Iran to introduce local alternatives to Google, Gmail

Updated 01 October 2012
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Iran to introduce local alternatives to Google, Gmail

TEHRAN: Iranian officials announced that they would soon introduce local alternatives to Google and its Gmail e-mail service, even as the country’s media and even some officials stepped up complaints over Tehran’s decision to enact a ban on Gmail in response to an anti-Islam film, newspapers reported yesterday.
Last week, Iran blocked Gmail — but not the search engine of the parent company Google — in response to a court order linked to the distribution of a low-budget, US-produced film on YouTube, also owned by Google.
In a country with 32 million Internet users out of a population of 75 million, according to official statistics, that ban has caused widespread resentment. Even many pro-government newspapers have complained of the disruptions.
“Some problems have emerged through the blocking of Gmail,” Hussein Garrousi, a member of a parliamentary committee on industry, was quoted Sunday by the independent Aftab daily as saying. He said that parliament would summon the minister of telecommunications for questioning if the ban was not lifted.
The deputy minister, Ali Hakim Javadi, told reporters that Iranian authorities were considering lifting the Gmail ban, but also wanted to introduce their own domestic alternatives: the Fakhr (“Pride“) search engine and the Fajr (“Dawn“) e-mail services, Aftab reported.
On Saturday, Asr-e Ertebat weekly reported that Iranians had paid a total of 4.5 million US dollars to purchase proxy services to reach blocked sites over the past month.


Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

Updated 19 June 2018
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Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

  • The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria
  • Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

JERUSALEM: Israel declined to comment on Tuesday on a weekend air strike against an Iraqi paramilitary base in eastern Syria after its US ally implicated it in the attack.
The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria.
Fighters of Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force, mainly composed of Iran-trained Shiite militia, have played a major role in the war against the Sunni extremists of the Daesh group in Syria as well as Iraq.
But their presence has sparked confrontations with both Washington, which has been supporting a Kurdish-led alliance that controls other parts of eastern Syria, and Israel, which fears Iranian-inspired attacks on its forces in the occupied Golan Heights.
Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But US officials denied any involvement and instead pointed the finger at Israel.
“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” one US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli military declined to be drawn on the US claims. “We are not commenting on foreign reports,” a spokeswoman said.
The military has carried out previous strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, but most have been significantly closer to Israel or the Israeli-occupied Golan.
Last month, Israel launched a large-scale attack on what it said were Iranian targets in Syria, raising fears of a major confrontation.
Those strikes followed a barrage of rockets that Israel said was fired toward its forces in the occupied Golan by Iran from Syria.
Even before that, Israel had been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged them.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Netanyahu reiterated his position that “Iran needs to withdraw from all of Syria.”
“We will take action — and are already taking action — against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria,” the prime minister said.
“We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”
Israeli seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
Iran has been a close ally of the Syrian regime for some four decades and, with Russia, has been a key supporter in the civil war that broke out in 2011.