Two Scandals in One: Newsweek Uncovers Clinton Foundation’s Biggest Donor Likely Violating Iran Sanctions

Posted April 19, 2015 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Two Scandals in One: Newsweek Uncovers Clinton Foundation’s Biggest Donor Likely Violating Iran Sanctions

By Thomas Lifson

April 19, 2015

via Blog: Two Scandals in One: Newsweek Uncovers Clinton Foundation’s Biggest Donor Likely Violating Iran Sanctions.

 

Of Topic ?

 

Newsweek writer Rory Ross has done a valuable service bringing to light the activities of the largest single donor to the Clinton Foundation, a man most Americans have never heard of:

Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, 54, has courted the Clintons for at least nine years – in the United States, the Alps and Ukraine.

Earlier this year, he was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation, whose aims include the creation of “economic opportunity and growth”.

Pinchuk has been pursuing his own economic opportunities in Iran, a country the subject of sanctions.

Newsweek has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors.

Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m (1.7m) in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea.

Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m.

However, US sanctions laws are complex and, in certain areas, ill-defined. Interpipe may qualify for penalties due to the mere presence on American soil of North American Interpipe Inc, its United States subsidiary. (snip)

The person in charge of this list of non-US companies is the Secretary of State, who between 2009 to 2013 – the period during which Pinchuk’s company was trading with Iran – was Hillary Clinton.

This looks awfully bad for Hillary Clinton. The State Department has taken no public action against Pinchuk or his company, while Hillary’s foundation (that currently employs her daughter and has employed a number of her political operatives) took in millions from him. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air:

 Even as far back as 2008, prior to Hillary Clinton becoming SecState, Pinchuk was one of the larger donors to the foundation — between $1 million and $5 million, according to the disclosure. While serving in that role for four years, Pinchuk coughed up at least $8.6 million, but that was just a down payment for what was planned to be a much bigger donation for the Clinton Global Initiative, supposedly a separate operation during her tenure at State:

Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

Mr. Pinchuk and his wife—the daughter of former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma—began donating to Clinton charities in 2006 after being introduced to Mr. Clinton by Doug Schoen, a pollster who has worked for both Clintons.

In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

So kudos to Newsweek reporter Ross. But wait! How did the editors in New York choose to lead off this story of a Hillary Clinton scandal?

Enemies of Hillary Clinton waiting to discredit her bid for the White House are likely to seize on news that one of the biggest benefactors to the Clinton Foundation has been trading with Iran and may be in breach of US sanctions imposed on the country.

The “enemies” (not opponents, but enemies) are the story, not Hillary. Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard:

Why on earth would a story about Clinton cashing large checks from a shady Ukranian oligarch be framed not about the scandal itself, but whether or not Hillary Clinton’s supposed “enemies” would use it to discredit her? If she has, in fact, done something wrong or inappropriate — she deserves to be discredited and/or judged by voters.

Newsweek’s framing of the story is the second scandal. Only a hopeless partisan would frame a story of wrongdoing with the question of whether her “enemies” will use it against her.

Reporter Ross deserves credit for digging up the story, but it is obvious his bosses only begrudgingly published it (on Saturday morning – the graveyard for news readership). Newsweek’s editors deserve scorn and mockery for their choic

 

 

Iran leader urges military to increase ‘preparedness’

Posted April 19, 2015 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Iran leader urges military to increase ‘preparedness’

Ayatollah Khamenei tells army to be on alert after US warning of possible strike on nuclear facilities

By AFP April 19, 2015, 3:56 pm

via Iran leader urges military to increase ‘preparedness’ | The Times of Israel.

 

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country’s armed forces Sunday to increase their “defensive preparedness,” hitting out at a US warning of possible military action.

He told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran “will never accept such stupid remarks,” a jab at General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, though he did not name him.

Dempsey said Thursday that should ongoing diplomacy with Iran fail, “the military option… to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact.”

The United States has long said targeted bombing of Iran’s nuclear sites and other key facilities may be needed if Tehran — which denies seeking the bomb, though the IAEA and UN Security Council have disagreed — does not rein in its atomic activities.

“All bodies from the ministry of defense to the army and the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) should increase their military and defensive preparedness. This should be regarded as an official directive,” Khamenei said.

