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Archive for August, 2011

Encourage Iranians to work for freedom

Posted by alanmirs on August 14, 2011

  The Morning Call

In the past, violence has poisonedIran’s struggle for democracy. In 1965, the MEK was the first group to take up arms against the Shah, who in turn responded with further violence that unleashed a vicious cycle of brutal reprisals. As the Shah’s repression grew increasingly violent, radical voices rose to the forefront of the opposition, and the voices of reason were marginalized. By the time revolution came in 1979, it was violent and undemocratic. One dictator was replaced by another

The MEK is an Islamic radical organization that was formed in the 1960’s as an urban guerilla movement against the shah ofIran. During the 1970’s, the group targeted and successfully killed US military personnel and American civilians based in Iran. It played a major role in the overthrow of the shah in 1979, eventually fell out with the Khomeini regime and fled toIraq. There, they regrouped under the patronage of Hussein, and fought alongside him against Iranians the Iran-Iraq war. As documented by the CIA, the MEK was later used by a beleaguered Hussein to crush the Kurdish rebellion that came immediately after Iraq’s defeat in the Persian Gulf War. Following Hussein’s ouster, the Iraqi government has been working to try to expel the reviled group from Iraq

Over the course of the last two decades, a well-funded MEK has developed a powerful propaganda machine that has sought to depict the group as a formidable military force, as well as the genuine democratic representative of the Iranian people. These claims have been proven to be groundless. The naked reality is that the MEK are neither a force nor a democratic representative of Iranians, but simply a well-funded militaristic cult with shadowy leaders. They are widely despised by Iranians for having betrayed Iran by siding with Hussein. These facts have been extensively documented, as can be seen in a recently released FBI report that presents evidence of ongoing terrorist activities by the MEK

Scientific achievements of a nation has nothing to do with the rulers who could be changed when the rule of law brings democracy to the nation

Women finally achieved to vote and on the same terms as men in 1928 in the United Kingdom

To discover what is going on behind the seen one should look at the events and the core

Media warns ofIran’s authority rise in the territory and at the same time encourages opposing Iranand helping for uprising why

If Iran is becoming strong with increase of influence in a territory once was the Empire why should Iranians have a revolution

As one and half billion humans of nations are undeserved for a better life

That the Islamic or Christianity or Jewish culture of countries undermined by communist regimes has been dissolved

Dividing to rule

Of course we need change and we should stand up for it

But not to change the faith of the people of this territory an impossible task

We have to change the politicians who oppose the rule of law by legal means

The rule of law

That individuals, persons and government shall submit to, obey and be regulated by law, and not arbitrary action by an individual or a group of individuals

In the most basic sense, the rule of law is a system that attempts to protect the rights of citizens from arbitrary and abusive use of government power

The rule of law is a legal maxim that states no person is immune to law, and no one can be punished by the government except for a breach of the law

Having the peaceful nuclear energy hence having the knowledge of building the bomb takes away the importance of possession and helps the destruction of such weapons

To protest for decades more of Pahlavi or Ghajar dynasties or another team of hungry position and wealth seekers, and or clan lovers to rule us is madness

Partial or Impartial

Empires does not exist any more and Influence today comes from friendship

For centuries we have been friends with our neighbors

To flourish we need to commerce with our neighbors

In the past adversaries have separated us from our neighbors with history of trade and culture for many centuries

We claim to be the ancestors of Cyrus the grate

We brag about his charter

And yet we insult people for their belief, religion, and race

Governing systems are not perfect and they are escalating legally towards better performance

We have constitution we should read it, adjust it to our needs, and rule ourselves

Look at the history of dynasties and see haw long that has taken us to be independent? The blunder is that disillusioned protesters attack the prospers portion of the regime as fault and not the illegal ones voicing American’s and Israel’s governments fancy

We get misleadingly coached by motivated individuals

Today Iran’s foreign policy has proven fruitful

We stand independent, strong, and fair

Among many problems one is the social justice and justice needs impartial independent administration

The establishments ofIran’s judiciary system is biased and corrupt

Stand up to change it by the law

There are three independent elements forming Iranian system of governments, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary, Dr. Ahmadinjad is the head of Executive branch of the government, and since Iran after centuries suppress by puppet rulers became independent, the west and especially American government oppose, his push for Iran’s right in his third governing position with in the ruling party brought him the fame of being the sole ruler of Iran

The independent Judiciary is the key internal and international problem in Iran aside of being corrupt and bias they break laws, plot, and silence who ever sounds oppose to shady politicians and or entities, although Ahmadinjad has given the names and facts about such events it has been deceivingly denied by Judiciary, hence he has made numerous enemies inside Iran, adding the west opposing his position of defending Iran’s right he has made enemies outside Iran too as Mossadeq did in 50s and was overthrown by CIA

Uninformed Iranian oppositions also voice the west and contest him for entirely a deferent grounds unrelated to him, petrol was used to clean engines by buckets and smuggled to neighboring countries by mules and corrupt custom officials in millions of gallons that is not mentioning other events took place which has been altered by his policies

He has no authority or privileges over political prisoners or media restrictions and human rights violations which Iran is blamed for


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Solving the Iranian puzzle through trade

Posted by alanmirs on August 13, 2011

By Roozbeh Aliabadi and David Karg, Global Growth Advisors – 08/11/11 10:11 AM ET

As two young Americans, we question the wisdom of how we have approached the Iranian issue. How do we reach a breakthrough if we limit ourselves to broadening sanctions or the threat of military strikes?

We have embarked on a downward slope in relations that has been bred by an ongoing cycle of mistrust between our countries’ political leaders. The tragic part of this historical antipathy is that it has hurt the ordinary citizens of both countries. How, then, can we break this cycle, or are we on an irreversible path toward confrontation?

Since we have not found a way to break the impasse over the nuclear issue, we believe the key to overcoming this stalemate is an economic solution, rather than a political one. Broadening sanctions will only marginalize the private sector of Iran. Instead, if we opened the lanes of trade to present the Iranian people with alternatives to our current policy, we will be benefiting each of our nations and break the barriers of miscommunication that has characterized our relations.

This approach will take imagination and a willingness to strip ourselves of preconceived notions that we may have of each other. Let’s look beyond the nuclear standoff for a moment and analyze the benefits that industries like our high-tech and alternative energy sector could bring. Here are a few examples:

The purported needs of nuclear power in Iran have arisen from a carbon-intensive economy that has ever-rising energy demands. So, what if American companies were able to present alternative fuel sources to rectify this need?  Right now in Riverside, California, Solar Trust of America is building the largest solar facility in the world that will produce a combined capacity of 1000 Megawatts, which equals the same total energy output of the Bushehr I nuclear reactor. Just think if that same project was replicated and placed right next to the reactor? Would there be as great of a need in Iran for nuclear power, then, if American solar energy projects were to dot the country’s landscape?

Or, consider this: GE is commissioned to provide the turbines for a state-of-the-art wind power facility outside of Manjil, a perfect location for this type of energy source. As a result, many American jobs will be created and, importantly, we will present Iran with an opportunity to take advantage of the best that America has to offer in technical expertise and product quality. Talk about “Imagination at Work.”

