusts 7.
On Monday, Zanzibar’s minister for marine transportation, Hamad Masoud Hamad, resigned from his post over the tragedy.
First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi in a meeting with outgoing Tunisian ambassador to Iran Muhammad Al-Saberi said Iran does care about progress of the Muslim world.