Tag: sanctions

EU DROPS ‘GREEN LINE GUIDELINE’ BOMB ON ISRAEL & PEACE PROCESS – WESTERN WALL NO LONGER JEWISH!?

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, 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:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

When Europe Demanded Israel Surrender the Western Wall: Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel, July 16, 2013—The European Union’s new directive banning any cooperation with Israeli institutions over the Green Line isn’t new, and is actually being implemented for Israel’s benefit, according to the office of the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

 

The EU’s Broken Mideast Compass: Noah Beck, Front Page Magazine, July 18, 2013—The European Union recently sent out a directive barring its 28 members from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The boycott includes “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

 

European Medicine Is Bad for Israel, and for Middle East Peace: Barry Shaw, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013—How often have European diplomats and politicians incorrectly forecast events in the Middle East? What they called the Arab Spring turned into the Islamic Winter. Didn’t they force Israel to allow Yasser Arafat, the world’s first Islamic arch-terrorist, to return from his enforced exile in Tunis by acclaiming him as Israel’s peace partner?
 

EU Judea and Samaria Guidelines Harm Palestinians: Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana and Hezi Sternlicht, Israel Hayom, July 17, 2013—A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Israel Hayom on Tuesday that many in Ramallah were dissatisfied with the European Union's decision to withhold economic grants and incentives to Israeli companies situated in Judea and Samaria.

 

On Topic Links

 

Full Text of the European Union’s Settlement Guidelines: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013

Israel Moves to Quit Flagship EU Project Over Restrictions: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013

Boycott Just Around the Corner: Ephraim Sneh, YNet News, July 17, 2013

The First Casualty of the EU Settlement Directive: John Kerry: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, July 17, 2013

The Baseless Hatred of the EU Towards Israel: Melanie Philips, Melanie's Blog,  July 16, 2013

Netanyahu Working to Get EU to Freeze Publication of New Guidelines: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013

EU's Yesha Sanctions Could Boomerang: David Lev, Israel National News, July 18, 2013

 

 

 

WHEN EUROPE DEMANDED ISRAEL
SURRENDER THE WESTERN WALL

Haviv Rettig Gur

Times of Israel, July 16, 2013

 

The European Union’s new directive banning any cooperation with Israeli institutions over the Green Line isn’t new, and is actually being implemented for Israel’s benefit, according to the office of the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The directive contains two main planks: denial of European funding to, and cooperation with, Israeli institutions based or operating over the Green Line, and a requirement that all future agreements between Israel and the EU — and possibly between Israel and individual member states as well — include a clause in which Israel accepts the European Union’s position that all territory over the Green Line does not belong to Israel.

 

As Ashton’s office noted in a statement sent to The Times of Israel Tuesday, the directive was “in conformity with the EU long-standing position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law.”

 

The European Union has indeed long held that view. It won’t invest or cooperate with communal or civic organizations over the Green Line, and has been one of the most reliable critics of Israeli settlement policy for decades. Even the details of the directive aren’t new. On December 10, 2012, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council stated that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”

 

But the fresh directive is still sending a shock wave through Israeli diplomatic circles — not because anyone is surprised about the position it takes, but because of the precision with which the EU indicates it is to be implemented. “They crossed a line,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel Tuesday. “That the EU won’t sign an agreement with Ariel University [in the West Bank] is no secret. But now they are going to force the Hebrew University to promise that no scientist working on a program [that enjoys EU cooperation or funding] lives over the Green Line,” including in apartment complexes down the street from the university campus on Mount Scopus — “or in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which has been Jewish a bit longer than the EU.”

 

“That’s absurd,” the official said. In adhering blindly to the Green Line, he claimed, the EU is in effect taking sides in the conflict in a way that distances its position from that of the majority of Israelis who support negotiations and a two-state solution. Indeed, the move has raised hackles with some on the Israeli left, which usually sees EU institutions as allies in the pursuit of peace. As another official noted, the EU’s new policy is in effect demanding that Israel deny — in writing — any rights to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, as a precondition for signing any agreement with the EU.

 

Ashton’s office tried to explain that the development was a positive one for Israel. “This is important in view of the new opportunities that will be offered to Israel (as an ENP [European Neighborhood Policy] partner) for participation in EU programmes and other funding instruments in the 2014-2020 financial framework,” read the statement issued to The Times of Israel. “We want Israel to play a full part in these instruments and we want to be sure that Israel’s participation is not put in question so that Israel will be able to make use of all possibilities offered by the new financial framework,” it added.

 

Or, in short: This is for your own good, to prevent any future challenges to your ability to get further benefits from the EU down the road — a carrot-and-stick approach where the carrot is further integration into the EU economy, and the stick is the inability of any institution operating over the Green Line to enjoy the fruits of that integration. A spokesman for the EU delegation in Israel told the Associated Press that the new guidelines would not affect Israel’s private sector or companies, but rather bodies like research centers or NGOs. That didn’t stop the Israel’s Manufacturers Association from worrying about the “obstacles” the EU was placing in the way of further economic ties.

 

For decades, European bureaucrats have been hard at work building a world of unbreakable rules and regulations. Applied to a messy, unresolved conflict, the decision to apply one set of rules over another — adhering to the demands of the pre-1967 lines, for example, at the expense of major Israeli population centers beyond those lines — would appear to the Israeli critics of the move to involve choosing sides in the larger conflict.

 

Others on the left see it differently. Labor’s Nachman Shai didn’t praise the EU move, but did regard it as the unfortunate consequence of the government’s misguided, pro-settlement policies, which he said were gradually causing Israel’s isolation. Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on called the directive “very significant,” in distinguishing between sovereign Israel, on the one hand, “and the settlements and occupation,” on the other. Europe, she said, was telling Israel that it can’t simultaneously expect to maintain international credibility as a seeker of peace while building in the settlements. Gal-on’s take was unsurprising. So, too, the outraged protests from less dovish Israeli leaders.

 

What was striking about the latter, though, was that they extended their criticisms to assert that the EU was demonstrating an incapacity to function as a fair-minded peace broker. And that was because, if it does indeed truly seek to implement its latest directive, and condition further dealings with Israel on a government acknowledgement that all territory beyond the Green Line is not part of Israel, the EU may have issued a demand to which few mainstream Israeli leaders will acquiesce.

 

Contents

 

THE EU’S BROKEN MIDEAST COMPASS

Noah Beck

Front Page Magazine, July 18, 2013

 

The European Union recently sent out a directive barring its 28 members from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The boycott includes “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

 

If this is how the EU chooses to spend its limited diplomatic and political resources “to help” the Middle East, then its moral compass is badly broken. The EU still hasn’t even mustered the clarity or courage to join the USA, Canada, and six Gulf states (led by Bahrain) in designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even though Hezbollah has committed terrorist acts on EU soil that have killed an EU citizen, and has supported Basher Assad’s butchery in Syria. The EU has also failed to take any decisive action to address the urgent crises in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran (which marches ever closer to nukes and imports ore — for armor and missile production — from Germany and France). And where is the EU’s boycott of Mideast governments that persecute women, execute homosexuals, and condone the slaughter of Christians?

 

If the EU wants to wield its economic clout to impose peace on disputing parties, why not boycott China for its brutal occupation of Tibet? Clearly that occupation doesn’t matter because the EU is China’s largest trading partner. And why isn’t the EU boycotting Northern Cyprus, which is under foreign military occupation by Turkey (against the wishes of the EU)?

 

The hypocrisy is even more flagrant because some EU states are themselves occupying disputed territories on various continents. One of the most notorious examples is the Falkland Islands. What exactly is the UK’s burning security interest in occupying a Latin American island nearly 8,000 miles away? Maybe the EU should boycott the UK as well.

 

In the end, an EU boycott of Israel is just a cheap way to score political points with the oil-producing Arab states and the growing Muslim population on European soil. Indeed, the EU’s anti-Israel directive resembles Stephen Hawking’s ill-fated attempt to inject himself into the Israeli-Palestinian controversy. Just as he absurdly chose to boycott the country largely responsible for the technology that enables him to communicate, the EU shamelessly targets the only country in the Middle East that actually shares the EU’s democratic values, respect for human rights, pluralism, and the rule of law (not to mention shared interests like curbing Iranian nukes, developing natural gas resources in the Mediterranean Sea, and seeing moderates prevail in the volatile Middle East).

 

Putting aside the EU’s abundant hypocrisy, trying to strong-arm Israel into unilateral concessions has already proved to be an abysmal failure when it comes to promoting peace. Just ask President Obama, who in 2009 pressured Israel into a 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank without requiring any reciprocal gestures from the Palestinians. They quickly realized that they need not negotiate with Israel because Obama was doing that for them. One can hardly blame Palestinians for trying to maximize their negotiating posture, even if it lacks good faith. Thus, peace talks have remained stalled for Obama’s entire presidency, even though Secretary of State John Kerry is now making his sixth peace-pushing trip (in as many months) to the region.

