IRANIANS, POST-SYRIA, CHECKMATING FALL-GUY OBAMA — ROUHANI, A “MODERATE”, OFFERS NUCLEAR “DEAL” (NETANYAHU: “A TRAP”)

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The ‘Iran is Now Moderate’ JokeBarry Rubin, Jewish Press, Sept. 23, 2013—I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so.

 

How Obama Was Checkmated by IranFouad Ajami, Bloomberg, Sept. 23, 2013— “Down is up and up is down. I feel like we have passed through the looking glass and are looking back at a backwards world,” a military historian of the modern Middle East wrote in a recent note to me about the hectic diplomacy over Syria and Iran. “Where did all the realists go? It’s as though the Cold War never took place.”

 

The Perils of an Iran Nuclear DealAmir TaheriNew York Post, Sept. 20, 2013—The White House has announced that President Obama might meet with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, should it seem they could talk seriously about the nuclear issue. One wonders if Obama is ready for another Russian offer to “help.”

 

A Kinder, Gentler Iran?Ray Takeyh, LA Times, Sept. 20, 2013—In an autumn ritual, an Iranian president is once more coming to New York for the United Nations' annual meeting of the heads of state. Media frenzy is likely to follow, as the smiling visage of President Hassan Rouhani dominates the airways next week.

 

Netanyahu is Said to View Iran Deal as a Possible TrapMark Landler, New York Times, Sept. 22, 2013—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago.

 

 On Topic Links

 

From Iran to Syria, Obama's Toughness Is Paying OffJeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013
Rouhani Enlists Iran Jewish MP Against Hard-LinersMeir Javedanfar , Al-Monitor, Sept. 22, 2013
The Burden of Proof is on IranEphraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013
Playing by Iran's RulesJames Jay Carafano, The National Interest, Sept. 23, 2013
Tensions in Tehran: Iran’s Mullahs vs. the Revolutionary GuardsRamin Ahmadi, World Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2013


 


 
 
I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so. That may be a good idea, and it may have been inevitable. But there was no chance in anything else, even if Barack Obama might never have been president. Here’s what was going to happen:
 
–The U.S. would impose economic sanctions. Yet there was never a chance these would fully succeed. There was too much cheating, and China, Russia, and Turkey were among there was exempt.
 
–Negotiations would fail because Iran would stall, play games, and try to use trickery. –So Iran would eventually get nuclear weapons.
 
–The U.S. would then use containment. That would not necessarily be bad but the point was containment as in the Cold War or merely a narrow containment to try to prevent use of nuclear weapons?
 
Yet now something very weird has happened: Hassan Rouhani won the election. Let’s review. Rouhani is a veteran national security official. He was backed by the regime. The voters would not be allowed a choice of a reformer so they could only vote for a phony one. Now what then happened? “President Rouhani says Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.” But that is what Iranian leaders have always claimed! The Los Angeles Times applauded that ten dissidents were released. But they weren’t , even though the newaspaper said, ”It’s Rouhani’s strongest signal yet that he aims to keep a pledge to improve ties with the West.”
 
But he didn’t do it! “Rouhani said I have full authority to make a deal with the West. But that’s what they said too! He then implied that he reversed Iran’s denial that the Nazis committed a Holocaust of Jews. But even that turned out to be a lie and here. They also had a phony New Year’s greeting to the Jews. Rouhani added a Jew to the UN delegation of Iran, no doubt to tell how well they were treated. So Rouhan loves the Jews and wants to make peace. Obama swallowed the bait, eagerly.
 
But note that Rouhani does not have a moderate record–he has bragged about fooling the West about Iran’s nuclear program before–and meanwhile Iran now has troops in Syria. What suckers Americans are. They’ll still be talking about Iranian nukes on the day they get them and probably that’s true for Syria giving up chemical weapons, too. But no it is Israel that wants to plunge the world into war.
 
The New York Times writes: “Netanyahu Scoffs at Iranian Overtures, Setting Stage for Showdown With U.S.” It is Israel that “scoffs” and that scoffing is setting up a U.S.-Israel “showdown” because America would understandably rather have a nice peace than a war with Iran. Yet there is no indication that experience shows Israel might be right. The Times writes: “Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, moved quickly to block even tentative steps by Iran and the United States to ease tensions and move toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis, signaling what is likely to be a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal.”
 
But this is a lie. Netanyahu cannot “block” an initiative and if Obama wants talks he will have them. And it is assumed that the initiative will succeed “toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis.” Peace in our time!
 
