Monday, March 31, 2014

War Watch March 31 , 2014 --Syria items of note - Christians flee Syria’s Kessab, Twitter cries atrocities, Armenia accuses Turkey , Syrians suffer as al-Qaeda, Chechen fighters pursue their own agendas: analysts .......Iraq items of note - Bridge Collapses in Iraq Attack; 56 Killed, 55 Wounded , Iraq Electoral Commission Retracts Resignation Nothing Resolved as IHEC Resumes Work , Kurdish MPs React to Question of Secession from Baghdad ...... Iran items of note - Latest news on nuclear talks , Iran asks Pakistan to transfer border security to it , Merchant ship shot at in Strait of Hormuz Sunday- NATO

Syria.......


Syria Ups Border Defenses Near Turkey as Tensions Soar

Accuses Turkey of Arming Foreign Fighters in Latakia

by Jason Ditz, March 31, 2014
One week after Turkey shot down a Syrian warplane near the border, tensions continue to grow, and Syria has announced the deployment of anti-aircraft missile batteriesalong the border to repel “hostile” Turkish planes.
It’s a possibility that seems more likely by the day, after a leak last week revealed the Erdogan government talking about using the security at an Ottoman-era shrine as a pretext for invading northern Syria outright.
Today saw even more acrimony, as Turkey reported mortar shells landing on their side of the border from the civil war, and launching artillery attacks into Syrian territory.
Syria’s information ministry also accused Turkey of orchestrating some of the rebel attacks in Latakia Province, saying they’d sent foreign fighters “armed to the teeth” into Latakia to join the fight against the Assad government.
Turkey and Syria were once close allies, but early in the civil war the Turkish government began openly backing the rebels.






Christians flee Syria’s Kessab, Twitter cries atrocities, Armenia accuses Turkey

Published time: March 31, 2014 21:06
Edited time: March 31, 2014 22:03

AP's video still shows deserted streets of Syrian Kessab on March 27 2014
AP's video still shows deserted streets of Syrian Kessab on March 27 2014
The Syrian Army is trying to retake the Christian majority town of Kessab reportedly seized by al-Qaeda-linked forces. The attack made hundreds of ethnic Armenians flee and caused international outcry with Armenia blaming Turkey for supporting extremists.
Kessab – located in Syria’s Latakia province, near the border with Turkey – fell to rebels sparking a fierce battle in the media as conflicting reports are coming in about the events in the town which is home to over 2,000 ethnic Armenians.
Reportedly, on March 21, extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda crossed into Syria from Turkey and seized the town after clashes with Syrian government troops and local self-defense squads.
According to the Armenian side, the jihadists were supported by Turkish forces. Ankara denied the allegations as “totally unfounded and untrue”.
We consider the efforts of such circles, moving from these claims, to draw an analogy between the developments in the Kessab region and the painful incidents of the past as confrontational political propaganda attempt and particularly condemn it,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week.
The relations between Armenia and Turkey have long been strained over Ankara’s refusal to recognize Armenian genocide after WWI.

Hundreds flee

Arman Saakyan, Armenian MP from the Republican Party has recently returned from the Syrian town of Latakia, where he managed to talk to Kessab refugees. He told RT that the armed groups got into Syria’s Kessab from Turkish soil.
“In the early hours on Saturday [March 22] Turkish border guards disappeared and terrorists, representatives of different countries, attacked Kessab from there with the support of artillery,” he said.
With the help of local self-defense forces and the Syrian army the majority of ethnic Armenians managed to flee Kessab and are currently resided on the territory of an Armenian church in the coastal city of Latakia, the parliament member said. Only some elderly people still remain in the town "occupied by militants from the al-Nusra [Front],” he added.
A group of residents found shelter in St. George's Armenian monastery in Latakia, about 60 km from Kessab, according to a stringer for RT video agency Ruptly.
“Everyone gathered and started going towards Al-Nabien to be safe. We along with the army and the national defense forces we saved as many as we could,” Father Maron, a priest from the town told Ruptly. “40 more people remained in Kessab - mostly the old and immobile - but we managed to gather the majority and most of the families came to Latakia.”
The residents of the town managed to escape in the very last moment before “their homes were attacked,” Bugus Kazaryan, the chair of the Armenian Community Council in Latakia told RT. He said around 850 families from Kessab – “not only Armenians, but also residents of other nationalities” – have currently taken shelter in Latakia.
They fled the town in order to let the Syrian Army “destroy the terrorists who only came to Syria to kill, they’ve got no other goals,” Kazaryan said.
Refugees from Kassab city on the Syrian-Turkish border have found shelter in the St. George's Armenian monastery in Lattakia, Saturday.
Refugees from Kassab city on the Syrian-Turkish border have found shelter in the St. George's Armenian monastery in Lattakia, Saturday.