 

It’s also worth noting that the real obstacle to peace — Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism — existed before any of Israel’s settlement-building. Palestinian terrorism and rejectionism from Gaza also continued despite the removal of Israeli settlements (from Gaza in 2005). So Israeli settlements did not create Palestinian extremism and their removal doesn’t necessarily end it.

 

History has also demonstrated that Israeli settlement building has not prevented Israel from making painful territorial compromises for peace: Menachem Begin evacuated the Sinai, Ehud Barak ended Israel’s presence in Southern Lebanon, Ariel Sharon left Gaza, and Benjamin Netanyahu handed over West Bank territories under the Wye Accords.

 

Moreover, the EU seems to have forgotten that Jews have a historical and legal right to be in the West Bank. The “Mandate for Palestine” confirmed by the League of Nations recognized the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country.” Under Article 6, the Mandate encouraged “close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” The EU’s boycott falsely implies that Jews have no right to live in the West Bank, and is thus disturbingly reminiscent of the “Judenrein” policies of Nazi Germany, which banned Jews from certain spheres of life only because they were Jews….

 

If the EU wants to ignore international law and history, the many more pressing Mideast issues, and its own hypocrisy, all for the sake of promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, then it should at least recognize that unilateral pressure on Israel has only reinforced Palestinian inflexibility. Indeed, it is only the Palestinians who have refused to negotiate peace without preconditions. The EU has pressured the wrong party because its Mideast compass is badly broken.

Contents

 

EUROPEAN MEDICINE IS BAD FOR ISRAEL,
AND FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE

Barry Shaw

Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013

 

We have arrived at the moment most of us reckoned we would never see. How often have European diplomats and politicians incorrectly forecast events in the Middle East? What they called the Arab Spring turned into the Islamic Winter. Didn’t they force Israel to allow Yasser Arafat, the world’s first Islamic arch-terrorist, to return from his enforced exile in Tunis by acclaiming him as Israel’s peace partner? He spoke about “peace of the brave” as they awarded him with their Nobel Peace Prize, but he gave us “peace of the grave” as soon as he landed in Ramallah. Didn’t they encourage us to forcefully uproot 8,000 people from their homes in the Gaza Strip in the name of peace with the Palestinians, and didn’t we get rockets instead? Now they have the chutzpah to aim an EU directive banning their European members “from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and east Jerusalem.”

 

As Daniel Seaman of the Prime Minister’s Office reminded us on his Facebook page, “the Europeans found an unequivocal voice when it comes to Israel, but still can’t declare Hezbollah a terrorist entity. Ironically, while Europeans try to define our ancestral borders, the Muslims are redefining theirs.” Seaman added, “With Europe’s record regarding the Jewish people’s past [Greece, Rome, Spain, Russia, France, Poland, Germany, Britain], they have no moral say in determining the Jewish people’s future.”

 

But that’s not stopping them. They have officially declared that what they call the West Bank (but Jews call Judea and Samaria) and east Jerusalem are no longer part of the State of Israel. See how they have twisted historical fact and legitimacy. In their eyes, the Jewish homeland went from being mandated the National Home of the Jewish People to a “disputed territory” when recaptured from the Jordanians in 1967, before then being transmuted into “occupied territories” as the Europeans acted to appease the radical Arab voices.

 

When did, fact, history and law dissolve into lies, false definitions and actions that to citizens of the Jewish state seem eerily akin to the Nuremburg laws? What happened to European patience and desire to allow the current peace initiative to take root? Instead of a quiet and orderly diplomatic route to negotiations we now have the heavy hand of European unilateral bias against Israel. As usual, it is dressed up in fine language to make it appear that they are taking altruistic steps for the good of all of us in the region.

 

Europe! You are not our parents, and we are not little children forced to take your nasty-tasting medicine because you insist it is good for us. You are wrong and you should not be surprised if Israel refuses to quietly take your medicine, and here is one reason why: On December 10, 2012, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council stated that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”

 

Taken at face value, this means that the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, which was liberated from Jordan in 1967 and where I have just celebrated a family Bar Mitzvah, and where many thousands of Jews from around the world just commemorated Tisha Be’av, the date of the destruction of both our holy Temples, is not part of the Jewish State of Israel.  This alone should have world Jewry demonstrating their rage and fury. It should also bring out millions of Christians that identify with an ancient heritage that no EU diplomat dare overturn.

 

Earlier this year I wrote an article that appeared in The Jerusalem Post. It was entitled, “Palestinian flags flying over Jerusalem.” It detailed the significant real estate sites that will fall into the hands of Hamas when misguided outside forces side with Palestinians’ evil intent. When writing that piece I never thought such a decisive step in this direction would be taken by Europe within a few short months.

 

The EU blunder has brought that unthinkable moment forward. The Hebrew University, the Rockefeller Museum and Hadassah Hospital are, by the new EU definition, now prime targets for a European boycott. We are not just talking here about Israeli industry located on land that will remain as part of Israel in any future peace agreement, and that employs in excess of 30,000 Palestinian workers to boot, but also of the research, academic and medical centers that do so much good for mankind that lie at the foot of the European guillotine.  And the Europeans think this is in the best interest of people in the region. They have been so very wrong in the past, and are dead wrong today.

 

The author is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to
The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College.

 

Contents

 

EU JUDEA AND SAMARIA GUIDELINES HARM PALESTINIANS

Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana and Hezi Sternlicht

Israel Hayom, July 17, 2013

 

A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Israel Hayom on Tuesday that many in Ramallah were dissatisfied with the European Union's decision to withhold economic grants and incentives to Israeli companies situated in Judea and Samaria. "For our part, we approached a number of [European] Union officials, in the [Palestinian] Authority and also in Israel, to try and prevent the decision or at least to keep it unofficial," said the official, who declined to give his name. "It's not just Israeli companies that are going to be hit economically, it's also going to be disastrous economically and socially for the Palestinian community."

 

According to the Palestinian official, the European move will freeze joint projects, force employers to stop hiring Palestinians to work on joint projects with Israelis and lead to widespread layoffs of Palestinians laborers working in Judea and Samaria industrial zones. Sammer Darawsha, who works in a hothouse that is a part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural project funded by members of the EU and situated near the Halamish settlement, said the decision will "affect everyone, whether Jew or Palestinian. If they take away our livelihoods and food, exactly what kind of peace will be here?"

 

Several manufacturers and exporters were concerned by the EU directive — which prevents the EU from giving grants to Israeli enterprises beyond the pre-1967 borders — estimating that the decision could cause tens of millions of euros in damages. According to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, the EU constitutes Israel's most lucrative trade zone, and is the destination for a third of all Israeli goods. Trade with the EU in 2012 amounted to $36.6 billion. Israel imported $22.4 billion worth of goods from the EU that same year.

 

A top manufacturer warned that "blending politics and business results in a bad mixture, we have had bitter experience with it in the past. There's a sense that Europe is trying to harm the freedom of trade illegitimately."

"It must be understood that the Arab side is also going to be harmed by this directive. Indeed, a generous portion of the labor in Judea and Samaria is Palestinian," a veteran businessman said on Tuesday. Ramzi Gabai, the director of the export institute, said that "there's no room to mix political and economic issues." Tzvika Oren, Manufacturers Association of Israel president and the chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of Economic Organizations, said he "regrets the EU's intention to involve politics with economy."

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic
 

Full Text of the European Union’s Settlement Guidelines: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013—The new European Union directives concerning EU funding for entities established beyond the 1967 border lines including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights prohibit Israeli companies located beyond the 1967 lines from receiving prizes, grants, or financing.

 

Israel Moves to Quit Flagship EU Project Over Restrictions: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013—Israel has threatened to pull out of the European Union’s flagship innovation project unless the EU backs down from its funding ban on Israeli institutions operating over the pre-1967 lines. Pulling out of major economic initiative could strike a blow at Europe due to Israel’s status strength as a research center

 

Boycott Just Around the Corner: Ephraim Sneh, YNet News, July 17, 2013—The European Union's decision to exclude the settlements from its agreements with the State of Israel is a turning point. The decision means that any activity in a West Bank settlement will not benefit from any aid received from the EU by activities within the sovereign State of Israel (the 1967 lines).

 

The First Casualty of the EU Settlement Directive: John Kerry: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, July 17, 2013—US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority suffered a serious blow on Tuesday. But this time it wasn’t the Palestinians or the Israelis who derailed the process, but the US’s ostensible ally in the quest for peace, the European Union.

