Attack in Iran: Assassination according to the calendar

Ghe US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had just met in Saudi Arabia. Only a few days later, assassins struck in the suburbs of Tehran. Mohsen Fakhrisadeh, a key figure in Iran’s nuclear weapons program, was killed by bullets from automatic rifles on Friday. It was not the first murder of a nuclear scientist that Iran and American intelligence agents attribute to Israel. But the most important one. Fakhrisadeh was considered to be as important in his field as General Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Special Forces, who had coordinated Tehran’s regional militia program and who was killed by an American drone in January.

Jochen Stahnke

Political correspondent for Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan based in Tel Aviv.

In individual cases, the loss of both men represents major personal setbacks for the Tehran regime, especially since they had pulled the strings in their respective areas of activity for decades. But just as the activities of the militias in the Middle East that were subservient to Iran did not fundamentally change after Soleimani’s death, few in the case of Fakhrisadeh believe that his assassination will thwart the nuclear program.

A “high-ranking government representative” of Israel told the Israeli broadcaster Kan that it would now be very difficult for Iran to continue its nuclear weapons program. But should one really believe this in Jerusalem, the question arises why the blow was carried out right now, since it can be assumed that Fakhrisadeh was observed for years and that he was not permanently hidden. In any case, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned his name in a speech in 2018 and had a photo of the physicist of the Revolutionary Guard distributed.

Maximum pressure on Iran

The timing of the assassination is seen more on the Washington political calendar. Until Joe Biden takes over the presidency on January 20, Israel will continue to put maximum pressure on Iran. On the one hand, to weaken Tehran’s economic and military capabilities as far as possible, as long as you have a free hand under Trump. Not without tactical success, as demonstrated by the blow to the centrifuge facility in Natans in the summer, which was also attributed to Israel and which set Iran’s nuclear program back. On the other hand, the main aim is to spoil the new negotiations announced by Biden about a revived nuclear deal.

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President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, just days after Netanyahu unveiled the so-called Iranian “nuclear archive” in Tel Aviv: thousands of documents that Mossad agents had brought to Israel from Tehran. With these documents, Israel wanted to prove that Iran did not end its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but continued research into it – under the leadership of, “Remember this name, Fakhrisadeh,” as Netanyahu said at that appearance. Israel sees Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat to its own security and tries to delay it in all possible ways. Iran’s growing arsenal of long-range missiles, which Fakhrisadeh is believed to have worked on, only adds to the urgency for Tel Aviv.

Iran should also know the political calendar. Even after Soleimani was murdered in January, Tehran did not react violently. And it can be assumed that Iran is following a strategy in the last few days of Trump’s government that an Israeli representative described in the summer as an “approach of keeping feet still” until Biden arrives. In any case, the alert level of the Israeli armed forces was not raised over the weekend, as the army radio reported.

At the same time, so the former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Jadlin suspected, the assassination attempt could lead Tehran to a violent response, which in turn provides an excuse for an American-led strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities. This would then at least delay the start of new nuclear negotiations and make further diplomatic solutions more difficult. Trump is said to have considered a military strike two weeks ago.

Whether Trump’s deliberations or the assassination attempt on Fakhrisadeh, which has again shown Iran’s weaknesses in internal security, will now induce Tehran to give up, or whether the hardliners are moving in the direction of developing a nuclear weapon quickly, is probably only about time show after January 20th.

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On December 5th, work on completion is to be continued

Laying ship for Nord Stream 2 in Laage

The Norwegian consulting and certification specialist Det Norske Veritas – Germanischer Lloyd (DNV-GL) is discontinuing its cooperation with the replacement ships from Russia.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Almost exactly a year ago, threats of sanctions by the Americans stopped the construction of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline. The European special ships that welded the pipes and lowered them to the seabed withdrew – the operators were too risky of being targeted by the US authorities .

Nothing progressed for months, but now things are in motion: The “Akademik Tscherski”, a Russian laying ship that was sent to the Baltic Sea months ago, but has so far been idle in the port of Mukran on the island of Rügen, is in on Thursday Lake set. This is proven by GPS data that can be viewed on the online platform Vesselfinder. The Nord Stream 2 final has started.

A spokesman for Nord Stream 2 AG confirmed at the weekend that work on the pipeline will resume on Saturday, December 5th. The Baltic Sea Waterways and Shipping Office in Stralsund has already announced construction work south of the Adlergrund area from next Saturday and has asked ship captains to be particularly careful, as the NDR reported. There are the two pipe ends that lead to the Lubmin landing station.

Six percent of the total of 1200 kilometers long and around 9.5 billion euros expensive gas pipeline still has to be laid. Most of the missing sections are in Danish waters and a small part in the German part of the Baltic Sea.

Tension is now growing on both sides of the Atlantic. Completing the pipeline will be a race against time. Because while construction work in the Baltic Sea is to be resumed, Washington is working on new sanctions.

The first consequence: the Norwegian consulting and certification specialist Det Norske Veritas – Germanischer Lloyd (DNV-GL) is discontinuing its cooperation with the replacement ships from Russia.

“We believe that DNV-GL’s risk management activities for equipped ships managing the Nord Stream 2 project are subject to US sanctions,” the company said. That is why DNV-GL will no longer offer any services which “could be incompatible” with the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of the USA.

graphic

This law, known as PEESA for short, was passed by the US Congress with the stated aim of stopping Nord Stream 2. The pipeline, which aims to double the capacity for direct deliveries of Russian gas to Germany, has many opponents in the US.

The Americans fear that Europe will become precariously dependent on Moscow. That is why the resistance against Nord Stream 2 unites the otherwise hopelessly divided political camps in Washington.

In the coming weeks it could be decided whether Nord Stream 2 will become a billion dollar grave. Or whether the Russian gas company Gazprom and its European business partners Engie, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper and Wintershall-Dea will still succeed in completing the project.