His response comes after Iran and six world powers led by the US agreed on April 2 on the key parameters of a nuclear deal, the hard details of which are due to be agreed by the end of June.

“After a period of silence by the other side, one of its officials has once again recently talked of options on the table,” Khamenei said.

“On the one hand they bluff, and on the other hand, they say the Islamic Republic of Iran should halt its defensive advancements which is a stupid remark. Iran will never accept such stupid remarks and the nation has proved that if it is attacked, it will defend itself quite powerfully. It will stand united and like a strong fist against illogical aggressors.”

John Bolton: Why Iran deal is a bad idea

Posted April 19, 2015 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

▶ John Bolton: Why Iran deal is a bad idea – YouTube.

 

 

Iranian ship convoy moves toward Yemen, alarming US officials

Posted April 18, 2015 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Department of Defense, Egypt, Foreign policy, Houthi, Iran, Iran in Yemen, Iranian navy, Obama, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Iranian ship convoy moves toward Yemen, alarming US officials, The HillKristina Wong, April 17, 2015

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission. 

What’s unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to “communicate it” to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

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U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran’s support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war. 

Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials.

Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.

What’s unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to “communicate it” to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

It is not clear what will happen as the convoy comes closer to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has deployed ships around Yemen to enforce the blockade, as has Egypt. An official said the ship convoy could try to land at a port in Aden, which the Houthis have taken over.

Although the U.S. is assisting with the Saudi-led air campaign, it is not participating in the naval blockade of Yemen, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Pat Ryder.

However, the U.S. Navy is in the region and has already “consensually boarded” one Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea on April 1 on the suspicion it was illegally carrying arms for the Houthis.

None were found, but the move raised alarm bells in Washington over an increasingly active U.S. military role in the conflict. The Pentagon indicated this week that more boardings could occur.

“We will continue to vigilantly defend freedom of navigation and to conduct consensual searches in an effort to ensure that drugs, human trafficking, weapons trafficking and other contraband are limited,” Army Col. Steve Warren said on Monday.

Officials fear a naval confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia could escalate what has become a proxy war between the two countries.

The U.S. has been supporting the airstrikes with intelligence and logistical support, and last week began refueling Saudi fighter jets. Administration officials say it is important to support Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, a senior State Department official said the U.S. would try to ensure that a United Nations Security Council arms embargo against Houthi leadership is enforced.

“We will be taking very careful look and examining very closely efforts to violate the embargo,” senior State Department official Gerald Feierstein told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The deepening of the conflict comes as the U.S. hopes to reach a deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Officials say U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition has not affected the negotiations with Iran.

The conflict also threatens to complicate U.S.’s relations with Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an Iran ally, criticized Saudi Arabia for its airstrike campaign during a visit to Washington this week.

U.S. officials say they are unsure why Iran is making the brazen move. One theory they have floated is that the Saudi-led coalition has effectively blockaded any air routes into Yemen and there are no other ways to resupply the Houthis.

Another theory is that Iran is trying to distract the coalition from another ship it has tried hard to conceal that is currently docked at Oman — a potential land route for smuggling arms into Yemen.

Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.

Earlier this week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Twitter taunted Saudi Arabia, calling its military puny and smaller than Israel’s. He also said the air campaign was tantamount to genocide of innocent Yemeni civilians and that the U.S. would also fail in Yemen.

U.S. officials say they hope the airstrikes will force Houthis to the negotiating table in order to restore stability in Yemen, where America faces a terrorist threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

“We’re assisting the Saudis to protect their own territory and to conduct operations that are designed to lead ultimately to a political settlement to Yemen,” said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday.

“That’s good for the people of Yemen, first and foremost. It’s good for Saudi Arabia that doesn’t need this on its southern border.  And … it’s good for us, among other reasons, because of AQAP’s presence in Yemen. But for that to occur, it’ll require more than military action,” he added.

Putin warns Israel against selling arms to Ukraine

Posted April 18, 2015 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Putin warns Israel against selling arms to Ukraine

via Putin warns Israel against selling arms to Ukraine – Israel News – Jerusalem Post.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israel on Saturday against selling weapons to the pro-Western government in Kiev as retaliation for Moscow’s recently announced weapons deal with Iran.

