Monday, March 19, 2012
Saudi Arabia is arming Syrian rebels locked in a year-long rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad, a senior Arab diplomat told AFP Saturday.
Calling the shipments an effort to stop the bloodshed in Syria, the diplomat clarified that "Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the the Free Syrian Army," according to the report.
Also Saturday, an Iraqi government spokesman said his country would not permit Iran to ferry arms to Syria through or over its territory, AFP reported.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iranian ambassador was told "Iraq will not permit the use of its air space or its territory for the transit of any arms cargo to Syria," according to the report.
The United States on Friday said it was in contact with Iraq and encouraging it to ensure no military cargo headed for Syria is transported through Iraqi airspace.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing that the US was "making the point that any export of arms or related materials from Iran, frankly, to any destination would be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1747."
Any arms sent to the President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria, she continued, "would obviously be used in the brutal repression that the regime is exacting on its own people."
At least 27 people were killed and 97 were wounded in two explosions that hit Damascus early Saturday, a Syrian television channel reported.
The explosions killed security force personnel and civilians, state television reported, blaming what it said were terrorists behind the year-long uprising against Assad.
The explosions came two days after the first anniversary of year-long uprising, in which the United Nations says more than 8,000 people have been killed and some 230,000 forced to flee their homes as the violence spreads.
American Evangelical pastor John Hagee - who heads the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the United States - half jokingly compared Benjamin Netanyahu to the Messiah on Sunday night, as he waited for the delayed prime minister to arrive at a Jerusalem hotel to address the crowd.
"There's a saying in Judaism about the Messiah - I know that even if he tarries, he'll come," Hagee told hundreds of members of Christians United for Israel. "I know that the prime minister will come, and even if he tarries, he'll come."
The crowd laughed, and so did Hagee. But as Hagee introduced Netanyahu when he finally arrived half an hour later, the comparison with the Messiah no longer seemed so far-fetched.
"He was a fighter in an elite unit and helped free the hostages on the Sabena, and fought in the Yom Kippur War," Hagee began. "As finance minister, he brought Israel from welfare to work [applause]. He strengthened the private sector and cut down the public sector. He's married to Sara, and his son Jonathan [sic] is a national Bible champion [applause]. He gets up every morning at six to study the Bible with his son [wild applause]...
"He also changed the path of Christianity in America, when he asked me in 2006 if he thought American Christians could unite for Israel," Hagee continued. "Ancient Israel had Moses who led them in the desert; during the golden era they had King David, who conquered Jerusalem, and today, when there are existential threats, Israel has a champion who can confront the challenge; please welcome the prime minister...[more wild applause, whistles, and the sound of a shofar from somewhere]."
Netanyahu immediately corrected two of Hagee's errors; his son the Bible champion's name is Avner, and he reads the Bible on Shabbat, after lunch. He then segued into the story of the sin of King David, when he sent Uriah the Hittite off to war so he could have his wife, Batsheva. The allegory of the poor man and his lamb, delivered as a reprimand to David, is cited by Netanyahu as an example of how all people are equal before the law, including Israel's Arab population.
"I'm proud that in Israel Muslims are free to practice their religion," said Netanyahu, to more wild applause. "At a time when Christians are under siege in so many places and so many lands, Christians are free to practice their faith," in Israel. More rousing applause.
And of course, there was Iran.
"When Iran is funding terror and violence all over the world and is calling for our annihilation, I don't have to explain to you why that regime can't have nuclear weapons," he said. "Our enemies don't hate us because of what we do, but because of who we are."
Netanyahu's speech was the high point of the conference of Christians United for Israel, which recently reached one million members. The conference in Jerusalem drew hundreds of people, primarily Americans, mostly on the older side, with some of the men wearing cowboy hats.
Before Netanyahu's arrival, as singer Dudu Fischer got on stage to sing "Am Yisrael Hai" to a techno beat, the crowd joined in with religious fervor. One woman fell emotionally to her knees, as if in prayer, while two others closed their eyes tightly and at the second verse began to cry, as did others in the hotel ballroom.
"The bad news is that numbers count, and we are a small people," Netanyahu told the crowd. "The good news is that Israel is not alone - it has your support. It's true, numbers count, but so do you!"
"He's amazing," an enthusiastic participant told a reporter. "And he's right in everything he says."
