Welt| GEHEIME ABSPRACHEN: Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle für Irans Atomwaffen?

Der Iran-Deal soll Atomwaffen durch Inspektionen verhindern. Nun berichten US-Medien über Geheimabsprachen: Der Iran dürfe sich selbst kontrollieren. Unter Leitung eines angeblichen Bombenbauers.

Daniel-Dylan Böhmer

Kaum eine Militärbasis wird so direkt mit dem vermuteten iranischen Atomwaffenprogramm in Verbindung gebracht. Bei keiner Anlage haben internationale Atomkontrolleure so oft und so nachdrücklich Inspektionen gefordert. Keine iranische Einrichtung ist so brisant wie der Militärstützpunkt von Parchin südlich von Teheran. Und ausgerechnet ihn sollen nach der Einigung im Atomstreit nicht unabhängige Wissenschaftler kontrollieren dürfen – sondern die eigenen Experten des Regimes. Ist der viel gerühmte Atomdeal mit dem Iran weniger ein bindendes Kontrollabkommen, sondern eher eine Art Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle? Diesen Schluss legt ein Exklusivbericht der amerikanischen Nachrichtenagentur AP nahe, über den auf drei Kontinenten heftig gestritten wird.

Seit 2002 verdächtigt die internationale Gemeinschaft das Regime in Teheran, unter dem Deckmantel eines zivilen Atomprogramms heimlich an Massenvernichtungswaffen zu arbeiten. Weil sich das Land jahrelang gegen Kontrollen der Internationalen Atomenergiebehörde (IAEA) sperrte, wurde es schließlich mit schmerzhaften Wirtschaftssanktionen belegt. Im Atomabkommen vom Juli erklärte sich das Land im Gegenzug für die Aufhebung der Sanktionen bereit, sein Atomprogramm erheblich einzuschränken und für mehr als ein Jahrzehnt umfassende Inspektionen zuzulassen. Und bevor dieses Geben und Nehmen beginnt, muss der Iran laut Vereinbarung der IAEA Kontrollen ermöglichen, mit denen der Verdacht früherer Arbeiten an Atomwaffen aufgeklärt werden kann. Um diese Inspektionen geht es nun.


Gatestone| Iran’s Views of Jews and the U.S.

Iran’s imminent nuclear breakout capability will, of course, come with insufficient notice for anyone to stop it.

With its new intercontinental ballistic missiles, Iran can deliver these nuclear warheads to every capital of Europe. It does not even have to do that. It need only threaten to, while spelling out what it wants.

Doubtless, Iran has also put the „Great Satan,“ the U.S., high at the top of its list.

Such a history, which reveals why most Jews of Iranian ancestry live abroad, can only intensify Israel’s suspicion of any agreement reached with the current Iranian regime, which has pledged often to eliminate „the Zionist entity,“ the „Little Satan.“

Christians and Jews are familiar with the biblical narrative of how the ancient ruler of the Persian Empire, Cyrus, granted the Jewish people their freedom after his conquest of the Babylonia in 538 B.C. His proclamation launched the most meaningful „aliyah“ [going up to Israel] until modern times.[1]

The Persian ruler even contributed treasure to help finance the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.

There is, however, a different narrative. When Zoroastrianism was declared the official state religion during the Sassanid Dynasty (224-651 A.D.),[2] the plight of Iran’s Jews deteriorated.

This fusion of state and religion gave Zoroastrian clerics more political power than the monarchy. It also led to the enforcement of intolerant uniform rules of worship for all of Persia’s citizenry.[3]

That persecution clearly shows that Iranian „Jew-Hatred“ predates the birth of Islam. Professor Shaul Shaked details pre-Islamic Sassanid Era polemics against the Jews:[4] The Sassanids burned synagogues and outlawed the celebration of the day of rest, Shabbat. One Sassanid monarch, „Feroz the Wicked“ (Reshi’a), had most of the Jews of Isfahan murdered [5] — in the very city where the biblical heroine, Esther, and her cousin, Mordecai, are buried.

Later, in most of the Safavid (1502-1736) and Qajar (1781-1925) dynastic eras, the monarchs‘ relationship with Iran’s Jews was at best problematic. After the conversion of Iran’s Muslims to the Shia sect of Islam, Jews, like other non-Shia minorities in Persia, were forced to live asdhimmi (tolerated, second-class citizens).

