Chairman of U.S. Intelligence Committee Blames Iran for Burgas Bombing
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R-MI), said he believes Iran was behind the recent suicide attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, making him the highest US official to place blame on Iran. He said, “I believe there were certainly elements of Hezbollah [involved] and I believe it was under the direction of their masters in Iran,” (The Hill 7/26).
Iranian UN Ambassador Accuses Israel of Plotting Burgas Bombing
Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee accused Israel of plotting and exacting the suicide attack on a bus in Bulgas, Bulgaria last week, during a UN Security Council debate. Israel has accused Hezbollah and Iran for the attack. Khazaee said , “Such terrorist operation could only be planned and carried out by the same regime whose short history is full of state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed implicating others for narrow political gains,” (Reuters 7/25).
Iranian Support for Syria “Unchangeable” Says Iranian VP
Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has pledged “unchangeable” support for Syria, saying, “The Iranian people have an unchangeable stance on Syrians and will always stand by them,” reports Iranian news sources (Reuters 7/26).
Latest Round of P5+1 Talks with Iran “Positive”
Iranian media sources report Iranian deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Baqheri, called his meeting with Helga Schmid, the EU foreign policy chief’s deputy, “positive. He said, “we managed to move forward with the talks within good frameworks and reach agreements on continuation of the work and future talks,” (Bloomberg 7/26).
Gulf Smugglers Among Those Hurting Under Sanctions
Each year approximately $5 billion worth of goods are smuggled into Iran, most by fishermen who cross the Strait of Hormuz at night to and from Oman, but sanctions are reportedly hurting the Iranian black market as well as the formal market, according to Bloomberg. Illegal imports of high-demand goods like Nike shoes, perfumes, cigarettes, and cell phones is becoming more expensive and risky with threats of increased government crackdowns and inflation (Bloomberg 7/26).
US Congress to Consider New Sanctions Package Against Iranian Oil
Members of the U.S. Congress are trying pass a more expansive sanctions package to further restrict Iran’s oil revenues before Congress breaks for an August recess next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of sanctions on Wednesday, “It’s a critical tool to help stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program and ensuring the security of our ally, the state of Israel.” (Reuters 7/25).
Israeli Defense Minister Says Powers Should Speed Efforts to Halt Iran’s Nuclear Program
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that global power should speed up efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program. He said, “This is the time for the entire world to ready for united action, united goal in political desire in order to put a swift and definite stop to the Iranian nuclear project,” (Reuters 7/26).
Dubai Concerned Over Influence of Iran, Muslim Brotherhood South of Gulf
Dubai’s chief of police, Dahi Khalfan, has warned of an “international plot” to overthrown Gulf state governments. Khalfan told reporters, “”There’s an international plot against Gulf states in particular and Arab countries in general…This is preplanned to take over our fortunes,” warning of the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran in the Persian Gulf (Reuters 7/26).
Iran Offers BA in Judiciary Aid Work to Administer Overcrowded Jails
In order to administer Iran’s 220,000 inmates often held in severely overcrowded jails, educational reform in Iran means that a four-year BA in “Judiciary Aid Work” will be offered this fall at two Iranian colleges. This new program is part of wider educational reform in Iran advocated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah, which includes discontinuing the expansion of social sciences “founded on materialism” including women’s studies, journalism, and human rights (The Telegraph 7/25).
Notable Opinion: “How ‘Confirmation Bias’ Can Lead to War”
Robert Wright discusses the importance of words on the brink of war:
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Last week Commentary reported that Iranian President Ahmadinejad had been “bragging about the slaughter of five Israeli tourists” in Bulgaria and that this bragging “contradicted” the Iranian government’s denials of involvement in the Bulgarian bus bombing.
Commentary had gotten this information from The Times of Israel, which reported that Ahmadinejad had “gloated publicly on Thursday over the deaths of Israelis in a terror bombing in Bulgaria, and hinted that Iran was responsible for the attack.” The Times of Israel in turn attributed this information to a report in Hebrew on Israel’s Channel 2.
Somewhere in this Persian-to-Hebrew-to-English translation, something got lost–or added. Iran may or may not be behind the Bulgarian bombing, but there’s no reference to the bombing in Ahmadinejad’s speech, and a close appraisal of the speech makes it highly unlikely that Ahmadinejad meant to allude to the bombing. Nima Shirazi, the blogger who first raised doubts about the Israeli interpretation of Ahmadinejad’s remarks, calls the distortion “propaganda.” But what seems to me more likely–and, in a way, more unsettling–is that the distortion wasn’t intentional, but rather was the result of an essentially unconscious warping that comes naturally to humans.