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US Sanctions Against Iran

By Linh Dinh • Unz Review • December 18, 2018

Last month, I was interviewed by Jamejam Daily, an Iranian newspaper. Below is the English version:

There are calls inside and outside the country that Iranian officials would do well to get real about the US demands and drink the coup of poison sooner rather than later. They say the US “maximum pressure campaign” has already inflicted acute strains on Iran’s economy. What’s your view? What should Iran do? Will Iran prove capable of enduring the sanctions?

The US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal because of pressure from Israel, that’s all. As long as Israel exists, Iran will be targeted. Israel was behind the American war against Iraq and Libya, and it’s seeking to destroy Syria and Iran also. Israel was founded on terror, and is maintained by terror, so peace won’t come to the Middle East until Israel disappears.

The renewal of American sanctions against Iran is causing problems to the entire world, not just Iran, and that’s why it will end up hurting America the most. There are all these countries that need to trade with Iran, and many will continue to do so, in defiance of the USA. Already, America is forced to allow China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey to buy Iranian oil, at least for six more months. This, after it has threatened to reduce Iranian oil export to zero!

European countries are talking about setting up an alternative to the SWIFT payment system, and it will happen, for the world needs to bypass American control and interference, not just in this instance, but for the future.

US officials have openly talked about the need for regime change in Iran. It seems they currently hope that the Iranian people will distance from the government and pressure for change from within the country will yield results. Are such hopes realistic? Will the US see the end of the Islamic Republic without shooting even a single bullet?

By waging economic war against Iran, the US and its Israeli master are hoping to sow discord and division with Iran, but no Iranian should believe the American rhetoric about human rights and democracy. The US has been demonizing not just Iran, but all Muslims, for decades, so it’s not aiming to help Iranians, but destroy them. Look at what’s happening to Syria. When the US attacked Iraq, Syria accepted hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees, but now, Syrians themselves are fleeing their homeland. I saw many of these refugees, including children, begging on the streets of Istanbul.

Preaching freedom and democracy, America brings death and destruction. Look at what’s happening in Ukraine. When I visited Kiev, I saw people, including old women, kneeling on the sidewalks, begging, in the middle of the winter, as snow was falling. America brings war and economic collapse, and it would love nothing more than to see Iran destroyed.

Some believe Iran and its allies will be able to shape the new world order in case they manage to resist the US pressure and pass the current stage. What’s your take on that?

As led by China and Russia, the Eurasian landmass is becoming economically integrated, and Iran is a key player in this, thanks to its oil, natural gas, size and geographical location. Although hampered for decades by American-led sanctions, Iran still has one of the strongest economies in the Middle East.

Iran will certainly survive these sanctions, which are already cracking. By standing up to the US and Israel, Iran is setting an admirable example to the rest of the world, and its stature will only increase as the American empire declines further.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

The gulf within GCC is only widening

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 10, 2018

The annual summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh on Sunday was particularly important for Saudi Arabia as a display of its regional leadership. But the short meeting of the GCC leaders behind closed doors, lasting for less than an hour, ended highlighting the huge erosion of Saudi prestige lately.

The litmus test was the participation by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. King Salman’s letter of invitation to the emir was perceived as some sort of an olive branch for reconciliation. But Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi represented the country at the summit.

The calculation by the hot headed crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE that Qatar would pack up is turning out to be a historic blunder. Qatar had some trying times but it has successfully weathered the harsh embargo by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the boycott is now hurting its enforcers. Qatar “celebrated” the anniversary of the boycott in June by banning the import of goods from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt (which had cut diplomatic and transport ties on June 5, 2017.) Ironically, Iran has been a beneficiary as Qatar established diplomatic relations with Tehran and began importing Iranian products.

Qatar also strengthened its alliance with Turkey, which stepped in as provider of security for Doha. And Turkey checkmated any plans that Saudis and Emiratis might have had to use force to bring the Qatari emir down on his knees.

