Is war eminent with Iran?


Historians Against the War is posting Frank Brodhead’s “Iran War Weekly,’ as a helpful resource for our members and friends. Frank earned a PhD in history at Princeton University and has co-authored several books on US foreign policy. He is a scholar and political activist who has worked with peace and social justice movements for many years. In 2010-2011 he produced the “Afghanistan War Weekly,” which was widely used by antiwar groups across the country.
 
Iran War Weekly
March 5, 2013
 
Hello All – After eight months of low-profile inactivity, the Iranian nuclear issue sprang to life this week in widely separate venues: Washington and Kazakhstan.  In Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty, Iran’s nuclear negotiators met with the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany).  The approach of the meeting was smothered in low expectations, as the rumored P5+1 negotiating position seemed indistinguishable from those that had been tried and failed, except for the promise of removing some sanctions that had been recently instituted to restrict the use of gold to make purchases (by-passing sanctions against banks). In Kazakhstan, however, the P5+1 made some changes in the demands it put to Iran, especially in abandoning the demand that Iran’s enrichment plant buried underground at Fordow be dismantled.  This was seen by Iran as sufficient to schedule a follow-up meeting for April 5-6, with a “technical meeting” to take place in mid-March.
 
In the real world, however, the P5+1 demands remain far apart from what Iran has indicated it wants or is willing to give.  “The West” still will not recognize Iran’s rights under the NPT to enrich uranium, and it is proposing varying formulas by which Iran must abandon most of its nuclear program before sanctions relief will be considered. Yet the glimmer of movement in Kazakhstan was received as a significant accomplishment in the nuclear-diplomacy world, as several analyses linked below confirm.  Iran, especially, expressed satisfaction, seeing the outcome of the meeting as a result of its stout resistance to bullying and sanctions by “the West.”
 
In the parallel universe of Washington, DChowever, all was not well.  The meeting in Kazakhstan immediately preceded the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, a meeting described by one analyst linked below as the annual “Israel-Congress orgy.”  True to form, this year’s conference heard US Vice President Joe Biden pledge that the United States would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu elaborated on the theme of evil Iran and Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb.  On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Israel’s supporters in the Senate collected co-sponsors for a resolution calling on the Obama administration to aid Israel militarily if Israel attacks Iran “in self-defense.” Meanwhile, the House of Representatives busied itself drafting a new round of economic sanctions against Iran.  What were seen as heartening diplomatic gains in Kazakhstan were viewed in Washington and Israel as Iran gaining more time – through diplomatic wheel-spinning – to build its bomb.
 
In addition to articles and essays evaluating these two arenas of diplomacy and non-diplomacy, linked below are good/useful essays by Bishop Desmond Tutu, Hossein Mousavian, and Trita Parsi; a de-construction of the latest IAEA alarums about Iran’s military base at Parchin; an update on economic sanctions against Iran; and some news from the civil war/military intervention in Syria.
 
For those of you who have read this far down the page, your reward is a lovely short video posted on the website “Wide Asleep in America”: It’s called “Fifty People, One Question: Tehran Edition.”
 
Finally, a reminder that previous “issues” of the IWW can be read at http://warisacrime.org/blog/46383. If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at fbrodhead@aol.com.
 
Best wishes,
Frank Brodhead
 
OVERVIEWS/PERSPECTIVES
A Proposed Endgame for the Iranian Nuclear Crisis
By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [February 25, 2013]
—- Western proliferation concerns about Iran reflect a basic misperception of Iran’s nuclear intentions and conflate the latent nuclear capability inherent in the fuel cycle with a manifest nuclear threat. If decoupled from the unrealistic goal of no Iranian uranium enrichment, US policy could make inroads and keep Iran’s nuclear capability perpetually latent and thus harmless. The official US position of “zero centrifuges” is a non-starter. It should be replaced with an approach that seeks nonproliferation objectives without the harmful misperceptions and counter-productive rhetoric that hinder dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the Iranian crisis.  … it is time to end this misperception and change the coercive diplomacy emanating from it, in favor of a realistic approach that recognizes that Iran’s nuclear ambition is not to turn into a North Korea, but rather into another Japan or Brazil — that is, into a country that enjoys its right, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to possess a full nuclear fuel cycle without facing external backlash. http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/op-eds/proposed-endgame-the-iranian-nuclear-crisis
 