AFP - Iraq moved on Sunday to diversify its oil export routes to reduce the impact of a potential closure of the Strait of Hormuz by Iran on Baghdad's oil-dependent income, as well as the world economy.
The plans, recommended by the cabinet's energy and economics committees, include efforts to ramp up exports along a pipeline to Turkey, increase the amount of oil transported by road, and "urgently" fix disused transport pipelines, according to a statement from government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.
He said Iraq's cabinet on Sunday adopted the recommendations which also included working to reopen the Banias-Tripoli pipeline that runs from Syria to Lebanon but has been closed since 1990, and, if thawing Iraq-Saudi relations continue to improve, a disused pipeline through Saudi Arabia as well.
The committees "also recommended that in the short term there be more efforts to convince the Iranian and American sides of the necessity of avoiding the closure of the Strait of Hormuz because it will damage the global economy, and Gulf countries especially."
Iran has threatened retaliation for fresh Western sanctions over its nuclear programme, including a possible disruption of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf chokepoint for global oil shipments, including 80 percent of Iraq's oil exports.
Dabbagh told AFP in an interview last month that Iraq was worried by US-Iran tensions and would be one of the worst countries affected if the strait were closed to shipments of crude oil.
Planning Minister Ali Yusuf al-Shukri also said last month that Iraq was mulling its options in case Iran blocks the vital waterway.
Iraq currently produces more than three million barrels per day (bpd), with exports averaging about 2.1 to 2.2 million bpd. Crude sales account for the lion's share of Baghdad's government income.
China has developed a missile that would turn an aircraft carrier into a two-billion-dollar hulk of twisted metal, flame, and dead sailors. Publicly, the U.S. Navy downplays its importance. Privately, the sailors are working out several different options to kill it before it kills them.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Navy’s top officer, explained to reporters during a Friday breakfast meeting that the Navy has ways of exploiting some of the DF-21D missile’s formidable technical capabilities, even before opening fire and praying.
DF-21D missile’s formidable technical capabilities, even before opening fire and praying.
As Greenert sees it, there’s a menu of options. Some involve convincing the DF-21D that the carrier is in a different place. Others involve masking the electronic emissions of the carrier. Still others are more traditional — like blasting the missile out of the salty air.
“You want to spoof them, preclude detection, jam them, shoot them down if possible, get them to termination, confuse it,” Greenert said. “The concept is end-to-end, and the capabilities therein [are] what we’re pursuing”
No matter how often the pretty people on television tell us that the U.S. economy is getting better, it isn't going to change the soul crushing agony that millions of American families are going through right now. The stock market may have gotten back to where it was in 2008, but the job market sure hasn't. As I wrote about a few days ago, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually employed has stayed very flat since late 2009, and the average duration of unemployment is hovering near an all-time high. Sadly, this is not just a temporary downturn. The U.S. economy has been slowly declining for several decades and is nearing total system failure. Right now, many poverty statistics are higher than they have ever been since the Great Depression. Many measurements ofgovernment dependence are the highest that we have ever seen in all of U.S. history. The emerging one world economic system (otherwise known as "free trade") has cost the U.S. economy tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars of our national wealth. The federal government is going into unprecedented amounts of debt in order to try to maintain our current standard of living, but there is no way that they will be able to sustain this kind of borrowing for too much longer. So enjoy this bubble of false prosperity while you can, because things will soon get significantly worse.
As the U.S. economy experiences total system failure, it will be imperative for all of us not to wait around waiting for someone to rescue us.
And I am not just talking about the government.
Today, millions upon millions of Americans are waiting around hoping that someone out there will hire them.
Well, the truth is that our politicians have made it so complicated and so expensive to hire someone that many small businesses try to avoid hiring as much as possible.
Businesses generally only want to hire people if they can make a profit by doing so. When our politicians keep piling on the taxes and the regulations and the paperwork, that creates a tremendous incentive not to hire workers.
Michael Fleischer, the President of Bogen Communications, once wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Why I'm Not Hiring". The following is how Paul Hollrah of Family Security Matters summarized the nightmarish taxes that are imposed on his company when Fleischer hires a new worker....
