The dark knights of human rights

December 13, 2012

The dark knights of human rights (Itai Reuveni)
Just over two weeks ago, there was a report about a Jewish woman in Iran who, for years, had been harassed by her Muslim neighbors who demanded that she evacuate her home to make room for a mosque. The woman was ultimately stabbed to death, and her body dismembered.

About a month ago, an Iranian human rights activist of Arab descent was tortured to death at a notorious Iranian prison. Add to that the testimony of a senior Revolutionary Guards officer who defected to the U.S., indicating that every woman who is sentenced to death in Iran is first raped so that she won’t enter heaven a virgin.

These are just a handful of examples out of thousands of human rights violations in Iran. This raises a disturbing question: Where are the human rights organizations? Where are the condemnation campaigns and calls for boycotts? Where are the threats to take senior Iranian officials to the International Court of Justice? Where are the enormous budgets? Shouldn’t there be lobbies crowding the halls of the U.N. and EU institutions?

The concept of “human rights” — founded on universal principles — has lost its moral significance and has now become merely a tool utilized by nongovernmental organizations as a means of obtaining political objectives. This exploitation, compounded by the blatant disregard for any facts that do not fall into line with the activists’ views, encourages nations like Iran to keep doing what they are doing. Human rights organizations have been commandeered by a handful of extremists who seek to advance a political ideology rather than protecting the world’s citizens, whether they are Iranian or Syrian, Palestinian or Israeli.

Iran is usually mentioned in the context of a security threat. The various organizations are only reminded of Iran in the context of Israel. There are nearly no campaigns for human rights in Iran — you can count the ones that do exist on the fingers of one hand. And so Iran, where, according to its president, there are no homosexuals or lesbians (and if there are, they are hanged in the city square), and where acid is squirted on protesters, and where men and women are raped in prison, and where the national sports are soccer and stoning people, keeps on abusing human rights. For their part, the human rights organizations argue that they don’t have the resources to take action within a closed society. Why take a risk when you can protest in Bil’in in the morning and have a beer in Tel Aviv that same afternoon?

These organizations fail to realize that human rights are inextricably linked to the strength of a society, even when said society exists under a sadistic tyrannical regime. Many people may find this surprising, but there is a strong, flourishing civil society in Iran, with a long, rich history of organizing: from the 1890 Tobacco Protest to the struggles over the constitution and the country’s oil, through to the 1979 Islamic Revolution all the way to the 2009 Iranian Election Protests and the creation of the Iranian Green Movement. This is a country with a rich social history and with a fascinating language and culture. But its freedom-seeking citizens have been abandoned by the knights of human rights, the knights who populate those organizations with the enormous budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars and with worldwide infrastructure and with ideologically motivated activists. These organizations allocate a large portion of their resources to the one-sided cheerleading squad for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in complete disproportion to all the other human rights violations around the world.

For example: Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, harshly criticized the very organization he founded in a New York Times op-ed several years ago. Bernstein criticized the organization for ignoring human rights violations in closed societies, for its anti-Israeli bias and for “issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” He wrote this op-ed after a 2009 fundraising event in Saudi Arabia, organized by Human Rights Watch, in which anti-Israel rhetoric was used to raise money. That same year, a senior organization official visited Libya and praised Moammar Gadhafi’s son, calling him a reformer and leader of the Libyan Spring.

Today, international Human Rights Day, the human rights organizations need to do some soul searching and really check whether the allocation of their resources truly reflects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the U.N. on Dec. 10, 1948). They need to ask themselves whether the concentration of efforts to bash Israel and the disregard for violations in other countries truly contributes to the human rights of any group, or rather serves to alienate the public, to belittle the concept of human rights and to encourage rights violations in places like Iran.

If we honestly care about human rights, we must liberate the concept from the hands of those who have tried to commandeer it.


Intel found on slain Hamas official led to Sudan strike

October 29, 2012

(IMAGES OF SITE) U.K.’s Sunday Times cites military intelligence reports that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, assassinated in Dubai, was in possession of an agreement between Iran and Sudan from 2008 that permitted Iran to manufacture weapons in Sudanese territory.(doc)Yoav Limor and Israel Hayom – The Sunday Times reported that eight Israeli warplanes participated in the attack on the Yarmouk military complex near the Sudanese capital Khartoum. According to the report, planning for the operation began as a result of documents found on the body of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, whose assassination in Dubai in 2010 prompted worldwide speculation that it was a Mossad operation. The U.K. paper cited military intelligence reports stating that Mabhouh was in charge of procuring weapons for terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, and was in possession of a copy of an agreement between Iran and Sudan from 2008 that permitted Iran to manufacture weapons in Sudanese territory. The report claims that Israeli intelligence managed to successfully prove that Iranian engineers had begun working in Yarmouk under the watch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and were developing Iran’s long-range Shihab missiles as well as other arms. The plant served as a starting point for weapons convoys to the Gaza Strip. Yarmouk is located in a densely populated residential area of the city some 11 kilometers (seven miles) southwest of the Khartoum International Airport. Wednesday’s explosion sent exploding ammunition flying into homes in the neighborhood adjacent to the factory, causing panic among residents. Sudanese officials said some people suffered from smoke inhalation. A man who lives near the factory said that from inside their house, he and his brother heard a loud roar of what they believed was a plane just before the boom of the explosion sounded from the factory. Meanwhile, Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations issued a complaint to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, claiming that the nature of strike, and the advanced radar-jamming technology used proves it was an Israeli operation.

Israel has faced numerous attempts to smuggle weapons to the Gaza Strip. In March 2011, the Israeli Navy intercepted the ship, Victoria, which carried a large cache of weapons including the advanced C-704 anti-ship missile, which — had it landed in the hands of terrorists — would have threatened navy operations as well as the nearby natural gas drilling rigs.

Assad has plans to transfer WMD to Hezbollah

September 20, 2012

(EOZ) From Al Arabiya:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would transfer the chemical weapons to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, a Syrian defected general told the Times of London.
Former Syrian general turned defector, Major-General Adnan Sillu, said that aside from plans to transfer weapons to Hezbollah, Syria had planned to use chemical weapons on the Syrian people, “as a last resort,” a report on the Israeli online edition of Haaretz said, quoting the Times.
“We were in a serious discussion about the use of chemical weapons, including how we would use them and in what areas,” Sillu said.
“We discussed this as a last resort — such as if the regime lost control of an important area such as Aleppo,” the General was quoted as saying.
The German weekly Der Spiegel on Monday claimed that Syria tested delivery systems for chemical weapons at the end of August.
“Five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir,” east of the city of Aleppo, Der Spiegel reported.
The Safira research center in question is regarded as Syria’s largest testing site for chemical weapons. It is officially referred to as a “scientific research center.”
Iranian officers, believed to be members of the Revolutionary Guards, were flown in by helicopter for the testing, according to the witness statements cited.
Scientists from Iran and North Korea are said to work in the expansive, fenced-off complex. According to Western intelligence agencies, they produce deadly chemical agents such as sarin and mustard gas.

If Assad feels desperate enough to use chemical weapons against Syrians in a last ditch effort, it seems likely that he would want to shoot a few rockets with chemical warheads towards Israel as well, to try to rally support. Most Arabs would cheer such a move, after all.
By the way, the Al Arabiya article was illustrated with this really good infographic, but I cannot find a larger version:

India Accuses Iran’s ‘Guards’ of Terror Attack

July 30, 2012
Tal Yehoshua-Koren
(Tal Yehoshua-Koren
Israel news photo: Arutz Sheva)
The feared Iranian Revolutionary Guard was behind January’s terrorist attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in February, Indian police charged Monday.

India previously has agreed with Israel that Iranian terrorists were involved in the attack, but Monday’s report in the Times of India was the first time the Guards were named. A magnetic bomb destroyed the vehicle in which the woman, Tal Yehoshua Koren, was riding. She managed to escape with her life by noticing that an attack was taking place. She jumped out of the car as the bomb exploded and suffered serous injuries.
The investigation by New Delhi police sates that members of the Guards “discussed the plan to attack the Israeli diplomats in India and other countries with Indian journalist Side Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi in January 2011, after Iranian scientists had been attacked allegedly by the Israelis,” the newspaper reported.
Kazmi allegedly was in contact with the Guards for almost 10 years.
Sedaghatzadeh Masoud, the suspected leader of the terrorist cell, is thought to have planned the attacks on Israelis and Jews in Georgia and Bangkok.

Now about all that gold India traded with Iran?

Free Syrian Army shows video of alleged Iranian fighters abducted in Homs

January 28, 2012


(AlArabiya) A group of Syria’s opposition “Free Army” has released a video showing what it was said were seven Iranians, including five members of the Revolutionary Guards, captured in the city of Homs.

The video showed travel documents of the captives, some of whom appeared to be speaking Farsi.
“I am Sajjad Amirian, a member the Revolutionary Guards of the Iranian armed forces. I am a member of the team in charge of cracking down on protesters in Syria and we receive our orders directly from the security division of the Syrian air force in Homs,” one of the captives said.
“I urge Mr. Khamenei to work on securing our release and return to our homes,” he added.

The armed Syrian opposition group, which called itself the “al-Farouq brigade of the Free Syrian Army,” also released a statement calling for Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamanei to “acknowledge in explicit and unambiguous words the existence of elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Syria in order to help the Assad’s regime in its crackdown on the Syrian people.”

The group also urged Khamanei to withdraw all Revolutionary Guard fighters from Syria, pledging that that it would then release all captive Iranian fighters.
The group said five of those abducted were military men working with the Syrian air force intelligence and two showed “civilian status” as employees in a power plant in Homs.
It added that all the seven captives entered Syria during the uprising and passports of the five military men did not contain visas, adding that it would soon release the two Iranians with civilian status.
Syrian opposition groups have previously accused Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group of assisting forces of President Bashar al-Assad in their bloody crackdown on protesters.
The Syrian Revolutionary Coordination Union reported on Jan. 17 that a group of Hezbollah fighters had hit civilian protesters near Damascus with Russian-origin BM-21Grad rockets.
“The attack was coordinated with the forces of President Bashar Assad,” the Syrian opposition group said.
A source from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) told Al Arabiya on Jan. 16 that the “Iranian government has not yet interfered in situation in Syria,” but stressed that Tehran was committed to a joint defense treaty with Damascus.
“We and our brethren in Iraq and Lebanon are protecting Syria,” the source explained in a clear reference to Nouri al-Malikil’s government and Hezbollah, both allies of Iran.
Despite reports stating that so far the situation in Syria is “stable,” the IRGC, the source pointed out, is still worried of a division or a coup in the Syrian army.
According to American officials who believe the IRGC is taking part in the fight against Syrian opposition, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of IRGC al-Quds Force, which specializes in operations outside Iran, was in Damascus this month.
Gen. Suleimani’s visit, they argued proved that Iran’s support for the Syrian regime includes the provision of arms and military equipment.
They added that they are sure Suleimani met with the most senior officials in the Syrian regime, including president Bashar al-Assad.
The joint defense treaty between Syria and Iran was signed in June 2006 by a former Syrian defense minister, Hassan Turkmani, and his Iranian counterpart, Mustafa Mohamed Najjar, in Tehran.

Of course: Europe fails to enforce its own sanctions against Iran

December 16, 2011

(Carl) Yet another reminder that sanctions will never stop Iran’s nuclear program… because Europe won’t enforce them.

Continental Europe’s zig-zag course with sanctioned Iranian officials remains a counterproductive leftover vestige to the EU’s nearly 30 year failed policy of dialogue with Tehran’s clerical rulers. Take the example of Irans foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, who on December 4 appeared in Bonn to attend the Afghanistan conference. Though Salehi is sanctioned by the EU because of his work on Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program, he met with Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle [pictured above. CiJ] and schmoozed with the conference attendees. The EU has waived its own visa restrictions against Salehi.
Attention to a second case this week raises again the point of impotent EU diplomatic sanctions. Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghasemi swooped into Vienna on Tuesday to attend the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on Wednesday. Ghasemi commands Iran’s revolutionary guards’ Khatam al-Anbia military. The EU, Australia and the United States have sanctioned Ghasemi. His tentacles are immersed in blacklisted revolutionary guard companies. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps is defined as a global terrorist organization by the US government. Yet his presence at the Vienna parley makes a mockery of Iran-based sanctions. Diplomatic business as usual is precisely what Tehran seeks. And the EU, sadly, is reciprocating.

The irony is that the Europeans probably have a greater interest than anyone outside of Israel in stopping Iran. Their economies are already teetering on the brink – a sharp rise in the price of oil resulting from a war could tank Europe’s economies for a generation. And yet, the Europeans continue to throw a stick in the spokes of the one thing that might have a chance of averting war. They seem to have a death wish, provided of course that they can take as many Jews as possible with them (God forbid).
What could go wrong.

Carl must of written this blog post on the fly. They not only want to avoid war with an aggressive state, but they want to do business with people who are religiously inclined to be martyrs. These aren’t Shinto Buddhists or Communists, these are Muslims and you can not co-op their emperor or prove their system doesn’t work. It is obvious that Europe wants their cake and to eat it to. It seems like the whole world does.

(Have one’s cake and eat it too – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) A French equivalent expression is: vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre, meaning literally to want the butter and the money for the butter. The idiom can be emphasized by adding et le sourire de la crémière (“and the smile of the female buttermaker”).
The expression avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca (“to have the barrel full and the wife drunk”) is used in Italy with an equivalent meaning.
In Spanish, querer estar en misa y en procesión (“wishing to be both at Mass and in the procession”) and nadar y guardar la ropa (“swimming and keeping an eye on the removed clothes”) are similar in meaning.
There is a Serbian equivalent as well, Не можеш да имаш и јаре и паре (“You can’t have both goatling and money”).
Similarly, in Chinese, “也要马儿好,也要马儿不吃草” (pinyin: Yě yào mǎ hǎo, yě yào mǎ bu chī cǎo) means “you want the horse to be the best, but don’t want it to eat any grass”.
There is a Greek equivalent as well: “Και την πίτα ολόκληρη και τον σκύλο χορτάτο” (“you want the pie whole and the dog full”).
A similar expression in Swiss German is Du chasch nit dr Füfer und s Weggli ha (“you can’t have the five cent coin and a -certain type of swiss- bread roll”).
A Nepalese equivalent also exists that goes dubai haat ma laddu, which means having laddu (a sweet candy) in both your hands.
In Argentina, the expression la chancha y los veinte literally means “the pig and the twenties”. It comes from the old piggybanks for children that used to contain coins of 20 cents. The only way to get the coins was to break the piggyback open — hence the phrase. This can be emphasized by adding y la máquina de hacer chorizos, which translates to “and the machine to make sausage”.
In Bulgaria it’s a very often occurrence for the expression to be used: “И вълкът сит, и агнето цяло” (“The wolf is full, and the lamb – whole.”)

All hell breaking loose? Iran threatens Dimona Nuclear Reactor

November 26, 2011

On Saturday, Iran threatened to hit Israel’s nuclear plant in Dimona if Israel attacked Iran.

Former head of the Guards’ Political Bureau Brigadier Yadollah Javani said, “If Israel fires [a] rocket at one of our nuclear facilities or vital centers, it should know that any point of Israel, such as its nuclear facilities, would be a target for our rockets and we have [that] capability,” Iranian news agency ISNA reported.
“Today, our enemies have been locked in a quagmire and they see no way out, so they make contradictory comments,” he contended. “They raise military threats against Iran whereas they do not possess such a capability.”

Curiously, Iran also threatened Turkey (Hat Tip: Joshua I).

A senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard says the country will target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey if the US or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace division, is quoted by the semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what it sees as an increase in threats from the US and Israel.

“Should we be threatened, we will target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets,” the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying.
Tehran says NATO’s early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO’s missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran.

Is Iran starting to realize that the sky is falling?
By the way, Israel quietly took delivery on a shipment of Patriot missiles in the past few weeks.