Yet there is one more piece of poison. The reader is warned that there will be “a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal. Israel will frantically try to head off an attempt to make peace.” Bad Israel! In fact it is obviously others who want to claim a deal is certain and that Iran wants one. Like Vladimir Putin on the Syria deal it is Rouhani that gets an op-ed, in the Washington Post instead of the Times, to make his claim and be cheered.
 
Already there has been a pay-off for Iran in a series of European Union court decisions which recommended the removal of unilateral sanctions against dozens of Iranian firms, including crucial shipping lines. The European states show they are eager to drop sanctions because of the money to be made. Rami G. Khouri writes: “The positive possibilities that could emanate from the escalating signs of a direct Iranian-American engagement are dazzling in their intensity and historic in their scope. Rarely in modern history has the Middle East region experienced such a hopeful moment as this, when one major diplomatic shift towards productive American-Iranian relations could positively impact half a dozen conflicts in the region.”
 
On what evidence? “Will Iran trade Al-Assad?, says al-Ahram. when it looks like Iran is actually escalating the civil war ”Syria deal holds a lesson for Barack Obama–talk to Iran,” says an op-ed in the Financial Times. Reuters”calls the regime a “centrist government.” The Guardian tells us: “After years of seeing their personal freedoms and political demands quashed, young Iranians hope the efforts of the new government led by President Hassan Rouhani will open up Iranian society and restore the country’s standing on the world stage.”
 
On what evidence? About the only article reminding us that Tehran is an ideological and sworn enemy of America that wants to deceive it was Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert who has worked at the National Security Council. Speaking of an article in an Iranian newspaper he said: “The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran’s quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers.
 
And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy. “The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered ‘trustworthy and ‘accountable’ is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.”
 
Otherwise, all problems can be settled with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, with the help of Russia and Turkey. Israel, in contrast, is unreliable, preferring an avoidable confrontation. Funny, so Iran no longer regards America as the Great Satan but as the Great Sucker. Beware of Iranians bearing gifts, and even more aware of Iranians that aren’t.

 
 
HOW OBAMA WAS CHECKMATED BY IRAN
Fouad Ajami
Bloomberg, Sept. 23, 2013
 
“Down is up and up is down. I feel like we have passed through the looking glass and are looking back at a backwards world,” a military historian of the modern Middle East wrote in a recent note to me about the hectic diplomacy over Syria and Iran. “Where did all the realists go? It’s as though the Cold War never took place.”
 
The logic of familiar things has been overturned. Iran President Hassan Rohani comes to New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly preceded by a brilliant publicity campaign. There was an interview with NBC, with a female correspondent at that. There was an op-ed article under his name in the Washington Post. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter.
 
The Iranian president stepped forth in the nick of time, right as the Barack Obama administration was reeling from the debacle of its Syria policy. We have been here before with the skilled and tenacious guild that runs the Iranian theocracy.
 
An attractive cleric with a winning smile, Mohammad Khatami, cultured and literate, preaching the notion of a “dialogue of civilizations,” was elected president in a landslide in 1997; he was re-elected four years later. Great hopes were pinned on Khatami. He delivered an oration at the Washington National Cathedral, and his ascent was seen on both sides of the Atlantic as evidence of the mellowing of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution of 1979.
 
But the hopes invested in Khatami were to no avail. Iran pushed on with its nuclear weapons program and with its bid for greater power in neighboring states. At home, a student rebellion animated by unmistakable liberal sentiments that broke out in 1999 was crushed without mercy.
Recalling Khatami
 
Khatami was either a man powerless to defend the movement or a faithful son of the Khomeini order who was given leeway by the regime’s powers that be. He couldn’t defy the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or run afoul of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The case is now being made that Rohani is no freelancer, that he is a player of standing in the regime, and that the olive branch he carries with him has the consent of the supreme leader himself. The regime has been humbled, brought low by draconian sanctions, this line of argument goes, and has come to a reckoning with its weaknesses. There are serious and obvious flaws in this view.
 
These begin with Rohani’s biography. As pointed out by Sohrab Ahmari in the Wall Street Journal, Rohani, who was secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for 16 years, starting in 1989, “led the crackdown on a 1999 student uprising and helped the regime evade Western scrutiny of the nuclear-weapons program.” Indeed, from 2003 to 2005, Rohani was Iran’s chief negotiator over the nuclear program. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, who once proclaimed that he hadn’t become the king’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the empire, Rohani hasn’t risen to the presidency of Iran to barter away the regime’s nuclear assets.
 
The assertion of the Obama administration and its chorus that the theocracy is now at a low point in its fortunes can be turned on its head. Iran has been fighting a proxy war with the U.S. over Syria, and can be said to have prevailed in that contest. The regime of Bashar al-Assad hasn’t fallen; in a moment of peril for the Syrian dictatorship, Iran dispatched the fighters of the Hezbollah militia deep into the war. They and the Revolutionary Guard turned the tide of war in Assad’s favor.
 
