Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors

24 July 2021 

Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors


Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors. A member of the Expediency Council has called on the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi to establish long-term strategic ties with neighbors and countries which are not influenced by the United States’ anti-Iran position.

TEHRAN (Iran News) – Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors. A member of the Expediency Council has called on the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi to establish long-term strategic ties with neighbors and countries which are not influenced by the United States’ anti-Iran position.

Gholamreza Mesbahi Moqaddam also said “the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is set by the Supreme National Security Council” and the president is chairman of the council and a change in government will not lead to a shift in foreign policy.

“Of Course,” the cleric politician remarked, “approaches are different. Certain approaches are resistant in the face of global arrogance and some are flexible.”

On his prediction of the foreign policy of the Raisi government, he told IRNA,  “My prediction of the approach of the government of Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi is resistance against global arrogance.”

Noting that a “balanced approach” and not a cut of ties with countries is favorable, Mesbahi Moqaddam said such an approach has presented Iran to the world as an independent country which acts based on its interests.

The Expediency Council member also said his prediction is that the United States will not lift all sanctions against Iran even if the 2015 nuclear deal is revived.

The Americans will not lift all sanctions because they consider sanctions as a “pressure tool” to follow their policies against Iran, noted the cleric politician.

Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, officially called the JCPOA, have been holding sixth round of talks. The last round ended on June 20.

The U.S. is participating in the talks indirectly. Iran has said it will not talk directly to the U.S. until Washington rejoins the agreement and recommit itself to the legally binding agreement.

Iran’s chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi has said the next Iranian government will continue the talks.

“It is clear that the Vienna talks must wait for a new administration in Iran. This is a requirement of any democracy,” Araqchi tweeted on July 17.

He added, “We are in a period of transition and a democratic transfer of power is taking place in Tehran.”

Raisi will be sworn in as president on August 5.

There is still no official word about Raisi’s choice for the post of foreign minister and his foreign policy team.

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Red Alert in Iraq… Time for the U.S. to Decide

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amro@amrobilal.net), is an independent Palestinian writer and Political researcher. He writes for various Arabic news outlets, some of which are Al-Akhbar newspaperAl-Mayadeen Satellite News ChannelArabi 21, and Rai Al-Youm, and UPROOTED PALESTINIANS

July 15, 2021

By Amro Allan

‘President Joe Biden may be nearly done with America’s two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan, but another nearby war zone, where U.S. troops have been based for almost as long, is threatening to become a major thorn in the White House’s side: Iraq’, says Foreign Policy in its Situation Report on July 8, 2021, entitled ‘Red Alert in Iraq’. This comes after two fairly heated weeks in Iraq and Syria, where an escalation in the resistance groups operations against American troops was noticeable, both in frequency and in nature.

For instance, on Wednesday, July 7, 14 rockets hit Ain al-Assad Air Base, the largest military installation in Iraq housing U.S. troops, wounding at least two American soldiers. Another suicide drone attack, a day before, targeted U.S. forces based in Erbil airport, not far from where the U.S. consulate is located. Also, there were multiple improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against convoys transporting U.S. military logistic supplies, that took place in various Iraqi towns and cities in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Syria, U.S. occupation forces were busy fending off suicide drone and rocket attacks targeting al-Omar oilfield and nearby areas. Al-Omar oilfield is the largest in the country, and It is invested with both the U.S. forces and their collaborators  the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

No American soldiers have been killed in these recent intense activities in Iraq and Syria. However, Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explains ‘It’s already very intense. The strikes aren’t killing people, but they could, easily, if they want them to’, and he adds ‘The missile defences are quietly working quite well. But what we haven’t seen is determined efforts to kill Americans’.

Many analysts consider this escalation a retaliation for the second round of U.S. airstrikes under Biden’s administration on June 27. Those airstrikes used the pretext ‘Iran-backed militia’, although in reality, they targeted a static Iraqi-Syrian border position of the Iraqi security forces (Popular Mobilisation Forces) under Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, killing four members of brigade 14 of the PMF.

While agreeing with this analysis in principle, I believe widening the scope would put the latest events in the broader context they deserve.

It is quite clear that Biden’s administration’s main foreign policy strategy, and indeed the U.S. establishment’s attitude in general of late, is to concentrate its overseas efforts on opposing the rise of China and Russia:  what Biden dubbed defending and strengthening democracy. This focus shift first took shape during Obama’s days in 2012 with his (unsuccessful) ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy and it has remained in principal a U.S. foreign policy objective since. But this shift naturally requires an improved allocation of U.S. resources.

Thus, when Biden came to power, he followed in the steps of his two predecessors in aiming to disengage from the ‘Middle East’ and West Asia in general as much as possible.

As the QUINCY Paper No. 7 entitled ‘Nothing Much to Do: Why America Can Bring All Troops Home From the Middle East’, published on June 24, 2021, poses the question ‘Three successive American Presidents — Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden — have pledged to end the post 9/11 wars and reunite U.S. soldiers with their families.

Yet, fulfilling that pledge has proven tougher than expected. Do U.S. interests in the region require so much of the U.S. military that full-scale withdrawals are not feasible?’. The paper argued that ‘the United States has no compelling military need to keep a permanent troop presence in the Middle East.

The two core U.S. interests in the region — preventing a hostile hegemony and ensuring the free flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz — can be achieved without a permanent military presence. There are no plausible paths for an adversary, regional or extra-regional, to achieve a situation that would harm these core U.S. interests. No country can plausibly establish hegemony in the Middle East, nor can a regional power close the Strait of Hormuz and strangle the flow of oil. To the extent that the United States might need to intervene militarily, it would not need a permanent military presence in the region to do so’.

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, to be presumably fully completed by September 2021, was the first manifestation of Biden’s drawdown policy from West Asia. However, when it came to Iraq and Syria, the equations were quite different.

Despite Biden’s pledge to return to the JCPOA in his election campaign, there was an assessment that was widely spread between Iranian officials which says that the Biden administration would capitalise on Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy to extract concessions from Iran, before re-joining the JCPOA. Those concessions are related to two aspects:

  • Change in Iran’s foreign policy, especially its support for resistance groups in the region. This is to  the benefit of the Zionist entity, which remains a core influence on U.S. foreign policy.
  • Imposing restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles programme.

This American approach became apparent after Biden took office, and during the latest Vienna talks to salvage the nuclear deal. However, contrary to Biden’s false assumptions, the Americans found out that Iran will not give them any concessions, and that it meant what it said when Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei stated back in 2015 ‘We negotiated with the U.S. on the nuclear issue for specific reasons. The Americans performed well in the talks, but we didn’t and we won’t allow negotiation with the Americans on other issues’.

This has put the Americans in a quandary. Biden found that he could not withdraw from Iraq and Syria without getting guarantees from Iran and the Axis of Resistance related to the security of the Zionist entity, as the Axis of Resistance will never offer any guarantees at the expense of the Palestinians’ inalienable rights. Nor could Biden maintain the same level of American involvement in the ‘Middle East’ indefinitely. As this would be at the expense of the main U.S. foreign policy strategy, “Facing the Chinese challenge”, according to the terminology the  U.S. uses.

Furthermore, this American quandary has deepened after the battle of the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ exposed many of the Zionist Entity’s [Israel]  weaknesses tactically and strategically in the face of the Axis of Resistance.

Based on this overview, we can expect a fairly heated summer for the U.S. occupation forces in the region, as from the Axis of Resistance point of view, the negotiations for the American withdrawal from the ‘Middle East’ and West Asia in general are not open-ended.

And it seems that the U.S. needs a nudge to decide whether: to start a meaningful and peaceful drawdown, with minimal losses; or risk a new ‘Middle East’ all-out war by trying to impose its sovereign will on the whole region.

And I believe, based on the Americans’ experience of the past two decades, that the consensus within the U.S. institutes is that the latter option would be highly costly. Not to mention that based on the current balance of powers in the region, as we read them, the outcome is not guaranteed to be in the favour of the U.S., nor in the favour of  “Israel” its closest ally.

لماذا تخشى «إسرائيل» حرباً جديدة مع لبنان؟

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ابراهيم الأمين

الإثنين 12 تموز 2021

تلهّي سياسيين أو ناشطين في مناقشة الخلافات الداخلية على طريقتهم، أمر تعوّده الناس منذ قيام هذا البلد المسخ. لكن الأمر لا يستقيم عندما يتصدّى هؤلاء، بالتعاون مع ماكينة إعلامية تحتاج إلى «مطابقة للمواصفات المهنية»، للتعامل مع التدخلات الخارجية كأنها جزء من منازعات قوى السلطة داخل الحكم وخارجه. وحتى الذين يريدون تحديد المسؤوليات عن الأزمة، يسارعون الى رمي كرة النار في حضن اللبنانيين حصراً، بطريقة تبرّر الدور السلبي للحراك الإقليمي والدولي الذي يتحمّل مسؤولية كبيرة، وكبيرة جداً، عن الأزمة وعن تفاقمها في الآونة الأخيرة.

في سلوكيات الدول، إقليمياً وعالمياً، ما يكفي للجزم بأن هذا الخارج لم يكن يوماً يريد لبنان إلا وفق ما يناسب استراتيّجيته. وما نعرفه، بعد كل أنواع التجارب، هو أن ما ينفع إسرائيل يتقدم على كل أمر آخر. وهذا ما يستدعي مراقبة ما يقوله وما يفكر به العدو حيال الأزمة اللبنانية.

تبدو «إسرائيل»، هذه الأيام، منشغلة بالأزمة التي تواجه لبنان، وبتأثير تفاقمها على أمنها «القومي». وتنقل وسائل إعلام العدو تصريحات وتحليلات وتسريبات، عن مسؤولين في قادة الحكومة والجيش والأمن، بأن لبنان دخل مرحلة الانهيار الشامل، وأن هناك «خشية» من أن يتحوّل الانهيار الى «ورقة قوة في يد حزب الله». ومع كل قراءة، يجري الحديث عن التشاور الدائم بين «إسرائيل» وأميركا وأوروبا ودول عربية حول ما يجب القيام به، ليس لمنع الانهيار، بل لـ«منع وقوع لبنان في يد حزب الله».
ما الذي تخشاه «إسرائيل»؟

أولاً، تبدي تحفّظاً عن العلاج السياسي الذي يتطلّب تغطية حزب الله أو موافقته، وتحاول دفع القوى الخارجية المؤثّرة الى خوض معركة إبعاد أي حكومة جديدة عن الحزب ومنع مشاركته فيها. وهي تعتقد بأن مجرد وجود الحزب داخل الحكومة سيقيّدها ويمنعها من القيام بخطوات تناسب متطلبات الغرب. وحصة «إسرائيل» من سلطة المطالب الغربية تركّز على فكرة إمساك الدولة بسلاح المقاومة أو تقييده، وعلى فرض آليات تعاون أمني مع لبنان يوفر الأمن لحدود إسرائيل ويمنع أيّ دعم، ولو سياسي، لقوى المقاومة في فلسطين.
ثانياً، تبدي «إسرائيل» رفضاً دائماً لتسليح الجيش اللبناني بما قد يسمح له بعرقلة نشاطها في الجو أو البحر، أو حتى في البر. لكنها، اليوم، تريد من العالم التدخل لمنع انهيار الجيش، لكن شرط ربط مساعدته بآلية تسمح للغرب بالإشراف المباشر على عمله. وهي تعتبر أن كل فراغ أمني يحصل بسبب تراجع الجيش أو القوى الأمنية سيملأه حزب الله الذي سيتصرف براحة أكبر في حال تفكّك القوى الأمنية والعسكرية.