For centuries, there were forced conversions, the closing of synagogues, and destruction of Hebrew books[6] Outward signs distinguished Jews from the rest of Iran’s „loyal“ citizens. Throughout the Safavid Era, Iran’s Jews were forced to wear colored hats and non-matching shoes.[7] In 1588, under the Safavid Shah Abbas I, restrictive ordinances against Jews were instituted, which came to known as „Jam Abbasi Laws,“ severely limiting Jewish property rights and professions in which Jews could work.[8] Sometimes anti-Jewish feelings resulted in the often deadly Yud Bazi (Jew Game)[9] or Yud Khost (Jew Murder).[10] Attacks occurred: Muslim Imams whipped up their followers in anti-Jewish diatribes.

The 6th century B.C. Persian Emperor Cyrus, who granted the Jewish people their freedom, is pictured at left in the painting „Cyrus II le Grand et les Hébreux“ (by Jean Fouquet, 1470-1475). The Persian Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I, pictured at right reviewing the severed heads of captured Ottoman Turkish soldiers, instituted restrictive ordinances against Jews in 1588.

It was not until the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979) that Jews in Iran could live without threats from their own government. Reza Shah Pahlavi even rebuffed Hitler’s attempt to target Iranian Jews;[11] and under his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, Jews lived in freedom.

After the establishment of the Islamic Republic, however, Reza Shah was called a „Zionist stooge,“[12] and Iranian Jews were often accused of being spies for Israel. Many of Iran’s Jews emigrated to Israel, the United States, or other countries in the Free World.

Although Iran is Shia and not Sunni, the same basic anti-Jewish references in theological texts are to be found in the Koran and Hadith. Both purport to justify inveterate Jew-hatred. The most familiar texts are the Koran’s condemnation of the Jews as „killers of the prophets,“[13]„all Jews are not all bad, the good ones become Muslims, The bad ones do not.“[14] There are also several Hadith passages that lend theological support for virulent Jew-hatred in today’s Iran. For example, the murder by strangulation of a Jewess who speaks ill of the Prophet, is justified.[15] These passages buttress more contemporary assaults on Jews by Iran’s Islamic revolutionary leaders, such as those of Khomeini and Khamenei, [16] along with earlier condemnation of Jews and Israel as najis, [unclean infidels].[17]

Such a history — which reveals why most Jews of Iranian ancestry live abroad — can only intensify Israel’s suspicion of any agreement reached with the current Iranian regime, which has pledged often to eliminate the „Zionist entity,“ the „Little Satan.“

Iran’s imminent nuclear breakout capability will, of course, come with insufficient notice for anyone to stop it.

With its new intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs], Iran can deliver these nuclear warheads to every capital of Europe. It does not even have to do that. It need only threaten to, while spelling out what it wants.

Doubtless, Iran has also put the „Great Satan,“ the U.S., high at the top of its list.

Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

[1] Discovering Cyrus: The Persian Conqueror Astride the Ancient World by Reza Zarghamee. Mage Publishers, Washington D.C. 2013. p.232; and the Book of Ezra, 1:2, 6:3. According toThe History of the Jewish People: „The Aliyah of Zerubavel and the Building of the Second Temple,“ about 50,000 Jews from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned to the Jerusalem area. Mesorah Publications, N.Y. 1982. p.25.

[2] Terua: The History of Contemporary Iranian Jews: Vol. I. Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History, Beverley Hills, California. 1996. p.14.

[3] Ibid. p.14.

[4] „Zoroastrian Polemics Against Jews in the Sasanian and Early Islamic Period“ by Shaul Shaked. Padyavand, Volume I, edited by Amnon Netzer. Mazda Publishers: Los Angeles. 1996. pp.75-80.

[5] Ibid. p.3.

[6] Terua. Vol. I „History of Jews in Iran:1500 to the Present“ by Peyman Banooni & Sammy Simnegar. p17.

[7] New Society: Harvard College Student Middle East Journal „Jews of Iran Under Islamic Rule“ by Victoria Golshani. p.1.

[8] Ibid. p.1. See also Dhimmi Status and Jewish Roles in Iranian Society by Lawrence Loeb. Salt Lake City, Utah. Gordon and Breech Science Publishers: 1976. p. 92.

[9] One Yud Bazi game during Muslim festivals in the Qajar Era featured throwing Jews into a large pit of muddy water (hauz) for the amusement of onlookers, who would then watch these poor half-drowned souls climb out of the hole.

