Fire at Salman Tower Mashhad, Iran

On July 10, at around 20 hours local time, a fire started at Salman Towers commerical center in Mashhad, Iran.
The fire quickly engulfed most of the building.


Salman Tower, Mashhad, Iran before the fire (image taken from Facebook)

Two videos showing the extent of the fire:

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Press TV: ‘Saudi harbors, trains Iraq terrorists’

Car wreck

Car wreck

As Press TV reports:

Saudi security forces are reportedly involved in training terrorists operating in Iraq, where political leaders are pushing to form a ruling coalition.

Reports from Saudi Arabia say militants are assembled in a base set up outside Abha in the Red Sea province of Asir where they receive training on how to carry out suicide attacks and bombing operations.

The participants, mostly crossing into Iraq via Jordan and Syria, receive theoretical courses which portray Shia Muslims as “infidels” who only deserve to be killed. Under such theoretical approach supporters of the government are also considered as infidels.

The question is how credible are those claims. Let’s have a look at some other sources. The claims that Saudi Arabia supported terrorism are not new. In 2008, the LA Times wrote:

Saudi Arabia remains the world’s leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration’s top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.

Stuart A. Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told a Senate committee that the Saudi government had not taken important steps to go after those who finance terrorist organizations or to prevent wealthy donors from bankrolling extremism through charitable contributions, sometimes unwittingly.

“Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world,” Levey said under questioning.

Even back in 2005 there were concerns about Saudi’s financing of terrorism:

‘Wealthy Saudi financiers and charities have funded terrorist organizations and causes that support terrorism and the ideology that fuels the terrorists’ agenda’, Levey told lawmakers yesterday.

‘Even today, we believe that Saudi donors may still be a significant source of terrorist financing, including for the insurgency in Iraq,’ he added.

Abha, it may be noted, is the capital of Asir Province which borders Yemen. In fact,  Asir Province was once part of Yemen:

By the Treaty of Ta’if (May 1934), Yemen lost ‘Asir to Sa’udi Arabia but won British and Sa’udi recognition of its independence. However, incursions by the imams against the UK protectorate in Aden continued until 1962.

There may be still some tribal ties across the border from that period. And Yemen is, as they tell us, another hotbed and rallying point for Al-Qaeda, but Al-Qaeda was founded and financed by Osama bin Laden who is a Saudi of Yemeni descent. Saudi Arabia has a long history of involvement in Yemen too:

In 1962, a revolution in Yemen ended over 1,000 years of rule by Zaydi Hashemites, who claimed descendance from the Prophet Mohammed.

Zaydism is a branch of Shia Islam, though its practices often appear closer to Sunni Islam than traditional Shia belief.

Saada, in the north, was their main stonghold and since their fall from power the region was largely ignored economically and remains underdeveloped.

During Yemen’s 1994 civil war, the Wahhabis, an Islamic group adhering to a strict version of Sunni Islam found in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, helped the government in its fight against the secessionist south.

Zaydis complain the government has subsequently allowed the Wahabis too strong a voice in Yemen.

It seems that Saudi Arabia is intervening everywhere to establish its version of Islam, Wahhabi Islam – which bin Laden preaches also –  and that one of the obstacles to its domination of Islam are the Shi’as and, of course, Iran.

Shi’ites are regularly targeted in Pakistan and Afghanistan by pro-Taliban militants. Sixteen were killed only recently in Pakistan, women and children among them, eleven were killed and beheaded in Afghanistan a few weeks back. Not to mention the regular attacks on Shia mosques in Pakistan, Iraq and now Iran.

Wahhabi Islam is making progress elsewhere too, namely in the United States, where from the rubble of the 9/11 attacks a 13-story Mosque will rise.

Somehow, it just doesn’t look like Iran is the real problem here. The only question that needs to be answered is, why is it in the interest of the United States and Israel to spread an intolerant fundamentalist Wahhabi/Salafi Islam all over the planed including in their own countries? It looks rather like a self-defeating strategy, in which Western values like democracy, freedom and human rights are sacrificed on the altar of power in the quest of world domination.

Google provocation – or just sloppy employees?

Google Translation

Google Translation

As Fars News writes:

When in the Google translation the word “Allah” is typed in the Farsi section, the word «Israel» will appear.

I checked, it’s true (see attached screenshot). However, the translation works correctly in Arabic and Urdu.

In general, the translation from/to Persian and Turkish are of bad quality when whole sentences or paragraphs are translated. It’s usually unintelligible what comes out and you’re better off translating it yourself by using a traditional dictionary.

Oh, and Fars News also thinks that this has something to do with Zionism, probably because Sergej Brin is Jewish:

Google is a search site, which belongs to Zionists who have as direct goals international Zionism as a plan. (mine)

Google is a search site, which belongs to Israel in the international Zionist goals has been designed. (Google’s)

Both translation are not perfect, but mine is closer to the original which is surprising, because I am a beginner and still learning and Google should supposedly be working with native – or fluent – speakers of Persian.

Swiss Ambassador to Theran released

Swiss Ambassador to Tehran, Lidia Leu Agosti

Swiss Ambassador to Tehran, Lidia Leu Agosti

Swiss Ambassador to Theran released

According to news from Press TV, the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran, Livia Leu Agosti, has been released a few hours after she was arrested.

