Category Archives: Iran

Iran wakes up to new choices: Pompeo’s bark aimed at whom?

Trump’s words upon pulling out of the JCPOA Iran deal were ‘that’s life’, the ‘Iranians have to learn what life’s about’, suggests a strongarm negotiating tactic. That this may be a reflection of a generalised Trump modus operandi is suggested by the fact that the Trump summit with Kim Jong-un is having its pre-conditions mollified. This is down to strong South Korean diplomatic intervention, which is establishing an important premise for the negotiations, namely that denuclearisation must inevitably be a gradual and scaled process. Imperiousness has given way to diplomacy.

But then came Pompeo’s bark at the Heritage Foundation, which talked about the ‘strongest sanctions in history’. Is that a continuation of the Trump ‘art of the deal’? The answer to that lies in establishing who Pompeo was barking at. It is most likely that it was a response to Europe’s knee-jerk rejection of Trump’s decision, and its disinterment of old laws intended to protect European companies from foreign (in this case US) sanctions. So it wasn’t really addressed to the Iranian people. By knobbling the Europeans, the White House expects to be able to achieve its end of suffocating Iran.

Iran isn’t North Korea though, and it doesn’t have a powerful US ally with a vested interest in the outcome (South Korea) intervening actively on its behalf to achieve peace. It does have many nations, however, that are adversaries of the US – China and Russia – that see Iran’s survival as important for their own independence and the success of their long-term projects. One US ally – Turkey – although this alliance is clearly ambivalent – is always to willing to brave US sanctions and take the consequences on the chin, for the same reasons. Despite the bible thumping, war-drum beating proclivities of the current White House, it is unlikely to take the US to fully-fledged war in the Middle East. It isn’t in Pompeo’s interests, nor in Trump’s, nor would the Pentagon be enthusiastic, nor would Europe (across-the-board) provide the fig leaf of legitimacy that Bush acquired through Blair.

This doesn’t mean it won’t give Israel the backing and wherewithal to do what it wants in the Middle-East. But then, for years, Israel has been threatening to bomb Iran, and hasn’t done so yet, for many reasons that have been most eloquently spelled out in Gareth Porter’s book ‘Manufactured Crisis’ . Porter’s thesis that Netanhayu is a paper tiger, is borne out by Hassan Nasralla’s sober description of the essentially empty recent retaliation that was Lieberman’s ‘we have wiped-out Iran’s military capacity in Syria’, the background to which events has been summarised by Paul Rogers.

The judgement that Iranians are split over how to respond to Trump’s position and Pompeo’s bark, is a false description of the choice facing Iran. The Korean situation doesn’t involve any of the deep ideological bitterness between the people of the Middle-East and Israel/US, and none of the legacy of many recent wars and interventions there. Korea is an old war frozen in time. The choice Iran faces is between simply riding out the Trump administration(s) without changing anything, on the one hand, and actually making a nuclear bomb, on the other. Likely they will opt for the former, and seek to develop Iran economically with out the West. So just as nothing will change from the Israeli side, nothing will change from the Iranian side.

What will happen now is that the Iranian economy will merge deeper into the Chinese and Russian projects, which will help those countries widen their markets, and develop new products (commercial airliners, electronics, oil field services) that Iran needs and which those countries have been working on developing for years. With each passing day, trade between non-Western countries increases and as of 2009, has crossed the 50% mark in terms of the value of global trade.

 

Ignore the tough talk – Trump’s Iran policy will be much like Obama’s

 

Gareth Porter writes

The first public pronouncements by President Donald Trump’s administration on Iran have created the widespread impression that the US will adopt a much more aggressive posture towards the Islamic Republic than under Barack Obama’s presidency.

But despite the rather crude warnings to Tehran by now ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and by Trump himself, the Iran policy that has begun to take shape in the administration’s first weeks looks quite similar to Obama’s.

The reason is that the Obama administration’s policy on Iran reflected the views of a national security team that adhered to an equally hardline stance as those of the Trump administration.

Flynn declared on 1 February that the Obama administration had “failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions” and suggested that things would be different under Trump. But that rhetoric was misleading, both with regard to the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran and on the options available to Trump going beyond that policy.  Read full article here

Kerry’s speech and the vanishing mirage of the two state solution

The two state solution was a figment of the Western mind conjured up and carefully maintained to assuage its conscience about the Frankenstein monster it has created and nurtured in the Middle East these past 65 years. Kerry’s speech on UNSC Resolution 2334 has set out the stark fact that Israel can no longer be considered a democratic state, even in the delusory ruminations of Western politicians.

That’s fine in the sense that it is in tune with the new neo-fascist zeitgeist and incoming Trumpism.  What’s not fine is that the aggressive reaction of Israel to this clearing of the air is laying the ground for a new regional and international counter-reaction and a new conflict, the sparks of which the incoming Trump administration seem dead set to fan into all-consuming flames.

Bush Jr brought us Iraq, Obama Syria and now Trump, Israel-Iran: a new a deadlier conflict for 2017 for which Iran is preparing with deadly seriousness. UNSC Resolution 2334 is a kind of ‘non est mea culpa‘ from a dying liberal internationalist ideology, which is – if you consider the wording of the resolution carefully – entirely absorbed with the past:

The Security Council,
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions . . . Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, . . .
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem . . . .
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, . . .
Recalling also the obligation . . .  for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders . . .
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, . . . constitutes a flagrant violation under international law . . .
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory. . .
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution . . .;
5. Calls upon all States . . .  to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and . . . for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;
7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, . . .  to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;
8. Calls upon all parties to . . .  launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process . . . ;
9. Urges . . . the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions . . . and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;
10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;
11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions; . . . .
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