 

The Baseless Hatred of the EU Towards Israel: Melanie Philips, Melanie's Blog,  July 16, 2013—Consternation in Israel over the EU’s malicious decision to boycott individuals or institutions situated over the ‘Green Line’ between Israel and the disputed territories. This would presumably include boycotting, for example, the Hebrew University which is just over that line or, even more grotesquely, Jewish residents in Jerusalem’s Old City – where ancient Jewish settlement far predated the arrival of a single Arab, dating as it does since King David who built it as the capital of the kingdom of the Jewish people.

 

EU's Yesha Sanctions Could Boomerang: David Lev, Israel National News, July 18, 2013—The European Union is not the only one that can impose sanctions and boycotts, Israeli officials said Thursday. A report in Maariv said that if the EU insists on boycotting Israelis and Jews living and doing business in the lands liberated in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel could boycott some major European Union projects that feature Israel as a central partner.

 

 

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.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, 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

WHITHER IRAN—MORE NEGOTIATIONS, ANOTHER OFFER, ECONOMIC BLOCKADE, MILITARY ACTION—TO BE DECIDED IN 2013

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

Time for an Economic Blockade on Iran: Mark Wallace, Real Clear World, Dec. 13, 2012—The recent demonstrations and protests in Iran over the increasingly perilous state of its economy are the latest and most powerful sign that the economic war is having a tangible impact. There is no doubt that punitive financial and economic sanctions have contributed greatly to the collapse of Iran's currency, the rial.

 

US and Partners Prepare Modest Offer to Iran: Barbara Slavin, Al- Monitor, Dec 19, 2012—Weeks of deliberations among the United States and its fellow negotiators have produced an offer to Iran very similar to the package Iran rejected last summer, casting doubt on chances for breaking the long stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program.

 

2013: The year of Iran: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Dec. 19, 2012—We’ve been saying it for years: This coming year represents the moment of truth on Iran.Except that this year, it’s for real: 2013 represents the moment of truth on Iran. The year the Iranians pass the point of no return in their drive to the bomb. Or the year, one way or another, they are dissuaded.

 

Changes to Canada’s Terror List a Shot Across Iran’s Bow: Campbell Clark, The Globe and Mail, Dec. 20, 2012—The Canadian government has listed the clandestine branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and, at the same time, removed a controversial Iranian opposition organization, the People’s Mujahedin, from the terror list.

 

On Topic Links

 

Congress Approves New Iran Sanctions, Missile Defense Funding: JTA, Dec. 24, 2012

'Hamas preparing for West Bank takeover': Jerusalem Post, Dec. 23, 2012

Iran's Conservatives Push for a Deal: Ray Takeyh, National Interest, Dec. 21, 2012

Feeling the Pain in Tehran: Nazila Fathi, Foreign Policy, Dec. 21, 2012

Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East: Edward Malnick, The Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2012

 

 

TIME FOR AN ECONOMIC BLOCKADE ON IRAN

Mark Wallace

Real Clear World, Dec. 13, 2012

 

The recent demonstrations and protests in Iran over the increasingly perilous state of its economy are the latest and most powerful sign that the economic war is having a tangible impact. There is no doubt that punitive financial and economic sanctions have contributed greatly to the collapse of Iran's currency, the rial. Iran now suffers from hyperinflation and the rial has fallen by 80 percent in the past year. As history has shown, durable hyperinflation such as this can result in public unrest and, occasionally, regime change.

 

The conventional wisdom of the past was that sanctions against Iran would have little impact because of Iran's vast oil wealth. That was, in retrospect, flawed thinking. In the past year, Iran's acceleration of its nuclear program and defiance of the IAEA, its sponsorship of terrorism and its destabilizing behavior in countries like Syria finally prompted the international community to act. The loss of Iranian oil has had little effect on the market so far, as countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya have made up for the loss.

 

The sanctions now in place are beginning to have a dramatic impact, as Iran's currency is collapsing. As a result of hyperinflation, we have seen Iran's currency exchange market become paralyzed. Licensed exchange bureaus refused in recent days to do business at the officially imposed rate of 28,500 rials to the dollar, while black market dealers were offering the dollar at a rate of 35,500 rials, sparking protests and a violent crackdown. Significantly, the ire of the protesters was primarily directed at the regime for its mismanagement, and for actions that led to sanctions in the first place.

 

If history is any guide, the leaders of Iran have reason to worry, as there is a correlation between hyperinflation and regime change. In Indonesia, hyperinflation and the collapse of the rupiah from 2,700 to the dollar to nearly 16,000 over the course of a year was one of the principal sources of discontent, which brought people out to the streets to overthrow the Suharto regime. In the case of Yugoslavia, hyperinflation was the motivating force that led Slobodan Milosevic to start a war to divert attention from the monetary crisis facing the country — a war that led to his ultimate defeat.

 

Regardless of the precipitating event, hyperinflation can signal the death knell of a regime. We often forget that a "Persian Spring" preceded the Arab Spring, and that Iran has not only restive minorities, but a restive middle class frustrated with a corrupt theocratic regime, culminating in protests over the 2009 election. If the regime faces increased and durable hyperinflation, Iran's demographics suggest that the mullahs' brutal hold on power could face serious challenges.

 

At this critical stage, it is time for U.S. and EU policymakers to do all they can to build upon and ensure the durability of Iran's hyperinflation. The best way to do so is by implementing a total economic blockade that would pit the vast purchasing power of the world's two largest economies against that of Iran. Such an economic blockade would bar any business, firm or entity that does work in Iran from receiving U.S. and EU government contracts, accessing U.S. and EU capital markets, entering into commercial partnerships in the U.S. and EU or otherwise doing business in the U.S. and EU. The result would be an immense economic barrier to entry into Iran's marketplace, and would place unprecedented pressure on the rial.

 

Other steps to pressure the rial could be taken as well. As the rial devalues, Iranians seek the safe haven of dollars and gold in the currency markets of Afghanistan and Iraq and the gold markets in Turkey. Stemming the ease of accessibility to dollars and gold would further pressure the rial. Other creative ideas include impeding the flow of sophisticated currency printing technology and other products that have been previously provided to Iran's central bank by European vendors. In fact, recently the German currency printer Koenig & Bauer AG announced the cessation of its provision of bank note printing equipment and services in Iran under pressure from United Against Nuclear Iran, seriously impeding Iran's ability to manipulate its money supply and maintain the integrity of the rial.

 

It is time to present the mullahs in Iran with a clear choice — they can forego a nuclear weapon or they can have a functioning economy. To be sure, there is no guarantee that even a total economic blockade will prevent Iran from changing its strategic calculus to develop a nuclear weapons capability. But as the prospects of war over the next months increase, does the international community not owe it to itself to say it has exhausted all other options? It surely makes sense to try, particularly since we have seen the impact current sanctions are having on the regime. And the human cost of hyperinflation, though at times great, is far less than those of a nuclear-armed Iran or a preemptive military conflict.

 

Ambassador Mark D. Wallace is CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for U.N. Management and Reform.

 

Top of Page

 

 

US AND PARTNERS PREPARE MODEST OFFER TO IRAN

Barbara Slavin

Al- Monitor, Dec 19, 2012

                 

Weeks of deliberations among the United States and its fellow negotiators have produced an offer to Iran very similar to the package Iran rejected last summer, casting doubt on chances for breaking the long stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program.

 

The “refreshed” proposal includes spare parts for Iran’s aging Western jetliners — a perennial carrot — and assistance with Iran’s civilian nuclear infrastructure but no specific promise of sanctions relief, Al-Monitor has learned. Perhaps as a result, Iranian officials appear to be in no hurry to agree to a date to meet again with the so-called P5 +1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

 

Following US presidential elections, US officials began mulling a more generous proposal but have settled for a conservative position. Iran will be expected to agree to concessions before knowing exactly what it would get in return. Iran has been sending mixed signals in advance of new talks. Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi said Monday [Dec. 17]: “Both sides … have concluded that they have to exit the current impasse,” and that “Iran wants its legitimate and legal right and no more.” But Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Tuesday [Dec. 18] that Iran would not stop enriching uranium to 20% U-235, a key international demand.

 

Another factor reducing expectations for upcoming negotiations is Iran’s reluctance so far to agree to a one-on-one meeting with the United States at which the Obama administration might be more forthcoming than in a multilateral setting.  Both sides appear to be unwilling to undertake major risks, diminishing the chances for a breakthrough or a breakdown of negotiations. The US and its partners appear to feel that time is on their side as economic sanctions bite deeper into the Iranian economy. Iran, meanwhile, is amassing larger quantities of low-enriched uranium that could improve its bargaining position down the road.

 

There is also the question of transition in both countries. Although Barack Obama was re-elected president, he will be naming new secretaries of state and defense soon and there may be a new US negotiating team. Iran is beginning to gear up for its own presidential elections next year and jostling has already begun within the conservative elite over who will replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains the ultimate decision maker.