According to Fleischer, Sally grosses $59,000 a year, which shrinks to less than $44,000 after taxes and other payroll deductions. The $15,311 deducted from Sally’s gross pay is comprised of New Jersey state income tax: $1,893; Social Security taxes: $3,661; state unemployment insurance: $126; disability insurance: $149; Medicare insurance: $856; federal withholding tax: $6,250; and her share of medical and dental insurance: $2,376. Roughly 25.9 percent of Sally’s income is siphoned off by Washington and Trenton before she receives her paychecks.But then there are the additional costs of employing Sally. In addition to her gross salary, her employer must pay the lion’s share of her healthcare insurance premiums: $9,561; life and other insurance premiums: $153; federal unemployment insurance: $56; disability insurance: $149; worker’s comp insurance: $300; New Jersey state unemployment insurance: $505; Medicare insurance: $856; and the employer’s share of Social Security taxes: $3,661.Over and above her gross salary, Bogen Communications must pay an additional $15,241 in benefits and state and federal taxes, bringing the total cost of employing Sally to approximately $74,241 per year. Sally gets to keep $43,689, or just 58.8% of that total.
Are you starting to understand why so many businesses are hesitant to hire new workers?
The big corporations can handle all of the paperwork and regulations that come with hiring a new worker fairly well, but for small businesses hiring a new worker can be a massive undertaking. That new worker is going to have to almost be a miracle worker in order to justify all of the hassle and expense.
But the federal government just keeps piling more burdens on to the backs of employers. That is one reason why there is such an uproar over Obamacare. It is going to make hiring workers even less attractive.
These days, most small businesses are trying to get by with as few workers as possible, and many big businesses are trying to ship as many jobs as they can overseas.
Sadly, even if you do find a good job it can disappear at any moment.
The following is from a comment that a reader named Jeff recently left on one of my articles....
It’s sad what’s happening here in this country. So many lucky ones defend it. In America it’s not exactly about hard work anymore, it’s about who you know always. The ability to keep people stupid as well as in debt was established here well by corporations also. You cannot start a solid hiring business like you could years ago.I know many of folks who don’t break a sweat and earn more money than I ever will in a week. The system is getting crazy only creating two extremes. I fought for this country right after 9/11 as a young naive person. Using my grandfather’s old stories to see the dream that this country was always suppose to have.The company I still unfortunately work for (cause other places are worse), 4 years ago they froze our salaries. No raises yet, this is when the company was bought by an investment group for 500 million.Now we are getting sold to Japan for 1 billion. A 500 million dollar profit. Sorry if I may be ignorant in this way of business. But it seems the only one who benefited from this is that group of investors. 400+ well skilled jobs lost, no raises or rewards, a whole lot more work and contract obligations to meet, and less contact with management when problems surface.I just think the United States of America is becoming the world’s poker table.I want out of this country so bad. I don’t even know what happen to people here. The younger generation scares me how dumb they are and everyone seems so easily bought with eyecandy.
Can you imagine that?
Can you imagine your boss walking in one day and declaring that the business has just been sold to foreigners and that you are about to lose your job?
In America today, it can be absolutely soul crushing to lose a job. It isn't as if you are going to run out and get another fantastic job in a week or two.
When you are unemployed, people look at your differently. It gets to the point where you don't even want to interact with other people because you know that your unemployment is probably going to be the number one topic of conversation.
When you are out of work for six months or more, it is easy to feel like a failure - especially when so many other people are looking at you as if you are a failure too.
But in most cases, individual Americans are not to blame for not being able to find work.
Rather it is the entire system that is failing all of us.
The U.S. economy is bleeding good jobs and the middle class in America has become a bizarre game of musical chairs. When the music stops each round you might lose your spot. You just never know.
Looking for work in the United States in this economic environment can be a demoralizing endeavor. For example, a recent Esquire article described what one unemployed man named Scott Annechino found when he attended a job fair in San Francisco....
