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Tightening the Net: A New Cabinet and New Attempts at Control
A new Article 19 report tracks Iranian government efforts to localize and control data inside the country. "ARTICLE 19 continues to demand that Iran repeal vague laws and policies which erode the rights to freedom of expression and privacy which are guaranteed within Iran’s constitution.

In this briefing, we also highlight the responsibility of technology companies and platforms, such as Telegram and Apple, to remain transparent about their policies, regarding cooperation with the Iranian government, and efforts to ensure continued access to information for Iranian users."
otf  iran  mena 
yesterday by dmcdev
How to Understand Israel’s Strike on Syria -NY Times, Sep 9,2017
In this specific case, the complex that was attacked was a research and production center belonging to the CERS Institute. The institute is funded mostly by Iran, utilizes Iranian technology and produces advanced long-range missiles and chemical weapons for the Syrian Arab Army and Hezbollah. The strike should indicate to both Tehran and Damascus that Israel is willing to take decisive action to prevent the development of long-term strategic threats
Israel  foreign_policy  attack  Iran  CW  SAA  Hama  Russia  Mar15 
yesterday by elizrael
Resurrection of Traditional Leadership Reignites Self-governance Debate Among Druze - Chatham House, Sep 2017
The regime’s support for increasing the authority of family leaders suits the traditional leadership in Syria’s Druze community, which has been marginalized since the Baath party took power in 1963. When the Syrian revolution began in 2011, the regime restored a certain amount of influence to local traditional leaders it saw as loyal, giving a major boost to the three ‘Uqqal Sheikhs as mediators between the authorities and Druze society. This was the result of an implicit agreement between the two sides that allowed young Druze men to avoid ‘mandatory and reserve military service’ in the regime’s forces, providing they remained in their areas or volunteered in local militias.

Today, following the self-isolation of the current first ‘Uqqal sheikh, Al-Hajari, who is considered the strongest supporter of the regime, the other two ‘Uqqal sheikhs are attempting to form an alliance with the head of the Atrash family in the town of ‘Ira. The recent reconciliation between the two ‘Uqqal sheikhs and the Sheikhs of Karama, a militia formed by young religious Druze that had opposed the regime after the start of the Syrian uprising, appears to have given weight to this traditional leadership.

On the other side of the argument is a large group of Swaida residents who are against self-government. Their narrative is based on Syrian nationalism, the role of the Druze in winning Syrian independence in 1946 and their leading role in the Syrian revolution of 1925 against the French Mandate. For these people, any talk of self-government or decentralized administration is tantamount to secession from Syria and would be a mark of national shame. Some of those who hold this view are people who benefit from the status quo.

On the other hand, leaders of various Druze militias have arisen as new elites. They have been quieter and more cautious in dealing with the issue of self-government, for reasons related to how they came into existence and the support they are given by the regime’s security apparatus, as well as the fact that some of them rely on Iran for finance, training and weaponry. Druze militia leaders have not been able to turn their military clout into political influence, but have remained hostage to their financial interests, which in turn are determined by their involvement in the war economy through smuggling, kidnapping and killing. Public anger at the lack of security has been directed towards these militias, which have faced a crippling financial crisis since the closure of smuggling routes into and out of ISIS-held territory in the east of the province.
Druze  Sweida  NDF  iran  warlords  smuggling  kidnapping  Mar15  clergy  localGovt 
yesterday by elizrael
Report sheds light on Iranian missile factories being built in Lebanon | The Times of Israel, July 9, 2017
Sources told the French industry magazine that one of the factories is being built in northern Lebanon, near the town of Hermel in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The second facility is reportedly being constructed along the southern coast, between the towns of Sidon and Tyre.

