Friday, March 25, 2011

Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent HTTPS certificates: How close to a Web security meltdown did we get?

MARCH 23RD, 2011
Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent HTTPS certificates: How close to a Web security meltdown did we get?
Technical Analysis by Peter Eckersley
On March 15th, an HTTPS/TLS Certificate Authority (CA) was tricked into issuing fraudulent certificates that posed a dire risk to Internet security. Based on currently available information, the incident got close to — but was not quite — an Internet-wide security meltdown. As this post will explain, these events show why we urgently need to start reinforcing the system that is currently used to authenticate and identify secure websites and email systems.
Read full article at:

Hat tip: EthanZ
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Further Reading

Sudan to unleash cyber jihadists
From: - 23 March 2011 Last updated at 15:31
Sudan's ruling National Congress Party has warned that its "cyber jihadists" will "crush" internet-based dissent.

Panel discussion on internet and social change worldwide
From: Twitter / EthanZ - 23/03/2011 01:57
EthanZ: Hacking Our Way Back to Democracy: panel discussion on internet and social change worldwide at Ford's Wired for Change:

"In Soviet Russia, Google Researches You"
From: Twitter / EthanZ - 24/03/2011 22:24
EthanZ: Blog post: "In Soviet Russia, Google Researches You" - reflections on a smart FM paper on Google personalization:
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Iran and Syria express support for Sudan's unity and integrity

Iran and Syria express support for Sudan's unity and integrity
Source: Arab Monitor -
Date: Thursday, 02 December 2010
(Kuwait City, 2 December) - In a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Syrian counterpart's deputy, Faisal al-Miqdad, on the sidelines of the International Donors and Investors Conference on Eastern Sudan, both officials expressed their countries' commitment to the unity and integrity of Sudan and their opposition to ongoing efforts to cut the African country into two parts. Mottaki and al-Miqdad pointed out to the significance and importance of the huge north eastern African country in and for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Non-Alligned Movement, the Arab League as well as the African Union.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sudan's North Darfur wali meets Iranian delegation currently visiting Alfashir

North Darfur wali meets Iranian delegation currently visitng Alfashir
Source: SUNA -
Date: Sunday, 31 October 2010:
(Alfashir, western Sudan) - Wali of North Darfur state Osman Mohamed Yousif Kibir met this morning at the visitors palace in Alfashir the Iranian government delegation currently visiting the country, headed by Ali Miami the minister of energy and water resources and the Iranian Ambassador to Sudan Gwad Tirka Badi, accompanied by eng. Abul Gasim Ahmed president of the compensation commission in the interim executive regional authority of Darfur and a number of the interim authority officials,representatives of the federal ministry of international cooperation, a number of the states governmet members and the security committee

The wali welcomes the Iranian delegation pointing that this visit is consiered a good opportunity for the delegation to get acquainted to the real situation in Darfur , affirming the significance of the role the Iranian could play in Sudan specially in Darfur, pointing to the historical relations between the two nations

On his side the Iranian Ambassador at Sudan expressed his hapiness by Alfashir visit, saying that its an opportunity for reviewing with the state's government the joint future interests between the two countries in the spheres of development and rehabilitation

Meanwhile president of the compensation commission in the intirim authority in Darfur said the visit of the Iranian delegation comes within the context of reviewing means of solving Darfur issue in the development and services spheres, affirming that the coming period will witness more cooperation and coordination specially in the field of the Iranian efforts to support Sudan and Darfur through the Solar Energy projects to be implemented for rehabilitation of the arable lands.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

IAEA visits Khartoum - Egypt and Sudan move forward on "peaceful" nuclear plans

Technicians load the Bushehr nuclear plant this week in Iran. (ISNA)
Hat tip: - Sunday, August 22, 2010. Check out comments.

Sudan plans nuclear program
Report by JPOST.COM STAFF (via Jerusalem Post)
Sunday, 22 August 2010 - excerpt:
Sudan plans to build a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes by 2020, the SUNA state news agency reported Sunday.

Sudan has noted economic and political ties with Iran, which has been facing increasing sanctions and international pressure over its nuclear program.

Like Iran, Sudan is under US sanctions, and has been since 1997.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is planning to travel to Sudan on August 23 to discuss importing a nuclear reactor for “research purposes.”

SUNA said Sudan began plans to develop a nuclear program early this year.

Although Sudan has built dams along the Blue and White Nile Rivers, large parts of the country do not have regular electricity, Reuters reported.

Muhammad Ahmed Hassan el-Tayeb, director-general of the Sudanese Atomic Energy Agency, was quoted as saying “The Ministry of Electricity and Dams has already started preparing for the project to produce power from nuclear energy in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and is expected to build the first nuclear power plant in the year 2020.”
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News from The New York Times -

Headlines Around the Web

What's This?

AUGUST 22, 2010

It's On… Egypt and Sudan Move Forward

on "Peaceful" Nuclear Plans


AUGUST 22, 2010

Another New Update on RSS Feeds--Plus

Additional Odds 'n' Ends


AUGUST 22, 2010

S. Sudan Rhino City photo - Bileel area and

southern areas of Nyala selected to be the

alternative IDP camps instead of Kalma

camp, S. Darfur


AUGUST 22, 2010

LRA spreading reign of terror in south



AUGUST 20, 2010

Southern Sudan unveils plans to build


More at Blogrunner »

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News from Google's Sudan newsreel
Monday, 23 August 2010 at 09.40 AM GMT UK

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Iran, Sudan stress expansion of mutual co-operation

Iran, Sudan Stress Expansion of Mutual Cooperation

Copy of a report from Fars News Agency - Tuesday, 03 August 2010:
Iran, Sudan Stress Expansion of Mutual Cooperation
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's envoy to Khartoum and Sudan's Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid in a meeting in the Sudanese capital explored ways to bolster mutual cooperation.

During the meeting held at the Sudanese Ministry of Interior on Monday, Iran's Ambassador to Sudan Javad Turkabadi stressed the need for the two countries' police forces to boost and expand mutual cooperation in drug campaign and counter-terrorism measures.

"The two countries should adopt the necessary measures to expand and develop this cooperation through drawing precise plans," the Iranian diplomat noted.

Turkabadi also extended an invitation to the Sudanese minister to pay a visit to Tehran in the near future.

Mahmoud Hamid, for his part, said that he would plan a visit to Tehran as soon as possible.

He pointed to Iran's "useful" experience in anti-drug measures, counter-terrorism and social order, and called for continued cooperation between the two states.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration has striven hard to maximize relations with the African continent.

