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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #650 on: November 27, 2013, 12:21:30 PM »


Analysis

The nuclear deal reached between the West and Iran on Nov. 23, however limited and temporary its terms, may represent a landmark shift in the geopolitics of the Middle East. While it follows a flurry of diplomatic activity and urgent meetings, largely made possible by a regime change in Iran last August and a sense of urgency on the part of the United States' second term president, the imperatives and geopolitical realities driving such a rapprochement have been taking shape for years. Stratfor analyses have discussed the geopolitical forces and imperatives driving this historic shift, as well as the many challenges, for years. Those challenges include a recalcitrant U.S. Congress, defiant allies in the Arab world and Israel and resistance from hard-liners in Iran's security apparatus who would sabotage any prospective deal to protect their privileged position built up during years of international isolation. Ultimately, the deal was reached because the two main parties -- the United States and Iran -- both believe that a deal is in their interests, now and in the future. Below is a reverse chronology of Stratfor analyses and forecasts over the past decade that have anticipated the events now unfolding in the wake of the new Geneva accord.

Fourth Quarter Forecast 2013

Oct. 1, 2013

    While both Iran and the United States are serious about pursuing a dialogue, the transition from making positive gestures to negotiating substantial concessions will be difficult. Iran will expect some give-and-take from the United States on sanctions in negotiating the nuclear issue, but the U.S. president will have a limited range of choices for highly visible concessions he can make independently without having to consult an obstinate Congress. A nervous Saudi Arabia and Israel, meanwhile, will exercise their respective levers to undermine the negotiation, though they will face limits as the United States and Iran try to fast-track the talks while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani still carries support at home.

Iran: Rebalancing Civil-Military Relations

Sept. 19, 2013

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faces a dilemma involving two powerful yet distinct actors: the United States and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Rouhani understands that he must bring in foreign investment to improve the Iranian economy, but he can only court potential investors if he can somehow convince the United States to ease its economic sanctions. The corps wields substantial economic power in Iran, and the group will not easily surrender that power to foreign competitors -- at least, not without gaining something in return. To appease the corps, Rouhani will offer concessions and guarantee the protection of its economics interests, so long those interests do not interfere with his foreign policy agenda.

U.S., Iran: Why They Will Now Likely Negotiate

Aug. 2, 2013

    Tehran is devoting an unsustainable amount of resources to Syrian President Bashar al Assad in his fight against the Syrian rebellion. And while economic sanctions have not yet forced Iran to the negotiating table, Iranian leaders will likely choose to engage the United States voluntarily to forestall further economic decline. The inauguration of President-elect Hassan Rouhani provides an ideal opportunity for them to do so.

Negotiations Behind U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

July 3, 2013

    While talk of sanctions has dominated headlines, a more subtle dialogue between Iran and the United States has been taking place. In an editorial appearing in U.S. foreign policy journal The National Interest, two insiders of the Iranian regime, Iranian political analyst Mohammad Ali Shabani and former member of Iranian nuclear negotiating team Seyed Hossein Mousavian, communicated several key points on behalf of Tehran:

    The United States and Iran must continue to negotiate.

        Sanctions hurt Iran economically but by no means paralyze Iranian trade.
        Iran cannot be sure that any bilateral agreement made with the United States will be honored by a new administration come November.
        The United States must abandon any policy intended to bring about regime change in Tehran.
        Washington has few remaining options other than military intervention, which is an unlikely outcome.
        Iran can significantly increase pressure on the United States by, for example, threatening the security of the Strait of Hormuz, an act that would raise the price of U.S. oil.

    Perhaps most important, they said, "the Islamic Republic is willing to agree on a face-saving solution that would induce it to give up the cards it has gained over the past years."

    On June 27, the United States delivered an important message. U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert said during a Pentagon news conference that the Strait of Hormuz had been relatively quiet and that the Iranian navy had been "professional and courteous" to U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. According to Greenert, the Iranian navy has abided by the norms that govern naval activity in international waters. Previously, armed speedboats operated provocatively close to U.S. vessels, but they have not done so recently, Greenert said. It is difficult to imagine Greenert making such a statement without clearance from the White House.

Saudi Nightmares

May 16, 2012

    The Saudi royals live with an all-consuming fear -- that of an American understanding with Iran. The Saudis know that the American estrangement from Iran is unnatural and cannot go on forever. It has already lasted a third of a century, almost a decade longer than America's estrangement from Communist China. The Saudis also know that the logic of the present standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions must lead -- through war or peace -- to some sort of American-Iranian dialogue about the two countries' core interests in the Middle East.

The Next Decade, by George Friedman

Published January 2011

    In the next decade, the most desirable option with Iran is going to be delivered through a move that now seems inconceivable. It is the option chosen by Roosevelt and Nixon when they faced seemingly impossible strategic situations: the creation of alliances with countries that had previously been regarded as strategic and moral threats. Roosevelt allied the United States with Stalinist Russia, and Nixon aligned with Maoist China, each to block a third power that was seen as more dangerous. In both cases, there was intense ideological rivalry between the new ally and the United States, one that many regarded as extreme and utterly inflexible. Nevertheless, when the United States faced unacceptable alternatives, strategic interest overcame moral revulsion on both sides. The alternative for Roosevelt was a German victory in World War II. For Nixon, it was the Soviets using American weakness caused by the Vietnam War to change the global balance of power.

    Conditions on the ground put the United States in a similar position today vis-a-vis Iran. These countries despise each other. Neither can easily destroy the other, and, truth be told, they have some interests in common. In simple terms, the American president, in order to achieve his strategic goals, must seek accommodation with Iran.

    The seemingly impossible strategic situation driving the United States to this gesture is, as we've discussed, the need to maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, and to achieve this at a time when the country must reduce the forces devoted to this part of the world.

    The principal reason that Iran might accede to a deal is that it sees the United States as dangerous and unpredictable. Indeed, in less than ten years, Iran has found itself with American troops on both its eastern and western borders. Iran's primary strategic interest is regime survival. It must avoid a crushing U.S. intervention while guaranteeing that Iraq never again becomes a threat. Meanwhile, Iran must increase its authority within the Muslim world against the Sunni Muslims who rival and sometimes threaten it.

    In trying to imagine a U.S.-Iranian detente, consider the overlaps in these countries' goals. The United States is in a war against some -- but not all -- Sunnis, and these Sunnis are also the enemies of Shiite Iran. Iran does not want U.S. troops along its eastern and western borders. (In point of fact, the United States does not want to be there either.) Just as the United States wants to see oil continue to flow freely through Hormuz, Iran wants to profit from that flow, not interrupt it. Finally, the Iranians understand that the United States alone poses the greatest threat to their security: solve the American problem and regime survival is assured. The United States understands, or should, that resurrecting the Iraqi counterweight to Iran is simply not an option in the short term. Unless the United States wants to make a huge, long-term commitment of ground forces in Iraq, which it clearly does not, the obvious solution to its problem in the region is to make an accommodation with Iran.

Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal

March 1, 2010

    The United States apparently has reached the point where it must either accept that Iran will develop nuclear weapons at some point if it wishes, or take military action to prevent this. There is a third strategy, however: Washington can seek to redefine the Iranian question.

    The major risk of the third strategy is that Iran will overstep its bounds and seek to occupy the oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf. Certainly, this would be tempting, but it would bring a rapid American intervention. The United States would not block indirect Iranian influence, however, from financial participation in regional projects to more significant roles for the Shia in Arabian states. Washington's limits for Iranian power are readily defined and enforced when exceeded.

    The great losers in the third strategy, of course, would be the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula. But Iraq aside, they are incapable of defending themselves, and the United States has no long-term interest in their economic and political relations. So long as the oil flows, and no single power directly controls the entire region, the United States does not have a stake in this issue.

Decade Forecast: 2010-2020

Jan. 21, 2010

    We also see the Iranian situation having been brought under control. Whether this will be by military action and isolation of Iran or by a political arrangement with the current or a successor regime is unclear but irrelevant to the broader geopolitical issue. Iran will be contained as it simply does not have the underlying power to be a major player in the region beyond its immediate horizons.

Geopolitical Diary: Military Intelligence Chief Shifts Israel's Iran Policy

Nov. 18, 2008

    The change in tone [from the Israelis toward Iran] tracks with the change in Iranian-U.S. relations. While hardly warm, there are signs of some thawing, as we have discussed. U.S. President George W. Bush's administration appears to be moving toward more extensive, open discussions with Iran, and President-elect Barack Obama has indicated a commitment to exploring dialogue with Iran. Under those circumstances, Israel is not going to simply oppose talks. Israel cannot stray too far from the American position, and given that the Bush and Obama positions are converging, Israel cannot attempt to play off political disagreements in Washington.

The Iranian Position

Dec. 13, 2006

    Politically speaking, it is obvious why the [Bush] administration has balked at suggestions that the United States should openly extend the hand of diplomacy to Iran, which -- chiefly through the mouthpiece of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- has said and done little to endear itself to the world, and much to spotlight the weakness of the U.S. position. Geopolitically speaking, it is equally obvious why the United States has no real choice in the matter. Washington's best option is to combine diplomacy with a military strategy (which we have discussed elsewhere) that can open the door to a substantial drawdown. But engaging Iran on some level -- however unpalatable it seems -- is an unavoidable part of the equation.


Read more: A Chronology of the Geopolitics of a Nuclear Deal with Iran | Stratfor

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #651 on: November 27, 2013, 12:34:24 PM »

Second post

Political commentator Charles Krauthammer: "Half a dozen times, the Security Council has passed resolutions which said Iran has to stop all enrichment, otherwise there will be no change in sanctions, no relief. Which means six times China and Russia -- not exactly hardliners on Iran -- have signed on to this. And what is the result of this agreement? Iran retains the right to enrich. ... And remember, enrichment is the dam against all proliferation. Once a country anywhere can start to enrich there is no containing its nuclear capacity. So it undermines the entire idea of nonproliferation and it grants Iran a right it's been lusting for for a decade. That's why there was so much jubilation in Tehran over this. … This is a sham from beginning to end. It's the worst deal since Munich."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #652 on: November 27, 2013, 12:39:42 PM »

third post

Sohrab Ahmari: An Iranian Insider's View of the Geneva Deal
'If the right to enrich is accepted, which it has been, then everything that we have wanted has been realized.'
by Sohrab Ahmari
Nov. 26, 2013 7:21 p.m. ET

The Obama administration and Western diplomats were elated by an agreement, negotiated over the weekend, to temporarily limit some aspects of Iran's nuclear-weapons program. The elation was shared by Tehran's negotiating team, led by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, whose beaming smile and social-media savvy have been fixtures of the talks in Geneva. When the deal was sealed early on Sunday, Mr. Zarif took to Twitter TWTR +2.18% to announce: "We have reached an agreement."

But there is another Iran, where government officials are generally unsmiling and Twitter is banned. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps rule this land, not Mr. Zarif or his nominal boss, President Hasan Rouhani. It is in this Islamic Republic where the results of President Obama's nuclear diplomacy will be tested.

No Iranian news outlet more closely reflects the views of the supreme leader and the country's hard-line establishment than the Kayhan newspaper. The editor of Kayhan— Hossein Shariatmadari currently holds the post—is directly appointed by Mr. Khamenei and is considered the leader's representative to Iranian media.

On Sunday, I spoke on the phone with Payam Fazlinejad, a Kayhan writer and senior researcher and lieutenant of Mr. Shariatmadari's. The 32-year-old Mr. Fazlinejad is also a lecturer who addresses Islamic Republic elites on the ideological threats facing the regime—themes he has expounded on in such books as "Knights of the Cultural NATO" and "The Intellectuals' Secret Army." While he emphasized on the phone that his opinions don't necessarily represent those of his employer, Mr. Fazlinejad's views are typical of those held by a large and powerful element of the Tehran regime.


Mr. Fazlinejad's reading of the Geneva agreement mixes triumphalism and hard-nosed skepticism. "We need to be able to have an accurate view of what occurred and then assess it against the positions of the supreme leader and his guidance," he says. "But as a general matter, if the right to enrich is accepted, which it has been, then everything that we have wanted has been realized."

Last year, Mr. Shariatmadari, the editor of the newspaper, wrote that Iran has a right to enrich uranium up to 99%. The Obama administration insists that the Geneva agreement doesn't enshrine a right to enrich uranium. Yet the deal permits the Iranian regime to continue enriching uranium up to 5%—a level that can be quickly escalated to produce weapons-grade material. Mr. Fazlinejad views the Geneva 5% concession as great-power acquiescence to Tehran's enrichment program. "Now, the details—including the amount of enrichment and the specific enrichment locations and the technological shape of our enrichment program—are up to our technicians to determine," he says.

Given that the Geneva deal is an interim, six-month arrangement, with a final agreement still to come, Mr. Fazlinejad suggests that Western leaders must "take into account that the supreme leader's support for the negotiations and agreement has been conditional and by no means absolute. The leader instructed us that if the rights of the Iranian nation and the principles of the revolution are respected and the negotiating team stands up to the overbearing demands of the United States and the global arrogance"—the regime's terms for the West generally—"then he would support their work." On the other hand, if the agreement denies Iran's absolute right to enrich, "then it is from our view essentially void."

The Kayhan writer warns against perceiving any diplomatic agreement over Iran's nuclear program as a first step toward broader rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. "The nature of the opposition of the Islamic revolution with the regime of liberal democracy is fundamentally philosophical," Mr. Fazlinejad says. "It's an ideological difference. It is not a tactical enmity, or one that has to do with temporary interests, which can be shifted and the enmity thus done away with. . . . So in contrast to all the punditry of late in the international media, which says that these negotiations are a step toward peace between Iran and the United States—those who take this view are completely mistaken."

Western leaders, Mr. Fazlinejad says, are also misreading the meaning of Mr. Rouhani's election in June and his foreign policy. Pointing to the Iranian president's recent visits with the families of Iran's "martyrs," Mr. Fazlinejad says: "Notice how hard Mr. Rouhani's government works to show itself to be loyal to the revolution's ideological principles." The new president "won't make the mistake of thinking he can either distance the Islamic Republic's leadership from its ideological principles or seek its ideological collapse."

To drive home his point about the endgame of the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, Mr. Fazlinejad offers an analogy from the Islamic Republic's early history, citing the late Ayatollah Khomeini's statement regarding the 1987 United Nations Security Council Resolution 598, which paved the way for a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War.

