اختبار القوة الحاسم يمنيّ

ناصر قنديل

يترافق إعلان النيات الأميركي بالخروج من سياسات المراحل السابقة لعقدين ماضيين، التي توزعت بين الحروب المباشرة في عهد الرئيس السابق جورج بوش، والحروب بالوكالة في عهد الرئيس الأسبق باراك أوباما، والعقوبات القاتلة في عهد الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، مع محاولات تلمّس خريطة طريق لاستراتيجية بديلة تسعى لصناعة تفاهمات دولية إقليمية بأقل قدر ممكن من التنازلات التي تمسّ بهيبة ومكانة واشنطن العالمية، وتأمين ما يلزم لاستراتيجيتها القائمة على أولويّة المواجهة مع الصين وروسيا، من بوابة ما وصفه الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن باستبدال مثال القوة بقوة المثال، بعناوين حقوق الإنسان وحماية البيئة ومكافحة الفساد، لأن واشنطن تدرك أن التخفف من أعباء المراحل السابقة بتسويات سيُبنى على موازين قوى أظهرتها مراحل المواجهة، كما تدرك أن الترسمل لمرحلة قوة المثال تستدعي تقليم أظافر وتحجيم حلفاء رئيسيين يترتب على إضعافهم تراجع النفوذ الأميركي لحساب الخصوم الإقليميين، ولذلك تختبر واشنطن بالتتابع سقوف التفاهمات التي تحاول تحقيقها، وكلما اكتشفت فشل تسويق سقف مرتفع تستبدله بسقف أدنى، وهي محكومة بالخشية من دفع أثمان يصعب ترميم التوازنات ما بعدها، أو الفشل بصناعة التفاهمات بسبب الأثمان المكلفة لها، أو تزعزع كيانات حليفة وتراجعها بسبب الترسمل على حسابها للمهمة المقبلة، أو ضياع فرص الترسمل بسبب الحرص على حماية هذه الكيانات وأدوارها الحليفة.

في الملف النووي الإيراني يتحكّم عامل الوقت الداهم على القرار الأميركي الذي لم يُخفِ الخشية من أن ينجم عن طول أمد التفاوض قبل العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ، نجاح إيران ببلوغ العتبة الخطرة، أي عتبة امتلاك إيران مقدرات كافية لإنتاج سلاح نووي. وهذا ما يشكل أولويّة أميركيّة عالميّة تختلف عن الأولويات الإقليمية المتمثلة بملفات تفرضها ساحات الاشتباك وتعقيداتها، حيث لا خارطة طريق أميركية واضحة بعد لكيفية التعامل معها، وفيما يبدو أن سورية تمثل أعقد الملفات، لتداخلها مع الأجوبة الصعبة على الأسئلة الصعبة، من نوع كيف سيكون أي تصوّر لسورية واقعياً من دون أن يضع في الاعتبار أن ميزان القوى لم يعد يسمح بفرض شروط على الدولة السورية التي تجاوزت مرحلة الخطر، وحيث روسيا وإيران وقوى المقاومة شركاء في الإنجاز، وكيف سيكون تأثير اي تصور واقعي على مستقبل أوزان وأحجام روسيا وإيران والمقاومة، التي لا يريد لها الأميركي أن تتعزّز، وكيف سيكون تأثير أيّ تصور واقعيّ لسورية على كل من «إسرائيل» وتركيا، ولكل منهما ملف خاص وحساس في رؤية الأمن والدور ضمن أي استراتيجية أميركية للمنطقة؟

يبدو أن الملف اليمني هو الملف المتقدم والأشد قدرة على رسم توازنات يمكن التأسيس عليها لملفات أخرى في الرؤية الأميركية، وفقاً للاختيار الأميركي الذي بدأ مقاربة أوضاع المنطقة بمقاربة الملف اليمني من زوايا عدة، واحد يتصل بإعلان واضح بالدعوة لوقف الحرب وتوصيفها ككارثة إنسانية يجب ان تتوقف وتحميل السعودية والإمارات مسؤولية استمرارها، وترجمة ذلك بإعلان وقف صفقات السلاح الأميركي إلى حكومتي البلدين، وثانٍ يتصل بالتقرب من أنصار الله عبر إلغاء تصنيفهم على لوائح الإرهاب، وثالث بإرسال وفد أميركي إلى عُمان لحوار أنصار الله. وهذه المقاربات الأميركية رغم وضوحها تبدو اختبارات تجريبية لما يمكن أن ترسو عليه التوازنات التي ستكون ذات تأثير موضوعي ومعنوي على سائر ساحات الاشتباكات، بحيث يبدو حجم المسافة الأميركية من الحليف السعودي مؤشراً يراقبه سائر الحلفاء في تل أبيب وأنقرة، وصولاً إلى منظمة قسد، ومشروع الدويلة الكردية شمال شرق سورية. وبالمقابل يمثل حدود ما يمكن قبوله في العلاقة مع أنصار الله مؤشراً يمكن القياس عليه لما سيكون ممكناً قبوله من خصوم واشنطن في ساحات أخرى كسورية ولبنان وسواهما، والفشل في التوصل لتفاهمات تنهي الحرب في اليمن كما النجاح مؤشرات لمستقبل المقاربة الأميركية في سائر الساحات.

يشهد الملف اليمني سخونة غير مسبوقة، واستثمار الحد الأقصى لأوراق القوة من الطرفين السعودي واليمني. والأكيد أن التوازنات التي سيرسو عليها مستقبل المواجهة، على جبهة مأرب من جهة، وتوازن الردع الصاروخي من جهة مقابلة، سيكتب تاريخ اليمن والخليج وربما المنطقة بأسرها.

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Breaking: Iran stands firm…US must rejoin JCPOA before talks begin

Iran’s military power continues to grow in quantity and quality so it is better able to defend itself

March 8, 2021

No negotiation will take place between Iran, US before sanctions removed: Source tells Press TV

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[ Editor’s Note: Neither Iran nor Biden are under any significant pressure to move first on fixing the JCPOA. Both know that a misstep could torpedo an effective solution, and those involved in ‘blinking first’ would be blamed for the failure.

Both the US and its EU JCPOA partners want to pretend that it is inconsequential that Iran is not reaping any trade benefits from the deal, although Iran gave up most of its nuclear program to come to the JCPO Agreement.

Iran does not want to be put into a position of accepting the breach of the deal as “no big thing,” and hence no compensation would need to be discussed. Iran would then be in a much weaker position for a new deal, with the obvious caveat that it could be broken again, making Iran twice the fool.

Imam Reza Shrine, Mashad, Iran – Jim Dean archives

Iran has nothing to lose by holding firm on the idea that it is owed its benefits from the deal, where the EU has also had a free ride, having offered nothing more than promises.

Iran’s military power continues to grow in quantity and quality, so it is better able to defend itself; and if the Western Powers squeeze it any more, it would probably dial back its nuclear commitments, like they have already started to do.

So Iran’s offer is simple, to “give us our money, remove the sanctions, and we will go back into full compliance again”. Or if the US continues to demand renegotiations, Iran could counter that it would consider that track if control and oversight of Israel’s nuclear program would go on the table at the same time. Israel would refuse, of course.

Frankly, I would have played that card already and watched the hypocritical Western world fake nuclear hypocrites deal with openly protecting Israel’s right to have them… what I call the ‘nuclear supremacist’ position. “We are Jews and we can have or do anything we want or we will call you bad names.”

Biden is not about to go to war over Iran, and Iran knows that. He would look foolish to pick up the Trump sanctions mantle, but it would be awkward for the Republicans to fry him on that.

What Biden does want is to deescalate the Persian Gulf to release US military forces to intimidate China on the sea and Russia in the Arctic. But he can’t do it all at once. Regions much be secured before new battles begun Jim W. Dean ]

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Iran is in no hurry to surrender to Western demands. It is stronger now than ever due to the continued threats.

First published … March 08, 2021

There will be no negotiations between Iran and the United States on any matter before Washington removes illegal sanctions it has unilaterally imposed on Tehran, an informed security source tells Press TV.

The security source, which talked to Press TV on condition of anonymity on Sunday, noted that the Western countries’ interpretation of recent remarks by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about a new plan for negotiations with the United States are erroneous and no such plan exists.

“The idea of a step-by-step plan for starting talks between Iran and the United States has been rejected at the highest levels of the Islamic Republic and there will be no contact between Iran and the US before sanctions are removed,” the security official added.

The security source’s remarks came after Rouhani’s Thursday statements in which the Iranian chief executive slammed US for violating the 2015 nuclear deal, adding that Washington should take practical steps to rejoin the deal and lift all sanctions it has re-imposed on Tehran.

Rouhani noted that if the US took steps to that effect, Iran would reciprocate “action with action.”

“The US, as the one who violated the deal, shall lift all sanctions and take practical steps in order to be able to return to the JCPOA,” Rouhani argued, using an acronym to for the landmark nuclear accord signed between Iran and six countries in 2015.

The Iranian foreign minister also said a day later that Tehran would soon present a “constructive concrete plan of action” through proper diplomatic channels.

He made the remark in reaction to earlier statements by an Iranian politician who claimed in an interview that if the West sent “clear signals” to Iran and, for example and announced that the US sanctions would be removed within a year, Tehran would be ready to restart negotiations with Washington.

“As Iran’s FM & chief nuclear negotiator, I will shortly present our constructive concrete plan of action—through proper diplomatic channels,” Zarif tweeted

Iranian polity is vibrant & officials express diverse opinions

But those opinions should NOT be confused with state policy

As Iran’s FM & chief nuclear negotiator, I will shortly present our constructive concrete plan of action—through proper diplomatic channels#CommitActMeet

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 5, 2021Some Western circles had mistakenly taken Rouhani’s and Zarif’s remarks as a sign that Iran is ready for renewed talks with the US with European sources saying that Tehran is giving positive signs about opening informal talks about its nuclear program.

Iran-Russia Relationship: Requisites for Transition from Meager Tactical Actualities to Actualization of Deep Strategic Potentials

March 06, 2021

Iran-Russia Relationship: Requisites for Transition from Meager Tactical Actualities to Actualization of Deep Strategic Potentials

by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. On March 12, 2001, a near-comprehensive agreement was reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in Moscow. The agreement was signed by Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s president at the time, and Vladimir Putin as the Russian president.[1] It has been in place for 20 years and is about to expire in a few days and needs to be either extended or replaced with another much more comprehensive and strategically-oriented long-term agreement. An important written message from Ayatullah Khamenei to President Putin was delivered by Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the head of the Iranian Parliament, on Monday, February 8, 2021. It appears the latter scenario (i.e. a comprehensive long-term agreement) is inevitably the case.

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media in the West and anti-Iran Persian language channels immediately focused on insignificant marginal issues about diplomatic and health protocol oddities that surrounded the method of message delivery and ignored entirely the strategic significance of the message and its timing. The timing itself had a message to the US and the European countries who are behaving as if it were high noon in the West while dusk has already settled in.

Image reads: “Those who are inclined to compromise must know that [US of] America is entering dusk.” – Sayyed Ali Khamenei. Extracted from Khamenei.ir available here.

The actual content of the letter has not been revealed either by Ayatullah Khamenei or by President Putin. However, Amir Abdullahian who is the head of international relations committee of Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) and a special advisor to Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and who also accompanied the team to Moscow explained the overall goal of the message and parts of its content on national television during a program titled “Special File” on February 14th.[2] He said (I translate):

“The subject of the message relates to our long-term outlook toward a sustainable foreign policy and protection of security and interests of our nation. It pays particular attention to mutual interests of Iran and Russia, which could in turn affect our relationship with Russia. Of course, this trip and Leader’s message could affect the calculus of three Western players in Barjam (JCPOA) as well as the [US] Americans in their behavior towards Iran.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he also emphasized:

“The Leader’s message was strategically important and was delivered at a correct time. I will speak about the details of the message and the Russians’ response at a more appropriate time but it will suffice to say that the Russian counterparts promptly reviewed and regarded the message with serious attention and it was of particular importance to [President] Putin… In less than 24 hours, we received the first reactions and feedbacks to this message when we were meeting with the Supreme National Security Council of Russia and high-level officials.”

In an evaluation session regarding the trip and the Leader’s message to President Putin, Javad Niki Maliky, a geopolitical analyst with Mashriq News [East News] – the full title of this news outlet is “the Sun always Rises from Mashriq [the East]” – explains:

“Just as the current order of global balance is disintegrating, a new order is rapidly and relentlessly forming. Only nations that have the following four attributes will be among the victors in any future order: 1) those who deeply understand this strategic shift and could correctly identify macro currents, movements, and equations; 2) those who have the belief, the will, and the capacity to play significant roles and to have shares in shaping future global orders; 3) those who have increased the breadth and depth of their strategic assets and have meaningfully operationalized those assets; and 4) those who have, based on the maturing of their assets, increased and solidified their strategic relationships and partnerships. The overall theme of the Leader’s [Ayatullah Khamenei’s] speeches regarding the shift in global order during the past few years has revolved around the above 4 axes and his message to the president of Russia could be understood and explained within the framework of the 4th axis.”[3]

As such, Ayatullah Khamenei’s letter to President Putin aims to solidify the strategic relationship and partnership that has already been established between Russia and Iran in accordance to the maturing of each country’s respective assets. As soon as the Leader’s message was delivered to President Putin by his Special Representative, who is also the current chairman of State Duma, and while the Iranian delegation was still in Russia, Ayatullah Khamenei’s Tweeter account in Russian read: “The era of post [US] America has begun.”[4]

The upcoming long-term agreement (likely a 25-year agreement), would be similar in many ways but potentially and qualitatively different in nuanced ways with what was reached with China. There are some critically important social and historical factors that would affect the quality of the relationship between Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia in a very fundamental way regardless of current and future formal agreements. These factors, in my view, are the basic requisites for a transition from meager tactical actualities between Iran and Russia to an actualization of a deep strategic potentials. I would like to address, very briefly, three of those factors in this essay and they include: 1) A shift in the perspective of Iranians regarding Russia; 2) A shift in the perspective of Russians about Iran; and 3) A religious approximation between Shi’a Islam and Russian Orthodoxy.

1) A Shift in the Perspective of Iranians about Russia

First a quick note about perspectives. A nation’s perspectives could both regulate and be regulated by its overall perceptions. To be sure, national perceptions are like individual perceptions but at a more complex hierarchical level. They are not rigid and have a dynamic and ever-changing nature to them. Some socio-political environments have nurturing effects that help promote individual and national thoughts and perceptions in the direction of maturing and evolving cultures. Other environments encourage cultural stagnation wrapped in an illusion of real movement, or hamster-on-the-wheel phenomenon. There are also some environments that aid human minds and societies in the direction of ever-devolving mental and cultural atrophies and decay. Therefore, the media and its role in shifting perceptions.

About a decade ago, if you had asked almost any older Iranian of any background or younger Iranians in middle and high school about Russia-Iran relationships, you would have been highly likely to hear “Qaraardaad_e Nangin_e Turkmanchaai” [the Nefarious Treaty of Turkmanchai] and “Qaraardaad_e Nangin_e Golestan” [The Nefarious Treaty of Golistan].

Even now when people are weary and/or dissatisfied with any agreement reached with some foreign power, or when a propaganda and smear campaign is leveled at Iran for reaching meaningful agreements with any power outside of those in the Western circle, you hear the opposing side, too, uses phrases like “worse than Turkmanchaai,” or “the second Turkmanchaai.” We heard these ad nauseam from Western-backed Persian-language loudspeakers and media outlets regarding the 25-year agreement with China and we are going to be fortunate enough to hear them again with any agreement between Iran and Russia. Turkmanchaai has, therefore, been a “nefariousness standard” by which to measure or falsely portray to the Iranian public how bad, shameful, or dishonorable a particular agreement is. In recent years, Barjam (JCPOA) has become the catchphrase to invoke similar sentiment.

A bit of history about that. Golistan and Tukmanchaai treaties, reached in 1813 and 1828 respectively, were two agreements according to which major portions of the Iranian soil were ceded to Russia by the incompetent kings of the Qajar dynasty and 13 years (10 +3 years combined) of wars of aggression by Russia waged against Iran during Romanovs. Specifically, the areas ceded included the Caucus region of what is now eastern part of Turkey, Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 1360 kilometer of shorelines in Caspian Sea (approximately 20,000 square kilometer area of water), and 310 kilometer of shoreline in Black Sea (120 to 150 thousand square kilometer area of water).[5]

Before these two treaties, Iran (then Persia) and Russia had a formal and sustained relationship that had begun during Safavi Dynasty and went back to more than 300 years. The connection between the two nations was a strategic alliance of necessity against a common threat from an aggressive and ruthless power: the Ottomans. The Ottomans, for most parts but not always, were not only a menace to the security of Russia, but also were actively involved attacking Iran and the Shi’a and performing their “cleansing” acts. I provide more details about that history in the upcoming essays in Wilayat and Imamat series. For this essay, it is suffice to say that Iran-Russia alliance in earlier periods was based on common threat posed by the Ottomans.

Throughout the centuries, however, in multiple occasions and at very sensitive junctures, the Russians betrayed the Iranians and repeatedly broke the pledges and agreement they had made with them. There were different factors at play for this erratic behavior. One could point to conniving influence of some European powers especially the British over Russian ruling elites (the Europeans perceived a closeness between Russia and Iran as a threat to their own interests), progressive weakening of the Ottomans therefore diminishing of their threat, and Russia’s own expansionist and hegemonic dreams, especially under Romanovs with Peter I being the most prominent among them as the most prominent factors.[6]

These are, of course, painful historical facts. Naturally, any Iranian with minuscule amount of zeal, honor, and dignity would be disgusted and shamed and it is understandable that s/he would not look too favorably toward Russia given the experiences of the past 500 years. However, there is something more paradoxical going on here than simple facts of history. I extracted a map[7] from an Iranian news and information network, Raah_e Dana [or “Informed Path News Network”] and formatted, adapted, and annotated it (see below) to illustrate a specific point. The dotted yellow and pink areas of Iran were ceded to Russia. The dotted red and green areas plus the purple area (Bahrain) were ceded to the British.

If we add total territorial areas separated from Iran by aggressive means and mischief of foreign powers in the past two hundred years, for sure, the actual territorial loss caused by Britain is far greater than that caused by Russia. Qualitatively speaking the geostrategic importance of areas lost to Britain were not any less, if not more, than those lost to Russia. It is also important to note that even Golistan, Turkmanchaai, and Akhaal treaties between Iran and Russia were the handiwork of Britain. Furthermore, if we were to catalogue national calamities exacted upon Iran and the Iranians, the backstabbing, reneging of contracts and agreements, aggressions, and plundering of Iranians’ wealth and resources by Britain, France, and the US, and killing of half the Iranian population by starvation by Britain in particular, the West wins the race in shamefulness, malevolence, and aggression by a landslide.

By simply examining facts of history and separating them from historical fictions related to Iran’s interactions with foreign powers, Iranians should then be far more resentful of the Wes and less willing to cooperate with them than with Russia if those historical experiences were the deciding factors. How come such has not been the case? How come the number of person-hours by our statesmen in official trips and state-meetings (and even backdoor meetings) with a handful of Western powers –whose treacherous and criminal treatment of Iran and Iranians has been infinitely more widespread and deep— has been manifold (until recently) of that with Russians of any level, one might be curious to ask.

We will look at the short answers first and examine a few evidences next. The first has to do with a defunct perception of strength of the West and a perceived weakness of Russia. The second relates to an obsolete perception of relative “openness” of Western societies and a perceived relative “closeness” of Russian society. The third pertains to an outdated and crude perception of Russia as a “Godless” country.

