WH and State Dept. Admitted the Ploy of Iran Deal

Deal or no deal? No deal, no signatures, no vote, no sanctions, no burdens on Iran.

TheTower: Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, warned that if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) doesn’t close its file of past Iranian nuclear violations, the Islamic Republic will stop complying with the terms of the nuclear agreement it reached with the P5+1 powers, Iran’s semi-official PressTV news service reported on Thursday.

Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said on Wednesday that the IAEA’s Director General Yukiya Amano has decided to release a report on the Iranian nuclear program on December 1, and the Agency’s Board of Governors will review the report and make a final decision in a meeting on December 15.

Araqchi said the report by Amano should result in the closure of the PMD issue.

“In case Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors presents their report in such a way that it does not meet the stipulated commitments, the Islamic Republic of Iran will also stop [the implementation of] the JCPOA,” he said, in reference to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1.

The IAEA has been tasked with the monitoring and verification of technical issues under the JCPOA. Full article here.

NationalReview: President Obama didn’t require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not “legally binding,” his administration acknowledged in a letter to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) obtained by National Review. “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter.
Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield’s response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of “political commitments” rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal’s terms. “The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose — and ramp up — our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,” Frifield wrote to Pompeo.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discouraged his nation’s parliament from voting on the nuclear deal in order to avoid placing legal burdens on the regime. “If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to [and passed by] parliament, it will create an obligation for the government. It will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it,” Rouhani said in August. “Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?” Pompeo cited that comment in his letter to Kerry, but Frifield did not explicitly address it in her reply. “This is not a mere formality,” Pompeo wrote in his September 19 letter. “Those signatures represent the commitment of the signatory and the country on whose behalf he or she is signing. A signature also serves to make clear precisely who the parties to the agreement are and the authority under which that nation entered into the agreement. In short, just as with any legal instrument, signing matters.” The full State Department letter is below:

Letter from State Department Regarding JCPOA

Its Iran and Russia, Where Obama/Kerry Willing Accomplices

A review is in order where Iran and Russia are allowed to manage all events in the Middle East including the continued nuclear grace provided by Barack Obama and John Kerry.

The Persian Puppeteer: Iran pulling strings in Syria and across the Middle East

by: Tom Walpole

Russia’s intervention in Syria has pushed the war back to the forefront of international media and escalated violence on the ground. Yet for all the column inches detailing the end of American hegemony in the Middle East and psycho-analysing the motives of Putin, the ongoing participation of Iran in the conflict has been largely consigned to footnotes. Russian bombs lead the headlines, whilst the prospect of an Iranian–backed Government offensive into land cleared by Russian air superiority is often consigned to mid-article statements.

The high-profile death in early October of Hossein Hamedani, the most senior Iranian commander to be killed in a foreign operation for over 36 years, highlighted the presence of Iranian troops in Syria. Not that Iranian involvement in Syria is a new phenomenon. Despite denying the presence of conflict troops in Syria, 18 high-ranking officers in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have been killed in Syria in the last three years. Now Iranian troops are bolstering a Syrian state offensive on rebels in the Homs province. Before his death, General Hamedani was quoted as saying that a 130,000 strong force from the Basij (Iran’s paramilitary group) were ready to go to Syria if needed. Aside from the provision of troops, Tehran has also been funding the training of a new Syrian National Defence Force (NDF). IRGC commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari has stated that the NDF now comprises of 100,000 fighters.

It is clear that Iran continues to be one of the biggest supporters of the Assad regime, providing the troops and training needed to continue a civil war now four and a half years old.  Iranian wealth is also being diverted, in the forms of lines of credit and oil transfers, vital after Islamic State captured the last major government-controlled oil field in September.

Why is Iran invested in Syria?

As a close ally of Iran, losing the Assad regime would drastically curtail Iran’s influence in the Levant. The creation of a Sunni-led Syria would see the country align closer to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Iran’s regional rivals. Supporting Assad is thus critical to maintaining the regional balance for Iran. Crucially, an allied Syria provides a secure passage for Iran to support Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’a movement armed with Iranian weaponry. Hezbollah forces have also fought hard in Syria to defend its Iranian lifeline, a decision that has caused sectarian tension within Lebanon itself. Hezbollah and the Assad regime have traditionally made up the centrepiece of Iranian foreign policy since the 1979 Revolution; the axis of resistance against Western and Israeli power in the Middle East. Losing Assad means losing one member of the axis as well as access to the second, a move leaving Iran hosting a party for one. Losing this influence would have real significance, leaving the Shi’a regime in Iran alone and at odds with the Sunni States of the Middle East led by Saudi Arabia.  Iran’s involvement in Syria is considerable, but it cannot be regarded as blind loyalty to a beleaguered ally. Iranian calculations have a much more international perspective.

