UK bank accounts of Iranian customers still being closed, says law firm

(source: Guardian) April 23, 2017

Ordinary citizens were exempted from the punitive measures even when sanctions were in place but the complex nature of the sanctions regime and overcompliance by banks means Iranians unrelated to the government are still being punished. “In the past two or three months more people have come to us to instruct us to act on their behalf because of their bank account closures,” Rokhsareh Vahid, head of the Iran desk at Blackstone, told the Guardian. “In total we have more than 60 cases involving Iranians who have sued banks over racial discrimination.” Vahid said her firm has secured compensation in most of those cases, often as the result of pre-trial settlements. “I only recall one case which was not successful,” she said. “A lot of such settlements include non-disclosure agreements, so we won’t be able to publicise them.” ››read more

Straining to be Anti-Iran

by Paul Pillar (source: The National Interest) April 23, 2017

The administration’s unease flows from how this inescapable certification may appear to be a positive gesture toward Iran. As such, it could be seen as weakening the administration’s anti-Iran credentials. Moreover, the admission that the JCPOA is working runs counter to Trump’s denunciation of the agreement as the “worst deal ever”. Thus we have the administration’s compensatory rhetoric of today, which includes as much negative verbiage as possible about Iran in general as well as aspersions about the JCPOA. Most of the rhetoric falls in the familiar, non-specific vein that pays no attention to exactly what Iran is or is not doing and how that does or does not affect U.S. interests and instead is essentially sloganeering. But the recent extra straining to dump on Iran and the nuclear agreement has resulted in some especially peculiar and downright silly formulations. ››read more

US defies both letter, spirit of nuclear deal: Iran FM

(source: Press TV) April 22, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed the United States’ defiance to honor its obligations under the spirit and letter of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

“We’ll see if US prepared to live up to letter of the JCPOA (the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) let alone [its] spirit. So far, it has defied both” Zarif said on his official Twitter account on Friday. ››read more

US should fulfil its end of nuclear deal – Tehran on Tillerson’s Iran remarks

(source: RT) April 21, 2017

Rex TillersonRex Tillerson Instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the US should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on the review of the lifting of sanctions.

In his letter to the Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acknowledged that Iran was compliant to the accord, but blasted the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” ››read more

If Trump cares so much about Syrian babies, why is he not condemning the rebels who slaughtered children?

by Robert Fisk (source: Independent) April 17, 2017

Dozens of children were killed in Syria this weekend but where is the US president’s lament on how ‘beautiful’ they are, let alone action? Where are the denunciations by the EU and the UK? The West must react with equal outrage when it is Shias that are the victims of terrorism. Or do we just not care? ››read more

New Revelations Belie Trump Claims on Syria Chemical Attack

by Gareth Porter (source: TruthOut) April 15, 2017

Two unnamed senior Trump administration officials briefing journalists Tuesday asserted that a Syrian regime airstrike in the city of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 had deliberately killed dozens of civilians with sarin gas.

The Trump administration officials dismissed the Russian claim that the Syrian airstrike had targeted a munitions warehouse controlled by Islamic extremists as an afterthought to cover up the Syrian government’s culpability for the chemical attack. Moreover, the Trump officials claimed that US intelligence had located the site where the Syrian regime had dropped the chemical weapon.

However, two new revelations contradict the Trump administration’s line on the April 4 attack. A former US official knowledgeable about the episode told Truthout that the Russians had actually informed their US counterparts in Syria of the Syrian military’s plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours before the strike. And a leading analyst on military technology, Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, has concluded that the alleged device for a sarin attack could not have been delivered from the air but only from the ground, meaning that the chemical attack may not have been the result of the Syrian airstrike. ››read more

It’s time America explored how to end the multiple wars it has helped cause since 2001, rather than dropping more bombs

by Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) April 15, 2017

Patrick CockburnPatrick CockburnWar-whoops and loud applause from foreign policy establishments and their media supporters have greeted President Trump’s missile strike in Syria, the dropping of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan and the dispatch of a naval task force in the direction of North Korea.

This spurt in belligerence over the last week has as much to do with domestic American politics as any fundamental new development in the rest of the world. Trump needed to defuse the accusation that he was too close to President Putin and too tolerant of a Russian ally like Bashar al-Assad. The resort to military action was largely in keeping with the old Pentagon saying that “defence policy ends at the water’s edge”, meaning that it is politics inside, not outside the US, which is the real decision-maker.

Whatever Trump’s precise motives, his sudden fondness for the use of armed force shows that what President Obama criticised as “the Washington playbook” is back in business as the guide for conduct of American foreign policy. “It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment,” said Obama in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Monthly last year. “And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarised responses.” ››read more

Russia, Syria & Iran demand no further US strikes on Syria – foreign ministers

(source: RT) April 14, 2017

The US cruise missile attack on Syria was an act of international aggression, Russia, Syria and Iran have stated after a meeting of their foreign ministers in Moscow.

“We have reiterated our position and were united in stating that the attack was an act of aggression, which blatantly violated the principles of international law and the UN Charter,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“We call on the US and its allies to respect Syria’s sovereignty and refrain from actions similar to what happened on April 7, and which have serious ramification not only for regional, but also global security,” he added. ››read more

The bombing of Afghanistan shows the US is led by a one-man wild card

by Simon Jenkins (source: The Guadian) April 15, 2017

Bombs are the fool’s gold of war. Imprecise, expensive and cruel, their strategic utility diminishes the farther they fall from a politician’s desk. The US, with Britain in tepid accord, has been bombing unstable Muslim states for 16 years and has delivered nothing but death and anarchy. But the bombs have warmed the souls of successive presidents and prime ministers. A good explosion reaches parts of the body politic no other policy can reach. ››read more

MIT Scientist Disputes 'Evidence' of Assad Sarin Attack

by Theodore A. Postol (source: The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection) April 13, 2017

Professor PostolProfessor PostolI have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4.

This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House. ››read more

        Editor's note: Theodore A. Postol is a professor of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a prominent critic of U.S. government statements about missile defense.

Trump Withholds Syria-Sarin Evidence

by Robert Parry (source: Consortium News) April 13, 2017

Despite President Trump’s well-known trouble with the truth, his White House now says “trust us” on its Syrian-sarin charges while withholding the proof that it claims to have, reports Robert Parry. ››read more

Trump Should Rethink Syria Escalation

(source: Consortium News) April 13, 2017

More than two dozen ex-U.S. intelligence officials urge President Trump to rethink his claims blaming the Syrian government for the chemical deaths in Idlib and to pull back from his dangerous escalation of tensions with Russia. ››read more

Iran Condemns Sweden Truck Attack

(source: Al Manar) April 8, 2017

Iran on Saturday condemned as terrorist a truck attack in Stockholm which killed at least four people and injured 17 others on Friday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qasemi sympathized with Swedish people and government on the sad occasion, IRNA news agency reported. “Amid all the jubilation of some Western and Arab countries over US recent missile strike in Khan Shyknun region near Idlib in northern Syria which is by itself an effort to breathe new life to the dead bodies of terrorists, we are witnessing a criminal act conducted by one who has been nurtured by the dogmatic, lunatic and bloody ideologies in Europe,” he said.
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‘They’re terrified that peace was going to break out’ – Ron Paul on US Syria strike

(source: RT) April 8, 2017

Ron PaulRon Paul“A victory of neo-conservatives” – that’s how Ron Paul, a former member of the US House of Representatives and three-time presidential candidate, described the US strike on Syria, adding that he does not expect peace talks to resume any time soon.

Speaking to RT, Ron Paul said that there is no proof of Damascus’ guilt that could trigger such a rash and violent response from the US.

“I don't think the evidence is there, at least it hasn’t been presented, and they need a so-called excuse, they worked real hard, our government and their coalition.” ››read more

Remember 2003? Bolivian UN Ambassador Blasts US for Another Illegal Attack

by Lauren McCauley (source: Common Dreams) April 8, 2017

Sacha LlorentiSacha Llorenti'The United States has not only unilaterally attacked,' said Sacha Llorenti, 'the United States has become that investigator, has become the prosecutor, has become the judge, has become the jury.' ››read more

Russia says US air strikes in Syria came 'within an inch' of military clash with their forces

by Tom Batchelor (source: Independent) April 8, 2017

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said the US air strike on a Syrian air base came “within an inch” of militarily clashing with their forces.

He said the action taken by the Americans was in breach of international law and their own internal procedures, and accused Washington of “barely avoiding combat clashes with Russia”.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Medvedev said the air strike had "completely ruined relations" between the two superpowers. ››read more

US strike on Syria strengthens regional terrorism: Iran's president

(source: Press TV) April 8, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has censured the US for a recent missile strike against an airbase in Syria, saying the aggression will boost terrorism in the region and strengthen lawlessness and instability in the world. ››read more

NYT Retreats on 2013 Syria-Sarin Claims

by Robert Parry (source: Consortium News) April 7, 2017

Even as The New York Times leads the charge against the Syrian government for this week’s alleged chemical attack, it is quietly retreating on its earlier certainty about the 2013 Syria-sarin case, reports Robert Parry.
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US military on same side as al-Qaeda, Daesh in Yemen, Syria: Iran FM

(source: Press TV) April 7, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has censured the recent US airstrikes against Syria, saying the United States is fighting on the same side as al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups in Yemen and Syria. ››read more

Intelligence Sources: Assad-Gas Story: 'a Sham'

by Philip Giraldi (source: Libertarian institute) April 7, 2017

Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there. Giraldi also observes that the Assad regime had no motive to do such a thing at this time. ››read more