The Persian Gulf is Once Again at the Center of Western Provocations

17.08.2021 

Author: Viktor Mikhin

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As part of a concerted effort to pressurize Iran ahead of the expected resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna, Washington and its European allies appear to be using a mysterious and not entirely understandable attack on an oil tanker operated by Israel to extract additional concessions from Tehran.   In doing so, says the well-informed Iranian newspaper Ettelaat, they are unwittingly playing into the hands of an Israeli scheme aimed at railroading the very nuclear deal that Washington and the Europeans are supposedly trying to revive. The controversy over the recent attack on the Israeli Mercer Street continues unabated, and the US and Britain rushed to bring the issue even to the UN Security Council. However, they failed to reach a consensus on Iran there.

In this connection, it may be recalled that an Israeli ship was attacked off the coast of Oman on July 29 while it was sailing from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. An oil tanker operated by Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. A Zodiac Maritime spokesman said two crew members, British and Romanian nationals, died in the attack. The attack, for which Tel Aviv, London, and Washington instantly and unsubstantiated accused Iran, marked the beginning of a coordinated diplomatic campaign against Tehran at a time when nuclear talks on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal had stalled after six rounds of painstaking negotiations in Vienna. The last round of talks in Vienna was completed more than a month ago, and differences over how to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are still unresolved. The US has steadfastly refused to lift all sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration and to give assurances that it will not withdraw from the JCPOA again, as it did in the past. The sixth round was also held when a transfer of power in Iran connected with the June 18 presidential elections, in which Ebrahim Raisi won a confident and predictable victory.

In a separate statement, US CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said that based on the fact that “the vertical stabilizer is identical to those identified on one of the Iranian UAVs designed and manufactured for the one-sided kamikaze attack, we could assume that Iran was actively involved in the attack.”  In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the G7 countries (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States) condemned Iran for the attack. “This was a deliberate and targeted attack and a clear violation of international law,” the statement said. “All available evidence points to Iran.” There is no excuse for this attack.   Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh instantly responded that the G7 condemnation consisted of unfounded accusations. “Israel is likely to be the real culprit behind the attack,” the spokesman added. “For experts and those who know the history of our region, it is nothing new that the Zionist regime is scheming such plots,” Said Khatibzadeh emphasized.

Sensing a change of plans in Tehran, the US and its European allies launched a diplomatic campaign to intimidate Iran into returning to the talks in Vienna without any new demands. Washington’s main concern was that the negotiating team of new President Ebrahim Raisi would return to Vienna with new spirit and demands, amounting to a reversal of the American progress made in the last six rounds. This concern is not groundless: the Tehran Times, which presents the official point of view, reported that the Iranians were even considering, among other options, abandoning the results of the Vienna talks under Hassan Rouhani. The same newspaper, citing official sources, concludes that Tehran may reject the results and set a new agenda for negotiations with the West to resolve the remaining issues in a new format and spirit.  This is why the US, in an apparent attempt to influence the plans of the Iranian ayatollahs, has sought to increase diplomatic pressure on Iran since the end of the sixth round. They have threatened and are threatening to withdraw from negotiations, openly opposed to lifting all sanctions, and have even prepared new oil sanctions against Iran.

Then there was the incomprehensible attack on Mercer Street, which the US and its allies saw as a gift to exert further pressure on Iran. While the hype surrounding this attack is still going on, the known provocateur, Britain and its allies, in a spirit of high probability, have concocted several stories about the hijacking of commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman. Once again, they have accused Iran, without evidence and with impudence, of playing a role in these events. How can we not recall the dirty work of London and its notorious international organization Médecins Sans Frontières in accusing Damascus of the use of poisonous substances?

Iran fully understands the ulterior motives behind this drama, which the West has habitually turned into a farce. Iranian officials warned the West not to engage in dirty propaganda games to gain concessions. Commenting on the alleged attempted seizure of a ship in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Embassy in Britain stated on Twitter: “To mislead the public around the world for diplomatic gain in New York is not fair game.” But this unfair game can lead to the opposite result. The US and Britain have enlisted Israel’s help in their campaign of putting pressure on Iran, which is likely to have unintended consequences for them.

“We have just heard a distorted statement about the Mercer Street incident. Immediately after the event, Israeli officials blamed Iran for the incident. That’s what they usually do. This is a standard practice of the Israeli regime. Its purpose is to divert world attention from the regime’s crimes and inhumane practices in the region,” said Zahra Ershadi, the charge d’affaires ad interim of Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations. She made the remarks after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on the recent oil tanker incident in the Gulf of Oman.

Israel’s ambassador to the US and the UN, Gilad Erdan, threw aside his restraint and revealed some of these targets. He said that Israel would ultimately like to see the current regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran overthrown. “In the end, we would like [the government] to be overthrown and [for] regime change to take place in Iran,” Gilad Erdan said when asked about Israel’s strategy toward the Islamic Republic, according to the Times of Israel. The statement was made after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s blunt remarks that Tel Aviv allegedly knows for a fact that it was Iran that attacked Mercer Street.

Regardless of Israel’s goals for Iran, the current approach of London and Washington is unlikely to produce results, as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has unequivocally and firmly made it clear that the West is unlikely to succeed in intimidating the Iranians and the country’s leadership. Moreover, no one will force the Iranians to give up their legal rights and freedoms.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” .

Iran embraces its Eurasian future

Iran embraces its Eurasian future

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

Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as the 8th president of Iran this Thursday at the Majlis (Parliament), two days after being formally endorsed by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei.

Representatives of the UN secretary-general; OPEC; the EU; the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); the Inter-Islamic Union; and quite a few heads of state and Foreign Ministers were at the Majlis, including Iraq President Barham Salih and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The Islamic Republic of Iran now enters a new era in more ways than one. Khamenei himself outlined its contours in a short, sharp speech‘The Experience of Trusting the US’.

Khamenei’s strategic analysis, conveyed even before the final result of the JCPOA negotiations in Vienna in 2015, which I covered in my Asia Times ebook Persian Miniatures , turned out to be premonitory: “During the negotiations I repeatedly said they don’t uphold their promises.” So, in the end, “the experience tells us this is a deadly poison for us.” During the Rouhani administration, Khamenei adds, “it became clear that trusting the West doesn’t work”.

With perfect timing, a new, six-volume book, Sealed Secret, co-written by outgoing Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and two top JCPOA negotiators, Ali Akbar Salehi and Seyed Abbas Araghchi (who’s still involved in the current, stalled Vienna debate) will be published this week, for the moment only in Farsi.

Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran summed up for me the road map ahead: “Iran’s foreign policy decisions are pretty clear. Iran will be putting less emphasis on Western nations, especially European, and more emphasis on the Global South, the East, neighboring countries, and of course that will include China and Russia. That doesn’t mean the Iranians are going to ignore Europe altogether, if they decide to return to the JCPOA. The Iranians would accept if they abide by their obligations. So far, we have seen no sign of that whatsoever.”

Marandi could not help referring to Khamenei’s speech: “It’s pretty clear; he’s saying, ‘we don’t trust the West, these last 8 years showed that’, he’s saying the next administration should learn from the experience of these 8 years.”

Yet the main challenge for Raisi will not be foreign policy, but the domestic framework, with sanctions still biting hard: “With regard to economic policy, it will be tilting more towards social justice and turning away from neoliberalism, expanding the safety net for the disenfranchised and the vulnerable.”

It’s quite intriguing to compare Marandi with the views of a seasoned Iranian diplomat who prefers to remain anonymous, and very well positioned as an observer of the domestic conflict:

“During Rouhani’s 8 years, contrary to the Supreme Leader’s advice, the government spent lots of time on negotiations, and they have not been investing on internal potential. Anyhow the 8 years are now finished, and contrary to Rouhani’s promises we currently have Iran’s worst economic and financial record in 50 years.”

The diplomat is adamant on “the importance of paying attention to our internal capacities and abilities, while having powerful economic relations with our neighbors as well as Russia, China, Latin America, South Africa as well as maintaining mutual respectable ties with Europeans and the US government, if it changes its behavior and accepts Iran as it is and not always trying to overthrow the Iranian state and harm its people by any possible means.”

Iranians are heirs to a tradition of at least 2,500 years of fine diplomacy. So once again our interlocutor had to stress, “the Supreme Leader has never, ever said or believed we should cut our relations with Europeans. Quite the opposite: he deeply believes in the notion of ‘dynamic diplomacy’, even concerning the US; he said multiple times we have no problem with the US if they deal with us with respect.”

And now, let’s time travel

There are no illusions in Tehran that Iran under Raisi, much more than under Rouhani, will remain the target of multiple “maximum pressure” and/or Hybrid War tactics deployed by Washington, Tel Aviv and NATOstan, crude false flags included, with the whole combo celebrated by US Think Tankland’s analyses penned by “experts” in Beltway cubicles.

All that is irrelevant in terms of what really matters ahead in the Southwest Asia chessboard.

The late, great René Grousset, in his 1951 classic L’Empire des Steppes, has pointed out “how Iran, renewing itself for fifty centuries”, has “always given proof of astonishing continuity.” It was because of this strength that Iranian civilization, as much as Chinese civilization, has assimilated all foreigners that conquered is soil, from Seljuks to Mongols: “Every time, because of the radiance of its culture, Iranism reappeared with renewed vitality, on the road to a new renaissance.”

The possibility of a “new renaissance”, now, implies a step beyond the “neither East or West” first conceptualized by Ayatollah Khomeini: it’s rather a back to the (Eurasian) roots, Iran reviving its past to tackle the new, multipolar, future.

The political heart of Iran lies in the sophisticated urban organization of the northern plateau, the result of a rolling, pluri-millennial process. All along Grousset’s “fifty centuries”, the plateau has been the house of Iranian culture and the stable heart of the state.

Around this central space there are plenty of territories historically and linguistically linked to Persia and Iran: in Eastern Anatolia, in Central Asia and Afghanistan, in the Caucasus, in Western Pakistan. Then there are Shi’ite territories of other ethnic groups, mostly Arab, in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (the Zaidites) and the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, the Shi’ites in Hasa in Saudi Arabia).

This is the Shi’ite arc – evolving in a complex Iranization process that is foremost political and religious, and not cultural and linguistic. Outside of Iran, I have seen in my travels how Arab Shi’ites in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf, Dari/Farsi Shi’ites in Afghanistan, those of Pakistan and India, and Turcophone Shi’ites in Azerbaijan look up towards political Iran.

So Iran’s large zone of influence relies mostly on Shi’ism, and not on Islamic radicalism or the Persian language. It’s Shi’ism that allows political power in Iran to keep a Eurasian dimension – from Lebanon to Afghanistan and Central Asia – and that reflects once again Grousset’s “continuity” when he refers to Persian/Iranian history.

