April 04/15

Great Saturday of the Light

Bible Quotation For Today/Great Saturday of the Light
Matthew 27/62-66:"The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, "After three days I will rise again." Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, "He has been raised from the dead", and the last deception would be worse than the first.’Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone."

Bible Quotation For Today/Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us
Letter to the Romans 05/01-11: "Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 03-04/15
Talkers Vs. Deciders in Iran’s Foreign Policy/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/April 03/15
Jihad Mughniyah headed Iranian-backed anti-Israel terror taskforce/Ynetnews/April 03/15
A “preliminary deal” is announced in Lausanne. Zarif: There is no agreement, no commitments/
DEBKAfile/April 03/15
Rouhani's stature grows in Iran after framework nuclear deal/J.Post/April 03/15
Saleh continues to dance on the heads of snakes/Salman Aldossary/ASharq Al Awsat/April 03/15
Iran celebrates nuke deal amid other controversies/Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/April 03/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 03-04/15
Geagea Meets al-Rahi, Says Aoun Should Change Stances to Improve Chances of Becoming President
Lebanese figures offer mixed reactions to Iran nuclear deal
Dead sea turtle washes up on Tripoli shore 
Lebanon buries slain captive Ali Bazzal
Hollande, al-Rahi to Discuss Baabda Crisis this Month
A world designed in our absence?
Spanish King to Visit Beirut Next Week
Moqbel, Qahwaji Discuss Security Situation with Hizbullah Delegation
Riyadh Says to Sue al-Akhbar, Newspaper Slams 'Direct Threat'
Bank Audi Slams Reports on Money Laundering
Syria Rebel Border Seizure Strands Lebanon Drivers
Berri Hopes 'Marathon' Nuke Deal Would Resolve Lebanon's Crisis

Visiting Official: U.S. to Resettle more Syrian Refugees in the Near Future

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 03-04/15
Pope condemns 'senseless brutality' of Kenya attack
Israeli cabinet unanimously opposed to Iran framework nuclear deal
Iranians on social media and in Tehran rejoice at news of nuclear deal
Netanyahu tells Obama Iran deal 'threat to Israel’s survival'
Boehner demands Congress to review Iran accord
Russia says ready to process Iranian nuclear fuel
Qassem Soleimani: America’s double-edged sword?
Iranians celebrate, Obama hails “historic” nuclear framework
France: No deal yet on when to lift Iran’s sanctions
Israeli security cabinet united in opposition to Iran deal
Canadian FM, Nicholson Comments on Nuclear Negotiations Between P5+1 and Iran
Canada's FM Nicholson Statement Condemning ISIL’s Continued Persecution and Killing of Minorities in Syria
Saudi king hopes Iran deal will strengthen world security
UNSC members urge Syria chlorine probe
Moscow condemns 'anti-Russian campaign' in US
China sends new anti-piracy mission to Gulf of Aden
Iraqi PM orders prosecution for looters in Tikrit
Kenya attack survivor says gunmen scouted campus
Egypt militant group claims responsibility for Sinai attack
Tunisia arrests more suspected militants for Bardo attack
Qaeda seizes heart of city in southeast Yemen
How to break the alliance that broke Yemen
China evacuates 225 foreigners from Yemen in unprecedented move
Two women arrested in New York on bomb building charges

Jihad Watch Latest News
Kenya: Laughing Muslims taunted Christians as they massacred them, “This will be a good Easter holiday for us”
Imam of Mecca’s grand mosque calls for all-out war against Shi’ites and Christians
Raymond Ibrahim: ‘Are You Muslim or Christian? Death to Christians!’
Philadelphia Muslima arrested for trying to join the Islamic State
Danish professor: Jihadis are just following the example of Muhammad
Dutch researcher: “The better integrated, the higher the risk of radicalization”
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: An Open Letter to Qasim Rashid to Public Dialogue and Debate
New York jihadi Muslimas considered attacking NYPD funeral
UK: Woman arrested for fundraising for something
Nigeria: Islamic State-linked Boko Haram used children as human bombs
Texas: Muslim charged with aiding Afghan jihad groups

Question: "What is Good Friday / Holy Friday?"
Answer: Good Friday, also known as "Holy Friday," is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified. If you are interested in a study of the issue, please see our article that discusses the various views on which day Jesus was crucified. Assuming that Jesus was crucified and died on a Friday, should Christians remember Jesus' death by celebrating Good Friday? The Bible does not instruct Christians to remember Christ’s death by honoring a certain day. The Bible does give us freedom in these matters, however. Romans 14:5 tells us, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Rather than remembering Christ's death on a certain day, once a year, the Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11:24-26 declares, “ this in remembrance of me...for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”
Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on Christ suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord's Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to “celebrate” Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross is the paramount event of the Christian faith. If you would like to learn more about why Jesus' death on the cross was so “good,” please read the following article: What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

Question: "What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?"
Answer: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? To properly understand this question, you must first understand the terms “Jesus Christ,” “personal,” and “Savior.”Who is Jesus Christ? Many people will acknowledge Jesus Christ as a good man, a great teacher, or even a prophet of God. These things are definitely true of Jesus, but they do not fully define who He truly is. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh, God in human form (see John 1:1, 14). God came to earth to teach us, heal us, correct us, forgive us—and die for us! Jesus Christ is God, the Creator, the sovereign Lord. Have you accepted this Jesus? What is a Savior, and why do we need a Savior? The Bible tells us that we have all sinned; we have all committed evil acts (Romans 3:10-18). As a result of our sin, we deserve God's anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). That is why we need a Savior! Jesus Christ came to earth and died in our place. Jesus' death was an infinite payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the price so that we would not have to. Jesus' resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why Jesus is the one and only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)! Are you trusting in Jesus as your Savior? Is Jesus your “personal” Savior? Many people view Christianity as attending church, performing rituals, and/or not committing certain sins. That is not Christianity. True Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as your personal Savior means placing your own personal faith and trust in Him. No one is saved by the faith of others. No one is forgiven by doing certain deeds. The only way to be saved is to personally accept Jesus as your Savior, trusting in His death as the payment for your sins and His resurrection as your guarantee of eternal life (John 3:16). Is Jesus personally your Savior? If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, say the following words to God. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. Only believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for you can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. “God, I know that I have sinned against You and deserve punishment. But I believe Jesus Christ took the punishment I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and place my trust in You for salvation. I accept Jesus as my personal Savior! Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!”Have you made a decision to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior because of what you have read here? If so, please click on the "I have accepted Christ today" button below