ثالثاً، تريد «إسرائيل» تعزيز الضغط الاقتصادي والمعيشي على الدولة وعلى الناس لدفعهم إلى انتفاضة في وجه حزب الله. لكنها تخشى أن يعمد الحزب الى استغلال نفوذه الميداني الكبير براً وبحراً، والى استغلال علاقاته وقدراته لتوفير ما يعطّل مفعول الحصار على لبنان. ولذلك، تحاول الضغط كي يلجأ الغرب، بالتعاون مع «عربه»، إلى وضع آليات للإشراف على المساعدات المقترحة للبنان، منها نشر قوات أجنبية ولو على شكل «قوى إسناد» لعملية توزيع المساعدات كما يروّج المغفّلون. ويعتبر العدو أن مزيداً من التورّط الغربي في لبنان سيسمح ليس فقط بممارسة الضغط المباشر على الحكومة، وبالتالي على حزب الله، بل ربما يوفر أيضاً عناصر حماية لقوى ومجموعات لبنانية تخشى المواجهة المباشرة والكاملة مع الحزب. وينبغي لفت الانتباه الى أن جانباً من الضغوط الإسرائيلية الكبيرة على واشنطن لعدم العودة الى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، يرتبط بتقدير العدو أن رفع العقوبات سيسمح بضخ مليارات الدولارات في الخزينة الإيرانية، وسيجد جزء من هذه الأموال طريقه إلى حزب الله، كما أنه لا يوجد ما يمنع إيران من استغلال جزء من أرباح النفط لزيادة نفوذها في بيروت.

رابعاً، تشهد «إسرائيل» نقاشاً حول طريقة التعامل مع لبنان، وما إذا كان ينبغي الاستمرار بشعار أن كل لبنان رهينة للحزب ويجب أن يدفع الجميع ثمن ذلك، أو العودة الى سياسات الثمانينيات حول وجود إمكانية للتعاون مع قوى في لبنان، أو استغلال الظروف الحالية لخلق بيئة معارضة لحزب الله والعودة الى العمل داخلياً.

قلق العدو من كونه مكبّل اليدين إزاء أي عمل عسكري مكشوف مستمر. لذلك، يبدو منطقياً أن يفكر بعض قادته بأن الفوضى السياسية والأمنية والاقتصادية في لبنان قد تسمح بمزيد من الأعمال الأمنية ــــ العسكرية ضد حزب الله، ربطاً بما لا ينفكّ الإسرائيليون عن ترديده من أن حزب الله، رغم الأزمة الحالية وتعقيداتها، «مستمر في برنامج دقة الصواريخ والتزود بمنظومات دفاع جوي تهدد حرية عمل سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي في سماء لبنان».

وإلى ذلك، كان لافتاً ما نقل أمس عن مصدر أمني إسرائيلي من أن «الوضع القابل للانفجار في لبنان، يقرّب إسرائيل من المواجهة… وحرب لبنان الثالثة مسألة وقت».

ما الذي يعنيه ذلك، ولماذا يفكّر العدو بأن الأمور قد تتطوّر الى حدود نشوب حرب جديدة، وهل يتم الأمر على شكل ما فعله في كل حروبه السابقة، أم أن لديه خططاً تفترض ردوداً قاسية من المقاومة تقود الأمور الى المواجهة… أم أنه يخشى أن يبادر حزب الله نفسه الى شنّ الحرب… وخصوصاً بعدما علّمتنا غزّة أن زمن ابتداء الحروب من جانبنا بات متاحاً؟

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“الإنذار الأحمر” وفشل الرهان الأميركي

11/07/2021

عمرو علان

المصدر: الميادين نت

لا يأتي التصعيد العسكري ضد القوات الأميركية في العراق وسوريا مفاجئاً لبعض متتبّعي السياسة الأميركية في المنطقة.

قالت مجلة “فورين بوليسي”، في “تقرير الوضع” ليوم الخميس، 8 تموز/يوليو 2021، إن العراق دخل في حالة “الإنذار الأحمر”. وأضاف التقرير أنه ربما يكون الرئيس جو بايدن على وشك التخلص من أعباء الانخراط العسكري الأميركي في أفغانستان، والذي امتد إلى قرابة عقدين من الزمن، إلاّ أن هناك ساحة حربٍ أخرى توجد فيها قواتٌ أميركيةٌ، وتُنذر بأن تتحوّل إلى شوكةٍ في خاصرة “البيت الأبيض”، في إشارةٍ إلى الساحة العراقية. 

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يأتي إعلان “الإنذار الأحمر” بعد تصاعد العمليات العسكرية ضد القوات الأميركية في الساحة العراقية، وتوأمها الساحة السورية، بحيث قامت قوى المقاومة المسلَّحة، خلال الأسبوعين الأخيرين، باستهداف عدة مواقع في العراق وسوريا توجد فيها قواتٌ أميركيةٌ، كان بينها – على سبيل المثال لا الحصر – استهداف “قاعدة الأسد” الجوية في العراق بأربعة عشر صاروخاً، أدَّت إلى وقوع إصابات في صفوف الأميركيين. وتمّ أيضاً استهداف مطار أربيل، الذي تتمركز في داخله قوات أميركية – والذي يقع بالقرب منه مبنى القنصلية الأميركية – بعدة مُسَيَّرات مفخَّخ.، وبالإضافة إلى تلك الهجمات، تعرَّضت عدة قوافل دعمٍ لوجستيٍّ للقوات الأميركية لهجماتٍ عبر عبواتٍ ناسفةٍ في أكثر من مدينةٍ عراقيةٍ.

أمّا الساحة السورية فشهدت، في الأيام القليلة الماضية، عدةَ هجمات بالمُسَيَّرات المفخَّخة على مواقع لقوات الاحتلال الأميركي الموجودة في حقل العمر النفطي.

لا يأتي هذا التصعيد العسكري ضد القوات الأميركية في العراق وسوريا مفاجئاً لبعض متتبّعي السياسة الأميركية في المنطقة. لعلّ القراءة الأدقّ تضع هذه الهجمات في سياق المعركة المستمرة من أجل إنهاء الوجود العسكري الأميركي في منطقة الهلال الخصيب، لا لمجرد كونها ردّاً ظرفياً على العدوان الجوي الأميركي الأخير في 27 حزيران/يونيو، والذي استهدف مواقع الحشد الشعبي العراقي المرابطة عند الحدود العراقية السورية. 

من خلال متابعة أداء إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن لبضعة شهور، منذ تولّيه دفّة الحكم، يبدو أنها جاءت، وفي مخيِّلتها مقارَبة لوضع المنطقة، تقوم في جزءٍ من جوانبها على أساس الاستثمار في سياسات إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب السابقة، والمتعارَف عليها بـ”سياسة الضغوط القصوى” تجاه إيران، بحيث بات واضحاً في السياسة الأميركية الخارجية الميل إلى محاولة التَّخفُّف من أعباء منطقة غربي آسيا العسكرية قدر المستطاع، بهدف التركيز على منافسة صعود جمهورية الصين الشعبية في الساحة الدولية. ويبدو أن رؤية التخفُّف هذه كانت تقوم على تصوُّرين اثنين:

– التصور الأول يقوم على الانسحاب العسكري من أفغانستان، كما يجري الآن فعلاً، في محاولةٍ لإقفال باب الاستنزاف في هذه الساحة، ولاسيما أن الانسحاب الأميركي مِن أفغانستان لا يؤدّي إلى زيادة التهديدات على أمن الكيان الصهيوني. 

– أمّا التصور الثاني فيقوم على العودة السريعة إلى الاتفاق النووي الإيراني، على أساس قراءةٍ تقول بوصول إيران إلى مرحلة الإنهاك التامّ، بفعل “سياسة الضغوط القصوى”. وعليه، صارت اليوم إيران جاهزةً لتقديم التنازلات المطلوبة أميركياً في سياساتها الخارجية في الحد الأدنى، ولاسيما تلك التي تتعلق بمنطقة غربيّ آسيا ودعم حركات المقاومة في الإقليم، الامر الذي يجعل استمرار الوجود العسكري الأميركي – ولو في حدوده الدنيا – في العراق وسوريا، غير ذي تكلفةٍ تذكر. وكذلك، من الممكن إجبار إيران على تقديم تنازلاتٍ في برنامجها الصاروخي الساعي لتطوير الصواريخ الباليستية في الحد الأقصى، بحسب الفهم الأميركي.

إلاّ أن التصور الثاني اصطدم بمعطيين، أحدهما قديمٌ والآخرُ مستجدّ. أمّا المعطى القديم، فيتمثّل بأن إيران كانت قد رفضت، على نحو حاسمٍ، مناقشة برنامجها الصاروخي في أثناء جولات التفاوض التي أفضت إلى توقيع الاتفاق النووي مع إدارة الرئيس الأميركي الأسبق باراك أوباما في عام 2015، ناهيك برفض إيران القاطع المساومةَ خلال جولات التفاوض تلك على سياساتها الخارجية ودعم حركات المقاومة في الإقليم. فدعم حركات قوى المقاومة، ضمن السياسة الخارجية الإيرانية، مبنيٌّ على رؤيةٍ استراتيجيةٍ، تندرج ضمن مشروعها الأشمل في الإقليم الذي يقضي بمجابهة القوى الإمبريالية العالمية، بالإضافة إلى التأصيل الشرعي لهذا الالتزام الأخلاقي بدعم المستضعَفين ضمن نظام حكم الجمهورية الإسلامية.

ويضاف إلى هذا وذاك أمرٌ رئيسٌ، يتمثّل بأنَّ حركة قوى المقاومة في الإقليم تنطلق من إرادةٍ ذاتيةٍ لطرد المحتل عن أراضيها، وهي لا تأتمر بإرادة أيّ قوى إقليميةٍ، بل إن المسألة تكمن في تكامل أهداف قوى المقاومة ومصالحها مع المشروع الإيراني الأشمل في المنطقة، والذي يرمي إلى التخلص من هيمنة القوى الإمبريالية العالمية على عموم منطقتنا.

بعد الخروج الأميركي الأحادي الجانب من الاتفاق النووي، عبر قرارٍ من إدارة الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب، أكّد المرشد الإيراني السيد علي خامنئي في عدة تصريحاتٍ، أنه في حال العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، يجب على الحكومة الإيرانية التزام هذه الضوابط التي تمنع التفاوض على كلٍّ مِن برنامج إيران الصاروخي وسياساتها الخارجية. وعلى ما يبدو، فإن إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن أخطأت عند تصنيف هذه التصريحات على أنها تصريحاتٌ تفاوضيةٌ، ليتبيّن لها بعد ذلك، في محادثات جنيف، أنها كانت مواقف مبدئية لا يمكن لأيّ حكومةٍ إيرانيةٍ تجاوزها، فخاب رهان إدارة جو بايدن على لجم حركات المقاومة في كلٍّ مِن العراق وسوريا، من خلال محاولة الضغط على إيران.

أمّا المعطى المستجدّ، فكان معركة “سيف القدس” التي كشفت فيها فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية المسلّحة في غزة هشاشةَ الكيان الصهيوني، وأظهرت بوضوحٍ مدى التهديد الذي تمثّله حركات المقاومة المسلّحة في فلسطين وفي الإقليم على أمن الكيان الصهيوني ومستقبله، ولاسيّما في ظلّ فشَل الرهان الأميركي على انتزاع ضماناتٍ من إيران وسائر أركان محور المقاومة، ترتبط بحفظ أمن الكيان الصهيوني في مقابل العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، بحيث كان رهاناً مبنياً في الأصل على قراءةٍ خاطئةٍ لحقيقة موقفَي حركات المقاومة وإيران كما أسلفنا.

لهذا، نجد الأميركي اليوم كمن “بلع المنجل”، فلا هو قادرٌ على الانسحاب من سوريا وتخفيف حضوره العسكري في العراق، ليتفرّغ لمواجهة الصين قبل تأمين ضمانات لأمن الكيان الصهيوني ومستقبله، ولا هو قادرٌ على البقاء أبداً بالزَّخَم نفسه في المنطقة لحماية أمن الكيان الصهيوني، بسبب ما لهذا من آثار سلبية فيما بات يعدّها معركته الرئيسة ضدّ الصين، وتِباعاً روسيا.