Nuclear Weapons Must Be Eradicated for all Our Sakes
By Desmond Tutu, The Guardian [UK] [March 4, 2013]
—- We cannot intimidate others into behaving well when we ourselves are misbehaving. Yet that is precisely what nations armed with nuclear weapons hope to do by censuring North Korea for its nuclear tests and sounding alarm bells over Iran’s pursuit of enriched uranium. According to their logic, a select few nations can ensure the security of all by having the capacity to destroy all. As an Oslo conference on nuclear weapons starts, we should not accept that a ‘select few nations can ensure the security of all by having the capacity to destroy all. Until we overcome this double standard – until we accept that nuclear weapons are abhorrent and a grave danger no matter who possesses them, that threatening a city with radioactive incineration is intolerable no matter the nationality or religion of its inhabitants – we are unlikely to make meaningful progress in halting the spread of these monstrous devices, let alone banishing them from national arsenals. https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/04-1
 
What Kerry Needs to Know about Iran
By Hossein Mousavian, Financial Times [February 25, 2013]
—- In his first official trip as US secretary of state this week, John Kerry has reiterated that Iran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. But both he and Vice-president Joe Biden have also this month made a point of calling for bilateral talks to resolve the differences between Washington and Tehran. The response of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, that “negotiations will not solve the problem”, has been interpreted as closing the door on that option. Having served in the Iranian government for almost three decades, holding posts in parliament, the foreign ministry and national security, and working on relations with the west, I can confidently state that negotiation is possible. The view that Iran does not want to negotiate is a misreading of the signals – often conflicting – from Tehran.http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/4b77d996-7f41-11e2-97f6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2MgKZRnoz
 
Also useful – Michael Brenner, “The Iranian Dilemma,” Counterpunch [March 4, 2013]http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/the-iranian-dilemma/; and Massimo Calabresi,”The Path To War,” Time [March 11, 2013] http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2137429,00.html
 
THE P5+1 MEETING IN KAZAKHSTAN
As Negotiators Ease Demands on Iran, More Nuclear Talks Are Set
By Steven Erlanger, New York Times [February 27, 2013]
 
Iran and Six Nations Agree to Continue Nuclear Talks
By Steven Erlanger, New York Times [February 27, 2013]
 
Iran, world powers agree to new nuclear talks in Istanbul, Almaty
By Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor [February 27, 2013]
 
Nuclear talks: New approach for Iran at Almaty
By Lyse Doucet, BBC [February 28, 2013]
 
In talks with Iran, reality tempers hopes on nuclear deal
By Joby Warrick and Jason Rezaian, Washington Post [March 2, 2013]
 
Iranian Response to the Meeting
Iran Cheers Latest Offer as ‘Turning Point’ in Negotiations With West
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [February 27, 2013]
—- Iranian officials were upbeat today at what was described as a “realistic” series of offers by Western officials at the ongoing P5+1 talks in Kazakhstan, saying they marked a major turning point in the talks.The exact details of the concessions are not all public knowledge yet, but reportedly includes allowing Iran to continue to produce medical isotopes and an offer to relax sanctions, including an end to the ban on petrochemical trades, in return for a “suspension” of enrichment at Fordo. This is a major shift on two fronts, as previous reports had the West only offering to allow Iran a trivial amount of grey-market gold bartering and had demanding not just a suspension of Fordo, but a complete dismantling of the facility. No deal has been agreed to yet, but the potential seems to be there, with both sides agreeing to a side meeting in mid-March in Istanbul to discuss details and a follow-up in Kazakhstan in early April, potentially for a final agreement. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/02/27/iran-cheers-latest-offer-as-turning-point-in-negotiations-with-west/
 
