Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Military and Opposition Forces Reach Agreement in Sudan While Tensions Persist
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
May 18, 2019

Several killed in clashes as United States continues to interfere in the internal affairs of oil rich nation

Representatives from the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) and the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change have been holding talks with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) for several weeks since the coup against ousted President Omer Hassan al-Bashir on April 11.

An announcement on May 14 indicates that the two sides have reached a settlement on the establishment of a joint civilian-military administration which will govern the country until national elections are held within a yet to be designated time period.

Sudan has been wracked with mass demonstrations since December when the economic crisis inside the nation escalated pushing up prices of bread and other consumer goods. The demands of the protesters quickly escalated beyond the call for lower prices to insisting upon the resignation of al-Bashir and his cabinet.

Demonstrators began marching in the streets challenging the security forces consisting of police, the vast intelligence apparatus and the military. Violence has erupted on numerous occasions since December leaving dozens dead and hundreds more injured.

Thousands of opposition supporters began a sit-in on April 6 outside the military headquarters in Khartoum challenging the authority which has been the underpinning of the al-Bashir government since it took power in a coup in 1989. Al-Bashir is a former military official and after seizing power the military was highly politicized through the creation of the National Congress Party (NCP) in 1998, which has been the dominant entity in the administration for over two decades.

Even though the president was forced to resign by his top military generals on April 11 as the social conditions worsened, there was no agreement over the composition of a transitional regime until May 14. The internal pressure has prompted the African Union (AU) to set a timetable for the resumption of what they consider civilian rule.

After the announcement of the agreement between the TMC and the opposition groupings, security forces were said to have opened fire on demonstrators outside military headquarters leaving at least five people dead, including one police officer. There are conflicting reports over who initiated the clashes. Some say it was a lone gunman who targeted protesters while others claim it was the authorities.

An article published by the Independent said of the incident that: “One policeman and three protesters were killed in Khartoum and many other demonstrators were wounded, state TV said. Heavy gunfire was heard in the capital late into the evening, but Reuters could not immediately confirm the scale of casualties or who triggered the violence.” (May 14)

This same report went on to emphasize: “The Transitional Military Council (TMC) blamed saboteurs. ‘Behind this are groups that… are working hard to abort any progress in negotiations.’ Early on Tuesday the TMC said it would not allow citizens’ safety to be jeopardized. ‘Neither the (paramilitary) Rapid Support Forces or the army will fire one shot at our protesting brothers, but we repeat: we do not allow chaos,’ it said.”

The Role of the United States in Sudan

The country has been suffering immensely since the partition of the former British colony in 2011, creating the neighboring Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest state. A large proportion of the oil resources were taken out of the control of the government in the capital of Khartoum. Washington, London and Tel Aviv were major supporters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the ruling party now governing in Juba.

After the breaking up of the Republic of Sudan, once Africa’s largest geographic nation-state and the founding of the Republic of South Sudan, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) was forced to adjust to the new international situation. South Sudan was immediately recognized by both the United Nations and the African Union (AU) as a sovereign state.

There were disagreements over the border demarcations in the aftermath of the partition particularly as it related to petroleum resources. A brief skirmish erupted creating a crisis in 2012 between Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and Khartoum.

Since late 2013, the SPLA/M government in Juba has been split resulting in a civil war. A recent peace agreement is yet to be fully implemented between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Reik Machar, now of the SPLM/A in Opposition.

After the ascendancy of former leader al-Bashir, the country moved closer to the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Relations worsened in August of 1998 when the U.S. under President Bill Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum claiming it was a chemical weapons factory. There was never any prove that the facility was producing chemical weapons and was in fact manufacturing medicines.

China began to play a leading role in oil exploration and marketing in Sudan controlling 80 percent of petroleum concessions by the end of the first decade of this century. Iran developed economic and military links with Khartoum as well, leading to accusations that Sudan was serving as a conduit for the funneling of weapons to Hamas in Gaza.

Nonetheless, since 2015, Sudan has shifted its foreign policy due to pressure from the economic crisis. Al-Bashir sent troops to fight alongside Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Ansurallah resistance forces in Yemen. Diplomatic relations with Tehran and Damascus (Syria) were severed while overtures aimed at normalizing relations with Washington have been ongoing. Sudan has since reestablished relations with Damascus.

After a ceasefire agreement was signed with the SPLM/A and the transition to independence began in the south, another insurgency broke out in the western Darfur region. The NCP government responded to the armed rebel groupings with force in an effort to re-establish order in the region.

Allegations of human rights violations and genocide were made against al-Bashir by the U.S. and other imperialist powers. The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in the Netherlands indicted the former president and other leading officials of the NCP administration and sought their extradition to The Hague to stand trial on the charges.

Although Washington is not a signatory to the Rome Statue which created the ICC and therefore not bound by its ostensible jurisdiction, the charges against the Sudanese government were used to foster instability internally and the isolation of al-Bashir internationally. Since the removal of al-Bashir, some within the opposition have demanded the former head-of-state be placed on trial for repressive tactics used against demonstrators since December. It is not clear whether al-Bashir will be tried inside the country or sent to The Hague under the outstanding warrants issued by the ICC.

U.S. embassy officials have been quick to blame the TMC for the outbreak of violence on May 14. U.S. and other western embassy delegations of diplomats have visited protesters to express their support. These actions angered the Sudanese Foreign Ministry which took offense at what they perceived as another unwarranted interference in the domestic affairs of the country.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on May 12, it said: “All the visits by Western ambassadors, including the head of the EU mission to the sit-inners were carried out without coordination with the Foreign Ministry, which should be notified of movements in dangerous sites so as to be able to provide protection in accordance with its international obligations.”

When U.S. Charge d’affaires Steven Koutsis visited the protesters’ site outside the Defense Ministry he was protected by the Red Vest security team appointed by the opposition leaders. Sudan’s military and other security forces have no official presence at the sit-in.

Future of Sudan Uncertain

Even with the possibility of the creation of a joint civilian-military governing council, there are still many more unresolved issues which will impact the Sudanese people. It is obvious that Washington is attempting to influence the future direction of the government.

It remains unclear what political line the joint civilian-military council will take on relations with China, Iran and other neighboring states within Africa. Also the role of other opposition parties which have had substantial support in Sudan historically and are not a part of the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change may differ significantly with the those interests now considered the leading opposition groupings. These parties will have to be allowed to contest any upcoming election.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on TVC Nigeria Worldwide Satellite News Network: 'Sudan Face Challenges in Imperatives for Transformation'
Watch this interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, discussing the current political crisis in the Republic of Sudan over TVC Nigeria based in Lagos.

To view this interview with the PANW editor just go to the following URL:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjtu8EFSlcQ&feature=share

Azikiwe emphasizes that the next phase of the situation will depend upon the correlation of forces inside the country.

