Christian Science Monitor: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Israel should be “wiped off the map”

In honor of Persian New Year, here is a 2012 article from the mainstream American news.

From the Christian Science Monitor –

Iran’s nuclear program: 4 things you probably didn’t know

Tensions over Iran‘s nuclear program, which some in Israel and the US say is meant to produce nuclear weapons, continue to run high in the West. Most recently in a Iranian New Year’s sermon, Ayatollah Khamenei promised that Iran would respond “on the same level” as any attack against it.  But even as Israeli and Iranian officials take turns rattling their sabers, several key points remain misunderstood.  Do the US and Israel believe that Iran has a nuclear weapons program?  Did President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really promise to “wipe Israel off the map”?  The answers may surprise you.

By Arthur Bright, Correspondent posted June 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm EDT

1.President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

One frequently proffered explanation for why a war with Iran is needed is because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants Israel “wiped off the map,” and that with a nuclear weapon, he could.  But some argue that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement was mistranslated from less incidiary language.

Ahmadinejad’s alleged condemnation of Israel came at a “World Without Zionism” conference in Tehran in Oct. 2005, in which he was quoted by an English-language Iranian news site as saying “Israel must be wiped off the map.”  But as several analyses of the original Farsi statement show, this appears to be a mistranslation.

Arash Norouzi of the Mossadegh Project noted in 2007 that Ahmadinejad “never… uttered the words ‘map,’ ‘wipe out,’ or even ‘Israel'” in his statement.  Rather, he argued, the translation should have been that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”  (Both The Washington Post and The Atlantic came up with similarly variant translations.)

This is a key difference, Mr. Norouzi argued, because Ahmadinejad used the “vanish from the page of time” idiom elsewhere in his speech: when describing the governments of the Shah of Iran, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein.  While war and revolution were involved in the three regimes’ collapse, none of them, Norouzi argued, were “wiped off the map.”  Rather, they underwent regime change.  This suggests in turn, he said, that Ahmadinejad was calling for regime change in Israel, not nuclear genocide.  Juan Cole, another critic of the speech’s translation, compared Ahmadinejad’s statement to Reagan-era calls for the end of the Soviet Union.

Critics note that the translation is a matter of semantics and that regardless, they show Ahmadinejad’s hostility to Israel.  Ahmadinejad did not help the case for mistranslation when in subsequent interviews he refused to clarify whether he truly meant that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth.  But the ambiguity of the words and the indications from context suggest that “wiped off the map” is not the best translation for his statement.

2.Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.

Whatever words Ahmadinejad used to describe his attitude towards Israel, it is undeniable that he is not the true leader of Iran.  That role is filled by the country’s supreme leader and foremost religious figure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  Mr. Khamenei’s words are highly influential among religious Shiites –thus making his 2005 fatwa against nuclear weapons a significant factor in discussing Iran’s nuclear program.

A fatwa is a ruling on Islamic law issued by a recognized religious figure.  While generally nonbinding, fatwas have influence among the faithful, and fatwas issued by Iran’s supreme leader have more influence than most in Iran, both politically and religiously.  So when on Aug. 9, 2005, Khamenei issued a fatwa against the production and use of nuclear weapons, it was not simply a sermon – it carried political weight.  As Jamil Maidan Flores wrote in a commentary last week for the Jakarta Globe, “Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa on nuclear weapons does count for something. He issued it as the supreme spiritual and temporal leader of Iran, and as a marja, a holy man. The fatwa should be binding to all Iranian Shiites, and most binding of all to he himself who issued it.”  Khamenei has repeated his commitment to the fatwa many times since. Most recently, in February he called having nuclear weapons a “sin.”

But there is another Shiite religious concept, that of taghiyeh, which “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ” author Hooman Majd translates as “dissimulation.” A byproduct of the early years of Shia’s split from the Sunni mainstream, taghiyeh allows Shiites to lie in order to avoid death.  Mr. Flores notes that taghiyeh could be a factor in Khamenei’s fatwa on nuclear weapons, if somehow lying about development of such weapons would protect Shiites.  But Mr. Majd notes that taghiyeh is meant only for the purpose of lying about one’s religion to avoid death – which is not the case here – and adds that neither Khamenei nor the former supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, ever to anyone’s knowledge made use of taghiyeh.

3.Iran has a legitimate need for more energy, which is driving its nuclear efforts.

