Tag: Geneva

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


Download a pdf version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

 On Topic Links

 

Ya’alon: Every Iranian Embassy in the World is a Base For Terrorism: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013

On the “Israel is an Apartheid State” Slander: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 2, 2013      

A Good Deal For the Bedouin, And For Israel: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2013

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“It's…critical that the final deal with Iran prevent [establishment of nuclear weapons] from happening. Here's what this means: no enrichment, no centrifuges, no heavy water reactor, no weapons program, no ballistic missiles and a change in Iran's policies – no genocide against Israel, no terrorist support, no undermining of regimes in the Middle East…this is what the next negotiation must establish,” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on Monday with visiting Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina. (Arutz Sheva, Dec. 10, 2013)   

 

"We’re at a crossroads." — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry added "We’re at one of those, really, hinge points in history. One path could lead to an enduring resolution in international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The other path could lead to continued hostility and potentially to conflict. And I don’t have to tell you that these are high stakes." Kerry said that the administration has not confidently determined whether the Iranian regime has changed its "nuclear calculus," away from a drive toward weaponized uranium. As a senator before leading the State Department, Kerry had a personal hand in crafting sanctions legislation with his former colleagues on Capitol Hill. "This is something that I think you ought to take great pride in," he said. "I voted for these sanctions, like we all did in the United States Senate. I think we were 100 to nothing as a matter of fact. And we put them in place for a purpose. The purpose was to get to this negotiation," he continued. "The purpose was to see whether or not diplomacy and avoidance of war could actually deliver the same thing or better than you might be able to get through confrontation." (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 11, 2013)

 

“The sanctions have proven effective because we dropped them… the thought that the Iranian people, its leaders, or even moderates inside the country will succumb to increased pressure does not reflect a true understanding of what is happening in [Iran]. Iranians must be allowed to take the path that provides them an honorable solution.” — U.S. President Barack Obama addressing the citizens of Israel directly on Saturday. His statement was aimed at rebutting Netanyahu’s long-held assertion that tough sanctions will cause the Iranian regime to halt its development of a nuclear program. (Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2013)

 

“You do not need to reassure us…you need to listen to us, because we know Iran well.” —Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, referring to recent diplomatic overtures made by the U.S. towards Iran. Sheikh Khalid said the Gulf states were keen that any deal with Iran should not be confined to the nuclear weapons issue alone, but must also address other issues such as Tehran’s continued involvement in state-sponsored terrorism, including its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. (Telegraph, Dec. 8, 2013) 

 

"The entire deal is dead." — Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said the Iranian nuclear deal would be dead if the US Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not take effect for six months. "We do not like to negotiate under duress," Zarif added. "If Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States.” Zarif's comments had little effect on US Senators who are preparing legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran in six months if the deal reached in Geneva goes nowhere. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013)

 

“What this comes down to is the perception that if we kept churning up the pressure, new sanctions, more sanctions, more military threats, etc., that eventually Iran would cave.” —President Obama, who sharply criticized as not viable several Israeli government postures on talks with Iran. Obama took aim at claims by Prime Minister Netanyahu that increased pressure during the interim talks between Iran and world powers would extract greater concessions from Iran. “Wherever we see the impulses of a people to move away from conflict and violence and toward a diplomatic resolution of conflict, we should be ready to engage them,” he said. “We have to not constantly assume that it’s not possible for Iran like any country to change over time.” (Canadian Jewish News, Dec. 9, 2013)

 

“The administration could prove right and the possibility of a diplomatic outcome could be lost.” — Dennis B. Ross, who worked on Iranian issues during Obama’s first term. “That said, the Iranians could hope that by looking reasonable, they can get the sanctions to fall of their own weight.” With Iran threatening that any new sanctions would scuttle its interim nuclear deal with the West, the Obama administration is fighting a fierce battle to convince skeptical Senate Democrats not to pass any new measures against Tehran. (New York Times, Dec. 10, 2013)

 

“On Saturday, President Obama said he could envision a final agreement that would let Iran enrich nuclear material for power production with enough restrictions and oversight to assure the United States, Israel and the rest of the world that it could not produce a nuclear weapon. But he said there was no guarantee that such a deal would emerge.” — Thomas Erdbrink wrote in a New York Times article. Iran has continued to claim the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes; the Geneva agreement did not limit its ability to enrich uranium to low levels suitable for producing electricity. On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told students in Tehran that Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges “would never stop spinning.” But in an apparent reference to the lifting of international sanctions, which have severely damaged Iran’s economy, he added that the “people’s economic lives should also continue to spin.” (New York Times, Dec. 8, 2013)

 

“My delegation has just voted in favor of this report, however, we would like to reiterate my government’s position that our support for this document should in no way be considered as the recognition of the Israeli regime,” — Iran’s representative at the United Nations General Assembly, who met to approve the credentials of member states on Thursday, Dec 5. Iran took the floor to announce its refusal to recognize the State of Israel. (Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2013)

 

“The ink is barely dry on the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva and Iran has already shown its true colors,” —  Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, reacting to Iran’s  announcement at the UN General Assembly that it refuses to recognize the State of Israel. Prosor added: “This is a regime that crosses red lines, produces yellow cake, and beats its citizens black and blue.” (Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2013)

 

“I think now [the Israelis] have really a license to act without having to be scolded for not having consulted the U.S. for their plans” — Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and 2008 Presidential candidate, commenting on the possibility of Israeli retaliation if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. The U.S. “has indicated that they are going to act independently of Israel as it relates to Iran,” Huckabee said, calling that a “very foolish policy.” Huckabee also questioned why anyone committed to the safety and security of the future of Israel “would be supportive of the policies of Barack Obama, which you can call the most frighteningly non-supportive [U.S.] policies on the state of Israel since its inception.” “I can’t imagine that somebody could look at those policies and say, ‘Boy, [Obama has] really got the Israelis’ back’—because he doesn’t.”  (Algemeiner, Dec. 9, 2013)

 

“We are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and prosperity and security” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday as he wrapped up his eighth visit to the region as secretary of state. He also likened the effort to bring peace to the Middle East to the late Nelson Mandela’s long struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Kerry added that “we will approach this final negotiation with an absolute view about Israel’s security,” as well as the safety of the wider Middle East, he said as he prepared to fly to Washington after two days of talks in Israel and the West Bank. (Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2013)

 

"Our best efforts to reach Palestinian-Israeli peace will come to nothing if Iran succeeds in building atomic bombs…a nuclear armed Iran would give even greater backing to the radical and terrorist elements in the region. It would undermine the chances of arriving at a negotiated peace." — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that a nuclear Iran would jeopardize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013) 

 

“The first question all Israeli media ask every released prisoner is: ‘Do you regret what you did or not?…I say to the Israelis: There is no Palestinian who did something for the homeland and his nation who will regret it. We don’t regret what we did and we will not regret what we did.” — Asrar Samrin, who was sentenced for the murder of Israeli Tzvi Klein in December 1991. Samrin, a Palestinian Authority terrorist who was serving a life sentence until Israel freed him for the privilege of resuming “peace talks,” has said he and other released prisoners have no regrets for killing because they acted “for the homeland.” Under direct pressure by the Obama administration, Israel recently released 52 of 104 imprisoned terrorists to accommodate the Palestinian Authority’s precondition to return to talks that had been frozen for three years. (Jewish Press, Dec. 8, 2013)

"For an artist to go and play in a country that occupies other people’s land and oppresses them the way Israel does, is plain wrong. They should say no. I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time," — Roger Waters, co-founder of British rock group Pink Floyd. Waters compared artists playing concerts in Israel to those who performed in Nazi Germany. "Many people did, back in the day. There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian People being murdered." (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013)

 

"The complication in South Africa's relations with Israel, in the context of Palestine, is derived from the fact that we see the struggle of Palestine as similar to that of ours against apartheid" — Solly Tshivhula, a South African diplomat in Ramallah, who said his country's relations with Israel are shaped by South Africa's empathy for the Palestinians. Relations between Israel and South Africa were cool during long years of deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (Associated Press, Dec. 8, 2013)

 

“Many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes…I respect and appreciate the Jewish community’s family values and unity that has led to strong political, economic and cultural gains… While I personally regard this level of tenacity, I also recognize that for others, the accomplishments of the Jewish community triggers feelings of resentment, and a sense that Jewish success is not also their success.” — Laurie Cumbo, the councilwoman-elect for the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, commenting in an open letter posted to her Facebook page. Cumbo is an ally of New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. (Daily Caller, Dec . 2013)

 

“I don’t give a shit about asylum seekers, but the journalists are at fault. They should be hanged; they are like the Jews,” — Karl Simlinger, a mayor in Austria, resigned after he was quoted Tuesday night during a town hall meeting. (Ha’aretz, Dec. 8, 2013)

 

SHORT TAKES

 

IRAN AND POWERS START IMPLEMENTING NUCLEAR DEAL — (Vienna) Iran and six world powers began expert-level talks on Monday to work out details in implementing a landmark accord for Tehran to curb its disputed nuclear program in return for a limited easing of sanctions. The preliminary accord is seen as a first step towards resolving a decade-old standoff over suspicions Iran might be covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons "breakout" capability, a perception that has raised the risk of a wider Middle East war. Officials from Iran and the P5+1 met at the Vienna headquarters of the U.N. nuclear agency, which will play a central role in verifying that Tehran carries out its part of the interim deal. The outcome of the meeting is expected to determine when Iran stops its most sensitive nuclear activity and when it gets the respite in sanctions that it has been promised in return. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013)

 

KERRY TO URGE CONGRESS TO HALT SANCTIONS BILL, AS IRAN THREATENS 'DEAD' DEAL — (Washington) Secretary of State John Kerry is under pressure to convince Congress to hold off on new sanctions legislation against Iran, as he prepares to testify Tuesday amid a renewed effort in the Senate to turn the screws on Tehran. A bipartisan group of senators is preparing to propose new sanctions against Iran. News reports on the bill prompted that country's foreign minister to warn such a step would kill the nuclear deal negotiated last month aimed at curbing Tehran's uranium enrichment program. The Obama administration is adamantly opposed to new legislation at this stage, and Kerry will likely try to persuade lawmakers to hold off, when he testifies Tuesday afternoon before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (Fox News, Dec. 10, 2013)

 

GULF NATIONS TO CREATE JOINT MILITARY COMMAND — (Dubai) Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbors wrapped up a summit meeting in Kuwait on Wednesday by agreeing to establish a joint military command, paving the way for tighter security coordination even as their regional rival Iran pursues outreach efforts in the wake of its interim nuclear deal. Many in the Gulf remain wary of Tehran’s intentions. Saudi Arabia in particular sees a stronger Iran as a threat to its own influence, and it and other Gulf states are major backers of the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose government is backed by Iran. (Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2013)

 

98 DEAD IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AFTER CLASHES — (Bangui) Fighting came to the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving dozens of casualties and posing the biggest threat yet to the country's new government just as the U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims. The authorization is expected to lead to an increase in troops for an African Union-led force and the French. Witnesses and aid workers say at least 98 people are dead in Bangui after a day of clashes between the Muslim armed fighters who rule the country and a Christian militia who opposes them. (National Post, Dec. 6, 2013)

 

CLASHES IN WAKE OF YEMEN MASSACRE — (Aden) Yemeni security forces launched a sweep in the capital to find the perpetrators of a deadly attack on the country’s Defence Ministry, sparking clashes that left five suspected militants and one member of the special forces dead, officials said Friday. The brazen Thursday attack claimed by Al Qaeda’s local branch in Yemen killed 52 people including at least seven foreigners, and underscored the ability of insurgents to take advantage of the country’s instability and tenuous security — even at the headquarters of its military. Al Qaeda gained a major foothold in Yemen’s south amid the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (Toronto Star, Dec. 7, 2013)

