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Israel’s Peres warns of nuclear Middle East

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

“We are convinced that if Iran manufactures its bomb, all the countries of the Middle East will want to follow suit,” the Israeli president was quoted as saying. (File photo: Reuters)

Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 17 November 2013

Middle Eastern countries will want to obtain nuclear weapons if Iran is allowed to develop an atomic bomb, Israel’s President Shimon Peres said on Saturday ahead of a meeting with French President Francois Hollande.

Shimon Peres told a French newspaper that he appreciated France’s firm stance in negotiations earlier this month on Iran’s nuclear program, adding that there should be “no let-up” in the international pressure on Tehran, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We are convinced that if Iran manufactures its bomb, all the countries of the Middle East will want to follow suit,” the Israeli president was quoted as saying in French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.

Peres will meet the French President on Sunday, in Hollande’s three-day visit to Israel amid the renewed efforts by the West to curb Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

The French president is also hoping to give a push to stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and to try to boost trade with Israel, which stood at $3 billion in 2011.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also urged on Saturday France to maintain its firm stance on international negotiations with Iran.

Hollande’s office said that although France’s “tactical approach” on Iran was different from Israel’s more bellicose stance, both seek to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon, according to AFP.

Israel and world powers suspect the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment program is aimed at obtaining nuclear weapons, an allegation vehemently denied by Tehran.

Iranian hardliners have blamed France for scampering a deal that would have given the West guarantees Tehran was not acquiring atomic weapons in exchange for an easing of crippling economic sanctions against Iran.

The P5+1 negotiations with Tehran consist of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

The talks are due to resume in Geneva in the coming week.

(With AFP)

The John Batchelor Show

Friday, November 8th, 2013

The John Batchelor Show

Discussion on the negotiations in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program and the condition set by Iran leaders to have the right to continue to enrich uranium.

November 07, 2013

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The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The John Batchelor Show

 Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: Ayatollah Khamenei: US should ‘slap’ Sheldon Adelson, cannot stop Iran’s nuclear program.

November 04, 2013

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The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The John Batchelor Show

Discussion on negotiations with Iran over its illicit nuclear program, the game plan by the clerical establishment for sanctions relief without giving up complete enrichment capability and the difficulties for Israel, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the region with the prospect of U.S. acceptance of Iran’s nuclear program.

October 29, 2013

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Israel issues warning on report on Iran bomb

Friday, October 25th, 2013
Iran Missiles

(Photo: ATTA KENARE AFP/Getty Images)

Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

7:17 p.m. EDT October 25, 2013

A new report that says Iran may need as little as a month to produce enough uranium for a nuclear bomb is further evidence for why Israel will take military action before that happens, an Israeli defense official said Friday.

A new report that says Iran may need as little as a month to produce enough uranium for a nuclear bomb is further evidence for why Israel will take military action before that happens, an Israeli defense official said Friday.

“We have made it crystal clear – in all possible forums, that Israel will not stand by and watch Iran develop weaponry that will put us, the entire Middle East and eventually the world, under an Iranian umbrella of terror,” Danny Danon, Israel’s deputy defense minister told USA TODAY.

Iran is developing and installing new and advanced centrifuges that enable Iran to enrich even low-enriched uranium to weapons grade uranium needed for nuclear weapons within weeks, Danon said.

“This speedy enrichment capability will make timely detection and effective response to an Iranian nuclear breakout increasingly difficult,” he said.

“Breakout” refers to the time needed to convert low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade uranium. On Thursday, the Institute for Science and International Security issued a report stating that Iran could reach that breakout in as little as one month based in part on Iran’s own revelations about its nuclear program.

“If they use all their centrifuges … and their stockpiles of low- and medium-enriched uranium, that would take one to 1.6 months,” said David Albright, president of the institute and a former inspector for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency.

The report comes as the White House is trying to persuade Congress not to go ahead with a bill to stiffen sanctions on Iran to force it to open up its program to inspection. The White House on Thursday invited senate staffers to a meeting on Iran strategy for negotiations that are to resume next month with Iran, it said.