The benefits of this new détente with Iran should not be limited to providing alternative energy sources, alone.  Young Iranians are enamored with American technology and consumer brands.  Approximately 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30 and tapping into this potential group could provide a meaningful revenue boost to high-tech companies who wish to export such gadgets as smartphones and laptop computers.

Imagine the possibilities. A company such as Apple locates a brand new store right in the heart of bustling Tehran. A young engineering student is attracted by the store’s ultramodern, sleek design and decides to walk in.  He picks up the latest iPhone 5 and thinks of a way that the product could be made lighter, with longer lasting power. He then develops his battery concept further to produce a longer-lasting lithium ion based electric car which he takes to GM to advance the next generation of its  Volt series.   It seems a stretch, but it would be a huge missed opportunity should we not decide to tap into one of the best-educated and tech-savvy groups of young people in the world to better both of our societies.

Washington needs to start thinking more like Silicon Valley when it comes to foreign policy. Complex dilemmas like the Iranian puzzle require innovative policies. The next generation of diplomats should include entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, a forward-thinker removed from the bureaucracies inside the beltway that stifle the development of real solutions to critical problems. Maybe the next Secretary of State should be Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, who understands that technology can break the barriers to communication in seemingly disparate societies around the globe.

These innovators realize that in order to be a world leader in the 21st century, America must globalize technology. American businesses are seeking new markets to expand their operations, hire new workers, and reach consumers around the globe. Trade with Iran would ensure much-needed economic reforms in their country and contribute to the stability of the Greater Middle East.

In this global marketplace, we have no choice but to embrace more integration. China and Russia have taken advantage of the lack of western companies now in Iran due to sanctions and have snapped of strategic oil and gas contracts. If we wish to remain economically competitive with these emerging powers, we cannot shut our door to the world, no matter how politically tenuous our relations.

It is time to take a leap forward to a fresh, new generation of foreign policy decision-making. Young people in both America and Iran are tired of the old black-and-white dichotomies that have limited our potential.   America’s most prized export is our ability to innovate. The risk of keeping the status quo alive is further alienation followed by the unthinkable.

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A post-American world can benefit Iraq and Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 13, 2011

August 13, 2011 12:36 AMBy Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

The Daily Star

The current crisis in Iraq contains all the factors shaping the new political realities in the region. After twice invading Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, conducting an ongoing Cold War against Iran and a war on terror that is losing traction in the mountainous labyrinth of the Hindu Kush along the Afghan-Pakistani border, the United States is finally realizing that the international system cannot be ruled by military might.

The cost of the unipolar moment that neoconservatives indulged in with such hedonistic violence has thrown the U.S. into economic crisis. The middle classes and especially the lower strata of society have paid with blood and sweat for the war on terror. The strategic gain has been nil.

In fact, in addition to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan eclipsed American strategic options. There is no Saddam or Taliban any more that can be manipulated in order to check Iran and attack the country if necessary. And now Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak are gone, too. Ultimately, the strategic blunder, the inhumanity of the U.S. occupation, changed the perception of the U.S. in the minds of a majority of Arabs and Muslims.

The blunder in Iraq also affected the domestic politics of the U.S. In many ways, it was the Iraq episode that paved the way for the Obama presidency. The anti-war vote for Obama was a major factor in his success in the 2008 elections. The second factor is intimately related to the emergence of a post-American order.

For over two decades, Saddam was very functional in containing revolutionary Iran. Lest we forget, President George H.W. Bush betrayed the Kurds and Shiites in their revolt against Saddam immediately after the first U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991, because he needed the Iraqi leader to check Iran and subdue Iraq’s Shiites who were seen as natural allies of Iran. A Shiite-led Iraq does not translate into subservience to Iran. Alliances are based on interest, not on ethnic or religious affiliation. The “Shiite factor” is a necessary, but not a sufficient, explanation for the emerging Iraqi-Iranian relationship.

Political elites in Iran have known this. They engineered institutional options at an early stage during Iran’s war with Iraq, in 1980-1988, for instance the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq under the leadership of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim (now, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq). Iran was able to mobilize a vast network of religious foundations (bonyads), nongovernmental organizations, charities and family bonds from Tehran, Qom, Ahvaz and Mashhad in Iran to Baghdad, Karbala, Qazimiyya and Najaf in Iraq. This infrastructure is in many ways “organic.” It developed historically, at least since the Safavid dynasty, and was fortified in the 20th century by political alliances (for instance, with the Kurdish movements).

And then there are the clerical links. All major sources of emulation in Iran’s contemporary history have had some personal link to Najaf and Karbala, or both. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini studied in Najaf and he stayed there in exile. Khomeini was very close to Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, the father-in-law of Muqtada al-Sadr, who is currently studying in Qom. Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Iraqi marja al-taqlid (source of emulation, the highest clerical rank in Shiism) was born in Iran. In turn, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, a confidante of the current supreme leader of the Iran and the former judiciary minister of the country, was born in Iraq. So the Iranian-Iraqi narrative is intensely intermingled beyond mere sectarian dimensions.

The imperial power of the U.S. never translated into a Pax Americana for the people of western Asia as it did in post-war Europe. The U.S. did not forge a viable security architecture that would be inclusive and that it would enforce in the name of stability. The pro-Israel lobby and other right-wing constituencies ensure that U.S. foreign policies remain divisive. For the U.S., regional security interdependencies are problematic because they make it more difficult to divide and rule.

Conversely, for the people of the region, the Iranian-Iraqi relationship is only a good thing because it creates interdependencies that can translate into a viable regional security order, much in the same way as the Venezuelan-Cuban axis enforced the autonomy of Latin America. After all, it is primarily the people of the region who pay the price of war, not those outside it. Hopefully, the political elites in Iraq and Iran will rise to the occasion and contain the extremists in their ranks. The people on both sides of the Shatt al-Arab deserve peace and reconciliation. To that end, the post-American order is an opportunity.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

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US stalls on Russia’s Iran plan

Posted by alanmirs on August 9, 2011

Asia Time Online - Daily News

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

The United States government has various policy options with respect to a new “step-by-step” proposal by Russia to resolve the Iran nuclear standoff. Cautiously embraced by Iran, this proposal has the potential to cause a major breakthrough in a potentially dangerous crisis that could substantially deepen the present Middle East cauldron.

The so-called “Lavrov plan”, named after Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, was submitted to Tehran late last month and calls on Iran to expand its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), envisaging a scenario whereby for every proactive Iranian step to resolve any outstanding issues with the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the international community would Iran limited concessions, such as freezing some sanctions, for each step it takes toward meeting the demands to clarify its

nuclear intentions.

So far, except for a passing reference by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a recent press conference, promising to give the Russian plan serious attention, there has been no official reaction. Yet the mixed to negative responses by US nuclear experts and pundits signal the likelihood of an American rejection. This is principally because the plan allows Iran’s possession of a full nuclear fuel cycle, albeit under increased outside scrutiny and Iran’s full cooperation with the IAEA.

