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  • 2 May 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Israel, Neo-Con Agenda, Sanctions, US-Iran War

How Badly Has War Rhetoric Backfired on Iran Hawks?

Threats of war with Iran were never intended to drive the U.S. and Iran into sustained talks.

Hawks in Congress have gone so far as to attempt to institutionalize the U.S. “no-contact” policy with Iran.  Bibi Netanyahu has in many ways so effectively perpetrated the post-Cold War reorientation of Israel against Iran as to take his country to the brink of war.

But in pushing the policies of no-contact and permanent hostilities with Iran, while at the same time ruling out the very policy of containment, the hawks have taken a failed paradigm to its logical, unsustainable conclusion.  Having brought Israel and the rest of the world to the fork in the road, we are faced with either choosing war or shifting to a new paradigm.

Netanyahu’s war threats were supposed to pressure the international community to expand Iran’s isolation and to further institutionalize Iran’s non-relationship with the United States.  The war threat, faithfully amplified by willing stenographers in the U.S., has been aimed more at the U.S. and international community than at the Iranians.

But the security establishment in the U.S. is firmly against the idea of war with Iran.  And, we are now finding out, Israel’s security establishment agrees and is deeply concerned about the potential of Netanyahu taking Israel into the abyss.  In just the past few weeks, the current IDF chief and the former heads of Shin Bet and Mossad, not to mention Netanyahu’s political opponents, have joined a building chorus of voices in Israel who have pounced on an opening to confront Netanyahu over his dangerous war posturing.

Meanwhile, because other means have failed to mitigate the side-effects of looming war—namely record high oil prices—diplomacy may be exactly what the saber rattling has unintentionally forced current United States political leadership into pursuing, despite the political costs. 

House now has three resolutions endorsing Israeli-led preventive war on Iran

The pro-Iran war posturing continues in the House, with yet another Member of Congress throwing their hat in the ring to signal support for Israeli-led preventive war on Iran.

Arizona Republican Paul Gosar has dropped what is now the third resolution in the 112th Congress providing Congressional cover for Israeli strikes—which the Pentagon has warned would drag the U.S. into war.

Signaling unconditional support for Israeli strikes significantly undercuts U.S. efforts to avoid war; it politicizes Israeli security (which is supposedly sacrosanct); and it provides political leverage against the U.S. administration for hawks in Israel (a group which, by the way, apparently doesn’t include Israel’s military chief).

Gosar’s resolution, H.Res.630, has no cosponsors.  But between his new measure, a “happy birthday Israel, now go bomb Iran” resolution, and the one that started it all–the Gohmert resolution, there are now 120 House Members who have endorsed Israeli preventive war in the current Congress.

The full list is below–I wonder how many of these Members have repeated the line that we must “listen to our generals”?  All the while, they disregard the overwhelming opposition to war with Iran expressed by the U.S. military, and instead follow the AIPAC-Netanyahu line (although AIPAC has been careful to not publicly endorse these measures, yet).

  • 5 April 2012
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 1 Comments
  • Culture, Diplomacy, Israel, Let's Talk Iran, US-Iran War

Building Bridges Between Two Communities

What is often forgotten or ignored in the talks of war with Iran are the two communities who are at the center of many of the debates – the Iranian-American and Jewish-American community. In this episode, we talk with Rabbi Marc Gopin, Director of George Mason University’s Center on Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, on how our two communities can learn from one another and dispel the fears on both sides. Rabbi Gopin focuses on the role of religion and culture in not sparking conflict, but as a critical component to reaching lasting resolutions between peoples and nations.

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Occupy AIPAC: Sign Language

Cross posted from NIACampus.org Student Reporting:

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Occupy AIPAC was a summit timed to coincide with the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. Occupy AIPAC participants gathered to discuss issues, such as Iran, the Arab Uprising, Palestine and the affects of AIPAC in determining U.S. foreign policy on these topics. On Sunday, Occupy AIPAC activists rallied outside of the Walter E. Washington convention center, where hours earlier, President Obama and important names in the foreign policy world gave their speeches to the AIPAC Policy Conference attendees.

The purpose of the rally was to warn the American people of what the activists saw as the dangerous and overwhelming influence that AIPAC was having on United States’ foreign policy. Messages of justice for the Palestinian people and peace with Iran echoed throughout the event. Keynote speakers from activist organizations, musical performances, and poetry readings accompanied the long day of protest.