In discussing Iran strategy, President Obama has said Iran is a year or more away from having enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.

Bernadette Meehan, an spokeswoman for the administration’s National Security Council, said the intelligence community maintains “a number of assessments” regarding potential time frames for Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one weapon or a testable nuclear device.

“We continue to closely monitor the Iranian nuclear program and its stockpile of enriched uranium,” Meehan said.

In the report, Albright said negotiations with Iran should focus on lengthening Iran’s breakout time. ISIS’ analysis is based on the latest Iranian and United Nations reports on Iran’s centrifuge equipment for producing nuclear fuel and its nuclear fuel stockpiles.

Iran’s stockpile of medium-enriched uranium has nearly doubled in a year’s time and its number of centrifuges has expanded from 12,000 in 2012 to 19,000 today.

Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican whose Senate Banking Committee is considering legislation to tighten Iran sanctions, said the report shows that Iran is expanding its nuclear capabilities under the cover of negotiations.

“The Senate should move forward immediately with a new round of sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring an undetectable breakout capability,” he said. The House has already passed legislation to toughen sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said his country has no interest in nuclear weapons but that producing nuclear fuel is Iran’s right. However, Iran has blocked international inspectors from some suspected nuclear facilities, making it impossible to determine whether it is complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it has signed.

United Nations inspectors say they have found evidence of a weapons program in violation of Iran’s commitment under the treaty. The USA and the U.N. Security Council have implemented economic sanctions on Iran to persuade it abide by its obligation and verify it is not developing a bomb.

Albright says negotiations with Iran should focus on establishing protocols that lengthen the time period that it would take Iran to convert uranium to weapons grade uranium.

“An essential finding is that they are currently too short and shortening further,” stated the report by the Institute for Science and International Security.

Contributing: Michele Chabin in Jerusalem

Bush: ‘Unlikely’ Iran’s stance toward Israel has changed

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013


Former President George W. Bush reportedly said Tuesday, as U.S.-backed negotiations with Iran resumed in Geneva, that it is unlikely Iran’s hostile stance toward Israel has changed.

According to The Algemeiner, at an event in New York City, the former president said, “The United States’ foreign policy must be clear eyed; and understand that until the form of government changes in Iran, it is unlikely that their intentions toward Israel will change.”

Despite a perceived thaw in U.S.-Iran relations, the former president said that he does “not believe in Iran’s peaceful intentions until they can irrevocably prove that it’s true.”

Bush was the surprise guest at an event sponsored by The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund.

Talks on Iran’s nuclear program resumed in Geneva on Tuesday, following renewed efforts by the Obama administration and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, to return to the negotiating table. President Obama and Rouhani spoke by phone during Rouhani’s recent visit to New York City for the U.N. General Assembly.

Click for more from The Algemeiner.

Thousands rally in Israel to remember slain PM Rabin

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

The demonstrators carried portraits of Rabin – who was assassinated after addressing a rally in the same square on November 4, 1995 – and banners with slogans against racism and intolerance. (AFP)

AFP, Tel Aviv

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to mourn peace-seeking Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the 18th anniversary of his assassination by a Jewish extremist.

The demonstrators were mainly young people representing a wide political spectrum but protesting against Israeli radicals opposed to peace with the Palestinians, an AFP reporter said.

The demonstrators carried portraits of Rabin – who was assassinated after addressing a rally in the same square on November 4, 1995 – and banners with slogans against racism and intolerance.

“Stop the price tag, defend democracy,” read one banner, referring to so-called “price tag” attacks on Palestinians by Jewish extremists opposed to the dismantling of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“My grandfather was assassinated for peace, and you owe this peace to us, to all of us,” Rabin’s grandson Yonatan Ben-Artzi said in a speech to the crowd, addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Media said 30,000 people joined the rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where the premier was gunned down by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir, who is currently serving a life sentence.

Amir had hoped to derail the 1993 Oslo accords signed by Rabin and the Palestinians, a landmark agreement aimed at resolving the decades-old conflict.

Organisers of Saturday’s rally had planned it to roughly coincide with the anniversary of the assassination in the Jewish Calendar, which falls next week.

