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Mr. Netanyahu, who are you kidding?

- Mr. Netanyahu's speech at the joint meeting of the United States Congress was nauseating enough. But what was far more disgusting to me was watching the American people's representatives so enthusiastically cheering this well-known liar and charlatan like a herd of obedient sheep. -Kam Zarrabi - 3/5/15

Iran, U.S. Cite Progess, Tough Challenges In Nuclear Talks

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have wrapped up three days of talks over Iran's nuclear program, as a deadline for a framework deal looms. Zarif said on March 4 that progress was made during the talks in the Swiss resort of Montreux, but added that "a lot of work remains." - 3/5/15

Shifting Goalposts to Kill Diplomacy with Iran

- Opponents of diplomacy with Iran aim to kill the nuclear negotiations by shifting the goalposts of the talks from nukes to global nemesis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered this line of argument in his address to a joint session of Congress yesterday. World powers offered a prudent pushback from Switzerland where negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran proceeded throughout Netanyahu's speech. -Ellie Geranmayeh - 3/5/15

Iran's Role In Iraq's Fight Against IS

- The Iraqi government has launched an offensive against Islamic State militants (IS) in the northern city of Tikrit, but Iran appears to be leading the charge. Iran's military role in Iraq is highlighted by the presence of General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the elite Quds force in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Suleimani is reportedly on the ground with Shi'ite fighters, and has been described as coordinating the operation on Tikrit. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 3/5/15

Iran and Russia have conflicting Interests in Export of Gas to Europe

- As far as the export of natural gas to Europe is concerned, Iran and Russia are serious rivals. Iran, due to sanctions is not a major exporter of gas at all; however, it has the potential to break the Russian dominance over the gas market in Europe. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 3/5/15

Kerry, Persian Gulf Officials Discuss Impact of Iran Nuclear Deal

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Gulf state officials in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, in a bid to ease their concerns about the potential impact of an Iran nuclear deal. Kerry arrived in Riyadh late Wednesday, after holding three days of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Switzerland. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 3/5/15

Republicans Overreach After Bibi's Speech

- No doubt emboldened by the enthusiasm of his fellow Republicans-and perhaps by Netanyahu himself-for Bibi's attack before Congress on Obama and the P5+1's negotiations with Iran, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to have overreached, compounding the growing perception that Israel has become a partisan issue. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/5/15

U.S. Strategy in Iraq Increasingly Relies on Iran

- At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops. -Helene Cooper, NY Times - 3/5/15

Survey Shows Strong Majority Support for Obama Approach on Iran

- According to a new poll, a strong majority of the U.S. public supports an agreement that would limit Iran's enrichment capacity and impose highly intrusive inspections on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The survey was released Tuesday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to persuade Congress to derail such a deal. -Jim Lobe - 3/4/15

The Incoherence of Bibi's Sabotage Effort

- Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu can claim a victory of sorts by having set the agenda and received wall-to-wall coverage for his congressional speech. He also succeeded in making his message rather than the empty seats the story. The speech is likely to play well in Israel, and today's events will not harm his re-election prospects. But that is probably where the good news for Netanyahu ends. -Daniel Levy - 3/4/15

President Rouhani: Iran nuclear talks have ruffled Israel's feathers

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers have ruffled the feathers of one aggressive and occupying regime, whose existence hinges on belligerence. - 3/4/15

Israeli PM: Iran Nuclear Talks Are 'Very Bad Deal'

- Netanyahu "did not offer any viable alternative," Obama said, speaking from the Oval Office. "We don't yet have a deal. But if we are successful, this will be the best deal possible with Iran to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon." Obama said Netanyahu's alternative to talks amounts to no deal at all, adding that would lead Iran to redouble efforts to build a nuclear bomb. -VOA - 3/4/15

