Friday, 31 January 2014

7,000 Foreign Fighters in Syria Rebels Pose Long-Term Threat

US Intelligence Estimate: 7,000 Foreign Fighters in Syria

Rebels From Around the World Pose Long-Term Threat

by Jason Ditz,
For the first time, US spy chiefs have revealed an official estimate of 7,000 foreign Islamist fighters from 50 countries on the ground in Syria, saying they are mostly from Europe and the Middle East.
Estimates on foreign fighters by nation have varied widely, but of particular concern are manyhundreds of fighters from EU member nations, who after the war will retain al-Qaeda contacts and EU passports that will give them access to virtually everywhere in the world.
With the Syrian Civil war dragging on longer than anyone had figured, the foreign fighters have stayed in Syria for the long haul, and more and more of them keep showing up, leading al-Qaeda and others to build training bases just for foreign brigades.
But when the war finally does end, those fighters will scatter around the world, using the training and indoctrination they are getting in Syria to launch strikes everywhere.



                                           HAPPY YEAR OF THE HORSE TO EVERYONE

Iran and the West . a really short history

Time is ripe for US to embrace Iran
By Farhang Jahanpour 

OXFORD - In a radio broadcast in October 1939, Winston Churchill described communist Russia as "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma". Many people in the West today have the same feeling about Iran under the ayatollahs. One hears many pundits refer to Iranian politics as mysterious, inscrutable, baffling and unpredictable. 

Churchill continued his sentence by adding, "But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." I believe that if we apply the same key to Iran it becomes much easier to understand Iranian policies and actions. 

Although the Islamic revolution of 1978-79 brought about many political changes, many facts about Iran have remained the same. They include the main elements of Iranian culture, an attachment to Iran's long history, and a desire for a better life. 

The main slogans chanted by the people on the eve of the revolution were freedom, independence and social justice. The first referred to freedom from domestic tyranny, the second to independence from foreign meddling, and the third to a fairer distribution of wealth. 

In order to understand the motives that gave rise to the revolution, as well as what has happened since, it is essential to cast a quick glance at Iranian history in the 20th century. 

Iran was one of the first countries in the Middle East to stage a democratic revolution. The Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905-06) put an end to millennia-old absolutist monarchy and replaced it with a constitutional monarchy and a parliament (Majlis), and paved the way for modern Iran. However, Iran was not allowed to enjoy the fruits of that revolution for long. 

Shortly afterwards, Russia and Britain divided Iran into zones of influence under the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1907 as part of the The Great Game. The discovery of oil in Iran in 1908 led to the formation in 1909 of the London-based Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which not only dominated the Iranian economy but also meddled in Iranian politics. 

During World War I, despite her declared neutrality, Russian and British forces invaded Iran in order to safeguard British India and keep Iran out of the hands of the Central Powers. 

During World War II, Soviet, British and American forces invaded Iran, deposed Reza Shah who early in the war had declared Iran's neutrality, and placed his young son Mohammad Reza Shah on the throne. The Trans-Iranian Railway was used to send millions of tons of desperately needed supplies to the Soviet Union. 

In 1951 Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq nationalized the oil industry to end the unfair exploitation of Iran's most valuable asset, but in 1953 he was toppled in a coup orchestrated by Britain and the United States. 

It is important to remember this long history of foreign meddling in Iran's internal affairs in order to understand the fury of the revolutionaries against Mohammad Reza Shah and the West. 

What is remarkable is that despite all those catastrophes, the Iranian parliament that was first convened on November 6, 1906 continued to function, at least in name, right up to the 1979 revolution. 

The Islamic revolution inherited a democratic legacy with universal male and female suffrage. The first Women's Journal was published in 1910, and on January 7, 1936, Iran became the first Muslim country to ban the veil in public. Women were given the right to vote and to stand for public office in 1963. By the time of the revolution there were many Iranian female ministers, judges, doctors, university professors, pilots, etc. 

The people who took part in the revolution were demanding more, not less civil and political freedoms. Therefore, the Islamic regime that came into being under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had no option but to continue the traditions of parliamentary democracy, with universal suffrage for both men and women. 

Consequently, the constitution that was approved in a referendum was quite progressive on paper, with the big exception of the inclusion of Velayat-e Faqih (the rule of the religious guardian) and clerical boards, such as the Guardians Council that supervises the selection of presidential and parliamentary candidates. 