A major shift in the above perceptions within the Iranian population occurred with the Islamic Revolution. The pace for various segments of the Iranian society to catch up with realities, however, has been different. Thankfully, global events of the past two decades have been great catalysts to speed up the shift in perceptions globally for everyone including various segments of the Iranian society.

In addition, a deepening and maturing of Iran-Russia relationship has occurred in these decades as well that could be justly attributed to the efforts of significant figures like Ayatullah Khamenei and Shahid Soleimani in Iran and to President Putin in Russia. I conducted a simple search in the archive regarding meetings with heads of states and high-level officials from 1368 to present. The following data[8] is simple yet telling. It is the search result for Russia and any of the Western triplets (US, Britain, and France):

97/6/16 [Sept. 7, 2018] – Meeting with President Putin

96/8/10 [Nov. 1, 2017] – Meeting with President Putin

94/9/2 [Nov. 23, 2015] – Meeting with President Putin

86/7/24 [Oct. 16, 2007] – Meeting with President Putin

85/11/8 [Jan. 28, 2007] – Meeting with Chairman [et al.] of Russia’s National Security Council

77/7/1 [Sept. 28, 1998] – Meeting with Chairman [et al.] of State Duma

Number of meetings with any head of state and high officials from the Western triplets: Zero.

It is quite clear to independent analysts that Russia has benefited greatly from the stewardship of President Putin than any other statesman in the history of the Iran-Russia relationships in terms of relative freedom from foreign influence. The Zionist entity wields some noteworthy influence but very soon that entity, too, will become a non-issue.

Amir Abdullahian’s candid interview (referenced above) highlights this “Putin phenomenon” this way:

“When we wanted to enter into talks with Russia regarding Syria, Shahid Soleimani told us, ‘I have worked with the Russians in Afghanistan and you must have dialogue with them and if the Russians are convinced of your logic and rationale, and know exactly how the mutual interests are defined, then you could see good results in working with Russia.’ I must say though that when I was working at the Ministry of Foreign Relations and during negotiations with the special representative from President Putin in Middle East relations, when I began to talk about Syria’s crisis, my impression was that you cannot work with the Russians. However, after working closely with them for 5 years, I must clearly state that Putin’s Russia is different from Soviet Russia and even different from Russia prior to Putin. This is what I could say in terms of attending to our own national interest and in our outlook with Asian and the Eastern domain.”

In another part of his interview, he provided additional clues but this time from the Iranians’ corner:

“Some, when they see an official going to Russia or China, they begin their allegations in virtual space claiming that, ‘See how these people are pushing the country in to the arms of Russia and Communist China!’ However, our motto of Neither East, Nor West means that in the political arena we will not be subjugated to any power [East or West]. In the event of looking out for our interests, we explore both sides. The legacy of the West, the history of the West with our nation, they created so many problems for us. With the East, we have the Turkmanchai and Golestan treaties, which are our bitter experiences from the previous eras.”

Evidence also shows that Ayatullah Khamenei is among the very few top Iranian statesman, religious scholars, and thinkers who has championed and promoted an in-depth, realistic, and nuanced look at Russian society, culture, and history compared to any other scholar and/or statesman close to his caliber in Iran. Just to illustrate by way of example, I have translated a part of his talk in a meeting with government officials during President Khatami’s administration on 1379/4/19 [July 9, 2000] for you:

“Here, our own television was showing images from CNN. We saw Yeltsin had climbed up a tank and was chanting slogans like, ‘No, we do not surrender to the coup!’ Then, he went to the parliament. But the coup organizers let Yeltsin, who was then sitting in protest in Duma, be. They did not go after him but they went to Gorbachev who was on vacation in Crimea and arrested him! And Yeltsin kept on shouting and chanting slogans! They created a media mayhem in the world and, of course, there was no traces of truth and reality to what they were saying! A few tanks appeared in the streets of Moscow but three days later, there was nothing. After three days, they announced they had arrested the coup organizers at night and in their sleep! The result from this coup was that Yeltsin who was the number two character practically became number one in charge!”

Right at that time, our foreign minister was visiting Central Asian Republics. Upon his return, I asked about his assessment and he said, ‘It’s clear that Yeltsin is in charge of the Soviet and not Gorbachev!’ It was also clear to the world that was the case. Then, the Republics demanded their independence one after another. For instance, Crimea would ask for its independence. Gorbachev would refuse but Yeltsin would say ‘We accept.’ Then, after two to three days, Gorbachev would accept it as well. Therefore, they had created a condition that Gorbachev would either feel compelled to pre-emptively agree and chant the same slogans so that he is not left behind; or, after a few days, he would follow the other one [Yeltsin] because the world-wide propaganda would not allow anything other than what Yeltsin was saying.

This trend had begun around the end of Khordad (3rd month in spring). After that, they brought up the issue of Gorbachev pulling out of the Party’s chairmanship, then the dismantling of the communist party, then the announcement regarding the defeat of communism – the exact things that made [US] Americans quite gleeful – and, finally, they spread the rumor about Gorbachev’s resignation. Right at that time, during an interview, they asked Gorbachev, ‘Will you resign or not?’ and he responded, ‘I am waiting for the [US] American secretary of state to come to Moscow to see what happens!’ The [US] American secretary of state came to Moscow and before making any contacts with Gorbachev, he went straight to Yeltsin. In main official meeting hall in Kremlin! That meant Gorbachev was finished! Three days later, Gorbachev resigned and Soviet disintegration was announced! This was a successful [US] American plot in the Soviet. That means, they were able to fully destroy a superpower with a very well-designed plot, a bit of money, purchasing some people, and extensive media propaganda; they were able to completely demolish it with a three-to-four-year plan and a six-to-seven-month implementation!”

“Of course, I must tell you that Russia, after disintegration of the Soviet, like they wished for, did not become the 2nd Brazil. They wanted to turn Russia into another Brazil – it means, into a 3rd rate country in the world – high production but afflicted with deep poverty and very little significant role in world’s politics. You look, where in the world the words and opinion of Brazil attracts anyone? They wanted to turn Russia into this but it did not happen. Why? Because Russia is a very strong and tough nation. Racially speaking, they are resilient people. Their progress in industry, in nuclear science, their scientists, their research works and other assets are quite noteworthy.”

“The plotters of these events (refers to the civil uprisings during late 1990s in Iran), too, were dreaming of similar dreams regarding the Islamic Republic. They were cutting and sewing for themselves. They cannot imagine that if the Islamic Republic of Iran were to face a similar fate as the Soviet, it becomes something like today’s Russia. No. They think Iran is a country at the level of Pahlavi era. That means, a level lower than Turkey! Because they imagine that there is no atom [nuclear research or bomb] here, no scientific progress, no 300-million population, no country as vast as Russia which even today is almost the largest country in the world. That’s what they are thinking!”[9]

The above sorts of detailed narrations and clarifications (and in simple terms for the public) are extremely effective in replacing shallow perspectives with insightful ones, especially at the population level. Even though these noteworthy forces counter a barrage of attacks in the past couple of decade or so, lots more work in all arenas are needed. These are other straight forward realities: Persian-language media (in all their forms from written books to children cartoons) available to the Iranians have been dominated by anti-Russia discourse. One can find something for everyone: For religious groups, the communist (read Godless) episodes in Russian history have often been emphasized. For the liberal-minded groups, some sorts of cultural rigidity and closed-system aspects have been highlighted. For national zealots, aggressive and expansionist dimensions of Russia’s past against Iran have regularly and artfully been flashed. For those who are quite distrustful, specific instances of Russia’s reneging on their pledges to Iranians have been put on display.

2) A Shift in the Perspective of Russians about Iran

For evidence on a shift in the perspective of Russians about Iran, I have to rely mostly on the publicly available information and reports of interactions that have revolved around socio-cultural, political, and security issues available to us here in Iran. This blog and the Saker’s writings and emails have been, by all means, invaluable sources of information, I must add. By design and their nature, these lenses allow a very limited point of view and cannot qualitatively compare to first hand empirical knowledge one gains by being personally present in a given society. Therefore, I apologize, in advance, to the readers of this essay and good people of Russia for the shortcomings of what I write.

I present segments of transcripts from video clips that are in Russian with Farsi subtitles. My translation here is of the Farsi translations of those segments which are in Russian. So, you could imagine this sort of flow inevitably gathers a good amount of verbal debris on its path. Nevertheless, for now, that is the best I could do and for the purpose of the points I am making, I think an illustration of approximate sentiments are adequate for now.

During a discussion panel shown in Rossiya 1 TV channel on the subject of a US Navy destroyer (I am guessing it is about McCain nav.-ship) which had accidently on purpose wandered into Russia’s territorial waters, Alexey Naumov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (Russia) expressed the followings in that panel:

Alexey Naumov: “The American experts are saying it this way. They say that they are providing for the security of America. If they were moving near American borders, that is, if they were moving within 12 miles of their maritime, we, too, would have viewed it relatively positively. Also, let us remember how other countries react to American deception, especially Iran. This is an example of a good lesson for us. We remember how in 2016, the border patrols of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard brought the American navy personnel to their knees.”

Another participant: “They disarmed them and brought them to their knees!”

Alexey Naumov: “…this was while they had ‘accidently’ [he draws air quotes] entered into the Iranians’ water territories.

Another participant: “They had been ‘lost’! So long as we know.”

Alexey Naumov: “Next we remember how Iran targeted American bases in Iraq after General Soleimani was killed. But Russia behaves leniently. Sometimes they behave too leniently. But why are Americans doing this? Note that Americans do stupid things but we do not yield to their pressure.”

Another participant: “In fact, the issue here is what is it that we are proud of? What is the right thing to do? They violated our borders. Either we must shoot missiles at them in a way there wouldn’t be any damages like shooting one to the sky and one right behind its rear [other participants laughing], or we should aim straight for the deck.”

Alexey Naumov: “The violators must be arrested just as we do with others who violate our borders. Arrests would yield good results but the current anti-ship missiles do not operate this way.”[10] </blockquote>

In the above panel, based on the dialogue and the body language of the participants, one gets a distinct impression that they have a more positive view of Iran’s firm and decisive reaction when faced with the US infractions than what they perceive as Russia’s meek response. It is just human nature to root for the one who challenges a bully. It is rather simple.

A speech by the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, aired more than a year ago again in Rossiya 1 TV channel, included the following segment in reference to Iran:

<blockquote> “… See how they [US] occupied Iraq. They easily walked into Iraq. Without any resistance. Nine Iraqi generals got a few million dollars and went to London and Iraq no longer had any armies. That is it!”

“But Iran, whose regime is being criticized; it is Shi’a; it is in control of the situation. The Sunni world does not have a leader but Iranians do. Imam Khamenei, and before him Imam Khomeini. Because of this, the regime is resilient. Because of this, this country is not like Iraq. They [the Iranians] do not go off the path. Why were there millions of people in General Soleimani’s [funeral] walk? He had the charisma of Dzerzhinsky and … [cannot figure the names] in one. He was faithful to the revolution and destroyed all the enemies of the Iranian revolution and was very famous. Then everything happened together in Iran. They are on at the top of the Shi’a world. The killing of their most important symbol caused the nation to cry for him. Even some people who may not have supported him before cried.”

“This country is [one of] the youngest countries in the world. [Few] countries are as young as this country. It has 80 million population and very soon it will reach 100 million in the next 20 years. Median age is 25 and 70 percent are young. They will all work. There is no need for them to be sent to violence. They can make bombs in their own country. That means, they are ready for everything. Today, this system is a great system.”

“But what do we do? We destroyed our own religion. We filled our priests’ mouths with molten lead! Do you get it?! We threw away our young people. We destroyed our whistle blowers. We threw away our intellectuals. They don’t throw away anyone but we chase away everyone.”[11]

Some of the statistics about Iran in the above statement are inaccurate but the overall tone reflects the speaker’s positive view regarding Iran’s religious leadership, sacrifices of commanders like Sardar Soleimani, diversity of views, and the Iranian society’s endurance. Iran’s positive, energetic, and youthful outlook, too, holds promises and could increase the potential for greater exchange between Iranian and Russian societies.

I have translated one last segment from statements made by another Russian expert on regional security and military issues that is reflective of a Russian perspective that gives a more labyrinthine character to Iranians in general and its leadership and the Revolutionary Guard in particular.

“But what is more interesting is that if there is a conflict, Iran has the capacity for extensive retaliation against the Americans in Iraq. The Americans in Iraq have less than 10,000 military men but what is the paramilitary force that enters the conflict? That is Hashd Al-Shaabi. With more than 100,000 organized force and 40 diverse paramilitary units and Shi’a, among which there are smaller units of Assyrian Christians and Yazidi groups. When something happens there, of course the Iranian military advisors are there, too. On the other hand, these forces are equipped with American arms which had been specially shipped to Iraq during Daesh presence. Abrams tanks 2, 3, and so on. Exactly here, the Iranians could retaliate.”

“If we had been in place of Revolutionary Guard commanders, we would have planned what to do with the Americans. But how do the Iranians manage things? [They say,] ‘There is no need to take anyone to any of the bases there. Why should we do something stupid like that?! Let’s put the pressure on them in Iraq and exactly there demolish American forces. And we will show them that two billion dollars they spent and a thousand of their forces did not benefit them even a bit. In Iraq, we were present and we will continue to be present.’ This is a real and great victory from the perspective of military relationships. [They say,] ‘Let the Americans try and imagine they could control [things] there [in Iraq].’”[12]

These discussions and dialogue demonstrate great potential for a positive and nuanced change in perspective of Russians about Iran and the Iranians and a fertile ground to cultivate a mutually respectful and non-transgressive relationship between the two nations.

3) A Religious Approximation between Shi’a Islam and Russian Orthodoxy

Taqrib_e Mazahib (or, Religious Approximation) is the term used to describe activities by the Islamic Republic of Iran especially Qom Seminary to bring together scholars, practitioners, and representatives from diverse religions and denominations of the world for an ongoing and meaningful discourse in order to improve knowledge and understanding among these religions and help improve the condition of humanity in all material and spiritual domains.

To shed some light on the history of the relationship between Shi’a Islam and Russian Orthodoxy, I bring here a short presentation by Dr. Muhammad Masjidjamei, a scholar and thinker who has been quite active in the area of Taqrib related to Russian Orthodox Church. He delivered his lecture titled “We and the Russian Orthodox Church: Iran Eurasian Reality of Russia,”[13] during a two-day conference held by the University of Religions and Denomination in Qom in Shahrivar 1393 [2014/8/25-26] on Evaluation of Eight Rounds of Religious Dialogue between Muslims and Orthodox Christians over Seventeen Years. Since it contains many key points and gives a mini-history of the interaction (up until 2014), I have translated all but the very first greeting lines:

“…Under current critical conditions in the region and the world crises, perhaps one could say extreme crises, we desperately need gatherings of this nature so that we could find solutions for current crises or at least ways to reduce them by relying on meaningful cooperation and sharing of thoughts and ideas. Part of the reason for current difficult conditions is a lack of serious discussion and counsel among those who have shared view points and interests. I very much hope this conference could offer a real platform for these sorts of cooperation.

It was midyear 1991 when I was sent to Vatican as an ambassador for my country. It was a few months after the occupation of Kuwait and right at the heels of disintegration of the Eastern Block and Soviet Union. These events had great impacts on Europe especially the relationships among various churches, in particular two major and quite different Catholic and Orthodox churches. Even a very short explanation about the transformative events between these two churches would take a very long time. But the most noteworthy point for me was that reached a realization about the logic and thinking behind the behavior of the Orthodox Church. At that time and under those critical conditions, the Church was in a rather passive and defensive position. To discover the root of this logic, I needed to study extensively their works be those of the church officials or the others or what related to their contemporary history , or the history, culture and beliefs and their harsh experiences with the communist regimes, or their position and grievances with the Catholic Church, the media, and other publications.

This was my first serious encounter with the realities of Orthodox Church. A church that in those early years in 90s few open ears in Europe were willing to listen to what they had to say. The strong waves of criticism against communism was so fierce and widespread that no one was willing to see a single positive point in the Eastern Block of that time. The Orthodox Church, too, was being viewed as part of the ruling socialist system and was perceived to have been at the service of the system. The reality was that this distorted view and these sorts of propaganda had influenced the thinking of the Muslim World. The war of the Balkans and Bosnia was fueling it even further.

The reality was not at all like what was being portrayed. Probably, Iran realized this point faster than any other Muslim country and began to have a more open and active policy with Orthodox churches. At the height of the Bosnian war, many meetings took place between our ambassador in Sarajevo and Late Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle. In addition, several meetings took place between some of our political and religious representatives and the bishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Kuharic, and the bishop of Sarajevo, Puljic, who had just become a cardinal.

What was important here was that Iran understood rather quickly that to solve the Bosnian problem, or at least to reduce tensions, first and foremost the venue of religion was instrumental, and secondly, Orthodox Church had the most fundamental role in this and should not be neglected because of negative propaganda. As such, Iran, in establishing relations with Serbian Orthodox Church was a maverick and a leader among the Islamic countries. So long as I remember, from among the Western countries, [US] Americans and the British tried to establish relations with Serbian churches much later.

It was more or less around this time, as well, that Iran realized the great importance of Russian Orthodox Church as a historical and cultural identity of Russian nation, as a reality that could help expand and deepen the reciprocal relation between the two nations (Iran and Russia), and in the internal scene, as a catalyst to improve the relations between the Russian Muslim minorities, the Russian society and the Russian State. This was especially critical since there were problems in Caucus and Northern Caucus regions. The sort of problems that kept on accumulating and getting worse.

In fall of 1993, I took a trip to Moscow and met with late Russian Patriarch Alexy II, There I became closely familiar with different sections and teachings of this church. Following that, the Russian Orthodox Church representative to Iran was assigned and the bilateral dialogue and relationship started and have continued to this date.

Even though Iran has had great many dialogues with many churches, its dialogue with the Russian Church has remained one of the most systematic, sustainable, and institutionalized one today. This demonstrates the importance of the relationship between the two and the resolve on both sides to continue this relationship. So, the question now is how this relationship could become even more active and constructive. What additional potentials does it have?

Russia is a Eurasian reality. This reality existed throughout ups and downs of history whether it was during the tsars, or the socialist rulers, or thereafter. And it will continue to exist in the future. The problem of the West with Russia, to some extent, is due to this very historical and identity reality. They want a Russia that is European not Eurasian. A Russia whose policies and politics are played within the European frameworks and by their standards. Russia wants to be Russia and remain Russia. From this perspective, this country, too, is parallel in line with everyone and all countries which want to have a life according to their own culture and identity.

In addition, Russia is one of the few countries that stands up to multi-faceted Western dictatorship. The clearest sign of this is seen in Russia’s Middle East policies in the aftermath of Arab springs. Another important point is that the Eurasian characteristic of Russia and its look towards Asia makes it a weighty Asian component in international relations. No doubt, a closer cooperation with Asian countries as well as China and India makes this share weightier and to the benefit of all Asians, us, and Russia itself.

Here, I cannot count all the points that relate to Eurasian reality/nature of Russia and its many significances. But I could very summarily say that it [Russia’s Eurasian nature] is to the best interest of us and all independent countries which want to rely on their own culture and potentials in life. What is important to remember is that Russian Church, both directly and indirectly, is the most significant cornerstone of this reality. Orthodox churches, including Russian churches, are far more eastern than the Catholic and Protestant churches. This is an intrinsic characteristic of this church.