Corker Bill Threatens Iran Negotiations

- Now, Kirk and Menendez are back with a new version of their deal that, despite their claims to the contrary, also appears aimed at sabotaging an eventual comprehensive deal between the P5+1 and Iran. But the negotiations face a more immediate threat from yet another bill, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, proposed by the new Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/4/15

Tikrit: Iran key in fight to wrest city from IS

- As Iraqi and Shia militias try to recapture the city of Tikrit from Islamic State (IS), the key role of Iran in the campaign is becoming clearer. Shia militia sources in Iraq have confirmed that Gen Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force is personally taking part in leading the operation. -Nafiseh Kohnavard, BBC - 3/4/15

Iran Deputy FM Accuses U.S. Of Seeking To Control, Not Destroy, IS

- Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, has accused the United States of supplying food and weapons to the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, and of seeking to control, not destroy the extremists. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 3/4/15

Amid Nuclear Dispute, Israel, Iran Face Off Over Oil Ties

- TEL AVIV-- As Israel loudly and publicly denounces Iran and its nuclear program this week, the two countries are quietly tussling in a decades-old dispute over a secretive oil pipeline company that could be worth billions of dollars to Tehran. -Reuters - 3/4/15

An Agreement That Is Good for Israel, Bad for Netanyahu

- One of the strangest aspects of the frantic crying of alarm over Iran's nuclear program-with the crying having reached its most publicized peak in Benjamin Netanyahu's Republican/Likud campaign rally in the House chamber-is that the chief crier is the government of a country that not only has the most advanced nuclear program in the Middle East but has kept that program completely out of the reach and scrutiny of any international control and inspection regime. -Paul R. Pillar, National Interest - 3/4/15

Bibi's Eleven Bogus Arguments on Iran

- On March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress, where he is expected to make the case against a nuclear deal with Iran... In anticipation of these speeches and statements, it is important to "un-pack" and debunk the bogus arguments against an Iran deal that Netanyahu is most likely to be making. The eleven most prominent of those arguments are examined here. -Lara Friedman - 3/3/15

Obama Defends Iran Nuclear Talks Ahead Of Netanyahu Speech

- Obama downplayed Israeli concerns, telling Reuters the Israeli prime minister had been wrong on Iran before, when he opposed an interim agreement last year. "Netanyahu made all sorts of claims -- this was going to be a terrible deal, this was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief, Iran would not abide by the agreement," Obama said. He said that none of that has come true. - 3/3/15

Noam Chomsky: Opposing Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel's Goal Isn't Survival - It's Regional Dominance

- "For both president-Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran. They have a common interest in ensuring that there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region." -Democracy Now - 3/3/15

White House warns Netanyahu not to reveal Iran details

- The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister's controversial address to Congress at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday. -CNN - 3/3/15

The Israeli Prime Minister to appear before the U.S. Congress

- Deja vu all over again, the much hyped up appearance of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress, purportedly to warn the legislatures about the possibility of Iran developing its own nuclear arsenal, would only amount to his usual ostentatious rhetoric, bogus theatrical diagrams, and frivolous pontificating allegations for which he has no independently verifiable evidence. -Rachel Eliasi Kohan - 3/3/15

Obama: Iran Must Freeze Sensitive Nuclear Activity for At Least a Decade

- U.S. President Barack Obama says Iran must freeze its sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years in order for an agreement to be successful. In an interview with the Reuters news agency, the U.S. leader also conceded that the chances of reaching such a deal are still less than 50 percent. -Aru Pande, VOA - 3/3/15

Obama goes on offensive ahead of Netanyahu's speech to Congress

- President seeks to head off Israeli prime minister's criticism of Iran nuclear talks, declaring freeze on weapons program far better than sanctions or military action -Guardian - 3/3/15

To Netanyahu, Peace Is an Existential Threat

- To Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, peace between the US and Iran is an existential threat. By now, it should be clear to all: It's not an Iranian nuclear bomb he fears, but a US-Iran deal. -Trita Parsi - 3/2/15