During the past several days a number of reports have been circulating in media and online, claiming violent atrocities by rebels, manslaughter of Armenians in the area. One of the videos is said to show the massacre of Armenians in Kessab by rebels. Extremely graphic footage, picked-up by several media and web blogs, showed unknown people being shot in the heads by unidentified attackers.
However, the footage apparently had nothing to do with Kessab. The video posted online mid-March by Al-Nusra Front allegedly depicts execution of Syrian soldiers in Aleppo last December. So far, there is no confirmed information that any of Kessab’s civilians died due to fighting.
Other reports suggested that rebels desecrated and destroyed historic churches in the area, as they entered the town. The reports are yet to be independently verified. A number of YouTube videos apparently shot by militants showed the deserted town of Kessab, while some churches featured in the videos appeared to be untouched at the moment of filming.

#SaveKessab

During the past weekend, reports about Kessab rapidly spread on social networks with allegations emerging of extremists perpetrating brutal atrocities against ethnic Armenians.
The Twitter storm was also provoked by the news, with Kim Kardashian, Cher and Jared Leto supporting the call for help from the city’s Armenians. A special hashtag #SaveKessab has become one of the most popular.
Please let's not let history repeat itself!!!!!! Let's get this trending!!!!


Ethnic Armenians who fled the area urged Armenian Diaspora to apply “to their government, the UN or any other structures to interfere in this case.”
All we want is to live. If you ignore our appeal, we will be violently killed by extremists, same as it happened in Aleppo…and other places on the Syrian territory,” says the statement on Facebook drafted by Armenian MP Arman Saakyan.
“Today, on Mother’s Day, our beautiful city was violently attacked from Al-Qaeda and the extremist group Front Al-Nusra, which get the full military and material and technical support from the side of the Turkish government.
We woke up long before sunset, horrified by the sounds of the missiles which were falling on our city. Thousands of terrorists reached the border of our city. The Turkish side conducts the policy of destroying our beautiful Kessab exactly on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Osman Empire,” Armenians said in the statement.
“They killed Armenians three times in the same location: in 1909, 1913, and now in 2014,” Ja’afari added, stressing that Turkish tanks and artillery cover the rebel forces and help them.

Armenia-Turkey-Syria standoff

The attack on Kessab was reportedly carried out by fighters from the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria, and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham brigade, part of the Islamic Front alliance. Militants posing with brigade's flag near Kasab border-crossing are seen in the photo below, which was likely taken shortly after the seizure of the checkpoint.

View image on Twitter
Rebels robbing homes, desecrating churches in , several can't leave http://www.armenianweekly.com/2014/03/23/activist-rebels-robbing-homes-desecrating-churches-in-kessab/ 