 

Patrick Clawson, an Iran specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he has been told that the Obama administration has “a firm determination not to let the [US] transition slow down the process.” While some members of the US negotiating team are departing, the head negotiator, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, is likely to stay on for at least a while and has a good relationship with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the probable nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

 

A bold offer to Iran would require President Obama to spend political capital that he may prefer to use for other purposes including avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff,” getting his nominees for a new Cabinet approved and now in the wake of mass shootings at a school in Connecticut, gun control.

 

Barbara Slavin is Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where she focuses on Iran. 

 

Top of Page

 

 

2013: THE YEAR OF IRAN

David Horovitz

Times of Israel, December 19, 2012

 

We’ve been saying it for years: This coming year represents the moment of truth on Iran.

 

Except that this year, it’s for real: 2013 represents the moment of truth on Iran. The year the Iranians pass the point of no return in their drive to the bomb. Or the year, one way or another, they are dissuaded.

 

It’s the now or never year. But will it be now or never? Speak to some of those who claim to know Barack Obama best of all, and the response is definitive. The president is not bluffing. He means it when he says he will thwart a nuclear Iran by whatever means necessary — up to and most certainly including the use of force. This is not about protecting Israel, or rather not just about protecting Israel. It’s about American credibility. It’s about American interests throughout the Middle East — defending those interests against an Iranian regime that is already ideologically and territorially rapacious and that would be terrifyingly more potent if its ambitions were backed by a nuclear weapons capability. And it’s about the president’s sense of his historic obligation and legacy — Obama as protector, pushing hard now for gun control at home, and determined to reduce, ideally eliminate, the nuclear peril worldwide.

 

Speak to some of the president’s bitter political rivals, and the assessment is withering. An Obama resort to force? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Forget the fine rhetoric about containment not being an option. This is a president bent on extricating the United States from combat zones, not plunging his forces into new military misadventures. This is a president who knows the electorate shudders at the prospect of confrontation with Iran.

This is a president who wants to appoint Chuck Hagel, firm opponent of a resort to force against Iran, as his next defense secretary. This is a president who had to be dragged into Libya by the French and the British, and who hasn’t lifted a finger as Bashar Assad waged war in Syria for almost two years. This is a president whose commitment to Israel can be gauged by his readiness to pick a major fight with Benjamin Netanyahu over building in an established ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of East Jerusalem (Ramat Shlomo) two years ago, a president who couldn’t spare half an hour for Netanyahu in the US this fall, even as he was insisting Israel hold its fire on Iran and thus entrust its security to him.

 

So which Obama are we betting on? The stakes for Israel could hardly be higher.  The coming months will provide ostensible evidence for both assessments. The US will engage in new efforts at diplomacy, insisting it is seeking a negotiated solution to the standoff.

 

A necessary precursor to a US-led resort to force, some will say. It is typical of Obama, they will argue, that he is both exhausting all other options, and being seen to exhaust all other options, in order to maximize perceived international legitimacy and support for armed intervention when — not if — he gives the order to strike.

 

Far from it, others will counter. Diplomacy and more diplomacy and more diplomacy — that’s the Obama way. And when it’s too late, the president will tell his public that he tried — that he pleaded and cajoled and demanded. That he did everything short of military action. But that Iran would not be budged. And that he opted not to resort to a preemptive military strike, recognizing that the America that just reelected him would have been horrified by such action, and that he is confident the Iranians would not dare target the United States.

 

Where do these absolutely conflicting assessments leave Israel? Worried. Wary. Uncertain.  It’s just possible that the two leaders, despite their frustrations with each other — “you did your best to help my rival”; “you’ve never really understood the challenges my country faces” — have reached a private understanding. If so, it could only be in the form of a pledge by Obama to Netanyahu: If the Iranians haven’t suspended the program by this or that date in 2013, America will strike.

 

That could explain the relative absence of bitter rhetoric emanating from Jerusalem these past few months. No more talk of the need for US-set red lines. No more dismal daily declarations from the prime minister that sanctions haven’t slowed the Iranian program “one iota.” It would explain the cessation of US administration warnings to Jerusalem to hold fire, the cessation of off-record briefings by administration officials warning Israeli journalists that their government is flirting with disaster, bringing the region to the brink of apocalypse.

 

Or it could be that there are no understandings — merely that, their public sparring over, the American and Israeli leaders have retired to their respective corners, a little bruised but far from broken, to plan their next moves.  If so, the dilemma for Netanyahu — who surely wanted to hit Iran last summer, but was derailed by the weight of opposition from the US and from his own security chiefs present and past — is unenviable, indeed. Existentially unenviable.

 

If he heeds the assessments of those Obama confidantes, watchers and friends who believe the president does have the stomach to order in the bombers, then just maybe he dares let Israel’s already much-narrowed window of opportunity to thwart Iran close altogether — even though to do so is to place Israel’s destiny in the hands of others, a breach of every independent Zionist fiber of the prime ministerial being.

 

And if he heeds the Obama critics, the insiders and the observers who scoff at the notion of a presidential resort to force, he will be preparing for a desperate, immensely risky utilization of Israeli military power, unprecedentedly far away, on targets hardened against precisely such intervention, over the objections of Israel’s greatest ally, with potentially catastrophic repercussions even if everything goes as planned.

 

He will be torn, furthermore, between a certain fealty to his late father’s fierce mindset — confront the threat, take action, use the Jewish nation’s hard-won restored sovereign power to strike down the latest advocates of Jewish genocide — and his own far more cautious inclinations, his tendency to talk the talk (on defying international pressure on settlements, refusing to negotiate with terrorists, ousting Hamas) but not always walk the walk.  He’ll know he could be saving Israel, or he could be dooming it. We’ll all find out, it rather seems, in 2013.

 

Top of Page

 

 

CHANGES TO CANADA’S TERROR LIST
A SHOT ACROSS IRAN’S BOW

Campbell Clark

The Globe and Mail, Dec. 20 2012

 

The Canadian government has listed the clandestine branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and, at the same time, removed a controversial Iranian opposition organization, the People’s Mujahedin, from the terror list.  The two moves together mark an effort to label, isolate and pressure Iran, with whom Canada broke off ties earlier this year.

 

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced in a statement that the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, a clandestine arm of the elite military unit that exerts powerful influence over Iran’s government and economy, has been added to the list. It was added for providing arms and training to terror organizations including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, he said.

 

“The listing of terrorist entities sends a strong message that Canada will not tolerate terrorist activities, including terrorist financing, or those who support such activities.” That listing makes it illegal for Canadians to support or finance the organization, although that is likely to be a largely symbolic step in this case. Earlier this year, Ottawa declared Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and it recently imposed sanctions that limit doing business with the Revolutionary Guards.

 

But the Canadian government also took another step aimed at backing opponents of the Tehran regime, by removing the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahedin, from the terror list.

 

The MEK, once one of the groups involved in Iran’s 1979 revolution, has long been included on the terror list, but Western nations, considering it an opponent of the regime in Tehran, have started removing it from lists of terror organizations. The European Union stopped listing the MEK as a terror group in 2009, and the U.S. followed suit in September of this year.

 

But the MEK remains controversial, as human-rights groups have accused it of abuses at its camps in Iraq, and some dissidents within Iran dislike the West’s recent willingness to accept the group’s activities.

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

Congress Approves New Iran Sanctions, Missile Defense Funding: JTA, Dec. 24, 2012—The final version of a defense funding act headed for President Obama’s desk includes enhanced Iran sanctions the president opposed as well as additional funding for Israel’s missile defense.

 

'Hamas Preparing for West Bank Takeover: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 23, 2012—Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal instructed the terror group's sleeper cells in the West Bank to prepare themselves for armed struggle to take control of the Palestinian territory, The Sunday Times reported.

 

Iran's Conservatives Push For A Deal: Ray Takeyh, National Interest, Dec. 21, 2012—As Washington contemplates another round of diplomacy with Iran, an intense debate is gripping the Islamic Republic’s corridors of power. An influential and growing segment of Iran’s body politic is calling for a negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue. Such calls have transcended the circle of reformers and liberals and are increasingly being voiced by conservative oligarchs.

 

Feeling the Pain in Tehran: Nazila Fathi, Foreign Policy, Dec. 21, 2012—Iran's Ministry of Intelligence did something remarkable last month: It used its website to publish a report (link in Farsi) calling for direct talks with the country's foe, the United States. In the report, entitled "The Zionist Regime's Reasons and Obstacles for Attacking Iran," the traditionally hawkish ministry highlighted the benefits of diplomacy and negotiations with the United States: "One way to fend off a possible war is to resort to diplomacy and to use all international capacities."

