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America launches the economic side of the Middle East peace plan amid skepticism


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Sadr on the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem:  another disgrace to global arrogance


Since 2018-05-14 at 15:57 (Baghdad time)


Baghdad – Mawazine News

The leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr on Monday denounced the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, pointing out that it is another disgrace to global arrogance.

“Another disgrace to colonialism and global arrogance with the opening of the American evil building in Holy Jerusalem in Palestine is the father and jihad,” Sadr said in a tweet on Twitter. “This is just another proof of the suffering of the peoples, their humiliation, their tendency to the Israeli entity and its hostility to the heavenly religions. “He said.

“I hope that the divine heavenly response will come, especially if the response of the Muslims is a resolute response to its outrageous act,” he said.

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip killed 37 people by the Israeli army and wounded hundreds in clashes on the border strip of the sector, while participating in the “Great Return March.”

The opening ceremony of the US Embassy in Jerusalem is scheduled to take place on the anniversary of Israel’s simultaneous declaration of the Nakba

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Iraq's policy shows its position on the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem

May 14, 2018


Iraq shows its position on the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem
 Twilight News    
 15 minutes ago

Iraq on Monday expressed its position on the decision of the US administration to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem.

“What is going on today is the transfer of the United States Embassy to the Arab city of Jerusalem and the insistence that this Arab city is the capital of the Zionist entity is unacceptable and exciting to the anger of hundreds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and Christians in all,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Mahjoub said in a statement. And is a flagrant violation of international resolutions and the path of peace. ”

“While we declare our full solidarity with our Palestinian brethren, we express our categorical rejection of this measure and warn of the consequences of this step, which will have serious repercussions for the stability of the region and a negative impact on the political and security levels,” he added.

“The successful efforts of the committee to prevent Israel from obtaining a seat in the Security Council, headed by Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and working in cooperation with all friends and brothers to complete this historic task which was successful through Israel’s withdrawal from the request for temporary membership, International actions of this usurper entity “.

He pointed out that “the violent measures used by the Zionist forces against civilians are a flagrant violation of human rights, and in this sense, we strongly condemn the targeting of civilian demonstrators in Gaza, which caused the deaths of dozens and injuring hundreds of our Palestinian people.”

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Prime Minister Dr. Haider Abadi receives a telephone call from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Ben Ali Yildirm



1 7 - Ayar- 2018


Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abbadi received a telephone call from Turkish Prime Minister Ben Ali Yildirim on Thursday. 

During the meeting, they discussed enhancing cooperation between the two countries and the situation in the region and congratulating the Iraqi parliamentary elections. 

The Turkish Prime Minister exchanged greetings with Prime Minister Dr. Haidar Abadi on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan and congratulated Mr. Yildirum on the occasion of the Iraqi national elections which will be a good sign for the Iraqi people.

Al-Abbadi stressed that the elections held on the 12th of this month witnessed the success of our security forces in preventing any security breach in the elections despite the terrorist threats. 

For his part, Yildirum pointed out that Turkey is interested in the stability of Iraq and the prosperity of its people and is ready to provide all kinds of support to this country, pointing out that the period in which the Prime Minister Dr. Haidar al-Abbadi has enjoyed great improvement in relations between the two countries. Prime Minister for these good relations. 

Dr. Al-Abbadi thanked the Prime Minister of Turkey for these good feelings and the good deeds of the Turkish people and all the Muslim peoples and wished success to the Turkish elections. 

In another context, the Prime Minister of Turkey referred to the decision taken by the United States on the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem and the resulting protests and demonstrations by the Palestinian people, which led to massacres of more than sixty people. Mr. Prime Minister , Dr. Haider al - Abadi 
denounced , 
which did not give effect to the resolutions of international norms , a unilateral position of the side will not change anything from the fact that Jerusalem also condemned the massacres carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against unarmed Palestinians. He 
also to 
condemn those committed against the Palestinians.

Prime Minister 's Media Office 
17 - May - 2018


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Trump launches "Deal of the Century" after Ramadan

May 19, 2018






US President Donald Trump plans to launch a ‘century deal’ in the second half of June, just after Ramadan, the Associated Press quoted US officials as saying on Saturday.

Five US officials and one senator confirmed that the US administration intends to put forward what they called the ‘peace plan’ immediately after Ramadan. The plan was prepared by Trump, Jared Kouchner and his special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, In informing some allies of the elements of the plan.

