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For Iran, Bashar al-Assad has been a valuable ally but not an indispensable one. His coming to power in 2000, followed by the Iraq war in 2003 and Syria s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005, freed Iran s hand in the Levant. Hezbollah under Bashar al-Assad has received weaponry and political backing unthinkable in his father s time, including long-range Scud missiles and a 2010 Damascus visit by the party s chief Hassan Nasrallah. But while Tehran has worked since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011 to prolong Assad s hold on power, it has also planned from the very early stages of the conflict for the day after, should its ally fall or should the regime lose Damascus.
A lawsuit has been filed in a US court seeking to stop non-profit groups from sending billions of dollars worth of tax-exempt donations to support illegal Israeli settlements and the Israeli army. A group of American citizens filed the suit on December 21 against the US Department of Treasury, claiming about 150 non-profits have sent an estimated $280bn to Israel over the past two decades.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Tuesday Saudi Arabia could not hide its “crime” of executing a Shi’ite cleric by cutting ties with Tehran, but Iranian authorities disowned an attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran. “We believe diplomacy and negotiations are the best way to solve problems between countries,” he added. “Regional countries can save the region from terrorism dangers through unity.” Iran’s Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi was quoted by Iranian media as saying “the latest action against the Saudi embassy could be planned and supported by infiltrated agents.”