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Posts Tagged ‘ Barack Obama ’

  • 10 July 2013
  • Posted By Layla Oghabian
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Iran Election 2013, Sanctions

Escalating Iran Sanctions Could Damage Hopes for New Beginning

On Monday, July 1 new Executive and Congressional sanctions on Iran, put in place before Iran’s recent elections, came into force. These new sanctions target the shipping and automobile sectors, financial transactions involving gold, and holdings of Iran’s currency, the rial. These latest sanctions come amid a growing debate over whether sanctions could undermine diplomatic opportunities and moderates within Iran in the wake of Iran’s recent elections. However, there is little sign that the sanctions will abate, with the House of Representatives considering a floor vote on new, sweeping sanctions in the weeks before Iran’s President-elect, Hassan Rouhani, even enters office.

Rouhani’s ability to deliver and change the policies of the Iranian government remains a question mark. During his campaign, the former nuclear negotiator pledged to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” with the outside world, release political prisoners, and potentially to make Iran’s nuclear program more transparent in order to ease tensions with the West.  But his political flexibility may be limited in the face of intensifying economic pressure and fear that the United States is only interested in regime change.

  • 31 January 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions

What Obama’s new team may mean for diplomatic progress with Iran

The commencement of President Obama’s second term in office brings a whole host of updates to his administration. With old advisors and secretaries departing and a new national security team being formed, several of these changes may have direct implications on future talks with Iran.

Foremost among these is the recent Senate confirmation of John Kerry as Secretary of State, as well as the appointment, if confirmed, of Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense. A key member of President Obama’s Iran negotiating team, Gary Samore, who was the White House White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and Terrorism, is also leaving. Samore’s successor still has not been decided and his replacement will be one among many in President Obama’s Iran and Middle East teams that will shake out in the upcoming weeks and months.

There are indications that these changes, especially at the State Department and the Pentagon, will make way for an opportunity for serious engagement with Iran. Both John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are arguably less hawkish on Iran than their predecessors, and Kerry has in the past recognized Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment (a key Iranian demand).

If serious negotiations are to occur, they will have to be based on mutual, give and take compromise by both Iran and the U.S. Undoubtedly, Iran’s chief demand will be sanctions relief and a recognition of a right to enrichment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and for the U.S. it will be to reduce that enrichment to lower grades and hold Iran accountable to NPT obligations through increased inspections.

Former Ambassador William H. Luers and Thomas Pickering, a former undersecretary of state for political affairs, have outlined how a possible deal would work in their recent article for the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The shape of a deal on the nuclear issues is obliquely understood by both sides, but Iran has made clear it expects some specificity on this issue. Of course getting to a deal is a problem because of 30 years of mistrust between the two sides. So at the most basic level, Iran should agree to keep in full its nonproliferation treaty commitment and to provide for the greatest transparency so inspectors can monitor its nuclear program.

“On the U.S. side, there should be a plan to reduce the sanctions on nuclear development as well as recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes only. An early start would be for Iran to stop production of 20 percent-enriched uranium (which can shorten the time needed to produce weapons-grade uranium) in exchange for relaxed sanctions.”

Both sides have increasingly given signals of willingness to come to compromise, and even the principles of a compromise have also been established. As Obama’s second term changes shape out, there is reason to be hopeful for the upcoming nuclear talks with Iran. A hope that, for the million of Iranians currently bearing the brunt of US sanctions, cannot come to fruition soon enough.

  • 22 August 2012
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 4 Comments
  • Iranian American activism, Sanctions

Thank Obama for Suspending Sanctions on Humanitarian Aid

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for taking action to enable the American people to help the Iranian people in their time of need following the earthquakes that struck northern Iran.   We greatly appreciate your issuance of a general license to help ensure sanctions don’t obstruct humanitarian relief in the aftermath of this tragedy.  Your efforts demonstrate that disputes between governments should never interfere with humanitarian needs and goodwill among people.

Thank you,

>> Sign your name here

Child Foundation * Children of Persia * Hand Foundation * Iranian Alliances Across Borders * Iranian American Bar Association * Iranian American Muslim Association of North America * Moms Against Poverty * National Iranian American Council * Persian American Society for Health Management * Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans * United For Iran * West Asia Council

[emailpetition id=”3″]

  • 31 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 31, 2012

Obama Authorizes New Iran Sanctions

President Obama authorized new sanctions against banks that facilitate the sale of petrochemical products by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Naftiran Intertrade Company (NIC). Additionally, the President imposed sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq for processing transactions for sanctioned Iranian banks (Reuters 7/31; The White House 7/31).