Boehner demands Congress to review Iran accord
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner holds a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on April 1, 2015. (AP)
AFP, Washington
Friday, 3 April 2015
U.S. Republicans expressed skepticism about Thursday’s deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, with House Speaker John Boehner demanding Congress be allowed to review the accord before crippling economic sanctions are lifted.
Several House and Senate members expressed cautious optimism about what President Barack Obama called a “historic understanding” reached between six world powers and Iran, a deal he assured would, if followed, prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.
Boehner slammed it as an “alarming departure” from the White House’s initial goals, suggesting the Obama administration caved to Iranian negotiators and allowed certain concessions.
“My immediate concern is the administration signaling it will provide near-term sanctions relief,” Boehner said in a statement.
“Congress must be allowed to fully review the details of any agreement before any sanctions are lifted.”
According to parameters released by the White House, sanctions on Iran will be suspended “after the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps,” but they could snap back into place if Iran fails to fulfill its commitments.
Senator Mark Kirk, among the most hawkish Republicans on Iran and co-author of legislation that tightens sanctions, minced no words in reacting to the agreement.
“Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler,” Kirk sneered, referring to the 1930s British prime minister and his disastrous policy of Nazi appeasement.
Obama starkly warned lawmakers that if Congress “kills this deal... then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy.”
Republican 2016 presidential hopefuls challenged the accord’s viability.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush described the agreement as “flawed,” arguing it included “significant concessions to a nation whose leaders call for death to America and the destruction of Israel.”
“Nothing in the deal described by the administration ... would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions,” Bush said.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry said on Twitter that Americans have a right to be wary of a deal “riddled with concessions by the Obama administration,” while Senator Marco Rubio warned that Iran being able to keep 6,000 of its 19,000 centrifuges indicates “that this deal is a colossal mistake.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker urged lawmakers to “remain clear-eyed” about Iran, and reiterated his insistence that Congress review any final deal with the Islamic republic.
Corker introduced legislation that would compel Obama to run the accord past Congress.
He said there was “growing bipartisan support for congressional review of the nuclear deal,” adding he was “confident of a strong vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act” when his committee takes it up on April 14.
Senate Democrat Robert Menendez also backed congressional action.
“If diplomats can negotiate for two years on this issue, then certainly Congress is entitled to a review period of an agreement that will fundamentally alter our relationship with Iran and the sanctions imposed by Congress,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he was cautiously optimistic about the deal, and warned against “rash action” in Congress.
“In the coming days and weeks, we should all take a deep breath, examine the details and give this critically important process time to play out,” he said.

A “preliminary deal” is announced in Lausanne. Zarif: There is no agreement, no commitments
DEBKAfile Special Report April 2, 2015
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and EU Foreign Policy Executive Federica Mogherini announced Thursday, April 2 that “a general agreement for a peaceful nuclear program and a lifting of sanctions against Iran” had been reached in Lausanne. “We have reached solutions on key parameters of a join comprehensive plan of action,” the details to be negotiated between now and June 30,” she said.
Speaking after the EU official, Zarif delivered a long statement ending with the declaration: “There is no agreement; and so no commitments” before June 30. But President Barack Obama, commenting on the event at the White House, hailed the agreement as a historic event that will change the face of the world and make it a safer place. "It is a deal that meets our core objectives.” There is no way Iran can get round it to build a bomb, or produce plutonium at its Arak plant. Obama stressed that the verification mechanisms built into the agreed framework would ensure that "if Iran cheats, the world with know it." This is a long-term agreement which promises that Iran’s nuclear program will be closely monitoried for the next 20 years. There is much work to be done to hammer out the details before June 30, Obama said, and voiced the hope that the Iranians would not back out of the principles they had accepted in Lausanne.
In the his view, there were just three options for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program: Military force that would hold the program back for no more than two years; more sanctions, when the first round had proved to have little impact; or diplomacy, which he had chosen.
Obama said hoped the US Congress would not heap obstacles in the path of an accord, because the majority of the American popular approved of the course he led.
Before the end of the day, the president said he would talk to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Saudi King Salman, the two leading opponents of the nuclear deal.
The parameters outlined by Mogherini agreed for future negotiation:
• Iran's enrichment capacity and stockpile would be limited, and Iran's sole enrichment facility would be at the Natanz nuclear facility. Other nuclear facilities would be converted to other uses.
• The nuclear facility at Fordo would be converted to a nuclear physics and technology center and the facility at Arak would be redesigned as a heavy-water research reactor that will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.
• The European Union would terminate all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against Iran, and the United States would do the same once Iran's implementation of the agreement is confirmed.
• The United Nations would terminate all previous resolutions sanctioning Iran, and would incorporate other restrictions for an agreed-upon period