Iran has always insisted that its nuclear research was for peaceful purposes only: to provide more energy to a growing Iran.  In all the debate over the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons, it is easy to overlook the fact that Iran does indeed need more power, power which nuclear plants could provide.

While Iran is a major supplier of both oil – it is the fourth largest producer in the world according to the CIA’s World Factbook – it is also a major consumer.  The Green Party of Iran (an environmental party not to be confused with the Green Movement behind the 2009 presidential protests) estimated in 2000 that Iran ranked second only to the US in gasoline consumption.  But despite Iran’s huge oil production, it lacks the facilities to refine it into gasoline, forcing it to import a barrel of oil for every eight it exports.  According to Majd, some Iranians blame their lack of refining infrastructure on Western sanctions.

Iran is also the world’s fifth largest producer of natural gas globally according to the CIA’s World Factbook.  But it consumed 137.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2010, almost as much natural gas as it produced that year. (Editor’s note: This sentence was revised to correctly reflect Iran’s natural gas production in 2010.)

4.The US and Israel both say Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.

It is perhaps the most important fact that is often ignored in the debate over war with Iran: Both US and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Just last month, National Intelligence Agency Director James Clapper wrote in a report to the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons… should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

When asked in a hearing by Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan to confirm that “Iran has not yet decided to develop nuclear weapons,” Mr. Clapper did so, saying “That is the intelligence community’s assessment …,” and he reiterated that he has doubts about whether Iran is attempting to create a nuclear weapon when pressed further by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) of South Carolina.  Gen. Roland Burgess of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who also appeared at the hearing, agreed with Clapper’s assessment.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made statements even more to the point than Clapper’s in January.  In the January 8 edition of CBS‘s Face the Nation, Mr. Panetta said flat out, “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Israeli intelligence also does not believe that Iran is currently pursuing a nuclear weapon.  In January, Haaretz reported that Israel believes Iran “has not yet decided whether to translate [its efforts to improve its nuclear power] capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile.”  That same month, Israeli military intelligence chief Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a Knesset hearing that Iran is not working on building a nuclear bomb, reported Agence France-Presse.

Reposted under Fair Use Rules.

Happy Equinox, March 20-21; Happy Persian New Year – Nowruz

Today is one of the four powerful days in the year, the solstices and the equinoxes. There are two equinoxes – spring and autumn. In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the Spring Equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere, today is the Fall Equinox.

On these days, there is balance between day and night. From ancient times, cultures celebrated these important days. Fortunately, some cultures and people throughout the Earth still celebrate these days as powerful times for creating change and aligning with the Earth and her values.

In Iran, they mark their new year by this date. The new year has various spellings in western script, including Nowruz, NoRuz, NoRooz. One of the ancient themes of Nowruz is the triumph of good over evil. This is what the Earth and its people need. Nothing could be more timely or more important to direct our hearts and prayers to creating that today.

The exact moment of the equinox occurs:

March 20, 22:45 UTC (Universal Coordinated Time)

March 20, 6:45 PM EDT          Washington, DC

March 20, 3:45 PM PDT          San Francisco, CA

March 21, 2:45 AM MSK        Moscow, Russia

March 21, 3:15 AM IRST         Tehran, Iran

March 21, 8:45 AM JST           Tokyo, Japan


For more times, use the time conversion tool at

The relationship between Washington and ISIS: the evidence

The UN peacekeeping force based in the occupied Golan has reported its observations of Israel’s Defence Forces ‘interacting with’ al Nusra fighters at the border. At the same time, Israeli arms have been found with the extremist groups, in both Syria and Iraq. In November 2014 members of the Druze minority in the Golan protested against Israel’s hospital support for al Nusra and ISIS fighters. This in turn led to questions by the Israeli media, as to whether ‘ Israel does, in fact, hospitalize members of al-Nusra and Daesh [ISIS]‘.

From Global Research, March 8, 2015
by Prof. Tim Anderson


Reports that US and British aircraft carrying arms to ISIS have been shot down by Iraqi forces have been met with shock and denial in western countries. Few in the Middle East doubt that Washington is playing a ‘double game’ with its proxy armies in Syria, but some key myths remain important amongst the significantly more ignorant western audiences.

A central myth is that Washington now arms ‘moderate Syrian rebels’, to both overthrow the Syrian Government and supposedly defeat the ‘extremist rebels’. This claim became more important in 2014, when the rationale of US aggression against Syria shifted from ‘humanitarian intervention’ to a renewal of Bush’s ‘war on terror’.