Sudan has been the scene of mass demonstrations against the government of former President Omer Hassan al-Bashir of the National Congress Party (NCP), since December 2018. The removal of al-Bashir from office through a military coup in April will not resolve the economic downturn due to the interconnection between the price of oil and other commodities within the dominance of the imperialist states.

Azikiwe was interviewed by anchor Veronica Dan Ikpoyi. According to one source: "TVC News is a Nigerian 24 hour television news channel owned by Continental Broadcasting Service Nigeria Ltd.

Now TVC Communications based in Lagos. In its original inception the network promoted itself as the "first Pan-African news agency" with plans to open offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra and Dakar."
Aretha Franklin as the Amazing Grace
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
May 7, 2019
Film Review

Documentary film captures the culture aspects of African Americans during the early 1970s

Amazing Grace, the documentary film recently-released having been archived for 47 years, is a treasured masterpiece of historical significance.

During this period of the African American social and cultural trajectory, there were many lessons which were being summed up and pioneering trends initiated.

This concept of Aretha Franklin recording and releasing a double gospel album in 1972 was bold and timely. It turned out to be the largest selling gospel album in United States history.

What many people were not aware of was that the two nights of music with arrangements by the Rev. James Cleveland, Alexander Hamilton the youth director of the Southern California Community Choir and the appearance of the Rev. C.L. Franklin, Aretha’s father and longtime Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Clara Ward, the renowned gospel legend and her mother, Gertrude Mae Ward, were all captured on film by Warner’s Brothers. The film was recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, located in an area which has striking similarities to the city of Detroit where the Franklin family made their mark during the post-World War II era.

Listening for years to the album Amazing Grace it seems as if this was a gospel concert that was professionally recorded. The film reveals that the Church was turned into a recording studio in which the audience could have been there through invitation only, considering its size. The grand entry of Aretha both nights, and on the second night, Rev. Franklin and Clara Ward, was theatrical in nature.

This was 1972 and many people in the choir and audience wore their hair in the natural style, including Aretha, Rev. Cleveland and director Alexander Hamilton. The discipline of the Southern California Community Choir was notable adding to the atmosphere of a staged drama.

There are times when the music stops and is begun again at the direction of Aretha, then widely known as the “Queen of Soul.” Cleveland tells the audience at the beginning of the actual soundtrack recording on the first night that you may have to say Amen again if the first take was not done properly.

One of the highlights of the film includes the segment featuring Rev. Franklin. He was called up to the pulpit by Cleveland. Dressed immaculately as usual in the church and the community, C.L., as he was affectionately called by people in Detroit, began to reflect on the character of his daughter’s artistic development.

He observes that many people were moved by the gospel and hymnal selections sung by Aretha along with the choir. Rev. Franklin then says that he was “about to bust wide open,” meaning the shedding of tears. He said the concert recording and filming took him back to the early years when Aretha and Cleveland spent hour practicing in the family living room on East Boston Blvd. in Detroit.

Franklin says of Aretha that “she was heavily influenced by James (Cleveland). He later goes on to note the influence of Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward, his longtime friends and collaborators, assessing that Aretha’s approach to music was a “synthesis” of these influences along with her own artistic contributions. “Aretha is just a stone singer,” he says.

He mentions a response to a statement from someone working in a dry cleaner in Detroit who told Rev. Franklin that she had seen Aretha on television. After asking what did she think about Aretha’s performance, the woman said: “it was alright, but I will be glad when she returns to the church.” The elder Franklin responds by saying “the fact of the matter is she has never left the church.”

Of course such a response is reflective of the dialectical relationship between sacred and secular music in the African American tradition. Such a reality makes this film a must see for all concerned and interested in these important cultural questions which have profound political and historical significance as well.

From Detroit to Los Angeles: The Struggle Continued

The Motor City and the City of Angels had many things in common by the beginning of 1972. Over the previous decade the municipalities had gained notoriety for the role of the African American struggle and its impact on proletarian culture.

Minister Malcolm X was the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam in April 1962 when he intervened in Los Angeles after the attack on Mosque No. 27 which resulted in the brutal police killing of Secretary Ronald Stokes. Malcolm was able to pull together a citywide coalition to denounce the killing of Stokes and the wounding of several other NOI members.

In a public address caught on film, Malcolm laid out the character of police-community relations within the African American nation. He said that the cops were not in the community to protect the people. They were there only to intensify social control and national oppression through the brutalization of the African American masses.

Detroit during the early 1960s was a pressure cooker as well. The wholesale removal of the African American community from the lower east side neighborhoods of Black Bottom, Paradise Valley and other areas created an atmosphere of resentment and militancy.

On June 23, 1963, the largest demonstration up until that point related to the movement for civil rights and Black emancipation was held in Detroit drawing hundreds of thousands. The march was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. C.L. Franklin and host of other women and men who walk down Woodward Avenue to Cobo Hall where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) co-founder and president would deliver an earlier rendition of his “I Have a Dream Speech.”

Moreover, by August 11, 1965, the Watts section of L.A. exploded into the largest urban rebellion led by African Americans in U.S. history. The Watts Rebellion would solidify the shift from Freedom Now to Black Power.

Of course nearly two years later, on July 23, 1967, Detroit would explode in fury with a rebellion more widespread and violent than what occurred in Watts. These events would shape the political consciousness of the African American working class and revolutionary intelligentsia for years to come. The historical memory of Watts, Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, etc. still evokes fear within the inherent paranoid mentality of the U.S. ruling class well into the 21st century.

Even five to seven years later when Amazing Grace was recorded and filmed, the people’s heightened consciousness is revealed in the documentary. It is with enormous pride that those who understand this history are able to view just a glimpse of the time period on film.

Significance of the Documentary

At the same time it was with great anticipation that this documentary was released. The family of Aretha Franklin wasted no time in issuing the film which had been canned for decades. Now people have much more than the album to remember the Queen of Soul in her traditional role as a gospel singer influenced by her father and the African American cultural tradition as a whole.

Aretha made the transition to the ancestral realm on August 16, 2018 at her Detroit home. The city was plunged into two weeks of mourning. Public viewings and a memorial lasting four days attracted hundreds of thousands coming to pay their last “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” to whom one radio announcer broadcasting live outside the Dr. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History described as the “Queen of Detroit.”

The release of this documentary makes one wonder and desire for the unveiling of the many hours of other film footage of the African American and African world struggle which should be seen by millions as a testament to the gallant history of the people in their efforts aimed at cultural expression and self-determination.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured in Press TV World Satellite News Network: 'Burkina Faso Attacks on Churches and Tourists Serve as Justification for Increasing Imperialist Military Presence'
Watch this Press TV world news satellite network segment featuring an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, discussing the recent spate of attacks by armed groups on Catholic churches in the West African state of Burkina Faso.

