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Iran deal gets own Twitter handle in White House push

Official White House Twitter account to lobby for the Iran deal (screen capture)

Official White House Twitter account to lobby for the Iran deal (screen capture)

JTA — If you still have burning questions about the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, The White House is there for you — on Twitter.

The White House launched an official Twitter account dedicated to answering questions about the Iran deal on Tuesday morning. In a testament to the interest in the polarizing agreement, the account – aptly named @TheIranDeal – garnered nearly 6,000 followers in the first four hours.

“Tweet us your questions, and we’ll set the record straight,” the account’s description reads. The account was promoted by various members of the administration.

This is the first time the Obama administration has launched a Twitter account dedicated to a single issue.

Congress has about two months to review the deal, although President Obama has said that he will veto any proposed legislation that would foil it.

Facebook Redraws Israel’s Borders

Facebook (illustrative)

New advertising settings place Judea-Samaria, parts of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights as ‘outside Israel,’ according to Israeli media.

Facebook not only considers Jewish areas of Judea and Samaria (Shomron), but also parts of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as outside of Israel, according to exposé published Sunday.

The social network updated its advertising system recently allowing editors of popular pages the chance to gear their posts toward a specific geographical location.

However, a great deal of the State of Israel is not considered within Israel’s borders, according to Channel 2. 

Areas within the desired country are usually shown ‘highlighted’, whereas areas outside that country’s borders are greyed out, they explained.

Channel 2 tested the new system to aim posts in eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem, for example, and saw that the rest of the State of Israel became automatically “greyed out.” The same happened during any attempt to aim posts toward areas over 1949 Armistice lines or in the Golan Heights.

The news site notes that, as of right now, the posting system merely becomes burdensome; whereas choosing “Israel” should aim the posts to all of the State of Israel automatically, separate settings are required to specify areas Facebook apparently deems as outside its borders.

Facebook did not respond to the channel’s requests for comment

What the Iran nuclear deal holds for the region

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The nuclear deal with Iran can only help Hezbollah’s political and military plans
A staff removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of Unites States, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna on July 14, 2015. (AFP/Carlos Barria)

A 159-page text, including five annexes. Seventeen sleepless nights. Twelve years of negotiations and deadlocks. But the historic deal between the six world powers and the Iranian government over the country’s nuclear capabilities was signed today. The agreement now faces review from a Republican-led US Congress and opposition from Arab countries and Israel.

“We have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” said US President Barack Obama. “We put sanctions in place to get a diplomatic solution, and that is what we have done. . . This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it,” he added, noting a review ahead on Congress. He also said that he will veto any Congress legislation that might prevent the implementation of the deal.

Iranian officials were celebrating. “Today, we are at an important juncture in the history of our country and our revolution and the situation in the region,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. “A new page has been turned and a new chapter has begun.”

It is this sort of speech coming from Iranian officials that raises a lot of anxiety in many Middle East governments, analysts say, because lifting the economic sanctions on Iran might boost the profiles and economies of several armed groups that the country backs in the region. The nuclear deal might reinforce Iranian-backed groups, such as Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias, that are fighting in Syria and Iraq. It might also antagonize the Sunni Arab monarchies that have been in a regional power-struggle with Iran for the past few years.

“Iran is becoming a part of the decision-making process in the region,” Lebanese analyst Qassem Qassir told NOW. “Tehran will probably cooperate if there is an international decision concerning the whole region. This will also apply to Iran’s allies, the groups that follow Tehran’s agenda. But, in general, I think that this is a very favoring context for Hezbollah.”

The effects on Iran

According to official Iranian television channel Press TV: “The Iranian banking, financial, oil, gas, petrochemical, trade, insurance and transport sectors will at once be annulled with the beginning of the implementation of the agreement.” Additionally, billions of dollars in Iranian revenue frozen in foreign banks will be free up. Iran will get access to more than $100 billion in frozen assets when the Iran nuclear agreement is implemented. Of course, this all depends on when Tehran curbs its nuclear program, allows access of the UN inspectors, and the IAEA certifies it.

“Reclaiming the Iranian share in the European oil market depends on our performance but we will try to do it at the maximum possible level about 42-43% of our exports,” said Mohsen Qamsari, head of international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company.

For Lebanon’s Hezbollah, that should be good news. Party leader Hassan Nasrallah said that “Iran will become richer and wealthier and will also become more influential” under the deal reached last week, Nasrallah said in an interview with Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV, according to a translation provided by Lebanese daily The Daily Star. “This will also reinforce the position of its allies. A stronger and wealthier Iran, in the coming phase, will be able to stand by its allies, and especially the Palestinian resistance, more than at any other time in history.”

The effects on Hezbollah

Lebanese analyst Mustapha Fahs says that regardless of how harsh the international sanctions on Iran have been over the years, Tehran continued to support Hezbollah’s military program. The financing continued despite the fact that many voices in the Iranian opposition raised concerns over how the Iranian government was investing in a foreign group money it should have used to sustain the country’s economy, Fahs says. “That’s no secret anymore. In 2013, at a football match between Iran and Lebanon on the Azadi football stadium in Tehran, tens of thousands of Iranians were cursing Lebanon and Hassan Nasrallah because they felt their money was spent on Hezbollah.”

The truth is that, in spite of serious economic challenges and austerity budgets, Hezbollah was still getting its share of aid for its not-quite-negligible expenses. “For instance, in 2005, Hezbollah’s purchasing power was half its purchasing power today, Fahs said. “It has actually doubled during the Syrian uprising. The Iranian people felt deprived, although the money sent to Hezbollah was not really enough, either. But Iran kept financing Hezbollah. Of course there were cuts on social services, but they did not affect the party’s military operations.”

