[home][about][contact] [getting involved] [Educational][Academic] [Media Watch][Views]
Working for International Dialogue and Peace
But Flynn wondered aloud to them if it was “black swan” event, which was his way of “dog whistling” us toward Iran being involved. This “black swan” theory of his intensified concerns among my DIA colleagues that he was pushing raw intelligence — known as “stove piping” — to the White House. His fondness for spurious conspiracy theories put him at odds with the national security team at the White House. Sure enough, within a months of this chatter Flynn was out. He “resigned,” but the reality is that the intelligence hierarchy, led by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, fired him. I was not surprised that Clapper resigned after Trump indicated that Flynn would be his national security advisor. My impression is that he wanted nothing to do with Flynn.
The foreign ministers of China and Iran on Monday urged governments not to violate the deal that limits Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, in remarks apparently directed at President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a visit to Beijing that the seven nations who agreed to the deal in July 2015 “have the obligation to fully implement” it. “Iran will not allow any country to take unilateral action to violate the agreement and Iran has the right to take action against that,” Zarif said at a news conference after meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. ››read more
General Flynn is entitled to differ from the large majority of the American security establishment by opposing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran. But his advocacy of “regime change” over diplomacy as a means of addressing Iran’s nuclear program is reckless and incendiary. His appointment will send a dangerous signal to all parties to the agreement and the entire world that the United States cannot be counted on to adhere to its obligations under this or other vital international agreements. Perhaps most alarming, since last summer General Flynn has regularly attended your classified intelligence briefings while also advising foreign governments. He has reportedly leaked classified US intelligence to Pakistan, and his lobbying company, Flynn Intel Group, has ties to Turkish interests close to the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. ››read more
China has warned that no party to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world countries should allow its domestic upheavals to adversely affect its commitment to the accord. ››read more
In fact, Mattis’ anti-Iran animus is so intense that it led President Barack Obama to replace him as Centcom commander. It was a move that roiled Mattis admirers, seeding claims that the president didn’t like “independent-minded generals who speak candidly to their civilian leaders.” But Mattis’ Iran antagonism also concerns many of the Pentagon’s most senior officers, who disagree with his assessment and openly worry whether his Iran views are based on a sober analysis or whether he’s simply reflecting a 30-plus-year-old hatred of the Islamic Republic that is unique to his service. It’s a situation that could lead to disagreement within the Pentagon over the next four years—but also, senior Pentagon officials fear, to war. “It’s in his blood,” one senior Marine officer told me. “It’s almost like he wants to get even with them.” ››read more
Mr. Flynn saw the Benghazi attack in September 2012 as just one skirmish in this global war. But it was his initial reaction to the event, immediately seeking evidence of an Iranian role, that many saw as emblematic of a conspiratorial bent. Iran, a Shiite nation, has generally eschewed any alliance with Sunni militants like the ones who attacked the American diplomatic compound. For weeks, he pushed analysts for evidence that the attack might have had a state sponsor — sometimes shouting at them when they didn’t come to the conclusions he wanted. The attack, he told his analysts, was a “black swan” event that required more creative intelligence analysis to decipher. ››read more
In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. Isis is accused of preventing civilians from leaving the city so they can be used as human shields.
Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad’s forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee. The UN chief of humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, suggested this week that the rebels in east Aleppo were stopping civilians departing – but unlike Mosul, the issue gets little coverage. ››read more
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that the Islamic Republic will halt the implementation of last year’s landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries if the US sanctions are re-imposed on the country. ››read more
A member of the Iranian Parliament’s Presiding Board says the legislature is preparing a triple-urgency motion which would mandate the government to resume nuclear activities halted under a landmark agreement between Tehran and the group of six countries known as the P5+1. ››read more
Despite Iranian complaints and administration arguments that the move is unnecessary, the U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation extending the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another ten years – by a vote of 99-0. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont did not vote. The Iran Sanctions Extension Act, which passed in the House in a 419-1 vote a fortnight ago, now goes to President Obama’s desk. Unlike other pending Iran-related legislation, the White House has not indicated that Obama would veto the bill – the scale of support indicates a veto would be overridden in any case. ››read more
In an interview with the BBC that was published on its website on Wednesday, Mr. Brennan warned that scrapping the nuclear deal would undermine American foreign policy, embolden hard-liners in Iran and threaten to set off an arms race in the Middle East by encouraging other countries to develop nuclear weapons. “First of all, for one administration to tear up an agreement that a previous administration made would be unprecedented,” Mr. Brennan said in the BBC interview, which the broadcaster said was the first by a C.I.A. director with the British news media. “I think it would be the height of folly if the next administration were to tear up that agreement.” ››read more
Iran will increase its uranium enrichment capacity if the US renews sanctions against the Islamic Republic and violates the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian lawmaker says. ››read more
Mr. Trump’s immediate position on the Iran deal will be one of the first critical tests for his presidency. It will also test the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council. The American public, like international leaders, should make clear to the president-elect that they do not want to become entangled in yet another military crisis in the Middle East, especially one that the world has already worked so hard to avoid. ››read more
Abu Omar Khorasani, an Isis leader in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying that “our leaders were closely following the US election, but it was unexpected that the Americans would dig their own graves.” He added that what he termed Trump’s “hatred” towards Muslims would enable Isis to recruit thousands of fighters.