Iran hails ‘softer’ and ‘smarter’ approach to its nuclear program
By Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor [February 28, 2013]
—- Tehran reacted positively to a revised proposal that eases demands from six world powers on Iran’s 20 percent uranium enrichment and its deeply buried Fordow facility. The concession caught Iran’s attention. It is now being asked to “suspend” its 20 percent enrichment and can use its uranium stockpile already enriched to that level for nuclear fuel. It also only needs to modify equipment at Fordow – not close it down permanently – so that the facility cannot quickly and secretly resume operations there.
Those steps are the first from the United States and other world powers to diverge from demands laid down last spring – and rejected ever since by Tehran – to completely stop 20 percent enrichment, ship out its stockpile, and shut Fordow for good. That proposal also offered no reciprocal concessions on easing sanctions. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0228/Iran-hails-softer-and-smarter-approach-to-its-nuclear-program?nav=87-frontpage-entryLeadStory
 
Israeli Reaction to Meeting
Netanyahu says Iran using nuclear talks to “buy time” for bomb
By Dan Williams, Reuters [March 3, 2013]
—-Renewed international efforts to negotiate curbs on Iran’s disputed nuclear program have backfired by giving it more time to work on building a bomb, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. His remarks on the inconclusive February 26-27 meeting between Iran and six world powers signaled impatience by Israel, which has threatened to launch preemptive war on its arch-foe, possibly in the coming months, if it deems diplomacy a dead end. Senior U.S. diplomat Wendy Sherman flew in to brief Israel about the Kazakh-hosted talks, in which Tehran, which denies seeking nuclear arms, was offered modest relief from sanctions in return for halting mid-level uranium enrichment.http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/03/us-iran-nuclear-israel-idUSBRE92204F20130303
 
Netanyahu Spurns Reports of Iran Talk Progress, Demands Military Threats
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [February 27, 2013]
—- Though the people who were actually at the Kazakhstan negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were upbeat after the talks, with Iranian officials hailing them as a breaking point, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the talks again today, insisting Iran would never accept any offers.Netanyahu insisted that Iran has flouted “all international standards” and demanded that the P5+1 threaten to attack Iran, saying that only military means could ever force Iran into giving up their civilian nuclear program. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/02/27/netanyahu-spurns-reports-of-iran-talk-progress-demands-military-threats/
 
Independent Analyses
(Video) Nuclear Breakthrough – 30 minutes
—- The latest round of talks with Iran has ended with positive results. Western powers are offering a revised deal, but will it be enough to resolve the nuclear issue? A discussion with Gary Sick, Joe Cirincione, Trita Parsi, and Michael Eisenstadt. http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/nuclear-talks-with-iran-yield-diplomatic-breakthrough/512ed02b2b8c2a7d4f000368
 
P5+1-Iran meeting was highly encouraging but the long shadow of the past looms large
By Trita Parsi, The Daily Beast [March 1, 2013]
—- For the first time, United States and Iran appear to have begun real negotiations. Though no agreement has been reached yet, the meeting in Kazakhstan this week was a relative success. Previous rounds of talks resembled stare-offs before boxing matches. They centered on coercion: the main motivator for concessions was the threat of new sanctions or other escalatory steps. This time around there was a genuine give-and-take. If the next meeting in Istanbul strengthens this positive trend, a major achievement can be in the making. … What is potentially a game-changer with the meeting in Almaty is that the paradigm of the talks shifted from perpetual escalation to an exchange of concessions and incentives. Both sides shifted their positions and moved a bit closer to the other.http://thediplomat.com/2013/03/01/the-ball-is-in-irans-court/?all=true
 
Other assessments – [An interview with] Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association, “Shifting Tactics in Talks With Tehran,” [March 1, 2013] http://www.cfr.org/iran/shifting-tactics-talks-tehran/p30119#cid=soc-twitter-at-interview-shifting_tactics_in_talks_with-030113; and Editorial, “Another Try at Nuclear Talks,”  New York Times [March 1, 2013]http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/opinion/another-try-at-nuclear-talks-with-iran.html
 
IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran Says 3,000 Centrifuges Being Built
From Reuters [March 3, 2013]
—- Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. Iran said earlier this year that it would install the new-generation centrifuges at its Natanz uranium enrichment plant in central Iran, but Sunday’s reports by Iranian news agencies appeared to be the first time a specific figure had been given. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/world/middleeast/iran-says-3000-centrifuges-being-built.html?ref=world
 