While the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran will certainly help Hezbollah, it won’t happen rapidly, says Fahs. “These agreements require time to be enforced and even more time to show their effects. Hezbollah can claim the victory now, but they will have a long-term problem with adjusting the ideology to the new situation: for a long time they have advertised their anti-US stance; for decades they chanted ‘Death to America!’ It will be very difficult to keep up with the fast changes in Tehran.”

Lebanese commentator Ali al-Amine believes that changes in Iran’s position in the international community will also impact Hezbollah politically. “Hezbollah is already the strongest party in Lebanon — it has a strong presence in the government and the administration and controls decisions made by the Lebanese state,” he told NOW. “But if Iran is taking the diplomacy road, Hezbollah might have to embrace it too. In the past few years, Iran always used the military option in asserting its presence on the regional Middle Eastern political scene; it supported armed groups in Palestine, Hezbollah in South Lebanon, and others. This deal might make the political option more viable than the military pressure.”

The effects on the region

Fahs, however, does not think the Iran deal is the path to a peaceful and prosperous Middle East. “Hezbollah will feel strong under the protection of a stronger Iran. The parts of Syria under Hezbollah/Iranian/Syrian government control will become ‘occupied Syria.’ The Sunni Arab monarchies will never accept that, and they will fight back,” he said.  “Angry people act in a violent way. Imagine if more people radicalized and supported the Islamic State — if only five percent of the Sunni population started supporting the Islamic State, it would count for the entire Shiite population of the Arab countries. How would Iran mange then?”

Al-Amine is more optimistic: “The rapprochement between Iran and the West in facing terrorism in Syria will give Hezbollah more roles to play; it will put on the side the fight against Israel because for the moment it is not a priority. Terrorism is, and this provides Iran and its allied groups with international support.”

Ana Maria Luca tweets @aml1609. Amin Nasr tweets @Aminknasr

#Israel Appoints Special Team to Plan Strike on #Iran

Bibi 2015

By Ari Yashar

As world powers and Iran reach a deadline Tuesday – which may be extended – for talks on the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, Israel is taking steps to prepare for a military strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities so as to defend itself from the impending threat.

Iran has refused to allow inspections of its covert nuclear sites and declared it will use advanced centrifuges as soon as a deal is met, meaning the leading state sponsor of terrorism could potentially obtain a nuclear arsenal within weeks, all while getting billions of dollars in sanctions relief through a nuclear deal.

The Hebrew-language Walla! reported Tuesday that it has learned from a foreign source that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan to head a special team tasked with examining the military options against Iran.

The team would explore what kind of striking options are available to Israel after a deal with Iran is signed.

By appointing such a senior IDF official to the team, it is estimated that Israel is considering the signing of a deal to be a game changer which would require a serious reevaluation of the regional situation, and likely necessitate military action against Iran.

Sources close to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) say there is a pressing need to present a powerful military option against Iran, a reality which is being used to demand that the defense budget not be reduced by the Knesset.

For over 15 years the IDF has been examining the possibility of military action against Iran’s ever burgeoning nuclear program, and the majority of the funding for such preparedness has gone to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the IDF’s intelligence branch.

“Iran is lying – what do we do?”

A source close to Ya’alon was quoted by Walla! saying, “nothing has changed regarding the military option. Our working assumption is that Iran is lying all the time, beyond the fact that it is funding and directing terror in the Middle East. It (Iran) is our most bitter enemy today, even though we don’t share a physical border with it, and we must not put off any kind of preparedness against it.”

“In the end we don’t believe Iran. We don’t believe the (nuclear) project will be stopped. Therefore the (military) option will remain. …We need to be ready also for the day in which Israel will need to make decisions alone. (What) if it becomes clear they are pushing the envelope in breach of the agreement? Or if Iran goes down deep underground (with its nuclear facilities)? And if new sites are found? Will we wait for the US to take care of them?”

“You have to prepare yourself for all of the threats. Not only for Gaza and Lebanon,” added the source. “The military option costs money but the more time goes by, you’re better prepared to carry out the mission.”

Indicating Israel’s growing preparedness ahead of a potential military clash with Iran, the IAF held a special drill with the Greek air force two months ago, in which roughly 100 members of the IAF took part including dozens of crews from all the F-16i squadrons.

The unusual drill had IAF pilots operating in unfamiliar territory for a night and the following day, and included simulations of strikes and dogfights involving dozens of fighter jets.

Most importantly, in the drill the Greek army reportedly deployed advanced anti-missile defense systems similar to the Russian S-300 that Moscow sold to Iran and has yet to ship. The advanced S-300 system is considered to be a major challenge in carrying out an airstrike in that it can shoot down rockets as well as jets.

UAE charges man for swearing on Whatsapp

Syria Asks UN to Dismantle its Nuclear Program

legacy 5
 By Arutz Sheva Staff

War-torn Syria has asked the UN atomic watchdog for help in converting a nuclear facility and shipping abroad potentially dangerous nuclear material, the head of the watchdog said Monday.

“We have received a request from Syria early this year…we are studying the request,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano told reporters according to AFP.

The assistance would entail converting a small reactor near Damascus so that it can be fueled with low-enriched uranium (LEU) instead of the more dangerous highly-enriched uranium (HEU).

Syria’s stock of around one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of HEU would then be sent back to China, which built the so-called Miniature Neutron Source (MNSR) reactor that is used for training and research.

HEU can be used inside a nuclear weapon, but this is extremely difficult to do.

A more likely risk in the case of Syria – where Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists control swathes of the country – is that HEU could be used in a so-called “dirty bomb.”

This involves dispersing the material over a wide area using conventional explosives, likely causing mass panic.

Governments around the world have made considerable efforts in recent years to convert reactors to use LEU and to reduce HEU stockpiles because of the risks.

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace

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