 

FRENCH FORCES KILL SUSPECTED ISLAMISTS IN MALI — (Timbuktu) The French army has confirmed that it killed 19 people in a clash with suspected Islamists in Mali. A spokesman for the operation said the dead men had been buried in the desert after a gun battle north of Timbuktu. He added that there had been no French casualties. France still has up to 3,000 soldiers in Mali, after intervening in January to oust Islamist and secessionist rebels who had occupied the north of the country. The United Nations Minusma force has also deployed more than 6,000 soldiers and police in the country. Despite some success, pockets of al Qaeda-linked fighters still remain. (BBC, Dec. 11, 2013)

 

TRIAL BEGINS FOR "SOLDIERS OF ALLAH" ACCUSED OF MURDERING BRITISH SOLDIER — (London) The trial of two radical Muslims accused of the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby has begun at the Old Bailey court in central London. Islamists Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are each accused of attacking the 25-year-old Rigby by running him over from behind with a car and then attempting to decapitate his motionless body with a meat cleaver and kitchen knives. The killing of Rigby outside the Woolwich Barracks in southeast London on May 22, 2013 shocked the country and has drawn nationwide attention to the rise of radical Islam in Britain. (Gatestone Institute, Dec. 9, 2013)

 

TURKS DETAINED AT AUSCHWITZ FOR ALLEGED NAZI SALUTE — (Krakow) Two Turkish tourists were detained by guards at the Auschwitz museum for appearing to make a Nazi salute. The tourists, a man and a woman, both 22, were taking pictures of each other in front of the gate to the former Nazi death camp under the iconic sign “Arbeit macht frei” — “Work makes you free” — and raised their right hands in the gesture of a Nazi salute. “They probably will be accused of public promotion of Nazi symbols,” which is illegal in Poland, police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. If found guilty of the charge, they could be facing two years in prison. (Times of Israel, Dec. 8, 2013)    

      

UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA’S ISRAELI BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN AN “ASSAULT ON THE JEWISH PEOPLE”— (Toronto) The United Church of Canada’s newest Israeli boycott campaign, this one targeted at consumer items manufactured in the West Bank, was condemned this week by the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. “The echoes of the past history of Church-sanctioned antisemitism continue to grow stronger,” said Avi Benlolo, president of the Centre, in a Tuesday statement that also accused the 500,000-strong church of giving “tacit support for the hatred and terror” against the Jewish state. The boycott in question, Unsettling Goods, urges church members to avoid a laundry list of consumer products, from plastic sheds to skin creams to carbonation devices, that are manufactured by Israeli companies with operations on land occupied since the 1967 Six Day War. (National Post, Dec. 5, 2013)

 

MKS LEARN BEDOUIN DID NOT SEE, AGREE TO RESETTLEMENT PLAN, THREATENING BILL'S PASSAGE — (Tel Aviv) Major disagreements over the proposed Prawer-Begin Bedouin resettlement plan raised more doubts from Knesset members, threatening the bill’s passage and indicating that changes would be sought. The controversial bill, meant to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev, was debated again in the Knesset Interior Committee on Monday. Former minister Bennie Begin, who helped put together the plan and is guiding the legislation through the Knesset, said that the Bedouin never agreed to his plan nor ever saw it. The agreement listed which Bedouin towns would be expanded, which new ones would be founded for Bedouin and for Jews and what land would be given to Bedouin demanding ownership. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 10, 2013) 

 

TWO ISRAELIS AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE IN SWEDEN — (Stockholm) Two Israeli-American researchers received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Tuesday. Israeli-born Prof. Arieh Warshel, who now lives in California, and South African-born Prof. Michael Levitt, who settled in Israel and also lives in the US, shared the $1.25 million with Austrian-born Prof. Martin Karplus, who fled to the U.S. before the Holocaust. The scientists received praise from the Nobel Prize selection committee for their “development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems.” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 11, 2013)

 

ISRAEL, JORDAN, PALESTINIANS TO SIGN WATER AGREEMENT — (Tel Aviv) Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a water-supply agreement to slake rising cross-border demand, a rare step toward economic integration despite persistent political rancor holding up progress on a Middle East peace accord. The deal reached Monday also aims to slow the steady drop in the Dead Sea water level through a pipeline that will be built from the Red Sea. It is one of the few regional cooperation projects surviving from the heyday of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the 1990s, when many envisioned a Middle East remade by economic interdependence. "It is no less than a historic agreement," Israeli Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Army radio. (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9, 2013) 

 

MONTHLY SUMMARY OF TERRORIST ATTACKS IN ISRAEL FOR NOVEMBER, 2013 —November saw an increase in the number of terror attacks in Israel: 167 attacks as opposed to 136 in October. The main increase is noted in Judea and Samaria with 107 attacks as opposed to 99 in October; as well as an increase in Jerusalem with 53 attacks as opposed to 32 in October. The Gaza Strip kept a similar number of attacks as in October with five attacks. (Israel Security Agency, Nov. 2013)

 

On Topic Links

 

Ya’alon: Every Iranian Embassy in the World is a Base For Terrorism: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013 — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Monday that every Iranian embassy throughout the world also serves as a base for gathering intelligence and planning terror activities.

On the “Israel is an Apartheid State” Slander: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 2, 2013 — Interview with Ambassador (ret.) Prof. Robbie Sabel: "To better understand the fraud of those who call Israel an Apartheid state, one can enumerate the key characteristics of the South African regime."

A Good Deal For the Bedouin, And For Israel: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2013) — The government of Israel plans to invest more than NIS 10 billion over the next 10 years in upgrading Bedouin communities in the Negev, including reasonable settlements of Bedouin land claims. So what could be wrong with that?

 

Rob Coles, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme,   www.isranet.org Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284. mailto:ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

 

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“TEMPORARY” IRAN DEAL LEAVES NUCLEAR CAPACITY INTACT, HERALDS WEAKENED U.S. M.E. POSITION

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         
 

Answers to Key Questions Will Determine Iran Deal’s Success: Michael Singh, Washington Post,, Nov. 25, 2013— The “first-step” agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program is a timeout rather than a breakthrough. Under the accord, Iran pauses but does not significantly roll back its nuclear progress, and the West does the same with sanctions.

Just a Temporary Halt: Jerusalem Report, Dec. 16, 2013 — “This is not a roll-back of the program. No enrichment capability is dismantled. But it is a temporary halt of many of the elements of the program,” says Olli Heinonen in an interview.

A Stronger Iran, a Weaker America and a Region Teetering On The Brink: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013 — Three years ago, in May 2010, the Islamic Republic News Agency of Iran – IRNA – published a stern, if flowery, warning following a series of incidents involving the Gulf states.

Liberals Follow the Pied Piper to a Nuclear Iran: Karin McQuillan, American Thinker, Dec. 9, 2013 —  Democrats march docilely behind their president toward a nuclear Iran.  They are loyal beyond good sense and morality.

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama’s Rouhani Smokescreen: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Dec. 9, 2013

Iran Nuclear Deal Raises Fears of Proliferation Among Arab States: Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, 2013

Iran Announces Refusal to Recognize Israel at United Nations Session: Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2013

The Nuclear Deal: Netanyahu vs. Obama: American Thinker, Nov. 29, 2013

Containing Iran is the Least Awful Choice: George Will, Washington Post,  Dec. 6, 2013

 

                                                                                

 

 

ANSWERS TO KEY QUESTIONS WILL DETERMINE IRAN DEAL’S SUCCESS

Michael Singh

Washington Post, Nov. 25, 2013

 

The “first-step” agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program is a timeout rather than a breakthrough. Under the accord, Iran pauses but does not significantly roll back its nuclear progress, and the West does the same with sanctions. The emerging debate — critics assert that more should have been demanded of Iran; defenders counter that this was the best the United States could do and that the alternative would have been not a better deal but rather a military conflict — is important, but with the deal signed, the most critical questions regard what comes next.

 

Three questions will determine whether this deal ultimately advances or sets back U.S. national security interests. The first concerns implementation of the deal. Previous nuclear accords with Iran, such as the ones signed by Tehran and the European Union in 2003-04, foundered in implementation, not negotiation. At some point in the next six months, Iran may engage in activities that violate the deal in letter or spirit. In addition, the Geneva deal covers only one of three elements of Iran’s nuclear program: fuel fabrication. The other two elements, weaponization research and the development of missile delivery vehicles, are proscribed by the United Nations but not addressed in the accord and may well continue. The United States and its allies must prepare contingency plans to respond to any Iranian cheating on the deal and to punish Iranian nuclear-related work not addressed in the deal. Recall that when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons, U.S. officials found themselves scrambling to formulate a response. That sort of ad hoc policymaking cannot be repeated with Iran.

 

The second question concerns the ultimate end-state of Iran’s nuclear program. The interim agreement permits Tehran to retain all of its nuclear capabilities without requiring it to disclose all about its nuclear weapons-related work, past or present. This is a dangerous combination. Without insight into the full extent of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities, no amount of monitoring and inspection can provide true confidence that Iran lacks a parallel program beyond inspectors’ view. A final agreement must sharply curtail the nuclear capacity left in place by this first diplomatic step and require Iran to come clean on the full range of past and present nuclear work by all Iranian entities. To make clear to Tehran the alternative to such terms, the Obama administration should threaten to impose additional sanctions if no deal is reached and should take steps to strengthen the credibility of its military options. This is not just good policy but a matter of practicality: Any final agreement, or even a renewal of the six-month interim period “by mutual consent,” as the Geneva deal allows, would require the cooperation of Congress. It was hard enough to get congressional agreement to lift sanctions on Libya after that country agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and abandon its support for terrorism. Obtaining Congress’s blessing of a deal that requires far less of Iran is unrealistic.

 

Finally, and most important, the agreement raises questions about the U.S. strategic position in the Middle East. Our allies already believe that the United States is retreating from the region; the Geneva agreement is likely to reinforce that view as it legitimizes nuclear activities that the United States and the U.N. Security Council have opposed for the past decade. Accordingly, many will see this as a sign that flirting with U.S. red lines brings rewards — which is, regrettably, the same lesson that many have taken from U.S. non-intervention in Syria.

 

Combating this impression will require vigorous and proactive efforts, in contrast with the ambivalent approach Washington has taken toward the Middle East in recent years. An important element will be to energetically enforce the sanctions Iran still faces on its nuclear program, as well as those tied to terrorism, human rights and other issues. Washington must deter countries and companies from prematurely returning to business-as-usual with Tehran.

 

Furthermore, to signal to both Iran and our allies that the United States is not looking for the exit but remains committed to the region, U.S. officials should coordinate with allies regarding the content of a final agreement rather than presenting them with a fait accompli. Beyond the nuclear issue, Washington should continue to work to thwart hostile Iranian policies, defend our interests and those we share with our allies and otherwise deepen American engagement in the region.

 

The Geneva accord has been aptly characterized as a “first step.” Only time and our own actions will tell whether it is a step toward Iran’s denuclearization or its rise as a nuclear power, a step toward U.S. retrenchment or the reassertion of U.S. leadership in the Middle East.

 

 Contents

  

JUST A TEMPORARY HALT

Jerusalem Report, Dec. 16, 2013                                                                                                                                       

What does a former deputy director of the IAEA think of the deal the United States (as part of the P5+1 group) reached with Iran — to restrict Iranian nuclear activities for six months, while some sanctions against Iran are eased? “This is not a roll-back of the program. No enrichment capability is dismantled. But it is a temporary halt of many of the elements of the program,” says Olli Heinonen in an interview.