The Isis calculation is that, as happened after 9/11, the demonisation and collective punishment of Muslims will propel a proportion of the Islamic community into its ranks. Given that there are 1.6 billion Muslims – about 23 per cent of the world’s population – Isis and al-Qaeda-type organisations need to win the loyalty of only a small proportion of the Islamic community to remain a powerful force. ››read more
Trump appears ready to break away from Washington’s anti-Russia consensus, but he remains a prisoner of the anti-Iran consensus. This is the central contradiction of his emerging foreign policy. He wisely insists that fighting Islamist radicalism must be America’s priority in the Middle East, and that since the Russians agree, we should cooperate with them. Yet Iran is more militantly opposed to ISIS than any country on earth. That makes sense, since most Iranians are Shia Muslims and ISIS wants to kill every Shia. A consistent anti-ISIS policy would be based on cooperation with Russia and Iran. If the time has come to try reconciliation with one, the same is true for the other. ››read more
From the outset, the group advocated violence. Among the MeK’s many terrorist operations in the 1970s were bombings and shootings directed against American military personnel stationed in Iran—three U.S. colonels were killed during this period, as were three contractors. There was an attempted kidnapping of the U.S. ambassador to Iran, an assassination attempt against the general heading the U.S. military mission, as well as attacks against Iranian facilities belonging to General Motors, Shell Oil, Pepsi, Pan Am Airlines and others. When the revolution occurred, the MeK joined forces with the religious hard-liners looking to overthrow the regime. The group supported the takeover of the U.S. embassy in November 1979, and, according to some eyewitnesses, MeK members took part. ››read more
Pompeo, however, fought tooth and nail to prevent the deal from being struck. In a 2014 roundtable with reporters, he downplayed the costs of bombing Iran as an alternative to negotiations, stating “In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.” Few believe that such a bombing campaign, however, would do anything but further destabilize the region, delay Iran’s nuclear capabilities by a few years and incentivize an Iranian nuclear deterrent. In his statement on July 14, 2015, the day the nuclear accord was reached, Rep. Pompeo argued that Iran “is intent on the destruction of our country,” and said “[t]his deal allows Iran to continue its nuclear program - that’s not foreign policy; it’s surrender.” Such hyperbole might have made for good rhetoric in Congress, but does not amount to serious analysis. ››read more
Administration officials do not believe Mr. Trump would overtly pull out of the deal. Their concern is more that it would fall apart due to attempts by the incoming administration to renegotiate pieces of it, expanding sanctions against Iran unrelated to its nuclear program, or neglect. Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington, said the Iran deal is “uniquely vulnerable” and requires constant attention because it is not a treaty and has faced significant opposition in the U.S. and Iran. ››read more
As this author has argued in a previous article, "The Iran Nuclear Accord is Legally Binding," there is a widespread misperception of the JCPOA in both policy and academic circles as "legally non-binding" political agreement, which must be debunked and deconstructed with the help of sound leqal, theoretical and methodological insights. A major vulnerability of such interpretations of the JCPOA is that they often evaluate the agreement from the prism of its authors, some of whom like the US Secretary of State John Kerry have gone on record portraying the accord as "legally non-binding." Others, such as international law expert Daniel Joyner, have reached the same conclusion, but only by examining the JCPOA independent of its UN dimension, reflected in Resolution 2231, which agrees to the commitments made by the parties and calls on them to observe the various timetable of the accord, such as the implementation day, the conclusion day, etc. ››read more
A shadowy advocacy group called the 45 Committee has begun running television ads hyping the Iran threat as well, urging viewers to call President Obama to support the Iran Sanctions Act Extension, which was also passed in the House this week. That bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce, would extend US sanctions on Iran for another 10 years. The passage of the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act, then, should be seen as part and parcel of a broader attempt by congressional and incoming administration hardliners (encouraged by the Likud and Sunni Gulf state lobbies inside the Beltway) to contain what they perceive as Iranian expansionist designs in the Middle East. ››read more