Nord Stream 2 AG, based in Switzerland, did not want to comment on DNV-GL’s withdrawal. “It is up to the governments and the European Commission to protect European companies from illegal extraterritorial sanctions,” the company said.

DNV-GL initially only wants to discontinue those certification services that are related to laying vessels. The certification of the pipeline itself is not affected by the withdrawal decision. The news agency Reuters quotes from an email from DNV-GL that the line is ready to be certified until it is completed. How long it will stay that way is open, however.

Across factions, Democrats and Republicans are currently working on another anti-Nord Stream 2 bill. The planned “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act” (PEESCA) would expand the existing PEESA rules and could bring the pipeline project to a permanent failure.

In June, DNV-GL was unaffected by the sanctions threats from the Americans. The company announced at the time that all contracts, laws and trade regulations were complied with and that a system was in place to ensure compliance with sanctions. At the time, however, industry insiders already had doubts whether DNV-GL would stand firm.

There is an alternative

However, there is still an alternative: If DNV-GL were to drop out completely, at least the Danish approval authorities would accept a replacement, because the Danish energy authority did not require a specific certification company when approving Nord Stream 2. Nord Stream 2 AG is thus free to choose another provider.

There are not many alternatives. In the industry, however, there has been speculation for months that the Russian side may commission a Russian certification organization. Nord Stream 2 AG does not comment on this.

Ursula von der Leyen

The head of the EU commission defends the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline.

(Photo: dpa)

There is broad consensus within the EU that US sanctions threats are unacceptable. Governments of EU countries that reject the pipeline project also take this view.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last made the position of the Europeans clear at the beginning of November. “The Commission firmly opposes the imposition of unilateral sanctions against EU companies doing legitimate business. Such measures are unacceptable and violate international law, ”said a letter from the Commission President dated November 3rd, addressed to MEPs from Germany and Austria.

Coalition politicians are critical of the latest developments. “The federal government urgently needs to discuss Nord Stream 2 with the new US administration. Future US President Joe Biden rejects the pipeline, but he is interested in constructive cooperation with Europe. You have to seize this opportunity, “said Timon Gremmels, reporter for the SPD parliamentary group for Nord Stream 2, the Handelsblatt. It is “inconceivable that we end up with a useless stub of a pipeline in the Baltic Sea”.

Greens against further construction

But there is also resistance to the pipeline in Germany. The Greens demand that the federal government withdraw support for the project. Nord Stream 2 has strained both Germany’s relations with other EU countries and with the USA, said the green European politician Franziska Brantner. The future US President Biden is also a “clear opponent” of the pipeline. Brantner criticized the fact that “letting construction continue would not be an economic or legal necessity, but rather a political stupidity of the federal government”.

When Biden takes office on January 20th, he finds himself in a dilemma. He considers Nord Stream 2 to be a strategic mistake, but on the other hand also wants to improve relations with Germany, which suffered badly under the outgoing US President Donald Trump.

Should he maintain the sanctions against a close ally like Germany, it will be difficult for the hoped-for renaissance of the transatlantic partnership. Should he relax the sanctions, Nord Stream 2 will likely be up and running soon.

Compromise at Huawei is conceivable

The question, however, is whether Biden and his advisors will even have the leeway to relax sanctions on their own initiative. The previous sanctions laws against Nord Stream 2 severely restrict the government’s freedom of action.

If Congress passes the PEESCA Sanctions Enhancement Act before Biden is sworn in, the US government may not have the opportunity to give in.

“I cannot imagine that the Democrats in Congress have an interest in restricting their own president’s ability to act,” said SPD foreign policy expert Christoph Matschie and, like Gremmels, advocated a diplomatic initiative: “If Biden has taken office, we have to strive for political clarification. ”

For this it is necessary that both sides approach each other. Nord Stream 2 must be able to be completed. In return, however, the federal government should signal to the USA that Germany will refrain from using the Chinese provider Huawei, which the US government considers a security risk, for the 5G expansion. Perhaps that way we could do business with the Americans.

More: The biggest problems of the unfinished pipeline

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Iranian nuclear scientist killed in attack

The attack site near Tehran.

This photo, published by Fars News Agency, shows the place where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard.

(Photo: dpa)

Teheran, Dubai Iranian President Hassan Ruhani has accused the US and Israel of being behind the murder of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fachrisadeh. “Once again, imperialism and its Zionist mercenaries caused bloodshed and the death of an Iranian scientist,” said Ruhani on state television on Saturday.

The “terrorist attack” only shows the fear of Tehran’s enemies about the technological progress of the Islamic Republic. However, the murder will not prevent the country from pursuing Fachrisadeh’s path even more consistently, said the president.

Fachrisadeh was shot in his car in Ab-Sard, an eastern suburb of the capital Tehran, on Friday and was so badly injured that he died shortly afterwards in a hospital. The Ministry of Defense in Tehran spoke of a “martyr’s death”.

The nuclear physicist was a member of the Revolutionary Guard and an expert in the manufacture of rockets. Most recently he headed the research department in the Ministry of Defense.

Turkey stands by Iran and condemns the deadly attack as a “heinous murder”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara announced on Saturday evening that it is hoped that the perpetrators will be held accountable and that all parties should act with common sense and measure and avoid undertakings that lead to an escalation in the region. “We condemn this heinous murder and express our condolences to the Iranian government and the family of the deceased.”

The Foreign Office in Berlin called on all sides “urgently” to refrain from any steps that could lead to a further escalation of the situation. The killing of Fachrisadeh exacerbated the situation in the region again and “at a time when we just don’t need such an escalation at all,” said a spokesman. “A few weeks before the new US administration takes office, it is important to preserve the scope for talks with Iran so that the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program can be resolved through negotiation.”

The “New York Times” (Saturday, online) reported that a US representative and two intelligence officials had declared that Israel was behind the attack. It is unclear whether the US government was informed beforehand, but both states are closest allies.