The supreme leader and his lieutenants watched an American leader draw a “red line” in Syria, only to blink when it counted. Masters of chess — didn’t they invent the game? — they had an exquisite sense of Obama’s dilemma. Rohani had the indecency of shedding crocodile tears for Syria in his Washington Post article, speaking of it as a “jewel of civilization” that had turned into a “scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks.” So much of this violence, he doubtless knew, has been the work of the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, its Lebanese satrap.
 
Iran’s clerics have nothing to lose from the diplomacy entrusted to Rohani. They bought time for their nuclear program and for their client regime in Damascus. The theocracy has erected a deep structure of power. Men such as Rohani are dispensable. There is a tenaciousness to the theocracy’s bid for power and to its survival instincts. Let Obama have his boast about the efficacy of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The theocracy can live with that. Since its conquest of power in 1979, it has had the perfect level of enmity with the U.S. — just enough to serve as the ideological glue of a regime built on paranoia and xenophobia without triggering a military campaign that could do it damage.
 
American officials now say that Iran can’t draw comfort from the reticence of Obama on Syria, that American vigilance would be greater on Iran’s nuclear assets than had been the case thus far over Syria’s chemical weapons. But on that diplomatic chessboard, and before a big crowd that has gathered to watch the protagonists in a standoff with high stakes, it is easy to see the American player being decisively outclassed. There is cunning aplenty in Persia, an eye for that exact moment when one’s rival has been trapped.
 
Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
 
Contents


 

 
The White House has announced that President Obama might meet with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, should it seem they could talk seriously about the nuclear issue. One wonders if Obama is ready for another Russian offer to “help.”
 
In the case of Syria, Russian “assistance” has left the United States committed to a process that may or may not dispose of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons, in exchange for which Obama effectively dropped his longstanding demand that “Assad must go” (as well as sacrificing any credible threat to use force to punish Bashar al-Assad for his atrocities). Syria, of course, only used the weapons to keep Assad in power.
 
This week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered a preview of Moscow’s plan for “solving” the Iranian nuclear stand-off. Fars, a news agency owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, quoted Lavrov about tackling the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program: “We have been in contact with Iranian partners and expect positive results soon.” Lavrov mentioned the possibility of Iran “voluntarily” suspending uranium enrichment above the 20 percent level in exchange for full recognition of its right to enrich uranium. Lavrov’s plan offers great advantages to Iran.
 
First, if America buys into it, it will abandon its freedom to develop a policy of its own on Iran.
 
Second, the five Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran would be set aside.
 
Third, the fact that Iran has been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for more than 20 years will be forgotten — just as Assad’s use of chemical weapons, a war crime and a crime against humanity, is not mentioned in the Russo-American accord.
 
Fourth, Iran will get to keep almost all of the 4,000 kilograms of uranium it has illegally enriched. To give Obama something to chew upon, Tehran may agree to transfer to Russia the uranium enriched to 20 percent. This would provide TV footage to create the illusion that Obama achieved something.
 
Fifth, as Lavrov made clear, the Iranian move would be reciprocated by a lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic — including the US and European Union sanctions that go beyond those imposed by the United Nations.
 
Finally, Iran will be invited to join the Geneva-2 conference on Syria, thus having its leading role in the Middle East endorsed by both Russia and America.
 
The ease with which Russia managed to seize control of US policy on Syria has encouraged Rouhani that similar results could be obtained on the Iranian issue. Rouhani and his advisers believe that Obama is desperate to make a deal with Tehran. “Obama is the best news for our revolution since Jimmy Carter,” says Hussein Seifi, a political consultant in Tehran. “We antagonized Carter and created problems for ourselves.”
 
Tehran policy circles believe that Obama was ready to concede Iran’s main demands even under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — but Ahmadinejad enjoyed being provocative and believed that humiliating America was more important than neutralizing it. Rouhani rejects that method.
 
He has a history of direct and indirect contact with US politics. As far back as 1986, he acted as interpreter for Ayatollah Najaf Abadi in secret talks in Tehran with President Ronald Reagan’s emissary, Robert MacFarlane. Scottish-educated, Rouhani also has British friends who advise him to seize the opportunity provided by Obama’s presidency. Several key members of Rouhani’s Cabinet, including Foreign Minister Seyyed Muhammad-Javad Zarif, are US-educated and have spent years living and working in the America. Rouhani’s chief of staff, Muhammad Nahavandian even has a US Green Card.
 