[10] Terua. Vol. I. p. 26. „Yud Khost“ simply means „Jew Death“ in Persian, an unconscious historical precursor of the mid-1930s in Germany.

[11] Personal Interview of Boghrat Khorsandi by Victoria Golshani, 28 September 2000.

[12] Padyavand Vol. I. p.122. „The Events of 1978“.

[13] Koran surah 2, al-Baqarah/The Cow. Verse 61b, verse 83, verse 91, surah 3 al-Imran/The Family of Imran, verse 21 are just a few of the Koranic passages that accuse the Jews of murdering Allah’s prophets sent to them.

[14] Koran, surah 3, al-Imran/The Family Imran, verse 113.

[15] Hadith, Abu Dawud 3, #4349.

[16] Upon his arrival in Iran after the Islamic Revolution had succeeded in overthrowing the Shah, Khomeini made crystal clear that his sympathies lay with the Palestinian Arabs. But he also delineated between Iranian Jews and Zionist Jews — that the former were loyal to Iran. However, following the 9 May execution of prominent Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian, the Jews of Iran began to emigrate en masse. Hundreds of Jews were executed in the first few years of the Islamic Republic under Khomeini, including a 13-year-old boy executed because he wrote a letter to relatives in Israel. Under Khamenei, the present Supreme Leader, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security constantly monitor the remaining Iranian Jews. Paydavand Vol. II. „The Events of 1979: 9 May.“

[17] Terua. p. 16 and p. 22. Also, see Iran’s Final Solution for Israel by Dr. Andrew Bostom and „Jihad, Najis, & Islamic Jew-Hatred„, 31 January 2015.

NZZ| Seilziehen in den USA um die Iran-Politik

Obama bekämpft die Bestrebungen im Kongress, Iran mit neuen Sanktionen zu bedrohen.
Obama bekämpft die Bestrebungen im Kongress, Iran mit neuen Sanktionen zu bedrohen. (Bild: Kyle Green / ap)
Die Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Kongress und Weissem Haus zum Kurs der USA gegenüber Iran haben sich verschärft. Beide Seiten boten Schützenhilfe aus dem Ausland auf. Der Ausgang des Machtkampfs ist offen.

Während sich amerikanische und iranische Unterhändler auf ein Treffen am Freitag und Samstag in Zürich vorbereiteten, hat sich in Washington der Kampf um die richtige Vorgehensweise im Atomstreit mit Teheran zugespitzt. Präsident Obama bekämpft die Bestrebungen im Kongress, Iran mit neuen Sanktionen zu bedrohen, weil dies den ohnehin schwierigen Verhandlungsprozess gefährden könnte. Nachdem Obama kürzlich den britischen Premierminister Cameron als «Kronzeugen» für seine Haltung eingespannt hatte, schlug der republikanische Speaker des Repräsentantenhauses, Boehner, mit einer eigenen Einladung an einen ausländischen Regierungschef zurück.

Gespaltenes Israel

Boehner bot dem israelischen Regierungschef Netanyahu an, vor dem Kongress zu den Bedrohungen zu sprechen, die der islamistische Extremismus und Iran darstellten. Er tat dies, wie Sprecher des Weissen Hauses und des Aussenministeriums bestätigten, ohne Rücksprache mit der Administration Obama. Und er tat dies mit Sicherheit in der Annahme, dass Netanyahu den Kongress zu einer härteren Linie gegenüber Teheran aufrufen würde. Allerdings wurde gleichzeitig bekannt, dass der israelische Geheimdienst Mossad im Gegensatz zu Netanyahu mit Obamas Einschätzung übereinstimmt, wonach eine neue Sanktionsdrohung des Kongresses die Verhandlungen zwischen Teheran und den fünf ständigen Sicherheitsratsmitgliedern sowie Deutschland (P5+1) torpedieren würden.