To view this segment in its entirety just click on the following URL:
/www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr_H8LNHY-Q&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1SZuHsSxDwfHGfYdV2wsVgBpP1jAT2593DtRXKb1cYe0JVD4iDbUglqpU

Azikiwe mentions the killing of two French paratroopers in an ostensible anti-terrorist operation designed to free hostages being held in a remote area of the country near the border with the Republic of Benin.

The more western military presence escalates in the region the greater the attacks by so-called "terrorists" groups. The Sahel Group, Operation Berkhane and the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) are all active in West Africa under the guise of enhancing stability and fighting "terrorism."
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Interviewed on PressTV Worldwide Satellite News Network: 'Imperialism at the Center of Libya War'
Watch this Press TV world satellite network segment on the News Review program featuring Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, discussing the current round of humanitarian crises in the North African state of Libya.

To view this interview in its entirety just go the website below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr_H8LNHY-Q&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1SZuHsSxDwfHGfYdV2wsVgBpP1jAT2593DtRXKb1cYe0JVD4iDbUglqpU

Azikiwe points to the machinations of the western imperialist states in destroying the once most prosperous nation in Africa and the continuing role of Washington and its allies aimed at the neo-colonization of the wealthy oil and natural gas rich country.

The program aired live originally on Mon. April 29, 2019 and was repeated every hour throughout the day.

As militia groups battle for the capital of Tripoli, tens of thousands of civilians are imperiled, being trapped by the fighting which has gone on for several weeks.
US Seeking to Force Sudan to Return to Western Camp: American Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A political analyst in Detroit highlighted the US government’s role in recent developments in Sudan, saying Washington is trying to control events so that the North African country is firmly returned to the Western camp.

May, 11, 2019 - 16:38

“In all likelihood, the US is playing a role within the opposition and government,” Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.

“Washington and Wall Street want to control events so that Sudan is firmly returned to the Western camp and sheds any semblance of anti-imperialism or independent domestic and foreign policy, as it exemplified in the past,” the analyst added.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire and a co-founder of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, both based in Detroit. Azikiwe has published numerous articles, pamphlets, and books on African affairs along with working as a consultant for various satellite television news networks throughout the world. He has traveled extensively in Africa conducting field research on political economy and history.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: A month after Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir was removed by a military coup, protest and opposition leaders on Wednesday called for a campaign of civil disobedience in response to what one of them described as the military’s “disappointing” answer to their proposals for an interim government. What do you think about the latest developments in the African country? How do you predict the future of the developments? Will the military council hand over the power to a democrat government?

Azikiwe: Recent events during the post-coup period has exposed the fragmentation and general political crisis of the opposition groups which held demonstrations leading to the removal of former President Omer Hassan al-Bashir by high-ranking military officials. There are negotiations to establish a joint civilian-military governing council. However, there is no firm agreement on the numerical composition and proportional representation of the envisioned temporary ruling body. The principal groupings which appear to be in the leadership of the opposition currents now talking with the transitional military council, the Sudan Professional Association (SPA) and the Forces for Freedom and Change, want to gain power immediately. Nonetheless, at some point in the near future, there has to be an election. This is what the African Union is calling for and the pressure from various political tendencies inside the country will become more evident as the weeks pass absent of a nationwide poll. What is often not discussed is that there are other political tendencies such as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) which have significant support inside the country. In an electoral contest, these parties will have an opportunity to campaign openly and draw upon the historical support they have received in Sudanese politics.

Tasnim: According to media reports, there have been some meddlesome measures by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Sudan. However, Sudanese protesters have declared their strong opposition to the two countries. What do you think about the future of relations between Sudan and the two Arab countries and do you think that the next Sudanese government would be an ally of the two?

Azikiwe: The Saudis and Emirates want to maintain influence in Sudan for various reasons. Unfortunately, ousted President al-Bashir has sent troops to fight alongside the pro-imperialist countries and militias seeking to destroy the Ansarullah resistance movement in Yemen. A withdrawal of Sudanese military units would send a signal to other imperialist-allied states that the war, although lasting for over four years, is not sustainable. There is also the question of maintaining cooperation related to the exploitation and marketing of oil which Sudan has substantial reserves. The National Congress Party (NCP) led administration under al-Bashir has made numerous overtures to the United States. Nevertheless, in all likelihood, the US is playing a role within the opposition and government. Washington and Wall Street want to control events so that Sudan is firmly returned to the Western camp and sheds any semblance of anti-imperialism or independent domestic and foreign policy, as it exemplified in the past.

Tasnim: As you know, Sudan is part of Saudi Arabia's disastrous military campaign against Yemen. Given that a huge number of the Saudi-led coalition forces fighting in Yemen are Sundanese, what do you think about the effect of developments in Sudan on the protracted war on Yemen?

Azikiwe: The involvement of the Sudanese Armed Forces in Yemen on the wrong side of the genocidal war has weakened the capacity of the state to address domestic concerns. Due to the economic downturn engendered by the decline in oil prices five years ago, Sudan has been adversely impacted. Prices have gone up in the last several months. Nevertheless, there has been a restructuring of the oil market accounting for the enhanced role of the US and other states creating a drop in demand from the emerging countries, particularly those targeted by successive regimes in Washington which have sought regime-change in states such as Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and Brazil. Therefore, Sudan is being placed at an even more disadvantaged position than other targeted states since they have undergone a fracturing within the governing politico-military strata as represented by al-Bashir and the NCP.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Interviewed on TVC Nigeria Worldwide Satellite News Network: 'ANC Victorious in Latest South African Elections'
Watch this TVC world news segment featuring Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, discussing the early results of the recently-held May 8, 2019 national, provincial and parliamentary elections in the Republic of South Africa. The segment aired initially on May 9.

To watch this interview with the PANW editor just click on the URL below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZnsPjYWf5U

The African National Congress (ANC) ruling party won a decisive victory by more than a 2-1 majority against other opposition groupings. This is the six consecutive national election won by the ANC, the national liberation movement turned political party, which led the struggle for national liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid in that country.

Azikiwe notes the challenges facing the renewed government of President Cyril Ramaphosa saying
South Africa needs national unity and an economic development program to rebuild the state in the interests of the masses.

TVC Nigeria is based Lagos the commercial capital of Africa's most populous state.

Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, Sun. May 19, 2019
Listen to the Sun. May 19, 2019 edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To enjoy this program in full just go to the following URL:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2019/05/20/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the call by Republic of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the creative community to contribute to the development of the Southern African state; the South African Communist Party (SACP) has issued several statements in the aftermath of the overwhelming African National Congress (ANC) victory in the recent May 8 elections; Egypt has been hit by another terrorist attack on a bus full of tourists; and Sudanese military and opposition forces have resumed negotiations on the terms of the establishment of a joint civilian-military governing council after talks were suspended due to a shooting last week involving demonstrators.