Lebanese figures offer mixed reactions to Iran nuclear deal
The Daily Star/Apr. 03, 2015
BEIRUT: Mixed reactions greeted the preliminary nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the West Thursday, with Lebanon’s interior minister playing down the importance of the deal and Hezbollah praising it. “There is no final agreement yet between the West and Iran,” Machnouk told local television channel LBC. “It’s only a tentative agreement.”
He said U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration “did not wish to leave [the nuclear talks] without an agreement, never mind if it’s not final or successful.”
"All the statements made by Westerners, whether French or German or European or American, had given me the impression that what happened today [Thursday] was meant to keep the door open until June 30," Machnouk, who belongs to the Future Movement, added.
Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement on Thursday on curbing Iran's nuclear program for at least a decade.
The initial agreement, after eight days of marathon talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, clears the way for negotiations on a settlement aimed at allaying Western fears that Iran was seeking to build an atomic bomb and in return lift economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The framework is contingent on reaching an agreement by June 30. All sanctions on Iran remain in place until a final deal.
Hezbollah MP Walid Sukkarieh said the agreement was an achievement for Tehran.
“What happened was a gain for Iran, because it ensured the survival of its nuclear program ... and its right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and this was exactly what [Iran] was looking for from the beginning,” Sukkarieh said.
He believed Obama has spared the Middle East region a war through the nuclear agreement. “If no agreement was reached the situation was headed toward confrontation just as Netanyahu desired.”
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Lebanon would stand to gain from the nuclear agreement, which he described as an “important step” toward resolving the crises in the region.
Berri, who is a member of the Amal movement which is allied to Hezbollah, also expressed hope that the world would increase its concern with solving Lebanon’s political crisis since it is the “least complicated” of all regional issues.
Former MP Mustafa Alloush, a leading figure in Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, echoed similar remarks made by Machnouk.
“The final deal has yet to be reached,” Alloush said. “Things are not over yet. Congress did not agree to the lifting of sanctions [on Iran] and we have to see the reaction of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and whether or not it would approve the agreement.”
Congress greeted news of the tentative deal with criticism from most Republicans and optimism from most Democrats.
In response to a question on how the nuclear deal would affect Lebanon, Alloush said: “As long as Hezbollah’s weapons are present in Lebanon nothing will change.”
He said the Future Movement has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear issue. “Our concern at the local level, however, is the presence of illegal arms supported by Iran.”
“For his part, President Barack Obama won over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Alloush added. March 14 official Fares Soeid said Thursday “is a blessed day,” calling the U.S.-Iran deal a “gain for the international legitimacy.”“It’s also a victory for Iran if it agreed to succumb to the legitimate [rule],” he said. Soeid expressed hope that the Iran deal would have a positive impact in Lebanon.

Lebanon buries slain captive Ali Bazzal
Nidal Solh| The Daily Star/ Apr. 03, 2015/BAZZALIEH, Lebanon: Sadness engulfed the Bekaa Valley town of Bazzalieh Friday as they prepared to bury a policeman killed by the Nusra Front while in captivity. Residents and relatives showered Sgt. Ali Bazzal’s motorcade with rice and flowers as it reached the town around 1 p.m. The devastated father, waiting for the body of his slain son, broke down in tears as the casket arrived home in Bazzalieh. From there, the Lebanese flag-draped coffin was taken to the town’s Husseinieh for a funeral service before burial. The Lebanese Army Thursday retrieved the body of 27-year-old Bazzal, who was shot dead by Nusra militants last December. Bazzal is survived by a wife and young daughter. The Nusra Front and ISIS still hold 25 policemen and Lebanese soldiers hostage since a brief incursion into the northeastern border town of Arsal last August. Negotiations to free the captives, held in Arsal’s outskirts, have reportedly stalled and their families are now holding an open-ended sit-in in Downtown Beirut to pressure the Lebanese government to hasten their release.

Israeli security cabinet united in opposition to Iran deal: statement
Reuters/Apr. 03, 2015
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel's security cabinet is united in its opposition to the framework deal reached between world powers and Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement issued following a special meeting said Friday.
Netanyahu, who earlier spoke by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama, saying that he was "vehemently opposed" to the agreement, was shortly expected to deliver a statement.
Obama called Netanyahu within hours of the deal being struck, saying it represented significant progress toward a lasting solution that cuts off Iran's path to a nuclear weapon.

Canadian FM, Nicholson Comments on Nuclear Negotiations Between P5+1 and Iran
April 2, 2015 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“A nuclear Iran would provoke a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and would be an enormously destabilizing development. For this reason, Canada firmly believes that every diplomatic measure must be taken to ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapons capability.
“We appreciate the efforts of the P5+1 in these discussions. At the same time, we will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words.
“Iran’s track record is not one that encourages trust. In addition to having a worsening human rights record, Iran continues to act as a destabilizing force in the region, providing economic and material support to the Assad regime, Shiite militias operating in Iraq and listed terrorist entities.
“To that end, Canada is announcing a contribution of $3 million to support the International Atomic Energy Agency efforts to monitor Iranian compliance with its commitments.”

Canada's FM Nicholson Statement Condemning ISIL’s Continued Persecution and Killing of Minorities in Syria
April 2, 2015 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Once again, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] has demonstrated its contempt for the sanctity of human life through its March 31 attack on the Syrian town of Al Maboujeh, on the outskirts of Salamiyeh. Reports indicate that over 40 people, mostly civilians, were killed, and that dozens more were injured. An unknown number of civilians were also reportedly abducted by the terrorist group. As ISIL continues its campaign to seize territory in Syria, innocent people such as those in Salamiyeh are at risk.
“Al Maboujeh is largely populated by religious and ethnic minority communities, including Christians, Druze, Alawites, Sunni Bedouins, Shi’a Ismailis, among others, who have been systematically targeted and persecuted by ISIL terrorists. The Government of Canada condemns this slaughter of civilians in the strongest possible terms and reiterates its profound concern for the fate of religious and ethnic minority communities being targeted by ISIL. These attacks are emblematic of ISIL’s barbarity. They are also a particularly savage reminder of the wholesale brutality and misery that has afflicted all Syrians for the past five years.
“The Assad regime’s violence, including ongoing indiscriminate attacks using barrel bombs against civilians, has fed extremism across the country and region. The ongoing stalemate in the military conflict in Syria continues to exact a horrific cost for all Syrians, underscoring the need for a political solution to end the country’s increasingly malignant tragedy.
“Canada will continue to cooperate closely with our partners as we work to degrade and disrupt ISIL’s ability to inflict harm in the region and here at home in Canada, while advancing a political settlement that will allow all Syrians to return to their homes in peace.”
Quick Facts
Canada’s collective response goes beyond the provision of military support to include diplomacy as well as humanitarian, stabilization and development assistance.
Canada’s response to date has been comprehensive:
Taking action to protect Canadians on the domestic front from the evolving threat of terrorism;
Taking action at home and abroad to stem the flow of foreign fighters;
Deploying military personnel and assets to counter ISIL power bases in Iraq and Syria;
Providing critical humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians in ISIL-affected areas;
Supporting the stabilization of the region; and
Working with international partners to cut off ISIL’s funding sources.
Associated Links
Statement by Minister Nicholson on Second ISIL Vote in Parliament
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Passage of Second ISIL Motion in Parliament
Countering ISIL
PM Announces Motion to Extend and Expand Canada’s Military Mission Against ISIL
PM Announces Anti-terrorism Measures to Protect Canadians