From Ancient History to the medieval era, it was always out of imperial projects, born in Southwest Asia and /or the Mediterranean basin, that came the drive to attempt the creation of a Eurasian territory.

The Persians, who were halfway between Mediterranean Europe and Central Asia, were the first who tried to build a Eurasian empire from Asia to the Mediterranean, but they were halted in their expansion towards Europe by the Greeks in the 5th century B.C.

Then it was up to Alexander The Great, in pure badass blitzkrieg mode, to venture all the way to Central Asia and India, de facto founding the first Eurasian empire. Which happened to materialize, to a large extent, the Persian empire.

Then something even more extraordinary happened: the simultaneous presence of the Parthian and Kushan empires between the Roman Empire and the Han Empire during the first two centuries of the first millennium.

It was this interaction that first allowed commercial and cultural trade and connectivity between the two extremities of Eurasia, between the Romans and the Han Chinese.

Yet the largest Eurasian territorial space, founded between the 7th and 10th centuries, following the Arab conquests, were the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates. Islam was at the heart of these Arab conquests, remixing previous imperial compositions, from Mesopotamia to the Persians, Greeks and Romans.

Historically, that was the first truly Eurasian economic, cultural and political arc, from the 8th to the 11th century, before Genghis Khan monopolized The Big Picture.

All that is very much alive in the collective unconscious of Iranians and Chinese. That’s why the China-Iran strategic partnership deal is much more than a mere $400 billion economic arrangement. It’s a graphic manifestation of what the revival of the Silk Roads is aiming at. And it looks like Khamenei had already seen which way the (desert) wind was blowing years before the fact.

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

24 July 2021 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raisi will be sworn in as president on August 5.

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

Related

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

 July 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SourceIranian Agencies

A Sovereign Iran will Move Closer to Russia-China

22/06/2021

A Sovereign Iran will Move Closer to Russia-China

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

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at AsiaTimes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A key node of BRI and EAEU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi-Iranian talks are an attempt to pre-empt the American return to nuclear deal, says sociologist

June 16, 2021 – 17:12

By M. A. Saki

TEHRAN – Head of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Lebanon says that the Saudi desire to negotiate with Iran is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal.

“The Saudi-Syrian normalization is a positive step and the Saudi-Iranian dialogue is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal,” Dr. Talal Atrissi tells the Tehran Times.

 “Saudi Arabia sees tangibly that all of its previous bets failed, and I assure that this step was by American encouragement and support, especially since Saudi Arabia failed in the war on Yemen and today it is trying to get out of the Yemeni quagmire at any cost,” Atrissi notes.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you evaluate the ongoing talks over revitalizing the Iran nuclear deal?

A: Most of the statements, whether from the Iranian side or the American side, confirm that the negotiations are heading to yield results. The statements are optimistic, and the announcement of the formation of committees to study how to lift the sanctions implies that all sides are nearing an agreement. 

The statements of the Russian, Chinese and even European delegates indicate progress and seriousness in the negotiations. But this does not mean that things will go quickly. The United States, for its part, will not lift the sanctions so easily, and even not all sanctions will be lifted. It will try to negotiate to lift only parts of the sanctions in exchange for Iran’s return to full commitment to the terms of the nuclear deal.

As for Iran, it has an interest in negotiating and has a direct interest in lifting the sanctions, which have caused great damage to the Iranian economy, and for this reason, Iran has returned to the negotiating table. But Iran has no interest in prolongation of the talks. I mean, you go back to the negotiation table again, as if we need a new agreement. With regard to Iran, this is unacceptable, as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution warned about prolonging the negotiations, while America wants to extract the largest number of concessions from Iran before lifting the sanctions.

This is what is happening today in the successive rounds of the Vienna talks. 

Q: How would the revival of the Iran nuclear pact affect the region?

A: If this agreement occurs, of course, it will reflect positively on the relations among the countries of the region. I believe that Saudi Arabia’s desire for dialogue with Iran began with America’s encouragement, not on a self-initiative, meaning that the new American administration wants some kind of stability in the Middle East (West Asia) and mitigating Persian Gulf-Iranian tension. 

The main tensions have been from the Israeli side while the Biden administration looks forward to a kind of stability and dialogue, and this is one of the reasons for thinking about reviving the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The biggest strategic challenge for the Biden administration is China, and this means that the United States is reluctant to get involved in the Middle East (West Asia) again. It is also withdrawing from Afghanistan. Afghanistan was a major failure for America and its policies in the world and the region.

So, if the negotiations for an agreement succeeds, the allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia in the first place, will return to stable relations and understanding with Iran, and this could contribute to solving problems in Lebanon, Yemen and other countries of the region.

Q: What are Israel’s options to undermine the nuclear talks in Vienna? Do you think Israel will start a war to block the path for reviving the nuclear pact?

A: From the beginning, Israel and the U.S. administration have been at odds over the 2015 nuclear deal, and Netanyahu considered the agreement signed by Obama a “historical mistake” rather than a “historic achievement,” as Obama called it. Israel tried to obstruct the path of the agreement and worked with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to prevent the conclusion of the pact, but the agreement was achieved in 2015.

 When Trump came to power in 2016, Israel considered it a great opportunity to push America to pull out of the nuclear deal.

As for the possibility of Israel carrying out some kind of operation or sabotaging Iran’s nuclear facilities to change the balance and impede a possible revival of the nuclear agreement between Iran and America, I rule out that this would happen.

First, Israel faces a domestic crisis, and Netanyahu is accused of having failed in the battle of “the sword of Jerusalem,” and therefore the victory that has been achieved by the Palestinian resistance is a victory for Iran. The resistance in Palestine expressed its thanks to Iran for its role in supporting Palestine.

For Israel, it is very difficult to contemplate such an option, especially since Netanyahu has moved to the ranks of the opposition and is no longer prime minister.

Q: How do you read Saudi-Syrian normalization, especially when we put this alongside the Iranian-Saudi talks? What caused the Saudi policy change in the region?

A: The Saudi-Syrian normalization is a positive step and the Saudi-Iranian dialogue is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal.
Saudi Arabia sees tangibly that all of its previous bets failed, and I am sure that this step was by American encouragement and support, especially since Saudi Arabia failed in the war on Yemen and today it is trying to get out of the Yemeni quagmire at any cost.

She believes that dialogue with Iran can help it get out of this war, and thus Saudi Arabia’s return to the negotiation table with Iran and Syria is an indirect acknowledgment of the failure of its previous policies.

I mean, the policy of toppling the government in Syria has failed, and the policy of forming an Arab-(Persian) Gulf-Israeli axis against Iran has failed, as well as normalization with Israel and the deal of the century, after what happened recently in occupied Palestine.

So, this step on the part of Saudi Arabia is an affirmation that Iran and the axis of resistance are in a better position than before and that the past decade was a period of steadfastness and resistance in the face of all attempts to ruin the region, Syria, and Yemen in particular.

 Today, after the battle of Palestine, the axis of resistance is in a position of strength, and this is what prompts the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage in dialogue with the parties to this axis.

Q: What is the significance of the Iran-China partnership for the region and the larger world?

A: The importance of the Iran-China partnership is that it opens up broad prospects for Iran at various levels of development in the areas of investment, oil and communications. On the other hand, this may be an alternative even to the nuclear agreement with the West. Even if the nuclear deal is not revived, Iran can be satisfied with the partnership with China.

 Even if Iran complies fully to the nuclear agreement and agrees with the United States, it will have balanced relations with East and West, with the preference of China, especially since China is not a colonial country and did not create problems in the region.

 So, the Chinese-Iranian partnership is an important strategic agreement that may block the way for the U.S. to put pressure on Iran.

In addition, the Iranian-Chinese partnership as an economic agreement is inseparable from China’s vision and its historical and strategic project to restore the Silk Road (One Road, One Belt). 

Iran will be a major station in this project. For this reason, China is counting on partnership with Iran and wants Iran to remain a strong and pivotal country in the face of the American hegemony, and this is not in the interest of the West and the United States in particular.

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هكذا بدأ تنفيذ الاتفاق النوويّ مجدّداً

12/06/2021

ناصر قنديل

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

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

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

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

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اليمن آخر الحروب وأول التسويات Yemen is the last war and the first settlement

**Please scroll down for the Adjusted English Machine translation**

اليمن آخر الحروب وأول التسويات

11/06/2021

ناصر قنديل

 لا يحبّ اللبنانيون تصديق أن بلدهم يشكل جبهة ثانوية في الصراع الكبير الدائر في المنطقة. ورغم الأبعاد الداخليّة الحقيقية للأزمات السياسية والاقتصادية والمالية التي تعصف بلبنان. والتي يأمل البعض أن تشكل أبواباً للتغيير. يبقى أن النظام الطائفي والمتخم بمظاهر الفساد والمحكوم بسياسات اقتصاديّة ومالية فاشلة. بقي على قيد الحياة بقرار خارجي. كان يراهن على تقييد المقاومة بمعادلات لبنانيّة داخلية. أو بمتغيرات ينجح بفرضها في الإقليم. نظراً للكلفة العالية لكل تفكير بمواجهة مباشرة مع المقاومة في لبنان. وعدم وجود نتائج موثوقة لمثل هذه المواجهة. وعندما وصل الرهان على متغيرات الحرب في سورية أو على معادلات الداخل. ونجحت المقاومة بفرض معادلات داخلية أشد قوة مع التسوية الرئاسية وقانون الانتخاب القائم على النسبية. قرّر هذا الخارج وبصورة خاصة الراعي الأميركي والمموّل الخليجي. وقف تمويل هذا النظام. فانكشفت عوراته. وانفجرت أزماته. لكن المصيبة الأعظم هو أن هذا الخارج عندما يفرغ من ترتيبات التسويات ووضع قواعد الاشتباك في المنطقة. وقد قرّر السير بها كبديل عن خيار المواجهة الذي ثبت فشله وظهر أنه طريق مسدود. سيعود لتمويل هذا النظام وتعويمه. لكنه يريد للمفاوضات أن تجري والمقاومة منشغلة بهموم النظام وارتداداتها على الشعب اللبناني.