The emir’s absence from the summit in Riyadh yesterday underscores that he is not in a mood to forget and forgive. Equally, Kuwait and Oman also have issues to settle with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is tension between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over two oil fields – Khafji and Wafra – that are jointly owned by the two states, which have a capacity to produce more than half a million barrels per day, but have been closed since 2014 and 2015, respectively. The dispute is over the sovereignty over the so-called Neutral Zone on their border, which has been undefined for almost a century.

The Saudis are not relenting. “We’re trying to convince the Kuwaitis to talk about the sovereignty issues, while continuing to produce until we solve that issue,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview in October. Similarly, Saudis and Emiratis have stationed troops in Yemen’s southern province of al-Mahra that borders Oman although the region has no presence of Houthi rebels. Oman considers the move an infringement on its national security. Interestingly, instead of the Sultan of Oman, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood Al Said represented the country at the GCC summit.

To be sure, like Banquo’s ghost at Macbeth’s banquet in Shakespeare’s play, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi provided the backdrop to the GCC summit. The GCC states (including Qatar) have not criticized the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) but they would know this is a developing story and it has dented Saudi prestige irreparably, especially with the US Senate is at loggerheads with the Trump administration. The big question for the Gulf region would be as to where Saudi Arabia is heading. (See the blog by Thomas Lippman What Now For U.S. Policy And The Crown Prince?)

Of course, if the GCC disintegrates due to these contradictions, Saudi Arabia will be the big loser, because it will be a reflection on its regional leadership. But do the Saudis understand it? The remarks by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir at the end of the GCC summit showed no sign of remorse.

He said, “The members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are keen that the crisis with Qatar will have no impact on the Council (GCC). But this does not mean relinquishing the conditions imposed on Qatar.” Doha should stop supporting terrorism and extremism and avoid interfering in other countries’ affairs and needed to fulfill the Arab countries’ conditions to open the way for its return to the full-fledged work in the GCC. “The stance towards Qatar came to push it to change its policies,” he added.

The leading Saudi establishment writer Abdulrehman al-Rashed fired away at Qatar on the day of the GCC summit. In a column entitled Is it Time to end the GCC? in the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat (owned by royal family members) he wrote:

“Qatar… has been putting obstacles in the GCC path and it has succeeded where Saddam and Iran have failed: It managed to destroy and rip it [GCC] apart… It organized an internal and external opposition against the United Arab Emirates. It is now the primary financier of the greatest attack against Saudi Arabia and it stands behind the politicization of Khashoggi’s murder… Today’s [GCC] summit could not conceal the dark political cloud hanging over its head. It also strongly poses a question over the future of the GCC as doubts rise over the value of this union… A wedge has been driven in the GCC.”

The disarray within the GCC undoubtedly calls attention to the decline of US influence in the Middle East region. At the end of the day, the Gulf states have not paid heed to repeated US entreaties for GCC unity. Ideally, GCC should have provided today for the US strategy a strong platform for launching the regime change project against Iran. On the contrary, GCC is split down the middle, with Qatar, Oman and Kuwait getting along just fine with Tehran. While addressing the summit in Riyadh on Sunday, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad hit the nail on the head when he said, “The most dangerous obstacle we face is the struggle within the GCC.”

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Deploys Carrier Strike Group to Middle East Amid Iran, Syria Tensions

Sputnik – December 8, 2018

A carrier strike group led by the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis has arrived in the Middle East, ending an eight month period during which a US carrier wasn’t based in the region, the US Navy has reported.

Earlier, the Pentagon announced that the US and its allies in eastern Syria would train an additional 35,000 to 40,000 local militia to “provide stability” in the region following the defeat of Daesh (ISIS) terrorists.

The carrier group will be based with the 5th Fleet, which is responsible for US naval activity in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and will be stationed in the region for at least two months.

According to the US government-funded news service Voice of America, the carrier strike group is being deployed to “help in the fight against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria and the war in Afghanistan.”

Furthermore, a US Defense Department official confirmed earlier reports that the US was beefing up its presence in the region as a “message” to Tehran, telling VOA that “just being there is a show of force to Iran.”

The carrier group’s presence is expected to have a similar effect to the US base in at-Tanf, southern Syria, the official added.