"In that message," Mr. Fazlinejad says, "the imam made it clear that our military war against the arrogance in the form of Iraq's regime is over. . . . But he advised the youth and the political activists to 'safeguard the revolutionary hatred and grievance in your hearts, look upon your enemies with fury and know that you will be victorious.' "

Khomeini's statement, Mr. Fazlinejad says, "was a message of peace, signaling a permanent cease-fire. But at the same time it asserted the vitality of our struggle against the capitalist order. If anyone gets the sense from these negotiations, as [Foreign Minister] Mr. Zarif has, that we are getting closer to the West, he is as mistaken as Mr. Zarif."
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G M
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« Reply #653 on: November 27, 2013, 02:48:45 PM »

This is explained in both articles I posted.

a) FWIW I think BD is using "rational" is a specific "term of art" academic sense and GM is using it as it is used in everyday conversation.



"Because rational choice theory lacks understanding of consumer motivation, some economists restrict its use to understanding business behavior where goals are usually very clear. As Armen Alchian points out, competition in the market encourages businesses to maximize profits (in order to survive). Because that goal is significantly less vacuous than "maximizing utility" and the like, rational choice theory is apt."

Trying to analyze geopolitics without factoring in culture, history, belief systems seems pretty useless.
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G M
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« Reply #654 on: November 27, 2013, 02:54:41 PM »

So, what's the academic theory that explains how Iran uses these games to buy time until it nukes Israel and maybe the US, even at the cost of massive retaliation?
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bigdog
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« Reply #655 on: November 27, 2013, 05:28:02 PM »

While this is a criticism, IMO the better rational choice theorists are able to account for history and culture. I have found that those who criticize in this way fail to understand it.

This is explained in both articles I posted.

a) FWIW I think BD is using "rational" is a specific "term of art" academic sense and GM is using it as it is used in everyday conversation.



"Because rational choice theory lacks understanding of consumer motivation, some economists restrict its use to understanding business behavior where goals are usually very clear. As Armen Alchian points out, competition in the market encourages businesses to maximize profits (in order to survive). Because that goal is significantly less vacuous than "maximizing utility" and the like, rational choice theory is apt."

Trying to analyze geopolitics without factoring in culture, history, belief systems seems pretty useless.
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G M
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« Reply #656 on: November 27, 2013, 05:40:51 PM »

So, does rational choice explain if Iran is negotiating in good faith or not? What insight does rational choice theory give us in this case?
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bigdog
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« Reply #657 on: November 27, 2013, 07:31:57 PM »

Is this a real question, or a continued snide line of "discussion"?
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G M
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« Reply #658 on: November 27, 2013, 07:34:05 PM »

A real question.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #659 on: November 27, 2013, 10:10:48 PM »

 cheesy
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bigdog
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« Reply #660 on: November 28, 2013, 05:26:59 AM »

I am not aware of an in depth, academic work using rational choice about the negotiations that ended a few days ago. There are, however, several rational choice models about Iranian (foreign) policy more generally.

Here are some examples:

http://www.caspianstudies.com/article/Decision%20Making%20in%20Iran-FinalDraft.pdf

http://www.unc.edu/~kurzman/cv/Kurzman_Structural_Opportunity.pdf

If you want more current thought, I suggest academic blog sites like the Duck of Minerva or The Monkey Cage. Foreign Policy's online resources might something too.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #661 on: November 28, 2013, 12:23:12 PM »

"
I am not aware of an in depth, academic work using rational choice about the negotiations that ended a few days ago."

GM's sense of humor is rubbing off on you  cheesy
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DougMacG
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« Reply #662 on: November 29, 2013, 10:51:55 AM »

"does rational choice explain if Iran is negotiating in good faith or not? What insight does rational choice theory give us in this case?"

If we assume Iran has no intention of abiding by any meaningful restrictions and sees this as all take and no give, then a scholarly theory is not necessary to analyze such a simple framework.  More interesting is to study the Obama (G5+1) side to understand what motivates such recklessness.

Not 'rational choice', but look to a theory I would call 'saving face'.  When one side is caving in a negotiation, the winning side can offer little fig leafs for the losing side to use for cover in order to make the capitulation happen.  President Obama and Sec. Kerry can point to this complex agreement and say blah, blah, blah while Iran proudly proclaims that sanctions are lifted, hard currency is coming in, and nuclear enrichment will be uninterrupted.
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ccp
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« Reply #663 on: December 06, 2013, 08:09:08 AM »

Many Jews might argue that the Iran deal is preferable to strikes and outright war with Iran.  Such as Crafty's Stratford Post on the subject.  The twisted arguments are ridiculous as we can all see Iran is hell bent on achieving nuclear weaponry capability.

But as the saying goes we all have our opinions and mine is just one of many.

This picture to me portrays what I have noted multiple times.  The liberal Jews love the Democrat Party and also hate the Republicans more then Nazis.

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-defends-iran-deal-hanukkah-celebration-105731643.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #664 on: December 06, 2013, 10:10:54 AM »

I posted the Stratfor piece because S. has a long history of substantive, thoughtful analyses, many of which are well outside the box but ultimately have been born out.

That said, at the moment in looks to me like they are really stretching things in an effort to cover just how wrong (albeit plausibly) they have been on this one.

Even so, the point about balancing against Sunni fanaticism is worth considering IMHO.
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G M
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« Reply #665 on: December 07, 2013, 07:44:50 AM »

"
I am not aware of an in depth, academic work using rational choice about the negotiations that ended a few days ago."

GM's sense of humor is rubbing off on you  cheesy

Iran has been waging war against us since1979 and working on nukes for at least a decade. Exactly how much lead time is needed ?
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ccp
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« Reply #666 on: December 08, 2013, 09:47:43 AM »

Unthinkable, unthinkable, unthinkable, then too late and worse.  That is my opinion.
Others think otherwise:

******By George F. Will,   Published: December 6

In his disproportionate praise of the six-month agreement with Iran, Barack Obama said: “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program.” But if the program, now several decades old, had really been “halted” shortly after U.S. forces invaded neighboring Iraq, we would not be desperately pursuing agreements to stop it now, as about 10,000 centrifuges spin to enrich uranium.

If Denmark wanted to develop nuclear weapons, we would consider that nation daft but not dangerous. Iran’s nuclear program is alarming because Iran’s regime is opaque in its decision-making, frightening in its motives (measured by its rhetoric) and barbaric in its behavior. “Manes,” writes Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution, “from whose name the word manichean derives, was a Persian who conceived of the world as being divided into good and evil.” But Pollack says suicidal tendencies are not among the irrationalities of the Iranian leadership, who are not “insane millenarians.”
best editorial cartoons of 2013 (so far): A collection of cartoons from around the country.

In “Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy,” Pollack argues that Iran’s nuclear program has been, so far, more beneficial to the United States than to Iran. Because of the anxieties and sanctions the program has triggered, Iran is more isolated, weak, impoverished and internally divided than at any time since it became a U.S. adversary in 1979. And one possible — Pollack thinks probable — result of Iran acquiring a nuclear arsenal would be Saudi Arabia doing so. Pollack considers this perhaps “the most compelling reason” for Iran to stop just short of weaponization.

Writing several months before the recent agreement was reached, Pollack said that, given Iran’s adamant refusal to give up all enrichment, it will retain at least a “breakout capability” — the ability to dash to weaponization in a matter of months, even weeks. Hence the need to plan serious, aggressive containment.

In September 2012, the Senate voted 90 to 1 for a nonbinding resolution “ruling out any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.” The implication was that containment is a tepid and passive policy. But it was not such during the 45 years the United States contained the Soviet Union. And containment can involve much more than mere deterrence of Iran, against which the United States has already waged cyberwarfare.

Pollack believes that, were it not for Israel “repeatedly sounding the alarm,” Iran “probably would have crossed the nuclear threshold long ago.” But if a nuclear Iran is for Israel unthinkable because it is uncontainable, Israel’s only self-reliant recourse — a nuclear attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — is unthinkable. And, Pollack thinks, unnecessary. The existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is a sufficient deterrent: The Iranian leadership is “aggressive, anti-American, anti-status quo, anti-Semitic, duplicitous, and murderous, but it is not irrational, and overall, it is not imprudent.”

There will be no constitutional impropriety if Congress recoils against the easing of sanctions and votes to impose even stiffer ones on Iran. The president has primary but not exclusive responsibility for foreign policy. It is time for a debate about the role of sanctions in a containment policy whose ultimate objective is regime change. For many decades prior to 1989, humanity was haunted by the possibility that facets of modernity — bureaucracy and propaganda technologies — could produce permanent tyrannies impervious to change. (See Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism.”) In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” George Orwell wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.” Since 1989, however, tyrannies seem more brittle. And Pollack believes “the basic ingredients of regime change exist in Iran,” which “today is a land of labor protests and political demonstrations.”

Pollack may be too sanguine when he says that, since the brutal smashing of the Green Revolution of June 2009, “the Islamic Republic has been delegitimized and is starting to hollow out.” His fear is that even massive U.S. air strikes would only delay the danger that provoked them and thus might “prove to be nothing more than a prelude to invasion, as they were in Iraq and almost were in Kosovo.”

The logic of nuclear deterrence has not yet failed in the 64 years since the world acquired its second nuclear power. This logic does not guarantee certainty, but, says Pollack, “the small residual doubt cannot be allowed to be determinative.” His basic point is: “Our choices are awful, but choose we must.” Containment is the least awful response to Iran’s coming nuclear capability.

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.******
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #667 on: December 17, 2013, 10:49:31 AM »

http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/iran-launches-another-monkey-into-space-increases-fear-iran-is-developing-ballistic-missiles-that-can-hit-the-us?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Iran+Launches+Another+Monkey+into+Space%2C+Increases+Fear+Iran+is+Developing+Ballistic+Missiles+That+Can+Hit+The+US&utm_campaign=20131217_m118356133_12%2F17%3A+Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Iran+Launches+Another+Monkey+into+Space%2C+Increases+Fear+Iran+is+Developing+Ballistic+Missiles+That+Can+Hit+The+US&utm_term=Iran+Launches+Another+Monkey+into+Space
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #668 on: December 17, 2013, 05:16:18 PM »

Second post


Book Review: 'Days of God,' by James Buchan
Reza Shah single-handedly propelled Iran from a shambolic, humiliated has-been empire into a modern nation-state.
By Roya Hakakian
Dec. 16, 2013 7:04 p.m. ET

In "Days of God," James Buchan comes as close as anyone—certainly as close as any Westerner—to capturing the Iranian predicament of the past 34 years: "Those who make great revolutions forget that prisons and torture chambers survive into the new era, but good manners, good food, the small pleasures of family life, and literary excellence all go to hell. What Iranians most wished for they never gained, and what they most sought to preserve they lost."

Mr. Buchan, a British journalist and novelist, first traveled to Iran in 1974, when the shah was still at the height of his powers, and he worked for many years as a Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times. The author's grasp of Persian literature and the Persian language allows him to treat Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution with rare insight and compassion.

The book chronicles the rise and fall of Iran's Pahlavi kings, the last in a monarchical tradition stretching back 2,500 years. In Mr. Buchan's telling, Iran's turbulent 20th century was defined by the conflict between the modernizing Pahlavis and the country's powerful Shiite clergy, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The ayatollah-turned-revolutionary had always viewed secular rulers—be they despots or democrats—as an affront to the divine sovereign, and as Mr. Buchan writes, he believed that it was the clerics who "as heirs to the Prophet and the Imams . . . must lead the Muslim community."

Those tensions exploded in the cataclysmic events of 1978-79, which Mr. Buchan covers in rich detail and delightful prose: the massive protest on Sept. 8, 1978, in Tehran's Zhaleh Square, on which the shah's security forces opened fire, dooming his regime in the process; the Khomeinists' equally brutal arson attack on Cinema Rex in Abadan, Iran, which killed almost 500; the bloody retribution aimed at the army and Pahlavi-era officials that followed the revolution; the mass executions of Khomeini's former leftist allies, led by the psychotic hanging judge Sadegh Khalkhali; the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in November 1979; the eight-year war with Iraq; the Iran-Contra affair; and, finally, Khomeini's bizarre 1989 funeral, during which 10,000 grief-stricken devotees of the ayatollah were "treated for self-inflicted wounds, heat exhaustion, and crush injuries."
Enlarge Image

Days of God

By Roya Hakakian
(Simon & Schuster, 410 pages, $27.99)

A most portentous moment in modern Iranian history marks the opening of "Days of God": the 1926 coronation of Reza Shah, an elite cavalry officer in the Cossack Brigade and the founding patriarch of the Pahlavi dynasty. The author describes Reza Shah as an ambitious king-to-be, who aspired to emulate Ataturk in neighboring Turkey with a rapid program of modernization. While noting Reza Shah's flaws—hubris, above all—Mr. Buchan concludes that "Reza was the most influential Iranian of the last century, more influential even than Ruhollah Khomeini." The judgment is sound: Reza Shah almost single-handedly propelled Iran from a shambolic, humiliated has-been empire into a modern nation-state. His great influence notwithstanding, he was forced to abdicate the throne by the World War II Allies in 1941 in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

In recounting the 50-year rule of the Pahlavis, father and son, Mr. Buchan sharply breaks from the dominant, anti-Pahlavi narrative in the West. At the heart of that narrative is the notion that U.S.-Iran tensions today can be traced back to the 1953 coup, led by the CIA and MI6, against the shah's populist prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. But according to Mr. Buchan, the real actors behind the anti-Mossadegh "coup" were the Iranian middle class, the merchants of the bazaar and, above all, the Islamist clergy, who loathed Mossadegh's secularism.

For the clerics, Mossadegh's overthrow was merely one episode in a centurylong quest for power that culminated in the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 takeover. The historical lesson is clear: The mullahs didn't form a spiritual, benign force that suddenly took the stage in 1978 in support of the oppressed masses against an evil king. Rather, they were pragmatic and persistent political actors with a long-standing thirst for power.