Although tensions were high between the opposing sides earlier that day, a patient few waited to the end of the AIPAC conference and greeted the AIPAC members as they exited the building. Despite the high emotions and impassioned speeches from earlier in the day, people from both sides of the issue came together on the sidewalks and began to respectfully share ideas, opinions, and stories.

I had the opportunity to speak with the diverse group of activists at the event. The following profiles present the various perspectives of these activists:

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Name: Grant

Age: 46

From: Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Director of Research Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

Why are you out here today?

“Because you can’t just sit in an office and blog all day, you have to come out into the street you have to take actions that are visible you have to bring people out to protest in a peaceful, non-violent way and show, in this case AIPAC attendees, that we are opposed to their initiatives to launch war on Iran, to illegal settlements, to unwarranted influence in Congress that has no regulatory oversight whatsoever.”

Advice for Obama Administration on Iran:

“He needs to open a diplomatic presence. Why don’t they open up an embassy like the one they just built in Iraq in Iran—it is an extremely important country. They need to stop taking advice from the Israelis, who are absolutely hysterical about their IAEA regulated civilian nuclear program. They need to disregard AIPAC’s political pressure and go straight to the American people and say we’re not going to let Israel drive our foreign policy; we’re going to talk to Iran.”

  • 26 January 2012
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Israel, Let's Talk Iran

Iranian Schindler: Sardari’s Plight to Save Iranian-Jews

We discuss with Fariborz Mohktari, his latest book, “In the Lion’s Shadow”, detailing the work of an Iranian Schindler, Abdol-Hossein Sardari during World War II. Mokhtari tells the story of Sardari and his plight to save Iranian-Jews in France as well as detailing Iran’s international relations during this time. Mokhtari is a Professor of Political Science at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies.

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Iran News Roundup 12/30

Iran seeks renewed diplomacy

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran is prepared to renew talks with the P5+1 group of world powers over its nuclear program (Jerusalem Post 12/30).

Mossad chief: nuclear Iran not an existential threat  

Israeli Intelligence chief Tamir Pardo said that Israel will continue to use covert action to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, but if Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapon, it would not constitute an existential threat to Israel (Haaretz 12/29).

Shirin Ebadi calls on UN Security Council

Nobel Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi urges the United Nations Security Council to take up the issue of human rights in Iran and calls on it to empower the International Criminal Court to prosecute Iranian human rights abusers.  Additionally, Ebadi calls for mid-level officials to be added to the list of officials sanctioned for human rights abuses (Wall Street Journal 12/30).  

NY Times Editorial urges President to waive oil sanctions

A New York Times editorial strongly supports applying maximum pressure on Iran, but warns “penalizing foreign companies for engaging in otherwise lawful commerce with Iran is not the right way to go about it and could backfire.”  The Times states President Obama should “limit the damage by making full use of a waiver, which allows him to block the penalties if they would threaten national security or cause oil prices to soar.” (NY Times 12/29).  

Paul: sanctions lead to war

Presidential hopeful Ron Paul told voters in Iowa that Western sanctions against Iran are “acts of war,” which are likely to lead to an actual war (ABC 12/30).

Notable opinion: 

In an op-ed for The National Interest, Paul Piller discusses how the tactics of pressure and sanctions against Iran have made a diplomatic solution impossible:

We seem to have lost sight of what all those sanctions and pressure were supposed to achieve in the first place. They have come to be treated as if they were ends in themselves. That myopia, combined with reactive pigheadedness on the part of the Iranians, has produced a destructive spiral.

This is a tragedy in the making. It is being made largely because too many people in this country have lost sight both of U.S. interests and of the fundamental bargaining principle that if we want to solve a problem that involves someone else with whom we have differences, we should make it easier, not harder, for the other side to say yes.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

The website of former Iranian president Rafsanjani has been shut down, reports the Associated Press.

Lawyers representing Iran’s Central Bank are preparing to file a motion in a New York federal court seeking to release nearly $2 billion of frozen assets, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Iran News Roundup 12/20

Panetta: U.S. will not allow Iran to have a bomb

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has come under fire from neoconservatives for warning against the unintended consequences of Israeli military action against Iran, told CBS on Monday “the United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon” and shares Israel’s common concern. “There are no options off the table.”

“If they proceed and we get intelligence that they [Iran] are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.” When asked whether Iran will have a nuclear weapon in 2012, Panetta answered by saying that “it will probably be about a year before they [Iran]’ would be able to startdeveloping a nuclear weapon.

Scott Pelley of CBS clarified at the end of the report,”Panetta also told CBS News that while Iran needs a year or less to assemble a weapon, he has no indication yet that the Iranians have made the decision to go ahead” (CBS 12/29).