The US established an illegal garrison at at-Tanf in 2016, justifying the deployment as part of its war against Daesh. Damascus and its allies have repeatedly accused the US of using the base to retrain and reequip former Islamist militia to continue the war against the Syrian government. On Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said that the US would have to train 35,000 to 40,000 more “local forces” to “provide stability” in eastern Syria, where US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces took control following Daesh’s expulsion from the region.

Washington, which originally justified its presence in Syria by citing the war against terrorism, has altered its reasoning for remaining in the country following Daesh’s decline. In September, Trump national security adviser John Bolton said that the US military would stay in Syria until alleged Iranian-backed militias had also left the country.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated in May, after the US unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and slapped Iran with a series of strict sanctions.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Iran’s ballistic missile program in full compliance with UNSC Resolution 2231’

Press TV – December 4, 2018

Iran’s mission to the United Nations says all ballistic missile related activities of the Islamic Republic are in full conformity with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the official title assigned to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

The mission, in a statement released on Tuesday, described the United States as the gross violator of the resolution, emphasizing that “portraying Iran’s ballistic missile program as inconsistent with Resolution 2231 or as a regional threat is a deceptive and hostile policy of the US.”

It further noted that the US unlawfully quit the nuclear agreement, and is in absolute violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The statement came shortly after Security Council met behind closed-doors to discuss alleged Iran’s latest missile test, which the United States and its allies said may have been in violation of Resolution 2231. The session ended with no joint statement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also lambasted what he termed Washington’s mockery of the UN Security Council to hold a closed-door meeting and discuss Tehran’s missile program.

“The United States has repeatedly warned the world about Iran’s deliberate efforts to destabilize the Middle East and defy international norms,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.

She added, “The international community cannot keep turning a blind eye every time Iran blatantly ignores Security Council resolutions.”

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic is currently one of the world’s topmost missile powers despite being subject to severe sanctions during the past 40 years.

“Today, Iran is among the world’s topmost powers in building missiles, radars, armored vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” the Iranian defense minister said in an exclusive interview with IRNA, emphasizing that Iran’s defense power is meant to send the message of peace and friendship to other nations.

The senior spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces also said on Sunday that the country would continue to test and develop its missiles in line with its deterrence policy despite adversarial positions taken on this issue by US officials.

“Missile tests and the overall defensive capability of the Islamic Republic are for defense [purposes] and in line with our country’s deterrence [policy]… We will continue to both test and develop missiles,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said, adding, “This issue is outside the framework of any negotiations and is part of our national security. We will not ask any country’s permission in this regard.”

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Iran opposes US-drafted resolution against Palestinian resistance Hamas: FM

Press TV – December 3, 2018

Iran has voiced its objection to a US-drafted resolution condemning the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, saying the Islamic Republic would do its utmost to prevent its ratification at the United Nations General Assembly.

In a telephone conversation with Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reaffirmed the Islamic Republic’s full support for the Palestinian people’s rights.

The UN General Assembly plans to vote on Tuesday on the motion that would reportedly condemn the resistance movement “for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence.”

“Iran will make its utmost efforts at the General Assembly in coordination with other Muslim and progressive countries to prevent the ratification of the resolution [which is] a violation of the United Nations Charter and runs counter to the Palestinian people’s resistance,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

He added that the policies of certain regional countries have emboldened the administration of US President Donald Trump not only to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds in violation of the international law, but also to propose a resolution against the Palestinian people’s resistance at the General Assembly.

Earlier on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party vowed to support its rival Hamas at the General Assembly against the US-drafted resolution.

“We will stand against all hostile efforts to condemn Hamas at the United Nations,” Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh said.

In a letter addressed to UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa late last month, the Hamas political bureau chief condemned “aggressive” attempts by the US to pass the resolution against the resistance movement, urging the world body to end Tel Aviv’s “abhorrent” occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Haniyeh highlighted the importance of international work to thwart Washington’s efforts meant to delegitimize the Palestinian resistance.

The letter came days after Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said that US diplomats had been in talks with their EU counterparts to win their backing for a draft resolution against Hamas.

The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip.

