New balance from collapse of a weakened Iran

New balance from collapse of a weakened Iran The death of Iran’s terror chief, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the second most important figure of the regime, and Abu Mahdi Mohandis, the central figure of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Sha’abi paramilitary force in Iraq, has brought the strategic edifice of the Iranian regime crumbling down. The Iranian regime is facing a resilient uprising at home and in Iraq and Lebanon, countries it once called its “strategic depth.” The uprising in Iraq is expanding further, into more cities and provinces every day.

Over the past 20 years, Soleimani extended the regime’s strategy by building proxy forces all through the region, moved to hollow out state institutions in regional countries, and supplant them with Qods Force-supported terror organizations posing as political factions.

As leader of the Qods Force, he aimed to establish a “Shiite crescent” of Iranian influence extending to the Mediterranean Sea and encircling conservative Arab countries in the Gulf.

With an ideology rooted in medieval Islamic dogma, the Iranian regime is unable to respond to the cultural, economic, and political demands of the Iranian people in the 21st century.

Domestically, the regime has sought to control widespread popular dissatisfaction with brute repression and gross human rights violations. At the same time, it has fanned sectarian conflicts and wars while interfering in the internal affairs of regional countries.

This is how the regime survives – by maintaining the strategic depth that would spare it from fighting on its own streets. For this reason, regime insiders remember Soleimani as the guardian of the regime’s security. Foreign adventurism allowed Soleimani to deploy terror and repression inside Iran as well, creating an illusion of security. Soleimani’s death has put Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a precarious position as he is fending off intensifying, cyclical uprisings.

Khamenei rationalized his foreign warmongering by saying, “If we do not fight the enemy in the streets of Iraq and Syria, we must fight them in the streets of Kermanshah, Hamedan, Tehran and other cities of Iran.

Now, Khamenei’s nightmare has come true, and his war with the Iranian people over their legitimate demand for freedom and prosperity has come to the streets of Iran. Amidst policies of appeasement over the past decade, Western countries have closed their eyes to the terrorism and the militaristic policies of Iran’s religious dictatorship in order to pursue their own economic interests.

But these policies are now over. With the withdrawal of the US from the JCPoA treaty in 2017 and the application of articulated sanctions on Iran, Khamenei was left alone on the battlefield, opposite the Iranian people.

“Hard Revenge”

The recent military confrontation with the United States has shattered the solemnity of the regime both locally and globally, burying it along with the regime’s terrorist power. Early on Wednesday, January 08, 2020, the Iranian regime fired several rockets for ‘tough revenge’ and attacked the al-Assad base near Baghdad, where US troops are stationed.

In contradictory statements, the Revolutionary Guards announced the firing of dozens of missiles at Ein Al-Assad and US military bases in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan), which resulted in four Americans being killed and four others injured. Deliberate Error! But what is the reality? The regime’s claims were not backed up by any government, military or news sources.

Reuters news agency, however, said, “Iran is said to have intentionally fired missiles to the US forces in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, also tweeted that the regime had already contacted him about the missile attacks. Obviously, he revealed this information to the US authorities. Therefore, the regime’s slogans about ‘hard revenge’ and its other threats were suddenly exposed as absurd, followed by the regime’s fear of US counterattacks.

The Iranian regime had thought that the US was without a plan for war. They had the ambition to embarrass Trump by attacking the US embassy and executing other acts of terrorism in advance of the US election.

Their likely goal was to remove him from office, force the lifting of sanctions, or inspire disaffection in his supporters. Instead, they shattered their own fragile body of power by setting the stage for the death of Qassem Soleimani.

Prior to this, the regime wanted to convince European countries that they were a regional power and that they should be considered in setting Middle East policy.

Now, the fragile awe of the regime has collapsed, and a new balance has been established between the Iranian people and the regime.

As a result of this new equilibrium, in a new wave of mid-January demonstrations pioneered by students after the downing of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, slogans targeted the supreme leader himself. Protesters have started asking the commander in chief to resign.