Gradually, as the book's narrative arrives at 1979 and the horrific years that followed, the author's perspective shifts from that of authoritative historian to objective contemporary reporter. He recounts the 444-day ordeal that became known as the hostage crisis in America, but the significance of it for the domestic politics of Iran is mentioned only as an aside. What appeared to the international community, especially the U.S., as an egregious display of enmity toward America also enabled the Khomeinists to consolidate their hold on power at home. But Mr. Buchan notes this pivotal insight only in a passing quotation from the arch-hostage taker Mohammad Mousavi-Khoeiniha : "We have reaped all the fruits of our undertaking. We defeated the attempt by the [Iranian] Liberals to take control of the machinery of government."

During the long 14 months it took until the hostages returned home, seismic shifts took place inside Iran, changing the nation as the world knew it. Mr. Buchan's analysis of all this is sometimes quick, too quick. In the interval, "the Islamic Republic freed the American diplomatic hostages, established its legal code, extirpated its enemies, and covered up its women," he writes.

Another barely analyzed incident is the fatwa against Salman Rushdie issued by the ayatollah in 1989: "Why Khomeini chose to condemn that author, that literary work, and at that time is not obvious to me," Mr. Buchan writes. That Khomeini depended on homemade and other crises—hostage taking, war with Iraq—is a point usually lost on even the most insightful Western experts, Mr. Buchan among them. Western writers are trained to seek underlying, logical rationales for the behavior of rogue and revolutionary regimes. But some men, and some regimes, simply thrive on chaos.

Ms. Hakakian is the author, most recently, of "Assassins of the Turquoise Palace," which received the 2013 Asian American Literary Award in nonfiction.
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« Reply #669 on: December 20, 2013, 10:55:35 AM »

U.S. President Barack Obama made a rare threat to veto legislation after a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran if an interim nuclear agreement fails. Despite pressure from the Obama administration, on Thursday a group of 26 republican and democratic senators filed a bill, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, targeting Iran's oil exports and penalizing its engineering, mining, and construction industries. Additionally, it would give the senate a voice in any final nuclear agreement with Iran. The sanctions would not take effect before the end of the six-month term of the interim deal. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the "action is unnecessary" and could "disrupt the opportunity here for a diplomatic resolution." Additionally, Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor, said, "We just can't have new sanctions during this period." One of the bill's main supporters, Senator Robert Menedez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement, "Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith."
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« Reply #670 on: December 22, 2013, 12:09:13 PM »

http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/iranian-analyst-without-deal-we-wouldve-attacked-israel?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+%27Without+Deal%2C+We+Would%27ve+Attacked+Israel%27&utm_campaign=20131220_m118410957_12%2F22%3A+Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+%27Without+Deal%2C+We+Would%27ve+Attacked+Israel%27&utm_term=Iranian+Analyst_3A+Without+Deal_2C+We+Would_27ve+Attacked+Israel

An Iranian political analyst claimed last week that if a deal between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program had not been reached in Geneva, Iran would have annihilated Israel. The comments by Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini, a former political advisor to Iranian President Khatami, aired on Syrian News TV on December 11. They were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). In fact, said Al-Hosseini, had a deal not been reached in Geneva, President Barack Obama would have had to kiss the hands of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in order to prevent an Iranian attack on Israel.
“Believe me, President Obama tried five times to get a free handshake from President Rouhani, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly – and he failed,” said Al-Hosseini. “He (Obama) said: ‘I am prepared to discuss the issue of Bahrain, like Iran wants – but just give me that handshake,’” claimed Al-Hosseini. “Obama had to make a great retreat. He was forced to accept a handshake from President Rouhani, whom he considered a kind of Gorbachev or Sadat, so that the day would not come when he would be forced to kiss the hands of Hassan Nasrallah and Imam Khamenei, so that they would hold their fire in the great war that was prepared to annihilate Israel,” he further stated. “All the operations... It has been revealed that our missiles can now very easily reach Tel Aviv. We have weapons that can make Israel go blind. Nasrallah, the leader of the resistance, managed to deliver a 17-minute speech, and the Israeli airplanes were unable to reach the southern suburb of Beirut, or to fly over Lebanon,” claimed Al-Hoseeini. “This is the first time that such a thing has happened. This means that we have a new strategic weapon in Syria, in Iran, and in the southern suburb of Beirut, which can prevent Israel from attacking,” he declared. The former presidential adviser went on to claim that the Iranians “have raised the level of uranium enrichment far beyond the level they really needed, so that when the level would be lowered, they would emerge victorious.”
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« Reply #671 on: December 24, 2013, 11:09:28 AM »

Obama's Iran Sanctions Veto
He rejects a bipartisan attempt to strengthen his negotiating hand.


Dec. 22, 2013 6:23 p.m. ET

President Obama says he won't sign a deal with Iran that fails to stop its nuclear weapons program. So why is he threatening to veto a Senate sanctions bill that would strengthen his hand in negotiations with Tehran?

That's the big question after the White House promised to veto the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013" that a bipartisan group of Senators introduced on Thursday. Thirteen Democrats joined 13 Republicans as co-sponsors of the bill that would impose more sanctions on Iran only if the talks on a final agreement fail.


The veto threat means the President is siding with Iran against a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Congress. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claims the bill would kill the "interim" accord recently signed in Geneva, which sounds like either an excuse or a bluff. Yet White House spokesman Jay Carney immediately echoed the Iranian by saying "it is very important to refrain from taking any action that would potentially disrupt the opportunity for a diplomatic resolution."

At his Friday press conference, Mr. Obama didn't even make that elevated a case, insisting that "there's no reason to do it right now." He added that "I'm not surprised that there's been some talk from some Members of Congress about new sanctions. I think the politics of trying to look tough on Iran are often good when you're running for office or if you're in office."

So as usual the President says his opponents are motivated by political self-interest while he's above all that. At least he didn't blame the "Israel lobby," but what else could he have been referring to? Senate Democrats are getting a taste of what House Republicans get every other day from Mr. Obama.

Pardon us for looking at the merits, but the bill would do nothing to undermine the talks unless Iran isn't serious. Mr. Obama keeps saying that previous sanctions—which he resisted at every turn only to take credit later—are what brought Iran to the bargaining table. The current bill written by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk simply warns Iran's rulers of worse sanctions if they walk away. The bill would tee up tighter restrictions on Iran's petroleum industry, access to foreign bank holdings and investment in engineering, mining and construction. This sharpens the incentive for Iran to dismantle its illegal nuclear facilities.

The White House seems to think the bill would alter the mood music of the talks, but if mood is the issue then a deal isn't going to succeed anyway. It's troubling enough that Iran and the U.S. can't even seem to agree on the details of the interim accord, which still isn't in effect.

We're also told that provisional sanctions would undermine Iran President Hasan Rouhani in his supposed battle with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. But even if you think that Mr. Rouhani is a genuine moderate, parsing Iran's internal politics is a fool's game. Outsiders can't peer inside such a closed system, unless the NSA and CIA are better than we assume. No deal will work unless Iran's hardliners agree to it in any case.

The Senate bill would also send a useful message to German, Chinese, Indian and other companies that are eager to rush back into business with Iran. It says hold off until a final agreement is done and implemented. One reason Iran so hates the Menendez-Kirk bill is that it is hoping the sanctions relief contained in the interim accord will cascade into a wholesale breakdown whether or not a final agreement is reached.

The Senate bill would also help to keep Mr. Obama's negotiators focused on the merits, as opposed to the short-term atmospherics of a supposed diplomatic triumph. The text of the Senate bill says a successful negotiation must dismantle Iran's nuclear facilities, include compliance with existing U.N. Security Council resolutions (which include limits on ballistic missiles) and allow around the clock inspections at all suspect facilities. The interim accord required none of this.

The bill also offers a strong statement of U.S. support for Israel if it acts in self-defense against Iran's nuclear program. This too is a warning to Mr. Obama, who often seems more intent on containing Israel than containing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

No President wants Congress to intervene in foreign policy, but this bill gives him the freedom to negotiate as long as that negotiation achieves what Mr. Obama says are his goals. It tells Iran and Mr. Obama that Congress won't accept a North Korean-like deal that settles for promises instead of dismantling a rogue nuclear program. If Mr. Obama means what he says, he ought to welcome such political support.
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« Reply #672 on: December 28, 2013, 04:25:30 PM »

Click here to watch: Iran develops new generation of uranium centrifuges


President Obama faced mounting bipartisan pressure on Friday to drop his resistance to an Iran sanctions bill after Tehran announced a new generation of equipment to enrich uranium -- a move the Israelis claimed was further proof the regime seeks nuclear weapons. One of the president's top Democratic allies is leading the charge for Congress to pass sanctions legislation, despite the president's pleas to stand down. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told Fox News that the "Iranians are showing their true intentions" with their latest announcement. "If you're talking about producing more advanced centrifuges that are only used to enrich uranium at a quicker rate ... the only purposes of that and the only reason you won't give us access to [a military research facility] is because you're really not thinking about nuclear power for domestic energy -- you're thinking about nuclear power for nuclear weapons," he said. Menendez was reacting after Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said late Thursday that the country is building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. He said the system still needs further tests before the centrifuges can be mass produced. His comments appeared aimed at countering hard-liner criticism by showing the nuclear program is moving ahead and has not been halted by the accord. At the same time, the government was walking a fine line under the terms of the deal.

Iran, as part of a six-month nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers, agreed not to bring new centrifuges into operation during that period. But the deal does not stop it from developing centrifuges that are still in the testing phase. On Friday, the Embassy of Israel in Washington released a statement reiterating their call for Iran to halt enrichment and remove the infrastructure behind it. "Installing additional advanced centrifuges would be further indication that Iran intends to develop a nuclear bomb -- and to speed up the process of achieving it," the statement said. Menendez said he, like the president, wants to test the opportunity for diplomacy. "The difference is that we want to be ready should that diplomacy not succeed," the senator said. "It's getting Congress showing a strong hand with Iranians at the same time that the administration is seeking negotiation with them. I think that that's the best of all worlds."
Obama would not appear to agree.


See more at http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/white-house-feels-the-heat-from-congress-after-iran-develops-new-generation-of-uranium-centrifuges?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+White+House+feels+The+Heat+from+Congress+After+Iran+develops+new+generation+of+uranium+centrifuges&utm_campaign=20131228_m118491261_12%2F28%3A+Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+White+House+feels+The+Heat+from+Congress+After+Iran+develops+new+generation+of+uranium+centrifuges&utm_term=Iran+develops+new+generation+of+uranium+centrifuges
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« Reply #673 on: January 12, 2014, 12:47:19 PM »

Iran Nuclear Deal to Take Effect on Jan. 20, World Powers Say

Iran and six world powers have agreed on how to put in place an accord that would temporarily freeze much of Iran’s nuclear program, American and Iranian officials said on Sunday.  That accord would go into effect on Jan. 20.

International negotiators worked out an agreement in November to constrain much of Iran’s program for six months so that diplomats would have time to pursue a more comprehensive follow-up accord.  But before the temporary agreement could take effect, negotiators had to work out the technical procedures for carrying it out and resolve some of its ambiguities in concert with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-deal.html?emc=edit_na_20140112

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« Reply #674 on: January 14, 2014, 11:12:59 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/01/14/rouhani-world-powers-surrendered-to-iran-with-nuclear-deal/
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« Reply #675 on: January 14, 2014, 11:29:15 AM »


US run by Nazi space aliens, Iran claims


Alien Space Nazi Caricature Photo: Roz Mundo

WASHINGTON -  Confirming the suspicions of many, the United States has been secretly run by a shadow government of German Nazi space aliens since 1945, Fars News Agency, Iran's semi-official news agency, reported on Sunday.

,,,,
http://www.jpost.com/Iranian-Threat/News/US-run-by-Nazi-space-aliens-Iran-claims-338159
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« Reply #676 on: January 18, 2014, 10:30:42 AM »

Russian media is again reporting that Moscow and Tehran are continuing talks related to an oil-for-goods agreement that could be worth as much as $1.5 billion per month. The Iranians are again politely refuting the reports, saying no such talks are on the agenda during Russo-Iranian bilateral meetings. Russia's proposal for the agreement was first leaked by "Russians familiar with the negotiations" to Reuters on Jan. 10, and Moscow has continued its attempts to keep the story in the media spotlight despite Iran's objections.

Details about how such a deal would be implemented are unclear, but the leaks suggest that Iran would deliver some 500,000 barrels of crude oil to Russia per day in exchange for various material goods, ranging from agricultural exports to basic machinery and supplies. We are skeptical that such an agreement will take place. Though both sides may see short-term benefits for keeping the dialogue going, the actual implementation of the deal, at least as presented by the media leaks, poses a strategic risk to both countries.

With this announcement, Russia is attempting to derail the U.S.-Iran talks, hoping to subtly complicate negotiations between Tehran and the P-5+1 group. This would give Moscow the opportunity to position itself in a Middle East in which Iran is closer to the West. The oil-for-goods deal may also prove popular inside Russia as a potential boost for the country's faltering industrial sector.

However, Russia would also begin incentivizing production in a country that could become its competitor in oil markets, should Tehran reinvest in and expand its energy production. Indeed, the program would boost oil production.

The Kremlin sees greater utility in trying to disrupt Iran's ongoing negotiations with the United States. Russia would prefer that the United States remain bogged down in Middle Eastern issues such as the Syrian civil war. However, this plan could lead to increased Iranian hydrocarbon exports to Asia, which buys the most Iranian crude and which Russia has been trying to tap.

Russia has attempted to leverage its relationship with Tehran against U.S.-Iranian relations in the past, most notably through oft-repeated and oft-refuted claims that Moscow was ready to supply Iran with S-300 air defense systems. With the Iranians and Americans now engaged in serious negotiations, the likelihood of an American strike on Iranian facilities -- and the need for advanced air defense systems -- has dropped dramatically.

With Russia attempting to present itself as a more pragmatic mediator after negotiating the Syrian chemical weapons deal and ahead of the Olympics, the Kremlin is now trying to throw off U.S.-Iran talks not through military equipment but through agricultural products and civilian machinery. The United States has already expressed unease with such a plan because it would circumvent sanctions, according to several news agencies, including al Jazeera.

The U.S. Senate has backed off from its push for additional sanctions legislation since Washington and Tehran finalized the terms of the initial nuclear deal Jan. 13. However, the oil-for-goods deal could compel the Senate to renew its efforts, which would jeopardize Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's attempts to sell the nuclear negotiations deal to his country.