An official ceremony will be held on Tuesday at the Jerusalem cemetery where Rabin is buried.

Why Iran takes issue with the Holocaust

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left), Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (centre), and Hassan Rouhani (file photo)

Hassan Rouhani has spoken differently about the Holocaust than his predecessor, but has not reversed position

8 October 2013 Last updated at 19:57 ET

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

BBC Persian

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was Iranian president, one issue which continually antagonised and offended abroad was his statements questioning the scale of the Holocaust, or whether it had even happened at all.

The new administration under Hassan Rouhani has taken a softer line, but as BBC Persian’s Bozorgmehr Sharafedin explains, Iran’s position on the Holocaust continues to be controversial.

One key question which President Rouhani kept being asked during his round of media appearances in New York last month was where he stood on the Holocaust.

His responses were careful but did not satisfy everyone that Iran is no longer in the business of Holocaust denial or revisionism.

President Rouhani said the Holocaust was a “reprehensible and condemnable crime”.

But as many people listening to his interviews on the fringe of the UN General Assembly pointed out, he did not say whether he concurred with the mainstream acceptance of the Holocaust meaning the killing by the Nazis of six million Jews.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Iran never denied [the Holocaust]. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone”

Tweet by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif

That, his critics say, shows that he has not closed the door entirely on those in the Islamic Republic who claim the number of victims of the Nazi extermination camps has been exaggerated.

‘What the Nazis did is condemned,” said Mr Rouhani. “But the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers. I am not a history scholar.’

His Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, has been more outspoken.

A US-educated diplomat who has served for years as Iran’s representative at the United Nations, Mr Zarif clearly sees how much the issue has damaged Iran’s international reputation.

“Iran never denied [the Holocaust],” he tweeted in an exchange with Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives.

“The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone.”

Mr Zarif was clearly referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who, during his presidency, frequently claimed the Holocaust was a myth. But does the departure of Mr Ahmadinejad mean the end of Holocaust denial in Iran?

Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran who decides on the foreign policy, has repeatedly referred to the Holocaust as a distorted historical event and he is still in power.

Recent phenomenon

Iran and Israel had good relations under the Shah. The 1979 Islamic Revolution ushered in a new period of anti-Israel hostility, but this was not accompanied by any attempt to deny the Holocaust.

In fact during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), Tehran found many Western films about World War II quite inspiring for the nation and national television was full of programmes sympathising with the victims of the war, including the Jews.

The first Iranian official to cast doubt on the Holocaust was actually Ayatollah Khamenei.

Delegations walk out during Mr Ahmadinejad’s UN speech in 2011

In January 2002, he referred to gas chambers in concentration camps as a story about which its truth was “not clear” and which was being used as “Zionist propaganda” to gain the sympathy of the world.

Mr Ahmadinejad followed this line and in 2005, in his first year in office, called the Nazi extermination of the Jews “a myth”.

“The Holocaust used to be something you only read about in history books in Iran,” says Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)
Benjamin Netanyahu used Nazi-era documents to rebut Mr Ahmadinejad’s denials of the Holocaust at the UN General Assembly in 2009

“It was Ahmadinejad who brought this term into Tehran’s political literature and made it one of the elements of his foreign policy. During his tenure Iran wanted to threaten Israel and it was the safest way.”

Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli expert on Iran and the Middle East who was born and raised in Tehran, believes Mr Ahmadinejad made Holocaust denial a key tenet of his foreign policy for two reasons.

“Firstly, he wanted to distinguish himself from his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, who became a world figure by proposing the idea of dialogue between the civilisations and religions to the UN,” he told the BBC.

“Secondly, he thought denying the Holocaust would be an existential blow to Israel. But he didn’t realise denying the Holocaust would be perceived as anti-Semitic rather than anti-Israeli.’

Damage control

During Mr Ahmadinejad’s tenure, there were efforts to try to show that Iran was not anti-Semitic.

Probably the most high profile was a very expensive and well-produced Iranian television series, called Zero Degree Turn – which was in essence an Iranian version of Schindler’s List.

