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The White Helmet myth: A soft war propaganda

Sondoss Al Asaad

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The White Helmets are repetitively described as volunteers and relentlessly depicted as heroes in the war zone. A suspicious Organization backed by the British Government, known US regime change facilitators USAID, the US and NATO-backed ‘Syrian National Council’, a parallel government, which these pillars claim to represent the Syrian opposition.

Their role has comes under increasing scrutiny, as they are allegedly “work with full impartiality and neutrality, sacrificing their lives for the sake of the Syrian People”. Indeed, the majority of those same Syrian people have never seen those “heroes,” except perhaps for those in the Takfiris or the dwindling “Free Syrian Army” held territories.

The British Foreign Office predominantly finances the White Helmets; a generated mythology by a hypocrite international mainstream media, overseen and driven by a George Soros collaborated by PR company; called Purpose. They have a strangely advanced public relation in terms of very professional websites, videos and PR strategy dropping stories at the right time. They use professional terminology and images, in the sense of conveying the message that they are performing a humanitarian mission.

James Le Mesurier, who has founded the White Hamlets in March 2013, in Turkey, is a former British army officer and military contractor with an impressive record of accomplishment in the most dubious NATO intervention theatres. He is an efficient student of Britain’s prestigious Royal Military Academy of officer training at Sandhurst, who has served in various high-profile military deployments, at the United Nations, European Union, and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, over the past three decades.

Further, Le Mesurier is virtually a predominant figure in the UK’s blood-soaked imperialist hegemony and partook in malign dirty wars, Yugoslavia in particular, Kenya, Aden, Ireland, Iraq, Libya, etc. He regards the so-called civil defence organisation as an “unarmed and neutral” group. Whilst the White Helmets are obviously biased, armed, a synthetic covert intelligence and forward-operating disinformation asset.

Le Mesurier left the British Army in 2000 and served as the deputy head of the Advisory Unit on ‘Security and Justice’, and Special Representative of the Secretary General’s security policy body within the UN mission in Kosovo. He went to Jerusalem to work on implementing the Ramallah Agreement, to Baghdad as a special advisor to Iraqi Minister of Interior, to the UAE to train their gas field protection force, and to Lebanon during the 2006 war. In Dubai, Le Mesurier was appointed as the Vice President for Special Projects at private mercenary firm Olive Group, in 2005, and in January 2008, as Principal for Good Harbour International.

Le Mesurier and other opposition protagonists such as Raed Saleh and Farouq al Habib’s military and intelligence associations drive us more cynical about the claims of impartiality and lack of bias of the White Helmets. In fact, Le Mesurier has been portrayed as a maverick hero, miraculously coincided with the formation of a Syria Civil Defence team in Istanbul, merely a few months prior to the discredited Ghouta ‘chemical weapon’ attack in August 2013. That alleged fake event has been proven beyond a doubt to be a fabricated attack, as well as the successive accusations levied at the Syrian Government, which narrowly failed to precipitate the NATO’s desired ‘No Fly Zone’.

Scott Ritter, former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and weapons inspector in Iraq, provides a forensic account of Le Mesurier’s background. Ritter confirms, “the organizational underpinnings of the White Helmets can be sourced to a March 2013 meeting in Istanbul between a retired British military officer, James Le Mesurier—who had experience in the murky world of private security companies and the shadowy confluence between national security and intelligence operations and international organizations—and representatives of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Qatari Red Crescent Society. Earlier that month, the SNC was given Syria’s seat in the Arab League at a meeting of the league held in Qatar.”

The Syrian Civil Defence, established in 1953, is registered with the International Civil Defence Organisation, since 1972. Other civil societies and humanitarian organisations inside Syria like the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other children, women, peace, human rights, culture, concerned organisations have received no attention in flashy media appearance. However, within a surprisingly short period, the White Helmets have gained an unexpected attention and support from Western governments, mainstream media and ditto political elites.

For years now, there has been a malicious tsunami and round-the-clock allegations claiming that President Bashar Al-Assad is “targeting his own people indiscriminately,” by the White Helmets’ finance sources. The White Helmets state, “funding for their humanitarian relief work is received from the aid budgets of Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.” They, seemingly, have an annual budget of $300k and has raised a total support of well over US$ 100 million. The Turkish Elite Natural Disaster Response Team (AKUT) has additionally provided logistical support.

Moreover, various investigations have revealed that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a major shareholder in the White Helmet organisation. The USAID’s website writes, “our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances US foreign policy objectives by supporting: economic growth, agriculture and trade; global health; and, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.” Undoubtedly, The USAID serve a malicious role in the dismantling of sovereign nations and their reduction to Western hegemony vassal states, under the pretences of freedom and democracy.

