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US State Department hints at Iran overthrow: Are we witnessing the early stages of regime change?

(ZERO HEDGE) — by Tyler Durden

The US State Department has issued a formal condemnation of the Iranian government following two days of economic protests centering in a handful of cities, calling the regime “a rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos” while announcing support for protesters.

It fits a familiar script which seems to roll out when anyone protests for any reason in a country considered an enemy of the United States (whether over economic grievances or full on calling for government overthrow).

The statement by spokesperson Heather Nauert, released late on Friday, further comes very close to calling for regime change in Iran when it asserts the following:

On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson testified to Congress that he supports “those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.” The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.

U.S. strongly condemns arrest of peaceful protestors in #Iran, urges all nations to publicly support Iranian people. As @POTUS said, longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people. #Iranprotests pic.twitter.com/mUTObTeHft
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) December 29, 2017

Though most current reports strongly suggest protests are being driven fundamentally by economic grievances, the US has already framed this week’s events inside Iran as revolutionary in nature and as aiming for “transition of government”. On Friday evening White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted the following statement:

Reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights including their right to express themselves. The world is watching.

The media is already promoting a regime change narrative

As we noted during our initial coverage of Thursday’s protests, Israeli as well as Iranian opposition media commentators (and of course pundits in the US mainstream) have generally appeared giddy with excitement at the prospect that protests could spread inside Iran, potentially culminating in society-wide resistance and possible change in government. It goes without saying that Iran has been enemy #1 for the United States and Israel since the Islamic Revolution and embassy hostage crisis beginning in 1979.

Consider for example this major Israeli international broadcast network, which in an English language interview segment covering the very beginnings of (relatively small and limited) protests Thursday quickly linked the Tehran government with use of chemical weapons in Syria, supporting the “biggest butcher in this region Bashar al-Assad”, and facilitating the killing of civilians:

#Iran protests: this might be #Rouhani’s chance to force the economic reform he’s been long clamoring for, @MeirJa tells @talexander_i24 pic.twitter.com/Pog57xkKKU
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 28, 2017

Simultaneously the resident “expert” presents the protesters as condemning these things while yearning for freedom and democracy. He can barely contain himself while repeating “It’s spontaneous! It’s spontaneous!… and could be more spontaneous! …it inspires people to go out more! …Because it’s spontaneous these two are combustible mixtures”:

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‘Time for REVOLUTION’ Iran regime is ‘doomed’ as riots erupt after warning from Trump

(DAILY STAR) — By Henry Holloway

Tear gas, water cannons and riot cops armed with clubs have been deployed today to streets of the Iranian capital as thousands of protests took to the streets.

Protests over unemployment and food prices quickly spiraled into widespread calls for the collapse of the ruling Islamic regime.

Videos and pictures erupted on social media from the tightly controlled state showing protests and violence amid chants of “death to the dictator”.

And now the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) has outright called for revolution while speaking to Daily Star Online.

Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the group, told this website: “Their regime has no future, it is doomed to failure, and it is time for the international community to recognize the Iranian people’s resistance to overthrow that regime.”

US President Donald Trump has also waded into the protests, warning Iran “the world is watching”.

Mr Gobadi said: “People have been on the streets in large numbers across Iran for three days despite huge risks and the regime’s total mobilization of its suppressive forces

“This clearly indicates the pervasive sentiment of the Iranians. In a nutshell, the Iranian people have shown their desire for regime change.”

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Egyptian Christians living in fear for the future

(BBC) — At the ancient Monastery of St Mina in the desert sands of Egypt, a low concrete tomb holds the remains of Christians slaughtered for their faith – not in Roman times, but earlier this month.

They were among almost 50 people killed in coordinated attacks at two churches. The bombings – on Palm Sunday – were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Priests at the monastery say persecution is as old as the faith.

“The history of the Christians is like this,” said Father Elijah Ava Mina, his flowing white beard contrasting with his black robes. “Jesus told us ‘narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way’.”

The burial chamber now holds seven coffins but there is space for more. Future attacks look all but guaranteed. The Egyptian branch of IS has said Christians are its “favorite prey”.

The beleaguered minority accounts for an estimated 10% of the country’s population of 90m, which is predominantly Muslim.

Most Christians here belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which traces its roots to the Apostle Mark. IS struck at the historic heart of the faith. One of its targets was the oldest church in Egypt – St Mark’s Cathedral in the port of Alexandria.

When the bomber came to the wrought iron gates of the cathedral, Gergis Bakhoom had just left. Back at his tiny tailor’s shop the 82-year old got word of the explosion.

He rushed to hospital in time to witness his oldest son, Ibrahim, take his last breath.