يمكن التنبّؤ بكون محور المقاومة يقرأ هذا المأزق الأميركي. فإن صحّت هذه النبوءة، وأظنها صحيحة، فعندها يمكن فهم سياق التصعيد العسكري في وجه القوات الأميركية في الأسبوعين الأخيرين. وهذا يُبشِّر باستمرار هذا التصعيد، وبصيفٍ ساخنٍ نسبياً للقوات الأميركية، لإفهام الأميركي أن استحقاق الانسحاب من المنطقة هو استحقاقٌ جديٌّ، وأن عملية التفاوض على سحب قواته لن تستمر إلى ما لا نهاية.

Khatibzadeh: Iran’s Stance on JCPOA Not to Change with Administration Change

 July 6, 2021

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stressed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and lifting sanctions are among Iran’s principled stances, saying they will not alter with government change.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Khatibzadeh said if any agreement is made, the next Iranian government will abide by it.

Unlike the approach taken by other parties, compliance with commitments has always been considered as a principle for Iran, he said.

Despite the fact that some topics still need decisions, progress in Vienna talks is a reality accepted by all parties, he added.

In fact, the finalization of the agreement to revive the JCPOA depends on other parties’ political will, Khatibzadeh reiterated. adding that Iranian delegation is trying to conclude negotiations and to lift cruel sanctions against Iran.

He went on to say that no deadline will be set and negotiations will be underway until the agreement is achieved to meet Iranians’ interests.

He also said that as always mentioned, Iran is not in hurry to reach agreement but will not let erosive talks.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Khatibzadeh said 13 prisoners were recently released from Japan’s and Afghanistan’s prisons and have returned home.

Reacting to Western media claims regarding the US message through diplomatic channels to Iran on recent attacks again Syria and Iraq, he said Iran has always stressed that the language of threat and force will not help establish security in the region.

He advised the US to be aware of the fact that bullying approach not only will bring no result but will deteriorate conditions in West Asia.

ُStressing that Iran has never intended and does not intend to interfere in internal affairs of Iraq, the spokesman said that the US continuous attacks against Iraq and Syria forces’ positions on common borders were only in line with hurting those who stand against the ISIS and reinforcing this terrorist organization.

The Iranian diplomat emphasized that Iran’s opposes the Zionist regime’s membership in the African Union as an observer.

He urged members of the African Union to respect approvals of the international bodies like the organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on opposing granting membership to Israeli regime in regional and international organizations to show their political determination regarding commitment to Palestinian cause.

He noted that OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen in a letter to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had appreciated Iran’s commitments to the OIC principles and Iran’s participation in supporting the Islamic states’ joint efforts on issues related to Muslim Ummah.

He added that granting the observer position to the Zionist regime by the African Union would encourage the regime to continue its colonial and racist policies and to conduct military strikes and commit more crimes against the Palestinians.

Hailing truce In Ethiopia after eight-month war, Khatibzadeh congratulated the Ethiopia Government and nation for holding the 6th round of parliamentary election in a peaceful atmosphere.

Iran urges all sides to support the ceasefire to help establish peace and security in the region.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Khatibzadeh said that Saudi officials should know that based on its principled positions, Iran has always been after preserving peace and security in the Persian Gulf by the regional states.

This approach has contributed ending existence of the ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and preventing infiltration of Takfiri groups’ in the Persian Gulf littoral states.

Iran has always welcomed negotiations to achieve results and has had positive view toward talking to Saudi Arabia.

He also reacted to claims made by some Western media on Iran’s sports and its participation in Olympic Games, saying such claims are incompatible with the spirit of Olympic Charter and sports objectives.

Iran, with all its cultural considerations, is among pioneers of gender equality, and this year, the Iranian girls will have an effective presence in track-and-field category after 57 years.

Khatibzadeh went on to say that Iran’s consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif will resume activities after the situation calms down.

Regarding Azerbaijan initiative in line with creating a regional 3+3 cooperation context, he said that after liberating Azeri lands, grounds have been prepared for Caucasian states as well as Iran, Russia, and Turkey based on respect of territorial integrity of all regional states.

Thanks to its close ties with Caucasian states, Russia, and Turkey, Iran can take important strides in this regard, he noted.

SourceIranian Agencies

First we take Tel Aviv…

July 5, 2021 – 21:17

Iran remains unmoved as Israel resorts to military threats

TEHRAN – With the Vienna nuclear talks hitting a deadlock after the sixth round, Israel finds itself more isolated on Iran and is unable to influence the talks, something that prompted it to try out a new military stunt in order to get the talks moving in line with Israel’s interests.

During his recent trip to Washington, Chief of Staff of Israeli Armed Forces Aviv Kochavi reportedly conveyed clear messages to the U.S. administration regarding the possibility of the U.S. returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. These messages included threats of an Israeli military attack inside Iran. The Israeli general held behind-closed-doors meetings with several high-ranking American officials including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, CIA Director William Burns, and DIA Deputy Director Suzanne White.

In these meetings, Kochavi claimed that Israel had made a decision to dismantle the alleged Iranian military nuclear program a year before the U.S. 2020 presidential election and the start of the buzz over a return to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to Israeli reports, Kochavi also told his American interlocutors that the Israeli army has devised at least three military plans in order to thwart the Iranian nuclear program, and that the previous Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, put aside funds for these plans, and that the current government, led by Naftali Bennett, pledged to add large sums in order to fill gaps related to readiness as soon as possible.

This saber-rattling came against a backdrop of a diplomatic war of words between Iran and the U.S. after the sixth round of the Vienna talks which resulted in little progress compared to previous rounds. The U.S. demanded a commitment from Iran to discuss other thorny, non-nuclear issues such as Iran’s missile program and its regional influence while rejecting Iranian demands regarding the lifting of all Trump-era sanctions and the provision of a guarantee that Washington would not withdraw from the deal again once it is revived. In fact, disagreements between the two are so deep that the mere resumption of the talks now hangs in the balance, with Russia is now insinuating that the talks may not be resumed any time soon.

This charged atmosphere has led Israel to remarkably increase diplomatic contacts with the U.S. in the hope that these communications would affect the U.S. stance toward the Vienna talks. But the Israelis themselves have acknowledged that they are unable to influence the U.S. Iran policy. 
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday that Tel Aviv can no longer influence the new deal that the Biden administration seeks, one that would be “longer and stronger” than the existing one that is the JCPOA. 

But the Israelis seem not to be giving up on their anti-JCPOA crusade. They appear to have reverted to the decades-long dream of getting the U.S. to do their own job with American blood and treasure: an American military strike against Iran. Haaretz reported that Israeli officials are trying to convince the U.S. into bringing up the military option against Iran if it continued its nuclear activities, hoping that making hostile announcements would create deterrence against Iran. 

But one diplomat predicted that the Biden administration was less likely to attack Iran if it violated the terms of the agreement, Haaretz said, adding, Americans do not currently want the potential for a military conflict in terms of their priorities.

In doing so, the Israelis signal their assessment that threats of military strikes work with Iran, something that belies the most recent bouts of escalation during the Trump administration. Over the course of the Trump presidency, the U.S. issued a whole range of stark threats against Iran from attacking cultural sites to starving the Iranian people but none worked with Tehran. In addition, the Israelis themselves launched what they call the “campaign between wars,” a military doctrine mostly aimed to confront Iran’s spheres of influence in the region while keeping the confrontation below the threshold of an all-out war, to eliminate its regional influence and undermine its nuclear program. But they failed to achieve their goal as Iran’s nuclear program continues to advance and the country’s sway continues to expand.

RELATED NEWS

Terrified Washington resorts to piracy as it loses grip over West Asia

Terrified Washington resorts to piracy as it loses grip over West Asia

June 25, 2021

by Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

In what can only be called an act of piracy, the US government “seized” several pro-resistance media outlets in a coordinated attack this week. One of the outlets that were siezed was Presstv.com. Other web domains, including Palestine al-Youm, a Palestinian-directed broadcaster, Karbala TV – the official television of the Imam Hussein (PBUH) shrine in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, Iraqi Afaq TV, Asia TV and al-Naeem TV satellite television channels, as well as Nabaa TV which reports the latest stories about Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, were also seized.

Citing bogus reasons such as “threat to national security”, the US regime once more proved what a great leader of democracy and freedom it indeed is. Apparently, Washington believes that it cannot win a free and fair debate with outlets such as PressTV, so the only way to “win” is to prevent others from presenting their viewpoint. Imagine if other countries did the same thing and seized CNN or Fox News’ website. The US would probably start a war if countries like Iran or North Korea made such moves. The self-worshipping West loves to criticize other countries for “suppressing free media” while they portray themselves as a safe haven for “opinions of all kinds”.

The fact that the United States ranks last in media trust — at 29% — among 92,000 news consumers surveyed in 46 countries, doesn’t seem to matter. That’s worse than Poland, worse than the Philippines, worse than Peru, yet Washington still seems to have the “moral” right to condemn these countries as well, because any lack of trust in US media is explained as being the result of “foreign disinformation campaigns” and totally not related to the fact that the US media only exists to manufacture consent for Washington’s continued imperialist aggression.

Ironically, the suppression of information is happening while Washington funds and supports perhaps hundreds of propaganda networks such as BBC Persian, VOA Iran and ManotoTV, all known for disseminating vulgar and unprofessional propaganda. Some of these networks are being run by the family members of the Shah of Iran and via using the Iranians’ plundered wealth, to openly call for violent regime change and the return of the degenerate monarchy. Other networks, connected to John Bolton’s close friends in the MEK terrorist cult, openly call for terrorist attacks inside Iran. These are the people that want “democracy” for Iran, and these are the people that Washington supports.

If it hadn’t been proven a thousand times before, then this pathetic move proved once more that America’s claim about advocating freedom and democracy as well as freedom of expression is nothing more than a lie and hypocrisy. Washington is and has always been morally bankrupt, however, this recent act of thuggery shows that Washington, known for lecturing other governments overseas about free speech, democracy, and freedom of expression, is also scared and panicking.

Of course they are afraid. Is it a coincidence that these seizures happened right now? No! The Iranian nation elected what the westerners call a “hardliner” president. They know that the game of “diplomacy and talks”, which they use to stall the lifting of sanctions, is over. President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi won’t be as kind to them as the previous administration has been. He has already declared that there will be no talks with Washington over the US return to the JCPOA. On top of that, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement has rejected the Saudis shameful “peace proposal” and are in their way to capture the crucial city of Ma’rib, further humiliating Washington. So Washington resorted to silencing the world’s poorest country, which is under siege by land, sea and air in what can only be called a genocide.

There is absolutely no way for Washington to save face here. It is clear that they are terrified as the pro-resistance outlets are getting their messages across. More and more people are seeing Washington for what it is: a terrorist entity that takes pride in killing and starving people who refuse to bow down to them. This coincides with Washington’s waning influence in the region of West Asia, or as they call it, the “Middle East”. (the term “Middle East” is a colonial term from the British Empire era in which Europeans believed that they were the centre of the world, while West Asia was “the near east”).

Apparently, hundreds of US troops, aircraft and air defence batteries are being withdrawn from the puppet Persian Gulf kingdoms, as the Biden administration allegedly wants to focus on Russia and China instead. In reality, this is Washington’s way of quietly leaving the region as they know and understand what the inevitable alternative would be – getting kicked out of the region with force. Throughout the region, from Syria and Iraq, to Palestine and Yemen, the forces of colonialism and imperialism are losing ground and influence. Their repeated and continued atrocities and crimes are fuelling the fire in our hearts as more and more people, not just in the region, but worldwide are realizing the criminal nature of the imperialists.

This is not the first time nor the last time that the imperialists and their tools have silenced the voices of dissent. Throughout the years, tens or perhaps hundreds of thousand blogs, and social media pages have been shut down for supporting Syria, Palestine or Yemen. I have personally had 4 social media accounts shut down over the years, for supporting Syria’s legitimate government, for posting pictures in loving memory of Martyr Soleimani and for speaking out against the genocide going on in Yemen. But I will not back down, nor will I give up, and neither should anyone who has spoken out against the savage actions of the imperialists. It should never be forgotten that they silence and shut us down because they fear us, not because they are morally superior to us.