In the short-term, discussions over an oil-for-goods deal would give Iran a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the West. It would show that Tehran is not entirely crippled by sanctions and has other options for the future. Moreover, the agreement would provide some immediate benefits to the Iranian government: the influx of 500,000 barrels per day's worth of oil. And Russian machinery and goods could help assuage some of the financial strain on Iran.

That said, the risks seem to outweigh the benefits for Tehran. Iran's negotiations with the United States and the P-5+1 group are necessary. While attractive, the revenue from 500,000 barrels of oil per day does not obviate the need to reduce or remove the sanctions regime. There is also a question of what the Iranians would gain directly through the deal. Admittedly, heavily sanctioned or monitored goods have been difficult for the Iranians to procure, but we have seen scarcely any verifiable evidence that the Iranians have been unable to import sufficient quantifies of foodstuffs, iron, steel, medicine and electronics equipment.

By exchanging oil for Russian goods, Tehran might reduce its import bill and increase oil production. But this undermines Iran's own domestic manufacturing and business activities, and it is unclear if Tehran really needs much of anything that Russia could barter for with oil. Ongoing sales of oil to Syria on credit with large and low-interest loans to the al Assad regime belie reports that the Iranian government's economic situation is on the brink of disaster. With an initial agreement with the United States in hand and potential easing of European financial sanctions expected in the coming weeks, pursuing a separate deal with Russia could cost Iran the gains it has already made in negotiating with the West.

Iran is also only in the early stages of seeing a potential boost in its exports to reliable Asian and regional consumers as a result of its deal with the West. Therefore, it seems as though Russia does not seriously think Iran will go for such a deal but is trying to use the possibility that it would as leverage for its own relationship with the West and the United States. However, Russia and Iran have an interest in managing expectations and placing some pressure on the United States and the P-5+1 group as the framework and implementation of the initial nuclear agreement is being worked out in Geneva. Of course, that does not mean that Iran sees Russia as a reliable partner for stabilizing its domestic economy. The oil-for-goods agreement would create too great a dependence on Moscow for the Iranians to be able to comfortably tolerate.

Read more: Iran, Russia and an Improbable Oil-for-Goods Deal | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
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« Reply #677 on: January 24, 2014, 09:05:07 AM »



 Could a Detente with the U.S. Change Iran?
Geopolitical Diary
Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 20:51 Text Size Print

The preliminary agreement over Iran's nuclear program is nearing implementation. But for all that has been said about how a rapprochement will affect bilateral ties, it is worth noting how it will affect each country individually. Since September, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has often said he wants to repair ties with the United States. This is partly because the stakes are higher for the Islamic republic, which could change fundamentally if Tehran normalized relations with Washington.

On Thursday, news agencies quoted Rouhani as saying it was possible to turn 35 years of hostility with the United States into friendship if both sides make an effort. The president was responding to a question on whether there would ever be a U.S. Embassy in Tehran. (Currently, the United States conducts diplomacy with Iran through the Swiss.) Rouhani also said, "no animosity lasts forever."

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman explains.

These statements have been misinterpreted in the media. Rouhani did not exactly say that Tehran would reconcile with the United States immediately. In fact, what he said was not even unprecedented. On the contrary, his statements are consistent with the position Iran has taken since it began cooperating with the U.S. government a decade ago, when the administration of George W. Bush removed Saddam Hussein from power. In January 2008, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed this matter rather candidly. Speaking to a group of students in the city of Yazd, Khamenei said that Iran did not want relations to be frozen in perpetuity. Rather, he noted that conditions in the United States at the time were such that it was not in Tehran's interests to be friendly with Washington, adding that he would be the first one to approve a rapprochement as soon as it benefited Iran.

Six years later, Tehran is still not ready to resume bilateral ties with Washington. But it sees public negotiations with the United States as beneficial. Meanwhile, the Iranians are cautiously signaling that improved relations are possible. Rouhani's position is not incongruous with Khamenei's, but the subject is nonetheless hotly debated within the Iranian political establishment.

At issue is the nature of Iran's relationship with the United States, one that is intimately tied to the prospect of reopening the embassy. Many of the Iranians that held U.S. diplomats hostage from 1979 to 1980 now hold key government positions, so an embassy would be a huge departure for the United States. But the issue possibly has even greater implications for Iran, which under former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sought to eliminate U.S. influence in Tehran and considered the United States a "den of spies."

From Tehran's perspective, reestablishing formal diplomatic ties leaves Iran vulnerable to U.S. influence. Many Iranians officials believe that a detente with the Americans would eventually damage the country's revolutionary pedigree. Already, there are powerful elements in the conservative establishment that think the current ruling clique of pragmatic conservatives, led by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Rouhani, are playing into U.S. interests and in doing so are undermining the integrity of the republic.

For their part, the pragmatic conservatives believe that opening up to the West would not conflict with their revolutionary ideals. Their actions are informed by the need to salvage their country's economy, which has been hit hard by the latest wave of sanctions. At the same time, they also believe the republic needs domestic reform and thus needs to open up the political system.

The hard-liners' main concern is that domestic reforms and a newfound closeness with the United States could strengthen Iran's democratic institutions at the expense of its unelected ones, thereby weakening the theocratic side of its hybrid political system. In short, the clerics would lose power, as would their allies in the security establishment.

For the pragmatic conservative clerics and their reformist partners, altering Iranian policy would not bring an end to the republic. Not only do they feel that the Iranian state is internally strong, but the Rouhani camp also enjoys large support from the public, given the mandate he received in the recent elections, as well as from Khamenei and much of the traditional clergy.

However, the Rouhani administration is aware that it has embarked on a very complex and difficult path. And the government faces considerable resistance from within the state, especially from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-dominated military establishment. For this reason, there are serious limits on how much ties can be normalized. The process will be excruciatingly difficult and at times circuital, as evidenced by the latest statements by Rouhani and his foreign minister, Javad Zarif. They said the Obama administration is mischaracterizing the concessions made by Tehran in the interim nuclear agreement and that Iran did not agree to dismantle its nuclear program.

Ultimately, the Islamic republic has to reconcile its domestic contradictions before it can reconcile with the United States. The model for the Iranians is China, which established normal diplomatic relations with Washington in the 1970s but continues to assert itself as a regional and even global power with interests that conflict with those of the United States. The problem that in addition to being fiercely nationalistic, the Iranians have pan-Muslim/Islamist ambitions intertwined with geopolitical sectarianism that will prevent them from truly emulating the Chinese.

Iran wants to normalize ties with the West, but it does not want to be a pro-Western state. Thus it could form a tentative alliance with the United States when their interests converge without actually becoming an American ally.

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« Reply #678 on: January 29, 2014, 06:15:37 PM »

Iran can now break out if it chooses to do so.   shocked  cry

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-now-has-nuclear-breakout-capability-us-intel-reports/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
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« Reply #679 on: January 29, 2014, 10:59:08 PM »


Anyone think this wasn't the plan all along?
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« Reply #680 on: January 30, 2014, 10:18:53 AM »

"Anyone think this wasn't the plan all along?"

Bush was hamstrung in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I don't guess (because I really don't know) that he would have allowed this otherwise.  I certainly don't thing Rumsfeld or Cheney would have.  I admit myself I didn't see this back in '03.  I was for bombing Iraq and now I admit it was a mistake though all those horror stories coming out of Saddam's tortured country were hard to read and think how can we just sit here and allow this to continue.  Yet after all America has done for Iraq the killing still goes on and Iran was unchecked.  We should have been bombing Iran's nuclear facilities all along IMHO.  Now while still not too late, there is no will.

As for Obama he certainly couldn't care less about Israel or Jews.  The American military does seem to have concluded 'containment' is better than pre-emptive attacks fro some years now.

Any talk of "military action is still on the table" was and has been just PR crap.  It never was "on the table".  Obviously Iran's leaders saw through this for the past decade.

Israel has been suckered.  I guess we can only hope for an outcome similar to the Cold war.

 
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 10:24:34 AM by ccp » Logged
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« Reply #681 on: January 30, 2014, 10:35:26 AM »

My sense of it is this:

Bush was badly weakened by his poor leadership of the Iraq War (which would not have been a mistake had Baraq not thrown it out, quite the contrary IMHO) and the vicious opposition in the US, (some of which got rather close to aid and comfort to the enemy or worse) and the Euros (especially the Germans and French) who were doing business with Iran and didn't want to be inconvenienced.

Israel was not suckered.  It has been let down-- but don't think they did not see it coming.
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« Reply #682 on: January 30, 2014, 10:55:13 AM »

"Israel was not suckered.  It has been let down-- but don't think they did not see it coming."

Agreed.  And I would add, not only let down but foiled from taking action themselves and possibly "drawing the US in".

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« Reply #683 on: January 30, 2014, 11:19:58 AM »

Yes, I agree with you, they were undercut from acting.
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« Reply #684 on: January 30, 2014, 05:03:39 PM »

Actually I was talking about Buraq. This was his plan to let Iran go nuclear while he hamstrung Israel.
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« Reply #685 on: February 06, 2014, 12:06:46 PM »



Iran Nuclear Chief: ‘The Entire Nuclear Activity of Iran is Going On’

Click here to watch: Iran Nuclear Chief: ‘The Entire Nuclear Activity of Iran is Going On’

Iran’s nuclear chief, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, in Tehran, took umbrage with calls to “dismantle” the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, in a two-part interview with semi-official state news television Press TV on Tuesday. In the lengthy interview Salehi declared that rather than being dismantled, “The entire nuclear activity of Iran is going on.” “If you look at the word ‘dismantle’ and you look at it in the dictionary, dismantle means to take apart and try to put it into pieces, equipment,” Salehi said, according to a Press TV transcript of the interview that was conducted in English. “Well, you can come and see whether our nuclear sites, nuclear equipment and nuclear facilities are dismantled or not. The only thing we have stopped and suspended – and that is voluntarily – is the production of 20 percent enriched uranium and that’s it.” “Of course, there is another thing that we have undertaken; we have committed ourselves not to install main equipment, which have been defined as to what those main equipments are in the Arak 40 megawatt heavy water reactor.” “The nuclear facilities are functioning; our enrichment is proceeding, it’s doing its work, it’s producing the 5 percent enriched uranium and those centrifuges that stopped producing the 20 percent will be producing 5 percent enriched uranium. In other words our production of 5 percent [uranium] will increase. The entire nuclear activity of Iran is going on.” Salehi told the interviewer that the recent Geneva agreement with world powers allows Iran to switch over all of its centrifuges working to make 20 percent enriched uranium to produce to the 5 per cent threshold. He said the agreement does not impact Iran’s ability to develop even more efficient centrifuges, which it is working on now, and would test run for two years before putting them into mass production.

WATCH HERE

In the second part of the interview, Salehi described Iran’s heavy water reactor, Arak, which he classified as a research reactor “for the purpose of producing radio-isotopes and making other tests: fuel tests, material tests. So many other tests that you can use this reactor and make those tests; use the neutrons and make many different tests with the neutrons emanated from the core of this reactor.” But he claimed that while Iran’s Bushehr plant also produces plutonium, neither can do so in the quantity and at the refinement level required to create weapons-grade fuel. He said it will take two more years to finish building the Arak reactor, plus a year of testing, a year for the fuel to be used, and a year for it to cool, meaning, “It takes six, seven, eight years before we are able – if we intend to use the plutonium – to extract the plutonium. Seven to eight years and plus you need a reprocessing plant, which we don’t have and we don’t intend to construct.”

At the end of the interview, Press TV asked, “Let’s go back to November 24th, 2013 when Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany reached the so-called Geneva deal. As a nuclear scientist and MIT Graduate and, more importantly, as Iran’s nuclear chief, what was your first reaction?” Saleh began to answer, then changed direction: “I was happy that both sides reached, I mean, took the first step in a one thousand mile journey.”

Source: The Algemeiner

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« Reply #686 on: February 09, 2014, 04:35:51 AM »

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-warships-en-route-to-us-territorial-waters/#ixzz2snzLZG89
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« Reply #687 on: February 09, 2014, 10:21:56 AM »

They will soon and as Bolton said you think they are a pain now wait till they get them.
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« Reply #688 on: February 10, 2014, 11:47:00 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/10/world/middleeast/jewish-hospital-at-home-in-iran.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140210
Jewish Hospital a Fixture in Tehran

By THOMAS ERDBRINKFEB. 9, 2014

The Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center on Mostafa Khomeini Street is the only Jewish hospital in Tehran and sits across from a Shiite seminary. Morteza Nikoubazl for The New York Times


TEHRAN — Sitting in his office at Tehran’s only Jewish hospital, Ciamak Morsadegh lit another cigarette and reminisced about how his wife left Iran for the United States after he insisted on staying.

Dr. Morsadegh, the director of the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center here, said that unlike thousands of other Jews he has never thought about leaving the Islamic Republic, for the simple reason that Iran is his home.

“I speak English, I pray in Hebrew, but I think in Persian,” said Dr. Morsadegh, a surgeon who is also a member of Parliament. “I am Iranian. Iranian-Jewish.”

Many were surprised last week when the government of President Hassan Rouhani donated $400,000 to the Dr. Sapir Hospital, but Dr. Morsadegh was not among them.

“We Jews are a part of Iran’s history,” he said. “What is important is that Mr. Rouhani makes big news out of supporting us. He is showing that we, as a religious minority, are part of this country, too.”


Situated on Mostafa Khomeini Street — named for the son of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — the hospital sits across from the Imam Reza Seminary school, one of the oldest Shiite seminaries in Tehran. White-turbaned clerics pass by, talking in hushed tones with their students. Though the hospital might seem out of place, local people do not seem to think so.
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‘I speak English, I pray in Hebrew, but I think in Persian.’ CIAMAK MORSADEGH Director of the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center in Tehran. Morteza Nikoubazl for The New York Times

“When I am sick I go across the street,” Mohammad Mirghanin, a seminary student, said as he rushed to class. “They might have a different religion, but they are fellow Iranians. I do not see why I should not go to the Jewish hospital.”

On Saturday, a woman in a traditional black chador approached Khoddad Asnashahri, the hospital’s managing director and a Muslim, and asked for help.

“I went to the Iman Khomeini hospital with my daughter who needs a sonogram, but over there it costs 500,000 to man,” or roughly $200, said the woman, Zahra Hajabdolmaleki.

“We will help you here for half that amount,” Mr. Asnashahri pledged.