Richard Spencer of the London Telegraph has said, “The Foreign Office is currently the largest single source of funding. It is an irony that if Britain does effectively become an ally of Assad, and starts raids against ISIL in Syria, it will be bombing from the air and paying for the bodies to be dug out on the ground. The White Helmets are also operating in at least one ISIL -held area.”

Noticeably, the White Helmets have a clear agenda associated with the conspiracy of overthrowing the Syrian regime, proven through the financial and political support they have granted to the armed groups involved in the conflict. The White Helmet myth-building process as emphasised by their website maintains, “The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of ‘Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality’ as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation.  This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved – so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.” The site adds, “The White Helmets mostly deal with the aftermath of government air attacks.  Yet they have risked sniper fire to rescue the bodies of government soldiers to give them a proper burial.”

In addition, the White Helmets are claimed to be ordinary Syrian civil volunteers who save the civilians and are rightly altruistic “bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and many more, the White Helmets are volunteers from all walks of life.” However, they are, virtually, executioners with a human face and part of the terrorist groups who serve Western intelligence and political propaganda. They are nothing but a political lobbying, a weaponised organisation who speaks toughly against the Syrian government, Iran, Russia and their allies. They receive massive funds from NATO and EU countries, which are militarily involved in the conspiracy against Syria.

The Zionist imperialist soft war relies upon its hypocrite mainstream media to disseminate its propaganda, propelling the MENA region into a sectarian conflict. Suspicious NGOs, such as the White Hamlets, are cynically instrumented to render vulnerable nations dependent upon foreign aid and donor support in order to facilitate “Democratisation,” the Zionist imperialist murky agenda. These doubtful NGOs cease to be the neutral and unbiased; they too publically purport to be ‘humanitarian organisations. Instead, they are covert tools for foreign interventions and regimes change’s conspiracies. The White Helmets’ propaganda is misleading and highly prejudiced, when in fact they are apparently paid mercenaries, impostors and agents; a drama, which is unfolding terrorist strongholds areas that are devoid of populations.

Currently, Terrorists in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta are hiding in civilians’ homes, taking away food and stealing instructions on how to pass through the humanitarian corridor. The terrorists are continuing their attacks despite the daily humanitarian pauses injuring the locals. The daily humanitarian pause was established on February 27. Earlier in February, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution proposing a 30-day humanitarian ceasefire in Syria.  According to the Russian Center for Reconciliation, the terrorists deprive people of special brochures with instructions on how to pass through the humanitarian corridor. It has also warned that “jihadists are plotting mortar shelling of [the UN humanitarian] convoy and putting the blame on the government forces.”

Earlier, the Syrian government has gotten information on provocations prepared by the terrorist groups; including, Jabhat al-Nusra, Feylaq al-Rahman and Akhrar al-Sham, using poisonous agents” in Eastern Ghouta. God forbid, a predictable chemical attack is being prepared by those murderers to give the West an opportunity to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against its people.

First published in our partner Mehr News Agency

Sondoss Al Asaad is a Lebanese freelance journalist, political analyst and translator; based in Beirut, Lebanon. Al Asaad writes on issues of the Arabs and Muslims world, with special focus on the Bahraini uprising.

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Syria’s Kurds: The new frontline in confronting Iran and Turkey

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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US President Donald J. Trump’s threat to devastate Turkey’s economy if Turkish troops attack Syrian Kurds allied with the United States in the wake of the announced withdrawal of American forces potentially serves his broader goal of letting regional forces fight for common goals like countering Iranian influence in Syria.

Mr. Trump’s threat coupled with a call on Turkey to create a 26-kilometre buffer zone to protect Turkey from a perceived Kurdish threat was designed to pre-empt a Turkish strike against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) that Ankara asserts is part of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish group that has waged a low-intensity war in predominantly Kurdish south-eastern Turkey for more than three decades.

Like Turkey, the United States and Europe have designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Turkey has been marshalling forces for an attack on the YPG since Mr. Trump’s announced withdrawal of US forces. It would be the third offensive against Syrian Kurds in recent years.

In a sign of strained relations with Saudi Arabia, Turkish media with close ties to the government have been reporting long before the October 2 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that Saudi Arabia is funding the YPG. There is no independent confirmation of the Turkish allegations.

Yeni Safak reported in 2017, days after the Gulf crisis erupted pitting a Saudi-UAE-Egyptian alliance against Qatar, which is supported by Turkey, that US, Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian officials had met with the PKK as well as the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey says is the Syrian political wing of the PKK, to discuss the future of Syrian oil once the Islamic State had been defeated.

Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu Agency reported last May that Saudi and YPG officials had met to discuss cooperation. Saudi Arabia promised to pay Kurdish fighters that joined an Arab-backed force US$ 200 a month, Anadolu said. Saudi Arabia allegedly sent aid to the YPG on trucks that travelled through Iraq to enter Syria.

In August last year, Saudi Arabia announced that it had transferred US$ 100 million to the United States that was earmarked for agriculture, education, roadworks, rubble removal and water service in areas of north-eastern Syria that are controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces of which the YPG is a significant part.

Saudi Arabia said the payment, announced on the day that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the kingdom, was intended to fund stabilization of areas liberated from control by the Islamic State.

Turkish media, however, insisted that the funds would flow to the YPG.

“The delivery of $100 million is considered as the latest move by Saudi Arabia in support of the partnership between the U.S. and YPG. Using the fight against Daesh as a pretext, the U.S. has been cooperating with the YPG in Syria and providing arms support to the group. After Daesh was cleared from the region with the help of the U.S., the YPG tightened its grip on Syrian soil taking advantage of the power vacuum in the war-torn country,” Daily Sabah said referring to the Islamic State by one of its Arabic acronyms.

Saudi Arabia has refrained from including the YPG and the PKK on its extensive list of terrorist organizations even though then foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir described in 2017 the Turkish organization as a “terror group.”

This week’s Trump threat and his earlier vow to stand by the Kurds despite the troop withdrawal gives Saudi Arabia and other Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt political cover to support the Kurds as a force against Iran’s presence in Syria.

It also allows the kingdom and the UAE to attempt to thwart Turkish attempts to increase its regional influence. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt have insisted that Turkey must withdraw its troops from Qatar as one of the conditions for the lifting of the 18-month old diplomatic and economic boycott of the Gulf state.

The UAE, determined to squash any expression of political Islam, has long led the autocratic Arab charge against Turkey because of its opposition to the 2013 military coup in Egypt that toppled Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brother and the country’s first and only democratically elected president; Turkey’s close relations with Iran and Turkish support for Qatar and Islamist forces in Libya.

Saudi Arabia the UAE and Egypt support General Khalifa Haftar, who commands anti-Islamist forces in eastern Libya while Turkey alongside Qatar and Sudan supports the Islamists.

Libyan and Saudi media reported that authorities had repeatedly intercepted Turkish arms shipments destined for Islamists, including one this month and another last month. Turkey has denied the allegations.

“Simply put, as Qatar has become the go-to financier of the Muslim Brotherhood and its more radical offshoot groups around the globe, Turkey has become their armorer,” said Turkey scholar Michael Rubin.

Ironically, the fact that various Arab states, including the UAE and Bahrain, recently reopened their embassies in Damascus with tacit Saudi approval after having supported forces aligned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for much of the civil war, like Mr. Trump’s threat to devastate the Turkish economy, makes Gulf support for the Kurds more feasible.

Seemingly left in the cold by the US president’s announced withdrawal of American forces, the YPG has sought to forge relations with the Assad regime. In response, Syria has massed troops near the town of Manbij, expected to be the flashpoint of a Turkish offensive.

Commenting on last year’s two-month long Turkish campaign that removed Kurdish forces from the Syrian town of Afrin and Turkish efforts since to stabilize the region, Gulf scholar Giorgio Cafiero noted that “for the UAE, Afrin represents a frontline in the struggle against Turkish expansionism with respect to the Arab world.”

The same could be said from a Saudi and UAE perspective for Manbij not only with regard to Turkey but also Iran’s presence in Syria. Frontlines and tactics may be shifting, US and Gulf geopolitical goals have not.

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‘Gadkari effect’ on growing Iran-India relations

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If the ‘Newton Effect’ in physics has an equivalent in international diplomacy, we can describe what is happening to India-Iran relations as the ‘Gadkari Effect’.

Like in the case of the 18th century English scientist Isaac Newton’s optical property of physics, the minister in the Indian government Nitin Gadkari – arguably, by far the best performing colleague of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – has created a series of concentric, alternating rings centered at the point of contact between the Indian and Iranian economies.

‘Gadkari’s rings’ around the Chabahar Port in the remote province of Sistan-Baluchistan in southeastern Iran are phenomenally transforming the India-Iran relationship.

The first definitive signs of this appeared in December when the quiet, intense discussions between New Delhi and Tehran under Gadkari’s watch resulted in the agreement over a new payment mechanism that dispenses with the use of American dollar in India-Iran economic transactions.

Prime facie, it was a riposte to the use of sanctions (‘weaponization of dollar’) as a foreign policy tool to interfere in Iran’s oil trade with third countries such as India. (See my blog India sequesters Iran ties from US predatory strike.)

However, the 3-day visit to Delhi by the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on January 7-9 highlighted that the application of the payment mechanism to the Indian-Iranian cooperation over Chabahar Port holds seamless potential to energize the economic partnership between the two countries across the board. In a historical sense, an opportunity is at hand to make the partnership, which has been ‘oil-centric’, a multi-vector ‘win-win’ relationship.

The meeting between Gadkari and Zarif in Delhi on Tuesday signaled that the two sides have a ‘big picture’ in mind. Thus, the opening of a branch of Bank Pasargad in Mumbai is a timely step. Pasargad is a major Iranian private bank offering retail, commercial and investment banking services, which provides services such as letters of credit, treasury, currency exchange, corporate loans syndication, financial advisory and electronic banking. (It is ranked 257th in the Banker magazine’s “1000 banks in the world”.)

Bank Pasargad is establishing presence in India just when the Chabahar Port has been ‘operationalized’ and a first shipment from Brazil carrying 72458 tons of corn cargo berthed at the port terminal on December 30.

More importantly, the discussions between Gadkari and Zarif have covered proposals for a barter system in India-Iran trade. Iran needs steel, particularly rail steel and locomotive engines “in large quantities, and they are ready to supply urea,” Gadkari told the media.

Then, there is a proposal for a railway line connecting Chabahar with Iran’s grid leading northward to the border with Afghanistan. Zarif summed up the broad sweep of discussions this way:

“We had very good discussions on both Chabahar as well as other areas of cooperation between Iran and India. The two countries complement each other and we can cooperate in whole range of areas… We hope that in spite of the illegal US sanctions, Iran and India can cooperate further for the benefit of the people of the two countries and for the region.”

Paradoxically, the collaboration over Chabahar Port, which has been a “byproduct” of India-Pakistan tensions, is rapidly outgrowing the zero-sum and gaining habitation and a name in regional security. There are many ways of looking at why this is happening so.

Clearly, both India and Iran have turned the Chabahar project around to provide an anchor sheet for spurring trade and investment between the two countries. This approach holds big promises. There is great complementarity between the two economies.

Iran is the only country in the Middle East with a diversified economy and a huge market with a fairly developed industrial and technological base and agriculture and richly endowed in mineral resources. It is an oil rich country and the needs of Indian economy for energy, of course, are galloping.

Second, Chabahar Port can provide a gateway for India not only to Afghanistan and Central Asia but also to Russia and the European market. Logically, Chabahar should be linked to the proposed North-South Transportation Corridor that would significantly cut down shipping time and costs for the trade between India and Russia and Europe.

Thus, it falls in place that the Trump administration, which keeps an eagle’s eye on Iran’s external relations, has given a pass to the Indian investment in Chabahar. Prima facie, Chabahar Port can provide access for Afghanistan to the world market and that country’s stabilization is an American objective. But then, Chabahar can also provide a potential transportation route in future for American companies trading and investing in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

According to a Pentagon task force set up to study Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, that country is sitting on untapped rare minerals, including some highly strategic ones worth at least 1 trillion dollars. Indeed, President Trump has pointedly spoken about it to rationalize the US’ abiding business interests in Afghanistan. Now, from indications of late, conditions have dramatically improved for an Afghan settlement that provides for enduring US presence in that country.

We must carefully take note that Iran is in effect supplementing the efforts of Pakistan and the US to kickstart an intra-Afghan dialogue involving the representatives from Kabul and the Taliban.

Importantly, China has also adopted a similar supportive role. A high degree of regional consensus is forging that security and stability of Afghanistan should not be the stuff of geopolitical rivalries.

The bottom line is that Iran’s own integration into the international community, which the Trump administration is hindering, is inevitable at some point sooner than we believe.

The disclosure that behind the cloud cover of shrill rhetoric against Iran, Washington secretly made two overtures to Tehran recently to open talks shows that Trump himself is looking for a deal to get out of the cul-de-sac in which his Iran policies have landed him.

Washington cannot but take note of the constructive role that Tehran is playing on the Afghan situation. (Interestingly, Zarif and Zalmay Khalilzad, US special representative on Afghanistan who go back a long way, have paid overlapping visits to Delhi.)

There is an influential constituency of strategic analysts and opinion makers within the US already who recognize the geopolitical reality that American regional policy in the Middle East will forever remain on roller coaster unless and until Washington normalizes with Tehran. They acknowledge that at the end of the day, Iran is an authentic regional power whose rise cannot be stopped.