Resistance must continue on all fronts. Every act of aggression should be seen as an opportunity to show the world what liars and hypocrites the Western warmongers are who think that they can win the hearts of the people of this region through their lies and crude propaganda while bombing the people’s homes and loved ones.

A Sovereign Iran will Move Closer to Russia-China

22/06/2021

A Sovereign Iran will Move Closer to Russia-China

Iran’s president-elect will ‘Look East’ while seeking to exit ‘strategic patience’ when dealing with the US

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at AsiaTimes

In his first press conference as President-Elect with 62% of the votes, Ebrahim Raeisi, facing a forest of microphones, came out swinging and leaving nothing to the imagination.

On the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, the dossier that completely obsesses the West, Raeisi was clear:

– the US must immediately return to the JCPOA that Washington unilaterally violated, and lift all sanctions.

– The JCPOA negotiations in Vienna will proceed, but they do not condition anything in terms of Iran’s future.

– The Iranian ballistic missile program is absolutely non-negotiable in the framework of the JCPOA, and will not be curbed.

Asked by a Russian journalist whether he would meet President Biden if a deal was struck in Vienna and all sanctions lifted – a major “if” – Raeisi’s answer was a straight “No”.

It’s crucial to stress that Raeisi, in principle, favors the restoration of the JCPOA as its was signed in 2015 – following the guidelines of Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. But if the Vienna charade goes on forever and the Americans keep insisting on rewriting the deal towards other areas of Iranian national security, that’s a definitive red line.

Raeisi acknowledged the immense internal challenges he faces, in terms of putting the Iranian economy back on track, getting rid of the neoliberal drive of outgoing Team Rouhani, and fighting widespread corruption. The fact that election turnout was only 48.7%, compared to the average 70% in the prior three presidential contests will make it even more difficult.

Yet in foreign policy Iran’s path ahead is unmistakable, centered on the “Look East” strategy, which means closer cooperation with China and Russia, with Iran developing as a key node of Eurasian integration or, according to the Russian vision, the Greater Eurasia Partnership.

As Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran told me “there’s going to be a tilt eastward and to the Global South. Iran will improve relations with China and Russia, also because of US pressure and sanctions. President-elect Raeisi will be better positioned to strengthen these ties than the outgoing administration.”

Marandi added, “Iran won’t intentionally hurt the nuclear deal if the Americans – and the Europeans – move towards full implementation. The Iranians will reciprocate. Neighbors and regional countries will also be a priority. So Iran will no longer be waiting for the West.”

Marandi also made a quite nuanced distinction that the current policy was “a major mistake” by Team Rouhani, yet “not the fault of Dr. Zarif or the Foreign Ministry, but the government as a whole.” That implies the Rouhani administration placed all its bets on the JCPOA and was completely unprepared for Trump’s “maximum pressure” offensive, which de facto decimated the reformist-minded Iranian middle class.

In a nutshell: in the Raeisi era, exit “strategic patience” when dealing with the US. Enter “active deterrence”.

A key node of BRI and EAEU

Raeisi was met by those who control the “international community” narrative with proverbially derisive and/or demonizing epithets: loyal to the “repressive machinery” of the Islamic Republic, “hardliner”, a violator of human rights, mass executioner, anti-Western fanatic, or simply “killer”. Amnesty International even called for him to be investigated as perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

Facts are more prosaic. Raeisi, born in Mashhad, has a PhD in jurisprudence and fundamentals of Islamic law and a further jurisprudence degree from the Qom seminary. His previous positions include member of the Assembly of Experts and chief of the Judiciary.

He may not have been exposed to the Western way of life, but he’s not “anti-Western” – as he believes Iran must interact with all nations. Yet foreign policy must follow Khamenei’s guidelines, which are very clear. Without understanding Khamenei’s worldview, any analysis of Iranian complexities is an idle sport. For essential background, please refer to my Asia Times e-book Persian Miniatures.

It all starts with Ayatollah Khomeini’s founding concept of an Islamic Republic, which was indeed influenced by Plato’s Republic as well as Muslim political philosopher al-Farabi’s Virtuous City (also Plato-influenced).

On the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Khamenei updated his concept of foreign policy, as part of a clear map for the future. This is absolutely required reading to understand what Iran is all about. An excellent analysis by Mansoureh Tajik emphasizes the ways the system strives for balance and justice. Khamenei could not be more straightforward when he writes,

Today, the challenge for the US is Iran’s presence at the borders surrounding the Zionist regime and dismantling the illegitimate influence and presence of America from West Asia, Islamic Republic’s defense of Palestinian fighters at the heart of the occupied territories, and defense of holy flag of Hizbullah and the Resistance in the entire region. If in those days, the West’s problem was preventing Iran from buying even the most primitive forms of arms for its defense, today, its challenge is to prevent the Iranian arms, military equipment, and drones reaching Hizbullah and the Resistance everywhere in the region. If in those days, America imagined it can overcome the Islamic System and the Iranian nation with the help of a few self-selling Iranian traitors, today, it is finding itself in need of a large coalition of tens of hostile yet impotent governments to fight Iran. Yet, it fails.”

In terms of Big Power politics, Iran’s “Look East” policy was devised by Khamenei – who fully vetted the $400 billion-worth Iran-China comprehensive strategic partnership, which is directly linked to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and also supports Iran joining the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

So it’s Iran as a key Eurasian connectivity hub that is going to shape its geopolitical and geoeconomic future. And not the West, as Marandi stressed.

China will be investing in Iranian banking, telecom, ports, railways, public health and information technology – not to mention striking bilateral deals in weapons development and intel sharing.

On the Russian front, the impetus will come from the development of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which directly competes with an East to West overland corridor that can be hit anytime with extra-territorial American sanctions.

Iran has already struck an interim free trade agreement with the EAEU, active since October 2019. A full-fledged deal – with Iran as a full member – may be struck in the first few months of the Raeisi era, with important consequences for trade from the South Caucasus to wider Southwest Asia and even Southeast Asia: Vietnam and Singapore already have free trade zones with the EAEU.

The American rhetoric about Iran’s “isolation” does not fool anyone in Southwest Asia – as the developing interaction with China-Russia attests. Add to it Moscow’s reading of the “mood for deepening dialogue and developing contacts in the defense sphere”.

So this is what the Raeisi era is leading to: a more solid union of Iranian Shi’ism, socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Greater Eurasia Partnership. And it doesn’t hurt that state of the art Russian military technology is quietly surveying the evolving chessboard.

Biden Admin Complicit in Trump’s Crimes against Humanity – Araqchi

14/06/2021

Biden Admin Complicit in Trump’s Crimes against Humanity - Araqchi

By Staff, Agencies

The US administration of Joe Biden has partaken in ex-president Donald Trump’s crimes against humanity for 144 days, the Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said, criticizing Biden’s administration for continuing Trump’s policies.

“The US has for the past 3 years targeted every single Iranian living anywhere with its brutal & unlawful sanctions”, Araqchi made the remarks in his Twitter account, in reference to the Americans’ moves against the Iranian nation following the unilateral withdrawal of former US administration from Iran’s nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

“The current US admin has partaken in these crimes against humanity for 144 days”, the top Iranian negotiator also said, criticizing Joe Biden’s administration for continuing Trump’s policies.

“Iranians should not have spent a single day under sanctions”, he also stressed.

Since April, representatives from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries have been holding talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and bringing the US back to compliance with the accord.

The US, under Trump, unilaterally left the JCPOA in 2018 and returned the sanctions that had been lifted against Tehran as part of the agreement.

Biden said Washington is willing to return to the pact if Tehran first suspends its countermeasures taken in response to the US violations and reimposition of sanctions.

هكذا بدأ تنفيذ الاتفاق النوويّ مجدّداً

12/06/2021

ناصر قنديل

يتمهّل الأميركيون والإيرانيون في إعلان العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ، فليس من عجلة في الإعلان، لأن هناك ملفات تستدعي الترتيب قبل الإعلان، خصوصاً في الاستعجال الأميركي لترتيب الأوراق في كيان الاحتلال والسعودية، حيث لا يريد الأميركي الإعلان عن العودة إلى الاتفاق قبل التحقق من نزع صلاحيات رئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو على ارتكاب أية حماقة في تصعيد الأوضاع في المنطقة بهدف جر الأميركيين الى حرب، وينتظرون نتائج التصويت على نيل الحكومة الجديدة بالثقة، ووضع ضمانات نقل صلاحيات رئيس الحكومة في حال فشل الثقة الى المجلس الوزاري المصغّر حيث وزير الدفاع ورئيس الموساد ورئيس الأركان، شركاء في القرار وشركاء لواشنطن في السعي لخفض التصعيد. وعلى الضفة السعودية يرغب الأميركيون أن يسبق إعلان العودة الى الاتفاق التوصل الى تفاهم ثابت يضمن وقف النار وفتح باب التفاوض السياسيّ في اليمن، وبالرغم من المحاولة الأميركية لترجيح كفة السعودية وكيان الاحتلال في كل صيغ التهدئة التي يشتغلون عليها، فهم يدركون أنهم لم يعودوا لاعباً وحيداً، وأنهم في لحظة معيّنة مجبرون على الاختيار بين التهدئة وشروطهم لها. والقبول بالتالي بشروط لا تناسبهم ولا تناسب حليفهم في السعودية والكيان، لكنها تضمن تهدئة مديدة، وقد بات واضحاً أن عنوانها اليمنيّ فك الحصار وعنوانها الفلسطيني منع الانتهاكات في القدس.

في فترة التريّث الأميركيّ لا يجد الإيرانيون سبباً لتخفيض إجراءاتهم التي تقلق الأميركيين وحلفاءهم الأوروبيين في الملف النووي، فهي إجراءات دفاعيّة اتخذتها إيران رداً على الانسحاب الأميركي غير القانوني من الاتفاق وما لحقه من عقوبات أميركية منافية للقانون الدولي بمعاقبة كل مَن يطبّق قرار مجلس الأمن برفع العقوبات، ولذلك لن يسجل الإيرانيون سابقة يُساء فهمها كعلامة تعطش للعودة للاتفاق، ويقدمون على وقف خطواتهم الدفاعية أو تخفيضها، حتى لو كانوا مقتنعين بأن الأميركيين يرتبون أوراقهم للعودة للاتفاق، لأنه ما دام الباب مفتوحاً للتفاوض فكل خطوة لها تأثيرها على موازين التفاوض، لذلك يقرأ الإيرانيون النداءات التي تدعوهم لوقف الإجراءات التصعيدية، وهم بلغوا مرحلة قريبة من امتلاك ما يكفي لإنتاج قنبلة، كما يقول الأميركيّون، لكنهم يجيبون بأن الحلّ يكون شاملاً أو لا يكون، ورغم المحاولات الدبلوماسية التي جرت مع إيران من أصدقاء ووسطاء للاستجابة لهذه النداءات بقي الموقف الإيراني على حاله، والوقت الحرج نووياً، كما يقول الأميركيون، بات بالأيام وربما بالساعات.

وصل الوسطاء إلى صيغة تقوم على بدء تنفيذ الاتفاق قبل الإعلان عنه، عبر اختيار بنود من الاتفاق تقع في روزنامة المرحلة الأولى، وتتضمّن رفعاً لعدد من العقوبات الأميركية عن أشخاص وكيانات إيرانية، منها شركات تصدير للنفط وشركات بحرية لنقل النفط، مقابل أن تقدم إيران على القيام ببعض الخطوات المقابلة، ولم تجب إيران على المقترح، إلا بالجواب التقليدي، يكون الحل شاملاً أو لا يكون، فبادرت واشنطن لتطبيق بنود العرض قبل الحصول على استجابة إيرانية بفعل المثل، على أمل أن يفعل الإيرانيّون شيئاً ولو لم يعلنوا عنه، وهذا ما أمله الوسطاء من إيران، فيما يجري تسريع العمل على تجاوز التعقيدات من طريق التهدئة في فلسطين واليمن، والطريق واضح للأميركيين ولا يحتمل المناورات، القبول بربط وقف النار في اليمن برفع الحصار وفتح الميناء والمطار، والقبول بربط وقف النار في غزة بوقف الانتهاكات في القدس، وصولاً لتبادل الأسرى ورفع الحصار عن غزة.

