Blog-Archive

Gatestone Institut| „No Big Difference between Iran and ISIS“

  • „The international community must aim at strategic and long-term alliances based on common values. I do not think there is a big difference between ISIS and the Iranian authorities… The Iranian regime cannot be part of a long-term solution.“ — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Neuroscientist and spokesperson for Iran Human Rights (IHR).
  • The international community tries to solve the most immediate problems without taking into account the long-term effects of their policies. … As long as the Iranian authorities do not have the popular support of their people, they cannot be regarded as reliable partners.“ — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.
  • „A democratic Iran where human rights are respected is the only sustainable solution. … This can only be achieved by more international focus on the human rights situation.“ — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, a Norwegian-Iranian neuroscientist who left Iran together with his older siblings in the early 1980s, is the spokesperson of Iran Human Rights (IHR). The organization was started about 10 years ago as a network of defenders of human rights, and in recent years has developed a broad network inside Iran.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam (center) speaks at a protest against Iranian human rights abuses, in 2013, in Norway. (Image source: Anita Nyholt YouTube video screenshot)

„We receive reports about the human rights violations, especially the death penalty, from many prisons across the country,“ said Moghaddam in an interview with the Gatestone Institute.

„Every year we publish an annual report on the death penalty in Iran. About 50% of Iran’s execution cases included in the report have not been announced by the official sources. We only include the cases that we manage to confirm through two independent sources. It is a difficult task, but important. People who send information about the human rights abuses can be persecuted and get heavy sentences.

„We went to Pakistan as refugees and two years later, we were sent by the UN to Norway. At that time, Ayatollah Khomeini had closed the universities and expelled most of the scholars and students (including my sister) if they were not regarded as ‚loyal‘ to the Islamic Republic.

„This, and the indoctrination of schools, which tried to brainwash children, made our father consider sending us out for a short time until the situation changed.

„At that time no one believed that a theocratic system with medieval laws could rule a relatively modern country such as Iran for more than few years. So most Iranians who left Iran at that time believed that they would be returning home after few years.“

After 35 years, however, the human rights of Iranian people are still being destroyed daily at the hands of Iranian mullahs.

„We have observed a dramatic increase in the number of executions since the election of Mr. Rouhani,“ says Moghaddam.

„According to our reports, the number of executions has increased by 30% since Rouhani became president. On average more than two people have been executed each day since his election.

„The main change since the start of Rouhani’s presidency is Iran’s foreign policy towards the West.

„Their rhetoric has changed. But human rights have not improved.“

Under this „moderate“ Rouhani, human rights have, in fact, become far worse.

In addition, even though Iranian state authorities call for „Death to America“ — not a statement „for internal consumption“ — and call for Israel to be „wiped“ off the map, the Obama administration is working on a deal to give these dictators nuclear weapons.

Moghaddam has some warnings to Western governments negotiating with Iran:

„No dictators without popular support are reliable partners in any deal. The Iranian regime is led by the same people as 30 years ago. The system has not changed. They have the same constitution. They have just become weaker and, after the elections of 2009, they have lost some of their most loyal supporters. It is important to keep in mind that at the present moment, the first priority of the Iranian authorities is their survival.

„The regime’s biggest threats are the young people. One day, anti-West slogans help them mobilize popular support and extend their survival and the next day, improving the relations with the West helps them to keep in power. In general, one should not trust dictators without popular support: their only principle is to extend their own survival.“

As for Iran’s dealings with the ISIS, Moghaddam says:

„The international community must aim at strategic and long term alliances based on common values. I do not think there is a big difference between the ISIS and the Iranian authorities regarding their values and their lack of respect for human rights. The Iranian regime cannot be part of a long term solution.“

In an article Moghaddam wrote for the Iran Human Rights Review, he argued that the death penalty in Iran does not aim to fight crime; it is just an instrument to spread fear.

„Today we have more violent crimes and drug trafficking in the country than 20 years ago. So there is no evidence that the death penalty helps preventing crimes and the authorities are well aware of that.

„IHR has studied the execution trends in the last 10 years and we see that there is a meaningful relationship between the number and timing of the executions and the political events in the country. The executions decrease a few weeks before the presidential elections when the eyes of the international community are on the events inside the country and when the authorities want to give some hope to people in to increase their acceptance. The execution numbers increase when the authorities expect protests, or right after the protests. Execution numbers increase as the regime’s need for spreading fear among the people increases.“

According to Iran Human Rights, Iran is the country with the highest number of public executions.

But, says Moghaddam, „Human rights in general and the death penalty in particular are not among the priorities of the international community.“

„This view is extremely short-sighted. The international community tries to solve the most immediate problems without taking into account the long-term effects of their policies.

„The maximum result the international community can achieve from the nuclear negotiations is a temporary nuclear agreement. But as long as the Iranian authorities do not have popular support and feel threatened by the people, they cannot be regarded as reliable partners.

„A democratic Iran where human rights are respected is the only sustainable solution. When the authorities have popular support and feel stable, they do not have the need to interfere in neighboring countries or pose a threat to anyone. This can only be achieved by more international focus on the human rights situation.“

Uzay Bulut is a journalist based on Ankara, Turkey.

Source: Gatestone Institute

Iran official: Obama’s letters have been answered

Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Director, speaks to the media after his arrival at Damascus airport, Sept. 30, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, acknowledged not only that US President Barack Obama had written letters to Iran’s supreme leader, but also that there have responses to some of them.

“The letters of the American president have a history of some years, and in some instances, there have been responses to these letters,” said Shamkhani Nov. 12 at a weekly meeting of national security officials.

Shamkhani, who served as defense minister from 1997 to 2005 and is now Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to the council, did not elaborate on which of Obama’s letters received a response, in what form or from which official. From summer 2009 to October 2014, four letters were reported to pass from Obama to Ayatollah Khamenei.

However, according to the transcript provided by Iranian Students’ News Agency, Shamkhani said that there are “contradictions” between the contents of these secret letters and US public positions. In contrast to the United States, Shamkhani said that Iran’s private and public positions have been the same, particularly when it comes to the nuclear program.

He reiterated that in the current nuclear negotiations, Iran “would not accept anything beyond the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” describing some of the requests of the International Atomic Energy Agency as being beyond the treaty, particularly on visits to military sites.

Shamkhani was also very critical of US Middle East policy and Israel’s influence on it, saying, “Unfortunately, America’s policies in the region are managed through the Zionist regime, and this regime has used every tool to humiliate America.”

According to Shamkhani, if a “list of the costs” the United States has paid for Israel were presented to the American people, “It’s not likely that the US would continue this unbridled support.”

Shamkhani said that US criticism of Iran’s offer to send arms to the Lebanese army shows that the country desires instability in the region, adding, “Without a doubt, this cannot be assessed outside of their policy to support the Zionist regime and to keep Lebanon’s army weak.”

During a visit to Lebanon in September, Shamkhani announced that Iran would provide its military with weapons to fight terrorism. The United States threatened to cut off aid to Lebanon if it accepted Iran’s offer.

Shamkhani also said that Israel’s influence is the “primary reason” for the slow rate of the nuclear talks, as the United States feels an “absolute commitment to satisfy” Israel. He said that the “continuation of this policy” will create obstacles in reaching a nuclear agreement.

