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Working for International Dialogue and Peace
In a recent article in The National Interest, two former US ambassadors, William Luers and Thomas Pickering, as well as Greg Thielmann, have defended the recent US sanctions on Iran over its missile program, calling for a mix of “pressure and diplomacy” to curtail the development of Iran’s missile program. ››read more
US Secretary of State John Kerry told Syrian aid workers, hours after the Geneva peace talks fell apart, that the country should expect another three months of bombing that would “decimate” the opposition.
During a conversation on the sidelines of this week’s Syria donor conference in London, sources say, Kerry blamed the Syrian opposition for leaving the talks and paving the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian government and Russia on Aleppo.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government can claim absolute consistency in just one policy: towering, jaw-dropping hypocrisy.
They follow in Tony Blair and his tantrum-prone, nail-biting successor, Gordon Brown’s footsteps as they attempt to market potential war crimes and illegal assaults as democracy-bringing, despot-vanquishing acts of mercy.
Recent events have again highlighted their contempt for human life, human rights and international law.
On Saturday January 3 Saudi Arabia announced it had executed 47 people.
Last September Saudi Arabia was elected chair of the UN human rights council panel that appoints independent experts, due (according to the Guardian) to Britain’s “secret vote-trading deals with Saudis to ensure both states were elected to the [council], according to leaked diplomatic cables.” ››read more
As the agreement reached its “implementation day” with the removal of international sanctions following Iran’s compliance with the deal, Netanyahu was quick to credit Israeli efforts for preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu opened his weekly cabinet meeting by stating, “If it weren’t for our efforts leading the way in enforcing the sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran would have had a nuclear weapon long ago.”
The achievement of “implementation day” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), when for both sides the central elements of the nuclear bargain went into operation on Saturday, means that it is going to be a fact of life in global and regional politics for many years. But will it have a profound impact on regional politics? ››read more
The US Department of the Treasury says it has imposed new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program.
The Treasury Department made the announcement in a statement issued on Sunday, only a day after sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear energy program were lifted.
The statement said five Iranian citizens and a network of companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China were added to a US blacklist. ››read more
As expected, the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a statement today affirming that Iran is is full compliance with all commitments under the P5+1 nuclear deal, with IAEA chief Amano Yukiya praising all involved for making the pact happen.
The IAEA statement obliges the international community to lift all nuclear sanctions against Iran, something they have wasted no time doing. Even the US, which was believed to be the last to abide by the treaty, has seen an order by the State Department to immediately lift all nuclear sanctions. ››read more
Hardliners who—for their separate reasons in each of the countries where such hardliners live—are still determined to sabotage the agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program must have been salivating when they first heard yesterday that Iran had taken into custody two U.S. Navy patrol boats and their crews in the Persian Gulf. This is just the sort of military incident that historically has upended detentes, spoiled diplomatic initiatives, and escalated into something much more than just an incident. Amid the recently heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the potential for escalation of almost anything in the Persian Gulf may be higher than usual. The hardliners are apt to see sabotage at this moment as especially attractive, coming shortly before the expected formal implementation of the nuclear agreement, an implementation made possible through completion by Iran of its obligations under the agreement.
Although some of the details of how the patrol boats got into this situation are still unclear, two central facts are undisputed. One, the U.S. boats entered Iranian territorial waters. Two, the entry was by accident, evidently for reasons having to do with failure of a navigation system or some other equipment problem. The first fact was clear to both sides from the beginning; the second fact was accepted by the Iranians once they had a chance to question the U.S. crew about what the boats were doing. ››read more
The ten US Marines who had trespassed on Iran’s territorial waters and had been taken into Iranian custody have been released after Americans apologized for the incident. ››read more
Arab Spring was always a misleading phrase, suggesting that what we were seeing was a peaceful transition from authoritarianism to democracy similar to that from communism in Eastern Europe. The misnomer implied an over-simplified view of the political ingredients that produced the protests and uprisings of 2011 and over-optimistic expectations about their outcome.
Five years later it is clear that the result of the uprisings has been calamitous, leading to wars or increased repression in all but one of the six countries where the Arab Spring principally took place. Syria, Libya and Yemen are being torn apart by civil wars that show no sign of ending. In Egypt and Bahrain autocracy is far greater and civil liberties far less than they were prior to 2011. Only in Tunisia, which started off the surge towards radical change, do people have greater rights than they did before. ››read more
Saudi rulers have faced serious challenges before, but they have never been faced with the degree of instability in states surrounding or close to the kingdom. There are wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, a guerrilla conflict in Sinai and street protests in Bahrain that could always become more serious. It should be much in Saudi Arabia’s interest to mitigate these crises but instead it stokes them but without any real plan on how to bring them to an end. ››read more
The region is in the throes of an ever deepening and intensifying crisis, triggered in the first instance by the disastrous US-led war of aggression on Iraq in 2003 and continued by the West’s role in helping to topple the Gaddafi government in Libya. There was a failure to adequately appreciate the threat posed by terrorism and extremism, both of which have proliferated as a consequence of the West’s actions since 9/11. Destroying the village in order to save it has been the strategy of governments, which have allowed regional allies such as Saudi Arabia to spread and propagate the poison of sectarianism and barbarism unchecked. ››read more
Peace talks between the Saudi-supported government of Yemen and the Houthi rebels ended in late December without any agreement to end the bombing campaign started by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies with US support last March. The rationale for the Saudi-led war on Houthis in Yemen has been that the Houthis are merely proxies of Iran, and the main alleged evidence for that conclusion is that Iran has been arming the Houthis for years.
The allegation of Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis - an allegation that has often been mentioned in press coverage of the conflict but never proven - was reinforced by a report released last June by a panel of experts created by the UN Security Council: The report concluded that Iran had been shipping arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen by sea since at least 2009. But an investigation of the two main allegations of such arms shipments made by the Yemeni government and cited by the expert panel shows that they were both crudely constructed ruses. ››read more
Under the P5+1 nuclear deal, Iran needed to drastically reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium from the existing levels at the time. They have managed to do so today, shipping away 25,000 lbs of uranium, the bulk of their stockpile, on a container ship bound for Russia.
The shipment brings Iran even closer to meeting all of its obligations under the deal, something which the US hadn’t anticipated being done until spring but which Iran is hoping to have done in time for sanctions relief to begin before February’s elections. ››read more
Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped. ››read more
The notion that a political settlement will take place lacks credibility – the realities on the ground in Syria won’t allow it ››read more
Press TV has conducted an interview with Jan Oberg, founder of transnational.org, from Lund, to discuss the UN nuclear monitoring body's recent resolution that closed a case on the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) in Tehran’s nuclear program. ››read more
Was any temptation to fabricate resisted? One would like to think so. But, given the Stuxnet program to sabotage Iran’s centrifuge machines, and hints that a hostile intelligence agency commissioned the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, one has to wonder whether certain states would have hesitated to resort to fabrication to get themselves out of a spot of difficulty in autumn 2007. ››read more
Editor's note: Peter Jenkins was (2001-06) UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna).
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment has cleared the way for the board of governors to end the Agency’s extraordinary investigation into accusations of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work. But a closer examination of the document reveals much more about the political role that the Agency has played in managing the Iran file.
Contrary to the supposed neutral and technical role that Director General Yukiya Amano has constantly invoked and the news media has long accepted without question, the Agency has actually been serving as prosecutor for the United States in making a case that Iran has had a nuclear weapons program. ››read more
Iran's nuclear chief says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s recent decision to drop the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) in relation with the country's nuclear case proved that the entire case was fabricated. ››read more