 

Dr. Heinonen, who is from Finland, spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency. He is credited with identifying as a danger A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani who was traveling from country to country, selling nuclear knowhow.  Heinonen was also notably critical of his former boss, Mohamed elBaradei, the Egyptian who headed the IAEA for a dozen years until 2009. The hint was that elBaradei was too soft on Iran.

 

Heinonen, as head of the IAEA’s Safeguards department, was able to visit nuclear facilities in Iran many times. He is certainly one of the world’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear work — and one of the few who are very knowledgeable yet able to speak openly. Heinonen, after all, is now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

 

“The agreement says that Iran will not build new facilities, but I would have preferred to have a statement included that Natanz and Fordow are the only ones existing or under construction,” he says. “I also welcome the monitoring of Iran’s yellowcake production, with the understanding that the yellowcake imported or produced until now will be subject to monitoring.”

 

Concerns have been raised because Iran’s semi-industrial-scale enrichment capacities and its stockpile could be further enriched to weapons-grade uranium.

 

“Indeed. With its current inventory of 20%-enriched uranium, it would take about two weeks in its new centrifuges to produce enough weapons-grade material for one nuclear device…If Iran uses 3 to 5%-enriched uranium as feed material at all 18,000 of its currently installed, old-generation IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow, the same result would be achieved in two monthsIn terms of stockpiled enriched uranium, Iran has more than 7 metric tons of 3 to 5%-enriched uranium. This amount translates to roughly the amount of fissile material for about four bombs…A more attractive route to break out for Iran is a covert route. A covert facility with 3,000 more advanced IR-2m centrifuges using 20%-enriched uranium would require less than two weeks to produce one bomb-grade amount of fissile material.”

 

So how long will it take Iran to produce a nuclear weapon?

 

“Weapons-grade UF6 still has to be turned into uranium metal, components of the weapon have to be machined, and a nuclear device assembled. This would take about a month or two. At this stage, one would have a crude nuclear device — which could be delivered, for example, by a jet fighter, as was the plan of Pakistan at the time of its nuclear test in 1998… Obama has set, as his red line — [the limit] for Iran’s nuclear capability — a nuclear device fitted on a missile. That capability appears to be at least one year away.

 

The Arak heavy water reactor, unless its construction is truly stopped, is likely to come online by the end of 2014. Would this reactor contribute to Iran’s ability to produce plutonium?

 

“Pakistan, India and Israel have used similar reactors to produce plutonium for their nuclear weapons. The Arak reactor could produce more than one bomb’s worth of plutonium on an annual basis…Once the reactor starts operation, it becomes highly radioactive since the spent fuel it churns out will contain fission products and plutonium. Iran would also need to build a reprocessing plant to extract plutonium from the spent fuel. While there is no present indication that Iran is building such a facility, Iran did conduct plutonium separation experiments in the early 1990s…There may still be ways to modify the Arak reactor so that it would produce less plutonium. Since Iran has stated that the reactor will be used for the production of medical isotopes, it could be modified to a more proliferation-friendly and smaller-sized light water reactor… At this stage, the most reasonable way forward is to freeze the construction of the IR-40 reactor, including the manufacturing of fuel and of reactor components, and to halt the production of additional heavy water pending the completion of any final agreement…To sum up, the measures taken by the agreement regarding Arak are good, but I would have also included the manufacturing of key components in the deal.

Contents

A STRONGER IRAN, A WEAKER AMERICA AND A REGION TEETERING ON THE BRINK

Zvi Mazel

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2013  

 

 

Three years ago, in May 2010, the Islamic Republic News Agency of Iran – IRNA – published a stern, if flowery, warning following a series of incidents involving the Gulf states. “There is no lion in the region save the one crouching on the shore opposite the Emirates states,” IRNA said. “He protects his lair, the Persian Gulf. Those who believe that there is another lion in the area [the United States], his claws and fangs have been broken in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine.”

 

“No good can be expected from him or from his hunting forays. He is merely counting the days until he can find a way to escape when he still can. Iran, the Emirates and the others countries of the region will forever be neighbors because of their geographic situation.” Today, those words have become reality. The Geneva agreement appears to be another step in America’s flight from the Middle East rather than a genuine effort to stop Iran’s rush to nuclear weapons.

 

The special relationship between Washington and Riyadh had been the cornerstone of America’s policy in the Gulf and the Middle East for nearly a century. The United States needed Saudi oil and secure export routes through the Gulf. It supplied the kingdom with sophisticated weapons. The Gulf states believed themselves safe thanks to this special relationship, which endured for decades. With the fall of the Shah and the rise of Khomeini in 1979, Iran became the main threat to the safety of the Gulf while America stood firm against Iranian subversive activities. That era appears to be coming to an end.

 

What happened in Geneva came after a series of steps that can only be seen as demonstrating the overwhelming will of the American president to distance himself from the region: getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, with no tangible success; abandoning Mubarak, backing the Muslim Brothers and even turning his back on the new Egyptian regime battling radical Islam; zigzagging about Syria; and recently rumored to be conducting secret talks with Hezbollah and radical Islamic factions in Syria. Taken together, these steps point to a deliberate strategy and game changer.

 

The anti-Iranian pragmatic front that united Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt – with Israel as a silent partner – is no more. It was already seriously weakened when Obama deserted his old ally Mubarak in January 2011 and hastened his fall. Geneva was its death knell. Iran is no longer the enemy of America, which views it as a potential partner in reshaping the Middle East.

 

Moreover, the Geneva agreement appears to be the outcome of secret talks between Teheran and Washington, with the mediation of Oman, leading the Iranians to grasp that Obama is even more eager to get rid of the issue and distance himself from the Middle East, something they had long suspected.

 

They were therefore able to achieve remarkable results. Their nuclear infrastructure remains intact; the West acknowledges their right to enrich uranium – in stark contradiction with the six Security Council resolutions in the framework of Article 7 of the UN Charter – that is, binding resolutions assorted with the threat of sanctions, including the use of force should they not be acted upon. Considering the spotty record of Iran in implementing those resolutions, it is doubtful whether it will do better with the Geneva agreement.

 

That this “preliminary” agreement will be followed by a final settlement is no less doubtful. In fact, in exchange for practically no concession from Iran, the United States and the European Union agreed to unravel the fabric of sanctions that was strangling the Iranian economy. Had the sanctions been maintained, they might have brought results. Instead, international companies are eagerly planning their reentry to Iran. It is a process that will be hard to stop and impossible to reverse.

 

For Saudi Arabia, the agreement also means that Iran has been given a tacit nod to pursue its subversive activities in the Gulf. This is a direct threat to the stability of the kingdom. At home, the opposition that has long been calling for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy will step up its pressure, while the Shi’ite minority will clamor for an improved status.

 

It must be remembered that Saudi Arabia, being the bulwark of Sunni Islam, is facing Shi’ite Iran not only in the Gulf states, but in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. This was brought painfully home a few weeks ago when a pro-Iranian Shi’ite Iraqi militia opened mortar fire on the Saudi border. Riyadh also has not forgotten the failed assassination attempt of its ambassador to Washington by Iranian agents. In addition, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are no longer sure that America will maintain its military presence in the area to secure the flow of oil. Iran is already building on what it sees as a victory of the first order. It immediately turned to its Gulf neighbors, which are aware of its military and technological superiority and now feel more exposed than ever.

 

Teheran hosted the foreign minister of the Emirates while its own foreign minister, Jawad Zarif, went on a much-publicized tour of the Gulf states. He has been so far to Kuwait, Qatar, the United Emirates and Oman, and is due to visit Saudi Arabia. As a peace offering, he stated that his country was ready to discuss the fate of one of three disputed islands in the Straits of Hormuz, for years a bone of contention with the Emirates. However, Zarif did not withdraw another threat, that of invading Bahrain. Nor did he assuage the fears of the Gulf states concerning its subversive activities through their Shi’ite minorities. Iran has very much the upper hand in the area. There could be attempts at dialogue in the coming months, but Saudi Arabia may be left with no alternative but to start its own nuclear program. At the same time, the monarchy has had preliminary talks with Russia on the basis of shared interests, such as fighting the Muslim Brothers and supporting the new Egyptian regime. Others might develop.

 

As to Egypt, the largest Arab country, it will in all likelihood also feel it has to develop its own program of nuclear energy. The new rulers have already stated that they were going to issue a tender for a first nuclear plant in the Dabaa area, where Mubarak had laid the cornerstone for four such plants to produce electricity.

The fact that the United States is no longer a stabilizing factor in the Middle East is preoccupying. It appears to favor subversive radical elements – from Iran to the Muslim Brotherhood, and even Salafi movements – which detect a growing Western weakness in this trend. As a result, America’s traditional allies are deeply worried in spite of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s efforts this week in Bahrain to pledge continuing military support. Russia is making a spectacular comeback in the region while a new race for nuclear weapons is about to begin.

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LIBERALS FOLLOW THE PIED PIPER TO A NUCLEAR IRAN

Karin McQuillan

American Thinker, Dec. 9, 2013

 

Democrats march docilely behind their president toward a nuclear Iran.  They are loyal beyond good sense and morality.  The enormity of nuclear armed terrorists, or war between Iran and Israel, is too terrible to believe, so it becomes easy for Democrats to dance behind their Pied Piper President, pretending that his fare is beautiful music. Advancing Democrat political interests by betraying national security and Israel is a road to self-destruction.  They are dishonoring us and bringing grave danger to America.

 

Yesterday, liberals agreed that it was crucial to maintain sanctions on Iran.  Today, congressmen who don't want to lift sanctions are attacked in the New York Times as un-American.  Liberals feel good that their guy is showing those redneck Republicans how you make friends in the Muslim world. What changed?  Iran's nuclear ambitions didn't change.  Iran's threats to unleash a dirty bomb in  New York didn't change.  Iran's Mein Kampf goal of a global caliphate free of Jews didn't change.  Only Obama changed.  Though he didn't really change, either; he just revealed what conservatives knew all along.  Obama couldn't care less about American national security or our most important military ally, Israel.  Making deals that consolidate the mad mullahs' power is his idea of success.

 

America chose to ignore Hitler's anti-Semitism in the 1930's, thinking German Jews' trouble was nothing to us.  That's how complicity in scapegoating works: it lulls the other targets into thinking only Jews will be killed.  Hitler was allowed to militarize Germany.  We all know how that ended.  Seventy million people dead, including most of the Jews of Europe and over 400,000 American soldiers. President Obama unveiled the results of his five years of secret negotiations, and liberal dogma on Iran reversed overnight.  Democrats didn't even wait to learn what the deal contained; it was whatever Obama said it was.  Its benefits were what the president told us they were.  You can almost hear the little feet pitter pattering behind the Pied Piper.

 

Henry Kissinger and George Schultz describe the breakthrough the Democrats are celebrating: Iran has been permitted … to add to its existing stockpile of seven tons of 3.5%- to 5%-enriched uranium with the proviso that this stockpile must be reduced again to its original level by the end of six months. (This means that Iran retains the additional enriched material throughout most of the agreement, adding to its leverage in the follow-up negotiations.) Iran has agreed to "neutralize" its small stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium by converting it to an oxide by the end of the agreement, though Iran retains the technical capability to enrich an equivalent stockpile at a later date. Progress on a heavy-water reactor and plutonium-reprocessing facility at Arak has been paused, though it appears that ancillary work on the site will continue. … it achieves, albeit temporarily, a small lengthening of the "breakout" time Iran would need to construct a nuclear weapon by several weeks, as described by administration spokesmen.