Ever since, Hamas has been running the coastal enclave, while Fatah has been based in the autonomous parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Destabilizes Iraq for Decades, US House of Representatives Has New Plan for Stabilization

By Adam Dick – Ron Paul Institute – November 28, 2018

The United States attacked Iraq in the Gulf War in 1990, followed by years of US bombing of Iraq. Then, in 2003, the US invaded and conquered Iraq in the Iraq War. Since then, many US troops have been stationed in Iraq, along with a huge contingent of US government employees and contractors from a variety of agencies, seeking to mold the country to US wishes. Still, 28 years since all this began (and longer since the previous US assistance for the Iraq government it later overthrew), the US House of Representatives approved on Tuesday a bill titled the Preventing Destabilization of Iraq Act (HR 4591).

The only way this bill title would make sense given the long history of massive US intervention failing to improve the situation in Iraq is if the bill required the end of US intervention. Instead, the bill seeks more intervention.

In particular, the Preventing Destabilization of Iraq Act calls on the US president to impose sanctions on any foreign people he determines knowingly commit “a significant act of violence that has the direct purpose or effect of — (1) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; (2) undermining the democratic process in Iraq; or (3) undermining significantly efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.” Further, the bill charges the US Secretary of State to determine if listed individuals should be sanctioned and if people connected to certain organizations should be considered terrorists or sanctioned. In other words, the bill calls for ramping up proven destructive policies for reshaping Iraq.

Also included in the bill is a call for action that would help push for escalating the US government’s destabilization project in Iran. The bill says the Secretary of State “shall annually establish, maintain, and publish a list of armed groups, militias, or proxy forces in Iraq receiving logistical, military, or financial assistance from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps or over which Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps exerts any form of control or influence.” Thus, claims of Iran’s intervention in its neighboring country can be used to build the case for massive intervention in Iran, up to invasion and conquest of Iran, by a nation thousands of miles away. Not to worry, 28 years from now, the US Congress can approve a Preventing Destabilization of Iran Act.

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran rejects ‘ridiculous’ US claims against its missile program

Press TV – December 2, 2018

Iran has rejected US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims against its missile capabilities, saying the program is defensive and does not violate the international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.

“Iran’s missile program has a defensive nature and is designed according to the needs of the country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Sunday, responding to Pompeo’s claim that Tehran had tested a medium-range ballistic missile.

Pompeo claimed in a statement released on Twitter Saturday that Iran was increasing its “testing and proliferation” of missiles and called on the Islamic Republic to “cease these activities.”

The test, he said, “violates UNSCR 2231,” citing the United Nations Security Council’s endorsement of the international nuclear agreement which the United States abandoned in May.

“No resolution at the Security Council has banned Iran’s missile program or missile tests,” Qassemi said as he roasted Washington over its decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“What is interesting and, of course, ridiculous is that you are citing a resolution which you have not only violated with your unilateral and illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA, but also are encouraging others to violate it or even threaten to punish and sanction those who implement it,” he added.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 “calls on” Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Tehran has always emphasized that it has no nuclear warheads and that none of its missiles have been designed to carry nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the accord.

Back in May, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA despite objections from the other signatories to the nuclear deal.

Since then, Washington has imposed “toughest ever” sanctions against Iran. It has also warned of severe penalties for the companies that evade the bans and engage in business with Iran.

However, the European parties to the JCPOA have vowed all-out efforts to save the agreement and protect their firms in the face of American bans.

They are now working to set up the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in a bid to circumvent the US sanctions against Iran and facilitate non-dollar trade with Tehran.

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

What you won’t hear from US govt: Iran is open to working with Saudi Arabia

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | November 22, 2018

Washington’s rhetoric regarding Iran paints the picture of an evil nation hellbent on destroying the world. In reality, it appears that Tehran would prefer dialogue with its rivals, which is unacceptable to the US.

Tuesday’s White House Statement from President Trump on “Standing with Saudi Arabia” was an outright condemnation of Iran and a total free pass for Saudi Arabia.