“A little prince in the land of the Mullahs”, a denunciation in a Comic Book version

Discover the interview with the author of this article, Raouf Massoumeh, who presents his book “A little prince in the Land of the mullahs”.

The story of his young brother, Ahmad Raouf Bachari Doust, arrested five years before – at the age of 16 – and who will be among the 30,000 political prisoners executed.

Other articles

10 journalists and media workers killed in 2019 in Afghanistan

According to NAI – Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, 10 journalists and media workers killed and 21 injured in 2019. 115 violence cases recorded by NAI against journalists which include: assassination, wound up, beaten up, threats, insult, short-term arrestments, kidnap, attack on media outlets and lack of access to information in 2019 in the country.

At the same time, Reporters without Borders (RSF) in its annual report recognized Afghanistan the third dangerous country for journalists in 2019 in the world by killing of six journalists and media workers.

Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) who involved in crimes against humanity are the most responsible for the attacks on Journalist and media staff in Afghanistan. they targeted the Journalist aimed at silence press freedom and fearless.

Who are the victims?

The first death of 2019 world wide

The first death of a journalist in 2019 word wide registered in Afghanistan. 27 years old Javid Noori was the first journalist killed by Taliban in 2019 in the world.

Name:Javid Noori

Job: citizen-journalist for Radio Neshat

Type of death: Murdered

By: Taliban

Location: Farah Province

Date: 5 January 2019

Name: Rahimullah Rahmani

Job: Presenter, Hamsada Radio

Type of death: Murdered

By: Unkown

Location: Taliqan, Takhar provine

Date: 5 Feb 2019

Name: Shafiq Aria

Job: reporter, Hamsada Radio

Type of death: Murdered

By: Unknown

Location: Taliqan, Takhar province

Date: 5 Feb 2019

Name: Sultan Mahmoud Khirkhwa

Job: Journalist, Zhman TV channel

Type of death: Murdered


Location: Khost city

Date: 15 March 2019

Name: Meena Mangal

Job: former TV presenter at Lemar TV

Type of death: Murdered

By: unknown gunmen

Location: Kabul

Date: 11 May 2019

Name: Sakhi Baluch           

Job: Technician, State TV

Type of death: Murdered

By: Unkown

Location: Trinkut, Zabul province

Date: 12 June 2019

Name: Abdul raouf Emalzai

Job: Security guard, Shamshad TV

Type of death: Murdered

By: Taliban

Location: Kabul

Date: 1 July 2019

Name: Nader shah Sahibzada

Job: Presenter/producer, Radio (Voice of Gardiz)

Type of death: Murdered

By: Unkown

Location: Gardiz, Paktia province

Date: 13 July 2019

Name: Abdul Hamid Hotaki

Job: presenter at Hewad Radio

Type of death: mine blast

By: Taliban

Location: Kandahar Province

Date: 25 September 2019

Name:Waheed Mujda

Job:  writer and political analyst 

Type of death: assassination

By: unknown gunmen 

Location: Kabul city

Date: 20 November 2019

berny mugisha

Articles d’Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel

Facebook’s political censorship

Eight whistleblowers prosecuted under the Obama administration: Where are they now?

One month before the U.S midterm elections, Facebook deletes over 800 pages and accounts claiming they consistently displayed “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The 559 politically-oriented pages and 251 accounts were all American. Among the blocked pages are Nation in Distress, Right Wing News, Reasonable People Unite, and The Resistance.

Facebook explains this action in their official statement:

People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook. It’s why we have a policy banning coordinated inauthentic behavior — networks of accounts or Pages working to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing. This year, we’ve enforced this policy against many Pages, Groups and accounts created to stir up political debate, including in the US, the Middle East, Russia and the UK. But the bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics. And the people behind it are adapting their behavior as our enforcement improves.

Although the First Amendment does not apply to private entities such as social media platforms, many of the owners of these pages claim unjust censorship. They contest Facebook’s silencing, claiming they were simply expressing political discourse and not infringing Facebook’s guidelines, according to the Guardian.