An Iranian Resurgence

Punishing EU and UN sanctions on Iran reduced the Iranian rial to an all-time low against the US dollar in October 2012. Bans on oil imports particularly stung Tehran, whose uranium-enrichment strategy threatened to ostracise itself from the international community. Increasingly strained relations with Turkey, as well as the crisis in Syria, have all contributed to an internationally-isolated Iran.

So what has changed?

Russian and Iranian forces have taken the initiative in Syria, giving the imperilled Assad regime more security than it has enjoyed at any point during the war. The power vacuum of a post-Saddam Iraq has been readily capitalised on by Iran, who has increased economic ties with its neighbour and began to fund Iraqi Shi’a militias. A Shi’a dominated Iraqi government has been more receptive to Iranian influence, and Baghdad is now seen by some as a new member of the axis of resistance. In addition, the fight against ISIS has helped forge alliances between Sunni and Shi’a militias, a welcome turn for a country characterised by sectarian violence. Iran has, despite its own refutations, been accused of sending 30,000 of its own troops into Iraq to fight ISIS.

As well as gaining political traction in Baghdad, Iran has increased its support for the Houthis of Yemen after supporting the Shi’a group for several years with military aid and training. Joined by their hatred of Saudi Arabia’s blend of Wahhabism, the Houthis declared themselves part of the axis of resistance in 2015. However, Tehran did try to hold back the Houthis from attacking the Yemeni capital of Sana’a in 2014 for fear of invoking too great an international response. President Obama explained that Iran is:

“Making constant, calculated decisions that allow it to preserve the regime, to expand their influence where they can, to be opportunistic, to create what they view as hedges against potential Israeli attack, in the form of Hezbollah and other proxies, in the region. I think what Iran has been doing in Yemen is a perfect illustration of this.”

Through rational policies and calculated foresight, Iran has managed to establish influence in Iraq, secure its ally in Syria and fund proxies in Lebanon, Yemen and to a lesser extent Palestine, where it continues to provide weapons to Hamas despite disagreements over Syria. Added to this, Iran has managed to thaw its relationships with Jordan and Egypt, relations which had been frozen since the 1979 Revolution.

Paying the Bills

Funding campaigns and militias in Syria, Iraq and Yemen is not cheap. To finance their growing presence in the Middle East, Tehran has looked to the wider international community. In a bid to end the bitter sanctions, Tehran has sponsored a concerted ‘charm offensive’ at the UN, a process signalling an end to Iran’s more isolated past. The nuclear deal signed in the summer is a cornerstone of this new, diplomatic strategy. The deal, which sees Iran trade reduced nuclear capability for sanctions relief, has been heralded as a major diplomatic victory for the Obama administration. Agreements on the nuclear programme have led to the potential lifting of economic sanctions in early 2016, paving the way for international trade and investment. Indeed, the signing of the nuclear deal has opened the floodgates to a deluge of European trade missions to Tehran.

Aside from European investment, the easing of sanctions serves to release Iran from its main source of wealth: oil. Tehran now expects to increase oil production of 500,000 barrels a day by late November, with production to increase further in 2016. These developments will only build on the recent changes in Iranian economic fortunes, for, after two years of recession, the Iranian economy made a comeback in 2014. Ambitious Iranian development plans call for 8% annual growth from 2016-2021, but the World Bank does calculate that an Iran free from sanctions could see healthy GDP growth of 5.8 % and 6.7 % in 2016 and 2017 respectively. It appears that Iran is economically prepared for its more prominent role in the Middle East.


In the perennial ideological and political battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a resurgent Iran only increases tensions. Characterised by an increase in hostile rhetoric, relations have soured even further in 2015. Iranian backed successes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen all directly impede the influence of the Kingdom. Indeed, Iran’s re-emergence on the oil-producing stage could further antagonise relations between Tehran and Saudi Arabia by biting into The Kingdom’s ability to control world prices.

Israeli-Iranian relations remain irrevocably bitter. The Syrian crisis serves as yet another messy point of conflict, with Israel even killing an IRGC General in an airstrike in January, despite claiming that the Iranian General was not the intended target. However, the nuclear deal did strain US-Israeli relations, with Obama ignoring Israeli lobbying against the deal. Creating cracks in the special relationship is another bonus for Iran.