We should not forget that Russia is the largest country in the world and has within it many diverse people, religions, and cultures and to be sure, Russian Church has its own unique place. This does not mean that other religions and cultures are pushed aside. Islam and Islamic culture, too, is an important reality and part of Russian identity. Also, the Eurasian characteristic of Russia, to a notable extent is due to its Islamic heritage as well. Besides, if Russia wishes to have independent policies in the international arena free of Western domination, it needs, at the least, receptive co-thinkers. For sure, among the Muslim nations, there are countries which can and want to stand besides Russia but this is possible only if the Muslim minority in Russia have a suited status. From this perspective, acknowledging other religions and groups, including Islam, is a necessity for Russia. Although a great portion of this attention relates to the state and the ruling system, Orthodox Church can play a significant constructive and facilitative role.

It is for certain that a cooperation between Iran and this Church is very valuable, nay, extremely valuable. Also, this cooperation can be instrumental in remedying takfiri thoughts and extremist groups in Russia. Parts of the causes of takfiri thoughts go to a lack of depth in understanding the religion itself. Without a doubt, Iran, for the richness of its religious, philosophical, and spiritual thoughts is one of the most suitable countries to help fill these gaps.

It is rather difficult to put all potential areas of cooperation in one short article. Certainly, scientific and academic cooperation is one of them. Right now, there are so many Western religious texts written by either formal religious figures or non-religious thinkers and translated into Farsi. However, you can rarely find authentic translations of Orthodoxy texts that have been written by the Orthodox themselves. This is also true of research in Christianity. Many books and manuscripts about history, culture, and beliefs of Protestant and Catholic churches are written but the Orthodoxy texts are quite sparse.

Another key point is the existence and continued presence in Middle East of Christians who are mainly Orthodox. They are part of the history and culture of this region and have had much greater impact on literature and culture of contemporary Arab societies relative to their numbers. However, the upheavals of Arab spring have shaken up their positions as well. This is while their presence in the region, for various reasons, is positive and beneficial to a social and cultural balance and prevention of a polarization in these societies. If they had played a more active role, takfiri thought would not have found an opportunity to expand and monopolize the scene.

Fortunately, the Christians in the region, especially the Orthodox, do not have evangelical tendencies which is an important point because such situation itself prepares the ground for salafi thoughts. Without a doubt, cooperation and co-counseling between Iran and Russian church, and other churches in the region, could help reform the conditions. If such relation had existed at the beginning of Syrian crisis, the overall condition of the country and the situation of its Christians would have been much better than what it is now.

Indeed, the areas for cooperation is far more than what has been mentioned here. Given the circumstances of the two countries and international and regional realities, when this cooperation starts, new opportunities will also emerge. What is important is that both sides must, having taken into account the actualities and the limitations, must pursue their collaboration and cooperation with serious will and make progress.”

It might be interesting for you to know that the exchange between Iran and the Russian Orthodox Church went on for several years before Sardar Soleimani could convince President Putin to commit Russia’s military to Syrian war as a practical step to block the spread of takfiries. The Church had already been convinced!

To wrap up the essay and put things succinctly, cooperation between Iran and Russia regarding Syria was only a pilot test and shifts in the Iranian and Russian nations’ perspectives have already occurred. However, a lot more media products, people-to-people exchange and interactions in socio-economic, scientific, and cultural fields are also needed to help promote a more insightful and culturally mature public perceptions on both sides.

References

[1] Center for Research of the Islamic Republic of Iran Majlis [Parliament]. “The policies pertaining to the agreement between the Islamic of Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation based on mutual relationship and principles of cooperation.” The Date of Approval: 1380/10/16 [Jan. 6, 2002]. Available in Farsi online at: https://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/print_version/93690

[2] Entekhab News Site, Video Archive, “Explanation by Special Advisor to the Head of Majlis regarding Qalibaf’s trip to Moscow.” 1399/11/22 @ 22:41, News Code: 602070. Accessed online at: https://www.entekhab.ir/002Wco

[3] Niki Maleki J. (1399). “Why the Leader’s Message to Putin is important.” Mashriq News, the Sun always Rises from the East, Bahman 21, 1399 [Feb. , 2021]; 18:57; News Code: 1179189. Accessed online at: mshrgh.ir/1179189

[4] Mashriq News, Trans. from Farsi: “The Important Tweet from the Russian Account of the Publication Office of the Revolution Leader’s Works.” 20th Bahman, 1399, 14:36, News Code: 1178619. Accessed online at: mshrgh.ir/1178619

[5] Golistan and Turkmanchaai Treaties

[6] Karami J (1397 HS [2019]). Trans. from Farsi: “Iran and Russia in the Passage of History: Security Environment and the Issues of Threats and Alliances.” Quarterly of History of Foreign Relations, No. 75, Summer 1397, Pages 65-97.

جهانگیر کرمی، “ایران و روسیه در گذر تاریخ: محیط امنیتی و مساله تهدید و اتحاد.” فصلنامۀ تاریخ روابط خارجی، شماره 75، سال نوزدهم، تابستان 1397، صص 65 تا 97.

[7] Rah_e Dana Information Network. Trans. from Farsi: “Turkmanchaai, a Nefarious History in Auctioning off the Homeland.” 1396/2/12, 15:29, News ID: 1096763. Accessed online at: https://www.dana.ir/1096763

[8] List of official visits from heads of states with the Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. Accessed online on March 2, 2021 @ 12:00 noon; at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/tag-content?id=11172

[9] Sayyed Ali Khamenei. “Speech during visit with officials and members of government of Islamic Republic of Iran” on 1379/4/19 [July 9, 2000]. Accessed online at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=3016

[10] KavoshMedia, What They Say About Us. “Iranians disarmed and brought American navy personnel to their knees.” 2021/1/11 @ 13:01:28 Tehran Time, Original in Russian Language. Accessed on line at: https://kavoshmedia.com

[11] Tabnak Javan News Agency. “Nuanced View of the Leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia about Iranians.” 1398/12/8 [Feb. 27, 2020] @ 18:09; News Code: 14130.

[12] Kavoshmedia. “Russian expert’s view regarding Iran’s great victory in Iraq,” aired on Rossya 1, Posted 24/11/2020 @ 4:30 UTC.

[13] Masjidjamei M. “We and Russian Orthodox Church: Iran and Eurasian Realities of Russia.” University of Religions and Denominations, Publication date: 1393/6/12. Accessed online at: https://urd.ac.ir/fa/cont/355

Blinken paves the way for a return to the nuclear deal in compliance with Iran’s terms بلينكين يمهّد للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي رضوخاً لشروط إيران

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Blinken paves the way for a return to the nuclear deal in compliance with Iran’s terms

Nasser Kandil

– In the context of a radio interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she said, “We have come a long way towards preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and all of this was subsequently abandoned by the Trump administration. Current U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken responded to Clinton’s question about his expectations of the outcome of Iran’s absence from the 5+1 meeting, with the participation of Russia and China, by saying that Iran “is speeding up towards the day when it will have the ability to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in a very short time», considering that when the agreement was reached in 2015, Iran was tending to make this period a mere weeks. Blinken warned that allowing this to happen, and Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon, or being on the threshold of possessing a nuclear weapon, “enables it to act with greater impunity,” noting that taking military action against it would have “different consequences,” concluding that “the best answer is” We reached the agreement “that” put the nuclear program in a box, cut its tracks to be able to produce the materials needed to make a nuclear weapon, “and pushed the period called” the time of penetration to more than one year. “

– Blinken said that because of the agreement «we had very strong sanctions » through the use of the Snapback mechanism, to automatically reimpose them if Iran violates the agreement, adding that “after we got out of the deal, Iran felt good,” as if saying: “We can move forward; We no longer comply with the commitments we made. ” And Blinken went on to say,“ And now she returns to that point, where she can produce fissile material for a very powerful weapon in a short time. He stressed that «we have an interest in returning it to the box, then see if we can actually build something longer and stronger in terms of the duration of the agreement, as well as deal with some of the other actions that Iran is taking, because we have a real problem with ballistic missiles and what they are doing in their vicinity».

– In practice, Blinken rearranged President Joe Biden’s administration vision papers regarding the Iranian nuclear file, from the stage on which Iran should start the first step, to the stage we started the first step with the indirect release of Iranian deposits of more than ten billion dollars in South Korea and Iraq, in exchange for Iran attending a joint session Within the 5 + 1 platform, and then here he is rearranging the cards again with Iran’s refusal of less than an American declaration to retract the sanctions as a condition for Iran’s retreat from implementing its obligations stipulated in the agreement. He withdraws from the table the issues of Iranian missiles and Iran’s regional role to the post-return phase. Regarding the nuclear agreement, and the implementation of its obligations from both sides, that is, the lifting of sanctions in return for Iran’s return to its obligations, Blinken’s equation is clear, that Iran is comfortable not returning and approaching with a missile speed that it has sufficient capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon, and that Washington has an interest in blocking this path, and that the abolition of sanctions is a reasonable cost to achieve this goal, because the alternative is to confront a situation that “enables it to act with impunity.” “Knowing that carrying out military action against it will have various consequences,” concluding that “the best answer we came to was the agreement” that “put the nuclear program in a box and cut its paths to be able to produce the materials they need to build a nuclear weapon, and pay the nominal period at the time of penetration.” To more than one year ».

– The Biden administration in Blinkin’s tongue goes back to what the Barack Obama administration reached when Biden was vice president, betting on more time to bring Iran to an agreement that includes the missile file and the regional situation will mean giving Iran more time to acquire the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon. The bet that something has changed as a result of the sanctions imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump, is disappointing, as Iran appears more comfortable in its steps outside the agreement than it was in the days of previous negotiations, so priority is given to returning to the agreement and then it is possible to know what should be done to discuss the rest, “We have an interest in returning that to a box, and then seeing if we can actually build something longer and stronger in terms of the duration of the agreement, as well as deal with some other measures that Iran is taking, because we have a real problem with ballistic missiles and what they are doing in their vicinity.”

بلينكين يمهّد للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي رضوخاً لشروط إيران

ناصر قنديل

في سياق حوار إذاعيّ مع وزيرة الخارجية السابقة هيلاري كلينتون قالت فيه «قطعنا شوطاً طويلاً نحو منع إيران من الحصول على سلاح نووي، وكل ذلك جرى التخلي بعد ذلك عنه من قبل إدارة ترامب. أجاب وزير الخارجية الأميركية الحالي توني بلينكين على سؤال كلينتون حول توقعاته لنتائج غياب إيران عن الاجتماع الذي وافقت عليه واشنطن ضمن صيغة الـ 5+1، بمشاركة روسيا والصين، بالقول بأن إيران «تسرع نحو اليوم الذي سيكون لديها فيه القدرة على إنتاج ما يكفي من المواد الانشطارية لسلاح نووي في وقت قصير جداً»، معتبراً أنه عند التوصل إلى الاتفاق عام 2015، كانت إيران تتجه إلى جعل ​​هذه المدة مجرد أسابيع. ونبّه بلينكن إلى أن السماح بحدوث ذلك، وامتلاك إيران سلاحاً نووياً، أو أن تكون على عتبة امتلاك سلاح نووي «يمكنها من التصرف مع إفلات أكبر من العقاب»، علماً بأن القيام بعمل عسكري ضدها ستكون له «عواقب مختلفة»، مستنتجاً أن «أفضل إجابة توصلنا إليها كانت الاتفاق» الذي «وضع البرنامج النووي في صندوق، وقطع مساراته لتكون قادرة على إنتاج المواد التي تحتاج إليها لصنع سلاح نووي»، ودفع المدة المسماة «وقت الاختراق إلى أكثر من عام واحد».

قال بلينكن إنه بسبب الاتفاق «كانت لدينا عقوبات قويّة للغاية»، عبر استخدام آلية «سناب باك»، لإعادة فرضها بصورة تلقائية إذا انتهكت إيران الاتفاقية، مضيفاً أن «الأهم من ذلك هو نظام المراقبة والتفتيش الأكثر تدخلاً الذي نمتلكه على الإطلاق لأي اتفاق للحدّ من الأسلحة». وقال إنه «بعد خروجنا من الصفقة، شعرت إيران بحال جيدة»، كأنما تقول: «يمكننا المضي قدماً؛ لم نعد نمتثل للالتزامات التي تعهدنا بها»، واستطرد بلينكن: «وها هي الآن تعود إلى تلك النقطة، حيث يمكن أن تنتج مواد انشطارية لسلاح في غاية القوة في وقت قصير»، وشدّد على أن «لدينا مصلحة في إعادة ذلك إلى صندوق، ثم معرفة ما إذا كان بإمكاننا بالفعل بناء شيء أطول وأقوى من حيث مدة الاتفاق، وكذلك التعامل مع بعض الإجراءات الأخرى التي تتخذها إيران، لأن لدينا مشكلة حقيقية مع الصواريخ الباليستية وما تقوم به في جوارها».

عملياً أعاد بلينكين ترتيب أوراق رؤية إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن تجاه الملف النووي الإيراني، من مرحلة على إيران أن تبدأ الخطوة الأولى، إلى مرحلة بدأنا الخطوة الأولى بالإفراج غير المباشر عن ودائع إيرانية تزيد عن عشرة مليارات دولار في كوريا الجنوبية والعراق، مقابل حضور إيران لجلسة مشتركة ضمن منصة الـ 5+1، ثم ها هو يعيد ترتيب الأوراق مجدداً مع رفض إيران لما هو أقل من إعلان أميركي بالتراجع عن العقوبات كشرط لتراجع إيران عن تنفيذ موجباتها التي نص عليها الاتفاق، فيسحب عن الطاولة قضيتي الصواريخ الإيرانية والدور الإقليمي لإيران إلى مرحلة تعقب العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، وتنفيذ موجباته من الفريقين، أي رفع العقوبات مقابل عودة إيران الى التزاماتها. ومعادلة بلينكين واضحة، أن إيران مرتاحة لعدم العودة والاقتراب بسرعة صاروخية من امتلاك مقدرات كافية لإنتاج سلاح نووي، وأن واشنطن صاحبة مصلحة بقطع الطريق على هذا المسار، وأن إلغاء العقوبات كلفة معقولة لتحقيق هذا الهدف، لأن البديل هو مواجهة وضع «يمكنها من التصرف مع إفلات أكبر من العقاب»، مضيفاً، «علماً بأن القيام بعمل عسكري ضدها ستكون له عواقب مختلفة»، مستنتجاً أن «أفضل إجابة توصلنا إليها كانت الاتفاق» الذي «وضع البرنامج النووي في صندوق، وقطع مساراته لتكون قادرة على إنتاج المواد التي تحتاج إليها لصنع سلاح نووي، ودفع المدة المسمّاة وقت الاختراق إلى أكثر من عام واحد».

تعود إدارة بايدن بلسان بلينكين الى ما توصلت اليه إدارة باراك أوباما يوم كان بايدن نائباً للرئيس، وهو أن الرهان على مزيد من الوقت لجلب إيران إلى اتفاق يتضمن ملف الصواريخ والوضع الإقليمي، سيعني منح إيران المزيد من الوقت لامتلاك مقدرات إنتاج سلاح نووي، وأن الرهان على أن ثمّة ما تغير بفعل العقوبات التي فرضتها إدارة الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، يكشف عقماً وخيبة، فإيران تظهر أكثر راحة في خطواتها خارج الاتفاق مما كانت عليه أيام المفاوضات السابقة، لذلك يعطي الأولوية للعودة إلى الاتفاق وبعدها يمكن معرفة ما يجب فعله لبحث الباقي، بقوله، «لدينا مصلحة في إعادة ذلك إلى صندوق، ثم معرفة ما إذا كان بإمكاننا بالفعل بناء شيء أطول وأقوى من حيث مدة الاتفاق، وكذلك التعامل مع بعض الإجراءات الأخرى التي تتخذها إيران، لأن لدينا مشكلة حقيقية مع الصواريخ الباليستية وما تقوم به في جوارها».

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

By Ali Abadi

The release of the US intelligence community’s declassified report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is more than two years overdue. Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The sanctions announced by the administration of US President Joe Biden did not include specific measures against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. This despite the fact that the report pins the murder on the royal. The report states that the hit team could have only gotten its marching orders from the Crown Prince, given the latter’s tight grip on the security apparatus.

The CIA report did not introduce any new information. But the intelligence assessment about what transpired and who is responsible are important. The substance of the report was toned down following several weeks of consultations between Biden and his team. The aim was to avoid pushing their Saudi ally into a corner and keeping an outlet for him to modify his behavior in line with the policies of the new US government.

The report asks correlative questions

Do the steps taken by the US administration regarding the assassination of Khashoggi indicate a turning point in the relations between the two states? Are they merely scoring political points in restoring American soft power by pretending to protect human rights? Or are these steps the end of the tolerance phase practiced by former US President Donald Trump and do they mark the start of a new relationship based on new-old foundations?

American review

First, let’s review the steps that have been taken to date by the Biden administration vis-à-vis the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

– Halting the supply of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and pushing for an exit from the US-sponsored Saudi predicament in Yemen

– Calling for the release of human rights activists in the Kingdom.

– Stopping US communication with the Saudi Crown Prince and limiting presidential communication with King Salman

– Announcing gradual steps, even if currently conditional, to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran

– Perhaps most importantly, the declaration of a break from the Trump era in several areas, including those related to dealing with Saudi Arabia leading up to the release of the Khashoggi report

It is clear that the new administration in Washington doesn’t enjoy a harmonious relationship with the current ruling team in Saudi Arabia, specifically with Mohammed bin Salman, who seized power by force, imprisoned his opponents [some of whom are in cahoots with officials in the deep state in America] or placed them under house arrest. Bin Salman is attempting to buy the support of the US government for all his reckless actions, while harming American soft power, especially with the open wound in Yemen.

There is a very important point that may be the main motive behind the new way America is dealing with Riyadh. Circles of the American elite, among the Democrats in general and even some Republicans, feel indignant and suspicious regarding the very special relationship between the Saudi Crown Prince and former US President Donald Trump and his entourage. The Democrats, in particular, want to break this relationship and expose it retroactively. There is a current within the Democratic Party that wants to go further than Biden in dealing with Riyadh. However, the US President preferred a traditional approach that separates the relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince from the one with the entire Saudi government, despite the fact that the two are indistinguishable. Even the Saudi King cannot break away from the authority of his favorite son, and this is another story.

How will Saudi Arabia respond?

Saudi Arabia’s official version about the trial of Khashoggi’s killers is irrelevant. The outcome of the trial was always a foregone conclusion, and it ended in limiting the charges to a number of people and removing the accusation not only from the Crown Prince but from his two closest associates, Saud Al-Qahtani and Ahmed Al-Asiri.

The death penalty against the killers was also abolished, while the family of the victim was compelled to waive their right to retribution in exchange for financial compensation [a typical Saudi procedure in such cases]. Of course, we are not interested now in recovering the contradictions of the official Saudi narrative, which involved disjointed narratives since the assassination saga began to unfold.

However, each of the above steps is sufficient to annoy the Saudis, who are very disappointed with the end of the Trump era, in which the Saudi Crown Prince invested hundreds of billions of dollars in order to cover his impulsive policies. Trump left, and the Saudi money went to the US treasury and American companies. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is once again in the dark about the American agenda that represents an extension of the Obama era. Faced with the American moment of truth, the Saudi government will have to deprecate this incomplete revelation through:

– Downplaying the importance of the US measures and the talk that the Saudi judiciary has spoken in the case

– Stirring up patriotism among the Saudis to give renewed legitimacy to the Crown Prince, whose image was tarnished by this crime

– Betting on time to overcome this saga

– Accelerating the relationship with “Israel” in order to use its influence in Washington to moderate the dealings with the Saudi Crown Prince. In this sense, normalization becomes a price [currently hidden] for legitimizing Bin Salman’s status in Washington

– Hinting to the Americans that Riyadh is looking for alternatives to American weapons with China and Russia, for example, in order to push Washington to reduce its criticism of the Saudi Crown Prince

Most of what the Biden administration wants is for Riyadh to return to the ranks of the passenger rather than Saudi Arabia leading the United States to where it wants in the region, especially after the Saudi Crown Prince proved unprecedented recklessness in managing internal affairs and a lack of efficiency in managing regional challenges.