These powers have certainly compromised and restricted Iranian democracy, but they have not diminished the thirst of the Iranians for democracy and freedom. The elections have also been far from rubber stamps for official candidates, but have often produced many surprises. 

Up to a week before the 1997 election, a senior conservative cleric Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri who was the establishment candidate was expected to win. However, Mohammad Khatami's reformist campaign attracted the biggest turnout in the history of Iranian presidential elections and he won with over 20 million to Nateq-Nouri's 7 million votes. 

President Khatami initiated a period of major social reforms at home and a policy of rapprochement with the West. He called for a dialogue of civilisations and even proposed a grand bargain to the US in 2003 covering Iran's nuclear programme, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Persian Gulf security. 

However, in return, he was rewarded with President George W Bush's inclusion of Iran in the Axis of Evil. The rejection of Iran's outstretched hand strengthened the hardliners and led to the victory of the right-wing candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election. In 2009 again the majority of people voted for the reformist candidate Mir-Hoseyn Mousavi, but Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in what many people regarded as a rigged election. 

Millions of Green Movement supporters demonstrated in the streets, but they were put down by force, and Iran and the world had to endure four more years of Ahmadinejad's rule. 

When Hassan Rouhani declared his candidacy for the June 2013 presidential election, opinion polls put his popularity at only five percent, but an energetic campaign with promises of greater freedoms at home and a policy of engagement with the West brought more than 72% of the electorate to the polling stations, and he won in the first round with about 51% of the vote. 

The main candidate of the hardliners, Saeed Jalili, only received just over 11% of the vote and the other conservative candidate, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati who has been the Supreme Leader's foreign policy advisor for many years received just over six percent of the vote. 

While the president has to balance his powers with a number of other influential players, including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the conservative clerics and the Revolution Guards, nevertheless, he is the chief executive and his policies can make a huge difference in both domestic and foreign policies. 

Within the first 100 days of his tenure, Rouhani reversed 34 years of mutual hostility with the US and reached a landmark agreement in face-to-face negotiations between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and the US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

The agreement limits Iranian nuclear activities and virtually makes it impossible for Iran to move towards a breakout without being detected in plenty of time by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors who have been given the power of daily inspection of Iranian sites. A rapprochement with Iran helps calm the situation in a turbulent Middle East, reduces hostility towards Israel, helps America with her withdrawal from Afghanistan and fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 

A country of 80 million youthful and educated people, with the world's largest gas and the second largest oil deposits can provide a huge market for the West. If Iran's outstretched hand is once again rejected, it would send a message to Iranians that the West is not sincere in her dealings with Iran. It will strengthen the hardliners, reversing the gains of the past few months, and will make the situation even more dangerous than before. 

It will also harm the cause of reform and greater democracy in Iran, as well as making the Middle East a much more dangerous place, ultimately leading to a devastating war. 

It is time for the US to turn over a new leaf in her relations with Iran and start a period of collaboration, which will help both countries. 

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Language at the University of Isfahan. He has taught at the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University for the past 28 years. 

(Inter Press Service)  