In the last 3 years Iran has moved from a position of economic turmoil and political isolation to one of considerable regional power whilst normalising international relations, especially with Europe. There are hidden risks. Domestically, unemployment remains high and youth unemployment has frequently been the catalyst for political anger in the region. There is still no sight of victory for Assad in Syria, while the Islamic State continues to provide a source of extremist violence. The Houthis have not secured Yemen and a peace deal is now on the table. Sudan has also joined the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels. The presence of Sudanese troops in Yemen complicates the situation for Iran, with Tehran and Khartoum used to a close military relationship.

Nevertheless, it is clear that Iran can no longer be dismissed as a Persian Pariah, a rogue state akin to North Korea. Iran has successfully and astutely capitalised on dwindling Western presence in the region and looks economically sound enough to continue its larger role in the Middle East.

MEMRI: In a November 25, 2015 interview on Iranian television, Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said that he recently held talks with IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano on “closing the Possible Military Dimension (PMD) dossier”, and the latter filled him in about “some of the points he is to present” in the upcoming IAEA report on this issue. Araghchi noted that he had also spoken with the Americans and Europeans in Vienna, and had understood from them that “they too were heading towards closing the PMD dossier.”

It should be recalled that Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and a member of the nuclear negotiation team, said in a June 21, 2015 interview on Iranian television that Iran had “reached understandings with the IAEA” on the PMD issue, and added: “Now there is political backing [of the P5+1], and the [PMD] issue should be resolved.” He stated further: “By December 15, [2015], at the end of the year, the issue [of the PMD] should be determined. The IAEA will submit its report to [its] board of governors. It will only submit it. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will continue independently of the results of this report. We have reached understandings with the IAEA… The technical issues are now being resolved in a political framework. They have set a time frame and, God willing, the issue must be resolved by December 15.” In response to the interviewers’ remark that the IAEA has “a bad record” (in terms of cooperating with Iran), Salehi stated: “In short, they [the IAEA] will be the losers. As I have said, the issue has received political backing. The work of [the IAEA] must be reasonable. They cannot do anything unreasonable. When there is no political backing, they do whatever they want, but now there is political backing, and the issue should be resolved.” According to Araghchi, “if the Security Council does not close the PMD dossier, the process of implementing the JCPOA will stop. Hence, the P5+1 must decide between the PMD and the JCPOA… In the past, the P5+1 chose the JCPOA. The [Supreme] Leader [Khamenei]’s letter on Iran’s implementation of the nuclear steps [a document published by Khamenei in October 21 detailing 9 additional conditions for Iranian compliance with the JCPOA][3] likewise emphasizes that they must choose between the JCPOA and the PMD.” The full report is here courtesy of MEMRI.

Iran Deal (JPOA) is Over, U.S. Relations, Broken

Iran Reneges On Nuclear Deal  

“Adoption Day”–the day participants would start the process of implementing their JCPOA commitments – was set for October 18. On that day, therefore, the US and the EU began preparatory measures for lifting the multiple sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy since they were first imposed in 2005. Only three days later, on October 21, Ayatollah Khamenei published a letter of guidelines to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about the JCPOA.

This letter, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported, was posted on Khamenei’s website in Persian, tweeted from his Twitter account, posted on his Facebook page in English, and published in English by the Iran Broadcasting Authority. In this document, clearly the definitive statement of the conditions under which Iran would be willing to execute the JCPOA, Iran’s Supreme Leader sets nine new and unilateral conditions that fundamentally change what was agreed on July 14. In short, he has virtually declared the JCPOA a dead letter.

What are these nine new conditions?

First Khamenei demands that sanctions are lifted fully, not suspended, before Iran takes steps to meet its obligations under the agreement. In addition he asserts that any endorsement by the West of the “snapback” option (the reintroduction of sanctions should Iran fail to meet the terms of the agreement) will be considered “non-compliance with the JCPOA”.

Secondly: Any future sanctions against Iran for whatever reason, including terrorism or human rights violations, will “constitute a violation of the JCPOA,” and a reason for Iran to stop executing the agreement.

Thirdly: Under the JCPOA Iran is obligated to start changing the function of its nuclear reactor at Arak and shipping out most of its stockpile of enriched uranium. In his letter Khamenei declares that Iran will not carry out these actions until after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) closes its dossier on Iran, targeted for December 15. But the IAEA will not be able to report about Iran meeting its obligations regarding the Arak reactor and shipping out its enriched uranium by the target date, because Iran is not going to do so by then. In short, the JCPOA has been thwarted from the very start.