Named after a Jewish doctor who died in 1921 while trying to cure patients during a typhus epidemic raging through Tehran, the hospital started out as a clinic where all Iranians could come for medical care at vastly reduced rates. For more than 50 years it has been a meeting point for Iranian Jews and Muslims and the most prominent Jewish charity in the capital.

Mr. Asnashahri, who has worked at the hospital for nearly 48 years, praised the “good atmosphere” while also noting that only five Jewish physicians remained. “Many have migrated and others have bought shares in more modern hospitals,” he said.

About 96 percent of patients are Muslim, like most of the hospital’s employees. But what mattered most, he said, was the message that “here all people can come, no matter what religion, color or race.”
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An Iranian orderly at the pharmacy counter in Dr. Sapir Hospital. The hospital began as a clinic with reduced rates for care. Morteza Nikoubazl for The New York Times

Though the Jewish population of Iran is dwindling — now at about 9,000, according to an official census by the Statistical Center of Iran, though other estimates range to 20,000 — the country has the largest number of Jews in the Middle East after Israel.

Dr. Morsadegh, the surgeon, has devoted his life to that diminishing community. He was a leader of the Tehran Jewish Committee, a group that supports synagogues, schools and other facets of Jewish life in Iran, and in 2008 was elected as the Jewish representative in Parliament, where five official religious minorities have a permanent seat.

He will not say that the situation for Jews and the other official religious minorities — Christian Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Zoroastrians — is perfect in Iran. The five minorities would like to see an Islamic law changed that allows one of their faith who converts to Islam to get the entire inheritance of his or her non-Muslim family, for example. Yet things are worse for evangelical Christians and Bahais, who can face prison sentences and in many cases exclusion from higher education.
 

Dr. Morsadegh said former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated Holocaust denials left psychological scars, as well. “Look, all Jews believe in the Holocaust,” he said. “It would have been much better if the former president had not raised that issue.”

President Rouhani has remained silent on the Holocaust, and in September his social media team wished Jews around the world a happy Rosh Hashana.

“It has gotten a lot better,” Dr. Morsadegh said, recalling how thousands of Jews left the country after the 1979 revolution. Many more have emigrated since then, often because of Iran’s bad economy.

Though Dr. Sapir Hospital is Jewish owned, there is not much that would remind one of Jewish heritage. On the wall of Dr. Morsadegh’s office are two portraits of Iran’s past and current supreme leaders, facing a painting of Moses holding up the Ten Commandments.  In September, Dr. Morsadegh joined President Rouhani on his trip to the United Nations in New York. Some in Iran have hinted at a connection between the president’s financial donation to the hospital and Dr. Morsadegh’s enthusiastic defense of Iran and the position of Jews in the country.

But the doctor is not bothered by those questions. “I helped out in the war with Iraq for this country, as a first aid doctor,” he said. “And I’d do it again tomorrow.”
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« Reply #689 on: February 10, 2014, 01:42:31 PM »

second post

Feb. 9, 2014 5:53 p.m. ET

From a statement by the independent watchdog group Freedom House, Feb. 5:

Freedom House condemns Iran's execution on January 27 of renowned Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani. In July 2013, an Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, on charges of "waging war on God," "spreading corruption on earth," and "questioning the principle of velayat-e faqih" (the rule of the jurisprudent, Iran's system of vesting supreme power in an unelected cleric), according to press reports. . . .

Shaabani and one other person were hanged at an undisclosed prison after the sentences were approved by President Hassan Rouhani.

During Shaabani's three-year incarceration, he was subjected to severe torture and interrogation. Shaabani, aged 32, was an Iranian of Arab origin and a founder of the Dialogue Institute, which tried to promote understanding of Arabic culture and literature in Iran.
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« Reply #690 on: February 10, 2014, 04:04:23 PM »

Global muslim outrage in 3.....2......never


second post

Feb. 9, 2014 5:53 p.m. ET

From a statement by the independent watchdog group Freedom House, Feb. 5:

Freedom House condemns Iran's execution on January 27 of renowned Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani. In July 2013, an Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, on charges of "waging war on God," "spreading corruption on earth," and "questioning the principle of velayat-e faqih" (the rule of the jurisprudent, Iran's system of vesting supreme power in an unelected cleric), according to press reports. . . .

Shaabani and one other person were hanged at an undisclosed prison after the sentences were approved by President Hassan Rouhani.

During Shaabani's three-year incarceration, he was subjected to severe torture and interrogation. Shaabani, aged 32, was an Iranian of Arab origin and a founder of the Dialogue Institute, which tried to promote understanding of Arabic culture and literature in Iran.
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« Reply #691 on: February 25, 2014, 09:33:47 AM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/24/iraq-iran-arms-idUSL6N0LT41H20140224?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=*Mideast%20Brief&utm_campaign=Mideast%20Brief%202-25-14

Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters - a move that would break a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran.

The agreement was reached at the end of November, the documents showed, just weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from lobbying the Obama administration in Washington for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.
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« Reply #692 on: March 11, 2014, 07:28:04 PM »

This was discussed today on Dick Morris radio (actually a really good show - he is really interesting).   But I thought Libya took responsibility for Lockerbee and admitted it?

 undecided

******Ex-Iranian intel officer says Iran, not Libya, behind Lockerbie attack   

Ex-Iranian intel officer says Iran, not Libya, behind Lockerbie attack

March. 11, 2014 at 4:17 PM   |   1 Comment

EDINBURGH, Scotland, March 11 (UPI) -- The 1988 Lockerbie jetliner bombing was payback for the U.S. Navy's downing of an Iranian airliner six months earlier, an ex-Iranian intelligence officer says.
Abolghassem Mesbahi says Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 290 people died, to avenge the accidental shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf by the USS Vincennes and left 270 people dead, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

The London newspaper said previously unreleased evidence that was to have been used in an appeal hearing for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the bombing, supports Mesbahi's contention. The Lockerbie bombing was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command, the newspaper said the evidence suggests.

The Telegraph said documents obtained by the Arab television network al-Jazeera for a documentary called "Lockerbie: What Really Happened?" names key individuals allegedly involved in the attack.

The Telegraph said the new evidence puts the conviction of al-Megrahi in question and supports allegations the truth about Lockerbie was covered up by Britain and the United States to avoid angering Syria, a key player in the Middle East

Al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the Lockerbie attack, dropped his appeal after being released from prison in 2009 because he was suffering from cancer, though he maintained his innocence until his death in 2012.

Al-Megrahi's conviction was based on the prosecution's theory that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had personally ordered the Lockerbie attack in retaliation for the U.S. bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986, in which Gadhafi's daughter was killed.

But Mesbahi contends it was Iran, not Libya, that sought revenge.

"Iran decided to retaliate as soon as possible," Mesbahi, who had reported directly to Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and now lives under a witness protection program in Germany, told al-Jazeera. "The decision was made by the whole system in Iran and confirmed by Ayatollah Khomeini.

"The target of the Iranian decision-makers was to copy exactly what happened to the Iranian Airbus. Everything exactly the same, minimum 290 people dead."

The newspaper reported the U.S. State Department said it wanted all those responsible for the Lockerbie attack brought to justice, while Britain's Foreign Office said the case remains open because investigators believe al-Megrahi didn't act alone.

The Iranian government had no comment on the documentary's findings, but has previously denied any involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/03/11/Ex-Iranian-intel-officer-says-Iran-not-Libya-behind-Lockerbie-attack/UPI-51221394569068/#ixzz2vheOEkoK*******
 
 
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« Reply #693 on: May 13, 2014, 12:44:35 PM »



Iran Doesn't Want a Deal
Strike three for John Kerry's diplomacy.
By Bret Stephens
May 12, 2014 6:47 p.m. ET

John Kerry began the year trying to bring representatives of the Assad regime together with rebel leaders in Geneva to end the civil war in Syria.

It was bound to fail. It failed. Strike one.

Next, the secretary of state worked tirelessly to create a framework agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, with a view to settling their differences once and for all.

It was bound to fail. It failed. Strike two.

This week, U.S. negotiators and their counterparts from the P5+1—the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany—will meet in Vienna with Iranian negotiators to work out the details of a final nuclear agreement.

You know where this is going.

There's been a buzz about these negotiations, with Western diplomats extolling the unfussy way their Iranian counterparts have approached the talks. Positions are said to be converging; technical solutions on subjects like the plutonium reactor in Arak are being discussed. Last month Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif said there was "50 to 60 percent agreement."

All this is supposed to bode well for a deal to be concluded by the July deadline. If the Iranians are wise, they'll take whatever is on the table and give Mr. Kerry the diplomatic win he so desperately wants. Time is on Tehran's side. It can sweeten the terms of the agreement later on—including the further lifting of sanctions—through the usual two-step of provocation and negotiation.

The only thing Iran has to fear is an Israeli military strike. For that to happen, Jerusalem needs (or believes it needs) conditions that are both militarily and diplomatically permissive. By agreeing to a deal, the Iranians further restrict Israel's options without permanently restricting their own.

But Iran is not wise. It is merely cunning. And fanatical. Also greedy, thanks to a long history of being deceitful and obstreperous and still getting its way without having to pay a serious price. So it will allow this round of negotiations to fail and bargain instead for an extension of the current interim agreement. It will get the extension and then play for time again. There will never be a final deal.

Why am I so confident? Listen to the man with the last word first: "They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action," Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Sunday. "So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation. The Revolutionary Guards should definitely carry out their program and not be satisfied with the present level. They should mass produce."

Ballistic missiles are lousy weapons for anything except the rapid delivery of chemical or nuclear warheads. (The 39 Iraqi Scuds that hit Israel in 1991 killed two people.) But limiting the number and range of ballistic missiles is central to any agreement that aims to prevent Iran from having a rapid nuclear-breakout capability. Mr. Khamenei's public call to mass produce missiles is not exactly an indication of seriousness about a final deal.

Also a sign of non-seriousness was last month's call by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, to add an additional 30,000 centrifuges to Iran's existing 19,000. "So far we have produced seven to eight tons of enriched uranium," he said. But he wants Iran to produce 30 tons, ostensibly to fuel the civilian nuclear plant at Bushehr. And that's 30 tons a year. A single ton of civilian-grade uranium suffices, with further enrichment, for a single atomic bomb.

Still not getting the drift? "Iran will not retreat one step in the field of nuclear technology," said one prominent Iranian over the weekend. "We have nothing to put on the table and offer to them but transparency. That's it. Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation."

That's Iranian President Hasan Rouhani speaking. For good measure, he added that Iran would go back to producing 20% enriched uranium—which is close to weapon-grade—"whenever necessary." And he's the moderate. Even the Obama administration cannot accept a deal that allows Iran to expand its centrifuge capabilities or enrich uranium to 20%.

The hardening of Tehran's negotiating position is another reminder of the blunder the administration made when it agreed to the interim deal and then turned on Congress to prevent automatic sanctions in the event Iran failed to make a final deal. "Show that you are strong, and you will see results"—such was the advice Mr. Rouhani confidentially offered an Israeli agent posing as a U.S. official in 1986 on how to deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini. The advice is still sound.

In the meantime, the administration needs to think about what it will do when Mr. Kerry strikes out. Is there a Plan B, other than the president's now trademark mix of hollow threats and soliloquies on the limits of presidential power? I doubt it. Goethe wrote that nothing is worse than aggressive stupidity, which is true. But pompous impotence surely comes in second place, and this administration combines aspects of both.

The Israelis may sit still through all this. But Mr. Kerry shouldn't count on it.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com
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« Reply #694 on: May 13, 2014, 01:05:58 PM »

second post


Summary

Iran has ramped up its rhetoric about possible deliveries of Iranian natural gas to Europe in the weeks following an escalation of tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. A partnership between the two would seem well founded: Iran is eager to transit its reserves, as well as those of its neighbors, to new markets, and Europe wants to find alternative natural gas supplies to Russia. But political and logistical constraints will render these plans distant, long-term solutions at best.
Analysis

Tehran has attempted to manage Moscow's perception of Iranian energy's appeal to European customers, saying that it still wants to respect Russia's traditional role as the largest supplier of natural gas to the European market. However, a potential shift in U.S.-Iranian relations is leading more markets to consider Iran as a natural gas supplier, as are trends in the global energy industry, which is trying to re-enter Iranian oil and natural gas plays. Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs Ali Majedi reiterated Tehran's desire to export natural gas to Europe on May 7, citing three possible routes along which Iran could pipe the energy product. In recent weeks, Iran has even discussed transiting Turkmen natural gas to additional markets as well.

According to the most recent data in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, Iran's proven natural gas reserves are at 33.6 trillion cubic meters, exceeding Russia's proven reserves of 32.9 trillion cubic meters. Tehran has been quick to play up its newfound top spot in global reserves, but Iran lags far behind Russia in terms of investment and production. In addition, close to 35 years of troubled relations with the West, difficult geography and ongoing sanctions have limited Iran's ability to develop meaningful domestic transport and export infrastructure. Iran may have more natural gas than Russia, but Tehran faces many more constraints in accessing reserves and lags far behind Moscow in options for profiting from its natural resource wealth.

Iranian negotiators are hammering out a comprehensive nuclear deal with their Western counterparts as a prelude to lifting U.S. and EU economic sanctions on Iran. During these talks, Iran has worked diligently to attract potential foreign investors, primarily from Europe and Asia, hoping to leverage its large hydrocarbon reserves and potential consumer market to the global economy as it pushes for better terms with the West. Part of that strategy -- highlighting Iran's ability to supply energy to Europe -- has come into greater focus as European consumers are again re-evaluating their dependence on Russian energy supply. Taking a nod from neighboring Turkey, Iran is also trying to strengthen its negotiating position by highlighting its geographic position, potentially linking Caspian and Central Asian energy supplies to markets in the Middle East, Europe and beyond.
Iran's Natural Gas Ties to Turkmenistan

Europe has long kept an eye on Turkmenistan's large natural gas reserves -- 17.5 trillion cubic meters -- but these supplies have remained just out of reach for decades. Europeans have struggled to find a transport route for Turkmenistan's supplies to European markets that does not involve the Russian-dominated Caspian Sea or a sanctioned Iran. Iran's generally positive ties with Turkmenistan have resulted in longer and more stable trade and political relations than Tehran has had with its other eastern neighbors, especially in recent decades. One of the best examples of this relationship is the interconnection of natural gas pipelines in northeastern Iran and Turkmenistan's natural gas pipeline networks. Ashgabat helps provide natural gas to the Caspian provincial capital of Rasht and to Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city, through two pipelines with a combined annual capacity of 20 billion cubic meters. Iran's annual imports average roughly half that amount.