An amateur video circulated on the internet appears to show armed men freely strolling through the Kessab checkpoint, apparently at the Turkish-Syrian border, with no border guards seen on either side.
Earlier in the week, the Syrian army launched an operation to force the militants out of the town, located in a region of strategic importance for Damascus. In the course of the three year civil war, Assad's army has already lost control of most border crossings. It had though held on to Kessab, a gateway to the province of Latakia which has remained an Assad stronghold. By seizing the town, militants got their first outpost on the Mediterranean Sea.
Echoing claims coming from Yerevan, Syrian authorities also pointed the finger at Ankara for providing “cover for this terrorist attack,” cited Reuters.
Adding fuel to the fire, on March 23 Turkey shot down a Syrian Air Force jet at the Kessab crossing. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the plane was intercepted after it violated his country’s airspace.
Damascus in response accused Ankara of “blatant aggression,” saying the fighter jet had been over Syria. The Syrian pilot said that a Turksih aircraft fired a missile at him while he was pursuing terrorists within Syrian territories, SANA agency reported.
Moscow expressed concern over the attack on Kessab, saying that the activities of the rebel forces are aimed at wrecking the chemical demilitarization of Syria.
“The seizure by extremists of the town of Kessab elicited a broad response in Armenian communities throughout the world. A demonstration took place in front of the UN office in Yerevan with the demand for the persecution against ethno-confessional minorities by illegal armed units to be put an end to in Syria. Simultaneously, the leadership of the Republic of Armenia expressed its gratitude to the Syrian government for the defense of the Armenian population,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, quoted the Voice of Russia.
Washington said it was “deeply troubled” by the events.
We are deeply troubled by recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kessab, Syria and has forced many to flee,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf.
All civilians, as well as their places of worship, must be protected,” she said, “We have long had concerns about the threat posed by violent extremists and this latest threat to the Armenian community in Syria only underscores this further,” Harf added.


and......

http://al-shorfa.com/en_GB/articles/meii/features/2014/03/28/feature-01



Syrians suffer as al-Qaeda, Chechen fighters pursue their own agendas: analysts

Above, a snapshot taken from a video posted on YouTube by 'Syria Tube' purports to show the 'Abu Omar al-Chechen battalion' threatening to behead 13 Syrian civilians. [Photo courtesy of 'Syria Tube']
Above, a snapshot taken from a video posted on YouTube by 'Syria Tube' purports to show the 'Abu Omar al-Chechen battalion' threatening to behead 13 Syrian civilians. [Photo courtesy of 'Syria Tube']
In the past year, a plethora of press reports and video clips have surfaced on Chechens, among other Caucasus fighters, now fighting alongside Islamist groups in Syria.
These Chechens have fought alongside the al-Qaeda-linked "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) and Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, while experiencing fractures and tensions with these groups, as each seeks to establish its own caliphate in the region, analysts told Al-Shorfa.
"The presence of Chechen fighters in Syria is linked to al-Qaeda and its branches in Syria," said strategy analyst Maj. Gen. Yahya Mohammed Ali, who is retired from the Egyptian army. "Since they began arriving, they joined ISIL, JAN and other battalions and factions" that subscribe to the ideology of al-Qaeda.
However, the on-going dispute between ISIL and JAN and other concerns drove a number of Chechen mujahideen to break away and form independent fighting factions and battalions of their own while retaining full co-ordination with al-Qaeda groups in military engagements against the Syrian regime, he added.
Czech magazine Tyden reported that many of the Chechen fighters in Syria belong to the Caucasus Emirate, an umbrella group that seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Caucasus.
Maj. Gen. Wael Abdul Muttalib, researcher at the Cairo-based Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, said the leaders of Chechen militias in the Caucasus "view fighting in Syria as a great opportunity to train their fighters and use the combat experience".
"The Chechen presence in Syria has gone beyond participation in the fighting and turned it into an opportunity to train young [Chechens] for a limited period of time, after which they return to the Caucasus area," he said.
In March 2013, a foreign fighter going by the name Abu Omar al-Chechen announced the creation of "Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar" under his command, according to the Chechen news agency Kavkaz Centre.
Late in the year, al-Chechen swore allegiance to ISIL, and was replaced by another Chechen commander, Salaheddine, "as most Chechens in Syria refuse to pay allegiance" to ISIL, the BBC reported.
Around the same time, the second in command to Abu Omar al-Chechen, Saifullah, and a group of his fighters pledged allegiance to JAN, Kavkaz Centre said.
Salaheddine al-Chechen and his deputy Abdul Karim Krymsky have spoken out against the fighting between ISIL and other opposition factions, and Krymsky also has been vocal in his condemnation of ISIL's tactics and attitude towards the local population, saying that the group has brutalised and murdered civilians, according to EA WorldView, a news and analysis source based at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
"Tens and hundreds of corpses, mass graves, became a kind of calling card for ISIL wherever it went," Krymsky told Kavkaz Centre in early March.
"Most worryingly, these events came to be part of everyday life, whereby ISIL was not ashamed of its crimes," he added.