 سورية التي تشكل عقدة المنطقة الرئيسية بتوازناتها ومكانتها من كل عناوين الصراع الإقليمي، شكلت بيضة القبان في رسم التوازنات التي أسقطت الرهانات على خطط المواجهة. وأجبرت بالانتصارات التي تحققت فيها حلف الحرب عليها بالتراجع وأصابته بالتفكك وفرضت عليه التسليم بالفشل. لكن صورة التسوية في سورية مؤجلة. رغم ما فرضه الشعب السوري في يوم الانتخابات الرئاسية من معادلات ترسم ثوابت أي تسوية بما يتصل بشكل النظام السياسي ومرجعياته. ورغم الاستدارة التي يقوم بها أطراف كثيرون شاركوا بالحرب ويعودون الى دمشق ويفتحون سفاراتهم ويغيّرون خطابهم، إلا أن سورية ترسم أوزاناً جديدة لكل قوى العالم الجديد. ففيها الاحتلال الأميركي والإحتلال التركي ومستقبل الدويلة الكردية والجماعات الإرهابية، ومنها تتقرر قواعد الاشتباك بين محور المقاومة وكيان الاحتلال في الجولان وحول مستقبل الغارات على سورية، وفيها الوجود الروسي والإيراني والمقاوم. ويعتقد الأميركي أنه بالعقوبات واحتجاز النازحين والإمساك بتمويل إعادة الإعمار يملك القدرة على المفاوضة على شرعنة النصر السوري وثمن هذه الشرعنة وشروطها. ولذلك تبدو التسوية حول سورية مؤجلة لما بعد حلقات تسبقها. تضع قطار التسويات على السكة. وتطلق صفارة الانطلاق.

 تقع إيران في قلب الصراع وتشكل قاعدة الارتكاز فيه. ويشكل ملفها النووي عنوان الصراع الذي يختزن ما هو أبعد من النووي، ليطال مستقبل مكانة إيران في المنطقة. وقد كانت كل محاولات الضغط بحجة النووي لتطويع إيران وإضعافها. فيما يشكل التراجع عن العقوبات تحت عنوان العودة للاتفاق النووي تعبيراً عن التسليم بالفشل وسعياً للانخراط في تسويات يدور التفاوض حول مضامينها. وكل الوقائع تقول إن الاتفاق بات منجزاً بنصوصه وتفاصيله. وإن روزنامة التنفيذ الجزئي قبل الإعلان عن العودة للاتفاق قد بدأت. سواء عبر تحرير أموال وودائع إيرانية في الخارج كانت تحتجزها العقوبات الأميركية. وصولاً لما أعلن مساء امس عن اول خطوة أميركية مباشرة برفع العقوبات عن اشخاص وكيانات كانوا تحت نظام العقوبات، كما قالت وزارة الخارجية الأميركية.

 الحرب على اليمن كانت خط الاحتياط الأميركي السعودي في مواجهة نتائج التوقيع على الاتفاق في المرة الأولى. وجاءت نتائجها وبالاً. وشكل اليمن مفاجأة الحروب كلها. فانقلبت الحرب من أداة ضغط أميركية سعودية الى أداة ضغط معكوسة. وصار أمن الطاقة وأمن الخليج تحت رحمة أنصار الله. وبات دخول زمن التسويات مشروطاً بإنهاء الحرب بشروط غير مذلة للسعودية تتيح حفظ ما تبقى من ماء الوجه. لكن سوء التقدير السعودي الذي كان مع بداية الحرب لا يزال مستمراً مع الحاجة لإنهائها، وأوهام تحقيق المكاسب يحكم العقل السعودي الذي لم يعرف كيف يربح ولا يعرف اليوم كيف يخسر. فعرض وقف النار دون إنهاء الحصار تسبب بتعقيد الإعلان عن انطلاق خط التسوية في اليمن. وتسبب بتأجيل الإعلان عن التوصل الى الاتفاق على العودة للاتفاق النووي. لكن الزمن داهم. ولذلك يرمي الأميركيون بثقلهم لمخارج يقول بعض الوسطاء إن بينها توقيع اتفاق لفتح مطار صنعاء وميناء الحديدة بين السعودية وعُمان، وتوقيع اتفاق مماثل بين عُمان وأنصار الله، خلال أيام وربما ساعات يعقبها الإعلان عن وقف النار. ليتسنى السير بالإعلان عن الاتفاق على الملف النووي من فيينا.


Yemen is the last war and the first settlement

11/06/2021

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Nasser Kandil

–  The Lebanese do not like to believe that their country is a secondary front in the great conflict in the region. Despite the real internal dimensions of the political, economic and financial crises ravaging Lebanon, which some hope will open doors to change. It remains that the sectarian system, full of corruption and governed by failed economic and financial policies, survived by external decision, betting on restricting resistance with internal Lebanese equations, or variables imposed in the region. Due to the high cost of direct confrontation with the resistance in Lebanon, there are no credible results of such a confrontation. The bet on the variables of the war in Syria and internal equations failed and the resistance succeeded in imposing stronger internal equations with the presidential settlement and the proportional election law. The abroad, in particular, the American sponsor and gulf financier decided to stop funding this corrupted system. His nakedness was exposed, his crises exploded. But the greatest misfortune is that this outsider, when decided to settlement arrangements and rules of engagement in the region he pursue it as an alternative to the option of confrontation, which proved to be a failure and a dead end. Therefore he will return to finance and float the the Lebanese sectarian corrupted system. But he wants negotiations to take place while the resistance is preoccupied with the regime’s concerns and their repercussions on the Lebanese people.

Syria, which constitutes the region’s main knot, with its balances and its position from all the titles of the regional conflict, formed the weight-bearing egg in drawing balances that dropped bets on confrontation plans. The victories achieved by the War Alliance were forced to retreat, disintegrated and forced to admit failure. But the picture of a settlement in Syria is postponed . Despite the equations imposed by the Syrian people on the day of the presidential elections, that outline the constants of any settlement with regard to the shape of the political system and its references.

Despite the rotation of many parties who participated in the war and return to Damascus, open their embassies and change their speech, Syria is drawing new weights for all the forces of the new world. It includes the U.S. occupation, the Turkish occupation, the future of the Kurdish state and terrorist groups, from which the rules of engagement between the axis of resistance and the occupation entity in the Golan are decided and about the future of the raids on Syria, where the Russian, Iranian and resistance are presence. The American believes that with the sanctions, the detention of the displaced, and the seizure of reconstruction funding, he has the ability to negotiate the legitimacy of the Syrian victory, the price and conditions of this legitimization. Therefore, the settlement over Syria seems to be postponed until after the previous episodes. Put the train of compromises on the rails. The launch whistle sounds.

Iran is at the center of the conflict and forms its basis. Its nuclear file is the title of the conflict that holds what is beyond nuclear, affecting Iran’s future position in the region. All attempts to pressure under the pretext of nuclear power were to subdue and weaken Iran. The rollback of sanctions under the heading of a return to the nuclear deal is an expression of the recognition of failure and an effort to engage in compromises whose contents are being negotiated. All the facts say that the agreement is now complete with its texts and details. The partial implementation calendar before the announcement of a return to the agreement had begun. Whether by freeing Iranian funds and deposits abroad that were held by U.S. sanctions. The first direct U.S. move to lift sanctions on people and entities under the sanctions regime was announced Tuesday night, the State Department said.

 The war on Yemen was the U.S.-Saudi reserve line in the face of the results of the signing of the nuclear deal the first time. Their were bad. Yemen was the surprise of all wars. The war went from a U.S.-Saudi pressure tool to a reverse pressure tool. Energy and Gulf security are at the mercy of Ansar Allah. Entering the time of settlements became conditional on ending the war on non-humiliating terms for Saudi Arabia that would allow saving the rest of the face. But the Saudi miscalculation that was at the beginning of the war is still continuing with the need to end it, and the illusions of achieving gains rule the Saudi mind, which did not know how to win and does not know how to lose today. Offering a cease-fire without ending the siege complicated the announcement of the launch of the settlement line in Yemen. And caused the postponement of the announcement of reaching an agreement to return to the nuclear agreement. But time is running out. Therefore, the Americans are throwing their weight at exits that some mediators say include the signing of an agreement to open Sanaa airport and the port of Hodeida between Saudi Arabia and Oman, and the signing of a similar agreement between Oman and Ansar Allah, within days and perhaps hours, followed by announcing a cease-fire. In order to be able to announce the agreement on the nuclear file from Vienna.

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

 June 11, 2021

iran flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Reuters

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The Iranian presidential shocker

The Iranian presidential shocker

May 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The end of the reformist era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

من الخارج إلى الداخل وبالعكس: آل سلمان و«قدر» طهران ودمـشق

ابراهيم الأمين

الإثنين 10 أيار 2021

لن يكون بمقدور اللبنانيين تغيير عاداتهم بصورة جدية. لا في الكلام ولا في الأكل ولا في التصرف ولا حتى بالتفكير. إلى الآن، لا يزال كثيرون يكرّرون عبارات من نوع «لن يتركونا نغرق» أو «الجميع بحاجة إلى لبنان» أو «لبنان رسالة يحتاجها العالم» أو «كلفة انهيار لبنان على العالم أكبر من كلفة إنقاذه»، إلى آخره من النظريات التي تعكس فهماً بالمقلوب لما يجري في العالم من حولنا. ومن يتمسّك بهذا المنطق، يهدف عملياً إلى أمرين:

الأول، عدم رغبته بتعديل طريقة تفكيره أو التصرف وفق منطق حياة جديد.

الثاني، استمرار لعبة التعمية على الحقائق القوية التي قامت بفعل المعارك الكونية في منطقتنا طوال العقد الماضي.

يأتي وزير خارجية فرنسا إلى بيروت، ونشهد استنفاراً سياسياً وإعلامياً وخلافه، لكن أحداً من كلّ الذين تابعوا الزيارة أثناء التحضير لها وبعد حصولها، أو الذين شاركوا في الاجتماعات معه، لا يقدر على أن يعطينا عبارة وحيدة مفيدة. وبدل محاولة فهم خلفية الزيارة وواقع الرجل نفسه، وحجم نفوذ وقوة تأثير بلاده، ننشغل في التأويل والتحليل، الذي يُراد له أن ينتهي على شكل أن في لبنان كتلة تغيير قوية تمثل «الغالبية الصامتة» وهي جاهزة لتسلّم البلاد، بانتخابات أو من دونها…

هو نوع من الهزل. ولكن، من دون أن يبدو الكلام عن مشكلتنا استهتاراً بموقع اللبنانيين الحالي، من الضروري تكرار ما يجب أن يُقال حول حاجة البلاد إلى خارج يساعد على معالجة أزماتها السياسية والأمنية والاقتصادية. وهذا بحدّ ذاته أمر يعيدنا إلى المربع الأول، حيث الجد مكان المزاح، وحيث حقيقة أن ما يجري في الإقليم، له أثره الأول على الصنف الحالي من أزماتنا. وبالتالي، ينبغي السؤال عن طبيعة القوى الإقليمية والدولية الأكثر تأثيراً في لبنان.