A glass elevator carries him to the third floor, where the front-desk girl, who knows it's her job to be cheerful, told him the job fair is supposed to be.A pasty kid, maybe thirty, in a too-big shirt and a cheap tie, greets him and tells him the companies are set up in rooms along the hall and that he should definitely visit all of them. Annechino, forty-four years old, wearing his best suit and shined black shoes, walks to the first exhibitor: Devcon, a home-security company. The door is closed, no one inside. Annechino looks around for an explanation. "Oh, I just got an e-mail from my contact there saying they wouldn't be able to make it today," the pasty kid says, fingering his BlackBerry.A couple of other potential employers who were supposed to be here didn't make it, either — Konica Minolta, Santa Clara University. "Yeah ..." the kid says. Annechino moves to the next room. State Farm. They're looking for people who can put up fifty grand to start their own insurance agency. The Art Institute is next, mostly looking for people who might want to go to art school. New York Life. The U. S. Army, where men wearing fatigues and combat boots offer brochures.That's it.
If you want to check out the rest of the sad unemployment stories in that article, you can find them right here.
But even if you do have a job, that doesn't mean that everything is just fine. Average American families are finding that the prices of the basic things that they need are rising much faster than their paychecks are.
According to one recent study, more than half of all Americans feel as though they are really struggling to afford just the basics at this point....
"Every retailer wants to think 'Everything I sell is worth it! Shoppers will love it', but the hard reality is 52% Americans feel they barely have enough to afford the basics," said Candace Corlett, president of WSL/Strategic Retail.
Just buying food and gas is a major financial ordeal for many families these days. On average, a gallon of gasoline in the United States now costs $3.83. Many Americans burn up a huge chunk of their paychecks just going back and forth to work in their cars.
So what is the solution?
Well, according to the Obama administration the answer is even more government dependence. The federal government is now actually running ads encouraging even more people to go on food stamps....
Can you believe that?
Apparently having 46.5 million Americans on food stamps is not enough. The federal government is spending our tax money on advertisements that try to convince even more Americans that they need to be on food stamps.
What the American people really need are good jobs, but those keep getting shipped out of the country.
Meanwhile, people are becoming increasingly desperate.
For example one Colorado man was recently caught stealing parts from toilets in public restrooms....
Donald Allen Citron, 48, faces 18 charges, including burglary and theft. He’s accused of stealing toilet parts from several locations, including Southwest Plaza Mall, University of Denver, and Craig Hospital.Most of the crimes happened in just a few minutes, but police Citron is a plumber and all he needed was a wrench and a screw driver to steal pipes and the plumbing in toilets. The items he’s accused of stealing are valued at around $6,400.
They are calling him "the crapper scrapper".
Other Americans are not willing to stoop to crime and instead suffer quietly and anonymously.
A reader named Katie recently left the following heartbreaking comment on one of my articles....
I’m almost homeless. Through no fault of my own I’d like to point out. I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I don’t even eat fast food unless I have too.Four years ago I had a house, car, family, stuff, an IRA, and really everything that people in this country aspire to. I had a great job that I enjoyed so did my boyfriend. Even our relationship was great.We didn’t get hit by the economy right away. We were in Katrina damaged parts of the country and there was still a lot of construction going on and the economic boom that comes with it.Then I got laid off. Doesn’t seem to matter that I go to interview after interview. I use indeed, monster, craigslist, and newspapers to search for jobs even outside my area.Now my boyfriend has passed away suddenly, and his family got everything. I personally have only a living father left, who hasn’t the room but I’m camping in his yard. All my friends say they don’t have the room either. Which makes me wonder just how much of friends they are. Considering if the situation was reversed I have in the past and would open my home to anyone that needed help.If something happens to him I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I need to get on my feet and I know that jobs are hard to come by. I’m sick of the people who have jobs saying ‘get a job you lazy bum’. I’m hardly lazy and I’m trying desperately to be employed; not being homeless would be rather awesome in my opinion. I’m not picky, regardless of my degree I’ll pick up trash or clean toilets. McDonald’s, Taco Bell and the other fast food places don’t even bother with a call back. And when I call to inquire about my application it’s always the same, ‘we will call you when we make a decision’. Such a cop-out.So no. In my (granted meaningless opinion) the economy is not getting better. To even suggest that when unemployment is so high or the rate of food stamps. Is utter ludicrous at best. I notice that those talking heads on the cable news and radio never seem to mention that the homeless shelters have a higher occupancy level than ever before. Nor would they mention the fact that we have those shelters in abundance now across the country in comparison to the Great Depression.I’m getting real tired of hearing how great the economy is doing. When obviously it’s not. All you have to do is open your eyes and see. Business are not coming back yet and foreclosed homes sit empty everywhere. The unemployment rate only counts the people who are getting unemployment benefits. So the people who fall off the unemployment benefits don’t get counted. Because the must have gotten a job, right? Hardly. In fact the homeless in this country are almost never counted correctly. It’s too hard to count them all, or at least that’s the excuse.I know it’s meaningless, especially to those who see homeless and immediately have a bias, but that’s my opinion on the current state of our economy. You can count me in the 80%. Only a fool would see this as a recovery.