From such a perspective, what Zarif’s discussions in Delhi underscore is that while Iran is keeping its end of the bargain in the 2015 nuclear deal, it is incrementally defeating the US’ “containment strategy” by its variant of “ostpolitik”, focused principally on three friendly countries – Russia, China and India.

This is where much depends on the Indian ingenuity to create new webs of regional partnerships. There are tantalizing possibilities. Remember the 3-way Moscow-Baghdad-Delhi trilateral cooperation in the bygone Soviet era?

That is only one model of how the three big countries – Russia, India and Iran – can have common interest to create sinews of cooperation attuned to Eurasian integration. It is a rare convergence since there are no contradictions in the mutual interests of the three regional powers.

The Indian diplomacy must come out of its geopolitical reveries and begin working on the tangible and deliverable. That will make our foreign policy relevant to our country’s overall development. Gadkari has shown how geo-economics makes brilliant, purposive foreign policy. Equally, he followed up diligently what needed to be done to get Chabhar project going so that an entire architecture of cooperation can be built on it. Zarif’s extraordinary remarks testify to it. Even a hundred theatrical performances on the Madison Square Garden wouldn’t have achieved such spectacular results in a short period of time.

*Nitin Jairam Gadkari is an Indian politician and the current Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation in the Government of India.

First published in our partner MNA

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Reasons behind the eventual withdrawal of Kuwait from PGCC

Javad Heirannia

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After several years since the beginning of Syria crisis, the Persian Gulf Arab states are changing their policies towards this county, and following the move of UAE and Bahrain, Kuwait will soon expand its relations with Syria.

Along with this policy change, the Arab leaders of Persian Gulf countries are warming up their ties with Israel.

The Arab-Israel relations get closer but Kuwait does not agree with this policy and intends to maintain its foreign policy outside Israeli influence, but it’s possible as a result Kuwait might be separated from the PGCC.

In this regard, it should be noted that the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council was an organization that was set up in 1981 to control Iran and was attempting to take steps to control Iraq, too.

Alongside these issues, the international and regional powers’ role in influencing these countries also reflects the lack of trust between the PGCC countries. For instance, while Qatar hosts a Turkish military base, this is seen as a threat to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

A recent international summit was held in Doha, Qatar, by high-profile figures, while earlier the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh took place with the absence of Qatar, Oman and the UAE’s leaders.

By holding this important summit and gathering outstanding international figures from Iran, Turkey and Russia, Qatar has shown that it could be more widely recognized in the international arena despite the hostile actions of the Persian Gulf Arabs states with the Doha blockade.

On December 12, 2019, Riyadh hosted the first Arab-African conference of foreign ministers of six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping.

During the summit an agreement was made on the establishment of a legal regime for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The objective of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden regime was to support world trade, international shipping lanes, regional stability and the investment and development of the member states. The plan, proposed by the King of Saudi Arabia, will be implemented in pursuit of security and stability in the region.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on December 12 that Saudi Arabia agreed to establish a Red Sea regulatory regime aimed at strengthening security and investment in the Red Sea bordering countries.

According to the statement, the seven countries are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, and Jordan.

The conference also features a new Saudi-led regional bloc that shows the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s failure.

Regarding the normalization of relations with Tel Aviv and the “deal of the century”, we are also seeing disagreements among members of the Council. Kuwait is one of the countries that disagrees with the policy of normalization of relations with Israel by some member states of PGCC. Kuwait has never wanted to be dominated by the Saudis. We also see a sharpening of the country’s disagreements with Saudi Arabia over joint oil fields, too.

This disagreement is over the Neutral Zone, and area of about 5,700 square kilometers. Its dividing line begins north of Khafji oil field  and runs straight to the west.

Kuwait disagrees with the resumption of oil extraction from the neutral zone without its recognition, and calls for its control as a Kuwaiti-dominated area.

Kuwait has discovered that Saudi Arabia is not a true friend of the Persian Gulf states, but an interventionist in the Persian Gulf states’ internal affairs.

Kuwait knows that the deal Saudi Arabia and its allies, the Emirates and Bahrain made with Qatar may repeat with Kuwait and Oman. In fact, what caused Qatar not to invade Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE was the resistance and meddling of Kuwait and Oman.

Accordingly, Kuwait seeks to strike a balance between the three countries. Although Kuwait has military and security ties with the U.S., it well knows that the U.S. is constantly threatening regional security. No one has forgotten what Trump said about  Saudi Arabia, : “You might not be there for two weeks without us”.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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