Ayatollah Khamenei with a group of Revolutionary Guard graduates
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was the first Iranian official to cast doubt about the Holocaust

It was based on a real life story about an Iranian diplomat who saved Jews in 1940s Paris during the Nazi Occupation by giving out Iranian passports and allowing them refuge in the Iranian Embassy.

But Mr Ahmadinejad continued his Holocaust denial rhetoric, despite the international backlash, as he thought he had found the Achilles heel of Israel.

In December 2006 he ordered the foreign ministry to hold a two-day conference to review the Holocaust. Information obtained by the BBC shows many people at the ministry were frustrated by this order.

“Holocaust denial has been common in the Arab world for decades, but Ahmadinejad’s ideology was mainly rooted in revisionist scholars in the West,” says Mehdi Khalaji.

The former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the scale of the Holocaust

“That’s why the anti-Holocaust conference in Tehran was mainly attended by Westerners and even some neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan rather than Islamists.”

“Ahmadinejad thought he had managed to put unprecedented pressure on Israel,” says Meir Javedanfar. “But he failed to notice he was only making the Israeli stance on Iran’s nuclear programme stronger.”

‘Heinous crime’

President Rouhani and his team have made it clear that they want to put the rhetoric of the Ahmadinejad years behind them, as they attempt to find a solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme.

In an interview with ABC News at the end of September, Iran’s foreign minister described the Holocaust as a “heinous crime” and said that the remarks by Ayatollah Khamenei about the Holocaust had been mistranslated and taken out of context.

“Ayatollah Khamenei has called the Holocaust a myth, but it’s unlikely that he would deny the foreign minister’s claim,” says Mehdi Khalaji.

“Ahmadinejad is the scapegoat now. In the Islamic Republic’s tradition, officials usually deny their previous statements, not explicitly, but by putting the blame either on translators or reporters. Mistranslation, in Iranian diplomacy, usually means giving up.’

Israeli PM would ‘consider’ meeting Iranian president

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Rowhani’s willingness to negotiate on Iran’s nuclear program in return for a reprieve from sanctions was a “fake deal,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. (Reuters)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he would “consider” a meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani.

Although no such offer had been made, he would “consider it, but it’s not an issue,” Netanyahu told U.S. radio station NPR, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“If I meet with these people, I’d stick this question in their face: Are you prepared to dismantle your [nuclear] program completely? Because you can’t stay with the enrichment,” he said.

Iran is building long-range missiles that could reach the United States, Netanyahu said.

“They only have one purpose: nuclear payloads,” he said, adding that Iran would be capable of doing this “in a few years.”

Rowhani’s willingness to negotiate on Iran’s nuclear program in return for a reprieve from sanctions was a “fake deal,” Netanyahu said.

“What he wants to do is to relieve the sanctions, but advance the program,” Netanyahu added.

“I don’t know why Iran wants it [nuclear energy] because it’s swimming with not only oil but natural gas; for the next 200 years it will suffice for all their energy needs. The reason they insist on enrichment is because they want to maintain the path to nuclear weapons,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying.

“Countries that want just civilian nuclear energy do not have heavy water for plutonium and do not have centrifuges for enrichment,” he added.

Netanyahu’s interview is one of eight that he has recently given to American media since his speech on Tuesday at the United Nations, where he criticized Rowhani and said Israel would do all it could to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran responds to Israel’s ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ comments

Friday, October 4th, 2013


03/10 01:45 CET

Irans’s president has been responding to comments by the Israeli prime minister that he is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

President Rohani said: “We shouldn’t expect anything other than this of Israelis. I think these comments show us that we are going in the right direction. We need to be more steadfast and continue along this path.”

In Israel, newspaper headlines proclaimed the country would fight alone against Iran if they had to.

On the streets of Jerusalem, many supported this view. One local man said: “I am not a big fan of Bibi (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), but the speech was excellent. And I say, as someone who grew up here, if we need to do this on our own, we’ll do it, we won’t have a choice.”

Israel is believed to possess the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal. It has harshly condemned Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran and the United States are preparing to restart nuclear talks after a decade-long standoff.