According to Intelligence Online, the Hermel facility is being used to produce the Fateh 110, a medium-range missile. The southern facility, meanwhile, will be used to make smaller munitions.
Mar15  Lebanon  missile  weapons  Iran  Hizbollah 
4 days ago by elizrael
New Syrian Missile Factories Look a Lot Like Ones in Iran - The Drive, Aug 23, 2017
Based on the imagery alone, the company’s analysts concluded that the buildings were very similar to structures seen in Iran that are associated with the production of short range ballistic missiles, but that the exact extent of Iranian involvement as unclear. Work on at least one portion of the facility seemed to be still ongoing, as well.

The first report of the existence of this new complex came from a website,, which is associated with the Syrian opposition groups, on June 28, 2017. The activists said that their sources had informed them that Assad himself had visited the missile factories earlier in the month under the cover of visiting the families of supporters in the area.

“The sources mailed us aerial photographs of the area which show the facility, consisting of several buildings, and noted that it is under the direct supervision of the Iranians,” the writers on explained, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “It is a facility for developing and manufacturing long-range missiles, and the sources assess that it will be officially opened at the end of this year. According to them, during his visit to the facility Assad held an extensive meeting with several 'Iranian and Syrian experts,' lasting about two hours.”
missile  Mar15  Iran  Lattakia 
4 days ago by elizrael
Israel takes stock of Putin’s pull with Iran - Al-Monitor, Aug 28, 2017
There is one more point. The very possibility of a dialogue between Moscow and Tehran is getting on Washington's nerves, which gives additional weight to Russia’s position in the Syria talks. Besides, the degree of Russia’s influence on Iran — if it exists — is irrelevant in this regard. What matters is Russia’s appearance of influence, the semblance of power.

“Even if he wanted to, [Putin’s] help could be nothing but psychotherapeutic, that is, he could only listen to his Israeli counterpart, but would hardly ever be able to limit Iran’s influence in the region. Yet it should have been flattering for Putin to be consulted on such serious geopolitical matters, and in this respect the meeting was mutually beneficial,” Andrey Kolesnikov, special correspondent of the Russian Kommersant newspaper and a member of the Kremlin’s press pool for 20 years, wrote in describing the Sochi meeting.

It is noteworthy that on the day Netanyahu was meeting with Putin, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that the center in Amman, Jordan, that monitors Syria’s southern de-escalation zone had finally started its work. Agreements on monitoring were reached as early as July, and have been a serious worry to Israel. For Russia, however, the de-escalation zones are matters of special pride. Moscow is indeed so proud of negotiating the achievement that at an Aug. 23 meeting with Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared that establishment of the four zones had brought Syria’s civil war to an end.
Mar15  Israel  Russia  Iran  Putin  Netanyahu  Hizbollah  IranianProxy 
4 days ago by elizrael
Pravda: Russia to continue backing Iran despite PM's exhortations - Ynet, Aug 30, 2017
"According to eye witnesses to the open portion of the talks," reports Pravda in an article describing the meeting, "the Israeli Prime Minister sounded agitated and, at times, even close to panic."

"Despite Netanyahu's emotional state, the Russian leader remained calm," the Russian paper continues. "Putin said 'Iran is Russia's strategic ally in the Middle East,' but added 'Israel is also an important partner of Russia in the region.' He noted Moscow does indeed take the Jewish state's security interests into account."

According to the paper's claims, "Netanyahu's worst nightmare came true since Putin rejected his threats." The article stresses Netanyahu failed in his attempt to convince Putin, adding that Russia will continue working to strengthen Tehran's position in the region.

