Breaking News -- Middle East
|Iran Votes To Increase Military Spending, Develop Long-Range
On Monday, Iranian lawmakers approved an increase to the country’s military budget of five-percent of the GDP, up from the 2 percent it occupied in the 2015-2016 budget. Spending will include the development of Tehran’s long-range missile program, which US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to stop.
The move could put Iran at serious odds with the incoming Trump administration, as well as heighten the cries of Western countries complaining that the Islamic Republic has violated a recent UN resolution meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear-weapons development.
The resolution specifically prohibits Iran from developing ballistic missiles with nuclear capabilities, but Tehran claims that they are not working on such a weapon.
Last year, Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary General did not assert that Iran’s actions violated the UN resolution, but rather that it was, "not consistent with the constructive spirit" of the deal.
On January 1 Ban expressed concern that Iran may have violated the resolution by supplying weapons to Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.
Ban wrote in a report that, "… Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, stated that the budget of Hezbollah, its salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles all came from the Islamic Republic of Iran,"
He added, "I am very concerned by this statement, which suggests that transfers of arms and related materiel from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hezbollah may have been undertaken contrary (to a Security Council resolution)."
Reports revealed that 173 legislators voted in favor of a five-year development plan that "requires government to increase Iran's defense capabilities as a regional power and preserve the country's national security and interests by allocating at least five percent of annual budget" to the army, defense ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to to Tasnim news.
The spending will reportedly include developing cyber war capabilities, long-range missiles and armed drones. Only 10 of the country’s lawmakers voted against.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama agreed that Iran had not violated the UN resolution, but Trump slammed the agreement, calling it a "disaster" that could lead to a "nuclear holocaust." He vowed to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” making it a top priority of his administration.
In March 2016 Trump told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), "Those ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,250 miles, were designed to intimidate not only Israel… but also intended to frighten Europe and someday maybe hit even the United States…We're not going to let that happen." according to Haaretz
US surveillance planes providing intel to Turkish forces in Syria
American planes conducting intelligence-gathering missions over northern Syria started transferring real-time data on the movements of Islamic State fighters in the area of the city of Al-Bab to the Turkish military on Thursday. It followed weeks of diplomatic and military negotiations by the two sides in Ankara and Washington. Negotiators continue to discuss the possible provision of American weaponry and advisors. Turkey's forces have been fighting the terrorist organization's forces in the Al-Bab area for months.
Ankara: Turkey and Russia hit 100+ ISIS targets in Syria
Turkish and Russian forces, in separate operations, have hit more than 100 Islamic State targets around the ISIS-controlled Syrian town of Al Bab in the past 24 hours - the Turkish Chief of staff’s office reported Monday. Turkish jets struck eight ISIS group targets while tanks and artillery fired on 103 targets near ISIS-controlled Al Bab, killing 22 terrorists and destroying buildings. Russian jets attacked Islamist targets in Dayr Kak, 8 km southwest of Al Bab.
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