There were reports in US media that a US naval unit had been relocated to the Persian Gulf, which was justified with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

The Iranian scientist was assassinated.

(Photo: VIA REUTERS)

UN General Secretary António Guterres urged moderation after the attack. “We call for restraint and see it as necessary to avoid measures that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” said a UN spokesman for the German Press Agency on Friday (local time) in New York.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Tacht reminded Guterres in a letter that several Iranian scientists had been killed in attacks in recent years. The assassination of Fachrisadeh is another attempt to throw the region into chaos and disrupt the scientific development of Iran.

In the summer, a series of fires and explosions damaged infrastructure and nuclear facilities in Iran. At that time, too, there was speculation about Israel as the originator, especially since Israel repeatedly attacks Iranian military facilities in Syria.

The secret service and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) are investigating the attack. It is clear to the Iranian leadership that Israel is behind the attack because Fakhrisadeh has been on Israel’s blacklist for years. In addition, only the archenemy Israel benefits from the death of the nuclear physicist.

The attack complicates diplomatic efforts

Observers from Tehran also saw the attack as an attempt by Israel and the administration of US President Donald Trump to torpedo a fresh start in relations between Tehran and Washington.

“It was not just an attack on the professor, but also on the diplomatic efforts that were to be made by both countries after Joe Biden took office,” tweeted the Tehran political scientist Mohsen Milani.

The prominent Iranian journalist Sahra Asghari sees it similarly. “The attack was the price Iran had to pay for Trump’s election defeat.” The US government, Biden’s team and Israel initially did not comment on the murder.

Iranian nuclear chief Ali-Akbar Salehi assured on Saturday that Fachrisadeh’s assassination would neither halt nor impair the progress of the Iranian civilian nuclear program. Fachrisadeh’s path will only be continued more intensively. Israel accuses Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons alongside the civilian nuclear program, which threatens its very existence.

Trump had terminated an international agreement that is supposed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb in 2018 and has since attempted to seriously damage Iran economically with tough sanctions against key industries.

Since a period of one year, during which Tehran unsuccessfully urged the European contracting parties to comply with the nuclear deal, Iran has also been gradually withdrawing from the agreement.

So far, Iran has hoped that the US will return to the agreement under Biden. However, the Sunni-Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf are urging Biden to coordinate with them before taking such a step and also to include Iranian conventional armaments in an agreement.

More: The nuclear deal with Biden is also dead: Iran has long since created facts

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Iranian nuclear scientist killed in attack

The attack site near Tehran.

This photo, published by Fars News Agency, shows the place where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard.

(Photo: dpa)

Teheran, Dubai Iranian President Hassan Ruhani has accused the US and Israel of being behind the murder of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fachrisadeh. “Once again, imperialism and its Zionist mercenaries caused bloodshed and the death of an Iranian scientist,” said Ruhani on state television on Saturday.

The “terrorist attack” only shows the fear of Tehran’s enemies about the technological progress of the Islamic Republic. However, the murder will not prevent the country from pursuing Fachrisadeh’s path even more consistently, said the president.

Fachrisadeh was shot in his car in Ab-Sard, an eastern suburb of the capital Tehran, on Friday and was so badly injured that he died shortly afterwards in a hospital. The Ministry of Defense in Tehran spoke of a “martyr’s death”.

The nuclear physicist was a member of the Revolutionary Guard and an expert in the manufacture of rockets. Most recently he headed the research department in the Ministry of Defense.

The Foreign Office in Berlin called on all sides “urgently” to refrain from steps that could lead to a further escalation of the situation. The killing of Fachrisadeh worsened the situation in the region again – “at a time when we just don’t need such an escalation at all,” said a spokesman.

“A few weeks before the new US administration takes office, it is important to preserve the scope for talks with Iran so that the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program can be resolved through negotiations.”

The “New York Times” (Saturday, online) reported that a US representative and two intelligence officials had declared that Israel was behind the attack. It is unclear whether the US government was informed beforehand, but both states are closest allies.

There were reports in US media that a US naval unit had been relocated to the Persian Gulf, which was justified with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

The Iranian scientist was assassinated.

(Photo: VIA REUTERS)

UN General Secretary António Guterres urged moderation after the attack. “We call for restraint and see it as necessary to avoid measures that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” said a UN spokesman for the German Press Agency on Friday (local time) in New York.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Tacht reminded Guterres in a letter that several Iranian scientists had been killed in attacks in recent years. The assassination of Fachrisadeh is another attempt to throw the region into chaos and disrupt the scientific development of Iran.

In the summer, a series of fires and explosions damaged infrastructure and nuclear facilities in Iran. At that time, too, there was speculation about Israel as the originator, especially since Israel repeatedly attacks Iranian military facilities in Syria.

The secret service and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) are investigating the attack. It is clear to the Iranian leadership that Israel is behind the attack because Fakhrisadeh has been on Israel’s blacklist for years. In addition, only the archenemy Israel benefits from the death of the nuclear physicist.

The attack complicates diplomatic efforts

Observers from Tehran also saw the attack as an attempt by Israel and the administration of US President Donald Trump to torpedo a fresh start in relations between Tehran and Washington.

“It was not just an attack on the professor, but on the diplomatic efforts that were to be made by both countries after Joe Biden took office,” tweeted the Tehran political scientist Mohsen Milani.

The prominent Iranian journalist Sahra Asghari sees it similarly. “The attack was the price Iran had to pay for Trump’s election defeat.” The US government, Biden’s team and Israel initially did not comment on the murder.

Iranian nuclear chief Ali-Akbar Salehi assured on Saturday that Fachrisadeh’s assassination would neither halt nor impair the progress of the Iranian civilian nuclear program. Fachrisadeh’s path will only be continued more intensively. Israel accuses Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons alongside the civilian nuclear program, which threatens its very existence.

Trump had terminated an international agreement that is supposed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb in 2018 and has since attempted to seriously damage Iran economically with tough sanctions against key industries.