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Thailand: Some 235 people died in 2017 as bloody Islamic insurgency continues in Muslim-majority southern provinces

(CREEPING SHARIA) — The death toll this year from an insurgency in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces was the lowest since the conflict began 13 years ago, monitors said Wednesday, as security improves under the ruling junta.

Thailand’s southernmost provinces abutting Malaysia have been in the grip of a low-level but bloody insurgency since 2004 and nearly 7,000 people have died.

The majority of the victims are civilians — both Muslim and Buddhist — caught up in near-daily bomb attacks and shootings.

Some 235 people died in 2017 as a result of clashes between the Muslim-Malay insurgents and Thai troops and police, according to figures collected by conflict analysts Deep South Watch.

That compares to 309 in 2016, continuing a downward trend since 2014 and a sharp drop on the peak of 892 deaths in 2007.

“We have seen the incidents going down for the past three years. And this year’s death toll is the lowest ever if no significant incidents happen in the coming days,” a Deep South Watch spokeswoman told AFP.

Thailand, which colonized the culturally distinct south roughly a century ago, has for decades been confronted by ethnic Malay fighters seeking more autonomy, but the conflict flared up into its bloodiest phase in 2004.

Rights groups have accused both the insurgents and security forces of widespread human rights abuses.

The junta which seized power in 2014 has continued peace talks but they appear to have made little headway.

Discussions to set up so-called “safety zones” have been held with an umbrella group that claims to represent the rebels, but no agreement has been made public.

Deep South Watch said the reduced death toll may be linked to continuing talks and government development schemes.

Don Pathan, a Thailand-based independent analyst, speculated the reduction was likely a combination of factors, including more government informants on the ground, a tighter security operation and more targeted strikes by insurgents.

“The bombs are bigger and more intense,” he said, adding that militants were essentially being told to “make it count” and be more careful to avoid collateral damage.

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Turkey’s Erdogan has eye on becoming global caliph

(WND) — By Bob Unruh

There are increasing signs that Turkey’s dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, aims to turn his nation into the dominant component of a new Islamic caliphate, controlling even more territory than the Ottoman Empire.

Islam expert and author Joel Richardson wrote shortly after Turkey’s controversial election in which Erdogan was given virtually unrestricted power that analysts in recent years tried “to shout down warnings that Erdogan has a desire to return to the Ottoman era.”

“Today those same critics are taking a fresh look at the man they once made excuses for and even championed,” he wrote.

On the day Erdogan won the referendum allowing him to rewrite the Turkish constitution, effectively ending the secular democratic Republic of Turkey as envisioned by Ataturk, he made “a very symbolic statement,” Richardson wrote.

“Not only did he specifically avoid visiting the tomb of Ataturk (who turned Turkey into a secular government), but instead, he visited the tomb of Sultan Selim I.”

Richardson explained that Selim the Grim ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1520 and was most remembered for his expansionist conquest over Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“Erdogan was sending a very clear message. The era of Ataturk is over. There is a new Sultan Selim the Grim in power,” Richardson wrote.

Erdogan’s intentions are becoming clearer. He told an interviewer during a recent trip to Africa, for example, his nation now has 39 embassies on the continent, up from 13.

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French mayors panic as migrants overwhelm cities, beg Macron for help

(ZERO HEDGE) — Mayors from seven major French cities overwhelmed by the flow of migrants, have written a joint letter to Paris published in LeMonde on Saturday, begging the government to step in and help.

According to the letter, the cities of Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Nantes are taking in “several thousand” refugees per month, which the mayors say is causing a social emergency as they are “backed up against a wall” and “completely saturated” by a seemingly endless flood of asylum seekers.

The year 2017 ends with a massive rise in the demand for asylum and the arrival of newcomers puts extreme tension – particularly with the onset of the cold wave – of the classic public and institutional policies. In a proportion never before known, the mechanisms allocated to housing asylum seekers, led by the State, often with the support of our communities, are indeed completely saturated, despite the steady increase the number of places … The evidence is there, before our eyes, in our streets, in homes and shelters: there is urgency.

Every month, several thousand people arrive in our cities. Integrating those recognized as refugees and helping those who have lost their right of asylum who still remain in our territory is a major issue. -Le Monde (translated)

The mayors point to a lack of shelters, and call on Paris to establish a “solidarity network” between the cities of France dedicated to addressing the flow of migrants, as well as an “enlarged meeting with the state at the highest level,” which the mayors say must act quickly by assuming its sovereign powers to “finance these developed actions and propose a clarified framework of work with the communities for a real plan of reception of the migrants.”

In other words – Paris needs to step up and dedicate more money and housing towards the migrant crisis.

