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Working for International Dialogue and Peace
Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s nominee as CIA director, is a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear deal and wants to restore surveillance programmes stopped after the Edward Snowden revelations. A three-term Congressman from Kansas and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Mr Pompeo has been one of the more hawkish members of the House Republican caucus on foreign affairs. ››read more
Yes, he attacked Republican rivals and Hillary Clinton for supporting the Iraq and Libya wars. But Trump only opposes past wars. When those wars began, Trump was a cheerleader. He criticized nation-building but praised the Iraq surge, and suggested plundering Iraq’s oil. He sensibly criticized Clinton for wanting to depose Bashar al-Assad in Syria but supports heavier bombing. Trump’s election also boosts the odds of war with Iran. Like most Republicans, Trump says we should withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. That would likely further destabilize the region and put Iran back on the path to building nuclear weapons. Most Congressional Republicans would then likely advocate bombing. Trump hasn’t explicitly agreed, but his rhetoric isn’t reassuring. ››read more
On the news that Donald Trump has asked Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser, I decided to look up Flynn’s testimony on Iran before the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa on June 10, 2015. That was just a month beforethe P5+1 and Iran concluded the the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). What I found was pretty shocking and deserves wide dissemination. I knew that Flynn was pretty much of an Islamophobe, but I didn’t know to what extent he appears also to be an Iranophobe as well.
The White House said in a statement this week that Obama would veto the House measure. It is “profoundly in the national security interest of the United States” to keep commitments made in the Iran nuclear accord as long as Tehran keeps its promises, the administration’s statement said. The administration said the restriction on Ex-Im financing was unacceptable. “The sweeping and vague nature of this provision would have a chilling effect on U.S. and non-U.S. entities seeking to engage in permissible business with Iran,” the White House said. ››read more
“The only long-term solution is regime change in Tehran,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily on Thursday morning. “The ayatollahs are the principal threat to international peace and security in the Middle East.” The call for regime change is very much in line with past statements from Bolton, a hyper-hawkish Bush administration official who stands by the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He has repeatedly urged the U.S. to help Israel bomb Iran or do it alone. Even as Iran was in the final stages of negotiating an international agreement that requires it to dramatically scale back its nuclear infrastructure, Bolton recommended a military attack. Thursday’s remark suggests that he has no plans to tone down his adventurist foreign policy views, which run counter to Trump’s repeated promises to focus resources domestically and to avoid unnecessary entanglements abroad. ››read more
Donald Trump’s rumored picks for key foreign-policy positions have already set off alarm bells about the future administration’s embrace of war hawks and Islamophobes. Today, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin pointed out that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is currently reported to be under consideration for an appointment to secretary of state or attorney general, potentially violated the law when he made paid speaking appearances for the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), when the State Department listed the Iranian dissident group as a foreign terrorist organization. ››read more
President-elect Donald Trump spent much of his campaign railing against the Iran nuclear deal, even raising the possibility of scrapping the agreement immediately upon taking office. But many of the deal’s most ardent critics are now saying: "Slow down." As the reality of Donald Trump's White House win sinks in among nuclear deal opponents, some are insisting that pulling out of the agreement is unwise. Instead, they say, Trump should step up enforcement of the deal, look for ways to renegotiate it, and pursue measures to punish Iran for its non-nuclear misbehavior. Such a multi-pronged, get-tough approach may even give Trump cover to fend off any criticism he may get for keeping the deal. ››read more
Gingrich is just one among a broad array of political influentials with concrete ties to MEK, a well-funded lobbying group aggressively promoting U.S. military confrontation with Iran. The group stands accused of torturing its members and believes that Maryam Rajavi is Iran’s rightful leader — members refer to her as “president elect.” MEK's relationship to powerbrokers in Washington has taken on new significance as Gingrich assumes a powerful role as vice chair of the executive committee of Donald Trump’s transition team and eyes a likely position in the president's cabinet. ››read more
Gaffney suggested that Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the time, was submitting to Sharia when Petraeus condemned the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor. Gaffney has accused a bipartisan array of political elites of being secretly tied to the Islamist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood, including longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and conservative heavyweights Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan. Gaffney has objected to Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) serving on the House Intelligence Committee because they are Muslim and therefore, he said, likely to leak information to the Muslim Brotherhood. ››read more
Paul argued that Giuliani and Bolton, the people whose names have circulated most widely, “have made it clear that they favor bombing Iran.” Choosing either for a key administration job, he said, would go back on the “America First” foreign policy that helped Trump win the Republican primaries, to the surprise of the Republican Party foreign-policy establishment. “I’m hoping that if there’s a public discussion of this before it happens, people in the incoming administration realize that regime change made us less safe and the Iraq War made us less safe,” Paul said. “We don’t need, as our chief diplomat, someone whose idea of diplomacy is dropping bombs.” ››read more
In 2011 and 2012, Giuliani gave several speeches, including at events inside the congressional office buildings, calling on the State Department to take the MEK off of the list of foreign terrorist organizations. He also heavily criticized the U.S. government’s effort to help relocate MEK members when the Iraqi government evicted them from Camp Ashraf.