The Biden administration also wants to preempt any Saudi or non-Saudi objection to returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran and to dispel any attempt by Riyadh and others to enlarge their role in a way that disturbs the new government managing this file from the perspective of various US priorities. We should pause here at an interesting point, which is that the Biden administration is adopting a triple containment strategy for objections to the nuclear deal that was reached in the era of the Democrats in 2015.

This strategy includes, in addition to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and “Israel”. In addition to stopping the US presidential communication with Bin Salman and halting offensive weapons supplies to Riyadh, Washington has also stopped arms deals with the UAE and has allowed, in a carefully studied time frame, to publish satellite images of construction operations at the “Israeli” Dimona reactor, at a time when Netanyahu waited weeks to receive a call from Biden.

In conclusion, the new US administration aims to get rid of Trump’s legacy on several levels and reset US-Saudi relations to a purely American rhythm, but the desired justice stopped with Mohammed Bin Salman.

Let’s remember:

– Jamal Khashoggi’s body was never found, and the Saudi side refuses to reveal its fate.

– We are facing a declassified US report, which means that the US administration preferred to keep secret facts under wraps in order to preserve relations with Saudi Arabia and maintain the loyalty of Riyadh.

– We are facing scanty measures against those involved in the crime. Not granting them entry visas to the United States is the weakest measure in the huge US sanctions arsenal, and Washington was satisfied with the weaker punishment.

– The bitter cup was removed from the Crown Prince, although the moral message was received.

– It is important to note the impact of this position on the way European countries and the international community view the Saudi Crown Prince, who will remain in his father’s shadow as long as the latter is alive.

The question remains: What is Mohammed Bin Salman’s fate after the current king? Will his past be overlooked and his position on the altar of American strategic interests be normalized, or is Washington thinking about reopening the path of the caliphate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is currently unavailable after Bin Salman smashed all possible alternatives?

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Iran Won’t Hand Over Data to IAEA Until Sanctions Lifted – AEOI

Iran Won’t Hand Over Data to IAEA Until Sanctions Lifted - AEOI

By Staff, Agencies

Spokesman for Atomic Energy Organization of Iran [AEOI] Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Monday that Iran will not hand over data to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] until the US sanctions are lifted.

He made the remarks in briefing to the parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Commission hearing.

Kamalvandi said that some representatives had questions about the agreement between
the AEOI and the IAEA and that he gave explanation on the issue in the hearing.

The spokesman added that the agreement with IAEA was compliant to parliament’s legislation requiring the government to halt Additional Protocol and inspections beyond the IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

Kamalvandi added that Iran gave three-month moratorium to end the voluntary acceptance of the IAEA Additional Protocol and IAEA agreed that Iran would save nuclear information by itself until three months later and then, if sanctions were lifted, the information would be handed to the IAEA; otherwise, all the information would be deleted.

During the three-month moratorium, according to Kamalvandi, no access, inspections or protocol statement would be provided by Iran.

The spokesman stressed that the agreement with the IAEA is for three months, adding that if other parties to the JCPOA fulfilled their obligations under the deal in the above-mentioned period, the government would inform the parliament through a report so that the legislature could make a decision.

Continuation of sharing information is in the interest of both sides, because the IAEA needs to have the information to be able to make verification and broad evaluation, Kamalvandi added.

He said that the IAEO offered members of parliament to visit nuclear sites to watch the process of enforcing the law in question closely.

On the possibility that three European parties to the JCPOA would cooperate with the US to pass an anti-Iran resolution in the next IAEA Board of Governors session, Kamalvandi underlined that the European Troika has made a non-constructive move that must stop.

Israel Reportedly Points Finger at Iran After Cargo Ship Explosion in Gulf of Oman

Ship fire Gulf of Oman
A video grab shows a fire and smoke billowing from a ship in the Gulf of Oman (photo by Gulf Today).

Source

15:03 GMT 27.02.2021

An explosion that ripped through an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday could be the work of Iran, The Times of Israel reports, citing unnamed Israeli officials as saying.  

Unsourced reports from the Israeli media outlets Haaretz and Channel 13 claimed that Iran knew that the vessel was owned by an Israeli businessman – who himself rejected the speculation pertaining to the Islamic Republic.

A separate unsourced report by Israel’s Channel 12 asserted that the explosion was caused by a missile fired by an Iranian warship.

This was echoed by the maritime risk-management firm Dryad Global, which tweeted on Friday that the blast could possibly stem from “asymmetric activity by Iranian military”. Tehran has not commented on the matter yet.

The company identified the ship as the MV Helios Ray, claiming that the blast took place as the vessel with 28 crew members on board was about 44 nautical miles (50 miles) from Oman’s capital Muscat.

No one was reportedly hurt in the blast, which ostensibly caused several holes in the port and starboard sides of the ship, owned by Israeli businessman Abraham Ungar, founder of Ray Shipping Ltd.

The maritime risk intelligence company Ambrey Intelligence posted a raft of photos on its Twitter page, thought to show damage to the Helios Ray as a result of the explosion. The authenticity of the images has yet to be confirmed.

The Israeli media reports come as the satellite-tracking data from the website MarineTraffic.com showed that the explosion-hit cargo ship arrived at a Dubai port earlier on Saturday.

This was preceded by Ungar being quoted by the Ynet news outlet as claiming that the explosion was most likely caused by “missiles or a mine placed on the bow”.

“Israeli authorities will investigate this together with me. I don’t think this deliberately targeted an Israeli-owned ship. That has not happened to me before”, the businessman added.

He reportedly went even further by asserting that the blast could be “part of the game between Iran and the US, that’s why they are hitting Western ships”.

The claims come after the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said, without providing further details, that a ship was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman at 20:40 GMT on Thursday. The UKMTO added that “investigations are ongoing” and that the “vessel and crew are safe”.

Iran-US Tensions

The developments come amid increasing tensions between Tehran and the US, Israel’s ally, which escalated on 25 February, when two F-15 jets launched seven missiles in Syrian territory, following an order from US President Joe Biden.

The attack destroyed nine facilities and partially damaged two facilities, making them unsuitable for use. The facilities were used, according to Washington, by Shia militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah and other formations that are believed to be behind attacks against American military assets in Iraq.

Iran denounced the US airstrikes as “aggression” and a “violation of international law”, insisting that the US presence in Syria is illegal. The attack was also condemned by Syrian authorities as a “cowardly aggression” that will “lead to consequences that will escalate the situation in the region”.

President Biden, for his part, said that Thursday’s US airstrikes are a message to Iran: “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful”.

US-Iranian tensions have been in place since then-President Donald Trump announced Washington’s unilateral exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, and the reinstatement of strict economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Exactly a year later, Tehran announced that it had started scaling down some of its JCPOA obligations, including those related to uranium enrichment.

As far as Israel and Iran are concerned, relations between the two sides remain frozen, with Tehran denying the Jewish state’s right to exist and frequently pledging to destroy it.

Over the last few years, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of airstrikes on Syria, which Tel Aviv says are aimed at countering the alleged Iranian military presence in the Arab Republic. Damascus condemns such attacks as violations of Syria’s national sovereignty, while Tehran insists that there are only Iranian military advisers in the country to help the government fight terrorists.


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Is the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) a ‘dead letter’?

Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

U.S. WANTS TO NEGOTIATE WITH IRAN AS ISRAEL AND HEZBOLLAH EXCHANGE THREATS

South Front

Read this article in German: LINK.

Hezbollah, one of Israel’s sworn enemies and a staunch ally of Iran continues its tough rhetoric against Tel Aviv.

On February 17th, the group released a 2-minute video titled “Oh Zionists, You Have Military and Security Targets Within Your Cities.”

The footage contained a threat to strike 10 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targets throughout Israeli cities.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was shown warning Aviv Kochavi, Chief of General Staff of IDF with “total war”.

The Hezbollah video warning of war if the IDF chose to initiate it came in response to large-scale drills that the IDF held in recent weeks.

During the exercise, IDF pilots trained to hit up to 3,000 targets per day in case of all-out confrontation.

This tougher rhetoric from Hezbollah is not something uncommon. What makes it significant is that the movement can afford to make it even tougher due to the Biden Administration formally being less supportive of Israel.

On February 18th, US President Joe Biden told Iran that it was ready to take part in EU-sponsored talks to restore the Iran Nuclear Deal.

This seems as a large concession, and causes a sense of urgency in Israel. For the first time since he entered into office, Biden accepted a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the conversation, Biden affirmed the US commitment to Israel’s security, and mutual defense cooperation. He said that the flow of weapons, equipment and funding would continue. It all appeared very hollow and according to script.

Similarly, to what US President Barack Obama did, Biden promised to increase Israeli military aid, but that also means it will not get any more “tangible” support.

This is all good and well, but it simply means “you will not feel as special as you were when Donald Trump was around.”

Separately, another Axis of Resistance enemy, Saudi Arabia is suffering by Yemen’s Ansar Allah (the Houthis).

On February 17th, the Houthis captured the significant Marib Dam, as they push towards Marib city and consolidate power in the surrounding areas.

The city is the last major stronghold of the Saudi-led coalition in central Yemen. If it falls, which seems quite plausible, the Houthis will have even more opportunity to push into southern Saudi Arabia.

In their past raids they have captured hundreds of Saudi-led coalition soldiers and various equipment.

February 2021 seems to be the month of the Axis of Resistance, with Iran’s campaign of non-compliance with the Nuclear Deal giving fruit. Hezbollah, the Houthis and the pro-Iranian groups in Iraq and Syria further seem to be achieving limited success.

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What a return to the Iran nuclear deal means ماذا تعني العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ الإيرانيّ

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

What a return to the Iran nuclear deal means

Dr. Wafiq Ibrahim

The conditions for returning to the nuclear agreement are increasing, and with it the possibility of building a real world peace between the most powerful countries in the world increases.

The reason for this optimism is that four members of the agreement — France, Britain, Germany and the United States — will meet at night for the first time since the Americans withdrew from the agreement in 2016.

Since Russia is also committed to its membership and Iran, there is a high probability that the nuclear agreement will be reintroduced as stipulated in its basic terms in 2015.

The conditions for return do not seem to be difficult despite Saudi-Israeli attempts to block it and pressure the United States not to return. This is because these two countries are determined to continue to regard Iran as an enemy of the Western public order and its alliances in the Middle East.

Former U.S. President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2016, claiming Iran had violated it. But the rest of the member states and the International Energy Organization did not agree with his claims, which led to the disruption of the work in the last four years in a row and turned into a U.S.-Iran conflict in which Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE entered alongside the Americans, but France, Britain and Germany continued to demand Iran to remain a member of the agreement alongside Russia, which since the beginning of the dispute has declared strong support for Iran.

It is therefore a political struggle that takes the form of technical disagreements. As for the reasons, it is Iran’s success in building deep alliances, starting with Afghanistan with its main forces, and ending with deep political influence in Pakistan. Iran has also managed to penetrate Into India, where it succeeded in building deep relations with its Shiites and in Yemen, where it forged one of the most important relations with the Houthis, who form its main force and defeated with them Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the British and the Americans in battles that continue.

Iran also supported Iraq and allowed it to defeat the Americans, their allies, and ISIS. As for Syria, it is a great story in which Iran supported preventing the overthrow of the Syrian state and its expansion into three quarters of its country. As for Lebanon, Iran was able to support Hezbollah in such a way that it became the main force in a major axis standing in the face of “Israel” and its slaves in the region.

These achievements are the root cause of The U.S. Western Saudi-Israeli hostility to Iran, and it is the reason for the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Can Iran bow to renegotiating its alliances extending from Afghanistan to Lebanon?

There are reasons to prevent this.

Firstly, the West knows that Iran’s alliances have become armed forces within their own countries and it is not easy to confront them, and it has become almost impossible to attack them by “Israel” or any Arab forces. As for the negotiations over its status, this is a hopeless act, because it is close to catching their countries.

Therefore, the only thing left for the Americans and their alliances is to search for new means of rolling into politics, meaning that the Americans accept political settlements between the forces allied with Iran and the forces affiliated with the Americans, but not within the framework of imposed truces, but rather agreements that lead to the conduct and regularity of public business in the country.

Will a return to the nuclear agreement lead to regular internal actions in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon?

It seems that things are going to this direction because there is no alternative, especially since the two parties to the conflict are never thinking of leaving the areas they are sponsoring in Iraq and Syria due to their national and regional importance.

It turns out, then, that the nuclear agreement is an internal agreement that grasps many internal regions of countries in the Middle East, and this makes it very important and confiscates the external powers of these countries, i.e. it can use the entity that controls it in the Middle East conflicts, which is also an international one that serves the interest of recommending another team in the conflicts of the countries to control the most important oil and gas region in the world.

It is clear that the nuclear agreement is an internal agreement that holds a lot of the internal areas of the countries in the Middle East and this makes it very important and confiscates the external powers of these countries, i.e. it can use the entity that controls it in the Middle East conflicts, which is also an international one that serves the interest of recommending another team in the conflicts of the countries to control the most important oil and gas region in the world.

Will the European-American meetings succeed in preparing for a return to the nuclear agreement as a mechanism for turning Middle Eastern conflicts into draft agreements and freezing their flames?

There is a vague point in this agreement and you go on to wonder if Russia actually accepts to work on an international agreement that excludes China from what is the actual instrument of conflict with the U.S. side?

There is an ambiguous point in this agreement and it raises the question whether Russia actually accepts working on an international agreement that excludes China from it, whereas China is the actual tool for the conflict with the American side?

This is a difficult point for which the Russians may find a solution, namely, limiting the nuclear deal to the Iranian nuclear issue exclusively, provided that the bulk of international relations remain free, and this would re-weave the Sino-Russian-Iranian relations that they believe can catch up with the American giant and possibly overtake it after awhile.

Therefore, the world is in the atmosphere of the Iranian nuclear agreement and is awaiting its results on which it will build its next movement.

If the U.S. movement wants to attract Iran from the Sino-Russian axis, then the Russian role has taken upon itself to freeze the Iranian role at the steps of the nuclear agreement, providing that it paves the way for a Sino-Iranian-Russian movement that will not delay the completion of building a system of alliances that may include more countries than the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia believe. This means that the nuclear deal will not reduce international conflicts and may establish deeper and more violent international conflicts.

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ماذا تعني العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ الإيرانيّ

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د. وفيق إبراهيم

ظروف العودة الى الاتفاق النوويّ تزداد ويرتفع معها احتمال بناء سلام عالميّ فعلي بين الدول الأقوى في العالم.

أسباب ارتفاع هذا التفاؤل هو انعقاد لقاء ليليّ بين أربعة من أعضاء الاتفاق هم فرنسا وبريطانيا والمانيا والولايات المتحدة للمرة الأولى منذ انسحاب الأميركيين من الاتفاق في 2016.

وبما ان روسيا متمسكة بعضويتها وإيران ايضاً فهذا يعني وجود احتمال كبير لإعادة العمل بالاتفاق النووي وفق ما نصت عليه شروطه الأساسية في 2015.

يبدو أن ظروف العودة ليست صعبة على الرغم من المحاولات السعودية الإسرائيلية لعرقلتها والضغط على الولايات المتحدة لعدم العودة. وهذا سببه إصرار هذين البلدين على الاستمرار في اعتبار إيران عدواً للنظام الغربي العام وتحالفاته في الشرق الاوسط.

وكان الرئيس الأميركي السابق ترامب انسحب من الاتفاق النووي في 2016 بزعم أن إيران خرقته. لكن بقية الدول الأعضاء ومنظمة الطاقة الدولية لم توافق على ادعاءاته، ما أدى الى تعطيل العمل به في السنوات الاربع الأخيرة على التوالي وتحوّل الأمر نزاعاً أميركياً – إيرانياً دخلت فيه «إسرائيل» والسعودية والإمارات الى جانب الأميركيين لكن فرنسا وبريطانيا والمانيا ظلت تطالب إيران بالبقاء في عضوية الاتفاق الى جانب روسيا التي أعلنت منذ انطلاق الخلاف تأييدها القوي الى جانب إيران.

هو إذاً صراع سياسيّ يرتدي شكل خلافات تقنية، أما الأسباب فهي نجاح إيران في بناء تحالفات عميقة بدءاً مع أفغانستان مع قواها الرئيسيّة وصولاً الى نفوذ سياسي عميق في باكستان. كما أن إيران تمكنت من التوغّل في الهند، حيث نجحت في بناء علاقات عميقة مع شيعتها ولم توفر اليمن، حيث نسجت واحدة من اهم العلاقات مع الحوثيين الذين يشكلون قوتها الأساسية وهزمت بالاشتراك معهم السعودية والامارات والبريطانيين والأميركيين في معارك لا تزال متواصلة.

كذلك فإن إيران دعمت العراق وأتاحت له فرصة الانتصار على الأميركيين وحلفائهم وداعش. أما سورية فهي حكاية كبرى دعمت فيها إيران منع إسقاط الدولة السورية وساندت تمددها الى ثلاثة أرباع بلادها. أما لبنان فتمكنت إيران من إسناد حزب الله بشكل أصبح فيه القوة الأساسية في محور كبير يقف في وجه «اسرائيل» وزبانيتها في المنطقة.

هذه الإنجازات هي السبب الأساسي للعداء الأميركي الغربي السعودي الإسرائيلي لإيران، وهي سبب الانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق النووي.

فهل يمكن لإيران الرضوخ لإعادة التفاوض على نقاط تحالفاتها الممتدة من افغانستان الى لبنان؟ هناك معطيات تحول دون هذا الأمر.

اولاً الغرب يعرف ان تحالفات إيران أصبحت قوى وازنة مسلحة داخل بلدانها وليس سهلاً التصدي لها، كما أنه أصبح شبه مستحيل مهاجمتها من طريق «إسرائيل» او اي قوى عربية. اما لجهة المفاوضات حول وضعها فهذا عمل ميؤوس منه لأنها تقترب من الإمساك بدولها.

لذلك لا يتبقى أمام الأميركيين وتحالفاتهم إلا البحث عن وسائل جديدة «كامنة» تتدحرج نحو السياسة، أي أن يقبل الأميركيون بتسويات سياسية بين القوى المتحالفة مع إيران والقوى المحسوبة على الأميركيين انما ليس في إطار هدنات مفروضات بل اتفاقات تؤدي الى تسيير الأعمال العامة في البلاد وانتظامها.

فهل تؤدي العودة الى الاتفاق النووي الى انتظام الاعمال الداخلية في افغانستان واليمن والعراق وسورية ولبنان؟

يبدو ان الأمور ذاهبة الى هذا المنحى لانتفاء البديل خصوصاً أن طرفي الصراع لا يفكران أبداً بترك المناطق التي يرعونها في العراق وسورية وذلك لأهميتها الوطنية والإقليمية.

يتبين اذاً ان الاتفاق النووي هو اتفاق داخلي يمسك بالكثير من المناطق الداخلية للدول في الشرق الأوسط وهذا يجعله هاماً جداً ويصادر القوى الخارجية لهذه الدول أي يصبح بإمكانه استعمال الجهة التي يسيطر عليها في الصراعات الشرق اوسطية وهي ايضاً دولية تصبّ في مصلحة تزكية فريق آخر في صراعات الدول للسيطرة على أهم منطقة نفط وغاز في العالم.

