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Working for International Dialogue and Peace
One of the most direct indications of Donald Trump’s failure, or refusal, to understand issues involving Iran is his tweeted declaration this week that the Iranians “should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” It supposedly should be an occasion for Iranian thankfulness when Iran, subjected to economic punishment, gains only partial relief from that punishment through difficult negotiations in which it subjects itself to greater restrictions and more intrusive monitoring than any other state has willingly accepted for its nuclear program, even though some neighbors unfriendly to Iran not only have nuclear programs without those restrictions but also nuclear weapons. No mention is made of Iran abiding by the agreement while most of the questions about compliance concern U.S. behavior and sanctions relief—which is why many Iranian hardliners argue that the nuclear agreement was a bad deal from Iran’s perspective. ››read more
On Thursday, Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters that the new administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.” He provided no details on what that may mean. But Mattis, a former commander of U.S. operations in the Middle East and a hawk on Iran, said the United States did not need to add military assets, potentially including additional troops or an aircraft carrier, to the region. ››read more
The Trump administration is continuing to make reckless threats against Iran. On Wednesday, in response to recent missile tests, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that the White House was “officially putting Iran on notice,” and refused to say whether military force is under consideration. The administration is now escalating sanctions against Iran, which will further ratchet up tensions—even though the missile tests are not a violation of the Iran nuclear agreement, and the White House hasn’t even tried to say they are. But that’s not stopping Trump. Just hours ago, he tweeted: “Iran is playing with fire—they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” ››read more
Editor's note: Phyllis Bennis, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ New Internationalism Project, is the author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran is “unmoved” by the United States’ threats and only relies on its own defense means amid hostile rhetoric against the Islamic Republic, including hints of military aggression, emanating from Washington. ››read more
Editor's note: You can watch Zarif's speech on the Press TV page above.
The White House press corps wanted to know what being put “on notice” entailed, and Spicer responded by claiming that Iran’s government took actions against a U.S. naval vessel, which would be an act of war. “I think General Flynn was really clear yesterday that Iran has violated the Joint Resolution, that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take,” he said. “I think that we will have further updates for you on those additional actions.” Major Garrett of CBS News quietly corrected him, saying “a Saudi vessel,” and Spicer then responded almost inaudibly: “Sorry, thank you, yes a Saudi vessel. Yes, that’s right.” He did not in any way address his false claim that it was an Iranian attack, however. ››read more
The main fact which needs to be understood is this: Trump is a war president – there is no room for doubts of illusions on that point. His slogan of “America First” does not bear the isolationist interpretation it may have done in the 1930s and early 1940s. It is, in the hands of the Trump team, a slogan for aggressive imperialism. Let us count the ways in which this is true:
Third, Trump is set on confrontation with Iran, vowing to unpick the nuclear accord signed by Obama, one of his few progressive steps in foreign affairs. For many years, either a US attack on Iran, or a proxy attack by Israel seemed a present danger. That is now back on the agenda. ››read more
It wasn’t hard to see this coming. President Trump’s National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, delivered a clear threat to the government of Iran today, ominously stating that “as of this day, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” What is less clear is the the General’s rationale for issuing the threat. ››read more
Editor's note: Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.
With respect to Iran, this order in effect labels Iran as a "terror country" and stigmatizes Iran in the international community. It is meant as a psychological warfare that aims to disempower Iran and isolate it by attaching to it the terrorist label or, alternatively, radical Islam label, so clumsily rationalized by the now national security adviser Mike Flynn in his book, Fields of Fight. Flynn makes no distinction between ISIS and Iran and lumps them together under the rubric of radical Islam. He explicitly calls for a new Russia strategy that seeks to split Russia from Iran and form a Moscow-Washington common cause against the threat of radical Islam. The whole premise of Trump's foreign policy is that the Christian world led by US is in a mortal civilizational fight with Islam and US can and should work on Russia to change course. ››read more
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order which blocks all refugees from coming to the United States for 120 days and suspends the entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for 90 days. Nouripour's US visa expires at the end of February but the politician, who immigrated to Germany with his family from Tehran in 1988 and has a dual Iranian-German citizenship, does not expect to get a new US visa, the Spiegel magazine, reported.
Trump's own rhetoric suggests he intends to single out Muslims. The new executive order also closes America's borders to refugees, and halts the arrival of all Syrian refugees indefinitely. On Friday he said that, once the temporary ban on refugees is lifted, he intends to favor Christian refugees over Muslims. “If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible,” he told Christian Broadcasting News. Trump’s proposals come at a moment when the world’s deadliest terror group, ISIS, is steadily losing ground on battlefields in Iraq, Syria and Libya. As its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapses, the group is expected to return increasingly to the tactics of insurgency and traditional terrorism, and rely on a diffuse network of operatives and acolytes around the world. Experts argue that over the long term, defeating ISIS and groups like it requires an effort to discredit jihadist militancy as an ideology. Trump’s immigration plan undermines that effort, says Watts. ››read more
'An open affront against the Muslim world': Iran says it will ban Americans in response to Trump's refugee orderby Parisa Hafezi (source: Reuters / Business Insider) January 29, 2017
"While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted," a Foreign Ministry statement said. "The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America... are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists," said the statement, carried by state media. The U.S. ban will make it virtually impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated one million Iranian-Americans to visit the United States. ››read more
Hassan Rouhani said the new US President had "forgotten the Berlin wall fell years ago" as he attacked the planned construction, aimed at tackling illegal immigration. "Today is not the time to erect walls between nations," he said in a speech carried live on Iranian state television. Separately, Berlin's mayor said his city, which was divided from 1961 to 1989, "cannot look on without comment when a country plans to build a new wall". ››read more
As demonstrated in ACLU litigation last year, only the most vulnerable Syrian refugees are resettled in the US and that only occurs after vigorous security screening by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the Department of State and US Customs and Border Protection. Among those who may barred from entering the US is Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for the US army’s 101st airborne division. According to Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi man “spent years keeping US soldiers alive in combat in Iraq”. He arrived at New York’s JFK airport on Friday evening and was detained. ››read more
H.J.Res. 10, introduced in the House just as the new Congress began at the beginning of this month. The title of the bill tells the tale: a bill "To authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." This legislation, introduced by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), is as it appears: an authorization for the President to use military force against Iran. But it is much worse than that. Why so? Because it specifically authorizes the president to launch a pre-emptive war on Iran at any time of his choosing and without any further Congressional oversight or input. The operative sentence in the resolution reads, "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." ››read more
There is growing uncertainty around the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran and, more broadly, intentions of the Trump administration regarding that country. Meanwhile, the world, including the American supporters of the agreement—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)— increasingly looks to Europe to safeguard it. The stakes could not be higher. Not only is the JCPOA a singular achievement of multilateral diplomacy and non-proliferation, but it also opens the way to re-engage with a key country at the intersection of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, a huge region beset by radicalism, sectarianism, and terrorism. ››read more
Editor's note: Eldar Mamedov has served as a political adviser for the social-democrats in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP) and is in charge of the EP delegations for inter-parliamentary relations with Iran, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, and Mashreq.
Opponents of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord have criticized the deal because it did not end uranium enrichment or limit missile development by Iran. With the Trump administration, some see an opportunity to undermine the agreement by imposing more non-nuclear sanctions on Iran. The assumption is that this could provoke Tehran to withdraw from the deal, snapping back the ‘crippling’ sanctions, which—according to common wisdom—brought the country to the negotiating table in 2013. Indeed, if such sanctions worked so well before, why could they not extract an even ‘better deal’ from Iran now? Others, such as the nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, seem to want to go back to the previous policy of “no uranium enrichment in Iran,” at least after the deal expires. ››read more
Donald Trump's pick to lead the Defense Department appeared to break with the president-elect's insistence on revamping the agreement that President Barack Obama's administration brokered with Iran to constrain its nuclear weapons, saying Tehran's activities present a grave threat to the Middle East but that the U.S. ultimately must stand by its commitments. The nuclear deal "is an imperfect arms-control agreement. It isn't a friendship treaty," retired Marine Gen. James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing Thursday. ››read more
Tell me if this sounds familiar: the leadership of a distant nation has its own ideas about whom you should vote for, or who should rule your country, and acts decisively on them, affecting an election. Such interference in the political life of another country must be a reference to… no, I’m not thinking about Vladimir Putin and the American election of 2016, but perhaps the Italian election of 1948, or the Japanese election of 1958, or the Nicaraguan election of 1990 – all ones in which the U.S. had a significant hand and affected the outcome. Or what about an even cruder scenario than just handing over suitcases of cash to those you support or producing “fake news” to influence another country’s voting behavior? How about just overthrowing an already elected democratic government you find distasteful and installing one more to your liking, as in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, or Chile in 1973? ››read more
According to people involved in Tuesday’s discussions, Iran has agreed to a plan that would see the facility cleaned out and enriched uranium taken out and degraded. When the nuclear deal was agreed to in 2015, Iran had an estimated 100 kilograms of enriched uranium stuck in the pipes and machinery at the plant.
Officials say there are various ways the facility could be cleaned out including, for example, flushing the pipes with chemicals to create a liquid waste that would be very hard to turn back into powder form for enriching into weapons-grade uranium. ››read more
Amid growing speculation about a Trump administration’s intentions regarding the Iran nuclear deal, a new poll has found that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. public opposes withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated 18 months ago between Iran and the P5+1.
The poll, part of a much larger survey by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) about public attitudes about the U.S. role in world affairs, was released Thursday to foster better informed debate about the issue in advance of Trump’s inauguration. It included 2,980 respondents and was conducted December 22-28.
“Though President-elect Trump campaigned on ripping up the deal and seeking to negotiate a better one, the majority of Americans would rather continue with the deal as long as Iran continues to comply with its terms,” said PPC’s director, veteran foreign-policy pollster Steven Kull. ››read more