Fourth: Iran will change the purpose of the Arak reactor only after there is a signed agreement on an “alternative plan” and “sufficient guarantee” that it will be implemented. In other words, Iran intends to postpone fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA regarding the Arak reactor to some unknown future date.

Fifth: Iran intends to postpone indefinitely the date set by the JCPOA for shipping out its enriched uranium to another country in exchange for yellowcake. Moreover Khamenei is demanding that Iran receive in exchange for the enriched uranium not raw uranium as per the JCPOA, but instead uranium that has been enriched, albeit to a lower level than the uranium it ships out.

Sixth: Khamenei instructs President Rouhani, while reducing Iran’s ability to enrich uranium under the JCPOA, immediately to expand Iran’s ability to enrich uranium on a 15-year long-term plan for 190,000 centrifuges. In short, he is nullifying the declared goal of the JCPOA, which is to reduce Iran’s nuclear enrichment capabilities.

Seventh: The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization must ensure continued nuclear research and development, in its various dimensions, so that in eight years’ time, Iran will not be lacking in enrichment technology.

Eighth: Khamenei declares that Iran must be involved in resolving queries about the JCPOA – a recipe for unending dispute and the ability to paralyze the execution of the agreement.

Ninth: A new committee tasked with monitoring the execution of the agreement is to be established – nominally to obviate any attempt by the US or the West to cheat, but in effect, a mechanism for creating perpetual obstacles to carrying out the agreement.

So far world opinion has turned a blind eye to Khamenei’s virtual rejection of the nuclear agreement. The US and the EU are proceeding enthusiastically with the first stages of dismantling their multiple sanctions regimes. Government officials and businessmen from around the globe are making a beeline for Tehran, eager to share in the vast commercial opportunities they see awaiting.

The nuclear agreement is the basis for Iran’s re-entry into the comity of nations, and Khamenei seems to be setting the stage for a battle of wills between Iran and the West. Will the West’s desire to come to terms with Iran outweigh Iran’s determination to give away less than their president has actually signed up to? Will the West delay the lifting of sanctions? Who will blink first?

Rouhani says U.S.-Iran ties could be restored but U.S. must apologize

ROME (Reuters) – The nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran could lead to better relations between Tehran and Washington if the United States apologized for past behavior, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as saying on Thursday.

The pragmatist president, who championed the July 14 deal, has pushed for closer engagement with the West since his 2013 landslide election win.

But Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has continued to rule out normalizing ties with the “Great Satan”, as he routinely calls the United States.

In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, Rouhani suggested that the United States and Iran could open embassies in each other’s capitals after decades of mutual hostility, but said Washington should apologize, without going into further detail.

“One day these embassies will re-open but what counts is behavior and the Americans hold the key to this,” Rouhani told the newspaper ahead of a trip to Italy this weekend, his first to a European capital.

“If they modify their policies, correct errors committed in these 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen.”

Iran and Washington severed ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution when radical students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for over a year.

Relations came under further pressure in the last decade over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Under the nuclear deal reached in July, Iran will curb its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions on its economy. Tehran denied Western suspicions it wanted to develop an atomic bomb.

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, gave his conditional approval to the deal with six world powers including the United States, but has warned against allowing any U.S. political or economic influence on Iran.

Rouhani said Washington would have to fulfill its part in the nuclear accord for relations to improve. The United States approved conditional sanctions waivers for Iran, though these will not take effect until Tehran has complied with the nuclear accord.

“The way this agreement is applied can have an impact on the future,” Rouhani said in the interview.

“If it is well applied it can lay the foundation for fewer tensions with the United States, creating the conditions to open a new era. But if the Americans don’t respect their part of the nuclear accord, then surely our relationship will remain as it has been in the past,” he said.

Rouhani is due to see the Italian prime minister and business leaders during his Nov. 14-15 visit to Rome and will also hold talks with Pope Francis.

He will then fly to Paris for talks on Nov. 16-17.

Iran: Death to America, Back ‘Atcha’ Iran

 Iran’s hardliners mark hostage anniversary with ‘infiltration’ warning

Reuters: Thousands of Iranians rallied to celebrate the anniversary of the 1979 hostage-taking at the U.S. embassy on Wednesday, as hardliners alleged Western “infiltration” following a landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

President Hassan Rouhani, however, in remarks highlighting division between moderates and hardliners, criticised the arrest of at least two journalists, the latest in a series of detentions also including dissident writers and artists.

