The Islamic Republic Army of Iran and the Revolutionary Guards are to conduct joint military exercises in the southwest or southeast of the country, a senior Iranian army commander said on Wednesday.
Brig.-Gen. Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian ground forces, said that the army and the Revolutionary Guards will carry out a special joint air exercise that will be the first of its type since the Islamic Revolution, Iran’s ISNA news outlet and hardline Mashregh news reported. A further eight joint military exercises would be held in the upcoming year, Pourdastan said.The Revolutionary Guards and the Islamic Republic Army of Iran act as parallel ground forces, but while the regular army is tasked with defending the country and maintaining civil order, the job of the Revolutionary Guards is to protect Iran’s Islamic regime. The Revolutionary Guards, which the US designated a terrorist organization in 2007, also controls Iran’s Basij militia, and the secret Quds Force, which conducts operations outside Iran.The announcement came days before Iran and six world powers are due to restart negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, and as the Islamic Republic continues to give mixed messages about its position.The maneuvers would be the latest in a series of military exercises and war games Iran has staged since the start of the year, amid growing tensions and concerns of war with Israel.Also in February, Iran announced that it had deployed anti-aircraft artillery and warplanes to protect its nuclear sites from possible Israeli airstrikes, in a military exercise it dubbedSarollah, from an Arabic term meaning “the vengeance of God.” That same month, the Revolutionary Guards conducted military exercises in the south of Iran.
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Abbas gave the PM a month to respond to the Palestinian positions, which will be laid out in a letter to be delivered to Netanyahu next Wednesday during a Jerusalem meeting with Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad.
The Palestinian Authority will renew its efforts to win UN recognition for a Palestinian state if it does not receive a positive response from Israel to its positions on a prospective peace deal, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told an unofficial Israeli delegation on Sunday.
Abbas said he would not wait until after the U.S. presidential elections in November, which he said U.S. administration officials had requested, before asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian Authority from "observer" status to that of a state without full membership in the United Nations.
King Abdullah is seeking to complete the divorce proceedings between Jordan and the Palestinians which his late father, King Hussein, began in 1988.
The separation began in July that year, a few months after the eruption of the first intifada.
King Hussein realized back then that it was not in the interest of his kingdom to maintain a linkage to the West Bank, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
His biggest fear was that the intifada would spill over into Jordan, where the Palestinian majority would rise against his monarchy.
In 2009, Amman quietly began revoking the Jordanian citizenship of thousands of Palestinians, triggering strong protests from human rights organizations and pro-Palestinian groups around the world.
Over the past year, Jordan has witnessed increased demands for reforms and democracy. The “Arab Spring” that has been sweeping the Arab world has prompted thousands of Jordanians to take to the streets every week to demand real changes and freedoms.
The growing protests have clearly embarrassed and confused King Abdullah, who is feeling the heat approaching him rapidly.
The monarch’s biggest fear is that the powerful and popular Muslim Brotherhood organization would form an alliance with the Palestinians and turn against his regime, seriously undermining his grip on power.
Talk in Israel and elsewhere about turning Jordan into a Palestinian state has also left the king worried about the future of his kingdom. That explains why he is not even prepared to receive 1,100 Palestinian refugees who have fled Syria in recent weeks, while at the same time welcoming more than 100,000 Syrians who crossed the border into Jordan.
King Abdullah is now seeking to distance himself from the Palestinians. He says he wants the Palestinians to go to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and establish their own state there, and not elsewhere.