In response to the letter, the French Interior Ministry proposed a resettlement scheme which would result in the relocation of some 20,000 housing units, “broken down regionally” to ensure “distribution balanced” refugees and mobilization of donors. reports AFP.

in addition, the authorities asked the prefects to establish “mobile teams” responsible for the identification of migrants in emergency accommodation, much to the chagrin of the associations. (Midecins du Monde, Emmaus, …) who denounce a logic of “census, labeling and triage”. -AFP (translated)

As anyone who listened to the French Presidential debates gathered, France knows it’s got a massive problem with migrants. In October, after a 29 year old undocumented Tunisian man stabbed two women to death in the Southern city of Marseille, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed a new policy whereby illegal immigrants who commit crimes in France will face deportation.

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Al-Qaeda targets D.C. to Boston line, HAZMAT cargo trains in DIY derailment guide

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

The latest issue of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language Inspire magazine names Amtrak’s D.C. to Boston Acela Express and several other specific passenger rail lines in the United States as prime targets for their new focus on train derailment operations that the group says has been more than a year in the planning stages.

Inspire, which contains vivid picture instructions on how to build devices used for jihad, has served as an instructional guide for American jihadists who don’t necessarily claim allegiance to al-Qaeda, including Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The article focuses on metro trains operating within cities, regional routes serving population-dense corridors, and long-distance trains with remote tracks that are impossible to fully police. Trains can be attacked by targeting the cars, the stations or the tracks; the article focuses on the last, stressing that the method makes suicide operations unnecessary and the same person can return to strike more lines if not captured.

ISIS Group to Jihadists: Christmas Near…

“America’s railroads are estimated to be a 1/3 of the world’s railway. So how can they protect 240,000 km of railroad … it is practically impossible. The same goes to Britain, with 18,500 km and France, with 29,473 km. It is a daunting and almost impossible task to protect the long railroad length, and yet one of the easiest to target. That may result to great damage and destruction on different levels,” al-Qaeda’s “Lone Jihad Guidance Team” wrote, adding that “it is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their Air transportation.”

“We have to expose more of their vulnerabilities in their security. And when they spend millions of dollars to tackle a vulnerability we should be ready to open a new [front]… we expect that there will be no effective solution to the security gaps that may be caused by these types of operations that target the train system.”

The magazine includes 17 pages of step-by-step, pictorial instructions to make a “derailment tool” of rebar, reinforced concrete, rubber and sheet metal to clamp onto a track a suggested 10 minutes before a train is scheduled to pass.

The Acela is singled out as a high-speed route that the terror group anticipates would see higher casualties and damage from the use of the derailment tool.

2015 al-Qaeda Article Showed How to Build NY Christmas Bulb Bomb

“This is the most suited condition for a successful train derail operation. When a train reaches high speed then it has to be reduced to around 100 km/h. This is because a train at a very high speed is hard to control or manage using brakes. For example America’s high-speed train ‘Acela’ requires a whole mile so that it can come to a halt, this is because of the train’s very high speed. Another reason is that the train losses weight and stability when it is at high speeds,” the article states. “Therefore a Mujahid must be aware of areas where the train increases its speed and places where the train moves at a high speed.”

The Inspire issue details, in photos, the specific types of derailments that jihadists can aim for, including a train coming off the tracks and striking a mountain to “attain the desired result,” striking man-made structures including buildings and bridges, and falling from elevated tracks.

“Dual operations” are also emphasized, in which a train carrying hazardous materials can derail in a populated area — “an issue that makes the different security agencies sleepless.”

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Trust no one: Scholar risked all to document Islamic State

(NATIONAL POST) — By LORI HINNANT and MAGGIE MICHAEL

The historian carried secrets too heavy for one man to bear.

He packed his bag with his most treasured possessions before going to bed: the 1 terabyte hard drive with his evidence against the Islamic State group, an orange notebook half-filled with notes on Ottoman history, and, a keepsake, the first book from Amazon delivered to Mosul.

He passed the night in despair, imagining all the ways he could die, and the moment he would leave his mother and his city.

He had spent nearly his entire life in this home, with his five brothers and five sisters. He woke his mother in her bedroom on the ground floor.

“I am leaving,” he said. “Where?” she asked. “I am leaving,” was all he could say. He couldn’t endanger her by telling her anything more. In truth, since the IS had invaded his city, he’d lived a life about which she was totally unaware.

He felt her eyes on the back of his neck, and headed to the waiting Chevrolet. He didn’t look back.

For nearly two years, he’d wandered the streets of occupied Mosul, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. He grew out his hair and his beard and wore the shortened trousers required by IS. He forced himself to witness the beheadings and deaths by stoning, so he could hear the killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes.

The blogger known as Mosul Eye kept his identity a secret as he documented Islamic State rule.