Column One: America and the good psychopaths

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013



10/03/2013 23:51

Israel the party pooper is Obama’s greatest foe, because it insists on basing its strategic assessments and goals on the nature of things even though this means facing down evil.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani Photo: Reuters
In his speech on Tuesday before the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to get the Americans to stop their collective swooning at the sight of an Iranian president who smiled in their general direction.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the premier warned, “I wish I could believe [President Hassan] Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things. And the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric.”

He might have saved his breath. The Americans weren’t interested.

Two days after Netanyahu’s speech, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a rejoinder to Netanyahu. “I have never believed that foreign policy is a zero-sum game,” Hagel said.

Well, maybe he hasn’t. But the Iranians have.

And they still do view diplomacy – as all their dealings with their sworn enemies – as a zerosum game.

As a curtain raiser for Rouhani’s visit, veteran New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins wrote a long profile of Iran’s real strongman for The New Yorker. Qassem Suleimani is the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. It is the most powerful organ of the Iranian regime, and Suleimani is Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest confidante and adviser.

Rouhani doesn’t hold a candle to Suleimani.

Filkin’s profile is detailed, but deeply deceptive.

The clear sense he wishes to impart on his readers is that Suleimani is a storied war veteran and a pragmatist. He is an Iranian patriot who cares about his soldiers. He’s been willing to cut deals with the Americans in the past when he believed it served Iran’s interests. And given Suleimani’s record, it is reasonable to assume that Rouhani – who is far more moderate than he – is in a position to make a deal and will make one.

The problem with Filkin’s portrayal of Suleimani as a pragmatist, and a commander who cares about the lives of his soldiers – and so, presumably cares about the lives of Iranians – is that it is belied by the stories Filkins reported in the article.

Filkins describes at length how Suleimani came of age as a Revolutionary Guard division commander during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, and how that war made him the complicated, but ultimately reasonable, (indeed parts of the profile are downright endearing), pragmatist he is today.

As the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Suleimani commands the Syrian military and the foreign forces from Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq that have been deployed to Syria to keep Basher Assad in power.

Filkins quotes an Iraqi politician who claimed that in a conversation with Suleimani last year that the Iranian called the Syrian military “worthless.”

He then went on to say, “Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I could conquer the whole country.”

Filkins notes that it was the Basij that crushed the anti-Islamist Green Revolution in Iran in 2009. But for a man whose formative experience was serving as a Revolutionary Guards commander in the Iran-Iraq War, Suleimani’s view of the Basij as a war-fighting unit owes to what it did in its glory days, in that war, not on the streets of Tehran in 2009.

As Matthias Kuntzel reported in 2006, the Revolutionary Guards formed the Basij during the Iran-Iraq War to serve as cannon fodder. Basij units were made up of boys as young as 12.

They were given light doses of military training and heavy doses of indoctrination in which they were brainwashed to reject life and martyr themselves for the revolution.

As these children were being recruited from Iran’s poorest villages, Ayatollah Khomeini purchased a half million small plastic keys from Taiwan.

They were given to the boys before they were sent to battle and told that they were the keys to paradise. The children were then sent into minefields to die and deployed as human waves in frontal assaults against superior Iraqi forces.

By the end of the war some 100,000 of these young boys became the child sacrifices of the regime.

When we assess Suleimani’s longing for a Basij brigade in Syria in its proper historical and strategic context – that is, in the context of how he and his fellow Revolutionary Guards commanders deployed such brigades in the 1980s, we realize that far from being a pragmatist, Suleimani is a psychopath.

Filkins did not invent his romanticized version of what makes Suleimani tick. It is a view that has been cultivated for years by senior US officials.

Former US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker spoke at length with Filkins about his indirect dealings with Suleimani through Iranian negotiators who answered to him, and through Iraqi politicians whom he controlled.

Crocker attests that secretary of state Colin Powell dispatched him to Geneva in the weeks before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to negotiate with the Iranians. Those discussions, which he claims involved the US and Iran trading information about the whereabouts of al- Qaida operatives in Afghanistan and Iran, could have led to an historic rapprochement. But, Crocker maintains, hope for such an alliance were dashed in January 2002, when George W.