Geagea Meets al-Rahi, Says Aoun Should Change Stances to Improve Chances of Becoming President
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stated on Friday that the election of a new president lies in the hands of lawmakers, not regional powers, noting that the breakthrough in reaching an agreement over Iran's nuclear program may positively affect Lebanon. He said after holding talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at Bkirki: “In principle, there is nothing stopping Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun from becoming president, but we have to take into consideration his political platform.”
He added: “The Lebanese should not believe that the nuclear deal with Iran will reflect positively on us. Only the Lebanese can bring about positive developments, particularly over the presidential elections.”
“The other camp has unfortunately maintained its political positions,” continued the LF leader. “I don't believe that the elections will be held anytime soon,” Geagea told reporters, while urging the political powers to change their stances and head to the polls. Aoun's Change and Reform and Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance blocs have been boycotting the presidential elections over a dispute with the March 14 camp over a compromise candidate.
Addressing the LF dialogue with the FPM, Geagea stated: “Our talks are tackling various issues.”“We have disagreed on certain affairs, but we are trying to resolve them. We have however reached an agreement on others,” he revealed. “We are working on the basis that a meeting with Aoun will take place at some point,” he remarked.

Berri Hopes 'Marathon' Nuke Deal Would Resolve Lebanon's Crisis
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has described the negotiations between Iran and world powers on its nuclear program as “the biggest political and diplomatic marathon in history,” hoping that Lebanon would benefit from them. The two sides sealed a breakthrough agreement in Switzerland on Thursday outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program to keep it from being able to produce atomic weapons. The Islamic Republic was promised an end to years of crippling economic sanctions, but only if negotiators transform the plan into a comprehensive pact. They will try to do that in the next three months. “The agreement is an important step and would help resolve crises in the region,” Berri told his visitors, according to al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Friday. “Lebanon hopes that there would be more interest in resolving its crisis which … is less complicated than the rest of the crises” in the region, he said. Baabda Palace has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year. Differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances have caused a lack of quorum at parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a new head of state.

Hollande, al-Rahi to Discuss Baabda Crisis this Month
Naharnet/Lebanon's presidential deadlock will top the agenda of talks that are expected to be held between French President Francois Holland and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi this month, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday. The daily said al-Rahi will travel to Paris in the second half of April for the inauguration of Europe's Maronite Diocese in the the down of Meudon in the French capital's suburbs. But the patriarch will benefit from his presence in France to hold talks with top officials, including Hollande, it said. Their meeting is expected to focus on the vacuum at Baabda Palace that was caused by the differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances. On Thursday, Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned for the 21st time the session to elect a new head of state over lack of quorum. The upcoming session was set for April 22. France is currently the only Western country that is trying to solve the deadlock, said al-Akhbar. A French presidential envoy has been lately involved in a shuttle diplomacy. But he has so far failed to achieve results.

Riyadh Says to Sue al-Akhbar, Newspaper Slams 'Direct Threat'
Naharnet/The Saudi Embassy in Beirut has tasked a team to sue al-Akhbar newspaper after Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri accused it of publishing rumors about Riyadh, al-Watan daily reported on Friday. The Saudi newspaper said that a lawsuit will be filed against “al-Akhbar which has become famous for belonging to the Iran-Hizbullah-Syria axis.”Al-Akhbar is seeking to promote the principles of the “resistance axis,” said the report. Al-Watan also quoted Asiri as saying that the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese newspaper is promoting lies against Saudi Arabia and its leadership. “It is time to put an end to this,” the diplomat said. The newspaper snapped back at Asiri later on Friday, describing his remarks as “a direct threat to the lives of the institution’s employees, a blatant attack on the freedom of expression in Lebanon and a flagrant violation of norms and laws.” It held the ambassador and his government fully responsible for “any form of moral, material or physical harm.”Al-Akhbar also noted that it “reserves the right to sue him and prosecute him before all judicial authorities and relevant bodies in Lebanon, at the Arab level and in the world.”

Spanish King to Visit Beirut Next Week

Naharnet /Spain's King Felipe VI is expected to visit Beirut next Tuesday to meet with several Lebanese officials and members of his country's contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, local dailies reported.
The king will be accompanied by a high ranking ministerial delegation, said the newspapers. His visit would be a show of support to his country's peacekeepers after the killing of a Spanish soldier during the Israeli military's exchange of fire with Hizbullah in January in the disputed border area of Shebaa Farms.The Spanish monarch will also meet with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who is expected to throw a dinner banquet in his honor after their meeting, the reports said. Felipe's visit to Beirut would be the first since he acceded to the throne last June after his father 76-year-old Juan Carlos abdicated.

Pakistan PM says concerned by overthrow of Yemen govt, stands by Saudi Arabia
Reuters/Apr. 03, 2015/ANKARA: Pakistan is concerned by the overthrow of the legitimate government in Yemen and will stand by Saudi Arabia as it leads a coalition against Houthi rebels, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Friday.
"We have agreed to extend all possible support in the defence of Saudi Arabia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Sharif told a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara, where he is on an official visit.
Sharif Thursday called for a joint session of parliament to consider whether to join the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

Saudi king hopes Iran deal will strengthen world security
Reuters/Apr. 03, 2015 /RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's King Salman told U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone call on Thursday that he hoped a final deal with Iran could be reached that would strengthen regional and global security, state media reported. "The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed his hope that reaching a final binding deal would strengthen the stability and security of the region and the world," Saudi Press Agency reported early on Friday, using Salman's official title. Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement on Thursday on curbing Iran's nuclear programme for at least a decade. The framework, which includes gradually lifting Western sanctions on Iran, is contingent on reaching a final pact by June 30. Saudi Arabia, which is locked in a region-wide tussle for power with Iran, is worried that by loosening sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Tehran will have greater scope to back proxies Riyadh opposes across the Middle East. However, despite its private reservations, Riyadh has publicly backed the talks between Iran and world powers since they were announced in late 2013 so long as they led to a deal that would guarantee Tehran could not gain nuclear weapons.