The Guidelines on censored hate speech are defined by Facebook as “a direct attack on people based on — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” They also define attack “as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.

The Pew Research Center demonstrates that, in the United States most social platform users are well aware of this online censorship linked to political agendas.

72 percent of the public thinks it is likely that social media platforms, such as Facebook, actively censor political views that those companies find objectionable.

The study demonstrates slightly differing responses on censorship among political parties, with a majority of Republicans and Republican leaners (85%) believing it is likely that social media companies engage in this behavior, with 54 percent indicating they find it very likely. A smaller share of Democrats – though still a majority, at 62 percent – also think it likely that social media companies engage in this behavior.

Nevertheless, users are surprisingly accepting of  this censorship– even those residing in countries where freedom of speech is paramount. However,  the data also suggests that in places such as Europe many users support Facebook monitoring their speech if it for the right cause, such as protecting minorities or monitoring fake content.

Despite a growing mistrust of big institutions including technology companies and media outlets, most Facebook users say it is still benefiting them personally to be on the platform. 74 percent of Americans say tech companies have had a positive impact on their lives, and 65 percent feel they’ve had a positive impact on the nation as a whole.

The constant influx of information, from its’ 2.13 billion users, makes it certainly hard for Facebook to monitor all its content. However, the dilemma extends beyond this technological constraint. In giving a powerful company the power to decide what should be censored can easily silence voices that deserve to be heard.

In April 2018 users gained the ability to file an appeal if they believe their content has been unfairly removed. That appeal is then sent to a new human moderator, who will issue a decision within 24 hours. However, this did not help the 800+ pages claiming injustice this past November.

Eight whistleblowers prosecuted under the Obama administration: Where are they now?

Eight whistleblowers prosecuted under the Obama administration: Where are they now?

Barack Obama is often criticized for waging a war against whistleblowers, but this may not be the entire truth. During the two terms Obama held office, eight whistleblowers were prosecuted, a number greater than those punished by the law under all U.S. presidential administrations combined. It is important to acknowledge that almost all of those whistleblowers were not dissenting against Obama, but rather challenged misconduct during the Bush administration. The Justice Department under Obama either did not stop pending criminal prosecutions, or initiated them. The eight whistleblowers were all accused of leaking or mishandling classified information under the Espionage Act.

The reason for the legal proceedings: a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Originally enacted to punish those seeking to interfere with war recruitment and funding, this act persists today in a much different context.

The Sedition Act of 1918, created an amendment and broadened the scope to certain forms of speech, including publications of “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the form of government in the United States, or the Constitution, or the military or naval forces.”

The Espionage Act was challenged in the courts throughout the decades for limiting freedom of speech, leading to its many revisions. Although rarely resurrected today, presidents such as Obama have utilized it to suppress dissidents they considered a threat to national security.

Tom Devine, the Legal Director at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the most prominent whistleblower support organization, explains the complexity of the issue. He classifies Obama’s relationship with whistleblowers as “schizophrenic” and says that in his field they often referred to his behavior as a battle of“Obama vs Obama,” because of his contradictory stances regarding informers.

Devine explains that Obama was “American whistleblowers’ best friend, all while seeking to tighten up national security through the Espionage Act.” The Legal Director adds that the former president has an “unusually broad deference to national security community.”

Although Obama took a surprisingly strong stance on national security, prosecuting individuals he deemed threatening to the U.S. government, he also aided in the protection of whistleblowers. He established a restriction of criminal charges for those who leaked classified information as opposed to those who simply released information opposing the government.

With his Presidential Policy Directive (PPD 19) Obama specifically protected whistleblower among intelligence agencies “to ensure that IC employees can effectively report instances of waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Chelsea Manning

The former Army Intelligence Analyst was charged with the largest leak in U.S history, through the famous whistleblower website WikiLeaks, publishing 700,000 diplomatic cables and military reports on both the Afghan and Iraq wars.