Since a period of one year, during which Tehran unsuccessfully urged the European contracting parties to comply with the nuclear deal, Iran has also been gradually withdrawing from the agreement.

So far, Iran has hoped that the US will return to the agreement under Biden. However, the Sunni-Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf are urging Biden to coordinate with them before taking such a step and also to include Iranian conventional armaments in an agreement.

More: The nuclear deal with Biden is also dead: Iran has long since created facts

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“We must rebuild the transatlantic link”

La Croix: What can we hope for from the transatlantic link, with the election of Joe Biden?

Clement Beaune: We expect more peaceful and convergent relations with Europe on certain subjects, starting with climate change. The transatlantic relationship remains of prime importance, and we have never been on an anti-American line. But it would be both a political mistake and an illusion to think that we have returned to an “ante-Trump” status quo. This golden age is fantasized, the Americans having operated a strategic distance from Europe at the end of the Obama years.

→ READ. “With Biden, Europeans risk falling asleep in illusory comfort”

Donald Trump has captured and accelerated an American malaise. With Joe Biden, that will probably change, but we should not be delusional: on the substance – the relationship with China, or trade – I do not anticipate a major upheaval.

Joe Biden could choose Brussels for his first visit to Europe, but why not Paris, Berlin or London?

C. B. : If President Biden begins his European tour with Brussels, the seat of the EU, that will be a very good signal, a marker of a willingness to work with Europeans in a united manner. We have an interest in working with the American administration, in particular to push together a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Can Reforming the Trading System Help Contain China’s Emerging Dominance?

C. B. : When it comes to China, the Americans have opened their eyes before us. They felt they were competing commercially. Europeans, who do not have the same relationship to power, sometimes have a more naive and mercantilist attitude. But this naivety has ceased. Today, we must rebuild the transatlantic link not against China, but in order to agree on a more offensive action with regard to those who use trade to defend their interests to the detriment of ours.

Has Europe suffered from the Trump presidency or has it strengthened it?

C. B. : There was a “2016 effect”, with a multitude of shocks for Europe, including Brexit and the election of Trump. In early 2016, we also made a choice not to grant market economy status to China. With regard to these three allied or rival powers, we have become aware of the importance of a European affirmation.

We understood that we would never again be the child benevolently protected by the Americans or the easy partner of the United Kingdom, much less a sort of “willing economic victim” of the assertiveness of emerging powers. Trump’s tenure has helped strengthen this European defensive glue.

Does the election of Biden give the 27 an additional advantage in the Brexit negotiations?

C. B. : Our ability to negotiate with the British will not come from Washington. We have a market eight times the size of theirs. Let us be aware of our own strength. There is no reason for London to take a piece of our sovereignty away from us, and for us not to defend it. It does not depend on Washington or Beijing, but on us.

→ ANALYSIS. Brexit: Joe Biden’s victory puts pressure on Boris Johnson

By the end of the year, the 27 must adopt the post-Covid recovery plan. Can Hungary block everything?

C. B. : Theoretically, she could. It does not accept the agreement on the rule of law, which makes a link between the payment of European funds and respect for fundamental political values. However, part of this global budget package must be ratified by each national parliament.

In less than six months, Europe accepted a common debt with a plan of 750 billion euros. If an agreement is reached – and it will be! – both in terms of substance and method, it will be an example to be reproduced in other areas: border protection, migration issues, or the fight against terrorism. All these sovereign areas in which Europe had no competences, but where our fellow citizens expect more action. Europe cannot wait indefinitely. Speaking of reforming Schengen, Emmanuel Macron initiated a movement in the security agenda.

On anti-terrorism, how is the European level relevant?

C. B. : Europeans have realized that it is a common fight, that it is not only “French-style” secularism that is being targeted, but the European way of life as a whole, which is based on human rights. expression, religion, relationships between men and women, etc. To be effective, we must take this fight to European level.

Police and judicial cooperation must be developed by strengthening Europol and by including terrorist offenses within the remit of the new European public prosecutor’s office. I also hope that the negotiations on the regulation on the removal of terrorist content online will be successful.

Should we fear an Erdogan who presents Europeans as Islamophobes?

C. B. : We must not allow this reversal of values ​​to take hold. The term secularism is sometimes difficult to explain, but we should not be intoxicated by the idea that it is in Europe that we would not protect religious freedom, including Islam. It is the very object of secularism. Other countries organize themselves differently, such as Austria where there is a law on Islam. Ultimately, the goal is the same: to promote freedom and coexistence, while maintaining a common project.

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Killing of Iranian Nuclear Physicist – Middle East Shadow War – Politics

The year began with a clap of thunder in the Middle East: On January 3, a US drone killed Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport. The general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanded the Quds Brigades, the unit that is responsible for the regime’s foreign operations in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, as well as for terrorist attacks in other countries. The year draws to a close with the death of a similarly important Revolutionary Guard: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Soleimani was the architect of the Iranian strategy of waging a shadow war in the region with the help of allied militias, especially in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, but also increasingly in Yemen. He was the mastermind behind the “Axis of Resistance” against Israel and the US.

Maximum pressure, maximum resistance

And the driving force behind Tehran’s increasingly aggressive reaction to Donald Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and the “campaign of maximum pressure” with the drastic tightening of American oil and financial sanctions. The regime in Tehran called its response “a campaign of maximum resistance”.

“Make a note of this name”: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Mossad findings on Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and Iran’s military nuclear program in April 2018.

(Photo: NIR KAFRI / AFP)

Fakhrizadeh referred to Western intelligence agents as the “father of the Iranian bomb” or Tehran’s Oppenheimer, a reference to J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led the development of the first nuclear weapons during the Second World War as part of the secret Manhattan project in the USA. According to the government in Tehran, Fakhrizadeh fell victim to an attack on his car on Friday. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), since the end of the 1980s he has been in charge of various projects that “are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” – a very cautious description of the military’s nuclear program.