Tehran has prioritized promotion of its economic and political ties with the African states and the country is now considered as one of the African Union's strategic partners.

Tehran's efforts to boost ties and cooperation with Africa have led to its acceptance as an observing member of the African Union (AU), where it has shown an active presence in the AU summit meetings.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

UN votes for new sanctions on Iran over nuclear issue

The UN Security Council imposes fresh sanctions on Iran in a bid to pressure the country to stop its controversial enrichment of uranium.

The UN Security Council votes in favour of a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Full story: BBC News - Wednesday, 09 June 2010
UN votes for new sanctions on Iran over nuclear issue

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ahmadinejad felicitates re-election of Umar al-Bashir

Ahmadinejad Felicitates Reelection of Umar al-Bashir
From Fars News Agency, Wednesday, 28 April 2010:
TEHRAN (FNA) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday felicitated his Sudanese counterpart Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for his victory in the general elections in the African state.

According to a statement issued by the presidential media office, President Ahmadinejad sent a message of congratulation to Bashir and felicitated the government and the people of Sudan on his reelection.

In his message, the Iranian president expressed the hope that joint efforts by Iran and Sudan's officials would open a new chapter in the expansion of mutual and international cooperation in line with the common interests of the two countries and materialization of peace and justice in the world.

Results of the five-day Sudanese general elections, ended on April 15, showed that incumbent President Umar al-Bashir was reelected as the African country's president with nearly 68% of the votes cast.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Shadow of Iran hangs over Iraqi elections

Iraq's days as a battlezone may be over, but as election day arrives, the country's powerful neighbours are still meddling in its affairs, reports Richard Spencer in Baghdad.

Shadow of Iran hangs over Iraqi elections
By Richard Spencer in Sadr City
Published: 7:00AM GMT 07 Mar 2010
HIS hopes of being elected may or may not come true on Sunday, but life has already improved remarkably for Hakim al-Zamili.

Two years ago, he was on trial in a Baghdad court, charged with using his post as Iraq's deputy health minister as cover for running Shia death squads. He was accused of financing killing sprees against Sunnis, and even using ambulances as hearses to ferry murder victims to secret graves.

Now, after a trial that collapsed amid widespread claims of witness intimidation, Mr Zamili is busy presenting himself not as a warlord, but a democrat. Sitting under a portrait of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iran-backed Shia cleric whose militia waged war against both British and US troops and fellow Iraqis, he talks earnestly of the need for "technocratic government" and the fight against corruption.

"I want to serve my people," said Mr Zamili, who claims the charges against him were the result of a smear campaign. "I want to remove the obstacles from their path."

Like Mr Zamili himself, there is much else about Sunday's polls that begs the benefit of the doubt. On the surface, a vibrant campaign has been fought, defeating the best efforts of al Qaeda suicide bombers to derail it, and engaging both Sunnis and Shia Muslims with equal vigour. It is likely that Nuri al-Maliki, the uncharismatic but astute prime minister, will be returned to office - the first time in Iraq's history that its people will have stuck with a leader voluntarily. But as the country's 19 million war-weary voters visit the ballot boxes today, they will do so under the shadow of Iran, their powerful neighbour to the east.

Nowhere are those shadows more strongly felt than in Sadr City, the vast, two million-strong Shia slum to the east of Baghdad that is Mr Zamili's power base.

Named after Moqtada al-Sadr's late father, a leading Shia ayatollah, it has long been a strong hold of militants with close ties to the Shia mullahs who control Iran. It was here, somewhere in its crumbling, litter-strewn public housing blocks, that the British hostage Peter Moore is believed to have been held hostage for a time, and it was here, between 2004 and 2008, that US forces fought running battles with Shia gunmen trained by the al-Quds Brigade, the elite guerrilla warfare unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Today, the roadside bombs and kidnap gangs that once made it perilous for Western troops and reporters alike are gone, and a two-mile-long concrete blast wall erected by the Americans to restrict the movements of militiamen is smothered in election posters. Yet nobody around here really believes that Tehran's influence has waned. While Mr Zamili denies US claims - backed by evidence from weapons cache seizures - that the Iranians provided guns for Shia militants, he does not deny the continued presence of al-Quds operatives on his patch. "Because of the occupation Iraq became wide-open for all the movements, all the groups," he said. "Al-Qaeda, al-Quds - Iraq became an open playing field."

It was the al-Quds Brigade that was accused of planning and overseeing the kidnapping of Mr Moore, the British IT expert who was seized along with his four bodyguards from the Baghdad finance ministry building in 2007. He alone was freed just before New Year, in what was widely regarded as an exchange for the release from American custody of Qais al-Khazali, the leader of another Iranian proxy militia.

Yet while that was widely viewed a triumph for the politics of the gun, Iran's strategic goals in Iraq are also well served by allowing electoral democracy to take its course. For one thing, many senior players in Iraq's current Shia-dominated government spent time in exile in Iran during their years of opposition to Saddam's Sunni rule, the mullahs having welcomed in the enemies of the man who invaded Iran in the 1980s. And for another, with roughly 60 per cent of Iraqis being Shias, majority rule tends naturally to produce a government that will be friendly to Iran. For all the efforts of Iraq's fledgling secular parties to appeal across the Sunni-Shia divide, many of today's votes will still be cast on unquestioningly sectarian lines.
Asked why he would be supporting the Iraqi National Alliance, the Shia coalition of which the Sadrists are part, Usam Abdullah, a young and fashionably dressed shop-keeper in Sadr City, replies simply. "They are my sect".

As such, the perception of many parties is that the Iranians are free to their own loyalists - including men like Mr Zamili - into key positions in government. "We have to face the facts," said Raad Mukhlus Mawloud, a Sunni candidate. "Everyone knows the depth of Iranian influence."

Such talk is dismissed as "paranioa" by some Western diplomats in Baghdad. But it refuses to go away, not least because of a recent Iraqi government decision to ban 145 election candidates on the grounds of past links to the Ba'ath Party of Saddam Hussein - widely seen as a thinly-veiled attack on the community that harbours deepest distrust of Iran.

The chairman of the election commission responsible for the ban was none other than Ahmed Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile and former Washington ally whose faulty intelligence on weapons of mass destruction spurred the 2003 US invasion in the first place.

Once the darling of the US, he is now stands accused by the Pentagon of being an Iranian agent, and is likewise a prominent candidate on the Sadrist electoral coalition. Leaks of US intelligence reports have also recently claimed that Iran is funding the Sadrists to the tune of $8 million a month, and that Mr Chalabi had discussed with an al Quds commander tactics for ensuring a clean sweep to victory in the elections.