A distinct controversy is whether the al Qaeda styled groups (especially Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS) have been generated as a sort of organic reaction to the repeated US interventions, or whether they are actually paid agents of Washington.

Certainly, prominent ISIS leaders were held in US prisons. ISIS leader, Ibrahim al-Badri (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) is said to have been held for between one and two years at Camp Bucca in Iraq. In 2006, as al-Baghdadi and others were released, the Bush administration announced its plan for a ‘New Middle East’, a plan which would employ sectarian violence as part of a process of ‘creative destruction’ in the region.

According to Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, ‘The Redirection’, the US would make use of ‘moderate Sunni states’, not least the Saudis, to ‘contain’ the Shia gains in Iraq brought about by the 2003 US invasion. These ‘moderate Sunni’ forces would carry out clandestine operations to weaken Iran and Hezbollah, key enemies of Israel. This brought the Saudis and Israel closer, as both fear Iran.

While there have been claims that the ISIS ‘caliph’ al-Baghdadi is a CIA or Mossad trained agent, these have not yet been well backed up. There are certainly grounds for suspicion, but independent evidence is important, in the context of a supposed US ‘war’ against ISIS . So what is the broader evidence on Washington’s covert links with ISIS? Continue reading

Leading the anti-ISIL war: Iraq finds Iran a preferable ally

From Farsi News Agency, March 6, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq’s regular army is liberating Tikrit without Pentagon involvement and without any consultation with the US administration.

It is one of the biggest offensives yet against the terrorist group of ISIL, and Iraq isn’t going it alone. Iran is taking a key role in the offensive, backed by allied Sunni-Shia forces, artillery and air power. With the liberation of Tikrit going well, the US is still on the outside looking in, leaving the Pentagon complaining that Iran is taking their role as leader of the anti-ISIL war.

This has further irritated US officials, admitting that the Iraqis did not inform them in advance of the operation and have yet to request assistance. To do some damage control, they are now claiming that the battle could have a sectarian tenor – despite the fact that “allied Sunni-Shia irregular troops” have taken the lead!

Credible reports indicate Iranian military advisers are coordinating the attacks and helping them to operate artillery, rocket-launcher systems and surveillance drones. It’s all the reason why US Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says Iran’s involvement is a positive thing…

Still, those who destabilised the region for nefarious reasons and ignited the powder keg of sectarianism should take note:

1. Sunni and Shia irregular troops are fighting together to liberate Tikrit, which is a Sunni-dominated town. Repeat, Sunni and Shia volunteer forces are sacrificing their lives to help liberate a Sunni-dominated area. This is not a sectarian battle or proxy warfare to assert hegemony over neighbors. It’s a battle against ISIL and its evil ideology. Else, Iran would have never bothered to take the lead.

2. Under a special political arrangement, good governance is the ensuing strategy. Once the allied forces evict the death cult, a local government will be formed to involve all the inhabitants of the city, regardless of their ethnic, religious and ideological differences. They will control and manage their areas while the army and allied forces continue their next push: Liberation of Mosul. The large-scale progress will not result in sectarianism.

3. For those who claim it is not the military but the political consequences of the fighting that worry them, it suffices to remind that the Iraqi government and parliament comprise of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish politicians and representatives. Subsequently, liberation is not dead on arrival as the central government has begun promoting good governance. The liberated cities and towns will accept rule by a central government. This is not a long shot.

Indeed, the Iraqis have what it takes to liberate their country and enhance democratic governance and human rights, particularly when it comes to promoting Sunni-Shia participation in security, encouraging transparency and accountability, and addressing reform and leadership.

As for those who cannot stand the idea that Iran is now the leader of the anti-ISIL war, the message is this: Iran is now the leader of the anti-ISIL war and there is little Washington can do to influence the course of events.

Iran has become the preeminent strategic player in the region to the increasing disadvantage of the US and its allies. And it is not just Iraq that finds Iran a preferable ally. Syria also finds Iran a preferable ally, which means the liberation of Iraq will be followed by the liberation of Syria.

CIA carried out terrorist bombing in Syria’s capital; why are they claiming it now?

By Richard Becker
Liberation News, February 4, 2015

The news that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency carried out a meticulously planned terrorist car bombing in Damascus, Syria, in February 2008 appeared on the front page of the Jan. 31, 2015, Washington Post. It was an outrageous action in the capital of a sovereign state. By all definitions, a state-sponsored car bombing in the capital city of another nation is defined as terrorism.

