Friday, December 13, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: As one who Gathers Abandoned Eggs


by Mordechai Kedar
 
















Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)

“When the Lord has finished all his work in Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.  For he says:
By the strength of my hand I have done this,
    and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.
I removed the boundaries of nations (and their futures),
    I have plundered their treasures;
    like a mighty one I subdued kings.
As one reaches into a nest,
    so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations;
as one who gathers abandoned eggs,
    so I gathered all the countries;
not one flapped a wing,
    or opened its mouth to chirp.”

Isaiah, in chapter 10, relates the hypothetical words of the King of Assyria, the hero of his day, who extended the range of his rule by conquering lands and peoples so easily that he boasted that he had collected all of the surrounding peoples as one who collects abandoned eggs from the field. Observing the way Iran behaves these days, there is no choice but to conclude that the regime of the Ayatollahs sees the countries of the region as no more than abandoned eggs.

We have written about Iran how dominates Iraq in this column before. Bear in mind that Iranian influence on events in Iraq began while there were still coalition forces in the Land of the Two Rivers, and that influence increased with the approaching withdrawal of the American army at the end of 2010. Currently, Iraq serves as the operational arm of Iranian policy, especially in everything regarding the war in Syria, where regular forces of Iraq and Iran are engaged.

But the meteoric growth of Iranian influence on its environment began last month, before the signing of the Geneva agreement and especially after the West signed the agreement with Iran on November 24th. Those who live near Iran - and there are approximately twenty such countries - feel the strong sense of strength and self-confidence that Iran radiates these days, and understands that "if you can't beat them, join them".

 The Silver Egg

The first country that the Iranians want to come to an agreement with is Afghanistan. Around the end of 2014, the United States army is scheduled to withdraw from this war-torn but resource-rich country, and the American government is trying to come to an agreement with the regime of Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, that will perpetuate the American hegemony in this country, and especially that it should allow the United States to leave an army base there.  

This is exactly what Iran objects to. Last week Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, was urgently summoned to Teheran for a meeting with Rouhani, in which it was made clear to him that he was "invited" to sign a cooperation pact with Iran that would include strategic cooperation in the diplomatic, defense, economic and cultural spheres. Karzai understood a long time ago that when the United States withdraws from Afghanistan it will be far away, beyond the Atlantic Ocean, while Iran is right over the border, and is not going anywhere. The ability of the United States to harm Karzai if he disappoints the US is quite limited, whereas Iran is quite capable of inflicting much damage, especially if it is emboldened by becoming a nuclear power or a power on the threshold of becoming nuclear. 

 Karzai - since he had no choice - yielded to the Iranian dictates, and the task of drafting the "cooperation pact" between Afghanistan and Iran was transferred to the foreign ministers, meaning to those who would implement the policy, so that it could be signed before the agreements between Afghanistan and the United States were completed. It can be assumed that the Iranians will insist that the cooperation pact will not allow Afghanistan to agree to "foreign forces" remaining on its soil, and there are three main reasons for this:

One is Iran's hegemonic intention to prove to "near and far" that it calls the shots in Central Asia and the Islamic world, and no infidel will ever be able to have control over even a small territory within the Iranian sphere of influence. The elimination of the United States from Afghanistan will be presented by the Ayatollahs as the ultimate victory of Islam - and especially Shi'a Islam - over heresy. There is a broad hint here, directed at Sunni Saudi Arabia, which is still in America's pocket.

The second reason is that American bases in Afghanistan would be used by American intelligence bodies to keep tabs on Iranian media networks, to run agents inside of Iran, to send saboteurs to damage the Iranian nuclear program and to be a place of refuge and a base of activity for those among the Iranian regime's opposition who flee to Afghanistan. 
The third reason is the desire of the Iranian regime's leaders to take control of the most lucrative industry in Afghanistan - the opium industry. It is enormously profitable, and if the export increases the amount of drug addiction in the West, this too will be part of the Iranian victory over the infidel sons of the West.

It is important to note that Karzai was not enthusiastic about American forces remaining in his country after the withdrawal anyway, because he knows that as long as even one American soldier remains in Afghanistan, it would be an excuse for the various jihadists and and their organizations to continue to fight the regime "until the elimination of the infidels, the unclean occupiers, from the pure and holy Islamic land”.