Thus, for example, Iran experts at the Institute For Science and International Security (ISIS), have questioned the Russian plan:

[It] does not appear to include any requirement for a halt to Iran’s enrichment program in general before these actions are taken. Without such a halt, Iran’s enrichment program would continue to grow in capacity and increase Iran’s ability to quickly, and perhaps secretly, make highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons in its centrifuge plants. [1]

This analysis overlooks the proposal’s accent on nuclear transparency, regular IAEA inspections and Iran’s satisfaction of the IAEA’s lingering questions, incrementally and step by step, which in turn render moot such concerns about secret Iranian proliferation efforts. Implicit in the ISIS’s analysis is an endorsement of the hitherto inflexible American position that Iran must cease its entire enrichment program, and any future reprocessing activities, in order for the sanctions to be lifted and for Iran’s dossier at the UN Security Council to be returned to the IAEA, as demanded by Iran.

The so-called zero centrifuges option at a time when Iran is installing more advanced centrifuges, some of them at the new Fordow facility, has zero chance of acceptance by Tehran, which has invested billions of dollars and substantial scientific manpower to acquire the current level of nuclear know-how that is a source of national pride.

In turn, this has led to the US’s consideration of a second option, “limited enrichment” advanced by a number of US experts such as Harvard University’ s Matthew Bunn, that has the advantage of greater realism about the virtual impossibility of the first option’s success no matter what the pressure of sanctions.

Also, this option tacitly recognizes Iran’s right under the articles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to engage in uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes, in contrast to the hawkish advocates of the first option, who claim that due to its past secrecy, Iran has essentially forfeited this right – an arbitrary political conclusion on shaky legal ground.

The trouble with the “limited enrichment” option is that it envisions a purely scientific, laboratory-scale enrichment program that does not have any practical purpose, such as providing fuel for Iran’s reactors and thus lessening Iran’s foreign dependency on energy. For Iran to accept this option would mean dismantling a bulk of its cascades of centrifuges and reverse engineering.

In that case, the international community would have to agree to compensate Iran for billions of dollars and to guarantee the delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran – unlikely to happen as no nation is willing to foot the bill or give Iran the kind of assurance it needs to set aside its reservations due to numerous past broken promises.
Realistically, there is only one viable option, reflected in the above-mentioned Russian proposal that has yet to be seriously considered by the US and other Western powers, although in his Prague speech of three years ago, US President Barack Obama hinted that the US was willing to recognize Iran’s nuclear program as long as it was in good standing with the IAEA and its program was fully transparent.

Unfortunately, much as happened since then and now the argument that Iran is marching toward nuclear weapons in a transparent manner, ie, exercising its legal rights, has become an article of faith in Washington, thus precluding the White House’s ability to endorse the Russian proposal.

A complicating factor is the current disquiet on the US-Russia front, resulting in Washington’s suspicions of Moscow’s real motives behind its Iran nuclear initiative. Easing this concern would mean that Moscow would have to convince Washington that this is not a tactical ploy to befriend Tehran, surpass Turkey in regional affairs, and undermine the US’s standing in the region.

Rather, it is an earnest diplomatic effort to put the genie of Iran’s nuclear crisis back in the bottle, in the interests of regional and global peace and security.

An American rejection of the Russian plan, on the other hand, may reinforce the suspicion of Washington’s own motive, in light of reports of coming US-Saudi Arabia nuclear cooperation, rationalized in the name of an Iranian nuclear threat, tantamount to discrete proliferation under the guise of counter-proliferation, already witnessed in the US-India nuclear cooperation pact.

In calculating the various pros and cons of the Russian proposal, the US must weigh the likely effects of lifting sanctions on Iran, which have introduced significant strains for the Iranian economy.

Such removal, including the taboos on the sale of conventional arms to Iran, would help it strengthen its economy and thus improve its power projection ability in the region, not a favored prospect by the US, whose policymakers by and large perceive US-Iran competition in zero sum terms. By the same token, the release of sanctions would permit US trade with Iran, benefiting US companies and creating a net of mutual interests between the two countries, perhaps even fueling cooperation on regional security issues.

Thirty-six European shipping companies have lodged a complaint with the European Union, questioning the wisdom and justifiability of Iran sanctions, thus prompting speculation in Tehran that whereas the US is hardening its stance vis-a-vis Tehran, the EU is contemplating a relaxation of sanctions in light of the European economic crisis and European concerns over the loss of Arab markets due to the current upheavals.

An outright US rejection of the Russian proposal and continuing with the regime of sanctions and (military) threats against Iran is bound to escalate the threat level of the Iran nuclear crisis, introduce new rifts among the “Iran Six” nations, and dispel any myth of a united international community against Iran’s proliferation threat.

According to a number of Iranian policy experts, the US has been “sanctioning itself” and if it opts to remove Iran sanctions, then billions of dollars in US-Iran trade could materialize within a few years.

Cognizant of the sharp contrast with Europe, which is Iran’s main trade partner and on the whole increasing its trade with Iran despite the sanctions, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in a recent interview with the European press expressed optimism about the future of Iran-Europe relations. He reminded that the US has comparatively no economic interests at stake with Iran and this shows a discrepancy between US and Europe when it comes to Iran.

Clearly, Washington has at its disposal a number of instruments to narrow this gap, requiring an Iran “smart policy” instead of the current “stick only” approach that has failed to bring Iran to its knees on the issue of uranium enrichment.

In essence, the smart policy would mean accepting the fact that Iran has reached the point of no return in terms of latent and/or potential nuclear capability, and that what needs to be done is to rely on various policies that ensure that Iran does not eschew its stated aversion toward nuclear weapons – due to national security fears first and foremost.

Thus, a US pledge of non-intervention in Iran’s internal affairs and respect for Iran’s national and territorial sovereignty would go a long way in assuring that Iran’s nuclear potential remained latent. [2]

1. ISIS Analysis of Russian Proposal. August 4, 2011.
2. See Afrasiabi: Keeping Iran’s nuclear potential latent, Harvard International Review: May 2, 2007.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing, October 23, 2008) and his latest book, Looking for rights at Harvard, is now available.

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The allegation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons is a mirage

Posted by alanmirs on August 8, 2011

Kourosh Ziabari Interviews Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (Originally published by Veterbals Today)

Arshin Adib MoghaddamDr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is a political commentator and lecturer in the comparative and international politics of western Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was born in the Taksim area of Istanbul to Iranian parents and raised in Hamburg/Germany. He studied at the University of Hamburg, American University and Cambridge. He is the author of The International Politics of the Persian Gulf: A Cultural Genealogy, Iran in World Politics: The question of the Islamic Republic and A metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Cambridge’s European Trust Society and he was the first Jarvis Doctorow Fellow at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.

His articles and commentaries have appeared on Guardian, CNN, Monthly Review, Independent, Open Democracy, Antiwar and Daily Star. His scholarly papers also have been published in “Critical Studies on Terrorism”, “Cambridge Review of International Affairs”, “Third World Quarterly” and “International Studies Journal.”