In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail but in 2017, President Obama significantly reduced Manning’s sentence to a total of 7 years. Manning was released on May 17, 2017 and remains very politically active.

She is now also a writer on war, gender, and freedom of information as a contributing opinion for The Guardian.

Edward Snowden

Snowden was charged with theft of government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act. The computer professional and former CIA employee leaked documents revealing the American government was spying on its’ citizens.

Each of the three charges carries a maximum possible prison term of ten years. Snowden currently resides in Russia, in asylum, as he is still wanted by the U.S. government. He lives in a closely guarded location in Moscow.

Despite these limitations to his own free he is often credited for the “Snowden Effect” which started the much-needed conversation around individual privacy and national security.

Thomas Drake

The former senior executive at the National Security Agency violated the Espionage Act for the “willful retention” and “unauthorized disclosure” of classified documents.

Due to a plea agreement all charges were dropped, liberating him from any prison time. Drake was sentenced to one year of probation and 240 hours of community service.

Since his case, he has become an activist against the “surveillance state” arguing that the problems of the NSA are “so chronic and systemic that the only solution would be to completely dismantle and subsequently rebuild the entire organization.”

His location is unknown but he says he is now “devoted to defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This year Drake published a book titled Enemy of the State: How the U.S. Government Tried to Turn a Truth-teller Into a Traitor.”

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim

While working at the State Department as an adviser on nuclear proliferation, Jin-Woo Kim allegedly revealed that North Korea would conduct a nuclear bomb test to Fox News reporter James Rosen.

Entering a guilty plea to a single felony count of disclosing classified national defense information to an unauthorized person, he was sentenced to a 13-month prison term.

There have not been any updates on his life post-sentence.

James Hitselberger

A Navy contract linguist, working as an arabic translator in Bahrain, was prosecuted for “unauthorized retention of national defense information.” He allegedly released classified documents off the military base, discussing discrepancies in U.S. intelligence in Bahrain.

As there were no indications of espionage, Hitselberger was proposed a plea deal let off with a $250 fine. There are no available updates on his whereabouts since then.

John Kiriakou

The former CIA official was accused by the U.S. government for leaking classified information to journalists. More specifically he named two former colleagues who used waterboarding to torture detainees.

Originally facing up to 30 years in prison, when Kiriakou pleaded guilty and was only met with two and a half years of prison. As a part of the plea deal, the charges against him under the Espionage Act were annulled.

Now living in Virginia, Kiriakou is a writer and columnist exposing human rights abuses.

Shamai Leibowitz

Working for the FBI as a Hebrew translator, Leibowitz leaked over 200 pages of documents of transcribed wiretaps from conversations between the Israeli embassy in Washington and the blogger Richard Silverstein.

Pleading guilty, in 2010 he was sentenced to 20 months in prison. He now writes about science, music, Judaism and current events through his own blog. He also tutors pupils in mathematics.

Jeffrey Sterling

Former CIA officer Sterling charged with leaking classified information about U.S. efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Although Sterling insists that his communications with Risen did not involve secret information he  convicted of espionage charges in 2015 with three and a half years of prison time.

He now works as a fraud investigator.

Devine explains that if we are comparing Obama with previous presidents, one must know that “more whistleblowers are being prosecuted, because the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act has made it much harder to fire employees, while neither it nor other US laws protect against retaliatory civil and criminal investigations and litigation.

Devine goes on to say that “harassment through a criminal case, especially by opening a criminal investigation, also is easier and less risky because agencies don’t have to deal with all the work of a lawsuit when they open a criminal investigation and give the wber the choice of resigning or risking indictment.

Also because “Opening a retaliatory criminal investigation is risk-free. Agencies can’t lose. The worst that will happen is they close the case, and then can open a new one soon after. I have numerous clients facing serial with-hunts.

Finally “If there is a chilling effect from the specter of unemployment, there is a freezing effect from the prospect of imprisonment.