At next week’s UN General Assembly, Rouhani will be all smiles and will do his utmost to appear moderate and reasonable. Lobbyists have already fixed a series of media appearances and private meetings for him, including with select Jewish figures in New York. In the runup to his trip, Rouhani spread the message that his administration does not deny the Holocaust and that the end of Ahmadinejad means an end to annual Holocaust-denial conferences in Tehran organized by the Islamic Republic. The view in Tehran is that, since Obama proved ready to eat humble pie on Syria, he should be helped to do the same on Iran.
 
Contents


 

A KINDER, GENTLER IRAN?
Ray Takeyh
LA Times, Sept. 20, 2013
 
In an autumn ritual, an Iranian president is once more coming to New York for the United Nations' annual meeting of the heads of state. Media frenzy is likely to follow, as the smiling visage of President Hassan Rouhani dominates the airways next week. Beyond vague pledges of cooperation and lofty rhetoric about turning a new page, the question remains how to assess the intentions of the new Iranian government. The early indications are that Rouhani has put together a seasoned team that seeks to both advance and legitimize Iran's nuclear program.
 
One of the peculiarities of the Islamic Republic is that at times it seemingly floats its strategies in the media. On Sept. 3, a long editorial titled "A Realistic Initiative on the Nuclear Issue" appeared in Bahar, an Iranian newspaper with ties to the more moderate elements of the country's elite.
 
The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran's quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers. And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy.
 
The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered "trustworthy" and "accountable" is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.
 
It appears that Rouhani is carefully following this script. One of his first acts as president was to appoint as his foreign minister Javad Zarif, an urbane diplomat unwisely purged by Ahmadinejad. Zarif's superb skill as a negotiator, his easy access to Western power-brokers and his pragmatism are bound to impress Iran's skeptical interlocutors.
 
The most contentious issue that has crossed Rouhani's desk thus far is Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against unarmed civilians. In the past, the ideological compulsions of the Islamic Republic would lead it to deny the charges, defend Syrian President Bashar Assad and accuse his detractors of fabricating the evidence. This time around, Rouhani and his functionaries have subtly distanced themselves from Assad, condemned the use of chemical weapons and welcomed Russia's efforts to resolve the issue through the United Nations.
 
Along with tweets commemorating the Jewish High Holy Days, Rouhani has managed to reverse some of the reputational damage that the theocratic regime had suffered under his impetuous predecessor. The new government's soothing words have not lessened its determination to forge ahead with its nuclear program. Rouhani has stressed, as reported on state radio this month, that Iran "will not withdraw an iota from the definite rights of people." That message was reinforced by the appointment of Ali Shamkhani to the powerful position of secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
 
Shamkhani is a creature of the security services, one of the founding members of the Revolutionary Guard and a former defense minister. Throughout his career, Shamkhani has been involved with the nation's nuclear program, procuring technologies for it and defending it. During his time as defense minister, he even subtly suggested the utility of nuclear arms in Iran's contested regional environment. "We have neighbors who, due to international competition, have gained nuclear weapons…. We have no other alternatives but to defend ourselves in view of these developments," Shamkhani said in 2000.
 
If Zarif's appointment is designed to placate the international community, Shamkhani's selection is a signal to the hard-liners at home that Rouhani intends to preserve Iran's nuclear prerogatives. Rouhani's attempt to refashion Iran's image and temper its rhetoric should be welcomed. After eight years of Ahmadinejad provocations that often unhinged the international community, a degree of self-restraint is admirable. However, judge Tehran by its conduct and not its words.
 
It is not enough for Rouhani to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Is he prepared to withdraw the Revolutionary Guard contingents that have done much to buttress Assad's brutality? It is not sufficient for Rouhani to speak of transparency; he must curb Iran's troublesome nuclear activities and comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions. And it is not enough for Rouhani to speak of a tolerant society unless he is prepared to free his many former comrades and colleagues who are languishing in prisons under false charges. Rouhani's reliability has to be measured by his actions, not by his speeches or tweets.
 
Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Contents


 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago, according to an Israeli official involved in drafting the speech. Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to address the General Assembly next Tuesday, a week after President Obama and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, are to speak at the United Nations.
 
But the Israeli government, clearly rattled by the sudden talk of a diplomatic opening, offered a preview Sunday of Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-edged message, in which he will set the terms for what would be acceptable to Israel in any agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “A bad agreement is worse than no agreement at all,” the Israeli official said, reading a statement from the prime minister’s office that he said reflected Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks.
 