فهل تنجح اللقاءات الأوروبية – الأميركية في التمهيد للعودة الى الاتفاق النووي كآلية تحول الصراعات الشرق أوسطية الى مشاريع اتفاقات وتجمّد لهيبها؟

هناك نقطة غامضة في هذا الاتفاق وتذهب الى التساؤل اذا كانت روسيا تقبل فعلاً العمل في اتفاق دولي يُقصي الصين عنه بما هي الأداة الفعلية للصراع مع الطرف الأميركي؟

هذه نقطة صعبة قد يجد الروس لها حلاً وهي اقتصار الاتفاق النووي على الموضوع النووي الإيراني حصراً على أن يبقى القسم الأكبر من العلاقات الدولية حراً وهذا من شأنه إعادة نسج علاقات صينية روسية إيرانية ترى أن بإمكانها اللحاق بالعملاق الأميركي وربما تجاوزه بعد مدة من الزمن.

العالم اذاً في أجواء الاتفاق الإيراني النووي يترقب نتائجه التي يبني عليها حركته المقبلة.

فإذا كانت الحركة الأميركية تريد جذب إيران من المحور الصيني الروسي، فإن الدور الروسي أخذ على عاتقه تجميد الدور الإيراني عند مندرجات الاتفاق النووي على أن يفسح المجال لحركة صينية – إيرانية روسية لن تتأخر في استكمال بناء منظومة تحالفات قد تشمل من الدول أكثر مما تعتقد الولايات المتحدة و»إسرائيل» والسعودية. بما يعني ان الاتفاق النووي لن يختزل الصراعات الدولية وقد يؤسس لصراعات دولية أكثر عمقاً وأشد عنفاً.

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The start of the return to nuclear deal train انطلاق قطار العودة للاتفاق النوويّ

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

The start of the return to nuclear deal train

Nasser Kandil

– The speed with which the administration of US President Joe Biden deals with the Iranian nuclear file does not apply to what is being fancied and promoted by those who linked their fate in the region with the illusion of American supremacy and Iran’s weakness, who said that months will pass before Washington considers the Iranian nuclear file, within a week of Biden’s inauguration, he appointing Robert Maley, known for his positions calling for returning to the agreement without delay, as special envoy on Iran, for returning to the agreement without delay and discussing issues of disagreement under the umbrella of the agreement, to the point of the choice that the President adheres to.

– A month before Biden entered the White House, two files were moving in parallel, the file of the restoration of US-European relations being the entrance to the understanding on the road-map to return to the nuclear understanding with Iran, which was translated by a meeting, the first of its kind in five years, that includes the US Secretary of State and foreign ministers. France, Germany and Britain, during which Washington announced its readiness to attend a meeting within the framework of the 5 + 1 formula, with the presence and participation of Iran. US President Joe Biden expressed to the Munich Security Conference his readiness to engage in a formula that would open the way for a return to the nuclear agreement with Iran, with reference to the files of the dispute with Iran, and the intention to solve it by negotiating and annexing it to the agreement, which of course is rejected by Iran. In parallel, the second file, which is the U.S. pressure on Saudi Arabia from the gate of stopping arms deals under the slogan of stopping the war on Yemen, and declassifying Ansar Allah from the lists of terrorism, to release the investigations related to the killing of journalist Jamal Al-Khashoggi and the role revealed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

– Washington began the preparations for the return to the agreement, with President Biden’s contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and putting him in the form of the American decision, as reported by Reuters, and Washington took decisions in the size of legitimising the return to the agreement and withdrawing the US legal cover for any sanctions that were imposed on the third parties after the American withdrawal from the agreement in the era of former President Donald Trump, by withdrawing the request submitted by the Trump administration to the UN Security Council to re-impose the UN sanctions on Iran that were lifted in accordance with the UN resolution that approved the agreement, and the withdrawal book that recognises the illegality of the previous US request, and in parallel it cancelled Washington restrictions that the Trump administration had imposed on Iranian diplomats in New York.

– Iran welcomed Washington’s steps, but it was not satisfied that it did not solve the issue of sanctions, which depends on Iran’s retreat from the measures it has taken to reduce its obligations stipulated in the agreement, and the most important measures that it will take within days unless Washington offers convincing measures for Iran to back down from the sanctions. In the days leading up to February 23, there are signs that Tehran is asking Europe to take steps that translate its commitment to the Iran agreement, and Washington’s withdrawal of an earlier request to return to UN sanctions on Iran and prove the illegality of the request, putting at the forefront the hypothesis that Europe will activate a mechanism Financial trading with Iran called  Anstex, which Europe was unable to operate in the time of the Trump administration and can now be activated and proven to be useful, with billions of dollars belonging to Iran held in European banks, and Iranian deals with European companies frozen pending payment mechanism.

– President Biden has repeated more than once the phrase, that America has returned, boasting that this is an expression of America’s diplomatic strength, meaning that America has returned to its glory days and its ability to determine the paths of the world, and which is being said that America has only returned to the nuclear agreement, and that the way back is not according to the whims and desires of its president, who discovers every day the limitations of his options and the difficulty of acting as dictated by the balance of power that is no longer in favour of his country in the world, in parallel with preserving face, claiming supremacy, the ability to draw paths, and demonstrating retreat in the form of dictation. Time has changed, the equations have changed, the options are limited, and the state of denial will not help, and swallowing the bitter cup one time, is less bitter.

انطلاق قطار العودة للاتفاق النوويّ

ناصر قنديل

لا تنطبق السرعة التي تتعامل من خلالها إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن مع الملف النووي الإيراني مع ما يتوهّمه ويروّج له الذين ربطوا مصيرهم في المنطقة بوهم التفوّق الأميركي وضعف إيران، والذين قالوا إن شهوراً ستمرّ قبل أن تنظر واشنطن في الملف النووي الإيراني، فبدأ تعيين روبرت مالي مبعوثاً خاصاً حول إيران، خلال أسبوع من تسلّم الرئيس بايدن، وأشارت شخصية هذا المبعوث المعروفة بمواقفها الداعية للعودة إلى الاتفاق من دون إبطاء ومناقشة قضايا الخلاف تحت مظلة الاتفاق، إلى وجهة الخيار الذي يلتزمه الرئيس الأميركي.

قبل أن ينقضي شهر على دخول بايدن الى البيت الأبيض، كان ملفان يتحرّكان بالتوازي، ملف ترميم العلاقات الأميركية الأوروبية من مدخل التفاهم حول خريطة طريق العودة الى التفاهم النووي مع إيران، الذي ترجمه اجتماع هو الأول من نوعه منذ خمس سنوات يضمّ وزير خارجية أميركا ووزراء خارجية فرنسا وألمانيا وبريطانيا، أعلنت خلاله واشنطن استعدادها لحضور اجتماع ضمن إطار صيغة الـ 5+1، بحضور ومشاركة إيران، وتوجه موقف الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن أمام مؤتمر ميونيخ للأمن بالاستعداد للانخراط في صيغة تفتح الطريق للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، تحت سقف دائم للإشارة لملفات الخلاف مع إيران، ونيّة حلها بالتفاوض وضمها للاتفاق، وهو طبعاً ما ترفضه إيران. وبالتوازي كان يتحرك الملف الثاني وهو الضغط الأميركي على السعودية من بوابة وقف صفقات السلاح تحت شعار وقف الحرب على اليمن، وإلغاء تصنيف أنصار الله عن لوائح الإرهاب، وصولاً للإفراج عن التحقيقات الخاصة بقتل الصحافي جمال الخاشقجي وما تكشفه من دور لولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان.

بدأت واشنطن إجراءات التمهيد للعودة إلى الاتفاق، باتصال أجراه الرئيس بايدن برئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو ووضعه في صورة القرار الأميركي كما أوردت وكالة رويتر، واتخذت واشنطن قرارات بحجم شرعنة العودة للاتفاق وسحب الغطاء الشرعي أميركياً عن أية عقوبات نجمت على الأطراف الثالثين بعد الانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق في عهد الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، وذلك من خلال سحب الطلب الذي قدّمته إدارة ترامب إلى مجلس الأمن الدولي لإعادة فرض العقوبات الأمميّة على إيران التي رفعت بموجب القرار الأمميّ الذي صادق على الاتفاق، وما في كتاب السحب من اعتراف بعدم شرعية الطلب الأميركي السابق، وبالتوازي ألغت واشنطن تقييدات كانت إدارة ترامب قد فرضتها على الدبلوماسيين الإيرانيين في نيويورك.

إيران رحبت بخطوات واشنطن، لكنها لم تكتف بها باعتبارها لا تحل قضية العقوبات التي يتوقف على رفعها تراجع إيران عن الإجراءات التي اتخذتها بتخفيض التزاماتها التي نص عليها الاتفاق، والأهم الإجراءات التي ستتخذها خلال أيام ما لم تُقدم واشنطن على إجراءات مقنعة لإيران بالتراجع عن العقوبات. وفي الأيام الفاصلة عن موعد 23 شباط ستشهد خطوات، برزت مؤشرات على وجهتها بمطالبة طهران لأوروبا باتخاذ خطوات تترجم التزامها بالاتفاق مع إيران، وبسحب واشنطن لطلب سابق بالعودة للعقوبات الأممية على إيران وإثبات عدم شرعية الطلب، ما يضع في الواجهة فرضية إقدام أوروبا على تفعيل آلية المتاجرة المالية مع إيران المسمّاة أنستكس، والتي عجزت أوروبا عن العمل بها في زمن إدارة ترامب وبات بإمكانها تفعيلها وإثبات جدواها، مع مليارات الدولارات العائدة لإيران والمحجوزة في المصارف الأوروبية، والصفقات الإيرانية مع شركات أوروبية والمجمّدة بانتظار آلية التسديد.

كرر الرئيس بايدن في أكثر من مرة عبارة، إن أميركا عادت، متباهياً بأن ذلك تعبير عن القوة الدبلوماسيّة لأميركا، قاصداً أن أميركا عادت الى أيام عزها وقدرتها على تقرير مسارات العالم، والذي يجري يقول إن أميركا عادت فقط إلى الاتفاق النووي، وإن طريق العودة ليس على هواها ومقاس رئيسها، الذي يكتشف كل يوم محدودية خياراته وصعوبة التصرّف بما تمليه موازين القوة التي لم تعد لصالح دولته في العالم، بالتوازي مع حفظ ماء الوجه وادعاء التفوق والقدرة على رسم المسارات، وتظهير التراجع بصورة الإملاء من فوق. فالزمن تغير والمعادلات تغيّرت، والخيارات محدودة، وحال الإنكار لن تنفع، فتجرّع الكأس المرة دفعة واحدة أقل مرارة.

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Joe Biden Adopts a Trump Approach to Iran

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

An Analysis () by Lawrence Davidson

9 February 2021

Part I—Joe Biden, the Good Stuff

All right! Let’s hear it for Joe Biden! Our new president is leading us in the direction of domestic sanity, and there are even hints of progressive potential in his evolving agenda. Under his leadership, we might soon master the Covid-19 plague and dig ourselves out of our near-depression economic straits. This is terrific!

Some good news when it comes to foreign policy as well. You’ll remember that in Trump’s determination to “make “American great again” (MAGA), the former president decided that international organizations and cooperation were impediments to national greatness. Thus, he systematically withdrew from a number of alignments and also scorned international law. This approach appears to have been part of a MAGA scheme to subvert international order. Its nihilistic undertones were highlighted by the creepy leaders who seemed to warm Trump’s heart. He found men such as the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, along with a long list of dictators ranging from Rodrigo Duterte in Philippines to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi inEgypt, to be really congenial. There was also Trump’s warm admiration for the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. 

President Biden has saved us from this sort of delinquency. He is now operating under new and saner marching orders: “diplomacy is back” and multilateralism is in. The U.S. has recommitted to the international effort to slow down global warming and has rejoined the World Health Organization. Biden has ended all participation in the immoral Yemen civil war and, so it is reported, told the Russians to keep their invasive cyber-fingers to themselves. 

At this point you might have the urge to celebrate what appears to be a full 180-degree turn from Donald Trump’s demented worldview. But hold on, that is not quite the case. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it appears that a residual lawlessness can be found in at least one the Biden’s foreign policies. We can recognize it in the game he is playing with Iran. 

Part II—Scuttling the JCPOA

Recall that in 2015 then-President Obama invested a lot of political capital, not to mention putting forth a remarkable display of good sense, in helping to negotiate a multilateral agreement with Iran. This is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and it was multilateral because it included not just the U.S. and Iran but also the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China as well as Germany (collectively referred to as the P5+1). Basically, the agreement stated that, under a regime of international monitoring, Iran would forgo any development of nuclear weapons and convert its nuclear facilities to peacetime pursuits. In exchange, the P5+1 would lift all nuclear-related economic sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and the release of frozen assets. It was a rare display of effective diplomacy and it worked—until Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, unilaterally scuttled the deal. 

Trump withdrew from the agreement in early May 2018. By January 2020 he had increased the number of Iran-related sanctions to over one thousand. In 2019, Trump was suggesting that if Iran wanted to enter into new negotiations with the U.S., he would consider lifting some of the sanctions. Iran refused to begin the negotiating process over again with Trump. On 15 January 2021, five days before leaving office, Trump added new sanctions. Why did he display such maliciousness? Besides a bizarre hatred for anything Obama had achieved, and the disdain for international cooperation which supposedly stood in the way of his MAGA fantasies, there are other factors. Trump is a truly amoral schemer (we might think of him as a modern-day lawless Borgia). And so he almost naturally fell in with amoral regimes with active domestic lobbies in the U.S. (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), as well as a “pay to play” approach for the votes and donations of Americans who have a grudge against or fear of Iran. Here we can name not only the Zionists, but also the wealthy Iranians who took refuge in the U.S. after Iran’s 1979 revolution. Many of these are Iranian monarchists who want to see regime change in Iran through the return of a shah (king).

Under the circumstances, the Iranian government reaction has been understandable: they see themselves as the aggrieved party. They had negotiated the JCPOA in good faith. They had met the conditions of the agreement to the satisfaction of international monitors. The other side had failed to respond as promised. Not only had the U.S. broke the agreement without cause, but it had then blackmailed its European allies into breaking their commitments under the agreement. This was done by the Trump administration declaring that any party that broke Washington’s sanctions against Iran would themselves be sanctioned.

After a year or so, Iran, noting that it was the only party paying attention to the deal and that the sanctions still applied, began to slowly back away from the nuclear agreement’s provisions. However, it was not until January 2020 that the Iranians announced they would no longer limit their number of centrifuges and thus their capacity to enrich uranium. Even then it was not the obscene number of American sanctions or the gross failure of the Europeans to abide by their promises that finally “broke the camel’s back.” It was Trump’s ordering of the murder of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January 2020—essentially an act of war, and certainly one in violation of international law.

Part III—Joe Biden, the Bad Stuff

Now Trump is gone and we have Joe Biden, who, by the way, has not done the right thing and affirmed that his administration would rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. Instead he declared that “I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations” (my emphasis). Later he said that the subsequent negotiations would involve the Islamic Republic’s “violations of human rights and Iran’s role in the regional conflicts.” On its face, this is not an invitation to return to a stabilizing status quo ante, or even a supposed “credible path back to diplomacy.” It is a take-it-or-leave-it demand. This position is remarkably similar to that of Trump posturing for new negotiations back in 2019. And since, as of 7 February 2021, Biden has refused to lift sanctions on Iran—has refused to cease driving that country into poverty—these are no longer Trump’s sanctions. Biden now owns this horror show. Here are some of Biden’s fatal steps.

It was about nine days into the new administration that Biden’s officials began to reference foreign policy and Iran. First appeared Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, who told the U.S. Institute of Peace that “a critical early priority has to be to deal with what is an escalating nuclear crisis as they [Iran] move closer and closer to having enough fissile material for a weapon.” One wonders if Sullivan got his start in advertising, because his description is a purposeful mischaracterization of the situation. The descriptor “escalating nuclear crisis” is a woeful exaggeration. If there is any “crisis” at all, it is because Washington has failed to meet its commitments under the 2015 agreement. The Iranians have repeatedly made it clear that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. And, one can imagine the only thing that could change their mind is an existential outside threat. To date, the only ones that pose such threats are allies of the U.S.: Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Then stepped up Tony Blinken, Biden’s new secretary of state, to continue the new administration’s maneuvers. To wit, Blinken stated “Tehran must resume complying with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal before Washington would do so.” This sort of statement is a rather childish, you-go-first challenge. Blinken then explained that if Iran returns to the deal, Washington would seek to build what Blinken called a “longer and stronger agreement” that would deal with other “deeply problematic” issues. He did not name these, but Biden for his part has drawn attention to Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and its support for proxy forces in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

It took the Iranians no time at all to recognize this gambit for what it is, an effort to enlarge restrictions on Iranian military capacity beyond the scope of the original 2015 agreement. Almost immediately, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, responded that the U.S. position was not practical and will not happen and then added in an op-ed in Foreign Affairs,“once a party leaves an agreement, then that party has no authority demanding others’ compliance to that agreement.”

The Iranians did come back with a more doable proposal to deal with the “who goes first” dilemma. Teheran proposed a timed, mutual U.S. and Iranian return to the original agreement. In an interview with CNN, the Iranian foreign minister said “both countries should synchronize their JCPOA-related moves under the supervision of the European Union”—in other words, achieve the goal with a step-by-step coordinated process. The Biden administration said no to Zarif’s offer, and sane minds, noting the rejection, could hear eerie Trump-like snickering in the surrounding ether. 

Part IV—Conclusion

We have already asked why Trump decided to act in such a malicious manner toward Iran. Now we can ask why Joe Biden has decided to mimic his predecessor and continue a callous, hard-line approach to that same country. As it turns out, the answer is not all that different. Biden is subject to the same lobby pressure from groups to which he has a demonstrated sympathy. Among these are some of the well known suspects mentioned above, but first and foremost are Israel and its Zionist supporters (a rundown of these can be found in a full-page ad in the 5 February 2021 New York Times). 

We can also add one other grouping to this list—various civil rights organizations who would use the moment to pressure Teheran to increase the level of civil liberties allowed in the country. However, as Behrooz Ghamari Tabriz, writing in  Counterpunch notes, “It is a hard sell for those who are genuinely concerned with the question of human rights to ask the American government to be the agent of that change. So long as our government supports the region’s most oppressive regimes, it is hard to imagine that it has any moral authority or political capital to spend on issues of human rights in Iran.”

It is hard to know what exactly is going on inside Joe Biden’s head on this issue. We can assume that it is nothing really analytical. His administration’s actions have, so far, run counter to the other precedents he is laying down in the areas of international cooperation and leadership. They also go against logic. One can imagine no better way to move the Iranians toward nuclear weapons capability than the policies now being pursued. Until Biden acts, in terms of Iran, in the interests of achievable nuclear restraint and stability, that is in the real interests of the country he leads, rather than this or that interest group, he will carry around the residual chains of Donald Trump’s miserable legacy. 