"They've had several meetings in Iran," said General Ray Odierno, the US forces commander, who openly accused Mr Chalabi and another commission official, Ali al-Lami, of being directly controlled by Tehran. "And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election."

The anti-Ba'athist election ban, which led to threats of a boycott of the polls by some Sunni parties and fears of a re-kindled civil war, has since been partly lifted following strong US pressure, but many feel the damage has already been done. "This has polarised the election atmosphere," said one diplomat. "It means that nearly everybody will vote on sectarian lines." And either way, Tehran stands to profit from the outcome of today's polls. A heavy defeat for Sunni candidates would trigger renewed violence by Sunni militants, many with links to al-Qaeda, dragging Iran's other enemy, America, back into the quagmire.

True, few people at the moment expect Iraq to become another theocracy like Iran. Tehran's mullahs have enough of their own problems at the moment from their home-grown pro-democracy movement to export their Islamic revolution abroad at present. And besides, many Iraqis are so weary of violence that they now reject all foreign interference, be it American or Iranian. Even Mr Zamili maintains a distance from Tehran, in public at least. "If the Iranians come, be sure that we will fight them as we fought the Americans," he said.

But by asserting itself as leader of a wider Shia world, Iran has the potential to cause trouble across Iraq to the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia, whose substantial Shia minority occupies the country's richest oil fields. That "trouble" could be activated were Iran to come under military attack from Israel or America over its alleged nuclear bomb program.

As such, it will most likely continue to court the likes of Mr Zamili, who is clearly at home with either the bullet or the ballot: for all that he relishes his new role as a political campaigner, he continues to defend the Mahdi army's resort to force.

And should his party be elected to power, its leader, the firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr, will be better placed than any Iraqi politician to be receptive to Iran's concerns. Having officially declared a truce agains the US and British armies that he fought so hard against, he is now enrolled in a theology course - in the Iranian city of Qom.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

U.S. denies killing Iran scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi

The US has dismissed allegations by Iran that American and Israeli agents were responsible for the killing of a physics professor in Tehran.

The US State Department described the accusation as "absurd".

Physicist Massoud Ali Mohammadi died in a bomb blast on Tuesday, Iranian media reported, describing him as a nuclear scientist and a government supporter.

But later reports suggested he was not involved in Iran's nuclear programme and had signed an opposition petition.

Mr Ali Mohammadi, 50, was killed by a remote-controlled bomb near his home.

Full story by BBC News at 22:15 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010:
US denies killing Iran scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Iraq asks Iran to withdraw troops from oil field

Report from BBC News online at 00:19 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009:
Iraq asks Iran to withdraw troops from oil field
Iraq has demanded the immediate withdrawal of Iranian troops who it says have crossed into Iraqi territory and taken control of an oil well.

An Iraqi government spokesman condemned the alleged incursion but said Baghdad was committed to resolving the issue by diplomatic means.

The Iraqis say 11 Iranian soldiers were involved and that they had raised the Iranian flag over the Fakkah oil field.

The National Iranian Oil Company denied that there had been an incursion.

But Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister, Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji, said the Iranians were in control of the well.

"[At 1530] 11 Iranian soldiers infiltrated the Iran-Iraq border and took control of the oil well," he told Reuters news agency.

"They raised the Iranian flag and they are still there until this moment."

He said there had been no military response from Iraqi forces.

"We are awaiting orders from our leader," he added.

Similar incidents have happened before along the border, which has never been properly defined since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s - although relations between the two neighbours are now cordial.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Iran's nuclear deceptions (The Times)

From The Times' Oliver Kamm
December 13, 2009
Iran's nuclear deceptions:

Let me direct you to an alarming story that's appearing on the wires as I write. The Times has acquired documents directly from Iran's nuclear programme. This is how our leading article describes their implications:

'Winston Churchill described the actions of Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The nuclear diplomacy of Iran is constructed more simply: it is one lie after another. Western diplomacy has proved susceptible to the tactic. A US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in December 2007 concluded that Iran was “less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005”. Documents obtained by The Times reveal that this assessment was worthless.

'The information comes from Iran’s most sensitive nuclear project. It concerns a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator. This is the component of a nuclear weapon that triggers the explosion. The plan was initiated in the very year that the NIE delivered its reassuring message.... In the view of experts contacted by The Times, Iran’s work in this field has no possible civilian application. It makes sense only for a programme to develop a nuclear weapon.'

Our correspondents set out what's in the documents, along with the view from Tehran and from Israel.

UPDATE: Our main story, now online, contains this sobering judgement:

'Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: “The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution.”'

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Note:  casus belli = 
an event used to justify starting a war
An act or event that provokes or is used to justify war. ...

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Iran atom site sparks mistrust: ElBaradei

Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:10pm EST
New Iran atom site sparks mistrust: ElBaradei
VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. inspectors have no proof of more covert nuclear sites in Iran but a newly revealed plant makes no sense for civilian or military ends by itself and mistrust has arisen, the U.N. atomic watchdog chief said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Mohamed ElBaradei also said Iran's insistence on a key change to a nuclear fuel deal could not be accepted by Western powers because it would not reduce its enriched uranium stockpile seen as an atomic bomb risk.

(Reporting by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Charles Dick)

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Turkey to host Sudan, Iran leaders at OIC meeting in Istanbul next week

* Bashir, Ahmadinejad to attend OIC meeting

* ICC arrest warrant, nuclear row could overshadow gathering

* Host Turkey's foreign policy fuels Western worries

From Reuters Friday 6 November 2009:
PREVIEW-Turkey to host Sudan, Iran leaders at summit
By Thomas Grove
(ISTANBUL) - A summit of Islamic countries in Istanbul next week will boost Turkey's quest to deepen ties with the Muslim world, but some of its new friends are not to the taste of its traditional ally, Washington.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has an international arrest warrant against him for war crimes, and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, engaged in a standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear programme, are among leaders who will attend an Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting.

The one-day summit on Monday will add to growing concerns in some Western circles that Turkey, an OIC member which is seeking European Union membership, is shifting away from its pro-Western foreign policy and embracing countries such as Iran and Syria, while distancing itself from regional friend Israel.

"I think this summit will put Turkey again on the frontline, both in regards with Iran and Bashir," said Hugh Pope, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"Engagement and cooperation can be a way to bring autocratic states into the international system, but the challenge for Turkey is that it needs to show results and that the behaviour of these states is changing," Pope said.