Apparently, she was arrested on a trip – which was announced to relevant authorities – to the north of Khorasan Province, because “her identity was not established at that time”.

At this time there is no further information from the Swiss Foreign Ministry available.

Two new Natural Gas Fields discovered in Iran

natural gas flare

Image source: Fars News

From Farsnews:

Two new gas fields discovered in the Persian Gulf and Khorasan

Fars News Agency: The Ministry of Petroleum discovered two new gas fields in the Persian Gulf and Razavi Khorasan with reported reserves of 700 billion cubic meters and 62.5 billion cubic meters in situ.

According to a report of Fars News economic correspondent, Masoud Mirkazemi told reporters minutes ago: A new gas field was discovered, located 30 km southeast of Kish, with name Foruz and reserves of 700 billion cubic meters in situ.
According to him, this gas field in area 21 in 28 will after development have a daily production of 70 million cubic meters of gas, which is as much as the two phases of South Pars.
The Ministry of Petroleum also discovered a new gas field with reserves of gas in Razavi Khorasan with 62.5 billion cubic meters in situ which can produce 4 million cubic meters a day after the development, Mirkazemi said.
Additional news will be given subsequently.

The Kish gas field discovery seems to be in addition to what already was discovered previously with a size of 1560 billion cubic meters, whereas the Razavi Khorasan seems bo be an entirely new one.

Press TV: Iranians remember Flight 655 victims

Iran Stamp IR655

Iran Stamp IR655

From Press TV:

Iran’s president calls the US missile attack on the Iranian passenger airliner over the Persian Gulf a black spot in the history of American democracy.

On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes launched two surface-to-air missiles and downed Iran Air Flight 655 en route to Dubai. All 290 passengers onboard, including 66 children, were killed.

Scores Iranians accompanied the families of the victims to the site of the incident on Saturday, honoring the memory of the martyred passengers by throwing flowers into the Persian Gulf.

“July 3, 1988 is reminiscent of one of the most tragic and horrific incidents in human history, which was secretly planned by White House officials and added another black spot to the history of American liberal democracy,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a statement that was read out during the ceremony.

“This heartbreaking tragedy is not an understandable accident, it is rather a declaration of war against the humanity and the cause of eternal shame for the organizations claiming to be the advocates of human rights and fighting terrorism.”

The US has so far refused to issue an apology for downing Flight 655, arguing that its naval officers mistook the Iranian Airbus A300 for an F-14 Tomcat fighter.

Iran has dismissed the justification, saying mistaking an Airbus A300 for an F-14 Tomcat fighter is beyond the realms of possibility.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution, in which it only expressed “deep distress” over the incident and “profound regret” for the loss of life.

Here is some background on Iran Air Flight 655 from Iran Chamber and here is the Wikipedia article describing this catastrophe.

ZeroHedge: 12 American Warships On Way To Red Sea

I’ve seen similar information being posted elsewhere on the web and in the news over time, but  ZeroHedge has the newest on possible Iran strike preparations. From ZeroHedge:

Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi reports that 12 American warships, among which one aircraft carrier, as well as one Israeli corvette, and possibly a submarine, have crossed the Suez Canal on their way to the Red Sea. Concurrently, thousands of Egyptian soldiers were deployed along the canal to protect the ships. The passage disrupted traffic into the manmade canal for the “longest time in years.” The immediate destination of the fleet is unknown. According to Global Security, two other carriers are already deployed in the region, with the CVN-73 Washington in the western Pacific as of May 26, and the CVN-69 Eisenhower supporting operation Enduring Freedom as of May 22. It is unclear at first read what the third carrier group may be, but if this news, which was also confirmed by the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, is correct, then the Debka report about a surge in aircraft activity in the Persian Gulf is well on its way to being confirmed. There has been no update on the three Israeli nuclear-armed subs that are believed to be operating off the coast of Iran currently.

So, is this the build-up to an attack? Not necessarily. From the Daily Press:

December 29, 2009|By Veronica Chufo, Daily Press

NORFOLK — More than 6,000 sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group will ship out Saturday in a regularly scheduled six-month deployment.

The strike group is made up of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul, both home-ported in Norfolk, as well as Commander Carrier Strike Group 8, Carrier Air Wing 7 and Commander Destroyer Squadron. Carrier Air Wing 7 includes strike fighter squadrons VFA-143, VFA-131, VFA-83 and VFA-103; tactical electronics warfare squadron VAQ-140; carrier airborne early warning squadron VAW-121; and helicopter anti-submarine squadron HS-5.

It also includes Mayport, Fla.-based guided missile cruiser USS Hue City and guided-missile destroyers USS Carney and USS Farragut.

Since the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was deployed in January – according to Wikipedia on January 2, 2010 – it is up for being rotated out in or around June or July 2010, the new Carrier Strike Group seen in the Suez Canal could be its replacement.

The typical Carrier Strike Group consists of six ships, however, the US Navy says:

First, it is important to note that there really is no real definition of a strike group. Strike groups are formed and disestablished on an as-needed basis, and one may be different from another. However, they all are comprised of similar types of ships.

So you would have to know the name or the type of the ships to really be able to guess what they are intended for. I am curious where this is going, but my two rial say it’s a rotation.