Thursday, August 28, 2014

Colombia: Escobar hitman 'Popeye' leaves Colombian jail

John Jairo Velasquez, who boasted of killing more than 300 people, is freed on parole after 22 years in prison. Al Jazeera's Alessandro Rampietti reports from Bogota.

Syria: Iran criticizes US plan to bombard Syria

Source: IRNA

Tehran, Aug 27, IRNA – Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani said US plan for aerial bombardment of Syria is not acceptable because the groups fighting there are not conventional military units, but are positioned in houses.

Speaking in the closing ceremony of the 10th International Energy Conference (IEC 2014) here in Tehran on Wednesday, Larijani said the Americans, with no doubt, tried hard to disrupt the affairs in Iran in the years after the victory of Islamic Revolution, but with no success.

He said we have repeatedly declared that we oppose with occupation of Iraq, but the Americans did not listen to our advice. They spent six thousand billion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and left thousands of dead and wounded and finally had to leave the area.

We were opposed with occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, but the Americans, under the pretext of fighting against narcotics and terrorism, attacked Afghanistan and while production of narcotics in year 2001 was 200,000 tons, now it has reached 800,000 tons and drugs are transiting through Afghanistan airports.

Larijani continued that Iran is not politically a neutralized country and is not dependent on any big powers.

The Majlis speaker underlined necessity of having a strategic document on energy so the resources could be used appropriately.

ˈWe also have common fields of resources with our neighbors, which should be invested on rapidly,ˈ said Larijani.

Referring to the hue and cry of the west about Iranˈs nuclear activities, Larijani said that our approach to the issue is to use nuclear energy inside the country and if we are stressing on Uranium enrichment, it is because we do not trust the West.

Larijani said that production of energy causes sustainable security in the region, adding that we should not use energy to create conflict, but it should be an element for tranquility.

The 2-day conference with the theme of ˈefficiency in resource, management- excellency in energy industryˈ wrapped up here on Wednesday. The conference was organized by Iranian Energy Committee.

Iraq: Iraqi Troops "Betrayed" Into Defeat, Capture

This article originally appeared in the Institute for War and Peace Reporting,
Iraqi Troops "Betrayed" Into Defeat, Capture
"Our commanders departed from the base and left us alone," says soldier who evaded death at ISIS's hands.

Niger: Niger's Parliamentary Head Faces Baby Trafficking Arrest

The president of Niger's parliament is set to be arrested and questioned for his alleged involvement in a baby trafficking ring.

Hama Amadou is also one of the country's leading opposition members.

A parliamentary vice president said lawmakers took the decision to order Amadou's arrest with a "heavy heart," but said they must do their duty.

Amadou says the charges are politically motivated and his allies in parliament say the arrest would violate his immunity from prosecution.

Seventeen others have already been arrested in Niger for alleged baby trafficking, including Agriculture Minister Abdou Labo.

So-called baby factories involve young women who sell their newborns to couples who cannot conceive.

Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”

Source: International Crisis Group © 2014

November’s deadline could be the last chance to avoid a breakdown in the Iran and the P5+1 nuclear talks. Compromise on Iran’s enrichment capacity is key to ending the impasse, requiring both sides to walk back from maximalist positions and focus on realistic solutions.

Despite significant headway in negotiations over the past six months, Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) remain far apart on fundamental issues. In its latest briefing, Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”, the International Crisis Group argues that both sides have forgotten the lessons that brought them this far. They have wrongly assumed that desperation for a deal would soften their rival’s bottom line and compel it to ignore its domestic political constraints. The result is a dangerous game of brinkmanship that, if continued, will yield only failure. Though there is little room for error and no time to waste, a workable compromise is still possible. Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”, Crisis Group’s latest briefing, building on the 40-point plan for a nuclear accord it detailed in May, explores a half year of talks, investigates the new realities facing negotiators and offers an innovative way out of the impasse.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
  • Iran and the P5+1 should find common ground by reverse-engineering political concerns underlying their technical differences. For Iran, this means a meaningful enrichment program; continued scientific advancement; and tangible sanctions relief. For the P5+1, this requires a firewall between Iran’s civilian and potential military nuclear capabilities; ironclad monitoring mechanisms; and sufficient time and cooperation to build trust.
  • Iran should accept more quantitative constraints on the number of its centrifuges and postpone plans for industrial-scale enrichment. In return, the P5+1 should accept the continuation of qualitative growth of Tehran’s enrichment capacity through research and development.
  • Iran should commit to using Russian-supplied nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor for its entire lifetime, in return for stronger Russian guarantees of supply and enhanced P5+1 nuclear cooperation, especially on nuclear fuel fabrication. This would gradually prepare Tehran to assume responsibility for a possible additional plant, or plants, by the end of the agreement, in eleven to sixteen years.
  • An accord should be based on realistic, substantive milestones such as the time the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs to investigate Iran's past nuclear activities ­ to determine the duration of the final agreement's several phases rather than subjective ones dictated by political calendars.

“Neither side’s arguments bear scrutiny in the debate over the number of centrifuges, because the roots of their differences are fundamentally political”, says Ali Vaez, Iran Senior Analyst. “Negotiators are both driven and constrained by their respective domestic politics, especially the U.S. and Iran, where powerful constituencies remain skeptical of the negotiations and have the leverage to derail them”.

“The moment of truth for Iran and the P5+1 has arrived. Should it be lost, it is unlikely to soon reappear”, says Robert Blecher, Acting Middle East Program Director. “The parties could allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good and watch the best opportunity to resolve this crisis devolve into a mutually harmful spiral of escalation. Or they could choose wisely”.