Friday, July 10, 2015

As Iran Talks Continue, Israel And U.S. Flags Burn In Streets Of Tehran

As Iran talks continue in Vienna, Israel, US flags, burn in streets of Tehran - Middle East - Jerusalem Post

As world powers in Vienna continued talks with Iran over its nuclear program for the fifteenth straight day, demonstrators took to the streets in the Islamic Republic Friday in anti-Israel protests. 

Millions of Iranians took part in the protests in "cities across the country"  to mark International Quds (Jerusalem) Day, Iran's Fars news agency reported. 

Iranian protesters burned Israeli, American, Saudi Arabian, and British flags in Tehran to mark the day.  

Protesters carried placards and chanted "Down with the US" and "Down with Israel," Fars reported.    

Quds day – initiated in 1979 by the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini – is an annual event of fiery anti-Israel protests in Iran held on the last Friday of Ramadan. 

Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Vaezi, one of some 80 members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts that is a supervisory body around Iran’s Supreme Leader, was quoted Wednesday as saying that shouting the “Death to the Zionist regime” chant prevents Israeli “aggression.”

Earlier in the week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry, according to the The Islamic Republic News Agency, issued a statement to mark the coming day, saying that the “restoration of lasting peace and tranquility in the Middle East can be attained through full observance of legitimate rights of oppressed Palestinian nation.”   

Nuclear talks

Iran's foreign minister said on Friday that talks between Iran and the six major powers had made some progress but were likely to continue during the weekend.

"Some progress has been made but we are not there yet ... I doubt it will happen today ... it seems that we are going to spend the weekend in Vienna," Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters.

Despite the ups and downs and missed deadlines in the nuclear talks , Jerusalem believes the the world powers will soon sign an agreement with Iran, paving its way to a bomb, senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office said on Thursday.   

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the US is“absolutely prepared to call an end” to negotiations with Iran if Tehran does not make a series of “tough” political choices, quickly.  

But the US is not walking out yet, after blowing through its third deadline for those talks in just two weeks.

Kerry said that neither he, nor President Barack Obama, nor their allies in the P5+1 powers (Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) are willing to rush to complete a nuclear deal that would face a “test for decades.” 

Millions of Iranians took part in anti-Israel and anti-US rallies across Iran on Friday, chanting “Down with America” and “Death to Israel.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attended but did not speak at the main rally in Tehran, which coincided with seemingly deadlocked nuclear talks between Iran and world powers led by the United States.

Large demonstrations were also expected in Iraq and Lebanon to mark the annual solidarity day inaugurated by Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Some protesters in Tehran burned Israeli and American flags. Posters showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi King Salman and US President Barack Obama in flames.

Using the al-Quds Day hashtag, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted: “There are two sides in oppression: oppressor & the oppressed. We back the oppressed and are against oppressors.”
At a mock checkpoint, several men and a woman dressed in Israeli army uniforms shouted at people who wanted to pass and pushed them back, threatening them with batons and guns.
“We are all here to see the freedom of Quds. The people of Palestine are oppressed and their lands occupied,” said Ahmad Moghadam, a 67-year-old clerk.
“We stand behind Palestine until its people are freed.”
Iranian military commanders also attended, with General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior adviser to Khamenei, saying the al-Quds march was different this year because of a worsening regional security situation.
Iran has backed Iraqi forces against IS and Syrian government forces against rebels including Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
“Terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al-Nusra, with the support of the Zionists and Saudi’s cruel war against the oppressed people of Yemen… have created a new situation in the region and the world,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Safavi as saying.

The annual event drew massive crowds, despite the scorching temperatures in Tehran, which were set to climb to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Rallies were held in cities throughout the country.
Arch-rival Saudi Arabia was also publicly condemned at the mass rallies over its air campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since March, AFP reported, with the main slogan of the event denouncing the killing of children in “Gaza and Yemen.”
The crowd in Tehran chanted “Down with US, Israel and the House of Saud,” and carried placards that declared “Zionist soldiers kill Muslims” and “the Saudi family will fall.”

Demonstrators also set fire to a large effigy representing the Islamic State, labeled “Saudi’s doll.”
It was later burned along with American, Israeli and British flags, a common gesture at public demonstrations ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
The rallies come as Iran and six world powers hold talks in Vienna aimed at working out a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing tens of billions of dollars in economic penalties on the Islamic Republic.
Iran does not recognize Israel and, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has observed the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as “al-Quds Day.”

Iran lashed out at Western powers, accusing them of changing positions at the 11th hour in intense nuclear talks, as the EU warned it was time Friday to say “yes or no” to a deal on the table.
With a 13-year international standoff over Iran’s suspect nuclear program coming to a head, global powers leading the negotiations sought to ramp up the pressure for a deal.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hit back, saying Western countries among the so-called P5+1 group on the other side of the talks were backtracking on previous commitments.

“Unfortunately we have seen changes in the position and excessive demands… by several countries,” said Zarif after praying late at night in a mosque in Vienna.
The emerging deal between Iran and the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — is aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in exchange for relief from a web of biting international sanctions.
Each of the nations in the group “have different positions which makes the task even harder,” Zarif told the Iranian television Al-Alam.
As this round of talks lurched into a 14th day in the Austrian capital, US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted he would not be rushed into a deal — but warned he would not stay at the negotiating table forever.
If the “tough decisions” were not made soon, the top US diplomat said he was prepared to walk away.
Talks to alleviate international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program — first revealed by dissidents in 2002 — resumed in earnest in September 2013 after the election of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
After two tortuous years of negotiations between Kerry and Zarif, there is hope that a climax may be merely hours away.
“The text is done. It’s already there. It’s a matter of yes or no,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told CNN.
“We are very close, but if the important, historical decisions are not made in the next hours we won’t have an agreement.”
Negotiators are said to have made huge progress on some of the thorniest issues, including a mechanism to unlock a web of biting sanctions and ways to probe allegations that Iran has sought to develop nuclear weapons in the past.

The main text and five complicated technical annexes are all but written.
Two deadlines for a deal have already been passed in this round of talks, and a third target date set by US lawmakers to receive a copy of a deal by midnight Washington time was also set to be missed.
The stakes are very, very high, we will not rush and we will not be rushed,” Kerry vowed, even though the US Congress is now set to get 60 days instead of 30 to review any deal.

Kerry stressed negotiators were focusing on the quality of the deal, which “has to be one that can withstand the test of time”.
“It is not a test of a matter of days or weeks or months. It’s a test for decades,” he said.
Iran’s demand that a UN arms embargo be lifted has thrown a spanner in the works in recent days. Western nations have baulked at the idea, as Tehran is accused of fomenting violence in the Middle East.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a summit of emerging economies in the Russian city of Ufa, threw Moscow’s weight behind Tehran.
“We are in favour of lifting the embargo as soon as possible,” Lavrov told reporters.

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