Working for International Dialogue and Peace


EU-Iran Relations in the Trump Era

by Eldar Mamedov (source: Lobelog) November 12, 2016

Mogherini-ZarifMogherini-ZarifIn a world of growing uncertainty, the current leaders of the EU and Iran must do their utmost to ensure that the Iran deal survives the complicated politics of some of its parties. The stakes could not be higher: the fate of a working agreement that not only defused a potentially devastating conflict but also opened a way for re-engaging with one of the key countries in the Middle East. ››read more


        Editor's note: Since 2007, 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 delegation for inter-parliamentary relations between the EP and Iran.

Hillary Clinton sounded more interventionist than Donald Trump – but the Middle East crises Trump inherits could suck him in

by Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) November 12, 2016

One of Clinton's senior advisers openly proposed giving less priority to the assault on Isis and more to getting rid of Assad. A force of pro-US militant moderates was to be raised that would fight and defeat both Isis and Assad. Probably this fantasy would never have come to pass, but the fact that it was ever given currency underlines how out-of-touch she – and Washington – was ››read more


Possible Trump Cabinet Members’ Links to the MEK Cult Could Spell Trouble for Iran

by Arash Azizi (source: Global Voices) November 11, 2016

Rajavi and GiulianiRajavi and GiulianiWith Gingrich and Bolton likely to be appointed to two of the highest national security positions in the Trump administration, will Rajavi’s totalitarian cult gain influence? Other possible members of a Trump administration are also leading anti-Iran hawks. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, tipped for the position of attorney general, has been paid handsome sums to appear at MEK rallies. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, head of the Trump transition team, has called Iran a “greater threat than ISIS”. Mike Flynn, possibly the next secretary of defense, is on the record as saying, “I’ve been at war with Islam, or a component of Islam, for the last decade” and complaining about Iran’s “lies, their flat out lies, and then their spewing of constant hatred, no matter whenever they talk”. ››read more


‘Never Trump’ GOP preparing to work with Trump to squeeze Iran

by Josh Rogin (source: Washington Post) November 11, 2016

The strategy is to tighten the noose on Iran such that if and when President Trump tries to renegotiate the Iran deal, as he promised to do on the campaign trail, the Iranians will be under more pressure to come to the table. “I want to help Trump on Iran. One way is to reimpose sanctions outside the conduct of the nuclear deal,” said Graham. “I hope this will help President Trump get a better deal.” Increasing sanctions on Iran is only one area where Republicans who opposed Trump previously are planning to work with the new administration. Defense hawks in both chambers also agree with Trump’s pledge to get rid of limits on military spending imposed by previous budget deals, move Israel policy to be more friendly to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and roll back the Obama administration’s moves to normalize relations with Cuba. ››read more


Iran and the Trump Presidency

by Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi (source: Lobelog) November 11, 2016

Bolton and RajavisBolton and RajavisA number of key supporters and advisers around Trump, most notably Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, have explicitly called on the US government to recognize and support the Organization of Iranian People’s Mojahedin (OIPM). Both men have accepted money to speak at OIPM events and have lobbied on their behalf. It would be surprising if neither one had a palpable influence on Iran policy given their prominent roles in his campaign. Gingrich, in fact, is now being tipped for Trump’s secretary of state. These men staked much of their political capital while a sizeable chunk of the GOP leadership went running for the hills. The OIPM is an opaque, undemocratic, and cultish organization that fought against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and is committed to regime change irrespective of the consequences for the Iranian people. As a result, it is widely detested and has no popular base to speak of inside the country. ››read more


Bashar Al-Assad & His Allies Are Pumped About Donald Trump’s Win

by Tom Perry and Laila Bassam (source: Reuters / Huffington Post) November 11, 2016

SyriaSyriaTrump has questioned the wisdom of backing rebels, played down the U.S. goal of getting Assad to leave power, and noted that while he didn’t like him, “Assad is killing ISIS” with Iran and Russia. ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State. “This is very comforting for us and our allies in Syria,” said the senior official in the military alliance fighting in support of Assad, who is backed by the Russian air force, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and other militias. “The wave is currently with us, serving our interests, and we must benefit from it as fully as possible,” said the official, who declined to be identified by nationality or affiliation so he could give a frank assessment.
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Trump Faces Battle to Undo Iran Nuclear Deal

by Jay Solomon (source: Wall Street Journal) November 11, 2016

However, the diplomats and experts also have questioned whether European and Asian countries would be willing to return to a strict sanctions regime, even if the U.S. decided to back out of the agreement and ratchet up new sanctions. The impact of a unilateral U.S. pullout could be limited, if other powers continue to build partnerships with Iran. Iranian officials, seeking to make the most of sanctions relief, have sought in particular to maintain business ties to Europe, even as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues to vilify the U.S. ››read more


Senior Saudi prince says Trump shouldn't scrap Iran deal

(source: Reuters) November 11, 2016

Prince Turki said he would like to see if the deal could become a "stepping stone" to a more permanent program "to prevent proliferation through the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East." Prince Turki does not presently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, and he emphasized that he was speaking in a personal capacity. His views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom's top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles. Prince Turki also said Trump should admonish Iran for its "very adventurous and very destabilizing activities" in the Middle East. ››read more