Iran to nuclear weapons … a serious option إيران إلى السلاح النوويّ…خيار جدّيّ

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Iran to nuclear weapons … a serious option

Photo of إيران إلى السلاح النوويّ…
خيار جدّيّ

Nasser Kandil

–In years, as Iran advances nuclear technology and establishes advances in missile technology, even reaching the advanced range, Iran has succeeded in letting America gasp behind, while Iran’s political point of view is neither nuclear nor missile. On the political level, Iran’s nuclear program is a twin, the first is aimed at economic and social progress using nuclear technology in multiple areas, but it has a high strategic value in the Eyes of the United States because of the opportunity to turn into a military nuclear program, and the second to protect progress in the first, Iranian missiles are the shield and fort to protect the nuclear program, by making the thinking of striking this program militarily out of research, especially since the missile program If Iran’s nuclear program is strategically in the eyes of Washington, and Iran’s missile program is a shield against targeting, what is the strategy in Tehran’s eyes?

–During the decades of progress on the nuclear program and subsequently the missile program, Washington has been negotiating and halting negotiations, and discovering when it returns to negotiations that the Iranian program has made qualitatively new progress with which the terms of the negotiations have changed, according to former U.S. President Barack Obama, based on his call not to risk returning pressure and withdrawing from negotiations without signing a possible agreement. Whenever Washington imagined that releasing Iranian funds and lifting sanctions would ensure that Iran would abandon Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, or abandon Ansar Allah in Yemen, it would discover the opposite, until the Obama administration reached the conviction that it agreed with this strategy and wagered to contain its escalation by engaging in localised settlements in the arenas of engagement that would satisfy the local parties, before the administration of former President Trump reached a bet on returning to pressure in response to Saudi-Israeli commitments to turn the table, to result in the Trump mandate the birth of new conditions for negotiation, what are they?

– President Obama said that he was informed by a trusted mediator with Iran that relying on Imam Ali Khamenei’s fatwa prohibiting the production of nuclear weapons to continue pressure on Iran may lead to changing the fatwa to allow the production of nuclear weapons and limiting their use to defending Iran against a nuclear attack, and what the Iranian Minister of Security said before two days about the possibility of Iran going to produce a nuclear weapon, will be taken very seriously, because when Iran announces a hypothesis, it does not do so in negotiation unless it has acquired all of its components, and the scenario for its implementation becomes available, this is an additional significance of the twinning of the nuclear program with the missile program, to form together a project that obtains strategic value in Tehran’s eyes in this case. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reluctant to quickly return the nuclear deal without amendment and without additional conditions, and to push for the lifting of sanctions.

If the confrontation follows this scenario, to which Tehran seems well prepared, the negotiations, according to Obama, will become more complicated, and no one will be able to talk to Iran with less negotiating offers than linking the end of Iran’s nuclear weapons program to the end of Israel’s military nuclear program. This is the new strategic value that Iran is preparing to achieve, which Washington gives legitimacy whenever it makes way to return to the original agreement, which Iran cannot refuse if America returns to it with the lifting of sanctions, under the heading of the return of the parties to the pre-Trump actions that paved Iran’s path to this stage of power.

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إيران إلى السلاح النوويّ…خيار جدّيّ

Photo of إيران إلى السلاح النوويّ…
خيار جدّيّ

ناصر قنديل

خلال سنوات نجحت إيران، وهي تتقدّم في التكنولوجيا النووية وتؤسس للتقدم في تكنولوجيا الصواريخ، حتى بلغت فيها المدى المتقدم، بأن تدع أميركا تلهث وراءها، بينما وجهة إيران السياسية ليست نووية ولا صاروخية. فعلى الصعيد السياسي يشكل البرنامج النووي والبرنامج الصاروخي لإيران توأمين، الأول هادف للتقدم الاقتصادي والاجتماعي باستخدام التقنية النووية في مجالات متعددة، لكنه صاحب قيمة استراتيجية عالية في العيون الأميركية لما يوفره من فرصة للتحول الى برنامج نووي عسكري، والثاني لحماية التقدم في الأول، فالصواريخ الإيرانيّة هي الدرع والحصن لحماية البرنامج النووي، بجعل التفكير بضرب هذا البرنامج عسكرياً خارج البحث، خصوصاً أن البرنامج الصاروخي الإيراني الذي بلغ مراحل القدرة على إصابة كل المواقع الأميركيّة المنتشرة في دائرة شعاعها 2000 كلم، هو البرنامج ذاته الذي تنتقل تقنياته الى قوى المقاومة والذي يجعل مع الصواريخ الإيرانية أمن كيان الاحتلال والحكومات التابعة لواشنطن في دائرة الخطر، فإذا كان البرنامج النووي الإيراني استراتيجياً بعيون واشنطن، والبرنامج الصاروخي الإيراني درع حمايته من الاستهداف، فما هو الاستراتيجي بعيون طهران؟

خلال عقود التقدم في البرنامج النووي وتالياً البرنامج الصاروخي، كانت واشنطن تفاوض وتوقف التفاوض، وتكتشف عندما تعود للتفاوض ان البرنامج الإيراني حقق تقدماً جديداً نوعياً تغيّرت معه شروط التفاوض، وفقاً لما قاله الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما، مستنداً الى ذلك في دعوته لعدم المخاطرة بالعودة للضغوط والانسحاب من التفاوض دون توقيع الاتفاق الممكن. وخلال هذه العقود كان ولا يزال الهم الإيراني الاستراتيجي الأول هو بناء طوق صاروخي متين لقوى المقاومة قادر على حصار كيان الاحتلال. وكلما توهمت واشنطن أن الإفراج عن الأموال الإيرانية ورفع العقوبات سيتكفلان بتخلي إيران عن طريق طهران بغداد دمشق بيروت، أو بالتخلي عن أنصار الله في اليمن، كانت تكتشف العكس، حتى وصلت إدارة أوباما إلى الاقتناع بالتساكن مع هذه الاستراتيجية والرهان على احتواء تصاعدها من خلال الانخراط بتسويات موضعية في ساحات الاشتباك، تحوز رضى الأطراف المحلية، قبل ان تصل إدارة الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، الى الرهان على العودة للضغوط تلبية لتعهدات إسرائيلية سعودية بقلب الطاولة، لينتج عن ولاية ترامب ولادة شروط جديدة للتفاوض، فما هي؟

قال الرئيس أوباما إنه تبلغ من وسيط موثوق مع إيران، بأن الاستناد إلى فتوى الإمام علي الخامنئي بتحريم إنتاج سلاح نووي لمواصلة الضغط على إيران قد يؤدي لتغيير الفتوى بالسماح بإنتاج سلاح نووي، وحصر استخدامها بالدفاع عن إيران بوجه هجوم نوويّ، وما قاله وزير الأمن الإيراني قبل يومين عن احتمال ذهاب إيران لإنتاج سلاح نووي، يؤخذ على محمل الجدّ لأن إيران عندما تعلن عن فرضية لا تفعل ذلك تفاوضياً إلا وقد امتلكت كل مقوّماتها، وبات سيناريو تطبيقها متاحاً، وهذا مغزى إضافي لتوأمة البرنامج النووي مع البرنامج الصاروخي، ليشكلا معاً مشروعاً ينال القيمة الاستراتيجي بعيون طهران في هذه الحالة. حالة تردّد إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن في العودة السريعة للاتفاق النوويّ من دون تعديل ومن دون شروط إضافية، والمبادرة الى رفع العقوبات.

في حال سلكت المواجهة هذا السيناريو، الذي تبدو طهران قد أعدّت له جيداً، يصير التفاوض وفقاً لما قاله اوباما، أشد تعقيداً فلن يكون متاحاً لأحد عندها الحديث مع إيران بعروض تفاوضيّة أقل من ربط إنهاء البرنامج العسكريّ النوويّ الإيراني إلا بالتزامن مع إنهاء البرنامج النوويّ العسكري الإسرائيليّ. وهذه هي القيمة الاستراتيجية الجديدة، التي تستعدّ لتحقيقها إيران، والتي تمنحها واشنطن المشروعيّة كلما عقدت سبل العودة للاتفاق الأصلي، الذي لا تملك إيران أن ترفضه إذا عادت إليه أميركا مرفقاً برفع العقوبات، تحت عنوان عودة الطرفين الى ما قبل إجراءات ترامب التي مهدت لإيران طريق بلوغ هذه المرحلة من الاقتدار

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Compare, Contrast and Analyze – Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell

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February 08, 2021

Compare, Contrast and Analyze – Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, Moscow, February 5, 2021 – https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4553286

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I had a substantive discussion with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell.

We reviewed in detail the state of relations between Russia and the EU. Clearly, they are going through a rough period, partly related to the unilateral illegitimate restrictions imposed by the EU under far-fetched pretexts. We expressed this openly today.

Importantly, both sides confirmed their interest in maintaining and expanding our dialogue, including on matters where our positions differ, which are numerous. We noted a mutual willingness to maintain pragmatic cooperation in areas of common interest that may be beneficial for both parties.

We share the opinion that further degradation of our ties may lead to negative and unpredictable consequences. We hope that during the strategic review of relations with Russia at the next EU summit scheduled for March 2021, its participants will opt for constructive, professional and pragmatic interaction. Our differences may not go away, but it is better to have as few as possible. We are neighbours and we are responsible for maintaining stability on our common European, or rather Eurasian continent, for ensuring most comfortable lives for our citizens in this vast geopolitical space. Russia and the European countries share common centuries-old history, culture and people-to-people contacts. We have a lot in common in the economy, although trade is almost half of what it was in record-high 2012 and 2013. We are witnessing a positive trend now where the EU remains our largest trade and economic partner. EU businesses are the biggest, or at least among the biggest, foreign investors in the Russian economy. Despite the pandemic, the bilateral trade numbers continue up. Our relationship, especially energy interdependence, must be used for the benefit of both sides. We have an understanding that we will look for other areas to apply our joint efforts as part of building renewed relationships.

Today, we covered healthcare, climate change, science and education as areas in which the experts and ministers from both sides can come up with significant agreements. We will do our best not to delay this effort if our European colleagues are ready for it. At least, we heard them say they were, during the talks.

We want to continue the political dialogue. Today’s talks are proof that it is useful regardless of everything else. There are preliminary agreements to expand cooperation in a number of promising areas, including combating terrorism and the drug threat that continues to come from Afghanistan, and other areas.

We paid special attention to the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We also discussed the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We see eye to eye on the need to resume the activities of the Quartet of international mediators, given that the new administration in Washington is disposed favourably to this idea. We both realise the need to use the Quartet’s capabilities to create conditions for resuming direct dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis in order to help the parties find a solution that will fit into the two-state formula approved by the UN and as part of the Arab Peace Initiative.

We discussed other crisis-ridden regions, including Syria and Libya. We understand that continuing instability continues to weigh down the situation in Europe, including in the context of the inflow of migrants and refugees to the EU. We believe it is necessary to overcome the existing problems, but not to forget about the events that preceded everything that we are now witnessing. Clearly, there would be much fewer of the problems had many Western states refrained from reckless geopolitical gambles in the Middle East and North Africa.

We will continue implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on settling Iran’s nuclear programme. A critical moment is coming. We hope that in this area, too, the US administration that held the talks and signed the JCPOA, will decide to what extent it will be ready to return to this major international document that is acknowledged as an achievement of multilateral diplomacy and shows what efforts must be made to ease tensions in various hot spots and to consolidate the nuclear arms non-proliferation regime.

We are willing to cooperate on other conflicts as well and regional issues in general. We will continue to inform each other on the approaches that are taking shape in the European Union and the Russian Federation.

I would like to express our regret that during the coronavirus pandemic when it would seem that all countries in the world should unite and act as one, some forces in the EU have used this issue to accuse Russia of disinformation. Russia has proved by deeds its willingness to help all of its interested colleagues, including in the EU, to counter this dangerous virus. If we really want to stop these information wars and false rumours, we must agree with the European Union to create one more channel and to buttress our talk about disinformation with facts that will allow us to consider mutual grievances at the professional level. Our proposal remains valid.

We are willing to discuss issues linked to the EU’s plans on the post-Soviet space (the South Caucasus and Central Asia) in which the EU displays substantial interest. We hope that in drafting its policy, the European Union will consider Russia’s lawful interests near its borders and in its relations with its next door neighbours and allies. It would be right to agree on principles that would include commitments not to interfere in the affairs of sovereign states, be it in the post-Soviet space, West Balkans or anywhere else.

This was an honest discussion. We did not conceal our differences but were motivated to discuss them in the open rather than harbour a grudge against each other. At the same time, we tried to promote our contacts wherever it was beneficial to both sides. We are ready for this. Today, we heard assurances that the same opinion is forming in the EU.

I would like to thank Josep Borrell and his team for the good talks.

Question (addressed to Josep Borrell): A third meeting of the Joint Cuba-EU Council, which you co-chaired, took place recently. What can you tell us about EU-Cuba relations today? Can this format help reduce the differences between Cuba and the US?

Question (to Sergey Lavrov): What can you tell us about current EU policy towards Cuba?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Josep Borrell): Josep, I see no surprise in that you were asked about Cuba. When I travel to various countries, I am always asked about Ukraine. You were asked about Cuba because you have fairly obvious and important relations with this state. I think this is a positive example of being guided by common sense, avoiding unilateral unlawful pressure, not to mention any form of blockade or embargo.

We have the same approach with the European Union: international partners must resolve their problems exclusively through dialogue. Power pressure, ultimatums, sanctions and penalties through exterritorial restrictions on those who want to develop normal relations are methods and instruments from a colonial past.

Unfortunately, the European Union increasingly resorts to these instruments, which are a US invention. This is sad. I hope upcoming international events, including the UN Security Council Permanent Members’ summit, which was proposed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and supported by others (President of France Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his willingness to take part in it yesterday), and other conferences will be used to figure out what king of world we are building. Will it be a multipolar world that ensures equality for all major actors, including the EU, or will it be a so-called multilateral world which is a cover to justify the methods of a unipolar world arrangement?

Today, we have started talking about the nature of genuine multilateralism and I hope we will continue this discussion. We are convinced that this is a format in which all states are represented. In other words, the United Nations. When initiatives on effective multilateralism are proposed, for example, by France and Germany, we begin to look into this slogan. It appears that the European Union is assumed to be an ideal of multilateralism, while others must follow in its wake.

These are philosophical issues, but they are related in practice to real politics. I am happy that today we talked honestly about them as well as about the questions that our European colleagues have for the Russian Federation. I believe this is the only constructive approach.

The example of Cuba graphically reveals the malignity of unilateral approaches and the need to revise them.

Question (retranslated from English): Regarding shared interests that can bring together the European Union and Russia rather than divide them, I want to ask you if you see the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine as a tool for rapprochement or as the opposite influence that will sow even more seeds for discord between the two blocs?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not talking about whether the Sputnik V vaccine might play a positive role but about establishing cooperation between all vaccine producers on an equal footing.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Sputnik V vaccine had been created, this news received a negative response – opinions varied from the skeptical “it is too early and nobody knows anything as yet” to “the Russians have rushed it for geopolitical advantages.” However, as the vaccine started to be given, the perception of it has changed, largely because at the very beginning Russian President Vladimir Putin, while announcing this achievement by Russian scientists, called for the broadest possible cooperation in this field with our foreign partners.

Yesterday, during the conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken we talked about the Sputnik V vaccine. Mr Blinken congratulated us on the vaccine being effective. We agreed to promote contacts between our laboratories, scientists and producers and see if there is the potential for cooperation in this area.

We are maintaining contact with our European colleagues on a wide scale regarding this issue. A number of countries are interested in buying and producing the vaccine domestically. In her recent telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the idea to see if there is a possibility for cooperation between Russia and Germany.

The Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology has established contact with AstraZeneca to see if a mixed version of the vaccine that combines the positive effects of both vaccines might be produced.

I believe that not only can cooperation in this area play a positive role but it is already doing so. We welcome this in every way.

Question: You said a revision in the European Union’s attitude towards Russia is in the offing but for now, as I see it, the EU is proceeding from the five principles of Federica Mogherini. Does Russia have principles we are guided by in building our relations with the EU? I must also ask you about the videos that were given to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and your Swedish colleague Ann Linde earlier. Doesn’t this move remind you of the old Soviet joke: “And you are lynching Negroes”?

Sergey Lavrov: I have expressed my view on “the five principles of Federica Mogherini” more than once. I’ll just mention one principle, the one that says relations with us will be normalised as soon as Russia fulfils the Minsk Agreements. In parallel, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky says he doesn’t like the Minsk Agreements but will have to keep them because this will allow him to maintain the sanctions against Russia. This trap into which the EU has put itself is indicative. We have asked Berlin and Paris, as the co-authors of the Minsk Agreements in the Normandy format, what they think about such statements by President Zelensky but our questions remain unanswered. Any more or less sensible person will understand that this condition is absolutely artificial.

Therefore, I would rather not invent counter principles but suggest relying on international law, the norms and principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents adopted at top level. These documents provide for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and free access to information (something we do not see being ensured by our Western colleagues). They also envisage many other principles, such as equitable dialogue, mutual respect and the search for a balance of interests. These principles underlie any dialogue that is aimed at achieving results rather than deriving some geopolitical advantage. Of course, reciprocity is a must. You recalled the Soviet saying “And you are lynching Negroes.” But this is not the point. This is just a witty interpretation of the principle of reciprocity.

If you are so concerned about human rights and the treatment of protesters, it is necessary to also look at the images we gave our Swedish colleagues as well as to Brussels on the eve of the current visit. Look at them. They show how a policeman drives his jeep over the demonstrators lying on the ground and many other things. The entire world saw footage how a young woman was squeezed against the wall by a stream of water from a fire hose in the Netherlands, after which she left the place covered in blood.

We had nothing like this. The police were repeatedly attacked during the recent demonstrations in Russia but did not use any special force. Demonstrators used teargas against the police.

Yesterday I talked with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He mentioned the situation around Alexey Navalny and the demonstrators. I asked him if he had any information that would clear up the location of those who were detained during the events at the US Capitol. In some estimates, there are about 400 people. Several dozens of them are charged with attacking the police. Under US law, this is punishable by a term in prison from one to 20 years. There were numerous attacks against the police during the recent demonstrations in Russia and all of them are documented. These facts are being processed now.

There are many cases in Europe where the courts are suspected of passing politicized verdicts. I would like to draw your attention to what has never been mentioned in our public statements, notably, the case of three prisoners in Spain who were sentenced to 10 and more years in prison for organising referendums in Catalonia, something we were accused of provoking without any evidence. I recall this because our court was accused of passing a politicised verdict. The judicial authorities in Germany and Belgium urged the Spanish leaders to revoke the sentences for these three Catalonians. This is what Spanish government authorities replied: “You know, we have our own judicial system. Don’t even think of calling into doubt the decisions that we adopt in our courts under our laws.” This is exactly what we want from the West as regards reciprocity.

As for transparency in our relations, we have simply become stuck on an issue that the West is trying to push into the background for some reason, drawing all attention to the protests and demonstrations in the Russian Federation. I am referring to the issue of finding the truth of what happened with Navalny, when and where. I have spoken about this many times. Neither Russian nor civilian German doctors have found what supposedly went into his body. This was discovered only by German military doctors. This is a tell-tale fact. Our numerous requests to receive the results of these tests from Germany, France, Sweden or the OPCW Technical Secretariat, which has become so tame and obedient, have remained unanswered. They simply do not answer our questions. All they say is “You know everything yourselves.” But this is simply disrespectful, to put it mildly.

I think this arrogance on behalf of a supposedly cultured Europe is absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible. But if our partners believe that we do not deserve to have information that would confirm their accusations against Russian leaders, let this be on their conscience. We favour honesty and transparency. No need to count these principles again. A mathematical approach is unnecessary. I think we all understand what we are talking about.

