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Working for International Dialogue and Peace
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.
However, the diplomats and experts also have questioned whether European and Asian countries would be willing to return to a strict sanctions regime, even if the U.S. decided to back out of the agreement and ratchet up new sanctions. The impact of a unilateral U.S. pullout could be limited, if other powers continue to build partnerships with Iran. Iranian officials, seeking to make the most of sanctions relief, have sought in particular to maintain business ties to Europe, even as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues to vilify the U.S. ››read more
Prince Turki said he would like to see if the deal could become a "stepping stone" to a more permanent program "to prevent proliferation through the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East." Prince Turki does not presently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, and he emphasized that he was speaking in a personal capacity. His views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom's top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles. Prince Turki also said Trump should admonish Iran for its "very adventurous and very destabilizing activities" in the Middle East. ››read more
The names are familiar—former secretary of state Madeline Albright and former Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley lead the Atlantic Council task force. Former Bill Clinton NSC adviser Brian Katulis and former Bush deputy secretary of defense Rudy deLeon are senior fellows at the Center for American Progress. The inescapable Martin Indyk heads a Brookings group of former top officials from Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations. These are the apostles of American exceptionalism, from the neoconservatives who promoted the invasion of Iraq to the “indispensable nation” liberal interventionists who championed regime change in Libya. Virtually without exception, all supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the most catastrophic foreign policy debacle since Vietnam. Virtually without exception, none were held accountable for that folly. ››read more
Trump's video message contained no mention of his policy for the Middle East or Israel. But the candidate has pledged to scrap the deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, which was negotiated under U.S. President Barack Obama. "Together we will stand up to enemies like Iran bent on destroying Israel and her people," Trump told supporters. "Together we will make America and Israel safe again." Trump has also said previously he would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would mark a shift in U.S. policy. Most nations — including Canada — do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ››read more
He is also an opponent of the Iran nuclear agreement, a defender of waterboarding, and an advocate for making Russia “pay a price” in Syria by covertly killing Putin’s soldiers.
On Tuesday, Morell added another title to that résumé: proponent of going to war with Iran, for the sake of securing Saudi Arabia’s influence in Yemen. “Ships leave Iran on a regular basis carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen,” Morell said, in remarks to the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. “I would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the U.S. Navy boarding their ships, and if there are weapons on them, to turn those ships around.” ››read more
Compare the coverage of Mosul and East Aleppo and it tells you a lot about the propaganda we consumeby Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) October 22, 2016
In both countries, two large Sunni Arab urban centres – East Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq – are being besieged by pro-government forces strongly supported by foreign airpower. Yet the coverage is very different ››read more
Another key channel of communication has been between Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. But this, too, will be jeopardized when Mr. Moniz leaves office. Mr. Salehi will remain an important player, but there is no guarantee he will enjoy similarly friendly ties with the next energy secretary. This is why the United States and Iran should work now to establish contact between lower-level officials and technical experts, including between American labs and their Iranian counterparts. ››read more
We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding Isisby Patrick Cockburn (source: Independent) October 15, 2016
There is a bizarre discontinuity between what the Obama administration knew about the jihadis and what they would say in public ››read more
“It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.” ››read more