When asked to predict the whistleblowers and their fate under the Trump administration Devine stated he is “not optimistic on the president’s intolerance for criticism” and believes that whistleblowers who plan on exposing his abuses of power will be met with harsh consequences.  

“I need to rebuild myself. But I need to continue my work for Syria.”

“I would like you to mention it in the portrait as the “syrian revolution”, it was not a “civil war” or a “movement”, we have to call it as what it was: a revolution.”

Hasan, a detached look in the eyes, a wristband to the colors of the Free Syrian Army, is struggling to remember of any independent journal: “At least, I am certain that there no media covering of what happened in the country.” In February 2011, Hasan is 21, he is living in Douma in the east suburb of Damas. While he is finishing a tourism degree at university, the still nascent Arab revolutions, found an echo in the syrian social medias.

The next month, protests where organizing on Internet, in the streets only a few hundreds of demonstrators but the repression is severe. Yet the feeble processions of the beginning where increasing from a week to another, the repression cements the protest and the social medias do the rest. Hasan feel the need to cover the events “To show what is really happening there.” He starts with other journalists activists filming the gatherings and posting the videos on Facebook or Youtube in the evening. In the protestations, cameras were prohibited and impound by the mukhabarats (regime secret services) but impossible to prohibit smartphones.

Photo prise par Hasan pour l’AFP

From 2012, slaughters and tortures committed by the regime forces and its militias seal the fate of the country: dozens of thousands have been marching, despite the threats, in the streets of Damascus. ”Bashar must leave”, it will be a revolution. During the summer, the government lost  control, the siege formed. Three areas controlled by various revolutionary groups appear, Douma will be the last city held by the rebels 8 years later.

Once the Ghouta isolated, tap water has been quickly cut by the regime. In order to assure the needs of the population, the solution was to collect soil water by some holes 40 to 60 meters deep in the ground. “To pump the water, we used engines but soon it the energy ran out as well. Drawing water manually was not enough, then we began using all the energy sources we could find: plastic bags, cooking oil and even margarine.

Hasan joined in 2013 the Douma hospital team, he photographed the wounded, including many children, and the surgeries. The suburb hospital transformed into a war hospital and organized in services. A day of April, wounded persons came with unusual symptoms, eyes cornea and respiratory mucosa burnt, suffocation, nausea and vomiting: Bashar al-Assad experiment the chlorine gas and sarin gas on the rebel populations. (1) Following the chemical attack of April 2013, international medias started to take interest on the Douma.

Between 2011 and 2013, it is at least 110 actors of the information that have been killed in the conflict according to a report of Reporters without borders. (2) Facing the happening, international medias decided to stop sending reporters on the field. The AFP then launch a program named ”Citizen journalists”, the objective is to recruit and form syrian photojournalists from the Beirut bureau.

Hasan is contacted later after a bombing in a market of Douma in August 2015, the AFP provides a camera and give him a training on photojournalism by Internet. (3) From this moment, Hasan photographies began to illustrate French medias tackling the casualty assessments of the life in Douma.

In November 2017, bombing become randoms and unpredictable.

The regime wages us a physic and psychologic war, you are never in peace, never safe. At this time, we could only live in the basements”.

A shell fell, the rescue come to extract the victims from the rubble, then a few minutes later, a second detonation, a new strike, targeting this time the rescue.

In February 2018, the noose is tightening around Douma, the bombing intensify again. The towns of  Mesraba and Harasta fall. People flee the city. “The regime wanted a total evacuation. If we stayed, it would be the prisons of the regime that awaited us.

In April, Hasan left his native region to Idlib and then take the direction of Turkey. For ten attempts, he tried to cross the Turkish border, and at the tenth he managed finally to smuggle avoiding the Turkish border guards.

I had no bearings, no emotions, I could not watch any videos from Syria. With my syrian passport, I was nobody.