 

Christianity 'Close to Extinction' in Middle East: Edward Malnick, The Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2012—Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”. The report, by the think tank Civitas, says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree. "A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

 

 

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.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, 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

ON BALANCE, OBAMA READY TO NEGOTIATE, EVEN AS SAUDIS WAGE ANTI-IRAN PROXY WAR

 

International Conference

 

 

   CIJR’S Latest ISRAZINE is now available

Israel’s Levy Report – Clarifying the Misconceptions

 

Download the Isranet Daily Briefing in .pdf format

Contents:

 

The Obama Administration Puts Its Trust in Negotiations with Iran: Barry Rubin, PJ Media, Nov. 12, 2012—

 

The most important foreign policy effort President Barack Obama will be making over the next year is negotiating with Iran. The terms of the U.S. offer are clear: if Iran agrees not to build nuclear weapons, it will be allowed to enrich a certain amount of uranium, supposedly for purposes of generating nuclear energy (which Iran doesn’t need) and other benefits, supposedly under strict safeguards.

 

Saudis’ Proxy War Against Iran: Joseph Braude, Tablet Magazine, Nov. 12, 2012 —Following the logic that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” a few influential policymakers in Washington and Tel Aviv have argued for years that support for the aspirations of non-Persian Iranians—like Arabs, Baluchis, and Kurds—would be both morally right and strategically useful as a means to destabilize the regime.

 

On Topic Links

 

Did Israel and the U.S. Just Cooperate on a Dry-Run for an Iran Intervention?: Jonathan Schanzer, The New Republic, Nov. 2, 2012

Victim Complex Redux: Iran's Fake Anger: Ali Alfoneh, The Commentator, Nov. 5, 2012

Sanctions Have Crippled Iran’s Economy, But They’re Not Working: Christopher de Bellaigue, The New Republic, Nov. 12, 2012

Responding To Iran: It’s A Matter Of Trust: Amos Yadlin, The Globe and Mail, Nov.12, 2012

The Cyber War With Iran: Bill French, The National Interest, Nov. 7, 2012

 

 

 

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PUTS ITS
TRUST IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH IRAN

Barry Rubin

PJ Media, Nov 12, 2012

 

The most important foreign policy effort President Barack Obama will be making over the next year is negotiating with Iran. The terms of the U.S. offer are clear: if Iran agrees not to build nuclear weapons, it will be allowed to enrich a certain amount of uranium, supposedly for purposes of generating nuclear energy (which Iran doesn’t need) and other benefits, supposedly under strict safeguards.

 

Will Iran accept such a deal? The Obama Administration and others argue as follow: Sanctions have taken a deep bite out of Iran’s economy and frightened the regime with the prospect of instability. Iranian leaders are concluding that nuclear weapons aren’t worth all of this trouble. They are interested in becoming wealthy not spreading revolution and this includes even the once-fanatical Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which is steadily gaining power in the country.

 

In a few months, June 2013, Iran will have elections to choose a new president to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Perhaps, goes the argument, they will pick someone more flexible and less provocative, a signal that they want to stand down from the current confrontation. Thus, a deal is really possible and it could be implemented.

 

I won’t dismiss this altogether. The truth is that despite extremist statements and radical tactics, the Iranian regime is by no means ideologically or theologically mad. The rulers want to stay in power and they have been far more cautious in practice than they have in rhetoric. Despite the claims that the Iranian regime just wants to get nuclear weapons to attack Israel as soon as possible, a serious analysis of this government’s history, its leaders and factions, indicates otherwise.

 

A key factor here is that Iran wants nuclear weapons for “defensive” purposes. By this I do not mean that a poor Tehran regime is afraid that it will be attacked for no reason at all and thus needs to protect itself. Not at all. It is Iran’s aggressive, subversive, and terrorist-sponsoring positions that jeopardize the regime. Like it or not, if the Tehran government got on with the business of repressing its own people without threatening its neighbors the world would be little concerned with its behavior. But it has refused to take that easy and profitable choice.

 

Rather, Iran wants nuclear weapons so it can continue both regime and behavior without having to worry about paying any price for the things it does. The situation has, however, changed in two respects.

 

First, the “Arab Spring” has put an end to any serious hope by the regime of gaining leadership in the Middle East or in the Muslim world. Two years ago it was possible that Arabs would dance in the street and cheer Iran having a nuclear weapon as the great hope of radical Islam. Today, though, the Sunni Islamists are on the march and have no use for rival Shias, much less ethnic Persians.

 

They want to make their own revolutions, destroy Israel, expel the West, and seize control of the Middle East for Sunni Arabs and not under the leadership of Persian Shias. Iran’s sphere of influence has been whittled down to merely Lebanon, Iraq, and a rapidly failing Syrian regime. Under these conditions, getting nuclear weapons will not bring Iran any great strategic gain.

 

Second, sanctions have indeed been costly for Iran, though one could exaggerate the extent of this suffering. Additional internal problems have been brought on by the rulers own mismanagement and awesome levels of corruption. In other words, to stay in power and get even richer Iran’s leaders, along with disposing of Ahmadinejad, might seek a way out of their ten-year-long drive for nuclear weapons.

 

Thus, it is not impossible that Iran would take up the Obama Administration on the proposed deal either because the leaders now seek riches rather than revolution or because they intend to cheat or move far more gradually toward getting nuclear weapons or at least the capability to obtain them quickly if and when they decide to do so.

 

It is, however, equally or more possible that Iran would use the negotiations to wrest concessions from the West without giving anything in return and to stall for time as it steadily advances toward its nuclear goal. As this happens, Israeli concerns will be dismissed by the administration and the mass media. The kinder ones will say that Israel is being unnecessarily concerned; the more hostile that it is acting as a warmonger when everything can be settled through compromise….

 

Of course, it is worthwhile to try negotiations. But as in all policymaking such endeavors must be entered with a clear sense of the possibilities, alternatives, goals, unacceptable concessions, and a readiness to admit the strategy isn’t working. What happens as talks drag on month after month, with Iran demanding a better offer and proof that the West has honest intentions? Certainly, as long as the talks continue the White House would argue for reducing pressure and stopping threats lest Iran gets scared or mistrustful. Already, we are receiving hints that it is Israel’s fault for scaring Iran into thinking it needs nuclear weapons, forgetting the fact that Israeli threats result from Iranian leaders’ boasts about the genocide they intend to commit once they have atomic arms.

 

Part of the Obama Administration sales pitch for U.S.-Iran talks is that Obama really will get tough if Iran stalls, uses the time to continue developing nuclear weapons, or cheats. People in positions of authority or influence—including in the mass media as well as governments—claim Obama will attack Iran if it plays him false. The administration’s patience is wearing thin we are told, it won’t let the Iranian regime make it look like a fool.

 

For my part, I don’t believe that Obama would ever initiate military action against Iran and that he will also do everything possible to prevent Israel from doing so, which means that Israel would also not launch an attack. Personally, I don’t favor an attack on Iran (for reasons I’ve explained in detail elsewhere) but it is a costly error to base a policy of concessions and letting Iran stall based on a false claim of willingness to use force at some later point. In addition, whether or not you think it a good idea, an attack on Iran by either Israel or the United States as a means of stopping the nuclear program isn’t going to happen.

 

I suggest the most likely possibilities are as follows:

 

If Iran’s leaders find the pressures of sanctions so tough, the threat to the regime’s survival so great, and their greed for remaining in power and making more money so big they will then make a deal. We will be told that Obama is a great statesman who has achieved a big success and rightly won the Nobel Peace Prize. He will indeed have avoided Iran going nuclear, at least for a while.

 

Or Iran will use the chance to talk endlessly and build nuclear weapons while the administration’s hints of dire retribution will prove to be bluffs as the leaders in Tehran expect. The year 2013 will pass without any deal. During Obama’s second term Iran will either get nuclear weapons or have everything needed to do so but will not actually assemble them for a while. U.S. policy will then accept that situation and shift to a containment strategy.

 

I’d bet on the latter outcome. But we are now going to see a campaign insisting that a peaceful resolution with Iran is at hand and ridiculing anyone who has doubts about this happy ending.

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

SAUDIS’ PROXY WAR AGAINST IRAN

Joseph Braude

Tablet Magazine, November 12, 2012

 

On the evening of Oct. 23, part of a gas pipeline facility in the western Iranian city of Shush exploded—one of several recent attacks on Iranian infrastructure near the country’s borders. In contrast to the clandestine campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear facilities, whose perpetrators do not openly claim responsibility—though most suspect it is the work of the United States or Israel—the Shush hit was promptly followed by a press release put out by a group called the “Battalions of the Martyr Mohiuddin Al Nasser.”