Bush labeled Iran as a member of the “Axis of Evil,” in his State of the Union address. Supposedly in a rage, Suleimani pulled the plug on cooperation with the Americans. As Crocker put it, “We were just that close. One word in one speech changed history.”

Crocker told of his attempt to make it up to the wounded Suleimani in the aftermath of the US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003. Crocker was in Baghdad at the time setting up the Iraqi Governing Council. He used Iraqi intermediaries to clear all the Shi’ite candidates with Suleimani. In other words, the US government gave the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards control over the Iraqi government immediately after the US military toppled Saddam’s regime.

Far from convincing Suleimani to pursue a rapproachment with the US, Crocker’s actions convinced him that the US was weak. And so, shortly after he oversaw the formation of the governing council, Suleimani instigated the insurgency whose aim was to eject the US from Iraq and to transform it into an Iranian satrapy.

And yet, despite Suleimani’s obvious bad faith, and use of diplomacy to entrap the US into positions that harmed its interests and endangered its personnel, Crocker and other senior US officials continued to believe that he was the man to cut a deal with.

The main take-away lesson from the Filkins profile of Suleimani is that US officials – and journalists – like to romanticize the world’s most psychopathic, evil men. Doing so helps them to justify and defend their desire to appease, rather than confront, let alone defeat, them.

Suleimani and his colleagues are more than willing to play along with the Americans, to the extent that doing so advances their aims of defeating the US.

There were two main reasons that Bush did not want to confront Iran despite its central role in organizing, directing and financing the insurgency in Iraq. First, Bush decided shortly after the US invasion of Iraq that the US would not expand the war to Iran or Syria. Even as both countries’ central role in fomenting the insurgency became inarguable, Bush maintained his commitment to fighting what quickly devolved into a proxy war with Iran, on the battlefield of Iran’s choosing.

The second reason that Bush failed to confront Iran, and that his advisers maintained faith with the delusion that it was worth cutting a deal with the likes of Suleimani, was that they preferred the sense of accomplishment a deal brought them to the nasty business of actually admitting the threat Iran posed to American interests – and to American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Expanding on Bush’s aversion to fighting Iran, and preference for romanticizing its leaders rather than acknowledging their barbarism, upon entering office Barack Obama embraced a strategy whose sole goal is engagement. For the past five years, the US policy toward Iran is to negotiate. Neither the terms of negotiation nor the content of potential agreements is important.

Obama wants to negotiate for the sake of negotiating. And he has taken the UN and the EU with him on this course.

It’s possible that Obama believes that these negotiations will transform Iran into a quasi-US ally like the Islamist regime in Turkey. That regime remains a member of NATO despite the fact that it threatens its neighbors with war, it represses its own citizens, and it refuses to support major US initiatives while undermining NATO operations.

Obama will never call Turkey out for its behavior or make Prime Minister Recep Erdogan pay a price for his bad faith. The myth of the US-Turkish alliance is more important to Obama than the substance of Turkey’s relationship with the United States.

A deal with Iran would be horrible for America and its allies. Whatever else it says it will do, the effect of any US-Iranian agreement would be to commit the US to do nothing to defend its interests or its allies in the Middle East.

While this would be dangerous for the US, it is apparently precisely the end Obama seeks. His address to the UN General Assembly can reasonably be read as a declaration that the US is abandoning its position as world leader. The US is tired of being nitpicked by its allies and its enemies for everything it does, he said. And therefore, he announced, Washington is now limiting its actions in the Middle East to pressuring its one remaining ally, Israel, to give up its ability to protect itself from foreign invasion and Palestinian terrorism by surrendering Judea and Samaria, without which it is defenseless.

Like his predecessors in the Bush administration, Obama doesn’t care that Iran is evil and that its leaders are fanatical psychopaths. He has romanticized them based on nothing.

Although presented by the media as a new policy of outreach toward Tehran, Obama’s current commitment to negotiating with Rouhani is consistent with his policy toward Iran since entering office. Nothing has changed.