Obama hat im Kongress nicht nur mit republikanischen Gegnern seines Iran-Kurses zu kämpfen, sondern auch mit «Dissidenten» in den eigenen, demokratischen Reihen. Der frühere Vorsitzende des aussenpolitischen KomiteesMenendez meinte entsetzt, die Argumentation des Weissen Hauses höre sich immer mehr an, als folge sie einer Vorlage aus Teheran. Zusammen mit seinem republikanischen Amtskollegen Kirk arbeitet Menendez an einer Gesetzesvorlage, die automatisch neue Sanktionen vorsieht, falls die Verhandlungen scheitern. Dies, so unterstrichen zwei hohe Vertreter der Administration Obama am Mittwoch in Hearings im Senat, könnte Teheran aber dazu bringen, den Verhandlungsprozess abzubrechen. Die Aussenminister Frankreichs, Grossbritanniens und Deutschlands sowie die Aussenbeauftragte der EU, Mogherini, pflichteten dieser Haltung in einem Gastbeitrag in der «Washington Post» vom Donnerstag bei.


Kerry calls Iran airstrikes on Islamic State ‚positive‘

US Secretary of State John Kerry gives a statement after a roundtable meeting of the global coalition to counter the Islamic State militant group at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 3, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Eric Vidal)

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Dec. 3 that “the net effect is positive” of reported Iranian strikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in Iraq.

Kerry emphasized that the United States and Iran are “not only not coordinating militarily right now, but there are no plans at this time to coordinate militarily.”

Arash Karami reported that Iranian officials have also brushed back talk of coordination, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkamstating that she would “not confirm news about cooperation on a military matter,” while an anonymous Iranian official denied the existence of strikes entirely to Reuters.

This column has suggested that a nuclear agreement with Iran would be a catalyst for more expansive cooperation in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. This seems to be happening, incrementally, even in the absence of an agreement.

As Laura Rozen reported from Vienna, the latest P5+1 talks in the city, before the signing of an extension, gave rise to “cautious optimism that more rapid progress might now be made toward a final accord.” This progress carried over into the seven-month extension that allows the International Atomic Energy Agency expanded access to Iranian facilities and sets limits on R&D for centrifuges, among other conditions.

Kerry, Rice: Syria buffer zone ‚premature‘

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice told The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council this week that a safe zone in Syria, as advocated by Turkey, is “at best premature” and that it “would be a major investment of resources that would be something frankly of a diversion from the primary task at hand.” Kerry similarly referred to a decision on a buffer zone or safe zone as “premature.”

Semih Idiz writes for Al-Monitor that Turkey is unlikely to change its Syria policies until the United States clarifies its position on President Bashar al-Assad, so the friction in US-Turkey ties is likely to continue.

Some clarification of US intentions would no doubt be helpful. The United States has called for Assad to „step aside“ since August 2011. It seems unhelpful, however, for the Barack Obama administration to frame its debate on whether US attacks on IS and terrorist groups in Syria indirectly support Assad — or by extension Iran — and that therefore the United States needs to go after both IS and Assad, intervening on two sides of a civil war. Welcome to the slippery slope.

Better to toss that line of thinking out altogether. Instead, the questions over a buffer zone or expanded investment in the Syrian opposition should be based on a cool-headed assessment of the balance of forces inside Syria, and framed as to whether the United States is prepared to take any action that would likely be opposed by the Security Council, would prolong the war and begin a formal division of the country. What would it mean for the campaign against IS? And would the United States be ready to take on the Syrian government directly, if the zone or opposition groups were challenged by Syrian government forces? And then what?

For those who cannot reach beyond the simplified view that a decision of such magnitude should be characterized as either “pro-Assad” or “anti-Assad,” rather than an analysis based upon US policy options and potential consequences, it is worth recalling that this column has supported aid to Syrian rebel forces in pursuit of a political settlement; called for the Syrian government’s accountability for war crimes; provided on-the-ground reporting by Syrian correspondents on the rise of discontent in Alawite regions; and, as early as August 2012, and to date, has offered diplomatic strategies for a post-Assad transition in Syria.

Is IS attacking Kobani from Turkey?

The Turkish daily Radikal, translated in Al-Monitor, reported this week on the alleged presence of IS fighters in Turkish villages near the Mursitpinar border crossing with Syria in operations against Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces:

“Those who constantly watch the border from Caykara insist that IS had attacked YPG from the rear by crossing the border from Turkey. For them, the lack of intervention by the Turkish military tasked with border security is a sign that Turkey prefers to have IS control the border crossing. But even more worrying are the allegations that IS people have been freely entering abandoned houses on the Turkish side. There is no need to elaborate what kind of security fears this causes in the region and how it amplifies the distrust felt for security forces. Contradictory statements by senior civil servants and their ignoring of eyewitness accounts only intensify people’s lack of confidence.”