CHECHENS HAVE ALSO COMMITTED ATROCITIES AMOUNTING TO 'WAR CRIMES'

Strategy analyst Ali said that Chechen fighters have also committed atrocities, most linked to the actions of al-Qaeda as a whole.
Several videos recorded by Chechen fighters after battles show bodies of people who have been executed, he said.
"Chechen fighters are known for their fierceness in battle, which has reached a level of criminality and commitment of what could be classified as war crimes," he added. "Among their most notable military engagements was their role in the Aleppo airport battle and their subsequent elimination of surrendered fighters by beheading."
Czech magazine Tyden reported on its website in August that after the takeover of Aleppo airport, Chechens slit the throats of and beheaded captured members of the military.
"This is the first time Chechens have been confirmed to be fighting outside their territory after doubts about their involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq," Ali said.
Chechen and Caucasus fighters in Syria fall under four main groups, each headed by its own commander, namely: Jund al-Sham, led by Muslim Abu al-Waleed al-Chechen, Omar al-Chechen group, Saifullah al-Chechen group and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar formerly led by Salaheddine al-Chechen, who was recently reported to have died, media and relief activist Faisal al-Ahmed, who is from Aleppo, told Al-Shorfa.
Chechens in Syria have fought in battles including the fight for Kafr al-Hamra village, the storming of the French hospital, the attack on Handarat air defence battalion and the battle of Aleppo Central Prison, in addition to battles in Deraa and rural Latakia, he said.
In Latakia, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar was linked to the August massacre of 190 Syrian civilians.
It was among five armed opposition groups "responsible for specific incidents that amount to war crimes" including shootings, stabbings and in some cases executions of entire families, Human Rights Watch said.
In Kafr al-Hamra, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar was responsible for an August car bomb blast that killed more than 50 people, according to Echo Kavkaz Media Centre.

'BIGGEST LOSER IS THE SYRIAN PEOPLE'

"Although the Chechen groups are independent, or claim to be independent, from other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, they take part in military operations with both ISIL and JAN according to the geographical area they are in," relief activist al-Ahmed said.
In the recent battles on the coast, these groups took part in military operations in co-ordination with JAN, and are now in full co-operation with ISIL in Aleppo, he said.
These fighters, therefore, are involved in the same war crimes attributed to ISIL and JAN, and have imposed the same pressures on civilians in terms of sharia law and punishment, he said.
"The Syrian people were thrust into the internal wars between these armed groups, and were forced to live in an atmosphere alien to their own lifestyle which is known for its religious and moral tolerance," he added.
"All armed Islamist groups in Syria, especially those affiliated to al-Qaeda, such as ISIL and JAN, and Chechen groups, have their own goals represented in establishing their own Islamic emirate," he added.
"The biggest loser is the Syrian people whose material and psychological capabilities have been exhausted in their three-year revolution," al-Ahmed said.
Meanwhile in al-Raqa, where ISIL and JAN have committed grave atrocities, Chechens who sometimes belong to these groups have been seen living expensively and ostentatiously, Al-Hayat reported in March.
Main Syrian opposition forces have rejected calls for foreign jihadists to join the fight in Syria.
"Our official position as the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) […] is that we thank them but reject any calls for jihad in Syria," Luay al-Meqdad, media and political co-ordinator for the FSA, told AFP last April.
"We reject any presence of foreign fighters, regardless of where they are from," he said.


Iraq.......