The covert war is fueled again

The killings of these two prominent figures of the Iranian regime show the vulnerability of Iran, but are only the macabre climaxes of a covert war in the region, which is fueled again by the assassination. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Saturday for “decisive punishment” of the perpetrators and those behind them. President Hassan Rohani announced that the Iranian nation would respond to the death of Fakhrizadeh “in due course” and not fall for the “Zionist conspiracy”. Like Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif, who spoke of “state terrorism”, he blamed Israel.

There had already been a series of mysterious explosions in Iran in the summer, which can most plausibly be explained as sabotage by the secret services. In June, a building related to the ballistic missile construction program was blown up at the Parchin military base near the capital. The Iranians spoke of a “gas explosion”, and American and Israeli intelligence officials denied they had anything to do with it.

FILE PHOTO: A view of a damage building after a fire broke out at Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility, in Isfahan

In July, an explosion destroyed a hall on the site of the Natans uranium enrichment plant, where Iranian scientists were developing centrifuges.

(Foto: Wana News Agency/VIA REUTERS)

A few days later, an explosion on the site of the Natans uranium enrichment plant destroyed a hall in which Iranian scientists were working on the development of new, more powerful gas centrifuges. With these machines, the fissile uranium isotope 235 can be concentrated – for power plant fuel rods to three to five percent, for nuclear weapons to more than 90 percent. The Iranian government soon spoke of sabotage itself.

Iran relies on asymmetrical attacks

Meanwhile, Iran is trying to attack American targets in the region through militias controlled or supported by the Revolutionary Guard, to hit Israel or Arab US allies, above all Saudi Arabia. Only on Tuesday did the Houthi militias from Yemen fire a kind of cruise missile at the oil plants of the Saudi state-owned Aramco near Jeddah. Riyadh responded with heavy air strikes on Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Friday.

As with the drone and cruise missile attack on Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais in September 2019, which caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, the weapon is likely to have been built with Iranian help, if not the Revolutionary Guards controlled the use. On Wednesday, a tanker ran into a mine in the Red Sea off the Saudi coast – an incident reminiscent of similar acts of sabotage in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman that heightened tensions last year. The United States and other Western countries saw the Revolutionary Guards at work here too.

Air strikes on targets in Lebanon and Syria

Israel’s air force bombed Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in July and August after military officials said there were attempts to infiltrate the border area to attack Israeli soldiers and an exchange of fire in the second incident. Israeli fighter jets also regularly attack facilities of the Revolutionary Guard in Syria; In the past week alone, they flew three waves of attacks on targets near Damascus and Albu Kamal on the border with Iraq. More than 20 militiamen are said to have been killed as well as officers of the guards.

This shadow war is now at a point again at which it could turn into an open military conflict. After Soleimani was killed, Iran was content with a rocket attack on a US base in Iraq, which had primarily a symbolic effect. A little later, however, the Revolutionary Guards shot down a passenger plane with more than 180 occupants near Tehran because they expected a US attack.

Iran’s leadership has reasons to wait for the handover in Washington and hope for better relations under new President Joe Biden. On Wednesday, President Rohani had shown himself confident that the problems with the US under Biden could be “easy to solve” if he kept his campaign promises and led the US back to the nuclear deal. However, the hardliners in Tehran do not want to come to an understanding with the USA, but rather expel them from the region. In addition, Donald Trump will be in office for more than 50 days – and it is completely open what will happen until then.

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The transition from Trump to Biden in the United States formally begins

Have needed 20 days since the polls closed and 16 since projections named Joe Biden as president-elect of the United States but finally the transition in the country is officially underway. This Monday afternoon the Democrat received the green light from the Donald Trump Administration to formally start the process, giving you access to more than seven million dollars of federal funds and other resources, including physical access to buildings, personnel and documents of the outgoing Administration. And although Trump follow with rhetorical and practical juggling in order not to admit defeat, reality has finally prevailed. It does not concede but it yields.

On the same Monday, shortly after the head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, sent a letter to Biden finally opening the process, the Democrat’s transition team contacted the Defense Department and others to start organizing the necessary meetings. The briefings diarios The president-elect could start this Tuesday, although it is not yet clear when the national security will start. It is also a priority for Biden’s team to contact the authorities at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic of coronavirus, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the National Institutes of Health and those responsible for Operación Warp Speed that plans the production and distribution of vaccines.

The start of the formal process also allows the FBI and other agencies to carry out the history checks of senior officials elected by Biden to his cabinet and his government and his team already have access to email accounts that end with the official government termination .gov or ptt.gov (by presidential transition team).

Three Trump fronts are crumbling

Less than 60 days after Biden’s inauguration, the transition starts because they have fallen apart the three fronts since Trump has tried to combat the dictates of the polls, where a record of more than 80 million of Americans gave their I vote for Biden, a little more than six million ballots more than those obtained by the Republican in another historic mark. Their allegations without evidence of voter fraud massive have permeated many of his voters (79% as he has been in charge of tweeting himself) but no one else. And of the 22 lawsuits in court, 21 have failed yes.

Above all, the nuclear bomb with which Trump threatened to create a constitutional crisis has been dismantled: convincing Republican officials not to certify the results and legislators not to respect the popular decision when casting electoral college votes (306 for Biden, 232 for him). On monday itself Michigan certified Biden’s victory despite the abstention of a Republican official. This Tuesday they did the same Pennsylvania Y Nevada and they are expected to do so next week Wisconsin Y Georgia, where a second recount is underway that, like the first, is not expected to change Biden’s victory.

Break with another tradition

Faced with the triple failure, Trump has been consulting with his chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House attorney Pat Cipollone, and his personal attorney Jay Sekulow, who have steered him toward the inevitable and mapped out digestible pathways for him, as not comply with tradition of a speech or a call from acceptance of the opponent’s victory politician. To the growing public pressure, in which only Trump’s ultra-conservative allies and the leaders of the Republican Party, on Monday the repudiation of more than 160 business leaders was also added. More painful for Trump, he was urged to throw in the towel by one of Wall Street’s most powerful men and so far his ally, the Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwartzman, who called on the country to turn the page and was “ready to help President Biden and his team. & rdquor ;.