President Rouhani, in advance of his arrival in New York this week, has signaled a willingness to negotiate. The Obama administration, while professing wariness, is clearly intrigued by the possibility of resolving a problem that has bedeviled President Obama as long as he has been in office. And that, in turn, has deeply unsettled the Israelis. “Iran must not be allowed to repeat North Korea’s ploy to get nuclear weapons,” said the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “Just like North Korea before it,” he said, “Iran professes to seemingly peaceful intentions; it talks the talk of nonproliferation while seeking to ease sanctions and buy more time for its nuclear program.”
 
In his speech, the official said, Mr. Netanyahu plans to review the history of North Korea’s negotiations, with particular emphasis on an active period of diplomacy in 2005, when the North Korean government, in what was then seen as a landmark deal, agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for economic, security and energy benefits. A year later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device. Israeli officials warn something similar could happen if the United States were to conclude too hasty a deal with Mr. Rouhani. As Iran is doing today, the North Koreans insisted on a right to a peaceful nuclear energy program.
 
There are differences between the two cases. At the time that it concluded the deal in 2005, North Korea said it had already produced a nuclear bomb. American intelligence experts believe Iran is still many months, if not years, away from having such a weapon.
 
But American officials agree that North Korea offers a troubling precedent of nuclear negotiations in which a rogue nation repeatedly extracted concessions from the United States and other countries, only to renege later and fire missiles or test nuclear devices.
 
In his speech, the Israeli official said, Mr. Netanyahu will offer a familiar list of demands: that Iran cease all enrichment of uranium and agree to the removal of all enriched uranium from its territory; dismantle its nuclear facility hidden in a mountain near the holy city of Qum; dismantle its newest generation of centrifuges at another facility, Natanz; and stop construction of a heavy-water reactor at Arak.
 
What is new is Mr. Netanyahu’s explicit comparison of Iran to North Korea — a rhetorical device devised to undermine Mr. Rouhani’s image as a moderate leader who posted greetings on Twitter to Jews for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. North Korea’s reclusive dictators — whether Kim Jong-il in 2005 or his son, Kim Jong-un, today — have not traveled to the United Nations to plead their country’s case to the world.
 
The Israeli official said that Mr. Netanyahu recognized that he would be labeled a naysayer for his pessimism. “He feels morally impelled to stake out this position,” the official said. The White House has sought to allay the fears of Israel officials, assuring them that Mr. Obama will judge Mr. Rouhani by his actions, not his words, and that the United States is not planning to prematurely ease the economic sanctions against Iran that have crippled its economy.
 
“We certainly recognize and appreciate Israel’s significant concerns about Iran, given the threats that have been made against Israel and the outrageous comments that have come out of Iran for many years about Israel,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Friday, previewing Mr. Obama’s speech on Tuesday.
 
But with a recent exchange of letters between Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani stirring hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough, Israeli officials are not mollified. At last year’s General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu provided what was probably its most dramatic moment, brandishing a simple drawing that he said demonstrated how close Iran was to producing a nuclear bomb.
 
This year, Israeli officials fear, the highest drama may be Mr. Obama greeting Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly, something that has not happened for decades and which they worry would leave Israel more isolated in dealing with Iran.

Contents
 

 
From Iran to Syria, Obama's Toughness Is Paying OffJeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013—There is one main reason why Iran is making conciliatory noises about its relationship with the U.S. and about the future of its nuclear program, and there is one main reason why Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, is signaling his intention to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons.
 
Rouhani Enlists Iran Jewish MP Against Hard-LinersMeir Javedanfar , Al-Monitor, Sept. 22, 2013—In Iran, much like everywhere else, all politics is local. This applies to some of the most important reasons behind Rouhani's reported decision to take Iran's Jewish member of parliament, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, with him on his upcoming UN trip to New York.
 
The Burden of Proof is on IranEphraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013—Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani is clearly determined to get economic and financial sanctions on Iran lifted. To that end, he obviously must conduct dialogue with the P5+1 world powers, especially with the US; as such, he has – not surprisingly – put out concrete feelers in this direction.
 
Playing by Iran's RulesJames Jay Carafano, The National Interest, Sept. 23, 2013—Hassan Rouhani is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Everyone in Washington pretty much agrees with that. On everything else the city divides into two camps. One holds that the new Iranian president offers an opportunity to engage with the regime.
 
Tensions in Tehran: Iran’s Mullahs vs. the Revolutionary GuardsRamin Ahmadi, World Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2013—In its first days under the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic of Iran was a competitive authoritarian state that, despite challenges of war, armed opposition, and difficult economic times, enjoyed a significant measure of stability. The Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary Basij force were charged with controlling the disenfranchised masses.

 

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