The report, published by the Associated Press, said that the prospects for the Palestinian Authority’s attention to the “peace plan” seem dim, especially since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas summoned the head of the Palestinian mission earlier this week to protest the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Edited by Floridian
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 You go Trump !  It's so nice not to have  a lawyer in charge for a change .  He's  tough ,smart ,  rough around the edges  and knows how to lead  and negotiate .  The  US has got the royal straight flush in this game ,  

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A Palestinian woman holds her national flag during a protest along the border with the Gaza strip east of Jabalia on May 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 19 May 2018
  • The Trump administration is aiming to roll out its much-hyped but long-delayed Middle East peace plan next month
  • US allies in Europe and the Arabian Gulf also have felt compelled to criticize the administration for its approach

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is aiming to roll out its much-hyped but long-delayed Middle East peace plan next month amid signs it may further alienate the Palestinians by slashing millions of dollars in funding for humanitarian and development projects in the West Bank and Gaza.
Five US officials and a congressional aide say the administration intends to release the peace plan in mid- to late-June, shortly after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, although they cautioned that the timing could slip depending on developments in the region. They say the plan’s main authors — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt — have already begun quietly briefing select allies and partners on elements of the proposal.
Yet any Palestinian willingness to even consider the plan would require conditions to improve and anger to subside considerably in the coming weeks, an unlikely scenario as the Palestinians say evidence of one-sided Trump giveaways to Israel continues to pile up. US allies in Europe and the Arabian Gulf also have felt compelled to criticize the administration for its approach. Ostensibly, Trump would need buy-in from those same countries to build enough momentum for any peace plan to succeed.
The administration has been resisting congressional demands to fully close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington because Greenblatt and Kushner want to keep that channel open in case the Palestinians are open to re-entering negotiations with Israel based on the plan. The office was ordered closed by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last November, but has been allowed to stay open for limited purposes under the administration’s interpretation of the law requiring it to be shut down in the absence of peace talks.
The prospect of Palestinian interest in the peace proposal appears dim, however, particularly since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recalled the mission’s chief earlier this week to protest Monday’s opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. The embassy move is said to have contributed to violent protests in Gaza that were met with deadly force from Israel. Nearly 60 Palestinians were killed Monday by Israeli forces, drawing condemnations and calls for restraint from Europe and elsewhere. The US declined to join those calls and, while regretting the loss of life, opposed efforts at the UN to open an international investigation into the violence.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the embassy move and the administration’s unreserved defense of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies have alienated and angered the Palestinian leadership, which accuses the administration of abandoning its role as a neutral arbiter in the conflict. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said any deal needs to be between the Palestinians and Israel — not the United States.
“I don’t need Jason Greenblatt. I don’t need Kushner,” Erekat said. “It’s our lives.”
That sense of betrayal may deepen significantly this summer as millions of dollars in US assistance to the Palestinians appears likely to be cut and the funds re-allocated to other regions. That money has been on hold since last year and existing funding for some projects will start to run out in just months if it is not approved in the next two weeks. If that does not happen, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development will have to notify aid recipients that continued US funding is not forthcoming and those programs will begin to be shut down. Local staffers would be laid off and US officials running the projects would be reassigned elsewhere.
Of $251 million in US aid planned for the Palestinians in 2018, only $50.5 million has been reported spent, according to the government’s online tracker, The remaining more than $200 million is currently on hold, a figure that does not include an additional $65 million in frozen US assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which provides services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon. The US aid pays for programs on education, health, good governance and democracy promotion as well as disaster preparedness and security.
For several months the White House has been sitting on State Department and USAID recommendations to spend at least some of the money, according to the officials. Three officials said there is no indication those recommendations will be acted upon any time soon despite appeals from lawmakers and even expressions of concern from Israel, which sees value in the assistance especially in the security sector. One official said there was “an overwhelming lack of urgency” about making a decision on the funding. The other two said there was no sign that the end-of-May timeframe would be met.
“The administration is currently reviewing US assistance to the Palestinians,” USAID said in a statement to The Associated Press. “USAID is in discussions with all affected implementing partners on the status of the review, and is working closely with the interagency, as the administration concludes its review.”
At immediate risk are between five and 10 of the some 20 USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza, along with proposed new initiatives, the officials said.
Without a quick decision those will run out of money by the end of 2018, they said. Nearly all of the others will run out of money in early 2019 unless the US funding is unblocked, they said.

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Enforcing Sanctions On Iran




May 26, 20188:12 AM ET

Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday

Now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, how difficult will it be to enforce sanctions? NPR's Scott Simon speaks with former Treasury Department adviser Elizabeth Rosenberg.