Question (for Josep Borrell): Which messages did you convey to Mr Lavrov regarding the sentence against Alexey Navalny and the repression of the peaceful demonstrations? Do you think it is possible that the European Union will adopt in the near future sanctions against the eight people named in the list of oligarchs elaborated by [Alexey] Navalny?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Josep Borrell): I have already spoken about this issue. I will not speak at length about Navalny, the demonstrations and protest rallies or, most importantly, about the double standards when it comes to the media coverage of these events. Western media outlets mostly report on police response without showing what they were responding to, whereas their coverage of demonstrations in the West is focused on the riotous behaviour of protesters.

We believe that there must be double standards here. It seems they are beginning to hear us. However, the EU countries’ allied collective stand is that no facts are provided to us. We understand that this stand is formulated in Berlin. It has decided that this should be so from the very beginning and has announced this decision to the others.  It was followed by France and Sweden. I am not surprised by this, considering the EU’s principle of solidarity. I am sure that the majority of European politicians are aware of the absurdity of this stand. This is obvious, provided there is respect for international law. Roman law, which has survived in a large degree and is applied in Europe, says that “the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies.” This is exactly what we want.

As for sanctions, we regard them as an internal affair of the European Union. We have grown used to Brussels applying unilateral sanctions without any legal substantiation more and more often. We are proceeding from the assumption that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at the current stage. I hope that in future strategic attention will be given to the EU’s fundamental interest in its closest neighbours and that the talks we have held today will promote movement to a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for this.

In conclusion I would like to say a few words to journalists. This concerns the problem, or the deadlock created by the results of the tests made in Germany, France and Sweden. I am surprised that journalists, who often show interest in less significant events, making them part of their reports and the questions they put to politicians, have been incredibly passive this time. I cannot understand the reason for this. I hope that the intrinsic features of journalists – inquisitiveness and a desire to get to the truth – will prevail, after all.

Maybe you will conduct a journalistic inquiry (not an investigation). Has it ever happened anywhere in the past that a politician, or someone claiming to be one, called on foreign states to adopt sanctions against his homeland?  If any journalist looks into this matter, this will produce an interesting brief, which all of us will accept with interest.

As it is said in media circles, good news don’t sell; everyone needs a scandal. However, we can offer you positive results in the spheres we have mentioned, that is, healthcare, science, education and climate change. These issues are of fundamental interest for large neighbouring players on the Eurasian continent. There is no doubt that we will try to translate these interests into practical agreements, which will help address global problems in a way that is comfortable for all participants.

I would like to thank Josep Borrell and his team once again.


Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission – My visit to Moscow and the future of EU-Russia relations – https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/92722/my-visit-moscow-and-future-eu-russia-relations_en

Short Extract – please read on the site itself from the link provided.

“I have just returned from a very complicated visit to Moscow, on which I had embarked to discuss the fraught state of EU-Russia relations. They have been  low for a number of years, and deteriorated even further after recent developments linked to the poisoning, arrest, and sentencing of Alexei Navalny as well as the related mass arrests of thousands of demonstrators. The purpose of this mission was to express directly the EU’s strong condemnation of these events and to address, through principled diplomacy, the process of a rapid worsening of our relationship with Russia, and to help prepare the forthcoming European Council discussions on EU-Russia relations.

“The Russian authorities did not want to seize this opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue with the EU. This is regrettable and we will have to draw the consequences.”

Iran-America: A Nuclear File or Beyond That? إيران – أميركا: ملف نوويّ أم أبعد من ذلك؟

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Iran-America: A Nuclear File or Beyond That?

Brigadier General Dr. Amin MohammedHatit*

On the 42nd anniversary of its victory, and at a time when the Islamic Revolution in Iran boasted of its distinct and multi-heading achievements, including strategic, political, scientific, economic, and military, etc., it faces important challenges that are not the issue of the economic war waged against it or the blockade and sanctions related to the Iranian nuclear file and the international agreement around it, at least.

Iran has chosen, since the success of its revolution and its orientation to build a truly independent state, the state enjoying its sovereign rights and investing its wealth outside the major blocs, protected by self and allied power.

On the other hand, the West viewed the Iranian independence approach as a departure from the “international order” imposed on the world after the Second World War, which is based on the idea of ​​”ruling the victors’ club in that war” controlling the fate and course of the world and preventing new members from entering this club except through one of the two powers.

The contrast between Iran, and the colonial system system stems from a fundamental idea, namely, Iran’s quest for a strong independent state to exercise its sovereign rights, and the rejection of the club of victors in the second war and because. Iran rejected dependency and maintained its independence and rights and extended the hand to those who were able to help who were abused in the region and the world, Iran was also attacked by a destructive war for 8 years, followed and is still by escalating and brutal manner economic war and a continuous blockade to the extent that it affects the people in most of their rights up to Food and medicine.

The economic war “sanctions” is not the result of Iran’s entry into the nuclear field and its success in making an advanced centrifugal system or enriching uranium by 20% or its ability to enrich with higher rates. All these titles and details are pretexts begged to justify the Western aggression against Iran. The real reason for the Western aggression against Iran lies in Iran’s endeavour to build a strong and independent self and its readiness to support the oppressed, especially the Palestinian people whose homeland was robbed by the Zionist entity, and therefore the policy of the West in the face of Iran is to deprive Iran of its power and resources, which can later undermine its independence and prevent it from helping those who want to return to their homeland in Palestine.

Iran has realised from the start the reality of the West’s stances towards it, its goals and strategies adopted against it, and decided to defend itself, its principles and its people and move forward to achieve its goals: independence, the exercise of all rights, building the protecting power, and adopted a defensive strategy of “long breath”, “strategic patience”, “courage in the situation” without provocation or an un-calculated challenge, but a kind of “constructive ambiguity” that does not provide the adversary with an excuse or attack.

In this environment, Iran entered the nuclear field and passed the threshold of possession of technology, announcing its attempt to use this technology for peaceful civilian and humanitarian purposes, but the West found in the subject a door and a new pretext to do more blockade measures and economic war and impose what he calls “sanctions” to tame Iran, while waving military action to destroy Iranian infrastructure not only in the nuclear field but in every area can be destroyed to prevent Iran from developing and advancing.

But Iran, in its reality and alliances, has surprised the adversary and the enemy, as it has with characteristic intelligence that it has the military power to be able to defend itself as reliably and to respond punitively and retaliatory to the aggressor, whose bases, positions and strategic positions are at the reach of Iran and under the influence of the missile system are legitimate targets for the defensive response. Iran had succeeded in preparing itself and announcing it even before it revealed its level of nuclear status.

This reality prevented the enemy Iran from committing any stupidity Israel did on the day its planes destroyed the Iraqi Tammuz reactor, and the matter passed as if it had not happened.

The agreement that led to the 5+1 negotiations with Iran on its nuclear file, which was approved by the Security Council and converted into a legitimate UN document, was not the fruit of the morals and humanity of the 5 + 1 group and its desire to solve the issue peacefully, but rather the inability of that group to resort to military force to prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear project. That’s why the agreement on the nuclear file was a way out for all. Iran has reserved its right to follow the nuclear path within restrictions that affirm its peaceful and civilian nature and dismantle a package of sanctions imposed on it in an malicious and criminal form, and the other side affirms “a right that it claims and sees as a right Acquired »by preventing anyone else from entering the military nuclear club.

But America, working to prevent Iran from independence, strength, and supporting the oppressed, turned against the agreement and carried out the strangest behaviour that anyone could imagine. America disavows everything it has committed the sanctions remained and even tightened, Iran smartly responded, by gradually retreating from its commitments, accompanied by the demonstration of its defensive military power capable of self-defence, presence and interests.

And it appeared that regardless of who lives in the White House, Trump or Biden, the policy of the Iranian and American parties has become clear, Iran wants to exercise a right, and America wants to blackmail and prevent Iran from exercising its rights, regardless of the titles of those rights, Who will be the predominant?

Mr. Ali Khamenei answered very clearly to this question, showing that the world has entered the “post-American phase” and the rational person must explain and realise that the pioneer of persuasive patience in the world is not ready to retreat and concede to a force that has entered a phase of decline. The American empire, as we said in a previous article, is preparing for its demise and someone who strengthens and tightens his grip on the sources of power wins, and if it takes some pain while awaiting the greatest victory. Biden must know that Iran believes and trusts that it is ultimately the victor, and he should not waste time returning to the nuclear agreement because delaying will not be in his interest, and he knows that there is no solution except through this agreement. Will the media debates today be a show of strength and preparation for negotiations for America’s return to a file that Biden claims is his priority?

It is a few weeks and the answer comes?

*University professor – strategic expert.

إيران – أميركا: ملف نوويّ أم أبعد من ذلك؟

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

في الذكرى الـ 42 لانتصارها وفي الوقت الذي تفاخر فيه الثورة الإسلامية في إيران بإنجازاتها المميّزة والمتعدّدة العناوين من استراتيجية وسياسية وعلمية واقتصادية وعسكرية إلخ… فإنها تواجه تحديات هامة ليست مسألة الحرب الاقتصادية التي تشنّ عليها أو الحصار والعقوبات المرتبطة بالملف النووي الإيراني والاتفاق الدولي حولها أقلها.

لقد اختارت إيران منذ نجاح ثورتها وتوجّهها الى بناء الدولة المستقلة فعلياً، الدولة المتمتعة بحقوقها السياديّة واستثمار ثرواتها، اختارت العمل في بناء الذات وحشد الطاقات وعقد التحالفات التي تمكّنها من بناء القوة التي تمكنها من ممارسة استقلالها الحقيقيّ العمليّ بعيداً عن الاستقلال الشكليّ النظريّ الذي تعيشه معظم دول العالم خارج التكتلات الكبرى، وبالتالي كانت استراتيجيّة إيران قائمة بشكل رئيسيّ على فكرة الاستقلال الذي تحميه القوة الذاتية والتحالفية وتتمتع بالثروة وممارسة الحقوق السيادية.

وفي المقابل نظر الغرب الى النهج الاستقلالي الإيراني بأنه خروج عن «النظام الدولي» المفروض على العالم بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية والذي يقوم على فكرة «تحكم نادي المنتصرين في تلك الحرب» تحكّمه بمصير ومسار العالم ومنع دخول أعضاء جدد الى هذا النادي إلا من باب إحدى القوّتين العظميين وبعد أن تؤدّى مراسم الطاعة وتعتنق التبعية عقيدة في السلوك.

فالتباين بين إيران الثورة – الدولة المستقلة ومنظومة الغرب الاستعماري ناشئ من فكرة أساسية، هي سعي إيران لإقامة الدولة المستقلة القوية الممارسة حقوقها السيادية، ورفض نادي المنتصرين في الحرب الثانية لفكرة وجود قوة في العالم خارج سيطرته بعيداً عن قراره، ولهذا… ولأنّ إيران رفضت التبعية وتمسّكت باستقلالها وبحقوقها ومدّت اليد لمن استطاعت ان تساعده من المظلومين المعتدى عليهم في المنطقة والعالم، لأنها كذلك فقد اعتُدي عليها بحرب تدميرية لمدة 8 سنوات، ثم أتبعت ولا تزال عرضة لحرب اقتصادية وحصار مستمرّ يمارس بشكل تصاعدي وحشي الى حدّ أنه يطال الشعب في معظم حقوقه وصولاً الى الغذاء والدواء.

إنّ الحرب والحصار الاقتصادي المنفذ بما تسمّيه أميركا «عقوبات»، ليس وليد الساعة وليس نتيجة دخول إيران المجال النوويّ ونجاحها في صنع منظومة الطرد المركزي المتقدّمة او تخصيب اليورانيوم بنسبة 20% او قدرتها على التخصيب بنسب أعلى، انّ كلّ هذه العناوين والتفاصيل هي ذرائع تتوسّلها القوى الاستعارية لتبرّر حربها وحصارها لإيران، اما السبب الحقيقي للعدوان الغربي على إيران – الثورة الإسلامية فإنه يكمن في سعي إيران الى بناء الذات القوية المستقلة واستعدادها او سلوكها في نصرة المظلومين وعلى رأسهم الشعب الفلسطيني الذي سُلب وطنه على يد الكيان الصهيوني، ولذلك فإنّ سياسة الغرب تقوم في مواجهة إيران على حرمانها من القوة ومصادرها، ما يمكن لاحقاً من نسف استقلالها وإعادتها الى ربقة التبعية للغرب الاستعماري كما يحول بينها وبين مساعدة من يريد العودة الى وطنه في فلسطين.

لقد أدركت إيران منذ البدء حقيقة مواقف الغرب حيالها وأهدافه واستراتيجياته المعتمدة ضدّها، وقرّرت الدفاع عن نفسها وعن مبادئها وعن شعبها والسير قدُماً لتحقيق الأهداف التي رمت اليها الثورة الإسلامية: الاستقلال، ممارسة الحقوق كافة، بناء القوة التي تمكن من حماية ذلك، واعتمدت استراتيجية دفاعية تحكمها قواعد «النفس الطويل» و«الصبر الاستراتيجي» و«الشجاعة في الموقف» من غير استفزاز أو تحدّ غير محسوب لا بل يقترب الى نوع من «الغموض البناء» الذي لا يوفر للخصم فرصة أو ذريعة للاعتداء.

في ظلّ هذه البيئة دخلت إيران المجال النوويّ واجتازت عتبة امتلاك التقنية معلنة سعيها لاستخدام هذه التقنية للأغراض المدنية والإنسانية السلمية، لكن الغرب وجد في الموضوع باباً وذريعة جديدة للقيام بمزيد من إجراءات الحصار والحرب الاقتصادية وفرض ما يسمّيه «العقوبات» لترويض إيران، مع التلويح بالعمل العسكري لتدمير البنى التحتية الإيرانية ليس في المجال النووي فحسب بل وفي كلّ مجال يمكن تدميره لمنع إيران من التطوّر والتقدّم.

لكن إيران في واقعها وتحالفاتها فاجأت الخصم والعدو، حيث إنها وبذكاء مميّز أفهمت الآخر أنها تملك من القوة العسكرية ما يمكنها من الدفاع عن النفس بالقدر الموثوق كما ويمكنها من الردّ العقابي والثأري على المعتدي الذي تشكل قواعده ومراكزه ومواقعه الاستراتيجية التي هي في متناول اليد النارية لإيران وتحت تأثير المنظومة الصاروخية تشكل أهدافاً مشروعة للردّ الدفاعي. وكانت إيران قد نجحت في تحضير نفسها للأمر وفي الإعلان عن ذلك حتى قبل أن تكشف عن المستوى الذي وصلت إليه في المجال النووي.

هذا الواقع منع الخصم والعدو لإيران من ارتكاب أيّ حماقة تذكر بما قامت به «إسرائيل» يوم دمّرت طائراتها مفاعل تموز العراقي ومرّ الأمر وكأنه لم يحصل، لكن إيران فرضت على الجميع معادلة ردع تحميها وتمنع من الاعتداء عليها وفرضت على الآخر الذهاب الى المفاوضات لبحث الموضوع.

إنّ الاتفاق الذي أفضت اليه مفاوضات 5+1 مع إيران حول ملفها النووي، والذي صادق عليه مجلس الأمن وحوّله وثيقة أممية شرعية، لم يكن ثمرة أخلاق وإنسانية مجموعة 5+1 ورغبتها بحلّ المسألة سلمياً، بل كان نتيجة عجز تلك المجموعة عن اللجوء الى القوة لعسكرية لمنع إيران من متابعة مشروعها النووي، ولهذا شكل الاتفاق حول الملف النووي مخرجاً للجميع، إيران احتفظت بحقها في السير في المسار النووي ضمن قيود تؤكد على طبيعته السلمية المدنية وتفكّ حزمة من عقوبات فرضت عليها بشكل كيدي إجرامي، والطرف الآخر يؤكد على «حق يدّعيه ويراه حقاً مكتسباً» بمنع أحد من دخول النادي النووي العسكري سواه.

لكن أميركا التي تعمل بسياسة منع إيران من الاستقلال والقوة ونصرة المظلوم، انقلبت على الاتفاق وقامت بأغرب سلوك يمكن ان يتصوّره أحد، سلوك مضمونه ان تستمرّ إيران بالوفاء بالتزاماتها في الاتفاق وأن تتنصل أميركا من كلّ ما التزمت به وان تبقي العقوبات لا بل تتشدّد فيها، وكان الردّ الإيراني الذكي بالتراجع المتدرج عن تلك الالتزامات، تراجع ترافق مع إظهار القوة العسكرية الدفاعية والقادرة على الدفاع عن النفس وجوداً ومصالح.

وظهر أنه وبصرف النظر عمن يسكن البيت الأبيض ترامب الخارج على الاتفاق ام بايدن الذي يوحي بأنه يريد العودة إليه بشروط، ان سياسة الطرفين الإيراني والأميركي باتت واضحة، إيران تريد ممارسة حق، وأميركا تريد الابتزاز ومنع إيران من ممارسة حقوقها وبصرف النظر عن عناوين تلك الحقوق، فلمن تكون الغالبة؟

لقد أجاب السيد علي الخامنئي بوضوح كلي على السؤال هذا، مظهراً انّ العالم دخل «مرحلة ما بعد أميركا» وعلى العاقل أن يفسّر وان يدرك أنّ رائد الصبر الاستدراجي في العالم غير مستعدّ للتراجع والتنازل أمام قوة دخلت مرحلة الأفول، فالإمبراطورية الأميركية كما قلنا في مقالة سابقة تتأهّب للزوال ويفوز من يشدّ ويُحكم قبضته على مصادر قوته وانْ تطلب الأمر تحمّل بعض الألم وهو ينتظر النصر الأكبر، وعلى بايدن أن يعرف انّ إيران تعتقد وتثق بأنها في نهاية المطاف هي المنتصرة وعليه ان لا يضيّع وقتاً في العودة للاتفاق النووي لأنّ التأخير لن يكون في مصلحته، وهو يعلم ان لا سبيل للحلّ إلا بالاتفاق هذا وليس متاحاً اليوم شيء سواه . فهل تكون السجالات الإعلامية اليوم عرضاً للقوة وتحضيراً للتفاوض لعودة أميركا الى ملف يدّعي بايدن بأنه يشكل أولوية لديه؟ ام النزعة الاستعمارية والتمسك بالعنجهية الأميركية والعداء ضدّ إيران سيطيح هذه الأولوية؟ إنها أسابيع قليلة ويأتي الجواب؟

*أستاذ جامعي – خبير استراتيجي.

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Imam Khamenei: Post-US Era Has Started

Imam Khamenei

 February 8, 2021

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that the post-US era has started.

The remarks were released in a tweet on the Leader’s official account, Khamenei.ir.

His eminence also tweeted the same remarks in Arabic and French languages.

Earlier on Sunday, Imam Khamenei stressed that Iran is the only party which has the right to set conditions on the nuclear deal.

The Leader said the US would need to lift sanctions before Iran meets its commitments under the 2015 accord.

Source: Agencies

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Imam Khamenei: Iran will Reverse Nuclear Steps only if US Lifts Sanctions First

Imam Khamenei: Iran will Reverse Nuclear Steps only if US Lifts Sanctions First

By Staff, Agencies

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei confirmed that Iran will retrace its nuclear countermeasures once the United States lifts its sanctions in a manner that could be verifiable by Tehran.

“Iran will return to its JCOPA obligations once the US fully lifts its sanctions in action and not in words or on paper, and once the sanction relief is verified by Iran,” Imam Khamenei announced, referring by abbreviation to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the landmark nuclear agreement that Iran signed with the P5+1 group of states – the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany – in Vienna in 2015.

His Eminence made the remarks in Tehran on Sunday during a meeting with commanders, pilots, and staff members of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force [IRIAF].

Under his signature “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, former US president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the JCPOA and restored the economic sanctions that the deal had removed.