“We should not arrest people without reason, making up cases against them and say they are a part of an infiltration network,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tehran chanting “death to America” and urging Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, “Don’t trust the Americans.”

The U.S. embassy was sacked by students in the early days of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The ensuing U.S. hostage crisis lasted 444 days and Washington and Tehran have yet to restore diplomatic ties.

Some protesters dragged a coffin marked “Obama” through the street while others carrying long balloons representing Iran’s latest ballistic missile, which was tested in October in defiance of a United Nations ban.

It is about time to terminate the Iran nuclear agreement and to declare a new adversarial front against Iran. The reasons are countless, one reason is above and the other is below.

U.S. Officials: Iranian Cyber-Attacks, Arrest of Americans May Be Linked

U.S. officials believe that the increasing number of hacking attacks carried out this past month by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against American government personnel may be linked to the arrests of American-Iranian citizens by the regime, The Wall Street Journal reported (Google link) Thursday.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, has routinely conducted cyberwarfare against American government agencies for years. But the U.S. officials said there has been a surge in such attacks coinciding with the arrest last month of Siamak Namazi, an energy industry executive and business consultant who has pushed for stronger U.S.-Iranian economic and diplomatic ties.

Obama administration personnel are among a larger group of people who have had their computer systems hacked in recent weeks, including journalists and academics, the officials said. Those attacked in the administration included officials working at the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs and its Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

“U.S. officials were among many who were targeted by recent cyberattacks,” said an administration official, adding that the U.S. is still investigating possible links to the Namazi case. “U.S. officials believe some of the more recent attacks may be linked to reports of detained dual citizens and others.”

At the time of his arrest, the IRGC seized Namazi’s computer.

According to the Journal, friends and associates of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian were similarly targeted following his arrest last year.

Associates of Namazi say that the IRGC, which is believed to be responsible for his arrest and which reports directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is using the cyber-attacks to help “build a false espionage case” against him.

Last month, the Journal reported that a cyber-security company, Dell Secureworks, had identified a scheme where Iranian hackers had set up false LinkedIn accounts in order to learn sensitive information from the defense and telecommunications sectors. In August, it was reported that Iran was targeting political dissidents living abroad with cyber-attacks.

Earlier this year, The New York Times revealed that the United States had enlisted the help of its allies, including Britain and Israel, to confront the escalating Iranian cyber-attacks.

A report released in 2014 by cyber-security firm Cylance highlighted Iran’s growing cyber-terror capabilities, including “bone-chilling evidence” that its hackers had taken control of gates and security systems at airports in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Iran’s cyber-attacks are not just directed at other countries and individuals abroad, but also its own citizens. Massive attacks on Iranian Google accounts were detected prior to the presidential election two years ago as part of a broader crackdown on dissent.

In Iran Has Built an Army of Cyber-Proxies, published in the August 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jordan Brunner examined how Iran became one of the world’s leading forces in cyber-warfare:

Iran is adept at building terrorist and other illicit networks around the world. Its cyber-capabilities are no different. It uses the inexpensive method of training and collaborating with proxies in the art of cyber-war. It may also have collaborated with North Korea, which infamously attacked Sony in response to the film The Interview. It is possible that Iran assisted North Korea in developing the cyber-capability necessary to carry out the Sony hack. While acknowledging that there is no definite proof of this, Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies raised the question in The Tower earlier this year.

More importantly, Iran is sponsoring the cyber-capabilities of terrorist organizations in Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria. The first indication of this was from Hezbollah. The group’s cyber-activity came to the attention of the U.S. in early 2008, and it has only become more powerful in cyberspace since then. An attack that had “all the markings” of a campaign orchestrated by Hezbollah was carried out against Israeli businesses in 2012.

Lebanon’s neighbor, Syria, is home to the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), which employs cyber-warfare in support of the Assad regime. There are rumors that indicate it is trained and financed by Iran. The SEA’s mission is to embarrass media organizations in the West that publicize the atrocities of the Assad regime, as well as track down and monitor the activities of Syrian rebels. It has been very successful at both. The SEA has attacked media outlets such as The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Financial Times, Forbes, and others. It has also hacked the software of companies like Dell, Microsoft, Ferrari, and even the humanitarian program UNICEF.

