Iranian Ground Troops Are In Syria Fighting Rebels And ISIS

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters launched an offensive south of Aleppo province in Syria on Friday.  The groups expanded a counter-attack against rebels across western Syria with support from Russian air strikes.

This assault means the army is now pressing insurgents on several fronts near Syria’s main cities in the west, control of which would secure President Bashar Assad’s hold on power even if the east of the country is still held by Islamic State.

The city of Aleppo is only 30 miles from the Turkish border. Aleppo, a commercial and industrial hub near the border with Turkey, was Syria’s largest city before its four-year civil war, which grew out of protests against Assad’s rule.

Control of the city, still home to some two million people, is divided between the government and rebels.

“This is the promised battle,” a senior military source in Syria said of the offensive. The group is backed by “hundreds of Hezbollah and Iranian forces which he said had made some gains on the ground,” according to Haaretz.

Other sources such as Al-Arabia News state that “thousands” of Iranian troops are in the area.

This was the first time Iranian fighters had taken part on such a scale in the Syrian conflict, said the military source, according to Haaretz.

Hezbollah has supported Assad in several battles during the civil war, and said the army was carrying out a “broad military operation”, with support from Russian and Syrian jets, across a front at least 10 miles (15 km) wide from the southwest to southeast of Aleppo. It made no mention of Hezbollah fighters in its statement.

Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon, writes Wikipedia.

Two senior regional sources said this week that Iran sent thousands of troops to Syria to bolster an offensive already underway in Hama province and ahead of the Aleppo attack, according to Haaretz.

Iran says it has sent weapons and military advisers to support its ally Assad, but has denied providing troops.

In the last week Iranian media have reported the deaths in Syria of three senior officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Hossein Hamedani, a corps deputy commander, was killed near Aleppo and two other officers have also died fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, Iran’s Tasnim news agency said.

Two senior Hezbollah officers have also been killed in Syria in the last week, a Lebanese security source said.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there were heavy clashes near the Jebel Azzan region, about 12 km (8 miles) south of Aleppo city.

The area that the army and Russian jets were targeting was close to a main road heading south towards the capital Damascus, Abdulrahman said.

The army had recaptured the village of Abtin from rebel fighters, he said, as well as a tank battalion base close to Sabiqiya village. Both villages lie close to Jebel Azzan. Rebels had hit one army tank with a U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missile.

The U.S. is attempting to support “moderate” rebels.  Unfortunately, sources claim that many “moderate” rebels collaborate with ISIS and al Nusra and have exchanged weapons.

The military source said the rebel fighters were mainly from the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, the Nusra Front, as well as the Suqour al-Sham and Failaq al-Sham insurgent groups.

(Updated post)

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.680814

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/10/15/The-Iranians-are-on-Turkey-s-border.html

Glenn Beck Unaware That Shi’ite Iran Is Fighting Sunni ISIS


Secular Talk

Glenn Beck posted a message on Facebook about the Iran deal and warned of dire consequences, including “a Holocaust, perhaps bigger than the last.”  Beck is currently on medical paid medical leave from his radio show.

Beck wrote how people “mocked him” for warning about the “rise of the caliphate,” but now he’s more convinced that the U.S. has done a deal with a nation that believes in the “end times,” writes MediaITE.

Keep in mind that Sunni ISIS and Shia Muslim Iran are mortal enemies in the Middle East.  They are not on the same side of the war.  Beck:

“For years I have warned the world against turning a blind eye to those who run Iran. They are beyond radical Islamists. They, like ISIS are psychotic Islamists.

“When I predicted the rise of the caliphate, those who had not done their homework on what was really happening in the Middle East spent their time mocking me. Once again, I warn the American people and the people of the world again. This particular strain of Islamists, like ISIS, believe they can “hasten the return of the promised one”, and usher in the literal end times.

“No one in their right mind would sign treaties with a Christian country that believed these things. Remember, it does NOT require you to believe it, just that you fully understand that THEY believe it.

“What this president has done will be remembered as something far worse than Neville Chamberlain. It will only be a matter of time before millions cry out his name in despair and contempt. A Holocaust, perhaps bigger than the last, where millions of Christians and even Muslims who are not Muslim enough will die at the hands of the Islamic State.

“Anyone who believes ‪#‎lovewins‬ must let their voice be heard. This is a nation that denies homosexuality even exists in their country and they whip or kill any that they find. This is a country that is holding Americans in prison now for political or faith crimes. This is a nation that kills those who leave Islam and stone women.

“This is a sad day for the right of conscience and the freedom and safety of not only us but the entire world. It is a tragic day for our ally Israel.

“‪#‎neveragainisnow‬. It is time for good, decent and God fearing Americans stand and be counted. This deal yet again proves that our governments are not the solution to our problems. For me, my family and my team we will serve the truth and against injustice no matter the price. We will serve The Lord.

“This must not stand but you must.”

Associated Press: Turkey And Saudi Arabia Helping ISIS, Al Qaeda


Secular Talk

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have come up with an aggressive new strategy to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad: they are aiding extremist rebel groups.

Associated Press:

“The two countries — one a democracy, the other a conservative kingdom — have for years been at odds over how to deal with Assad, their common enemy. But mutual frustration with what they consider American indecision has brought the two together in a strategic alliance that is driving recent rebel gains in northern Syria, and has helped strengthen a new coalition of anti-Assad insurgents, Turkish officials say.

“That is provoking concern in the United States, which does not want rebel groups, including the al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, uniting to topple Assad. The Obama administration worries that the revived rebel alliance could potentially put a more dangerous radical Islamist regime in Assad’s place, just as the U.S. is focused on bringing down the Islamic State group. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues, said the administration is concerned that the new alliance is helping Nusra gain territory in Syria.”

Bashar al-Assad – the current leader of Syria – is an Alawite Muslim – related to Shia Muslims (also called Shi’ite Muslims).  He is aligned with Iran, a Shia-oriented nation.

Al-Assad, however, is considered a moderate. However some nations that are U.S. allies look at Assad as an enemy for political reasons.

So, is the situation in The Middle East becoming more of a train wreck?  Should the U.S. take a stand against its own allies?

Bill Would Apply Congressional Oversight To Nuclear Deal With Iran

Secular Talk

According to The Huffington Post, there is a new bill in Congress (sponsored by Senator Bob Corker) that will enhance Congressional oversight of the nuclear deal with Iran.  The bill is a headache and seems confusing and unnecessary.

Will the bill just get in the way of the peace deal?

Below are some aspects of the bill, according to The Huffington Post:

1.  The bill would require the president to submit the final agreement to Congress.

2.  Congress will have up to 52 days to review the final agreement. During that time, the president is prohibited from waiving the congressional sanctions during the review period.

3.  The 52-day review period is broken down as follows: There is an initial review period of 30 days to review and vote on sanctions relief. An additional 12 days are automatically added if Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president, and an additional 10 days on top of that if the president vetoes the legislation.

4.  If the final deal is submitted late, after July 9, the review period reverts to 60 days.

5.  The president is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the terms of the final agreement.

6.  It also requires the president to make a series of detailed reports to Congress on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missiles work, and its support for terrorism globally, particularly against Americans and our allies. With this information, Congress will be able to determine the appropriate response in the event of Iran sponsoring an act of terrorism against Americans, state The Huffington Post.

Secular talk discusses it.

Is Congress Injecting Itself Into The Iran Deal?


TYT Network

Cenk Uygur, host of TYT Network, discusses a deal being moved through the U.S. Senate that might allow Congress to vote to approve or disapprove of the Iran Nuclear Deal that the Obama Administration plans to sign at the end of June, 2015.

The U.S. has already attempted to sabotage the nuclear deal between the U.S. and five other countries on one side, and Iran on the other. Those attempts include inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold a “State of the Union address” about the deal, a letter by 47 Senators to the leadership of Iran, and a trip by Speaker of the House John Boehner to Benjamin Netanyahu on the day the framework of the deal was to be approved (March 31st).

Is this latest bill, designed to inject the Congress into the Iran deal, another attempt at sabotaging it?

(Updated article)

Is There a Confusing, Opaque Deal In Congress Aimed At Sabotaging The Iran Nuclear Deal?

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

OK, Fine will make a series of posts trying to get to the bottom of the “deal” in Congress regarding the nuclear treaty with Iran.

There is a bill currently in the U.S. Senate meant to “inject” the House of Congress into the treaty with Iran.

The controversial bill to increase Congress’ involvement in the Iran nuclear negotiations passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday on a unanimous vote of 19-0, states The Huffington Post.

The bill was hammered out by the Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and the committee’s new ranking member, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), on Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The negotiations are between Iran on the one side, and the U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany (P5+1) on the other side.

According to Sen. Corker, the revised text was posted just minutes before the committee “markup.”  www.senate.gove states that “markup” is yet another process by which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation.

Only hours before the vote, the White House indicated that the president would not veto the legislation.

These new efforts may have rescued the bill, which previously faced a veto threat from President Obama and looked to be several votes short of the 67 needed from the full Senate to override a veto, according to The Huffington Post.  Previously, Bob Corker had stated he believed the legislation had enough votes to override a veto, but that seems not to be the case.

What would the legislation do?

The legislation requires the president to submit the final nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the U.S. and its negotiating partners for congressional review.

The bill also maintains the prohibition on the president’s waiving congressionally-enacted sanctions against Iran during the “review period.”

The review period in the measure has been shortened from 60 days to an initial 30 days.

If, at the end of the 30 days, Congress were to pass a bill on “sanctions relief” and send it to the president, an additional 12 days would be automatically added to the review period. This could be another 10 days of review if the president vetoed the resulting sanctions bill.

“Under the new bill, the congressional review period would automatically return to 60 days if the negotiators ran late and concluded an agreement after June 9,” states the Huffington Post.

One of the key results of Corker and Cardin’s bill was the abandonment of a clause that would have required the White House to certify to Congress that Iran was not supporting terror in order to provide sanctions relief, states The Huffington Post.  While the president must still provide a series of reports to Congress detailing Iran’s support for terror globally, that would no longer be tied to implementation of aspects of the nuclear agreement.

Removal of the certification clause was a major requirement for Democrats, although Republicans accepted it grudgingly.

During the committee markup, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) reintroduced the terrorism certification language as his own amendment to the modified bill, which was not supported by Sen. Corker.

Corker did, however, convince other members of his party to hold off on presenting amendments that would have almost certainly removed Democratic support for the bill.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) agreed to hold off on his proposed amendment to treat any nuclear agreement with Iran as a “treaty,” which would require a two-thirds vote of approval from the Senate before it could be implemented.

Wikipedia states there are three kinds of treaties recognized by international law:

“In the United States, the term ‘treaty’ is used in a more restricted legal sense than in international law. U.S. law distinguishes what it calls treaties from congressional-executive agreements and sole-executive agreements.  All three classes are considered treaties under international law; they are distinct only from the perspective of internal United States law. Distinctions among the three concern their method of ratification: by two-thirds of the Senate, by normal legislative process, or by the President alone, respectively.”

Johnson made his disappointment with his party’s concessions clear. “It is a very limited role, it is a role with very little teeth,” he said of the modified oversight bill. “It is a far cry from advice and consent.”

While some Republicans were disappointed with the watered-down bill, Democrats on the committee were resoundingly impressed with the outcome of Tuesday’s markup.

“I believe this bill has been changed from a point in which I do not support it to a point in which I can,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who was one of the most steadfast opponents to the original bill.

“I believe the former bill would have disrupted and upended the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. I believe that this bill will not do this,” Boxer said, voicing her support for the new text.

The unanimous bipartisan support for the legislation in the Committee came as a surprise even to Ranking Committee Democrat Cardin, who was constantly in touch with other committee Democrats in the days leading up to the vote, states the Huffington Post.  “No, I did not expect a 19-0 vote. I feel thrilled by that,” he told reporters.

According to Corker, Secretary of State John Kerry had pushed back against the legislation as late as 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, when he presented a classified briefing on the Iran nuclear talks to members of the Senate.

With Obama evidently easing his opposition, Corker’s bill is almost certain to become law.

Several Republicans took the White House’s reversal as recognition of the weakness of its stance, as opposed to open-mindedness and a spirit of compromise.

“The White House came to the deal when they saw the numbers of people, the growing support that was here,” Corker said.

Senator Ben Cardin, who has been in close contact with the White House over the past 10 days, declined to comment on Corker’s assertion. “I was always trying to get them to the position where they would feel comfortable and allow this bill to go forward. That was my goal from day one,” he said.

To House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it was the Senate Republicans, not the White House, who capitulated under pressure. “We told the Senate this is going nowhere, that we are going to sustain the president’s veto,” she said on Tuesday. “I don’t know if that had an impact on what the Senate had to do. But they certainly produced a bill that would be more palatable to our members.”

After it is approved in the Senate the bill will be sent to the House of Representatives.

Sam Stein and Laura Barron-Lopez contributed this Huffington Post report. (Updated report)

Does Freshman Senator Tom Cotton Want A War With Iran?

Ring of Fire Radio

Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran last month wasn’t just his attempt to undermine President Obama – it was the order that was given to him by his funders in the defense industry, states Ring of Fire Radio.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), an opponent of President Obama’s diplomatic efforts to strike an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, suggested on Tuesday that armed conflict with Tehran could be easily contained to “several days of air and naval bombing” and would not require the deployment of American ground troops. The comments echoed the false predictions of Bush administration officials on the eve of the Iraq invasion, according to ThinkProgress.

Mike Papantonio and Abby Martin discuss this story.

Do Some People Want A War With Iran?

Sam Seder

Majority Report contributor Michael Brooks looks at the people who are criticizing the nuclear arms deal / peace treaty with Iran.

He discusses Speaker of the House John Boehner, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, and former CIA director Michael Hayden.

According to Wikipedia, Michael Hayden (born March 17, 1945) is a retired United States Air Force four-star general and former Director of the National Security Agency, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

“He was Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999 to 2005. During his tenure as director, he oversaw the controversial NSA surveillance of technological communications between persons in the United States and alleged foreign terrorist groups, which resulted in the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.”

(Updated article)

Senator Tom Cotton Predicts A 4-Day War With Iran

TYT Network

Tom Cotton is the junior U.S. Senator from the state of Arkansas.  He is a member of the Republican Part and he is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a lawyer.  Cotton is now known for writing a letter signed by 47 Senators to the leadership of Iran, apparently in an effort to undermine the peace treaty being negotiated with the U.S. and five other nations.

Wikipedia:

“On or about March 9, 2015, Senator Cotton wrote and sent a letter to the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, signed by 47 of the Senate’s 54 Republicans, attempting to cast doubt on the Obama administration’s authority to engage in nuclear-proliferation negotiations with Iran.  The open letter was released in English as well as a poorly-translated Persian version (which “read like a middle schooler wrote it” according to Foreign Policy).  Within hours, commentators suggested that the letter prepared by Cotton constituted a violation of the Logan Act.  Questions also were raised as to whether it reflected a flawed interpretation of the Treaty Clause of the United States Constitution.

“President Barack Obama mocked the letter, referring to it as an ‘unusual coalition’ with Iran’s hard-liners as well as an interference with the then-ongoing negotiations of a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. 

“In addition, during a Vice News Interview, President Barack Obama said ‘I’m embarrassed for them, for them to address a letter to the Ayatollah the Supreme Leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy and their basic argument to them is: don’t deal with our president, because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement… That’s close to unprecedented.'”

Cotton predicted Thursday that U.S. military strikes on Iran could damage its nuclear capabilities without leading to a full-scale war, states USA Today.

He said past Israeli air force attacks on nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria and President Obama’s own statements about a “military option” indicate that “air and naval bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities would in fact work,” states USA Today.

He likened the option to Operation Desert Fox, the four-day bombing campaign President Clinton ordered in 1998 for Iraq’s refusal to cooperate with international weapons inspectors. “That’s what military action would look like if we had to take military action against Iran,” Cotton said, according to USA Today.

Cotton, himself a veteran of the Iraq War, dismissed any comparisons to the predictions of a short conflict by then-President Bush and then-Vice President Dick Cheney and others before the invasion of Iraq.

(Updated report)

Saudi Arabia Has Beheaded 57 People This Year Alone


Secular Talk

While we focus on the beheadings in the fight with ISIS in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has beheaded 57 criminals this year, according to Agence France-Presse.  The most recent beheading was for the crime of drug smuggling.

Is there a double-standard in our dealings with the different countries of the Middle East?  Does it have a relationship to oil and economics?

More:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/320976#.VSQIEfnF9AQ