الذين يتابعون مسار فيينا عن قرب يقولون إن أمر الاتفاق انتهى، وإن ما يجري حالياً هو تطبيق بعض بنوده قبل الإعلان عن توقيع

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US Drops Sanctions on Former Iranian Officials in ‘Routine’ Step

 June 11, 2021

iran flag

The Biden administration on Thursday lifted sanctions on three former Iranian government officials and two Iranian companies involved in the country’s oil industry, a conciliatory gesture days before a potentially decisive round of nuclear talks in Vienna, the New York Times reported.

The administration cautioned against reading too much into the move. Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, claimed there was “absolutely no connection” between the sanctions and discussions among several world powers and Tehran.

Those talks are intended to bring the United States and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 deal that attempted to limit Iran’s nuclear program in return for an end to many of the international sanctions that have squeezed the country’s economy.

In the same statements announcing that the United States had lifted some sanctions, the State and Treasury Departments also said they were imposing new ones on a dozen Iranian individuals, entities and vessels for providing financial support to the Ansarullah revolutionaries in Yemen.

A sixth round of nuclear talks is set to begin in Vienna this weekend. Robert Einhorn, an arms control expert at the Brookings Institution, said that the timing of the US announcements suggested a connection to the nuclear issue, and that it might be a signal of American flexibility.

The United States has been negotiating with Iran since April, though only indirectly, through intermediaries in Vienna, because of Tehran’s refusal to speak directly with American officials.

Biden administration officials have said for weeks that they are prepared to lift sanctions on Iran as part of a mutual return to compliance with the 2015 deal, and that the main obstacle to an agreement is whether Iran’s leadership is prepared to respond by scaling back its nuclear activities.

The 2015 deal, negotiated by the Obama administration and several other world powers, traded Western sanctions relief in return for Iran’s agreement to accept limits on — and international monitoring of — its nuclear program to ensure that it did not try to build a weapon. Iran stresses repeatedly that its program is for peaceful purposes only.

Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and hammered Iran with economic sanctions in what he called a campaign of “maximum pressure.” In response, Iran then began expanding its nuclear program and is now enriching uranium to levels and in quantities far beyond those allowed under the agreement.

Source: Reuters

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Netanyahu Follows Trump’s Footsteps: Political Downfall, Internal Crisis, and Attempt to Bridge the Gap

11-06-2021

Netanyahu Follows Trump’s Footsteps: Political Downfall, Internal Crisis, and Attempt to Bridge the Gap

By Ali Abadi

The recent developments in the Zionist entity reopen the discussion regarding the extent to which this entity is influenced by the US policy as well as the changes inside the United States.

Since Trump’s failure in the US Presidential Elections, the countdown to Benjamin Netanyahu’s downfall has started -who represents the ‘Israeli’ version of Trump’s personality- even though the former was able to reproduce his leadership via three consecutive elections, and prepared to a fourth round to fortify his position against probes in cases of corruption, and to fight the possibility of moving him away from the political scene through a rival party coalition. However, Netanyahu’s ploys didn’t survive in front of the results of the recent war with Gaza, which turned the political atmosphere inside the occupation entity to the extent that Netanyahu’s government was found responsible or losing the deterrence with Gaza, not to mention his weakness to handle the resistance and its growing might.

Herein, we should notice the relative comparison between the American and the ‘Israeli’ arenas:

On the one hand, the extravagance of America’s right wing led to dangerous division that caused an intense desire among all of Trump’s opponents [including some of the Republican party members] to get rid of him via ballot boxes, so they voted majorly against the far-right policies [represented by Trump] more than to support his rival Biden and his electoral program. And in the ‘Israeli’ arena, the right policies led to attractions from within the Zionist society, not between the left and the right, but within the right itself. A dominant agreement emerged that Netanyahu is sticking to power at any price, even if it led to a ‘civil war’, and that he is using Zionist religious parties that exchange with him the electoral services and well as the governmental benefits.

On the other hand, it happened previously that the personalities of Trump and Netanyahu have been linked to each other, in the course of unprecedented similarity in political tendencies of both sides regarding several issues. Trump’s failure in the US has motivated many ‘Israeli’ politicians to think about a way to get rid of his closest ally, Netanyahu. However, they didn’t possess the required energy to unite. Then came the recent confrontation with the Palestinians to uncover the weak structure of the entity as well as the policies of Netanyahu’s government. The decision was among several political parties to scapegoat him based on the rule of preserving the rightist policies that are threatened with the strong Palestinian uprising on the one hand, and the harmony with the American policies as much as possible on the other hand. Hence, the Zionist right settlement scheme would be saved, while Netanyahu’s attempts to shake the alliance with the US due to his objection of its return to the nuclear deal with Iran would fail.

Separation

Both American and ‘Israeli’ societies suffer from not yet hidden political, ideological, and ethnic divisions. Both societies need to absorb the tension from time to time via changing the top of the pyramid. This is one issue. Another remarkable one is that ‘Israel’ didn’t succeed for long in staying away from the requirements of the American interests in the region. And without harboring hopes on a major separation between the two sides, we witness a sort of coldness in relations due to three main points over the past three decades.

First: With launching the Madrid Conference for settlement in the region in the beginning of the 1990s after the US-led war in Kuwait, when Isaac Shamir [Likud] government objected to the principle of establishing an independent Palestinian state, but the Zionist entity’s need for the US financial support to contain the Jewish migration from the Soviet Union and other places pushed ‘Israel’ to reduce its objections and conditions. Washington was able, through guaranteed loans worth billions of dollars, to tame the ‘Israeli’ policy in favor of its wider interests. Then, Shamir was displaced from the ‘Israeli’ scene, and was succeeded by Isaac Rabin [Labor Party] to lead the Oslo track which happened to become later the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Ariha. However, after the assassination of Rabin in 1995, the abilities of the most harmonized Zionist parties with the US policy declined on the level of their potential to attract, and the base of the far-right parties, which reject the issue of ‘Two-state-solution’ or freezing the settlement activity grew, especially in the aftermaths of the major migration from the previously-known Soviet Union and other places. This led to a change inside the Zionist society, in addition to the structure of its successive governments.

Second: Netanyahu’s impediment of Barack Obama’s attempts to revive negotiations with the Palestinian Authority based on freezing the settlement activity in the West Bank, and then the US signing of a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. Netanyahu objected to it publicly and inside the US congress in a famous speech. Meanwhile, the dispersion within Netanyahu’s rival ‘Israeli’ parties didn’t allow the formation of a change that suits the US regional policy.  Trump came to power in 2016 to revive Netanyahu’s hopes about change that he didn’t dream about from the part of the American orientation on other levels [such as moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds, recognizing the ‘Israeli’ sovereignty in the Golan, supporting the settlement activity in the West Bank, cutting funds of the Palestinian refugees’ UNRWA agency, shutting the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, and encouraging the ‘Israeli’ normalization with Arab states regardless to the Palestinians.] A parallel US shift took place when Trump left the nuclear deal with Iran.

Third: Biden’s rising to power in Washington, which modified the ‘Israeli’ expectations. This is not limited to some differences regarding the traditional support of ‘Israel’ between America’s Republican and Democratic parties. The truth is that a change started to be witnessed in the public American mood in which a new political generation in the US, and inside the Democratic party is more liberal than its predecessors and doesn’t grant ‘Israel’ an ultimate support. It also cannot digest the rightist ‘Israeli’ thinking to ban the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the Palestinian people’s right to live on their land within internationally recognized borders. The ‘Israeli’ narrative, which has dominated the minds of the US elite over several decades regarding the right of Jews alone to establish their national Jewish state, has turned less tempting to many Americans. Additionally, the pro-Palestinian activism on social media platforms managed to breach the pro-‘Israel’ traditional media, in which Facebook and Twitter’s restrictions couldn’t curb this activism that was crystal-clear during the latest round of ‘Israeli’ aggression. It also scored important attractions in English and other foreign language.

Moreover, the Biden administration prioritizing of returning to the nuclear deal with Iran formed a separation from Netanyahu government’s orientations. He has started hinting to moving without an agreement from Washington, a matter that is not only underestimated in the US, but also among ‘Israeli’ milieus that are worried about losing the strategic alliance with the US.

Back to the house of obedience

After this third stop, ‘Israel’ returns to the so-called American ‘house of obedience’ or to adapting with the major US interests. This return is based upon avoiding confrontation with the US policies and their regional requirements to deal with the nuclear Iran in particular, reducing tension and difference with the American administration when dealing with the flaming Palestinian issue nowadays. However, it is not necessarily at the expense of the rightist tendencies regarding the settlement scheme that is the core of the Zionist project. The official US interest intersected with the internal ‘Israeli’ parties’ interests to remove Netanyahu from the scene. The US administration will take advantage of this shift in an attempt to revive negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the occupation’s government to delegitimize the Palestinian resistance and the Axis that supports it in the region. Washington is to offer significant motivations to the future Zionist right government, led by Naftali Bennett, to allow progress in negotiations. Hereby, new obstacles will emerge from the side of Netanyahu’s successors who publicly adopt a hardline track regarding the rights of the Palestinian people, especially regarding the evacuation of some occupied land, freezing settlement, or establishing the Palestinian state. This will later turn things to the previous empty circle on the level of negotiations.

It is worth noting that Biden’s administration is not totally free to dictate its policies on ‘Israel’, especially amid the contradictions within the US political environment and inside the democratic party itself. However, ‘Israel’s’ dire need to the US support is an existential need to bear the pressures and preserve the qualitative military superiority. This will push the next ‘Israeli’ government to reduce the public contact with the US to overcome the challenges posed in this phase.

Finally, it is important to examine the extent to which the future Zionist government would succeed in:

– Managing the internal chaos along with threats of physical killing among the right affiliates

– Managing the military confrontation with the Gaza Strip

– Managing the variations with the US administration regarding the Palestinian issue and the Iran nuclear deal

On the American level, it is important to note the US administration’s ability to:

– Pass the nuclear deal with Iran without shockwaves inside the US congress and the circles of the conservatives who are more sticking to the ‘Israeli’ interests

– Dealing with the critical Palestinian issue, militarily and politically, based on the results of the recent confrontation that raised the voice of the Palestinian resistance

معادلة القدس تفجّر حرباً إقليميّة تشغل واشنطن

03/062021

 ناصر قنديل

فيما انصرف كيان الاحتلال والجوقات العربية واللبنانية المناوئة للمقاومة، لتعميم الشائعات عن صحة الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله أملاً بطمس المضامين الفعلية للمعادلة التي أطلقها في إطلالته النوعيّة في ذكرى عيد المقاومة والتحرير، وحدَها واشنطن فهمت بعمق معنى الكلام الذي قاله الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، عن أن معادلة المرحلة المقبلة هي “القدس تساوي حرباً إقليميّة”، فانصرفت تتعامل مع المعادلة وكيفية الحؤول دون وضعها قيد التطبيق، بعدما أثبتت حرب غزة بما حملت من وقائع كشفت هشاشة كيان الاحتلال، وخطورة انهياره إذا ما بلغت الأمور حدّ تطبيق معادلة السيد نصرالله، وأدركت واشنطن أنها معادلة للتنفيذ وليست مجرد شعار، لأنها تابعت عن كثب ما كان يجري خلال حرب غزة من تحضيرات وما رافق تطوّراتها من قرارات، وعملت بموجب هذه المتابعة على تسريع الوصول لوقف النار منعاً لوقوع الأسوأ على كيان الاحتلال.