Iran and Turkmenistan
Click to Enlarge

Iran imports Turkmen natural gas out of necessity. Mashhad is a former oasis town on an ancient Silk Road route linking Persia with Central Asia. A shrine to Reza, the eighth Shiite imam, has cemented modern-day Mashhad's role as a significant cultural and urban center and as Iran's holiest city. And so Mashhad has been able to develop despite its geographic isolation, though Iran's domestic energy infrastructure still heavily favors moving natural gas and oil produced in the southern regions of the country to population centers in the northern and western parts of the country.

With the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan has been searching for greater access to global markets. Geography and Iran's own domestic reserves limit Tehran's role as a potential consumer market, and other Central Asian states, including Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, have serious economic and security limitations in building pipelines in the mountainous terrain that separates them from their energy-rich neighbors. Turkmenistan traditionally has sold the bulk of its natural gas exports to Russia, but in recent years Ashgabat has focused on selling just over half of its exports to China, splitting the rest nearly evenly between Russia and Iran. Turkmenistan sees potential in expanding exports to growing natural gas markets in Asia, especially China, but faced with limited growth markets in Russia and Iran, Ashgabat has its eye on Western markets as well.

Turkmen political leaders have long sought to diversify the country's natural gas exports. The Trans-Caspian pipeline to Azerbaijan, which would link Turkmen supplies to Europe through Azerbaijan and Turkey, has been under discussion since 1996. However, the proposed pipeline has faced intense opposition from Russia. Iran has boundary disputes with neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan over the Caspian Sea, but this has not prevented Iran from offering to serve as a transit state for Turkmen natural gas in the past. Most recently, National Iranian Gas Company Managing Director Hamidreza Araqi announced March 11 that Iran was ready to transit Turkmen natural gas to Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
Challenges to Iranian and Turkmen Ambitions

Tehran has agreed to other transit plans as well. Iran and Turkey reached an agreement to transit Turkmen gas to Europe in 2012 under Iran's president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Regional tensions over the Syrian conflict, Western sanctions on Iran and domestic political issues have taken a toll on the implementation of this deal, and geography still presents a significant challenge to Iran and Turkey's plans to link Central Asian energy reserves to global markets.

Iran Natural Gas Fields and Pipelines
Click to Enlarge

With Russian opposition to the Trans-Caspian pipeline likely to impede its construction for the short to medium term, Ashgabat is looking for a land route to reach European consumers. The pipeline network has about 10 billion cubic meters of spare capacity, but it is completely disconnected from Iran's central gas transportation trunklines (known as the Iran Gas Trunkline), which severely limits Turkmenistan's ability to pump natural gas through Iran and into Turkey. Iran's mountainous terrain and the vast desert regions of the Iranian Plateau have prevented Iran from linking its own energy supplies to northeastern Iran, much less bringing Turkmen natural gas supplies to the West.

Iran needs to expand its domestic infrastructure significantly before it will be able to transport its own natural gas supplies, let alone Turkmen supplies. Iran intends to expand its Iran Gas Trunkline network, but currently there are no plans to extend the network toward the northeast. Turkmen natural gas does service the northern coastal region near Rasht, but Iran's Alborz mountain chain makes westward expansion of this line into Iran or toward Azerbaijan costly and difficult. Iran likely would need foreign investment and assistance in building out its transit network. Even if sanctions are lifted, Iran probably will prioritize developing its own reserves and export capabilities before assisting Turkmenistan.

The Turks and the Europeans probably will need to expand their own transit options to accommodate greater Iranian and Turkmen supplies. Turkey is in the early stages of building the Trans-Anatolian pipeline project to bring natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II field to southern Europe. Though some spare capacity (less than 10 billion cubic meters) has been built into the design, final routing for the pipeline, future expansion plans and European infrastructure development are still firmly stuck in the planning and negotiations phase, meaning Turkey's infrastructure limitations compound those of Iran and Turkmenistan.

Russia's role as a supplier remains the biggest impediment to Iran and Turkmenistan's export plans. The European Union's weak response to Russia's actions in Ukraine illustrates Europe's strong reliance on Russian energy supplies, and Moscow's ability to undercut costlier Turkmen and Iranian supplies will give it a strong negotiating position for future contracts. In addition, ongoing support for Russia's competing South Stream pipeline project in some EU states indicates that not all European consumers consider Russian natural gas supplies risky.

The volume of potential Iranian and Turkmen natural gas supplies will continue to attract considerable outside interest, especially from European consumers. However, infrastructure and political limitations will probably keep these supplies from reaching Western markets in the short to medium term. Long-term ambitions could be fulfilled, but Russia will work hard to strengthen its export position to Europe in the meantime, hoping to limit the strategic value of Iranian and Central Asian natural gas supplies to global markets.

Read more: Iran's Plans to Export Natural Gas to Europe Face Obstacles | Stratfor
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« Reply #695 on: May 14, 2014, 04:52:15 PM »

We warned here at the time , , ,  cry cry cry

Click here to watch: Iran Claims it Replicated Captured US spy Drone

Iran said it has succeeded in copying a US drone it captured in December 2011, with state television broadcasting images apparently showing the replicated aircraft
Tehran captured the US RQ-170 Sentinel in 2011 while it was in its airspace, apparently on a mission to spy on the country’s nuclear sites, media in the United States reported.

“Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone’s secrets and copying them. It will soon take a test flight,” an officer said in the footage. The broadcast showed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s visit to an exhibition organised by the powerful Revolutionary Guards air wing about Iran’s military advances, particularly regarding ballistic missiles and drones. Footage showed two nearly identical drones.

Watch Here

“This drone is very important for reconnaissance missions,” Khamenei said, standing in front of the Iranian copy of the American unmanned aircraft. Iran said it had taken control of the ultra hi-tech drone and forced it down in the desert where it was recovered nearly intact. Washington said it had lost control of the aircraft. At the time, US military officials tried to play the incident down, saying Iran did not have the technology to decipher its secrets, and President Barack Obama asked the Islamic republic to return the Sentinel. Iran has been working to develop a significant drone program of its own, and some of its unmanned aircraft have a range of hundreds of kilometers (miles) and are armed with missiles. The state broadcaster also showed images that the commentary said had been recorded by an Iranian drone above a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf. In the pictures, which were relatively clear, it was possible to see American personnel working on planes and helicopters aboard the vessel.

Source: Times of Israel
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« Reply #696 on: May 21, 2014, 10:24:32 PM »

Does this make any sense?
==============================

Five years ago, Iran's then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's then-President Hugo Chavez visited each other multiple times and stood arm-in-arm declaring a united front against "imperialism and colonialism" in an affront to the United States and its widening sanctions net. Chavez would even refer to Ahmadinejad as his brother, standing together as a "mountain" of resistance. But that brotherly love has not endured under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The current leaders' feelings toward each other is not so much a matter of personality preferences; increasingly watered down relations between Iran and Latin America are a function of Iran's shifting geopolitical position.

Iran has shut down its second oil office in Latin America. On April 7, Iran's National Oil Co. closed down an office in Bolivia, and today, a month later, Iran's Petropars Co. canceled an oil agreement with Venezuela's Petroleos de Venezuela. We expect further closures in Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua, where Iran has set up similar operations. In the words of the managing director of Iran's National Oil Co., Roknoddin Javadi, Iran's offices in Latin America are not economically justified and serve only political purposes.

Javadi's candor is quite revealing. Indeed, Iran has set up a number of shell companies throughout Latin America over the past several years, not simply to demonstrate that political pariahs can band together in the face of U.S. aggression but also to serve a practical purpose in circumventing sanctions. From joint oil projects to car and bicycle assembly plants to cement factories, deals were penned, though many of these companies lay dormant or were never built at all.

Instead, Iranian businessmen -- some of whom are tied to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- traveling on Venezuela's Conviasa flights from Tehran, Damascus and Caracas, would use these "legal" entities to launder money and in some cases acquire sensitive technology by proxy. The Fondo Binacional Venezuela-Iran, an Iranian-Venezuelan joint bank, would operate as a proxy for the Export Development Bank of Iran, a sanctioned entity that found willing partners in the region, particularly in Ecuador, to issue letters of credit for foreign transactions. In short, Iran's relationships in Latin America have been critical in enabling the IRGC to fulfill its mission of keeping Iran in business, even if it took inordinately creative means to do so.

But Iran is operating in a vastly different geopolitical climate now. With a July 20 deadline looming on the nuclear negotiations, U.S. and Iranian leaders are working feverishly toward a deal. On the surface, this is about defanging Iran's nuclear ambitions, yet both sides know that this is the crucial first step toward a strategic rapprochement with wide-ranging implications. And time is of the essence: The U.S. administration may be facing bigger challenges ahead after midterm elections, and the Iranian president is floundering at home over a bungled economic policy to phase out subsidies.

With the strategic drivers in play and the pressure on, it's no wonder that we are seeing some notable albeit subtle signs of progress in the negotiations. International Atomic Energy Association inspectors probed Iranian nuclear facilities this week and have reached a critical agreement on the inspection of the Arak facility, where U.S. congressmen and Israeli Knesset leaders alike have warned that a 40-megawatt heavy water plant still under construction could provide enough plutonium for Iran to construct a nuclear device. While resisting demands to dismantle the facility, Iran has been telegraphing a proposal under negotiation to redesign the facility in order to allay these fears.

That Iran downgraded its relationships in Latin America offers another prism into this negotiation. The U.S. Treasury Department has been focused on Iran's Latin America dealings, trying to apply pressure on Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua to end any illicit collaboration with Iran. The closure of Iranian oil offices may serve several purposes for the Rouhani government.

First, Rouhani is already escalating efforts to neutralize the IRGC, which has run many of the shell operations in Latin America. Rouhani has not been particularly threatened by the IRGC's rather weak displays of opposition to his negotiation with the United States so far, but he has reason to be concerned about IRGC attempts to exploit widespread disillusion with Rouhani's economic reforms. Shutting down some IRGC operations abroad may be an attempt to rein in Rouhani's opponents and alleviate the government's dependency on the IRGC to maintain the country's financial well-being.

Second, Iran's National Oil Co. is legitimately trying to lay the groundwork for the reopening of Iran's energy sector, with an expectation that sanctions will eventually be lifted and that Iran will have to get itself in shape financially and politically to manage that incoming investment and increased production. Trimming off a few expenses abroad could help in this regard.

Finally, Iran's proactive choice to shutter these operations in Latin America that have long irked U.S. Treasury officials is another positive gesture in its ongoing negotiations with the United States. Iran can signal that it is willing to play by the rules so long as Washington does its part to ease up on the financial sanctions and readmit Iran into the global banking system.

That is the next piece to watch. Iran is putting out a number of positive signals, but the United States will have to follow through with concessions of its own, starting with easing up on financial sanctions. Expert-level talks are taking place this week in New York, and the actual drafting of the nuclear agreement is supposed to continue May 13-16 in Vienna. There will be plenty of noise surrounding these talks but also plenty of reason for us to remain cautiously optimistic in analyzing each side of this weighty negotiation.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #697 on: June 25, 2014, 12:29:02 PM »



Book Review: 'A Time to Attack' by Matthew Kroenig
Tehran will not abandon its 30-year project. So the U.S. faces a choice: accept a nuclear Iran or launch a pre-emptive strike.
By Reuel Marc Gerecht
June 19, 2014 7:35 p.m. ET

Here's a prediction: Next month in Vienna, Iran and the P5+1 world powers will extend the interim agreement they struck six months ago on Iran's nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a press conference, offering both sides solemn praise for finding common ground. All the while, through this tough compromise and historic collaboration, the Islamic Republic's 9,000 spinning centrifuges will keep on enriching uranium; the other 10,000 installed centrifuges won't be dismantled. Eventually these centrifuges, or thousands of new-and-improved ones, will be able to produce bomb-grade fuel.

Whether the official nuclear agreement is extended another six months or a year or more, the Iranian regime will not abandon its 30-year project. So the U.S. will face an unavoidable choice: accept a nuclear Iran or launch a pre-emptive military strike. Matthew Kroenig, a former Pentagon official who focused on the Iranian nuclear challenge under Defense Secretary Robert Gates, sees this reality clearly. His book, "A Time to Attack," embraces the military option because he believes it is the only way to stop the clerical regime's nuclear drive.

Mr. Kroenig, a professor at Georgetown, is commendably straightforward in dispensing with the naïve hope that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful in nature: "Iran would like to build nuclear weapons. The only people Tehran is fooling at this point are people who want to be fooled." He annihilates the argument that the Islamic Republic will go the way of Japan, maintaining a civilian nuclear program but never building a bomb. "It is simply implausible that Iran would go to such great lengths to get one screwdriver's turn away from the most powerful weapon on Earth—a weapon that would help Iran meet is foremost geopolitical goals—and then suddenly . . . voluntarily stop short," he writes, noting that the regime has so far spent $100 billion on this bid.

President Barack Obama insists that he is ready to attack Iran to keep it from getting the bomb—in 2012, he called a nuclear Iran "unacceptable"—and Mr. Kroenig takes the president at his word. This may not be a credible position, given the president's record on Syria, but Mr. Kroenig argues that "no president would want to go down in history as the leader who let Iran acquire nuclear weapons on his watch, especially if nuclear weapons in Iran one day result in a devastating nuclear war."
Enlarge Image

A Time to Attack

By Matthew Kroenig
(Palgrave Macmillian, 256 pages, $28)

Like the president, the author would like to see the current nuclear negotiations succeed. But he's extremely doubtful they will. "Security, prestige, and domestic politics [are] the three most important reasons why countries decide to build nuclear weapons," he writes, citing a Stanford University study of nuclear-armed states. "All three motivations are pushing Iran toward the bomb." Mr. Kroenig doesn't discuss Iranian internal politics, but he should have. A recent volume of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's autobiography, for instance, has the former Iranian president bragging about the regime's nuclear gambit: "The Americans are really fooled," the mullah wrote.

Mr. Kroenig helpfully emphasizes a key detail that often goes unmentioned in public discussion of centrifuges and plutonium-producing heavy-water reactors. "Iran is building ICBMs," he writes. "No country on Earth, not even the United States, mounts conventional warheads on ICBMs. Traditionally, ICBMs have had one purpose: to deliver nuclear warheads thousands of miles away. If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, then why does it have such a robust ICBM development program?"