خلال العقد الأخير، ثمة دول لم تعدل بوصة في آلات قياسها للأزمة اللبنانية. لم تغير لا في استراتيجيتها ولا في أهدافها ولا في تحالفاتها ولا في برامج عملها، وأبرز هذه الدول، هي سوريا وإيران وإسرائيل وتركيا. لكن الدول الأخرى باشرت بإدخال تعديلات على استراتيجياتها. هي دول تقودها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وتساعدها بريطانيا، وأبرز عناصرها السعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة وقطر. علماً أننا ما زلنا في مرحلة قياس الدور الجديد لدول انضمّت إلى ساحتنا ودورها الذي يزداد فعالية مع الوقت، مثل روسيا أولاً والصين ثانياً.

المحور الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة دخل مرحلة إعادة النظر في أمور كثيرة، نتيجة المقاصة المنطقية التي أجرتها دوله في ضوء ما حصل في العقد الأخير. هذا لا يعني أن العالم سيتغير، لكن الأكيد أن تغييرات كبيرة ستطرأ على قواعد اللعبة، وأن بلداناً مثل لبنان، ستتأثر كثيراً بهذه التغييرات. وهنا يصبح السؤال مشروعاً: كيف سيتعامل اللبنانيون مع هذه التغييرات، هل سيصبحون أكثر واقعية ويتخلّون عن البهورات والبهلوانيات والادعاءات والتبجح، وهل بينهم من يبادر إلى تحمل مسؤولية أفعاله في السنوات الماضية، فيبادر إلى الانسحاب أو إعادة التموضع، أو أننا – وهذا هو الأرجح – سنكون أمام فصل جديد من المكابرة والإنكار، الذي يترك أثره على المناخ العام للبلاد، ويقلّل فرص استفادة لبنان من المتغيرات الحاصلة من حولنا.

يرغب الفريق الحاكم بجناحي السلطة والمعارضة باستئناف حياة الاستهلاك، وجلّ ما يريده تمويلاً وديوناً جديدة


يقول دبلوماسي مخضرم يشارك في وساطات دولية، إن مشكلة قسم غير قليل من اللبنانيين، أنه لم يفهم طبيعة التغيير الذي حصل في العقد الأخير حول دور الدول المتوسطة والدول الكبرى. ويشرح كيف أن خطط الإدارات الأميركية الأخيرة، وخصوصاً مع دونالد ترامب، دفعت نحو تعزيز دور الدول ذات الحضور الإقليمي الكبير، وعدم رهن الأمور بحسابات الدول الكبرى. ويشرح من جهة ثانية، أن النفوذ يمكن ممارسته من قِبل دول لا تملك بالضرورة وضعية اقتصادية كبيرة مثل الدول الكبرى، ويعطي على ذلك مثال الدور السوري التاريخي في لبنان، والذي لطالما كان أكثر فعالية وأكثر قوة حتى من الولايات المتحدة وأوروبا. وإن هذا الأمر يتكرّر في السنوات الأخيرة مع دول مثل تركيا وإيران، وإن السعودية نفسها، عدّلت في سياستها وتركت موقع «الحياد النسبي» لتقترب من «موقع المبادر» كونها شعرت بالقدرة على لعب دور أكبر، وهو دور جرّبت دول أقل قوة ممارسته في ساحات المنطقة مثل الإمارات العربية المتحدة وقطر، بينما ابتعدت عن المشهد دول ذات حجم كبير مثل مصر.

وإذا ما جرت مقاربة الوضع اللبناني الحالي، يمكن باختصار التثبت من عنصرَين، واحد يتعلّق بطبيعة المشكلة الاقتصادية القائمة، حيث يرغب الفريق الحاكم بجناحي السلطة والمعارضة باستئناف حياة الاستهلاك، وجلّ ما يريده تمويلاً وديوناً جديدة. وعنصر آخر يتصل بالتعقيدات السياسية والتوترات الأمنية والعسكرية، خصوصاً بعد الأزمة السورية وما يجري في العراق، وهذا يعني، أن القوى القادرة على ممارسة نفوذ، هي القوة المؤهلة لذلك بفعل حضورها ودورها. وكل ذلك، يقول لنا بأن اللبنانيين مجبرون على النظر من حولهم، والتدقيق في نوعية التغييرات القائمة، وأن يقوموا بالحسابات وفق معادلات رياضية سليمة، حتى ولو كانت النتائج غير مناسبة لبعضهم.

لا داعي لإهمال العناصر الداخلية للأزمة، لكن من الضروري محاولة معرفة ما يجري حولنا:

أين أصبحت المفاوضات الإيرانية – الأميركية؟ وما هي نتائج جولات الاتصالات الإيرانية – السعودية؟ وماذا جرى بين سوريا وكل من السعودية وقطر والإمارات ومصر؟ وماذا تخطّط تركيا بشأن سوريا أيضاً؟ وماذا عن التطورات داخل التيارات الإسلامية صاحبة الدور الأكبر خلال العقد الأخير في لبنان وسوريا والمنطقة؟

 آل سلمان و«قدر» طهران ودمـشق

من الخارج إلى الداخل وبالعكس    [2]: آل سلمان و«قدر» طهران ودمـشق

على غرار عمل العصابات التي يدعو بعضها بعضاً الى «التهدئة» في حالة وصول ضباط جدد الى مواقع المسؤولية في القوى الأمنية، سارع الفريق الخاص بوليّ العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان الى استراتيجية «خفض الرأس» بمجرد إقرار الرئيس الاميركي السابق دونالد ترامب بنتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية الاميركية. تصرّف «الدب الداشر» وفريقه على أن الجميع ملزم بمراقبة خطوات إدارة جو بايدن الجديدة تجاه المنطقة. وكل الكلام الذي سمعوه عن رغبة في تغيير طريقة التعامل مع السعودية، لم يجعله في موقع الخائف من تطورات كبيرة ونوعية. وبوشر الإعداد لفريق جديد يتولى إطلاق حملة علاقات عامة مع مفاصل الإدارة الجديدة، والتقصّي من الموظفين الدائمين في الإدارة عن المؤشرات المقلقة. وظل الجميع في حالة انتظار، الى أن تم إبلاغهم، مطلع شباط الماضي، نيّة ساكن البيت الأبيض الجديد، البعث برسالة عامة تصيب السعودية، لكنها تستهدف تقديم شعارات جديدة. وكما يبرع الديموقراطيون، قرروا إعلاء شأن صورة أميركا الحامية للقيم وحقوق الانسان. وهي حيلة لا تزال تنطلي على كثيرين في العالم. لكن محمد بن سلمان فهم أن الرسالة تتعلق بتصفية جمال خاشقجي. وكل ما قام به هو البعث برسالة «تنبيه» الى من يهمه الأمر في واشنطن، من أن الذهاب بعيداً في خطوات ضد حكمه، ينذر بانقلاب كبير في العلاقات السعودية – الاميركية، وأنه مستعد لهذه المغامرة.

كلّف وليّ العهد السعودي شقيقه خالد بمتابعة الملف، حتى تاريخ صدور التقرير الخاص بالاستخبارات الأميركية بشأن قتل خاشقجي، والذي فهمه آل سلمان على أنه «إدانة لولي العهد من دون إصدار حكم يوجب خطوات تنفيذية». لكن الملك دعا أولاده والمقربين من العائلة الى اجتماعات متفرقة، كان أبرزها بين محمد وخالد، حيث تم التفاهم على إعداد استراتيجية قصيرة المدى تستهدف «استرضاء الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة». هذه الوجهة كانت لها حساباتها الإضافية، وهو ما عاد خالد نفسه وأبلغه الى من يهمه الأمر داخل المملكة وخارجها، موجزاً الخطة السياسية الجديدة بعناصر محددة:

أولاً: إن العائلة الحاكمة ستتصدى بكل الأساليب لأي محاولة انقلابية تدعمها الولايات المتحدة أو أي طرف خارجي. واتخذت خطوات داخلية هدفت الى إفهام المعارضين أو الطامحين إلى أدوار جديدة أن الأمر لن يحصل ولو كانت كلفته كبيرة.

ثانياً: إن الرياض مستعدة لإعادة النظر في برامج سياساتها العامة في المنطقة، من دون تنازل يجعلها ضعيفة وينعكس على الحكم داخلياً. وفي حال كانت واشنطن قد اتخذت قراراها النهائي بالعودة الى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، وتهدئة الجبهات في الشرق الأوسط، فإن السعودية نفسها لا ترى مانعاً في القيام بالخطوات نفسها. وهي مستعدة للبدء فوراً بمحادثات مع إيران لتهدئة الأمور معها.

ثالثاً: إعداد استراتيجية لإنهاء الحرب في اليمن وفق تصور يمنح المملكة أثماناً كبيرة على صعيد تركيبة الوضع السياسي اللاحق، وإظهار الرغبة في التوصل الى اتفاق ولو كان على حساب بعض حلفائهم اليمنيين، وخصوصاً أتباع الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

رابعاً: عدم تنفيذ الخطوات التي كانت منتظرة في شأن التطبيع مع إسرائيل، والتفاهم مع تل أبيب على الأمر، من زاوية أن إقدام الرياض على خطوة من هذا النوع سيزيد من مستوى التوتر مع إيران ومع قوى أخرى، وسيعقّّد مهمة وقف حرب اليمن، عدا عن كون المناخ العام في العالم العربي لم يكن شديد الترحيب بالتطبيع، رغم كل الجهود التي مارستها الحكومات ووسائل إعلامها.

شرعت قطر في اتصالات مباشرة مع الرئيس الأسد وحكومته، كما هي حال تركيا التي بعثت بما يناسب من رسائل!


خامساً: الذهاب الى استراتيجية تعاون جديدة في العالم العربي تتطلب رفع مستوى التنسيق مع العراق، واستئناف التواصل مع سوريا، ودرس خيار التحالف الذي يجمع السعودية بمصر ودول عربية أخرى، وتطبيع العلاقات مع قطر وسلطنة عمان بما يخفف من التوتر داخل الجزيرة العربية.

استراتيجية فريق ابن سلمان راقت وسطاء كثراً في المنطقة، ولا سيما رئيس الحكومة العراقي مصطفى الكاظمي، الذي يحظى برعاية لدوره الإقليمي من قبل بريطانيا والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وهو يملك أصلاً الصلات المناسبة مع إيران وقوى بارزة في محور المقاومة. ودور الكاظمي سمح للسعودية بحركة تعفيها من منح أي أوراق لخصومها الخليجيين، ولا سيما الدوحة ومسقط، ثم أنها لم تقرر تبدلاً جوهرياً في اتجاه بناء علاقة من نوع مختلف مع تركيا، وإنْ كانت تحدثت عن أنها ساعدت مصر والإمارات العربية المتحدة في معركتهما ضد تيار «الإخوان المسلمين». وهو ما عاد خالد بن سلمان وعرضه في اجتماع عمل تفصيلي عقد في الرياض مع أحد مساعدي مصطفى الكاظمي، تحضيراً للخطوات اللاحقة.