US Lawmakers Push for More Sanctions on Iran

US lawmakers in favor of new sanctions have reached an agreement, and the new legislation is expected to be voted on in the House as early as Wednesday. As explained by the Senate Banking Committee, “The bill aims to prevent Iran from repatriating any of the revenue it receives from the sale of its crude oil, depriving Iran of hard currency earnings and funds to run its state budget.” (AP 7/30; Senate Banking 7/30).

Iraq Says It Will Force MEK Out of Paramilitary Base

Iraq has told the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a US-designated terrorist organization, that they must move out of Camp Ashraf, or be forced to leave. Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayadh said at a conference that, “Now we are free to implement the mechanisms required to transfer those who live in (Camp Ashraf) to where we find appropriate.” Iraq said it will observe a grace period of “a few days” to allow for a solution to the impasse, which arose when the MEK stopped cooperating with efforts to relocate the group’s members (Reuters 7/31).

Persian Gulf States Expand Arms Purchases

  • 3 May 2012
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy

Dysfunctional Congress Threatens Iran Talks

As the United States and Iran look for an exit ramp off the road to war, they may find a surprising new obstacle: the very sanctions legislation that many credit for bringing Iran back to the negotiating table. As a result of that sanctions bill, Congress now has the de-facto power to block any diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. And the scary reality is that the same dysfunctional institution that almost drove the nation into default last summer can exercise this veto power over diplomacy by doing what it does best: nothing at all.

Congress created this dilemma when it passed draconian sanctions on Iran’s financial system and oil exports, but failed to give the President the power to repeal those sanctions under any conditions, regardless of whether Iran makes major concessions. Unlike all previous Iran sanctions, Congress did not make these new sanctions conditional on Iran’s behavior. If Iran agrees to certain criteria at the negotiating table, the President does not have the power to lift the sanctions. Now, only Congress can lift the most severe sanctions ever imposed on Iran.

  • 22 November 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Election 2012, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Question’s for tonight’s GOP debate

The GOP candidates will take to the stage tonight at 8pm EST to debate national security issues, and we expect Iran policy will once again be a major point of discussion.  Given that many of the candidates have had a chance to offer their talking points on Iran, here are some questions the moderators can ask to dig a little deeper beyond the standard rhetoric.

Mitt Romney

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently joined military and civilian officials and experts in stating that a military strike on Iran could only set its nuclear program back two or three years and would have many “unintended consequences.”  Experts say such strikes would convince Iran to make a full sprint towards a nuclear weapon.

You have suggested that a Romney Administration would be inclined to use military force to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon and have criticized President Obama’s stated willingness to engage Iran.  At the last debate you said, “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.  If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.”

-Would a Romney administration be more willing to go to war with Iran than the current administration?  Given that military strikes short of a full-scale invasion of Iran would only delay–not end–the country’s nuclear program, does the “military option” mean you would be willing to send ground troops into Iran?

-Would a Romney Administration be willing to pursue a diplomatic resolution regarding Iran’s nuclear program and negotiate directly with Iran, or is diplomacy off the table?

“All Options” on Iran Must Include Diplomacy

For the first time since the May 2010 “Tehran Declaration,” Iran has offered a proposal that could break the deadlock over its nuclear program.  While there are many unanswered questions about the contours of the proposal and about Iran’s motivations for offering it, there is only one way to answer those questions: renewed diplomacy.

According to Iran’s atomic energy chief, Iran is proposing that the IAEA would be granted “full supervision” of Iran’s nuclear program for five years in exchange for the removal of sanctions.

This proposal may be the first glimmer of opportunity towards a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  It could present a rare chance for the U.S. and Iran to get negotiations on track after the false start of October 2009 and the diplomatic purgatory that set in with the implementation new UN and U.S. sanctions.

But while the details of any such proposal have yet to be laid out and would obviously have to be settled at the negotiating table, some—notably the Washington Post in a September 6th editorial—have already dismissed the proposal it out of hand.  In the past, the limited process of diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran has been undermined by each side dismissing the other’s proposals out of hand; and each time, the conflict has become more dangerous and more entrenched.

While sanctions and sabotage efforts have reportedly slowed Iran’s nuclear progress, and as recent reports show that U.S. diplomatic efforts have convinced China to “put the brakes on oil and gas investments in Iran,” the Iranian nuclear program is advancing, albeit at a slower pace.  It is widely acknowledged that sanctions have not changed Iran’s strategic calculus regarding its nuclear program.

The fact is, sanctions were never supposed to do that by themselves.  Even those who supported the sanctions touted them as a means to bring Iran back to the table for a deal.  But now that Iran has signaled a potential willingness to come to the table, we have to ask ourselves whether we value the idea of sanctions more than a potential diplomatic solution.