Although the 57-nation body's meeting has been billed as an economic summit to discuss trade and anti-poverty measures among members, the presence of Bashir and Ahmadinejad will likely overshadow its economic goals.

Western powers are seeking to exert pressure on Tehran for concessions on its nuclear programme, and Ahmadinejad could use the summit to undermine efforts to isolate the Islamic republic and to give one of his trademark anti-Western speeches.

The West fears Tehran's nuclear programme is a covert plan to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran has denied this and says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

The visit by Sudan's Bashir, who has travelled to African countries since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the arrest warrant against him in March for war crimes in Darfur, puts NATO member Turkey in an awkward position, but a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said there were no plans to arrest him.

"We have invited Bashir as one of the heads of state to the meeting and he will be treated as one," the official said.

Turkey, which has deepened commercial ties with Sudan, has not ratified the 2002 Rome Statute that established the ICC, but is under pressure to do so to meet European Union standards.


The attendance of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad might also add weight to the summit of the OIC, which has little political power.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday he did not wish to run for re-election in January, voicing disappointment at Washington's "favouring" of Israel in arguments over re-launching peace talks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in what would be his first trip abroad since his re-election was announced this week following a fraud-marred ballot, is also expected to attend.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Istanbul will follow a state visit last month by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to Tehran, in which the two countries signed trade and energy deals.

Ankara's growing attachment to Iran has fuelled worries that Turkey, a moderate Muslim democracy and a U.S. ally, is turning its back on Washington and the EU, something it denies.

"Policymakers in the West are getting worried that Turkey's growing ties with Iran -- by lessening that country's sense of isolation -- may frustrate diplomatic efforts to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb," Katinka Barysch, of the Centre for European Reform thinktank, wrote this week.

Erdogan's AK Party government, which has roots in political Islam, has sought to expand Turkey's influence in the Middle East -- a process analysts say has run in parallel with Ankara's frustration at perceived EU misgivings over its membership bid.

During his warmly received trip to Tehran, Erdogan blasted Western powers for treating Iran "unfairly" and said the Islamic republic's nuclear programme was for humanitarian purposes.

Ian Lesser, from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said that by inviting Ahmadinejad and Bashir, Turkey might deepen perceptions its foreign policy is ambiguous.

"It is an example of the risks that Turkey is running by trying to be too many things in too many places at the same time and without too much discrimination," Lesser said.

(Additional reporting by Zerin Elci and Ibon Villelabeitia in Ankara, Opheera McDoom in Khartoum and Peter Graff in Kabul) (Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
Cross-posted to Sudan Watch and Syria Watch

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

It is not just democracy that is illegal in Iran (Cherie Blair)

We must not allow our focus on the current protests to blind us to the state persecution of Iran’s religious minorities

It is not just democracy that is illegal in Iran
By Cherie Blair, Saturday, 11 July 2009
There have been many heroes and heroines in Iran in recent weeks. We have seen thousands take to the streets, risking arrest or even worse, in support of democracy.

Women have been in the forefront of these peaceful protests, which have, shamefully, been met with violence. It is their rights and hopes that are most under threat.

It is a fight for freedom and justice that Shirin Ebadi, the remarkable Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate, has been leading for decades. Dr Ebadi, a heroine of mine and thousands more around the world, has been tireless in her efforts to represent those facing persecution.

It was typical of her bravery, and her belief in the importance of justice, that she announced she would defend the leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community who were arrested last year before the latest protests. The reaction of the authorities was also typical. Her offices were raided and shut down, angry mobs appeared outside her home and she, and her family, received renewed and serious threats to their safety.

This will have come as little surprise to Dr Ebadi. Not only is she regarded as a thorn in the side of the Iranian authorities, but the Baha’i community, the country’s largest religious minority, has also been the target for severe persecution for much of its history.

For more than 100 years, the followers of the Baha’i faith, a world religion that has its roots in Iran, have faced discrimination and persecution for having progressive ideals that place great emphasis on the unity of religion, the equality of the sexes and the right to education. Bahai’is have been prevented from following their faith, on penalty of imprisonment and even execution.

Their fundamental rights continue to be violated. Arrests remain widespread and arbitrary. Baha’i children are bullied by school officials. Followers of the Baha’i faith can be denied access to higher education and banned from civil service posts. Pensions have been revoked and inheritances refused on grounds of Baha’i belief. Holy sites and graves have been destroyed.

The campaign against the Baha’i community reached a new intensity last spring when its seven-strong national leadership was arrested in dawn raids. More than a year after detention without charge or access to a lawyer, the prisoners’ families have finally been told a court date has been set for this Saturday.

We don’t yet know the charges. But Iranian news reports have suggested that the national committee stands accused of everything from “espionage for Israel” to “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”. Such charges carry very serious penalties in Iran, including the death penalty.

What is also very worrying are reports that the case will be heard by the same Revolutionary Court that recently tried, in secret, the US journalist Roxana Saberi. After proceedings lasting only one day, she was sentenced to eight years in jail.

It was only after the international outcry at this parody of justice and the severity of the sentence that she received another trial. This reduced her sentence to a two-year term that was suspended on appeal.

We need the same international pressure now, before the court case, to ensure the seven men and women receive a fair trial and a chance of justice. They must be given full access to their lawyers, who must have time to prepare their defence. The court proceedings must be open to independent observation.

Indeed, we must step up the pressure to ensure that Iran lives up to its international obligations not just on fair trials but on religious freedom. The Iranian constitution supposedly protects the rights of the country’s religious minorities. The reality, as many following other faiths in Iran can attest, is very different. And the 300,000 strong Baha’i community is deliberately excluded from even this nominal protection. Not only do they have no right to practice their faith, they are regarded as heretics who have abandoned Islam.

This gives the Iranian state an open invitation to mistreat and persecute followers of a religion which has a shared belief in the fundamental tenets of all the world’s leading religions and prophets. Far from posing a threat to the Government, its followers are expected to avoid political partisanship as an article of faith.

There is nothing secret about Iran’s systematic ill treatment of the Baha’i — a campaign that has worsened under President Ahmadinejad. The UK, European Union, US Congress, Canadian Senate, Australian Parliament and a range of leading non-governmental organisations have all monitored and condemned their mistreatment. The European Parliament condemned earlier this year the harassment of Dr Ebadi and the closure of her offices, and urged the release of the seven Baha’i leaders, who, it is believed, were imprisoned “solely on the basis of their belief’.

From within Iran, too, students and academics, artists and poets, political and social progressives have also bravely spoken up for the beleaguered Baha’i community. They, in turn, are now feeling the brunt of the state’s anger.