The Pressure was also growing on Murphy, who was the one who had to take the formal step to start the transition. And he did it on Monday with the letter to Biden, whom he called “apparent winner & rdquor; instead of president-elect, in which he argued that he finally acted before decisions of the courts and the states and tried to defend that he acted with “independence” and not under pressure from the executive.

Trump undertook to weaken that statement with messages on Twitter where he said he had recommended Murphy, as well as his team, to implement the “initial protocols & rdquor; of Transition “For the good of the country& rdquor ;. But in those messages on Monday, as well as others this Tuesday, he has insisted on trying to portray that authorization as a mere logistical step that does not imply that he assumes Biden’s victory.

Trump says he is only allowing the General Services Administration to carry out “preliminary work“with the Democrats. He insists on the complaint without evidence of a massive fraud in an election that says“ rigged & rdquor ;. Faced with reality, insists that his legal case is “strong & rdquor;, something that only Rudy Giuliani believes. And he has even retweeted actor Randy Quaid in a message.e asking that they vote again only in person, adding to the message: “Are you listening, Republicans? & rdquor;

They are everything, however, tricks of a political conjurer who tries to give the image of fighting to the end because he is convinced, as he has told an ally who has spoken anonymously with ‘The Wall street Journal’, that “everyone likes a fighter“.

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US election live ticker: +++ 09:56 Republicans could lose tons of voters to Trump +++

It has long been suspected that behind the harshly criticized reluctance of almost all Republican politicians towards President Donald Trump’s behavior there is fear of alienating the many supporters of Trump and losing them as voters. A CNBC survey (see also the ticker entry at 7:47 a.m.) substantiates the justification of this fear with a strikingly clear number. Should Donald Trump decide to leave the Republican Party, a whopping 72 percent of those surveyed would identify with a Trump party. In that case, only 28 percent would remain loyal to the Republicans even without Donald Trump. Trump is considering running again for the presidency in 2024. Should he do so without the Republican Party, it could face a massive voter slump.

+++ 09:18 Melania Trump wants to unpack in her own memoir +++
The First Lady Melania Trump, known to the public as reserved, is apparently in talks to write her own memoirs about her time in the White House. This is reported by “Page Six”, citing an insider – “It is not finished yet and it will not leave as quietly as you might expect”. According to the source, President Donald Trump supports Melania in this idea, and he himself has the prospect of lucrative million dollar deals for books. Melania’s interest in publishing her own experience is also likely to be fueled by her former friend and advisor Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s reveal book “Melania and I” from September. Last but not least, this high-profile mud fight should also make Melania’s book a possible box-office hit.

+++ 08:35 Pennsylvania: Supreme Court throws Trump’s lawsuit down with clear words +++
In the turmoil over the outcome of the election, President Donald Trump suffered the next legal defeat in the embattled state of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a case by Trump’s Republicans against the election result. They had demanded that postal votes be declared invalid – or that all votes cast in the state be canceled and that the decision on the election winner be left to the local parliament. The judges unanimously rejected both claims – including the “extraordinary” proposal to “disenfranchise” all 6.9 million Pennsylvania voters. The lawsuit was formally directed against a 2019 Pennsylvania postal voting extension bill that Trump’s attorneys ruled unconstitutional. However, the judges dismissed the lawsuit as being out of time because the law had been in force for more than a year.

+++ 07:47 lies fruit: Trump has convinced almost all supporters of election fraud +++
A poll of Donald Trump supporters found that the overwhelming majority of them supported the president’s refusal to admit defeat. In the CNBC investigation, only three percent of those polled said Trump should admit defeat and begin handing over power to Joe Biden. 31 percent are of the opinion that the legal disputes first have to be fought, a full 66 percent say Trump should never admit defeat regardless of all factors. 73 percent of his supporters consider Trump – contrary to all evidence – to be the legitimate winner of the election. Four in five Trump supporters (81 percent) also say they have no intention of giving Biden a chance as president.

+++ 07:06 Ex-Trump advisor sued FBI for $ 75 million +++
Carter Page, who served as a foreign policy advisor for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team, has sued the US Department of Justice, the FBI, and various senior ministry officials for damages. That reports the “Independent”. The background to this is the surveillance of Pages in the course of the investigation into the allegations of the involvement of Trump’s election campaign team with Russia. At the time it was suspected that Page was a target of Russian efforts to recruit him as a spy. The opposition Democrats initiated its surveillance at that time, but called for “false or misleading information” to justify sufficient suspicion, according to the complaint. Page and his lawyers denounced the FBI did not check this sufficiently. His shadowing therefore violated laws to avoid unlawful surveillance of US citizens and the constitution. Page requests $ 75 million in compensation.

+++ 06:19 Biden is planning a huge LGBTQ reform package +++
The new US President Joe Biden has been known for years as a supporter of LGBTQ rights. Now he promises not only to reverse all new restrictions imposed by the Trump administration in office, but also to become active in many ways. First of all, Trump’s almost complete exclusion of transgender people from the military is to be lifted. In addition, significantly stricter anti-discrimination rules are to come for authorities. Biden also plans to establish high positions for LGBTQ rights in the Home Office and the Security Council. In addition to regulations that he can enforce himself, the implementation of the Equal Rights Act is the top priority. The law was passed by the democratically dominated House of Representatives last year, but has since been blocked in the majority Republican Senate.

+++ 05:13 Trump has to give Biden’s Twitter account +++
Twitter and Facebook are preparing to hand over control of the @POTUS account to Joe Biden and his team on January 20th. The social media company announced according to “Reuters”. POTUS stands for “President of the United States”. The accounts on both platforms are the official accounts of the President of the United States – and not to be confused with the Twitter account @realDonaldTrump and the Facebook page @DonaldTrump, which Donald Trump mainly uses to publish his posts.