Former Mossad Chief: Military attack will embolden Iran

Former Mossad chief Mier Dagan has stated that “the immediate alternative of an attack [on Iran] may lead the Iranians into a reality in which they are [pushed over the edge] and try to obtain nuclear capabilities as quickly as possible instead of trading rather carefully while taking the international community’s demands into consideration” (Think Progress 12/19).

MEK sends mixed signals 

In a statement, MEK leadership said Camp Ashraf residents “in principle” agree to a United Nations plan to move residents from Camp Ashraf on “condition that the United Nations, United States and European Union support and endorse the proposal and that the Iraqi government guarantee the residents’ security and well-being” (Reuters 12/20).

IPS reports that, although the MEK seems willing to agree to conditions, U.S. officials are still hearing disturbing “talk about martyrdom and dying” from MEK leaders in negotiations. “Experts on the MEK accuse its leaders of holding its own members hostage to efforts to get the organization removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (IPS 12/19).

Meanwhile, according to a Washington Post report, the MEK peddled the story of Iraqi Transportation Minister Hadi al-Amiri’s visit to the White House in an attempt to undermine the Iraqi government as it battles the potential closure of Camp Ashraf (Washinton Post 12/20)

Japan warns U.S. of “danger” of central bank sanctions

Japan’s Foreign Minister met with Secretary Clinton and discussed central bank sanctions mandated by Congress, saying, “During our frank discussion on Iran, specifically in relation to the National Defense Authorization Act, which targets the Central Bank of Iran, I conveyed my view that there is a danger of causing damage to the entire global economy if the imports of Iranian crude oil stop” (State Department 12/19).

Meanwhile, oil rose for a second day amidst declining U.S. crude stockpiles and speculation over further sanctions against Iran (Business Week 12/20)Francisco Blanch, Bank of America Corp.’s head, said that further sanctions on Iran may surge oil prices by $40 a barrel.

Iran reportedly cuts ties with UAE as concerns mount over national currency 

Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post Thomas Erdbrink says Iran is cutting all ties with UAE in anticipation of sanctions by the Persian Gulf kingdoms.

In a statement, Iranian president Ahmadinejad said his administration is doing everything it can to save the Iranian national currency from plunging further out of control (Taiwan News 12/20).

  • 13 December 2011
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Israel, MEK, NIAC round-up, Sanctions, UN, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 12/13

Israel: Iran must choose between the bomb and survival

A senior Israeli cabinet minister said that Iran must to choose between obtaining a nuclear weapon and survival (AFP 12/12). “We believe that in order to stop the Iranian military nuclear project, the regime in Tehran should face a dilemma — whether to have a bomb or to survive,” said Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon.

Speaking to Fareed Zarkaria, GOP presidential hopeful John Huntsman repeats the mantra that Iran has ‘already decided’ that ‘they want’ a nuclear weapon despite U.S. intelligence and the UN’s nuclear watchdog saying otherwise (Think Progress 12/12).

Nader Hashemi writes that the U.S. policy of isolating and sanctioning Iran has only served to strengthen the regime, weaken the middle class, and fuel Iran’s nuclear ambitions (Hashemi National Interest 12/12).

Central bank sanctions modified and to be voted on this week

Both the House and Senate negotiated and agreed on new Iran sanctions that they hope to pass this week. The new sanctions penalize foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank.  Lawmakers from both political parties made slight changes to the legislation that would allow the option of imposing restrictions on such foreign financial institutions, instead of cutting them off entirely from the U.S. financial system. Democratic Senator Carl Levin did note that the bill is probably “96 percent” the same as legislation that passed the Senate last week (Reuters 12/12).

Meanwhile, the House will also vote today on new broad Iran sanctions legislation that includes a provision placing restrictions on contacts between U.S. government employees–including diplomats and members of the armed forces–and Iranian officials (The Hill 12/13).

Drone update

Iranian military experts claim they are extracting data from the U.S. drone (Washington Post 12/12).  Yesterday, President Obama requested the return of the drone (Guardian 12/12). Today Iran rejected the request (NY Times 12/13).

Israel: We don’t support M.E.K. delisting

Yesterday, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel does not support MEK’s campaign to get delisted from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list (Think Progress 12/12).  

Notable opinion: 

In a Huffington Post op-ed, Fariba Amini discusses the increasing war rhetoric against Iran, the dire consequences of a military attack, and the importance of diplomacy.

