U.S., Iran officials meet in Geneva, amid Iranian boasts of “major influence” in the Mideast


Bilateral nuclear talks between Iranian and American diplomats continued in Geneva Tuesday ahead of the resumption of P5+1 talks later this week, amid concerns that Western leverage in talks has steadily eroded following last month’s extension of nuclear negotiations. Observers have for months expressed concerns that Iran’s cheating had strengthened the Islamic Republic’s hand in talks, giving the Tehran more to trade away in talks as Western leverage erodes. Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, mocked what he called the “weakness of America’s sovereignty and authority.” Velayati called Iranian power in the region “unthinkable” and boasted that “Iran has major influence from Lebanon to Yemen.” Iran has for more than a year provided funding and military training to Houthi rebels in Yemen, deepening concerns that the Islamic Republic is widening its influence in the region. Iran has for years been blasted by Gulf countries for interference in regional issues, with Reuters this week calling Iranian support for the Houthi rebels “crucial” and assessing that “Iran is exploiting turmoil between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and now Yemen.” Following September’s Houthi takeover of the Yemeni capital, Iranian officials boasted that four capitals – Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut, and now Sana’a – were under the Islamic Republic’s control.


After winning praise from critics in Israel and abroad, filmmaking team Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz are now celebrating their golden nod from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association: Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem. Gett is a nominee for Best Foreign Film at the upcoming 72nd Golden Globe Awards. “This is incredible! I am both surprised and thrilled. We wrote Vivian’s story based on the very simple fact that still today in Israel a woman must get her husband’s consent if she wants a divorce. I am happy and proud that we have brought Vivian’s voice and struggle for freedom to the world,” Ronit Elkabetz, told the Hollywood Reporter. “The film asks that women be allowed to live their lives with dignity and basic human rights. This nomination is an incredibly important recognition of women’s struggle for freedom and independence, once and for all.” Gett is the third in a trilogy from the brother-and-sister filmmaking team following To Take a Wife when audiences met the character of Viviane, who wanted to leave her frigid marriage of 20 years, and The Seven Days, when she was separated but still suffocated by her husband, Elisha. The Golden Globes will be handed out on January 11, 2015. (via Israel21c)

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