Iran negotiators leave Tehran to for talks in Switzerland

- Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are also participating in this round of talks on a request by Iranian FM Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Zarif and Kerry will join t he nuclear negotiators in Geneva on Monday afternoon and the nuclear talks will continue on Thursday when representatives from all members of P5+1 will participate in the talks. - 3/2/15

Obama would veto bill to give Congress say on Iran deal

- Barack Obama would veto a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate allowing Congress to weigh in on any deal the U.S. and other negotiating countries reach with Iran on its nuclear capabilities, the White House said on Saturday. - 3/2/15

Iran Nuclear Talks, IS Among Key Issues for Kerry Trip

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry begins a trip Monday to Europe and Saudi Arabia, where he will hold talks on issues including efforts to combat the Islamic State group, rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over separatist unrest in Ukraine, and Iran nuclear negotiations. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 3/2/15

The Real Subject of Netanyahu's Congressional Spectacle (It Isn't Nukes)

- Benjamin Netanyahu will talk next week, as he has innumerable times before, about how an Iranian nuclear weapon is supposedly an extremely grave and imminent threat to world peace and to his nation. -Paul R. Pillar, National Interest - 3/2/15

First Iranian Direct Flight Lands in Shi'ite-Held Yemen Capital

- An Iranian airliner carrying medical supplies and aid workers landed Sunday in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, less than 24 hours after Shi'ite rebels controlling the city signed an aviation pact with Tehran. - 3/2/15

Iran says ready to cooperate with Google

- Iran said on Sunday that it is ready to cooperate with Google to facilitate its services in the Persian Gulf region. Nasrollah Jahangard, Iran's deputy minister of telecommunications and information technology, has been quoted by local media as saying that negotiations are underway with Google to establish a version of its servers in Iran. - 3/1/15

Israel Working With Al-Qaeda?

- When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Joint Session of Congress here next week, will any of those in attendance muster the courage to ask him whether Israel is supporting al-Qaeda? None other than Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard strongly suggests that it is. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/1/15

NIAC Delivers Book on "The Iranian Schindler" to All Senators

- To strengthen the understanding of the positive historic relations between the Jewish and Iranian peoples, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) delivered copies of "In the Lion's Shadow: The Iranian Schindler and his Homeland in the Second World War" to all one-hundred members of the U.S. Senate earlier this month. The books were donated to NIAC with a signed dedication to each Senator by its author, Dr. Fariborz Mokhtari, a former professor at National Defense University in Washington. -Derya Corcor - 2/28/15

Sen. Menendez Top Recipient of MEK-Related Campaign Funding

- It appears that Menendez has also been the top recipient of campaign funding from donors with ties to the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK), the cultish group that was until recently included on the State Department's terrorism list -Jim Lobe - 2/28/15

Iranian Cleric Says 'Final Steps' Being Taken In Nuclear Talks

- Tehran's provisional Friday Prayers leader says the "final steps" are being taken in Iran's talks with six global powers aimed at reaching an agreement curbing Tehran's disputed nuclear program. Speaking to worshippers in the Iranian capital, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi praised President Hassan Rohani for his management of the talks. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/28/15

Members of Congress Skipping Netanyahu's Speech

- The legislators below have made the decision to skip Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming speech to a joint-session of Congress on Tuesday, March 2nd. If your legislator is on this list, thank them for standing up for diplomacy. -NIAC - 2/28/15

Iran Nuke Deal Could Help It Mend Fences With Saudi Arabia

- After years of mutual mistrust and jockeying for regional power, Saudi Arabia and Iran may be on their way to mending fences, analysts say. Mutual concerns over the emergence of the so-called Islamic State group in the region and Iran's impending nuclear deal with the West are providing stimulus for Riyadh and Tehran to head towards detente, analysts say. -Cecily Hilleary, VOA - 2/27/15

Schakowsky Statement on Why She Won't Attend Bibi's Speech

- Despite growing pressure to attend Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's speech to a Joint Session of Congress next Tuesday, a number of Democrats have issued statements outlining their reasons for staying away. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/27/15

Kerry: Netanyahu Misjudging Nuclear Talks with Iran

- Kerry told a congressional hearing that what has been accomplished so far in talks with Tehran has actually made Israel safer by stopping Iran from advancing its nuclear program. He said critics of the ongoing talks with Iran, including Netanyahu, may not know what they are talking about. - 2/26/15

Iran's Intent is the Real Issue, Says Former IAEA Inspector

- Robert Kelley is a licensed nuclear engineer who has worked on many aspects of nuclear weapons and later on nuclear nonproliferation. His personal experiences include weapons simulation testing, plutonium metallurgy, isotope separation and emergency response. -RNN - 2/26/15

Photos: IRGC flexes muscles in Strait of Hormuz

- On Wednesday, the Naval Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps carried out a new round of exercises dubbed Payambar Azam 9 in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz. As the main part of the drills, the naval forces successfully targeted a model U.S. aircraft carrier. - 2/26/15

Forget Bibi: Let's Hear More from Our NATO Allies

- As a framework deal for a comprehensive nuclear accord between the P5+1 and Iran becomes more likely by the end of the month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu and his U.S. allies are stepping up their efforts to sabotage any agreement through the Republican majority in both houses of Congress. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/26/15

Libyan MP Says Iran Should Bolster Role to Stem Chaos

- Days after militants affiliated with the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the residence of the Iranian ambassador in Tripoli, a prominent Libyan lawmaker and former rights activist said Iran has taken an ineffective, hands-off approach regarding his country. - 2/26/15

EU Says Iran Nuke Deal 'At Hand'

- The European Union's foreign policy chief has said a nuclear deal with Iran was "at hand," urging different sides to show political will ahead of a new round of talks scheduled in Geneva next week. Federica Mogherini, whose predecessor Catherine Ashton chairs the talks in Geneva, said February 24, "We cannot miss this opportunity." - 2/25/15

As Netanyahu Tries to Stop U.S.-Iran Deal, Leaked Cables Show Israeli Spies Reject His Nuke Claims

- In what has been described as the biggest intelligence leak since Edward Snowden, Al Jazeera has begun publishing a series of spy cables from the world's top intelligence agencies. In one cable, the Israeli spy agency Mossad contradicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's own dire warnings about Iran's ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. -Democracy Now - 2/25/15

US, Iran Report 'Some Progress' at Nuclear Talks

- Both sides described a second day of talks in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as "serious, useful and constructive." But Zarif told Iran's Fars news agency that "there is a long way to reach a final agreement." - 2/24/15

Russia offers Iran latest anti-aircraft missile system

- The head of Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec says Moscow has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missile defense systems after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was scrapped under Western pressure. - 2/24/15

Iranophobia Complicates the Fight against ISIS

- As the March deadline for a political framework agreement between the P5+1 and Iran approaches, Iranīs regional rivals have ratcheted up their opposition to a deal. The preferred line of attack now seems to be that the deal will further enhance Iranīs regional influence. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 2/24/15

Leaked cables show Netanyahu's Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad

- Binyamin Netanyahu's dramatic declaration to world leaders in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service, according to a top-secret Mossad document. -Guardian - 2/24/15

Kerry and Iran's Zarif Hold Nuclear Talks

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have held two hours of talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program. The meeting on February 22 in Geneva included for the first time U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi. - 2/23/15

IS Claims Attack on Iran Ambassador's Residence in Libya

- Militants loyal to the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for bombing the empty residence of Iran's ambassador to Libya. No one was injured Sunday in the central Tripoli attack. - 2/23/15

Iran Seeking Role In Selling Gas To Europe

- Russia, beware, Iran is trying to get into the European gas market. In recent months, Iranian officials have been signaling to potential customers in Europe, potential suppliers in the Caspian Basin, and transit country Turkey that Iran is not only ready to get into the game but that without Iranian participation the European Union's Southern Gas Corridor will take many years to realize, or might never be realized. -Bruce Pannier, RFE - 2/22/15

Reading the Runes in the Latest Report on Iran's Nuclear Program

- The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's nuclear program contains much that is worth emphasizing. Iran is continuing to account for all its declared nuclear material (and the agency appears to have no reason to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear material). Iran is also continuing to comply fully with the commitments it made to the United States and others on November 24, 2013 and which it has renewed since. -Peter Jenkins - 2/21/15

Iran and U.S. resume nuclear talks in Geneva

- Iran and the United States restarted intensive nuclear talks in Geneva on Friday with the aim of narrowing remaining gaps in the run up for a political agreement by the end of March and a final nuclear deal by July 1. - 2/21/15

NIAC Runs Full Page NY Times Ad on Netanyahu Visit

- Today (Thursday, February 19th, 2015), the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is running a full-page ad in the New York Times highlighting John Boehner and Benjamin Netanyahu's outrageous political stunt that could kill diplomacy with Iran and start a war. - 2/20/15

Good Reads on Bibi-Boehner, P5+1 Progress

- For those who want to keep up with the Bibi-Boehner fiasco and prospects for an agreement between the P5+1 and Iran by the end of March, there has been some good reading material published on the Web in the last few days. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/20/15

US Keeping Some Details of Iran Nuclear Talks From Israel

- The United States said Wednesday it has been withholding some details of nuclear talks with Iran from Israel to prevent those details from possibly being made public and distorted. - 2/19/15

Iran's Jews: It's Our Home And We Plan To Stay

- Iran is a country where people at rallies routinely chant "Death to Israel." It's also home to the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel and Turkey. Iran's Jewish population topped 100,000 in the years before the shah of Iran was toppled in 1979 by the country's Shiite Muslim clerics. Today, the number of Jews has dipped to below 9,000. -Steve Inskeep, NPR - 2/19/15

The Middle East and China

- he Middle East is where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together and where the trade routes between China, India, and Europe converge. It has two-thirds of the world's energy reserves. It is also the epicenter of this planet's increasing religious strife. Relationships between this strategically crucial region and the rest of the world are now undergoing a sea change. -Chas W. Freeman, LobeLog - 2/19/15

Some Questions Worth Asking

- ISIS, ISIL or actually DA'ESH, and its self-appointed associates have been hitting Western European targets as of late, killing some half-dozen Jewish people among others. The terrorist group is also responsible for the decapitation of journalists and innocent aid workers, as well as the wholesale massacre of thousands of Moslems and non- Moslems, including several dozen Christians. -Kam Zarrabi - 2/18/15

Opinion: Effort to Thwart Iran Deal Won't Have Intended Effect

- Friction between the United States and Israel is not uncommon. On issues ranging from the 1956 Suez war to the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, the leaders of the U.S. and Israel have often clashed in ways that reflected different perceptions of their national interests. Still, there is something particularly disturbing and counterproductive about the current disagreement over Iran. -Barbara Slavin, VOA - 2/18/15

Relations of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan: Potential friends and enemies

- Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan may seem as potential close allies or at least two neighboring countries with very good relations. The two countries have land, river and sea borders. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 2/18/15

Opening a Southern Front in the Hezbollah-Israel Conflict?

- If what now in retrospect seems like a harbinger of the "War of the Syrian South," an exception to this pattern was established January 18 when Israel's air force attacked an IRL convoy in the Quneitra region near the Golan on the Syrian side of the border. Six fighters were killed, including a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard. -Aurelie Daher, LobeLog - 2/18/15

EU Realignment on Saudi Arabia and Iran?