Security Forces Focus of Iraq Attacks: 55 Killed, 50 Wounded
by , March 31, 2014
At least 55 people were killed and 50 more were wounded in attacks that targeted security personnel.
Anbar:
Eight people were killed and 16 more were killed during shelling attacks in Falluja; children were among the casualties. Air strikes killed several militants.
Gunmen in Haditha killed two people and wounded three more, who were volunteers of the police department.
A bridge near Numaniya was blown-up, but no casualties were reported.
Elsewhere:
In Baghdad, a dumped body was found. Gunmen killed a civilian. A burnt body was found. Security forces killed 16 militants. Police killed a militant. A policeman was wounded in a sticky bomb explosion.
Two roadside bombs targeting an army convoy in Jurf al-Sakhar killed three soldiers and wounded seven moreSix soldiers were killed during a suicide bombing.
In Mosul, gunmen killed three people inside a shop. A bomb killed two people and wounded 10 others. Gunmen killed two soldiers and wounded two civilians at a checkpoint. Another soldier was gunned down at a checkpoint. A car bomb killed a soldier and wounded seven others.
Gunmen killed a civilian in Basra.
shop owner was killed in Ma’aqal.
Several election employees were threatened into resigning in Saniya.






Iraq Electoral Commission Retracts Resignation




Nothing Resolved as IHEC Resumes Work

by Jason Ditz, March 30, 2014
Less than a week after every single member of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq tendered their resignation, they have all unilaterallyunresigned, and will resume work on April’s election.
The resignations came amid a dispute about interpretations of the election law, and conflicting orders from parliament, the cabinet and the judiciary over how to use it to ban undesirable candidates from running.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly used the electoral laws and other de-Baathification rules to undercut Sunni candidates, seeing popular candidates unilaterally banned before the vote and, on occasion, banning them after they’ve already won.
Noteworthy in the retracted resignation is that nothing was settled on this account, nor were any of IHEC’s concerns publicly addressed. The problems, it seems, will simply carry over into the election yet again.




Bridge Collapses in Iraq Attack; 56 Killed, 55 

Wounded

by , March 30, 2014
At least 56 people were killed and 55 more were wounded in scattered attacks across Iraq today. In one attack, an important bridge fell into the Euphrates, killing several people.
Anbar:
Seven people were killed and wounded 11 more were wounded when a suicide bomberblew up his explosives and demolished the al-Houz Bridge in Ramadi. This leavesonly one bridge on the Euphrates River that can still be used by civilians. Two bridges are reserved for security forces, and two others were destroyed this year.
A clash near Falluja left nine soldiers dead and 14 more wounded. Air strikes killed five militants.
Two young people were killed after they were abducted in Qaim. Yesterday, a kidnapping victim from Qaim was found in Haditha, but it is unclear if he is related to this abduction.
Elsewhere:
Gunmen attacked an Aiyn al-Jahash checkpoint where they killed seven soldiers and wounded nine more.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed four people and wounded nine more at a Yusufiyamarket.
A roadside bomb in Tikrit killed two police officers. A sticky bomb killed a colonel.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a doctor.
A roadside bomb killed a solider and wounded two civilians in Qayara.
A bomb in Jurf al-Sakhar wounded seven policemen. At least three policemen were killed in this or another bombing. Security forces killed three bombers.
Gunmen killed a man at a school in Arab Jabour.
A roadside bomb in Shura killed two policemen and wounded an officer.
Security forces in Iskandariya killed a suicide car bomber and his passenger.
suicide bomber was killed in Jbela last night and his bomb was safely defused.
Two militants were killed in the Hamrim region.
militant leader died from injuries received during security operations in Buhriz.