During the second and third hours we will commemorate the 94th birthday of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz). 
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, Sun. May 12, 2019
Listen to the Sun. May 12, 2019 edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the broadcast in its entirety just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2019/05/13/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the recently-held national parliamentary and presidential elections in the Republic of South Africa where the ruling African National Congress (ANC) won the poll by a more than 2 to 1 margin; Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is looking forward to continuiing to work with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa; a Nigerian militia has liberated hundreds of children kidnapped by the Boko Haram group in the north of the country; and another attack took place at a Catholic Church in Burkina Faso.

In the second and third hours we rebroadcast interviews with host Abayomi Azikiwe from KPFA's Africa Today and Leid Stories on the Progressive Radio Network from Aug.-Sept. 2018.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, Sun. May 5, 2019
Listen to the Sun. May 5, 2019 edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the above-mentioned program just go to the following URL:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2019/05/06/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the opening of a new United States embassy in the Republic of Zimbabwe; South Africans are preparing for national parliamentary and presidential elections on May 8; Sudan military and opposition figures are still in negotiations about establishing a joint governing council in the aftermath of the recent coup against former President Omer Hassan al-Bashir; Venezuela has defeated yet another attempt by Washington to destabilize the South American state.

During the second and third hours we examine in detail the upcoming elections in South Africa some quarter century after the first non-racial democratic elections.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, Sat. April 27, 2019
Listen to the Sat. April 27, 2019 edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To play the program just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2019/04/28/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the upcoming national parliamentary and presidential elections in the Republic of South Africa where the incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa is campaigning for a resounding ruling party victory for the African National Congress (ANC); the United States Africa Command has launched another round of aerial strikes in the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia; Libya is continuing as a battlefield between counter-revolutionary militias for the control for the capital of Tripoli; the People's Republic of China has held the Second Belt Road Initiative Forum in Beijing.

In the second hour we continue our tribute to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Africa on the 47th anniversary of his transition. 
Saudi Arabia Deposits $250m Into Sudan Central Bank
An employee of a money changer holds a stack of U.S. Dollar notes before giving it to a customer in Jakarta, October 8, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

May 19, 2019 (KHARTOUM) — Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it deposited $250 million into the account of Sudan central bank.

The $250 million deposit is part of a three billion dollars assistance package that Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced last April in support for the Sudanese economy after the regime of President al-Bashir.

"The (Saudi) Ministry of Finance has deposited SAR 937,500,000 (nine hundred thirty-seven million and five hundred thousand riyals, equalling two hundred fifty million USD dollars) into the Central Bank of Sudan’s account," said the official Saudi Press Agency.

Mohamed Abdullah Al-Jadaan, Saudi Finance Minister said this deposit will strengthen the financial and economic situation in Sudan, especially the exchange rate of the Sudanese pound, which should reflect positively on the living conditions of the Sudanese citizens.

On 28 April, the UAE and Sudan signed an agreement to inject $250 million in Sudan’s central bank as part of the joint $3 billion grant.

On 21 April, Saudi Arabia and UAE announced a joint $3 billion aid to Sudan.

The two Gulf countries said they would deposit $500 million in Sudan’s central bank to ease pressure on the Sudanese pound. The remainder will go toward food, medicine and fuel.

(ST)
Rapid Support Forces Monitor Closely Those Who Plan to Destabilize Sudan: Hemetti
RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, (aka Hametti) (SUNA photo)

May 21, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Vice-President of the Transitional Military Council and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) warned unnamed parties that are planning to destabilize security in Sudan saying "we are monitoring them closely".

The warning comes after statements by Mohamed Ali al-Gizouli a leader of the radical Movement of the Support of Sharia and the Rule of Law during a march they organized to defend the Islamic legislation in Sudan on Saturday.

Al-Gizouli threatened to wage war on the transitional council in the event of handing over power to the forces of freedom and change.

Speaking in a Ramadan breakfast for his troops, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hemetti) vowed to fight any group that tries to create troubles and destabilize the country. Also, he called on his forces to be vigilant and ready to preserve the security in Sudan.

"There are parties that are plotting and planning to create chaos," he said in his speech to the RSF brigade (185 rangers) at the army barracks in Omdurman on Monday evening.

"We are ready for them and we will not compromise with the security and stability of the country," he emphasized.

Hemetti called on his forces to be disciplined, pointing that they are being targeted by a campaign of defamation.

"The attacks on people are forbidden, and I know what you do not need to be directed because the Rapid Support Forces are a disciplined force," he said.

"Anyone who commits a criminal offence will be immediately disqualified and brought to justice," he added.

The forces of freedom and change have accused the RSF militiamen of attacking the protesters in the streets adjacent to the main protest site outside the army headquarters. Five youth protesters and an army officer were killed during the attack.

But the military council denied the charge saying the assault was carried out by a third party.

(ST)
Sudan’s Transition Partners Fail to Strike Deal Over Sovereign Council
A meeting of TMC and FFC on the sovereign council on 19 May 2019 (ST photo)

May 21, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Transitional Military Council and opposition Forces for Freedom and Changes (FFC) have failed for the second day to strike a deal on the sovereign council.

Each of the two parties claims the majority of the members and the presidency of the sovereign council.

On Sunday, the FFC proposed a rotating presidency between the two sides but seemingly it was not accepted by the military council.

"The main point of contention between the Forces of Freedom and Change and the Military Council remains about the number of representatives of each party and the presidency of the Sovereign Council," said a joint statement released after the meeting in the first hours of Tuesday.

The two sides further vowed to work towards reaching a "satisfactory agreement" that meets the "aspirations of the Sudanese people and achieves the goals of the Glorious Revolution of December".

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council has given the TMC until the 30 June to transfer power to a civilian-led authority.

The failure strike a deal and the prolongation of the talks have recently encouraged radical Islamist factions groups to demonstrate and to launch threats to wage war in the country if the military council hands over power to the FFC.

Also, the Sudanese Communist Party which part of the FFC, more and reiterates in separate statements its rejection to any agreement that would lead to giving the presidency of the sovereign body to the military.

The joint statement said the joint technical commissions will continue their activities in order to reach a compromise.

(ST)
AU’s Faki is Advised on Sudan by Official Close to al-Bashir: Letter
Amira Elfadil speaks with former President Omer al-Bashir on the sidelines of the African Union meeting in Nouakchott on 28 June 2018 (file photo)

May 20, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki is allegedly advised on Sudan by his Social Affairs Commissioner Amira Elfadil who is a Sudanese female close to the former ousted President Omer al-Bashir.

In a letter to Faki seen by Sudan Tribune, Ibrahim Taha Ayoub, the head of Sudanese Diplomat Association, which is one of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA)’s groups, blamed him for consulting on Sudan Ms Elfadil who is a former minister of al-Bashir’s government and a member of his National Congress Party (NCP).