The Iranians and Karzai see that with the approach of the withdrawal around the end of 2014, the Americans are increasingly concerned, not for the welfare of Afghanistan but for that of the American forces, who will be exposed to attacks by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the rest of the militias operating in Afghanistan, without having any capability to fight back during the months when the withdrawal is being carried out and the bases and defense posts are dismantled in order to send the combat and intelligence equipment back to the United States.

Chuck Hagel, the American Secretary of Defense, has been concerned with this matter for several months, and he is even willing to accept an agreement between Iran and Afghanistan, if only American soldiers will not be sent back to the United States in coffins because they had been picked off like sitting ducks since the army had already dismantled their defense systems. The strange thing is that Iran is even willing to support the Americans during the period of decampment on condition that the United States turns down the pressure on Iran over the nuclear matter, and that is why Obama and Kerry object to the initiative in the Senate to place new sanctions on Iran, since this initiative would reduce the chances of Iranian support to allow the United States a safe withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan will fall as ripe fruit into the Iranians' hands because of the American fear of jihadists. It is reasonable to assume that this will have a greater influence on the contracts that Iran will sign with Afghanistan – than on its agreements with the western countries – because Iran’s goal is to exploit Afghanistan's natural resources in the future. Iran’s gains will not only be psychological and political, but also financial, and the profits will be great indeed.

 The Golden Egg

West of Iran – on the other side of the Persian Gulf – lie the thirteen states of the Arabian Peninsula: six separate states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Yemen, and the seven states of the United Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Qaiwain. They are all quaking with fear of Iranian domination, and they are all furious with the West in general and the United States in particular for abandoning them to the tender mercies of the Ayatollahs. John Kerry attempted to calm them recently with a visit to some of the states, but he totally failed in this mission. 

The Iranian regime senses the rising tension in these states, and has begun a policy of gradual domination through smiles and visits.

Iran has been involved for a long time in the events of the Arabian Peninsula: It supports the Shi’ite revolt against the authority of the al-Huth family against the central regime, it encourages the Shi’ite-Persian majority in Bahrain to rebel against the Sunni-Arab minority, and it stirs up quarrels among the Shi’ite minorities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Emirates. 

Several days ago, Dr. Abdullah al-Nafisi, a Kuwaiti public figure, revealed that he was a member of a Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation that visited Teheran a few years ago. The delegation met with Hassan Rouhani, who was then head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Iranian parliament. In the course of this meeting Rouhani told them clearly that the entire western coast of the Persian Gulf, from Kuwait in the North to the sultanates of Oman in the South belong to the Iranians, and the day will come when Iran will take this area from its Arab residents. According to Dr. al-Nafisi, Rouhani was not at all embarrassed to say these explicit words to the Kuwaiti delegation. Now, the Gulf States watch as the Iranian plan is about to be realized right before their eyes and they are helpless to stop this hostile takeover.  

From their point of view, the way the United States behaves is even worse: after signing the agreement in Geneva, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel came to the Gulf States for a tour, and they put pressure on the leaders there to agree to the Iranian demands that were written in the agreement. From the Gulf leaders' point of view, the United States – in her eagerness to come to an agreement at any price – became the representative of Iranian interests. For its part, Iran is trying to relax the Gulf States by sending highly placed representatives for visits intended to bring down the level of pressure, using smiles made in Hassan Rouhani’s workshop, in the best tradition of Shi’ite takiyya – deception. However, the leaders of the Gulf States are not convinced: in desperation, the foreign ministers of the Gulf States gathered in Kuwait for a coordination meeting this week, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing call to increase their level of cooperation into a full consolidation was the item on the agenda. 

Currently, in light of the Iranian threat that has become more substantive since the Geneva agreement, there is more openness to the idea of consolidation, but an important link – the Oman sultanates – objects vigorously for several reasons, the first of which is cultural: Oman, which has enjoyed social and political stability for many years based on maintaining the customs and traditions of the tribes that it comprises, is not interested in joining up with Yemen, which suffers from al-Qaeda activities, just as much as it does not want to join with the Kuwaiti society, parts of which have modern Western characteristics.

The overall concern of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE is that if they consolidate, they will be swallowed up by Saudi Arabia, after having managed to keep their unique character during the half century of their independence.

In the meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs last week they welcomed the agreement that was signed in Geneva on the 24th of November between Iran and the representatives of 5+1 states, not because the Gulf states support the agreement but because they understand that their objections will not make the Americans less eager to thaw relations with the Iranians, and anyway, the agreement is an established fact. From their point of view it would not be right to push the envelope with Iran, after it had won international recognition of its right to enrich uranium, keep the heavy water reactor and develop inter-continental missiles, thus becoming a nuclear threshold state with American permission. 

The Gulf States are also not interested in burning bridges with the United States, because they still do not have anyone else to lean on, and this might increase the United States’ efforts to develop independent energy sources, limiting their ability to influence the United States and the global oil market. This is why they have accepted the interim agreement between the West and Iran, with the hope that by the time a half year has passed, the world will have realized that Iran has deceived it and the world will return – inshallah - to a regimen of sanctions. 

Nevertheless, the last two weeks have shown how weak the Gulf States are and how unable to consolidate even vis a vis the clear and explicit Iranian threat. The leaders of Iran read the situation and see the Gulf States as abandoned golden eggs waiting for the Iranians to collect them as well.  

Peres’ Folly 

I would have expected from the president of Israel, a veteran of combat in the diplomatic arena, to show more understanding in matters relating to the Middle East, especially because in the nineties he professed to have engineered a “New Middle East”, as his book is named. By now, he should know that when a Middle Eastern leader says to the media “I am willing to come to some Middle Eastern country” or “I am willing to meet with some Middle Eastern leader”, it is only after he has covertly requested permission to visit or to meet, and covertly received the permission to say it to the media. 

No self-respecting Middle Eastern leader would risk his honor and his name by declaring his intentions to visit any country or meet with any leader without first receiving permission for a public declaration of such a visit or meeting, because if he had declared such an intention and did not receive permission afterward, he would bring shame and disgrace, mostly upon himself. 

But Peres does not understand the Middle East, and continues to live in his Israeli-Western cultural bubble. In the beginning of the week he announced that he is willing to meet Rouhani, and immediately afterwards, Iran announced that Rouhani is not willing to meet Peres, the president of the illegitimate Zionist entity, which has no right to exist, and that Peres’ words about a meeting with Rouhani are nothing but cheap propaganda in order to score a few points in the struggle over the Iranian nuclear matter in which Israel – and Peres, its president – has suffered a resounding defeat.  

But the Israeli media, which worships Peres incessantly, (take, for instance, the grandiose celebrations to commemorate his 90th birthday) only knows how to obsess over the prime minister: his wife, his house, his estate, his expenses, the fact that he did not go to Mandela’s funeral and other matters, some of which are important and some not, but the president of the state’s delusional and harmful announcement about a meeting with Rouhani – as if such a thing is within the president’s authority – is something that is beyond the scope of Israeli journalists to deal with. They would never publish a word that would cast Peres - their idol for many years – in a critical or embarrassing light. 

Peres has never understood the Middle East, and all of his actions in the region have stemmed from this misunderstanding. Agreements that he has signed on – especially the Oslo Accords – testify to a lack of basic understanding of the psycho-social mechanisms that influence the politics of the area. There is only one good thing he has done in his life that has a positive impact on the Middle East: the reactor in Dimona. At his advanced age I very much doubt if he will ever really understand the region that he so much wanted to create in his own image.



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Dr. Kedar is available for lectures


Dr. Mordechai Kedar
(Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by SallyZahav with permission from the author.


Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.



Caroline Glick: Obama’s Four-State Solution



by Caroline Glick


Originally published by the Jerusalem Post
 
Inadvertently, President Barack Obama just made an important contribution to our understanding of the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Since Hamas ousted all PLO forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007, Gaza has operated as a separate political entity from Judea and Samaria. Indeed, it has been a de facto independent Palestinian state, controlled by Hamas.

Gaza’s only connection to Judea and Samaria has been financial. Every month, the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria transfers tens of millions of dollars in US and other international donor funds to Gaza to finance the terror state.

Despite the clear distinction between the two areas, the US and the rest of the world have continued to insist that an Israeli-PLO peace deal will cover Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria. Obama always insists that a future Palestinian state must be “territorially contiguous,” meaning in a final deal Israel will be required to cut itself in half in order to give the Palestinians a land corridor connecting Gaza with Judea and Samaria.

But during his remarks at the Saban Forum on Saturday, Obama let the cat out of the bag. Gaza, he admitted, is a separate entity. A peace deal, he explained, “is going to have to happen in stages.”

As he sees it, a peace deal will involve an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. A post-Israel Judea and Samaria will be so wonderful that the Gazans will decide to join it.

Obama explained, “If there is a model where young Palestinians in Gaza are looking and seeing that in the West Bank Palestinians are able to live in dignity, with self-determination, and suddenly their economy is booming and trade is taking place because they have created an environment in which Israel is confident about its security and a lot of the old barriers to commerce and educational exchange and all that has begun to break down, that’s something that the young people of Gaza are going to want. And the pressure that will be placed for the residents of Gaza to experience that same future is something that is going to be I think overwhelmingly appealing.”

Before considering whether Gazans will likely behave as Obama expects them to, we need to consider the implications of his assertion that Gaza will not be automatically included in a peace deal.

Israelis and Palestinians engage one another for different reasons. Israelis are told we need to engage the Palestinians because they pose a demographic threat to our continued viability as a Jewish state.

In his remarks at the Saban Forum, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that the Palestinian “demographic time bomb” is an existential threat on the level of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. If we don’t vacate Judea and Samaria as we vacated Gaza, he warned, we will be doomed as a Jewish nation state.

For the Palestinians, the peace process is supposed to lead to a satisfaction of their assumed yearning for self-determination as a nation.

Israeli demographics and Palestinian nationalism have been the basic assumptions upon which the peace process has been based. But the Obama-recognized fact that Gaza is a separate political entity demonstrates the emptiness of both.

The truth is that the “demographic time bomb” is a PLO-concocted lie. In its 1997 census, the PLO falsified its data and inflated the number of Palestinians by 50 percent.

They then projected natural growth and immigration rates that bore no relation whatsoever to reality.

In truth, demography is one of Israel’s strongest advantages, not an existential threat. Were Israel to absorb the Palestinian populations of Gaza and Judea and Samaria tomorrow, Israel’s Jewish majority would be reduced from 78% to well over 50%. While Israel’s Jewish identity would not be in doubt, it would be weakened.

On the other hand, without Gaza, there is no demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority. If Israel applies its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and offers a path to citizenship to its Palestinian residents, Israel would still retain a two-thirds Jewish majority. And if current fertility and immigration rates hold, within 15 to 20 years, Jews could well restore their 80 percent majority overall.

Then there is the Palestinian nationalism issue.

Obama’s acknowledgement that Gazans will have to be convinced to join a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria exposes the lie at the heart of it. Since the League of Nations assigned both sides of the Jordan River to the Jewish people in 1922, the international community has insisted that the path to peace will be forged by taking land from the Jews and giving it to the Arabs.

First we had a two-state solution when Jordan, with its overwhelming Palestinian majority, was carved out of the Jewish territory.

For the past 20 years, we have been told that we need a three-state solution with another Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, we have had two Palestinian states – in Gaza and Jordan. And yet, the Gazans who we are told are motivated by nationalist aspirations have refused to declare an independent Palestinian state in Gaza. And now Obama is talking about a four-state solution – three Palestines and one rump Israel.

The Palestinians’ refusal to ever view the areas under their control as the focus of their nationalist aspirations indicates that there is something awry in the international community’s assumption that the Palestinians are motivated by nationalist aspirations.

And that brings us to Obama’s projection that once the Gazans see how great things are in post-Israel Judea and Samaria, they will join the peace train. We’ve been told things like this before.

In 1993 we were told that the Palestinians as a whole would embrace peace once Israel recognized the PLO and allowed it to set up an autonomous government in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In the event, the Palestinians became more violent and radicalized and anti-Jewish under PLO rule, until in 2006 they elected Hamas to lead them.

In 2005 we were told that once Israel vacated Gaza, the Gazans would abandon their war against Israel and use their energies to transform Gaza into a Middle Eastern Singapore. Instead they transformed it into a Middle Eastern Afghanistan.

In 2007, after Hamas ousted the PLO from Gaza, we were told that the international community would pour so much money into the PLO-run PA in Judea and Samaria that the Gazans would decide that they want the PLO back. Instead, Hamas has grown more popular in Judea and Samaria.

In other words, there is no reason to think Obama’s sunny projection is correct.

Clearly without meaning to, Obama told us the truth.

There is no demographic time bomb. Israel has no reason to withdraw from Judea and Samaria. Absorbing the areas into sovereign Israel will not endanger the country demographically.

And the fact that the Gazans do not see themselves as part of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, (or in Jordan), shows that the Palestinian national movement is not what it has been billed as. Obama’s four-state solution is not about demography or Palestinian nationalism.

It is about making up reasons to force Israel to surrender its strategic and historic heartland.


Caroline Glick

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/caroline-glick/obamas-four-state-solution/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Dore Gold: Conflicting Expectations from the Geneva Document between the P5+1 and Iran



by Dore Gold


Many questions have arisen about whether the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Islamic Republic of Iran interpret the interim understanding reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013, in the same way. Indeed, at times it appears that they are not talking about the same piece of paper.

From the remarks of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif on Iranian television, the Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran. Under these circumstances, Tehran’s freedom of maneuver in interpreting the language of the document will be greater.

From the standpoint of Western security, one clear purpose of the diplomatic efforts in Geneva was to extend the time the Iranians need to achieve a nuclear breakout. While Iran would never admit that its secret ambition is nuclear breakout to achieve an atomic bomb, it judges that it will need very little time to recover its production capabilities of 20-percent-enriched uranium, once it no longer feels compelled to limit itself in accordance with the Geneva document.

Both sides have very different expectations regarding the future of the sanctions on Iran. U.S. spokesmen argue that after the conclusion of the Geneva document, the core architecture of the sanctions remains firmly in place. In contrast, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared after the Geneva document was reached: The core architecture of the sanctions will be fractured following the implementation of this agreement.

The Geneva document leaves the window open for future uranium enrichment by Iran. The Iranians see enrichment as their right. The U.S. speaks about a limited enrichment program under international restrictions and monitoring. In any case, the Geneva document unfortunately leaves open the possibility that in the future, Iran will not always be under international restrictions.

The Nature of the Geneva Document

Many questions have arisen about whether the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Islamic Republic of Iran interpret the interim understanding reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013, in the same way. Indeed, at times it appears that they are not talking about the same piece of paper. This sort of confusion is part of the Iranian modus operandi in negotiations with the West.

Indeed, this was not the first time that Iran had reached an agreement with the West over the suspension of uranium enrichment. On October 21, 2003, Iran and the EU3 concluded the Tehran Agreement according to which Tehran undertook “to suspend all uranium enrichment activities and reprocessing activities.” Iran’s head of negotiation at the time (and today Iran’s president), Hassan Rouhani, was widely quoted years later proudly confessing that while the talks were underway between 2003 and 2005, Iran constructed its uranium conversion plant in Isfahan where the UF6 feedstock for its gas centrifuges was manufactured. In short, his admission showed how Iran exploited negotiations to advance its nuclear program.

But looking back to that period, there was something else Rouhani did that is worth recalling. He preferred to avoid precise legal definitions, not characterizing the Tehran Agreement as a legal obligation. He also preferred to keep matters vague, including the definition of “suspension” in the Tehran Agreement. Was it to be defined narrowly, as Iran preferred, to mean only a prohibition on inserting UF6 gas into a centrifuge? Or was it to be defined broadly to include issues like uranium conversion or research and development on new centrifuges? Is Iran returning to its negotiating style from 2003?

For this reason, it is important to investigate exactly how the Iranians defined the Geneva document. Amir Taheri, former editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, wrote in Asharq al-Awsat on November 29, 2013, that the parties haven’t even agreed on how to call the document: an agreement or a memorandum? This becomes clear from the remarks of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif on Iranian television. For if the Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran, then its freedom of maneuver in interpreting its language will be greater.

  • Many questions have arisen about whether the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Islamic Republic of Iran interpret the interim understanding reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013, in the same way. Indeed, at times it appears that they are not talking about the same piece of paper.
  • From the remarks of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif on Iranian television, the Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran. Under these circumstances, Tehran’s freedom of maneuver in interpreting the language of the document will be greater.
  • From the standpoint of Western security, one clear purpose of the diplomatic efforts in Geneva was to extend the time the Iranians need to achieve a nuclear breakout. While Iran would never admit that its secret ambition is nuclear breakout to achieve an atomic bomb, it judges that it will need very little time to recover its production capabilities of 20-percent-enriched uranium, once it no longer feels compelled to limit itself in accordance with the Geneva document.
  • Both sides have very different expectations regarding the future of the sanctions on Iran. U.S. spokesmen argue that after the conclusion of the Geneva document, the core architecture of the sanctions remains firmly in place. In contrast, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared after the Geneva document was reached: The core architecture of the sanctions will be fractured following the implementation of this agreement.
  • The Geneva document leaves the window open for future uranium enrichment by Iran. The Iranians see enrichment as their right. The U.S. speaks about a limited enrichment program under international restrictions and monitoring. In any case, the Geneva document unfortunately leaves open the possibility that in the future, Iran will not always be under international restrictions.

The Nature of the Geneva Document

Many questions have arisen about whether the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Islamic Republic of Iran interpret the interim understanding reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013, in the same way. Indeed, at times it appears that they are not talking about the same piece of paper. This sort of confusion is part of the Iranian modus operandi in negotiations with the West.
Indeed, this was not the first time that Iran had reached an agreement with the West over the suspension of uranium enrichment. On October 21, 2003, Iran and the EU3 concluded the Tehran Agreement according to which Tehran undertook “to suspend all uranium enrichment activities and reprocessing activities.” Iran’s head of negotiation at the time (and today Iran’s president), Hassan Rouhani, was widely quoted years later proudly confessing that while the talks were underway between 2003 and 2005, Iran constructed its uranium conversion plant in Isfahan where the UF6 feedstock for its gas centrifuges was manufactured. In short, his admission showed how Iran exploited negotiations to advance its nuclear program.
But looking back to that period, there was something else Rouhani did that is worth recalling. He preferred to avoid precise legal definitions, not characterizing the Tehran Agreement as a legal obligation. He also preferred to keep matters vague, including the definition of “suspension” in the Tehran Agreement. Was it to be defined narrowly, as Iran preferred, to mean only a prohibition on inserting UF6 gas into a centrifuge? Or was it to be defined broadly to include issues like uranium conversion or research and development on new centrifuges? Is Iran returning to its negotiating style from 2003?
For this reason, it is important to investigate exactly how the Iranians defined the Geneva document. Amir Taheri, former editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, wrote in Asharq al-Awsat on November 29, 2013, that the parties haven’t even agreed on how to call the document: an agreement or a memorandum? This becomes clear from the remarks of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif on Iranian television. For if the Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran, then its freedom of maneuver in interpreting its language will be greater.
- See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/conflicting-expectations-geneva-document-p51-iran/#sthash.7NvuGvCv.dpuf

Dore Gold

Source: http://jcpa.org/article/conflicting-expectations-geneva-document-p51-iran/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Hunger for Power vs. Western Exhaustion



by Ali Salim


They probably believe that if they put off a war in this administration -- possibly to have the world thrown into an even more deadly and costly war down the line -- at least no one will be able to say it happened on their watch. They are wrong. If and when Iran becomes a nuclear power, as with North Korea, the event will go down in history as the fault of the Americans -- and above all the crowning legacy of the current administration -- in their retreat and flight.
Countries such as China and Russia easily identified a historic opportunity when America abandoned sensitive strongholds of great geopolitical value such as Saudi Arabian oil; the Suez Canal; the Arabian Gulf markets for arms, technology and merchandise, and spheres of geostrategic influence.

America's policy of strategic disengagement in the Middle East becomes, every day, more apparent. Many countries in the region, which for years have enjoyed American protection and resources, are being pushed aside: the Arabian Gulf states, Egypt, Israel, even Turkey. This policy may well, in the long run, domino into Europe, leaving the countries there to the tender mercies of Iranian missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

America, apparently no longer interested in the Middle East's oil reserves, and focusing more on the far east and domestic issues, seems to be rushing to sign hasty but effectively meaningless agreements with the emissaries of the Ayatollahs. The concept of a Sunni Muslim alliance stretching from Saudi Arabia to Turkey appears to have been replaced with a naive and irresponsible gamble, especially considering Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's admitted record. The U.S. administration seems to believe that the Iranians, who invented the Shi'ite religious technique of targeted dissimulation (takia), could be trusted, just this once, to tell the truth.