However, we must make sure that our understandable focus on the pro-democracy protests and their bloody suppression does not cause us to overlook the threat to the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. It is at times such as these that the Iranian authorities historically have heaped blame on the Baha’i population.

A fortnight ago, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, accused the British Government of supporting the “wayward Baha’i sect”. Banners have been paraded through Tehran’s streets displaying the words “BBC = Baha’i Broadcasting Company”. Today Iran’s Baha’is face a very uncertain, dangerous future.

We must urge the Iranian Government to give the leaders of the Baha’i community a fair trial and allow independent observers access to ensure this happens. We must also call on Iran to live up to its international obligations to protect all its citizens and allow them to hold and practise their religious beliefs without discrimination or fear.

Shirin Ebadi is a courageous woman and a brilliant advocate. But we cannot let her carry this burden on her own.

Cherie Blair is a barrister at Matrix Chambers. She is the wife of the former prime minister of UK.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Cherie Blair: Iran’s Baha’is face “uncertain, dangerous future.”

From Iran Press Watch by BNUK - July 09, 2009:
Cherie Blair: Iran’s Baha’is face “uncertain, dangerous future.”
Cherie Blair QC – one of the United Kingdom’s leading human rights lawyers and wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair – is calling for Iran to ensure that seven leaders of the Bahá’í faith – held in prison for more than a year without charge or access to their legal counsel – be given a fair trial and a chance of justice.

In an article published in Thursday’s edition of The Times, Mrs Blair writes that, in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed Presidential election result, there is a risk that the ongoing threat to the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority may be overlooked. “They face a very uncertain, dangerous future,” writes Ms Blair.

Read Cherie Blair’s article here (Times Online)

The five men and two women, detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since the spring of 2008, helped see to the minimum needs of Iran’s Bahá’í community after all Bahá’í institutions were banned by the Iranian government. Their informal committee was disbanded along with all local-level Bahá’í administrative groups in Iran in March this year. Family members of the seven have recently been told that they will face trial on Saturday 11 July. Spurious allegations made against them include “espionage for Israel”, “insulting religious sanctities”, “propaganda against the Islamic republic” and “spreading corruption on earth.”

“We must urge that the Iranian Government give the leaders of the Bahá’í community a fair trial,” writes Mrs Blair, “and allow independent observers access to ensure this happens. We must also call on Iran to live up to their international obligations to protect all their citizens and allow them to hold and practise their religious beliefs, without discrimination or fear.”

Mrs Blair’s article also pays tribute to Iranian lawyer and Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, who announced that she would defend the Bahá’í prisoners. As a result, Dr Ebadi’s “offices were raided and shut down, angry mobs appeared outside her home and she, and her family, received renewed and serious threats to their safety,” writes Mrs Blair.

“Shirin Ebadi is a courageous woman and a brilliant advocate. But we can not let her carry this burden on her own,” Mrs Blair says.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cherie Blair Article in the Times

From Peter Hulme's blog-post Cherie Blair Article in the Times, Thursday, 09 July 2009:

Cherie Blair has written a strong piece today drawing attention to the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran. She states:
The campaign against the Baha’i community reached a new intensity last spring when its seven-strong national leadership was arrested in dawn raids. More than a year after detention without charge or access to a lawyer, the prisoners’ families have finally been told a court date has been set for this Saturday.

We don’t yet know the charges. But Iranian news reports have suggested that the national committee stands accused of everything from “espionage for Israel” to “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”. Such charges carry very serious penalties in Iran, including the death penalty.What is also very worrying are reports that the case will be heard by the same Revolutionary Court that recently tried, in secret, the US journalist Roxana Saberi. After proceedings lasting only one day, she was sentenced to eight years in jail.

The campaign against the Baha’i community reached a new intensity last spring when its seven-strong national leadership was arrested in dawn raids. More than a year after detention without charge or access to a lawyer, the prisoners’ families have finally been told a court date has been set for this Saturday.

We don’t yet know the charges. But Iranian news reports have suggested that the national committee stands accused of everything from “espionage for Israel” to “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”. Such charges carry very serious penalties in Iran, including the death penalty.

What is also very worrying are reports that the case will be heard by the same Revolutionary Court that recently tried, in secret, the US journalist Roxana Saberi. After proceedings lasting only one day, she was sentenced to eight years in jail.

It was only after the international outcry at this parody of justice and the severity of the sentence that she received another trial. This reduced her sentence to a two-year term that was suspended on appeal.

We need the same international pressure now, before the court case, to ensure the seven men and women receive a fair trial and a chance of justice. They must be given full access to their lawyers, who must have time to prepare their defence. The court proceedings must be open to independent observation.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

In UK row, EU warns Iran of 'further action'

From Press TV, Wed 08 July 2009:
In UK row, EU warns Iran of 'further action'
The European Union has threatened to take "further action" against Tehran if Iranian authorities refuse to release the last detained British Embassy staffer.

Ambassadors from three EU member states on Tuesday called for the "immediate release" of a British Embassy employee, who was arrested in Tehran following the disputed June 12 presidential election, a Swedish EU presidency statement said.

Sweden took over the rotating six-month presidency of the 27-member European Union from the Czech Republic on July 1.

Iran has released eight British embassy employees who were detained on charges of instigating the post-vote unrest in Iran.

This leaves Hossein Rassam -- who works as a political analyst at the UK mission in Tehran -- as the only staffer currently held in Iranian custody.

ran became the scene of opposition rallies after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced as the official winner of the 10th presidential election with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Iran blames foreign powers, namely Britain, for interfering in its internal affairs and for playing a significant role in fueling the post-vote unrest, which claimed the lives of at least 20 people.

A lawyer for Rassam said on Sunday that his client was charged with breaching national security.

Several members of the European Union have sharply criticized the Iranian government's response to the rallies and have expressed strong opposition to the arrests of the nine local members of the British Embassy staff.

The EU troika also "condemned" the recent arrest of a French academic detained in Iran on charges of espionage.

"All EU member states stood behind the French request for an immediate release" of the teacher, the statement said.

On Tuesday, President Nicholas Sarkozy also demanded the immediate release of the French woman.

According to the French Foreign Ministry, Clotilde Reiss, 23, was arrested last week as she was about to leave Iran after spending five months studying at Isfahan University.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Monday claimed that Reiss' charges were related to pictures of Iran's post-election protests she had taken with her camera and sent by private email to her friend in Tehran. SF/MD/AA

Monday, July 06, 2009

EU presidency condemns Iran for executions

From Reuters Sunday July 05, 2009:
EU presidency condemns Iran for executions
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Sunday denounced Iran for a recent spate of executions, highlighting Saturday's hanging of 20 drug traffickers.

