Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Iran - Blocks 'Virtual Embassy. More On Drone. Israel's Iran Plans. Syrian Oppostition.

Iran Blocks New U.S. 'Virtual Embassy'

Published December 07, 2011
| NewsCore
The U.S. launched a "virtual embassy" for Tehran in a bid to reach out to ordinary Iranians isolated by strict censorship -- but it was promptly blocked by the Islamic regime. 

The "Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran" is an opportunity for engagement between the peoples of Iran and the United States in the absence of direct diplomatic contacts, the State Department said Tuesday. 

"This is a platform for us to communicate with each other -- openly and without fear -- about the United States, about our policies, our culture and the American people," US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in a statement. 

U.S. Considered Sending Commandos to Get Drone Downed in Iran

Published December 07, 2011
| The Wall Street Journal

American officials considered conducting a covert mission inside Iran to retrieve or destroy a stealth drone that crashed late last week -- but ultimately concluded such a secret operation was not worth the risk of provoking a more explosive clash with Tehran, a U.S. official said.

Tehran says it shot down the unmanned craft. But the U.S. source said the drone developed mechanical difficulties and remote pilots lost control of it -- and officials knew immediately it had gone down in eastern Iran.

The RQ-170 stealth drone was developed for the air force, but was flying under the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency when its remote pilots lost control of it late last week, according to several U.S. officials.

Initially, Washington officials didn't believe Iran had detected the crash, and considered various options for retrieving the wreckage.

Wary U.S. uncertain of Israel's Iran plans 

updated 12/7/2011 1:33:43 AM ET
The Obama administration does not know Israel's intentions regarding potential military action against Iran, and the uncertainty is stoking concern in Washington, where the preferred course for now is sanctions and diplomatic pressure. 

Although Israel remains one of the United States' closest allies and the two countries' officials are in regular contact, U.S. officials have a "sense of opacity" regarding what might prompt an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites, and about when such an attack might occur, according to a senior U.S. national security official.

Two key U.S. senators acknowledged on Tuesday that there are gaps in U.S. knowledge about Israeli leaders' thinking and intentions.

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Syrian Opposition Puts Iran, Hizbullah On Notice

The head of the SNC warned Iran and Hizbullah that their failure to support Syria's people would break their long-term alliance.
By Gavriel Queenann  

Burhan Ghalioun
Burhan Ghalioun
Screen Capture
The leader of the Syrian National Council warned Iran against protecting President Bashar al-Assad – and accused Lebanon’s Hizbullah on Tuesday of letting down the Syrian opposition.

Iran is "participating in suppressing the Syrian people" by backing Assad during a nine-month crackdown that has killed over 4,000 civilians and sent Syria spiraling into civil war, Burhan Ghalioun told CNN.

Syria has been seen as a key element of Iran's axis of influence in the Middle East, as well as a critical land-bridge connecting it to its Shi'ite terror proxy, Hizbullah, in Lebanon.

Ghalioun, who was elected chairman of the SNC in late August, also warned Assad's crackdown could lead to international military intervention.

"I hope that the Iranians realize the importance of not compromising the Syrian-Iranian relationship by defending a regime whose own people clearly reject it and has become a regime of torture to its own people," Ghalioun said.

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