 

The White House did not post Obama's deal with Iran for Americans to read.  Iran did.  Iran is more transparent than our White House. (Hat tip: Powerline.) Iran is right, as we wrote here. The agreement does confirm Iran's right to continue to enrich uranium, now and forever. That the Obama administration would try to deny what the agreement plainly states testifies to its confidence that American reporters are too stupid, or too corrupt, to read the agreement-a whopping four pages-and truthfully inform the American people what it says. Pro-Israel Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer and Alan Dershowitz say it's dangerous, a potential catastrophe, but that's empty talk designed to quiet upset people who trust them.  Read the details: Democrat senators plan sanction legislation, but will "delay its implementation for six months to allow time to gauge the deal."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link – ed.]

 

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On Topic

 

 

Iran Announces Refusal to Recognize Israel at United Nations Session: Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2013 — As the United Nations General Assembly met to approve the credentials of member states on Thursday, Iran took the floor to announce its refusal to recognize the State of Israel.

The Nuclear Deal: Netanyahu vs. Obama: American Thinker, Nov. 29, 2013 — The Obama administration and Israel see the deal deal that was struck in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany) from entirely different perspectives.

Obama’s Rouhani Smokescreen: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Dec. 9, 2013 — Speaking at the Saban Forum last weekend, President Barack Obama reiterated that the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani heralded a new direction in Iran that Washington would be irresponsible to ignore.

Iran Nuclear Deal Raises Fears of Proliferation Among Arab States: Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, 2013 — The Obama administration is hailing the accord with Iran as a victory in its campaign to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, but the deal is already feeding concerns of Arab governments and some proliferation experts that it could have the opposite effect. 

Containing Iran is the Least Awful Choice: George Will, Washington Post,  Dec. 6, 2013 — In his disproportionate praise of the six-month agreement with Iran, Barack Obama said: “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program.”

 

 

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WHEN MAPS BOW TO MULLAHS: ASSAD FOMENTS SECTARIAN TENSIONS—HELPED BY IRAN, HEZBOLLAH, RUSSIA, GENEVA DEAL, & U.S. MANOEUVRES

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

REPORTEDLY: U.S., HEZBOLLAH IN INDIRECT SECRET TALKS — The US and Hezbollah are in secret indirect talks managed by London dealing with the fight against Al-Qaida, regional stability and other Lebanese political issues. Senior British diplomatic sources said British diplomats are holding discussions with leaders of the Lebanese organization and transferring the information to the Americans. The discussions “are aimed at keeping tabs on the changes in the region and the world, and prepare for the upcoming return of Iran to the international community,” according to diplomatic sources in Washington. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2013)

 

Contents:

 

With Help From Tehran and Moscow, and Inaction by the U.S., Assad is Poised to Stay: Jonathan Spyer, Tablet, Nov. 13, 2013 — As the Syrian civil war grinds on toward its fourth year, no end appears in sight. It is the greatest disaster in the Levant in a generation: More than 115,000 people have died.

The Invisible Rider on the Deal: Michael Weiss, Now, Nov. 27, 2013 — Much has been written about the technical points of the P5+1 interim agreement that authorized international sanctions relief in exchange for a slowdown (but not cessation or cancellation) of Iran’s nuclear program.

Lebanese Salafis Amidst Syria’s War: Geneive Abdo, Foreign Policy, Nov. 28, 2013 — One recent cool and sunny afternoon in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, Sheikh Bilal Baroudi, a Sunni Salafist cleric, showed me the charred remains of the Salam mosque. He was preaching there on Aug. 24 when a bomb detonated, killing dozens of worshippers. Only a few walls remained. Middle East: Cracking Up: David Gardner, Financial Times, Nov. 26, 2013 — When Arabs started pouring on to the streets to challenge dynastic despots almost three years ago, a wave of euphoria swept over their world as its citizens dared to dream they were finally on their way into the 21st century.

 

On Topic Links

 

Beirut Attack Marks Militant Resurgence: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013

Attack in Beirut Through the Lens of Hezbollah TV: Robert Mackey & Liam Stack, New York Times, Nov. 21, 2013

Dispatch From Syria: Can Rebels Learn to Govern?: Kristin Deasy, World Affairs, Nov/Dec., 2013

 

 

          WITH HELP FROM TEHRAN AND MOSCOW, AND INACTION BY THE                                          U.S., ASSAD IS POISED TO STAY

                                                     Jonathan Spyer

                                                  Tablet, Nov. 13, 2013

 

As the Syrian civil war grinds on toward its fourth year, no end appears in sight. It is the greatest disaster in the Levant in a generation: More than 115,000 people have died. Around 2 million refugees have departed the country—for Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and beyond—while untold more who have left their homes remain in Syria, seeking with increasing desperation to put themselves and their families out of reach of the guns. But while the war appears far from ending, its direction and likely outcome have shifted significantly in the past year. At the beginning of this year, the Assad regime looked beleaguered, with an end-game fast approaching. Rebel groups had entered the main cities, and Aleppo, the “capital of the north,” was largely in rebel hands. The battle for Damascus seemed about to begin as Assad’s foes pushed into the city’s eastern suburbs.

 

Today, as 2013 draws to a close, the situation looks very different. Bashar al-Assad is still in power and has succeeded in ending any immediate threat to his regime. He is no longer in control of the entirety of Syria—his overstretched forces have ceded around half the country’s territory, concentrating their strength in this region around the capital, the Alawite heartland of the western coast, and the area linking the two—but that was never the issue at stake this year. The question was whether the rebels would succeed in pushing into areas of regime control. They have not and are unlikely to in the immediate future. Indeed, rebel advances have ceased, and in some areas, the insurgents have been turned back. The lines between the two sides are largely static, although the daily death toll continues to mount.

 

The factors driving this new war of attrition derive from both the weakness and disorganization of the rebels, and the relative cohesion of the regime, in particular from the staunch assistance of its regional and global allies and backers, who have come together in unprecedented ways in the course of the last 18 months in order to prevent his downfall. Russia has continued to supply arms to the regime, and its veto power on the U.N. Security Council has prevented any coherent international response to the crisis. But it is Iran that has played the really crucial role in propping up the government. The Syrian central bank has announced that Iran has facilitated a credit line worth at least $4 billion to Assad. One Arab official estimated that Iran was providing around $700 million per month to Syria.

 

Meantime, the rebellion itself has fallen into disunity, muddying what was once a clear fight between a brutally oppressive, dictatorial regime and an apparently concerted rebellion against it. A local al-Qaida franchise, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is clashing with less extreme Islamist groups, such as the Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigade. ISIS has proven itself one of the most effective of the Syrian rebel brigades in combat. It now administers major parts of rebel-held northern Syria. Its area of control includes the city of Raqqa, the only provincial capital to fall to the rebellion—but its extremist Islamist outlook has alienated many among the populace. The clash between ISIS and the non-al-Qaida Islamist forces is only a symptom of a larger malaise affecting the rebellion—its chronic inability to unify its ranks. There are, according to Charles Lister of Jane’s Information Group, now about a thousand separate rebel groupings or “brigades.” For an insurgency numbering at most around 100,000 fighters, this is an astonishing number. These brigades do not all operate entirely independently from one another. Rather, they are gathered into a bewildering and interlocking series of alliances.

 

The rebel-controlled area remains a patchwork of different fiefdoms of varying degrees of size and cohesion, each ruled over by a different rebel chieftain and militia. In addition to the fighting between ISIS and less extreme rebel groups, a second war within a war has erupted, this one between the Islamists and the Kurdish YPG militia, which controls a section of northeast Syria comprising around 10 percent of the country’s territory. The United States attempted to rationalize this situation by supporting the Supreme Military Council of Maj. Gen. Salim Idris, chief of staff for the Free Syrian Army. That initiative may now be judged to have failed. Still more glaring is the failure of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, to which Idris’ SMC was affiliated, to have any impact on events within the country.

 

The external leadership had a problem from the start in claiming the loyalty of fighting units within Syria to which it could offer little or nothing. In my many conversations with rebel fighters and opposition activists during my reporting trips into Syria, I never once heard a single positive or even non-mocking word regarding the external ‘leadership’ of the revolution. A commander of the Tawheed Brigade in Aleppo in the summer of 2012 expressed it most succinctly when he said that the Syrian revolution “would be led by those fighting and suffering within Syria, not those in hotels outside of it.” The absence of rebel unity and leadership has been a huge boon for Assad. It has been compounded, and partly caused, by the failure of the rebellion’s backers to offer it adequate support. American policy specifically and Western policy more generally toward the Syrian rebellion has proceeded erratically, in fits and starts. Both political and practical assistance have been late in coming and meager in nature…

[To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ]  

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 THE INVISIBLE RIDER ON THE DEAL

                                             Michael Weiss

                                          Now, Nov. 27, 2013

 

Much has been written about the technical points of the P5+1 interim agreement that authorized international sanctions relief in exchange for a slowdown (but not cessation or cancellation) of Iran’s nuclear program. Much attention has also been paid to the anatomy of the deal, with an intense focus on secret Oman-based negotiations the Obama administration held with the Iranians as early as eight months ago. However, the details about breakout capacity, inspections regimes, and the dollar amount of actual sanctions relief have distracted from the invisible rider on this accord, which is Western acquiescence to Iran’s gradual takeover of Syria.

 

As analysts Mike Doran and James Glassman have written, the six-month nuclear deal may now be used to retroactively explain President Obama’s seeming incoherence in responding to nearly three years of a grave humanitarian catastrophe. At minimum, 110,000 people have been killed and many millions more Syrians internally or externally displaced, all while the Obama administration has rescued the United States from getting involved in what the President termed “someone else’s civil war,” knowing that Russia and Iran had no such compunctions. This is a policy for which he has been roundly criticized, not least by the majority of his own cabinet through well-timed leaks to American broadsheets. Obama’s failure to arm the anti-Assad rebels when they were still moderate and carried expectations of US help; his refusal to publicly disclose intelligence about the Assad regime’s dozen or so “small-scale” chemical weapons attacks even when other Western countries were angrily doing so; his improvised establishment, and then neglect, of a “red line” on large-scale chemical attacks – all this makes sense in the context of pursued rapprochement with Iran. “Rather than merely being feckless,” Doran and Glassman write, “the administration may actually have a long-term plan, and this initial nuclear deal is only a tactic in a broader strategy. The overall aim is a strategic partnership with Iran because the administration sees that country as the only island of stability in a sea of chaos and violence.”

 

This is the direst assessment that can be made of the White House’s intentions at Geneva, and conclusions that derive there from are quite cynical. Yet there’s some evidence to support Doran and Glassman’s thesis.