Iran's nukes. A Manufactured Crisis

A Manufactured Crisis

by Peter Jenkins
MC cover, finalThe subtitle of Gareth Porter’s new book, The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, is well-chosen. Large parts of Manufactured Crisis are indeed untold till now. They amount to what the author terms an “alternative narrative”.
But don’t be misled by “alternative”. This is not the work of some crank who imagines conspiracies where none exist. One senses, rather, from the author’s meticulous sourcing and the extent of his research that what motivates him is a fierce hunger for truth and aversion to deceit.
Porter has been investigating the Iranian nuclear case for the best part of a decade. The result of his researches is both a fascinating addition to a growing corpus, unlike any previous work on the issue, and a disturbing indictment of US and Israeli policies. 
One central theme is that hidden motives have coloured these policies. On the US side, Porter explains, the end of the Cold War led to a federal bureaucratic interest in exaggerating the WMD and missile threat posed by Iran (and other emerging countries) to justify funding bids. During the presidency of George W. Bush some senior administration members also sought to exploit nuclear fears to “delegitimize” the Iranian government and engineer a pretext for enforced regime change.
On the Israeli side, every government since 1992–both Likud and Labour–has seen advantage in dramatising the Iranian threat and in demonising Iran’s leaders. “Iran and Shi’a fundamentalism are the greatest threats to global peace,” proclaimed one Israeli document. The purpose has been to maintain the value of Israel to the US as a “strategic ally”, to distract global unease from Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal, and to create excuses for remaining in occupation of Palestinian territory.
Porter concludes: “US and Israeli policies have been driven by political and bureaucratic interests, not by a rational, objective assessment of available indicators of the motives and intentions of Iranian leaders”.
Another central theme, one that complements the hidden motive theme, is that intelligence material and intelligence assessments have played a baleful part in this saga.
Faulty interpretation of intelligence in the early 90s led US analysts to believe in a full-scale, clandestine nuclear weapons program, according to Porter, whereas, in his view, the weapons program never amounted to more than some weapons-related research between the late 90s and 2003.
Faulty interpretations can be forgiven. More seriously, Porter’s researches suggest that in the first half of the last decade US analysts ignored or discounted evidence that called into question the assessments made in the 90s.
A CIA contract officer who transmitted human reporting that Iran did not intend to “weaponise” the product of its enrichment plants was ordered to cease contact with the source. Those within the CIA who pointed out the absence of evidence that Iran’s leaders had decided to make a nuclear weapon were unable to get this reflected in assessments. Analysts refused to give weight to the outlawing of nuclear weapons on religious grounds, although by then it was clear that Iranians had respected a similar religious ban on chemical weapons. Iranian assurances of peaceful intent, or at least of an intention to go no further than mastering the fuel cycle, “to enable neighbours to draw the necessary inference”, were disregarded.
A still more serious charge is that Israel has engaged in the forgery and fabrication of intelligence.
Since early 2008 the case against Iran has rested mainly on material stored on a laptop. The material came into US hands in 2004, and was passed to the IAEA in 2005. For two and a half years IAEA officials regarded the material as dubious and made no use of it. It was only in 2008 that they started to press Iran to answer for it. Porter implies that their initial scepticism was justified by laying out extensive grounds to believe that Israel fabricated this crucial material…
Porter is also convinced that Israel fabricated two other documents that have kept the Iranian case alive, despite a US National Intelligence (NIE) finding in late 2007 that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and despite the IAEA reporting in early 2008 that Iran had resolved all the concerns that had arisen out of IAEA investigations in the preceding years.
In 2008 Israel passed to the IAEA intelligence suggesting that, years earlier, Iran had conducted nuclear weapon detonation tests at its Parchin military site. Then in 2009 Israel supplied “evidence” that Iran had resumed weapons-related research post-2003.
If Porter is right, and if all three of these grounds for pursuing the case against Iran were fabricated, that is a very serious matter. The US and its European allies, assuming this intelligence to be reliable, have rejected Iranian protests to the contrary.  Indeed, they have interpreted the Iranian response as a refusal to cooperate with the IAEA, and on that basis they have mobilised international support for sanctioning Iran to the hilt. Those sanctions have hurt Iranians and have damaged European and Asian economies.
The supposed refusal to cooperate has also served to justify maintaining UN demands that were first made of Iran before the 2007 NIE, when it seemed reasonable to consider Iran’s nuclear program a threat to peace, but which became inappropriate after the 2007 NIE and once the IAEA had reported the resolution of all its pre-2008 concerns.
No doubt some readers will prefer to continue believing in the authenticity of this Israeli intelligence material. That may or may not turn out to be the right call. One inference, though, from Manufactured Crisis looks inescapable. There has never been conclusive evidence that Iran’s Islamic leaders want to have or to use nuclear weapons. All talk of an “Iranian nuclear threat” is therefore premature. Consequently, the draconian measures implemented by the US and its allies to avert that threat are unreasonable and unwarranted.

About the Author

Peter Jenkins →
Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. He specialized in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna). Since 2006 he has represented the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, advised the Director of IIASA and set up a partnership, ADRgAmbassadors, with former diplomatic colleagues, to offer the corporate sector dispute resolution and solutions to cross-border problems. He was an associate fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy from 2010 to 2012. He writes and speaks on nuclear and trade policy issues.

Snowden-Interview in English - video

Snowden-Interview in English

Lessons of Tahrir

Misplaced Lessons of Tahrir

'Insane, Disgusting' and 'Epic Treachery': NSA Spied on Climate Talks

'Insane, Disgusting' and 'Epic Treachery': NSA Spied on Climate Talks

'Obama admin. clearly never wanted Copenhagen talks to work,' says Bill McKibben following latest NSA revelations concerning climate talks

- Jon Queally, staff writer

While climate activists from around the world gathered outside the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 called for "System Change, Not Climate Change' while demanding to be heard by world leaders, the U.S. delegation inside the talks was busy listening to something else: a steady stream of surveillance intelligence on other nations provided by the National Security Agency.
That's according to new documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published Thursday by reporters at the Huffington Post and the Danish newspaperInformation, with help from American journalist Laura Poitras.
As the Information reports:
At the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, the world's nations were supposed to reach an agreement that would protect future generations against catastrophic climate change. But not everyone was playing by the rules. A leaked document now reveals that the US employed the NSA, its signals intelligence agency, to intercept information about other countries' views on the climate negotiations before and during the summit. According to observers, the spying may have contributed to the Americans getting their way in the negotiations.
And HuffPost's Ryan Grim and Kate Sheppard add:
The document, with portions marked "top secret," indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that "analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies."
"Second Party partners" refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship. "While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event," the document says.
According to Grim and Sheppard, citing the document, the intel gathered by the NSA was likely "used to brief U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and [President] Obama, among others." 
Even more troubling, according to Information's assessment, is that the top secret "document suggests that the NSA's [...] focus in relation to climate change was spying on other countries to collect intelligence that would support American interests, rather than preventing future climate catastrophes."
Climate activists who had placed high hopes in the Copenhagen talks at the time responded to the new revelations with anger on Thursday, with key members of the advocacy group expressing contempt for the Obama administration's role in sabotaging the talks:

Blair backs Egypt's government and criticises Brotherhood

Tony Blair backs Egypt's government and criticises Brotherhood

Former British PM says Muslim Brotherhood was stealing Egypt's revolution and army intervention has put it on right path
 in Cairo
Tony Blair has given staunch backing to Egypt's government following a meeting on Wednesday with its army leader, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
In a television interview on Thursday morning, Britain's former prime minister said Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had stolen Egypt's revolution, and the army who deposed him last July had put the country back on the path to democracy.
"This is what I say to my colleagues in the west," said Blair, visiting Egypt as a representative of the UN, the US, the EU and Russia in their attempts to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "The fact is, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to take the country away from its basic values of hope and progress. The army have intervened, at the will of the people, but in order to take the country to the next stage of its development, which should be democratic. We should be supporting the new government in doing that."
Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, was removed by Sisi following days of mass protests. His many critics said Morsi had authoritarian leanings and that his removal was essential to prevent Egypt from eventually turning into an autocratic theocracy.
Rights groups say the government that replaced him has been anything but democratic – with more than a thousand dissidents killed, thousands more arrested, and the right to free assembly and free speech severely curbed. The day before Blair's comments were aired, 20 journalists were referred to courton terrorism allegations – charges a leading rights lawyer said returned Egypt to the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.
Blair's office did not respond to a query about how the west could promote democracy without criticising lapses in democratic values.
In his television interview, he said: "Right here in Egypt I think it is fundamental that the new government succeeds, that we give it support in bringing in this new era for the people of Egypt. And, you know, we can debate the past and it's probably not very fruitful to do so, but right now I think it's important the whole of the international community gets behind the leadership here and helps."
Blair's comments are in keeping with his previous comments on the region. In the past, he has been supportive of autocratic rulers toppled during the 2011 revolutions such as Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. His comments drew criticism from other British-based Middle East specialists.
"The Middle East is a huge region and cannot be broken down into simplistic black-and-white realities, into blocks of good and evil, or as one picture as Tony Blair continually promotes," said Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding.
"Too often the peoples in the region are presented a false choice between religious-based parties such as the Brotherhood and secular dictatorship. We should reject that. For sure the Muslim Brotherhood under Morsi failed to deliver but neither are the current Egyptian authorities [delivering].
"Dangerously, Blair and others are turning a blind eye to the suppression of human rights, the widespread arrests, the crackdown on freedom of media and the absence of rule of law. These bear the hallmarks of the security state dictatorship under Mubarak, a man Blair described in 2011 as a 'force for good' even as his [the former dictator's] security forces were killing Egyptians in the streets."
At the time of Mubarak's overthrow in 2011, Blair warned that his removal would lead to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood: "They are extremely well organised and well funded whereas those people who are out on the street at the moment, many of them will be extremely well intentioned people but they're not organised in political parties yet."