http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/30032014

Kurdish MPs React to Question of Secession from Baghdad

By RUDAW 30/3/2014
A boy holding Kurdish flags. Photo: Rudaw
A boy holding Kurdish flags. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish members of the Iraqi parliament differ in their views over the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s independence from Iraq: Some warn independence should not be entered in haste and advocate careful study and planning. Others believe everything depends on the degree of Baghdad’s respect for the northern enclave’s constitutional rights.
The thorny question of secession from the Shiite and Arab-dominated central government in Baghdad was raised by Kurdish MPs after Sami Askari, a senior official of the dominant State of Law coalition, threatened that relations between Baghdad and Erbil would soon come to an end.
“Those who make these kinds of statements do not fully represent the voice of all Shiites and the State of Law coalition,” said Azad Sreshmaiee, an MP of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). “But we can’t deny the fact that this view exists among the Shiites and Arabs.”
According to Sreshmaiee, Askari has separated from the State of Law coalition and is working to establish his own faction.
He argued that Kurds had in fact rejoined Iraq in 2003, and they did so voluntarily and based on constitutional assurances. “Kurds willingly chose to become a federal region within Iraq.”
In 1992, the Kurdistan parliament chose federalism for the three-province Kurdistan Region, and in 2003 Kurdish leaders pushed to ensure the current status of Kurdistan. 
“The constitution gives you the right to make your decision whenever the other party does not abide by the constitution,” Sreshmaiee explained. “It all depends on the representatives of the Kurdish people, the Kurdistan parliament and the Kurdish leadership. If they think the situation is suitable, they can declare independence.”
Meanwhile, the opposition Change Movement (Gorran) said that the independence issue is complicated by divisions between the major Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, especially over Sulaimani province, which has been a stronghold of the PUK and opposition Change Movement (Gorran).  
Latif Mustafa, head of the Gorran faction in the Iraqi parliament, said that large disputed territories claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) further complicate the issue.
“If tomorrow the president of the Kurdistan Region, or Erbil, declares independence, what is the guarantee that Sulaimani will be part of it? What about the disputed territories?” Mustafa asked.
The PUK dismissed Askari’s comments that the Kurds were benefiting from Iraq’s wealth without giving anything in return. 
“The Baghdad government, for years, has built itself from the oil revenues of Kirkuk,” said Khalid Shwani, a PUK MP in Baghdad. “The previous Iraqi regimes -- with Kurdish natural resources -- gassed, Arabized and displaced Kurds. The decision to declare independence is not in the hands of Sami Askari, or for him to advise us. It is our basic right to choose independence, or to review the form of our relations with Baghdad,” he added. 
“We support a federal, democratic, and pluralistic Baghdad,” Shwani said. “Whenever the time is right for independence the Kurds should do it practically. It should not come as a reaction to others’ statements.”
According to MP Fatih Daraghaiee of the Islamic League of Kurdistan, the international situation is decisive for Kurdish secession from Iraq. “The Kurdish leadership needs to be patient. Preparations need to be made to announce such a fateful decision so that there be no regret.” 
MP Osama Jamil of the Islamic Union of Kurdistan dismissed Askari’s statements as worthless, saying they do not reflect the official position of State of Law. “Those statements are worthless and those individuals do not represent the State of Law Coalition,” he said. “The coalition has its spokesmen and they have not officially talked about this or endorsed the statements.”


Iran.......

Merchant ship shot at in Strait of Hormuz Sunday- NATO

DUBAI Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:40am EDT

RELATED TOPICS


(Reuters) - Unknown assailants in a speedboat shot at a merchant vessel as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz betweenIran and Oman on Sunday, the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) said.
The unidentified merchant ship reported being shot at twice from close range from a speedboat carrying six people armed with machine guns, on Sunday morning. It repelled the attack with hoses and the vessel and crew are safe, NSC said.
Although suspected Somali pirates commonly attack merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin, attacks on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz - a vital oil and gas shipping route - are rare.
The attack happened on the Gulf of Oman side of the Strait of Hormuz, about 90 minutes after a different merchant ship was approached by two speedboats with crews wearing military clothing, NATO said.
"Two green colored skiffs with three-four persons on board in military clothing and armed with gun machines got to 150 meters of a merchant vessel," the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's merchant shipping alert service said in a statement.
"After a while the skiffs turned away to Iranian coast."
No shots were fired by the crews wearing military uniforms. That incident happened about 30 nautical miles to the west of the shooting by a different speedboat.
A spokesman for the NATO Shipping Centre said the two incidents were being investigated. He said the nationalities of the non-merchant crews had not yet been determined and that it was to early to say whether the two incidents were related.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/31-Mar-2014/iran-asks-pakistan-to-transfer-border-security-to-it


Iran asks Pakistan to transfer border security to it

* Urges Islamabad to take stern action against abductors of Iranian border guards