بعد نجاح التوصل لوقف النار في غزة، وضعت واشنطن أمامها ثلاثة ملفات تتصل بالمعادلة الجديدة، الملف الأول في الكيان وخطر قيام رئيس حكومته بنيامين نتنياهو بارتكاب حماقة تؤدي الى الانزلاق الى هذه الحرب؛ والثاني في اليمن وخطورة أن يكون محور المقاومة قد أعدّ اليمن ليكون مع لبنان شركاء المرحلة الأولى من تطبيق هذه المعادلة، في حال وضعت قيد التطبيق؛ أما الملف الثالث فيتصل بإيران التي تشكل عمق محور المقاومة، وثقله الاستراتيجي، انطلاقاً من أن بين إيران وكيان الاحتلال حساباً مفتوحاً، سيجد فرصة تصفيته في حال طبقت معادلة السيد نصرالله، إضافة لما لدى إيران من اسباب عقائدية واستراتيجية تجعلها تنظر للحظة الحرب الإقليمية تحت عنوان القدس فرصة تاريخية لا تفوّت.

في الملف الأول المتصل بوضع الكيان، سارعت واشنطن الى إيفاد وزير خارجيتها الى المنطقة وخصوصاً لاستطلاع الوضع في الكيان، وتقدير الموقف، وكانت الحصيلة تقول إن بقاء بنيامين نتنياهو على رأس الحكومة يعادل خطر نشوب حرب إقليمية لثلاثة أسباب، الأول أنه يجد هذه الحرب فرصة لتوريط واشنطن في مواجهة مع إيران ومحور المقاومة عندما يبدو أن الكيان يواجه خطراً وجودياً لا تكفي لتلافيه إمدادات السلاح الأميركي، وهو بذلك يترجم احتجاجه على السياسات الأميركية الذاهبة الى العودة للاتفاق النووي مع إيران، الثاني أن نتنياهو يسير وراء المستوطنين والمتطرفين ويعتبرهم القوة الحيوية الوحيدة التي تضمن له تفوقاً انتخابياً، وهو ليس على استعداد لممارسة أي جهد لضبطهم وكبح جماح عدوانيتهم على الفلسطينيين، خصوصاً في القدس ما يجعل خطر الانفجار وشيكاً، خصوصاً أن الملفات الشخصية لنتنياهو المتصلة بالفساد وخطر السجن والمحاكمة تجعله أسير حسابات ضيقة يتقدمها بقاؤه على رأس الحكومة مهما كان الثمن، والسبب الثالث أن نتنياهو المثقل بتاريخه السياسي الرافض لأية تسوية ليس رئيس الحكومة المناسب لترجمة مشروع واشنطن بتمييع الصراع حول فلسطين عبر نظرية التفاوض للتفاوض، فهوامشه محدودة للمناورة لو أراد التعاون، وحجم المطلوب منه كثير فلسطينياً وعربياً ليكون للتفاوض بعض مصداقيّة، مهما كانت سقوف المعنيين العرب والفلسطينيين بخيار التفاوض للتفاوض منخفضة، بينما أي رئيس حكومة بلا تاريخ نتنياهو يكفي أن يرتضي التفاوض بلا شروط مسبقة حتى يكون ممكناً فتح الطريق لسحب فتيل التصعيد ولو لفترة.

في الملف اليمنيّ برز تطوران، الأول كلام السيد عبد الملك الحوثي زعيم حركة أنصار الله، الذي أعلن التزام أنصار الله واليمن بمعادلة السيد نصرالله حول القدس والحرب الإقليميّة، والثاني هو حجم التفوّق الميداني الذي يظهره أنصار الله ومعهم الجيش واللجان في كل المعارك التي تدور على جبهة مأرب وجبهة الحدود السعودية في جيزان، وفي القدرة على مواصلة تهديد العمق السعوديّ بالطائرات المسيّرة والصواريخ، وللمرة الأولى تحرك الأميركيون على مسارات السعي لوقف النار بطريقة مختلفة، فوضعوا مشروعاً يحاول محاكاة مطالب أنصار الله بربط وقف النار بفكّ الحصار، وبالرغم من عدم تلبية المقترحات الأميركيّة لما يطلبه أنصار الله، والتحفظات السعوديّة على الطرح الأميركي، فإن واشنطن تبدو عازمة على فعل ما تستطيع لتفادي استمرار التصعيد على جبهة اليمن، وفتح الباب للتفاوض السياسي، لاعتقادها بأن وقف الحرب يخفف من مخاطر انخراط اليمن في حرب إقليمية إذا توافرت شروط معادلة السيد نصرالله لها.

في الملف الإيراني، حملت مفاوضات فيينا تطوّرات هامة من الجانب الأميركي، ترجمتها تصريحات البيت الأبيض التي يقرأ فيها التمهيد السياسي والإعلامي للإعلان عن التوصل للاتفاق في الجولة المقبلة للتفاوض، والحساب الأميركي يقوم على الاعتقاد بأن العودة الى الاتفاق النووي ورفع العقوبات الأميركية كنتيجة لذلك، ستخلق مناخاً يعقد انخراط إيران في أية حرب إقليميّة، ويفتح الباب لأصوات تدعو للتريّث ما يمنح واشنطن في أية ظروف مشابهة متوقعة الحدوث هامش وقت أوسع للتحرك لوقف التدهور الذي يفتح باب الحرب الإقليمية.

النصف الأول من حزيران سيشهد تطوّرات في الملفات الثلاثة، بحكومة تقصي نتنياهو في الكيان، والمضي قدماً في مساعي تقديم مقترحات لوقف النار في اليمن، وتسريع العودة للاتفاق النوويّ، ومحور المقاومة سيقطف ثمار هذه التحوّلات، ضعفاً وانشقاقاً في الكيان وانتصاراً في اليمن وإيران، لكن المعادلة باقية لا تتزحزح، لا تمزحوا في القدس، فالحرب الإقليميّة وراء الباب.

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The Iranian presidential shocker

The Iranian presidential shocker

May 26, 2021

The undisputed leader of the tightly vetted pack is soft hardliner Ebrahim Raeisi, the Islamic Republic’s Chief Justice

by Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

When Iran’s Interior Ministry released on Tuesday the final list of candidates approved by the 12-member Guardian Council to run for President in the upcoming June 18 election, all hell was breaking loose in Tehran for at least 24 hours.

An “unofficial” list of the 7 candidates for the presidential election was already circulating and causing quite a stir, but not confirmed yet to be final.

The talk of the town was that the list barred a lot of important people. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was out. So was Ali Larijani – a former Parliament speaker, and even the current Iranian Vice President, Es’haq Jahangiri, who should be the top reformist running.

The Fars news agency had broken the story on Monday, announcing the final 7. They got everything right – from the elimination of Ahmadinejad, Larijani and Jahangiri to the fact that no women candidates were approved.

Fars is very close to the IRGC. So what happened makes perfect sense. Including the rumors swirling around Tehran that outgoing President Rouhani went into panic mode, calling Ayatollah Khamenei for a revision of the list.

As it stands, the Magnificent Seven who will be running are Ebrahim Raeisi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Alireza Zakani, Seyyed Amir-Hossein, Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, Albdolnasser Hemmati and Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh.

The undisputed leader of the pack is Raeisi, the head of the Judiciary since 2019. He is technically a Principlist – an Islamic Revolution conservative, in Iranian terms – but says he will run as an independent. Call him a soft hardliner.

Among the others, the only one relatively known outside of Iran is Jalili, also a Principlist, and former top nuclear negotiator as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 2007 to 2013.

At least in thesis, two reformists are left: Mehr-Alizadeh and Hemmati, the current governor of the Central Bank. But they have no national appeal.

So Raeisi now seems to be nearly a done deal: a relatively faceless bureaucrat without the profile of an IRGC hardliner, well known for his anti-corruption fight and care about the poor and downtrodden. On foreign policy, the crucial fact is that he will arguably follow crucial IRGC dictates.

Raeisi is already spinning that he “negotiated quietly” to secure the qualification of more candidates, “to make the election scene more competitive and participatory”. The problem is no candidate has the power to sway the opaque decisions of the 12-member Guardian Council, composed exclusively by clerics: only Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Guardian Council cryptically stated that only 40 out of 592 candidates had submitted “all the required documents” to the Interior Ministry’s election HQ. There was no explanation about the content of these “documents”.

Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaee, the Council’s spokesman, dismissed any politicking: decisions were made based on “election law”. So no one can contest them – except Khamenei. He stressed that the Council “had not been informed” of any action by the Leader.

The end of the reformist era

Vice President Jahangiri, who would have been the reformist standard bearer, did not take it lightly: in a forceful statement, he said, “the Council naturally bears the responsibility for the decision and its legal basis and for the political and social consequences arising from it.”

More crucially for the Tehran establishment, he highlighted a “serious threat” to the system: “I hope that the republican aspect of the establishment, the effective participation of the people in determining their own fate, the national interests, and the future of Iran will not be sacrificed to immediate political expediencies.”

Advisers to former President Ahmadinejad – still extremely popular nationally – told me they are still weighing their options: “It is a very big disappointment, but expected. A big mistake, that will lead to anger and distrust among common people, and eventually backlash.”

Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran remarked, “there’s still some uncertainty about the candidates.” He’s not making a full assessment yet because he’s not sure the vetoing of Larijani, especially, “will be the final say”.

Even as the Magnificent Seven are now free to start campaigning, the overall sentiment is that the Rouhani-Zarif era seems to be over, not with a bang but a whimper.

At the JCPOA negotiations in Vienna, Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi continues to sound as a realist, stressing, “I am not confident that it would be possible to conclude the negotiations but there is a possibility.” That would require “political decisions to be made”, a direct reference to Washington.

Everyone in Vienna knows that what was agreed to far on the JCPOA revival was the easy part. The real problem are the remaining hundreds of sanctions that must be canceled by the US Congress – and that’s not gonna happen.

Besides, the Americans continue to insist that Tehran should first resume the nuclear commitments it has suspended – following its legal retaliation rights as defined by Article 26 of the JCPOA. Tehran’s red line is clear: it was Washington which ditched the JCPOA, so it’s up to the US to first remove all sanctions, “practically and verifiably”.

Tehran has reiterated over and over again it will walk out of Vienna by the end of May if there’s no deal. The IRGC couldn’t care less: they are already in post-JCPOA mode. Focused on the Iran-China strategic deal. Focused on wider Eurasia integration alongside Russia and China. And relying on the perfect candidate placed to become the next Iranian president.

A little less conversation, a little more action

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, Reykjavik, May 19, 2021
A little less conversation, a little more action

May 20, 2021

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

So Sergey Lavrov and Tony Blinken met for nearly two hours at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, on the sidelines of the ministerial session of the Arctic Council.

Frosty? Not really. Even if the get together may not have been a throwback to a Reagan-Gorbachev funfest in the good old Cold War days. After all, there was a NATO warship parked right outside the windows of Harpa Hall – like a prop in a Marvel blockbuster.

Self-described “amateur guitarist” Blinken may have been relatively swayed by the charms of the 1968 Elvis stunner A Little Less Conversation.

Well, at least there was some conversation. As for “a little more action”, as Elvis sang it, it remains to be seen. A good sign is that they addressed each other as “Sergey” and “Tony”. Blinken even attempted a “Spasiba”.

Let’s start with Lavrov – who routinely dwells in the Valhalla of diplomacy, unlike average apparatchik Blinken.

We agreed to continue our joint actions, which are developing quite successfully, on regional conflicts where the interests of the United States and Russia coincide. This is the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula, and the situation with efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program. This is Afghanistan, where the expanded troika consisting of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan is actively working. We discussed how at this stage we can make all our joint actions more effective.

So there was “a very useful conversation” (Lavrov again) on what they do coincide (revival of the JCPOA), don’t coincide (Afghanistan) and hardly coincide (North Korea).

More than useful, actually: “constructive”. Lavrov again: “There is an understanding of the need to overcome the unhealthy situation that developed between Moscow and Washington in previous years.”

Lavrov made it very clear what we are at a stage of mere “proposal” to “start a dialogue, considering all aspects, all factors affecting strategic stability: nuclear, non-nuclear, offensive, defensive. I have not seen a rejection of such a concept, but experts still have to work on it.”