The Geniuses Who Brought You the Iraq War Are at It Again

by Robert L. Borosage (source: The Nation) October 30, 2016

The names are familiar—former secretary of state Madeline Albright and former Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley lead the Atlantic Council task force. Former Bill Clinton NSC adviser Brian Katulis and former Bush deputy secretary of defense Rudy deLeon are senior fellows at the Center for American Progress. The inescapable Martin Indyk heads a Brookings group of former top officials from Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations. These are the apostles of American exceptionalism, from the neoconservatives who promoted the invasion of Iraq to the “indispensable nation” liberal interventionists who championed regime change in Libya. Virtually without exception, all supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the most catastrophic foreign policy debacle since Vietnam. Virtually without exception, none were held accountable for that folly. ››read more


Trump promises to make Israel 'safe again'

(source: CBC) October 29, 2016

TrumpTrumpTrump's video message contained no mention of his policy for the Middle East or Israel. But the candidate has pledged to scrap the deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, which was negotiated under U.S. President Barack Obama. "Together we will stand up to enemies like Iran bent on destroying Israel and her people," Trump told supporters. "Together we will make America and Israel safe again." Trump has also said previously he would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would mark a shift in U.S. policy. Most nations — including Canada — do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ››read more


Clinton Adviser Proposes Attacking Iran to Aid the Saudis in Yemen

by Eric Levitz (source: NY Magazine) October 27, 2016

He is also an opponent of the Iran nuclear agreement, a defender of waterboarding, and an advocate for making Russia “pay a price” in Syria by covertly killing Putin’s soldiers.
On Tuesday, Morell added another title to that résumé: proponent of going to war with Iran, for the sake of securing Saudi Arabia’s influence in Yemen. “Ships leave Iran on a regular basis carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen,” Morell said, in remarks to the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. “I would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the U.S. Navy boarding their ships, and if there are weapons on them, to turn those ships around.” ››read more


Compare the coverage of Mosul and East Aleppo and it tells you a lot about the propaganda we consume

by Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) October 22, 2016

Patrick CockburnPatrick CockburnIn both countries, two large Sunni Arab urban centres – East Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq – are being besieged by pro-government forces strongly supported by foreign airpower. Yet the coverage is very different ››read more


How to Ensure the Iran Nuclear Deal Survives the Next President

by ARIANE TABATABAI (source: New York Times) October 21, 2016

Another key channel of communication has been between Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. But this, too, will be jeopardized when Mr. Moniz leaves office. Mr. Salehi will remain an important player, but there is no guarantee he will enjoy similarly friendly ties with the next energy secretary. This is why the United States and Iran should work now to establish contact between lower-level officials and technical experts, including between American labs and their Iranian counterparts. ››read more


We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding Isis

by Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) October 15, 2016

There is a bizarre discontinuity between what the Obama administration knew about the jihadis and what they would say in public ››read more


WikiLeaks: The two faces of Hillary Clinton on Syria to weaken Iran and strengthen Israel

by Sharmine Narwani (source: RT) October 15, 2016

“It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.” ››read more


Don't Believe the Start the War Coalition - Ask Libyans About No-Fly Zones

by Chris Nineham (source: Stop the War Coalition) October 12, 2016

us-alqaedaus-alqaedaThe implementation of a no-fly zone will inflame and escalate an already desperate situation ››read more


Obama’s Syria Policy and the Illusion of US Power in the Middle East

by Gareth Porter (source: The Middle East Eye) October 11, 2016

A US administration that played a true superpower role would have told its allies not to start a war in Syria by arming jihadists, using the fundamentals of the alliance as the leverage. But that would have meant threatening to end the alliance itself if necessary – something no US administration is willing to do. Hence the paradox of US power in the Middle East: in order to play at the role of hegemon in the region, with all those military bases, the United States must allow itself to be manipulated by its weaker allies. ››read more


War Hawks Are Sensing an Opening in Syria

by James Carden (source: The Nation) October 7, 2016

With the breakdown in bilateral talks between the US and Russia, the war hawks sense an opportunity—and they have wasted no time in spinning a narrative which paints increased US intervention in benign—to say nothing of deeply dishonest, terms. The pro-interventionist, pro-war arguments rely on euphemism to advance their arguments to an usual extent, habitually (and no doubt willfully) ignoring recent history, deriding what they see as “hypothetical” risks in favor of “doing something.” Middle East Institute Senior Fellow Charles Lister observed (via Twitter) that “#Russia has *nothing* that could concretely prevent US military action in #Syria. S-400 & SA-23 = entirely suppressible.”
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Fake News and False Flags: How the Pentagon paid a British PR firm $500 million for top secret Iraq propaganda

by Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith (source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism) October 2, 2016

According to Glen Segell, who worked in an information operations task force in Iraq in 2006, contractors were used partly because the military didn’t have the in-house expertise, and partly because they were operating in a legal “grey area”. In his 2011 article Covert Intelligence Provision in Iraq, Segell notes that US law prevented the government from using propaganda on the domestic population of the US. In a globalised media environment, the Iraq operations could theoretically have been seen back home, therefore “it was prudent legally for the military not to undertake all the…activities,” Segell wrote. Segell maintains that information operations programmes did make a difference on the ground in Iraq. Some experts question this however. A 2015 study by the Rand Corporation, a military think tank, concluded that “generating assessments of efforts to inform, influence, and persuade has proven to be challenging across the government and DoD.” ››read more


‘US knows weapons sent to Syrian rebels end up with terrorists’

(source: RT) September 28, 2016

TodenhoferTodenhoferThe CIA has been coordinating weapon deliveries on the Turkey-Syria border, German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer, who recently spoke with a Jabhat al-Nusra commander, told RT. He added that the US knows that the weapons it delivers to rebels end up with terrorists.

“This is a game everybody knows. It’s very clear that the Americans know that their weapons will in the end be in the hands of terrorists,” Todenhofer said speaking to RT. ››read more