TEHRAN: A prominent lawmaker demanded Pakistan to transfer security control over its shared borders with Iran to the Islamic Republic over “Islamabad’s failure in several cases to stop operations of terrorist groups which take shelter in Pakistan’s territories after attacking Iran”.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that since Pakistan is not capable enough of securing its common borders with Iran, it should entrust this arduous task to Iran,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Evaz Heidarpour said. The remarks of the Iranian lawmaker come after the Iranian security guards were kidnapped by militant group from about 15 km inside of Iranian territory and their security was unable to prevent the kidnapping or apprehend them.
He explained that the volatile situation along the Iran-Pakistan common border could open a Pandora’s box, and said, “Tehran has proposed that Islamabad hand over to Iran the full responsibility of ensuring security along the border, but Pakistan has not yet given a response in that regard.”
Another prominent Iranian legislator asked the Pakistani government to take stern action to set free the Iranian border guards who were abducted by Jeish Al-Adl terrorist group in early February and one of whom was killed last week. “Pakistani government is responsible for the safety of the abducted Iranian border guards,” rapporteur of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said on Sunday.



He called for tough action against the culprits behind the abduction of the Iranian border guard in order to prevent repetition of such acts in the future. In relevant remarks on Saturday, another senior Iranian lawmaker called on Islamabad to take serious action to release the abducted Iranian border guards. “The Pakistani government should take necessary measures to force Jeish Al-Adl terrorist group to release the kidnapped Iranian border guards,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Esmayeeli told reporters. He reiterated that although the intensive negotiations have been held between the Iranian and Pakistani officials, such efforts have so far failed.