Israeli cabinet unanimously opposed to Iran framework nuclear deal
By REUTERS /04/03/2015/J.Post
Israel's security cabinet is united in its opposition to the framework deal reached between world powers and Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement issued following a special meeting said on Friday.Netanyahu, who earlier spoke by phone with US President Barack Obama, saying that he was "vehemently opposed" to the agreement, was shortly expected to deliver a statement. Obama called Netanyahu within hours of the deal being struck, saying it represented significant progress toward a lasting solution that cuts off Iran's path to a nuclear weapon. But Netanyahu said in a statement after the conversation that a deal based on the framework announced in Lausanne, Switzerland "would threaten the survival of Israel.""This deal would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolster Iran's economy and increase Iran's aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond," Netanyahu said. "It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war." Israel has said in the past that it would consider taking unilateral action to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon, a warning taken to mean that it could launch air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. While that rhetoric has died down over the past year or more, the head of Israel's military planning directorate, Major-General Nimrod Sheffer, said it was still a possibility. "The military option has always been on the table, as we have said all along," Sheffer told Israel Hayom newspaper on Friday. "If it has not been mentioned much in the media recently, that does not reflect a change in policy."

Rouhani's stature grows in Iran after framework nuclear deal
By REUTERS \ 04/03/2015 13:22
President Hassan Rouhani has emerged triumphant both at home and abroad, bringing Iran in from the cold by using his pragmatism to try and end crippling sanctions and decades of hostility with the West through detente and diplomacy.
Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement on Thursday on curbing Iran's nuclear program for at least a decade, a step towards a final pact that could end 12 years of brinkmanship, threats and confrontation.
If the deal results in a comprehensive agreement in June, Rouhani's popularity would grow even further, giving him the political capital to take on hardliners blocking his promises of political and social reforms in the Islamic Republic.
A 66-year-old mid-ranking cleric who formerly served as Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Rouhani dismisses any suggestion that his pragmatism represents a betrayal of the Islamic Republic's founding precepts.
"Moderation does not mean deviating from principles and it is not conservatism in the face of change and development," he said shortly after the surprise election defeat of his conservative rivals by a landslide in 2013.
Rouhani also appeared to acknowledge that it would take time to fulfil his campaign promises. "Moderation ... is an active and patient approach in society in order to be distant from the abyss of extremism," he said.
At home, the mild-mannered insider has as yet little to show for his pledge of a more transparent and tolerant administration; the political and civic restrictions that irk many Iranians remain stringent.
The United Nations noted in March 2015 that large numbers of prisoners are executed, including political activists and juveniles. Journalists are routinely imprisoned, and women and minorities face rights violations, the UN added. .
Notably, two leading reformist politicians who contested the previous presidential elections in 2009 remain under house arrest. Their supporters turned out in force to elect Rouhani four years later, after he made an implicit pledge to free them and other political prisoners.
A comprehensive deal in June could see the West lift the trade and financial sanctions that are strangling the economy in return for limits on its atomic work, which the West says may be aimed at building weapons but that Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.
Progress has been possible in part because Rouhani has kept the confidence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the so-called guardian of Iran's Islamic Revolution who has the final say on all matters of state, including foreign policy.
Rouhani is bolstered by impeccable revolutionary credentials. In his early life he studied religion and opposed the then Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, joining Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in exile in Paris in 1977. After Khomeini came to power, he cemented his insider status in a series of sensitive postings.
A month after he assumed office, Rouhani and US President Barack Obama spoke by phone in September 2013 in what remains the highest-level contact between the two nations in 30 years.
The call was the culmination of a sharp shift in tone between Iran and Washington, which cut ties with Iran a year after the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah.
In a startling turnaround, conservatives in the leadership including Khamenei assented to Rouhani's opening, signaling they were willing to explore the compromises essential to any deal.
They went along with Rouhani, diplomats speculate, largely because his big election win revealed the depth of anger over years of economic mismanagement and the extent of popular support for his aim of ending Iran's international isolation.
Two months later, Iran struck the landmark interim accord with the P5+1 group of the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain, in which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for initial sanctions relief.
Much of Rouhani's diplomatic success has been a matter of style. The softly-spoken lawyer, who earned his doctorate in the UK, has refrained from the provocations of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust and called for Israel to be "wiped from the pages of time."
Known for being charismatic and eloquent, Rouhani is an active social media user, often tweeting his views about world issues, and seen as open for debate.
His appointment of Mohammad Javad Zarif as foreign minister also greased the wheels of diplomacy. Zarif is an urbane veteran diplomat who served as ambassador to the UN and is Tehran's leading expert on the US political elite.
Even so, Rouhani kept a close eye on the talks from Tehran, and intervened a week before the interim deal by calling the leaders of France, Britain, China and Russia in an apparent attempt to break a momentary impasse.
Today, periodic bilateral talks between Washington and Iran on nuclear and regional topics appear almost commonplace, even in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, making good on Rouhani's pledge of greater international engagement.

Iranians on social media and in Tehran rejoice at news of nuclear deal
By REUTERS \ 04/03/2015/Celebrations broke out in Tehran on Thursday night as a landmark framework agreement for a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was announced.  Videos posted on social media showed cars driving through the streets of Tehran with honking horns and passengers clapping. Twitter posts described people dancing in the streets of north Tehran and passing out sweets. Some posted pictures of a small gathering in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In one video posted on Facebook, a group of women can be heard clapping and chanting "Thank you, Rouhani." in praise of President Hassan Rouhani. The framework agreement is likely to boost Rouhani's popularity among the millions of young Iranians who voted for him in 2013. So far, there has been no overt criticism of the framework agreement by Rouhani's hardline critics. Appearing on state TV shortly after it was announced, hardline parliamentarian Alaeddin Borujerdi aimed his barbs at US President Barack Obama and his characterization of Iran's role in the region rather than the agreement. The framework agreement was reached after more than a week of intense diplomacy between an Iranian team of negotiators led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and negotiating teams from the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany. Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and the framework agreement is intended to introduce curbs and inspections on the program. If a final settlement is reached, it would roll back harsh sanctions that have hammered Iran's economy and made the lives of ordinary Iranians more difficult.

