Pompeo to Urge Iranians Abroad to ‘Support’ Anti-Regime Protests

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans on Sunday to urge members of the Iranian diaspora to “support” protesters in Iran, as the Trump administration hints at a desire for regime change in Tehran after turning its back on the Iranian nuclear accord.

President Donald Trump – who has made the Islamic republic a favorite target since his unexpected rapprochement with North Korea – decided on May 8 to restore all the sanctions that had been lifted as part of the multi-nation agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Following the U.S. withdrawal that stunned even Washington’s closest European allies, Pompeo on May 21 unveiled a “new strategy” intended to force Iran to yield to a dozen stringent demands or else face the “strongest sanctions in history.”

The next U.S. step is due at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday (0100 UTC Monday) in the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, when the secretary of state delivers a speech entitled “Supporting Iranian Voices.”

With the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 a year away, Pompeo plans to retrace “40 years of stealing from the Iranian people, the terrorism they have committed around the region, the brutal repression at home” as well as the “religious persecution” there, a senior State Department official told reporters ahead of the speech.

The venue for Pompeo’s address is significant, the official noted: some 250,000 Iranian-Americans live in Southern California.  

“He will be exposing some of the corruption” of a “kleptocratic regime,” the diplomat told reporters. “The regime has prioritized its ideological agenda over the welfare of the Iranian people.”

Pompeo launched his campaign against Iran on Twitter last month, saying the government in Tehran and the Revolutionary Guards – the regime’s elite armed corps – had “plundered the country’s wealth” in proxy wars “while Iranian families struggle.”

Exploiting growing tensions within

The Trump administration’s strategy appears simple: to exploit the already growing tensions within Iranian society that are being exacerbated by renewed U.S. sanctions that have forced some foreign firms to leave.  

There have been a series of anti-government protests in Iran in recent months, prompted by an array of different issues and concerns.

The State Department briefer said Pompeo plans to support “the legitimate demands of the Iranian people, especially their economic demands for a better life.”

But how far will he and the administration go?

“That’s the key question,” Behnam Ben Taleblu of the conservative pressure group Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told the French news agency AFP. “Pompeo and the administration can do more than just rhetorical support to the Iranian protester.”

Several Iranian dissidents have written to Pompeo to urge him to re-establish punitive measures against the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network, which they accuse of abetting human rights violations.  

Word of Pompeo’s planned speech has fanned speculation on Washington’s precise intentions.

The State Department insists that the U.S. seeks merely a “change in behavior” by the regime.

But some senior members of the Trump administration – notably national security advisor John Bolton – have made it clear in the past that they would like to see the Tehran regime topple, and Pompeo himself said in May that “the Iranian people get to choose for themselves the kind of leadership they want.”

To Behnam Ben Taleblu, “genuine regime change can only come from inside.”

With an upsurge of “Iranians of all different social classes protesting,” he said, the Trump administration will have to decide whether it wants to “support elements that actually want to change the regime.”

Diplomats and experts in Washington are divided as to whether the protests and social tensions within Iran pose a true threat to the Islamic republic.

Nor is there agreement on what it would actually mean should the Iranian regime fall – but some find that uncertainty deeply worrying.

“The more likely result of regime collapse would be a military coup in the name of restoring order, led by the man Washington’s Iran hawks fear the most: Gen. Qasem Suleimani,” the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, according to Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“Exerting maximum pressure on Iran could bring about America’s worst nightmare,” he added on Twitter.


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Mexico President-Elect Writes to Trump About Migration, NAFTA

Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, seeking to initiate “a new stage in the relationship” of the two countries and to make progress in the areas of “trade, migration, development and security.”

Lopez Obrador handed the seven-page letter to a U.S. delegation that visited the country on July 13.

Marcelo Ebrard, foreign minister-designate, read the letter to reporters on Sunday, and said Trump had received the letter.

In the letter, Lopez Obrador said Mexico is home to the largest number of Americans living outside the U.S. and “the United States is the largest home for Mexicans outside of our borders.”

“I believe that the understanding that I propose in this letter should lead us to a worthy and respectful treatment of these communities,” he said.

Lopez Obrador suggested creating a development plan that included other Central American countries, where migrants also live in poverty and lack job opportunities.

He suggested that if the U.S., Mexico and other Central American countries, “each one contributing according to the size of its economy. … We could gather a considerable amount of resources for the development of the region.”

The plan, according to the president-elect, would spend 75 percent of its funds on “projects to create jobs and fight poverty” and 25 percent on border control and security.

“In this way, I reiterate, we would be addressing the causes that originate the migration phenomenon,” he said in the letter.

Lopez Obrador said his government hopes to improve the economy and security of the country “to ensure that Mexicans do not have to migrate because of poverty or violence.”

He also urged that the U.S., Mexico and Canada resume North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations.

“Prolonging the uncertainty could slow down investments in the medium and long-term,” he said.

Lopez Obrador, who won the nation’s presidential election on July 1, will take office in December.

He also used his letter to explain some of his government’s plans, such as public investment and development in the agricultural, energy, education, cultural and health sectors.


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Глава Мінфіну США запропонував створити зону вільної торгівлі країн G7

Глава Мінфіну США Стівен Мнучин запропонував створити зону вільної торгівлі серед країн-членів «Групи семи».

З такою заявою він виступив на зустрічі з колегами з країн G20 у Буенос-Айресі в неділю, 22 липня, повідомляє DW.

«Якщо Європа вірить у вільну торгівлю, то ми готові підписати угоду про безмитні торговельні відносини», – наголосив Мнучин. Разом з тим він зазначив, що для цього мають бути виконані три умови: скасування мит, торговельних бар’єрів і дотацій.

Міністр фінансів Франції Брюно Ле Мер у відповідь заявив, що США спочатку мають скасувати мита на сталь і алюміній, а також відмовитися від погрози запровадити збори на ввезення автомобілів з країн ЄС.

«Ми відмовляємося вести переговори під дулом пістолета», – заявив Ле Мер.

Австрійський статс-секретар Мінфіну Хуберт Фукс, який представляв на зустрічі Раду ЄС, у свою чергу підтримав пропозицію Мнучина, зазначивши, що «навіть міністр фінансів США виступає за справедливу і вільну торгівлю».

«Проблема в тому, що США розуміють під справедливою і вільною торгівлею щось інше», – продовжив Фукс. Він заявив, що скасування американських мит на сталь і алюміній не повинно бути умовою для торгових переговорів ЄС і США.

«Попередні умови ніколи не обіцяють нічого доброго», – зазначив Фукс.

Читайте також: Японія та ЄС підписали угоду про вільну торгівлю в умовах занепокоєння торговою війною Трампа

У підсумковому комюніке учасники дводенної зустрічі міністрів фінансів і голів центробанків G20 в Буенос-Айресі заявили, що торговельні та геополітичні конфлікти між країнами заважають зростанню глобальної економіки та вимагають ширшого діалогу. Документ застерігає про посилення ризиків, серед яких «підвищена торговельна та геополітична напруженість», а також нерівність.

В останні місяці США запровадили підвищені мита на імпортну сталь і алюміній з Китаю й інших країн, включаючи ЄС і Росію. 6 липня вступили в дію 25-відсоткові імпортні мита на низку товарів, що експортуються в США з Китаю.

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Defense Bill Would Curb US Cabinet Control of Nuclear Agency

The agency that supervises the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile would essentially lose direct Cabinet oversight under legislation that Congress is negotiating.

The little-noticed provision in a defense policy bill is opposed by the Trump administration and senior lawmakers from both parties, but efforts to scrap it have not overcome resistance from staffers on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

At issue in the Senate-approved bill is whether the National Nuclear Security Administration remains under the direct control of the Energy Department, where it’s been since its creation in 2000.

The bill would empower that agency to act nearly on its own, freed from what a report by the Senate committee calls a “flawed DOE organizational process” that has led to “weak accountability … insufficient program and budget expertise and poor contract management.”

That report cites a series of delays and cost overruns at the agency, including a contentious project to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium and uranium into fuel for commercial reactors. The cost of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina has ballooned from $1.4 billion in 2004 to more than $17 billion and completion is decades away. The Energy Department has moved to cancel the project, but it remains open amid a legal challenge by the state of South Carolina.

The White House and Energy Secretary Rick Perry strongly oppose the reorganization, saying it would usurp Perry’s authority to set policy in crucial areas and make the nuclear agency’s general counsel independent of the Energy Department’s legal division.

The White House said in a statement that the bill would block the energy secretary from directing civil and national security functions at the agency and “degrade” the secretary’s ability to protect the health, safety and security of employees and the public.

A Perry spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, called the plan “misguided” and said it would “weaken national security efforts by limiting DOE’s critical role in managing America’s nuclear weapons capabilities.”

“It is in the best interest of the safety and security of all Americans to remove this provision from the bill and continue NNSA to be represented by a Cabinet-level official, allowing DOE and NNSA’s complementary relationship to remain strong,” Hynes said.

