By Natasha Phillips
FEB. 15 – A two-day conference co-hosted by the U.S. and Poland looking at security issues in the Middle East began Wednesday in Warsaw. Heightened levels of security around the venue caused disruptions, while supporters of Reza Pahlavi gathered outside the conference to protest Iran’s current government.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not openly criticize Iran during the conference. However in a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister, Pompeo said stability in the Middle East could not be achieved without tackling Iran head on.
The comment comes as reports of a secret program launched by The White House to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets made the headlines Wednesday.
Benjamin Netanyahu recorded a video message during the conference in which he appeared to urge war with Iran. The phrase was translated from Hebrew and later altered on Twitter from urging “war with Iran” to “combating Iran.” The original wording was not modified on the Israeli government’s Hebrew social media channels.
- Iranians inside the country are selling their meat rations for profit as the economic crisis in Iran deepens. High inflation, corruption and administrative blunders are to blame, with reports that the government is now resorting to offering households cuts of meat from donkeys and other animals in order to deliver the rations. The decision by Iranian government officials to import frozen meat could be breaching an established fatwa issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader which says that the consumption of frozen meat is haram, or forbidden, under Islamic Law.
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- A suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Wednesday. Unofficial sources claim that the number of casualties is closer to 40, or higher. Foreign Minister Zarif took to Twitter to blame the U.S. for the incident, telling his followers: “Is it a coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day that the #WarsawCircus begins?” The attack took place in Sistan and Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran, where many of the country’s Sunni Muslim minority reside. Sunni group Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice) claimed responsibility for the attack. The group says it aims to establish more rights and better living conditions for Baluchis, an ethnic minority in Iran.
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- Masih Alinejad, activist and founder of My Stealthy Freedom, a campaign to remove compulsory hijab laws in Iran, spoke to Kayhan Life about her recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The half-hour meeting took place at the U.S. State Department’s offices. Alinejad spoke with Pompeo about Iran’s human rights record, the travel ban and what she felt the U.S. could do to assist Iranians living in the country. → Link to source
- Niloufar Bayani, one of eight environmentalists arrested by Iranian authorities last year is reported to have said while on trial that she was tortured into making a confession. The hearings were held in private. However, Katayoon Rajabi, the sister of another jailed conservationist Sam Rajabi, tweeted the comment on February 2, telling social media users: “We understand that Niloufar Bayani has spoken out in protest during a court proceeding today. She has turned to everyone [in the courtroom] saying: ‘You would also confess if they threatened you with an injection.’” Mahmoud Sadeghi, a Majlis (Iranian Parliament) deputy said the Supreme National Security Council had found no evidence supporting the espionage charges against the jailed environmentalists. Iran’s Judiciary has not yet responded to the allegations of torture.
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