Fantasy Hollywood: restaging classic films with black models

Fantasy Hollywood: restaging classic films with black models

When two Dakar-based photographers messed with some very familiar screen moments, they were taken aback by the racial dimension to the response
Missla Libsekal for Another Africa, part of the Guardian Africa network
Black Hollywood Breakfast
Breakfast at Onomo’s, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé
Back in the 80s, my classmates and I piled into Mbabane’s local cinema to watch Top Gun. We’d turn to each other, channeling our best version of Val Kilmer to spout “You can be my wing man anytime” – followed by intense laughter. Who doesn’t have a favourite line, an iconic moment from film lodged in our minds? 
Dakar-based photographers Omar Victor Diop and Antoine Tempé were counting on just that, the shared experience and ubiquity of film, when the hotel group Onomo International invited them to create a series of photographs using the hotel as a backdrop. They turned to the silver screen, to iconic moments they’ve held onto to and mined for their collaborative project, ONOMOllywood.
In 20 images that pay homage to characters such as Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, these reinventions begin with the a humble “what if…” A question looking to how popular global cultural translates to the local, what could it look like, and what new memories would it create. The project has created conversation, accolades and blowback, but in an interview with Another Africa, Diop takes it all in stride.
Black Hollywood American Beauty
American Beauty, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop
Missla Libsekal | Representational art usually puts artists in the hot seat, audiences tend to have strong opinions. For example Samuel Fosso’s self-portraits as famous political figures or Pieter Hugo’s Nollywood series. Mimicry steps on the nerve of nostalgia, the sacred or even challenges the status quo. What tale does ONOMOllywood tell and does it hit any nerves?
Omar Victor Diop | ONOMOllywood is a celebration of cinema, as an artistic discipline and of the magic of a great movie. For Antoine Tempé (the co-author of the series who created 10 out of the 20 images) and myself, what makes a great movie is the fact that the strength of its characters, plot and scenes transcends all geographic, temporal and racial barriers. A great movie is more than a series of sequences, it becomes a moment that is lived across the globe by people who have very little in common, but who relate to extraordinary stories that allow them to dream.
The example I always give is the magic of a James Bond movie; back when I was a kid, I didn’t care whether Roger Moore was white or black, or whether I was a British citizen… to me, he was a hero I could impersonate. After watching A View To A Kill, I firmly believed my pajamas were a tuxedo and that my mom’s kitchen was actually some concrete jungle where I would chase after criminals… That’s what cinema has brought to me and it still somehow does, to my adult life. A great movie is a dream.
Black Hollywood Psycho
Psycho, 2013. Photograph: Antoine Tempé
ONOMOllywood did hit some nerves, especially in the US: after one of my interviews was published on CNN.COM . We were taken aback by the racial dimension of some readers’ comment. To my great surprise, I realised that this series could be seen by some as a sort of “revenge” of black people against a too “white” Hollywood. The “race war” in the comments section was quite epic!
It was rather amusing to see the way some readers resolutely eluded the fact that this project is the product of a collaboration between a French-American photographer and a Senegalese photographer. It was “just some black dude painting Hollywood in black because the world looked better like this”.
I guess this can be explained by a set of contextual factors. The article aboutONOMOllywood was published in late July 2013, after a heated debate over a series of race-related affairs like the Trayvon Martin case in the US, a series of blackface incidents in fashion magazines in Europe, etc. I guess people from both sides were already prepared to shoot at anything that could be seen as an attempt to see the world from a racial perspective… Interesting experience indeed, we’re glad this project started a conversation in other continents, that’s the purpose of art, even though for us, ONOMOllywood remains a celebration, a well deserved homage to geniuses of cinema, to timeless moments.
Black Hollywood Frida
Frida, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop
The series has received quite a bit of attention, particularly in the press and through social media, what if any part of this journey has surprised you?
Apart from the reactions this series provoked in some parts of the world, I was personally surprised to see to what extent this exposure confirmed my belief that people share the same visual references across the globe. I grew up here in Dakar, a tiny Francophone country which has always been very open to influences from anywhere in the world. I remember when my sisters used to go to the Indian movies back in the 80s and how it was THE THING to do on a Wednesday afternoon. We loved Michael Jackson just as much as we looked up to Youssou N'Dour and Congolese rumba master Tabu Ley.
People like to think this world is getting smaller due to the internet, but I think it has always been quite an incredibly tiny village. Last year, I had the chance to go to Panama City for a biennial of contemporary arts, and one night I was invited to a function at some Cuban diplomat’s residence, I started singing along to a Cuban classic rumba song and people were stunned. They couldn’t believe that people of my age grew up listening to Celia Cruz (La Guantanamera) and Tito Puente and Johnny Pacheco, for instance. These were huge stars in Africa too, back in the 60s and 70. Small world!
Black Hollywood Matrix
The Matrix, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop
When you first conceived this project, did you have particular audience in mind?
We did expect this series to be shown in various parts of the world indeed, but we certainly had no idea it could go this viral before it was even unveiled. We regularly receive letters and emails from many unexpected places; a few weeks ago, we saw on the internet that a lecture was given about ONOMOllywood to post-grads in a Brazilian university. Yhis is incredibly rewarding and humbling.
How did you choose the 20 film scenes, and which are your favourites?
Antoine and I brainstormed for quite a while, and then when we agreed on the idea of paying homage to our favourite cinematic moments, each of us was free to make his own list. Of course, some movies were on both lists, and at some point, we had to bargain.
Black Hollywood Chicago
Chicago, 2013. Photograph: Omar Victor Diop

