American troops will once again be returning to the Middle East.
According to the Pentagon, thousands of U.S. troops including fighter squadrons, and air defence systems will be deployed to Saudi Arabia in order to ward off further aggression from Iran.
A gasoline price hike aimed at reducing Iran’s massive oil subsidies in the face of continuing U.S. sanctions, and increased costs through aggressive regional involvement in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, appear to have pushed a large portion of the nation’s population to publically speak out against the Islamic Republic.
Since Nov. 15 demonstrations against the subsidy cut turned violent, seeing gas stations, alongside 100 banks have been burned to the ground, while the regime itself decided to cut the nation’s internet and open fire on protestors with live ammunition.
According to Amnesty International, more than 143 people have been killed by the regime so far in response to the protests.
“The rising death toll is an alarming indication of just how ruthless the treatment of unarmed protesters has been by the Iranian authorities and reveals their appalling assault on human life,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Iran has stated the number is far lower at roughly 12, while the exiled and controversial opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) has according to The Telegraph, claimed that the number is far higher, as the regime is actively stealing bodies from morgues in an effort to keep the final body count reduced.
While protests and the bloody crackdown in response from the regime are by no means new, this case stands to be quite different than previous protests for its sheer scale and the willingness from protestors to call out the regime including the Ayelottalh himself.
The anti-government messaging it appears has frightened members of the regime’s inner circle, such as the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard alongside many others who are now arguing that foreign powers initiated the protest, rather than the countries history of abusing their own people alongside economic mismanagement due to corruption.
A couple weeks ago marked the 100th birthday of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (known colloquially as simply “the Shah”). Love him or hate him, he truly was a good friend to Israel during his tenure.
From ancient history, there had been a Jewish presence in Iran, and an acknowledgement for the Jewish people’s indigenity to the land of Israel.
This can be seen in the Book of Esther, where a Jewish woman by the name of Esther ascends to being Persia’s queen and was able to foil a plan that would have killed all the Jews in Persia.
Cyrus the Great later recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and allowed all Jews of Persia to return to their indigenous land and build what later became the Second Temple in the holy city of Jerusalem.
The relationship similar to what Persia (Iran) had under Queen Esther and Cyrus the Great was reestablished under the Shah, in his support for Israel.
The Shah ensured that his country would be only the second Muslim country to recognize Israel as a state.
His friendship with Israel resulted in the creation of trade bureaus in both nations. The bureaus even acted as embassies.
He did not take offence to the criticism and backlash by other countries in the Middle East for his support for Israel.
Project Flower, a collaborative mission by Iran and Israel was another positive operation that the Shah worked on with Israel to produce a nuclear-style missile. The mission illustrated the common goals and values of both states striving for military cooperation.
Before the 1979 Revolution, Iran was seen by Israel as one of its closest allies in the region. Religion did not matter, it was simply a partnership of allies in a continually conflicted region.
Working together eventually with Egypt brought more peace than ever into the ever-continual hostile Middle East climate.
It should be known that the offspring of the Shah, particularly his son, and heir apparent if the monarchy returns to Iran, supports Israel and told Ynet News that “in a future Iran, Israel will once again be an ally.”
The Shah’s administration even mourned the loss of Yoni Netanyahu. The admiration of Mr. Netanyahu went so far with the letter calling him a martyr.
Followers and loyalists of the Shah around the world have continued support for Israel, Zionism, and its existence as a Jewish state.
Jewish people have noticed this friendship, and have established meaningful relationships with anti-Iranian regime organizations around the world.
Had the Shah lived to old age, it would be likely that Iran and Israel would continue to be strong Middle East allies and would truly show as an example to the world of the partnership of allies who may be of different faiths but believe in commons goals and values.
The tangible relations between Iran under the Shah and Israel may be minor, but it is the everlasting impact and remember of what the Shah did for Israel during his tenure that will stick with Israel and the Jewish community.
Western-style values in Iran may be gone, as is its support for Israel, however, the world will always remember the contributions the Shah brought for peace in the region.
On the 100th birthday of the Shah, the world needs to celebrate his contributions to Israel and the everlasting legacy he leaves of hope, shared values, human rights and peace.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has discovered a new oil field in the Khouzestan province that significantly increases the nation’s proven reserves.
According to an announcement by Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s President, 53 billion barrels of crude have been found, boosting overall reserves by nearly one-third.
“I am telling the White House that in the days when you sanctioned the sale of Iranian oil and pressured our nation, the country’s dear workers and engineers were able to discover 53 billion barrels of oil in a big field,” Rouhani said.
The addition of 53 billion barrels worth of exploitable oil officially pushes Iran past Canada, making it the world’s third-largest holder of crude.
The new field is expected to be the nation’s second-largest, after the 65 billion barrel behemoth currently located in Ahvaz.
While new reserves are a potential boon to Iran, an overall increase in production or sales are unlikely as the nation remains in an economically precarious zone due to U.S. sanctions.
Largely unable to secure new investments, discoveries of new resources are for show, with development simply being too expensive. This has already occurred even with resource projects financed by China, which maintains a $400 billion stake in Iran’s energy sector.
The latest quarterly financial results released by General Dynamics reveals that Saudi Arabia still owes Canada $3.4 billion in late payments for Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs). According to their quarterly earnings statements, the late payment debt has been growing by roughly $200 million every quarter since the beginning of the year.
According to CBC, the Trudeau government endorsed the controversial deal, originally made by the Harper government in 2014, to sell the Saudi government with hundreds of LAVs used to transfer troops.
The $14-billion contract was brokered and is managed by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), a corporation that aids Canadian companies broker deals and contracts with foreign governments.
“There’s no dispute on the fact that it is owed,” CEO Phebe Novakovic said. “It’s simply a question of timing. And we’re still hopeful that we resolve that by the end of the year.”
According to CCC’s website, “every contract signed has the legal effect of being signed in the name of the Government of Canada, providing foreign government buyers with the assurance that the contract will be delivered per the agreed terms and conditions, guaranteed.”
While the late payments are a serious issue, David Perry, vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says that, while the sheer size of the unpaid sum is daunting, it isn’t the Canadian taxpayer or government that’s on the hook, but the CCC.
“Ultimately, right now, it’s not the government of Canada in the short term that is on the hook. It’s not the taxpayers. It’s actually the company that’s facing the impact of this payment shortfall more so than taxpayers,” Perry said.
To deal with the financial shortfall, earlier this year, the Liberal government announced that it will provide a repayable loan of up to $650 million to General Dynamics to keep it afloat in the international defence market.