+++ 23:20 Black Lives Matter supporters angry about Biden’s ministerial candidates +++
Joe Biden is reportedly considering making Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Secretary of Transportation in his future administration. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are so horrified that, according to local broadcaster Fox 11, several hundred of them gathered in front of Garcetti’s house for a demonstration. The protests began a few days ago. The demonstrators say they want to continue every day. Garcetti is particularly accused of dealing with police violence against blacks in the metropolis of Los Angeles. Garcetti is “the worst mayor in the world,” the broadcaster quotes the demonstrators. Biden shouldn’t give him any post at all.

+++ 22:17 Harris has to laugh at the question about a renewed Trump candidacy +++
The idea of ​​campaigning against Donald Trump again in 2024 made Vice President-elect Kamala Harris laugh. When a reporter asked if she and Joe Biden were prepared, Harris just said, “Please!”, Laughed and moved on.

The idea that Trump could run again in the upcoming election is gaining momentum. He has reportedly spoken to several confidants about it. He should even consider holding a kind of campaign kick-off event on January 20, 2021 at the same time as the inauguration of his successor Biden.

Read what happened in the US election ticker here.

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“Trump has also shown a certain political genius”

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SEEN FROM ELSEWHERE – Writer Jonathan Franzen advises finally taking Donald Trump’s voters seriously, precisely because Joe Biden won. Interview around the republicans who fight the republic, a president who refuses to leave, and his millions of supporters.

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. HANNAH MCKAY

Par Wieland friend (The world)

His last novel is finished. Jonathan Franzen, who once said he never wrote “almost never», Did not let himself be distracted in this year of epidemic, which he spent almost exclusively in his hometown of Santa Cruz. Last summer, he gave his editor the manuscript of Crossroads, his sixth novel after bestsellers such as The Corrections, Freedom and Purity. The work should be published next fall by Farrar, Straus and Giroux editions. This time, however, everything is a little different, as this sixth novel already promises a seventh and an eighth.

Crossroads is the first volume of a trilogy which – in homage to Middlemarch by George Eliot – is called A Key to All Mythologies. The story of the Hildebrandt family, originally from a small town in the Midwest, is therefore likely to extend to the present day — even if Jonathan Franzen refuses to comment on the subject for now. On the other hand, what he’s ready to talk about,

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Starvation Wages in Georgia: One Choice, Millions of Human Fates

A black pastor and a 33-year-old – the January Senate election in Georgia will decide what the intended US President Biden can do at all. It’s about racism, health insurance and above all about fair wages.

When the sun has almost gone, the Reverend steps out of the church door, only a few meters. The suit without blame, the glasses rimless, the gestures carefully measured. An assistant makes sure that nobody approaches the prominent speaker; but apart from two drinkers in front of the nearby liquor store there is almost no one to be seen anyway. It hardly takes five minutes before Raphael Warnock has said his sentences for the recording, the cameraman packs up again and the three disappear back inside. Across the street, a security woman is guarding the stone coffin of Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott. “The dream is alive” can be read at the foot of the memorial fire.

A few years ago, the Afro-American pastor of the Ebenezer congregation was not so peaceful. In March 2014, he and other demonstrators went on strike in protest at the Georgia seat of government. They wanted the governor, a Republican, to expand state health insurance, contrary to his earlier opposition, as Obamacare had made possible and intended. At some point, the police also took Warnock away in handcuffs. Since then he is no longer just a Baptist clergyman, but also a politician. The 51-year-old and his 33-year-old party colleague Jon Ossoff want to win the state’s two senatorial seats in the runoff election on January 5, 2021.

Ossoff and Warnock, who have been campaigning together for months, know about the main problems: starvation wages and non-existent or incomplete health insurance. The local African American “Citizen Radio” broadcasts commercials from Warnock and Stacey Abrams, the pioneer in the success of the Georgia Democrats. Warnock promises better health care and dignified pay almost in a continuous loop. “Somebody like me shouldn’t be running,” says the clergyman. Grew up in a social housing, the mother picking tobacco and cotton, sometimes hunger closer than payday. “If you want someone who knows your challenges from personal experience, I’ll be your man,” warned Warnock for the votes of the blacks. The Ebenezer Church is one of the most influential among African Americans in the United States.

The historic Ebenezer Church. One block away, murals by Martin Luther King and George Floyd look down on passers-by.

(Photo: Roland Peters)

Joe Biden won Georgia for the Democrats for the first time in nearly three decades, albeit extremely narrowly. Key to its success is that the party’s activists over the past few years have made it clear to hundreds of thousands of African Americans that they are entitled to Obamacare and have registered them as voters. In order to give Biden a majority in the Senate in addition to the presidency, dollars are now flowing into Georgia from all over the country. In polls, Ossoff and Warnock are roughly on par with Republican David Perdue and Republican Kelly Loeffler, who currently represent the state in the US Senate. The four Senate candidates have spent at least $ 231 million on television advertising alone. Biden could introduce controversial projects in the White House by decree even without a Senate majority, but they are much more volatile than laws.

About nine million people in the United States are getting by on state food stamps, though half of them work full-time. The minimum wage has been unchanged at $ 7.25 for more than a decade. Most states raised it arbitrarily – Georgia did not. In the same period of time, living in the USA has become significantly more expensive. According to the US statistics agency, single people without a child would have to earn at least 16 percent more, now $ 1,192 a month, to escape poverty. In a three-person household with two adults and one child, it is even 19 percent more, an income of $ 1,469 per month.