The rebuke, issued by Sweden days after assuming the EU's rotating six-month presidency, comes as the 27-nation bloc searches for a unified response to Tehran following its post-election crackdown and detention of British embassy staff.

"The Presidency strongly condemns the executions in Iran during the past few days, in particular the execution of 20 persons in Iran on 4 July," Sweden said in the statement, adding Iran should abolish the death penalty entirely.

Prior to Saturday's hangings, Iranian media reported last week that six drug traffickers were executed in a prison in Qom and six people were hanged for murder in Tehran.

On Friday, EU countries summoned Iranian ambassadors to protest the detention of British embassy employees, and are mulling tougher measures in future such as visa bans and the withdrawal of EU ambassadors from Iran.

Of the nine British embassy staff detained and accused of inciting the street protests in Iran, one remains in custody and one was set to be released on Sunday.

While the EU has led the international outcry over Tehran's crackdown on demonstrators protesting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the June 12 presidential elections, some of the bloc's members fear going too far and derailing talks on Iran's nuclear program.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for harsher sanctions against Iran, but analysts say Germany and Italy are among those skeptical.

(Reporting by Anne Jolis; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Europe vows ‘strong and collective' response to arrests of nine staffers in Iran

From The Globe and Mail, Monday, 29 June 2009:
Iran's battle with Britain escalates
The diplomatic battle raging between Iran and Britain has escalated after the European Union's promise to launch a “strong and collective” response to Iranian arrests of British embassy staff members over the weekend.

Nine locals employed by the British embassy in Tehran were arrested, with Iran alleging they played some role in encouraging the postelection unrest that has bloodied the streets of Iran's capital city for more than two weeks.

The arrests, which are part of a broader campaign by the country's hard-line leadership to blame the unrest on foreign meddling, were called “harassment and intimidation” by David Miliband, Britain's foreign secretary. They come on the heels of a tit-for-tat set of diplomatic expulsions last week: Iran expelled two British diplomats – the embassy's second and third secretaries – and Britain responded in kind, ejecting two Iranians and pulling families of British embassy staff out of Iran.

“We have protested in strong terms, directly to the Iranian authorities, about the arrests,” said Mr. Miliband, who deemed the detentions “quite unacceptable.”

“The idea that the British embassy is somehow behind the demonstrations and protests that have been taking place in Tehran … is wholly without foundation,” he said.

Both Britain and the U.S. have been the subject of accusations by Tehran of interference related to the June 12 presidential vote, which official results showed was won by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His main challenger, moderate former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, says the vote was rigged and that the election should be annulled.

The debate unleashed the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution: At least 25 have died and more than 2,000 have been arrested. Several journalists and prominent news organizations have been muzzled or expelled.

Mr. Mousavi's unwillingness to give up his campaign – and the resulting outpouring of supporters who have endured brutal violence and death while resisting police attempts to crush street-level uprisings – has plunged the country into instability and divided its political and clerical elite.

The Guardian Council, Iran's top legislative body, is due to give its final verdict on the election and could rule as early as Monday. On Sunday, Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejehi pre-empted the council by announcing “no organized” vote-rigging took place. He went on to accuse some British embassy staff of mingling with protest crowds to encourage unrest.

The British embassy, which sits in a compound behind three-metre-high walls in central Tehran, has at least 70 local employees, including a highly regarded political adviser whose job is to keep colleagues abreast of the Islamic republic's internal politics. Unlike British nationals, none of the local staffers are protected by diplomatic immunity. Harassment by Iranian security forces is common, but arrests are not.

The employees who were arrested have not been named. While some were released over the weekend, others remain in detention.

At a meeting in Corfu, Greece, the European Union nations, which maintain a rotating presence in Iran, condemned the arrests and demanded that all detainees be freed.

“Harassment and intimidation would meet a strong and collective EU response,” the union's foreign ministers said.

While the diplomatic wrangling continued, in Tehran, thousands of protesters took to the street for the first time in four days to demonstrate more support for Mr. Moussavi.

Witnesses said riot police used tear gas and clubs to break up a crowd of up to 3,000 protesters who had gathered near north Tehran's Ghoba Mosque. Some described scenes of brutality, telling The Associated Press that some protesters suffered broken bones and alleging that police beat an elderly woman, prompting a screaming match with young demonstrators who then fought back.

The reports could not be independently verified because of tight restrictions imposed on journalists in Iran.

The leadership seems to recognize that ending the street demonstrations is far easier than turning the clock back to the days before the election, when there was still some degree of trust in a system that sought to marry religious authority with popularly elected institutions, political analysts said.

“I think no one can predict Iran's political future,” said an Iranian intellectual who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal. “I do believe some things have changed after this recent upheaval and that events will play out in months and years to come.”

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ruled out any compromise with the opposition, said Sunday that the only solution to the crisis was to follow legal procedures. And he urged political leaders not to be what he called tools of foreign influence, returning to a theme of foreign intervention that historically has resonated across Iran but that so far has failed to silence the opposition.

“If the nation and political elite are united in heart and mind, the incitement of international traitors and oppressive politicians will be ineffective,” he said.

With reports from Globe and Mail wire services
Click into the report to view comments.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leading demonstrators must be executed, Ayatollah Khatami demands

A hardline cleric close to the Iranian regime demanded the execution of leading demonstrators yesterday as the opposition ended the week in disarray.

In a televised sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami called on the judiciary to “punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson”. He said that those leaders were backed by the United States and Israel. They should be treated as mohareb — people who wage war against God — and deserved execution.

In a clear warning to all other dissenters, he declared: “Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction.”

The Ayatollah claimed that Neda Soltan, the woman shot during a demonstration last Saturday, had been killed by fellow protesters because “government forces do not shoot at a lady standing in a side street”. [...]

The most outspoken criticism of the regime is now coming from outside Iran. On Thursday President Obama called the regime’s suppression of dissent “outrageous”. He admitted that his hopes of opening a dialogue with Iran had been damaged but rejected Mr Ahmadinejad’s demand that he apologise for criticising the crackdown.

Speaking after talks with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, he said that their two countries spoke with “one voice” in condemning the regime’s behaviour.

The foreign ministers of the G8 powers, meeting in Italy, issued a statement deploring the crackdown and urging Iran to resolve the crisis over the disputed election through democratic dialogue. “We deplore post-electoral violence which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians and urge Iran to respect fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression,” the G8 ministers said in a joint statement.