Although not opposed to the use of sanctions as a diplomatic tool, Mr. Kroenig doesn't see them stopping Tehran's nuclear quest. Iran's economy has been devastated by sanctions, yet that hasn't halted atomic progress.

So if diplomacy and sanctions won't stop the mullahs, is there another strategy short of bombing that might? Mr. Kroenig is pessimistic. Iran is now much better prepared to deal with aggressive malware attacks, like the computer virus Stuxnet that briefly gummed up a lot centrifuges. Just about everyone in Washington dreams of regime change, even if they don't say so publicly. But that prospect offers little hope to Mr. Kroenig: The regime ruthlessly crushed the pro-democracy Green Movement in 2009.

Clandestine, plausibly deniable military operations also aren't a serious option, he argues. The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, presumably carried out by Israeli agents, hasn't accomplished much. And even if the U.S. or Israel could get special ops teams or stealthy aircraft in position to attack critical sites, bunker-busting 30,000-pound bombs would be required to destroy the uranium enrichment site at Fordow, which is buried deep in a mountain. Everyone knows that only one country has these weapons.

Containment, the strategy that much of Washington's foreign-policy establishment has embraced by default, doesn't make much sense either. As Mr. Kroenig puts it: "Why would anyone believe that we would fight a nuclear war with Iran if we didn't even have the stomach for a conventional war with a nonnuclear Iran?"

Logically and relentlessly, Mr. Kroenig moves to the conclusion that if the U.S. is serious about stopping Iran from getting a bomb, it will have to strike. Only four sites—Fordow, a second enrichment facility at Natanz, a uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan, and a heavy-water reactor at Arak—need to be destroyed to set the program back decades, if not longer. Mr. Kroenig readily admits that there will be costs for preventive military action. Tehran will likely respond with terrorism, directly or through proxies. But Mr. Kroenig contends that those costs are much lower than allowing Iran to go nuclear. Whether or not he's right, we will soon find out.

Mr. Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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« Reply #698 on: June 28, 2014, 09:23:14 AM »

Sent to me by our Big Dog-- some stuff did not print, so for a complete viewing going to the original will be necessary:
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July/August 2014
COMMENT
What Really Happened in Iran

The CIA, the Ouster of Mosaddeq, and the Restoration of the Shah
Ray Takeyh

RAY TAKEYH is Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Back in 2009, during his heavily promoted Cairo speech on American relations with the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama noted, in passing, that “in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Obama was referring to the 1953 coup that toppled Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and consolidated the rule of the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Obama would go on to remind his audience that Iran had also committed its share of misdeeds against Americans. But he clearly intended his allusion to Washington’s role in the coup as a concession -- a public acknowledgment that the United States shared some of the blame for its long-simmering conflict with the Islamic Republic.

Yet there was a supreme irony to Obama’s concession. The history of the U.S. role in Iran’s 1953 coup may be “well known,” as the president declared in his speech, but it is not well founded. On the contrary, it rests heavily on two related myths: that machinations by the CIA were the most important factor in Mosaddeq’s downfall and that Iran’s brief democratic interlude was spoiled primarily by American and British meddling. For decades, historians, journalists, and pundits have promoted these myths, injecting them not just into the political discourse but also into popular culture: most recently, Argo, a Hollywood thriller that won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture, suggested that Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was a belated response to an injustice perpetrated by the United States a quarter century earlier. That version of events has also been promoted by Iran’s theocratic leaders, who have exploited it to stoke anti-Americanism and to obscure the fact that the clergy itself played a major role in toppling Mosaddeq.

In reality, the CIA’s impact on the events of 1953 was ultimately insignificant. Regardless of anything the United States did or did not do, Mosaddeq was bound to fall and the shah was bound to retain his throne and expand his power. Yet the narrative of American culpability has become so entrenched that it now shapes how many Americans understand the history of U.S.-Iranian relations and influences how American leaders think about Iran. In reaching out to the Islamic Republic, the United States has cast itself as a sinner expiating its previous transgressions. This has allowed the Iranian theocracy, which has abused history in a thousand ways, to claim the moral high ground, giving it an unearned advantage over Washington and the West, even in situations that have nothing to do with 1953 and in which Iran’s behavior is the sole cause of the conflict, such as the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program.

All of this makes developing a better and more accurate understanding of the real U.S. role in Iran’s past critically important. It’s far more than a matter of correcting the history books. Getting things right would help the United States develop a less self-defeating approach to the Islamic Republic today and would encourage Iranians -- especially the country’s clerical elite -- to claim ownership of their past.

Day in court: Mohammad Mosaddeq on trial, November 1953.
Day in court: Mohammad Mosaddeq on trial, November 1953. (Getty / Carl Mydans)

HONEST BROKERS

In the years following World War II, Iran was a devastated country, recovering from famine and poverty brought on by the war. It was also a wealthy country, whose ample oil reserves fueled the engines of the British Empire. But Iran’s government didn’t control that oil: the wheel was held by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, whose majority shareholder happened to be the British government. By the early 1950s, as assertive nationalism swept the developing world, many Iranians were beginning to see this colonial-era arrangement as an unjust, undignified anachronism.

So strong was the desire to take back control of Iran’s national resources that it united the country’s liberal reformers, its intelligentsia, elements of its clerical establishment, and its middle-class professionals into a coherent political movement. At the center of that movement stood Mosaddeq, an upper-class lawyer who had been involved in Iranian politics from a young age, serving in various ministries and as a member of parliament. Toward the end of World War II, Mosaddeq reemerged on the political scene as a champion of Iranian anticolonialism and nationalism and managed to draw together many disparate elements into his political party, the National Front. Mosaddeq was not a revolutionary; he was respectful of the traditions of his social class and supported the idea of constitutional monarchy. But he also sought a more modern and more democratic Iran, and in addition to the nationalization of Iran’s oil, his party’s agenda called for improved public education, freedom of the press, judicial reforms, and a more representative government.

In April 1951, the Iranian parliament voted to appoint Mosaddeq prime minister. In a clever move, Mosaddeq insisted that he would not assume the office unless the parliament also approved an act he had proposed that would nationalize the Iranian oil industry. Mosaddeq got his way in a unanimous vote, and the easily intimidated shah capitulated to the parliament’s demands. Iran now entered a new and more dangerous crisis.

The United Kingdom, a declining empire struggling to adjust to its diminished influence, saw the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company as a crucial source of energy and profit, as well as a symbol of what little imperial prestige the country had managed to cling to through the end of World War II. So London responded to the nationalization with fury. It warned European companies doing business in Iran to pull out or face retribution, and the still potent British navy began interdicting ships carrying Iranian oil on the grounds that they were transporting stolen cargo. These moves -- coupled with the fact that the Western oil giants, which were siding with London, owned nearly all the tankers then in existence -- managed to effectively blockade Iran’s petroleum exports. By 1952, Iran’s Abadan refinery, the largest in the world at the time, was grinding to a halt.

From the outset of the nationalization crisis, U.S. President Harry Truman had sought to settle the dispute. The close ties between the United States and the United Kingdom did not lead Washington to reflexively side with its ally. Truman had already demonstrated some regard for Iran’s autonomy and national interests. In 1946, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had sought to seize Iran’s northern provinces by refusing to withdraw Soviet forces that were deployed there during the war. Truman objected, insisting on maintaining Iran’s territorial integrity even if it meant rupturing the already frayed U.S. alliance with the Soviets; Stalin backed off. Similarly, when it came to the fight to control Iran’s oil, the Americans played the role of an honest broker. Truman dispatched a number of envoys to Tehran who urged the British to acknowledge the legitimacy of the parliament’s nationalization act while also pressing the Iranians to offer fair compensation for expropriated British assets.

In the meantime, Washington continued providing economic assistance to Iran, as it had ever since the war began -- assistance that helped ease the pain of the British oil blockade. And the Americans dissuaded the British from using military force to compel Iran to relent, as well as rejecting British pleas for a joint covert operation to topple Mosaddeq.

But Truman’s mediation fell short, owing more to Mosaddeq’s intransigence than any American missteps. Mosaddeq, it seemed, considered no economic price too high to protect Iran’s autonomy and national pride. In due course, Mosaddeq and his allies rejected every U.S. proposal that preserved any degree of British participation in Iran’s oil sector. It turned out that defining Iran’s oil interests in existential terms had handcuffed the prime minister: any compromise was tantamount to forfeiting the country’s sovereignty.

Homecoming king: the shah returns to Iran, August 1953.
Homecoming king: the shah returns to Iran, August 1953. (Getty / Carl Mydans)

TRUE COLORS

By 1952, the conflict had brought Iran’s economy to the verge of collapse. Tehran had failed to find ways to get its oil around the British embargo and, deprived of its key source of revenue, was facing mounting budget deficits and having difficulty meeting its payroll. Washington began to fear that through his standoff with the British, Mosaddeq had allowed the economy to deteriorate so badly that his continued rule would pave the way for Tudeh, Iran’s communist party, to challenge him and take power.

And indeed, as the dispute dragged on, Mosaddeq was faced with rising dissent at home. The cause of nationalization was still popular, but the public was growing weary of the prime minister’s intransigence and his refusal to accept various compromise arrangements. The prime minister dealt with the chorus of criticism by expanding his mandate through constitutionally dubious means, demanding special powers from the parliament and seeking to take charge of the armed forces and the Ministry of War, both of which had long been under the shah’s control.

Even before the Western intelligence services devised their plots, Mosaddeq’s conduct had already alienated his own coalition partners. The intelligentsia and Iran’s professional syndicates began chafing under the prime minister’s growing authoritarianism. Mosaddeq’s base of support within the middle classes, alarmed at the economy’s continued decline, began looking for an alternative and drifted toward the royalist opposition, as did the officer corps, which had suffered numerous purges.

Mosaddeq’s supporters among the clergy, who had endorsed the nationalization campaign and had even encouraged the shah to oppose the United Kingdom’s imperial designs, now began to reconsider. The clergy had never been completely comfortable with Mosaddeq’s penchant for modernization and had come to miss the deference they received from the conservative and insecure shah. Watching Iran’s economy collapse and fearing, like Washington, that the crisis could lead to a communist takeover, religious leaders such as Ayatollah Abul-Qasim Kashani began to subtly shift their allegiances. (Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran’s theocratic rulers have attempted to obscure the inconvenient fact that, at a critical juncture, the mullahs sided with the shah.)

The crisis finally came to a head in February 1953, when the royal court, fed up with Mosaddeq’s attempts to undermine the monarchy, suddenly announced that the shah intended to leave the country for unspecified medical reasons, knowing that the public would interpret the move as a signal of the shah’s displeasure with Mosaddeq. The gambit worked, and news of the monarch’s planned departure caused a serious confrontation between Mosaddeq and his growing list of detractors. Kashani joined with disgruntled military officers and purged politicians and publicly implored the shah to stay. Protests engulfed Tehran and many provincial cities, and crowds even attempted to ransack Mosaddeq’s residence. Sensing the public mood, the shah canceled his trip.

This episode is particularly important, because it demonstrated the depth of authentic Iranian opposition to Mosaddeq; there is no evidence that the protests were engineered by the CIA. The demonstrations also helped the anti-Mosaddeq coalition solidify. Indeed, it would be this same coalition, with greater support from the armed forces, that would spearhead Mosaddeq’s ouster six months later.

THE PLOT THICKENS

The events of February made an impression on a frustrated Washington establishment. The CIA reported to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who had inherited the Iranian dilemma when he took office a month earlier, that “the institution of the Crown may have more popular backing than we expected.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles cabled the U.S. embassy in Tehran that “there appears to be [a] substantial and relatively courageous opposition group both within and outside [the] Majlis [Iran’s parliament]. We gather Army Chiefs and many civilians [are] still loyal to the Shah and would act if he gave them positive leadership, or even if he merely acquiesced in [a] move to install [a] new government.”

After the protests, the Majlis became the main seat of anti-Mosaddeq agitation. Since Mosaddeq’s ascension to the premiership, his seemingly arbitrary decision-making, his inability to end the oil crisis, and the narrowing of his circle to a few trusted aides had gradually alienated many parliamentarians. In response, the prime minister decided to eliminate the threat by simply dissolving the Majlis. Doing so required executing a ploy of dubious legality, however: on July 14, all the National Front deputies loyal to Mosaddeq resigned their posts at once, depriving the chamber of the necessary quorum to function. Mosaddeq then called for a national referendum to decide the fate of the paralyzed legislature. But this was hardly a good-faith, democratic gesture; the plebiscite was marred by boycotts, voting irregularities, and mob violence, and the results surprised no one: Mosaddeq’s proposal to dissolve parliament was approved by 99 percent of the voters. Mosaddeq won his rigged election, but the move cost him what remained of his tattered legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Mosaddeq seemed determined to do everything he could to confirm Washington’s worst fears about him. The prime minister thought that he could use U.S. concerns about the potential for increased Soviet influence in Iran to secure greater assistance from Washington. During a meeting in January, Mosaddeq had warned Loy Henderson, the U.S. ambassador, that unless the United States provided him with sufficient financial aid, “there will be [a] revolution in Iran in 30 days.” Mosaddeq also threatened to sell oil to Eastern bloc countries and to reach out to Moscow for aid if Washington didn’t come through. These threats and entreaties reached a climax in June, when Mosaddeq wrote Eisenhower directly to plead for increased U.S. economic assistance, insisting that if it were not given right away, “any steps that might be taken tomorrow to compensate for the negligence of today might well be too late.” Eisenhower took nearly a month to respond and then firmly told Iran’s prime minister that the only path out of his predicament was to settle the oil dispute with the United Kingdom.

By that point, however, Washington was already actively considering a plan the British had developed to push Mosaddeq aside. The British intelligence agency, MI6, had identified and reached out to a network of anti-Mosaddeq figures who would be willing to take action against the prime minster with covert American and British support. Among them was General Fazlollah Zahedi, a well-connected officer who had previously served in Mosaddeq’s cabinet but had left after becoming disillusioned with the prime minister’s leadership and had immersed himself in opposition politics. Given its history of interference in Iran, the British government also boasted an array of intelligence sources, including members of parliament and journalists, whom it had subsidized and cultivated. London could also count on a number of influential bazaar merchants who, in turn, had at their disposal thugs willing to instigate violent street protests.