The Latest from the IAEA re: Parchin
On Monday the IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano, issued a statement to the organization’s quarterly meeting that included the following: “Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. The agency therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” [The full statement can be read athttp://www.iaea.org/newscenter/statements/2013/amsp2013n03.html.]  Amano’s statement was melded into the news cycle along with Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement in Saudi Arabia that “talks cannot become an instrument of delay” and Vice-President Biden’s speech at the AIPAC conference that the United States was committed “to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Period.  End of discussion.”
 
As has been noted before in this newsletter and repeatedly in the blogosphere, Amano is claiming that Iran is in violation of an obligation that it does not have.  As a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other agreements, Iran allows IAEA inspectors to its nuclear sites to ensure that nuclear materials are not being diverted to military purposes.  Iran is not a signatory to the “Additional Protocol,” which would allow IAEA inspectors to go to other than “declared nuclear sites,” for example, military installations such as Parchin.  The language that Director General Amano uses in his statement to his Board of Governors, that Iran’s unwillingness to allow IAEA inspectors to visit Parchin or other sites means that “the agency therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” is formulaic language that is used in relation to states that have signed on to the Additional Protocol, not applicable to Iran in this case.  The IAEA’s Amano is raising an alarm about Iran’s refusal to do something that it doesn’t have to do, in an atmosphere already highly charged with threats of war.
 
For the legal issues, see http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/09/13/the-iaea-applies-incorrect-standards-exceeding-its-legal-mandate-and-acting-ultra-vires-regarding-iran/.  For a typical press story, see Alan Cowell, “U.N. Nuclear Official Seeks Access to Iranian Site,” New York Times [March 4, 2013]http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/05/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-weapons.html?ref=world
 
US POLICIES AND PERSPECTIVES
Full text of Biden’s speech at AIPAC policy conference
From Haaretz [Israel] [March 4, 2013]
 
Window on Iran Not Open ‘Indefinitely,’ Kerry Says
By The Associated Press [March 4, 2013]
—- The United States and Saudi Arabia on Monday presented a united front to Iran and Syria. They warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that they will boost support to rebels fighting to oust him unless he steps down and put Iran’s leadership on notice that time is running out for a diplomatic resolution to concerns about its nuclear program. … Kerry said it was critical for Iran to accept offers made by the so-called “P5+1″ group quickly. Kerry reminded the Iranians that President Barack Obama has vowed not to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon and that he has kept all options, including military options, on the table to prevent that from happening. The window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution “cannot by definition remain open indefinitely,” Kerry said. “There is time to resolve this issue providing the Iranians are prepared to engage seriously on the P5+1 proposal. But talks will not go on for the sake of talks and talks cannot become an instrument for delay that will make the situation more dangerous,” he said.
 
More from Kerry – “Kerry says Iran talks useful, hopes Tehran will engage,” from Reuters [February 27, 2013] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/27/us-iran-nuclear-talks-kerry-idUSBRE91Q0NE20130227
 
IRANIAN POLICIES AND PERSPECTIVES
Ahmadinejad Aide’s Candidacy a Challenge to Iran’s Theocratic Status Quo
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [February 27, 2013]
—- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s final term in office is just months from completion, with a June election setting the stage for his leaving office in August. If he gets his way, his successor will be his chief of staff, and former Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Which is an internal battle in Iran with a long history. … At the core of all of this is the Ahmadinejad Administration’s own tendency toward secularism, and Mashaei exemplifies this, publicly complaining in recent talks that clerics are taking too big a role in Iranian politics, and that the constitution should be changed to delineate a clear separation of mosque and state. Such comments go well beyond controversial in Iran, officially a theocracy: they are downright revolutionary. Ahmadinejad’s ability to even survive to the end of his last term after openly clashing with Khamenei is a surprise to many, but he seems set to double down with his backing for Mashaei and is trying to make a lasting change to Iran’s system of government.http://news.antiwar.com/2013/02/27/ahmadinejad-aides-candidacy-a-challenge-to-irans-theocratic-status-quo/
 
