Archive for September, 2010
Posted by alanmirs on September 18, 2010
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Posted by alanmirs on September 17, 2010
The U.S. should test Iran’s resolve to stabilize Afghanistan
Friday, September 17, 2010
Iran is signaling that it wants to join regional efforts to stabilize Afghanistan — presenting President Obama with an interesting diplomatic opportunity. He had solicited just such help from Tehran last month, but the administration has not yet responded to the Iranian feelers.
U.S. policy is still in flux, but the administration appears ready for a limited dialogue with Iran about Afghanistan, perhaps conducted through the two countries’ embassies in Kabul. This position has not been communicated to the Iranians, in part because Washington is waiting to see whether Iran will return soon to negotiations about its nuclear program with the "P-5 plus 1" group.
The administration’s dilemma is similar to what the Bush administration faced in 2006, when it requested and then spurned Iranian help in Iraq. The worry then was the same as now — that regional cooperation might blunt U.S. pressure on the nuclear issue. Several former senior Bush administration officials now view that stutter-step in 2006 as a significant lost opportunity.
President Obama discussed U.S.-Iranian engagement with a group of columnists on Aug. 4. He said that in addition to talks about curbing Iran’s nuclear program, he favored a "separate track" for discussing Afghanistan, where the two sides have a "mutual interest" in combating the narcotics trade and fighting the Taliban.
Obama told us that as part of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s push for "reintegration" with the Taliban, Iran should join regional talks about stability. "Iran should be a part and could be a constructive partner," he said.
In publicly endorsing such a dialogue, Obama was embracing a position that had been advocated in private for many months by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is said to have pressed her case in one-on-one meetings with the president.
Iran responded in several positive ways, which have been noted by U.S. officials. On Aug. 10, Iranian officials met in Tehran with Michael Steiner, a German diplomat who is serving as Berlin’s coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the foreign policy committee of Iran’s parliament, "voiced Iran’s readiness to cooperate with other countries and help resolve the crisis in Afghanistan and fight drug smuggling," according to a story in the Iran Daily. The Iranians are said to have conveyed a similar positive message to Italian diplomats.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to control any channel of dialogue with Washington. On Aug. 24, he appointed his own special representative for Afghanistan, a hard-liner named Abolfazl Zohrevand, who is deputy chief of Iran’s national security council. The Iranian president named three other special representatives as well, to further consolidate his power on key diplomatic issues. Though Ahmadinejad continues his sulfurous anti-Israel rhetoric, over the past year he has been, in Iranian terms, an advocate of engagement with the West.
Iran has made other gestures that suggest it is ready for dialogue on Afghanistan. Its foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, attended the Kabul conference hosted by Karzai in July to encourage reconciliation. And the Iranians this month are said to have signaled a willingness to cooperate on Project Global Shield, a program to limit transportation of precursor chemicals that can be used to make explosives in Afghanistan.
The question for the Obama administration is whether to take up these feelers. Advocates argue that stabilizing Afghanistan is a strategic priority and that the United States should seek help wherever it can. They also argue that rather than undermining talks on the nuclear issue, contacts on Afghanistan could be an important confidence-building measure.
Skeptics contend the Afghan gambit would dilute the main focus of Iran policy, which is stopping Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. That same logic led the Bush administration to pull back in March 2006 from its proposal for talks in Baghdad with Iran, after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had appointed a key adviser, Ali Larijani, as his representative.
When I visited Tehran in August 2006, hard-liners there were still gloating over the stop-and-go diplomacy, which they said proved the United States was an unreliable partner.
I hope the administration will open a U.S.-Iranian channel on Afghanistan soon, before the morass there gets any worse. It’s one of the best ways I can think of to undermine the Taliban’s morale — and bring all the key regional powers into a process that could allow an eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. The only way to find out if Iranian signals are for real is to start testing them.
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Posted by alanmirs on September 10, 2010
Israelis at the beach in Tel Aviv
Uriel Sinai / Getty Images for TIME
Heli and Eli sell condos on Exodus Street, a name that evokes a certain historical hardship in a neighborhood that suggests none at all, the ingathering of the Jews having entered a whole new realm here. The talk in the little office is of interest rates and panoramic sea views from handsomely appointed properties selling on the Ashdod waterfront for half what people are asked to pay in Tel Aviv, 18 miles (29 km) to the north. And sell they do, hand over fist — never mind the rockets that fly out of Gaza, 14 miles (22.5 km) to the south. "Even when the Qassams fell, we continued to sell!" says Heli Itach, slapping a palm on the office desk. The skull on her designer shirt is made of sequins spelling out "Love Kills Slowly." "What the people see on the TV there is not true here," she says. "I sold, this week, 12 apartments. You’re not client, I tell you the truth."
The truth? In the week that three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the truth is, Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They’re otherwise engaged; they’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of late summer. A watching world may still define their country by the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land and whether that conflict can be negotiated away, but Israelis say they have moved on.(See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)
Now observing 2½ years without a single suicide bombing on their territory, with the economy robust and with souls a trifle weary of having to handle big elemental thoughts, the Israeli public prefers to explore such satisfactions as might be available from the private sphere, in a land first imagined as a utopia. "Listen to me," says Eli Bengozi, born in Soviet Georgia and for 40 years an Israeli. "Peace? Forget about it. They’ll never have peace. Remember Clinton gave 99% to Arafat, and instead of them fighting for 1%, what? Intifadeh."(See TIME’s photo-essay "Palestinian ‘Day of Rage.’ ")
But wait. Deep down (you can almost hear the outside world ask), don’t Israelis know that finding peace with the Palestinians is the only way to guarantee their happiness and prosperity? Well, not exactly. Asked in a March poll to name the "most urgent problem" facing Israel, just 8% of Israeli Jews cited the conflict with Palestinians, putting it fifth behind education, crime, national security and poverty. Israeli Arabs placed peace first, but among Jews here, the issue that President Obama calls "critical for the world" just doesn’t seem — critical.
Another whack for the desk. "The people," Heli says, "don’t believe." Eli searches for a word. "People in Israel are indifferent," he decides. "They don’t care if there’s going to be war. They don’t care if there’s going to be peace. They don’t care. They live in the day."
The ADL is not happy with Time. They sent the magazine a letter today in response to its current cover article, "Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace." The gist of the article is that Israel is doing so well economically that affluent Israelis don’t really care about making peace with the Palestinians. The ADL finds this thesis (wait for it . . .) anti-Semitic.
From the ADL press release:
In a letter to Managing Editor Richard Stengel, ADL called on the magazine’s editors to issue an apology to readers, both for the timing of the article and its calling up age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.
The insidious subtext of Israeli Jews being obsessed with money echoes the age-old anti-Semitic falsehood that Jews care about money above any other interest, in this case achieving piece with the Palestinians,” wrote Mr. Foxman. “At the same time, Time ignores the very real sacrifices made by Israel and its people in the pursuit of peace and the efforts by successive Israeli governments of reconciliation.
Money aside, is there really a way to tell how much Israelis prioritize peace? Actually, I guess there is. Here’s a poll that was published in today’s Maariv:
Q. In your opinion, what are the most important subjects for the coming year?
Education—36%; the Iranian threat—13%; the war on corruption—12.7%; peace with the Palestinians—11.3%; traffic accidents—11.2%; dealing with poverty—7.9%
The poll by Teleseker questioned 500 people. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.
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Posted by alanmirs on September 5, 2010
Look at this list of settler-initiated crimes against Palestinians in the last few weeks
To emigrate one seeks a better standard of life and safer environments
and yet the most settlers in Israel
come from the western countries with opportunity of better standard of life and
safer environment there for they are castoff of their community seeking
satisfaction of their aggression
Posted by alanmirs on September 1, 2010
Tony Blair ‘misread’ Iran’s stance on post-war Iraq
Iran did not explicitly support the post-war insurgency, Sir Richard said
Tony Blair "misread" Iran’s view on efforts to build a democracy in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, a former UK ambassador to Tehran has said.
Tehran did not wish to "destabilise" efforts to establish a government after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, Sir Richard Dalton told the Iraq inquiry.
Mr Blair said Tehran was worried about a "democracy on its doorstep" and ended up aiding al-Qaeda-backed insurgents.
Sir Richard said this was "exaggerated" and Iran did not want anarchy in Iraq.
The Chilcot inquiry is continuing to examine the UK’s involvement in the 2003 military action in Iraq and its aftermath.
Giving evidence in January, the former prime minister said "nobody foresaw" the extent to which the Iranian government would end up supporting al-Qaeda and that this would exacerbate levels of violence in Iraq from 2004 onwards
He suggested that Tehran and al-Qaeda had a "common interest" in disrupting US and UK-led efforts to bring stability to the country.
But Sir Richard, the UK’s most senior diplomatic official in Tehran between 2003 and 2006, said this was an misinterpretation of Iran’s actions
Peter Biles BBC world affairs correspondent
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