Working for International Dialogue and Peace

Nuclear Deal-Making in Vienna and Tehran

by Kaveh Afrasiabi (source: IRDiplomacy) July 5, 2015

The latest reports from Vienna indicate that the negotiators from Iran and the "5 +1" nations, i.e., UN Security Council's Permanent Powers plus Germany, have reached a tentative deal and are only inches away from turning it into the final agreement.

According to a source close to the Iran negotiation team, as of July 4th, there were still some residual issues regarding the sanctions, the Additional Protocol, and what is referred to as the "Possible Military Dimension (PMD)," but none of these at this stage is going to "break the deal" and are expected to be resolved in the next few days. ››read more

Yet-To-Be-Fully-Released Poll Suggests Solid Support for Iran Deal

by Jim Lobe (source: Lobelog) July 4, 2015

The Chicago Council for Global Affairs (CCGA) has just released the highlights of a public opinion survey taken in late May and early June concerning public opinion on Iran’s nuclear program. The numbers should encourage the Obama administration in its drive to conclude a deal between the P5+1 and Tehran in the next week. (Knowledgeable sources indicate that an announcement could come as early as this weekend.) The full results of the poll, including the topline, will be released Monday, but what follows are some of the “highlights” it released Thursday. ››read more

P5+1 has to decide between agreement with Iran or coercion against it: Zarif

(source: Press TV) July 3, 2015

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran’s negotiating partners have to make a choice between agreement with the Islamic Republic or coercion against it. ››read more

Chicken in Vienna

by Paul R. Pillar (source: Lobelog) July 3, 2015

The vast majority of the distance that needed to be traveled to reach an agreement ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon has already been traveled. Most of that distance had been traveled by November 2013 with completion of the preliminary agreement known as the Joint Plan of Action, in which the United States and its negotiating partners attained the most important restrictions on, and monitoring of, the Iranian program. Most of the remaining distance was traveled by this April with the Lausanne framework agreement. What remains to be traveled is a very small part of the trip. ››read more

The West’s Voluntary Blindness on Syria

by Eldar Mamedov (source: Lobelog) July 2, 2015

If the US and EU had real strategy to end the war they would, in addition to pressuring Assad, demand that their regional allies curb the flow of weapons and recruits to terrorist groups. But they can’t credibly do that, since they are involved in this effort themselves. According to Conflicts Forum, the southern rebel front is managed from US Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan, which is run jointly by American, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari, and British officers. ››read more

        Editor's note: Eldar Mamedov has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and as a diplomat in Latvian embassies in Washington D.C. and Madrid. Since 2007, 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.

Critiquing a Critique of Obama’s Approach to Iran

by Peter Jenkins (source: LobeLog) June 30, 2015

To be frank, it is hard to believe that last week Einhorn, Dennis Ross, and Gary Samore, or any of the other signatories, really thought that they were doing the administration a good turn. It looks more likely that the statement was intended to complicate the administration’s task by setting goals for the negotiation that the group knew to be unattainable. This is reminiscent of one of the tactics of opponents of a nuclear deal: describing what a “good” agreement must include to open the way to condemning a lesser agreement as a “bad” agreement. ››read more

Neocons Urge Embrace of Al Qaeda

by Daniel Lazare (source: Consortium news) June 30, 2015

The latest neocon gambit is to build support for “regime change” in Syria by downplaying the evils of Al Qaeda, rebranding it as some sort of “moderate” terrorist force whose Syrian affiliate is acceptable to Israel and supported by Saudi Arabia. But this audacious argument ignores reality, writes Daniel Lazare. ››read more

International Terror Day

by Matt Carr (source: Infernal machine) June 29, 2015

I can’t help feeling that we are doomed to see yesterday’s horrors repeated again and again, and that we will remain trapped in a deadly dynamic in which terrorism feeds militarism and militarism feeds terrorism, and our prospects of creating a just and peaceful international order are ripped to shreds. ››read more

Massive US Media Campaign Aims to Derail Iran Nuclear Deal

by Jason Ditz (source: June 27, 2015

With the June 30 deadline for the Iran nuclear deal just days away, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an organization bankrolled in large part by Republican super-hawk Sheldon Adelson, is stepping up in its typical role of spoiler, launching a new media campaign aimed at killed the pact. ››read more