Also interesting – Lior Sternfeld, “New Light on the CIA Coup in Iran on its 60th Anniversary: Why “Argo” Needs a Prequel,” Informed Comment [March 1, 2013]http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/anniversary-prequel-sternfeld.html; and Juan Cole, ““Argo” as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians,” Informed Comment [February 26, 2013]http://www.juancole.com/2013/02/orientalism-upsets-iranians.html
 
ISRAELI POLICIES AND PERSPECTIVES
After Israel’s January elections left old and new political parties in deadlock, Prime Minister Netanyahu has until March 16th to form a new government. He failed to meet an original deadline, and he did not attend the AIPAC conference last weekend in Washington because of the political chaos at home. President Obama’s first-ever visit to Israel is now scheduled for March 20; but it will only take place if there is a new Israeli government in place.  According to one Israeli television station, Obama “will convey a message that the window for American military operation opens in June.” [http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-to-tell-netanyahu-us-gearing-up-for-strike]
 
The AIPAC Conference provides an annual platform to Israeli leaders and supporters to make demands on the US government for more political support or military aid for Israel, and for US politicians to reaffirm their love and support for Israel.  It is also an occasion for Israeli supporters in Congress to introduce legislation or resolutions desired by Israel’s leaders, and for the conference attendees to then spend a day lobbying in Congress for passage of these items.  This year was no exception, and the inside-outside AIPAC team demanded that Congress give Israel a blank check of support if Israel attacks Iran, and also that Congress not include millions of dollars in aid funds for Israel in the current budget “sequester.”  Here are some links go good/useful essays addressing these goings on:
 
AIPAC and Congress Sustain Iranian Nuclear Program
By Paul Pillar, National Interest [February 28, 2013]
—- The parties still have a long way to go, especially regarding the sanctions side of things. But the Iranians strove to put a positive spin on the results. The movement in the P5+1 position may have been small, but it caught their attention. When the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, made his customary post-round appearance before the press, this was the first time he did so without displaying photographs of any of the assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists. With this situation of discernible but reversible progress at the negotiating table, the worst thing that anyone—especially anyone who supposedly favors restricting Iran’s nuclear program to preclude an Iranian nuclear weapon—could do at this moment would be anything that stokes the Iranian suspicions about true U.S. intentions. But that is what is being done right now in Congress. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/aipac-congress-sustain-iranian-nuclear-program-8173
 
All Eyes on Iran for AIPAC 2013 Conference
By Mitchell Plitnick, Lobe Log
—- The annual Israel-Congress orgy dubbed as the AIPAC Policy Conference kicked off today. Iran will be the focus, as evidenced by related bills which AIPAC had some of its most loyal members of Congress introduce in advance of their lobbying day. Those bills work to give Israel a green light to attack Iran if it feels the need to and puts the “special relationship” between the US and Israel on paper. The timing of the bill should not be ignored. AIPAC consistently tries to get its most important legislation to the congressional floor ahead of its conference and especially its “lobbying day,” when thousands of AIPAC activists descend upon Capitol Hill, armed with its marching orders. http://www.lobelog.com/all-eyes-on-iran-for-aipac-2013-conference/
 
Also good on the AIPAC meeting – Paul Woodward, “Netanyahu threatens America,” War in Context [March 5, 2013] http://warincontext.org/2013/03/05/netanyahu-threatens-america/; and Jason Ditz, “At AIPAC Meeting, Focus Remains on War With Iran,” Antiwar.com [March 3, 2013]
 
Senators Press Resolution To Green-Light Israeli Attack On Iran
By Ali Gharib, The Daily Beast [February 28, 2013]
—- A joint resolution set to be introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Robert Menendez (NJ), a Republican and Democrat, respectively, declares U.S. support for an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. The resolution, which expresses the sense of the Congress, will be supported by the thousands of delegates to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee annual conference that will stream through the Capitol this weekend. With prominent liberal Democrats already signing on, AIPAC’s lobbying heft will likely propel a bill that, in Congressional sentiment at least, commits the U.S. to active support of a potential Israeli attack that experts think could have consequences as grave as further destabilization in the region, adverse global economic consequences, and even a hardening of Iranian resolve to get a weapon. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/28/senators-press-to-green-light-israeli-attack-on-iran.html
 