Yesterday in Vienna, representatives from Great Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia met with Iran's deputy foreign minister to discuss ways to try to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal. Of course, the U.S. has withdrawn from that agreement and threatened Iran with severe sanctions. Tehran now says it will decide in the coming weeks whether it will pull out from the accord. We're joined now by Elizabeth Rosenberg. She's senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and was sanctions adviser for the U.S. Treasury Department in the Obama administration. Ms. Rosenberg, thanks so much for being with us.


ELIZABETH ROSENBERG: Good to be with you.


SIMON: Iran must know how to handle sanctions after all this time, don't they? They've had to live under a lot of them over the past generation.


ROSENBERG: They have indeed. They've been subject to very serious, tough sanctions in the past not just from the United States but from the entire international community. That's involved restrictions on their energy sector, their banking sector and an array of other economic sectors.


SIMON: How have they gotten around them?


ROSENBERG: Well, in some instances, they haven't been able to. So during the period of most intensive, multilateral sanctions on Iran - this is 2012 to 2015 - they had great difficulty evading sanctions. It happened here and there, certainly when it came to sales of oil, certain cargoes or bartering - financial bartering - some smuggling activities. But the fear now is that, in an instance where there's unilateral sanctions on Iran, it may have ample opportunity to cheat and evade these sanctions.


SIMON: Unilateral meaning, of course, just the United States. So it'll be tougher for the sanctions to have any effect if, for example, China or Russia and, let's say, Germany don't go along.


ROSENBERG: Right, exactly. So right now the European Union, in general, and the E3, in particular, have - that being the United Kingdom, France and Germany - have expressed an interest in maintaining their commitment to the deal. And that means continuing to give Iran economic relief promised to it under the deal. That means potentially violating U.S. sanctions or creating ways for European companies to not abide by U.S. sanctions.


SIMON: And how does the U.S. respond, at least under this administration?


ROSENBERG: Well, this administration - officials from this administration have offered very strongly worded commitments to implement - reimplement - sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear accord and add on more sanctions on non-nuclear areas pursuant to their concerns about ballistic missiles and terrorism.


SIMON: Would the effect of unilateral sanctions, as you see it, be enough to force Tehran to decide, no, we want to stay in the agreement and maybe even make one that the U.S. will accept?


ROSENBERG: Well, that depends on how other countries respond to the U.S. imposition and re-imposition of these nuclear sanctions. Will the international community join the United States? Will they stand back and not directly challenge the United States? I think what Tehran will respond to most is what the Europeans in particular do to challenge the United States and its re-imposition of sanctions or not.


SIMON: And based on your experience, Ms. Rosenberg, how much do France and the U.K. and Germany want to be different than U.S. policy in this regard?


ROSENBERG: Right now is the period of true testing of exactly that question. How independent do they want their foreign policy to be, given that there's a long-standing, close relationship between trans-Atlantic security partners and significant collaboration and inter-connectivity in the economic sphere? So on the one hand, Europe wants to adhere to its own principles on foreign policy and economic relations, which lead it to diverge from the United States in the matter of this Iran deal. On the other hand, that may mean risking quite a lot.


SIMON: Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for a New American Security, thanks so much for being with us.

ROSENBERG: Thank you.

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Abbas Arakgi: Vienna meeting strengthened Iran's confidence in maintaining the nuclear agreement



Baghdad / NRT

TEHRAN - Iran's foreign minister, Abbas Araghji, said the European countries' pledge to secure Iran's demands has bolstered his country's confidence in maintaining the nuclear deal.

"The meeting was held at the request of Iran to discuss the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement and the consequences of its conduct, and whether other members of the agreement are capable of," Araghji told reporters Friday (May 25, 2018) at the conclusion of the emergency meeting of the Joint Commission for the Implementation of the Nuclear Agreement in Vienna. Maintain the agreement without Washington and secure our interests, "according to Tasnim.

"A special task force on the embargo was set up before the meeting and several expert-level meetings were held with the participation of the European Union as well as Germany, Britain, France, China and Russia," he said.

"The meetings were very intensive, and the joint committee meeting took about three hours," he said.

"The members affirmed their united position on continuing their pledges and expressed their regret for the withdrawal of Washington from the agreement. They also stressed the securing of Iran's demands and considered normalization of economic cooperation with them necessary to maintain the agreement."

He said the meeting in Vienna was an indication of a good will and a united stand for the nuclear agreement, which confirms their determination to continue the agreement and provide Iran's demands.