So Blinken did not reject it. The devil is how the “experts” will “work on it”.

Those pesky “laws of diplomacy”

It’s quite useful to compare what they said to each other – at least according to what was leaked.

Lavrov stressed discussions must be “honest, factual and with mutual respect”. Most important area of cooperation is “strategic stability”. He crucially invoked the “laws of diplomacy” – something that the Hegemon has not exactly been fond of lately: they “call for reciprocity, especially when it comes to responding to any kind of unfriendly action.” Implied is Moscow’s willingness to solve problems “inherited from previous US administrations.”

Blinken said the US wants a predictable and stable relationship: “It’s our view that if the leaders of Russia and the United States can work together cooperatively, our people, the world can be a safer and more secure place.” Areas where interests “intersect and overlap” include battling Covid-19 and climate change, apart from Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

“Russian aggression” though could not simply be thrown into the Arctic Sea: “If Russia acts aggressively against us, our partners, our allies, we will respond… not for purposes of escalation, not to seek conflict, but to defend our interests.”

So “experts” will have a field day – actually, days, weeks and months – figuring out how which brands of “Russian aggression” attack “our interests.”

As it stands, it looks like the bilateral Putin-Biden summit next month in a “European diplomatic capital” – as rumors swirl in Brussels – may be a go. To hope that it would take place, for instance, in Nursultan – the diplomatic capital of Eurasia – is a long shot.

Lavrov: “We will prepare proposals for our presidents both on these issues [the work of diplomatic missions] and the matters related to our dialogue on strategic stability.”

It’s quite enlightening to consider two parallel developments to Reykjavik.

The State Dept. confirmed it will waive sanctions against the Swiss-based company overseeing the construction of Nord Stream 2. And SWIFT confirmed to the Russian Central Bank that business continues as usual, and Moscow won’t be cut off from the system.

These may be interpreted as goodwill gestures ahead of the possible June summit. Afterwards, no one knows.

It’s also enlightening to note what Lavrov and Blinken did not discuss: vaccine diplomacy.

Sergey Naryshkin, the director of the SVR foreign intel, is now on the record saying that the registration of Sputnik V vaccine at the EU is being stalled by “signals from the corridors of power” in Brussels – something I confirmed weeks ago with relatively independent diplomats. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) still sustains that the vaccine may be registered before the end of the month.

And then there are glaring cases like Brazil, the target of tremendous pressure by Washington to prevent Sputnik V’s approval. Sputnik V has been registered by 61 nations, overwhelmingly in the Global South.

Let’s assume that Cold War 2.0, in theory, may have been put on hold. Now it’s time then for a “little more action”. Will it come to the point that Sergey and Tony will agree on “a little less fight, a little more spark” and dance to the rhythm of “all this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me”?

Related

IRAN WILL LEAVE VIENNA AT THE END OF THE MONTH IF BIDEN DOESN’T LIFT ALL SANCTIONS

By Elijah J. Magnier:

Iranian and Western delegations returned to their capitals after the third Vienna round, with optimism emanating from the statements of the gathered officials. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi issued positive information about the US lifting sanctions on energy, economic sectors, shipping, freedom of transportation, banks, and on many Iranian personalities. The negotiations have reached a stage where the elaboration of complex texts is on the table. Also, there were talks about the US releasing more than 90 billion dollars withheld from Iranian funds and another 20 billion frozen in Iraq, Korea and China from oil revenues. No details have been discussed so far about the interest on these funds held for many years due to US sanctions.

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There was also talk about the possibility of exchanging Iranian prisoners held in America, who number 18, including 7 in critical health condition, and others of Iranian – Western double nationality holders (American and British) detained in Iran on charges of espionage. This is an old Iranian demand that Iran insists on ending everything in one single exchange.

However, after lifting sanctions against individuals and accepting all demands, the biggest problem lies in Iran’s request to ensure that the lifting of sanctions will be applied in a specific time frame. According to a particular pre-agreed timetable, Iran wants to ensure that all frozen funds will return to the Central Bank. Countries around the world will be allowed to deal with Iran in all sectors without intimidation.

Iran has never requested the return of diplomatic relations with the US, but rather the lifting of the sanctions imposed on it since 2015 and that President Barack Obama agreed to cancel. Moreover, Iran wants to lift all additional sanctions added by Donald Trump when the nuclear deal was torn apart in 2018.

Negotiations have reached a reasonable level, although Iran still refuses to communicate with the US directly because the US is no longer a partner in the JCPOA and that talks could blow up any time. The US flag was removed from the negotiating room at the request of Iran. The Iranian delegation stressed the need for the US delegate not to be present at the same hotel where the negotiations are taking place until the White House announces the end of all sanctions. This is when the US will become a JCPOA partner again.

An Iranian decision-maker in Iran said that “the Leader of the revolution, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, will not give an unlimited time-space to negotiate in Vienna. This is the last month before the announcement of the clinical death of the JCPOA agreement if all Iranian conditions are not met.” The source asserts that “Iran will not accept the American evasiveness that called for easing the sanctions by lifting those related to the nuclear file and placing other sanctions related to Iran’s missile capability, the Revolutionary Guards and others sectors until a future negotiation to be established later. Either all sanctions are lifted, or no deal is reached because mid-solutions are not accepted.”

Top Iranian, Russian negotiators discuss JCPOA before key meeting to review ‘interim results’

By VT Editors -May 1, 2021

Press TV: The heads of the Iranian and Russian delegations to the Vienna talks have held talks ahead of a meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, commonly called the Iran nuclear deal, during which the participants are expected to review the interim results of the talks on the full restoration of the deal.

During the meeting, the two sides coordinated their stances and underlined the need to keep their positions close to one another.

The Russian side also reiterated its stance on the necessity of reviving the JCPOA and removing the United States’ sanctions on Iran.

The meeting comes hours before the participants to the JCPOA gather for a meeting to review the results of expert discussions held within three working groups that were created to resuscitate the nuclear agreement.

The ongoing talks began in the Austrian capital in early April to provide a path for all JCPOA signatories – particularly the US – to return to full compliance with the deal.

Under former US President Donald Trump, Washington turned into the first party to officially abandon its commitments after it unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and imposed the “toughest ever” sanctions on Iran thereafter, setting the current crisis in motion.

The US then pressed the other parties – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – to abide by its sanctions, threatening them with secondary sanctions if they did not.

For its part, Iran waited for an entire year before it began to reduce its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA, arguing that the move was its legal response to the US withdrawal under Articles 26 and 36 of the pact.

Ulyanov, in a series of tweets on Saturday, explained the latest developments surrounding the Vienna negotiations.

Iran “is still not ready to meet with US diplomats,” the Russian diplomat noted, while pointing out that a “useful exchange of views” took place at the meeting.

According to Ulyanov, the next official in-person meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA at the level of political directors will take place in Vienna on Saturday afternoon.

“It is necessary to summarize the interim results of negotiations on the restoration of the nuclear deal,” he added.

Iran has insisted that it will resume full compliance with its nuclear obligations only after it can verify that all US sanctions imposed after the deal went into force in early 2016 have been removed.

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واشنطن تعترف بمخاطر المُضي بخطة إسقاط لبنان

ناصر قنديل

منذ إعلان وزير خارجية فرنسا برونو لومير أمام وزراء مالية دول قمة العشرين تحذيره من الخلط بين مساعي مساعدة لبنان على التعافي الاقتصادي مع المواجهة التي تخوضها واشنطن مع طهران في مطلع العام 2020، وواشنطن ماضية في سياسات الضغوط القصوى وصولاً لإسقاط لبنان أملاً بأن تسقط بعض الشظايا على رأس حزب الله. وكانت تصريحات وزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو ومعاونيه، تتركز في كل شاردة وواردة عن لبنان، تحت عنوان أن حزب الله سبب مشكلتكم أيها اللبنانيون، ومن دون مواجهة حزب الله لن يخرج لبنان من أي أزمة وسيصل إلى الانهيار، وليس خافياً كلام الرئيس الفرنسي ايمانويل ماكرون عن الدور التعطيلي لمبادرته الذي لعبته العقوبات الأميركيّة.

  مع تولي الرئيس جو بايدن وإعطائه الأولويّة للعودة للاتفاق النوويّ مع إيران، لم يتغير الخطاب الأميركي نحو لبنان، رغم التبدّل في الخطاب التحليليّ لأوضاع المنطقة الذي بدأ يتحدّث عن تغيير في السياسات سيلي التوصل لتفاهم يعيد الحياة إلى الاتفاق النووي، انطلاقاً من أن الضغوط الأميركية على حلفاء إيران كان جزءاً من كل، ومع انتفاء مبررات هذه الضغوط، لا قيمة لأن تسعى واشنطن لإسقاط لبنان أملاً بالضغط على حزب الله، وهي تمنح إيران ودائع محجوزة بمليارات الدولارات، تعلم أن بعضاً منها سيذهب لدعم إيران لحركات المقاومة وفي طليعتها حزب الله.

في قلب التصعيد بالخطاب الأميركي القائم على السعي للمضي قدماً بسياسة إسقاط لبنان، حذّر الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، من غباء هذا الطرح، لأن بلوغ لبنان حافة الانهيار، سيصيب فئات وشرائح ومؤسسات، تهتم أميركا لبقائها معافاة، بينما ستكون المقاومة وبيئتها المستهدفين بالخطة الأميركية آخر مَن يتأثر بهذه الضغوط، وتحدثت تحليلات كثيرة عن مخاطر العبث الأميركي، كان بينها التحذيرات الأوروبية والفرنسية خصوصاً من مخاطر توجّه موجات من النازحين السوريين نحو أوروبا تحت ضغط الجوع والفقر، والتحذيرات المشابهة من تفكك المؤسسات العسكرية والأمنية تحت تأثير انهيار القيمة الشرائية للرواتب من جهة، ونمو التشكيلات المتطرفة في بيئات الفقر، في ظل كلفة محدودة للاستثمار الأمنيّ في بلد تنهار عملته الوطنية، ومخاطر نشوء إمارة لتنظيم داعش في شمال لبنان، لكن واشنطن بقيت تصمّ آذانها عن كل هذه التحذيرات.

المقال الذي نشرته صحيفة ذي هيل بقلم مسؤول قوة المهام الأميركية الخاصة للبنان إدوارد غابرييل، يوم أمس، يشكل أول اعتراف أميركي بمخاطر المضي في السياسات السابقة، فيتحدث عن مخاطر نشوء دولة فاشلة في المشرق بصفته مساساً بالأمن القومي الأميركي، ويشير إلى خطر انهيار المؤسسة العسكرية اللبنانية، التي تشكل استثماراً أميركياً ناجحاً، لا يجوز التخلي عنه، ويتحدث بصراحة عن كون حزب الله أول المستفيدين من الأزمة بعدما تهيأ لتحصين بيئته الحاضنة بوجه مخاطرها، وليس آخر الخاسرين فقط، ليخلص إلى دعوة المعنيين في إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن لاتخاذ مبادرات تسرع الدفع باتجاه ولادة حكومة جديدة، والتأكيد أن هذه الحكومة ستلقى الدعم المناسب لدى صندوق النقد الدولي لمساعدة لبنان على الخروج من الأزمة، وتأمين حزمة مساعدات لمنع سقوط لبنان الى حين ولادة الحكومة التي يمكن أن تتأخر الى ما بعد الانتخابات في العام المقبل، التي يحدّدها غابرييل موعداً لانطلاق خطة المساعدة الشاملة.

الكلام الأميركي الجديد، يفتح الباب لاتصالات أميركية فرنسية وأميركية روسية لبلورة مبادرات سياسية، لن تكون السعودية وإيران بعيدتين عنها، لتفحص إمكانية حل المشكلة الحكومية، بعد تبلور صورة المشهد الإقليمي وحدود التسويات الممكنة في الملفات الساخنة خلال الصيف، وربما يكون خيار تأمين شبكة أمان الحد الأدنى حتى الانتخابات المقبلة أحد الفرضيات المطروحة على الطاولة، كما خيار الانتخابات المبكرة، علماً أن تذليل العقبات امام تشكيل الحكومة سيبقى احتمالاً كبيراً إذا كانت مناخات التسوية هي السائدة في المنطقة.