It is the AFP that suggested him an exile to France. The travel without any money or help took 11 months to Hasan. Now he wishes to resume studies in journalism, in France, far away from Syria.

In November 2017, bombing become randoms and unpredictable. “The regime wages us a physic and psychologic war, you are never in peace, never safe. At this time, we could only live in the basements

A shell fell, the rescue come to extract the victims from the rubble, then a few minutes later, a second detonation, a new strike, targeting this time the rescue.”

Afghanistan: another deadly Year for Journalists in 2019

Within the first six months of 2019, Afghanistan has lost six of its journalists in separate incidents, the first death of a journalist was recorded by RSF in Afghanistan this year.

35 cases of violence against journalists and media staff were recorded by Nai, supporting open media in Afghanistan which includes 5 cases of murder, 6 injuries, 17 cases of threats and insults, 3 cases of attacks on media, 3 cases of beating, and 1 case of IED explosion.

Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.

Recently the Taliban terrorist group issued new threats to media outlets in Afghanistan, demanding an immediate halt to publications of pro-government advertisements.

Working as a journalist in war-torn Afghanistan is not easy and safety is an increasing concern for journalists around the country.

The Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) were involved in crimes against humanity and are the most responsible for the attacks on journalists and media staff in Afghanistan. They targeted journalists, aimed to silence press freedom and incite fear among the people.


Afghan Journalist Javid Noori

Javid Noori was the first journalist in the world killed in Afghanistan by Taliban fighters on January 5th, 2019.

He was killed when the Taliban searched a bus he was on at a roadblock in the western Frarah province of Afghanistan. Only 27 years old, Javid Noori worked for Neshat Radio in the western Farah province of Afghanistan.


Local journalists Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani

In February, two other radio journalists were shot and killed in the northern Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani were shot and killed by two unidentified men who entered Radio Hamsada’s office, a local radio station based in Taloqan city in northeastern Afghanistan. They were killed during a live program.


View of Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwas tomb in Southern Khost province of Afghanistan

Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwa, local Afghan journalist of Zhman TV died from complications after being shot in head by ISIS gunmen in the southern Khost city of Afghanistan on March 15th.

More violence against journalists this month was seriously wounded Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi. Ahmadi the local Afghan journalist was on his way to his office when an IED bomb that was embedded in his car, detonated in Lashkargah city of Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan.

He worked with Helmand based Sabawoon TV in Afghanistan.


More bad news for journalists this month, a gunmen attacked radio journalist, Imran Lemar. Lemar worked at Mazal radio and was shot & injured by an unknown gunman in the eastern Jalalabad city of Afghanistan on April 25th.

Also in April, the 1TV Editor-in-Chief, Abdullah Khenjani was beaten by a presidential protection guard in Kabul city.


Meena Mangal presenting TV show in local TV in Kabul

Tragic news in May for the family of female Afghan journalist, Meena Mangal who was shot dead Kabul, the capital city by unknown gunmen.

Meena Mangal was shot dead in public on May 11th while she was on her way to work in Kabul. Her family wants justice from the government.

Leaders from around the world like Justin Trudeau commended Meena Mangal’s journalistic integrity and her advocacy for women and girls while condemning the violence that ended her life.

She worked at Tolo TV, the largest private broadcaster in Afghanistan, as well as Shamshad and Lemar television stations.

She had also recently become a cultural adviser to the lower chamber of Afghanistan’s national parliament.


AFJC Shaki Baluch

According to the Afghan media, Shaki Baluch, a local journalist of National broadcaster (RTA) killed in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan by unknown gunmen in the month of July and also seven employees of local Shamshad TV stations were wounded in an attack in the capital of the country.

Moreover, recently Taliban insurgents issued new threats against Afghan media which sparks Global Reaction. Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.

The Afghan government has made repeated commitments to ensure the protection of journalists and journalistic protection institutions have repeatedly asked the government to protect journalists. But challenges remain for journalist’s safety today. RSF recognized Afghanistan as the deadliest country for journalists in the world. 15 journalists were killed in 2018.