قال السعوديون إنهم مستعدون للاجتماع فوراً بالإيرانيين، وهم يفضّلون بغداد مكاناً للاجتماع، وليس لديهم جدول أعمال محدد، لأن الاجتماع الأول هدفه كسر الجليد، وإعادة التواصل المباشر، والإعداد لجولات جديدة تستهدف عرض كل نقاط الخلاف والتوتر بين الجانبين. وطلب ابن سلمان من الكاظمي أن يكون الاجتماع الأول على مستوى القيادات الأمنية، وإن حضره موظفون كبار في وزارة الخارجية، وهو ما وافقت عليه طهران. وعندما توجّه الوفدان الى بغداد، كان الكاظمي في استقبالهما، مرحِّباً ومُبدياً الاستعداد لكل ما يسهّل التحاور والتوصل الى تفاهم، قبل أن ينسحب من القاعة تاركاً مندوبه الرفيع المستوى يشارك في الاجتماع الذي شابه بعض التوتر إزاء مداخلات متبادلة، حمّل فيه كل طرف الجانب الآخر مسؤولية التدهور في العلاقات الثنائية وفي أوضاع المنطقة، قبل أن يعود الجميع الى الاستماع الى جدول أعمال إيراني تراوح بين استئناف العلاقات الدبلوماسية بالتدرّج وصولاً الى كيفية إدارة موسم الحج. لكن الجميع كان يعرف أن الأمر لا يتعلق بهذه البنود الآن، بل بملفّين رئيسّين: الأول، هو مستقبل علاقات دول الخليج مع إسرائيل، والثاني هو ملف حرب اليمن.

للمرة الأولى، كان السعوديون يتحدثون بلغة لا تنسجم مع كل سياساتهم المعلنة أو المطبّقة، إذ أكدوا أن «خادم الحرمين الشريفين لن يقيم علاقات مع إسرائيل من دون حلّ يؤمّن دولة للفلسطينيين تكون عاصمتها القدس». وأضافوا «أن السعودية لا تستهدف أمن الآخرين في أيّ خطوة تقوم بها»، ليطلبوا مباشرة تدخلاً إيرانياً مباشراً لأجل «ردع الحوثيين وإقناعهم بقبول مبادرة الرياض لوقف الحرب في اليمن».

لم يخرج الجميع من الاجتماع برضى كامل، لكنّ الكاظمي كان يتوقع الأسوأ لو أن التوتر تحكم في المفاوضين، وهو يعرف أن اللقاء سيكون تمهيداً لجولات جديدة بمستويات رفيعة أكثر، وخصوصا أنه كان قد أطلق مسارات عديدة للتفاوض مع إيران، بينها مع مصر والأردن وكذلك مع الإمارات العربية المتحدة، التي حاولت إظهار التمايز في ملفات عديدة، من بينها ملف سوريا، لجهة أنها قادرة على لعب دور كبير بمساعدة مصر في إقناع السعودية بالعودة الى العلاقات مع دمشق، والدفع نحو معالجة موقع سوريا في الجامعة العربية، والبدء بمشروع تفاوض مع الأميركيين والأوروبيين لأجل تأمين قرار يرفع الغطاء عن عملية إعادة إعمار سوريا.

مضمون الاجتماعات نقله كل طرف الى حلفائه. صحيح أن السعودية ليست مضطرة الى إبلاغ مصر أو الإمارات بكامل التفاصيل، لكنها حرصت على إبلاغ الأميركيين، علماً بأن مسؤولاً كبيراً في الرياض قال إن واشنطن ستكون قد اطّلعت من الكاظمي على كل ما يحصل. لكنّ إيران بادرت الى إبلاغ حلفائها من دول وقوى بارزة، في سوريا ولبنان والعراق واليمن، بمضمون المحادثات. كذلك جرى إطلاع قوى فلسطينية على الأمر. وكان واضحاً للجميع أن السعودية ترحّب بقوة بتخفيض مستوى التوتر، لكنها كانت تعرف مسبّقاً أن الخطوة السعودية لا تعكس مبادرة حقيقية بقدر ما تعكس «رغبة» في مواكبة التغييرات الجارية بسبب استئناف المفاوضات حول الاتفاق النووي مع الولايات المتحدة والغرب. ومع ذلك، فإن الإيرانيين الذين أبدوا استعداداً للمساعدة في معالجة أزمة اليمن، كانوا أكثر صراحة في إشارتهم الى أن الأمر يتطلب مفاوضات مباشرة مع أنصار الله، وكل تقدير بأن طهران تقدر أن تفرض على صنعاء خيارات هو مجرد وهم.

ومع ذلك، فإن الجانب السعودي عاد وكرر في اتصالات إضافية، كما فعلت دول أوروبية، ضرورة أن تبادر طهران الى الضغط على أنصار الله. وفي زيارة وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف لمسقط ضمن جولته الخليجية، عقد اجتماع عمل مطوّل مع ممثل أنصار الله في المفاوضات الخارجية، محمد عبد السلام، وبدا أن ظريف معني بشرح وجهات النظر التي تتطلب «لجوء أنصار الله الى تدوير الزوايا» في المفاوضات التي بدأت ثم تعطّلت مع الموفد الأميركي. ومع أن ظريف لم يكن يطلب مباشرة أو يحاول فرض وجهة نظر معينة، إلا أن عبد السلام كان شديد الوضوح في التعبير عن موقف «أنصار الله» لناحية أن وقف الحرب يعني وقفاً شاملاً لكل الحرب وليس لبعض العمليات العسكرية، وأن العودة إلى المفاوضات رهن بتجاوب الطرف الأميركي – السعودي مع المطالب الإنسانية الخاصة برفع الحصار عن المطار والموانئ والمعابر الحدودية لليمن مع جواره. حتى إن عبد السلام كان شديد الصراحة في قوله إن قوات الجيش واللجان الشعبية قادرة على حسم معركة مأرب سريعاً والدخول الى المدينة، لكن الأمر لا يتعلق بحسابات عسكرية، بل بحسابات الواقع الأهلي، وإن تجميد الهجوم الكبير يرتبط بالجانب الإنساني، وهو أكثر ما يمكن أن تقدمه صنعاء بانتظار جواب واشنطن والرياض على مقترح العلاجات الإنسانية.

«العائلة الحاكمة السعودية ستتصدى بكل الأساليب لأي محاولة انقلابية تدعمها الولايات المتحدة أو أي طرف خارجي»


هناك أمور كثيرة تتعلق بالمفاوضات السعودية – الإيرانية وما يجري من اتصالات بشأن اليمن، لكن الخطوة السعودية التالية كانت في توسيع دائرة «خفض التوتر»، وهنا دارت من جديد محركات الوسطاء العرب من أكثر من جهة، ترتيباً لأول تواصل نوعي مع القيادة السورية. وفي دمشق، لم يكن الرئيس بشار الأسد في غفلة عمّا يجري في العالم، وعمّا يجري من حول سوريا على وجه التحديد. وهو أوصى العاملين في فريقه بأن سوريا لم تبدأ الحرب ضد أحد، وهي ليست مستعدة لمراعاة أحد في أمور استراتيجية، لكنها مستعدة للانفتاح الذي يفيد سوريا أولاً، ويفيد العرب ثانياً. ولذلك كان الفريق السوري المكلف باستقبال وفد سعودي في دمشق مجهّزاً بأجوبة مُعدّة حول الأسئلة المتوقعة من الجانب السعودي، الذي بادر الى محاولة تبرئة نفسه من أصل الحرب على سوريا، وأن الأمر يتعلق بالأوضاع التي سادت المنطقة والعالم، وأن الرياض مستعدة لاستئناف العلاقات مع دمشق، ولكن لديها أسئلة مباشرة تحتاج الى إجابات عنها، وهي تتركز على مستقبل الوضع السياسي الداخلي في سوريا، وإمكان التوصّل الى اتفاق يتيح تأليف حكومة جديدة بمشاركة قوى بارزة في المعارضة، والإشارة الى وجود آليات عمل لدى السعودية ودول أخرى تتيح المشاركة في إعادة إعمار سوريا من دون انتظار أيّ قرار دولي بما خصّ العقوبات. لكنّ وجه الموفد السعودي صار مختلفاً عندما سأل نظيره السوري: هل تفكرون في ترك التحالف مع إيران وحزب الله وإخراج قواتهما من سوريا والذهاب نحو تحالف عربي يواجه تركيا؟

لم يكن السعوديون يتوقعون جواباً مختلفا عمّا سمعوه سابقاً، إذ كرر المسؤول السوري الترحيب بالحوار، لكنه شدّد على أن دمشق لا تحتاج الى حوارات سرية وعلاقات من تحت الطاولة، بل الى خطوات مباشرة وواضحة في شأن استئناف العلاقات الدبلوماسية والتجارية وغيره ذلك. أما بشأن العلاقة مع إيران وحزب الله، فكان الموقف السوري شديد البساطة والوضوح: «عندما جئتم جميعاً ودعمتم حرب تدمير سوريا وإسقاط الدولة والنظام، كانت إيران وحزب الله إلى جانبنا، وليس لهذين الطرفين أيّ تدخّل في ما نقرّره بشأن الوضع الداخلي أو استراتيجية علاقاتنا مع الخارج، لكنّهم ليسوا مجرّد أصدقاء أو حلفاء في معركة، بل هم أكثر من ذلك بكثير».
بالمناسبة، والى أن يقرّر أحد الطرفين الإعلان، فإن ما يحاول البعض التكتّم عليه هو شروع قطر في اتصالات مباشرة مع الرئيس الأسد وحكومته، كما هي حال تركيا التي بعثت بما يناسب من رسائل!

غداً: فيينا، وحيرة أميركا إزاء إيران

ROCKETS RAIN OVER US BASES IN IRAQ

04.05.2021

Source

See the source image

Military bases of the United States in Iraq are suffering from poor weather conditions, as it would seem it’s raining rockets in the first days of May and late April.

Late on May 2nd, the US Camp Victory in Iraq came under rocket fire.

Two rockets hit the site near the Baghdad airport.

The third shell was reportedly intercepted by the C-RAM anti-aircraft system.

It was the second attack on Camp Victory in the last 10 days.

Not too long after, on May 3d, the Balad Air Base in the Salah al-Din province that houses Iraqi forces and US contractors was targeted by another rocket attack.

The commander of the base, Div. Gen. Sahi Abdul Ameri, said that a total of 9-10 explosions were heard, but only three self-made rockets exploded on the territory of the base.

The rockets reportedly were 107mm Katyushas.