مقالات متعلقة

The Vienna shadowplay

The Vienna shadowplay

April 27, 2021

None of the actors can admit that revival of JCPOA pales compared with the real issue: Iranian missile power

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Few people, apart from specialists, may have heard of the JCPOA Joint Commission. That’s the group in charge of a Sisyphean task: the attempt to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal through a series of negotiations in Vienna.

The Iranian negotiating team was back in Vienna yesterday, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi. Shadowplay starts with the fact the Iranians negotiate with the other members of the P+1 – Russia, China, France, UK and Germany – but not directly with the US.

That’s quite something: after all, it was the Trump administration that blew up the JCPOA. There is an American delegation in Vienna, but they only talk with the Europeans.

Shadowplay goes turbo when every Viennese coffee table knows about Tehran’s red lines: either it’s back to the original JCPOA as it was agreed in Vienna in 2015 and then ratified by the UN Security Council, or nothing.

Araghchi, mild-mannered and polite, has had to go on the record once again to stress that Tehran will leave if the talks veer towards “bullying”, time wasting or even a step-by-step ballroom dance, which is time wasting under different terminology.

Neither flat out optimistic nor pessimistic, he remains, let’s say, cautiously upbeat, at least in public: “We are not disappointed and we will do our job. Our positions are very clear and firm. The sanctions must be lifted, verified and then Iran must return to its commitments.”

So, at least in the thesis, the debate is still on. Araghchi: “There are two types of U.S. sanctions against Iran. First, categorized or so-called divisional sanctions, such as oil, banking and insurance, shipping, petrochemical, building and automobile sanctions, and second, sanctions against real and legal individuals.”

“Second” is the key issue. There’s absolutely no guarantee the US Congress will lift most or at least a significant part of these sanctions.

Everyone in Washington knows it – and the American delegation knows it.

When the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, for instance, says that 60% or 70% has been agreed upon, that’s code for lifting of divisional sanctions. When it comes to “second”, Araghchi has to be evasive: “There are complex issues in this area that we are examining”.

Now compare it with the assessment of informed Iranian insiders in Washington such as nuclear policy expert Seyed Hossein Mousavian:  they’re more like pessimistic realists.

That takes into consideration the non-negotiable red lines established by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei himself. Plus non-stop pressure by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who are all JCPOA-adverse.

But then there’s extra shadowplay. Israeli intel has already notified the security cabinet that a deal most certainly will be reached in Vienna. After all, the narrative of a successful deal is already being constructed as a foreign policy victory by the Biden-Harris administration – or, as cynics prefer, Obama-Biden 3.0.

Meanwhile, Iranian diplomacy remains on overdrive. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is visiting Qatar and Iraq, and has already met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al Thani.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, virtually at the end of his term before the June presidential elections, always goes back to the same point: no more US sanctions; Iran’s verification; then Iran will return to its “nuclear obligations”.

The Foreign Ministry has even released a quite detailed fact sheet once again stressing the need to remove “all sanctions imposed, re-imposed and re-labeled since January 20, 2017”.

The window of opportunity for a deal won’t last long. Hardliners in Tehran couldn’t care less. At least 80% of Tehran members of Parliament are now hardliners. The next President most certainly will be a hardliner. Team Rouhani’s efforts have been branded a failure since the onset of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Hardliners are already in post-JCPOA mode.

That fateful Fateh

What none of the actors in the shadowplay can admit is that the revival of the JCPOA pales compared to the real issue: the power of Iranian missiles.

In the original 2015 negotiations in Vienna – follow them in my Persian Miniatures e-book – Obama-Biden 2.0 did everything in their power to include missiles in the deal.

Every grain of sand in the Negev desert knows that Israel will go no holds barred to retain its nuclear weapon primacy in the Middle East. Via a spectacular kabuki, the fact that Israel is a nuclear power happens to remain “invisible” to most of world public opinion.

While Khamenei has issued a fatwa clearly stating that producing, stockpiling and using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear included – is haram (banned by Islam), Israel’s leadership feels free to order stunts such as the sabotage via Mossad of the (civilian) Iranian nuclear complex at Natanz.

The head of Iran’s Parliament Energy Committee, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, even accused Washington and London of being accomplices to the sabotage of Natanz, as they arguably supplied intel to Tel Aviv.

Yet now a lone missile is literally exploding a great deal of the shadowplay.

On April 22, in the dead of night before dawn, a Syrian missile exploded only 30 km away from the ultra-sensitive Israeli nuclear reactor of Dimona. The official – and insistent – Israeli spin: this was an “errant”.

Well, not really.

Here – third video from the top – is footage of the quite significant explosion. Also significantly, Tel Aviv remained absolutely mum when it comes to offering a missile proof of ID. Was it an old Soviet 1967 SA-5? Or, rather more likely, a 2012 Iranian Fateh-110 short range surface-to-surface, manufactured in Syria as the M-600, and also possessed by Hezbollah?

A Fateh family tree can be seen in the attached chart. The inestimable Elijah Magnier has posed some very good questions about the Dimona near-hit. I complemented it with a quite enlightening discussion with physicists, with input by a military intel expert.

The Fateh-110 operates as a classic ballistic missile, until the moment the warhead starts maneuvering to evade ABM defenses. Precision is up to 10 meters, nominally 6 meters. So it hit exactly where it was supposed to hit. Israel officially confirmed that the missile was not intercepted – after a trajectory of roughly 266 km.

This opens a brand new can of worms. It implies that the performance of the much hyped and recently upgraded Iron Dome is far from stellar – and talk about an euphemism. The Fateh flew so low that Iron Dome could not identify it.

The inevitable conclusion is this was a message/warning combo. From Damascus. With a personal stamp from Bashar al-Assad, who had to clear such a sensitive missile launch. A message/warning delivered via Iranian missile technology fully available to the Axis of Resistance – proving that regional actors have serious stealth capability.

It’s crucial to remember that when Tehran dispatched a volley of deliberately older Fateh-313 versions at the US base Ayn al-Assad in Iraq, as a response to the assassination of Gen Soleimani in January 2020, the American radars went blank.

Iranian missile technology as top strategic deterrence. Now that’s the shadowplay that turns Vienna into a sideshow.

Who Wags the Dog? Israel’s Friends in Washington Mean Constant War in the Middle East

Who Wags the Dog? Israel's Friends in Washington Mean Constant War in the Middle  East - Islam Times
Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi April 22, 2021

Biden, like presidents before him, is caught in the trap between an extremist-dominated Israel and the all-powerful domestic Israel Lobby.

Donald Trump, who was elected President of the United States in 2016, may have won due to voters attracted by his pledge to end many of the “stupid” wars that the American military was involved in worldwide. In the event, however, he ended no wars in spite of several attempts to withdraw from Afghanistan and Syria, and almost started new conflicts with cruise missile attacks and the assassination of an Iranian general. Trump was consistently outmaneuvered by his “experts” on the National Security Council and at the Pentagon, who insisted that it was too early to disengage from the Middle East and Central Asia, that America’s own national security would be threatened.

Trump did not have either the experience or the grit necessary to override his generals and national security team, so he deferred to their judgement. And as has been well documented he was under constant pressure to do Israel’s bidding in the region, which mandated a continued substantial US military presence to protect the Jewish state and to provide cover for the regular attacks staged by the Israelis against several of their neighbors. Motivated by the substantial political donations coming from multi-billionaires like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Trump conceded more to Israel than any previous president, recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital as well as Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights while also giving the green light to settlement expansion and eventual incorporation of all of the occupied West Bank into Greater Israel.

President Joe Biden has already indicated that he will if anything out-do Trump when it comes to favoring America’s persistent “ally” and “best friend” in the Middle East. Biden, who has declared himself to be a “Zionist,” is responding to the same lobbying and media power that Israel’s friends are able to assert over any US national government. In addition, his own Democratic Party in Congress is also the home of most of the federal government’s genuine Zionists, namely the numerous mostly Jewish legislators who have long dedicated themselves to advancing Israeli interests. Finally, Biden has chosen to surround himself with large numbers of Jewish appointed officials as his foreign policy and national security team, many of whom have close and enduring personal ties to Israel, to include service in the Israeli Army.

The new Secretary of Defense, former Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin has recently returned from a trip to Israel, where he confirmed one’s worst fears about the direction the Biden Administration is moving in. It was a first visit to Israel by a Biden Administration cabinet member. Austin met with his counterpart Benny Gantz and also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, both of whom warned him that Israel considered renewal of any nuclear arms limitation agreement with Iran to be a threat, only delaying development of a weapon. As Bibi expressed it, “Iran has never given up its quest for nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel.”

Austin responded by the usual two-step avoiding Israel’s expressed concerns, which might be considered a threat of an Israeli veto on Biden’s attempt to revert to the original 2015 JCPOA multilateral pact. He said that the Biden administration would continue to guarantee Israel’s “qualitative military edge” as an element in America’s “strong commitment to Israel and the Israeli people,” adding that “our bilateral relationship with Israel in particular is central to regional stability and security in the Middle East. During our meeting I reaffirmed to Minister Gantz our commitment to Israel is enduring and it is ironclad.”

Wrong answer general. The foreign policy of any country should be based on actual interests, not on political donations and effective lobbying, still less on what one reads in the Zionist mainstream media in the US. Netanyahu has stated that the Iran agreement is “fatally flawed” and has said recently that “History has taught us that deals like this, with extremist regimes like this, are worth nothing.” Israel, which uniquely has a secret nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, is one of the world’s leading violators of attempts to limit nuclear proliferation. It is also destabilizing to the entire Middle East region, an apartheid state – not a democracy – and its government is widely regarded as right-wing extremist. That Netanyahu should feel somehow empowered to talk down to the Iranians, and to the US, remains a mystery.

Beyond what goes on between Washington and Jerusalem, the real center of power, the Israel Lobby, consists of a large number of separate organizations that act collectively to advance Israeli interests. There is considerable corruption in the process, with cooperative congressmen being rewarded while those who resist are targeted for replacement. Much of the legwork on subverting Capitol Hill and the White House is done by foundations, which often pretend to be educational to obtain tax exempt status. “Experts” from the various pro-Israel groups are then seeded into the decision-making process of the federal government, serving as gatekeepers to prevent consideration of any legislation that might be objected to by Netanyahu.

One of the most active lobbying groups is the so-called Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) which is in fact closely tied to and takes direction from the Israeli Embassy in Washington. FDD is particularly focused on going to war with Iran and whenever there are discussions on Iran policy on Capitol Hill one can be sure that an FDD expert will be present and active.

And if you really want to know why America’s foreign policy has been so self-destructive, it has recently been learned that FDD was actually able to insert one of its employees into the National Security Council under Donald Trump. According to a report on Bloomberg, Richard Goldberg, an outspoken anti-Iran hawk and former associate of John Bolton, is leaving the council and would be returning “to [the Foundation for Defense of Democracies], which continued to pay his salary during his time on the National Security Council.”

The NSC exists to provide the president with the best possible intelligence and analysis available for dealing with problem areas, something that Goldberg, due to his conflict of interest, would have been unlikely to provide, particularly as he was still on the FDD payroll and was also being given generous travel expenses while working for the government. Whether he was also being paid by the NSC, which is referred to as “double dipping,” is not known. In any event, there is something very wrong about the appointment of a paid partisan who seeks war with a particular country to a vital national security position where objectivity is an imperative. Ned Price, former special assistant to President Obama on national security, commented “…we now know a White House point person on Iran policy was receiving a salary from and remained employed by an organization that has put forward some of the most extreme and dangerous pro-regime change policies.”

So Biden, like presidents before him, is caught in the trap between an extremist-dominated Israel itself and its demonic prime minister on one side and the all-powerful domestic Israel Lobby on the other. Unfortunately, one cannot expect the United States to get out from under the Israeli thumb no matter whom is elected president.

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