"Israel cannot teach the Kremlin how Russian policymakers should shape their Middle Eastern policy," it said. "Russia will continue nurturing and growing Iran's influence in the region opposite the Arab royal houses attempting—along with Israel—to create a NATO-style military alliance receiving instructions from, and subordinated to, the US."
Israel  Russia  Iran  Mar15  NetanyahuGovt 
4 days ago by elizrael
Shin Bet chief: Hamas setting up in Lebanon with Iran's support | The Times of Israel, Sep 10, 2017
The head of the Shin Bet security service said Sunday that Hamas is setting up a base in Lebanon with Iranian support as part of its ongoing efforts to deepen its connections with the Islamic Republic’s “Shiite axis.”
Lebanon  Hizbollah  Iran  Hamas  Gaza 
4 days ago by elizrael
Building Sacred Legitimacy - Carnegie Middle East Center, Sep 13, 2017
By the same token, Hezbollah, through its reconstructed history, claims representation and continuity with the sacred past. The party, both directly and indirectly, has embarked on this reconstruction of history, employing a plethora of symbols, anecdotes, and myths, some of which are modern inventions. According to this narrative, Wilayat al-Faquih, or the Guardianship of the Jurisconsult, whereby the religious leader is also the paramount political leader, as in Iran, is only a continuation of the leadership of the prophets and infallible Imams. Therefore, any member of the group or the community faces the same tests as the faithful in the Quran and the Hadith. Only the contexts of the conflicts have changed. This sacred legitimacy is essential to mobilization.

MHA: Examining Hezbollah’s identity project for Lebanon’s Shi‘a sheds light on its least reported side. The party is widely known as a political and military organization, and now a regional player, whether in Syria or Yemen. However, it is also Lebanon’s largest publisher, with dozens of active and often subsidized publishing houses, acquiring nearly half of the national book market. In terms of periodicals, the organization is as formidable. Every single institution in Hezbollah’s structure produces at least one magazine. The scout movement affiliated with the party for instance publishes magazines for boys and girls, alongside booklets and short stories. Hezbollah’s internal magazine, Baqiatullah, distributes 20,000 copies, more than any other publication nationwide.

These publications tailor identity for different audiences, from young children and students to the party’s wounded. The same institutions that provide crucial services and financial assistance are also publishers and indoctrinators, organizing learning sessions for their beneficiaries. This includes the party’s network of schools, scouts, charities, financial and health institutions, as well as its martyrs and wounded and its construction arm (Jihad al-Bina’).

All of Hezbollah’s publications produce their content in a holistic fashion, under centralized guidance and supervision. The body in charge of overseeing this production is the Central Cultural Unit (Al-Wahda al-Thaqafiyya al-Markaziyya), a clerically-dominated body occupying an entire building in the southern suburbs of Beirut. This is an identity project on an industrial scale.
Hizbollah  identity  indoctrination  Shia  Iran  Lebanon 
4 days ago by elizrael
ישראל דרשה 60 ק"מ, אך רוסיה תאפשר לכוחות האיראניים בסוריה להתקרב לגבול - מדיני ביטחוני - הארץ
התביעה הישראלית, שהועברה בשיחות שקדמו לגיבוש ההסכם בחודש יולי, לא נענתה. רוסיה הסכימה רק להתחייב כי האיראנים ובעלי בריתם לא יתקרבו אל מרחק של פחות מחמישה קילומטרים מקווי סיום הלחימה בין המשטר לבין המורדים. כיוון שבגולן הסורי נותרה אחיזה של המשטר בחלק הצפוני, מהעיירה קונייטרה החדשה וצפונה לכיוון דמשק, המשמעות המעשית היא שהרוסים מחויבים רק להרחקת האיראנים מקו הגבול ממש. עד כה, הרוסים מצליחים במידה רבה לאכוף את הפסקת האש בדרום סוריה, גם באמצעות כוחות צבאיים שפרסו באזור.
Israel  Russia  Iran  Quneitra  Daraa  Mar15 
4 days ago by elizrael
Exclusive: Trump to weigh more aggressive U.S. strategy on Iran - sources - Reuters, Sep 11, 2017
President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi‘ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to six current and former U.S. officials.

The proposal was prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday, the sources said.

It could be agreed and made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. All of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it.

The plan is intended to increase the pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile programs and support for militants, several sources said.

“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” said another senior administration official.

The proposal also targets cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation, the official said.
TrumpAdministration  foreign_policy  IranianProxy  Iran  unnamed_official 
6 days ago by elizrael

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