More on Congress and Israel – Juan Cole, ”Israel Lobby asks Congress to Approve Attack on Iran & to Exempt Israel from Sequester,” Informed Comment [March 4, 2013]http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/congress-approve-sequester.html; and Murtaza Hussain, “Why We Must Resist Netanyahu and the Hawks’ Reckless Push for War on Iran,” The Guardian [UK] [March 4, 2013] https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/04-7
 
What Current and Former Israeli Security Officials Think About a Potential War with Iran
By Ben Armbruster and Hayes Brown, Think Progress [March 4, 2013]http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/03/04/1665431/israeli-officials-war-iran/
 
SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN
Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Toughen Iranian Sanctions
By Rick Gladstone, New York Times [February 27, 2013]
—- As Iranian negotiators spoke in positive tones about their resumed nuclear negotiations with the big powers, Congressional lawmakers in Washington introduced legislation on Wednesday that would greatly expand the sanctions on Iran, amounting to what both supporters and critics said would be like a commercial trade embargo if fully carried out. The bipartisan measure, which was expected to pass both the House and the Senate, would build on existing laws that restrict business dealings with Iran, widen the list of blacklisted Iranian companies and individuals and potentially block Iran’s access to its foreign bank assets held in euros. That access has been one of the country’s few remaining avenues for repatriating profits that are not held in dollars, which have been greatly constricted by other sanctions.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/world/middleeast/lawmakers-offer-bill-to-toughen-iranian-sanctions.html?ref=world
 
Are Sanctions on Iran ‘Effective’?
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [February 27, 2013]
—- There are at least two ways to evaluate the US’s policy of sweeping economic sanctions on Iran. The first is to take the stated aim of the sanctions – what US officials claim is their purpose – and assess their efficacy. In this case, US officials claim the purpose of the sanctions is to inflict so much economic pain that the Iranian government is pressured to make major concessions on their nuclear program. Instead of serving as a means to an end, the International Crisis Group concludes, the sanctions approach has become an end in itself, because “in the absence of any visible shift in Tehran’s political calculus, it is difficult to measure their impact through any metric other than the quantity and severity of the sanctions themselves.” … If we evaluate it this way, the mystery of why Washington continues down this dead end road evaporates. That is to say, the sanctions are incredibly effective at blocking any diplomatic opening with Iran and relegating the potential policy options down to two: (1) more sanctions, or (2) war.http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/02/27/are-sanctions-on-iran-effective/
 
Also on sanctions – Siamak Namazi, “Blocking Medicine to Iran,” New York Times [March 1, 2013]
 
OTHER CONTENTIOUS ISSUES
Introduction
—- In this space I’ve been following a number of issues involving Iran and the outside world that have had the effect, at least in the US media, of “demonizing” Iran or reinforcing claims that Iran is a terrorist state, seeks the destruction of Israel, etc. Recent examples include the killing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria or, in the news this week, Argentina’s agreement with Iran to revisit the investigation of a terrorist attack on Jews in Buenos Aires in 1994 has provoked outrage from Israel.  Each of these “cases” must be examined on its own merits; but as stories linked in previous IWW editions have shown, some of the claims against Iran have no merit at all.  To this assemblage of “contentious issues” the New York Times added more information this week to the story of an Iranian (?) boat that brought weapons [to] … [near] Yemen, allegedly with the intention of supplying them to anti-government/separatist rebels in northern Yemen. – FB
 