 

The group is comprised of Ahwazi Arabs, one of several non-Persian ethnic groups inside Iran who together number at least 40 percent of the Iranian population. Some of these minority communities, which live mostly in the outlying provinces of the country, are restive and have been for years: The regime in Tehran represses their languages and cultures, chokes the local economy, and limits their movement. Increasingly, these groups have been organizing themselves politically and militarily—and some in Washington and Israel could not be more thrilled with the development.

 

Following the logic that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” a few influential policymakers in Washington and Tel Aviv have argued for years that support for the aspirations of non-Persian Iranians—like Arabs, Baluchis, and Kurds—would be both morally right and strategically useful as a means to destabilize the regime. Some even see an opportunity to partner with these groups for a ground assault to complement air strikes on Iranian nuclear targets.

 

Seymour Hersh, writing in The New Yorker in 2008, claimed the Bush Administration had begun a “major escalation of covert operations against Iran” including “support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.” Citing retired and unnamed intelligence officials, Hersh suggested that the groups were being used to attack Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other regime targets, complementing American covert action against Iran’s nuclear program. (Hersh did not respond to a request for comment on his assertions.)

 

I recently spoke with two former U.S. government officials who had been involved in Iran policy during the Bush years. They opined that Hersh had blurred actual policy with contingency plans that had not been implemented. They also felt that the Obama Administration has had little interest in such strategies, preferring a more limited focus on the nuclear facilities themselves. These competing assertions should all be taken with a grain of salt. As Israelis say of their own Iran policy: “He who knows, doesn’t talk, and he who talks, doesn’t know.”

 

But activities in recent months prove that an equally important question is what Iran’s minorities and sympathetic neighboring countries are doing on their own. Extensive reporting from local sources in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states reveals that several countries surrounding Iran are beginning to back the country’s ethnic dissidents as a way of waging a proxy war against the mullahs. In Saudi Arabia, media and clerical elites recently mobilized to raise public awareness about the situation of Ahwazi Arabs, frame their cause as a national liberation struggle, and urge Arabs and Muslims to support them. Saudi donors are providing money and technological support to Ahwazi dissidents seeking to wage their own public information campaign, calling on Ahwazis to rise up against their rulers. The Saudi initiatives, in turn, join ongoing ventures by Azerbaijan and Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government to organize and train other dissident groups.

 

These recently expanded initiatives clearly correlate with the upsurge in violent attacks in Iran’s outlying provinces, pointing to a new campaign reminiscent of what Hersh imputed to the Bush Administration—but with local players in the lead. These players seem poised to escalate in the months to come, whether Americans or Israelis attempt to work with them or not.

 

Ahwaz as defined by Arabs (as opposed to the Persian designation “Ahvaz,” which is smaller) is a territory the size of Belarus that borders Iraq to the west and faces Saudi Arabia across the Persian Gulf. Some estimates say it is home to 3 million Arabic speakers, though locals claim the number is much larger. The area contains approximately 80 percent of Iran’s oil reserves and nearly all of its gas reserves, as well as a nuclear reactor near the city of Bushehr. Small wonder the regime in Tehran takes harsh measures to discourage separatist tendencies…

 

Few Westerners follow these happenings, and for decades, few Arabs did either: The region’s government media and semi-independent satellite channels barely covered it. Arab disinterest may have stemmed from the fact that the majority of Ahwazi Arabs are Shiite, a despised sect to many in the predominantly Sunni Arab world. “But Arab governments have also been afraid of the regime in Tehran,” said Saeed Dabat, an activist with the Movement of Arab Struggle for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz based in Copenhagen. “None of them was willing to rouse popular sentiments for a cause they wanted nothing to do with.”

 

Then, last summer, something changed. In June, a young Saudi cleric named Abdullah Al Ya’n Allah, hosting a new satellite TV program called Ahwaz the Forgotten (Al-Ahwaz al-Mansiya), castigated Arabs for ignoring the plight of their brethren living under Iranian occupation….

 

But Saudi support for the Ahwazi opposition is one piece of a larger regional picture. Saudis are also providing more modest funding to non-Arab ethnics in Iran, as are two other neighboring countries. From the Iranian province of Baluchistan, an overwhelmingly Sunni-populated area, a new separatist group announced its establishment on Oct. 11. Ya’n Allah, the Saudi host of Ahwaz the Forgotten, immediately began to publicize the group, both on television and via his Twitter followers. I reached the group’s media director in Bahrain last week. (He goes by Ali al-Mahdi, a name with a Shiite ring to it—a caustic joke for a Sunni militant who speaks about Shiites with great hostility.)

 

He complained of too little backing: “We get support for [families of] martyrs, like from students … $500, $1,000 [at a time]. It’s nothing!” For the first time publicly, Mahdi claimed credit on behalf of his organization for the mid-October suicide attack near a mosque in southeastern Iran. “If we get [more] support,” he said in response to a question about Gulf donors, “you will see Baluchistan on fire,” he said, “like Syria and Afghanistan.”…

 

Meanwhile, as Tel Aviv University’s Ofra Bengio noted last month, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government now provides Iranian Kurdish opposition groups with a safe haven and the freedom to organize, train, and access Iran across its porous eastern border. Thanks to the KRG’s warm relations with the United States and Israel, the area may also have served as a connecting point for talks and cooperation between the two powers and Iran’s Kurds (or play such a role in the future).

 

As for Iran’s Azeri population, it is better-integrated into Tehran’s power structure than the other groups—Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is Azeri himself—and therefore less likely to form a serious separatist movement. But this has not stopped the neighboring government of Azerbaijan from hoping otherwise: A parliamentary resolution was introduced this year to rename the country “North Azerbaijan,” implying that a “South Azerbaijan” should be carved out of northern Iran. The government’s present relations with the United States and Israel have never been better and hostility toward Iran never greater. Aside from the interest in its own co-ethnics in Iran, Azerbaijan also sponsors nationalistic Arabic TV programming and beams it into Ahwaz.

 

The low-grade assaults this year perpetrated by ethnic minorities receive considerably less coverage than cyber-initiatives like Stuxnet and the assassination of nuclear scientists, but they nonetheless contribute to the bleeding of the regime. This regional proxy war, now escalating, is morally questionable: Should ethnic groups’ legitimate political aspirations be exploited for other purposes? Should attacks on civilian targets, such as mosques, ever be sanctioned? It is also strategically questionable: Will some of these dissidents go on to support a radical agenda and attack the West? Is the fragmenting of Iran into several states in the long-term interest of the region and the United States.? For all its tradeoffs, it belongs in both the public discussion and the quieter conversations about our next steps on Iran policy.

Top of Page

 

 

 

Did Israel and the U.S. Just Cooperate on a Dry-Run for an Iran Intervention?: Jonathan Schanzer, The New Republic, Nov. 2, 2012—If the U.S. indeed cooperated with Israel in the attack [on Sudan], then this might have been a dry run of an entirely different sort—one that would belie the very public disagreements between the two countries over intervention in Iran.

 

 

Victim Complex Redux: Iran's Fake Anger: Ali Alfoneh, The Commentator, Nov. 5, 2012 Should the US embassy ever reopen in Tehran, the visa application line would be longer than any “spontaneous” anti-American rally the regime is capable of organizing. Besides the hollowness of the revolutionary mythology, the "commemoration" should also serve as a sobering reminder to those believing in the normalisation of relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic.

 

Sanctions Have Crippled Iran’s Economy, But They’re Not Working: Christopher de Bellaigue, The New Republic, November 12, 2012—The assumption is that the more Iranians suffer, the more their leaders will feel the pressure and either change course or be overthrown in a popular uprising. And yet, there is no evidence to suggest that this is probable, and the Iraqi case suggests the opposite.

 

Responding To Iran: It’s A Matter Of Trust: Amos Yadlin, The Globe and Mail, Nov.12, 2012 —Israel sees the threat posed by Iran, in part, through the prism of the Holocaust. The Iranian regime’s threats to wipe Israel off the map resonate of the propaganda expounded by the Nazi regime. The U.S. trauma, on the other hand, is the highly controversial and costly war in Iraq. Amid its drawn-out war in Afghanistan, the U.S. public and leadership are unlikely to stomach yet another war in a Muslim nation.

 

The Cyber War With Iran: Bill French, The National Interest, Nov. 7, 2012 —As the United States and Iran inch closer to confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program, a little-asked question lurks in the background: are the two countries already at war? In late September, massive denial-of-service attacks targeted five American banking institutions. Soon after, Senator Lieberman attributed responsibility to Iran…

 

 

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.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, 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

AS U.S. SOFTENS IRANIAN NUCLEAR POLICY, SYRAI EMERGES AS U.S.-TURKEY WEDGE ISSUE

 

 

 

Articles:

Iran Becomes a Nuclear Threshold State : A. Savyon and Y. Carmon, MEMRI, October 5, 2012

"We just cannot continue business as usual, that every country can build its own factories for separating plutonium or enriching uranium. Then we are really talking about 30, 40 countries sitting on the fence with a nuclear weapons capability that could be converted into a nuclear weapon in a matter of months."