For one thing, although the administration still clings to vaguely democratic talking points about supporting the Syrian opposition and demanding Assad’s removal from power, it has not prevented Iran’s inheritance of the regime’s security detail, the breathtaking extent of which has never once been publicly articulated or condemned by Obama. True, the US Treasury Department sanctioned a handful of IRGC and Hezbollah figures for their involvement in Syria – not a hard thing to do when both groups had already been heavily sanctioned by the US – but the rhetorical fixation of this administration has always been on the composition of the rebels, specifically its jihadi quotient. When the bulk of the anti-Assad forces in Syria were still either defectors from the regime or civilians who had taken up arms to defend themselves, Hillary Clinton was comparing them to Hamas or saying she didn’t know who they were or saying that arming them might benefit al-Qaeda. (We now know she didn’t agree with this schizophrenic analysis and supported gun-running to the Free Syrian Army, as did almost every other relevant secretary or intelligence chief in the administration.) Even the supposed realpolitik of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who, according to The New York Times, “suggested that a fight in Syria between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda would work to America’s advantage,” was belied by the fact that the CIA shared intelligence with Hezbollah informing it that al-Qaeda-linked groups were planning terrorist attacks in the Party of God-dominated districts of south Lebanon "as well as other political targets associated with the group or its allies in Syria." For McDonough’s let-them-kill-each-other prescription to work, salafi cells in Tripoli must have also been tipped off by Langley about pending Hezbollah operations against them. Somehow I doubt that ever happened…

 [To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ] 

                                                                                               

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LEBANESE SALAFIS AMIDST SYRIA’S WAR

Geneive Abdo

                                      Foreign Policy, Nov. 28, 2013

 

One recent cool and sunny afternoon in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, Sheikh Bilal Baroudi, a Sunni Salafist cleric, showed me the charred remains of the Salam mosque. He was preaching there on Aug. 24 when a bomb detonated, killing dozens of worshippers. Only a few walls remained. While a construction crew worked tirelessly that afternoon to rebuild the gutted building, Baroudi blamed the attack on a local group of Alawites who back the Alawite president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. He said his mosque — as well as the Taqwa Salafist mosque in Tripoli, which was bombed that same August day — had been targeted because members of both congregations support the insurgency in Syria. The Alawites are a minority sect with ties to the form of Shiism prevalent in Iran. They comprise a small portion of Lebanon's population of approximately 4.4 million people. The percentages of Shiites and Sunnis are not known and are a matter of speculation because the last census conducted in Lebanon was in 1932. The small Alawite community of Tripoli, Lebanon's second-most important city, has long been at odds with the local Sunnis. And soon after the Syrian uprising began, clashes broke out in the mountainous areas to the north of the city, between the Alawite-dominated neighborhood Jabal Mohsen and the Sunni-dominated Bab al-Tabbaneh.

"The Syrian regime wants to transport the conflict to us here," Baroudi told me that day. For him, as well as many other Sunnis I have met in this part of Lebanon, the twin bombings of the Tripoli mosques last summer were intended to heighten sectarian tensions. Baroudi told me Assad's regime was trying to foment violence by convincing local Shiite groups that the Sunnis were out to get them — and then supplying them with explosives. Whether or not this is true, there is no doubt that the sectarian divide in Lebanon has indeed been widening. Just this week, two explosions hit the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, in suicide attacks for which Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Lebanese Sunni group with links to al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility.

The struggle to dislodge Assad has disturbed an unwritten social contract among Lebanon's many sects. The country secured a fragile peace after enduring a civil war from 1975 to 1990. Syria occupied Lebanon from 1976 until 2005, when it withdrew only due to international pressure. Syria has had a longstanding claim on Lebanon; during the Ottoman era, Lebanon was part of Greater Syria. But stability has been increasingly difficult to maintain since Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement backed by Iran, has actively supported Assad financially and militarily, including fighting alongside his troops inside Syria. The war next door is also inspiring distorted ideas. Baroudi and other Salafists accuse the United States of enabling the Shiites to stay in power in Syria. Some of the Salafists in Tripoli point to President Barack Obama's historic call to the newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, as well as talks on Iran's nuclear program, as evidence that the U.S. government is now backing Iran in the Middle East. According to Baroudi, Washington "can no longer fight wars directly," and needs Tehran "to take on this role." And there is no ally "more loyal or more successful or more powerful" than Iran "to force the region into submission, weaken the Sunni, and extort the Gulf."

In October, in Bab al-Tabbaneh, one Salafist sheikh — who wished to remain unidentified out of concern for his safety — complained that even as the U.S. government had become less critical of Hezbollah because of warming ties with Iran, it readily condemned Sunni extremists. He did not respond when I reminded him that Washington considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. Such misperceptions have a radicalizing effect. And many Lebanese academics, journalists, and officials I have spoken with over the last year believe that is precisely what Assad had hoped for: It bolsters the argument that his regime, no matter how brutal, is a better option than any Sunni-led government. "Assad wants to make the Syrian revolution not one of people against Assad, but one of Shiite-Sunni strife," Ali Amin, a journalist at Al Balad newspaper in Beirut and an expert on sectarianism, told me.

If this is indeed Assad's strategy, it appears to be working. Western governments, as well as Russia and Iran, seem to be scrambling to maintain stability in the region by negotiating a settlement with Assad that would leave his regime intact. They are hoping to hold negotiations in Geneva in December. Some Sunnis in Lebanon, perceiving the U.S. government to be endorsing the status quo in Syria, are feeling more threatened, and are increasingly ready to take up arms to fight for their survival. Such feelings of anger and desperation could be the motivation behind this week's attack on the Iranian Embassy and future violence inside Lebanon, which undoubtedly would end Lebanon's fragile social contract. One consequence of this assessment — however misguided — is that while progress toward a deal over Iran's nuclear program would calm minds in the West, it would unnerve many Sunnis in the Middle East. Their main concern is the Shiites' increasing influence, with Iran as their protector. As perceptions of Iran's growing power increase among the Sunnis, it is imperative for the United States to send a signal to the region that it is not taking sides in the sectarian conflict, which certainly will continue.                             

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MIDDLE EAST: CRACKING UP

David Gardner                                                                                           Financial Times, Nov. 26, 2013

 

When Arabs started pouring on to the streets to challenge dynastic despots almost three years ago, a wave of euphoria swept over their world as its citizens dared to dream they were finally on their way into the 21st century. Now, it looks as if they have been pitched back almost a century, to the period after the first world war when the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire were dismembered. Then, it was the imperial machinations of Britain and France that carved up their lands and future. Now, a raging civil war in Syria that is spilling over into neighbouring countries threatens to bulldoze post-Ottoman borders. Are the states of the Near East coming apart – especially along fault lines between Sunni and Shia Muslims that run from Beirut to Baghdad? Are the frontiers in the Levant about to shatter, spawning the Arab equivalent of a post-Soviet jigsaw?

 

The first contours of those frontiers were sketched by the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, a deal meant to limit Anglo-French rivalry in the Levant that might undermine the alliance against Germany. This fabled line in the sand, from Mediterranean Palestine to the Zagros Mountains on Iraq’s border with Iran, bisected Greater Syria and Mesopotamia into French and British mandates. It was later ratified by the League of Nations. These were spheres of influence tailored to Europe’s eastern empires rather than organic and cohesive future nation-states, much less the pan-Arab independence Britain had dangled to incite Arab revolt against Germany’s Ottoman allies. The vicious mayhem in Syria slicing up territory within and beyond its borders has already engendered a sort of geopolitical shorthand among pundits – the end of Sykes-Picot. But what seems to be happening looks messier – as last week’s twin suicide bombing of Iran’s embassy in Mediterranean Beirut well attests.

 

The driving force is the overarching struggle between Sunni and Shia, which knows no boundaries and is bursting through the arbitrary borders drawn by the British and French. Some see this as primarily an interstate struggle for regional power between Saudi Arabia and Iran. That is part of the story but hardly explains the ferocity of ethno-sectarian bloodletting, which rivals anything seen in the wars that succeeded the break-up of Yugoslavia. First Lebanon, in its 1975-90 civil war, then Iraq and now Syria have been convulsed by ethno-sectarian conflict. But what had been a Sunni-Shia subplot in the drama – going back to the schism in seventh century Islam – burst on to centre stage after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. That catapulted the Shia minority within Islam (a majority in Iraq) to power in an Arab heartland country for the first time since the fall of the heterodox Shia Fatimid dynasty in 1171. The regional balance of power tilted towards the Islamic Republic of Iran – Shia, Persian, with ambitions as a regional hegemon to rival Israel – and fanned the embers of the Sunni-Shia stand-off into millenarian flame. Iraq dissolved into a sectarian bloodbath, grinding minorities such as its ancient Christian communities between the wounded identities of the Sunni and Shia. Syria, similar in its ethno-sectarian make-up, is heading the same way, grafting the Sunni-Shia schism and Saudi-Iranian contest on to what started as another Arab struggle against tyranny. Both Iraq and Syria seem to have lost any sense of a national narrative.

 

Iraq, notionally a loose confederation, has virtually fragmented into three blocs: the Kurds, who have quasi-independence, in the north, Sunnis in the centre and Shia in the south. After the sectarian carnage of 2006-08, Baghdad is pretty much a Shia city. Syria is fragmenting much more messily. Bashar-al-Assad’s regime clings on but has lost parts of the north and northeast to the Kurds, and big chunks of eastern Syria to Sunni rebels. The Assads’ Alawite sect, an esoteric offshoot of Shiism, is dug in along the northwest coast and mountains – a briefly autonomous enclave in the 1930s under French rule. In the summer, Hizbollah, Iran’s paramilitary Lebanese ally, joined the fight to save the Assads and reopen the road from Damascus to the coast. Now, the Alawite enclave in effect stretches back into the Party of God’s strongholds in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near where an essentially Sunni-Shia battle is raging in the Qalamoun mountains. And that is not all.

 

The cross-border region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, known as the Jazeera, is turning into a Sunni emirate as disaffected Sunnis in western Iraq link up with Sunni rebels in eastern Syria, under the malign influence of al-Qaeda-linked jihadi groups – a potential strategic nightmare for the region. Syria’s Kurds, in de facto control of what they call western Kurdistan, are linking up with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. The spectre of a Greater Kurdistan – for 25m Kurds with no state and spread over Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran – has alarmed Turkey. Ankara, as part of its effort to end a 30-year Kurdish insurgency in Turkey’s southeast, is trying to draw (mainly Sunni) Syrian and Iraqi Kurds into a sort of economic and cultural Turkosphere. Iran, with longstanding links to local factions, is also courting the Kurds. It is tempting to see this as a return to the Millets – the fluid system of Ottoman administrative regions that allowed subject peoples a degree of autonomy and ethno-religious cohesion in exchange for loyalty to the empire, stability and regular tax remittances – except that there is precious little stability and loyalty to go round.

 

Once virtually all state institutions collapse, the hard-wiring and subconscious grammar of sectarian affiliation kicks in hard, and the sects construct defensive laagers. That is what happened in Lebanon, shattered into relatively homogeneous fragments across the country and inside Beirut, a city ghettoised in much the same way as Damascus and Baghdad. The larger Levantine canvas designed by European imperialists will probably not see any clean breaks, rather a rearticulation of national and, in some cases, cross-border space, along with population transfers. In Lebanon – despite 22 years of Israeli occupation ending in 2000 and 29 years of Syrian occupation ending in 2005 – the external borders have not moved a millimetre and no one has sought to redraw them. As the fire in Syria continues to melt borders that may not always be the case. When many threads in these interwoven societies are being pulled at the same time, it is hard to know whether the result will be an unravelling or just another tangle.

 

Contents

 

On Topic

 

 

Beirut Attack Marks Militant Resurgence: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013 — As new details emerged about twin suicide bombings near the Iranian Embassy here, Lebanese officials described an outburst of violence that reveals the resurgence of al Qaeda-inspired groups in their country, a toxic byproduct of the Syrian war.

Attack in Beirut Through the Lens of Hezbollah TV: Robert Mackey & Liam Stack, New York Times, Nov. 21, 2013 — As our colleagues Hwaida Saad and Anne Barnard report from Beirut, the deadly bombings at the gate of the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital on Tuesday were immediately interpreted there as a form of retaliation for Iran’s intervention in the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Dispatch From Syria: Can Rebels Learn to Govern?: World Affairs, Nov/Dec., 2013 — A sprawling tent city has sprouted up here amid the sand-flecked hills and ancient olive groves. Giant tarps twist up into the branches as rivulets of contaminated water run below. A tank watches from down the road, which leads to the nearby Turkish border.