The US Congress is giving more intensive scrutiny to Turkey’s policies toward foreign fighters operating in Syria. Julian Pecquet reports that during testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Bradtke, the US Department of State’s senior adviser for partner engagement on Syria foreign fighters was “asked by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, whether Turkey was ‚complicit‘ in allowing fighters to cross its border into Syria; he said no.”

Russia diplomatic surge in Syria, Iran

While the United States has been preoccupied with its coalition effort against IS in Iraq and Syria, Russia has taken the lead in diplomacy toward a Syrian political settlement.

Vitaly Naumkin writes that Russia is looking to convene a preliminary conference on the future of Syria that would complement UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s plans for „freezing“ the conflict in Aleppo. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently met in Moscow with de Mistura, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and former head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Moaz al-Khatib, along with other Syrian opposition figures, toward this effort.

Russian diplomacy has also been instrumental in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran. Rozen writes that the Russian envoy to the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, “has managed to maintain a constructive working rapport with US and European counterparts at the Iran negotiating table, despite the deep strains plaguing Moscow-West relations over Ukraine.” She adds: “US and Western officials and experts say the prospective Russia-Iran energy deal may help resolve one of the toughest issues in the nuclear talks — the size of Iran’s enrichment capacity in a final deal — and they have recently gone out of their way to praise the Russian role in the sensitive nuclear negotiations as being highly constructive, professional and creative.”

Liberman sees ‘opportunity’ in regional crisis

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, in an exclusive interview with Ben Caspit, said he will soon present to US and Western powers “a courageous peace plan with very painful concessions.”

Mazal Mualem reports that Liberman’s regional peace plan may be part of a bid to position himself among the contenders to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

Liberman explained to Caspit why he felt that the time was right for a regional approach to the Palestinian issue: „This is the first time that the moderate Arab world understands and internalizes the fact that its real threat is not the Jews, not Zionism and not Israel, but the Muslim Brotherhood and Jabhat al-Nusra and Hamas and the Islamic State and al-Qaeda and all the terrorist factions of the different denominations over the generations. Therefore this is the first time that we can say to all these moderate countries, ‚Friends, we have a common enemy, let’s join hands and cooperate in the security realm as well as the economic realm.'“

Source: AL-Monitor

Politischer US Dokumentarfilm: Showdown mit Iran

Es handelt sich um einen politischen Dokumentarfilm des US-Filmemachers Greg Barker über den Machtkampf am Persischen Golf zwischen den USA und. Iran

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.


US-Kongress wird Druck auf Iran erhöhen

Republikanischer Wahlsieg erleichtert neue Sanktionen.

  (Die Presse)

Washington. Die Verhandlungen der USA, Großbritanniens, Frankreichs, Russlands und der EU mit dem Iran über die Beendigung seiner Atomwaffenpläne erhalten durch den Sieg der Republikaner bei den Kongresswahlen neue Dynamik. Jahrelang hat Harry Reid, der demokratische Mehrheitsführer im Senat, verhindert, dass Gesetzesvorschläge für neue Sanktionen auf dem Tisch von Präsident Barack Obama landen. Reid wird nun vom Republikaner Mitch McConnell ersetzt, den Vorsitz im außenpolitischen Ausschuss übernimmt sein Parteikollege Bob Corker.

Einen Vorgeschmack auf die auch gegenüber Obama härtere Gangart des neuen Kongresses lieferte die Weiterleitung eines vertraulichen Briefes des Präsidenten an den iranischen Führer, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an das „Wall Street Journal“, in dem er um Hilfe im Kampf gegen die Terroristen des Islamischen Staates bittet. Diese Indiskretion, die aus dem Kongress stammen dürfte, bringt Obama unter Druck, bis zur vorläufig auf den 24. November gelegten Frist für eine Einigung keine neuen Zugeständnisse zu machen. Ob Fortschritt möglich ist, hängt nun von einem Treffen der Außenminister der USA und des Iran, John Kerry und Javad Zarif, am Sonntag im Oman ab.

Going against Netanyahu, 84 percent of US Jews favor Iran nuclear deal

Strong Jewish support for an Iran nuclear deal was a surprise finding of a poll of American Jews who voted Tuesday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned against any deal that leaves Iran with an enrichment program.