The NNSA said in a statement that while intended to improve efficiencies, “the changes put forward by the Senate committee would significantly limit the secretary’s ability to fulfill his nuclear security missions and … lead to unnecessary duplication of effort at NNSA for work already being carried out by DOE.”

The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said the plan was “a major step backward.”

“To reduce the secretary’s authority in such a sweeping way …. raises serious questions about the long-term consequences,” Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Murkowski and Cantwell supported Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he tried unsuccessfully to remove the provision during Senate debate on the defense bill last month. A later Cruz effort also failed on procedural grounds.

Criticism of the nuclear agency isn’t new.

A congressional commission led by a former Army undersecretary and retired Navy admiral concluded in 2014 that it had failed in its mission and relied too heavily on private contractors that had turned it into a massive jobs program with duplicative functions and a “dysfunctional management and operations relationship.”

The commission, however, did support the current oversight arrangement.

A Senate aide familiar with the reorganization plan contended it was “a straight-up power grab” by staffers at the nuclear agency and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Agency staffers, frustrated by delays that occur as the Energy Department’s general counsel and other officials review their work, took their case to Senate committee staffers, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

The committee chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been away from the Capitol since December as he fights brain cancer. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has led the committee in McCain’s absence but has not played a role in the nuclear agency dispute.

In its staff-written report, the committee said the proposal was not “an indictment of the current Energy secretary” but rather an effort to “address a number of structural impediments” that have “damaged the NNSA’s ability to carry out its mission.”

A committee spokeswoman declined to comment, as did representatives for Inhofe and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the committee’s top Democrat. Spokesmen for leaders of the House Armed Service Committee also declined to comment.

Perry told Congress this year that there have been “historically questionable expenditures of dollars” on the MOX project and other NNSA contracts, but said officials were working to ensure taxpayers “are getting a good return on our investment.”

“We will give good oversight,” Perry told the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in May, pledging to make the NNSA and other DOE agencies “as transparent as we can and try to get us the results that this committee wants.”

Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, a New Mexico-based watchdog group, said the proposed changes would begin “dismantling civilian control over the nuclear weapons enterprise.”

Corporate contractors “have already captured NNSA. These changes would gut what remaining oversight and external control there is,” Mello said.



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Верховний суд Пакистану звинуватив армію у ймовірному втручанні у вибори

Верховний суд Пакистану заявив, що розпочав розслідування скарг, поданих суддею, про те, що потужна армія країни маніпулює судовою владою напередодні виборів 25 липня.

Партія «Пакистанська мусульманська ліга – Наваз» (PML-N) ув’язненого екс-прем’єр-міністра Наваза Шарифа вказує на передвиборчі фальсифікації та звинувачує армію у впливі на судову владу, щоб завадити її другому терміну.

Шариф був засуджений до 10 років в’язниці за звинуваченням у корупції. Він був заарештований після повернення в Пакистан 13 липня і оскаржив свій вирок.

Суддя Верховного суду Ісламабада Шаукат Азіз Сіддікі звинуватив шпигунське агентство армії – Міжвідомчу розвідку (ISI) у втручанні у судові справи.

«ISI повною мірою бере участь у спробі маніпулювати судовими процесами», – заявив Сіддікі в своїй промові до адвокатів 21 липня, додавши, що агентство повідомило суду, що не звільнить Шарифа до закінчення виборів.

Шариф відкрито критикував армію, яка відіграє велику роль у внутрішніх і зовнішніх справах Пакистану.

Шариф був звільнений з посади Верховним судом у липні 2017 року за приховування активів за кордоном та інші повідомлення про корупцію. Він заперечує будь-які правопорушення.

Союзники триразового прем’єр-міністра, який був скинутий під час військового перевороту у 1999 році, назвали провадження проти нього політичною вендетою і припустили, що за цим стоїть пакистанська армія.

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Іран: від землетрусів постраждали щонайменше 128 людей

В Ірані внаслідок трьох землетрусів постраждали щонайменше 128 людей, повідомляє Reuters.

«Землетрус магнітудою 5,9 стався в західному Ірані в неділю, травмувавши щонайменше 128 осіб, через кілька годин після двох землетрусів у провінції Хормозган на півдні», – йдеться у повідомленні.

За словами чиновників, більшість постраждалих отримали медичну допомогу і госпіталізації не потребують.

Раніше повідомлялося про поранення 25 людей в результаті землетрусу в Ірані, інформація про загиблих не надходила.

Іран лежить на кількох великих сейсмічних розломах і часто зазнає землетрусів.

У листопаді минулого року внаслідок землетрусу магнітудою 7,3 на заході Ірану загинули понад 600 людей, тисячі були поранені.