From Obama’s perspective, US policy is not threatened by Iranian bad faith. It is threatened only by those who refuse to embrace his fantasy world where all deals are good and all negotiations are therefore good.

What this means is that the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear power does not faze Obama. The only threat he has identified is the one coming from Jerusalem. Israel the party pooper is Obama’s greatest foe, because it insists on basing its strategic assessments and goals on the nature of things even though this means facing down evil.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are coordinating policies to counter US détente with Iran

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

DEBKAfile Special Report October 2, 2013, 9:15 PM (IDT)

Binyamin Netanyahu revives military option

Binyamin Netanyahu revives military option

Associates of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Oct. 2, leaked word to the media that high-ranking Gulf emirate officials had recently visited Israel, signaling a further widening in the rift between Israel and President Barack Obama over his outreach to Tehran. These visits were in line with the ongoing exchanges Israel was holding with Saudi and Gulf representatives to align their actions for offsetting any potential American easing-up on Iran’s nuclear program.

DEBKAfile reports that this is the first time Israel official sources have publicly aired diplomatic contacts of this kind in the region. They also reveal that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates have agreed to synchronize their lobbying efforts in the US Congress to vote down the Obama administration’s moves on Iran.

DEBKAfile reported earlier Wednesday:

After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama at the White House Monday, Sept. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry carried a message requesting moderation in the speech he was to deliver next day to the United Nations.

On the other hand, at least two European diplomats, German and French, made the opposite request: they asked for a hard-hitting Israeli peroration for setting boundaries – not so much for Iran’s nuclear program as for attempt to slow down President Obama’s dash for détente with Tehran.

It is feared in European capitals that the US is running too fast and too far in his bid for reconciliation with the Islamic Republic, to the detriment by association of their own standing I the Persian Gulf.

They are moreover miffed by the way Washington used Europe as a tool in the long nuclear negotiations between the Six World Powers with Iran and is now dumping them in favor of direct dealings with Iranian leaders.

Netanyahu decided not to accede to either request. Instead he laid out his credo: Iran must discontinue nuclear development and dismantle its program or face up to the risk of a lone Israeli military attack.

The look on the face of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, sitting at the US delegation’s table in the UN hall, showed he had realized that the prime minister’s words were not just addressed to Tehran; they were an unforeseen broadside against the Obama administration’s Iranian strategy.
The dissonance between Jerusalem and Washington on Iran and its nuclear aspirations, played down after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting at the White House, emerged at full blast in the UN speech. The consequences are likely to be reflected in American media, as they were at the low point in relations in 2010, when administration officials day by day planted negative assessments of Israel’s military inadequacies for damaging Iran’s nuclear facilities.

After the UN speech, the Israeli Home Defense Minister Gilead Erdan tried to pour oil on troubled waters by commenting that the prime minister’s speech had strengthened Obama’s hand against Tehran. However, Netanyahu had a different object. It was to paint Washington’s new partner in détente in the blackest colors, even though he knows there is no chance of swaying the US President from his pursuit of Tehran and the sanctions, which he believes to be the only effective deterrent for giving the Iranians pause, will soon start unraveling.

Binyamin Netanyahu now faces the uphill job of repairing his own credibility. For five years has had declared again and again that Israel’s military option is on track in certain circumstances, but has never lived up to the threat. He has followed a path of almost total military passivity.

President Obama knows that Israel’s military capacity is up to a solo operation against Iran. Tehran, however, though conscious of the IDF’s high military, technological and cyber warfare capabilities, is convinced that Israel like the United States has lost the appetite for a military initiative.

Netanyahu must now revive Israel’s deterrence and convince Iran that his challenge at the UN had ended an era of military passivity and should be taken seriously.

In the coming weeks, therefore, the Iranians will react with steps to upset US-Israeli relations, possibly by raising military tensions in the region directly or through their proxies. Until now Tehran operated from outside Washington and its inner councils. Now, smart Iranian diplomats will be sitting down with the US president close to his ear for friendly discussions on ways to further their rapprochement.

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