Speaking to official state media in Russia, Putin said that any such deals between Israel and Ukraine would be “counterproductive” and would “only cause a new round of hostility.”

 

Thousands of Iraqis flee as Islamic State makes gains in Sunni heartland

Posted April 18, 2015 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Thousands of Iraqis flee as Islamic State makes gains in Sunni heartland

April 17 at 7:44 PM

via Thousands of Iraqis flee as Islamic State makes gains in Sunni heartland – The Washington Post.

 

Thousands of families fleeing Iraq’s western city of Ramadi choked checkpoints leading to Baghdad on Friday, after an Islamic State advance spread panic and left security forces clinging to control.A column of traffic several vehicles wide snaked for miles at a checkpoint in Sadr al-Yusufiyah, on the edge of Baghdad province, as minibuses, cars and trucks picked up families who crossed by foot carrying their possessions in bags and wheelbarrows. Suhaib al-Rawi, the governor of Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, described it as a human disaster on a scale the city has never witnessed.U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned that the city is at risk of falling to the Islamic State despite seven months of airstrikes by U.S. planes in Anbar. Such a loss would be a serious blow to Iraq’s government, which recently announced a military campaign for the province after retaking the militant stronghold of Tikrit, and to the international effort to push back the militant group, whose gains in Ramadi have demonstrated an ability to create chaos even while under pressure.

That resilience was further underscored in the Kurdish city of Irbil on Friday, where the Islamic State was suspected of carrying out a car bombing near the U.S. Consulate. Faced with the expanding crisis on his return Friday from Washington, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered immediate reinforcements to Ramadi amid claims that some Iraqi security forces had withdrawn.

“The situation is critical right now,” Rawi said of the teetering security in Ramadi. “Such a large wave of displacement has never happened in the history of the city.”

Raad al-Dahlaki, head of the Iraqi parliament’s committee for the internally displaced, said that 10,000 people had crossed into Baghdad province but that about 20,000 more remained stranded at the checkpoint because of a guarantor system, which requires fleeing families to have someone vouch for them.

Many arriving Friday in Sadr al-Yusufiyah had spent days traveling and said that few civilians had remained behind. Some were police officers who said they had left their positions after other security forces retreated and their ammunition had run low.

“How can you fight with only 20 bullets?” said a 47-year-old police officer, who added that he had left the Malab neighborhood of Ramadi three days earlier with 18 members of his extended family. Like others interviewed, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had abandoned his post. He said the army had also withdrawn, a claim that could not be immediately verified.

“Daesh has M16s and M4s, and we only have Kalashnikovs,” said another police officer, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. He said he had fled his home in Ramadi’s Soufiyah neighborhood with his wife and 1-year-old child. “I don’t think I will ever see my house again.”

Rawi said that there had been “realignments” of forces but not retreats and that there were assurances from the U.S.-led ­coalition that airstrikes would increase. Still, he said, support has been sorely lacking.

“We don’t know if it’s neglect or just a lack of capacity,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, said reinforcements from counterterrorism units had been deployed.

“Our troops are preparing themselves to attack,” he said. Discussions were underway as to whether to also send what are known as popular mobilization forces, which include Shiite militias, but there was not yet an agreement, he said.

The question of sending the largely Shiite paramilitary forces has been contentious in Anbar, a predominantly Sunni province. But as the security situation has deteriorated, a growing number of local tribal leaders and officials have said they need all the help they can get. In his sermon Friday, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, said “all sons of Iraq” should help the fight, a comment viewed as an endorsement of the militias playing a role.

At a Pentagon briefing Thursday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, played down the importance of Ramadi, saying that it is “not symbolic in any way” and that Baiji, a key location for Iraq’s oil infrastructure, is “a more strategic target.”

But Iraqi military officials have said that securing Anbar province, much of which is controlled by the ­Islamic State, is an essential step before any advance on Mosul, the group’s base of power in Iraq.

That view was echoed Friday by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who called Dempsey’s remarks a “gross mischaracterization.”

