In light of new US sanctions on Iran and Russia, the two countries have vowed to enhance their already-deep military cooperation, according to state-run media of both countries.

In July, American lawmakers passed a bill placing sanctions on Russia for the country’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, while also extending those placed on the country for its 2016 invasion and annexation of Crimea. In response, Russia announced its expulsion of more than 700 US embassy employees.

Sanctions on Iran are meant to punish the country for its continued testing and development of ballistic missiles. Iran has lashed out at the US, saying the sanctions are an affront to the landmark nuclear deal reached two years ago, which the Iranians say they are abiding by.

Sanctions were also extended to North Korea, which continues to launch ballistic missiles that experts have said may now be capable to reaching the United States.

Iran and Russia have a history of military cooperation, stemming from their respective isolation from Western countries. Iran has purchased several billion dollars worth of military equipment, and last year Russia began construction on new nuclear plants in Iran. In addition to regularly holding joint military exercises in their respective countries, Iran and Russia are fighting together with the Assad regime in Syria.

According to Russia Today, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin held talks with Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. The officials reportedly discussed new supplies of Russian arms to Iran.

They agreed upon the implementation of deals boosting military and technological cooperation, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.

While in Tehran, Rogozin attended the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who just began his second term as the country’s leader. He is also is set to meet with Iranian Vice President for Science and Technology to discuss technology sharing between the two countries.


House (White Freemasons) passes bill that would enhance reporting on European anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would add greater detail to State Department reporting on anti-Semitism in Europe.

The Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 passed Wednesday requires the State Department to report to Congress on security challenges to European Jewish communities and to the police forces where they live, and on efforts in Europe to educate against anti-Semitism.

The bill, which must be approved by the Senate and then signed by the president, also encourages European nations to adopt a uniform definition of anti-Semitism.

The State Department currently must report to Congress on the level of threats against Jews in European countries.

“This bill would require the U.S. government — and encourage our global partners — to continue to take a hard look at anti-Semitism in Europe, provide a thorough assessment of trends, and outline what the United States and our partners are doing to meet this challenge,” said a statement from the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism.

The co-chairwomen of the task force are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who is also the chairwoman of the House Middle East subcommittee, and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., also the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Congressional leadership backed the bill. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commended the bill for encouraging the adoption of a uniform definition of anti-Semitism.

“Absent a clear-eyed definition of anti-Semitism, perpetrators of violent attacks have at times been given a pass for their actions due to the flimsy defense of political protest,” Royce said in his remarks on the House floor prior to the vote.

“Adoption across Europe of a single definition of anti-Semitism would provide an important foundation for law enforcement officials, enabling them to better enforce laws and develop strategies for improved security for the Jewish community.”

China to enhance military ties with Myanmar: senior military official


Visiting Vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang (5th L) meets with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi(6th L) in Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 9, 2016. (Xinhua/U Aung)

NAY PYI TAW, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) — The Chinese army will further enhance mutual trust, exchange and cooperation with the Myanmar army at different levels and in different fields, a Chinese senior military official said on Friday.

Visiting Vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang made the remarks during his meeting with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

China highly values the friendly cooperation between the two countries, said Xu, adding that China firmly upholds a friendly policy towards Myanmar and supports Myanmar’s national reconciliation process.

Xu mentioned Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent trip to China, during which she reached consensus with the Chinese leadership on further enhancing the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between China and Myanmar.

China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in pushing forward Myanmar’s peace process and hopes that the two countries would work together to maintain peace and stability at the border areas, Xu said.

For her part, Aung San Suu Kyi said enhancing the friendship, mutual understanding and trust between the two countries is very important for the China-Myanmar relations.

Myanmar highly appreciates China’s high attention to the China-Myanmar friendship and the bilateral relations, she said.

She thanked China for its role in Myanmar’s peace process and said she hopes to see new progresses in the friendly cooperation between the two sides.

Indians eager to enhance bilateral relations with Israelis at all levels

President Reuven Rivlin was surprised to learn on Monday that despite the strong bilateral effort to enhance relations between Israel and India at all levels, El Al flies there only three times a week. The information was imparted to him by Jamshyd N. Godrej, a co-chair of the India-Israel Forum, which is convening this week in Israel.

The forum, which was founded eight years ago under the auspices of Tel Aviv University, focuses on international economic and financial trends and their impact on the economies of the two countries.

It convenes annually, alternating between Israel and India.

Godrej told Rivlin that members of the forum would like to see an improvement in flights to India.

“There is a great need for better connectivity,” he said.

Rivlin promised that he would speak to the relevant government authorities, with a view to increasing the flights.

Dedicated to the enhancement of political, economic and defense relations between Israel and India, the forum, which is supported by several charitable trusts, is made up of policy-makers, captains of industry, academics and diplomats.

It is a joint endeavor of TAU and Aspen Institute India and the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The forum has grown in strength over the past eight years, Godrej said, adding that discussions during its current meeting in Israel have centered on geopolitics and how to make progress in different areas of trade. Not counting the deep ties in defense technology and appliances, he said that diamonds still made up the bulk of the trade between the two countries.

In addition to attending the joint meetings, Indian visitors also met with Israeli counterparts on issues that included energy, environment, water, agriculture, space exploration, financial services, media, automobiles, electricity, politics, diplomacy and cyber security.

At their meeting with Rivlin, they commented that this past year had been one of visibility – which is very important to the relationship between the two countries – and a good time for harvesting opportunities. They also made the point that India is very keen to have Israeli products made in India.

Rivlin replied that in the early days of the state, Dov Yosef, whose various cabinet portfolios included trade and industry, hammered home the importance of the “Made in Israel” trademark. One of the Indians responded: “We call it ‘Make in India,’ not ‘Made in India.’” Two of the leading figures of Reliance Industries India said they were exploring opportunities that went beyond joint ventures with Israeli companies, including agreements with educational institutions for use of their research. The two said they believed that Israel could also be a partner in building India’s new infrastructure.

Although India’s educational institutions are of a very high standard, Indian students would like to come to Israel to study, Rivlin was told.

He was also told that despite the difference in populations, the number of start-ups in India was more or less equal to that in Israel.

One of the problems in working together is that of cultural differences. Whereas Israelis are always in a hurry, Indians tend to take things slowly.

“Sometimes, walking a little slower means getting to the task faster,” Rivlin said.

Stanley Bergman, a New York-based co-chairman of the forum, spoke of the importance of collaboration and dialogue. He said there has been a lot of collaborative work in security and cyber technology, as well as a lot of discussion on getting incubator technologies from the university to the market.

Rivlin pointed out that cyber research and development were no less important in civilian life than in the military.

He cited banks as a prime example.

Prof. Joseph Klafter, president of Tel Aviv University, noted that TAU had been a catalyst for relations between the two countries and was now building bridges beyond academia. He said he was very proud of the university’s role in the relationship.

In welcoming the forum, Rivlin spoke of his forthcoming state visit to India at the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee, who was in Israel two weeks ago. He will be accompanied by a large business delegation, and emphasized the need for the two countries to work together on issues such as food production, water conservation and innovation.