Iran is to blame for almost every issue in the Middle East, including the war in Yemen, according to the statement. The US-made and supplied bombs raining down on Yemeni school buses, with some 85,000 children dying in the process, is simply because of Iran. Not only is Iran responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen, Tehran has further helped “dictator Bashar Assad” in Syria kill “millions of his own citizens.” The official death toll of the Syrian war is under one million, and certainly the various jihadist groups, including Islamic State (IS), share responsibility for that figure.

“The Iranians” have also killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran not only shouts “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” but it is also considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

It is curious enough that firstly, in a statement about Saudi Arabia, the term “world’s leading sponsor of terror” is not gifted to the prime sponsors of Al-Qaeda and IS. Secondly, the fact that Trump himself put that term in inverted commas seems to suggest that even he doesn’t quite believe that one to be true.

Remember, Saudi Arabia is the country that Trump, before becoming president, once accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks. I wasn’t aware of this until reading the statement, but according to the White House, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. That’s right, Iran’s non-presence in Yemen must be removed in order for Saudi Arabia to cease blowing up children, hospitals, factories, food trucks, schools, agricultural land, strategic ports, and relinquish its complete stranglehold over the country.

If you were naive enough to take the White House statement at face value, you would surely think that Iran has much to answer for. Iran is, after all, public enemy number one and has been for some time. Conversely, Saudi Arabia has been a longstanding ally of the United States, a faithfully serving client state, and it should be protected at all costs especially if there is to be any hope at pushing back against Iran as it yells “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

But what if Iran was, despite all of its flaws, not interested in fighting a war with Saudi Arabia? What if we dug a little bit deeper and asked ourselves: is there another way of dealing with the “threat” that Iran poses?

In January this year, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article that was published in the Financial Times which laid out the country’s proposed framework for bringing stability to the Middle East. The article was widely ignored by the rest of the world, even though its implications were potentially life-saving.

“The objective of a strong region — as opposed to a quest for hegemony and the exclusion of other actors — is rooted in recognising the need to respect the interest of all stakeholders,” Zarif wrote. “Any domineering effort by one country is not only inappropriate but essentially impossible: those who insist on following that path create instability. The arms race in our region is an instance of this kind of destructive rivalry: siphoning vital resources into the coffers of arms manufacturers has contributed nothing to achieving peace and security. Militarism has only served to fuel disastrous adventurism.”

Zarif states that the usual modes of forming alliances have become “obsolete” and suggests that security networking to address issues is a much better practice. He proposes that instead of ignoring conflicts of interests, the countries in the region should accept their differences.

“The rules of this new order are straightforward: common standards, most significantly the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, such as sovereign equality of states; refraining from the threat or use of force; peaceful resolution of conflicts; respect for the territorial integrity of states; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states; and respect for self-determination within states,” Zarif adds.

Zarif recommends opening up dialogue and blames a “dialogue deficit” for instability throughout the region. Such a dialogue, he argues, could help other nations understand that all parties have “similar concerns, fears, aspirations and hopes.” His eventual vision is that these countries will eventually adopt a “non-aggression pact.”

Now, Zarif did not explicitly state who he was talking about in this proposed path to peace and stability. But what if his intention was to work with Saudi Arabia, is this not something that should be talked about, particularly by the US commander-in-chief when releasing statements stoking the fire of an already volatile region while pitting two major regional players against each other?

In October last year, Zarif was quoted as saying that Tehran is willing and ready for rapprochement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, adding that he does not believe the two countries should have the type of relationship they have right now.

In December last year, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani further intimated that Tehran is willing to resume ties with Saudi Arabia if it halted its military campaign in Yemen and severed its ties with Israel.

“We don’t have any problem with the country that is our neighbor and unfortunately speaks a lot and speaks irrationally. Saudi Arabia, as our neighbor, should stop bombing Yemen from tomorrow, stop bowing to Israel, stand straight and rely on its nation,” Rouhani said.

In March this year, Zarif then took his ambiguous article one step further and openly said that Iran is willing to resolve its differences with Saudi Arabia’s as part of Tehran’s desire for stability in the region. As Zarif notes, this is not the first time Iran has reached out to the kingdom, yet the Saudis continue to reject Iran’s proposed dialogue.