By Howard LaFranchi

  • Jacquelyn Martin/AP
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As President Obama presses to reach an accord with Iranon its nuclear program by the end of the month, he can count on strong support from what might seem like an unlikely segment of the population: American Jews.

Jewish backing of the administration’s efforts to strike a deal suggests that American Jews aren’t heeding the alarms being sounded in Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He warns that any deal that leaves Iran with an enrichment program constitutes a mortal danger to Israel.

Strong Jewish support for a nuclear deal that limits, but doesn’t completely stop, Iran’s uranium enrichment abilities was a surprise finding of a telephone poll of Jewish voters who took part in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The poll, commissioned by J Street – the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” Washington lobbying organization – also found strong support for an active US role in efforts to forge Arab-Israeli peace. At the same time, the survey found strong support for Israel’s handling of Operation Protective Edge, this summer’s military operation against Hamas in Gaza that resulted in strong international criticism of Israel over the heavy civilian toll.

Recommended: How much do you know about Iran? Take our quiz to find out.

But it was the findings on Iran and the implication that American Jews would be comfortable with Iran retaining a nuclear program that stood out.

The survey found that 84 percent of American Jews would favor either strongly or somewhat a deal with Iran that would alleviate tough sanctions on the Iranian economy in exchange for Iran’s agreement to limit its nuclear program to civilian purposes and accept inspectors at its nuclear facilities.

The United States and five other world powers face a Nov. 24 deadline for reaching a deal with Iran. Mr. Obama said Wednesday that the nations in talks with Iran have presented Tehran with a “framework” that would “allow them to meet their peaceful energy needs,” but he said he wasn’t sure if a deal could be reached by the approaching deadline.

The strong Jewish backing for a deal actually mirrors the level of support for a diplomatic solution with Iran among Americans in general, say political analysts at J Street.

“The American public generally is supportive of giving diplomacy time to work,” says Dylan Williams, J Street director of government affairs. “I don’t think Jewish Americans are different from where the general American population is on this.”

American Jews “have accepted that some level of uranium enrichment will be part of a viable deal,” Mr. Williams says. Now, he adds, the key to acceptance of a deal – by Jews and the general public alike – will be “a robust verification and monitoring regime” that blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

The survey registered a strong sense of connection to Mr. Netanyahu among American Jews, even though its results suggest they don’t support his policies. Asked to gauge on a scale of 1 to 100 their feelings of warmth toward various leaders and personalities, respondents gave Netanyahu a 61 – higher than Obama (49) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (57).

“The prime minister is personally popular with American Jews,” says Jessica Rosenblum, J Street communications director. “The difference here is that they have deep concerns about the policies he’s pursuing.”

The survey also found that American Jews continue to support by a wide margin Democrats over Republicans. This is despite repeated predictions over recent years from conservative Jewish pundits that US Jews – because of Obama’s push for an Israeli-Palestinian two-state settlement, his overtures to Iran, and his frosty relations with Netanyahu – are on the verge of a wholesale shift to the Republican column.

“It’s comical how every two years the small segment of our community that leans conservative says, ‘This is the year that Jewish-Americans will vote for more hawkish politicians and policies,’ and it never happens,” Williams says.

In Tuesday’s elections, American Jews voted for Democrats over Republicans by a decisive margin of 69 to 28 percent.

And on that “feelings of warmth” gauge, they gave the Democratic Party a 51. The Republican Party got a 28.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Timeline: Tensions between Iran and the United States

Relations between the US and Iran following the 1979 Iranian revolution have been fractured at best – but can be seen as a series of highs and lows. Here is a timeline of tensions between Tehran and Washington

An Iranian woman stands in front of the painted wall of the former US embassy in Tehran

An Iranian woman stands in front of the painted wall of the former US embassy in Tehran Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP

From the shooting down of an Iranian commercial airline to the development of Iran’s nuclear program, below is a timeline of the historical moment’s post 1979 that have formed the present-day relationship.

January 1979: Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi flees Iran

The US-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, is forced to leave the country on 16 January following months of demonstrations against his rule by secular and religious opponents. Two weeks later, Islamic religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who referred to America as the “Great Satan”, returns from exile.

April 1979: Islamic Republic of Iran formed

Following a referendum, the Islamic Republic of Iran is proclaimed.

November 1979: The Iran hostage crisis:

Angered by the Carter administration allowing the recently deposed Shah into the United States, the revolutionary group Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line occupied the American embassy in Tehran and took 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days. On April 24, 1980, a failed rescue – Operation Eagle Claw – resulted in the deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian.