http://www.globalissues.org/news/2014/03/31/18448


U.S. Rejected Israeli Demand for Iran Nuclear Confession

  • by Gareth Porter (Washington)
  • Monday, March 31, 2014
  • Inter Press Service
Pro-Israeli commentators have openly criticised the Obama administration for failing to explicitly demand that Iran confess to charges by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of a covert nuclear weapons programme.3
Demanding such a confession would be an obvious deal-breaker, because Iran has consistently denied those past charges and denounced the documents and intelligence reports on which they were based as fraudulent.  In fact, the failure of the talks appears to be precisely the Israeli intention in pressing Washington to make that demand.
All the intelligence in question can be traced back to Israel, and investigation of it has shown that the documents and reports that have been most widely publicised betray multiple indications of having been fabricated, as reported by IPS.
A "senior administration official" told reporters after the Nov. 24 Joint Plan of Action was announced that the United States had "made clear" in the negotiations that "the Security Council resolutions must still be addressed…and that Iran must come come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA."
The U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 of Jun. 9, 2010 says Iran "shall cooperate with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme…."
The term "possible military dimensions" had been used by the IAEA in referring to the claims publicised by the agency over the past six years of covert Iranian nuclear weapons development projects, including an alleged facility at Parchin for testing nuclear weapons designs.
The administration thus seemed to suggest that some kind of Iranian admission to past nuclear weapons work is a condition for a final agreement.
But the Obama administration's rhetoric on resolving IAEA claims of a nuclear weapons programme appears to be less about forcing Iran to confess than responding to pressures from Israel and its supporters in the United States.
The first explicit indication of Israeli pressure on Obama to demand an Iranian confession as part of any diplomatic settlement came in a September 2012 article by Patrick Clawson and David Makovsky, then both senior staff members of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), whose analysis and recommendations reflect Israeli government policy.
"Given Iran's past undeclared activities," Clawson and Makovsky wrote, "a particular concern is that Iran will develop clandestine nuclear facilities.  Tehran's coming clean about the past will therefore be an important determinant of whether it has any hidden capabilities."
The demand that Iran "come clean" on its alleged nuclear weapons program entered into the Obama administration's public posture for the first time after consultations with Israel in advance of the October 2013 round of negotiations with Iran.
The new Iran-IAEA agreement on the EBW issue raises the question of whether IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is now ready to reach a deal with Iran, despite having staked his own reputation on the November 2011 report on intelligence claims of covert Iranian nuclear weapons research coming from Israel. Credit: International Students' Committee/cc by 3.0 The new Iran-IAEA agreement on the EBW issue raises the question of whether IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is now ready to reach a deal with Iran, despite having staked his own reputation on the November 2011 report on intelligence claims of covert Iranian nuclear weapons research coming from Israel. Credit: International Students' Committee/cc by 3.0
Secretary of State John Kerry declared in Tokyo Oct. 3 that Iran would "have to prove it's willing to come clean about the nuclear programme".
That same day, Ambassador James Jeffrey, a senior fellow at WINEP, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Iran "must come clean on its nuclear-related military research".
By the time the negotiations on the joint Plan of Action were completed in November, however, the State Department adopted language on the issue that harkened back to Kerry's testimony at his Senate confirmation hearings in January 2013.  Kerry had said then that "questions surrounding Iran's nuclear weapons programme" had to be "resolved".
It quickly became apparent that Israel had wanted the United States to demand not only a pro forma confession by Iran but the details of its alleged work on nuclear weapons.  On the very day the agreement was announced, however, Robert Satloff, the executive director of WINEP, expressed his unhappiness that the deal did not include "getting Iran to come clean on all its past clandestine programmes…."
Also on Nov. 24, Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which is well known for expressing Israeli policy on Iran, criticised the Joint Plan of Action in the Wall Street Journal for failing to "make clear reference to Iran revealing its past nuclear weapons research."
The following day WINEP managing director Michael Singhcomplained in the Wall Street Journal objected again to the same U.S. failure to demand all the details of Iranian work on nuclear weapons. "Without insight into the full extent of Iran's clandestine nuclear activities," Singh wrote, "no amount of monitoring and inspection can provide confidence that Iran lacks a parallel programme beyond the inspectors' view."
Along with Kerry's initial adoption of the "come clean" rhetoric, these sharp criticisms of the U.S. refusal to call explicitly for a confession indicate that the Obama administration had initially went along with Israel's  in calling for Iran to "come clean", but concluded that such a demand risked a premature breakdown in the talks.
Since the interim agreement, moreover, the State Department has avoided language that would commit it to requiring anything resembling an Iranian confession.  In Israel Feb. 22, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is the primary negotiator with Iran, said, "What we have said to Iran is that will have to be addressed in some way."
Sherman suggested for the first time the possibility of a less than complete and clear-cut outcome of the process. The IAEA was "very much focused on working through PMD with Iran," said Sherman. "And the more Iran can do with the IAEA, which is where this belongs, the more likely we will have successful comprehensive agreement."
A former U.S. official who had worked on Iran suggested in a recent off-the-record meeting that the "possible military dimensions" issue could not be resolved completely, but that one or more parts could be clarified satisfactorily.  The rest could be left for resolution by the IAEA after the comprehensive agreement is signed, the ex-official said.
That possibility arises because Iran and the IAEA agreed in February to work on the "Exploding Bridgewire" (EBW) issue – the claim published by the IAEA that Iran had carried out experiments on high explosives developed for the purpose of detonating a nuclear weapon.
That claim was based on a document that was part of the large collection originally said by anonymous intelligence sources to have come from the laptop computer of a participant in a purported Iranian nuclear weapons research project.
The documents were actually turned over to German intelligence by the Iranian terrorist organisation Mujahedin-E-Khalq, which had close links to Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad.
Iran provided the IAEA with an account of its actual EBW development programme in 2008. The Iranian account, cited by the agency in its May 2008 report, indicated the rate of explosions in its experiments, which was just one-eighth the rate mentioned by then IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen in a briefing for member states in 2008.
But instead of acknowledging that fact in its report, the IAEA suggested repeatedly that Iran had acknowledged carrying out the EBW experiments described in the purported document from the secret weapons programme while claiming it was for non-nuclear applications.
The new Iran-IAEA agreement on the EBW issue raises the question of whether IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is now ready to reach a deal with Iran, despite having staked his own reputation on the November 2011 report on intelligence claims of covert Iranian nuclear weapons research coming from Israel.
Such an agreement might be based on the IAEA's stating accurately the Iranian explanation for the EBW – and thus implicitly admitting that the agency had distorted the issue in the past. Other issues might be left to be resolved quietly after the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement are completed.