Hard-working, willing to learn, poor

Quita Mae Dawson finds himself in such a situation. This is how the 24-year-old wants to be called in order not to attract the anger of her employer “Dollar General”. “The whole company is just a lie,” she annoys. The African American woman stands in the spacious parking lot of a typical strip mall, about half an hour’s drive from downtown: a hairdresser, a laundry, two supermarkets and a food truck within sight. Quita Mae Dawson has just finished her shift and is waiting for her husband and little daughter to pick her up. “They don’t want to pay any more wages and they don’t send any support when you need it.”

OI000075.JPG

(Photo: Roland Peters)

Quita Mae Dawson is employed, but is only paid per hour worked. She started three years ago as a cashier with less than nine dollars an hour, now she is “Assistant Store Manager” and receives twelve dollars. For a maximum of 35 hours a week, she earns just over $ 300 net. There is almost never enough money. There is hardly any vacation, but at least she has health insurance through the company. Even so, she always has to pay the first $ 525 in treatment herself. “It’s tough out here,” she says in frustration. Her husband only earns the minimum wage, so she pays for most of it. She wants to get out of the low-wage trap by studying.

Even on this late afternoon, the aisles in the supermarket are still full of trolleys with new goods. “There are so many things to do in one shift. We just can’t do some things,” she says tiredly. She is often called and has to drive her old car to other branches. Actually, she should get a mileage allowance, but it is often not paid: “A union might help.” For gasoline, oil changes, “whatever breaks that old Honda Civic, I have to take care of it,” she lists.

Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General: At any intersection near Atlanta you will always find one of the chains that have developed into mom and pop shops on a US scale. On average, a full-time cashier in Georgia makes about $ 1,000 a month. While tens of thousands of stores across the country have to close, the two big companies continue to grow. For example, Dollar General plans to open around 1,000 new branches at the end of the year as planned. Last year there were more than 33,000 such stores in the US, of which at least 17,000 dollars are now General with 157,000 employees.

Class lawsuits for wage robbery

Low wages are part of a huge problem: in Georgia a few years ago 45 percent of employees were getting less than $ 15 an hour gross, compared with 42 percent nationally. The Democrats want to change that and have announced a gradual increase in the minimum wage to this mark by 2026. Around 27 million workers would get more money as a result, calculated the statistical service of the US Congress. 1.3 million people would escape poverty. But the Republican Senators in Georgia would have to be replaced.

OI000071.JPG

Against David Perdue comes Jon Ossoff.

(Photo: Roland Peters)

Perdue, whose Senate seat Ossoff wants to take over, was the head of Dollar General from 2003 to 2007. Perdue opened more than 100 new stores in Georgia alone during that time, made the company profitable, and then sold it. The current senator earned more than $ 50 million with it. His former employees accused him of wage theft in several class action lawsuits: Dollar General had declared her a manager and let her work up to 80 hours a week without additional pay via a loophole in labor law. Women got less money than men. In the corresponding annual reports, the company prides itself on having a “lean occupation of two to three employees” per shop, warns of higher minimum wages and unions. The company paid at least $ 42 million in compensation after his departure. As a politician, Perdue has remained true to his line.

About a third of the customers in dollar stores live near the poverty line. But the businesses are not only a sign of precarious conditions, they also cause them, criticizes the Institute for Local Self-Sufficiency. The chain stores are spreading rapidly, especially in the suburbs and rural areas, and are destroying the economic cycle and income there. One dollar store opens and pays low wages, the other stores in town cannot compete and go bankrupt. Because whether kitchen utensils, groceries and sweets, colorful paper unicorns or plush toys, almost everything is available cheaply in the new shop, as the companies import a lot from China.

The changed majorities in Georgia have been announced for decades. The year 2020, when the state turned blue, the color of the Democrats, may in retrospect be declared a turning point at some point. Most of the 10.6 million people live in the greater Atlanta area. The population here has been growing rapidly for more than half a century, by an average of 30 percent in every census since 1960. There are now over six million people, more than a third of whom describe themselves as black or African-American. In the past two decades, the suburbs have also changed, they are no longer inhabited only by whites. They still make up about half of the population, but still get better jobs than Afro-Americans and Latinos, who therefore earn less.

“We can do it”

OI000065.JPG

(Photo: Roland Peters)

Half an hour’s drive from the Dollar General, several women stand on the expressway cheering every car that turns. The two Democratic Senate candidates are making a stop in Jonesboro, Clayton County this Thursday afternoon. A small stage is placed in front of the church entrance, some journalists are there and around two hundred people, almost all of them African American. It is purely a motivational event for January. Nearly 85 percent voted for Joe Biden in Clayton County, with a lead of around 80,000 votes. The Democrat won the entire state by around 13,000 votes ahead of Donald Trump. “Clayton County will save America,” reads a t-shirt.

But now the question is how much power the new president will have. A schoolgirl reads a poem that links the rebellion against slavery with the current election, local politicians cheer on the people, then Ossoff and Warnock hold polished election speeches. The distribution of tasks is clear: The dashing Ossoff criticizes the corruption in Washington and the senators, who are said to have made a lot of money on the stock market with insider knowledge about the corona measures. Warnock speaks in larger parables: of the self-empowerment of blacks and the course of history, which now needs to be changed. “Go to vote! Your ancestors couldn’t, but you!” Reads on some signs in the area.

She is about better health insurance and higher wages, says visitor Trina Corbitt, who otherwise rarely leaves the house because of the pandemic. “It’s almost impossible to live on $ 7.25,” explains the 54-year-old behind her mouth and nose protection. The USA would be considered one of the richest countries in the world: “We can do it,” she says of Ossoff and Warnock’s election chances.

Trina Corbitt worked for a temporary employment agency before the pandemic. Then she brought her mother in need and quit the job because she was afraid of bringing the virus into the home. The mother is 79 years old, has dialysis three times a week, but was only insured through her husband. Since he passed away, the insurance company has only paid a flat rate of $ 244 per month. Far too little to cover all costs. “You have to win the majority in the Senate and tackle these problems,” says Trina Corbitt: “This is groundbreaking.”

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