Dr. Adib-Moghaddam’s latest book “A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism” was published in 2011 by the Hurst & Co. and Columbia University Press.

As described by, “Adib-Moghaddam’s investigation explains the conceptual genesis of the clash of civilizations and the influence of western and Islamic representations of the other. He highlights the discontinuities between Islamism and the canon of Islamic philosophy, which distinguishes between Avicennian and Qutbian discourses of Islam, and he reveals how violence became inscribed in western ideas, especially during the Enlightenment. Expanding critical theory to include Islamic philosophy and poetry, this metahistory refuses to treat Muslims and Europeans, Americans and Arabs, and the Orient and the Occident as separate entities.”

He joined me in an in-depth interview and answered my questions regarding the continued controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, the Western media’s black propaganda against Iran, the future of Iran-West relations and the prospect of Iran’s Green Movement.

A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them beyond Orientalism

What follows is the complete text of my interview with Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, political scientist and author.

Kourosh Ziabari: Over the past years, the United States and its European allies imposed several rounds of UN-authorized and non-authorized sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The general policy of West towards Iran brings to mind several questions. First of all, I would like to ask you, as a political scientist, that why is Iran singled out over its nuclear program? Who has put forward reliable evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, or has the intention to do so? Does the West’s hostility toward Iran simply emanate from Iran’s nuclear program? If so, then why did the former U.S. President George W. Bush label Iran as part of an Axis of Evil under President Khatami who was a reformist and open-minded politician?

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam: You are right, and one has to stress that on every occasion, lest the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq will be repeated: There is no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. No IAEA report, not even national intelligence agencies hostile to the Iranian state such as the CIA and the Mossad in Israel have provided any evidence to that end. So the nuclear weapons allegation is a political mirage, a tactical manoeuvre to outflank Iran on other matters.

I think Chomsky is right when he says that it is Iran’s insistence on an independent foreign policy that is being punished. The allegation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons is a Trojan horse to legitimise the comprehensive sanctions regime and to contain Iran’s regional power. Having said that, I don’t believe that Iran is facing a coherent ‘western’ block. Even in the United States, where the image of Iran is professionally manufactured by anti-Iranian lobbying groups, there are differences of opinion on how to engage the country. There is a difference between Barak Obama and George W. Bush. In Europe too, we have been engaged in fostering a different kind of approach to Iran, one that is not reliant on myths, but the reality on the ground.

The fact remains that Iran is a regional superpower with influence in all the hotspots of the region. The sanctions policy, the policy of containment has largely failed. It has not changed Iranian behaviour on strategic matters. If anything, the politics of aggression has emboldened the rather more hawkish elements in the Iranian state, because it is them who thrive on the rhetoric of confrontation. You mention the axis-of-evil speech of George W. Bush. It came after the reformist President Mohammad Khatami made major concessions, offering support for the war against the Taliban in the aftermath of the terror attacks on 9/11. President Khatami went out of his way to offer medical support to US pilots who would be downed on Iranian territory, a major confidence building step. It was reciprocated with the axis of evil speech, one of the most disastrous and murderous foreign policy speeches in the history of the United States.

It should also be noted that Khatami suspended the enrichment of uranium in response to a deal with the European Union. But the EU, under the sway of Tony Blair and others, did not adhere to their side of the bargain. This was a major diplomatic blunder. Khatami was left with nothing. The right-wing in Iran was quick to capitalise on the situation. It was then when the Ahmadinejad faction accused the reformers of selling out the national interest of the country. With nothing to present, Khatami was robbed of a counter-case. Here he was talking about a dialogue amongst civilisation, condemning calls for the death of America in Iran, suspending the enrichment of uranium, supporting the campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, reaching out to the American people on CNN, only to be demonised and placed along Saddam Hussein and Kim-Jong Il in the axis of evil.

But there is no time to reminisce or to be apathetic. The apostles of war are preaching again and they are taking their orders from Netanyahu. It is an ongoing battle. They are inventing myth in order to advocate military aggression. We are working on the truth. They wield sword and sceptre above our heads. We stick to the pen and the lectern. Theirs is a case of hate and destruction. Ours is geared to peace and reconciliation. Their conscious is pragmatic, ours is principled. We resist, they exercise power.

KZ: Israel is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Several international organizations including the Federation of American Scientists have confirmed this fact. Why doesn’t the international community, especially the United States and its European friends, take action to legalize Israel’s nuclear program and investigate its atomic arsenal? Why doesn’t Israel comply with the UNSC resolution 487 which called on Tel Aviv to put its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards?

AA: From a legal perspective, there is a nuance of course. Israel, like Pakistan and India never signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. But let’s leave that aside for a moment, for it doesn’t really answer why the Israeli state is treated different than the Iranian government. It is ironic that Israel has done everything Iran is accused of: Iran is accused of terrorism; Israel openly admits that it pursues a policy of assassination all over the world. Iran is accused of meddling in the affairs of Arab countries; Israel has launched two invasions against them in the past five years killing thousands of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. Iran has been accused and sanctioned for developing nuclear weapons without any evidence; Israel has nuclear weapons and boasts of close trade ties with the United States and the European Union. Moreover, Israel is the only country in the world that colonises territory in clear violation of international law and under the auspices of the ‘international community.’ This is called the ‘settlement policy’ in the official jargon of the Netanyahu administration. Not even the condemnation of President Obama, important in its own right, changed the situation. So Israel is what Iran is punished for. It should be said that there are many dissidents in Israel itself that disagree with the policies of Netanyahu and the strategy of colonisation of Palestinian territory.

So far Israel has been shielded from international law by successive US administrations. It is the veto of the US that prevents any serious UNSC resolution against Israel. When it comes to Israel, and consequently western Asia and North Africa, the United States continues to be hostage to the pro-Israeli lobby in the country. However, the tide is turning. There are signs of a progressive counter-discourse gaining ground. Obama and Netanyahu are at odds, let there be no doubt about this. And there is resistance to the influence of the Israeli right-wing on US domestic politics and foreign affairs. But for the moment the political elites in the US are not sufficiently independent to think in terms of their national interest in western Asia and North Africa.

I have argued in “A metahistory of the clash of civilisations” that justice in world politics is the surface effect of a series of constellations that can be manipulated towards particular ends. So justice is a product of politics and diplomacy rather than an objective value that is universally applicable. At the same time I reject the notion that world politics has to be anarchic, that the Hobbesian idea of a war of all against all is inevitable. It was Europe and then the United States that constructed and supervised this unjust order. It is not due to some kind of natural law. So it can be changed. The Israeli nuclear programme must be seen within this larger context of an unjust world order that continues to produce hypocrisies on major issues facing human kind. I mean, it is not as if we could detach from all of this. Politics affects everything we do, from birth to death, cereal to nightgown. The reform of the international institutions must do away with the hierarchy inscribed in them. One way of dealing with this would be to turn the UNSC into a rather more representative body that would reflect the emerging non-western world order.

