Yesterday I took part in a panel On Huffington Post TV, where alongside three other specialists we talked about whether there will be an agreement between Iran and the P5+1, which obstacles remain and what happens if there is no deal.
My co-panelists were:
- Joe Cirincione @Cirincione (Washington, DC) President of Ploughshares Fund
- Negar Mortazavi @NegarMortazavi (New York, NY) Freelance Journalist
- Reza Marashi @rezamarashi (Vienna, Austria) Research Director at National Iranian American Council
You can watch the panel discussion here
My latest article for the Jewish Chronicle discusses the massive social gaps in Iran illustrated by the Rich Kids of Tehran Instagram page, what it says about the 1979 revolution, its achievements and failures.
You can read the article here
It takes two sides to make peace. Both Israel and Palestinians have to sacrifice, have to compromise.
However there are some in Israel who are opposed to the creation of an independent state. I am not. I am for it, once negotiations have been completed by both sides. I think it would be good for Israelis too. I have explained the reasons why below.
- It will save Israel from the real possibility of becoming a binational apartheid state. This is because demographically speaking, if Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands in the next 20 years there will be more Palestinians than Israelis living under Israeli rule. Unless there is a state of Palestine, we either have to: – give the Palestinians living under our rule the vote = end of Israel as a Jewish state, or we deprive the majority Palestinians of the right to vote = making Israel an apartheid state.
- It will enable Israel to establish diplomatic relations with 57 Arab and Muslim countries, as per the Arab Peace Initiative (API).
- Peace with Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state will mean more trade with Arab countries = more jobs and revenue for the Israeli economy.
- A Palestinian state, with set borders will enable the economy of Palestine to grow. Less poverty and more jobs + an end to the occupation of their land = less reason for the people of Palestine to support Palestinian extremists who only want war against Israel.
- The end of occupation will mean more legitimacy for Israel to strike back at terrorists inside Palestinian territory, if they decide to launch attacks from internationally recognized Palestinian borders. The end of occupation of Lebanon in 2000 and return to Israel’s borders has made it infinitely more difficult for Hezbollah to justify new attacks against Israel and more justifiable for Israel to strike back when under attack. Just compare how many attacks there were by Hezbollah against Israeli army and civilian targets during the occupation of Lebanon and how many were after the end of occupation. The difference is not just big, its huge
- The occupation is corrupting Israeli society. Trauma of aggression taught to soldiers to use against Palestinians is brought home by soldiers and at times used against their own family / other members of society
- It would be a huge setback for those in the Iranian regime who abuse the Palestinian issue to divert attention from corruption and problems at home.
- A major setback for extremist groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS. Not to mention Hezbollah.
- The occupation is allowing extremists in the Israeli society to grow and prosper. Inside the West Bank, when a Palestinian commits a crime, any crime, he is arrested and investigated by the army and the SHABAK intelligence services. When an Israeli in the West Bank commits a crime, its the job of the poorer and the less organized police to investigate. This makes it much more difficult to arrest extremists in the West Bank. Case in point: look at how many attacks there have been by extremists against Mosques and Palestinians farmers and citizens in the West Bank.
- Many of the illegal settlements (according to Israeli law) are a major economic and military burden for Israel, while interrupting the lives of ordinary Palestinians.
Meet Ali Hussein Kadhim.
All the soldiers of his unit in the Iraqi army were bound and shot by ISIS soldiers.
Somehow he survived and escaped.
In the New York Times video report below, you will see how.
His survival is an amazing story, so is his escape back to his home in a Shiite area. He had to go through a Sunni area while ISIS forces were looking for him.
It reminded me of escape stories from Nazi soldiers during WWII.
Warning: the video contains disturbing images.
So there was a fire/explosion at the Parchin military site in Iran earlier this week. This is one of the conclusions from the recent report by the U.S based Institute for Science and
Photo of Parchin from 2012- source The Institute for Science and International Security
International Security. The report is based on purchased satellite pictures. Another report by the Israel Defense magazine also confirms this claim, based on pictures obtained from a French satellite. Meanwhile the Jane’s publication believes that it was an explosion which occurred at the site.
This puts to rest the question as to whether the reported explosion/fire was at the Parchin site itself. The reason being that none of the Iran based news organizations actually stated that the fire/explosion took place at the Parchin site. The only news source which stated this was Saham News, which belongs to the pro- Karrubi opposition.
Parchin is where Iran allegedly experimented with detonation and fuze systems required to build a bomb. The Iranian authorities have not allowed the IAEA inspectors to visit the site since November 2005.
So the next question is: did the fire/explosion take place at the section of Parchin where Iran allegedly undertook the experiments with the detonators?
The Israel Defense publication believes that the explosion took place “adjacent to another installation” where Iran is suspected to have worked on the nuclear detonation devices. It goes on to say that the area where the event took place “consists of a sizable testing center and what appears to be an area with bunker-shaped structures.” These were mostly or all destroyed.
The Institute for Science and International Security is not sure. First and foremost because for “unexplainable reasons” parts of the satellite pictures from the site which it purchased were not delivered. It is waiting for these photos to be delivered to it. Until then it can’t reach a conclusion regarding this matter (and rightly so). It also believes that the site where Iran undertook the detonation testing was at another part of Parchin.
So there is a dispute as to whether the recent fire/explosion took place near the area where Iran allegedly undertook detonator testing.
But, the question remains: why did the Iranian authorities go to extensive lengths to ensure that none of the reports published in Iran stated that the incident took place at Parchin itself? What did they have to hide?
Many Iraqi soldiers preffered to escape from ISIS, and in some cases for good reason.
I tried not to come up with such an extreme statement, but quite frankly after listening to the podcast below, I couldn’t put it any other way.
All hope is lost. The Iraqi army does not have a chance in hell of beating ISIS. At least not in the short-term.
The Financial Times Middle East and North Africa correspondent Borzou Daragahi filed this podcast from Iraq. In it, you hear the reason why I think this way.
You hear about Iraqi army commanders punishing their own under-equipped soldiers who were lucky enough to escape ISIS attacks. How instead of debriefing these soldiers and helping them, they literally spat on them. About how Iraqi commanders ignored pleas for air support from their units because they believed they were “exaggerating”. The podcast also talks about how sectarianism plays a role in the Iraqi army and the performance of the soldiers.
In my opinion, you can never win a fight as a national army, when many of your soldiers put their sectarian affiliation before their national identity. As a fighting force, ISIS does not have such a problem. Everyone is Sunni. But the Iraqi army does. And its a serious handicap.
Podcast: Under fire: the Iraqi army vs Isis