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture what the U.S. response would be if the scenario were reversed and such an attack took place in Washington, D.C. At the very least, bombs and missiles would fall like rain on Syria.

That the CIA would carry out such an act is hardly a surprise. In its near-seven decades’ existence, the CIA has been responsible for the murder of millions and the destruction of scores of progressive movements and governments in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Virtually every progressive leader in the countries liberated from colonialism or neo-colonialism in the post-World War II era has been targeted for assassination by the CIA at one time or another. From Vietnam to Haiti to Afghanistan and beyond, U.S. clients who had outlived their usefulness in the eyes of Washington were set up for elimination.

CIA engineered or assisted coups in Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Iraq, Indonesia, Greece, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and more, and brought to power regimes that used extreme brutality in the interests of U.S. corporations and local elites.

Organized in 1947, the agency’s first coup was in newly independent Syria just two years later. Its bloody trail confirms that the CIA is the deadliest terrorist organization in the world, bar none.

What was unusual about the 2008 assassination of a top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyah, was the public revelation that the CIA, in partnership with Israel’s Mossad secret service, had carried it out.

While the CIA formally declined comment on the story, the sources for the article were past and present CIA officials, something unthinkable unless approved from inside the agency.

Standard CIA practice has long been to refuse to comment on its coups and murders—and for good reason. Regardless of whether they are “signed off on” by the president or any other U.S. official, all are blatant violations of international and U.S. domestic laws. Agency officials seek to maintain a “window of deniability” to protect themselves from possible future legal consequences.

Why, then, did the agency break with its usual practice of treating such an operation as classified and instead boast through the mass media of the assassination?

Targeting Hezbollah to derail Iran negotiations

The Post report followed two weeks after an Israeli air attack that killed six members of Hezbollah, including Jihad Mughniyah, son of Imad Mughniyah, and a high-ranking Iranian officer inside Syria. Both Hezbollah and Iran have been supporting the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria against the armed opposition, led by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Hezbollah responded to the Jan. 18 air assault by destroying an Israeli tank in the Shebaa Farms region, the last part of Lebanon still under Israeli occupation. Hezbollah played a key role in the Lebanese resistance that drove Israel out of much of Lebanese territory it occupied in 1982-2000. In 2006, it fought the powerful, U.S.-backed Israeli army to a standstill in a month-long war.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded in Shebaa Farms. Israeli shelling killed a Spanish soldier who was part of the UN “peacekeeping” force in southern Lebanon. The Hezbollah leadership made it clear that their response was a limited one.

The Jan. 18 attack in Syria was a clear provocation, intended to draw a Hezbollah reaction. So, too, was the Post article. The aim of both was to push Hezbollah – as an ally of Iran — toward stronger retaliation.

The publication of the Post story should be understood as a form of taunting Hezbollah by elements in the U.S. establishment who are seeking a pretext for subverting the Iran nuclear negotiations.

Talal Atrissi, a Lebanese political commentator reportedly close to Hezbollah, said of the leaked CIA report on the 2008 assassination: “The leak is meant to undermine the talks, and that benefits Israel because it opposes these negotiations.”

A Lebanese professor at the American University in Beirut, Imad Salamey, pointed to the psychological warfare aspect of the Post report: “Your [Hezbollah’s] leadership has been targeted by the United States, so what do you do?”

The negotiations with Iran are at a critical stage, with late March set as the deadline to reach an agreement. There is a major division in U.S. ruling-class political circles over the negotiations.

While the Obama administration and its allies are seeking an agreement that they believe would weaken Iran, an opposing faction wants to scuttle the negotiations and impose even harsher sanctions.

Iran has stated that additional sanctions would mean an end to the negotiating process. Such an outcome could well lead to a new U.S. or U.S.-Israeli war against Iran, something that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as many in Washington clearly desire.

On Jan. 21, in a highly unusual breach of bourgeois protocol, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner invited the rabidly anti-Iranian Netanyahu to lecture a Joint Session of Congress on Mar. 3 on the so-called “danger” from Iran and in support of imposing even tighter sanctions on that country. Boehner’s invitation was made without consultation with the administration.

Protests calling for “No New War Against Iran,” “End the Colonial Occupation of Palestine, “ and “End All U.S. Aid to Israel” are being planned to coincide with Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress on Mar. 3.