POLL: Iranian Public Opinion on Nukes, the U.S., Politics

by Jim Lobe (source: Lobelog) June 25, 2015

A major new poll of Iranian public opinion with important and fascinating results was released here and in Tehran Tuesday and deserves much more attention than it is likely to get (at least in the United States). It’s too extensive, and we at Lobelog have been inundated with too many contributions at the moment, to do the survey justice here, so you will find below a “Summary of Findings.” The summary is interesting in itself, but the longer narrative, as well as the top-line data, is well worth reading for those who want to get a more tangible sense of what people in Iran are thinking about the pending deal and its possible political and economic consequences, as well as other issues that make up the public debate there. ››read more

The Great Iran PMD Freakout

by Ali Gharib (source: Lobelog) June 20, 2015

It was always going to happen this way. As talks between Iran and key world powers approached a June 30 deadline, the toughest issues would emerge not only as sticking points in the negotiations themselves but as political footballs to be fought over by opponents of talks on both sides. Such a case came to the fore over the past week: the so-called PMD issue, what diplomats call the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. ››read more

The Saudi Finger-Pointing at Iran

by Flynt and Hillary Leverett (source: June 13, 2015

Riyadh’s increasingly destructive war in Yemen has sparked overripe discussion in Western capitals about Iran’s use of “proxies” to subvert otherwise “legitimate” Middle Eastern governments. Driving such discussion is a self-serving narrative, promoted by Israel as well as by Saudi Arabia, about Tehran’s purported quest to “destabilize” and, ultimately, “take over” the region. ››read more

Sunni Alliances Trump Obama Administration Terrorism Concerns in Syria

by Gareth Porter (source: TruthOut) June 11, 2015

An unnamed senior Obama administration official told The Washington Post recently that the administration is worried about the threat from Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra Front - the al-Qaeda affiliate that has made a strategic breakthrough against the Bashar al-Assad regime in northern Syria. ››read more

Support for Iran Deal Stronger among US Jews than General Public

by Jim Lobe (source: LobeLog) June 11, 2015

With results likely to upset hawkish leaders of the organized Jewish community, a new nationwide poll of 1,000 self-identified U.S. Jews has found stronger backing for President Obama’s efforts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran than exists in the public at large. ››read more

No, Iran Isn’t Destabilizing the Middle East

by Paul R. Pillar (source: National Interest) June 10, 2015

As the nuclear negotiations with Iran enter what may be their final lap, diehard opponents of any agreement with Tehran have been leaning more heavily than ever on the theme that Iran is a nasty actor in the Middle East intent on doing all manner of nefarious things in the region. Insofar as the theme is not just an effort to generate distaste for having any dealings with the Iranian regime and purports to have a connection with the nuclear agreement, the idea is that the sanctions relief that will be part of the agreement will give Iran more resources to do still more nefarious stuff in the region. Several considerations invalidate this notion, just on the face of it, as a reason to oppose the nuclear agreement. The chief one is that if Iran really were intent on doing awful, destructive things in its neighborhood, that would be all the more reason to ensure it does not build a nuclear weapon—which is what the agreement being negotiated is all about. ››read more

Israel, Saudi Arabia hold secret meetings on Iran

(source: Press TV) June 5, 2015

A report has revealed that representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have secretly met five times since the beginning of last year to discuss their positions against Iran. ››read more

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

by Seumas Milne (source: The Guardian) June 4, 2015

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting. ››read more

Why is the media ignoring Israel's alliance with al-Qaeda?

by Asa Winstanley (source: Middle East Monitor) May 29, 2015

Since January, I have been ploughing a lonely furrow in this column by covering what is certainly one of the most under-reported stories in the world right now: Israeli involvement in the war in Syria.

Almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, Israel's occupation forces in the Golan Heights have been in alliance with the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's official franchise in Syria. This alliance certainly includes logistical support and may even extend as far as arming al-Qaeda rebels in south-western Syria. ››read more

Israel implicitly admits having nukes: Iran's UN envoy

(source: Press TV) May 20, 2015

A recent suggestion by the Israeli minister of military affairs that Tel Aviv might drop a nuclear bomb on Iran exposes the regime’s possession of nuclear weapons, says the Iranian ambassador to the UN. ››read more

Obama’s GCC “Summit” and the Deepening Incoherence of America’s Middle East Strategy

by Flynt and Hillary Leverett (source: The Wire) May 17, 2015

Defying escalating rhetoric that Iran is “gobbling up the Middle East,” President Obama told the New York Times recently that “the biggest threat” to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states may not come from Iran, but “from dissatisfaction inside their own countries.” Yet, displaying how deeply mired in Washington hype his administration remains, Obama has called on GCC leaders to parade with him at Camp David this week as if Iran is their biggest threat.

››read more