 

Syria Becomes a Wedge between U.S. and Turkey: Soner Cagaptay, Washington Post, October 4, 2012

“The close relationship that President Obama has built with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provided the United States with a key Muslim ally in the Middle East. Washington and Ankara have worked closely to stabilize Iraq. Yet a storm awaits them in Syria.”

 

Be Wary of Playing Turkey’s Great Game: Con Coughlin, The Telegraph, Oct 4, 2012

“Syria might be getting all the blame for firing the first shot in the sudden eruption of hostilities on the Turko-Syrian border, but Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, can hardly claim to be an innocent party when it comes to stoking the fires of a conflict that retains the potential to ignite a regional conflagration.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Pro-/Anti-Assad Camps Concerned Syria's  Disintegration into Separate Entities:  N. Mozes, MEMRI, October 1, 2012

Turkey Gets Tough on Syria:  Amanda Paul,  Today’s Zaman, October 7, 2012

Can Sanctions Change Iran’s Mind?: Efraim A. Cohen, Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2012

Kurds to Pursue More Autonomy in a Fallen Syria: Tim Arango, New York Times, September 28, 2012

Gulen's False Choice: Silence or Violence: Stephen Schwartz, Gatestone Institute, October 5, 2012     

______________________________________________________________

 

IRAN BECOMES A NUCLEAR THRESHOLD STATE

A. Savyon and Y. Carmon

MEMRI, October 5, 2012

 

The Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, bans member states from enriching uranium to a level above the 3.5%-5% level required for producing energy and above the 19.7% level required for medical research; even this enrichment is permitted only with the approval and oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

 

For years, the IAEA, representing the international community, had interpreted the right of NPT member states to use enriched uranium as the right to obtain the necessary enriched uranium for legitimate civilian  purposes from the IAEA/the superpowers holding the monopoly on uranium  enrichment. In line with this policy, in January 2005, then-IAEA director Mohamed Elbaradei called for a five-year moratorium on uranium enrichment activities, or, as he told the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, "until we have completed our work on how we can have an international arrangement for the fuel cycle."…

 

In February 2005, El Baradei, explained to Agence France Presse: "We just cannot continue business as usual, that every country can build its own factories for separating plutonium or enriching uranium. Then we are really talking about 30, 40 countries sitting on the fence with a nuclear weapons capability that could be converted into a nuclear weapon in a matter of months."

 

Furthermore, this policy was the basis of the agreement signed in 2005 between Iran and Russia, on the provision of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor. Under that agreement, Russia undertook to provide fuel for the light water reactor at Bushehr, while Iran undertook to return the spent fuel rods to Russia – all under full IAEA oversight.

 

Thus, all IAEA decisions over the years categorically demanded that Iran immediately cease its uranium enrichment project. The negotiations between Iran and the international community focused on the demand to stop uranium enrichment, with the IAEA and the superpowers undertaking to meet Iran's legitimate civilian needs for enriched uranium. When Iran refused to stop its uranium enrichment, the U.N. Security Council placed sanctions on it – that is, sanctions by the international community.

 

The U.S. administration gradually reversed its policy regarding uranium enrichment. Under the new policy, the right to use enriched uranium was reinterpreted as countries' right to enrich uranium on their own soil, as long as it was for civilian/peaceful purposes. This was reflected first in general statements such as President Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech, in which he stated: "Any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access to peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I'm hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal… I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust [vis-à-vis Iran] but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.  But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point."

 

Later, this shift was expressed in clearer terms. For example, prior to attending a security summit in Thailand in July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in remarks regarding the security needs of the U.S.'s Arab allies in the Middle East that could come under the hegemony of a nuclear Iran, "We want Iran to calculate, what I think is a fair assessment, that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it's unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon."

 

In addition to the proposed defense umbrella, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his administration's firm commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. However, both the president and Secretary of State Clinton limit their objections to nuclear weapons alone, and no longer express objections to the right to enrich uranium as long as it is for civilian purposes and under oversight….

 

Indeed, this new policy entitling Iran to enrich uranium on its own soil as long as it is for civilian purposes was in fact an acceptance of Iran's years-long demand that it would be given a status equivalent to that of Germany and Japan (known as the Japanese/German model) which Iran has

publicly demanded already in 2005.

 

In a visit to Berlin in February 2005, Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi proposed the Japanese/German model as the basis for Iran-EU negotiations. In a meeting with German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, Kharrazi elaborated on Iran's perspective on how to resolve the dispute with the EU3: "Peaceful nuclear plants in Germany and Japan can serve as a good model for Iran's nuclear projects, and serve as the basis for any round of talks in that respect.”

 

Also, at a May 2009 joint press conference with Japanese foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki called for implementing the Japanese nuclear model in Iran as well, saying, "The view that exists about Japan's nuclear activities should be applied to other countries including Iran." Mottaki reiterated that Iran's nuclear activities were "legal and peaceful," and said, "Japan spent many years to build confidence about its nuclear work. Iran is moving on a similar path… During the confidence-building years, Japan was never obliged to suspend its (nuclear) activities."

 

There are three differences between Iran and these two countries.

 

1)      Both Germany and Japan have constitutional prohibitions against nuclear weapons;

 

2)      Both countries are democracies, and have for decades acted in a way  that allows trust in their stated intentions; and

 

3)      Both enable full IAEA oversight of their nuclear facilities.

 

On the other hand, Iran:

 

1)      Does not enable full IAEA oversight of its nuclear facilities; IAEA reports and U.N. Security Council resolutions stress that Iran does not allow full inspection of its nuclear facilities and does not cooperate with the IAEA….

 

2)      Is not a democracy and its conduct does not allow trust in its stated intentions. Iran's top nuclear official openly declared recently that Iran had regularly deceived and lied to the IAEA. Moreover, Iran has in the last few months even announced that it intends to enrich uranium to 90% for military use (nuclear submarines); and

 

3)      Has never provided constitutional or quasi-constitutional assurances, comparable to those by Germany and Japan, that it does not intend to possess nuclear weapons. Indeed, in April 2012, an attempt was made by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to promote a substitute for an Iranian "constitutional" ban on nuclear weapons, in a form of a purported fatwa by Khamenei banning nuclear weapons….However, the attempt failed;….

 

The risk of this new policy, as pointed out by former IAEA director ElBaradei, is that it allows NPT member states to become nuclear threshold states, developing capabilities for enriching uranium to advanced levels on their own soil under the guise of legitimate civilian purposes.

 

In a September 2012 CNN interview, former president Bill Clinton also pointed out the danger of this new policy, saying, "Iran has all these extensive contacts with terrorist groups, and even if the government didn't directly sanction it, it wouldn't be that much trouble to be – to get a Girl Scout cookie's worth of fissile material, which, if put in the same fertilizer bomb Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City, is enough to take out 20 to 25 percent of Washington, D.C. Just that little bit….”

 

It is safe to say that even if the U.S. had maintained its traditional previous policy, and opposed Iran's uranium enrichment on its own soil, Iran would still continue its efforts to attain high-level enrichment and nuclear weapons. However, this new U.S. policy provides legitimacy and impetus for Iran's efforts, and preempts any deal based on no enrichment above 5% on Iranian soil that Iran might possibly have accepted.…

These two policies – the new nuclear policy allowing the development of threshold states, and the vision of non-proliferation and global nuclear disarmament – are completely at odds with one another. This is because it is the status of threshold state, in the case of states such as Iran, that paves the way for the development of nuclear weapons – even though there is an absolute intention not to allow them in the final stage of their development.

 

(Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project.) (Top of Page)

_____________________________________________________________

 

SYRIA BECOMES A WEDGE BETWEEN U.S. AND TURKEY

Soner Cagaptay

Washington Post, October 4, 2012

 

The close relationship that President Obama has built with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provided the United States with a key Muslim ally in the Middle East. Washington and Ankara have worked closely to stabilize Iraq. Yet a storm awaits them in Syria. Turkey announced Thursday that it has authorized military operations in Syria following Syrian shelling of Turkish areas this week. As the crisis in Syria has deepened, the White House has appeared willing to wait for the demise of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. For Ankara, the crisis has become an emergency. 

 

As turmoil in Syria has grown over the past 18 months, Ankara has presumed that the United States and Turkey were on the same page regarding regime change. Now, though, differences are emerging.  The Obama administration is hesitant toward Syria for several reasons, including reticence to act before the November elections and war-weariness among Americans. Erdogan appears to view such concerns as cover for general indifference to Turkey’s Syria problem. A sign of such sentiment emerged Sept. 5, when Erdogan chided Obama on CNN for lacking initiative on Syria — a rare rebuke from an otherwise steadfast friend.

 

This statement could be a harbinger. Erdogan has a penchant for treating foreign leaders as friends — and losing his temper when he thinks his friends have not stood by him. The more Washington looks the other way on Syria, the more upset Erdogan is likely to get over what he sees as Obama’s unwillingness to support his policy.

 

To the White House, the Syrian crisis has appeared manageable. As the conflict grinds on, some have grown concerned that Syria will radicalize as Bosnia did in the 1990s: When the world did not act to end the slaughter of Muslims in the Balkan country, jihadists moved in to join the fight, and they succeeded in convincing the otherwise staunchly secular-minded Bosnian Muslims that the world had abandoned them and that they were better off with jihadists.

 

U.S. policy holds that a gradual soft landing could be possible in Syria. The hope is that the opposition groups will coalesce and take down the Assad regime, eliminating the need for hasty foreign intervention — an option that Washington fears could cause chaos.

 

Ankara, however, wants an accelerated soft landing. Particularly with this week’s strikes, Turkey feels the heat of the crisis next door — Erdogan has reason to believe that time is not on his side.

The Syrian conflict’s sectarian nature is percolating into Turkey. More than 100,000 mostly Sunni Arab Syrians have taken refuge there, fleeing persecution by Assad and his Alawite militias. Alawite Arabs in southern Turkey resent the Sunni refugees, mirroring Syria’s Alawite-Sunni split. Angry Alawites in Turkey’s southern Hatay province oppose their country’s policy toward the Assad regime, and since the summer they have been holding regular pro-Damascus and anti-Ankara demonstrations. This is Ankara’s problem, and it might get ugly if Syria descends into full-blown sectarian warfare.

 

Ankara also fears the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Lately, the Assad regime has allowed the PKK to operate in Syria as a means to retaliate against Ankara. A PKK car bombing in August in Gaziantep, a large Turkish city near the border, has raised citizens’ fears about PKK infiltration. For Erdogan, the political cost associated with Syrian turmoil has also risen.

 

None of this bodes well for Erdogan’s hopes to become Turkey’s first popularly elected president in 2014 (until recently, the country’s presidents were elected by parliament). Although Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 49.5 percent of the vote in last year’s elections, further PKK attacks are likely to dent his much-liked tough-guy image.

 

Moreover, Erdogan has won successive elections since 2002 by delivering record-breaking economic growth, made possible by Turkey’s image as a stable country safe for business and investors. The more protracted the Syrian crisis becomes, the more Turkey’s image could be tarnished, blighting a key ingredient of its economic success and feeding the perception that Erdogan is not delivering. Erdogan believes that he cannot stand by and watch Syria pull Turkey into the maelstrom.

 

In the coming days, Ankara is likely to press Washington for more aggressive action against the Assad regime, including U.S.-supported havens for refugees in Syria and measures to hasten Assad’s fall. Washington’s response is likely to be sticking to the soft-landing strategy while trying to slow Erdogan down.

 

As serious as these policy differences are, they are not likely to rupture the Obama-Erdogan relationship. Turkey relies on the United States too much to sacrifice its relationship lightly. Turkey is increasingly wary of Iran’s regional ambitions: Erdogan knows that Tehran’s Shiite regime militarily supports the Assad regime in Syria and the government of Iraqi Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom Ankara detests. The tumult of the Arab Spring has led Ankara to revise its erstwhile autarchic foreign policy and Turkey now seeks security with NATO — a shift symbolized by Ankara’s agreement in September 2011 to host a major missile-defense project that NATO can use as a bulwark against Iran, as well as Russia and China.

 

Still, given Obama and Erdogan’s divergent policies on Syria, a storm between them appears almost unavoidable.

 

(Soner Cagaptay is director of the Turkish Research Program and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.) (Top of Page)

___________________________________________________________________

BE WARY OF PLAYING TURKEY’S GREAT GAME

Con Coughlin

The Telegraph, Oct 4, 2012

 

Syria might be getting all the blame for firing the first shot in the sudden eruption of hostilities on the Turko-Syrian border, but Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, can hardly claim to be an innocent party when it comes to stoking the fires of a conflict that retains the potential to ignite a regional conflagration.

 

For more than a year now Turkey has been taking a lead role in the campaign to overthrow the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Working closely with a number of Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that are also committed to ridding Damascus of Assad’s Alawite clique, the Turks have been carefully co-ordinating international support for Syria’s rebel forces. There are even reports that the Turks have established a shared command centre in southern Turkey…Something not lost on Mr Assad.

 

Whether forces loyal to the regime were responsible for firing the mortar round that killed five civilians – including three children – in a Turkish border village this week is unclear. If Syrian rebels were active on the Turkish side of the border, and the Turkish authorities were doing nothing to apprehend them, then Assad loyalists might have felt within their rights to attack them. The Syrian government, for what it’s worth, denies any involvement and says it is investigating the incident.

 

Alternatively, amid the fog of war, there is always the possibility that Syrian rebels – or those sympathetic to their cause – fired the round into Turkey as a deliberate attempt to provoke the country and its allies into retaliating….

 

Irrespective of who was responsible for the attack on the Turkish village of Akcakale, its effect has been to galvanise the Western powers into action, with Nato convening an emergency session of its 28 members to condemn the attack. The uncompromising tone of Nato’s statement, which denounced Syria’s “flagrant violations of international law”, will be music to Mr Erdogan’s ears, as the Turkish prime minister has spent most of this year agitating for greater Western intervention in Syria. Apart from achieving regime change in Damascus, Mr Erdogan has argued that the refugee crisis on the Turkish border, where an estimated 80,000 Syrians have sought refuge, is a compelling reason for the Western powers to play a more active role in halting the bloodshed.

 

But before Nato gets too carried away with committing itself to Turkey’s defence, alliance leaders would do well to consider Mr Erdogan’s less-than-altruistic reasons for seeking a change in the way Damascus is governed….

 

Against Mr Erdogan’s impressive economic track record must be set his increasingly authoritarian style of government, with politicians and journalists regularly being jailed for criticising his policies, and his desire to build alliances with radical Islamic governments. Before the recent wave of Arab uprisings hit the Middle East, Mr Erdogan’s main focus was to develop better relations with the ayatollahs in Tehran.

 

He was forced to abandon this policy only after it became clear that he could no longer tolerate the survival of the Assad regime, which just so happens to be Iran’s most important regional ally….Like Mr Morsi, the Turkish leader would be happy to see the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria emerge as the eventual victors of the crisis in that country, a development which would lead to the establishment of a network of Islamist governments – a “Sunni arc” from the shores of North Africa to those of the eastern Mediterranean.

 

It is highly questionable whether such an outcome would benefit Western interests. And with the Turkish parliament yesterday approving a measure that effectively gives Mr Erdogan a “green light” to invade Syria, Nato leaders should take care not to involve themselves in a conflict that only helps to further the Turkish leader’s Islamist agenda.  (Top of Page)

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Pro- And Anti-Assad Camps Share Concerns Over Syria's Possible Disintegration Into Separate Sectarian, Ethnic EntitiesN. Mozes, MEMRI, October 1, 2012

 

"Everything in Syria these days is fragmented or divided. The regime is divided and crumbling, the land is divided, [and] the opposition is splintered and fragmented. Nothing is united… Aleppo is practically a separate [region], the Kurdish north is nearly independent, Damascus is isolated, the road to Al-Latakia is unsafe, and Homs is rebelling against the regime…"

 

Turkey Gets Tough on SyriaAmanda Paul,  Today’s Zaman, October 7, 2012

 

“The violence in Syria has already killed around 31,000 people…. The urgency of the situation has become greater not simply because of the deteriorating situation inside the country, but because violence is increasingly spreading beyond Syria’s borders into Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere.”

Can Sanctions Change Iran’s Mind?: Efraim A. Cohen, Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2012

 

“The UN’s efforts to alter Iraq’s actions have been cited as an example of a successful sanctions regime. Contrary to what some people now believe (or have forgotten), sanctions on Iraq were an abject failure.”

 

Kurds to Pursue More Autonomy in a Fallen Syria: Tim Arango, New York Times, September 28, 2012

 

“Just off a main highway that…slices through a moonscape of craggy hills, a few hundred Syrian Kurdish men have been training for battle, marching through scrub brush and practicing rifle drills. They are preparing for the fight they expect to come…when Mr. Assad falls [from power] and there is a scramble across Syria for power and turf.”

 

Gulen's False Choice: Silence or Violence: Stephen Schwartz, Gatestone Institute, October 5, 2012

 

When the enigmatic Turkish Islamist leader, M. Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the U.S., published, in the September 27 London Financial Times, an op-ed column with a clumsy turn from benevolent moderation to hard Islamist ambitions, he revealed his authentic character.