In his Sunday’s remarks, the Leader said it was the “definitive and irreversible” policy of the Islamic Republic that the United States ought to first fully eliminate the sanctions before Iran could reverse its retaliatory measures.

Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has signaled a willingness to rejoin the JCPOA, which was inked when he was vice president. However, his foreign policy team has said Iran should take the first step by coming back into “full compliance” with the deal, a condition Tehran says is unacceptable.

“The Americans and the Europeans have no right to set any conditions [of their own] as they violated their JCPOA commitments,” Imam Khamenei stated, adding that Iran would pay no heed to the “idle talk” of some “undeserving” American and European officials in this regard.

He further added: “They initially put some of the sanctions in abeyance for a brief period, but then re-imposed and even intensified them,” in reference to Washington and its allies’ initial limited compliance with the JCPOA. “Therefore, they have no right to come up with any conditions,” the Leader reiterated.

Imam Khamenei pointed to Washington’s past failures to hurt Iran’s Islamic establishment as one of its numerous miscalculations concerning the country.

The Leader particularly recalled Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton’s failed prediction that Washington would successfully enable a “regime change” in Iran by early 2019.

“One of those very first-class idiots had said two years ago that they would be celebrating the New Year in Tehran in January 2019,” Imam Khamenei noted.

“Now, that person has entered the dustbin of history and his boss [Trump] has been kicked out of the White House in a humiliating manner. By God’s grace, though, the Islamic Republic still stands tall,” the Leader noted.

In parallel, Imam Khamenei named the US support for the riots that broke out in Iran in 2009 as another instance of Washington’s miscalculations in its efforts to bring about the collapse of the Islamic Republic.

Washington’s excessive trust in the Pahlavi regime’s military, the Leader said, was yet another calculation that was proven wrong when the air force personnel turned their backs on the US-backed regime.

His Eminence described the officers deserting the army and joining the masses of revolutionary people as a “miracle-like” development that hugely contributed to the Revolution’s victory.

Meanwhile, Imam Khamenei also pointed to Trump’s chaotic final days in the White House, which culminated in the invasion of the Capitol Hill by his extremist supporters.

The Leader said the incidents were not to be underplayed and judged only in light of the twilight of an American president. Rather, those developments in fact marked “the twilight of America’s reputation, power, and social integrity,” he noted.

He advised the Iranian officials to always beware of the enemy and its error-riddled calculations and “constantly increase the constituents of national power.”

He hailed the recent back-to-back military exercises featuring the Army and Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards [IRG] as attempts by “the children of this country to boost national security,” calling the maneuvers “a cause for pride.”

Imam Khamenei, meanwhile, denounced certain regional states for relying on extra-regional sources for their own security, noting that those very same foreign powers would desert them when their assistance is required.

The Leader cited the likes of Iran’s monarch including Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak or Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as examples of regional rulers who mistakenly placed their trust in foreign powers.

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The ‘Western’ Racist Roots of Israeli Apartheid

by Jeremy Salt

Source

Palestinian phoenix 4510c

Joe Biden supports a two-state solution to the ‘Palestine problem’. Well, first of all, it never was a Palestine problem. It was a  zionist problem, leading to the colonization and takeover of Palestine by a settler minority. 

Second, the two-state solution is a chimera. Israel is not interested and by supporting a two-state solution that is a delusion,  Biden is actually supporting the continuation of a policy of no solution. In fact, his bogus two-state solution is no more than a mask drawn over the face of his real policy, of continuing lavish support for Israel whatever it does. The one issue Biden does have to face is the Israeli threat to attack Iran if he dares to take the US back into the nuclear agreement breached by Trump. We have to wait to see how he works this out.   

By themselves, the Palestinians have never counted for less in the strategic and political calculations of the zionists. They are treated as a defeated people who should have surrendered long ago and true, the zionists have never been stronger at the material level,  the Palestinians never weaker. 

Only the Palestinians have the right to decide what to do next in the current calamitous situation, but friends can make suggestions and an obvious one would be the need to reconstitute themselves as a national community, building tactical and strategic consensus, before going any further.

In the absence of a two-state solution, the pendulum swings back to one state, either one  Jewish national state or one state for all.  This second aspiration takes the issue back to the 1960s and the one secular state advanced at that time by the PLO.

This soon foundered on the reef of zionist ideology, which from the beginning was based on a Jewish state established over all of Palestine.  That was the whole point of taking the land in the first place: it was a delusion to think the zionists would ever accept anything less than a Jewish state.  Israel’s extended dissembling over the past two decades has merely enabled what was intended,  its colonization of east Jerusalem and the West Bank to reach the point of what many believe to be irreversibility.   

Irreversibility has no meaning in history, of course. The examples are too numerous even to bother proving the point but apparent irreversibility manifested in the 600,000 settlers occupying East Jerusalem and the West Bank has led many Palestinians back to the idea of  one state for all across all of Palestine. 

The pooling of resources in one state with equal rights for Jews, Muslims and Christians (and anyone else) is an attractive and sensible option, of course,  even with all the immense practical difficulties that such an idea entails, beginning with acceptance of the right to return of Palestinians (and their heirs) to the places they came from,  taken over by Jewish settlers in 1948/9 as illegally as the settlers living in east Jerusalem or the West Bank since 1967.

However, even if all this could be sorted out theoretically (and a new name devised for this shared land),  the Jews of today’s Israel do not want it any more than their forebears did.   

For secular Jews living in pre-1967 Israel/occupied Palestine,  the ‘right’ of Israel to exist as a Jewish state is the rock of their collective existence:   for religious Jews living in the territories taken in 1967,  God’s mandate and not Israel’s ‘right’ to exist explains their position but the two positions dovetail in the belief of the necessity of a Jewish state, across all if not most of Palestine.

Just as there were a handful of brave Afrikaners who fought white settler apartheid, so there have always been Jews who challenge zionist racism:  Judah Magnes and the small circle around him in the 1920s-40s who believed in a binational state,  Uri Avnery and the peaceniks in the 1960s and 1970s and currently,  the scholar Ilan Pappe and the journalists Amira Hass and Gideon Levy.  They expose the lies of the state and the endorsement of its crimes by the people but they represent a tiny minority, allowing the state and the people to shrug them off. 

The similarities between apartheid South Africa and apartheid Israel should not blind people into thinking that the outcome will be the same, that one day,  like the white settlers in South Africa,  the zionists will voluntarily see the error of their ways and change course. 

As far as we can see ahead, this would be another delusion. By 1990 the small white minority of South Africa had declined to about 13 percent of the total population.  Apart from the numbers, the apartheid regime was isolated internationally, with sanctions being imposed that spelled economic ruin: ultimately it had no choice but to give in to what was manifestly inevitable.    

By comparison, while the demographics continue to change against them all the time,  Jews still constitute about 50 percent of the population of Palestine between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. They still have sufficient numbers as well as the armed might for Israel to be able to put down any Palestinian challenge from inside.   

Furthermore,  there is little effective pressure on Israel from the ‘western’ world to change its ways.   BDS has damaged Israel,  but at the cost of a counter-reaction which has resulted in  Israel being given additional protection by the passage of anti-BDS measures by state legislatures across the US and by parliaments in Canada,  Britain, France and Germany.  The gains have been heavily offset by the cost.

The cash flow from the US continues undiminished,  and neither the UN as a collective body or any of its member governments seeks to restrain Israel in any serious way. Not only that,  but they give their fervent support to the charge of anti-semitism which Israel continues to use unscrupulously to destroy those who stand against its racism, the most recent high profile scalp being Jeremy Corbyn’s.

In such an environment of international indulgence,  with only notional marginal interest at home in a genuine one-state settlement, the Israeli government sees no need to change course.  It knows it can do virtually whatever it wants  without the ‘international community’ stepping forward to stand in its way.  Not even the killing of children on the West Bank or in Gaza have been sufficient to push it into making Israel pay for the consequences of its actions.   

Holocaust guilt helps to explain indulgence of Israel but so does the racism of the ‘west,’  past and present,  as manifested yet again by the recent slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Middle Eastern lands.

Far from generating absolute horror at such crimes,  these deaths count for little in the ‘western’ homeland.  Black lives in the US, Canada, or Australia might matter but black or brown lives destroyed in Iraq,  Syria,  Libya, Yemen,  Palestine and numerous other places count for very little in these same countries.

The deaths of 3000 people on 9/11 were widely described as a turning point.  By comparison, no episode of the mass killing of people of color has ever been described as a turning point in history. 

These deaths have little impact in the countries where they are decided:  the faces are faceless, the names nameless,  the features featureless,  the deaths not counted,  no more than an estimate if someone asks.    

There is no turning point for these victims of racist wars:  their world will continue to turn the same way it always has done.  Their deaths do not register because they are not exceptional  – as the deaths on 9/11 were –  but only the normal continuation of what has been going on for centuries in Latin America,  Africa, the Middle East and South-east Asia, with no end in sight even now, and one does not sit up and take notice of the normal.

The ending of these lives of unequal value at the hands of ‘western’ armies is ignored or quickly forgotten:  no-one in the ‘western’ homeland is ever held responsible, not the politicians launching the wars,  not the pilots firing the missiles, and not the media giving encouragement on the home front.

These two complementary forms of racism, zionist apartheid  on one hand and deeply imprinted  ‘western’ racism on the other,  have been fundamental to the success of Zionism from the beginning. 

With support continuing from the US at all levels,  and with the ‘international community’ reluctant to intervene,  it would be a delusion to think that Israel will one day voluntarily accept a genuine one-state settlement.  The great bulk of Jewish Israelis do not want it and the state will fight it tooth and claw if it ever becomes a serious threat (an extremely remote prospect at the moment).   

There are no signs that sufficient momentum can be developed to compel Israel to accept such a solution.  BDS is effective but only up to a certain point.  The ‘international community’ is not interested in challenging Israel in any meaningful way.  Arab governments never genuinely committed to the Palestine cause in the first place are now coming out of hiding and signing agreements with the enemy who never was. 

To see where any prospect of breaking this deadlock might lie, one has to look at the regional strategic situation as seen through Israeli eyes. The dominant feature in military circles is alarm, born not just of Israel’s failure to intimidate its enemies but the fact that they are stronger now than they were a decade ago. 

The exception is Syria, which has withstood the most determined attempt ever made to destroy an Arab government, has had to pay a terrible price in the loss of life and destruction of its towns and cities and is still battling armed takfiri groups in different parts of the country. It has to concentrate on its own recovery: there is not much else it can do at the moment but its strategic allies, Iran and Hizbullah, remain a standing cause of active preparation for war in Israel.

Inside their homeland, the Palestinians can be killed, bullied and beaten, and otherwise oppressed by a suffocating network of pseudo-legal ‘laws’ but Israel has no such control beyond Palestine’s borders. This external dimension of the Palestinian question –  as an Arab question, historically, politically, culturally, and geographically; as a Muslim question, with the enormous weight that this signifies; and as a human rights question that resonates around the world – has always represented the greatest threat to the zionist state,  as by themselves the Palestinians would never have been capable of overcoming the vast power wielded against them after 1918. 

Resistance to Israel by Iran and Hizbullah arises from the centrality of Palestine in Arab and Muslim consciousness.  They have paid heavily for their commitment but they have not backed off because,  to put it as it is understood in Iran and by Hizbullah, the cause is sacred. Their resistance is deeply principled,  something the ‘western’ homeland cannot allow itself to understand if Israel is to be defended,  but as much as they are demeaned and abused in the ‘western’ homeland as ‘terrorists’  it is they who have human rights and international law on their side,  not Israel.  

In this external form, from beyond Palestine’s borders, the Palestinian phoenix rises again from the ashes of its suffering to haunt its enemy.  An idea can be much harder to crush than a people, because it has to be countermanded by ideas and Israel has none in its armoury, at least not any good ones. 

In the event of another regional war, unfortunately, a probability more than a possibility, on the basis of all past experience, Iran and Hizbullah have the missile capacity to damage Israel well beyond anything it has ever experienced.

Only the trauma of such an experience is likely to push Israel in the direction of one state for everyone living in the land of Palestine,  with the doors of return opened to the refugees. This is clearly the common-sense solution, the humane solution, but it is not one that Israel is likely to embrace voluntarily.

Iran: Keeper of mankind’s anti-imperialist flame amid the ‘end of history’

Source

Thursday, 04 February 2021 3:33 AM  

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Islamic Revolution, February 1979. (Photo by Reuters)
Iran at 42: Keeper of mankind’s anti-imperialist flame amid the ‘end of history’
Ramin Mazaheri (@RaminMazaheri2) is currently covering the US election. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea, and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China,’ which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

By Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with The Saker

At 42 years the Iranian Islamic Revolution has endured so long that it has seen the reactionary force which rose to counter it – Reaganism – partially defeated by a new faction: Trumpism.

With the return to power – via Joe Biden – of the three decade-long Clintonista ideology Iran hasn’t lasted so very long as to witness a total sea change in US politics, but revolutionary Iran continues to vex, undermine and even defeat mighty Washington precisely because of a key pillar of the Islamic Republic: anti-imperialism.

It’s difficult for me to take Biden and his supporters seriously because even though they claim to represent a progressive leap forward politically one never hears them utter the phrase “anti-imperialism”. In fact, nowhere in US mainstream discourse is this phrase ever heard, and that should be very telling about the true nature of the political factions here.

Anti-imperialism. Indeed, it is a complete sentence. It is a definitive answer to so many questions and problems.

It’s so big that even Wikipedia’s scant page on anti-imperialism relates how it has five different axes: “the moral, the economic, the systemic, the cultural and the temporal”. In one column I cannot discuss all five axes, but I can relate how the phrase is never discussed in both polite and impolite American society. That’s worth repeating because the US is so very aggressive militarily, still.

The single greatest cardinal sin in politics is to attack another country, so from a political point of view the dominant concept behind “anti-imperialism” is an anti-war stance: To be anti-imperialist is to be pro-peace. Therefore, in its political sense “anti-imperialism” is a phrase which implies an inherently internationalist viewpoint which sees weaker – or maybe just less warlike –  countries bound together against any colonising aggressor.

The sad reality is that “anti-imperialism” is not what it used to be.

As I have often related, an accurate analysis of modern human history is that precisely as Iran emerged victorious from the Western-orchestrated War of Holy Defense (also referred to as the Iran-Iraq War) the global anti-imperialist struggle completely collapsed, due to the fall of the USSR and Europe’s Eastern Bloc.

Almost universally anti-imperialism had a crisis of intellectual confidence. This even allowed Western pro-imperialists to insist that Iran was in a laughable condition: it went from being a revolutionary country to an outdated country almost overnight! The sad, but partial, truth of this historical era is not widely understood even in 2021.

It’s an important rejoinder that Iran’s revolutionary mix of anti-imperialism, state economic management and a modern, late-20th century political structure mixed with the revolutionary addition of clerical democratic inclusion has also still not been fully understood by most non-Iranians on both the left and the right.

But for pro-imperialists understanding was not necessary because in 1992 they infamously, abruptly and arrogantly declared the “end of history”, and that anti-imperialism had permanently lost. This explains Washington’s philosophy towards Iran for the last 30 years: waste time – and make things as difficult as possible via illegal and murderous sanctions – until Iran catches up with “history”. Or to put it in the exact terms used today by the Biden administration, which is struggling to gain domestic legitimacy after a deeply-disputed election: wait for Iran to accept “reality” (a “reality” defined by pro-imperialists, of course).

After 42 years Iran is still waiting for many to understand the political and economic modernity of its culture, but most with open eyes have at least partially come to understand Iran thanks to its actions. They see that Iran is consistently a top 10 country in the acceptance of refugees; they see that Iran puts its best and most beloved, like QasemSoleimani, in harm’s way in foreign nations in order to aid their struggles; they see that Iran supports righteous Sunni countries like Palestine; they see that Iran takes major and daring risks to send help to Latino countries like Venezuela; they see that Iran followed all the rules of the JCPOA pact on Iran’s nuclear energy program even when Western signatories did not.

Anyone with open eyes sees that Iran is an internationalist country, an anti-imperialist fighter, a peacemaker and a supporter of righteous global cooperation . Anyone with a modicum of imagination has also wondered just how very successful Iran could be and would have been – with their natural and human resources, and with the exact system they have had in place for 42 years – if the West would end its decades of imperialist blockades on Iran.

In the modern digital age – dominated by Western corporations who undoubtedly support pro-imperialist ideologies – eyes are not allowed to be opened, sadly. The pen is not mightier than the sword of deplatforming, censorship and endless Western propaganda.

And yet anti-imperialism remains an ever-powerful sword, because defense of one’s home and sovereignty is always legitimate.

In the post-1991 world who has wielded this sword more than Iran? This is not mere boasting, and proof of humility can be shown by quickly recounting the history of modern anti-imperialist struggles:

Only a know-nothing would say that the USSR, with its 25 million martyrs, didn’t primarily defeat German imperialism. China gave so very much to protect Korea from American invasion, but not as much as North Koreans gave, of course. The sacrifices of the Vietnamese were the most globally galvanising anti-imperialist force in the 20th century – who could ever forget that? Ending South African Apartheid can never be forgotten, but Western media certainly does obscure the role played by Cuban soldiers in repelling attacks from the Western-backed South African Defense Force, which ultimately resulted in the discrediting of the entire South African system and led to the freedom of Angola and modern-day Namibia. And who can forget when Algiers was the “Mecca of revolutionaries”, following the victory of its incredibly inspiring anti-imperialist struggle which overturned 132 years of Algeria “being France”?

Yet Iran’s contributions to the global and supremely humane anti-imperialist movement have been easily obscured by the West’s post-2001 state-sponsored ideology: Islamophobia.

Islamophobia was a very good ideology for pro-imperialists to promote because it has no troublesome economic or class components – it is mere xenophobia. Islamophobia explains why even the few committed Western anti-imperialists so often dismiss Iran’s anti-imperialism with a dismissive wave of their hand: they feel that because of the presence of the religion of Islam Iran is too difficult to even be understood. Sadly, Western pro-imperialists – via the promotion of Islamophobia – have won in many areas for decades.

Iran is concerned with Islam, of course, but Islam differs from Christianity in that there is no possibility for forced conversion, for proselytising monks or nuns or for the forcing of faith on others. Islam, from a political, economic and geopolitical perspective, is simply an insufficient tool with which to define all of modern Iran (believing that it is sufficient is Islamophobic, of course).

Because anti-imperialism cannot die as long as countries are conquered and colonised (openly or via puppets), it must have a center somewhere, no?

It’s laughable to say that the centre of the anti-imperialist movement in 2021 – which began in politics with Lenin and his critiques of Western-style capitalism – could be located anywhere in the United States. Or in Western Europe, for that matter.

I think it is perhaps fair to say the centre in 2021 is in Iran.

If that seems strange to your ears: Isn’t it true that Western Islamophobia has made modern Iran seem to be totally inscrutable, or even not even worth serious analysis? At the very same time, hasn’t the huge reductions in the anti-imperialist movement – which was a global cultural force for nearly a century – made Iran even more atypical? Is Iran so hard to place on the global and historical political spectrums because it is so very revolutionary, or is it that many simply don’t make the effort to accurately understand it’s structures, ideals and actions?

After 42 years Iran’s actions are clear, even if – to some – their motivations and methods are not yet comprehended.

There are other established anti-imperialist nations, as I have noted, and I am not accusing them of resting on their laurels – I simply note here that since 1979 Iran has undoubtedly joined their company in the history of modern mankind. Given the importance of anti-imperialism in establishing global peace, goodwill and cooperation – who wouldn’t thank God for that?

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


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