On 30 April, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said the Sudanese army generals should hand over power to a civilian-led authority within 60 days. Initially, it had given them 15 days.

The regional body also appointed a Mauritian diplomat as special envoy to the AUC chairperson to brief to PSC every three weeks on the political developments in Sudan.

In his letter of 18 May, Ayoub described Ms Elfadil as "the representative of the defunct regime" before to say "We are now informed that she is interfering with the work of your Organization and furthermore influencing your decision on the matters affecting our country".

"Please note that, with all due respect to your good self, we cannot accept to see the AUC being used as a conduit to bring back repression and corruption to Sudan and instability to the Region," further stressed the former foreign minister for the government of April 1985 Uprising.

The Sudanese professionals who led the four-month protests before to topple al-Bashir’s regime were recently angered by the failure of the African Union Commission to condemn the attack of 13 May on peaceful protesters which resulted in the death of five youth and an army officer.

Also, the opposition groups were also annoyed by the two-month delay given to the Transitional Military Council after a request the latter made to the regional body and in flagrant violation of the Lome Declaration on Response to Unconstitutional Change of Government of July 2000 which provides to immediately suspend the concerned member state.

Ms Elfadil former Sudanese minister of social welfare was elected as African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs in January 2017.

Several days ago Sudanese activists posted messages on the social media saying that Elfadil was part of the NCP shadow diplomatic brigades that work to re-establish al-Bashir’s regime and called to remove her from the AUC stressing she was connected to Islamists elements within the military council.

(ST)
Sudan Arrests Perpetrators of Attacks on Protesters: Hemetti
Sudanese youth build barricades at the sit-in square outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on 29 April 2019 (ST photo)

May 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hemetti), who is also the deputy head of the military council on Saturday announced the arrest of culprits who attacked the sit-inners near the protest site during the past days.

At least six people were killed and about 100 were wounded on Monday in a shooting attack on protesters in the vicinity of the army headquarters. Also, about 14 others were injured in a similar attack on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses claimed that the perpetrators were wearing RSF uniforms and were using their vehicles., but the ruling TMC dismissed the charge.

"Those who carried out the attack against the sit-inners were arrested and recorded judicial confessions, which will be broadcasted in the media during the day," Hemetti said during a Ramadan breakfast organized by the Native Administration in Khartoum.

The military official did not disclose the identity of the perpetrators, but transitional council members told Western ambassadors on Thursday that the attacks were carried out by "irregular" groups.

Hemetti further accused some circles saying they work, through some countries, to distort the image of Rapid Support Forces without developing about the hostile campaign against his militiamen who are accused of human rights abuses.

He stressed the determination of the military council to hold accountable all corrupt leaders of the former regime.

"They are now either in prison or fugitive, and anyone who fled will be hunted. Those who are outside Sudan have been identified," he asserted.

The TMC deputy head further said that the country has no prisons to arrest all the corrupt members of the former ruling party of President Omer al-Bashir, adding they will pursue their corrupt leaders.

Ahead of the talks that will resume Sunday, Hemetti praised the role of the opposition Freedom and Change Forces in the regime change.

"These brothers have an organization and a high technology that even bypassed the State (apparatus). They were able to remove the regime and without them, (the ousted regime) would rule (the country) for an additional thirty years."

"We want the democracy they talk about, we want real democracy and free and fair elections. The one who rules the country will be chosen by the Sudanese people,"
he went further to say.

(ST)
Foreign Investment in China Not Affected by US Tariffs: Beijing
Tue May 21, 2019 01:52PM
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This photo, taken on May 14, 2019, shows a customer browsing imported items at a store in the Qingdao free trade port area in Qingdao in China. (By AFP)

Beijing says foreign investors remain enthusiastic about the Chinese market, contrary to a claim by the administration of US President Donald Trump that American tariffs are causing companies to move production out of the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, responding to a question about Trump’s claim, said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that China would continue to improve business and investment conditions for foreign companies.

“Even though over the past year or more the United States has continued to menace Chinese products with additional tariffs, everyone can see that the enthusiasm for foreign investors in China remains high,” Lu said.

The spokesman listed companies, including Tesla, BASF and BMW, as all having recently increased their investment in China.

Trump said in an interview aired on Sunday that his tariffs on Chinese goods were causing companies to move manufacturing out of China and to Vietnam and other Asian countries.

The Washington-Beijing trade dispute escalated last Friday, when the US increased tariffs on 200 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods. Trump has also ordered US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to begin imposing tariffs on all remaining imports from China, a move that would affect about an additional 300 billion dollars’ worth of goods.

China and the US earlier this month concluded the 11th round of their high-level economic and trade consultations in Washington without reaching any deal aimed at ending their trade tensions.

No further trade talks have been scheduled since the last round ended on May 10 — the same day Trump raised the tariff rate on Chinese products from 10% to 25%.

Trump has urged China to either sign a deal now or it will be forced to sign a far worse agreement in the future.
Iranian Nation Will Not Bow to Bullies: Rouhani
Tue May 21, 2019 03:17PM
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani addresses the crowd during a trip to the country’s northwestern West Azerbaijan Province on May 21, 2019. (Photo by president.ir)

President Hassan Rouhani asserts that the Iranian nation may be under pressure, but will not “bow its head in the face of bullies.”

Rouhani made the remarks on Tuesday in the country’s northwestern West Azerbaijan Province, where he inaugurated eight developmental projects, including two dams.

“Holding onto premature perceptions, they had thought they would be able to shatter Iran’s grandeur,” he said, adding, however, that “we have been witnessing prosperity across this land every day in this tough time and under sanctions.” 

“This is a very decisive response to the White House…and to those who reckon they can make the great nation of Iran buckle under their pressures,” the president noted.

Rouhani underscored how Washington regularly walks back its threats against Iran shortly after issuing them.

“The White House announces that the people of Iran should be wary of an attack: however, [no longer than] two hours later, under pressure from the Pentagon,” the US president declares that Washington was not after launching any attack against Iran,” he said.

“This is the very power of the Iranian nation,” Rouhani stated, noting that the enemies cannot stand the country’s endeavor towards progress and self-reliance.

The US remarkably stoked tensions with Iran last year by leaving a multilateral nuclear agreement with Tehran, and then restoring the sanctions that had been lifted under the deal. The US has also dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber taskforce, and an assault ship to the Persian Gulf, citing an alleged likelihood that Iran could target the American interests in the region.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”

Soon afterwards, though, he downplayed what he has been trumpeting as “Iran’s threat” to the region and the US interests. "We have no indication that anything's happened to or will happen…," he claimed.
US Playing Very, Very Dangerous Game by Boosting Regional Military Presence: Iran FM
Tue May 21, 2019 02:52PM
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo by AFP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that the United States is “playing a very, very dangerous game” by beefing up its military presence in the region.