Senegal has a rich history in cinematic film with notable names like Ousmane Sembène, Djibril Diop Mambéty etc. Did this influence your project in any way?
The series comprises scenes from various movies, mostly American and French, and even though Antoine and I are both very fond lovers of Senegalese/African classics, we didn’t include any of these in the series, mainly because we want to dedicate a future project to this fantastic era of African Cinema. Stay tuned!
The full ONOMOllywood series is on show in Dakar until 12 May

Iran dismisses Barack Obama's claim that sanctions prompted nuclear talks

Iran dismisses Barack Obama's claim that sanctions prompted nuclear talks

US president's State of the Union assertion that US pressure rolled back Tehran's nuclear programme called 'delusional'
Agence France-Presse
Iran has said comments in Barack Obama's State of the Union speech about how sanctions linked to its nuclear programme had forced Tehran to the negotiating table were "unrealistic and unconstructive".
"The delusion of sanctions having an effect on Iran's motivation for nuclear negotiations is based on a false narration of history," Iran's foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.
President Obama, in his address on Tuesday, said US and international pressure had led to the interim deal struck in November between Iran and six global powers, under which Tehran agreed to scale back uranium enrichment in return for sanctions relief.
"American diplomacy, backed by pressure, has halted the progress of Iran's nuclear programme and rolled parts of that programme back," Obama said. "The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible."
Afkham, in comments posted on the IRIB website, dismissed Obama's comments. "It is a totally wrong interpretation of Tehran's interest to create an opportunity for western countries to have another kind of relation with the Iranian nation," she said.
Afkham also rejected Obama's assertion that diplomacy had opened a window which could forestall any possible nuclear weapons drive by Iran.
"America considers preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon to be its biggest achievement, but it is wrong since Iran has never sought to obtain a nuclear weapon and will never do so in future," she said.
Iran has repeatedly rejected suggestions that economic sanctions had forced it to the negotiating table, although last year former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted the punitive measures had caused "problems".
The Islamic republic has also consistently denied its nuclear programme has a military dimension, as suspected by western nations which imposed the sanctions.
Under the deal struck in Geneva in November, Washington committed to "refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions" for six months while world powers seek to hammer out a comprehensive settlement with Iran.
Obama has also pledged to veto any bill to impose new sanctions against Iran, warning the move could derail the talks.
The negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany – are scheduled to resume in New York next month.