In March 2012, Giuliani traveled to Paris to speak at an MEK conference alongside the group’s secretive leader Maryam Rajavi. While there, he called the U.S. military base in Iraq where the United States wanted to relocate the MEK a “concentration camp.” Those comments later appeared in an MEK ad in the New York Times. That same month, the Treasury Department’s investigation into the payments made to American politicians became public when former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell admitted that he had received a subpoena related to his work on behalf of the MEK. It’s illegal for American citizens to do business with a group designated as a foreign terrorist organization. ››read more
Seventy-six national security experts urged President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday to reverse his hostility to the nuclear agreement signed with Iran last year and to use it as a tool to ease other tensions with the country. A report signed by the experts, including former officials from both major political parties, argued that the nuclear agreement had reduced the threat of war in the Middle East. Mr. Trump has called the nuclear agreement a foreign-policy disaster. He vowed during his campaign to renegotiate or renounce the deal, one of President Obama’s signature achievements. ››read more
Post-election comments on Middle East policy last week by President-elect Donald Trump and one his campaign advisers have provoked speculation about whether Trump will upend two main foreign policy lines of the Obama administration in the Middle East.
The day after Trump’s election, Woolsey was interviewed by the CBC and asked about U.S. national security priorities. Woolsey responded that it was necessary “to get straight who our friends and adversaries are.” He asserted that “Israel is our friend,” while he called Iran “the world’s leading terrorist state” and insisted that the nuclear agreement with Iran “is so bad it needs to go.”  Tehran reached a deal with world powers (including the U.S.) on its nuclear program in July 2015. The Israel lobby has reportedly been trying to undermine the agreement ever since by linking Iran with ISIS terrorism.  ››read more
In a world of growing uncertainty, the current leaders of the EU and Iran must do their utmost to ensure that the Iran deal survives the complicated politics of some of its parties. The stakes could not be higher: the fate of a working agreement that not only defused a potentially devastating conflict but also opened a way for re-engaging with one of the key countries in the Middle East. ››read more
Editor's note: Since 2007, Eldar Mamedov has served as a political adviser for the social-democrats in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP) and is in charge of the delegation for inter-parliamentary relations between the EP and Iran.
Hillary Clinton sounded more interventionist than Donald Trump – but the Middle East crises Trump inherits could suck him inby Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) November 12, 2016
One of Clinton's senior advisers openly proposed giving less priority to the assault on Isis and more to getting rid of Assad. A force of pro-US militant moderates was to be raised that would fight and defeat both Isis and Assad. Probably this fantasy would never have come to pass, but the fact that it was ever given currency underlines how out-of-touch she – and Washington – was ››read more
With Gingrich and Bolton likely to be appointed to two of the highest national security positions in the Trump administration, will Rajavi’s totalitarian cult gain influence? Other possible members of a Trump administration are also leading anti-Iran hawks. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, tipped for the position of attorney general, has been paid handsome sums to appear at MEK rallies. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, head of the Trump transition team, has called Iran a “greater threat than ISIS”. Mike Flynn, possibly the next secretary of defense, is on the record as saying, “I’ve been at war with Islam, or a component of Islam, for the last decade” and complaining about Iran’s “lies, their flat out lies, and then their spewing of constant hatred, no matter whenever they talk”. ››read more
The strategy is to tighten the noose on Iran such that if and when President Trump tries to renegotiate the Iran deal, as he promised to do on the campaign trail, the Iranians will be under more pressure to come to the table. “I want to help Trump on Iran. One way is to reimpose sanctions outside the conduct of the nuclear deal,” said Graham. “I hope this will help President Trump get a better deal.” Increasing sanctions on Iran is only one area where Republicans who opposed Trump previously are planning to work with the new administration. Defense hawks in both chambers also agree with Trump’s pledge to get rid of limits on military spending imposed by previous budget deals, move Israel policy to be more friendly to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and roll back the Obama administration’s moves to normalize relations with Cuba. ››read more
A number of key supporters and advisers around Trump, most notably Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, have explicitly called on the US government to recognize and support the Organization of Iranian People’s Mojahedin (OIPM). Both men have accepted money to speak at OIPM events and have lobbied on their behalf. It would be surprising if neither one had a palpable influence on Iran policy given their prominent roles in his campaign. Gingrich, in fact, is now being tipped for Trump’s secretary of state. These men staked much of their political capital while a sizeable chunk of the GOP leadership went running for the hills. The OIPM is an opaque, undemocratic, and cultish organization that fought against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and is committed to regime change irrespective of the consequences for the Iranian people. As a result, it is widely detested and has no popular base to speak of inside the country. ››read more
Trump has questioned the wisdom of backing rebels, played down the U.S. goal of getting Assad to leave power, and noted that while he didn’t like him, “Assad is killing ISIS” with Iran and Russia. ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State. “This is very comforting for us and our allies in Syria,” said the senior official in the military alliance fighting in support of Assad, who is backed by the Russian air force, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and other militias. “The wave is currently with us, serving our interests, and we must benefit from it as fully as possible,” said the official, who declined to be identified by nationality or affiliation so he could give a frank assessment.