“The fall of Ramadi would be seen by Iraqi Sunnis as a failure of the Baghdad government to protect them, and could deal a major blow to political reconciliation efforts that are essential to defeating ISIL,” McCain, using another acronym for the Islamic State, said in a statement Friday that was released jointly by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “Yet apparently, the current U.S. strategy is to defend an oil refinery in Beiji, but abandon the capital of pivotal Anbar province to ISIL.”

Even if Iraqi security forces can shift the momentum in their favor, the setbacks in Ramadi have compounded Iraq’s humanitarian misery, with the United Nations reporting that at least 4,250 families have fled the city in recent days.

Saad Hamid, 40, said he left as Islamic State militants began to enter his neighborhood this week.

“We left on foot through the farms,” he said. “They were terrified,” he added, gesturing to his three young nieces and nephews.

Before reaching Sadr ­al-Yusufiyah, fleeing families were forced to leave their cars in Anbar province before crossing a bridge into Baghdad province on foot — a security measure that authorities said was intended to prevent car bomb attacks.

Dahlaki said that the security measures were necessary but that his committee has requested the guarantor system be dropped to ease the movement of families seeking to leave.

Sunni tribal sheiks who remain in Ramadi say they have received little support for their fighters, despite promises of arms from the central government.

The city has been fending off Islamic State attacks for more than a year, after being overrun for the first time in January 2014. At that time, before the Islamic State had built its brutal reputation, fewer people fled. Now, things are different.

“People are practically dying of fear,” said Omar al-Alwani, a tribal sheik who says he has about 500 fighters in Ramadi. “Half the army has retreated. It’s only really the counterterrorism units now.”

He said he was considering retreating with his men on the one remaining open road out of the city.

Tahseen, the Defense Ministry spokesman, disputed the sheiks’ accounts.

“Some sheiks say the government is still weak about help, but it isn’t true,” he said.

Other fleeing Anbar residents said their local leaders were as much to blame as the central government for their plight, with many fleeing the province themselves.

“We were sold out by our sheiks,” Hamid said. “They never found a solution for us, they just left. No one thought about the families.”

Mustafa Salim contributed to this report.

Israel analysts shocked by Obama’s comments on sanctions, S-300 supply

Posted April 18, 2015 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Israel analysts shocked by Obama’s comments on sanctions, S-300 supply | The Times of Israel.

‘This is the new America. We had better get used to it,’ says TV commentator after president leaves door open to Iran’s sanctions demand, defends Putin’s missile sale

April 17, 2015, 10:50 pm
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, looks toward US President Barack Obama as he speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 2013 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, looks toward US President Barack Obama as he speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 2013 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Israeli analysts expressed shock and amazement Friday night at US President Barack Obama’s stated openness to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions, and his defense of Russia’s agreement to supply a sophisticated air defense system to Iran.

There was no immediate official Israeli response to the president’s comments, which were made after the start of Shabbat in Israel, when politicians generally do not work.

“Jaws dropped” around the studio, said the Channel 10 News diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit, as news broke of Obama’s declared empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to supply Tehran with the S-300 missile defense system.

“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”

The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben David, chipped in, “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him [for this long]? That’s what is astonishing.”

Responded Caspit, “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”

Channel 10 also quoted unnamed senior Israeli diplomatic officials saying the prospect of Israel derailing the deal taking shape in US-led talks with Iran on its nuclear program was now zero. “The Iran issue is finished,” the officials were quoted saying.

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 17, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/J. David Ake)

In Washington earlier on Friday, Obama said he was surprised that Russia’s suspension of missile sales to Iran had “held this long.”

Obama noted that Putin had previously suspended the sale “at our request. I am frankly surprised that it held this long, given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has furiously protested the planned supply of the advanced systems, and phoned Putin this week to try to persuade him to reconsider, but was rebuffed. Israel fears the S-300s would complicate any military intervention as a last resort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. It also fears Iran could supply the missile defense systems to Syria or Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s air supremacy over Syria and Lebanon.

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display at an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)

Obama on Friday also left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the US has said the framework agreement reached in Lausanne earlier this month calls for the penalties to be removed over time.

Asked whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision.

“How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” Obama said. He said part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of five other nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that they would not sign a deal unless all sanctions are lifted right after an agreement is signed. Obama initially portrayed their comments as a reflection of internal political pressure, while pointing out that the framework agreement provides for sanctions to be phased out only once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations.


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