He wasn’t a spy. He was an undercover historian and blogger . As IS turned the city he loved into a fundamentalist bastion, he decided he would show the world how the extremists had distorted its true nature, how they were trying to rewrite the past and forge a brutal Sunni-only future for a city that had once welcomed many faiths.

He knew that if he was caught he too would be killed.

“I am writing this for the history , because I know this will end. People will return, life will go back to normal,” is how he explained the blog that was his conduit to the citizens of Mosul and the world beyond. “After many years, there will be people who will study what happened. The city deserves to have something written to defend the city and tell the truth, because they say that when the war begins, the first victim is the truth.”

He called himself Mosul Eye . He made a promise to himself in those first few days: Trust no one, document everything.

Neither family, friends nor the Islamic State group could identify him. His readership grew by the thousands every month.

And now, he was running for his life.

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Muslim population in some European countries ‘could triple’ by 2050′

(THE SUN) — By Brittany Vonow

The Muslim population in countries across Europe could triple by 2050, a report has suggested.

Finland’s Muslim population alone could increase by more than four times, while the UK could see an increase of 2.65 times in little more than a decade, according to projections made in the study.

According to one of the medium projections for 2050, 16.7 per cent of the UK population will be Muslim

According to one of the medium projections for 2050, 16.7 per cent of the UK population will be Muslim

Around 6.3 per cent of the UK’s population is currently Muslim – compared to the percentage of 4.9 across Europe – with the country potentially reaching 17.2 per cent in the high migration scenario, to the Washington-based Pew Forum report suggested.

The report said countries like Germany and Sweden that would see the biggest growth in Muslim population, stating: “Countries that have received relatively large numbers of Muslim refugees in recent years are projected to experience the biggest changes in the high migration scenario.”

Under the highest level projections, one in five people in Germany would be Muslim by 2050, Sweden is expected to see almost one in three.

The report examined three scenarios – where migration into Europe was to completely and permanently stop immediately, where all refugee levels would slow but that the migration of those who come for reasons other than seeking asylum would continue, or finally that the flow of refugees into Europe would continue indefinitely.

Under the projection of high migration, that percentage could be as high as 14 per cent.

Even under the first projection where migration would stop completely, Europe’s Muslim population was predicted to grow by 7.4 per cent.

The report identified the UK as the desired destination for a larger number of migrants from outside Europe, with 1.6m people arriving in the country between 2010 and 2016.

It stated: “The UK voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the EU, which may impact immigration patterns in the future.”

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ISIS group to jihadists: ‘The Crusaders’ feast is approaching… Show them the meaning of terrorism’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

A pro-ISIS media group continued its online verbal jihad against the Vatican and Christmas today with a threat accompanied by an image of a jihadist and a wolf overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

On Tuesday, the Wafa’ Media Foundation released an image of smoke rising from Rome with a fighter jet overhead and a jihadist standing next to the sort of makeshift armored vehicle ISIS uses for suicide bombings in Iraq and Syria. “The date is approaching o worshippers of the cross,” states the message on the image.

The ISIS magazine Rumiyah — or Rome, reflecting the group’s apocalyptic vision and ultimate plans to sack the Vatican — hasn’t published a new issue since September. Their early e-book detailing the Rome conquest strategy predicted mob bosses would put up tough resistance: “There is no doubt that if Muslims want to take over Italy, the Islamic State European fighters will have to ally with other militias to fight the Mafia before the conquest of Rome.”

Suspects in Christmas Terror Plot Released; On the Loose in Germany

Today, Wafa’ released the Vatican “wolf” image, with a backpack, rocket-propelled grenade and rifle at the jihadist’s side as storm clouds gather over a twilight St. Peter’s Square.

In a message to fellow jihadists, the group notes that “the crusaders’ feast is approaching.”

The message ran on with no punctuation: “Their convoys will crowd itself in front of you prepare and plan for them show them the meaning of terrorism kill them and do not hold back with your blood the reward is paradise and let them know that you are from an ummah [Muslim community] where mountains bow down to we will not forget our revenge for every drop of blood that they have shed we will not exclude the young, elderly or women you are all in the crosshairs of our arrows and what is about to come is more even worse.”

Last week, the group released a “beheading” image of Pope Francis, with a jihadist standing over the orange-jumpsuited body of a prisoner with his hands behind his back, chest-down on the ground on a dirt street. The terrorist, clad in khaki with a white scarf covering his face, held a knife in one hand and touched the head that looked like Pope Francis — propped on the back of the body — with his other hand.

“Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” the pope’s name, was written next to the head.

The previous week, Wafa’ circulated a poster depicting a vehicle moving toward the Vatican with a cache of weapons, vowing “Christmas blood.”

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