- In a rare move, the European Parliament (EP) recently adopted a strongly worded resolution condemning human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia by a vote of 460 to 153. This unprecedented criticism of Saudi Arabia, officially an "ally," by a EU institution contrasts with the relatively milder treatment accorded to Iran, an official "foe" and Saudi Arabia's regional antagonist. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 2/17/15

President Rouhani condemns killing of 3 Muslim students in North Carolina

- "The brutal crime of the killing of three young Muslim students in the United States of America is a deplorable act and another manifestation of the serious danger of the spread of violence and extremism in our time," Rouhani said on Sunday. - 2/16/15

Iran Weekend Update

- If you want to keep up with legislative and other Washington-based developments regarding Iran, including Bibi Netanyahu's forthcoming visit here, there are a number of documents and websites that should bring you up to date. Below you will find excerpts I've lifted from the latest Legislative Round-Up, the indispensable weekly by Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now (APN). -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/15/15

Being Realistic about Nuclear Proliferation

- Earlier this week, after a closed hite House briefing on Iran, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said: "Instead of preventing proliferation, we are managing proliferation. If we enter a new world order where we are going to manage proliferation.... that is a different and far more challenging world." -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 2/14/15

Hardline Stance on Iran Nuclear Deadline Could Be Pressure Tactic

- As the March 24 deadline nears for Iran nuclear negotiators to agree on the fundamental structure of a final deal, both the U.S. and Iran increasingly have been vocal in saying they do not favor another overall extension in negotiations. There is debate, however, over whether the U.S. and Iran are actually taking more hard-line positions over the final July deadline or if they are trying to use their public assertions to pressure the other side. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 2/14/15

Iranian Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi Meets Pope

- Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi met with Pope Francis on Thursday. In the meeting, the Pope stressed the need for inter-religion cooperation and said that freedom of expression does not justify insulting religious sanctities, referring to terrorist acts carried out in the name of religion. - 2/14/15

Revolutionary Guard Commander Says Iran Helped Defeat IS In Iraq

- A Revolutionary Guard commander says Iran has helped defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq. "When Islamic State emerged in Iraq, no country offered assistance to destroy it," General Mohammad Ali Jafari said on February 14. "But Iran rushed to help the Iraqi nation to annihilate Islamic State." - 2/14/15

The Islamic State Unites the World

- During the Cold War, science fiction writers and politicians like Ronald Reagan imagined that the threat of an invasion from outer space could break down ideological barriers and unify the world. The arrival of giant bug-eyed creatures bent on death and destruction would prompt world leaders to set aside their petty rivalries for the higher purpose of saving the planet. - John Feffer, LobeLog - 2/14/15

Iranian Commander Says IS Group 'Nearing' Demise

- The head of Iran's powerful Quds Force has been quoted as saying the Islamic State (IS) group is nearing its demise. General Qassem Suleimani was quoted by Fars news agency as saying in a ceremony on February 11, "Considering the heavy defeats suffered by [IS militants] and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, we are certain these groups are nearing the end of their lives." - 2/13/15

Tell Congress: Don't Attend Netanyahu's Speech

- Congressional hawks have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress to directly challenge President Obama's diplomacy with Iran and promote sanctions that could start a war. - 2/13/15

Lest We Forget: Bibi's "Wisdom" on Iraq

- Republican members of Congress say they are eagerly waiting to hear directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on why the nuclear deal being negotiated between the United States and its P5+1 partners (including its three closest NATO allies) and Iran is so dangerous...Which, of course, brings to mind once again Netanyahu's demonstrated regional expertise in his enthusiastic promotion of the invasion of Iraq...-Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/13/15

Opinion: Former US Congressman Makes Historic Visit to Iran

- With little fanfare, another taboo in U.S.-Iran relations has shattered. Jim Slattery, a former six-term Democratic Congressman from Kansas, late last year became the first former or current American legislator to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran. -Barbara Slavin, VOA - 2/12/15
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