 

On Topic Links

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

IRAN “APPEASEMENT” BETRAYS U.S. ALLIES

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

 

Geneva: The Abandonment of the Jews: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 — With the stroke of a pen in Geneva, the world has entered an alarming new phase, one in which the United States has turned its back on its allies and embraced a long-standing foe.

Iran Looks Beyond the Nuclear Talks: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, Nov. 26, 2013—    The West must ensure that by the end of the negotiating process, Iran will not have a breakout capacity toward a nuclear bomb, and the countries subject to the threat emanating from Iran must goad the West in this direction if it shows hesitation.

How U.S. Policy is Betraying Not Only Israel, But Also Sunni Arabs: Barry Rubin, The Rubin Report, Nov. 26, 2013 — In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long-run.
Worse Than Munich: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 25, 2013 — To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little.

 

On Topic Links

 

Alliance With U.S. Is Here To Stay: Moshe Arens, Ha’aretz, Nov. 26, 2013

The Goal of Obama’s Foreign Policy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Full Text: CNN, Nov. 24, 2013

The Geneva Accord: A Tale of Two Clashing Perspectives: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Nov. 24, 2013

How the European Media View the Iran Nuclear Deal: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013

On Iran: Imagine Romney in the White House: Oded Eran & Yoel Guzansky, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 

 

 

 

GENEVA: THE ABANDONMENT OF THE JEWS

Michael Freund

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013

 

With the stroke of a pen in Geneva, the world has entered an alarming new phase, one in which the United States has turned its back on its allies and embraced a long-standing foe. Indeed, rather than ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, Washington has instead turned up the heat on Israel, forcing the Jewish state into a corner, and a dangerous one at that. Make no mistake. The agreement signed over the weekend between Iran and the West constitutes a surrender of historic proportions, one that rewards the misbehavior of the ayatollahs while punishing Israel’s steadfast reliability.

 

If international diplomacy had its own Richter scale to measure the magnitude of strategic earthquakes, Geneva 2013 would earn a place of pride alongside Munich 1938. Consider the following: Since July 31, 2006, the United Nations Security Council has adopted no less than six resolutions requiring the Iranians to “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.” Nearly all these resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which means they are legally binding on Iran and all UN member states. Nonetheless, Tehran has merrily continued to violate its international obligations, enriching uranium to its heart’s content as it has advanced towards its goal of building a nuclear weapon.

 

Enter Barack Obama and John Kerry, who agreed at Geneva to soften economic sanctions against Iran while allowing their nuclear scientists to continue to enrich uranium up to a level of five percent, even though such activity has been repeatedly prohibited. In other words, the mullahs have now received an imprimatur from Washington to continue violating the UN Security Council resolutions which the US itself had supported. This, by definition, is an act of retreat in the face of Iranian obstinacy and disobedience, a move that sends a perilous message of weakness precisely at a time when determination is warranted. In effect, the Iranians are being told that if you violate and obfuscate long enough, eventually the West will fold. If that isn’t appeasement, then what is? Moreover, the Geneva accord does not require Iran to dismantle even a single centrifuge, leaving in place its future capacity to surge forward towards the nuclear finish line at a time of its choosing.

 

Yet one thing that Geneva most certainly did accomplish is that it tightened the screws on Israel, making it significantly more difficult for Jerusalem to take unilateral military action in the coming months against Iranian nuclear installations. With much of the world pinning its hopes on the flawed agreement with Iran, an Israeli resort to military force at this time would elicit more than just the usual howls of protest from the international community. The Geneva accord appears designed to pen in Israel more than it does Iran, an attempt to handcuff the Jewish state for the next six months by vastly raising the diplomatic and political costs of military action. And so, just as he has done with various other crises that have arisen on his watch, Obama is once again kicking the can down the road, pushing off the need to make hard decisions on Iran for a few months in the hopes that something, anything, will enable him to avoid the moment of truth.

 

BUT IN doing so, Obama is imperiling Israel and its future by signaling to Iran that he is willing to live with a situation in which they are on the brink of the nuclear threshold. For a president who famously told the Atlantic magazine in March 2012 that “We’ve got Israel’s back,” Obama sure has a curious way of showing it, by putting the squeeze on the Jewish state. Everyone who supports Israel, Jew or Christian alike, should be alarmed by this turn of events. The United States has recklessly rolled the dice with the fate of its closest ally in the Middle East, inexplicably placing its faith in a rogue regime, one that has repeatedly vowed to finish what Hitler began.

 

It was 29 years ago, in 1984, that historian David S. Wyman published a seminal volume, The Abandonment of the Jews, on America’s failure to stop the Nazi slaughter of European Jewry. Marshaling painstaking evidence, Wyman conclusively demonstrated that America and its leadership could have saved millions of Jews. In the preface to his book, Wyman concluded with a simple yet chilling question, “Would the reaction be different today?” Sadly, the agreement forged with Iran in Geneva gives us a glimpse of what the answer might be.      

                                               Contents
                                       

IRAN LOOKS BEYOND THE NUCLEAR TALKS

Lt. Col (ret.) Michael Segall

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nov. 26, 2013

 

    The West must ensure that by the end of the negotiating process, Iran will not have a breakout capacity toward a nuclear bomb, and the countries subject to the threat emanating from Iran must goad the West in this direction if it shows hesitation. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claims that the West is only using the nuclear issue as a pretext to harm and weaken Iran, just as it always has since the outbreak of the revolution. Khamenei underlines the decline in American power and influence (even among its friends) and the economic problems afflicting it, contrasting this with Iran’s rising power compared to the past. Even though he does not oppose the negotiations, he warns: “Do not trust the enemy who smiles at you.” Khamenei’s statements convey that Iran does not really need the negotiations. Iran does not come to the nuclear negotiations out of weakness, but, indeed, from a position of strength, and rather than having anything to lose from the talks, it only stands to gain from them, as it did in the interim agreement. Iran’s considerations in coming to the negotiating table are its assessment of America’s declining regional and international status and its own expanding reach. Iran is preparing for two main scenarios. One is ongoing negotiations, with Iran prepared for certain concessions that, in its view, will not derail it from the fast track to the bomb through clandestine channels, while entailing the removal of some of the sanctions and gradual erosion of the sanctions regime in general. In the second scenario, Iran remains firm in the face of the sanctions, upgrades its regional status, and progresses toward the bomb while taking a risk (which it does not see as great) of an attack on its nuclear facilities.

 

Since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office, efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue have gained momentum, with the announcement on November 24, 2013, of an interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. It appears that the international community, and particularly the United States, is seeking to put the nuclear negotiations with Iran on a course that will eventually dispel the tense relations that have prevailed since Iran’s Islamic Revolution. It seems that the United States just waited for Ahmadinejad – who constitutes the true blunt face of the Islamic regime and who didn’t play by the diplomatic rules – to leave office in order to bring the nuclear dossier to a forced closure.  To cut a deal with Ahmadinejad was too embarrassing for the U.S. administration. President Rouhani and Foreign Minister’s Zarif’s social network diplomacy and charm offensive, combined with certain backchannels (Oman, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, The Asia Society), probably made the process much easier and smoother for the U.S.

 

The interim agreement leaves Iran with sufficient wherewithal to produce military nuclear capabilities – both with regard to uranium enrichment (using advanced IR-M2 centrifuges) and through the plutonium channel – should it decide at some point to break out as a result of a crisis in the negotiations on a permanent agreement, violation of the agreement, continued clandestine development of a bomb, or what Iran would perceive as a change in the Middle Eastern geostrategic landscape, which is indeed changing rapidly. Thus, the West must ensure that by the end of the negotiating process in six months, which is still fraught with obstacles and potential Iranian stalling, Iran will not have any breakout capacity toward a nuclear bomb, and the countries subject to the threat emanating from Iran must goad the West in this direction if it shows hesitation. In addition, Iran must meet the strict conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of the Additional Protocol (an issue that is under heated domestic debate in the Majlis). This would allow enhanced supervision of Iran’s nuclear program and, particularly, of what is still its clandestine components. Only this can ensure that Iran will not keep enriching uranium and developing the military component of its nuclear program in concealed sites, thereby progressing toward the bomb at the same time that it takes part in negotiations. That, after all, is what Iran did in the wake of the 2003 agreements, which were negotiated by none other than Rouhani.

 

Concurrently, the West must “maintain” the sanctions effectively. Iran has already shown, in the initial stages of the negotiations, that it seeks to transfer the sanctions from the P5+1 framework to the UN Security Council and thereby essentially get them canceled by international decree; this is part of its effort to gradually vitiate the sanctions. The West must also sustain the credible military threat that already proved itself in the past, including when Rouhani was head of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in 2003. At that stage the U.S. military threat led Iran to temporarily suspend its enrichment program out of fear that, in the wake of America’s invasion of Iraq, it would be the next target.

 

The West must also draw the lessons from its own behavior and from the agreements it reached with Iran ten years ago. Today, Iran has all the components for assembling a bomb should it choose to do so. In a meeting with students on November 3, 2013, on the eve of the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, observed: “Today Iran’s situation is different from when it agreed to suspend uranium enrichment [in 2003]. Back then we had begun to spin one or two centrifuges; today thousands of them are in use.” Iran has indeed been hit hard by Western sanctions, particularly those affecting its oil sector, and is losing about $5 billion per month. Yet, in contrast to other countries in the region, Iran is stable and had a quiet election campaign earlier this year. Rouhani, who emerged as the victor, has again joined the nuclear battle. This time he hopes to “rescue” Iran’s economy and return it to the family of nations, as well as complete the nuclear cycle and accomplish the mission of creating the first Shi’a nuclear bomb…

[To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed.]                                                                                                    

                                            Contents
                                 

 

HOW U.S. POLICY IS BETRAYING NOT ONLY ISRAEL,

BUT ALSO SUNNI ARABS

Barry Rubin

The Rubin Report, Nov. 26, 2013

 

In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long-run. But it wasn’t. In 1967, there was hope that the magnitude of Israeli victory meant that the Arabs would eventually come to terms (Egypt and Jordan did in a way, although the final word has not been written). In 1982, people believed that the conflict could still be solved, but it wasn’t. And finally, during the negotiations from 1993-2000, there were renewed hopes that the conflict would be resolved. It wasn’t. Today, the conflict is even further from being resolved, especially with the entry of Iran, Islamism, and the radical government in Turkey. Maybe it is time to conclude the Arab-Israeli conflict will never be resolved.

 

There have since been at least three more examples following the same pattern. The first is obviously Iran, its nuclear intentions, its trickery, and its desire to dominate the region. But that's not all; consider what the U.S. has done to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It is probable that Iran is going to give Syria a victory in the civil war. The fact is that Iran, Hizballah, and the Syrian government are on one side, and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been on the other side. But now, in essence, the U.S. has objectively sided with Iran, and that is one of the reasons that the Saudis are angry. Here is what the Saudi ambassador to England, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, said: "Appeasement hasn't worked in the past, and I don't think it will work in the 21st century," he was quoted as saying. "That is why the frustration really is toward the main players within the United Nations Security Council, that's their responsibility. And they will share also the blame, whatever deal comes out, they are responsible for it."

 

The statement from the Saudi ambassador to London also expressed in his Times of London interview an unusually abrasive criticism of the West for what he said was a too-soft approach toward Iran, calling Washington's "rush" to engage with Tehran "incomprehensible." A senior Saudi diplomat issued a rare direct threat to Iran, warning that "all options are available" should the international community fail to rein in Iran's alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons.This statement could easily come out of the mouth of an Israeli politician. It is amusing that with this parallelism to Israel's viewpoint, the senior diplomat had to deny that he saw something in common with Israel. In other words, Saudi Arabia feels that it has been betrayed by the United States, and will respond to that betrayal.