In an exclusive interview with the CNN published on Tuesday, Zarif criticized the US for sending military reinforcements, including the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of patriot missiles, to the Middle East.

“Having all these military assets in a small waterway is in and of itself prone to accident, particularly when you have people who are interested in accidents. So extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

Tensions mounted between Tehran and Washington last May, when US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and re-imposed harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticisms.

The tensions saw a sharp rise on the first anniversary of Washington’s exit from the deal as the US moved to ratchet up the pressure on Iran by tightening its oil sanctions and building up its military presence in the region.

Zarif further emphasized that Iran was “not interested in escalation,” adding, “We have very clearly that we will not be the party to begin escalation, but we will defend ourselves.” He warned that there “will be painful consequences if there is an escalation for everybody.”

Elsewhere in his interview, Zarif said Iran would never negotiate with President Trump unless Washington shows “respect” to Tehran by honoring its commitments under the JCPOA.

Trump said Monday that he was willing to engage in negotiations with Iran “if they are ready” amid Washington’s unilateral pressure against Tehran. “If they call, we would certainly negotiate but that's going to be up to them. I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they're not ready, they don't have to bother,” he said.

Zarif, however, rejected Trump’s offer of talks, which comes only after Washington ditched the Iran deal and unleashed a campaign of pressure against the country, adding, “We acted in good faith. We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises.”

The top Iranian diplomat emphasized that the Islamic Republic would never bow to the threats and said, “Iran never negotiates with coercion. You cannot threaten any Iranian and expect them to engage. The way to do it is through respect, not through threats.”

He also called for an immediate end to the “economic warfare” waged by the US on Iran, saying that Washington was in no position to impose such sanctions, which are “depriving citizens of their means of livelihood.”

Amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington, Zarif on Monday warned the US president to avoid threatening Iranians, advising him to “try respect” instead as it is the only approach to the Iranian nation, which may bear fruit.

He was responding to a tweet by Trump, in which he ratcheted up his rhetoric against the Islamic Republic, threatening that a fight with the US would “the official end of Iran.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday reacted to Trump’s offer of talks and said despite championing dialog, he absolutely rules out the possibility of such engagement with the United States under the current circumstance
Iraq Sending Teams to Tehran, Washington to 'Halt Tension' Between Two Sides: Prime Minister
Tue May 21, 2019 03:50PM
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Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (file photo)

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi says his country is set to send delegations to the US and Iran to help “halt tension” between the two sides amid growing concerns over a military conflict as Washington ratchets up its belligerent rhetoric against Tehran and build up its military presence in the region.

“Iraq has high-level contacts (with both parties), and its vision is very close to that of the European Union, which seeks to settle the crisis in the region,” Abdul Mahdi said at a weekly press briefing in the capital Baghdad on Tuesday.

“US and Iranian officials have assured us that they do not want to go to war,” he pointed out.

Abul Mahdi added, “Iraq is in the stage of transferring messages between Washington and Tehran. It tries to defuse crisis between the two sides. It is our responsibility to defend Iraq and its people, and ensure security in the face of the threat of war.”

He went on to say that there were no Iraqi groups that wanted to push towards a war between Tehran and Washington.

The remarks came only two days after Iraq’s state-run news agency reported that a Katyusha rocket had landed in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone near the huge US Embassy compound without causing any casualties.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul, the spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operations Command, told the Associated Press that the rocket fell near Iraq's statue of the Unknown Soldier, and was being investigated.

In the aftermath of the rocket attack, US President Donald Trump issued a direct threat to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that the Islamic Republic will be destroyed if it attacks his country’s interests.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump wrote on Twitter. He did not clarify what threats he meant.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in response, warned Trump to avoid threatening Iranians, advising him to try respect as it is the only approach to the Iranian nation, which may bear fruit.

“NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!” Zarif said in a post on his official Twitter account.

The Iranian foreign minister added that the policy of "economic terrorism and genocidal taunts" pursued by Trump would fail to "end Iran."

"Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone," he noted.

The top Iranian diplomat emphasized that Trump has been “goaded” by the B-Team and “hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do."

The hawkish “B-team” is comprised of US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Iranian Medical Academy Writes to UN About ‘Unjust’ US Sanctions
Tue May 21, 2019 08:48AM
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An Iranian man shops at a drugstore at the Nikan hospital in Tehran on September 11, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran has written to the UN to complain about the illegal sanctions imposed by the US against the Iranian nation, saying the restrictive measures have adversely affected the medical treatment of Iranian patients.

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Academy’s President Alireza Marandi said that he had previously written to the world body in condemnation of the “unjust” US sanctions targeting the Iranian people.

“These sanctions as mentioned in previous letters have led to many obstacles in providing all kinds of medicine and equipment needed for the medical treatment of the Iranian population,” he wrote in the letter.

Marandi, who formerly served as health minister, also expressed dismay that the American bans have blocked the flow of international humanitarian aid to Iran’s flood-hit regions.

“Unfortunately we are now facing further illegal and inhumane obstructions by The United States in its indiscriminate blocking of international aid to Iranians affected by the recent floods which have devastated large areas throughout the country,” he wrote.

Iranian officials have blasted the US administration for hampering shipments of relief supplies to the Iranian regions devastated by unprecedented floods caused by heavy spring rains.

The medical academy official further criticized international human rights groups for keeping mum on Washington’s crimes.

“Unfortunately, international human rights organizations have remained consistently silent in the face of these crimes committed by the United States regime,” Marandi wrote.

Last year, President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” economic sanctions against Tehran.

Officially, the measures exempt humanitarian goods, such as medicine and medicinal instruments.

But in reality, they have had negative impacts on Iran’s health sector and restricted the country’s access to medical and health services.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif publishes a letter written by 66 scientific societies for medical sciences to the UN chief in condemnation of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Back in March, 66 Iranian scientific medical societies wrote to the UN chief in denunciation of the “inhumane and medieval” American sanctions, which have led to “extensive shortages of life-saving medical supplies and drugs.”

Last November, Marandi had called on the UN to act against the incessant violation of human rights” by the United States.
US Warplane Crashes, 4th to Go Down This Month
Tue May 21, 2019 10:37AM
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USMC AV-8B Harrier went down in Craven County, North Carolina around 6:15pm local time on May 20, 2019. (Photo by TheDrive)

A US Marine Corps (USMC) Harrier fighter jet has crashed in North Carolina, raising concerns among Pentagon officials about another bad year for military aviation as the Pentagon has already lost four aircraft this month.

The aircraft went down near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock on Monday, according to a report by website military.com.

The pilot ejected before hitting the ground but had to be taken to hospital to receive treatment, the report added.

No civilian casualties or property damage were reported after the crash, according to a release by the Marine Corps.