Alleged photos show that the launchers were labeled with photos of assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Popular Mobilization Units commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Still, the Pentagon said the increasing frequency of attacks against US forces in Iraq does not mean that effective measures are not taken to protect them, adding that the targeted base only hosted only by Iraqi troops and contractors working for an American company.

Alongside this, almost daily IED attacks target convoys moving logistic supplies and equipment for the US-led coalition all over Iraq.

Most recently, on May 2nd, two separate convoys were targeted.

Pro-Iranian groups are suspected of carrying out the attacks.

The recent strikes may be in response to explosions at a large chemical plant located near the city of Qom in central Iran, on May 2nd.

A spokesman for the Qom Fire Department told the semi-official ISNA news agency that the fire had been prevented from reaching nearby alcohol tanks which would have caused a “very large accident” if they had caught fire.

There is no official release of what caused the explosion, but it did happen just as there were some reports that some progress had been made in Vienna in negotiations to salvage the Iranian Nuclear Deal.

On May 1st, Iran revealed that the US had agreed to lift some sanctions in order to revive the 2015 deal.

Tel Aviv has been attempting to hinder the talks between the US and Iran for a while.

Last month, an act of sabotage targeted Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz.

Israeli intelligence was blamed for this.

The vicious cycle that is the situation around the Iran Nuclear Deal continues, and it is likely that the situation could deteriorate further if Washington and Tehran reach a deal Tel Aviv is unsatisfied with.

Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border – Reports (Updated)

 04.05.2021 

Update:  Colonel Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the US-led coalition forces in Iraq, confirmed the attack. According to the initial report, 10 rockets struck the airbase, which hosts US, coalition and Iraqi forces, at 7:20am local time.

Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border - Reports (Updated)

Al-Asad airbase in Iraq, which belongs to the American Army, has been targeted by at least two rockets on May 4, according to the Iraqi TV channel ‘Al-Ahd’. Air sirens have been reportedly activated.

More details on the attack should be provided in coming hours. It is the third military base hosting US troops to be targeted in three days. (LinkLink)

Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border - Reports (Updated)

Moreover, multiple IEDs had targeted US army convoys near Jereshan border between Iraq and Kuwait, Sabereen news reported on May 4th.

According to the reports, the US occupation forces were targeted in one of the warehouses and transport garages at the Jereshan border crossing.

Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border - Reports (Updated)
Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border - Reports (Updated)
Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border - Reports (Updated)
Rocket Attack Hit US Al-Asad Airbase In Iraq, IEDs Targeted US Convoys Near Kuwaiti Border - Reports (Updated)

On May 3, the Balad Air Base in Salah al-Din province that houses Iraqi forces and US contractors was targeted by rocket attack.

Previously, late on May 2, The US Camp Victory in Iraq came under rocket fire.

The ongoing attacks may be a result of the alleged sabotage attack on a large chemical plant located near the city of Qom in central Iran that took place on May 2nd.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

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

By VT Editors -May 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Vienna shadowplay

The Vienna shadowplay

April 27, 2021

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

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That fateful Fateh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, not really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

عمرو علان: موقع المحادثات السعودية الإيرانية المستجِدّة من الإعراب

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عمرو علان

يتسارع تتالي الأحداث في منطقتنا مؤخرا بعد ما دخلت أغلب مشاريع المحور الصهيوأميركي – العسكرية منها والسياسية – في مرحلة استعصاء أو وصلت إلى طريق مسدود، فباتت تعطي نتائج عكسية لما كانت تهدف إليه، ومن بين هذه الأحداث المتتالية توقيع اتفاقية إطار الشراكة الإستراتيجية الصينية الإيرانية، وسعي إدارة الرئيس بايدن الأمريكية إلى العودة إلى الاتفاقية النووية الإيرانية، ولعل آخر تلك الأحداث كان ما رشح عن لقاءات سعودية إيرانية في العراق من أجل تخفيض الاحتقان في المنطقة.

ليست هذه المرة الأولى التي تحصل فيها لقاءات سعودية إيرانية من هذا القبيل، لكن المختلف هذه المرة هو السياق الذي تأتي فيه هذه اللقاءات، فالسعودية اليوم تواجه استعصاء حقيقي في حربها على اليمن، إذا لم نقُل أنها على وشك خسارة الحرب، والحرب على سوريا باتت شبه محسومة لصالح الدولة السورية وحلفائها، والأميركي يتحضّر للتخفيف من أعباء منطقة غرب آسيا عموماً عبر إعادة تموضعه في الإقليم من أجل تركيز جهوده وموارده على مواجهة الصين وروسيا، وقد كان أشار لذلك صراحةً أنتوني بلينكن وزير خارجية الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في معرض حديثه عن قرار إدارة بايدن سحب القوات الأميركية من أفغانستان بحلول أيلول المقبل، ويمكن وضع رغبة الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة بالعودة إلى الالتزام بالاتفاقية النووية مع إيران ضمن هذه الفلسفة أيضا، ناهيكم عن فشل سياسة الضغط القصوى التي اتبعها دونالد ترامب في مواجهة إيران، ويضاف إلى كل هذا التراجع الملموس لكلِّ من القدرتين الأميركية والصهيونية على شن حروب عسكرية جديدة، حروب لم تعد مضمونة النتائج قياساً على نتائج الحروب الأخيرة التي خاضها هذان الطرفان بدءً من احتلال العراق 2003، مروراً بالهزيمة الإستراتيجية التي ألحقها حزب الله بالعدو الصهيوني في حرب تموز 2006. وصولاً إلى العدوان على غزة في 2014.

تأتي هذه المتغيرات الأساسية بعد كباش امتد لعقد ونصف من الزمن على أقل تقدير، وهي – أي المتغيرات – تعيد بالضرورة رسم خريطة موازين القوى في المنطقة لغير صالح المحور الصهيوأميركي، مما يفرض على حلفاء أميركا في المنطقة إعادة النظر في حساباتهم في محاولة منهم للخروج بأقل الخسائر، ويضع البعض القبول السعودي بفتح حوار جدي مع إيران – الذي طالما دعت إليه تلك الأخيرة – ضمن سياق المتغيرات آنفة الذكر، وهذا من شأنه منح هذه المحادثات فرصة أكبر للنجاح في تخفيف الاحتقان الإقليمي، لا سيما أنه من المرجح رضى الأميركي عنها بعكس المرات السابقة. ويبدو مما رشح لغاية الآن عن تلك المحادثات أنها حصلت في أجواء إيجابية رغم كون الطريق مازال في أوله، ورغم عدم خلوه من الأفخاخ الكثيرة بسبب تعقيد وتشابك الملفات الإقليمية، وبسبب طيش القرارات السعودية التي باتت سمة ولاية عهد محمد بن سلمان، لكن تفادي طرفي المحادثات تسريب أخبار عن هذه اللقاءات لغاية هذه اللحظة، وإنكارهما لحدوثها بدرجات متفاوتة يمكن عدّه مؤشرا على جديتهما في الوصول إلى نتائج ملموسة عوضاً عن مجرد تسجيل مواقف ونقاط إعلامية.

تقترب المنطقة مسرعة من لحظة الحقيقة، فإما أن تفضي المحادثات الإيرانية السعودية المستجدة في العراق، ومفاوضات جنيفا – الأهم – بين إيران وأميركا إلى توافقات تخفف من الاحتقان الإقليمي، وإلا فالإقليم متجه نحو جولات تصعيد خطيرة.

Iran will not nibble on US temporary sanctions relief bait

The US is in no credible position to demand new conditions for re-entering th JCPOA, which could just as easily be walked out on again

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor -April 23, 2021

Spokesman: Temporary agreement not on agenda of Vienna talks, Iran does not want lengthy negotiations

…from PressTV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: Iran is clearly putting the US in the dog house in terms of being the country that walked out on the deal and imposed sanctions. The US is in no credible position to demand new conditions for re-entering the JCPOA, which could just as easily be walked out on again.

In a way, Iran is fighting for any country that makes a deal with the US now or in the future. In the future, what would be the penalty for any US administration that walks out on deals after five years of negotiation?

Do other nations think by any means that if the US were successful in getting the Iran deal renegotiated, that other countries would attempt to do the same using the US model?

Trump’s trouncing of the deal has put future US negotiations in the maybe category, as the Republicans just recently held that they would not feel bound to any agreement that the Biden administration made in international diplomacy.

But the clock is ticking for the US, because if a deal is not made by the end of May, the Iranian people may feel it is time to vote in a more hard line government and let it have a try, after the moderates have been unsuccessful.

We are also vulnerable to other malefactors wrecking the deal with the tried and true false flag terror attack, one big enough to shut the talks down on the spot. The potential perpetrators of such an event are on a short list, and Israel is at the top, compliments of its past history.

Bibi is fighting for his political life and would do anything in his power to save his hide. He is already trying to break the Israeli election log jam of not being able to form a government by pushing for a straight up election on Prime Minister, as the polls currently show him winning it.

A desperate Bibi is a dangerous one, even with Gantz as Defense Minister, as that could change quickly if a new government was formed. We are all twisting in the wind now, until some grownups take over the insane asylum… Jim W. Dean ]

First published … April 22, 2021

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry says achieving a temporary agreement on how to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers has never been on the agenda of the ongoing talks between Tehran and other signatories to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Saeed Khatibzadeh made the remarks in an online Q&A session on Thursday, when asked about the main topics under discussion during JCPOA negotiations, which took place in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

“There has never been a discussion on a temporary agreement, but what has been discussed is full compliance of the United States with the JCPOA, the method used to verify [US compliance] and then retracting Iran’s remedial steps on the JCPOA,” he said.

Khatibzadeh added that there are still many differences on important issues, including the order of steps that must be taken, removal of all sanctions and verification of measures taken, but “I think that all parties have shown enough goodwill to move forward in Vienna.”

Asked whether participants in Vienna talks are compiling a new agreement parallel to the original one, he said, “The JCPOA was negotiated once and no new talks will be held on its contents.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman then added that a main concern not only for Iran, but also for other signatories to the JCPOA, is how to make sure that the United States will not  breach any future promises.

“This is a concern not only for Iran, but for the entire P4+1, because when the US left the JCPOA, it not only pressured Iran, but also mounted pressure on European countries to end their presence in Iran. Therefore, all parties are now seeking guarantees” that this will not happen again, Khatibzadeh said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman emphasized that the background of US breaching its commitments has made verification of the utmost importance and “it is quite natural for Iran to want to painstakingly verify measures taken by the US.”

“This is why we emphasize that it is them (American) who must return to full [JCPOA] compliance first. We must verify this and make sure that they are not playing with words and will not try to undermine Iran’s foreign relations and trade,” Khatibzadeh added.

The spokesman further stated that just in the same way that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stressed the importance of objective verification of Iran’s measures, Iran for its part, will not accept that sanctions would be removed only on paper.

“Therefore, Iran wants to verify the removal of sanctions in practice and see that sanctions have been really removed in various fields, including financial transactions, banking, oil sale, insurance, transportation and any other area related to the US commitments.”

The Foreign Ministry spokesman further noted that “Iran is in no hurry in [Vienna] negotiations, but at the same time, does not want to get involved in lengthy and attritional talks.”

Khatibzadeh’s remarks came after an informed source told Press TV that Iran does not accept the sequential lifting of sanctions in the ongoing talks on the revival of 2015 nuclear deal and the bans must be removed altogether.

The source said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic would by no means settle for the suspension, easing or extending waiver of sanctions and that the bans should entirely be removed.

The informed source told Press TV that a one-week verification of lifting anti-Iran bans is not possible and it takes between three and six months to verify the lifting of sanctions.

The United States, under former president Donald Trump, left the JCPOA in May 2018 and restored the economic sanctions that the accord had lifted in addition to imposing new non-nuclear ones. Tehran returned the non-commitment of the US to the deal with remedial nuclear measures that it is entitled to take under the JCPOA’s Paragraph 36.

After a change of administration in the US, new President Joe Biden has claimed that Washington is ready to rejoin the deal.

The Islamic Republic has insisted that it would only stop its adherence to the JCPOA paragraph once the US lifted all the sanctions in one step and after Iran has verified that the sanctions relief has actually taken place.

The US so far failed to meet Iran’s condition. The diplomatic process began in Vienne on April 6 aimed at ending the dispute over the JCPOA.

BIOGRAPHY

Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor

Managing EditorJim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. Read Full Complete Bio >>>

Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014https://www.veteranstoday.com/jim-w-dean-biography/jimwdean@aol.com

مفاوضات فيينا: بين التراجع الأميركي والقلق الصهيوني وتوازن القوى الجديد The Vienna Negotiations: Between American Retreat, Zionist Anxiety, and the New Balance of Power

* Please scroll down for the ADJUSTED English Machine translation *


مفاوضات فيينا: بين التراجع الأميركي والقلق الصهيوني وتوازن القوى الجديد


 حسن حردان

ارتفع منسوب القلق في كيان العدو الصهيوني، مع توارد الأنباء عن قرب توصل مفاوضات فيينا الى اتفاق على العودة المتزامنة من قبل الولايات المتحدة والجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية إلى الالتزام بالاتفاق النووي كما نص عليه عام 2015، وهي الصيغة التي يجري وضع اللمسات الأخيرة عليها وتقضي بأن تقوم واشنطن برفع كلّ العقوبات عن إيران والعودة إلى الالتزام بالاتفاق وتأكد طهران من هذا الالتزام، وفي المقابل تقوم إيران بالعودة عن خطواتها التي اتخذتها بالتخلي عن التزاماتها بموجب الاتفاق، انْ لناحية وقف التخصيب بنسبة 60 بالمئة والعودة إلى التزام نسبة 3,67 بالمئة، أو لناحية السماح لمفتشي وكالة الطاقة الدولية بالعودة الى ممارسة عملهم في مراقبة البرنامج النووي.

هذا التطور أحدث صدمة وقلقاً داخل كيان الاحتلال الصهيوني، وأثار انقساماً في اجتماع الكابينيت، المجلس الوزاري المصغر، حول طريقة التعامل مع هذا التطور الذي اعتبر «إسرائيلياً» بأنه يشكل تنازلاً أميركياً أمام إيران، يلحق الضرر بـ «إسرائيل» وحلفائها من بعض الحكومات العربية… ولهذا حذّرت مجموعة كبيرة من المسؤولين السابقين في الاستخبارات «الإسرائيلية» والجيش وهيئات إنفاذ القانون، بايدن من التسرّع في إبرام اتفاق نووي مع إيران.

المجموعة التي ضمّت 2000 مسؤول رفيع المستوى، قالت في رسالة إلى بايدن، إنّ «التسرّع في التفاوض مع إيران يعرّض «إسرائيل» وحلفاءها العرب الجدد للخطر بشكل مباشر».

وأفاد موقع «واشنطن فري بيكون» أنّ الرسالة التي صاغها «منتدى الدفاع والأمن الإسرائيلي»، تُعدّ إشارة واضحة على أنّ «إسرائيل» وحلفاءها العرب في المنطقة متحدون في معارضة جهود إدارة بايدن للانضمام مرة أخرى إلى الاتفاق النووي. واعتبروا أنّ الاتفاق النووي الإيراني معيب ويعد تهديداً مباشراً للاستقرار الإقليمي…

لكن الأسئلة التي تطرح في هذا السياق هي:

أولاً، لماذا قرّرت واشنطن العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي كما وقع عام 2015 طالما انه يشكل ضرراً لحلفاء أميركا في المنطقة وفي المقدمة الكيان الصهيوني؟

وثانياً، لماذا يعتبر المسؤولون الصهاينة عودة العمل بالاتفاق النووي يلحق ضرراً بالكيان الصهيوني وحلفائه من الأنظمة العربية؟

وثالثاً، ما هي النتائج التي ستترتب على التوصل لهذا الاتفاق وفق الشروط الإيرانية؟

أ ـ انّ قرار إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي وقبول شروط إيران برفع كامل العقوبات بالتزامن مع عودة طهران للالتزام بالمثل بنصوص الاتفاق، حسب الأنباء الواردة من مفاوضات فيينا، لم يكن ليتمّ لو كان لدى الإدارة خيارات أخرى أفضل… بل انّ واشنطن تقدم على التراجع أمام ايران، حسب ما يرشح من مفاوضات فيينا، نتيجة انسداد الخيارات الأخرى أمامها ووصولها إلى قناعة بأنّ خيار العودة إلى الاتفاق وعدم الاستمرار في محاولات الضغط لتعديله أو تجزئة رفع العقوبات المفروضة على إيران، إنما يشكل أقلّ الخيارات سوءاً بالنسبة للسياسة الأميركية… لماذا؟

لأنّ خيار مواصلة سياسة الحصار والعقوبات لم يعد يجدي نفعاً بعد أن نجحت إيران في إجهاض أهداف الحصار، من خلال :اعتماد سياسات اقتصادية تنموية عزّزت…ـ الاكتفاء الذاتي… وإقامة علاقات اقتصادية مع دول ترفض سياسة الهيمنة الأميركية، لا سيما روسيا والصين، والتي كان آخرها الاتفاقية الاستراتيجية بين طهران وبكين والتي شكلت ضربة موجعة لسياسة الهيمنة الأميركية وأسقطت الحصار الأميركي على إيران بالضربة القاضية كونها أمّنت لإيران تصدير نفطها بكميات كبيرة ومنتظَمة على مدى 25 سنة واستثمارات صينية في شتى المجالات تناهز الـ 450 مليار دولار، هذا إلى جانب توطيد علاقات التنسيق والتعاون الاقتصادي والأمني مع روسيا وإقامة علاقات اقتصادية مع دول جمهوريات آسيا الوسطى لا سيما، دول جوار بحر قزوين مما أدّى إلى تحرّر إيران من تأثير العلاقات مع الغرب، وأوجد بدائل جديدة تجعل طهران قادرة على تأمين احتياجاتها وتصدير منتجاتها من دون الخضوع للابتزاز الذي تمارسه الدول الغربية…

أما الخيار العسكري فإنّ إدارة بايدن تدرك جيداً بأنه محفوف بالمخاطر الكبيرة على الوجود والمصالح الأميركية في المنطقة وعلى أمن الكيان الصهيوني… بسبب القدرات العسكرية الرادعة التي تملكها إيران وحلفائها في محور المقاومة…

في حين انّ خيار الحرب الأمنية غير المباشرة لتعطيل البرنامج النووي الإيراني لإضعاف موقف طهران وفرض الشروط عليها، لم يحقق أهدافه، بل أدّى إلى نتائج عكسية، حيث ردّت إيران على الهجوم الصهيوني التخريبي الذي استهدف مفاعل «نطنز»، بالعمل سريعاً على وضع جيل جديد متطوّر من أجهزة الطرد المركزي بدلاً من الأجهزة التي تضرّرت، ورفع نسبة تخصيب اليورانيوم من 20 بالمئة إلى 60 بالمئة مما عكس جاهزية إيران للمواجهة ونجاحها في تطوير قدراتها النووية وامتلاكها الاحتياطات اللازمة للتصدي لأيّ استهدافات أمنية للبرنامج النووي… وكان من الطبيعي أن يؤدّي هذا النجاح الإيراني إلى تعزيز موقف إيران ورفع سقف وشروط التفاوض من قبلها مع مجموعة 4  + 1 من ناحية، وانسداد أيّ أفق أمام واشنطن لتحسين شروط عودتها إلى الالتزام بالاتفاق النووي من ناحية ثانية… وبالتالي اضطرارها إلى التراجع وإبداء المرونة أمام إيران بالتخلي عن الرهان لتعديل شروط العودة للاتفاق والقبول بالعودة المتزامنة غير المشروطة المقرونة برفع العقوبات دفعة واحدة كما تطالب طهران…

ب ـ انّ قلق المسؤولين الصهانية من عودة واشنطن إلى الاتفاق النووي بالشروط التي ترضى إيران، إنما مردّه إلى جملة أسباب:

السبب الأول، إدراك تل أبيب بأنّ الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية ستحقق انتصاراً جديداً في معركتها لتكريس استقلالها والحفاظ على برنامجها النووي والحصول على المنافع الاقتصادية التي ينص عليها الاتفاق من دون إدخال أيّ تعديلات على الاتفاق سعت إليها حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو دون جدوى.. وهذا يعني أنّ إيران الثورة ستصبح في وضع أقوى داخلياً وخارجياً حيث سيتحسّن الوضع الاقتصادي الإيراني بشكل كبير وينعكس ذلك بتحسين قيمة العملة الإيرانية وبالتالي تحسّن الوضعين الاجتماعي والمعيشي للشعب الإيراني الأمر الذي يزيد من التفافه حول قيادته، ويضعف الجهات المرتبطة بالخارج التي كانت تسعى الى استغلال الضائقة الاقتصادية نتيجة الحصار لتأليب الناس ضدّ نظام الجمهورية الإسلامية… ومن الطبيعي انّ تَحسّن الوضع الاقتصادي ومستوى معيشة الشعب سوف ينعكس بتعزيز موقف إيران السياسي واستطراداً دورها على الساحتين الإقليمية والدولية…

السبب الثاني، إدراك المسؤولين الصهيانية أنّ تنامي قوة إيران الاقتصادية واستعادتها لوارداتها النفطية، والاستثمارات الخارجية التي ستحصل في إيران، وارتفاع معدلات النمو في الاقتصاد والدخل على حدّ سواء، سوف تمكن إيران من زيادة قدراتها على دعم حلفائها في محور المقاومة، مما يقوّي من قدراتهم في مواجهة قوى الإرهاب المدعومة أميركياً، ومن الاحتلال الصهيوني…

السبب الثالث، قلق الصهاينة من التحوّل الذي ستحدثه عودة واشنطن إلى الاتفاق النووي بالشروط الإيرانية، على صعيد موازين القوى الإقليمية، في مصلحة المحور المناهض للهيمنة الأميركية، على حساب المحور الموالي لهذه الهيمنة والذي يضمّ الكيان الصهيوني وحلفاءه من الأنظمة الرجعية التابعة والتي بات يرتبط بعضها باتفاقيات مع كيان العدو… مما يضعف هذه الأنظمة ويجعلها مضطرة إلى التوقف عن مواصلة سياسة العداء لإيران والبحث عن سبل تطبيع العلاقات معها، وفي هذا السياق يمكن وضع الأنباء التي تحدّثت عن بدء حوار سعودي إيراني برعاية عراقية.. والذي تزامن مع الأنباء عن قرب التوصل إلى اتفاق في فيبنا لإعادة العمل بالاتفاق النووي… وتفاقم المأزق السعودي في اليمن بفعل نجاح المقاومة اليمنية في مواصلة توجيه ضربات موجعة القواعد والمنشآت الحيوية العسكرية والنفطية في قلب المملكة.

