Tag Archives: Khamenei

ICYMI: #Iran leader Khamenei has cancer, with 2 years to live

2 Mar

While we are all focused on Netanyahu’s upcoming speech at the Congress, we seem to have missed another piece of important news: according to the French newspaper Le Ali_Khamenei_(cropped).jpegFigaro, Khamenei has stage four cancer.

Citing western intelligence sources, the newspaper says he has two more years to live.

Lets not forget that Khamenei was admitted to hospital last year (around September) for a prostate cancer surgery.

What impact will his death have on the question of his succession?

I address the this scenario in my piece for Al Jazeera America last year.

My takeaways from today’s INSS conference in Tel Aviv

29 Jan

Yuval Steinitz, Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs

Today I attended the second day of the INSS conference here in Tel Aviv.

I have to say that its probably one of the best conferences I have been to in Israel recently. We in Herzliya really have our work cut out for the upcoming Herzliya conference, which will be held between 8 – 11 of June this year.

Here are the points from the conference which I found interesting.

500 million Shekels

This is how much money was transferred to the settlements by Netanyahu and Lapid, according to the leader of the opposition Isaac Herzog.

The tipping point in the campaign for isolation of Israel

According to Israel’s finance minister Yair Lapid, if we don’t reach a deal with the Palestinians, we will reach a tipping point at which the scale will be tipped in favor of those who want to isolate Israel. The reason being that Israel will look like the party who is not interested in peace, therefore it will be easier to justify sanctions.

The words “Iran” and “opportunity” uttered in the same sentence by an Israeli military official

Yes you better believe it. The head of the Israeli military intelligence General Kochavi said that weakening of Iran, Hezbollah and Syria in the current Syrian conflict is an opportunity for Israel.

Iran’s military nuclear program continues

According to General Kochavi, Iran is still working on the military aspects of its nuclear program, but Ayatollah Khamenei has still not made a decision to assemble a nuclear weapon.

Rouhani’s charm attack represent the desires of the people of Iran

According to opposition leader Herzog, Rouhani is providing a nicer face of Iran because that what the people of Iran expect from him and it’s why they voted for him.

Forget it. Never

These are the words uttered by the former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher in Tehran to a group of Iranian students when they asked him when the West will give up its support for Israel

American withdrawal from Iraq lead to more instability

#Facepalm? Absolutely, especially when Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs says such a thing (pictured top right).


The equivalent of the European 30 Years War in the Middle East?

27 Jan

Writing in her recent Project Syndicate article Professor Anne Marie Slaughter states:

After all, if Geneva II fails, Geneva III will not be about Syria alone. It will be about how to end a war raging across the entire Middle East.

After writing her column, in an interview with Huffington Post in Davos, she explained what she means by war raving across the Middle East. Referring to the current war in Syria she says:

“I think if we can’t stop this now, we are looking at the equivalent of the European 30 years war in the Middle East”.

She then goes on to explain how the European 30 years war was about religion (Catholic vs Protestant) and about territorial revision with all the principalities wanting to redraw borders.

A painting from the 30 Years War.

So could the same happen in this region? Could we face a 30 years of full, blown out war between Shia and Sunni forces in this region?

First and foremost, lets hope she is wrong. Lets hope that the war in Syria ends soon. But hoping is not enough. Both sides seem adamant.

As difficult as predicting the future is in this region, if Professor Slaughter is right and she gets not just the nature but also the time line right, then that means we have another 20 years of fighting left. The reason being that the full Sunni vs Shia war already started in 2003 after the US invasion of Iraq and it continues to this day. So thats already 10 years. Meanwhile some of the extremist Sunni groups fighting in the Iraq war have now moved to Syria. There are also Shia forces being dispatched from Iraq to Syria with Iran’s help.

Both Iran and the Saudis seem adamant in wanting to see the overthrow of the other side’s rulers. Unfortunately they seem to believe that a full proxy war against their rival is the most convenient way to bring this about. The two sides have fought each other before in proxy wars, but this time its much more serious. Each side seems to believe that walking away from Syria is more damaging than staying. Time to hunker down for the long haul.

You can watch the rest of Professor Slaughter’s interview here:

Will Ahmadinejad skip his court date tomorrow, again?

5 Jan

Ahmadinejad has a date tomorrow, with a court in Tehran. 

The reason? To answer charges against him from his time as president.

He already skipped one court appearance in late November 2013. It remains to be seen whether he will turn up tomorrow.

The question is: will he be arrested if does not turn up again?

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei who is the prosecutor general of Iran stated that during the previous date set for his appearance, not only Ahmadinejad did not turn up, he also did not send his lawyer. Ejei went on to say that in cases where the accused does not turn up, the court in his absence could issue a decision.

Whether the court issues a decision against Ahmadinejad depends more on Iranian politics than on Iranian law. It’s up to the supreme leader to decide whether its worth the headache of sending Ahmadinejad to jail or to even find him guilty. In a perfect world, I don’t think he would want to do that, as Ahmadinejad during his first five years was almost like a son to Khamenei.

But after their public falling out in 2011, Ahmadinejad’s behavior made it increasingly difficult for the supreme leader to defend him.

For now, Ahmadinejad’s allies are increasingly being harassed by the regime’s legal system.  Lets see what happens tomorrow. There are many people in Iran, perhaps more than outside of Iran who would love to see Ahmadinejad put away.

On Iran, Israel’s military intelligence disagrees with Netanyahu

22 Nov

In a meeting with the foreign press, Israel’s Military Intelligence has decided to publicly support the current P5+1 negotiations with Iran, “even one that relaxes the Western sanctions on Iran.” This is in direct contrast to Prime Minister Netanyahu who does not want the sanctions lifted.

Israel’s Military Intelligence has also decided to come out against Prime Minister’s current strategy of “Zero enrichment” on Iranian soil.

According to Josh Mitnick who attended the meeting:

While Netanyahu has demanded that negotiators seek the full dismantling of Iran’s nuclear capability, the military official said the intelligence branch does not think this demand is realistic. The international community isn’t talking about “deleting” Iran’s nuclear program, he said.

Furthermore, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has called Rouhani “a wolf in Sheep’s clothing” the military intelligence official sees his election as a sign of change:

“The fact that economic numbers are not good and that there is some kind of noise among the public – at least about the economic situation – makes challenges for the regime. That’s probably why Rouhani was elected in such large numbers more than anything else.”

When asked if the officer sees signs of real change in Iran, he said that such a shift depends on the outcome of negotiations.

As Josh Mitnick points out in the rest pf his article, Israel’s Military Intelligence already came out on this against Netanyahu two months ago, by telling Haaretz that his election is a sign of “undergoing significant, strategic changes”.

My two cents: As I have mentioned in my previous posts, in Israel there are always several opinions regarding each policy. The fact that the Military Intelligence has come out to dispute some of Netanyahu’s notable Iran policies speaks volumes about the presence of lively, free and uninhibited debate in the state of Israel about Iran. It also shows that there are important people and groups who disagree with Netanyahu’s current Iran strategy. In Israel, no one wants to see a nuclear armed Iranian regime. There is a shared goal, but there are differences regarding the most suitable strategy to get there.

You can read the rest of Josh Mitnick’s article here

On Israel: Khamenei was misquoted

21 Nov

Yesterday, Iranian press as well Persian language press abroad reported that as part of his speech Khamenei had referred to Israel as “the filthy rabid dog of the region”.

It seems that they got this part of his speech wrong.

My colleague Arash Karami from Al Monitor’s Iran Pulse corrected this by pointing to the text and audio (minute 21) file of Khamenei’s speech. I checked them both.

 It turns out that in that part of his speech Khamenei was not referring to Israel but was lambasting the “rabid evil filthy dog of the region in the Zionist regime”. In other words he was attacking a person, in this case most probably Prime Minister Netanyahu.
كه گاهى شنيده ميشود دشمنان ملّت ايران، از جمله از دهان نحسِ نجسِ سگِ هار منطقه در رژيم صهيونيستى، چانه ميجنبانند كه ايران تهديد همه‌ى جهان است؛ نه، اين سخنِ دشمن و درست نقطه‌ى مقابل ممشاى اسلامى است
This was a terrible and insulting attack. What made it worst was the participants shouting “death to Israel” as soon as he said this.
Nevertheless, this is the accurate translation and the Iranian press got it wrong, again.
It must be noted that Khamenei’s official twitter account called Israel a rabid dog afterwards (see below).
Unsurprising behavior from Iran’s most senior holocaust denier who has declared publicly in the past that his regime is not just against the government, but also the people of Israel.

Nasrallah could be regretting his military support for Assad

19 Nov

If Assad goes, so does Nasrallah’s biggest weapon route from Iran, as well as a loyal ally. Therefore Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah does have some genuine geopolitical reasons for wanting Assad to stay.

But Nasrallah should have supported Assad with more discretion. When Assad is killing Sunni civilians en mass in Syria, sometimes even gassing them, Nasrallah standing politically by Assad’s side and declaring public support for him is only going to create more intense animosity towards Hezbollah in the Sunni world. And Al Qaeda and its Saudi sponsors are bound to take advantage from this opportunity for they have been waiting for many years to settle scores with Hezbollah. An example of this was witnessed today when Al Qaeda affiliated groups attacked Iran’s embassy which is situated in a Hezbollah stronghold.

If Nasrallah had no choice in the matter, which is also possible, then this only reinforces the belief that he is the Iranian regime’s puppet in Lebanon. Nasrallah should not have allowed Khamenei to have such a strong hold on him.

It would not be the first time Nasrallah has made a major mistake.

In 2006 he made the mistake of starting a war against Israel by crossing inside Israel’s border and killing two of its soldiers and then kidnapping their bodies. After the war, which cost Lebanon’s economy billions of dollars Nasrallah publicly regretted his decision.

Although not publicly, perhaps privately he is regretting Hezbollah’s support for Assad as well, or for having to listen to his Iranian commanders telling him to support Assad.