"The crash site has been cordoned off by military officials," the USMC news release stated. "The cause of the mishap is currently under investigation."

Officials did not respond to questions about the time of the crash, the squadron the Harrier was assigned to or the nature of the flight and the possible reasons behind the crash.

Just days ago, an Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed into a warehouse outside March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County in Southern California.

The pilot ejected before the crash but 11 people were injured inside the building. The aircraft was on a training mission at the time of the incident.

The Harrier crash brings to four the number of US military aircraft crashes this month. Two T-45 and T-6 training aircraft crashed earlier in May.

This latest mishaps are giving flashbacks to last year, when the US military lost numerous aircraft in crashes, including the loss of another USMC Harrier in Djibouti.
Iran Quadruples Production of 3.67% Enriched Uranium: AEOI
Mon May 20, 2019 07:43PM
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Iran says has increased by fourfold the production rate of uranium enriched to 3.67% just a few weeks after the country officially stopped implementing some of its commitments under an international nuclear accord.

The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, made the remarks while addressing reporters at Natanz nuclear facility on Monday.

"This issue does not mean an increase in enrichment level or an increase in centrifuge machines or a change in the type of centrifuges, but the production capacity of these 3.67% enriched uranium will be quadrupled," Kamalvandi said.

He added that Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) of this issue.

Kamalvandi said the production capacity for 3.67% enriched uranium can be increased using the existing number of centrifuges. So, he added, Iran would exceed the cap of 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in the near future.

He noted that the increase in production is a message to other signatories to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to tell them they must take necessary measures asked by Iran when it announced downgrading of its commitments.

According to the JCPOA, 300 kilograms has been specified as the ceiling for production of 3.67% enriched uranium by Iran, which must be observed by the country for a period of 15 years.

"We will reach the cap of 300 kilograms within a few weeks. Our technical requirements and decisions by senior [Iranian] officials will determine our next measures," the AEOI spokesman said.

US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington in May 2018 from the JCPOA, reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries -- the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany -- in July 2015. He also decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Under the JCPOA, Iran is allowed to keep 300 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 3.67 percent. The deal requires Tehran to sell off any enriched uranium above the limit on international markets in return for natural uranium.

On the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran announced that it would suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the deal, announcing that it would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water, setting a 60-day deadline for the five remaining parties to the deal to take practical measures towards ensuring its interests in the face of the American sanctions.

Back in December, Iran’s nuclear chief said the Islamic Republic is not "bluffing" when it says it is ready to resume twenty-percent uranium enrichment in the Fordow nuclear facility in case other parties to the Iran nuclear deal fail to save the 2015 accord.

“The enrichment is currently underway, but we would put aside the 300kg limit [set by the nuclear agreement] whenever we wish, and would do the enrichment at any volume and level,” Salehi said in an interview with state TV on the sidelines of a visit to the Fordow nuclear facility.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kamalvandi emphasized that Iran has presently no plan to stop implementing the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is operating within the framework of the Additional Protocol and the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, but will notify the UN nuclear agency if it makes such a decision.

"For the time being, we have notified the IAEA that we are planning to raise the uranium enrichment capacity to 272,000SWU (separative work units) within a period of 15 years," the Iranian official noted.
Trump Says Wants to Talk with Iran ‘If They Are Ready’
Tue May 21, 2019 04:24AM
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US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on May 20, 2019, as he travels to Pennsylvania for a campaign rally. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump says he is willing to engage in negotiations with Iran “if they are ready” amid Washington’s unilateral pressure against Tehran.

Trump made the comments to reporters in Washington, DC, as he departed the White House for an event in the US state of Pennsylvania.

"If they call, we would certainly negotiate but that's going to be up to them. I'd only want them to call if they're ready. If they're not ready, they don't have to bother," he said.

The US commander in chief further downplayed what he has been trumpeting as “Iran’s threat” to the region and the US interests.

"We have no indication that anything's happened to or will happen, but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force. We'll have no choice," he claimed.

The Republican president also repeated the Unites States’ empty threats against Iran.

"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything. If they do something, it'll be met with great force but we have no indication that they will," he said.

Trump earlier dismissed reports that he was trying to initiate negotiations with Iran in the wake of US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, tightening sanctions against Tehran and even blacklisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

"Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse - very sad for the Iranian people!" Trump claimed in a tweet.

Iran has time and again asserted that it is not seeking war but is ready to defend its interests in the region.
Iran Says Doesn’t Approve of Talks Under Status Quo
Mon May 20, 2019 10:55PM
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (background) is seen during a meeting with religious scholars and personalities in Tehran, May 20, 2019. (Photo by president.ir)

President Hassan Rouhani says despite championing dialog, he absolutely rules out the possibility of such engagement with the United States under the current circumstances.

“I, myself, am in favor of negotiation and diplomacy, but do not approve of it under the current circumstances at all,” the president said on Monday, meeting with a number of religious scholars and personalities in the capital Tehran.

Rouhani reminded how the country had rejected a proposal for talks made by five world leaders during his visit to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last year. Also last year, Tehran likewise ignored eight separate offers for negotiation with Washington, which had been forwarded by the US State Department, he added.

“The circumstances of the day are not [such that would be appropriate] for negotiation at all. Today, our situation is [one characterized by] resistance and steadfastness,” the chief executive stated.

There Iranian people and authorities see perfectly eye to eye on the premise of resistance against the United States and its sanctions, Rouhani said.

He, however, asserted, “I do not perceive the road ahead to be a dead-end one at all,” adding that in order for the country to surmount the obstacles in its way “all have to realize that we are in conditions of economic war, and should help one another out.”

The president hailed that Iran was never the one to start matters in its standing conflict with the US.

He was referring to the US’s remarkably stoking tensions with Iran last year by leaving a multi-lateral nuclear agreement with Tehran, and then returning the sanctions that had been lifted under the deal.

Iran warns UN

Also on Monday, the contents were published of a letter addressed by Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht-e Ravanchi to the world body’s secretary-general, warning about the “alarming security situation in the broader Persian Gulf region.”

The letter cautioned that “certain [extra-regional] circles” were trying to escalate the already-sensitive state of affairs in the region.

The caution echoed one raised by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who told Fox News last month about a dangerous path, which has been taken by the B-Team. Zarif identified the posse as the markedly hawkish US National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Washington has been enlisting the assistance of its regional allies in implementing US President Donald Trump’s trademark policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran. Recently, it said that it would target every country potentially buying Iran’s oil as of May 2 with “secondary sanctions.” Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates immediately reported that they would be making up for potential shortages of the Iranian crude.

Those circles, the envoys said, were trying to do so using “fabrications, disinformation, fake intelligence, and fake news,” and also by “relying on the support of their allies in the Middle East as well as dispatching naval forces to the region.”