In Syria, Shamkhani said that the only solution is to strengthen security and have all the Syrian sides engage in talks. He added that the first step is to “create calm, prevent the entrance of foreign terrorists into Syria and cut the financial and military support of terrorists.“

Source: AL-Monitor

Letters to the Ayatollah: Why Obama’s Latest Outreach to Iran’s Supreme Leader Was A Mistake

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran (REUTERS/Caren Firouz).

With a deadline for the Iranian nuclear negotiations set to expire in a few weeks and significant differences still outstanding, President Barack Obama reportedly penned a personal appeal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last month. The move betrays a profound misunderstanding of the Iranian leadership, and is likely to hinder rather than help achieve a durable resolution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as other U.S. objectives on Iran.

If the reports are accurate — and the administration has not yet confirmed the scoop by the Wall Street Journal — the letter apparently urged Khamenei to finalize the nuclear deal and dangled the prospect of bilateral cooperation in fighting the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS or ISIL) as an incentive. It marks the fourth time since taking office in 2009 that Obama has reached out to Khamenei personally, in addition to his exchange of letters (and an unprecedented phone call) with the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani.

This constitutes a striking increase in American outreach to the Iranian leadership since the revolution. The two countries have not had direct diplomatic relations since April 1980, and have engaged in direct dialogue only sporadically since that time, most recently in concert with five other world powers in talks aimed at eliminating Iran’s path to nuclear weapons capability.

In dealing with one of the world’s most urgent crises, more direct dialogue is surely a net positive. But the technique and tactics matter, perhaps even more in this interaction than in most other disputes, where contact is more routinized and where there is a more substantial foundation of mutual understanding or at least familiarity. It makes perfect sense, for example, that the U.S. military has apparently utilized Iraqi officials as an intermediary on issues related to the ISIS campaign, which Tehran has waged independent of the U.S.-led effort through its proxies on the ground in Iraq.

However, it is precisely at the tactical level that an Obama letter to Khamenei at this juncture appears so spectacularly ill-conceived. First of all, it poses no realistic possibility of advancing progress in the nuclear talks or any other aspect of U.S.-Iranian relations. After all, only the most naïve and uninformed observer of Iran would believe that a personal appeal from Obama would sway the Supreme Leader in a positive fashion.

Khamenei’s mistrust and antipathy toward Washington has been a consistent feature of his public rhetoric through the 35-year history of the Islamic Republic. He has described Washington with every possible invective; he indulges in Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracies; and he routinely insists that the United States is bent on regime change in Iran and perpetuating the nuclear crisis. These views are not opportunistic or transient. Anti-Americanism is Khamenei’s bedrock, engrained in his worldview, and as such it is not susceptible to blandishments — particularly not from the very object of his loathing.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic’s leadership is steeped in a Hobbesian understanding of the international system; as a hardline newspaper wrote, „our world is not a fair one and everyone gets as much power as he can, not for his power of reason or the adaptation of his request to the international laws, but by his bullying…“ Interpreted in this context, Obama’s appeal to Iran’s highest power at this critical juncture in the nuclear diplomacy will surely be read as a supplication — and as further confirmation of American desperation and weakness in the face of Iran’s position of advantage.

This may sound absurd, given the relative disparity in the two countries’ capabilities and international influence. And by any objective standard, Iran has a more compelling interest in a swift resolution to the longstanding nuclear impasse, since a deal would begin to curtail the devastating sanctions that have halved Iran’s oil exports and stranded its earnings in foreign banks that are off-limits to the Iranian treasury.

But Tehran has long sought to convince itself and the world otherwise. Khamenei himself regularly revels in his conviction that America is on the retreat in the face of Iran’s superior power. As he explained recently „the reason why we are stronger is that [America] retreats step by step in all the arenas which we and the Americans have confronted each other. But we do not retreat. Rather, we move forward. This is a sign of our superiority over the Americans.“

In addition, the incentive that Obama apparently proffered in his latest correspondence — a willingness to explore the confluence of interest between Tehran and Washington on combatting Sunni extremists — offers very little prospect of meaningful traction. The simple reality is that neither side prioritizes the ISIS battle over the nuclear diplomacy, as evidenced by the fact that Iran’s diplomats sought to use the same implicit linkage to lure Washington into greater nuclear concessions. Meanwhile, Iran’s security establishment has categorically rejected speculation about direct cooperation with the U.S.-led campaign, preferring to pursue its own offensive and convinced (probably correctly) that Tehran and its proxies have the upper hand in both Iraq and Syria.

As a result, there is simply no plausible scenario in which a letter from the President of the United States to Ali Khamenei generates greater Iranian flexibility on the nuclear program, which the regime has paid an exorbitant price to preserve, or somehow pushes a final agreement across the finish line. Just the opposite — the letter undoubtedly intensified Khamenei’s contempt for Washington and reinforced his longstanding determination to extract maximalist concessions from the international community. It is a blow to the delicate end-game state of play in the nuclear talks at the precise moment when American resolve was needed most.

The revelation of the letter also undercuts Obama elsewhere. It deepens tensions with America’s regional allies, whose assistance in strengthening the Sunni opposition to ISIS is sorely needed. It also hurts him at home, and again at the worst possible time, given the mid-term elections‘ outcome and incoming Republicans majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama’s rivals on Capitol Hill were already planning an activist agenda on Iran that could disrupt the administration’s diplomatic efforts; the letter will be seen — wrongly — as confirming the right’s most ludicrous conspiracy theories about a covert American-Iranian alliance.

It is difficult to imagine the logic that inspired Obama’s latest missive, other than an utter ineptness in understanding Iranian political dynamics. However, it is consistent with prior mawkishness that the administration has demonstrated toward Iran’s leadership during Rouhani’s two visits to New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings — an unseemly, artless pursuit of some personal affinity in hopes of advancing bilateral diplomacy.

Obama would hardly be the first American president to delude himself that he can overcome international conflicts through the force of his own charisma — recall, for example, President George W. Bush’s excruciating assertion that he had looked into the eyes of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and sensed his soul. But he might just be the first to fumble a crucial arms control agreement near the finish line out of a misguided overconfidence in the power of his own prose.

Source: 

Islamic State Invokes Prophecy to Justify Its Claim to Caliphate

A militant Islamist fighter uses a mobile to film his fellow fighters taking part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province (REUTERS/Stringer). At an Islamic State checkpoint on the southern outskirts of Kirkuk stands a billboard proclaiming, “The Islamic State: A Caliphate in Accordance with the Prophetic Method.” Search Twitter for the phrase in Arabic and you will see it’s popular with the jihadist set, who quote and swap pictures of it incessantly. (In one such picture, a little boy holds the slogan above his head.)

The Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, is also fond of the phrase. Just months before the Islamic State’s declaration of the caliphate, Adnani invoked it to rebut al-Qaeda’s claim that the Islamic State had become too extreme: “A state of Islam rules by your Book and the tradition of your Prophet and fights your enemies. So reinforce it, honor it, aid it, and establish it in the land. Make it a caliphate in accordance with the prophetic method.”[1]

The phrase comes from a prophecy attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, who explains how religious authority will become increasingly secular and abusive after his death until the caliphate is restored.

“Prophethood will be among you as long as God intends, and then God will take it away if He so wills. Then there will be a caliphate according to the prophetic method. It will be among you as long as God intends, and then God will take it away if He so wills. Then there will be a mordacious monarchy. It will be among you as long as God intends, and then God will take it away if He so wills. Then there will be a tyrannical monarchy. It will be among you as long as God intends, and then God will take it away if He so wills. Then there will be a caliphate in accordance with the prophetic method.”

When the Islamic State declared a caliphate in June, Adnani reminded the world of the prophecy uttered “by the tongue of the prophet,” proclaiming “nothing remains after the elimination of these borders, the borders of humiliation, and the breaking of the idol, the idol of nationalism, except the caliphate in accordance with the prophetic method.” Signage and stationary further reinforce the claim that the Islamic State’s nightmarish bureaucracy fulfills Muhammad’s prophecy. An Islamic State soldier in Iraq’s Nineveh province wears a patchemblazoned with the slogan, and official Islamic State letterhead includes the words.

According to the story of the prophecy, Muhammad fell silent after he predicted the restoration of the caliphate. Many Sunni jihadists and other apocalypticists have interpreted the Prophet’s silence to mean the caliphate will be restored at the end of time. Among them was al-Qaeda firebrand Anwar al-Awlaki, who believed Muslims would reestablish the caliphate in accordance with the prophetic method after they had finally vanquished the infidels. Awlaki theorized that the “massive air power invented by humanity today” would annihilate any caliphate established before this final victory. The Islamic State is testing that theory today.


[1] Abu Muhammad al-`Adnani, “Ma kana hadha manhajuna wa-lan yakun,” 17 April 2014.

Source: Iran@Brookings

Der islamistische Terrorismus als eine Kompensation der Minderwertigkeit der sich als marginalisiert gefühlten Außenseiter.

Dawud Gholamasad

Der islamistische Terrorismus als eine Kompensation der Minderwertigkeit der sich als marginalisiert gefühlten Außenseiter.

Wenn die Menschen die Moral der Religion subordinieren (was auch nur beym unterdrückten Pöbel möglich und nötig ist) so werden sie dadurch feindselig heuchlerisch afterrednerisch subordinieren sie aber die Religion der Moral so sind sie gütig wohlwollend und gerecht“ (Kant)

Die blutige Erfahrung des gewalttätigen Siegeszuges der ISIS-Kämpfer und ihre Attraktion für tausende Sympathisanten in der westlichen Welt stellen erneut dringender denn je die Frage nach der Sozio- und Psychogenese solcher blutrünstigen Aggressivität von Menschen, die einen erbarmungslosen Vernichtungskampf gegen Andersdenkende im Namen des „Islams“ führen und die Errichtung eines grenzenlosen Khalifats anstreben. Diese Diagnose erlaubt eine angemessene Lösung des Problems, wenn man die militärische und die gegenwärtig anvisierten Lösungsoptionen für fragwürdig hält.

In diesem Beitrag möchte ich daher thesenartig diese islamistische Bewegung als einen aktivierten chiliastisch1 geprägten Nativismus2 der sich marginalisiert und diskriminiert fühlenden Menschen charakterisieren, die mit der Scharia ihre als eigen definierten Werte demonstrativ hervorheben und blutig mit den modernsten Waffen durchzusetzen versuchen.3

  • Zum selbstwertrelevanten Aspekt der chiliastisch geprägten nativistischen Bewegungen

Die ISIS-Kämpfer sind ein exemplarisches Beispiel einer nativistischen Bewegung der islamisch geprägten Außenseiter, die in ihrer kompensatorischen Reaktion auf ihre Diskriminierungserfahrungen die Scharia als Schema ihres Selbstwertes gegenüber den regionalen und globalen Etablierten demonstrativ hervorheben. Diese selbstwertrelevante Reaktion ist chiliastisch geprägt, weil mit der Durchsetzung der Scharia die paradiesischen Glückszustände auf Erden herzustellen geglaubt wird.

Der Selbstwert ist eine affektiv besetzte Bewertung, die man von sich selbst in der sozialen Interdependenz der Menschen als Einzelne und Gruppen hat. Er kann je nach den Machtdifferentialen genauso affektiv positiv besetzt sein wie negativ. Negativ sind sie, wenn die Machtunterschiede so groß sind, dass der Außenseiter sich mit den Etablierten als „Angreifer“ identifiziert und die etablierten Wertzuschreibungen verinnerlicht. Verschiebt sich die Machtbalance zugunsten der Außenseiter im Sinne einer funktionalen Demokratisierung4, entsteht ein heftiger Kampf um die Definitionsmacht zur Bestimmung des Schemas des Selbstwertes. Erinnert sei an den Ausruf der schwarzen Bürgerrechtsbewegung in den USA auf dem Höhepunkt ihrer Auseinandersetzung: „black is beautiful“. Die Heftigkeit der Auseinandersetzung um das Schema des Selbstwertes verweist auf die existentielle Bedeutung des Selbstwertes, weil er als Orientierungsmittel der Menschen unverzichtbar ist. Er ermöglicht den Menschen, sich zeitlich, räumlich und intersubjektiv symbolisch in ihrer fünfdimensionalen Welt zu orientieren. Er ermöglicht die Beantwortung der Fragen, was die „Objekte“ der Wahrnehmung „für mich“ bzw. „für uns“ bedeutet bzw. bedeuten. In diesem Sinne ist Orientierung eine bedeutungs- und handlungsbezogene menschliche Selbst- und Weltsicht. Da aber diese Welt eine symbolisch vermittelte Welt ist, ist sie auch nur eine erfahrene Welt wie es der Bezugsrahmen der jeweiligen Sprachen erlaubet. Denn die Sprache ist die Welt, wie sie erfahren wird. Daher ermöglicht jede Sprache nur ein gruppenspezifisches Wahrnehmungsmuster der Welt hinsichtlich der Handlungsbedingungen und Handlungsangebote, weil es sich dabei um intersubjektive Wahrnehmungen der bestehenden Verhältnisse als Handlungsangebote für die involvierten Menschen handelt.

Das dominierende Schema des Selbstwertes bzw. Muster der Selbstbewertung der Menschen als Einzelne und Gruppen bestimmt, worauf sich der Selbstwert bezieht. Da die Menschen sich selbst nicht nur als Einzelne sondern auch als Gruppen bewerten, kann sich ihr Selbstwert je nach der Ich- und Wir-Balance ihrer Identität, genauso auf die Persönlichkeit und die Fähigkeiten und Fertigkeiten der Individuen beziehen als auch auf ihre selbstwertrelevanten gruppenspezifischen Merkmale, d.h. auf national-, klassen-, schichten-, Standes-, kasten-, rassen-, Geschlechts- und altersspezifische oder ethnische, konfessionelle und moralische Zuschreibungen. Mit diesen Ingredienzen des Selbstwertes entstehen die selbstwertrelevanten nationalistischen, ständischen, rassistischen, konfessionellen, ethnischen, paternalistischen Selbstwertbeziehungen, die sich mit entsprechenden moralischen Konnotationen gemäß der gruppenspezifischen Machtbalance ergeben. Je nach der jeweiligen Definitionsmacht wird also bestimmt, auf welche erstrebenswert oder moralisch gut betrachteten Eigenschaften, Qualitäten, Objekte, Ideen, praktischen bzw. sittlichen Idealen oder Verhaltens- und Erlebensmuster und Charaktereigenschaften sich der Selbstwert bezieht. Daraus ergeben sich die jeweils entsprechend dominanten sozialen Kategorisierungen.

Mit diesen sozialen Kategorisierungen konstituieren sich aber zugleich entsprechende mehr oder weniger stabile selbstwertrelevante Gruppierungen der Menschen mit entsprechender Reichweite ihrer Identifikation, die je nach der bestehenden Machtbalance bestimmte interdependente Rechte und Pflichten definieren. Dabei kann „mehr Macht“ zu einem gefühlten „mehr Wert“ führen und aus dieser Logik der Emotionen ein Hegemonialrausch entstehen, wie er gegenwärtig bei ISIS zu beobachten ist.

In diesem Sinne begründet der Selbstwert, im Sinne einer reflexiven Selbstbewertung interdependenter Menschen als Einzelne und Gruppen, entsprechende Selbstwertbeziehungen im Sinne politisch-moralischer Kategorisierungen der Menschen und die Gewissheit, in bestimmten Situationen „im Recht“ zu sein, bzw. ein zustehendes Recht wahrzunehmen, einzufordern oder zu erstreiten. Diese Gewissheiten konstituierenden Schemata der Selbstwerte werden sozial vererbt und prägen als soziale a priorien das Verhaltens- und Erlebensmuster der nächsten Generationen.

Entlang dieses Schemas der Selbstwerte konstituieren sich auch die sozialen Hauptspannungsachsen jeder Gesellschaft mit ihrer jeweils entsprechenden Machtbalance, welche die Richtung und Richtungsbeständigkeit sozialer Auseinandersetzungen interdependenter Menschen als Etablierte und Außenseiter bestimmen. Sie konstituieren jene Zielkonflikte, wie sie sich aus ihren jeweiligen Glaubensaxiomen und Werthaltungen ergeben, und das Verhalten und Erleben der involvierten Menschen jenseits ihrer materiell begründbaren sozialen Kategorisierungen bzw. Klassifizierungen effektiv steuern.

  • Zur selbstwertrelevanten Verzerrung der Selbst- und Fremdwahrnehmung als ein Nachhinkteffekt des sozialen Habitus

Was die ISIS besonders charakterisiert ist ihre extrem geringe Reichweite der Identifikation mit Menschen jenseits ihrer Gruppenzugehörigkeit und ihre erbarmungslose Intoleranz gegenüber allen Andersgläubigen, die sie abschlachten und deren Frauen sie in der Tradition der frühislamischen Expansion versklaven.

In der Regel ist Toleranz Funktion der zunehmenden Selbstreflexionsfähigkeit der Menschen, welche ihre zunehmende Individualisierung voraussetzt. Mit der letzteren entsteht zugleich eine zunehmende emotionale Distanzierungsfähigkeit der Menschen nicht nur von sich selbst sondern auch von „Objekten“ ihrer Wahrnehmung. Mit diesem distanzierten Urteilsvermögen sind sie zunehmend befähigt zu fragen, was die „Dinge an sich“ bedeuten anstatt der Frage nach ihrer Bedeutung „für mich“ bzw. „für uns“ als Wunsch- oder Furchtobjekte. Dazu gehört auch eine zunehmend distanzierte Selbstwahrnehmung und Selbstbewertung, die eine realitätsnahe Selbsteinschätzungsfähigkeit als einen Aspekt des sozialen Habitus der Menschen ermöglicht. Eine selbstwertdienliche Verzerrung der Realität als Funktion des Engagements wäre damit ein Nachhinkteffekt des sozialen Habitus der Massenindividuen, die zunehmend durch die Desintegration ihrer tradierten Wir-Einheiten wie ethnischer und konfessioneller Gruppierungen entstehen ohne in moderne Überlebenseinheiten der Staatsgesellschaften integriert werden zu können. Als Außenseiter marginalisierte und diskriminierte Massenindividuen mit einer Ich-Wir-Balance ihrer Identität zugunsten ihrer tradierten Wir-Identität, sind sie Opfer zweier Arten der selbstwertdienlichen Verzerrung ihrer Selbstwertschemata. Eine Verzerrung, die durch die unmittelbare Involvierung in einer existentiell relevanten sozialen Auseinandersetzung noch verstärkt wird und eine distanziertere Selbstbewertung zusätzlich erschwert. Sie verstärkt die „Pars-pro-toto Verzerrung der Realität“, indem die Ingredienzen des Selbstwertschemas der wertvollsten Minderheit der eigenen Gruppe auf die gesamten eigene Gruppenmitglieder verallgemeinert werden; zugleich werden die als minderwertig betrachteten Ingredienzen der Selbstwertschema einer Minderheit der Fremdgruppen auf ihre gesamten Gruppenmitglieder verallgemeinert, die zur Verstärkung des eigenen Überlegenheitsgefühls beiträgt. Zugleich intensiviert sich die Tendenz, eigene Erfolge im Zweifelsfall eher inneren „Ursachen“ wie etwa eigene Fähigkeiten und Fertigkeiten und eigene Misserfolge eher äußeren „Ursachen“ wie ungünstige Situationen, den Zufall etc. vor allem aber den boshaften Intrigen der zu bekämpfenden feindlichen Gruppen zuzuschreiben. Mit der Verabsolutierung der letzteren selbstwertdienlichen Verzerrung der Realität wird zugleich die eigene Entschlossenheit zur endgültigen Eliminierung dieser fremden Verursacher mit allen Mitteln legitimiert.5

Wird die Hauptspannungsachse wie im Falle der ISIS konfessionalisiert, so wird die Moral der Religion subordiniert. Damit werden die involvierten Menschen feindseliger, heuchlerischer und selbstwertdienlich verleumderischer. Dabei wird „der Islam“ auf die Scharia reduziert und als göttlich ewig gültige Gebote und Verbote zum moralischen Bewertungsmaßstab der Menschen als Einzelne und Gruppen erhoben und zugleich jede soziale Abweichung davon als Frevel mit der Todesstrafe bestraft. Mit dieser Eliminierung jedes moralischen Gehalts der Religion verwandelt sich der Islam zum Islamismus als einer säkularisierten totalitären Ideologie und zum Orientierungsmittel einer totalitären sozialen Bewegung, die sich durch eine ausgeprägte Nekrophilie auszeichnet6. Ihre Liebe zum Toten7 ist die Hauptantriebskraft einer chiliastisch geprägten, nativistischen Bewegung blutrünstiger Menschen, die ihre Minderwertigkeitskomplexe barbarisch zu kompensieren versuchen. Im Gegensatz zur reaktiven Aggression im Dienste des Lebens ist die nekrophil-destruktive Aggression zutiefst irrational. Die nekrophil-destruktive Orientierung entspringt einer Leidenschaft, die permanent auf Zerstörung der Objekte der Aggression ausgerichtet ist, weil der nekrophil Handelnde durch alles, was tot, Nicht-Leben, Nicht-Wachstum ist, angezogen wird. Fehlen Aggressionsobjekte, so macht sich die nekrophile Persönlichkeit selbst zum Objekt mit dem Ergebnis des Selbstmordes.8 Der Selbstmordattentäter kombiniert beides.9

  • Zur Unangemessenheit der vorgenommenen Lösungsstrategie der Allianz unter USA-Führung

Ist also der massenhafte regionale und internationale Zulauf zur ISIS als eine selbstwertrelevante kompensierende Reaktion auf massive Erfahrungen der Marginalisierung und Diskriminierung zurückzuführen, muss jede effektive Lösungsstrategie auf ihre institutionelle Aufhebung gerichtet sein. Ist die gegenwärtige Allianz faktisch darauf aus?

Es ist tatsächlich tragisch-komisch, dass die Schöpfer der ISIS als potentielle Opfer seiner Aggressionen nun die Hauptträger der internationalen Allianz zur Gefahrenabwehr geworden sind. Dieser Bumerangeffekt zeigt aber zugleich die langfristige Unangemessenheit der Förderung der Gewalttätigkeit in der Lösung der inner- und zwischenstaatlichen Konflikte. Er zeigt aber auch die Interdependenz inner- und zwischenstaatlicher Formen der Konfliktaustragung. Erst die Suspendierung der Gewalt als Regulationsprinzip inner- und zwischenstaatlicher Beziehungen schafft die Voraussetzung der zivilisierten Formen der Konfliktaustragung. Da dies bist jetzt versäumt wurde, kommt die Allianz ohne militärischen Einsätze nicht aus, weil ihr eigenes Geschöpf sich verselbständigt hat.

Aber selbst wenn die Allianz inzwischen begriffen hätte, dass das Problem militärisch unlösbar bleibt, wenn die entsprechenden politischen Lösungsmaßnahmen ausbleiben, ist die Effektivität der eingeleiteten inklusiven politischen Maßnahmen zur politischen Integration der marginalisierten und diskriminierten Sunniten fraglich. Sogar die vorschwebende regionale Teilung des Landes entlang der ethnischen und konfessionellen Zugehörigkeit scheint keine demokratische Lösungsstrategie zu sein. Denn sie reproduziert die rudimentär bestehenden tribalen Seilschaften und verstärkt die Position der Stammesführer ohne Stämme und leistet der Reproduktion der autoritäreren Orientierung der inzwischen funktional von der Nabelschnur der Stämme entbundenen Massenindividuen Vorschub, anstatt sie demokratisch institutionell zu integrieren.

Deswegen scheint die gegenwärtig effektive Form der Überwindung der ethnischen und konfessionellen Diskriminierung durch eine Institutionalisierung der politischen Gerechtigkeit in einer föderativ organisierten demokratischen Staatsform zu bestehen. Eine föderative Staatsverfassung, deren Gebietsteilung nicht nach ethnisch-konfessionellen Grenzziehungen als vielmehr nach dem Subsidiaritätsprinzip10 vorgenommen wird, wird längerfristig die effektive Lösungsform bieten, wenn man dem zunehmenden tribalen Desintegrationsprozess angemessen Rechnung trägt. Damit wird die nationalstaatliche Integration demokratisch und gerecht gefördert und durch entsprechende Förder- und Ausgleichsmaßnahmen der Entwicklung regionaler Disparität entgegengewirkt. Denn Subsidiarität als eine politische, ökonomische und gesellschaftliche Maxime strebt die Entfaltung der individuellen Fähigkeiten, Selbstbestimmung und Eigenverantwortung an. Demnach werden Aufgaben, Handlungen und Problemlösungen so weit wie möglich selbstbestimmt und eigenverantwortlich unternommen, also vom Einzelnen, vom privaten, von der kleinsten Gruppe oder der untersten Ebene einer Organisationsform, als auch in der Organisationsform eines Staates. Nur die Herstellung und der Betrieb allgemeiner Reproduktionsbedingungen der Staatsgesellschaft als einer Angriffs- und Verteidigungseinheit werden zentralstaatlich unternommen. Die föderative Organisationsform der Bundesrepublik Deutschland könnte u.a. als ein Modell dafür dienen.

Hannover 24.09.2014

http://gholamasad.jimdo.com/

1 Chiliasmus bezieht sich auf kollektive Aufbruchsbereitschaft zur Herstellung paradiesischer Glücksumstände auf Erden.

2 Nativismus bezieht sich auf demonstrative Hervorhebung der als Eigen definierten Werte.

3 Vergl. Dawud Gholamasad, Iran: Die Entstehung der „Islamischen Revolution“, Hamburg, 1985

4 Die hier verwendeten Macht- und Funktionsbergriffe sind Beziehungsbegriffe. Von gesellschaftlichen Funktionen kann man nur reden, wenn man es mit mehr oder weniger zwingenden Interdependenzen zu tun hat. Sie sind Verhalten und Erleben steuernd. Dies Reziprozität der Funktionen können genauso berufliche Natur sein wie emotional. Als Feinde haben die Menschen für einander auch Funktionen, die man kennen muss, wenn man die Handlungen und Plänen der einzelnen feindselig verwickelten Parteien verstehen will. ( Ver. Norbert Elias, Was ist Soziologie, München 1986, S. 80ff.). Die funktionale Demokratisierung bezieht sich auch die Verschiebung der Balance dieser funktionalen Interdependenzen zugunsten der mehr Abhängige, ohne dass diese sich instionalisiert hat oder emotional verankert haben muss.

5 Vergl. Dawud Gholamasad, Die Selbstmordattentate der Islamisten als Funktion der Destruktivität ihres Wir-Ideals, in STUDIA NIEMCOZNAWCZE, Warszawa 2004, tom XXVII, 91-106

6 Dawud Gholamasad, Irans neuer Umbruch, von der Liebe zum Toten zur Liebe zum Leben, Hannover, 2010

7 Auch die Fixierung auf die ewig gestrige Scharia als eine Fixierung an ewig gültige Gebote und Verbote Gottes, die keine Änderung zulässt, ist ebenso eine Manifestation der Nekrophilie, im Sinne der Liebe zum Toten.

8 Vergl. Reiner Funk, Mut zum Leben, Stuttgart, 1978, S.69

9 Vergl. Dawud Gholamasad, Einige Thesen zum Islamismus als globaler Herausforderung, in Beilage zur Wochenzeitung Das Parlament, 18. Jan. 2002, S. 16- 23 & ders. Selbstbild und Weltsicht islamistischer Selbstmord-Attentäter, Berlin 2006

10 Vergl. Otfried Höffe, Demokratie im Zeitalter der Globalisierung, München 199, S. 126ff.

Assessing the Obama Administration’s Iraq-Syria Strategy

In many ways, the Obama Administration’s new strategy toward Iraq and Syria is a work in progress.  Each week, new elements emerge or get added.  And there are certainly a number of important aspects still missing.  However, overall, what is emerging is a smart, coherent approach that is checking off any number of key military and diplomatic boxes.  Of greatest importance, American actions in the region and Administration statements (particularly General Martin Dempsey’s testimony before the Senate last week) indicate that Washington is putting in place a comprehensive strategy meant not only to defeat ISIS, but to address the wider circumstances of Iraq and Syria.  That is critical because ISIS and its ilk are not the problem in the region; they are the symptom of the problem.  The problem is the intercommunal civil wars burning in both Iraq and Syria.  Unfortunately, that’s also where the missing pieces of the strategy remain.

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria (REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew Bruch).

Intertwined Campaigns

At heart, the Administration’s approach is a dual strategy, coupling two similar but not identical approaches to the two countries.  Although some of the Administration’s critics have demanded a single strategy toward both, the Administration’s approach is probably the right one.  It reflects the reality that the two civil wars are different in many important ways and it is not possible to employ the same exact approach to both.  Each needs a tailored version of the broad strategy.  What they do require is close coordination, and it appears that the Administration is doing just that, at least for now.

In both countries, the Administration hopes to empower moderate forces—both Sunni andShi’a to the extent possible—to fight against all of the extremists, both Sunni and Shi’a.  Indeed, to the extent that there is an overarching theme to the strategy, it is one of empowering moderate forces, an idea that ought to be applied more broadly across the Middle East.

In Iraq, the Administration is essentially building on the progress made in 2007-2010 to try to resurrect the power-sharing arrangement forged by the United States as part of the Surge and recreate a unified Iraqi government.  While that government may only be united in name, the willingness of Sunni, Shi’a and perhaps Kurdish leaders to cooperate under that rubric should allow the U.S. to move forward militarily against ISIS and its allies while helping the Iraqis to sort out the final shape of a new Iraqi political system.  In Syria, in contrast, the focus is on building a new Syrian opposition army, one that can defeat both the Asad regime and the Sunni radicals like ISIS, and then use its military successes to create the political incentives for a new national reconciliation/power-sharing agreement as the 1995 Dayton Accords did for Bosnia.

Indeed, to the extent that there is an overarching theme to the strategy, it is one of empowering moderate forces, an idea that ought to be applied more broadly across the Middle East.

These interwoven strategies toward Iraq and Syria have some critical advantages.  Both are reasonable, feasible and historically well-grounded.  If successful, both would produce end-states consistent with American interests.  Moreover, both can be consistent with the interests of America’s allies in the region, hence the publicly-enthusiastic if privately-tepid reception from many of America’s Middle Eastern allies to the new strategy.  Nevertheless, both have important challenges to overcome as well.

The Military Campaigns

In both Syria and Iraq, the American strategy is in the first phase of its military campaign.  Since Washington is determined not to deploy American ground combat troops—or, rightly, to rely on those of other neighboring states—it must build indigenous ground forces.  Air power alone, even American air power, is unlikely to be adequate to drive ISIS, other Sunni militant groups, or the Asad regime’s military forces from the territory they control.  Coalition airstrikes will need complementary ground forces of some kind to fix enemy ground forces and occupy terrain, particularly population centers.  However, as General Dempsey and others have noted, it will take months before such ground forces are ready.

It is worth noting that these ground forces do not have to be first-rate.  They simply need to be good enough that, with the addition of American air power, they can defeat both Asad’s forces and those of ISIS and the other Sunni militants.  That isn’t a very high standard.  In its grandest moments, the Syrian armed forces never rose beyond a rigid mediocrity, and while ISIS has certainly shown both some strategic acumen and tactical ability, it faces both quantitative and qualitative problems of its own.  By comparison, in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance could not defeat the Taliban until 2001 when it was backed by U.S. air power, and the Libyan opposition was a joke in 2001, but it defeated the remnants of Qadhafi’s military with NATO air support ten years later.  Thus, the historical record demonstrates that indigenous ground forces too week to win without American air support can win handily with it.[1]

American and other Western governments have just begun the long process of building Iraqi and Syria ground forces.  Again, in both cases, the approach the U.S. will take is now clear, but there are a number of potential hurdles that have not yet been addressed.  For instance, in Iraq the Administration has reconciled itself to the need to build, in effect, two separate militaries: a revamped Shi’a-dominated Iraqi Army and a new Sunni national guard.  It remains to be seen how those forces will be able to work together.  In particular, the Sunnis will not want any (Shi’a) Iraqi Army units operating in the Sunni-dominated provinces, and the Shi’a are likely to insist that they do so.  That speaks to a second-order problem, which is that the conduct of the military campaign will be seen by both communities as setting precedents for the eventual reform of Iraqi politics, which is likely to make them dig in their heels even harder over these military considerations.

In Syria there are different but equally challenging issues.  The first among them being whether the U.S. is going to simply try to train, arm and unify the existing hodge-podge of militias, or will create a wholly new, homogeneous Syrian opposition army.  The former would be faster and easier, but the result would have very limited utility.  Indeed, it might be of no use whatsoever.  The latter would be far more militarily effective and politically helpful, but would take much more time and effort.  While General Dempsey’s testimony suggested that the United States planned to take the latter approach (which I consider the better course by far) the matter does not appear settled at this point.[2]

A huge, unanswered question on the military side in Syria is whether (or when) the air campaign will expand beyond ISIS and the Sunni militants to begin targeting the Asad regime’s forces as well.

In the meantime, as these ground forces are readied, the air campaign will roll on.  The strikes we have seen to date in Iraq and Syria give a good indication of what that air campaign will look like.  It will be a unified campaign, striking targets in both Iraq and Syria ore or less simultaneously.  (In that sense, it is the one piece of the strategy that will be truly unified).  Moreover, it will have two primary target sets.  The first will be terrorist targets.  Anytime the U.S. identifies groups interested in striking the U.S. or its allies, it will get hit.  The “Khorasan Group” of Jabhat al-Nusra falls into this category, but so too would ISIS operatives planning terrorist operations.

The second will be a more conventional air interdiction campaign that will seek to attrite and disrupt enemy forces whenever they are vulnerable.  That will include command and control facilities (and personnel), logistical infrastructure, training facilities, barracks, motor pools, economic targets like the oil fields hit this week, transportation assets, and field-deployed combat forces whenever the Coalition receives actionable intelligence on such targets.  That last is an important point: given how much time it will take for the ground forces to be readied, the air campaign is likely to focus on targets of opportunity, striking enemy assets whenever they are vulnerable, whatever and wherever they may be.

Good analogies of this part of the strategy would be the air campaigns against Iraqi forces in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations during the first 39-days of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, or the Allied air campaign against German targets in France during the build-up to D-Day in 1944.  In both cases, the United States and its allies spent weeks/months working over the enemy’s forces, killing combat forces when available, but otherwise relentlessly busting up logistical facilities, transport assets (trucks, trains, cars, etc.), leadership targets, communications systems, and chokepoints (like bridges and overpasses).  In both cases, these constant attacks wore down the enemy to the point where when the ground forces finally attacked, they had been considerably weakened.

A huge, unanswered question on the military side in Syria is whether (or when) the air campaign will expand beyond ISIS and the Sunni militants to begin targeting the Asad regime’s forces as well.  That is a necessary component of the strategy that the Administration has laid out, and it is not something that needs to start right away.  But it will have to happen at some point, and well before the new Syrian opposition forces are ready to take the field to ensure that they can succeed when they do so.  But going after the regime’s forces will mean both a much bigger military operations, since it will have to first neutralize the regime’s residual air defense network, and a much bigger diplomatic and political fight since Russia and Iran will protest loudly and may try to increase their support to Syria—or even cause trouble for the U.S. elsewhere.

Political-Military Tensions

It is also important to note that there are likely to be significant tensions between military best practices and immediate political needs.  In an ideal world, the Coalition would spend a year or more doing nothing but training the relevant Iraqi and Syrian ground forces, while the air campaign slowly wears down ISIS, other militant groups, and potentially the Asad regime as well.  We would only unleash those ground forces (with U.S. air support) when they were completely ready to go both quantitatively and qualitatively.  Again, D-Day or Operation Desert Storm are good historical analogies.However, the political reality is that American, European, Arab, Iraqi and Syrian opposition leaders will all be under pressure to demonstrate that they are taking action and not simply giving their adversaries a free hand to consolidate power over the territory they control.  All will want ground operations to start as soon as possible, and they will likely press the military commanders to mount limited operations as soon as the first ground forces are ready—or close to it.  The old phrase “close enough for government work” comes readily to mind.  The danger in that is if these limited operations are unsuccessful and the first of the newly-trained ground forces are defeated, it could demoralize the rest of the force, set-back the broader training programs, and exacerbate the inevitable political-infighting that attends any military coalition.  (The failure of the Dieppe raid in 1942 is a good historical example illustrating these issues.)

Political Challenges

The military dimensions of the strategy are increasingly clear, and the challenges they face are not insignificant, but relatively straightforward.  On the political side, the situation is far more murky.

First off there are the problems likely to attend the international effort.  Americans always prefer to fight as part of a coalition, and in this case, some of the countries that Washington is working on have important—even unique—assets that they bring to this particular fight.  The problem is that the countries that are most enthusiastic about the fight, namely the Europeans, have the least to contribute. Whereas, those with the most to contribute, the Sunni Arab states and Turkey, are the least enthusiastic about the American strategy.  Certainly, the European states can and already have contributed some small military forces and they may also be helpful with limited reconstruction funding, but that’s about the extent of it.  And ultimately, the United States does not need European aircraft, at least not militarily.  While European financial contributions will either be inadequate or irrelevant depending on whether the Gulf Arab states make good on their pledges to shoulder the vast bulk of the costs for Syria.

For the Sunni states of the Middle East, the problem is complicated.  They all do hate and fear ISIS.  But they also hate and fear the Shi’a and Iran even more.  Most believe that Iraq and Syria are simply two fronts in a much bigger, more important Sunni-Shi’a struggle for the soul of the Muslim Umma.  What’s more, many of the Arab Sunni states—including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan—fear the moderate Sunni Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood more than they fear the Salafi extremists of ISIS.  In Syria, these differences are less of a hassle because Washington’s new strategy is about defeating both ISIS and the (the Iranian-backed and predominantly-Shi’a) Asad regime.  However, in Iraq, the Administration hopes to empower both moderate Sunni forces, which may include Brotherhood elements, and the (Iranian-backed and predominantly-Shi’a) government against ISIS and its allies.  That is not terribly comfortable for the Sunni states, and an important reason why they have been far more supportive of the Syria half of the strategy than the Iraq half.  In the future, it may be possible to convince them that even in Iraq the approach will not simply empower their worst enemies at the expense of lesser enemies, but it will take some doing.

The military dimensions of the strategy are increasingly clear, and the challenges they face are not insignificant, but relatively straightforward. On the political side, the situation is far more murky.

In Iraq, the new cabinet is an important step forward, but it is only a very small step.  Iraqis still need to sort out the new shape of their political system.  The Sunnis are determined to see a fully-articulated federal structure emerge, one in which the majority-Sunni provinces have enormous autonomy, including control of their own military forces as the Kurds already do.  Some Shi’a recognize that there will need to be change, but many want a return to the status quo ante, with a strong central government and limited federal powers—essentially the Maliki era without Maliki’s excesses.  Not only will it be difficult to reconcile these competing perspectives, but these differences will play out right from the start in virtually every military, political, or economic decision that the new Iraqi government makes.  Both sides will be constantly weighing any move to assess which side it advantages in that ultimate fight, and that is likely to hamstring the fight against ISIS at every turn.

With Syria, the weakness of the political element of the strategy is even more pronounced.  Simply put, the United States will have to lead an effort of nation-building to heal the wounds of the civil war.  It is unavoidable.  President Obama himself recognized this reality in his interview with Tom Friedman of The New York Times in August.  There he observed that a lesson he learned from Libya in 2011 was that military intervention that was not backed by a major effort to build a functional state afterwards would simply lead to chaos and a new set of threats to American interests.  In the interview, the President implied that this recognition was one reason that he did not want to intervene in Syria because he was not ready to commit to such a program there.  Now, having committed the United States to just such an intervention, he cannot escape the logic of his own contention.  But neither the United States nor any of its allies appear to have given any thought to what post conflict reconstruction in Syria would entail, let alone begun to plan and prepare for that effort.[3]  That could be the largest and most difficult aspect of the entire strategy.

The Big Picture

Despite all of the challenges the new U.S. strategy toward Iraq and Syria faces, it should not be seen as hopeless.  The new strategy is entirely feasible, the challenges identified could all be addressed (and have been, in other efforts elsewhere in the past), and the primary variable is the extent of the American commitment.  Of equal importance, there is no other alternative strategy that has a higher likelihood of succeeding.

Articulating all of the challenges this strategy faces, including those that the Administration simply has not addressed yet, should not be seen as suggesting that its proposed course of action is foolish.  It is not.  However, it is heavily dependent on their willingness to properly implement and resource it.


[1] Of course, that does not mean that it always works.  Kosovo in 1999 is an important contrary example.  There, U.S. air power, weaponry and advisors were not sufficient to enable the Kosovo Liberation Army to defeat the Serbs.  That said, the Serbs were far more powerful than either the Asad regime’s residual armed forces or ISIS and its allies.

[2] For those interested in a more extensive explanation of how (and why) the United States should build a new Syrian opposition Army as the Administration has indicated it will, see Kenneth M. Pollack, “An Army to Defeat Assad: How to Turn Syria’s Opposition Into a Real Fighting Force,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 93, No. 5 (September/October 2014), pp. 110-124.

[3] For a fuller treatment of this problem, see Kenneth M. Pollack, “We Need to Begin Nation Building Right Now in Syria,” The New Republic online, September 24, 2014, available at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119556/obamas-syria-strategy-must-include-nation-building.

Iran Brief—Nuclear investigation “not an endless process” and other news

The IAEA director general urged Iran to fulfill its transparency obligations, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei criticized U.S.’s strategy against ISIS, and more in this week’s edition of the Belfer Iran Brief, covering September 9—September 15.

By Henry Rome

Highlights:

  • IAEA said its investigation is “not an endless process,” as Iran pledged to complete transparency measures.
  • Two-thirds of Iranian youth use the internet and 70% said they use software to evade government’s censorship of sites, according to a new poll.
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he rejected U.S. appeals for assistance against ISIS, telling reporters: “I opposed it and said we will not cooperate with the Americans in this regard since they have a corrupt intention and stained hands.”

Diplomacy and nuclear issue

  • IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressed Iran’s failure to meet several transparency milestones, saying “this is not an endless process.” He predicted that if Iran cooperated with the IAEA investigation, conclusions could be made in 15 months or less. But Amano added that IAEA would publish findings regardless, allowing member nations to draw their own conclusions. (Reuters, 9/15;AP, 9/15)
    • Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to IAEA, rejected assertions that “deadlock” exists between Iran and IAEA over nuclear program and said “we are ready to complete” additional measures. (Reuters, 9/9)
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, one of Iran’s nuclear negotiators, said a “difficult road” lies ahead during negotiations. (AFP, 9/11)
    • Iranian negotiators are slated to meet with E.U. representatives on Wednesday in New York. (Press TV, 9/14)
  • A recent Iranian exhibition of nuclear components said to be sabotaged “reveals the importance of non-Western countries, such as China, as key locations for Iran’s dual-use procurement.” (King’s College London, 9/4; also see related report by Institute for Science and International Security, 9/10).
    • Additionally, “exhibition of allegedly sabotaged equipment has highlighted Iran’s long-known preference for European and US-origin dual-use controlled goods, such as vacuum pumps and pressure transducers.”
  • Iran’s atomic energy organization announced plans to construct two additional nuclear power plants in Bushehr. Iran said it was in final negotiations with the Russians on construction, which could begin in the next six months. (Press TV, 9/15; Fars News, 9/15)

Sanctions and Iran’s economy

  • Iran is expanding its capability to store crude oil on land, which could free up oil tankers to broaden oil trade. (Reuters, 9/11)
  • Russian officials visited Iran to pledge increased economic ties between the two countries. Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said: “God willing, we will quickly increase the level of relations up to more than 10 times.” (AP, 9/9)

Iranian domestic politics

Two girls use Facebook in a Tehran coffee shop
October 13, 2013 – Two girls use Facebook in a north Tehran coffee shop. A recent survey found that two thirds of Iranian youth use the internet. (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei was discharged from a Tehran hospital after prostate surgery. (Press TV, 9/15)
  • A new United Nations report criticized President Hassan Rouhani for failing to live up to promises to improve human rights, including religious freedom and freedom of expression. Iran rejected the accuracy of the report. (Reuters, 9/12)
  • Two-thirds of Iranian youth use internet and 70% said they use software to evade government’s censorship of sites. (Tehran Times, 9/9)
    • When asked for their biggest worries, 30% indicated financial concerns and another 30% selected unemployment.
  • Iran is fielding Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) anti-ship ballistic missile system to “operational units.” With reported range of 300 km, “it is capable of threatening maritime activity throughout the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz,” according to a Pentagon report. (Jane’s 360, 9/8)
  • Iran’s Culture Ministry reportedly has shut down several conservative news sites critical of Rouhani. (Al-Monitor, 9/10)

US-Iran relations

  • Henry Kissinger, on heels of the release of his new book, told NPR “I consider Iran a bigger problem than ISIS. ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a geo-strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran.” (NPR, 9/6)
  • See “Geopolitics and Iran.”

Geopolitics and Iran

  • Khamenei said Iran rejected U.S. requests to coordinate actions against ISIS. He said that Secretary of State John Kerry and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman both requested Iranian assistance.
    • Khamenei, quoted in state media: “I opposed it and said we will not cooperate with the Americans in this regard since they have a corrupt intention and stained hands. And how could we have cooperation with the Americans under such conditions?” (Fars News, 9/15)
    • Neither Iran nor Syria were invited to Paris conference regarding ISIS.
    • Kerry said he would not rule out non-military cooperation with Iran, but later added, “We are not coordinating with Iran. Period….I’m not going to get into a back and forth.” (AP, 9/15; Reuters 9/15)
    • Iranian border guards arrested three people from Afghanistan and Pakistan suspected of attempting to transit Iran to join ISIS. (AP, 9/9)
    • ISIS’ advance has derailed planned completion of natural gas pipeline between Iran and Iraq. (AP, 9/10)
  • Revolutionary Guard forces repelled attack from militants based in Pakistan, who sought to seize base near Saravan, Iran. (Press TV, 9/9)
  • Rouhani congratulated Iraq on selection of new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi. (Tehran Times, 9/10)

Israel

  • Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon visited Azerbaijan to meet with senior officials and support Israeli defense companies participating in Azeri exhibition. (Globes, 9/10; Times of Israel, 9/10) Note: It was the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to Azerbaijan, an Israeli ally.
    • Israeli drone shot down by Revolutionary Guard in August may have originated in Azerbaijan, Iran said. Meanwhile, Iran requested that IAEA condemn Israel’s alleged drone surveillance. (Press TV, 9/10)

Source: Henry Rome is a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Iran/Irak| Iranischer Pilot im Irak getötet

Bei Kämpfen gegen Jihadisten im Irak ist nach offiziellen Angaben Teherans ein iranischer Pilot getötet worden. Der Oberst sei gestorben, als er schiitische Heiligtümer in Samarra nördlich von Bagdad verteidigt habe, berichtet die amtliche iranische Nachrichtenagentur IRNA am Samstag.

Iran pilot killed in Iraq fighting: media

Teheran hatte der Regierung des Nachbarlandes Hilfe beim Kampf gegen den Aufstand der Organisation Islamischer Staat (IS) zugesagt, allerdings nicht mit eigenen Soldaten. Ob der Pilot am Boden oder in einem Flugzeug im Einsatz war, ließ IRNA offen. Die Nachrichtenagentur FARS veröffentlichte Fotos, die seine Beerdigung am Freitag in der südiranischen Provinz Fars zeigen sollen. Der Agentur zufolge gehörte der Pilot der Revolutionsgarde an. Eliteeinheiten der Garde sollen sich – entgegen einem Dementi aus Teheran – im Irak aufhalten und die Regierungstruppen im Kampf gegen die IS unterstützen.

Der iranische Präsident Hassan Rohani hatte im Juni erklärt, sein Land werde die schiitischen Heiligtümer im Irak schützen. In Samarra liegt der Al-Askari-Schrein. Ein Bombenschlag von Al-Kaida auf das Heiligtum hatte vor acht Jahren einen blutigen Konfessionskrieg zwischen Sunniten und Schiiten ausgelöst, der Zehntausende Menschenleben kostete.

Die irakische Armee wehrte einen Angriff der sunnitischen Terrorgruppe ISIS auf die strategisch wichtige Ölraffinerie in dem Ort Baiji ab. Bei stundenlangen Schusswechseln seien zwölf ISIS-Kämpfer ums Leben gekommen, hieß es am Samstag aus irakischen Sicherheitskreisen. Zu Opfern aufseiten des Militärs gab es keine Angaben.

Unterdessen kehrten 46 indische Krankenschwestern nach ihrer Freilassung aus einem von der Islamisten-Miliz ISIS beherrschten Gebiet im Irak nach Indien zurück. Eine Sondermaschine brachte die Frauen und rund 100 weitere Landsleute von Erbil im Nordirak nach Kochi im Süden Indiens. Indische Medien berichteten unter Berufung auf offizielle Stellen, Lösegeld sei nicht geflossen.

Die Krankenschwestern wurden bei der Ankunft am Samstag euphorisch von ihren Familien empfangen. „Wir sind glücklich und erleichtert. Wir dachten, wir würden es nie wieder zurückschaffen“, sagte Neenu Jose. Die Militanten seien aber respektvoll mit ihnen umgegangen und hätten ihnen nichts getan. Die indische Regierung nannte keine Details zu der Freilassung. Laut „Times of India“ sollen indische Diplomaten und Geschäftsmänner dabei mitgewirkt haben.

 

Quelle: apa/dpa/ap/SN

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