 

Then there is Egypt. Let's review American behavior. Two years ago, the United States basically helped and celebrated a Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory. Every anti-Islamist knows this. When the Egyptian military coup happened a year later, the U.S. opposed it. In other words, if the Muslim Brotherhood had won and crushed freedom by staying in office, it would be have been backed by the United States, but since there was a coup, the election was stolen. Doesn't everyone in Egypt know that if the coup had not taken place, the U.S. would have the supported the Muslim Brotherhood government? Don't the Egyptians know that the United States would be willing to sell Egypt into Islamic fundamentalist slavery? Would anyone believe the United States would protect any of its other allies?

 

But suddenly, the U.S. turned around and Kerry actually said that the Muslim Brotherhood had "stolen" the revolution. And that is why the Egyptians are turning toward Russia today and do not trust the U.S. Frankly you would think that the Obama administration wants to sabotage U.S. Middle-East policy. By the way, the Egyptians were so angered by their perception of Turkey cuddling up to Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, that they threw out the Turkish ambassador.                 

                                                               

                                                  Contents

 

WORSE THAN MUNICH

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 25, 2013

 

To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little. Britain and France's capitulation to Nazi Germany at Munich has long been a byword for ignominy, moral and diplomatic. Yet neither Neville Chamberlain nor Édouard Daladier had the public support or military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler in September 1938. Britain had just 384,000 men in its regular army; the first Spitfire aircraft only entered RAF service that summer. "Peace for our time" it was not, but at least appeasement bought the West a year to rearm. The signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 was a betrayal of an embattled U.S. ally and the abandonment of an effort for which 58,000 American troops gave their lives. Yet it did end America's participation in a peripheral war, which neither Congress nor the public could indefinitely support. "Peace with honor" it was not, as the victims of Cambodia's Killing Fields or Vietnam's re-education camps can attest. But, for American purposes at least, it was peace.

 

By contrast, the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva on Sunday by Iran and the six big powers has many of the flaws of Munich and Paris. But it has none of their redeeming or exculpating aspects. Consider: Britain and France came to Munich as military weaklings. The U.S. and its allies face Iran from a position of overwhelming strength. Britain and France won time to rearm. The U.S. and its allies have given Iran more time to stockpile uranium and develop its nuclear infrastructure. Britain and France had overwhelming domestic constituencies in favor of any deal that would avoid war. The Obama administration is defying broad bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress for the sake of a deal.

 

As for the Vietnam parallels, the U.S. showed military resolve in the run-up to the Paris Accords with a massive bombing and mining campaign of the North that demonstrated presidential resolve and forced Hanoi to sign the deal. The administration comes to Geneva fresh from worming its way out of its own threat to use force to punish Syria's Bashar Assad for his use of chemical weapons against his own people.

The Nixon administration also exited Vietnam in the context of a durable opening to Beijing that helped tilt the global balance of power against Moscow. Now the U.S. is attempting a fleeting opening with Tehran at the expense of a durable alliance of values with Israel and interests with Saudi Arabia. "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" is the title of a hilarious memoir by British author Toby Young —but it could equally be the history of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

 

That's where the differences end between Geneva and the previous accords. What they have in common is that each deal was a betrayal of small countries—Czechoslovakia, South Vietnam, Israel—that had relied on Western security guarantees. Each was a victory for the dictatorships: "No matter the world wants it or not," Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Sunday, "this path will, God willingly, continue to the peak that has been considered by the martyred nuclear scientists." Each deal increased the contempt of the dictatorships for the democracies: "If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella," Hitler is reported to have said of Chamberlain after Munich, "I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach." And each deal was a prelude to worse. After Munich came the conquest of Czechoslovakia, the Nazi-Soviet pact and World War II. After Paris came the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh and the humiliating exit from the embassy rooftop. After Geneva there will come a new, chaotic Mideast reality in which the United States will lose leverage over enemies and friends alike.

 

What will that look like? Iran will gradually shake free of sanctions and glide into a zone of nuclear ambiguity that will keep its adversaries guessing until it opts to make its capabilities known. Saudi Arabia will move swiftly to acquire a nuclear deterrent from its clients in Islamabad; Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal made that clear to the Journal last week when he indiscreetly discussed "the arrangement with Pakistan." Egypt is beginning to ponder a nuclear option of its own while drawing closer to a security alliance with Russia. As for Israel, it cannot afford to live in a neighborhood where Iran becomes nuclear, Assad remains in power, and Hezbollah—Israel's most immediate military threat—gains strength, clout and battlefield experience. The chances that Israel will hazard a strike on Iran's nuclear sites greatly increased since Geneva. More so the chances of another war with Hezbollah.

 

After World War II the U.S. created a global system of security alliances to prevent the kind of foreign policy freelancing that is again becoming rampant in the Middle East. It worked until President Obama decided in his wisdom to throw it away. If you hear echoes of the 1930s in the capitulation at Geneva, it's because the West is being led by the same sort of men, minus the umbrellas.

 

Contents

 

On Topic

 

 

Alliance With U.S. Is Here To Stay: Moshe Arens, Ha’aretz, Nov. 26, 2013— Since Hassan Rohani became president of Iran in June and began showing a smiling face to the United States, the manner in which the Iranian nuclear project should be handled has been a subject of disagreement between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel.

The Goal of Obama’s Foreign Policy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 — It isn’t surprising that the US and the other five powers signed a deal with Iran on Saturday.

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Full Text: CNN, Nov. 24, 2013 — The following is the full text of the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

The Geneva Accord: A Tale of Two Clashing Perspectives: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Nov. 24, 2013—U.S. and Israeli perspectives on the accord signed in Geneva last night could not be more different.

How the European Media View the Iran Nuclear Deal: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013 — Major news organizations in France and Germany largely express approval of their political leaders for the six-month agreement reached in Geneva.

On Iran: Imagine Romney in the White House: Oded Eran & Yoel Guzansky, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 — He publicly declared seven years ago that Iran must and can be stopped, that sanctions should be toughened, and that Iran should be isolated.

 

On Topic Links

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

U.S.- IRAN ENTENTE VIOLATES UN RESOLUTIONS; NUCLEAR PLANTS INTACT, WHILE SANCTIONS ARE EASED

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

 

 

Iran’s Nuclear Triumph: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013 — President Obama is hailing a weekend accord that he says has "halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program," and we devoutly wish this were true.

The Geneva Deal: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013— The nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between the P5+1 and Iran over the weekend is a “bad deal” from Israel’s perspective.

Iran Deal Marks Vast U.S. Israel Gap on Existential Issues: Yori Yanover, Jewish Press, Nov. 24, 2013 — Israel’s freshly reinstated foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday morning told Army Radio he was unhappy with the signing of the deal between Iran and the West.
When the Obama Magic Died: Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2013 — The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings.

 

On Topic Links

 

White House Fact Sheet on the Iran Deal: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013

Dangerous Times: A Looming Strategic Disaster in the Middle East: James Lewis, American Thinker, Nov. 24, 2013

Israeli Ministers Line Up To Lambast Iran Nuclear Deal: Algemeiner, Nov. 24, 2013

Obama’s Moves Could Start World War III: Noah Beck, American Thinker, Nov. 19, 2013

 

 

 

                                      IRAN’S NUCLEAR TRIUMPH

                                   Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013

 

President Obama is hailing a weekend accord that he says has "halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program," and we devoutly wish this were true. The reality is that the agreement in Geneva with five Western nations takes Iran a giant step closer to becoming a de facto nuclear power. Start with the fact that this "interim" accord fails to meet the terms of several United Nations resolutions, which specify no sanctions relief until Iran suspends all uranium enrichment. Under this deal Iran gets sanctions relief, but it does not have to give up its centrifuges that enrich uranium, does not have to stop enriching, does not have to transfer control of its enrichment stockpiles, and does not have to shut down its plutonium reactor at Arak.

 

Mr. Obama's weekend statement glossed over these canyon-sized holes. He said Iran "cannot install or start up new centrifuges," but it already has about 10,000 operational centrifuges that it can continue to spin for at least another six months. Why does Tehran need so many centrifuges if not to make a bomb at the time it pleases? The President also said that "Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles." He is referring to an Iranian pledge to oxidize its 20% enriched uranium stockpile. But this too is less than reassuring because the process can be reversed and Iran retains a capability to enrich to 5%, which used to be a threshold we didn't accept because it can easily be reconverted to 20%. Mr. Obama said "Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor," but Iran has only promised not to fuel the reactor even as it can continue other work at the site. That is far from dismantling what is nothing more than a bomb factory. North Korea made similar promises in a similar deal with Condoleezza Rice during the final Bush years, but it quickly returned to bomb-making.

 

As for inspections, Mr. Obama hailed "extensive access" that will "allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments." One problem is that Iran hasn't ratified the additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency agreement that would allow inspections on demand at such sites as Parchin, which remain off limits. Iran can also oust U.N. inspectors at any time, much as North Korea did. Then there is the sanctions relief, which Mr. Obama says is only "modest" but which reverses years of U.S. diplomacy to tighten and enforce them. The message is that the sanctions era is over. The loosening of the oil regime is especially pernicious, inviting China, India and Germany to get back to business with Iran.

 

We are told that all of these issues will be negotiated as part of a "final" accord in the next six months, but that is not how arms control works. It is far more likely that this accord will set a precedent for a series of temporary deals in which the West will gradually ease more sanctions in return for fewer Iranian concessions. Iran will threaten to walk away from the talks without new concessions, and Mr. Obama will not want to acknowledge that his diplomatic achievement wasn't real. The history of arms control is that once it is underway the process dominates over substance, and a Western leader who calls a halt is denounced for risking war. The negotiating advantage lies with the dictatorship that can ignore domestic opinion.

 

Mr. Obama all but admitted this himself by noting that "only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program." He added that "I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict." Rush to conflict? Iran's covert nuclear program was uncovered a decade ago, and the West has been desperately trying to avoid military action.

The best that can be said is that the weekend deal slows for a few weeks Iran's rapid progress to a nuclear breakout. But the price is that at best it sets a standard that will allow Iran to become a nuclear-capable regime that stops just short of exploding a bomb. At worst, it will allow Iran to continue to cheat and explode a bomb whenever it is strategically convenient to serve its goal of dominating the Middle East.

 

This seems to be the conclusion in Tehran, where Foreign Minister Javad Zarif boasted that the deal recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium while taking the threat of Western military action off the table. Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini also vouchsafed his approval, only days after he denounced the U.S. and called Jews "rabid dogs." Israel has a different view of the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." He and his cabinet will now have to make their own calculations about the risks of unilateral military action. Far from having Israel's back, as Mr. Obama likes to say, the U.S. and Europe are moving to a strategy of trying to contain Israel rather than containing Iran. The French also fell into line as we feared they would under U.S. and media pressure.

 

Mr. Obama seems determined to press ahead with an Iran deal regardless of the details or damage. He views it as a legacy project. A President has enormous leeway on foreign policy, but Congress can signal its bipartisan unhappiness by moving ahead as soon as possible to strengthen sanctions. Mr. Obama warned Congress not to do so in his weekend remarks, but it is the only way now to stop the President from accommodating a nuclear Iran.    

