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10 Myths About Iran - And Why They're Dead Wrong

Iranian flag
© Shutterstock
Here's the truth about Iran

As media reports continue to imply that a military confrontation with Iran is closer than ever, rhetoric demonizing the Iranian government is rampant, particularly among Israeli leaders and most Republican presidential candidates - so much so that former Israeli Mossad director Efraim Halevy recently complained that Mitt Romney is "making the [Iran] situation worse" with his statements.

So it should come as no surprise that according to a 2012 Gallup poll, Iran is Americans' "least favored nation" and has consistently ranked unfavorably since 1989. Gallup is not specific about why an overwhelming majority of respondents have such a low "overall opinion" of the Islamic Republic, but they suggest that "heavy scrutiny and criticism from the West over its nuclear programs" sheds light on American reasoning. Alarmist notions about Iran's foreign and nuclear policy that spread through the media perpetuate a negative image that is oftentimes inaccurate--and help pave the path to war, which experts say would have disastrous consequences for Israel, the broader Middle East and the U.S.

AlterNet decided to look at 10 myths about Iran, many of them created by these alarmist notions - and explain why they're dead wrong.

Chess

Is ABC LYING? Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria

Image
© Unknown
A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was "a bomb" certain to have serious repercussions.


Comment: Actually, there are no such "Russian News Reports". What we do find are Russian re-reports of the same propaganda (here for example), which appears in part to have originated with Al Arabiya, the statement attributed to unnamed 'opposition sources'. Where we also read: "Israeli-based open source military intelligence website DEBKAfile has also reported that two Russian naval vessels have anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus."

Here is the full text from DEBKAfile:
A Russian ship carrying marines anchors at Tartus, Syria
DEBKAfile March 19, 2012, 6:00 PM (GMT+02:00)

Two Russian naval vessels have anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus, Russian Black Sea headquarters at Sevastopol reports. Their mission and identifies were not disclosed, excepting that one was carrying a unit of "anit-terrorist marines" and the other, a military tanker which joined "a Russian naval reconnaissance and surveillance ship already tied up in Tartus."
Read the last two paragraphs of this article carefully and decide if ABC has joined the Pentagon Propaganda Program.


Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad's strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government's violent crackdown on the country's uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council's attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.

Now the Russian Black Sea fleet's Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard according to the Interfax news agency. The Assad government has insisted it is fighting a terrorist insurgency. The Russian news reports did not elaborate on the Russian troops' mission in Syria or if they are expected to leave the port.

Vader

Terrorist Tyke? TSA Pats Down Toddler in Wheelchair


2 + 2 = 4

Sarkozy's Backers To Use Toulouse Attacks To Steal French Election - UPDATE!

[Author Note] As this is a developing story, updates are posted at the end of the article:

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Sarkozy speaking in Toulouse, March 19th 2012. A 'strong leader in a crisis'. But who is behind the crisis?
French President Sarkozy's 2012 re-election bid has been faltering almost since he was 'elected' in 2007. Long viewed by a majority of the French public as a latter-day Napoleon wannabe, some were perplexed as to how he won the 2007 presidential race, given that one year before the election, opinion polls placed him a definite second, and between then and the election he did nothing to justify his alleged increase in popularity, with his 'Bling Bling' approach to electioneering turning the stomachs of many French people. In addition, within a few months of his 'victory' in May 2007, Sarkozy's popularity had plummeted to around 30% as people reacted to his austere economic reforms, on which he had openly campaigned, mind you. How to explain such a sudden turnaround so soon after his victory? It was only on election day that, somehow, the diminutive son of a Hungarian immigrant and his 'princes of Paris' were gifted 5 years in the Elysee palace.

War Whore

U.S. Navy Launches Huge Iran Surge

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© U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet
The Navy practices a mock boarding operation on the U.S.S. Princeton in the Middle East, 2010.
Sending more aircraft carriers to the waters near Iran, it turns out, was just the start. Yes, the U.S. currently has more seapower aimed at Iran in the Persian Gulf than in the fleets of most countries on Earth, Iran included. But that was just the Navy cracking its knuckles.

In the next few months, the Navy will double its minesweeper craft stationed in Bahrain, near Iran, from four to eight. Those ships will be crucial if Iran takes the drastic step of mining the Strait of Hormuz, one of the global energy supply's most crucial waterways. Four more MH-53 "Sea Stallion" helicopters, another minesweeping tool, are also getting ready for Bahrain, to give the U.S. Fifth Fleet early warning for any strait mining.

Then the Navy will prepare to get closer to Iranian shores. Much closer. It's got five close-action patrol boats in the Gulf right now. Once the Coast Guard returns three that the Navy loaned out, the Navy will have five other patrol craft in the United States. All those boats are getting retrofitted. With Gatling guns. And missiles.

Sure, the guns aboard the two aircraft carriers currently near Iran are the seapower equivalent of high-powered, long-range rifles. "But maybe what you need is like a sawed-off shotgun," capable of doing massive damage from a closer distance, said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Navy's senior officer. All 10 of those patrol boats, Greenert told reporters at a Friday breakfast in Washington, will get strapped with the Mk-38 Gatling Gun and should make it to the Gulf next year. (Though, alas, they won't have the Gatling/laser gun mashup BAE Systems is working on.) They'll also get close-range missiles that can hit Iranian shores from four miles away - the same kinds Navy SEALs use.

Handcuffs

Russia Requests Britain to Extradite Ex-Bank of Moscow Chief

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© Presstv.com
Bank of Moscow’s former Chief Executive Officer Andrei Borodin.
The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has submitted a request to Britain for the extradition of the former head of Bank of Moscow, who fled to the UK in 2011 after charges of embezzlement were brought against him.

"After determining the location in the United Kingdom of [Bank of Moscow's former Chief Executive Officer] Andrei Borodin, who was put on the international wanted list in November 2011, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office has promptly prepared and submitted a request for his extradition for criminal prosecution to the competent British authorities," Russia's Prosecutor General's Office spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said on Friday.

Dollar

Mujahideen-e Khalq: Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization

Washington - The ornate ballroom of the Willard Hotel buzzed with activity on a Saturday morning in July. Crowded together on the stage sat a cadre of the nation's most influential former government officials, the kind whose names often appear in boldface, who've risen above daily politics to the realm of elder statesmen. They were perched, as they so often are, below a banner with a benign conference title on it, about to offer words of pricey wisdom to an audience with an agenda.

That agenda: to secure the removal of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) from the U.S. government's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. A Marxian Iranian exile group with cult-like qualities, Mujahideen-e Khalq was responsible for the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s, along with staging a handful of bombings. But for a terrorist organization with deep pockets, it appears there's always hope.

Airplane

Chavez Returns to Venezuela After Cancer Surgery in Cuba

Hugo Chavez
© unknown
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has returned home almost three weeks after he underwent an operation in Cuba to have a lesion containing cancerous cells removed.

Chavez arrived in Caracas on Friday night, the Associated Press reported.

Surgeons at Havana's Cimeq Hospital operated on the 57-year-old socialist leader for 90 minutes late on February 27.

He had been diagnosed with a two-centimeter-long lesion in the same part of his body from which a cancerous tumor was removed in 2011.

The Venezuelan leader, who came to power in 1999, is seeking another six-year term in the upcoming presidential election, which will be held on October 7, 2012.

MIB

Ex-US officials investigated over speeches to Iranian dissident group on terror list

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© Agence France-Presse/The Associated Press
Gen. Hugh Shelton, left, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh are among the top former U.S. government officials whose speaking fees have been subpoenaed.
Speaking firms representing ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton have received federal subpoenas as part of an expanding investigation into the source of payments to former top government officials who have publicly advocated removing an Iranian dissident group from the State Department list of terrorist groups, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

The investigation, being conducted by the Treasury Department, is focused on whether the former officials may have received funding, directly or indirectly, from the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, thereby violating longstanding federal law barring financial dealings with terrorist groups. The sources, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said that speaking fees given to the former officials total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"This is about finding out where the money is coming from," an Obama administration official familiar with the probe said. "This has been a source of enormous concern for a long time now. You have to ask the question, whether this is a prima facie case of material support for terrorism."

Freeh and Shelton are among 40 former senior U.S. government officials who have participated in a public lobbying campaign - including appearing at overseas conferences and speaking at public rallies - aimed at persuading the U.S. government to remove the MEK from the terror list.

Star of David

Israel Takes Iran Nuclear Concern to Partner China

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© The Associated Press/Ng Han Guan
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman holds up a paper with the Chinese proverb "We will not attack unless we are attacked, if we are attacked, we will certainly counterattack.
Beijing - Israel Friday took its concern about Iran's nuclear program to one of Iran's main partners, China, and hinted it could launch a pre-emptive attack on the Islamic Republic despite repeated calls by China to allow diplomacy to take its course.

China, which has close energy and trade ties with Iran, has urged a negotiated solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions and long opposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.

"For us, it's crucial to explain our position to our Chinese partners," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters on a visit to Beijing. "It's crucial to clarify our position to China in the hope they understand our concerns, our problems," he said, adding that Israel would "continue the dialogue" with China.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warned Iran in January against any effort to acquire nuclear weapons but apart from that, China has shied away from speaking out strongly against Iran.

That position on Iran underscores the tricky path China is trying to steer between pressure from the United States and its allies and, on the other hand, expectations from Iran, which looks to China as a sympathetic power and a big oil customer.