He noted that "negotiations will continue in the coming weeks at all levels, and the priority will be to the level of experts where a result should be reached and a clear vision on the continuation of the course."

In a related context, the foreign ministers of EU member states will meet in the Belgian capital Brussels on Monday to discuss ways to maintain the nuclear agreement with Iran.


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China to host Iran leader amid nuclear deal upheaval

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) holds talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing on May 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018

BEIJING: Iran’s president will attend a summit with his Chinese and Russian counterparts next month, officials in Beijing said Monday, amid efforts to salvage the nuclear deal thrown into upheaval by Donald Trump.
China, Russia and European powers, all of which signed the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, are scrambling to save the pact following the US president’s decision to quit the agreement and reinstate sanctions.
China’s President Xi Jinping will meet Iran’s Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting from June 9-10 in Qingdao, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend the summit, he added.
Wang did not include the nuclear deal in a readout of the summit’s formal agenda.
But Beijing, which is already Iran’s top trade partner and one of its biggest buyers of crude, has signalled that it intends to keep working with the Islamic regime despite the US move.
Chinese businesses are expected to step up activities in Iran to fill the void left by the exit of US companies and the possible withdrawal of European rivals amid punitive measures enforced by the US.
Iran is currently an observer member of the SCO, though it has long sought full membership.
The regional bloc focusing on security and trade also includes four ex-Soviet central Asian republics and two new members, Pakistan and India.

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Turkey Threatens to Deny US Access to Incirlik Base Amid F-35 Deal Tensions

© AP Photo /


10:45 30.05.2018(updated 16:21 30.05.2018)Get short URL


U. S. Air Force airmen walk toward fighter jets after Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey (File)



ANKARA (Sputnik) - If the United States does not supply F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Turkish Air Force, Ankara will satisfy its need for such warplanes "somewhere else," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

The Turkish people are against the presence of US troops at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey due to Washington's unfriendly policy and "wrong moves" with regard to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.

"We try to improve our relations with the United States. To normalize them, the United States should take steps regarding [the Syrian city] Manbij, the extradition of [Islamic cleric Fethullah] Gulen… When it comes to these issues, our people say: 'Close the Incirlik, Kurecik bases [for the US]'… We are waiting for the United States to abandon its wrong actions," Cavusoglu told the A Haber broadcaster.

"As regards the F-35 jets, I have no concerns, this contract is legally binding, it cannot be easily terminated. But if these jets are not supplied to Turkey, we will satisfy our needs somewhere else," Cavusoglu said, as quoted by the NTV broadcaster.

"There are no reasons why the US will not supply F-35s to us. We do not want to spoil relations with our US ally. The F-35 aircraft should be delivered to Turkey as planned. But in case of problems, Turkey will not be left without an alternative. It may buy [aircraft] both from Russia and from a NATO country. There is an agreement on F-35s, and if one side withdraws from it, the necessary steps will be taken," the minister added.


Israel Wants US to Keep F-35 'Upgrade Capabilities' Secret From Turkey – Reports

Secretary of the US Air Force Heather Wilson has said earlier that Washington is hopeful it can resolve some operational problems over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system before sending F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Turkish Air Force.

On Sunday, the Yeni Safak media outlet reported Turkey could purchase Russian fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jets if the United States blocks deliveries of F-35 planes because of Ankara's decision to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Earlier in April, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia could negatively affect the delivery of the F-35 jets to Ankara. In addition, a group of senators comprising both Republicans and Democrats wants to block the supply of F-35s to Ankara due to the arrest of US Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being tried on charges of aiding terrorist groups.

READ MORE: Turkey Cannot Confirm Plans to Purchase Su-57 Jets Instead of F-35 — Source

In December 2017, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement to supply S-400 air defense systems to Ankara. According to a statement by the Turkish defense industry secretariat, two S-400 batteries will be operated and serviced by the Turkish military.

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Turkey threatens retaliation if new bill stops F-35 sale

By: Joe Gould    4 days ago



Tension between the U.S. and Turkey over Ankara's plans to buy a Russian-made S-400 air defense system have yielded legislation to bar the sale of F-35 fighter jets. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Turkish government has vowed reprisals if the U.S. Congress passes a defense policy bill that prevents the sale of Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets to Ankara.

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday passed its version of the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act with language that directs the Pentagon to submit a plan to Congress to remove the NATO ally from participation in the F-35 program.