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THE GENEVA DEAL

                                  Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013

 

The nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between the P5+1 and Iran over the weekend is a “bad deal” from Israel’s perspective. Simply put, the deal does not roll back the vast majority of technological advances Iran has made in the past five years that have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its “dash time” — the minimum time it would take to build a nuclear weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue such as path. Iran’s centrifuges, which numbered a few thousand in 2009 when US President Barack Obama took office and have grown to 18,000, will not be dismantled and will continue to spin. What’s more, according to the deal, those that break down can be replaced with the same type of centrifuges so that Iran’s ability to “dash” for the bomb remains intact at its present level.

Iran has agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 5 percent and must either convert or dilute fuel stocks that are closest to the 20% weapons grade, But since its centrifuges will remain in operation, Iran will retain the capability to produce more of this weapon-grade fuel if it so chooses. And it could do this clandestinely: There is no provision in the agreement to allow the monitoring of underground sites where the CIA, Europe and Israel believe — but have no clear-cut evidence — that Iran is conducting enrichment. Also, a heavy water reactor outside the city of Arak – which has the sole purpose of producing a nuclear weapon — will not be dismantled.

And all of this nuclear weapon activity will be allowed to continue as the P5+1 relinquishes aspects of the sanction regime that have been put together meticulously for several years. The EU, the UN and the US all agreed not to put in place any new sanctions (if Congress votes for more sanctions after Thanksgiving break, Obama will have to veto the motion). And the US and the EU have agreed to suspend sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports; its auto industry; its gold and precious metals trade. The P5+1 has agreed to establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using oil revenues held abroad. Included under “humanitarian trade” are tuition payments to universities and colleges for Iranian students studying abroad.

It is difficult to gauge the economic significance of all these concessions — but even if the positive impact of these concessions is quite modest (the White House estimates they are worth about $7 billion) the psychological impact is clear: if the Islamic Republic’s mullah regime had been concerned that the deteriorating economic situation might lead to dissent, discontent and political upheaval, the mullahs now have some breathing space. Also, while it is easy to roll back sanctions, it will be much more difficult to reinstate them should the Iranians renege on their part of the deal. And cracks in the sanction regime combined with the tremendous pressures of business interests to resume “business as usual” with Iran might result in more economic relief than intended.

Understandably, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and others in the government such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni are calling it a bad deal. Netanyahu called it a “historic mistake” and reiterated Israel’s right to stop Iran with military means if necessary. “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” Netanyahu said.

But Israel is not the only one critical of the deal. The Saudis, wary of seeing neighboring Iran with the bomb, might spark a nuclear arms race by turning to Pakistan, which developed its own nuclear weapons with Saudi funding. And Obama will face stiff opposition at home as well. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R –Virginia) expressed concern that the deal did not meet the demands of the UN Security Council resolutions which call for the full suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities. And a similar point was made in a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry signed by Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

At its best, the deal signed in Geneva might temporarily slow Iran’s progress toward nuclear arms capability. More likely it will provide the US and other western nations with a false impression that headway has been made while providing cover for the Iranians as they plod forward toward nuclear capability. Under the circumstances, there seems little cause for celebration.

 

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IRAN DEAL MARKS VAST U.S. ISRAEL GAP ON EXISTENTIAL ISSUES

Yori Yanover

                                    Jewish Press, Nov. 24, 2013

 

Israel’s freshly reinstated foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday morning told Army Radio he was unhappy with the signing of the deal between Iran and the West. “There’s no dismantling of the centrifuges and no shipping out of the country of the fissile material from the uranium,” Lieberman said. Instead, he complained, “there is recognition of Iran’s legitimate right to enrich uranium, despite its blatant disregard for every possible agreement. As soon as they enter a nuclear arms race, all the countries of the region will follow.” Lieberman suggested the Iranians “possess enough material to produce several bombs, not just one.” Asked if Israel will attack Iran in light of the new reality, Lieberman said, “You must understand that this brings us to a new reality, us and the Saudis as well. Anyone who follows their reactions would realize that this isn’t just our concern, but the concern of all the states in the region. It looks like we’ll have to make decisions – with all the options on the table.” Lieberman also pointed out that “when you see the smiles on the faces of the Iranians, it’s clear that victory is theirs. The one making decisions there is still Khamenei.”

 

Sources in the prime minister’s office told Ma’ariv that this is a bad agreement, which “awards Iran everything it desired – both a significant reduction of the sanctions and preserving the most significant components of its nuclear program. The deal enables Iran to continue enriching uranium, and lets it keep all its centrifuges making fissile material for a nuclear weapon.” The same sources added that the deal does not require the dismantling of the heavy water plant in Arak, repeating Israel’s point that keeping Iran under continued economic pressure would have yielded a much better deal that included degrading Iran’s n uclear capabilities. Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday that “Israel cannot partake in the international celebration which is founded on Iran’s con job and on self deception.” According to Steinitz, “the last minute changes are far from satisfying us, and the deal was and remains a bad deal, making it harder to reach a suitable solution in the future. Like the failed deal with North Korea, the current deal will most likely bring Iran closer to getting the bomb.” Nevertheless, the minister said that “despite our disappointment, we’ll continue to insist on our positions and to work with our friends in the U.S. and the world to seek an inclusive solution that will feature a real and complete dismantling of the Iran’s military nuclear infrastructure.

 

Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Army Radio that “it’s a bad deal. I’m concerned on two levels: one, about the deal and its ramifications, and two, because we’ve lost the ear of the world. Our role is to be the ones who issue the warnings. We have 6 months, at the end of which we must be back at a situation where the Americans are listening to us the way they used to.” Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett said that “if in five years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of this deal. We woke up this morning to a reality in which a bad, very bad deal had been signed in Geneva.” Bennett warned that Israel is not obligated to keep a deal which threatens its very existence. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon also warned that “all the options are still on the table and Israel has the duty and the ability to defend itself.” Likud MK Moshe Feiglin said the deal was “an Iranian Munich agreement. like Czechoslovakia back then, which was not allowed to participate in the discussion, and its fate was determined by the Western powers, Israel today is also looking on from the sidelines and seeing its national interest being sacrificed by the Western powers.” Likud MK Reuven Livni suggested that “the American attempt to calm us down worries me the most.” He noted that “undoubtedly, this deal reflects differences between us and the west and the U.S. which are not merely tactical but strategic. This is a dangerous agreement which prevents war only for the time being but does nothing to remove this option off the table.” Metetz Chairperson Zehava Gal-on and Communist MK Dov Haanin both praised the deal, saying it would now free Netanyahu up to reaching a deal with the Palestinians. See? Every cloud has a silver lining, and every serious political article must offer some comic relief.

                                                                                               

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WHEN THE OBAMA MAGIC DIED

                                             Fouad Ajami

                                Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2013

 

The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama's policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. He glides through crises, he knits together groups of varied, often clashing, interests. Always there is that magical moment, and its beauty, as a reference point.

 

Mr. Obama gave voice to this sentiment in a speech on Nov. 6 in Dallas: "Sometimes I worry because everybody had such a fun experience in '08, at least that's how it seemed in retrospect. And, 'yes we can,' and the slogans and the posters, et cetera, sometimes I worry that people forget change in this country has always been hard." It's a pity we can't stay in that moment, says the redeemer: The fault lies in the country itself—everywhere, that is, except in the magician's performance. Forgive the personal reference, but from the very beginning of Mr. Obama's astonishing rise, I felt that I was witnessing something old and familiar. My advantage owed nothing to any mastery of American political history. I was guided by my immersion in the political history of the Arab world and of a life studying Third World societies.

 

In 2008, seeing the Obama crowds in Portland, Denver and St. Louis spurred memories of the spectacles that had attended the rise and fall of Arab political pretenders. I had lived through the era of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. He had emerged from a military cabal to become a demigod, immune to judgment. His followers clung to him even as he led the Arabs to a catastrophic military defeat in the Six Day War of 1967. He issued a kind of apology for his performance. But his reign was never about policies and performance. It was about political magic.

 

In trying to grapple with, and write about, the Obama phenomenon, I found guidance in a book of breathtaking erudition, Crowds and Power (1962) by the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti. Born in Bulgaria in 1905 and educated in Vienna and Britain, Canetti was unmatched in his understanding of the passions, and the delusions, of crowds. The crowd is a "mysterious and universal phenomenon," he writes. It forms where there was nothing before. There comes a moment when "all who belong to the crowd get rid of their difference and feel equal." Density gives the illusion of equality, a blessed moment when "no one is greater or better than another." But the crowd also has a presentiment of its own disintegration, a time when those who belong to the crowd "creep back under their private burdens."

 

Five years on, we can still recall how the Obama coalition was formed. There were the African-Americans justifiably proud of one of their own. There were upper-class white professionals who were drawn to the candidate's "cool." There were Latinos swayed by the promise of immigration reform. The white working class in the Rust Belt was the last bloc to embrace Mr. Obama—he wasn't one of them, but they put their reservations aside during an economic storm and voted for the redistributive state and its protections. There were no economic or cultural bonds among this coalition. There was the new leader, all things to all people.

 

A nemesis awaited the promise of this new presidency: Mr. Obama would turn out to be among the most polarizing of American leaders. No, it wasn't his race, as Harry Reid would contend, that stirred up the opposition to him. It was his exalted views of himself, and his mission. The sharp lines were sharp between those who raised his banners and those who objected to his policies. America holds presidential elections, we know. But Mr. Obama took his victory as a plebiscite on his reading of the American social contract. A president who constantly reminded his critics that he had won at the ballot box was bound to deepen the opposition of his critics. A leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

 

Mr. Obama has shown scant regard for precedent in American history. To him, and to the coterie around him, his presidency was a radical discontinuity in American politics. There is no evidence in the record that Mr. Obama read, with discernment and appreciation, of the ordeal and struggles of his predecessors. At best there was a willful reading of that history. Early on, he was Abraham Lincoln resurrected (the new president, who hailed from Illinois, took the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible). He had been sworn in during an economic crisis, and thus he was FDR restored to the White House. He was stylish with two young children, so the Kennedy precedent was on offer. In the oddest of twists, Mr. Obama claimed that his foreign policy was in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower's . But Eisenhower knew war and peace, and the foreign world held him in high regard…

 

There are no stars in the Obama cabinet today, men and women of independent stature and outlook. It was after a walk on the White House grounds with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, that Mr. Obama called off the attacks on the Syrian regime that he had threatened. If he had taken that walk with Henry Kissinger or George Shultz, one of those skilled statesmen might have explained to him the consequences of so abject a retreat. But Mr. Obama needs no sage advice, he rules through political handlers. Valerie Jarrett, the president's most trusted, probably most powerful, aide, once said in admiration that Mr. Obama has been bored his whole life. The implication was that he is above things, a man alone, and anointed. Perhaps this moment—a presidency coming apart, the incompetent social engineering of an entire health-care system—will now claim Mr. Obama's attention.

Contents

 

On Topic

 

 

White House Fact Sheet on the Iran Deal: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013 — Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Dangerous Times: A Looming Strategic Disaster in the Middle East: James Lewis, American Thinker, Nov. 24, 2013 — If you think ObamaCare is bad, just wait till you hear the new "peace" agreement that is due to be imposed on the Middle East over the coming weeks.

Israeli Ministers Line Up To Lambast Iran Nuclear Deal: Algemeiner, Nov. 24, 2013 — As news broke in the wee hours of the morning of an interim deal reached between Iran and world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Israeli ministers and political figures from across the political spectrum took to the airwaves with sharp critique.  

Obama’s Moves Could Start World War III: Noah Beck, American Thinker, Nov. 19, 2013 — According to a recent news report, President Barack Obama has for over a year secretly conducted negotiations with Iran (through his adviser Valerie Jarrett) and the Geneva talks on Iranian nukes now appear to be just a facade providing international legitimacy for Obama's secret deal with Iran.

On Topic Links

 

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