The CIA took a rather dim view of these British agents, believing that they were “far overstated and oversold.” Nevertheless, by May, the agency had embraced the basic outlines of a British plan to engineer the overthrow of Mosaddeq. The U.S. embassy in Tehran was also on board: in a cable to Washington, Henderson assured the Eisenhower administration that “most Iranian politicians friendly to the West would welcome secret American intervention which would assist them in attaining their individual or group political ambitions.”

The joint U.S.-British plot for covert action was code-named TPAJAX. Zahedi emerged as the linchpin of the plan, as the Americans and the British saw him as Mosaddeq’s most formidable rival. The plot called for the CIA and MI6 to launch a propaganda campaign aimed at raising doubts about Mosaddeq, paying journalists to write stories critical of the prime minister, charging that he was corrupt, power hungry, and even of Jewish descent -- a crude attempt to exploit anti-Semitic prejudices, which the Western intelligence agencies wrongly believed were common in Iran at the time. Meanwhile, a network of Iranian operatives working for the Americans and the British would organize demonstrations and protests and encourage street gangs and tribal leaders to provoke their followers into committing acts of violence against state institutions. All this was supposed to further inflame the already unstable situation in the country and thus pave the way for the shah to dismiss Mosaddeq.

Indeed, the shah would be the plot’s central actor, since he retained the loyalty of the armed forces and only he had the authority to dismiss Mosaddeq. “If the Shah were to give the word, probably more than 99% of the officers would comply with his orders with a sense of relief and with the hope of attaining a state of stability,” a U.S. military attaché reported from Tehran in the spring of 1953.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED

On July 11, Eisenhower approved the plan, and the CIA and MI6 went to work. The Western intelligence agencies certainly found fertile ground for their machinations, as the turmoil sweeping Iran had already seriously compromised Mosaddeq’s standing. It appeared that all that was left to do was for the shah to officially dismiss the prime minister.

But enlisting the Iranian monarch proved more difficult than the Americans and the British had initially anticipated. On the surface, the shah seemed receptive to the plot, as he distrusted and even disdained his prime minister. But he was also clearly reluctant to do anything to further destabilize his country. The shah was a tentative man by nature and required much reassurance before embarking on a risky course. The CIA did manage to persuade his twin sister, Princess Ashraf, to press its case with her brother, however. Also urging the shah to act were General Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., a U.S. military officer who had trained Iran’s police force and enjoyed a great deal of influence in the country, and Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a CIA official who had helped devise the plot. Finally, on August 13, 1953, the shah signed a royal decree dismissing Mosaddeq and appointing Zahedi as the new prime minister.

Zahedi and his supporters wanted to make sure that Mosaddeq received the decree in person and thus waited for more than two days before sending the shah’s imperial guards to deliver the order to the prime minister’s residence at a time when Zahedi was certain Mosaddeq would be there. By that time, however, someone had tipped Mosaddeq off. He refused to accept the order and instead had his security detail arrest the men the shah had sent. Zahedi went into hiding, and the shah fled the country, going first to Iraq and then to Italy. The plot, it seemed, had failed. Mosaddeq took to the airwaves, claiming that he had disarmed a coup, while neglecting to mention that the shah had dismissed him from office. Indeed, it was Mosaddeq, not the shah or his foreign backers, who failed to abide by Iran’s constitution.

After the apparent failure of the coup, a mood of resignation descended on Washington and London. According to an internal review prepared by the CIA in 1954, after Mosaddeq’s refusal to follow the shah’s order, the U.S. Department of State determined that the operation had been “tried and failed,” and the official British position was equally glum: “We must regret that we cannot consider going on fighting.” General Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s confidant and wartime chief of staff, who was now serving as undersecretary of state, had the unenviable task of informing the president. In a note to Eisenhower, Smith wrote:

The move failed. . . . Actually, it was a counter-coup, as the Shah acted within his constitutional power in signing the [decree] replacing Mosaddeq. The old boy wouldn’t accept this and arrested the messenger and everybody else involved that he could get his hands on. We now have to take a whole new look at the Iranian situation and probably have to snuggle up to Mosaddeq if we’re going to save anything there.

The White House, the leadership of the CIA, and the U.S. embassy in Tehran all shared the view that the plot had failed and that it was time to move on. It seems that some operatives in the CIA station in Tehran thought there was still a chance that Zahedi could succeed, if he asserted himself. The station might even have maintained some contact with Zahedi; it’s not clear whether it did or not. What is clear is that by that point, the attempt to salvage the coup became very much an Iranian initiative.

A TRAGIC FIGURE

In the aftermath of the failed coup, chaos reigned in Tehran and political fortunes shifted quickly. The Tudeh Party felt that its time had finally come, and its members poured into the streets, waving red flags and destroying symbols of the monarchy. The more radical members of the National Front, such as Foreign Minister Hossein Fatemi, also joined the fray with their own denunciations of the shah. An editorial in Bakhtar-e Emruz, a newspaper Fatemi controlled, castigated the royal court as “a brothel, a filthy, corrupt place”; another editorial in the same newspaper warned the shah that the nation “is thirsty for revenge and wants to see you on the gallows.” Such talk alarmed military officers and clerics and also outraged many ordinary Iranians who still respected the monarchy. Mosaddeq himself did not call for disbanding the monarchy. Despite his attempts to expand his powers at the shah’s expense, Mosaddeq remained loyal to his vision of a constitutional monarchy.

The shah issued a statement from exile declaring that he had not abdicated the throne and stressing the unconstitutionality of Mosaddeq’s claim to power. Meanwhile, Zahedi and his coconspirators continued their resistance. Zahedi reached out to armed military units in the capital and in the provinces that remained loyal to the shah and told their commanders to prepare for mobilization. Zahedi also sought to widely broadcast the shah’s decree dismissing Mosaddeq and appointing Zahedi himself as prime minister, and the CIA station in Tehran appears to have helped distribute the message through both domestic and foreign media.

The efforts to publicize the shah’s decree and Mosaddeq’s studied silence are instructive. Many accounts of the coup, including Roosevelt’s, cast the shah as an unpopular and illegitimate ruler who maintained the throne only with the connivance of foreigners. But if that were the case, then Zahedi and his allies would not have worked so hard to try to publicize the shah’s preferences. The fact that they did suggests that the shah still enjoyed a great deal of public and institutional support, at least in the immediate aftermath of Mosaddeq’s countercoup; indeed, the news of the shah’s departure provoked uprisings throughout the country.

These demonstrations did not fundamentally alter the views of U.S. representatives in Iran. As Henderson later recalled, he initially did not take the turmoil very seriously and cabled the State Department that “it would probably have little significance.” Momentum soon built within Iran, however. The clergy stepped into the fray, with mullahs inveighing against Mosaddeq and the National Front. Kashani and other major religious figures urged their supporters to take to the streets. Unlike some of the demonstrations that had taken place earlier in the summer, these protests were not the work of the CIA’s and MI6’s clients. A surprised official at the U.S. embassy reported that the crowds “appeared to be led and directed by civilians rather than military. Participants not of hoodlum type, customarily predominant in recent demonstrations in Tehran. They seemed to come from all classes of people including workers, clerks, shopkeepers, students, et cetera.” A CIA assessment noted that “the flight of [the] Shah brought home to the populace in a dramatic way how far Mosaddeq had gone, and galvanized the people into an irate pro-Shah force.”

Mosaddeq was determined to halt the revolutionary surge and commanded the military to restore order. Instead, many soldiers joined in the demonstrations, as chants of “Long live the shah!” echoed in the capital. On August 19, the army chief of staff, General Taqi Riahi, who had stayed loyal to Mosaddeq until then, telephoned the prime minister to confess that he had lost control of many of his troops and of the capital city. Royalist military units took over Tehran’s main radio station and several important government ministries. Seeing his options narrowing, Mosaddeq went into hiding in a neighbor’s house. But the prime minister was too much of a creature of the establishment to remain on the run for long, and he soon turned himself in. A few months later, Mosaddeq was convicted of treason, for which the mandatory punishment was execution. However, given his age, his long-standing service to the country, and his role in nationalizing Iran’s oil industry, the sentence was commuted to three years in prison. In practice, he would go on to serve a life sentence, spending the remaining 14 years of his life confined to his native village.

Mosaddeq was a principled politician with deep reverence for Iran’s institutions and constitutional order. He had spent his entire public life defending the rule of law and the separation of powers. But the pressures of governing during a crisis accentuated troubling aspects of his character. His need for popular acclaim blinded him to compromises that could have resolved the oil conflict with the United Kingdom and thus protected Iran’s economy. Worse, by 1953, Mosaddeq -- the constitutional parliamentarian and champion of democratic reform -- had turned into a populist demagogue: rigging referendums, intimidating his rivals, disbanding parliament, and demanding special powers.

Popular lore gets two things right: Mosaddeq was indeed a tragic figure, and a victim. But his tragedy was that he couldn’t find a way out of a predicament that he himself was largely responsible for creating. And more than anyone else, he was a victim of himself.

THE MYTH OF U.S. FINGERPRINTS

Since 1953, and especially since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah, the truth about the coup has been obscured by self-serving narratives concocted by Americans and Iranians alike. The Islamic Republic has done much to propagate the notion that the coup and the conspiracy against Mosaddeq demonstrated an implacable American hostility to Iran. The theocratic revolutionaries have been assisted in this distortion by American accounts that grossly exaggerate the significance of the U.S. role in pushing Mosaddeq from power. Chief among these is the version that appears in Roosevelt’s self-aggrandizing 1979 book, Countercoup: The Struggle for the Control of Iran. In his Orientalist rendition, Roosevelt landed in Tehran with a few bags of cash and easily manipulated the benighted Iranians into carrying out Washington’s schemes.

Contrary to Roosevelt’s account, the documentary record reveals that the Eisenhower administration was hardly in control and was in fact surprised by the way events played out. On the eve of the shah’s triumph, Henderson reported in a cable to Washington that the real cause of the coup’s success was that “most armed forces and great numbers [of] Iranian civilians [are] inherently loyal to [the] Shah whom they have been taught to believe is [a] symbol of national unity as well as of [the] stability of the country.” As Iran underwent its titanic internal struggle, even the CIA seemed to be aware that its own machinations had proved relatively unimportant. On August 21, Charles Cabell, the agency’s acting director, reported to Eisenhower that “an unexpectedly strong upsurge of popular and military reaction to Prime Minister Mosaddeq’s Government has resulted, according to late dispatches from Tehran, in the virtual occupation of that city by forces proclaiming their loyalty to the Shah and his appointed Prime Minister Zahedi.”

In addition to overstating the American and British hand in orchestrating Mosaddeq’s downfall and the shah’s restoration, the conventional narrative of the coup neglects the fact that the shah was still popular in the early 1950s. He had not yet become the megalomaniac of the 1970s, but was still a young, hesitant monarch deferential to Iran’s elder statesmen and grand ayatollahs and respectful of the limits of his powers.

But the mythological version of the events of 1953 has persisted, partly because since the Islamic Revolution, making the United States out to be the villain has served the interests of Iran’s leaders. Another reason for the myth’s survival is that in the aftermath of the debacle in Vietnam and in the wake of congressional investigations during the mid-1970s that revealed the CIA’s involvement in covert attempts to foment coups overseas, many Americans began to question the integrity of their institutions and the motives of their government; it hardly seemed far-fetched to assume that the CIA had been the main force behind the coup in Iran.

Whatever the reason for the persistence of the mythology about 1953, it is long past time for the Americans and the Iranians to move beyond it. As Washington and Tehran struggle to end their protracted enmity, it would help greatly if the United States no longer felt the need to keep implicitly apologizing for its role in Mosaddeq’s ouster. As for the Islamic Republic, at a moment when it is dealing with internal divisions and uncertainties about its future, it would likewise help for it to abandon its outdated notions of victimhood and domination by foreigners and acknowledge that it was Iranians themselves who were the principal protagonists in one of the most important turning points in their country’s history.
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« Reply #699 on: August 08, 2014, 03:06:22 PM »

 Iran Watering Down Russian Trade Deal Terms
Analysis
August 8, 2014 | 0908 Print Text Size
Iran Watering Down Trade Deal with Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in Shanghai on May 21, 2014. (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary

Some media outlets overreacted after Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh visited Moscow on Aug. 5, where he and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who also heads the Iran-Russia Joint Commission, announced a memorandum of understanding on trade. Early reports indicated that, as part of the deal, Russia would buy 500,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil, which it would then sell on the spot market. In return, Russia would invest in Iranian nuclear power plants, electricity grids, agricultural products, machinery and consumer goods.

Analysis

A multi-billion dollar trade deal between Russia and Iran to work around U.S.-led sanctions would be market-shaking news indeed and would place U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations in jeopardy. But this is far from what is actually taking place.

Iran Will Continue To Leverage U.S.-Russia Divide in Nuclear Talks
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Not only was the original memorandum of understanding vague, but the Russian Energy Ministry retracted a statement from Novak claiming that  Russia would facilitate shipments of Iranian oil to markets. Stratfor’s own investigation into what took place behind the scenes confirmed our suspicion that Tehran is not keen on rushing into a megadeal with Russia. In fact, Iran is continuing negotiations to scale down the terms of the agreement. According to a Stratfor source, the deal currently being discussed would allow Russia to buy 70,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude at reduced prices in exchange for providing maintenance and upgrades on Iran's electricity infrastructure. This figure is considerably less than the previously envisioned 500,000 barrels per day. Moreover, the deal does not touch on the possibility of controversial Russian investment in and development of Iranian oil and natural gas fields.

The rumor is that Iran and Russia could announce a deal by the end of September, but that timeline is subject to how Iran wants to shape its parallel -- and far more significant -- negotiations with the United States. It behooves Iran to periodically highlight its options should negotiations with the United States collapse. However, Stratfor maintains that Iran’s strategic priority lies in forging a diplomatic rapprochement with the United States and rehabilitating its economy through the easing of sanctions. Moreover, Iran is trying to position itself in the long term as an energy alternative to Russia for European buyers, and thus it has little interest in creating a deep dependency on Moscow. Just as Russia has used its relationship with Iran in previous years to command the United States’ attention on certain issues, Iran is now using this ambiguous trade deal with Russia to shape its negotiations with Washington.

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