Full story: The Times by Martin Fletcher, Saturday, 27 June 2009:
Leading demonstrators must be executed, Ayatollah Khatami demands

Note, one of 101 comments at the article says:
Do not be fooled by the uneasy calm. There is something in the offing in Iran. They have a saying 'there is fire underneath the ashes'. Ayatollah Khatami (not to be confused with the former president of the same name) might find himself being strung upside down, sooner than he thinks.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Computer mouse cartoon (Iran Cyberwar News Update 4)

Peter Brookes cartoon

Cartoon by Peter Brookes - Times Online UK, 18 June 2009.
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Update on 19 June 2009: From Channel 4 News' Snowmail by Jon Snow, UK, Thursday evening, 18 June 2009 - excerpt:

Iran is incredibly finely balanced tonight. Despite being asked by the opposition leader, Mr Mousavi, not to come onto the streets for a planned demonstration, there are huge numbers of people out tonight supporting him.

There is also an Ahmadinejad rally elsewhere in town. This as the guardian council say they will do some kind of limited recount in contested areas (clearly leaving the door open to the possibility that they might simply put Mousavi into power – after all, many of the mullahs are well disposed to him).

Mr Ahmadinejad himself has, perhaps predictably, left Iran altogether for a conference in Russia. For him either it is business as usual or in some way he’s been advised to remove himself from the scene for a bit.

For our people on the ground it is exceptionally difficult. All foreign media who do not have bureaux in Tehran have been ordered out by tomorrow. And mobile phone networks upon which we heavily depend, are down.

We hope Lindsey Hilsum will be able to file tonight. Alex Thomson is also covering events. And I shall be doing a take on the remarkable cyber-war that is going on inside Iran.

Iran in turmoil:

Briton caught up in Iran internet wars:
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From BBC News:

Iran's powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to recount disputed presidential election votes in some areas, after huge protest marches.

For more details:
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From BBC News - 19 June 2009:

Iran's top leader Ayatollah Khamenei says the results of the country's contested elections were not rigged, and warns about more protests.

For more details:
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Update : Excerpt from Channel 4 News' Snowmail by Jon Snow 19 June 2009 c. 6pm GMT -

Iran's Supreme Leader has put the frighteners on. In a gripping speech at Friday prayers in front of Iran's top brass he said the protests must end, people must accept the result. It was impossible to fix 11m ballots he claimed, and threw his all behind President Ahmadinejad.

Any further protest, he added, would amount to an attack on Iran.

So will that be enough to stop things? A 'friend' of Moussavi is being quoted as saying he does not want his supporters to protest tomorrow. We'll just have to wait and see what happens on the streets.

The Ayatollah also took aim at Britain and put us top of the hate list cueing chants of 'Death to Britain'. The regime is partly angered by Gordon Brown and David Miliband's comments this week (although they have been pretty muted) but is most irritated at the BBC World and BBC Persian TV channels. We'll be assessing what it all means.
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Update: Excerpt from UK Channel 4 News' Snowmail by Alex T dated Saturday, 20 June 2009 c. 19:30 GMT
Alex T here - our lead item tonight can only be the distressing news given in a bald statement from the Foreign Office by the foreign secretary, David Miliband.

The Iraqi authorities in Baghdad have informed the British there that two bodies have been found.

Their identities are not confirmed. But Mr Miliband indicated that they were likely to be the bodies of two of the five British nationals who have been held for more than two years in Baghdad.


The authorities in Tehran and beyond promised they would get tough(er) with any opposition protesters on the streets today.

Word is, they've made good on that promise. Basiji militias, riot police, ordinary police, undercover police, you-name-it police - they're all out there in force and beating up protesters.

As I write I'm getting word of shots being fired. Our team has been slung out of the country along with most other foreign reporting teams, so getting a clear picture of life on the streets of Tehran - never exactly easy - has become extremely fraught, which is just the way the regime wants it of course.

We shall endeavour to peek through the censors via the web and other means.

Iran's supreme leader appeals for calm:
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From Drima The Sudanese Thinker 17 June 2009:
Iran and Twitter on Fire

The drama continues unabated in Iran, and Twitter has now become an active battleground apparently getting infiltrated even by the Iranian security apparatus.

To get a sense of what’s happening, watch this video.

To understand how Twitter and new media are such a central part of the psychological warfare getting waged by both sides, read this and watch this video.

More on leveraging Twitter to help Iranian activists here.

Yay to cyberwar.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Channel 4 News's Lindsey Hilsum is blogging direct from Tehran, Iran

UK's Channel 4 News's International Editor Lindsey Hilsum is reporting and blogging direct from the ground in Tehran, Iran 3-4 times a day.

Click here to see her important reports and updates.

Lindsey Hilsum in Beijing

Friday, May 22, 2009

Microsoft blocks MSN access for selected countries

Microsoft blocks MSN access for selected countries. List of those affected includes Syria, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.

Source: AJ-IT by Ben, Friday, 22 May, 2009:
Microsoft blocks MSN access for selected countries
Reports are surfacing online confirming that Microsoft has removed access to its Windows Live MSN services for residents in several embargoed countries, the full list of those effected includes Syria, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.

If, say, you’ve woken up in Cuba this morning and gone to log into your MSN account you would have seen this little error message pop-up, “Error 810003c1”, which, buried in Microsoft’s terms means “Microsoft has shut off the Windows Live Messenger IM for users in the countries embargoed by the US hence Microsoft no longer offers Windows Live Service in your country”.

The reasoning or logic behind which countries get denied access and which get allowed is undisclosed but could be considered more than a little confusing as other countries with sanctions against them remain unhindered in accessing the services.

The reason behind the timing of the decision is also unclear, but one thing is for sure, a simple IP-based blocking system won’t keep MSN users in those countries off of the service for very long.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Iran 'testfires' new missile in war games nr Iraqi border

November 11, 2008 ( report: Iran 'test-fires' new missile
Iran has test-fired a new type of missile during war games near the Iraqi border, state television said on Tuesday, after warning the United States it would respond to any violation of Iranian airspace.

The English-language Press TV said the Iranian-made missile, named as the Samen, was successfully tested on Monday by the elite Revolutionary Guards in the western border city of Marivan.

They also tested artillery and rocket launchers, Press TV said on its website.

Iran's armed forces have staged frequent manoeuvres in recent months, coinciding with speculation of possible US or Israeli strikes against the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear ambitions.

In a move that further heightened tension, Iran in July test-fired nine highly advanced missiles, including one which reportedly could reach Israel and US bases in the Middle East.