The idea that sanctions would be lifted in exchange for full supervision is a test for those who said the goal of sanctions was to serve as leverage.  By definition, a lever must be able to move.  Our sanctions regime, we may come to find out, is a lever that is stuck in place—a monument to “toughness” that places form over function.

Will the Obama Administration Listen to Gates or Neo-Cons?

As a Bush Administration holdover, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has largely avoided Republican attacks.  A Republican working in a Democratic administration, Secretary Gates seems to enjoy broad support on both sides of the aisle, and his policy recommendations are generally approved of enthusiastically by both political parties.

His recent comments on Iran, however, have the potential to raise some neo-conservative hackles.  Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to convince Vice President Joe Biden, among others, to make the US military threat against Iran “credible.” Gates immediately responded, saying that “We are prepared to do what is necessary, but at this point we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is in fact having an impact in Iran.”

Yesterday, Gates pushed back even further against callously wielding the military option:

A military solution, as far as I’m concerned … it will bring together a divided nation. It will make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons. And they will just go deeper and more covert

The only long-term solution in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide it’s not in their interest. Everything else is a short-term solution.

  • 4 February 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 4 Comments
  • US-Iran War

Deja Vu All Over Again

On the heels of last week’s testimony by Tony Blair before Britain’s Chilcot panel regarding the Iraq war, Seumas Milne discusses in the Guardian yesterday the parallels between the 2002 run up to war with Iraq and the current escalation in rhetoric and military forces aimed at Iran .

In his column, “The lessons of Iraq have been ignored. The target is now Iran”, Milne writes, “We were ­supposed to have learned the lessons of the Iraq war. That’s what Britain’s ­Chilcot inquiry is meant to be all about. But the signs from the Middle East are that it could be happening all over again.”

He goes on to compare the current Iran rhetoric and George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, and analyzes the recent US announcement that it is “boosting its naval presence and supplying tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new weapons systems to allied Arab states.  The target is of course Iran.”

“In case anyone missed the parallels, Tony Blair hammered them home at the Iraq inquiry last Friday.” Milne writes, “Far from showing remorse about the bloodshed he helped unleash on the Iraqi people, the former prime minister was allowed to turn what was supposed to be a grilling into a platform for war against Iran. “

Tony Blair isn’t the only one who has apparently learned little from the lessons of Iraq.  In Daniel Pipes’ February 2 piece in the National Review, “How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran”, Pipes offers the Obama Administration some free political advice: “He needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him,” Pipes writes.  The answer to Obama’s political difficulties?  Bomb Iran.

Pipes states that such an attack would be “more politically palatable” because it would be limited to aerial strikes and thus “would require few ‘boots on the ground’ and entail relatively few casualties”.  No mention, however, of the Pentagon’s broadly accepted assessment that such strikes would not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program and would play into the hands of Iran’s government as it attempts to fight a growing popular uprising.

Like any good political strategist, instead of making the case that starting a war with Iran is good policy, Pipes argues that its good politics—he even supports his argument with polling data.  The cynicism in Pipes’ argument is underlined when he compares his proposed new war with Iran to 9/11, noting that the most deadly terrorist attacks on US soil were a political boon that “caused voters to forget George W. Bush’s meandering early months”—just think what bombing Iran could do for President Obama’s poll numbers.

“If Obama’s personality, identity, and celebrity captivated a majority of the American electorate in 2008, those qualities proved ruefully deficient for governing in 2009.”  So in Pipes’ world, “bomb, bomb Iran” is new “Yes we can”.

  • 20 April 2009
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • 4 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Why Roxana?

cross posted from HuffingtonPost:

Tehran’s sentencing of Roxana Saberi to eight years of prison for spying has shocked people inside and outside the country. At a time when President Barack Obama is seeking a dialogue with Tehran, what kind of a signal does Roxana’s sentencing send, particularly since Iran didn’t live up to the standards of justice it has obligated itself to per the many conventions Iran is a party to?

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), the Iranian authorities didn’t even disclose the laws she allegedly violated, nor did they announce under what article of the law she is indicted.

Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist who has been living in Iran since 2003, was first arrested in January. She was charged with the crime of buying wine. The charge was later changed to engaging in illegal activities by continuing to report after her press credentials were revoked in 2006. Then, on April 13, 2009, the authorities changed the charge once more during her one-day trial behind the scenes. Now she was accused of spying for the US government.

As Hadi Ghaemi of ICHRI has pointed out, “to arrest Saberi for buying wine and suddenly uncover evidence a week before her trial that she was spying for the United States government lacks credibility.”

So why is this happening to Saberi? Most analyst agree that she has become a pawn in the political games between the US and Iran, though the explanations for Tehran’s actions differ.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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