ج ـ انّ إنجاز الاتفاق بالشروط الإيرانية المدعومة روسياً وصينياً، سوف يكرّس المعادلات الجديدة على الصعيد العالمي، والتي تأتي نتيجة فشل الحروب الأميركية في تحقيق أهدافها لناحية إضعاف إيران وإسقاط الدولة الوطنية السورية والقضاء على قوى المقاومة وإعادة إخضاع العراق للهيمنة الأميركية، وصولاً إلى عزل إيران والعمل على تطويعها، ومحاصرة روسيا والصين، وإحباط تطلعاتهما لإقامة نظام دولي متعدّد الأقطاب…

انّ إخفاق الحروب الأميركية وفشل أهدافها المذكورة، أدّى إلى خروج دول وقوى محور المقاومة أكثر قوّة وقدرة، والى تعزيز قوة إيران السند الأساسي لهذا المحور، وعودة روسيا بقوة إلى الساحة الدولية كلاعب أساسي انطلاقاً من انتصار سورية ومساهمتها في هذا الانتصار في مواجهة الحرب الإرهابية الكونية التي شنّتها أميركا بوساطة جيوش الإرهاب القاعدي والداعشي…

 انّ هذا التحوّل سوف يجعل الكيان الصهيوني محاصراً ببيئة استراتيجية جديدة من محور المقاومة الممتدّ من لبنان مروراً بسورية والعراق وغزة واليمن وصولاً إلى إيران، فيما الولايات المتحدة الداعم الأول للكيان الصهيوني تتراجع هيمنتها في المنطقة وعلى الصعيد الدولي ولم تعد قادرة على شنّ حروب جديدة فيما هي تنسحب مهزومة من أفغانستان بعد أطول حرب خاضتها… واستطراداً فإنّ هذا التحوّل سوف ينعكس بتعزيز موقف روسيا والصين في السعي الى إقامة نظام عالمي جديد يقوم على التعددية القطبية بديلاً عن نظام الهيمنة الأميركي الأحادي القطب.. الذي لم يعد ينسجم مع موازين القوى الجديدة في العالم…


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The Vienna Negotiations: Between American Retreat, Zionist Anxiety, and the New Balance of Power

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Hassan Hardan

The level of concern in the Zionist entity has risen, with reports that the Vienna negotiations have reached an agreement on the simultaneous return by the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran to compliance with the nuclear agreement as stipulated in 2015, a formula that is being finalized and requires Washington to lift all sanctions on Iran and return to compliance In return, Iran is backing away from its steps to abandon its commitments under the agreement, with a 60 percent suspension of enrichment and a return to a 3.67 percent commitment, or allowing IAEA inspectors to return to their work monitoring the nuclear program.

This development caused shock and anxiety within the Zionist occupation entity, and sparked a split in the meeting of the cabinet, the mini-ministerial council, on how to deal with this development, which considered “Israeli” as a U.S. concession to Iran, hurting Israel and its Arab allies. That’s why a large group of former Israeli intelligence, military and law enforcement officials warned Biden not to rush into a nuclear deal with Iran.

The group of 2,000 senior officials said in a letter to Biden that “rushing to negotiate with Iran directly puts Israel and its new Arab allies at risk.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the letter, drafted by the Israel Defense and Security Forum, is a clear indication that Israel and its Arab allies in the region are united in opposing the Biden administration’s efforts to rejoin the nuclear deal. They considered the Iran nuclear deal flawed and a direct threat to regional stability…

But the questions asked in this contextare:

First, why did Washington decide to return to the nuclear deal as it signed in 2015 as long as it is harmful to America’s allies in the region and at the forefront of the Zionist entity?

Secondly, why do Zionist officials consider the return of the nuclear agreement to harm the Zionist entity and its Arab regime allies?

Thirdly, what are the consequences of reaching this agreement in accordance with Iranian conditions?

A: U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration’s decision to return to the nuclear deal and accept Iran’s terms of lifting all sanctions in conjunction with Tehran’s return to similar compliance with the terms of the agreement, according to reports from the Vienna negotiations, would not have been possible if the administration had other better options… Washington is even pushing back against Iran, as nominated from the Vienna negotiations, as a result of the blockage of other options before it and its conviction that the option of returning to the agreement and not continuing to try to pressure it to amend it or fragment the lifting of sanctions against Iran is the least bad option for U.S. policy… But why?

Because the option of continuing the policy of embargoes and sanctions no longer works after Iran succeeded in aborting the objectives of the embargo, by: Adoption of economic and development policies that have strengthened…- self-sufficiency, and the establishment of economic relations with countries that reject the policy of American hegemony, especially Russia and China, the latest of which was the strategic agreement between Tehran and Beijing, which constituted a painful blow to the US policy of hegemony and brought down the American blockade on Iran by a knockout because it has secured Iran to export its oil in large and regular quantities over a period of 25 years, and Chinese investments in various fields amounted to about 450 billion dollars, in addition to strengthening coordination relations and economic and security cooperation with Russia and establishing economic relations with the countries of the Central Asian republics, particularly the Caspian neighbors, which led to Iran’s liberation from the influence of relations with the West, and created new alternatives that would make Tehran able to secure its needs and export its products without being subject to blackmail by Western countries…

As for the military option, the Biden administration is well aware that it is too risky for U.S. presence and interests in the region and for the security of the Zionist entity, because of the deterrent military capabilities of Iran and its allies, while the option of indirect security war to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to weaken Tehran’s position and impose conditions on it, did not achieve its objectives, but backfired, as Iran responded to the Zionist sabotage attack on the Natanz reactor, working quickly to develop a new generation of centrifuges instead of damaged devices, and raising uranium enrichment from 20 percent to 60 percent, reflecting Iran’s readiness to confront and its success in developing its nuclear capabilities and having the necessary precautions to counter any security targets of the nuclear program. It was only natural that this Iranian success would strengthen Iran’s position and raise the ceiling and conditions of its negotiations with the 4+1 group on the one hand, and block any horizon for Washington to improve the terms of its return to compliance with the nuclear agreement on the other. Thus, it has to back down and show flexibility for Iran to give up the bet to amend the terms of the return of the agreement and accept the simultaneous unconditional return coupled with the lifting of sanctions at once, as Tehran demands.

B:. The concern of Zionist officials about Washington’s return to the nuclear deal on the terms that satisfy Iran is due to a number of reasons:

The first reason is Tel Aviv’s realization that the Islamic Republic of Iran will achieve a new victory in its battle to consolidate its independence, maintain its nuclear program and obtain the economic benefits provided for by the agreement without any amendments to the agreement. This means that Iran revolution will become in a stronger situation internally and externally where the Iranian economic situation will improve significantly and this is reflected in the improvement of the value of the Iranian currency and thus improve the social and living situation of the Iranian people, which increases its rallying around his leadership, and weakens those associated abroad who were seeking to exploit the economic hardship as a result of the embargo to turn people against the regime of the Islamic Republic… It is natural that the improvement of the economic situation and the standard of living of the people will be reflected in strengthening Iran’s political position and increasing its role on the regional and international arenas.

The second reason, Zionist officials realize that Iran’s growing economic strength and recovery of its oil imports, foreign investment in Iran, and high growth rates in both the economy and income, will enable Iran to increase its capabilities to support its allies in the axis of resistance, strengthening their capabilities in the face of U.S.-backed terrorist forces, and the Zionist occupation…

The third reason, the Zionists are concerned about the transformation that Washington’s return to the nuclear agreement on Iranian terms will bring, in terms of regional power balances, in the interest of the anti-American axis, at the expense of the axis loyal to this hegemony, which includes the Zionist entity and its reactionary allies, some of which are now linked to agreements with the enemy entity… Weakening these regimes will forces them to stop hostility and look for ways to normalize relations with Iran, and in this context the news of the start of a Saudi-Iranian dialogue under Iraqi auspices which coincided with the news that an agreement was reached in Vienna to reintroduce the nuclear agreement. Moreover the Saudi impasse in Yemen has been exacerbated by the success of the Yemeni resistance in continuing to strike vital military and oil bases and facilities in the heart of the kingdom.

C:. Achieving of the agreement on Iranian terms backed by Russia and China will perpetuate the new equations globally, as a result of the failure of the U.S. wars to achieve their goals in terms of weakening Iran, overthrowing the Syrian national state, eliminating the forces of resistance and re-subjecting Iraq to American hegemony, leading to isolating Iran, the main support of resistance axis, and besieging Russia and China, and thwarting their aspirations to establish a multipolar international order.

The failure of the American wars and the failure of their aforementioned goals led to the strengthening Iran, and the emergence of the countries and forces of the axis of resistance more powerful and capable, and to the strong return of Russia to the international arena as a key player based on the victory of Syria and its contribution to this victory in the face of the global terrorist war that America launched it through the armies of al Qaeda and ISIS terrorism

This transformation will make the Zionist entity besieged by a new strategic environment from the axis of resistance extending from Lebanon through Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen to Iran, while the United States, the first supporter of the Zionist entity, is retreating its hegemony in the region and internationally and is no longer able to wage new wars as it withdraws defeated from Afghanistan after the longest war it has fought… Furthermore, this shift will be reflected in strengthening Russia and China’s position in seeking a new multipolar world order as an alternative to America’s unipolar hegemony.


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