There is no question that the Iranian people will suffer in the short and long run and will bear the brunt of an attack. Americans will suffer in a different way: Higher gas prices at home which is not even comparable to what ordinary Iranian citizens will pay if and when a war breaks out. The damage will be irreversible.

It is only through diplomatic efforts that Iran’s nuclear program can be contained. Harsh words by the U.S. and its allies, more sanctions, including possible sanctions on oil, will only harden the regime. It is already hurting the people more so than the government.

To read the full piece click here.

Iran News Roundup 12/9

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Drone update

The Washington Post reports that a video of the drone that went down earlier this week aired on Iranian state television. Officials deny that the drone could have been brought down by Iran’s military (Washington Post 12/8). Military hardware expert Peter Singer doubts the authenticity of the drone shown in the video (Guardian 12/8).

Suggestions of military action against Iran continues  

GOP presidential hopeful and frontrunner Gingrich calls for joint operations with Israel against Iran’s nuclear program if Israel chose to attack Iran, saying, “I would rather plan a joint operation conventionally than push the Israelis to a point where they [the Iranians] go nuclear.”(Think Progress 12/8). video of Wednesday’s Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) forum where republican candidates suggested military action against Iran’s nuclear program is now available (Think Progress 12/8).  

President Barack Obama reiterated that the United States is “considering all options” in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon (Reuters 12/8).

Reuters reports that everyday Iranians are increasingly concerned and fearful of the potential for war. Maryam Sofi, a university teacher a mother of two, says she “cannot sleep at night, thinking about destruction and bloodshed if Israel and America attack Iran.” (Reuters 12/8). According to a senior geopolitical risk analyst at Barclays Capitol, the chance of a military strike on Iran has roughly tripled in the past year (Reuters 12/8).

Imprisoned Iranian journalists

 The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the number of imprisoned journalists worldwide has risen up 20% with Iran being the worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars (CPJ 12/8).  Other independent journalists contest that the real figure is nearly double.

Notable Opinion:

 In a Huffington Post op-ed Robert Naiman discusses how The National Defense Authorization Act, blocking European banks and companies from doing business with Iran’s Central Bank, would raise oil prices and weaken the U.S. economy.

This is a big deal, because Iran is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, and blocking Iranian oil exports to Europe would raise the price of oil, in Europe and in the United States.

Kirk’s amendment would hurt the U.S. economy, at a time when economic contraction in Europe could push the U.S. back into recession.

Raising the price of oil will hurt the U.S. economy directly. In addition, hurting the European economy will also hurt the U.S. economy by causing U.S. exports to Europe to fall. Furthermore, adding to Europe’s economic problems now would undermine attempts to contain the European financial crisis, as the trader’s joke about sanctions helping Italy, Spain and Greece to collapse suggests. And if efforts to contain Europe’s financial crisis fail, we’re going to feel that pain in the U.S., just as Europe felt the 2008 U.S. financial crisis.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

Farideh Farhi writes that the spin that never materialized in the IAEA report, and the rising pressure on Iran, has diminished political space in Iran in favor of hardliners, particularly regarding the the nuclear program and Iran’s stance towards the U.S.

Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi write in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. and EU should press European satellite providers to halt broadcasting services for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting in retaliation for Iran’s signal jamming of outside broadcasts.

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi, currently under house arrest, met with his family over the weekend.

Iran News Roundup 11/18

Central Bank sanctions being pushed by Congress
Minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation on behalf of Sen. Mark Kirk that would sanction the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in an attempt to “collapse” the Iranian economy (The Hill 11/17).  In the House, a letter with bipartisan support, signed by House leadership and Foreign Affairs Committee leaders from both parties, was sent to the president pressing him to take action on the CBI (Read letter here).

Yet, while there may be support for CBI sanctions on the Hill, according to a USA Today piece by Oren Dorell, sanctions do not harm the Iranian government as much as they hurt the Iranian middle class.  As NIAC president Trita Parsi says in the article, sanctions actually benefit the Revolutionary Guard as they increase the profitability of smuggling, which the Revolutionary Guard has a virtual monopoly on (USA Today 11/17).  This message was echoed at a recent IISS event, where “panelists agreed that while sanctions produce social consequences, they will not achieve the political aim of ending the Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions” (Lobelog 11/17).  An Inner Press Service article spotlights economic concerns for Iran sanctions, pointing out that Obama administration officials worry that targeting Iranian oil, which is a primary driver for the world economy, could seriously harm Europe’s struggling economy and the U.S.’s tentative economic recovery (Inner Press Service 11/17).