“According to agreement, everybody has a mission and we expect everyone to fulfill these missions,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy, Ahval reports. “Such steps are breach of the spirit of our alliance with the U.S. As our minister stated, if such steps are taken, we will have no other choice but to respond accordingly.”

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu said earlier this month the country would retaliate, after the House version of the NDAA was unveiled. That bill contains a broader prohibition on any foreign military sales to Turkey until the Pentagon reports to Congress on the impact of U.S.-Turkey tensions.

The Senate approved its version of the massive bill after meeting behind closed doors this week, but the text of the bill itself is not expected for about another week. The panel was steered by its No. 2 Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma, as its chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was battling brain cancer at home in Arizona.

The NDAA is several steps from becoming law. The House passed its version earlier Thursday, and the Senate must pass its version before the two are reconciled over the summer into a final bill for both chambers to pass.

One provision in the SASC-passed NDAA says the Senate believes Turkey should be sanctioned if it completes the purchase of the S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system from Russia.

Future of F-35 in Italy remains a mystery under new government

Two populist parties on the brink of forming Italy’s first populist government claim strong backing to the country’s defense industry. But specifics remain murky.

By: Tom Kington

Separate language from Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and James Lankford, R-Okla., targets the F-35 sale. It directs a report with timelines to remove the Turkish government from participation in the F-35 program with the least impact on other international program partners.

The lawmakers cited Turkey’s imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson as well as the S-400 deal. Turkish officials have said the purchase is a matter of national sovereignty, but NATO members have expressed concerns because the S-400 is not interoperable with NATO systems.

“I truly wish we could instead be working to pass an NDAA that would strengthen the relationship between Turkey and the United States,” Tillis said. “However, the Turkish government’s recent actions, including the wrongful treatment of Pastor Brunson, has made this congressional response both necessary and appropriate.”

“There is tremendous hesitancy [about] transferring sensitive F-35 planes and technology to a nation who has purchased a Russian air defense system designed to shoot these very planes down,” Shaheen said in a statement. “This amendment is meant to give the Departments of State and Defense the guidance and congressional support they need to ensure that this does not happen at this time.”

The congressional action comes as the Trump administration pressures Ankara to rethink the S-400 purchase, which was announced in December.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified Thursday on Capitol Hill that he had spoken with Cavuşoğlu in recent days to push for Brunson’s return and implore Ankara not to buy the S-400.

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Turkey’s capacity to access the F-35, he said, “is still very much a live issue.”

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison called the purchase “very serious” at a public forum on Wednesday.

“They’re a very important partner,” she said of Turkey. “But no partner in NATO has ever purchased a Russian system that is not capable of being interoperable with our NATO systems.”

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Dont know if this middle east peace plan and Trump signing it has any significance but i really think this is a big deal because this will probably unite iran, iraq, and the rest of the middle easterns... Also, i think that Iraq will have a Prime Minister by then.

The rv may take place prior to this peace.plan. I already mentioned my 2 scenarios: 1. The iqd rate will go down from 1190 to a few hundreds...then in 2 months it will rv to 1 plus and goin up. 2. The CBI will initially come out with 1 plus n then market will drive it up higher 



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8 minutes ago, navira said:

Dont know if this middle east peace plan and Trump signing it has any significance but i really think this is a big deal because this will probably unite iran, iraq, and the rest of the middle easterns... Also, i think that Iraq will have a Prime Minister by then.

The rv may take place prior to this peace.plan. I already mentioned my 2 scenarios: 1. The iqd rate will go down from 1190 to a few hundreds...then in 2 months it will rv to 1 plus and goin up. 2. The CBI will initially come out with 1 plus n then market will drive it up highe


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Congress targets election winners in Iraq


Bryant Harris May 30, 2018



The House unanimously voted to sanction two Iran-backed militias in Iraq, one of which just won more than a dozen parliamentary seats.


Qais al-Khazali (C), leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the militias in the Popular Mobilization Units, speaks during a campaign rally for the Fatah coalition of Iranian-supported militia groups, in Baghdad, May 7, 2018.

As parliamentarians in Baghdad work to form a new governing coalition in the wake of this month’s elections, their counterparts in Washington are seeking to sanction more than a dozen of the Iraqi legislators over their links to Iran.

The House of Representatives unanimously voted last week on legislation requiring President Donald Trump to sanction “persons that are officials, agents, affiliates of or owned and controlled by” two prominent Iran-backed militias that operate in Iraq and Syria. The amendment from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to a must-pass annual defense authorization bill targets Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, both of which are part of the Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units battling the Islamic State.