The US has also dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber taskforce, and an assault ship to the Persian Gulf, citing an alleged likelihood that Iran could target American interests in the region.

Following the departure of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, The Guardian cited one report, which had showed “information passed on by Israeli intelligence contributed to the US threat assessment.”

“Iran has always rejected and continues to reject conflict and war,” the letter read, and urged that the international community in general, and the United Nations in particular, to refuse to remain indifferent with regard to addressing the root causes of the current situation.

It proposed “a win-win approach” through active engagement and dialog among the Persian Gulf’s maritime states.

The United Nations also voiced concern on Monday about increasingly bellicose rhetoric between the United States and Iran and called on them to dial down their remarks.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, meanwhile, said, "We are concerned about the rising rhetoric," urging “all parties to lower the rhetoric and lower the threshold of action as well."

N officials are holding contacts with the US and Iran at various levels to try to calm the situation, said Dujarric, but he did not provide details of those talks.

Oman FM in Iran

Separately, it was reported that the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past has taken an intermediary role between Washington and Tehran, visited Tehran on Monday. Meeting with Zarif, the two top diplomats addressed regional and international issues.

Iraq has also proposed to intercede amid the high-stakes situation.
Trump and Iran May Be on the Brink of a War That Would Likely be Devastating to Both Sides
John Haltiwanger
Business Insider

The US could be on the brink of war with Iran after weeks of rising tensions.

The US has sent bombers, an aircraft-carrier strike group, and more to the Middle East in response to unspecified threats to US forces or interests in the region from Tehran, Iran, prompting the Iranian government to issue warnings about the consequences of an attack.

Critics of the Trump administration feel the president's Iran policy is being driven by national security adviser John Bolton, who has supported military strikes against Iran in the past.

A war with Iran would likely be geopolitically and economically disastrous while further destabilizing a region that has been consumed by conflict for years.

Tensions between the US and Iran have reached historic heights in recent weeks, prompting fears of a military confrontation that could escalate into all-out war.

Here's a breakdown of what's going on, how we got here, and what the stakes are.

What's going on with Iran?

On May 5, national security adviser John Bolton issued a statement announcing the US was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Middle East to counter unspecified threats from Iran.

Bolton said the US was not seeking war with Iran, but that the deployment was meant to send "a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack" on the US or its allies "will be met with unrelenting force."

The US has since repositioned or sent other military assets to the region.

The exact nature of the threats the US is responding to remains unclear, but officials have said there's been indications of a "possible attack" against US forces in the region by Iran or its proxies.

Some reports have also suggested the Trump administration has discussed sending an additional 120,000 troops to the Middle East amid the tensions with Iran. The president on May 14 denied this, but said he'd be willing to send "a hell of a lot more" troops than 120,000 if necessary.

Trump has fluctuated between urging Tehran to sit down and hold talks with the US and issuing threats via Twitter.

Iranian leaders have signaled they don't want war with the US but are prepared to respond if attacked, while issuing veiled threats about their ability to quickly enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have raised alarm bells about the White House wanting war with Iran, and they've made it clear they would oppose any military action without congressional approval.

At the same time, Republicans in Congress are placing the blame on Iran for the confrontation and urging Trump to "stand firm."

How did we get here?

The US and Iran have a complicated history and have been adversaries for decades, encapsulated by the oft-repeated "Death to America" chants from Iranian leaders.

In many ways, the modern US-Iran relationship began via a CIA-orchestrated coup in the 1950s that placed a pro-American monarch — Mohammad Reza Shah — in charge of the Middle Eastern country. The Shah was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, an uprising that shaked the foundations of the Muslim world and led to the infamous hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran that continues to be a touchy subject in Washington.

After years of animosity, former President Barack Obama sought to improve relations with Iran via diplomacy. Obama's administration orchestrated the landmark pact known as the Iran nuclear deal, which was finalized in July 2015 and aimed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

Critics of the deal contended it didn't go far enough to bar Iran from building nuclear weapons and said Tehran could not be trusted. Along these lines, Trump withdrew the US from the deal in May 2018 despite no evidence Iran was violating its terms. This move put Washington at odds with key allies and the already contentious US-Iran relationship took a turn for the worse.

The situation was hardly improved after Trump in April designated Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terror organization. This prompted Iranian leaders to warn that any action taken against the country would lead to "a reciprocal action."

The US and Iran have also been working against one another in the ongoing war in Yemen, where the US-backed Saudi-led coalition is fighting against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. And in the ongoing Syria conflict, Iran and its proxies have supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces Trump has launched military strikes against.

Many Democratic lawmakers and some experts feel Trump's Iran policy is being driven by Bolton, who has long been hawkish toward Tehran. Bolton, one of the architects of the Iraq War, has expressed support for a military strike against Iran a number of times in the past.

What are the stakes?

A war with Iran would potentially be more calamitous than the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, bogged the US down in a costly and lengthy war, and helped catalyze the rise of the Islamic state group (ISIS).

Iran has a population of roughly 82 million people and its military is ranked as the 14th most powerful in the world. According to recent estimates, Iran has 523,000 active military personnel in addition to 250,000 reserve personnel.

Comparatively, Iraq had a population of roughly 25 million and the Iraqi military had fewer than 450,000 personnel when the US invaded over a decade ago.

Iran is also much bigger than Iraq geographically — 591,000 square miles of land versus 168,000 square miles, and its influence has grown as the power of its rival, Iraq, collapsed in the wake of the US war there.

If the US launched an attack against Iran, it would also reverberate across the Middle East. Iran has proxies throughout the region and is allied with militant groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon. A revised Pentagon estimate released in April found Iranian proxy forces killed at least 608 US troops in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Moreover, Iran shares a border with a number of countries the US considers allies and has a military presence in — including Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan. None of these countries are especially stable at the moment, as they all continue to deal with ongoing conflicts and their consequences (including millions of displaced people).

In terms of other geopolitical blowback, Iran is allied with Russia and China and it's unclear how these major powers might react if conflict breaks out. Key US allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are adversaries of Iran and just a stone's throw away from it, would also likely get sucked into a US-Iran war.

A war with Iran could also be extraordinarily disruptive economically given it borders the Straight of Hormuz, a narrow route that roughly a third of the world's oil tanker traffic travels through. Experts have predicted that if the route were blocked it would quickly lead to a 30% drop in daily global oil exports and prices would rapidly go up, the Washington Post reported.

Iran's forces would likely be defeated by the US, but could exact a heavy toll with cruise missiles, naval mines, and fighter jets. Any troops that survive could blend into the population and lead a brutal insurgency against the US occupation force. That was the scenario that unfolded for the US in Iraq, a country a third the size of Iran, and proved to be an insurmountable challenge.

In short, though the US has a military that is consistently ranked the most powerful in the world, evidence suggests a war with Iran would be devastating in myriad ways.