The group has carried out its most devastating cyber-attacks against the Syrian opposition, often using the anonymity of online platforms to its advantage. For example, its hackers pose as girls in order to lure opposition fighters into giving up seemingly harmless information that can lead to lethal crackdowns. The SEA’s sophisticated use of cyberspace developed in a very short time, and it is reasonable to infer that this was due to Iranian training. Iran has long supported the ruling Assad regime in Syria and would be happy to support those who support him.

In recent months, a group called the Yemen Cyber Army (YCA) has arisen, hacking into systems that belong to Saudi Arabia. The YCA supports the Houthi militia, which is fighting the Yemenite government and the Saudis; the Houthis are, in turn, supported by Iran. Thus far, the YCA has attacked Saudi Arabia’s Foreign, Interior, and Defense Ministries. They have also hacked the website of the Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat. Messages from the group indicate that they are sponsored by Iran, and might even be entirely composed of Iranians.

Iran Arrests Another U.S. Resident, Stating He is a Spy

Anyone really wonder if there is a legitimate exit clause from the P5+1 JPOA? Since a deal was declared, there have been countless reasons to terminate the deal and reconstitute the entire sanctions architecture and program.

Per the website: IJMA3 was formed with the belief and determination that it will accelerate the process of development in the Arab countries since it links the most prominent ICT associations of the region together. As a uniting platform of the Arabic ICT private sector, IJMA3, through establishing a clear vision of IT in the region, overcoming barriers, initiating projects and events, and providing coordination and cooperation between the different country members, will help the Arab world grab its endless ICT opportunities to improve development whether social, economic, political, or other in the very near future.   Working closely with the United Nations, more details here.

Iran state media claims another U.S. spy arrested

CBS: TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian state television on Tuesday claimed that a Washington-based Lebanese citizen missing in Tehran since September is actually an American spy now in the custody of authorities.

The state TV report is the first official word about Nizar Zakka, who holds permanent-resident status in the U.S. It comes as four Americans are known to be held by Iranian authorities after the Islamic Republic struck a nuclear deal with world powers.

Zakka disappeared Sept. 18 while visiting Tehran for a state-sponsored conference, according to a statement from the Washington-based group IJMA3-USA, which advocates for Internet freedom across the Middle East. Zakka was last seen leaving his hotel in a taxi for the airport to fly to Beirut, but he never boarded his flight, according to a statement last week signed by Lebanese lawyer Antoine Abou Dib.

Reached Tuesday by The Associated Press, Abou Dib said he had not heard of the Iranian claim and declined to immediately comment. IJMA3-USA did not immediately return a request for comment. Lebanese officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The state TV report claimed Zakka had “deep links” with U.S. intelligence services and its military. It also aired a still photo of men in U.S. Army-style uniforms, claiming Zakka was one of the men.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Zakka ever served in a military. However, Riverside Military Academy of Gainesville, Georgia, lists Zakka as an alumnus on its website and describes him as “an internationally recognized expert in information and communications technology (ICT) policy.” It said he graduated from the academy in 1985 and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from the University of Texas.

A spokeswoman for Riverside Military Academy referred questions to Jim Benson, the school’s president. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zakka’s disappearance comes as hard-liners in Iran remain opposed to a detente with the U.S. in the wake of the nuclear deal. That agreement reached earlier this year promises lifting crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Iranian hard-liners are opposed to moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s strategy of trying to improve ties with the West. Internal domestic struggles over the direction of Iran appear to be intensifying ahead of February’s parliamentary elections.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports this is the second-such arrest of someone with American connections this month in Iran. The other one was a business consultant based in Dubai who was very keen to re-establish economic links with the U.S. when sanctions are lifted. Both men arrested had the support of President Rouhani and his reform-minded government.

There also may be another plan: in August, Iranian media began quoting officials discussing the possibility of swapping Americans detained in Iran for 19 Iranians held in the U.S. It’s unclear, however, whether that’s been seriously discussed between Iranian and U.S. officials.

Americans held in Iran include Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American convicted of charges including espionage in a trial widely criticized by the Post and free press groups. Others include former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who holds dual Iranian and American citizenship and was arrested in August 2011, and Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Boise, Idaho, who was convicted in 2013 of threatening Iran’s national security by participating in home churches.

The U.S. also says it has asked for the Iranian government’s assistance in finding former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in 2007 while working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence mission. Iran has said in the past that it has no information on Levinson, though it did not rule out helping in the case.