Seized Chinese Weapons Raise Concerns on Iran
By Robert F. Worth and C. J. Chivers, New York Times [March 2, 2013]
—- An Iranian dhow seized off the Yemeni coast was carrying sophisticated Chinese antiaircraft missiles, a development that could signal an escalation of Iran’s support to its Middle Eastern proxies, alarming other countries in the region and renewing a diplomatic challenge to the United States. … The shipment, which officials portray as an attempt to introduce sophisticated new antiaircraft systems into the Arabian Peninsula, has raised concerns in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen, as the weapons would have posed escalated risks to civilian and military aircraft alike. And it has presented the Obama administration with a fresh example of Iran’s apparent transfer of modern missiles from China to insurgents in the larger regional contest between Sunni-led and Shiite-led states, in which the American military has often been entwined.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/world/middleeast/seized-arms-off-yemen-raise-alarm-over-iran.html
 
CIVIL WAR/INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
U.S. vow of non-lethal aid for Syrian rebels fails to satisfy Assad opposition
By Hannah Allam and David Enders, McClatchy, [February 28, 2013]
—- For the first time in the two-year push to topple President Bashar Assad, the United States said Thursday that it will send food and medicine directly to armed Syrian rebels. But the announcement fell far short of rebel calls for anti-aircraft missiles and the imposition of a no-fly zone, and it left many members of the opposition dissatisfied. Even a European agreement to amend its arms embargo to allow rebels access to non-lethal military equipment and armored vehicles on condition that they be used only to protect civilians failed to calm their anger. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/02/28/184515/us-vow-of-non-lethal-aid-for-syrian.html
 
Also useful – Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, “U.S. Pledges $60 Million to Syrian Opposition,”New York Times [February 28, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/world/middleeast/us-pledges-60-million-to-syrian-opposition.html?hp; Robert Fisk, “The West Babbles On, And Assad Is The Winner”  The Independent [March 2, 2013]  http://www.zcommunications.org/the-west-babbles-on-and-assad-is-the-winner-by-robert-fisk; and Robert Dreyfuss, “The Folly of Arming Syria’s Rebels,” The Nation [February 28, 2013] http://www.thenation.com/blog/173132/folly-arming-syrias-rebels
 
The Syrian Cataclysm
By Omar S. Dahi, MERIP [March 4, 2013]
—- For obvious reasons, coverage of the uprising and internal war in Syria has been dominated by the terrible human toll. An estimated 60,000 Syrians (or more) have been killed, with tens of thousands more scarred bodily and emotionally by the violence. As of the end of February, over 3 million Syrians are either internally displaced or refugees in neighboring countries. The World Food Program has admitted that it is unable to feed over 1 million hungry people inside Syria. The levels of destruction are not just staggering — they are a moving target. Estimates are obsolete soon after they are compiled. And there is cause for alarm beyond the immediate humanitarian emergency, namely, the severe damage to the Syrian economy in the short and the long term. of entire villages and cities and the devastation of physical infrastructure and agricultural lands. The real blow to the Syrian economy, however, has been struck by the European Union’s sanctions. http://www.merip.org/syrian-cataclysm
 
(Video) One million Syrian refugees
From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [March 2, 2013] – 6 minutes
 
Rebel cooperation in Syrian town shows challenge of isolating Islamists
By David Enders, McClatchy Newspapers [February 28, 2013]
—- Sophisticated new weapons now in the hands of rebels in north-central Syria underscore how difficult it will be, once more lethal aid begins to arrive, to keep those weapons from Islamist extremists who’ve become key to rebel military advances throughout the country. Rebels who belong to the Victory Brigade – a group whose alliance with the Hama provincial military council makes it acceptable to U.S. officials who are deciding where aid should go – were giddy as they showed off their new weapons this week.http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/02/28/184493/rebel-cooperation-in-syrian-town.html
 
Mystery Of A Death On The Beirut Road
By Robert Fisk, The Independent [February 27, 2013]
—- A senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – with two names – dies mysteriously on the Damascus-Beirut highway earlier this month. Three Shia Muslim Hezbollah fighters are killed and 20 wounded inside the Syrian frontier in a battle with rebels. The Lebanese army surrounds a Sunni Muslim Lebanese village of 40,000 which supports the Syrian opposition. And Lebanon’s former Sunni Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, accuses Hezbollah and its weapons of being at the root of his country’s problems. Being Lebanese these days is like taking part in a crime drama.http://www.zcommunications.org/mystery-of-a-death-on-the-beirut-road-by-robert-fisk
 

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s