Please say a prayer for Katie and the millions of other Americans just like her. It can be absolutely soul crushing to lose everything that you ever worked for and not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is not going to be improving in the long run. What we are experiencing right now is about as good as it is going to get. The truth is that it is pretty much downhill from here.
It is fairly simple to figure out what is happening to us as a nation.
You can't keep buying far more than you sell.
You can't keep spending far more than you bring in.
You can't keep running up debt in larger and larger amounts indefinitely.
The U.S. economy is running on borrowed money and on borrowed time.
At some point, both are going to run out.
The Economic Collapse
Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco’s chief executive, said Portugal will need a second rescue as the original package of €78bn (£65bn) falls short, setting off a political storm over EU rescue costs.
“Unfortunately, that is how it will be. It will make the financial markets nervous because they are worried about a participation of the private sector,” he told Der Spiegel over the weekend.
German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble insists that Greece is a “completely unique case” and that there will be no further haircuts for banks, insurers and pension funds holding eurozone sovereign bonds.
However, the EU authorities broke their pledges so many times during the Greek saga that market faith has been shattered. Even Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has expressed disgust, signalling that it will give Club Med debt a wide birth from now on. It has already sold half its Spanish bonds.
The fund, under Norway’s finance ministry, voted against the Greek debt deal on the grounds that European institutions were exempted from losses and given “special” treatment. “It's very important to create trust in the markets. To create trust you have to stick to the rules,” said director Yngve Slyngstad.
If the Greek haircut formula is ultimately extended to Portugal, private creditors can expect to lose everything. The EU and the International Monetary Fund already own most of the debt, reducing everybody else to cannon fodder status. Mr El-Erian said EU leaders are deluding themselves if they think they have solved Greece’s problems. “The Greek package is going to fall apart quickly. Bridges built to go nowhere can collapse at any time,” he said.
The IMF said in its latest report that Greece remains “accident prone” and may need further help and more debt haircuts if the economy “fails to respond rapidly enough to reforms”.
It warned that a “disorderly euro exit would be unavoidable” if the EU cuts off support. Such an outcome would threaten the IMF itself with unprecedented losses.
Meanwhile, Greece's Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos declared victory on Sunday night in a vote for the leadership of the socialist party, PASOK, in which he ran unopposed.
Last week Mr Venizelos said he would step down as finance minister if he won the contest.
The country's caretaker prime minister Lucas Papademos told the Financial Times: "I am convinced that we are more than halfway along the path to economic recovery – although the fiscal consolidation process will last longer. Positive growth rates should be achieved within less than two years."
Former Intelligence Minister Ali Falahian, Iran’s senior spokesman on sanctions, said Sunday, March 18, that if the US and Europe think they can ignore international law to promote their interests, they should know that Iran will respond in kind everywhere it can. “I suggest that the West take seriously our threat to close the Strait of Hormuz,” he said in Tehran’s first response to the SWIFT decision to sever ties with Iranian banks to enforce European sanctions on its nuclear program.
A large fleet of 4 US and French nuclear aircraft carriers and a dozen or more minesweepers and mine-hunting helicopters have piled up on both sides of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 percent of the world’s daily oil supply passes, and Israeli naval vessels have deployed in the Red Sea.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources estimate Tehran may make good on its threats by trying to drop sea mines in the strategic strait and/or the approaches to the huge Saudi Ras Tanura oil export terminal. A small explosion by an unknown hand hit a major Saudi pipeline between Awamiya and Safwa on March 1. The damage was not great because the saboteurs used a small quantity of explosive but it appeared to be the work of professionals.
While Saudi officials denied the incident, photos of a large fire appeared on the Internet. Gulf oil sources suspect that it was a warning from Tehran of the hazards facing the world’s largest oil exporter.
The SWIFT cutoff of ties with Iranian banks has gone a long way toward isolating Iran from global commerce. It will affect Iranian oil sales to its biggest customers in the Far East, China and Japan, as well as India. The economic noose tightening around its neck is bound to produce a response from Iran, it is estimated in Washington and European capitals. The US-led European sanctions on Iranian oil world trade were boosted in recent weeks by the United Arab Emirates which stopped handling Iranian rials, further reducing its ability to trade and obtain hard currency.
After its foremost ally, Bashar Assad, proved his ability to survive - largely with abundant Iranian help - Tehran is unlikely to let this achievement be marred by a US and European economic stranglehold. The ordinary Iranian may care about his government’s international standing but he cares a lot more about the fast depreciating value of the money in his pocket and his financial assets.
Anticipating that Iran may kick back hard against the tough penalties building up against its nuclear program, three US aircraft carriers are standing by in the Persian Gulf – The USS Abraham Lincoln, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Enterprise together with the French Charles de Gaulle and their strike groups.
Thursday, US Navy Chief Adm. Jonathan Greenert said he was doubling the American minesweeping fleet in the Persian Gulf by adding another four vessels as well as mine-hunting helicopters to bolster Persian Gulf security and keep the Strait of Hormuz open to international traffic.
France, Britain, Holland and Germany have also deployed minesweepers in these strategic Gulf waters.
Tuesday, March 13, two Israeli missile corvettes, the INS Lahav and INS Yafo, crossed the Suez Canal on their way to the Red Sea accompanied by the French Imidisi supply ship.
The vast naval buildup of powerful warships confirms that the United States, Europe and Israel are braced for harsh Iranian retaliation across more than one part of the Middle East for the crippling sanctions now taking hold.
Iranian military experts are active in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai, according to a high-ranking official in Jerusalem. The official said the Iranians entered the areas via Sudan and Egypt, and added that some of the rocket-launching systems in Gaza were manufactured under Iranian supervision.
The senior source also claimed that Islamic Jihad continued to fire rockets at Israel even after the recent cease-fire was announced because the Iranians pressured that organization, and the popular resistance groups, to continue acting against Israel.
Israel has agreed to all requests by Egypt to step up its own army's activity in the Sinai desert, but the official said no significant military operations have been carried out recently.
Several terror groups are now at large in Sinai, the source explained: local Bedouin, who are adopting the ideology of the Global Jihad; groups supported by Iran, who are trying to recruit and train militants not only in Sinai but throughout Egypt; and Palestinian organizations. Joining them are Global Jihad militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, said the official, adding that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in combating these terrorist elements.
He explained that "many Palestinian organizations use the Sinai peninsula as a convenient area for activity," and added that Libya has meanwhile been transformed into a huge arms depot, from which weapons are transferred to Egypt and then the Gaza Strip.
Damascus has become irrelevant as far as Hamas is concerned, the official continued, after Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad, and after Damascus and Tehran demanded that Hamas' politburo chief Khaled Meshal support the Syrian regime. Meshal refused to do so and left Damascus; his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk chose to reside in Cairo, and other senior Hamas officials such as Emad al-Alami, went to Gaza, Qatar or Lebanon.
The official stressed that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's visit to Tehran did not help resolve the differences between Hamas and Iran, which cut off funding to the Islamic movement. Hamas is now trying to raise money from the Arab Gulf states and Turkey.
Lately senior Palestinian Authorities have blamed Iran for sabotaging talks between Hamas and Fatah, which have recently reached a stalemate. The Israeli official claims that Meshal's agreement that PA President Mahmoud Abbas will serve as head of a national unity government angered Abu Marzouk, Haniyeh and Mahmoud Al-Zahar - causing certain elements within Hamas' leadership to openly revolt agains Meshal.
Azzam Al-Ahmad, a Fatah leader who heads the team that is negotiating with Hamas, said in an interview to a Lebanese newspaper that Iran transferred money to Hamas leaders in Gaza in return for their efforts to sabotage the reconciliation talks. Ahmad added that the fact that Haniyeh made a visit to Tehran despite the opposition of several Hamas leaders also led to the failure of the discussions. Furthermore, the Fatah leader suggested that Iranian leaders incited Haniyeh against the reconciliation, and added that the PA discovered that Tehran had transferred substantial funds to Haniyeh and his government so that the talks would fail.