Both militias joined with other Iran-backed military forces as part of the Fatah, or Conquest, political coalition, which came in second in the May 12 elections with 47 out of 329 parliamentary seats. Asaib Ahl al-Haq won 14 of those 47 seats, according to Iraq analyst Kirk Sowell, while Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba did not field any candidates.

“The US Department of Treasury will ultimately determine if the political wing constitutes an affiliate or entity controlled by” Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a Poe aide told Al-Monitor. “Congressman Poe believes [Asaib Ahl al-Haq] will likely be subject to these penalties unless it completely breaks all ties with the armed wing, renounces violence and acts solely as [an] Iraqi political party with no backing from Iran.”

“Political parties are about engaging in peaceful civil discourse, not about representing armed thugs who commit violent atrocities to achieve political ends,” the aide added.

The Trump administration has taken an increasingly hawkish approach to Iran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal earlier this month, vowing to go after Iran’s proxies throughout the region. If it so chooses, however, the administration has some wiggle room to avoid sanctioning the 14 new Asaib Ahl al-Haq lawmakers as Iraqi law requires political parties to formally separate themselves from the militias. However, the parties retain the same names as their respective militias and Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s leader, Qais al-Khazali, has landed a seat in parliament.

The Iraqi Embassy did not respond to Al-Monitor’s inquiries about its positions on the provision.

After Poe introduced similar legislation last year, a Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba spokesman denounced the bill as a “conspiracy and victory for the Islamic State and all other terrorist organizations supported by Washington.”

Despite the conspiratorial rhetoric, both the Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militias formed an alliance of convenience with the United States during the fight against the Islamic State. Previously, both groups had battled US forces following the 2003 invasion of Iraq with the backing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The United States has sanctioned the leader of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Akram al-Kaabi, since 2008.

Despite Washington’s fear of growing Iranian influence in Iraq, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s nationalist Sairoon Alliance won the most seats. He is now working with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr (Victory) coalition in an attempt to establish a new government, even as disgruntled parties are demanding a recount.

While Sadr previously directed the Mahdi Army against US troops following the 2003 invasion, he is also critical of Iranian influence in Iraq. This has prompted IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani to coordinate with pro-Tehran parties in Baghdad as a bulwark against Sadr.

Other than potential sanctions on the 14 Iraqi parliamentarians, it remains unclear how much of an impact such measures would actually have on Washington’s ability to do business with Baghdad as Iraqi politicians attempt to create a new coalition.

“The most meaningful impact of sanctions like these is often less on the direct targets and more on their environment,” Nathaniel Rabkin, the managing editor of the newsletter Inside Iraqi Politics, told Al-Monitor. “The more Iraqi entities and persons you sanction, the more US businesses will be cautious about doing business in Iraq more generally and the more carefully they’ll be vetting Iraqi partners.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced its own draft of the annual defense bill last week, but has not publicly released the text.

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Russia is a surprise .. the withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria within days




Russia is a surprise .. the withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria within days


02-06-2018 All times are GMT +3


The Euphrates -


After the news of an Israeli-Russian deal, dealing with the Iranian presence south of Syria, and despite the denials of both Israel and Iran alike, Russia blew up a surprise Friday. 

Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nibenzia, has confirmed an agreement on the withdrawal of Iranian troops from south-west Syria near the border with Israel, and expected to be implemented within days. 

Speaking at a press conference at UN headquarters on Russia's assumption of the UN Security Council presidency in June, Nebenzia said in response to a question on whether an agreement was reached with Iran and Israel on the withdrawal of Iranian troops from southwestern Syria. Reports in the press about an agreement on a certain dispersal of troops in southwestern Syria, and as far as I know, an agreement was reached. "I can not say whether it has just been implemented or not, but, as I understand it, the parties I have worked with are satisfied with it," he said. 

He also stressed that 'if the agreement is not implemented until today, it will happen in the near future', according to Russian agencies quoted. 

Earlier on Friday, a senior military source told Al Arabiya that Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia had begun withdrawing from areas of southern Syria and Daraa. The military source said that only a small part of the troops remained, and is expected to complete withdrawal in the coming days. 

Iran's withdrawal comes in response to Israeli demands and a prelude to a Russian deal that could allow Assad's forces to control the southern border in exchange for Iran's removal. 

For his part, the head of the Syrian negotiating delegation, Nasr Hariri, in an interview with the 'event' to the need to unite the Syrians to demand the exit of Iranian militias from Syria, considering it a danger to all components of the Syrian people, including supporters of the regime.

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