Jihad Mughniyah headed Iranian-backed anti-Israel terror taskforce
Three months after being killed in an attack attributed to Israel, new details emerge about Hezbollah's Golan region commander, who was working with Iran's Revolutionary Guard on high-profile attacks against IDF.
Yoav Zitun/Ynetnews/Published: 04.03.15/ Israel News
Three months after an airstrike attributed to Israel killed Jihad Mughniyeh, new details reveal the Hezbollah commander headed an Iranian-backed taskforce aimed at undertaking high-profile attacks against the IDF in the Golan Heights.
Hezbollah is fighting alongside pro-regime forces in Syria against Islamist and nationalist rebels hoping to overthrow Bashar Assad. Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh – Hezbollah's head of operations until his assassination in February 2008 – was the group's commander in the Syrian Golan and was killed this January in an attack attributed to Israel. He was killed along with a number of other Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general.
According to a report in a Kuwaiti paper, Mughniyeh headed a special taskforce which planned and even successfully carried out terror attacks against Israel last summer.
Among the incidents reported were four successful rocket launches at Israel and a number of successful mortar attacks on Israel; all of which fell in open areas during Operation Protective Edge in the summer.
The report said that Israel knew Mughniyeh was traveling in the jeep convey together with a top Iranian general and Abu Issa, the man who coordinates Hezbollah activities in the Golan. The Syrian general who was also traveling with them was said to be in charged of training the forces which the report said were planning attacks inside Israeli territory as well as additional rocket fire.
The day of the alleged Israeli attack, the group had conducted an observation patrol of Israel as part of their attempts to plan attacks against Israel.
Until the Mughniyeh-led taskforce, Iran had attempted to use local proxies to wage war on Israel, mostly through pro-Palestinian forces, most famously Samir Kuntar, vis-à-vis their support of Hezbollah.
These small cells managed to carry out a number of attacks against Israel in the past year and a half, mostly by laying blasts along the border and detonating them in proximity to IDF forces. However, over time these attacks dwindled down, as Israel began exacting revenge against the Syrian army, which were usually hit by the IDF in response.
Hezbollah's presence along Israel's northern border from Syria, in addition to their homeland of Lebanon, is viewed by Israel as an ongoing potential threat. Despite Jerusalem's policy of neutrality in regards to the Syrian conflict, on a number of occasions foreign reports have said Israel targeted Hezbollah conveys or arms warehouses, which some have claimed contained "game-changing" weapons.
In recent days, Syrian rebels have retaken the upper hand in the battle for the Syrian Golan, managing to halt pro-regime forces advances and retaking a Shiite village in the south of the Syrian Golan..

Saleh continues to dance on the heads of snakes
Salman Aldossary/ASharq Al Awsat
 Friday, 3 Apr, 2015
Yemen’s ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh used to claim boastfully that ruling Yemen is “like dancing on the heads of snakes.” He bragged about being skilled at playing this game and unilaterally ruling Yemen for decades. This was the equation that an “elected” president relied on to rule a “democratic” republic for 33 years. Finally Saleh refused to run for a new term in office, instead pushing his loyalists in parliament to nominate him for a lifetime presidency. Saleh’s plan was to reign over Yemen forever. Or at least, that was his plan until he was ousted by the Yemeni people. Saleh exploited his powers to get rid of his opponents. While he also betrayed his friends. Therefore, it would be no surprise for Saleh, who betrayed his own people, to go one further and betray the whole world.
Saleh not only allied himself with Satan itself but with his former Houthi opponents with whom he fought six wars. Saleh’s shift of alliance was surprising to everyone, something which demonstrated that he is less concerned about Yemen’s national interests and more concerned with returning to power. He is fighting side by side with his past enemy: the Houthis. Together with the Houthis he has turned against the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative that could rescue him, fighting Yemen’s legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and splitting Yemen’s ranks in an unprecedented manner. Despite his clear cooperation with the Houthis, Saleh continues to deny that any such alliance exists in the first place.
Saleh’s machinations—which is something that he excelled at throughout his time in power—did not cease even after he was subject to an assassination attempt that saw him being badly burnt and was subsequently removed from power. He has even allied with Iran, who opposed him throughout his rule, allowing Tehran to infiltrate his country. His recent call for dialogue in the UAE, which he knows will not be met, is meant to drive a wedge between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. He issued the call to give the impression that he and the UAE are meeting behind the scenes. As his militias were shelling the cities of Yemen, Saleh recently said to Egypt’s Al-Watan newspaper: “We hold a neutral position and seek a peaceful solution.”
A February 2014 United Nations report revealed the truth behind Saleh’s dangerous alliances, or shall we say his dance on the heads of snakes? When the 2011 revolutions of the Arab Spring threatened his rule and as he felt his presidential term was drawing to a close, he struck a deal with Al-Qaeda, allowing it to control South Yemen, in a bid to persuade the West that it was necessary to keep him in power. His alliance with the terrorist Houthi militia is not much different from this deal with Al-Qaeda. Saleh does not care if Yemen is to be consumed by the Al-Qaeda inferno or controlled by Iran. Nor does he care about what Yemenis will get out of his endless plots and ploys. He only cares about one thing: Returning to power even if it cost the blood of all Yemenis.
By allying himself with the Houthis, Saleh has performed a new, dangerous dance. An alliance with the Shi’ite group and Iran means that the ousted president has crossed all red lines, and consequently plunged the entire region, not just his country, into a vortex of uncertainty. Does he believe that he will be able to “dance on the heads of snakes” once more and emerge victorious from this chaos? Perhaps. Or perhaps this will be Saleh, and the Houthis, final dance.