The crisis ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords in Algeria on January 19, 1981.

April 1980: The end of diplomatic relations

The United States end diplomatic relations with Iran, a break which has yet to be restored.

1983: Hizbollah bombings

United States implicates Hizbollah, an Iranian movement formed at the time of the Iranian Revolution, in terrorist attacks against the US. Attacks included the United States embassy bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 17 Americans, and the Beirut barracks bombing which killed 241 US peace keepers.

1986: Exchange of weapons

The US provided weapons to Iran, reportedly to fund anti-communist Contras militants in Nicaragua to help free US hostages held by Hizbollah in Lebanon. Reagan administration confirmed that weapons had been transferred to Iran but denied they were part of an exchange for hostages.

1988: Iranian Airbus shot down

US Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down commercial airline Iranian Airbus A300B2, killing 290 civilians from six nations, including 66 children. The US says the Airbus A300 was mistaken for a fighter jet that was outside the civilian air corridor and was not responding to radio calls.

April 1995: Clinton administration embargo

A total embargo on dealings with Iran by American companies was imposed by Bill Clinton.

January 1998: Mohammed Khatami elected

Newly elected Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called for a „dialogue of civilisations“ with the United States in a CNN interview based on similarities between American and Iranian quests for freedom

January 2002: “Axis of Evil”

President George W Bush gave his infamous speech describing Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq, as an “Axis of evil”.

The president warned that the proliferation of long-range missiles developed by these countries constituted terrorism and threatened the United States.

2002: Uranium development

Iranian opposition group reveals that Iran is developing nuclear facilities including a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water reactor at Arak. The US accuses Iran of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, which Iran denies.

June 2005: Tensions over atomic energy

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggests that the head of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, should either „toughen his stance on Iran“ or not be chosen for a third term.

August 2005: Ahmadinejad becomes president

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voted to become Iran’s president

2006: NGO

United States passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which appropriated millions of dollars for human rights Non-governmental organisations working in Iran.

May 2006: Ahmadinejad reaches out to President Bush

Ahmadinejad sent a personal letter to President Bush to propose „new ways“ to end Iran’s nuclear dispute. Both Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley dismissed it as a negotiating ploy and publicity stunt that did not address American concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

August 2006: UN debate invite turned down

Ahmadinejad invite to President Bush to a debate at the UN General Assembly was rejected by the White House.

September 2006: Financial sanctions

US government imposed sanctions on Bank Saderat Iran barring it from direct or indirect dealings with American financial institutions due to its reported connections with Hizbollah. Further sanctions on the financial sector were imposed by the US and EU in 2012 over Iran’s nuclear development.

May 2007: Iranian diplomat “ready to talk”

Iran’s top diplomat Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stated that Iran is „ready to talk“ to the United States.

November 2007: Iranian diplomats released

American armed forces released two Iranian diplomats as well as seven other Iranian citizens after 305 days captured in the raid of the Iranian Consulate General located in Erbil, Iraq.

April 2008: Ahmadinejad 9/11 comments

Ahmadinejad described the September 11 attacks as a „suspect event“, saying that all that happened was that „a building collapsed“.

November 2008: Barack Obama elected president

Ahmadinejad issued the first congratulatory message to a newly elected American president since 1979: „Iran welcomes basic and fair changes in U.S. policies and conducts. I hope you will prefer real public interests and justice to the never-ending demands of a selfish minority and seize the opportunity to serve people so that you will be remembered with high esteem“.

2010: Walk out at UN speech

During a 2010 speech to the UN, Ahmadinejad sparks walkouts after he claims that most people believe the US government were behind the 9/11 attacks.

2013: First phone call between US and Iranian heads of state for 30 years

Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani, held a phone call with President Barack Obama on a trip to the UN forum in New York – the first conversation between US and Iranian heads of state for 30 years. The US president said they both had expressed their determination to solve the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.

November 2014: President Obama sends ’secret letter‘ to leader of Iran

US President Barack Obama is said to have written a secret letter to Iran’s supreme leader describing a shared interest in fighting IS. The president also urged Ayatollah Ali Khamenei towards a nuclear agreement. It is the fourth time President Obama has written to the Iranian leader since taking office in 2009.

Source: Telegraph/AP/Reuter

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