KZ: The sanctions of the United States and European Union against Iran have targeted Iran’s medical sector, oil and gas industry, energy sector and even automobile and food industries. Ordinary Iranians are deprived of having access to the most rudimentary necessities of their daily life as a result of these crippling sanctions. Tens of patients suffering from chronic disorders die each year because the foreign firms don’t allow their products to be exported to Iran Even the reformist leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mirhossein Mousavi have condemned the crippling sanctions of the West against Iran. What’s your idea? Aren’t these sanctions some kind of violation of human rights?

AA: There are two assumptions in the question that I would like to challenge. First, I think the Iranian economy is doing well if we take into consideration that the country has been under international sanctions for three decades now and that it is absorbing the ‘baby boom’ generation after the revolution. There are many problems of course, unemployment, inflation, economic mismanagement, etc, but the macroeconomic indicators of Iran – economic growth, foreign direct investment – are sound. Recent reports by the World Bank, UNCTAD and the IMF indicate these positive economic trends quite clearly.
After all, Iran continues to be an affluent country. From my own experience in Iran there is no shortage of medical provision and the country continues to have an intricate and wide ranging social welfare system with several foundations and institutions that are dedicated to the plight of the poor. They continue to function against all odds. To my mind the sanctions policy has largely failed. A country like Iran with the second largest gas reserves in the world and the second highest production of crude oil cannot be effectively isolated. But I take your point that economic sanctions hurt civilians rather than the state. Especially in the aviation industry the sanctions policy is killing Iranians. In that sense, it is true that they violate human dignity.

Yet I don’t think that the sanctions have in any way ‘crippled’ Iran as Hillary Clinton and others put it. The term crippling is very discriminatory and distasteful by the way, given that many US soldiers come back disabled from the many wars that the US is engaged in. It is even more disrespectful than the so called ‘carrot and stick’ policy applied to Iran, a phrase that is used for donkeys. Terms and phrases like that indicate the discursive violence enveloping Iranian-American relations. It is equally prevalent in Iran, of course, for instance the calls of death to America. To my mind, progressive independence, independence that is not only material, but psychological too, begets that Iran does away with slogans demonising or praising any country.

As for the second part of the question: In fact the Iranian opposition is by far more hawkish on the issue of nuclear negotiations, for they do not hold the responsibly of power. As you know I have never accepted the discourse of human rights as a part of the foreign policy of the state. Human rights are the prerogative of civil society. The state is merely there to execute our demands in that regard. I don’t think any of us need Nicolas Sarkozy to enlighten us about human rights. But it should be said in the same breath that the human rights situation in Iran is problematic. Again, why would we look at the representations by the ‘west’ in order to assess how we treat each other? Isn’t this a form of dependency? And does it not invite the other side into Iranian affairs? What we need is a transparent, legally grounded policy of human rights that defines the dignity of Iranians and their rights within the context of the social, religious, cultural and ethnic realities of contemporary Iran. An autonomous human rights shura, if you want, not in order to present Iran as a particularly tolerant country to the outside, that would be an automatic side effect, but in order to assess why there are so many complaints about the human rights situation in Iran by Iranians living in the country itself. The weakness of the system in this regard has serious national and international repercussions.

The national security of a country starts with the nation- the citizenry which is the most precious commodity for the security of a country. The revolution was quite clear on this aspect, the centrality of the “tudeh”, “mardom”, the “ummah”. Surely, we are not saying that other countries are responsible for the dignity of the Iranian people? There is a splendid excursus by Ali Shariati on this matter, on the differences between “bashariyat” and “insaniyat” between being human in biological terms and humaneness. “Insaniyat” or humaneness requires caring for the plight of the ‘other’, the hamsay-e or neighbour with whom we literally share our shadow, “ham – saye”. I have used this differentiation of Shariati to criticise the inhumane treatment of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq by the US army. I don’t mean to sound too dramatic but I believe that we need the discourse of insaniyat in Iran today, probably more than ever.

KZ: Your articles and commentaries have appeared on several mainstream media outlets and you have been in close contact with a number of them. Don’t you believe that all of these media outlets have an anti-Iranian approach which prevents them from maintaining impartiality and objectivity? Don’t you trace the footsteps of a concerted anti-Iranian propaganda in these media? Why don’t they ever write anything of Iran’s rich and sophisticated culture? Why don’t they ever write anything about Iran’s scientific progresses? Why don’t they ever write about Iranian artists, scholars and scientists and the richness of Persian culture and literature? What we read of Iran in these media is simply confined to Iran’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism, nuclear program and violation of human rights. Why is it so?

AA: No I don’t think so. I certainly don’t see a concert of anti-Iranian propaganda. It is more of a cacophony. By that I mean that there is no government or agency that could control every aspect of the international media, otherwise the demand for some of my writings would not penetrate the mainstream as you put it. So I don’t think there is some kind of a conductor when it comes to the media concert on Iran. There is no monolithic coherence or a consensus that is all-encompassing. There is a real difference between Fox News and CNN, and there is a difference between The Sun and The Guardian of London. But it is true to say that there are many people shouting, and that the megaphones are readily available. It is surely easier to get published with a story that is anti-Iranian, rather than one that aspires to objectivity.

But the reason for that is not an all-encompassing conspiracy, but the composition of the mainstream media in the ‘west’ itself. At the margins there is room for dissent, but the bulk of the news stories have become a part of what Theodor Adorno aptly called a ‘culture industry’ decades ago. This culture industry reacts to market forces by far more than it reacts to the truth. As a current example: Here, in the UK the government of Prime Minister Cameron is currently grappling with a major corruption case involving several newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corporation. There have been arrests; Murdoch and his son had to appear in front of a parliamentary commission and so on. The allegations range from bribery of police officers who leaked information to journalists to the illegal hacking of phones and computers. It is a right mess. Murdoch co-owns Fox News together with the Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Murdoch also owns The Sunday Times, The Times, and several tabloid papers. So there is a concentration of power here that creates its own political economy of truth. This is unhealthy for a democracy and it is unhelpful to understand complex countries such as Iran.

But again, from a critical perspective, and in this case it means self-criticism, one has to ask why it is so easy to write nonsense about Iran and why it is that Iran’s image is so far removed from the reality? I don’t think that the power of the mainstream media is analytically possible without the absence of a functioning counter-discourse. Why is the international media not flooded with experts from Iran itself? How many of Iran’s cultural attaches in the embassies do their job properly? How many conferences do they organise on the media representation of Iran? How much outreach is there? And what about the media landscape in Iran in terms of its international appeal? An image can only be manipulated if the resistance to that manipulation is not sophisticated enough. To put it in simple terms: Iranians in Iran are the best authors of their narrative, highly educated, internet-savvy, most of them truly brilliant, it is just a matter of disseminating their message, so that there is a second opinion on the country.

KZ: The critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believe that he isolated Iran in the international community with his harsh policies and uncompromising stance, especially with regards to nuclear issue. They say that Iran has other important priorities than nuclear program and should not sacrifice its position and prestige in the international level by insisting on enriching uranium which is a sensitive issue for the Westerners. What’s your take on that?

AA: Success in international diplomacy is not merely dependent on the demand, in this case enriching uranium on Iranian soil, but on the way that demand is packaged. It is not what is in the package that is determining the reaction, but the way it is enveloped.

President Ahmadinejad stands accused of using the wrong wrapping paper. His rhetoric, his demeanour his overall discourse has been largely anti-diplomatic and confrontational. The Supreme Leader was quite aware of this at an early stage of the Presidency which is why he nominated a foreign policy council to oversee his performance. In that sense President Ahmadinejad is quite comparable to George W. Bush who was equally inept to articulate the national interest of the United States, which is why he plunged the country into a political and economic mess. Having said that, Iran is not isolated per se. Iran continues to be supported by those countries who are preparing for a new world order that will be distinctively multi-polar and non-western. The initiative of Turkey and Brazil is indicative of the future, the emergence of China as a global player is probably the most important factor, and the Arab revolts are very consequential too.

The puppets are falling and the puppet-master is running out of characters. The shah, Ben-Ali, Mubarak, their primary sin was that they were considered to be subservient to external demands. It was their colonial mindset, the notion that they simply can’t do it on their own that sealed their fate. The Iranian revolution has to be seen as a step in the direction of a multi-polar world order because it offered an alternative to superpower politics. In fact, the Cold War in Iran ended with the revolution.

KZ: The United States and Israel have long advocated a regime change in Iran and used every opportunity to sabotage Iran’s security by supporting terrorist groups such as PJAK and MKO or assassinating Iranian scientists and high-profile politicians. Don’t you believe that those Iranians living in Diaspora who support these American-Israeli efforts are betraying the cause of their compatriots living in Iran?

AA: To my mind, those fanatical opposition activists who cheer everything that is going wrong in Iran are delusional. They deserve compassion, not vitriol. Exile has a strange effect on the mind. It creates a dangerous duality. In terms of their mental habitat, many exiles continue to live in Iran. Yet because they are not there, everything that happens there appears in slow motion to them. They can’t keep up. You can take the individual from Iran, but you can’t take Iran out of the individual. Iran is like a magnetic nodal point that draws you in. It is really difficult to escape the lure of the country. Now if the duality of the exiled mind is not tempered with a good dose of reason, it creates a split personality, cultural schizophrenia in Dariush Shayegan’s words.

The idea that “they” have taken away “my” country from “me” turns into the idea that I have the right to take it back now. Iran is traded as a commodity that can be owned, rather than a bond that we all have to invest in, in order to yield results that are non-discriminatory. I don’t think, however, that any Iranian condones the murder of innocent scientists in their homeland.

There aren’t many of those delusional opposition activists left really, apart from the handful who have set up their satellite TV stations in their basement and who don’t really have serious influence on anything that is being said and written about Iran. But ideally, even they would be included in an extended parenthesis behind the meaning of contemporary Iran which would safeguard the right to contribute to the future of the country. Such a vast parenthesis would encompass all of those who identify themselves as Iranian, irrespective of political orientation, ethnic background, religious loyalties etc.

You are an Iranian if you say so, who am I to deny you the right to be one? Such an understanding of Iran as an open ended idea has a central function: It turns the politics of the country, including the dialectic between the Diaspora and Iranians living in Iran, from an antagonistic mode to an agonistic process of mutual acceptance, from the zero-sum politics of today, to the positive-sum policies of tomorrow, from the vilification of the political enemy to the acceptance of him/her as a legitimate competitor. The Iranian self, the “khodi” has always been cosmopolitan and politically promiscuous. Unless this reality is accepted, the politics of the country will be decided on a limited ground that does not encompass the transnational vastness of the meaning of Iran. After all, Iran transcends, that much we can all agree upon. Hence, a politics of transcendence, the maximal autonomisation of the meaning of Iran is merited.

KZ: The European Union has recently taken the name of MKO off its list of terrorist organizations. Moreover, MKO was legalized in the United Kingdom on 24 June 2008, six months after winning a court battle over its legality. The U.S. congressmen are also making efforts to persuade the government to remove MKO from its terror list. What’s your estimation of this action? Isn’t it contrary to the claims of the American and European politicians who usually boast of their loyalty to the Iranian people and their support for the freedom and democracy movement in the country?

AA: Of course it is. The MKO is a terrorist sect with rigid organisational structures that would make any fascist rise in applause. But why is the case against Iran easier to build than the case against other countries, for instance Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua, states that are allied to Iran? This is the real question that the political elites in Iran need to address. And then there is a second responsibility for what is happening: The primary reason why the MKO can act is the vacuum left behind by Iranian diplomacy in the last years. We can’t start the analysis with the effect. We have to look at the causes. Where are the cultural attaches protesting against the activities of the MKO? Where are their outlines for concerted PR campaigns that would reveal the atrocities that the MKO committed? How many international conferences have been organised on the links between the MKO and Saddam Hussein? Why is this little organisation an issue in the first place?

What is needed in order to safeguard Iran’s national interest is a politics of friendship and reconciliation that stretches as far as possible to the realms of international diplomacy: state to state, state to society, and most importantly civil society to civil society. The dialogue between societies encapsulates the true essence of the term dawat that was so central to the libertarian aspects of the Islamic revolution. Inviting the ‘Other’ to listen is a virtue. Obviously an invitation requires a language that is empathetic rather than confrontational. As a Persian proverb has it: betamarg, beshin and befarma all mean sit down, but the polite befarma will probably yield the best reaction.

KZ: And my final question is about the prospect of Green Movement in Iran. I strongly believe that the United States and European countries betrayed the Green Movement by explicitly supporting it and giving the hardliners an excuse to associate this reformist movement with the U.S. and Israel. The Western mainstream media also played their own role in this betrayal by portraying Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi as opposition leaders, while they were simply reformist candidates who wanted to implement soft reforms within Iran’s current political establishment, not opposition leaders who wanted to subvert the regime. What’s your idea?

AA: I don’t see the causal link between western policies and/or media representations and events in Iran. The politics of the country has its own dynamics. There is too much focus on what the media in the ‘west’ says, as if a journalist in New York has more power to decide the future of Iran than a university student in Tehran. Here, I disagree with post-colonial theorists and the Radical Left who keep telling us that imperial power is all-encompassing. To believe that, is not only analytically flawed but it creates a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy. As for the Green Movement: it is the reincarnation of previous reform outfits such as the Second Khordad movement named after the date Mohammad Khatami was elected President.

It is the surface effect of the demands of Iranian civil society which will continue to be articulated beyond personalities such as Mousavi and Karroubi who themselves are merely the effects of those demands for reform. And you are right to say that these are calls for reforms to the Islamic Republic and not for a fundamentally new order. At the height of the demonstrations I wrote that they did not amount to a revolution. Most people disagreed. When it comes to the Iran story the degree of hypocrisy and opportunism is staggering, sometimes it is depressing. But one shouldn’t feel helpless in the face of the colossal lies that are being printed about Iran. There is room to resist and to fight for the truth. To my mind, this is primarily an intellectual jihad which requires research, patience and a good dose of cross-cultural empathy. It is not enough to speak truth to power from the outside any anymore. It is necessary to perfect resistance strategies that penetrate power from within. And isn’t this what the brave activists from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Syntagma Square in Athens are demanding as we speak?

… Payvand News – 08/07/11 … —

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Iranian terrorist group has close US allies

Posted by alanmirs on August 5, 2011

Al Jazeera English

The Mujahedin-e Khalq, which the US designates a terrorist group, has the backing of prominent American conservatives.
Jasmin Ramsey Last Modified: 04 Aug 2011 15:00
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Members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq lobby US politicians to remove their organisation from the terrorist list [EPA]

Something strange is happening in Washington. In August, the Obama administration is expected to announce whether it will keep the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian group that killed American civilians and officials in the 1970s, on its foreign terrorist organisations (FTO) list.

Known for its cult-like behavior, the MEK (also known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, PMOI or MKO) fought alongside Saddam Hussein’s regime against its own country during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. This is one reason why it has almost no Iranian support, even if it refers to itself as the “most popular resistance group inside Iran” on its official website. It does, however, enjoy the backing of several US heavyweights with high national security credentials.

George W. Bush’s attorney general Michael Mukasey has described MEK members as “courageous freedom fighters”. President Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, General James L. Jones, gave a speech at a MEK conference dominated by non-Iranians. Their events have also been attended by former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

MEK supporters point to the humanitarian issues at its headquarters in Camp Ashraf near the Iran-Iraq border as the reason for their advocacy. But it also has a “parliament in exile” called the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) with a “president-elect” named Maryam Rajavi who intends to rule Iran for a “transitional period” after the government is “overthrown”. The calls to protect Camp Ashraf have merit, but the Obama administration is being simultaneously lobbied to delist a FTO with a known anti-Iran agenda, thereby upsetting the already delicate political balance between Iran and the US.

The president does not want to be accused of being soft on Iran while it is pounding its chest in Iraq, but succumbing to the MEK’s well-organixed lobbying effort will not only further harm US-Iran relations, it will also negatively affect Iran’s internal opposition. Since the FTO list is seen as a diplomatic weapon rather than
a national security tool, the delisting of the MEK will be read in Iran as an escalation in hostilities and force President Obama into a position that is not his own.

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RDC’s Iran Connect Assists with State Level CISADA Compliance

Posted by alanmirs on August 4, 2011


Aug. 3, 2011, 3:41 p.m. EDT

RDC’s Iran Connect Assists with State Level CISADA Compliance

Companies & Financial Institutions Contracting with California and Florida Face Additional Compliance Burdens



WILMINGTON, Del., Aug 03, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Following the recent enactment of legislation in California and Florida prohibiting contracting companies from engaging in business with Iran’s energy sector, Regulatory DataCorp, Inc. (RDC), a leading global provider of decision-ready intelligence and risk and compliance protection services, is advising financial institutions and corporations that their state contracts may be at risk if they are not in compliance with these new laws. RDC’s Iran Connect(TM) product, the first solution to market last year specifically focused on CISADA compliance, is the industry’s leading solution for corporations and financial institutions impacted by these regulations.

“Companies have to know who they are doing business with, and that is becoming more and more complicated,” said Thomas Obermaier, Chief Executive Officer of RDC. “With nearly a dozen states already adopting legislation divesting public pension investments from firms tied to Iran and 20 more considering similar action, companies and financial institutions have an imminent need to stay abreast of and comply with these mounting requirements.”

Although U.S. authorities have for many years identified and sanctioned Iranian front-companies, these new state laws significantly expand the due diligence obligation for their contractors. At present, the U.S. Treasury Department has named 60 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) affiliates and Iran-linked financial institutions, but in reality each of these entities may in turn have thousands of financial or business relationships. The new California and Florida laws now impose a potentially overwhelming compliance burden. Without expert assistance, untangling the intricate web of these Iranian relationships can require time-consuming, in-depth, and often costly manual research.

“Since the enactment of global, federal, and now state sanctions targeting the sale of products, services, and technology that would enhance Iran’s petroleum sector, the stakes continue to rise. Ignorance could prove to be an extremely costly mistake,” added Obermaier.

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The march toward a nuclear Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 4, 2011

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Making an Enemy of Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 3, 2011

Barack Obama has thrown in the towel regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and yielded to his advisors’ policy of relentlessly demonising Iran, notes Patrick Seale.

Middle East Online

It is now widely accepted — and lamented — that US President Barack Obama failed dismally in attempting to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Defeated by Israel’s hard-line Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and by Israel’s friends in the United States — lobbyists, Congressmen and women, neo-conservatives, Christian Zionists, and assorted Arab-haters both inside and outside the Administration — the President threw in the towel.

What is less well understood is that Obama was also defeated in another major area of foreign policy — relations with Iran. When he came to office he vowed to ‘engage’ with the Islamic Republic, but this admirable objective was soon supplanted by a policy of threats, sanctions and intimidation aimed at isolating Iran, subverting its economy and overthrowing its regime.

Israel and its friends led the campaign against Iran, demonizing it as a threat to all mankind, and forcing the United States to follow suit. Israel has repeatedly, and very publicly, threatened to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, and has done its best to drag the United States into war against it, in much the same way as pro-Israeli neo-conservatives — such as Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith at the Pentagon — manipulated intelligence to push America into war against Iraq in 2003, with catastrophic consequences for the United States.

Why did Wolfowitz and his friends do it? Because they feared that, having survived the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq might just possibly pose a threat to Israel. It had to be destroyed. Tony Blair, Britain’s Prime Minister at the time, himself something of a Christian Zionist, was foolish enough to tag along. The war totally discredited him.

The neo-con’s strategic fantasy was not just to use American power to smash Iraq. Once Saddam had been dealt with, they planned to use the US military again and again to ‘reform’ Syria, Hizbullah, Iran, the Palestinians and even Egypt and Saudi Arabia so as to make the whole region safe for Israel. Such demented folly is hard to comprehend.

Having brushed the Iraqi fiasco under the carpet, Israel and its friends are now doing it again. In recent weeks there has been a flurry of reports that Israel was planning to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities this September — a bluff clearly intended to pressure the United States into taking ever tougher measures against Iran so as to make it unnecessary for Israel to attack.

In addition to such a transparent propaganda ploy, Israel has in the past two years murdered a number of Iranian nuclear scientists — two were killed and one was seriously injured last year and a fourth was killed last month. Israel’s Mossad has made murdering its enemies something of a speciality. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s it carried out several assassinations, or attempted assassinations, of scientists working for Egypt and Iraq, not to mention the many Palestinian activists it has killed around the world over the past half century.

Apparently with American help, Israel has also sought to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme by introducing a virus, Stuxnet, and possibly other viruses, into its nuclear facilities. Not surprisingly, Tehran now views the United States and its aggressive Israeli ally as one and the same enemy.

Assassinations and other acts of state terrorism are short-term expedients which usually end up being paid for dearly. Countries have long memories. Hate is not easily expunged. The United States, and to a lesser extent Britain, are still paying for their clandestine overthrow in 1953 of Muhammad Mosaddeq, Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister, whose ‘crime’ was to seek to protect Iran’s oil from imperialist predators.

Why has Netanyahu chosen to portray Iran’s nuclear programme as the gravest threat to the survival of the Jewish people since Hitler? He must know that this is pure fantasy. Ehud Barack, his defence minister, has himself admitted that Iran poses no ‘existential threat’ to Israel. With its own vast nuclear arsenal, Israel has ample means to deter any attack.

But a nuclear Iran — if it ever came to that — would indeed pose a different sort of challenge to Israel: It would not threaten its existence but it would curtail its freedom to strike its neighbours at will. Israel has always sought to prevent any of its neighbours acquiring a deterrent capability. It wants to be the uncontested military power from Tehran to Casablanca. Hence the hysteria it has sought to generate over Iran’s nuclear programme and over Hizbullah’s rockets. How dare Israel’s neighbours seek to defend themselves!

In recent weeks, the troubles in Syria have encouraged Israel and its friends to seek to disrupt, and if possible destroy, the Tehran-Damascus-Hizbullah axis which has challenged the regional hegemony of Israel and the United States The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), part of the Israeli lobby in the United States, has been particularly active in rousing opinion against all three members of the axis. To quote a single example among many, in an overheated article in Foreign Policy on 27 July, Matthew Levitt, one of WINEP’s propagandists, described Hizbullah as “one of the largest and most sophisticated criminal operations in the world.” The ‘crime’ of this Lebanese resistance movement was to have forced Israel out of South Lebanon after an 18-year occupation (1982-2000) and to have built up a minimal capability to deter future Israeli aggressions, such as its invasion in 2006 which killed 1,600 Lebanese.

The United States has already paid dearly — in men, treasure, and reputation — for its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It remains trapped in the AfPak theatre of war. It must surely know that there can be no settlement in Afghanistan without Iran’s support. A glance at a map is enough to confirm it.

But the relentless demonising of Iran goes on. Last week, David S. Cohen, undersecretary for Terrorism at the U.S. Treasury — a job which seems reserved for pro-Israeli neo-cons to wage economic warfare against Tehran — made the excitable accusation that “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today.” Without advancing a scrap of evidence, Cohen alleged that Tehran had a “secret deal” with al-Qaida to use Iranian territory to transport money and men to the war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This fabrication is eerily like the one the neo-cons made against Saddam Hussein to justify the 2003 invasion.

Instead of such mendacious propaganda, the United States would be better advised to listen to Turkey and Brazil. Having approached Iran with respect and understanding, these two powers concluded a deal in May last year whereby most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium would have been swapped for fuel for Tehran’s research reactor. Had the United States conceded Iran’s right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme, as allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the deal could have provided the basis for a global settlement.

Obama rashly dismissed this highly promising approach. Instead, yielding to his ill-intentioned advisers, he pressed for a new round of Security Council sanctions against Iran. But by making an enemy of Iran, he has simply increased the bill the United States will eventually have to pay – in Afghanistan, and no doubt in Iraq and elsewhere as well.

Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East. His latest book is The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press).

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ANALYSIS-India, Iran buy time to find other oil partners

Posted by alanmirs on August 3, 2011

Reuters Africa

Wed Aug 3, 2011 11:02am GMT

 Payments route through Turkey may have U.S. blessing

* Sanctions on Iran likely to keep this solution short-term

* Indian refiners looking to Middle East, Africa for barrels

By Nidhi Verma and Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI, Aug 3 (Reuters) – India and Iran’s mechanism to end a seven-month-old stalemate over oil payments could keep U.S. pressure at bay long enough for the two countries to work out a long-term separation that would change oil routes through Asia and the Middle East.

Refiners, which have been importing oil from Iran without paying since India’s central bank scrapped a clearing mechanism in December 2010, have started to clear over $5 billion of debts for 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) through Turkey’s Halkbank.

But analysts are sceptical over the durability of the new system in the face of a slew of global sanctions on Iran and Washington’s continuing drive to isolate Tehran over its nuclear programme.

“The durability depends on to what extent the U.S. government can be open on its support for a mechanism,” said Samuel Ciszuk, senior Middle East & North Africa Energy analyst at IHS Energy.

The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to halt use of the Asian Clearing Union for payments seven months ago won praise from Washington and a later attempt to use a bank based in Germany fell apart after the U.S. pressed Berlin to intervene.

It is unclear how Washington views the new payment arrangement, finalised while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in India. Officials said Washington had been working with New Delhi to find a solution.

Clearing the debts should defuse Iran’s threat to halt supplies and ease concern of disruption in the market. The mechanism gives a pivotal role to Turkey, which Clinton last month said was a natural ally despite its trade ties to Iran and opposition to more sanctions.

“While Turkey would be open to scrutiny (if the U.S. wants), it will not allow unreasonable blocking — so that’s a good combination. Turkey and Iran have flourishing trade,” said Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary.

But any softening in Washington’s stance could be short-lived, analysts said, as the U.S. would send a signal that endorses one form of trade with Iran while it seeks to sanction others.

“The problem for the U.S. government is that the more openly it supports a particular mechanism, the less credibility its efforts to isolate Iran in other areas enjoy and the higher the domestic political cost,” said Ciszuk.

“Any particular conduit is unlikely to have a particularly long life-span in the current climate and within six to nine months it would be likely that Iran and India will have to move on to a new mechanism,” he added.


Indian refiners had already started making arrangements in July and August to replace lost barrels from Iran with supplies from its Middle East neighbours and further afield such as South America, and there are signs these efforts will continue.

U.S. ally and Iranian rival Saudi Arabia has sold three million barrels of extra crude to India for August after 2.7 million barrels sent in July.

Iran’s biggest Indian client, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd , has signed an annual deal with Kuwait and opened channels of discussions with the United Arab Emirates for enhanced supplies.

“Depending on Iran may create a problem in future because Iran is going ahead with its nuclear programme … Suppose there is military intervention by a country in Iran, the entire supply from that country will be disrupted,” said D.H. Pai Panandikar, head of private think tank RPG Foundation.

He added that India was looking at other sources, particularly in Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), besides the Middle East. Latin American grades could be too costly, given the distance involved, even if Indian refineries upgrade to process them.

For Tehran, backlogs of its crude could be put in floating storage and may eventually flow to its biggest customer, China, where rising needs over time might absorb what was being shipped to India — especially if attractive discounts are offered.

Stagnant demand and the likelihood of sanctions would make it progressively more difficult for European companies to raise intake of Iranian oil. Italy is already reducing volumes.

“My feeling is that this is a short-term (arrangement) to get rid of the $5 billion (arrears),” Sibal said. (Additional reporting by Alejandro Barbajosa in SINGAPORE; Writing by Jo Winterbottom; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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