Talkers Vs. Deciders in Iran’s Foreign Policy
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 3 Apr, 2015
Who is in charge of Iran’s foreign policy?
Over the years the question has been posed by almost everyone who has had to deal with the Islamic Republic but no consensus on an answer has been reached.
The question was constantly present in filigree during the latest over-hyped marathon talks on Iran’s nuclear program as the P5+1 ministers often had to wait for their Iranian counterpart to withdraw from various sessions ostensibly for prayers but, in fact, to telephone Tehran and ask for instructions.
It was obvious that even on fairly simple issues Zarif had to seek authorization from unidentified authorities back home.
The whole thing assumed an even more bizarre aspect when President Hassan Rouhani insisted that his brother Fereidoun be present and directly report to him, presumably because the foreign minister reported to someone else.
Another member of the Iranian team who made his own separate phone calls to Tehran was Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi who is cast as the conscience of the Iranian delegation and reported to be charged with the task of preventing Zarif from giving away all family silver. Iranian sources say Araqchi reported to the “Supreme Guide” through Khamenei’s foreign policy advisor Ali-Akbar Velayati.
Sometimes, the fact that the official facade of Iranian diplomacy doesn’t quite know what is going on is starkly demonstrated.
One example concerns the current crisis in Iraq.
For weeks, the official media was abuzz with reports regarding Iran’s role as “liberator” of Iraqi territories captured by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Corps who is in charge of “exporting the revolution” has been photographed and filmed in a variety of designer combat outfits supposedly leading the Iraqi army and militias to one victory after another. At the same time, Tehran newspapers ran traditional obituaries announcing the “martyrdom” of Iranian troops and officers supposedly involved in the Iraqi war. The daily Kayhan, published under the supervision of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei was hard pressed for superlatives to describe Iran’s involvement in “saving Iraq”. It was not until Suleimani had to run away from a base he had set up near Tikrit that talk about his being Iran’s greatest military genius since Cyrus the Great subsided.
However, Rouhani’s senior advisor Ayatollah Ali Yunessi went even further by pretending that Iran had already “liberated” Iraq and that Baghdad was now “our capital”. “We achieved what the Americans failed to do,” he boasted.
And, yet; the Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif was repeating he Westphalian mantra about “non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations.”
His spokesperson Marzieh Afkham, a gentle lady who blushes like a bride when she has to doctor the truth was ordered to deny that Iran had any military role in Iraq beyond “offering advice”.
Here is another example of the fog that envelopes policy-making process in Tehran.
Last month a large delegation of Houthis from Yemen suddenly appeared in Tehran and within 48 hours negotiated and signed 11 treaties and contracts with various organs of the Iranian state on a range of issues including military cooperation, air transport services, and the training of Yemeni religious scholars.
Again, foreign ministry sources claim that the official diplomatic service was either completely shut out of the process or allowed a minor protocol role.
Throughout their stay in Tehran and in a subsequent hop-in-hop-out call on Moscow arranged by Tehran, the Houthi delegation was chaperoned by the Quds Force. It was also the Quds man in Caracas who was given the task of securing diplomatic recognition by Venezuela and other leftist Latin American governments for the Houthi regime in Sana’a.
Whenever Hezbollah leaders of the various branches of Hezbollah from different countries, most notably Lebanon, visit Tehran on business they are entirely chaperoned by the Quds Force, the security services and the office of the “Supreme Guide”, and not the official diplomatic service. Foreign ministry sources claim that they don’t even know the size of the checks that are being signed off on in Tehran for the various regional Hezbollah leaders.
Even on the nuclear issue, the official diplomatic service is informed on a need-to-know basis only. Two months ago the security services arranged strictly supervised visits to two nuclear centers for Zarif and his negotiating team. For the rest, they have asked the Zarif team to refer any queries to Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization who eventually joined the negotiating team in Switzerland. The fact is that Zarif and presumably even Rouhani do not have a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear program.
Another example came late last month in the form of a terse note to the foreign ministry, ordering it to “ establish maritime frontiers” with the neighboring Sultanate of Oman through negotiations within three years but on the basis of a map already provided by the Ministry of Defense.
In other words, what the foreign ministry is asked to do is to force the Omanis to sign on what has already been decided. The map in question would substantially change the status quo in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman and further down even in the Arabian Sea where Iran has a few miles of coast at Gawadar on the Pakistani frontier. According to the new map a number of Omani islands and atolls would fall within Iranian territorial waters. One consequence of this could be Iran establishing full control on the Strait of Hormuz from both south and north.
What the foreign ministry is asked to do is to inform Oman of a diktat, something professional diplomats are loath to do.
On all sensitive issues, dealing with the Islamic Republic is always difficult and its outcome never certain because outsiders have to deal with a regime suffering from split personality.
This is a regime that is torn between acting as a nation-state and pretending to be a vehicle for global revolution.
One Iran is represented by smiling diplomats, often with American accents and even US Green Cards. They are “the talkers”.
Another Iran is represented by shadowy figures who could be called “the deciders” and, in terms of actual power provide the backbone of the “deep state “in the Khomeinist system.
John Kerry hopes to get a Nobel Peace Prize thanks to “the talkers”. But the Iranian nuclear program, designed ad controlled by “the deciders” will continue.

France: No deal yet on when to lift Iran’s sanctions
AFP and Reuters
Friday, 3 April 2015
France’s foreign minister warned Friday that the tricky issue of when crippling sanctions on Iran would be lifted following a framework deal over its nuclear program was “not yet solved.”“The Iranian want sanctions to be lifted immediately,” Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio station.“We say to them: we will ease the sanctions as you respect what you have agreed to and if you don’t live up to your commitments, of course we can return to the situation we had before. “On this point, there is not yet a deal,” said Fabius.
Fabius spoke after Thursday’s agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear drive, hailed as “historic.” Under the framework, Iran agreed to sharply curtail its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
France, which presents itself as one of the more hawkish of the world powers negotiating the deal, has warned that sanctions will be re-imposed if Tehran fails to live up to its side of the bargain. “We are going in the right direction ... but we are not yet at the end of the road,” stressed Fabius.
The main outlines agreed after eight days of talks that sometimes went through the night in the Swiss city of Lausanne now have to be finalized in a highly complex agreement by June 30. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday welcomed the deal, but said he hoped Tehran would go further by the deadline for a final deal at the end of June. “When we look at the positions (of the) P5+1 right now, Iran is still below the line we were able to bring in (previous negotiations) in 2010, but we hope Iran will come to that line,” Cavusoglu said during a trip to Lithuania. On Friday, Israel re-iterated its warning that a deal with Iran was “very dangerous,” accusing Tehran of seeking an atomic weapon. “This framework (agreement) is a step in a very, very dangerous direction,” government spokesman Mark Regev told journalists, adding that Iran’s “single goal” behind the accord was to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran celebrates nuke deal amid other controversies
Friday, 3 April 2015
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
A preliminary deal has been reached between the six world powers (known as the P5+1: the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) and Iran after the second self-imposed deadline in the marathon nuclear talks was missed. The deadline for the first phase of the final deal was originally March 31. The major purpose of this self-imposed deadline appeared to be nothing more than testing the political willingness of both sides to continue with the nuclear negotiations.
The preliminary deal appears to be a win-win deal for President Rowhani and President Obama. President Rowhani’s nuclear team can argue that the Islamic Republic scored a victory by maintaining its right to enrich uranium and maintain its nuclear sites (including the ones in Arak, Natanz and the reactor Fordow), keeping them operational, according to the deal.
As Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif said: “None of those measures require closing any of our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that." He also added that the underground Fordow site will maintain its centrifuges. In addition, the preliminary deal suggests that some major sanctions can be lifted as soon as the final nuclear deal is signed in June.
It is crucial to point out that Iran’s nuclear negotiating team consists of sophisticated diplomats, American-educated, and extensively-experienced members who learned critical lessons from their failure in previous nuclear talks under the former Iranian administration.
President Obama will make the argument that he has ensured that Iran will be one year away from obtaining an atomic bomb. The State Department indicated that Iran will not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for the duration of this period. Iran will enrich uranium at one nuclear facility; Natanz, limit its activities at Arak heavy water reactor and transfer its Fordow reactor to a technology and research center.
It is critical to understand that a final deal will not remove Iran’s possibility to obtain nuclear weapons permanently. The deals are temporarily-based agreements. Iran can walk away from the term of the deal at its wish.
In addition, the nuclear deal fails to address the effectiveness, rigorousness, and technicalities of the inspection regime, billions of dollars being spent on Iran’s ballistic missile program which might be part of the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program, as well as Iran’s laboratories or companies linked to producing nuclear-related materials. While these elements are crucial, President Obama will attempt to undermine their significant.
Iran’s growing power in the region through its proxies is as threatening to the stability of the region as a nuclear-state Iran.
The Obama administration contends that sanctions will “snap back” if Iran violates the terms of the agreement. Nevertheless, Russia will probably oppose the automatic snapping back of sanctions due to the fact that it will undermine Moscow and veto power at the U.N. Security Council. The Russian opposition will play into the interests of Iranian leaders.
Although Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main objective is to remove the crippling sanctions against his government through reaching a nuclear deal, it is President Obama who appears to be more desperate for a deal.
Domestically speaking, the repercussions of failing the 18-month marathon nuclear talks are much more severe for President Obama and his legacy. Iran’s Supreme Leader will not encounter criticism domestically if the nuclear talks were to fail. In addition, he has always vindicated himself by playing two strategies: that he does not really trust the Americans to strike a deal, and that he is going to be lenient in allowing President Rowhani to pursue his policy.
There is going to be opposition from both inside Iran and the U.S.. Hardliners might argue that the terms of the agreement are too restrictive. The Republicans might state that the deal did not dismantle Iran’s nuclear threat completely, ensuring that Tehran does not have other undeclared facilities, leaving Iran with a path to become a nuclear state, and helping to remove economic sanctions. Nevertheless, this opposition will not likely have an impact on the direction of the nuclear talks.
Other neglected controversies
On the other hand, there has been scarce attention given to the controversial issue of the one year break-out capacity. The U.S. demands assurance that a deal will keep the Islamic Republic one year away from reaching a nuclear bomb and going full speed for nuclearization if it decided to violate the articles of the deal.
Rarely has any expert actually asked if a one year break-out time is practically adequate. Assuming that the international community and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are capable of detecting that Tehran has violated the agreement and that it is going to go for full nuclearization, can the international community get its acts together for a military response within one year? This is very doubtful considering the gaps between the West, Russia and China, as well as the economic challenges that the West is encountering.
In addition, both sides continue to discuss the phases through which the economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic will be removed. But, more fundamentally, many questions remain to be unanswered by Iranian leaders. There exist several controversial issues put forward by the IAEA regarding the military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program. According to the latest report by the IAEA, the agency has not been capable of getting full information from the Iranian leaders as well as ensuring that there are no undeclared nuclear sites operating in Iran. The question is whether the West should go ahead with removing sanctions before Iran has fully responded to the IAEA’s concerns?
In addition, one of the Obama administration’s tactics concerning the president’s strategy on Iran, is to keep the details of the talks as secretive as possible. This could be due to the fact that the administration is not confident that it will receive full support for its deal from its allies as well as the regional powers.
Iran’s Drive for regional pre-eminence
Whether a final deal is reached or not by end of June, the Islamic Republic’s power has been on the rise since the nuclear talks began in 2013. The result is that a cart blanche deal has been given to the Islamic Republic by the United States, and this has played well in Iran’s drive for regional pre-eminence.
In order to leave a “historic” nuclear “legacy” in his name, President Obama has decided to turn a blind eye to Iran’s intentions for regional dominance, Iran’s geopolitical game in supporting proxies in the region as well as Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions.
The Islamic Republic’s proxies have increasingly grown to be crucial determinant of the geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East.
President Obama is concerned that by criticizing Iran’s geopolitical game and its proxy wars in the region, he would scuttle his legacy and the nuclear talks. The Iranian leaders have also masterfully exploited the Obama administration’s determination to prioritize the nuclear talks to Iran’s regional hegemonic objectives.
Iran is a winner: With or without a deal
On the other hand, Iran has utilized the marathon nuclear talks to buy time and shield its hegemonic ambitions as well as the growing power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ in the region.
Iranian leaders have shrewdly capitalized on the American vacuum in the region and subsequently, the Obama administration’s policy has played right into the interests and hands of the Islamic Republic.
Getting a final deal will definitely ratchet up the Islamic Republic’s economic, political power in the Middle East as well as assert more forcefully its regional hegemonic ambitions.
Nevertheless, even without a final and comprehensive deal being reached, the Islamic Republic has already taken advantage of American prioritization of the nuclear talks as well as the vacuum created by the United States' declining power and less-assertive policies in the region. Through its growing proxies, the Islamic Republic has already set its footprint in several Arab countries facing turmoil.
What the Obama administration needs is to realize is that Iran’s growing power in the region through its proxies is as threatening to the stability of the region as a nuclear-state Iran.
The current nuances and details of the deal suggest that there will likely be a “historic” final nuclear deal at the end of June, due to the fact that both sides need the deal for their national, economic, geopolitical and strategic interests. They have shown political willingness in reaching a final nuclear deal and compromise due to the aforementioned factors.