America's disengagement, reminiscent of its isolationism before the Second World War, cost not only the United States dearly, but the entire world as well. Every vacuum, including those in the realms of power and statesmanship, is always filled, and not always with correct or appropriate material: sometimes the resulting explosion is deadly. The international political vacuum of the 1930s was filled by the Axis powers and joined by other new revisionists, who threatened to enslave the world and divide it among themselves. Only the attack on Pearl Harbor forced America, at a very late date, to join the Allied war effort, by which time the forces of darkness had not only inflicted incalculable damage on Western and Eastern Europe, but were also six months into the invasion of Russia.

Today's forces of darkness speak in languages different from those of the 1930s, but the underlying motives are the same -- namely the hunger for power and dominance -- and they seek to expand their influence in the Middle East. Countries such as China and Russia easily identified a historic opportunity when America abandoned sensitive strongholds of great geopolitical value such as Saudi Arabian oil; the Suez Canal; the Arabian Gulf markets for arms, technology and merchandise; and spheres of geostrategic influence with critical military importance and regional and global influence.

Somewhere in Sunni Pakistan, the centrifuges whirl night and day to increase the stock of atomic bombs paid for by Saudi Arabia, presumably to be used after the the current American exodus. Sunnis and Shi'ites are already slaughtering one another in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Lebanon. Thousands of people throughout the Middle East are being killed in related religious and ethnic conflicts.

The marginal, exhausting saga of Israel and the Palestinians appears to be a deliberate international ruse led by the United States to sweep the real regional issues under the rug. Before the so-called Arab Spring, we mistakenly thought that the Palestinian problem was what prevented the Americans from forming a united front with the Sunni Arab states, along with the myth that if that problem were solved, other problems would be easier to solve. It is now obvious that Palestine is a secondary issue with virtually no importance, especially for us Arabs. Thus it is unclear why the current U.S. government is so obsessed and determined to ignore the chaos in the Arab states and the massacre in Syria, trying to force Israel and the Palestinians into unrealistic, unprepared-for solutions instead of dealing with the genuine potential flashpoints that endanger world peace -- foremost, the Iranian race for a nuclear arsenal.

It is clear that the United States is leaning towards violating its commitments and obligations to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. We have seen American fatigue and fawning before, reminiscent of its previous failure to keep North Korea from joining the nuclear club, and sad evidence that Americans have apparently learned nothing in the past fifty years.

So far, it is only the French, whom we have become accustomed to regarding as generally opportunistic, utilitarian and egoistical, who have stood in the breach and made an effort to expose and curb Iran's fraud, while the representatives of the Western powers have subscribed to "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil."

America has abandoned and betrayed its Middle Eastern allies. The Sunni Islamists say with immense satisfaction that Israel's fate will be like that of the Crusaders' "Palestine." Just as Europe sent the Crusaders to liberate Jerusalem and then left them to the swords of Saladin's army, so is the United States turning its back on Israel, while Europe is turning its back on itself.

In the great wheel of history, the ancient powers rise from their ashes and, like the Roman Empire, America and its Western allies, exhausted and having lost all motivation, will find themselves beneath the wheel -- like the Crusader states in the 12th century, as shown in the vision of the 14th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, who regarded history as cyclical.

Without a doubt, the final American withdrawal from the Middle East will light the fires in the piles of enriched uranium deep within the Muslim mountains, and abandon the region to its fate. America and its Western allies are making a misplaced and immensely costly effort to ignore their responsibility regarding Iran's growing nuclear capabilities as they fool themselves into thinking that lifting the sanctions is "a good deal." They probably believe that if they put off a war in this administration -- possibly for the world to be thrown into an even more deadly and costly war down the line -- at least no one will be able to say it happened on their watch. They are wrong: If and when Iran becomes a nuclear power, as with North Korea, the event will go down in history as the fault of the Americans -- and above all the crowning legacy of the current administration -- in their retreat and flight.


Ali Salim

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4083/western-exhaustion

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