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Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Food Critic, Dies

Jonathan Gold, who became the first restaurant critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, has died. He was 57.

The Los Angeles Times, where Gold most recently worked, reported that he died Saturday after being diagnosed earlier this month with pancreatic cancer.

“I can’t imagine the city without him. It just feels wrong. I feel like we won’t have our guide, we won’t have the soul,” said Laura Gabbert, who directed City of Gold, a 2015 documentary about the critic. “It’s such a loss. I can’t wrap my head around it still.”

Gold’s reviews first appeared in L.A. Weekly and later in The Times and Gourmet. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 while at L.A. Weekly. He was a finalist again in 2011.

“There will never be another like Jonathan Gold, who will forever be our brilliant, indispensable guide through the culinary paradise that is Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “Jonathan earned worldwide acclaim as a food critic, but he possessed the soul of a poet whose words helped readers everywhere understand the history and culture of our city.”

The Times noted Gold’s reviews, appearing in his column called Counter Intelligence, focused on “hole-in-the-wall joints, street food, mom-and-pop shops and ethnic restaurants,” which he preferred to call traditional restaurants.

Known as J. Gold, he had a distinctive style, wearing suspenders, a slightly rumpled button-down shirt, moustache and mop of feathery strawberry blond hair.

Ruth Reichl, who edited Gold at The Times and at Gourmet, called him a trailblazer.

“Jonathan understood that food could be a power for bringing a community together, for understanding other people,” she told the newspaper. “In the early ’80s, no one else was there. He was a trailblazer and he really did change the way that we all write about food.”

Gold also won numerous James Beard Foundation journalism awards during this career. In May, he received the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award.

His reviews were compiled into a book, Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles, in 2000.

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Administration Releases Wiretap Documents on Ex-Trump Adviser

The Trump administration on Saturday released a set of documents once deemed top secret relating to the wiretapping of a onetime adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The New York Times reported that the documents involving former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were released to the Times and several other media organizations that had filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to obtain them. The FBI later posted the documents to its FOIA website online.

The materials include an October 2016 application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Page as well as several renewal applications, the Times reported. It is highly unusual for documents related to FISA wiretap applications to be released.

While the documents were heavily redacted in places, the Times reported that visible portions of the documents show the FBI telling the intelligence court that Page “has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.” The agency also told the court “the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”

Page has denied being a Russian agent.

After a redaction, the Times reported that the application to wiretap Page included a partial sentence: “… undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law.”

The surveillance of Page became a contentious matter between Republican and Democratic lawmakers earlier this year.

Republicans alleged the FBI had abused its surveillance powers and improperly obtained the warrant, a charge that Democrats rebutted as both sides characterized the documents in different ways. The documents, meanwhile, remained out of public view.

House Democrats were quick to say that the documents bolstered their arguments.

“For more than a year, House Republicans have bullied the Department of Justice and FBI to release highly sensitive documents to derail the Special Counsel’s and other legitimate national security investigations and cover for the President,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “For the sake of our national security and our democracy, these vital investigations must be allowed to continue unhindered by Republican interference. The GOP must cease their attacks on our law enforcement and intelligence communities, and finally decide where their loyalty lies.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said the documents underscore the “legitimate concern” the FBI had about Page’s activities. 

Yet Schiff said the materials shouldn’t have been released during an ongoing investigation because of national security. He blamed Trump for making public House Republicans’ initial memo about the FISA applications, a move by Trump that the congressman called “nakedly political and self-interested, and designed to to (sic) interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation.”


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Колишній радник Трампа заявив, що створить фонд на підтримку «правого популізму» у Європі – ЗМІ

Контраверсійний американський політтехнолог Стів Беннон планує створити фонд на підтримку «правого популістського націоналізму» на Європейському континенті.

У своєму інтерв’ю The Daily Beast, опублікованому 20 липня, Беннон сказав, що його новий фонд буде називатися «Рух» і, ймовірно, буде заснований у Брюсселі.

На переконання Беннона, він бачить цей проект конкурентом благодійного фонду «Відкрите суспільство» Джорджа Сороса, який з 1984 року виділив 32 мільярди доларів на ліберальні рухи.

Беннон, який був короткий час радником президента США Дональда Трампа, заявив виданню, що вже провів переговори з діячами та партіями «правого крила» по всій Європі, у тому числі Найджелом Фараджем у Великобританії , «Національним фронтом» Марін Ле Пен у Франції та прем’єр-міністр Угорщини Віктором Орбаном. Ті наразі ініціативу Беннога не коментували.

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