In August of this year, Zarif further stated that Iran wants to restore relations with Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia had just allowed the entry of an Iranian diplomat to head Iran’s interests in the Kingdom, a rare move since diplomatic ties had been cut almost two years prior.

Just last month, Zarif again called for Saudi Arabia’s cooperation to push back against the “repeated insults” made by the US president at the time.

“This is the reward of the illusion that security could be achieved through external support,” Zarif said. “We extend our hands to our neighbours, saying: let’s build a strong region to stop this arrogant pride.”

I could be wrong, but in its totality, it does appear that Iran is proposing a framework where Middle Eastern countries settle their disputes between themselves without outside interference, whereby the US would be left out completely. Such a suggestion is in itself a form of hubris so unacceptable to Washington that the proposal itself makes the country ripe for a targeted regime change operation. Despite this, Iran has been quite open about its blueprint for a new outlook to the Middle East.

“We don’t need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region,” Iran’s president said earlier this year.

“When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbours and friends, without the presence of foreigners,” he added. “We are, have been and always will be good neighbours.” Yes – even Saudi Arabia.

In August, UN experts went even further and said that Iran might be willing to play a “constructive role” in ending the war in Yemen, something Iran has said it has been wanting to do for years by working with Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, the Saudis and their US counterparts are not so willing to take the Iranians up on their offer.The Saudis always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American,” according to former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. The Saudis have even openly abandoned the Palestinian cause in an attempt to cosy up to Israel and create a US-backed alliance that can confront Iran in the region. The Saudi Crown Prince also compared Iran’s supreme leader to Adolf Hitler, a brazen statement for a man who executes journalists and unarmed children with complete impunity. The kingdom continues to openly work with Al-Qaeda linked groups to prolong the fighting in Yemen, all because its anti-Iran hysteria cannot falter from its position.

A détente between Riyadh and Tehran appears to be a far cry away from happening any time soon, but we cannot continue to pretend we haven’t noticed the opportunity that continues to present itself, particularly from the Iranian side. Whether an Iran-Saudi relationship is a positive step or a disastrous one is an important question to ask; but we should at least consider it as an option if it can avoid a potential and unnecessary war between two regional powers, as well as its potential to diffuse an already devastating war which continues to kill thousands of people completely needlessly.  

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

Russian diplomacy is winning the New Cold War

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | November 22, 2018

Washington’s attempt to “isolate Putin’s Russia” has failed and had the opposite effect.

On the fifth anniversary of the onset of the Ukrainian crisis, in November 2013, and of Washington “punishing” Russia by attempting to “isolate” it in world affairs — a policy first declared by President Barack Obama in 2014 and continued ever since, primarily through economic sanctions — Cohen discusses the following points:

1. During the preceding Cold War with the Soviet Union, no attempt was made to “isolate” Russia abroad; instead, the goal was to “contain” it within its “bloc” of Eastern European nations and compete with it in what was called the “Third World.”

2. The notion of “isolating” a country of Russia’s size, Eurasian location, resources, and long history as a great power is vainglorious folly. It reflects the paucity and poverty of foreign thinking in Washington in recent decades, not the least in the US Congress and mainstream media.

3. Consider the actual results. Russia is hardly isolated. Since 2014, Moscow has arguably been the most active diplomatic capital of all great powers today. It has forged expanding military, political, or economic partnerships with, for example, China, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India, and several other East Asian nations, even, despite EU sanctions, with several European governments. Still more, Moscow is the architect and prime convener of three important peace negotiations under way today: those involving Syria, Serbia-Kosovo, and even Afghanistan. Put differently, can any other national leaders in the 21st century match the diplomatic records of Russian President Vladimir Putin or of his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov? Certainly not former US Presidents George W. Bush or Obama or soon-to-depart German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nor any British or French leader.

4. Much is made of Putin’s purportedly malign “nationalism” in this regard. But this is an uninformed or hypocritical explanation. Consider French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently reproached Trump for his declared nationalism. The same Macron who has sought to suggest (rather implausibly) that he is a second coming of Charles de Gaulle, who himself was a great and professed nationalist leader of the 20th century, from his resistance to the Nazi occupation and founding of the Fifth Republic to his refusal to put the French military under NATO command. Nationalism, that is, by whatever name, has long been a major political force in most countries, whether in liberal enlightened or reactionary right-wing forms. Russia and the United States are not exceptions.

5. Putin’s success in restoring Russia’s role in world affairs is usually ascribed to his “aggressive” policies, but it is better understood as a realization of what is characterized in Moscow as the “philosophy of Russian foreign policy” since Putin became leader in 2000. It has three professed tenets. The first goal of foreign policy is to protect Russia’s “sovereignty,” which is said to have been lost in the disastrous post-Soviet 1990s. The second is a kind of Russia-first nationalism or patriotism: to enhance the well-being of the citizens of the Russian Federation. The third is ecumenical: to partner with any government that wants to partner with Russia. This “philosophy” is, of course, non- or un-Soviet, which was heavily ideological, at least in its professed ideology and goals.

6. Considering Washington’s inability to “isolate Russia,” considering Russia’s diplomatic successes in recent years, and considering the bitter fruits of US militarized and regime-change foreign policies (which long pre-date President Trump), perhaps it’s time for Washington to learn from Moscow rather than demand that Moscow conform to Washington’s thinking about—and behavior in—world affairs. If not, Washington is more likely to continue to isolate itself.

John Bachelor Show

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Reason for Killing Iranians

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | November 19, 2018

While U.S. sanctions technically permit Iran to import medicines, it is actually just a ruse to make it look like U.S. officials are kind, compassionate, and benevolent. In actuality, the way the sanctions work will mean that the Iranian people will inevitably be deprived of much-needed medicines. That’s because the U.S. extends its sanctions system to banks that process payments to Iran, which is likely to inhibit the importation of medicines into Iran.

But that’s the point behind the sanctions: to kill as many Iranians as possible in the hope that they will rise up in a violent revolution, oust Iran’s anti-U.S. regime from power, and install another pro-U.S. regime, like that of the Shah of Iran, who the CIA installed into power in its 1953 coup that destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy.

Never mind that the Iranians, who live in a country that has strict gun control, lack the means to violently overthrow their government. And never mind that hundreds of thousands of Iranians would likely die in such a revolution, just like what has happened in the U.S.-supported revolution in Syria.

Those deaths wouldn’t matter to U.S. officials. They would be considered “worth it,” especially if they brought a pro-U.S. regime into power in Iran.

Recall that those were the words that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations used back in 1996, when the U.S. government was enforcing sanctions against Iraq.

The Iraq sanctions had already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. The idea was that if Iraqi parents became sufficiently upset with their children dying, they would oust their dictator, Saddam Hussein, from power and replace him with a pro-U.S. dictator.

After some six years of deaths of Iraqi children, however, the sanctions had still not produced the desired result. Saddam was still in power. The CBS news program “Sixty Minutes” asked Albright if the sanctions were worth it. She replied that the sanctions were, in fact, worth it. She was expressing the official position of the Clinton administration. That’s because killing those Iraqi children was viewed in the same way as killing Iranians today: as a means by which a pro-U.S. regime could be installed into power.

One of the ironies of the Iraq sanctions is that in the previous decade, U.S. officials had partnered with Saddam, even furnishing him those infamous WMDs that would later serve as the bogus excuse for invading Iraq in 2001. (See here and here.)

Why was the U.S. government partnering in the 1980s with Saddam, the man they would try to oust from power in the 1990s by killing Iraqi children? They were helping him kill Iranians in the war that he had started against Iran. U.S. officials were so angry that the Iranian people had ousted the CIA-installed Shah in their 1979 revolution that they decided to use Saddam in the 1980s to exact their revenge by helping him to kill Iranians.

What U.S. officials did to an American man named Bert Sacks serves as a valuable lesson for anyone, including banks who process payments, who tries to help the Iranian people. Sachs believed that the sanctions were a moral abomination. He wasn’t the only one. Three high officials in the United Nations resigned their positions in a crisis of conscience against what was considered by some to be a U.S. genocide against Iraqi children.

Sacks decided to take medicines into Iraq, and U.S. officials went after him with a vengeance. They fined him $10,000 and then spent about a decade trying to collect the fine, which Sachs, to his everlasting credit, refused to pay.

It’s no different, of course, with the U.S. sanctions on North Korea and the decades-old, Cold War-era U.S. embargo on Cuba. The idea is to kill as many North Koreans and Cubans as possible in the hopes that they will finally rise up in a violent revolution and oust their dictatorial regimes from power. No number of deaths is considered too high. They are all considered worth it.

Meanwhile, many sanctions supporters continue to go to church on Sundays and pat themselves on the back for living in a country whose government is kind, compassionate, and benevolent.

November 19, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran, Iraq Can Ramp up Trade to $20bn: Rouhani

Al-Manar | November 17, 2018

Iranian President Rouhani said Saturday that the current economic transactions between Iran and Iraq stands at about $12 billion, which can be boosted to $20 billion with further cooperation.

President Rouhani made the remarks in a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih on Saturday in Tehran, which was held after their bilateral meeting earlier that day.

The Iranian president maintained that the two sides held talks on electricity and gas swap, as well as cooperation on petroleum products and oilfield exploration and extraction.

The Shalamcheh-Basra railway is ready to come on stream, and the Iranian side is ready to carry out its side of the project together with the help of measures taken by Iraq’s Ministry of Finance, said Rouhani, adding that the 35km-railway will facilitate transport for the people of both countries.

Rouhani said the two sides also talked about environmental issues, noting the dust storms in western and eastern borders that need joint cooperation to be resolved. He added that Iraqi President Barham Salih has vowed to follow up on those environmental issues.

We reached an agreement to establish a free trade zone between the two countries, Rouhani added.

He further maintained that the two sides conferred on regional issues, saying the two believed that stability and security in the region will benefit all people, and there is no need for foreign interference in regional affairs.

The Iraqi president, for his part, highlighted that Iraq would never forget Iran’s support in defeating terrorism in the country.

After the military defeat of ISIL, Iraq has ahead of itself the two important objectives of ‘reconstruction’ and ‘strengthening of political stability’, he added.

President Salih maintained that the realization of these two goals requires political and economic measures and reforms, as well as stable conditions in the region.

It is time for the formation of a new regional order which can be in the interest of all regional states, President Salih stressed, adding that Iraq attaches high significance to Iran’s role and place in this new regional order.

He further voiced hope that the implementation of joint projects such as railway connections between Iran and Iraq could provide the necessary condition for Iraq to play a more active role in the region, and allow other countries in the region to form relations based on mutual interests.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Iran Ready to Mount Coordinated Anti-Terrorism Operation on Pakistani Soil

Al-Manar | November 17, 2018

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli highlighted the insecurity of borders between the Islamic Republic and Pakistan, and voiced Tehran’s readiness to carry out counterterrorism operations on Pakistani soil.

Rahmani Fazli remarks were during a press conference on Saturday, as part of efforts to free 14 abducted borders guards by Takfiri terrorists.

The Iranian minister said following the efforts by various security and diplomatic organizations, the Foreign Ministry in particular, the terrorists handed over five of the 14 Iranian border guards to the Pakistani side.

“We are pursuing (the issue) so that all of the beloved ones taken hostage by the criminals, would return to us,” he said.

Iran expects that the Pakistani government to boost security cooperation along the common borders, the minister stressed.

If Pakistan cannot act against the terrorists for any reason, Iran is ready to carry out operations on Pakistani soil, where the terrorists are present, with Islamabad’s permission, Rahmani Fazli added.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in the northern city of Qazvin on Thursday, IRGC Commander Major General Jafari also said the abducted border guards will be freed but it will take time.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Commander of the IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour recently traveled to Pakistan as part of efforts to secure their release.

Pakistani-based terrorists kidnapped 14 Iranian forces at a border post in Mirjaveh region in Sistan and Balouchestan province on October 15.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment