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Is the North Korea Deal a Stalking Horse for Trump’s Mid-East Makeover?

By Alastair CROOKE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 22.03.2018

Clearly Donald Trump’s Presidency is entering a new phase. He is feeling his oats: he now has successes under his belt, and seems emboldened, and ready to pursue his impulsive, instinctive personal style, which he believes, took him to the Presidency. Things are about to get ‘interesting’ (in the Chinese sense). He is throwing off his restraints (Tillerson on JCPOA; and Cohn on tariffs). And other conventionalist ‘impedimenta’ (i.e. McMaster) may go, too, in coming days. General Mattis will cut a somewhat lonely figure in the future, perhaps.

Tillerson, last October said: “The president is a very unconventional person, as we all know, in terms of how he communicates, how he likes to create action-forcing events. And so, the President often takes steps to force an action when he feels things are just not moving.” So, it seems that Trump is forcing ‘action’ now. But with what end in mind? And, more importantly, is that end realistic, or will it take us to disaster – even to war?

Trump relishes risk, and elevating the stakes, sky-high. And his choices for replacements to this week’s dismissals reflect this: David Stockman describes Larry Kudlow as being “off the very (deep) deep-end for years, on the more important matters of deficits, tax-cut magic, Fed money-printing, wild-eyed economic growth rates, and, above all else, incorrigible cheerleading for Wall Street’s serial financial bubbles.” In short, Trump is casting aside Cohn’s conventional banker’s caution, in order to double-down on ‘supply-side’ economics (a big risk when government debt already stands at 105% of nominal GDP, and the US has a three trillion plus borrowing requirement already baked in, for the next three years ).

And he has just cast overboard, Tillerson’s old-style, courteous and conventional diplomacy, for that of a polarizing ‘hawk’ – Mike Pompeo. Not just any old hawk, but an North Korea hawk, as well as an Iran hawk; and a Russia hawk too. And, is, just to round off the picture, an Islamophobe (as extensively documented by Jim Lobe), and – like Trump – a partisan, Israeli loyalist.

“Just two days before he was named Rex Tillerson’s successor as secretary of state”, Uri Friedman has noted in The Atlantic : “CIA Director Mike Pompeo … an unsparing critic of the nuclear agreement with Iran, vowed to not repeat Barack Obama’s mistakes. What he promised was breathtaking: that President Trump would secure a better deal with North Korea … than his predecessor did with Iran, which had yet to acquire nuclear weapons.” Friedman continues: “The previous administration was negotiating from a position of weakness. This administration will be negotiating from a position of enormous strength”… The administration’s plan for the talks, [Pompeo] explained, is to maintain and increase economic pressure on North Korea while aiming for the “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea … [unlike Obama, who left] “the Iranians with a breakout capacity” to produce nuclear weapons, Pompeo noted. The “human capital and enrichment capacity” behind Iran’s nuclear-weapons program “continues to remain in place” despite its pause in testing, he cautioned – and “President Trump is determined to prevent that from happening in North Korea.”

Friedman comments: “What made Pompeo’s comments remarkable wasn’t just his assertion that the United States could compel North Korea to do what most experts believe North Korea never will: fully give up its nuclear weapons. It was also how confidently he made the claim, given what he’s said in the past about North Korea.”

Not surprisingly, the American and European press is replete with questions about whether Trump, by making Pompeo Secretary of State, finally has fully succumbed to the neo-cons (especially as John Bolton appears to be being considered for a senior position in Trump’s Administration, too). It has prompted serious and cool-headed commentators to predict that Pompeo’s appointment, plus Bolton hovering in the wings, suggest that we are heading for war with Iran and Russia.

The latter may well be right, but perhaps we should try to unpack this a little further. The ‘anti Trump, covert US state’, and its collaborators amongst Europeans and ‘globalist’ European intelligence services, evidently is ratchetting-up the pressure on Russia at every point – hoping to push President Putin into some ill-judged over-reaction, that would compel Trump to take some irreversible, rupturing action against Russia. They hope to corner Trump into burning his bridges with Putin, for good. But Trump bends a bit under the extreme force of these winds, but stays afoot – and the Russian President does the same, despite the heat of severe provocations.

Does Trump seek war with Russia? No. But the covert state does; and will try everything to get it. Trump does want war with Russia. In fact, he wants President Putin to help him make peace in the Middle East.

Tillerson is cast aside not because Trump wants nuclear war, but as a result of the mismatch between Trump’s mode of negotiation – as expressed in the Art of the Deal – and the conventional diplomacy of building good relations and a rapport with one’s counter-parties, as conducted by Tillerson. Trump simply does not believe that Tillerson’s way works. The latter clearly is not Trump’s way. He does not believe in it. He demands leverage. He insists to show strength. He hikes his threats to Armageddon levels; pushes the stakes sky-high, and just when it seems that tensions inexorably will explode, he tries to secure a deal.

This is the point of Pompeo, I suggest: He is the ‘enabler’ to push the stakes to the very limit; the ‘hawk’ that makes everyone fear – and come to believe – that conflict is inevitable; but who – at one minute before midnight – offers a deal. It is a process wholly different to the laboured, incremental, step-by-step approach of conventional diplomacy. Could Tillerson really have made such a bluff – of imminent war, of ‘fire and fury’ – credible? He is perhaps, too nice.

So, what is going on? Trump, it seems, is emboldened sufficiently to try to unfold his ‘plan’ for Middle East peace. It is not so much a ‘plan’ in a conceptual sense, but rather a series of transactional steps that he seems to have in mind. But key to this sequencing, is the ‘seed’ planted by Mark Dubowitz and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which is funded primarily by right-wing supporters of Israel, including billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is a long standing advocate for war on Iran.

Politico describes Dubowitz as “a key outside adviser to the Trump Administration on Iran”. And the point on which Dubowitz has been insisting with Trump, is that any North Korean nuclear deal is intimately interconnected with the Iranian JCPOA – and that both ultimately connect to making peace in the Middle East.

The FDD thesis is that “the Iran-North Korea axis dates back more than 30 years. The two regimes have exchanged nuclear expertise, cooperated widely on missile technologies, and run similar playbooks against Western negotiators. The fear: Tehran is using Pyongyang for work no longer permitted under the 2015 nuclear deal [i.e on nuclear warheads] while [Iran is] perfecting North Korean-derived missile delivery systems, back home [which are not covered by the JCPOA]”. Or, in other words, that Pyongyang has sub-contracted to itself the development of an ICBM capable nuclear warhead, whilst Tehran – on the other hand – is focused on developing missile capability. And this presumption of a division of labour between North Korea and Iran essentially is at the root of Trump’s demand that the Europeans must get Iran to relinquish the so-called ‘sunset clauses’, and the Iranian missile programme – lest Iran enable North Korea to achieve the capability to land a nuclear bomb on the US.

Is there really this conspiracy? There may have been some co-operation years ago, in the era of Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan, but the FDD thesis is more speculation, than substance. North Korea’s and Iran’s aims differ: North Korea wants inter-continental missiles that can reach America. Iran doesn’t. It wants short and medium range missiles for self-defence.

Be that as it may: there are grounds to believe that Trump’s working hypothesis is based on the FDD theory. And further, that ending this supposed interplay between Iran and North Korea constitutes the pillar on which Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ for the Middle East rests.

So, Pompeo’s job is to convince Kim Il Jung that he faces utter destruction unless he takes the path of divesting the state of its nuclear programme; and to do something similar to Iran in respect to its (hypothetical break-out capacity), and its missile programme: i.e. Pompeo must achieve double de-nuclearisation by escalating the stakes sky-high to the point that everyone fears war – in the expectation that North Korea and Iran will be the ones to back down (The Art of the Deal).

And this ‘double de-nuclearisation’ – this line of thinking goes – will make Israel and Saudi Arabia feel safer: Saudi can normalise with Israel, and the latter can then do something for the Palestinians (according to this White House optic). With the final part to this construct being the quiet understanding that Russia will restrain Iran, Syria and Hizbullah; and Trump will commit to restrain Israel … Peace in our time?

Maybe. But just to be clear, this is a highly risky project, which may well lead, instead, to war. North Korea may call Trump and Pompeo’s ‘fire and fury’ bluff (leaving Washington without any ‘off ramp’, except the very military action which the bluff is supposed to obviate). Iran may elect to ignore Pompeo too; it has learned to distrust America’s word. Israel may fear Iran’s conventional weapons as much – or more so – than Iran’s nonexistent nuclear warheads, and seek to entangle the US in a war to destroy Iran, and thus preserve Israel’s regional hegemony.

And, then there is the question of whether America is at present ‘agreement capable’? The unitive US state is fragmented. For whom or what does Trump speak? Can Trump give either North Korea or Iran any credible security guarantees, in the event of some agreement? Would Congress co-operate? Would the covert state co-operate? Will super-hawk Pompeo remain loyal to Trump’s vision? Will the neo-cons manipulate this process towards the conflicts that they seek to ignite?

Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic has written of Pompeo:

“He is sometimes described as a Trump loyalist, but that is nonsense: No one is loyal to Trump—he is too indecent a human being to attract such normal personal attachments. The administration is not divided into people who are loyal to Trump and those who are not. Rather, it is divided between those who know how to manipulate his vanity, his hatreds, his sensitivities, and those who do not.”

Trump may discover that the intransigence of his presumed opponents is not his biggest problem, but taking Washington – and all its burning hatreds – with him, represents the bigger challenge.

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran official warns Europe against playing US-Israeli game

Press TV – March 17, 2018

A senior Iranian official has warned European countries against playing into the hands of the United States and the Israeli regime as European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal propose fresh sanctions against Tehran under the pressure of Washington.

“Defense capabilities, particularly the missile program, of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have a deterrent nature, will firmly be continued based on national security necessities,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said in a meeting with Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran on Saturday.

“Political and media propaganda will have no impact on their development,” he added.

Britain, France and Germany have proposed new EU sanctions on Iran over its missile program and its regional role, a confidential document said on Friday.

The joint paper was sent to the EU capitals to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the backing of all 28 member states of the bloc, Reuters quoted two people familiar with the matter as saying.

The proposal is allegedly part of an EU strategy to appease US President Donald Trump and preserve the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 amid constant US threats to withdraw from it.

Shamkhani said US failure to fulfill its obligations and its illegal approach to the JCPOA as well as Europe’s passivity with regard to Washington’s approaches clearly show that regional countries need to focus on finding a solution to the ongoing issues and crises in the region by themselves.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will give a proper and due response to the US constant violations of its commitments under the JCPOA and will accept no change, interpretation or new measure that would limit the JCPOA,” the SNSC secretary said.

His comments came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the US against the “painful mistake” of pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

“Considering what has been envisaged in the JCPOA in the field of research and development and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s continued measures to develop its peaceful nuclear capability, if the US makes the mistake of exiting the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans,” Zarif told reporters.

Elsewhere in his comments, Shamkhani said growing deep relations between Iran and Oman had led to consensus on regional issues.

“The development of constructive and all-out relations with neighbors based on common interests is the top priority of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy,” he added.

The senior Iranian official lashed out at certain regional countries for adopting “a hasty and arrogant attitude and statements” which have posed serious challenges to the handling of regional crises.

He expressed his concern about the killing of Yemeni women and children in airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as the catastrophic conditions of the oppressed Yemeni people.

“The shared view of Iran and Oman on the Yemeni crisis is based on putting an immediate end to war, establishing ceasefire, lifting the blockade, dispatching humanitarian aid and holding Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue to form new political structures based on the Yemeni people’s demands and vote,” Shamkhani pointed out.

He emphasized that the Yemeni crisis cannot be settled through military approaches and urged a political initiative in this regard.

About 14,000 people have been killed since the onset of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen in March 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million people are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

The UN Security Council on March 15 warned about the worsening humanitarian situation in war-battered Yemen, stating the status quo is having a “devastating” impact on the lives of civilians in the impoverished Arab country.

“The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and the devastating humanitarian impact of the conflict on civilians,” it said in a statement.

Oman urges dialogue instead of military approaches

The Omani foreign minister, for his part, criticized military approaches to regional issues and urged the path of dialogue and understanding instead.

He added that Oman regards Iran as a trustworthy neighboring country and commended the Islamic Republic’s role in establishing stability and security in the region.

Bin Alawi arrived in Tehran Friday night on a two-day visit to hold talks with senior Iranian officials about mutual and regional issues.

Iran rejects speculations about bin Alawi’s visit

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Saturday rejected speculation about a link between the Omani minister’s visit to Tehran and US Defense Secretary James Mattis’s recent travel to Muscat and said bin Alawi’s trip was taking place with the purpose of strengthening mutual relations.

“Although Oman has very good relations with many countries in the world, Mr. Yusuf bin Alawi’s trip to Tehran has nothing to do with Mattis’s visit to this country,” Qassemi said.

He strongly rejected any link between bin Alawi’s visit to Tehran and US policies on the JCPOA.

The Iranian spokesperson said, “Iran and Oman are cooperating with each other on a wide range of issues and the two sides seek to use the two countries’ existing capacities to further deepen economic, commercial, banking and financial cooperation.”

March 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear genie pops out of Saudi bottle

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 3, 2018

The United States invaded and destroyed Iraq in 2003 on the false ground that Saddam Hussein secretly nurtured a nuclear program, but fifteen years later, Washington is actively discussing how to cater to Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions. It is a sign of our times that the nuclear genie is out of the Saudi bottle and the US may have to get used to the idea.

Saudi Arabia has opened bids from foreign companies to build two nuclear reactors. Riyadh wants eventually to install up to 17.6 gigawatts of atomic capacity by 2032 – or up to 17 reactors. Tens of billions of dollars worth business is involved. Companies from the US, France, Russia, China and South Korea have shown interest – including Westinghouse. There is pressure on the Trump administration to restart talks with Riyadh on a civil nuclear cooperation pact so that Westinghouse can pick up the lucrative business. The nuclear commerce with Saudi Arabia fits in with President Trump’s America First, as it could create thousands of jobs in the US economy.

But there is a serious catch. The Saudis will not accept any restrictions on uranium enrichment technology. Washington’s policy, on the other hand, is to sign a peaceful nuclear cooperation pact – known as a 123 agreement – that blocks steps in fuel production with potential bomb-making uses. Now, Riyadh maintains that it is not interested in diverting nuclear technology to military use, but it wants nonetheless to tap its own uranium resources for “self-sufficiency in producing nuclear fuel”. Indeed, Saudis have a point here. It is Saudi Arabia’s prerogative to have access to nuclear enrichment technology – like any NPT member country.

But then, Saudi Arabia happens to be a Muslim country in the Middle East and the West so far ensured that there is nothing like an “islamic bomb”. What happens if some day, a gust of Arab Spring blows through the Arabian Peninsula and an authentic Islamic regime takes shape there? Again, the Saudis already have a past history of funding Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear weapon program. The two countries are close allies. General Raheel Sharif, former Pakistani army chief, heads the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance, which was formed last year. Pakistan’s present army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa is frequently in and out of Saudi Arabia. In February, following Bajwa’s last hushed visit, Pakistan announced the deployment of a few thousand troops to Saudi Arabia under a bilateral security cooperation agreement for unspecified purposes.

Conceivably, Saudis intend to develop nuclear weapons some day. The Saudi compulsions are similar to Pakistan’s – nuclear weapons provide deterrent capability. Lest it be forgotten, Saudi Arabia already has a “delivery system” – missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Its armed forces even have a designated Saudi Strategic Missile Force, which handles long-range missiles. Actually, these missiles don’t make sense unless they’re armed with nuclear weapons. What makes all this a combustible mix is that the present Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a hot head, as the bloody war in Yemen testifies. The rift with Qatar underscores that MbS is bent on establishing Saudi hegemony in the region.

Logically speaking, the US could offer to Saudi Arabia something like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multilateral agreement of July 2015 that restricts Iran’s nuclear program. The Saudis cannot complain because they had previously complained that the JCPOA was a generous deal for Iran – except that it means:

  • No indigenous reprocessing, with all spent reactor fuel to be shipped out of the country;
  • Severe restrictions on any uranium enrichment, in terms of both the level of enrichment and the amount of material enriched;
  • A highly intrusive IAEA inspection regime, in which international inspectors have continual and full access to nuclear facilities, including the right to inspect military bases or other places if they had any reason to suspect nuclear-related activities.

Of course, it entails the Trump administration admitting that JCPOA was a brilliant achievement in nuclear non-proliferation. That will be not only  a bitter pill to swallow for President Trump but his (and Israel’s) entire strategy to reimpose sanctions against Iran would unravel.

The alternative will be to give Saudi Arabia a free hand to acquire mastery over the nuclear fuel cycle but the US Congress is almost certain to shoot it down. On the other hand, if the US and Saudi Arabia cannot agree on a 123 agreement, Westinghouse loses the multi-billion dollar business. Russia’s Rosatem has already sought a contract to construct 2 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia. In the prevailing new Cold War climate with the Trump administration castigating Russia as a “revisionist power” and an “existentialist threat”, a coordinated effort by the international community to circumscribe Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions (on the lines that the Obama administration could mobilise) is too much to expect today. Which, in turn, creates space for Saudi Arabia to outmaneuver the Trump administration. Riyadh is aware of it. (Asharq Al-Awsat )

This is going to be one hell of a trapeze act for the Trump administration. If Trump destroys the JCPOA in these circumstances, and Iran retaliates by resuming uranium reprocessing, this becomes an entirely new ball game. Other Middle Eastern countries are watching – Turkey and Egypt, in particular. And they would be wondering, ‘If Saudi Arabia can have reprocessing technology, why not us?’ Israel’s “nuclear superiority” is steadily getting eroded, too. Read a fascinating piece Coming soon – a Nuclear Middle East.

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Escalates Threat Against Iran After Russia U.N. Veto

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | February 27, 2018

The United States has escalated international tensions with Iran, threatening unilateral action against the Islamic Republic on Monday after Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council motion to call out Tehran for allowing weapons to fall into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group.

If Russia is going to continue to cover for Iran then the U.S. and our partners need to take action on our own. If we’re not going to get action on the council then we have to take our own actions,” said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley during a visit to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

Haley did not specify what type of action she meant, however the Russian veto was a big blow to the United States which has been lobbying for months to hold Iran accountable at the U.N. – while also threatening to withhold waivers on U.S. sanctions unless the “terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” are fixed.

“Obviously this vote isn’t going to make the decision on the nuclear deal. What I can say is it doesn’t help,” Haley said. “That just validated a lot of what we already thought which is Iran gets a pass for its dangerous and illegal behavior.”

President Trump warned European allies in January that they would need to commit to fixing the nuclear deal by May 12.

President Donald Trump warned European allies last month that they had to commit by mid-May to work with Washington to improve the pact. Britain drafted the failed U.N. resolution in consultation with the United States and France.

The initial draft text – to renew the annual mandate of a targeted sanctions regime related to Yemen – wanted to include a condemnation of Iran for violating an arms embargo on Houthi leaders and include a council commitment to take action over it.Reuters

Russia has questioned the findings of January U.N. report which concluded that Iran supplied the Houthi group with weapons in a proxy war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in what appears to be another attempted regime change in the region.

In mid-January, Yemeni Houthi rebels claimed to have struck targets inside Saudi Arabia after launching two ballistic missiles, according to Houthi military media. Some pro-Houthi sources also reported the destruction of a Saudi military base in Najran, which lies in southwest Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia disputed that the missiles hit their targets, with Saudi state TV Ekhbariya reporting that Saudi missile defense has intercepted one near Jizan Regional Airport, a busy transport hub in southern Saudi Arabia, though it is unclear what happened to the reported second missile.

Following Monday’s Security Council vote, Iran’s mission to the U.N. accused the United States and Britain of abusing council privileges to “advance their political agenda and put the blame of all that happens in Yemen on Iran.”

Iran, meanwhile, has grown frustrated with what they’re getting out of the nuclear deal – with deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi telling a London audience last Thursday that they would likely pull out of the nuclear deal before the May 12 deadline if western banks don’t start doing business with them.

Most of it is because of this atmosphere of uncertainty which President Trump has created around JCPOA, which prevents all big companies and banks to work with Iran, it’s a fact, and it’s a violation lead by the United States. -Abbas Araghchi

Araghchi also criticized President Trump for his increasing rhetoric over the nuclear deal:

You know, every time President Trump makes a public statement against JCPOA saying it’s a bad deal, it’s the worst deal ever, I am going to fix it, I am going to change it, all these statements, public statements are a violation of the deal. Violation of the letter of the deal, not a sprit, the letter. If you just see paragraph 28 it clearly says that all JCPOA participants should refrain from anything which undermines successful implementation of JCPOA, including in their public statements of silly officials.

“If the same policy of confusion and uncertainties about the (deal) continues, if companies and banks are not working with Iran, we cannot remain in a deal that has no benefit for us,” Araqchi told an audience at the London-based think tank Chatham House. “That’s a fact.”

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

US Violates Iranian Nuclear Deal Almost Every Day – Tehran

Sputnik – February 22, 2018

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Thursday that the US violated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) almost every day, while Trump’s public statements contribute to this.

“It is a fact that the United States is not implementing the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], it is a fact that it violates it almost daily,” he told the BBC.

According to him, Trump’s statements regarding the deal being “bad,” or seeking to change it are a violation of the agreement.

“This violates the letter, not the spirit of the agreement,” the deputy minister added.

Speaking further, the senior Iranian official said that Iran would withdraw from the agreement if there would be no economic benefits for the country and major banks wouldn’t work with Iran.

“The deal would not survive this way even if the ultimatum is passed and waivers are extended,” Araqchi said.

The statement comes almost two weeks after US President Donald Trump delivered an ultimatum to the heads of European countries, saying that he wouldn’t extend the US sanctions relief on Iran if the sides refused to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal.

“The day before, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an exclusive interview with Sputnik that “the US has never adhered to its liabilities within the JCPOA.”

Fears of Syrian War Tearing Middle East Apart

Araghchi also commented on the on-going conflict in Syria, which has recently escalated after an Israeli F-16 jet was shot down by the Syrian Army as it was about to attack Iranian positions for allegedly flying a drone into Israel’s airspace.

The Deputy FM denied the accusations, claiming that the drone in fact belonged to the Syrian government.

At the same time, he underlined the policy of double standards on the part of Israeli  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had earlier branded Iran as the “greatest threat to our world,” while the Israeli military itself is frequently flying drones over Syria and  neighboring countries.

“They shouldn’t be angry when they are faced with something that they are doing against others on a daily basis,” Araghchi said.

The deputy minister noted that the incident has had a significant destabilizing impact on the de-escalation process in Syria and on the maintenance of peace in the Middle East.

“Fear of war is everywhere in our region,” Araghchi stated.

Nevertheless, Araghchi stressed that the presence of Iranian forces in Syria should not be misinterpreted as a threat to Israel, since their sole objective is to assist the government of Bashar al-Assad in combating terrorists.

“Just imagine if we were not there. Now you would have Daesh [the Islamic State group] in Damascus, and maybe in Beirut and other places,” he said.

The Deputy FM affirmed that the “de-escalation of tensions” is “very important” to the Iranian strategy in Syria, and the country has “worked hard to achieve that.”

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Algiers Accords: Decades of Violations – And Silence

BY Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich | American Herald Tribune | January 17, 2018

This week marks the 37th anniversary of a pledge made by the United States in 1981:

“The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

This week also marks 37 continuous years of the United States failing to uphold its pledge: the 1981 Algiers Accords.

Just how many people have heard of the 1981 Algiers Accords, a bilateral treaty signed on January 19, 1981 between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Chances are, not many. Just as chances are that not many are fully aware of what actually led to the signing of this treaty.

Following the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Shah, America’s strongman in Iran, plans were made to topple the new government in Tehran. In 1980, under the Carter administration, the United States began clandestine radio broadcasts into Iran from Egypt. The broadcasts called for Khomeini’s overthrow and urged support for Shahpur Bakhtiar [1] , the last prime minister under the Shah. Other plans included the failed Nojeh coup plot as well as plans for a possible American invasion of Iran using Turkish bases [2].

The new Revolutionary government in Iran, with a look to the past and the 1953 British-CIA coup d’état that overthrew the Mossadegh government and reinstalled the Shah, had good reason to believe that the United States was planning to abort the revolution in its nascent stages. Fearful, enthusiastic students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats as hostages in order to prevent such plans from fruition.

These events led to the negotiation and conclusion the Algiers Accords, point 1 of which was the pledge by the United States not to intervene in Iran’s internal affairs in anyway. The Algiers Accords brought about the release of the American hostages and established the Iran–U.S. Claims Tribunal (“Tribunal”) at The Hague, the Netherlands. The Tribunal ruled consistently “the Declarations were to be interpreted in accordance with the process of interpretation set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.” (*)

A pledge is only as valid and worthy as the person making it. From the onset, the United States failed to uphold its own pledge. For instance, starting in 1982, the CIA provided $100,000 a month to a group in Paris called the Front for the Liberation of Iran. The group headed by Ali Amini who had presided over the reversion of Iranian oil to foreign control after the CIA-backed coup in 1953 [4]. Additionally, America provided support to two Iranian paramilitary groups based in Turkey, one of them headed by General Bahram Aryana, the former Shah’s army chief with close ties to Bakhtiar [5].

In 1986, the CIA went so far as to pirate Iran’s national television network frequency to transmit an address by the Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi, over Iranian TV in which he vowed: “I will return,” [6]. The support did not end there. Pahlavi had C.LA. funding for a number of years in the eighties which stopped with the Iran-Contra affair. He was successful at soliciting funds from the emir of Kuwait, the emir of Bahrain, the king of Morocco, and the royal family of Saudi Arabia, all staunch U.S. allies [7].

In late 2002, Michael Ledeen joined Morris Amitay, vice-president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; ex-CIA head James Woolsey; former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney; former senator Paul Simon; and oil consultant Rob Sobhani to set up a group called the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI) [8]. In spite of his lack of charisma as a leader, in May, 2003, Michael Ledeen wrote a policy brief for the American Enterprise Institute Web site arguing that Pahlavi would make a suitable leader for a transitional government, describing him as “widely admired inside Iran, despite his refreshing lack of avidity for power or wealth.” [9] In August 2003, the Pentagon issued new guidelines -All meetings with Iranian dissidents had to be cleared with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. Reza Pahlavis’ name was included in the list of contacts that had been meeting with Pentagon analysts [10].

Concurrent with this direct interference, and in the following decade, Washington concentrated its efforts into putting a chokehold on the Iranian economy. A provision of the Algiers Accords was that “the United States will revoke all trade sanctions which were directed against Iran in the period November 4, 1979, to date.” Embargoes and sanctions became the norm. Failing to interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs in order to topple the Islamic Republic through economic hardship, the United States once again turned up pressure through broadcasts and direct support for dissidents and terrorists – in conjunction with economic sanctions.

This stranglehold was taking place while concurrently, and in violation of the Algiers Accords, the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy was providing funds to various groups, namely “Iran Teachers Association” (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994,2001, 2002, 2003); The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI founded in 1995 by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Peter Rodman, Joshua Muravchik, and American intelligence officials advocating regime change in Iran), National Iranian American Council (NIAC) 2002, 2005, 2006), and others [11].

Funds from NED to interfere in Iran continued after the signing of the JCPOA. The 2016 funding stood at well over $1m.

In September 2000, Senators openly voiced support for the MEK Terror group Mojaheddin-e-khalgh. Writing for The New Yorker, Connie Bruck revealed that: “Israel is said to have had a relationship with the M.E.K at least since the late nineties, and to have supplied a satellite signal for N.C.RI. broadcasts from Paris into Iran.” [12]. Perhaps their relationship with Israel and their usefulness explains why President Bush accorded the group ‘special persons status’ [13].

During the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the terrorist group got protection from the U.S. troops in Iraq despite getting pressure from the Iraqi government to leave the country (CNN [14]). In 2005, “a Farsi-speaking former CIA officer says he was approached by neoconservatives in the Pentagon who asked him to go to Iran and oversee “MEK [Mujahedeen-e Khalq] cross-border operations” into Iran.”

Moreover, according to Pakistani Intelligence, the United States secretly used yet another terrorist group – the Jundallah, to stage a series of deadly attacks against Iran. The United States seems to have a soft spot for terrorists.

In addition to CIA funding and covert operations with help from terrorists, the United States actively used radio broadcasts into Iran to stir up unrest including Radio Farda and VOA Persian. It comes as no surprise then that the recipient of NED funds, NIAC, should encourage such broadcasts. Also, the BBC “received significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.”

It is crucial to note that while the United States was conducting secret negotiations with Iran which led to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the MEK were delisted as a foreign terror organization. This provides them with the legitimacy to write opinion pieces in leading American papers.

Also important to note that during the JCPOA negotiations in which the United States participated as a party to an agreement, it was busy flouting the Treaty with its broadcasts in to Iran – apparently, without objection. But the violation was not limited to broadcasts. Item B of the Treaty’s preamble states:

“Through the procedures provided in the declaration relating to the claims settlement agreement, the United States agrees to terminate all legal proceedings in United States courts involving claims of United States persons and institutions against Iran and its state enterprises, to nullify all attachments and judgments obtained therein, to prohibit all further litigation based on such claims, and to bring about the termination of such claims through binding arbitration.”

Unsurprisingly, the US again failed to keep its pledge and a partisan legislation allocated millions for the former hostages.

Clearly, the United States felt bound by the Treaty for it recognized Point 2. Of the Algiers Accords when in January 2016 Iran received its funds frozen by America in a settlement at the Hague. Perhaps for no other reason than to pacify Iran post JCPOA while finding the means to re-route Iran’s money back into American hands.

It would require a great deal of time and verse to cite every instance and detail of the United States of America’s violation of a Treaty, of its pledge, for the past 37 years. But never has its attitude been more brazen in refusing to uphold its pledge and its open violation of international law than when President Trump openly voiced his support for protests in Iran and called for regime change. The US then called an emergency UNSC meeting on January 5, 2018 to demand that the UN interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.

America’s history clearly demonstrates that it has no regard for international law and treaties. Its pledge is meaningless. International law is a tool for America that does not apply to itself. This is a well-documented fact – and perhaps none has realized this better than the North Korean leader – Kim Jong-un. But what is inexplicable is the failure of Iranians to address these violations.

Endnotes

[*] U.S. TREATIES AND AGREEMENTS

The Vienna Convention on theLaw of Treaties defines a treaty “as an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.”

Under United States law, however, there is a distinction made between the terms treaty and executive agreement. ” Generally, a treaty is a binding international agreement and an executive agreement applies in domestic law only. Under international law, however, both types of agreements are considered binding. Regardless of whether an international agreement is called a convention, agreement, protocol, accord, etc. https://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/dynamic/guide.php?id=65)

[1] David Binder, “U.S. Concedes It Is Behind Anti-Khomeini Broadcasts,” New York Times, 29 June 1980,

[2] Mehmet Akif Okur, “The American Geopolitical Interests and Turkey on the Eve of the September 12, 1980 Coup”CTAD, Vol.11, No.21, p. 210-211

[3] Malintoppi, Loretta.  World Arbitration Reporter (WAR) – 2nd edition, December 2010

https://arbitrationlaw.com/library/algiers-accord-and-iran-united-states-claims-tribunal-1981-algiers-world-arbitration.  Downloaded January 14, 2018

https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/unts/volume%201155/volume-1155-i-18232-english.pdf

[4] Bob Woodward, “Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987”, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 480.  (Cited by Stephen R. Shalom, “The United States and the Gulf War”, Feb. 1990).

[5]Leslie H. Gelb, “U.S. Said to Aid Iranian Exiles in Combat and Political Units,” New York Times, 7 Mar. 1982, pp. A1, A12.

[6]Tower Commission, p. 398; Farhang, “Iran-Israel Connection,” p. 95. (Cited by Stephen R. Shalom, “The United States and the Gulf War”, Feb. 1990).

[7] Connie Bruck, ibid

[8] Andrew I KillgoreThe Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.  Washington:Dec 2003.  Vol. 22,  Iss. 10,  p. 17

[9] Connie Bruck, ibid

[10] Eli Lake,  New York Sun , Dec. 2, 2003

http://daily.nysun.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:ArticleToMail&Type=text/html&Path=NYS/2003/12/02&ID=Ar00100

[11] International Democracy Development, Google Books, p. 59 https://books.google.com/books?id=ReTtEj6_myAC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

[12] Connie Bruck, “A reporter at large: Exiles; How Iran’s expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat”.  The New Yorker, March 6, 2006

[13] US State Department Daily Briefing http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/34680.htm

[14] Michael Ware, “U.S. protects Iranian Opposition Group in Iraq” 6, April 2007 http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/04/05/protected.terrorists/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran rejects Financial Times’ claim on accepting missile talks

Press TV – January 17, 2018

Iran has categorically dismissed a claim by The Financial Times that it accepted to enter negotiations over its national missile program as well as its regional role during a recent meeting over the 2015 nuclear deal in Brussels.

Citing the German Foreign Ministry, the paper reported on Tuesday that German, French, and British foreign ministers — together with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief — had agreed during recent talks with Iranian officials in Brussels to hold an “intensive and very serious dialogue” on the country’s conventional missile work and regional influence.

The report claimed that the Europeans have stepped up pressure on Iran over such issues as they struggle to respond to President Donald Trump’s latest threat that he would pull Washington out of the nuclear deal if some “disastrous flaws” were not fixed.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi called the daily’s claim “unfounded” and said the country’s “policy and stance concerning its defensive missile program are completely clear and transparent, and that other countries are well aware of that position.”

Everyone knows that Iran’s defense program is not up for negotiation, Qassemi said, stressing that Tehran’s position has not undergone any changes regardless of the smear campaign, threats and standpoints of the US and others.

The Iranian missile work is of completely “defensive and deterrent nature” and is not targeted against any country, Qassemi said, adding that no hollow and baseless claims would change this “principled and substantive” position of the Islamic Republic.

“The Islamic Republic does not allow any interference in its domestic affairs and defensive policies, especially its missile program.”

Further, Qassemi described Iran’s regional policy as “constructive” and “in line with the promotion of peace and stability in the region and the entire world.

“If ill-wishers and extremists are incapable of contributing to regional stability and security, they cannot turn a blind eye to the role played by Iran — which has paid an inestimable price for its engagement in the fight against terrorism, insecurity and instability — and work to increase chaos, insecurity and terrorism in the region,” he added.

The January 11 meeting in Brussels saw Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discuss the implementation of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Mogherini and his counterparts from Germany, France and Britain.

Following the talks, the senior European diplomats lined up to deliver a strong defense of the landmark pact against Trump’s threats, with Mogherini saying the JCPOA “is working” and hailing Tehran’s full adherence to its side of the bargain.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

US Urges EU to ‘Fix’ Iran Deal: Brussels Between a Rock and a Hard Place

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.01.2018

President Trump said it was the final waiver extending Iran nuclear deal. He did it with strings attached. The president’s demands include: immediate inspections at sites by international inspectors and “denying Iran paths to nuclear weapons forever” (instead of 10 years as stipulated under current law). New sanctions were issued against 14 people and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile programs and a crackdown on government protesters. The president wants the deal to cover Iran’s ballistic missile programs.

Restrictive measures were extended three times last year. And Donald Trump never certified the agreement. Senator Bob Corker, the current chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, said “significant progress” had been made on bipartisan congressional legislation to address “flaws in the agreement without violating US commitments.”

According to President Trump, there are only two options: either the deal is fixed or the US pulls out. This time he wants to pass the buck, emphasizing that the decision to do it the last time is explained by his desire to secure the agreement of US European allies to fix what he calls “the terrible flaws” of the Joint Commission Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran nuclear deal. Europeans have 120 days to define their position. From now on, Europe is facing a real hard choice: it’s either dancing to the US tune or being adamant in its support for the deal. The latter will bring it closer to Russia.

Germany said on Jan.12 that it remained committed to the deal and that it would consult with “European partners to find a common way forward”. The European Union remains committed to support the implementation of the JCPOA.

The US plan hardly has a chance of success. Even if Europe joins the US, which is not the case, at least for now, the introduction of any changes to the deal requires the consent of other participants: Russia, China and Iran. Tehran has taken a tough stance, flatly refusing any talks on changes.

Another element of US proposal is also a tall order. The president wants a separate follow-on deal on Iran with the EU “to enshrine triggers that the Iranian government could not exceed related to ballistic missiles.” The consent of other participants is not needed but a separate agreement will bury the JCPOA as the provisions of the two deals will contradict each other. Iran will have to pull out and it will not be its fault and responsibility.

A unilateral US withdrawal is the most feasible option. But it will provoke an international outcry. It’s better to face the consequences being a member of an international coalition. So, the US is aggressively pursuing its goals. The stakes are high and Europe will have to make its choice. If it does not back the deal, its image as a reliable partner will be damaged internationally. The EU has economic interests in Iran. It’ll lose a lot pulling out from the JCPOA. On the other hand, Europe is not at all happy at the prospect of deteriorating relations with the United States.

There is another important aspect not to be forgotten. It’s a win-win situation for Moscow. Russia does not want the Iran deal threatened. Its contribution into it was important enough. But if Brussels succumbs to pressure, it’ll be a political win for Russia to bolster its image as a reliable partner remaining faithful to its obligations. Even with the JCPOA in place, some restrictions on economic and military cooperation remain in force. If the US tears up the deal, there will be no formal obligation to comply with them. Tehran will be pushed to develop even closer ties with Moscow and Beijing.

If the EU stands tall and has it its way, the US European partners may not back the United States in the United Nations, undermining what is called “Western unity”. Brussels and Moscow will get closer. Iran will become a field for cooperation. The process of rapprochement will be spurred if the US imposes restrictive measures on European companies participating in joint projects with Russia, such as Nord Stream-2, for instance. That’s how US sticking with tough stance on Iran may backfire. Acting high and mighty on international stage does not always bring the desired results. Taking well-thought-out foreign policy moves as elements of grand strategy does pay off but the US prefers to act otherwise. By doing so, it risks shooting itself in the foot.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Likely Took Course to Demolish Iran Nuclear Deal – Russia’s Deputy FM

Sputnik – January 13, 2018

Russia, as well as the European Union, remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal, despite the recent US waiver of sanctions against the country.

Moscow would oppose any attempts to undermine the existing nuclear agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has stated.

“The JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] cannot be amended and we will oppose any attempts to hamper it,” Ryabkov said.

The minister went on by saying that Trump’s move raises questions concerning his negotiability on international issues, adding that Moscow will insistently explain to Washington the viciousness of its sanction policy towards both Tehran and Pyongyang.

“We have a very negative stance on yesterday’s decisions and statements announced by Washington, our worst expectations are coming true,” Ryabkov said commenting on Trump’s words, saying that the US thus demonstrate their preference for the use of power to solve issues.

The minister underlined that statements by US President Donald Trump will be very carefully studied in the DPRK and other countries and may influence the existing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“According to our estimates, our American colleagues act in such a way as to constantly find opportunities to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula. Despite the signs that there has been some shift in the direction toward political dialogue, here we also note intra-Korean contacts, which are very important — despite this, Washington is looking for ways to constantly remind everyone, including in Northeast Asia, that it is committed to pressuring and methods of force, and, using this same American terminology, keeping all the options on the table,” the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

The diplomat added that there was no sense in overestimating Trump’s decision on waiving the sanctions, as the United States was seeking to undermine the JCPOA and is reinforcing a categorical approach to Iran-related issues.

“The prospect of the US withdrawal from the Iran deal will deliver a very serious blow to the whole system of international agreements and to the enhancing of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Ryabkov said.

Speaking about a new deal on Iran, which the US has claimed to elaborate, the minister stressed that Moscow could hardly understand how it might look like.

“We do not understand what our American colleagues mean when they start to negotiate the development of some new agreement, which, as they think, will ‘correct the shortcomings’ of the existing agreement,” Ryabkov said.

“It has been announced in advance that Iran, Russia and China are not invited to negotiations concerning this agreement. This is the US’ decision, the content of the talks and their subject is unclear. But for us, strictly speaking, they are of little interest because the JCPOA is not subject to correction,” Ryabkov stressed.

US Sanctions

“Of course, the decisions on enlargement of the sanction list [as for Iran] by including 14 individuals and entities, including the citizens of foreign states, not only the Iranian institutions and organizations, spark concerns,” Ryabkov has commented on the US sanctions on 14 individuals and entities over Iran’s human rights abuses and ballistic missile program, including the ones from China and Malaysia.

The minister called on the international community to consolidate efforts aimed at securing the Iranian nuclear deal.

“We think that in this context, the international community should double its efforts aimed at consolidation of the approach to the protection of the JCPOA shared by Russia, the Europeans and China in favor of its strict and full implementation by all the participants,” Ryabkov said.

The statement was made in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on January 12 of his decision to waive sanctions on Iran as required by the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Trump, however, specified it would be the last time he signs the waiver unless the deal is modified.

This move follows the common path the US president took in relation to the Islamic Republic ever since his election campaign. When elected, he reaffirmed opposition to the deal officially in late October 2017, refusing to re-certify it and accusing Tehran of violating the spirit of the agreement.

However, the president still does not contest Tehran’s compliance with the deal at the international level, while at the same time not excluding the possibility of withdrawing from the deal if the agreement is not improved. Other JCPOA signatories have called on the United States to comply with the agreement’s provisions, saying that the deal had yielded results and was non-negotiable.

READ MORE:

Trump Decides to Extend Iran Sanctions Waiver, But for the Last Time — WH

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump waives Iran nuclear sanctions, but for last time: White House

Press TV – January 12, 2018

US President Donald Trump has reluctantly agreed not to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran, but it would be the last time he issues such a waiver, according to the White House.

Trump wants America’s European allies to use the 120 day period before sanctions relief again comes up for renewal to agree to tougher measures, a senior White House official said Friday.

The US Congress requires the president to periodically certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement and issue a waiver to allow American sanctions to remain suspended.

While Trump approved a sanctions waiver, the US Treasury Department announced that it has imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and companies, including Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.

A senior administration official said Trump had privately expressed annoyance at having to once again waive sanctions.

Trump has argued behind the scenes that he sees Iran as a rising threat in the Middle East and the nuclear deal makes the United States look weak, a senior US official said.

The Republican president had privately expressed reluctance to heed the advice of top advisers — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — recommending he not reimpose the suspended sanctions.

A decision to reimpose sanctions would have effectively ended the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The agreement was reached between Iran and six world powers — the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The deal puts limitations on parts of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program in exchange for removing all nuclear-related sanctions.

Trump had come under heavy pressure from European allies to issue the sanctions waiver.

On Thursday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini together with foreign ministers of France, the US and Germany delivered a strong defense of the deal in separate statements, which were issued following a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Future of JCPOA In Hands of GOP Indebted To Billionaire Iran Hawks

By Eli Clifton | LobeLog | October 19, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), appears to have fallen in line with the views espoused by several of his top donors. These funders believe that Iran poses an apocalyptic threat only addressable through military action, including the use of nuclear weapons.

Two years ago, every Republican in Congress opposed the JCPOA. With the future of the agreement now in the hands of a GOP-controlled House and Senate, those same billionaire Iran hawks may hold a powerful influence over any Republican lawmaker contemplating voting against legislation designed to harm the JCPOA.

Indeed, the influence of these key donors—Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer—over U.S. foreign policy, particularly with regards to Iran, doesn’t stop at the White House, where combined they contributed over $40 million to various pro-Trump political groups and causes.

Those three donors also contributed $65 million at the congressional level. That represents nearly half of the individual contributions made to the Senate Leadership Fund (CLF) and Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), Super PACs dedicated to maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Those contributions provide a considerable incentive for Hill Republicans to stake out a hawkish position on the JCPOA.

Trump’s decision to punt the decision to Congress about whether to reimpose sanctions or attempt to unilaterally rewrite the JCPOA, a multilateral agreement, threatens to unravel the nuclear deal and/or put the U.S. into noncompliance with the accord.

Republican members of Congress owe a great deal to the CLF and the SLF. In the 2016 election cycle the two GOP Super PACs were some of the biggest sources of independent expenditures in House and Senate races. The SLF was the biggest spender in the 2016 election cycle after Priorities USA Action (a Hillary Clinton-supporting Super PAC) and Right to Rise USA (a Jeb Bush-supporting Super PAC).

The CLF raised $50 million in individual contributions and the SLF raised $90 million in individual contributions in the past election cycle. That is in no small part thanks to Adelson, Marcus, and Singer, three of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. They also provide millions in funding to hawkish think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which regularly promotes military intervention against Iran. Adelson and Marcus, in particular, have been outspoken in their opposition to the JCPOA and expressing their extreme hostility toward Iran.

Adelson, who actually suggested firing a nuclear weapon at Iran as a negotiating tactic, alongside his wife, Miriam, are the biggest overall donors to both the CLF and SLF as well as Trump’s largest campaign donor. They contributed $20 million to the CLF and $35 million to the SLF. Adelson, via John Bolton, may have helped inject language into Trump’s speech last week decertifying the JCPOA. Politico reported (my emphasis):

The line was added to Trump’s speech after Bolton, despite Kelly’s recent edict [limiting Bolton’s access to Trump], reached the president by phone on Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where Bolton was visiting with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Bolton urged Trump to include a line in his remarks noting that he reserved the right to scrap the agreement entirely, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

Trump wound up saying that the agreement “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.” Bolton declined to comment on any conversation with the president.

Singer, who was the second largest source of funds supporting Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) campaign, contributed $1.9 million to the CLF and $6 million to the SLF.