Iran's army last Wednesday said US helicopters had been seen flying close to Iran's border and that it would respond to any violation, a message analysts said seemed directed at US President-Elect Barack Obama more than at American troops in Iraq.

The Nov 5 statement followed a cross-border raid last month by US forces into Syria, an action that was condemned by Damascus and Tehran.

The United States and its Western allies suspect Iran is seeking to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

Mr Obama, like outgoing President George W Bush, has not ruled out military action although he has criticised the outgoing administration for not pushing for more diplomacy and engagement with Iran.

Iran has said it would respond to any attack on its territory by targeting US interests and Washington's ally Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for world oil supplies.


Friday, October 17, 2008

S.O.S. Please email Tehran Watch - 2 years of emails lost

Here in England on Wednesday, 15 October 2008, two engineers from British Telecom IT Support were here for a specially ordered appointment to ensure a smooth changeover from my current ISP, Virgin Media, to BT Broadband.

Sadly, it turned into a 3-hour job. The engineer, after deleting the Virgin email address from my PowerBook G4 (Mac OS X 10.3.9) said it had never occurred to him that the contents of my AppleMac drafts email folder would also be deleted, along with the contents of my folders for sent and incoming emails. In their experience, such a thing had never happened before.

Groan. Over the past 3-4 weeks, on top of the 3 hours Wednesday, I've spent what seems like a total of 20 hours on the phone to BT, from here to Scotland and India, ever since initial call to BT's broadband sales office.

BT couldn't set me up for broadband for a few weeks resulting in connection to BT dial-up service in the interim - for which I almost got charged £18 for Day One if I hadn't checked tarriff for the 'Pay As You Go' option that BT signed me up to, instead of the 'Anytime' package costing £1 for first month.

Not to mention the ordeal I went though trying to obtain an internet cable for a few weeks of the dial up service. And then the service itself. By the end of Day One, BT dial up Tech Support told me the loss of connection every few minutes was nothing to do with them and blamed my internal modem as being corrupted and broken. Not true, I discovered next day.

Yesterday morning, I awoke feeling gutted, bereft and exhausted over the whole experience. More than one thousand draft items and scores of photos for future blogposts which, despite Apple's best efforts (a further 1-hour ordeak over phone) are no longer recoverable. All gone. Vanished. Forever. Nightmare.

Years of hard work and precious energy wasted. I feel sad at losing so much, just when I was getting back into the swing of things after ten bereavements (including my mother and three longstanding friends) and the toll it took on my health.

Chin up. Worse things happen at sea. I'll endeavour to continue blogging while working on piecing together lost drafts, updating email address in my blogs. re-subscribing to news alerts, etc.

Right now, the thought of having to find all the pieces to put back together again, and recall people's latest email addresses that may or not be in my computer's address book, is too overwhelming.

If you have ever emailed me, no matter how long ago, please email me NOW with copy of last email or just a few words or, better still, photo of your pet, to enable me to save your address safely in a new folder for easy future reference.

My new BT email address is now in the sidebar here at Tehran Watch.

I'm always here, with my cat Ophelia, happy to receive emails that are not spam. It still pains me to be so slow in replying. I fear that taking days, weeks, months, even years (!) to reply puts people off from staying in contact.

Mostly I am sad at losing photos of pets belonging to some of my favourite bloggers. I adore cats and had collected some pretty special photos for a Cat Watch Blog that I'm creating as a place for me to visit when the going gets tough at my watch blogs and I feel disappointed in human beings.

If you know the personality of any cat (or dog, especially if it gets along with cats) and have a photo of the pet, please send it to me so I can create a little story for posting (with your permission and credit - with link to you if you have a blog or website) at the most suitable of my three new blogs (currently under construction) namely: Cat Watch Blog, Heavenly Cats, Pets in Heaven.

Here's looking forward to learning about cats living in different parts of the world. I'm curious to know if cats all over the world have same habits and act in same way, or behave differently from mine here in England. If anyone ever thinks of sending us a greetings, especially over Christmas and New Year, anything for my pet blogs would be cheerfully received and warmly appreciated. I promise to reply with some observations and questions about your pet's charm and character.

Having said all that, I'm bracing myself for the possibility that no-one will take notice of this post although, even during blogging breaks, my network of blogs continues to receive thousands of visitors and page views. I have no idea of how many people read my blogs via a news reader and never visit in person. I don't even know if the feed for my Sudan Watch blog still works. It no longer works in my newsreader, NetNewsWire.

Hey is anybody out there? Please say something!

With love from Ingrid and cat Ophelia, posted by the sea on south west coast of England, UK xx

An edited version of this post will appear in part of my network of blogs, ie: Sudan Watch, Congo Watch, Ethiopia Watch, Egypt Watch, Uganda Watch, Kenya Watch, China Tibet Watch, Russia Watch, Syria Watch, ME/CFS Watch, ME AND OPHELIA.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Gandhi Peace Brigade/CodePink Meets with Ahmadinejad

Copy of post at San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center by Jes Richardson Sunday Oct 05, 2008 - excerpt:
Gandhi Peace Brigade/CodePink Meets with Ahmadinejad

President Ahmadinejad met with CodePink in New York City last week. Hopefully, this will open the door for talks in the future. CodePink plans to visit Iran this November. In addition to asking for a second meeting with President Ahmadinejad, we will also be talking with teachers and students in Iran to encourage friendships with teachers and students here in the United States. If you're interested in knowing more about this program, please get in touch: jes_richardson [at]

Dear Friends,

President Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations last week. The next day he met with 150 people from 50 different peace groups, an event organized by Fellowship of Reconciliation Leslie was honored to be a part of this historic event:

President Ahmadinejad told the delegation,"Iranians love Americans!" He also said his country doesn't want war. He believes the time of the atomic bomb has come to an end. "We've passed that time; we have no interest in the bomb." Over three years ago Iran's spiritual leader issued a proclamation, or fatwa, prohibiting the possession of nuclear weapons. Iran hasn't attacked another country in 260 years.

Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, Co-founders of Code Pink, were both there. A few people were selected to talk about their organization and ask Ahmadinejad a question. Medea, as the Founding Director of Global Exchange, had this to say: "President Ahmadinejad, my organization has been sending delegations to Iran for years, but the process is cumbersome, and we never know who is going to get a visa, and often not until the last minute. I, myself, would love to visit Iran, but I can't get a visa!" He responded with a promise he'd push to make it easier for Americans to get visas and hoped the U.S. would do the same for Iranians.