Cotton, an outspoken critic of the Iran deal and proponent of pursuing a regime-change strategy in Iran, reportedly advised the White House on decertifying the agreement. He is the cosponsor of legislation that would institute automatic reinstatement of sanctions if Iran comes within a year of a nuclear weapons capability and eliminates the JCPOA’s sunset clauses, effectively rewriting the agreement and potentially putting the U.S. in violation of the accord.

Marcus contributed $500,000 to the CLF and $2 million to the SLF. He is Trump’s second biggest campaign donor after the Adelsons and contributes tens of millions of dollars to FDD and other groups opposing the JCPOA.

In a 2015 Fox Business interview, he compared the JCPOA to “do[ing] business with the devil” and, in case he wasn’t clear about who “the devil” was in his metaphor, clarified “I think Iran is the devil.”

Adelson, Singer, and Marcus’s combined contributions account for 44% of individual contributions received by the CLF and 47% of those received by the SLF. Marcus and Singer are already spending on the SLF for the 2018 cycle. Singer contributed $1 million and Marcus contributed $2 million, providing over a quarter of the $11.13 million the Super PAC has raised for the coming election.

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Think Tank-Addicted Media Turn to Regime Change Enthusiasts for Iran Protest Commentary

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | January 5, 2018

Since the outbreak of mass demonstrations and unrest in Iran last week, US media have mostly busied themselves with the question of not if we should “do something,” but what, exactly, that something should be. As usual, it’s simply taken for granted the United States has a divine right to intervene in the affairs of Iran, under the vague blanket of “human rights” and “democracy promotion.” (The rare exception, such as an op-ed by ex-Obama official Philip Gordon—New York Times, 12/30/17—still accepted the premise of regime change: “I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed.”) With this axiom firmly established in Very Serious foreign policy circles, the next question becomes the nature, degree and scope of the “something” being done.

Leading the pack in the “do something” insta-consensus was the right-wing pro-Israel think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has overwhelmed the narrative. In the past five days, FDD has had op-eds in influential US outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post and Politico, and has been quoted in a dozen more. Its punditry was marked by cynical “support” for Iranian protesters, demagoguing of the Iranian “regime” and disgust with the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal.

The scrapping of JCPOA has been the primary political charge of FDD for years, and it seems to see the recent unrest in Iran—and any subsequent crackdown—as the thin moral pretext it needs to justify snuffing out a treaty it’s long opposed. Thus FDD has eagerly jumped on the unrest, painting itself as the sigh of the oppressed.

Op-eds written or co-written by FDD staff in the past five days:

  • “Iran’s Theocracy Is on the Brink” (Mark Dubowitz/Ray Takeyh, Wall Street Journal, 1/1/18)
  • “Where We Can Agree on Iran” (Mark Dubowitz/Daniel Shapiro, Politico, 1/1/18)
  • “Eruption in Iran: And It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid” (Clifford D. May, Washington Times, 1/2/18)
  • “The Worst Thing for Iran’s Protesters? US Silence” (Reuehl Marc Gerecht, New York Times, 1/2/18)
  • “What Washington Can Do to Support Iran’s Protesters” (Richard Goldberg/Jamie Fly, New York Post, 1/2/18)

A sampling of quotes by FDD staff in news reporting:

  • “Since Rouhani entered office, he has managed to inflate expectations with lofty rhetoric but has actually done little to change the reality of life on the ground in Iran,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.” (Washington Post, 12/30/17)
  • “‘Western governments should make it clear that the regime will be held responsible and will pay a price for any bloodshed,’ Mr. Dubowitz said.” (Wall Street Journal, 1/1/18)
  • “‘[Trump’s] not going to want to waive sanctions and keep money flowing to dictators when there are people protesting in the streets,’ said Richard Goldberg, a former Senate Republican aide who helped design Iran sanctions and is now a senior adviser at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” (Politico, 1/2/18)
  • “‘If there is a bipartisan bill that is ready for congressional action, that would go a long way toward persuading the president to issue the waivers,’ said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. ‘If there’s not, what’s happening in Iran will give the president all the more reason to say, “I’ve had it with this deal.”’” (New York Times, 1/2/18)

FDD op-eds and quotes followed a similar formula: express outrage on behalf of the protesters, applaud Trump for his hypocritical defense of the right to protest, and push for increased sanctions against Iran—often while taking a swipe at the hated Iran deal.

FDD’s pro-Iranian people posture was rarely accompanied by an explanation of their ideological project. The outfit—funded by big-name pro-Israel billionaires like casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus (who’s said that “Iran is the devil”) and Wall Street speculator Paul Singer—are  largely presented as bespectacled academics calling balls and strikes without a particular agenda beyond their self-proclaimed “defense of democracies.” (The name ought to provoke some skepticism, given the group’s eagerness to enlist the hereditary dictatorship Saudi Arabia in its anti-Iranian crusade—LobeLog, 2/26/16.)

This problem is not unique to FDD; as FAIR (8/12/16) has noted before, the overreliance by the media on deeply conflicted think tanks that present as neutral but are, in reality, glorified lobbyists for a political cause or corporate cohort misleads readers on an institutional scale. (In FDD’s case, it’s Israel’s right wing; for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it’s weapons contractors—FAIR.org, 5/8/17, 7/17/17.)

FDD, it’s worth noting, also worked closely with the Trump administration and CIA to curate documents implicating Iran in the 9/11 attacks, as part of a broader anti-Iran strategy that rogue DoJ lawyers spelled out in November in leaks to the Washington Post (11/17/17; FAIR.org, 11/24/17).

Reuel Marc Gerecht

FDD’s Reuel Marc Gerecht has had stints at PNAC, AEI and the CIA

Occasionally, editors will note they are “conservative” or “hawkish,” but FDD is mostly presented as a quasi-academic and impartial observer. The average reader, for example, would probably be surprised to find out the FDD “fellow” expressing concern for The Iranian People™ in the Times, Reuel Marc Gerecht, has long joked about wanting to bomb these same Iranians. As Eli Clifton noted in LobeLog (1/4/18), in 2010 Gerecht quipped: “Counted up the other day: I’ve written about 25,000 words about bombing Iran. Even my mom thinks I’ve gone too far.”

Shouldn’t someone so self-admittedly obsessed with killing Iranians be disqualified from posing as their protector in a major US newspaper? Failing that, shouldn’t readers be alerted that Gerecht was the director in the late ’90s of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century—the most prominent advocacy group for the invasion of Iraq, a war that left 500,000 to a million dead?

Think tank addiction for overworked and often myopic reporters and editors has rendered such glaring questions unaskable. FDD are the “experts,” and the “experts” are needed to drive the bulk of commentary, regardless of their well-documented ulterior motives.

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments