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The Kurdish Region of Iraq.
Jul 25th 2009
From Economist.com

Iraq's Kurds head to the polls for an unusually competitive election.

After the election, the winners will have to deal with the increasingly tricky matter of relations with Baghdad. As security in the rest of the country has improved, the territorial disputes between the Kurds and the Arabs, in particular over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and in nearby parts of Nineveh and Diyala provinces, have become worse. On a trip to Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, said that the tension between the Kurdish north and the rest of the country was one of the most dangerous challenges facing Iraq.

Kurdish officials had hoped that a long-delayed referendum to decide whether Kirkuk and other Kurdish-populated areas should become part of their semi-autonomous region could be included in Saturday’s election, but Iraq’s electoral commission ruled it out. Non-Kurdish Iraqis are, unsurprisingly, keen to hang onto Kirkuk, and there are arguments with the authorities in Baghdad over these “disputed territories” and the Kurds’ rights to sign oil contracts of their own. The Mosul problem and Tukmens' contention there is next in line.


 
Kurdistan:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Jenan Moussa is a reporter for the Arabic language TV network Akhbar AlAan out of Dubai.

For the past 48 hours she has been witnessing the battle raging in the Kurdish town of Kobane, just south of Turkey’s border with Syria.

At 07:00 EST she tweeted, “ISIS did not manage to enter Kobane yet, Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali just told me over phone.
He is still in Kobane. @Akhbar”

An hour later, she was the first to report: “I can confirm. I just saw an ISIS flag. It is flying on eastern edge of Kobane. Will try to tweet a pic in a sec.”

As fighting raged, news came of the desperate situation of the Kurds.

One female fighter reportedly charged the advancing ISIS jihadists, hurling grenades at them and then blew herself up in their midst. Another reportedly shot herself rather than be captured by ISIS when she ran out of ammunition.

Moussa’s tweets from one of her Kurdish contacts from inside Kobane conveyed the sense of betrayal the Kurds felt because of the lack of American help. She tweeted: “Kurdish guy from#Kobane tells me: We hoped American planes will help us. Instead American tanks in hands of ISIS are killing us.”

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The US betrayal of the Turks is evident for decades – as the US is busy courting Muslim Arabia and no US President to-date has helped the only Muslim Nationality that is trying to emerge from this regressive Arab World that is advancing back into the dark ages in human development. This only Nationality are the Kurds -whose lands were carved up by the British and given to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The fate of the Kurds is worse then that of the Armenians – and an ongoing example of what the Israeli Jews could expect from their Middle East neighbors as well.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES – The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Mr. Erdogan’s Dangerous Game: Turkey’s Refusal to Fight ISIS Hurts the Kurds.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD October 8, 2014

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once aspired to lead the Muslim world. At this time of regional crisis, he has been anything but a leader. Turkish troops and tanks have been standing passively behind a chicken-wire border fence while a mile away in Syria, Islamic extremists are besieging the town of Kobani and its Kurdish population.

This is an indictment of Mr. Erdogan and his cynical political calculations. By keeping his forces on the sidelines and refusing to help in other ways — like allowing Kurdish fighters to pass through Turkey — he seeks not only to weaken the Kurds, but also, in a test of will with President Obama, to force the United States to help him oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom he detests.

It is also evidence of the confusion and internal tensions that affect Mr. Obama’s work-in-progress strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim extremist group also called ISIS or ISIL. Kurdish fighters in Kobani have been struggling for weeks to repel the Islamic State. To help, the Americans stepped up airstrikes that began to push the ISIS fighters back, although gun battles and explosions continued on Wednesday.

But all sides — the Americans, Mr. Erdogan and the Kurds — agree that ground forces are necessary to capitalize on the air power. No dice, says Mr. Erdogan, unless the United States provides more support to rebels trying to overthrow Mr. Assad and creates a no-fly zone to deter the Syrian Air Force as well as a buffer zone along the Turkish border to shelter thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting.

No one can deny Mr. Assad’s brutality in the civil war, but Mr. Obama has rightly resisted involvement in that war and has insisted that the focus should be on degrading ISIS, not going after the Syrian leader. The biggest risk in his decision to attack ISIS in Syria from the air is that it could put America on a slippery slope to a war that he has otherwise sought to avoid.

Mr. Erdogan’s behavior is hardly worthy of a NATO ally. He was so eager to oust Mr. Assad that he enabled ISIS and other militants by allowing fighters, weapons and revenues to flow through Turkey. If Mr. Erdogan refuses to defend Kobani and seriously join the fight against the Islamic State, he will further enable a savage terrorist group and ensure a poisonous long-term instability on his border.

He has also complicated his standing at home. His hesitation in helping the Syrian Kurds has enraged Turkey’s Kurdish minority, which staged protests against the Turkish government on Wednesday that reportedly led to the deaths of 21 people. Mr. Erdogan fears that defending Kobani would strengthen the Syrian Kurds, who have won de facto control of many border areas as they seek autonomy much like their Kurdish brethren in Iraq. But if Kobani falls, Kurdish fury will undoubtedly grow.

The Americans have been trying hard to resolve differences with Mr. Erdogan in recent days, but these large gaps are deeply threatening to the 50-plus-nation coalition that the United States has assembled. One has to wonder why such a profound dispute was not worked out before Mr. Obama took action in Syria.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Kein Grund zur Euphorie

Kommentar | Gudrun Harrer15. August 2014, 14:35

Maliki ist nicht die einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak.

Am Ende hat er noch US-Lob für seine “ehrenvolle” Entscheidung bekommen: Nuri al-Maliki hat seine – von seinem Wahlsieg bei den Parlamentswahlen abgeleiteten – Ansprüche auf das Amt des Premiers aufgegeben und damit die Gefahr gebannt, dass sich zur Sicherheitskrise im Irak auch noch eine Verfassungskrise gesellt. Haidar al-Abadi kann nun seine Regierung bilden, ohne dass einer der eigenen Leute mit der Axt hinter ihm steht.

Allerdings ist jede Euphorie, in der die Person Malikis als einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak gesehen wurde, völlig fehl am Platz: Abadi wird den arabischen Sunniten und den Kurden weit reichende Angebote machen müssen, um sie wieder einzubinden. Und er wird seine Zusagen – anders als es Maliki nach den Wahlen 2010 getan hat – auch halten müssen.

Alle, auch seine eigene Dawa-Partei, hatten Maliki fallen gelassen. Mit seinem Schritt hat er sich erspart, einmal mehr in der Freitagspredigt des Vertreters der wichtigsten schiitischen Autorität im Irak, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, wenig subtil zum Abtreten aufgefordert zu werden. Aber dass erfolglose Politiker sich besser zurückziehen, hatte Sistani schon vor den Wahlen dekretiert, seinerseits erfolglos, weder Maliki noch seine Wähler hatten auf Sistani gehört. Erst als das Trommelfeuer auch aus dem Iran, von höchsten Stellen, kam, hatte Maliki ein Einsehen.

US-Präsident Barack Obama wiederum knüpfte seine Zusage für ein verstärktes militärisches Engagement an eine inklusive Regierung in Bagdad, unter Kooperation aller Gruppen. Dem stand der polarisierende Maliki im Wege. Es ist traurig, dass es der Gefahr des „Islamischen Staats“ (IS) und einer humanitären Krise katastrophalen Ausmaßes bedurfte, um ihn zum Gehen zu bewegen. Umgekehrt könnte man sein (vorläufiges) Ende auch als Erfolg des sunnitischen Aufstands gegen Bagdad verbuchen – wäre nicht dieser Aufstand längst vom jihadistischen Wahnsinn aufgesogen und delegitimiert worden.

Wenn man die Berichte von Militäranalysten über die von der IS infizierten Gebiete liest, könnte man den Schluss ziehen, dass die IS zwar momentan punktuell noch gewinnt, aber ihre große Offensive etwas stockt. Die schlechte Nachricht ist, dass gegen die IS oft nicht die irakische Armee, sondern schiitische Milizen erfolgreich sind: Sie muss Bagdad schnell in den Griff kriegen, denn ihr Wüten ruft wieder eine sunnitische Gegenbewegung hervor.

Die Jesiden sind zwar nicht alle in Sicherheit, aber die US-Hilfe greift. Der Vorwurf, dass es den USA einmal mehr um die Ölfelder und den Schutz der dort präsenten internationalen Ölfirmen ankommt, konnte nicht ausbleiben. Aber erstens ist das in diesem Moment ohnehin sekundär. Und zweitens ist die US-Einstellung zu den nahöstlichen Ölvorkommen in einem grundlegenden Wandel begriffen. Das eigene Interesse am Öl mag ein Motiv sein, aber vor allem gilt es zu verhindern, dass noch mehr Ressourcen der IS in die Hände fallen. Und das ist ja wohl vernünftig. (Gudrun Harrer, DER STANDARD, 16.8.2014)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This website argued for years that Turkey could have enhanced its world position by allowing enough slack to its own Kurds establishing itself as a bi-National State – Turkish-Kurdish and absorb the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria, as well. They did not – and now Erdogan tries to go for what he thinks is within his reach.

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PKK Challenges Barzani
In Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters talk to each other as they stand guard at the Kandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkish border in Sulaimaniya, 330 km (205 miles) northeast of Baghdad March 24, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Azad Lashkari)

While Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) pursues the cease-fire plan with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the PKK is also involved in a subtle power struggle across Turkey’s borders. This struggle is being played out by the PKK’s efforts to check the influence of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, over leadership of the Kurds. By engaging in the Kurdistan Region’s messy pre-election politics and supporting the opposition Change Movement (Goran), the PKK is attempting to stifle a third mandate for Barzani, while stirring local criticism of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). These PKK interventions are unlikely to alter the status quo in the region — at least for the forthcoming elections — however; they are fueling political fragmentation and creating additional challenges to regional stability.

 

Indeed, rivalries between the PKK and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are nothing new. During the Iraqi Kurdish civil war of the 1990s, the PKK and KDP engaged in armed conflict against each other, as well as the KDP against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

The Ocalan-Barzani competition re-emerged after the Syrian civil war broke out, and as different Syrian Kurdish groups backed by the PKK and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) vied for power with the KDP-supported Kurdish National Council. This rivalry continues with Barzani tied to Turkey and attempting to court Syrian Kurdish youth groups and independents away from PYD influence.

Still, Barzani and Ocalan reached a tacit agreement after Ocalan’s imprisonment in 1999, which allowed the PKK to relocate in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The KRG also tolerates the presence of thousands of PKK supporters in the Makhmour Camp, where they have been residing since 1994 as political refugees. Moreover, despite the rapprochement between Erbil and Ankara, Barzani has affirmed that “the period of Kurds killing Kurds is over” and that the KRG Peshmerga would not engage militarily against the PKK or any other Kurdish group. These efforts have led to a mutually peaceful coexistence between the KDP and PKK, despite the distinctly different ideologies and regional relationships each has developed, particularly with Ankara.

The last six months, however, have seen a shift in PKK tactics inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Whereas the PKK leader in Kandil, Murat Karaliyan, had previously indicated his willingness to work with Barzani in 2009, he now opposes electing him to a third term as president. The PKK is using its networks and social media to incite local opposition against Barzani and the Iraqi Kurdish parties. For instance, it is encouraging local populations in the Iraqi Kurdish-Iranian border town of Halabja to criticize the KRG and Barzani for lack of services. One of the PKK websites has inflammatory photos and remarks about Barzani’s leadership, as well as other KRG political party leaders.

This shift reflects a reaction to Barzani’s growing power — including his close ties to Erdogan — and his claims or ambitions to become a leader of all the Kurds, expressed in Kurdish as “president of Kurdistan,” which the PKK rejects.

More specifically, the PKK shift coincides with the illness of Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq and leader of the PUK, which has further weakened the PUK and limited any serious competition for the KDP and Barzani’s power. In fact, the rump of the PUK — known as the “Gang of Four” — may have called for a separate list in the planned September elections to reflect its differences and attempts to challenge the KDP. Yet the PUK leadership continues to support and depend upon Barzani as president, particularly as a financial patron.

This is why the PKK is now calling for a “Kurdistan supported by Goran.” Goran remains the only secular Kurdish nationalist party that seeks to remove Barzani from office while pressing for a parliamentary and not presidential system for the region. Goran also has indicated its support for the PKK and affirmed the PYD as the representative of the Kurds in Syria, posing another direct challenge to Barzani and the KDP. The PKK-Goran alliance also is based on shared concerns about Turkey’s regional power and the need to check Erdogan’s influence over Iraqi Kurds and in Syria.

It is unlikely that the PKK will weaken the deeply rooted patronage networks inside the Kurdistan Region that will assure Barzani power and KDP and PUK influence for years to come. Many people, particularly the youth, may support the PKK as true Kurdish nationalists and back Goran; however, they also have been co-opted by the increasingly generous handouts and comfortable lifestyles made available to them by the KRG in recent years. Many others are disinterested in politics altogether or unwilling to pay the consequences of being linked to the opposition.

Still, PKK engagement in Iraqi Kurdish politics matters because it reveals the growing complexity of the trans-border Kurdish problem and the PKK’s political agenda to change the status quo. This challenge will not only be about advancing Kurdish nationalist rights in different states, but clarifying who will represent Kurdish interests and what form these nationalist interests should take. Whatever the outcome, these struggles will likely create a wide opening for more deal-making between Kurdish groups and regional states, keeping the Kurdish nationalist movement fragmented from within and across borders.

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Denise Natali holds the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University where she specializes in Iraq, regional energy issues and the Kurdish problem. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the US government.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Had Turkey made its internal peace wilth their Kurds, and moved on to incorporate the Iraqi Kurds, then the Syrian Kurds, then the Iranian Kurds – that would have been a National policy of a bi-National State that would have helped them also in their relations with the EU. But that is a future lost and now we see a revival of old oil policy instead.

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Turkey, Iraq, and Oil

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
The American Spectator
April 5, 2013

www.meforum.org/3484/turkey-iraq-oil

Though the pace of growth of the Turkish economy has slowed significantly, one of Ankara’s priorities over the coming years is to meet the country’s growing energy demands. The clearest solution is to diversify suppliers of oil and gas, with the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) area being one potential source for such fuels.

Had you asked me a few months ago about the Turkish policy on acquiring energy resources from the KRG via an independent pipeline project and against the will of the Iraqi central government, I would have said that Ankara was still ambiguous on the matter, but now it seems clear that the Turkish government under Prime Minister Erdo?an intends to move forward with such plans.

The first sign of an advance in the framework of an informal commercial deal between the KRG and Ankara on this issue was a report by Ben Van Heuvelen for the Iraq Oil Report. Relying on the testimony of “multiple senior Turkish officials,” Heuvelen reports that the terms would include “stakes in at least half a dozen exploration for the direct pipeline export of oil and gas from the KRG.”

Multiple other sources can be used to confirm Heuvelen’s report. Following the visit of KRG premier Nechirvan Barzani in Ankara to meet with Erdo?an on March 26 where the two leaders apparently agreed to begin implementing the energy cooperation plan, the Turkish opposition party CHP attempted to launch a no-confidence motion in parliament against Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu on account of the energy deal with the KRG. The no-confidence motion failed.

CHP member Osman Korutürk claimed that a pipeline agreement in particular contradicted Davuto?lu’s declared principle of “zero problems” with neighboring countries, noting the objections of Baghdad and Washington to the development of energy ties between the KRG and Turkey without the Iraqi government’s consent.

The Turkish premier’s response to this initiative by the CHP, which is similarly opposed to Ankara’s firm anti-Assad stance vis-à-vis Syria, was to indicate that the issue should be taken up with Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, who proceeded in a speech to acknowledge the idea of maintaining Iraq’s unity as one of the top priorities of Turkish foreign policy, while arguing that the KRG had a constitutional right to develop energy ties with Ankara and is entitled to 17% of Iraq’s budget as per a 2006 agreement between Arbil and Baghdad.

In a subsequent interview with CNN Turk, Erdo?an invoked many of the same points as Yildiz in arguing that Turkey had the right to make energy agreements with the KRG, adding that under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, there is no real unity in Iraq anyway.

The point about the KRG’s budget share of 17% — invoked by Erdo?an and Yildiz — is key to Turkey’s official justification for moving forward with developing energy ties with the KRG unilaterally while also claiming to uphold Iraq’s unity. Ankara’s reasoning appears to be as follows: through developing energy ties, KRG will boost its oil production and therefore in terms of Iraq’s overall revenues, the KRG will be contributing 17% and thus match its share of the budget.

At present, the budget share to which the KRG is entitled is well above the autonomous region’s oil output as a proportion of Iraq’s revenues, the overwhelming majority of which comes from the oil industry. Baghdad’s complaint — as reflected in the words of Abdullah al-Amir (the chief advisor to Iraq’s deputy minister for energy affairs) — is that allegedly, only a third of KRG oil revenues reach the central government.

This complaint is not necessarily divorced from reality. In truth, the Turkish government’s official justification for implementing an energy agreement with the KRG while claiming to uphold Iraq’s unity is specious.

Notice that in the interview with CNN Turk (as I have pointed out above, but was omitted in the English reports), Erdo?an said that there is no real unity in Iraq anyway. At the same time, it should be emphasized that Ankara still does not support actual Kurdish independence.

Rather, the goal is to make the KRG a virtual client state of Turkey while ensuring that the autonomous region at least remains nominally part of Iraq. As Ben Van Heuvelen pointed out to me, this goal is “almost explicit policy” on the part of Ankara.

In turn, Zaab Sethna draws an analogy with the Turkish-occupied territory of northern Cyprus, in relation to which Turkish officials are now pressing Israel not to develop natural gas deals with the Cypriot government without incorporating Ankara into the negotiations. Aware of Baghdad’s disapproval of dealing with the KRG unilaterally, the Turkish government appears to be trying to pursue a rapprochement with the Iraqi government anyway: perhaps to induce it to accept the Turkey-KRG agreement. The rapprochement initiative began with a meeting between Davuto?lu and Iraq’s Vice-President Khudayr al-Khozaie at the Arab League Summit in Doha at the end of last month, in which a desire to restart friendly bilateral ties was expressed — something that Khozaie acknowledged on his return to Baghdad.

Building on these hints of rapprochement, Iraq has now put forward an offer to build an oil pipeline from Basra to Ceyhan in southern Turkey, in which Yildiz has expressed an interest. Even so, if Baghdad is hoping that this counter-offer will dissuade Ankara from proceeding to forge energy ties with the KRG, then the central government is quite mistaken.

It seems most likely that Turkey, like Exxon Mobil with its oil contracts in Iraq, will try to have it both ways by continuing to express an interest in a Basra-Ceyhan pipeline project as well, but could also drop the proposal entirely in favor of continuing to develop the energy deal with the KRG. Further, it is improbable that a compromise will be reached on the issue: a whole series of temporary agreements have arisen in the past on oil disputes between the KRG and the Iraqi central government, but the foundations of the quarrel have never been truly tackled. There is no doubt that the dispute over the budget for this year pushed the KRG to move forward with Ankara in cementing the energy deal.

At present, there is little the Iraqi government can do to stop Ankara beyond saber-rattling rhetoric. A violent confrontation is out of the question, and appealing to Washington to pressure Turkey to reconsider has been unsuccessful.

This failure of persuasion demonstrates the very limited U.S. leverage in the dispute, and while Turkish officials have expressed hope that Washington will eventually take Ankara’s side, they are obviously not pleased that the Americans sided with Baghdad.

From this point follows another conclusion: namely, it is all the more likely that Turkey will continue to resist any future U.S. or wider Western pressure to drop energy and economic ties with Iran amid the sanctions.

Ankara may be diversifying its energy sources, but that does not translate to dropping oil imports from Iran or ending the trade in gold for natural gas. An independent oil and gas pipeline project with the KRG will take years to become fully operational, and there is no reason to assume it is mutually exclusive from continuing energy ties with Iran, just as it is wrong to presume that the KRG will end oil smuggling to Iran just because of an energy agreement with Turkey.

Whatever disagreements Iran and Turkey have about Syria, it is important to note the cases of Iraq-Jordan and Iran/Iraq-Egypt economic ties. Strategic regional outlook is not the same as strengthening economic relations, and so one must avoid interpreting Turkey’s cultivation of energy ties with the KRG as a move away from Iran by either party.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University.

Related Topics:  Iraq, Oil, Turkey and Turks  |  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Agreement for the export of Iraqi oil through Jordan within days

He and Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Karim and coffee yesterday that the next few days will witness the signing of the Jordanian-Iraqi transport …

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Baghdad warns of Kurdistan oil pipeline to Turkey
Oil Ministry has warned the Turkish side of the Iraqi oil pipeline from the Kurdistan region through its territory without the consent of the government …

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TOP NEWS as per The New York Times, August 18, 2012 Front Page.

U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions

By JAMES RISEN and DURAID ADNAN

Financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations in Iraq have given Iran a crucial flow of dollars as sanctions over its nuclear work squeeze its economy, officials and experts said.

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Afghan Attacks on Allied Troops Prompt NATO to Shift Policy

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and GRAHAM BOWLEY

The military’s efforts to stop “insider attacks” is an indication of how destabilizing the deaths of coalition troops at the hands of Afghan forces have become.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IMCK

Final Natural Resources workshop starts in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq.

Twenty journalists from all over Iraq joined international trainer James Gavin in Erbil for the final of three workshops on Natural Resources. The workshop gives detailed information about oil, gas and water issues in Iraq.

The five day workshop started on March 10, 2012 with a guest lecture by Ben Lando, who leads the Iraqi Oil Report website in Baghdad.

He informs the participants about oil- and gas-contracts as they are used in Iraq.
The project, in which IMCK partners with Mesalah and Kirkuk Journalists Group is funded by Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA).
Earlier workshops took place in October and December 2011.
The stories produced during the workshop will be published on the special website made for the project:
Iraqi Treasures.com
——————

Start a career in journalism?
Do you want to become a journalist in 2 months? And earn an IMCK certificate?
IMCK will start a 2 months course for Kurdish young men and women who want to become a (print) journalist. IMCK’s best trainers will teach them how to write good articles, how to report in a responsible way, what modern journalism is. The course, that focusses on print journalism will start in Erbil on 4 March 2012.
There are only 15 places for all Kurdistan, so hurry and apply.
Terms and Conditions:
Age between 18-30 years.
200 dollars fee payable for the whole 2 months.
At least a secondary school graduate.
Free accomodation is provided for a limited number of students from outside Erbil.
IMCK certificate earns you 2 score points in Masters’ apllication.
For more information please contact Saman Penjwini 07710178468.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Foreign Policy Association of the USA.

First published in Turkey:

 www.fpa.org/topics_info2414/topic…

Viewpoints: Turkey’s Inevitable Rise.

  • Author: Marco Vicenzino
Viewpoints:  Turkey's Inevitable Rise

Recent events have seen Turkey consolidate its position as a benign regional power, as it tests the limits of its allies, writes Marco Vicenzino.

June 17th, 2010

The recent violence off the coast of Gaza clearly marked a defining moment in world public opinion. The Israel-Palestinian conundrum, and specifically the plight of Gaza, has now become fully internationalized.

With the death of Turkish citizens, it is no longer business as usual for all parties concerned and the stakes have increased exponentially for the region and beyond.

The flotilla crisis further exposed the pitiful absence of leadership from Arab governments. The Arab League largely remains a tone-deaf singing choir. The Barack Obama administration is struggling to strike a diplomatic balance after realizing the status quo in Gaza is unsustainable. It made outreach to Muslim-majority states a cornerstone of its foreign policy. After investing enormous resources, it is now losing its credibility, its limited diplomatic capital, and U.S influence in the broader Middle East.

All along, Turkey has been skillfully filling the void left by other regional players.

The process has been accelerated by adeptly exploiting their misfortunes and mistakes. The recent crisis is just one example. It has proven a diplomatic bonanza for the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at home and abroad. In nearly 24 hours, it was able to get the U.N. Security Council to officially condemn the acts resulting from Israel’s operation. This provides further evidence of its growing ability to exert influence internationally.

Turkey has clearly demonstrated a willingness to pursue its interests vigorously, assert them publicly and risk confrontation if necessary. It has no qualms about shedding diplomatic-speak. The days of the compliant NATO ally who performed as respectfully requested are over. In less than a month, the Erdogan government has dominated global headlines twice. It first thumbed its nose at the major powers on the Iran nuclear issue and now its current performance has further entrenched its role as a power to be reckoned with.

Contrary to some views, this is not a reversion to imperial Ottoman times. In recent years, Turkey has deftly pursued an independent-minded foreign policy. It has carefully crafted an image as a benign, and not hegemonic, power in its region. Its expansion is not led by soldiers but shrewd businessmen. By investing and creating local opportunities, their presence is generally appreciated. Consequently, Turkey’s role as a respected regional power has grown exponentially.

The recent violence off the coast of Gaza was a reminder that Turkey cannot be taken for granted nor the loss of its citizens taken lightly. It also provided the final nail in the coffin to Turkey’s historic strategic partnership with Israel dating back to the Cold War. The Turkish government applied last rites by its explicitly frank statements during the crisis. It even threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Israel if its citizens were not immediately released from detention.

In recent years, Turkey and Israel have been on a collision course. The final impact was only a matter of time. Turkey’s strategic outlook has altered dramatically since the end of the Cold War. New geo-political realities combined with an emerging conservative power elite, composed of politicians and businessmen rooted in political Islam, have led to considerable changes at home and abroad. Turkey’s new religiously-inspired leadership has a domestic and foreign policy agenda that differs significantly from the traditional secular class. The flotilla crisis was not just a diplomatic spat but an extension of Turkey’s internal power struggle.

For Turkey’s new order, the special relationship with Israel is largely expendable. It will not sever ties with Israel, unless deemed necessary, but does not mind a significant downgrading in relations. Overall, the partnership is largely incompatible with its long-term strategic and ideological interests, which are determined by better relations with its immediate neighbors and the broader Arab-Muslim world and select states beyond. These may eventually begin to overshadow Turkey’s ties with the European Union and lead to a diminished relationship with the U.S. but not rupture with the West. After decades of reliance on the West, Turkish interests dictate a more expansive approach beyond traditional allies and markets. As Turkey grows and seeks new opportunities abroad, differences with old friends will inevitably emerge.

In its increasing diplomatic assertiveness, Erdogan and friends must tread carefully and avoid miscalculation. It runs the risk of overplaying its hand with the U.S. In Obama, Mr. Erdogan has a very sympathetic ally. After all, it was no mistake that the U.S. president chose the Turkish Parliament as a venue for a historic speech in an outreach to Muslims. Improperly exploiting Obama’s openness will undermine U.S.-Turkish relations and the president’s credibility in the U.S. and abroad. In his inaugural address, the president emphasized the importance of extending the hand of friendship to others. The worst case scenario is to have it bitten by an ally.

On the other hand, Erdogan may have calculated that Obama is a one-term president and not worth investing excessive political capital. His inevitable fear is of a Republican president reverting to business as usual. Failure to cultivate relations may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, even a Bush-lite American leader may be too much for Erdogan to handle.

All along, Turkey’s historic growth was inevitable, particularly when considering its physical size and population. The main question was when Turkey would fulfill its natural leadership role in the region. Its time has arrived. Now it must proceed responsibly.

Marco Vicenzino ( msv at globalsp.org) provides geo-political risk analysis for corporations and regular commentary for global media outlets. He directs Global Strategy Project in Washington, D.C.

*This article originally appeared in Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The US got into the middle of the Kurdish-Sunni – Shiia tangle in its effort to hold on to the Iraqi oil and keep Iraq in the old Sunni image to please the Saudi king. We knew it will not work and it was clear that if Iraq will have to be held together it will be the Shiia majority that will rule and Iran will be part of the decision making process. And so it was.

Comes now a bright new US President – Mr. Barack Obama – he sees the need to find non-petroleum energy for the US and decides that fighting for Iraqi oil did not make sense before and does not make sense now – so he wants out.

The problem is that in Washington he changed only the Secretary of State, while he left in place the old hands in the Department of State, and these people have not gotten yet the idea that sticking together three departments of the old Ottoman Empire and importing a King from Hashemite Arabia, this for the sake of British Petroleum, is not something that the US should hold holy some 80 years later.

So, the US better let the Iraqis fight it out among themselves if that what they prefer, or have them sit down for an amicable three-way divorce if that works better. That is a job for a Richard Holbrooke or a George Mitchell. Do not let a single further American soldier die for the the unity of Iraq cause. So far as the Saudis, their new neighbors in Iraq will be a Shiia state one way or the other. They will have to learn with this idea and as well with the idea that it is Shiia and not Sunnis that live on top of some of the best oil wells of Saudi Arabia as well – even those folks may speak up for themselves some day.

Today’s New York Times sees the future – please read it!

Kurds Defy Baghdad, Laying Claim to Land and Oil
10kurds_600.jpg
Hadi Mizban/Associated Press

Members of the Kurdish parliament read a draft of the proposed new constitution, which claims disputed natural resources, in Erbil on June 24, 2009
By SAM DAGHER
The New York Times,: July 9, 2009

BAGHDAD — With little notice and almost no public debate, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders are pushing ahead with a new constitution for their semiautonomous region, a step that has alarmed Iraqi and American officials who fear that the move poses a new threat to the country’s unity.

Related

Insurgency Remains Tenacious in North Iraq (July 10, 2009)

Times Topics: Iraq | Kurds


10kurd1_190.jpg

Hadi Mizban/Associated Press
An employee at a Kurdish oil field.

The new constitution, approved by Kurdistan’s parliament two weeks ago and scheduled for a referendum this year, underscores the level of mistrust and bad faith between the region and the central government in Baghdad. And it raises the question of whether a peaceful resolution of disputes between the two is possible, despite intensive cajoling by the United States.

The proposed constitution enshrines Kurdish claims to territories and the oil and gas beneath them. But these claims are disputed by both the federal government in Baghdad and ethnic groups on the ground, and were supposed to be resolved in talks begun quietly last month between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, sponsored by the United Nations and backed by the United States. Instead, the Kurdish parliament pushed ahead and passed the constitution, partly as a message that it would resist pressure from the American and Iraqi governments to make concessions.

The disputed areas, in northern Iraq, are already volatile: There have been several tense confrontations between Kurdish and federal security forces, as well as frequent attacks aimed at inflaming sectarian and ethnic passions there.

The Obama administration, which is gradually withdrawing American troops from Iraq, was surprised and troubled by the Kurdish move. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., sent to Iraq on July 2 for three days, criticized it in diplomatic and indirect, though unmistakably strong, language as “not helpful” to the administration’s goal of reconciling Iraq’s Arabs and Kurds, in an interview with ABC News.

Mr. Biden said he wanted to discuss the proposed constitution with the Kurdish leadership in person but could not fly to Kurdistan because of sandstorms. Instead he spoke to Kurdish leaders by telephone on Tuesday, and Christopher R. Hill, the new ambassador in Baghdad, met with them in Kurdistan on Wednesday.

American diplomatic and military officials have said the potential for a confrontation with the Kurds has emerged as a threat as worrisome to Iraq’s fate as the remnants of the insurgency.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is already not on speaking terms with the Kurdish region’s president, Massoud Barzani. Iraqi political leaders have vociferously denounced the constitution as a step toward splintering Iraq.

“This lays the foundation for a separate state — it is not a constitution for a region,” said Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni Arab member of the national Parliament. “It is a declaration of hostile intent and confrontation. Of course it will lead to escalation.”

Kurdish officials defended their efforts to adopt a new constitution that defines the Kurdistan region as comprising their three provinces and also tries to add all of hotly contested and oil-rich Kirkuk Province, as well as other disputed areas in Nineveh and Diyala Provinces. Iraq’s federal Constitution allows the Kurds the right to their own constitution, referring any conflicts to Iraq’s highest court.

Susan Shihab, a member of Kurdistan’s parliament, said she no longer had faith that the rights of Kurds under the federal constitution from 2005 would be respected.

“What is missing the most in the new Iraq is confidence,” she said.

At the same time, though, some Kurds acknowledge that they have grown frustrated with the halting talks to resolve territorial disputes and other issues involving Kurds’ political power in Iraq.

“This is a punch in the face. We are fed up with them,” said a senior Kurdish official, referring to the government in Baghdad, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his role in the United Nations negotiations.

The dispute started when the term of Kurdistan’s parliament ended June 4, before local presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for July 25. But the parliament, which is firmly in the grips of the two parties that have ruled the region for nearly 20 years, approved an extension and overwhelmingly passed a new draft of the constitution on June 24.

The Kurdish government announced that it wanted the document put to a referendum during the July elections, a vastly accelerated timetable given that most people in Kurdistan say they have not even heard of the constitution.

Iraq’s electoral commission, which oversees elections nationwide, said Monday that the earliest it could hold the referendum was Aug. 11.

The regional parliament said Thursday that it did not oppose a postponement but that it stood by the constitution and was “determined to hold a referendum” by September, according to its spokesman, Tariq Jawhar.

Most expect that the new constitution will be approved. The Kurdish ruling parties — the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan — control all levers of power in the area and maintain legions of loyal followers through jobs and patronage.

But many people in Kurdistan are deeply troubled by how the constitution was hastily passed and the extraordinary powers it gives the president, without meaningful checks and balances.

A group of civil society organizations in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya began a campaign last month opposing the constitution. Namo Sharif, an activist involved in the effort, said a Kurdish government official called him a “traitor.”

Kwestan Mohammed, a member of the regional parliament who joined a new coalition running against the two ruling parties in the July elections, said that Kurdistan needed its own constitution but that the document in its current form planted the seeds of endless conflict with the central government and made the region’s president an “absolute” ruler.

“It turns all the other powers, including parliament, into cardboard figures,” Ms. Mohammed said.

Gareth Stansfield, an associate fellow at Chatham House in London, a nonprofit organization that focuses on international issues, who is an expert on Kurdish politics, said the Kurds’ insistence on a separate constitution was an unequivocal message to the central government that they were serious about their claims, especially as the clock ticks on America’s presence in Iraq.

“They are not backing down anymore,” Mr. Stansfield said. “They are being very forceful.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Freedom of Expression Under Attack in Turkey.

Hilmi Toros

ISTANBUL, Mar 5 (IPS) – As it aspires for full European Union membership, Turkey is still struggling with freedom of expression, raising questions whether it can ever join the EU or will simply remain a suspended bridge between East and West. In a severe test of press freedom, the country’s largest media group often critical of the government has been slapped a record 500 million dollar fine for alleged tax evasion and fraud. Critics say this is a politically motivated move to silence dissent with the Islamic-rooted governing party.

At the same time, the head of the pro-Kurdish party is ostracised, ahead of possible persecution, for breaking a taboo, if not the law, by speaking Kurdish in Parliament. The media-government battle pits Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former Islamist firebrand, now as popular as controversial, against Aydin Dogan, an avowed secularist and head of a business complex with about half of the national media in its fold.

The running duel between the two began last September when the Dogan group extensively covered the trial of a charitable Turkish foundation charged in Germany with siphoning funds to members of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party AKP. The Prime Minister accused Dogan of seeking revenge for failure to gain preferential treatment for his business dealings – and asked the public to boycott his news outlets.

The fine, slapped for alleged late registry of the sale of shares of the Dogan publishing group to German publisher Alex Springer AG in 2006, is unprecedented in the annals of national taxation. Erdogan calls it a “legal” issue, Dogan says it is “political”.

Independent analysts and international media groups are challenging the motives behind the fine. The Cumhuriyet, the oldest daily in Turkey founded by the Turkish Republic’s first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, left its front page blank last week in protest against what it called pressure on the media. “This is a fine against freedom of the press and democracy,” senior Dogan executive Vuslat Dogan Sabanci said in a statement. Accreditation of six Dogan group journalists to the Prime Minister’s office has been revoked.

“The timing and unprecedented size of this tax fine raise serious concerns that the authorities are changing their approach from rhetoric to using the state apparatus to harass the media,” International Press Institute (IPI) director David Dadge said in a statement Feb. 20. The IPI is a Vienna-based group comprising editors and media executives defending press freedom. “Even if the case has merit, which is contestable, such a fine is unlikely to have been imposed on a media group not critical of the ruling party,” Istanbul attorney Koray Argun told IPS.

Last November, the EU’s progress report on Turkey noted improvements but asked for reforms to strengthen democracy and human rights. The country was considered short on implementing legislation that would qualify it for EU membership. The current media crisis may yet come to a head. “When and how it will be settled is unknown, but there is the possibility that, if not settled, the Dogan group risks its assets being impounded,” attorney Argun says.

The freedom of speech issue moved from media to parliament when Ahmet Turk, leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), spoke in Turkish to party deputies in Parliament on the global day for mother tongues Feb. 24, as is obligatory in the legislative chamber, but then broke off into Kurdish. The state TV network cut off the live broadcast.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

His Excellency Manouchehr Mottaki, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran since 2005, has come now for the third time to The Asia Society during the September – October period of the UN General Assembly In New York City.

Last year I had the opportunity to ask him about about Climate Change and why Iran, with its great scientists, and people involved at the UN level, does not embark in a leadership position in the area of renewable energy rather then striving for nuclear energy incurring only indignities. Others asked him about Iran’s stand on Israel.

This year – none of the above. One question from the floor asked about Israel – but was answered in the general line of the presentation – without the question been tackled at all. The Moderator was illustrious US Career Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, who served as impeccable host, presenting lots of compliments to his guest and making sure he is very comfortable. Further, The Asia Society simply managed to put the press away in a back room, and without the Q & A period reaching out to them – that is except the literally last question which asked about the possibility for regional negotiations in the crucial Middle East problem.   And the answer to that question was then submerged under the previous line of presentation that exposed beautifully the way Iran wants to be seen. No mention was made of the name Israel also in this   answer by the Minister.

The reality is   that many in Iran like actually some of the cocoons   created via the 1980 revolution that came as a reaction to some real injustices its people incurred from the hand of the US CIA when it undid the Mohammad Mosaddeq   April 28, 1951 – August 19, 1953 regime for its nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) and reinstated the   Shah who returned   on 22 August 1953, from the brief self-imposed exile in Rome. Also, some in the US Administration feared that Mossadeq was, or would become, dependent on the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, at a time of returning Soviet influence, and too close for comfort to have the cold War Tectonic Plates reach towards the Saudi and Iraqi oilfields.

The extent of the US role in Mossadeq’s overthrow was not formally acknowledged for many years, although the Eisenhower administration was quite vocal in its opposition to the policies of the ousted Iranian Prime Minister. In his memoirs, Eisenhower writes angrily about Mossadeq, and describes him as impractical and naive, though he stops short of admitting any overt involvement in the coup.

Eventually the CIA’s role became well-known, and caused controversy within the organization itself, and within the CIA congressional hearings of the 1970s. CIA supporters maintain that the plot against Mosaddeq was strategically necessary, and praise the efficiency of agents in carrying out the plan. Critics say the scheme was paranoid and colonial, as well as immoral.

In March 2000, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated her regret that Mosaddeq was ousted: “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development, and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America.” In the same year, the New York Times published a detailed report about the coup based on alleged CIA documents. For his sudden rise in popularity inside and outside of Iran, and for his defiance of the British, Mosaddeq was named as Time Magazine’s 1951 Man of the Year. Other notables considered for the title that year included Dean Acheson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur.

In early 2004, the Egyptian government changed a street name in Cairo from Pahlavi to Mosaddeq, to facilitate closer relations with Iran.

 Now, these last few paragraphs, obviously, do not come from the monologue of Minister Mottaki, but I thought to bring this up because otherwise the show at the Asia Society cannot be understood, and the Ministers personality grasped.

***

The literally last question mentioned above, that came from the back-room filled with people from media was added when the announced “last question” that came from a lady sitting at the front-right table, clearly laudatory asked, “for those of us interested in the understanding of the history of the Middle East, when did Iran invade last one of its neighbors?”   The clear short answer was – “not in our lifetime.”

***

Had be given to me the opportunity to ask a question – what I had in mind was something like this:

“In light of what your excellency has said in regard to regional solutions for regional problems, and in light of justifiable aspirations by Iran to become an Asian powerhouse, what is your reaction to the Bahrain proposal at this year’s High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly, when Bahrain suggested the creation of a new UN organization comprising ALL STATES OF THE REGION – that wasinterpreted as meaning a Middle East organization that includes Israel?” This is exactly the most wanting direct question that was not put before our guest.

***

From The Speakers Profile and The Internet:

 Manouchehr Mottaki was born   May 12, 1953 in Bandar Gaz, in the northern Iranian Province of Golestan, and went to school there. Bandar-Gaz, during the Reza Shah Pahlavi rule, was an important city in the north with a national railroad and “several infrastructures.” It was considered   a transit bridge to the Soviet Union. After graduation, he joined the army and as per national plan joined the public education program by which was conducted by the government. He went to Khorasan province and established a school in a poor village around Mashhad, and taught there. After his service in the army, since he was interested in social and political issues, he decided to travel abroad both for experience and study. At that time India was a popular academic destination for young Iranians. So he traveled and studied for a few years in India, before the revolution in Iran.       He holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Bangalore University in India (1976). Mottaki also holds a master’s degree (MA) in international relations from the University of Tehran (1996).

 After the 1980 revolution, he was elected by the people of his home town and the neighboring cities as the first parliament representative and assigned by the other representatives as the head of the national security and foreign policy committee due to his politic and diplomatic talents. During his years in Majlis (Congress) and effective collaboration with the foreign ministry, he was employed then by the ministry after parliament.   Or, he made thus his career within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 24 years of continuous presence in different positions through   the Majlis (Parliament)..

He served thus as member of parliament in the first Majlis, head of seventh political bureau of Foreign Ministry (1984),

Iran’s ambassador to Turkey (1985),

Foreign Ministry’s secretary general for Western European affairs (1989),

Deputy Foreign Minister – first for international affairs (1989) and then   for legal, consular and parliamentary affairs (1992).

 Iran’s ambassador to Japan (1994),

Advisor to foreign minister (1999),

Deputy head of Culture and Islamic Communications Organization (2001)

Chief of the Foreign Relations Committee of the 7th Majlis National Security and Foreign Relations Commission (2004).

During the 2005 presidential election, he was the campaign manager of Ali Larijani, the right-conservative candidate.

President Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, in 2005,   appointed him to the position of Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005.

 

Mottaki quotations:

“Referring the case to the Security Council would be a lose-lose game, and we would prefer that this game does not happen. We see a win-win situation, that is where the EU and international community have confidence and the Islamic Republic of Iran reaches its legitimate right.”

“The Islamic Republic pays great cost to control and prevent transfer of narcotics to West.

“We do not accept global nuclear ‘apartheid’ and scientific ‘apartheid’.

“All voluntary measures taken over the past two-and-a-half or three years have been halted and we have no further commitment to the additional protocol and other voluntary commitments.”

“We should try to cool down the situation. We do not support any violence.”

“Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned.”

“The time for using language of threats is over, it’s time for negotiation. We express our readiness for negotiations based on justice and a comprehensive compromise. We want to peacefully solve the problem.

“Nuclear weapons are not in Iran’s defense doctrine.”

“The issue is quite simple. We would like to enjoy our membership as well as the other members of the [Nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty. The country has followed the rules and regulations of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] and wants to keep its rights.”

***

The Foreign Minister’s Introductory Presentation Before The Asia Society, Thursday, October 2, 2008:

Mottaki started by saying that since our last meeting here (2007), we had three events:

(1) The enjoyable visit of members of this Society in Tehran – he hopes this is a start for more such exchanges. This as a better way for mutual understanding – Scholars, Tourists, Students in such exchanges create the possibility to have more realistic picture of each other.

 

(2) LEBANON: A solution of more then 30 months of crisis was achieved after being initiated by different parties. Foreign Minister Mottaki wants to talk about how it was achieved – because the process is as important as the results.

It was a regional-based solution for the Lebanon crisis. The decision was that it has to be a solution based on votes by a 50+ plurality of all groups in the country – all groups in the country come to the table and a consensus is built – that was the tone of the Lebanon Policy agreement.

On the second day of the negotiations in Doha, at 2:30 AM, the feeling was that it all collapsed the negotiations were locked. Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League said go ahead, but others opposed. Mottaki was in contact with Doha and Beirut and   at 9 AM they took up the issue again, and it was settled after a day of negotiations by 9 PM.

One learned that use of force should expect a reaction from the other side. Then also that territorial integrity is an integral part of any solution. These lessons apply whenever you have conflict – this clearly also in the Georgia – Russia case.

 

(3) GEORGIA: The areas are already affected by crisis – energy, transportation, security.

The crisis started by use of force based on wrong information and miscalculation. The latter by not expecting reaction.

The second point is territorial integrity.

Its the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia now, before it was Kosovo, Does it result from the same policies? If so, are there other areas where action led to reaction? If Yes – What are these?

On the second day of the Georgia case there was an agreement signed with Poland. If this signing of the agreement with Poland has become another step, should we look for reaction in Syria? in Venezuela?

What is NATO going to do?

Iran is a neighbor of Azerbaijan and Armenia – so there is a regional concern and Iran has to take part in the initiatives – parallel with Europe. So he went to the region and to Berlin. Is NATO moving to accept Georgia as a member?                             The interesting question is then the borders.

***

 

Now it was the turn for Ambassador Frank G. Wisner to take his position as moderator and conversation partner.

He has retired from the US Foreign Service in 1997 with the highest rank – that of a Career Ambassador, but continued to be involved in special positions like the Special US envoy for the Kosovo Final Status (December 2005 – March 2008).   Now he is in the private sector.   In his career postings he was Ambassador to India, the Philippines, Egypt, Zambia… among other appointments, he was also Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.

He started by saying that Iran is a great nation that commands and deserves respect – yet for many of us it is difficult to see how Iran chooses to challenge the international community. How do you square your requirement for respect with a confrontation attitude he then asked the Minister.

Mottaki, who made his introductory presentation in English, but now used a translator for the conversation part of the event, started to smile.

His answer was: A very nice gathering and behavior – my response – What we see is   selective dealing and approach – and double standards.

Back in the 80s we extensively talked up issues. I suggest how the first Iraq war was dealt with and the second war – the war of Saddam against Kuwait. In all   these the underlying issue is the occupation of foreign lands. {I assume he means the Iraq war against Iran as the first war and the war of Iraq on Kuwait as the second war}   Back then the heated discussion was having a cease-fire not a settlement. So the first step is a cease-fire, another first step is withdrawal. We wanted to have the an “a” inserted so that it is clear that a withdrawal comes after the cease-fire. See, using “oil-for-food” money – even now a percentage goes to Kuwait, this while for 4 years we were engaged in lengthy negotiations that were ordered by the UN. Two Assistant Secretary-Generals that dealt with this are present here – they remember those negotiations. Sometimes just to keep things going we had to put proposals on the table. We felt these were in Iraq’s favor and Iraq asked – what do you pay us to accept?

On the nuclear issue – at the end of the day – it is officials of one country … But Islamic and Sharia teachings say that atomic bombs have no place in our defense.we also contend that nuclear weapons are nomore effective. Also military powr has lost effectiveness.

I outlined new agreements for the IAEA last year. 1,5 years ago, in Madrid, we said to the Agency we will give the right answers to the IAEA questions. Then the US turned over questions to the IAEA and they posed them to us. The agency said they have other questions and we started answering them one by one. For each set of questions they sent us a written letter that they accepted the answer as adequate. What expectations should Iran have? We expect the 5+1 to thank us for these efforts to answer all questions. We expected that at the September meeting to be told by the Agency that they put aside all questions, but they provided a second US set of contentions.

They were supposed to bring up questions in one set of timetable. These questions went beyond the timetable. but we accepted.

These questions, like the previous are baseless, we will not agre to the US directed routes. I believe if we continue the negotiations we will reach a point of agreement that will lead to action.

 

{All the above sounded to me like a reprise of the 1001 Nights stories – this time from Tehran. I wonder how many people in the room accepted these, though, as I remarked at the beginning of this article, I am probably one of the most inclined to allow some slack to the Iranians because of past US behavior – but this story contained really too much rope. It did not inspire safety at all.}

 

Now Ambassador Wisner had one more short question he said. The elections in the US. “Do you see from Iran’s point of view an opportunity for dialogue? What will be the modalities for negotiation?

A. A US President will have to reach out including the Middle East. If there are changes in the White House we will intently consider them. We take note of comments made by previous Presidents, who are not in power anymore, also candidates not yet elected. Comments made, promises given by them cannot yet be seriously considered. We have to wait and see.

As for an interest section, there is only stories in news media.

 

***

Q&A from the floor:

Answer On Israel of sorts:   Iran US relations are dependent on a number of issues. Unilateral Vs. Policies in the Middle East have complicated the situation. NO MENTION OF ISRAEL IN THE ANSWER.

 

Answer on Nuclear In The Middle East:   Atomic weapons cannot provide security. We all heard that the US had enough to destroy Russia. It helped in the balance of fear.

Six years have passed from the day your troops have entered Iraq – they have not succeeded. Why could not atomic weapons help in Afghanistan and Iraq? This year the 13th anniversary since the Islamic revolution in Iran.

if I were to list our grievances against the US it will be a long long list. Had we a nuclear bomb, could that have changed your actions in Iraq?

In tandem with development on hardware side, the software side. The US is not lacking in modern weapons, also in its economic might (except for the present problems). No serious changes will occur in the US. The problem is – insufficient reasoning to convince the international public opinion.

 

Answer to the last question on the Middle East: We go about our business about our nuclear problems. We provided the answers.

if a person is asleep- how hard you knock, it will not help. The US cannot accept Iran’s peaceful proposals because once they accept they will not be able to stay in this position.

US intelligence agencies announced that Iran does not work on nuclear bomb, but the uS did not accept. I know of five different reports. I think it is high time for them to accept this.

The 15 years they were against my country. What is wrong about changing policies – and see what was wrong for their country?

 iran002.gif

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

EU – save Ukraine from Russia, The European Foreign Policy Council (ECFR) NGO says.

Philippa Runner, from Brussels for the EUobserver, August 25, 2008.

The European Union should formally recognise Ukraine’s right to join the EU and offer it a “solidarity clause” to help prevent Russia from undermining Kiev’s pro-democratic government in the wake of the Georgia conflict, a European foreign affairs think-tank has said.

“The next focal point for security tensions – although not for war – might be Ukraine,” the European Foreign Policy Council (ECFR) warned in a flash report on Monday (25 August), urging Brussels to make a strong show of friendship with Ukraine at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting on 5 September and the EU-Ukraine summit on 9 September.

Russian cruiser – the Black Sea fleet has been stationed in Crimea since 1783.

In the “mid-term,” the ECFR advised the EU to make a political declaration endorsing Ukraine’s EU perspective, draft a road-map for a visa-free travel deal, and help Ukraine to ready itself for NATO membership and the ejection of Russia’s Black Sea fleet from its old home in Crimea.

 www.SustainabiliTank.info thinks this is a very raw idea – not even half backed. We have seen Sevastopol and neighboring towns and waters. They are filled with old and newer Russian warships and the people in the towns are mainly Russian. Talking of the people – also in the Eastern part of Ukraine most people are Russian transplants, they speak Russian and feel they want to be part of Russia. We said this many times – to save Ukraine from Russia, the solution is an amicable divorce – so the best the EU could do is to advise the Ukraine to go for their own good to a marriage/divorce councillor and promise them the EU membership if they agree to severance from some of the heavily Russian territories. Surely, the EU can say to the Russian Prime-Minister that moving in with force will be dealt with in economic terms, but we all know that if ,and when, these statements are put to test, the EU will not go to war because of the Ukraine. Further, in the Ukraine case there is not even an argument like we had for Ossetia, where we said that if one opts for independence – this should lead to an Ossetia State that includes both – South and North Ossetia. There is no similar condition in the case of The Ukraine.}
A new bilateral EU-Ukraine treaty – currently under negotiation – should also legally oblige the EU to “consult and assist Ukraine in case of challenges to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

The ECFR study sees Russia’s assault on Georgia as part of a wider plan to rebuild the old Soviet sphere of influence, noting that some pro-Kremlin analysts such as Sergei Markov recently floated the idea of a Russia-led “East European Union,” which would mimic EU integration and include countries such as Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

“What matters here is Russia’s drive to become the centre (and the sheriff) of a pole of influence in a multi-polar world and a bipolar Europe,” the ECFR said.

***

Tensions flare:

Russia-Ukraine tensions flared in recent weeks after Moscow accused Kiev of supplying arms to Georgia, and Kiev tried to limit Russia’s use of its Crimea-stationed warships against Georgia.

Inside Ukraine, pro-western President Viktor Yushchenko’s senior aide, Andriy Kyslynskiy, last week accused Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of striking a secret deal with the Kremlin in return for Russia’s support when she runs in the next Ukrainian presidential elections in 2010.

Mr Kyslynskiy also said political “interference” by pro-Kremlin elements in the Ukrainian establishment has reached levels unseen since the run-up to the 2004 Orange Revolution, adding that Russian intelligence is funding and steering Crimean separatist groups.

Some 60 percent of the 2 million people who live in Crimea are ethnically Russian, hundreds of thousands of whom secretly hold Russian passports, the ECFR says.

Crimea was historically Russian and has been home to the Black Sea fleet since 1783. It became part of Ukraine when Ukraine won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, with the Russian fleet set to leave by 2017 under a bilateral deal.

In the wider Ukraine, about 25 percent of the 50 million-strong population are Russophone, most of whom live in the east of the country and many of whom oppose Ukraine’s integration with NATO and the EU.

***

Warning shots already fired:

On 22 August, some 2,500 people held an anti-Georgia rally in the eastern Ukrainian town of Donetsk. The same day, 50 people in Simferopol in Crimea called for the peninsula to rejoin Russia, with the crowd nonetheless gaining coverage in Russian state media.

In late July, anti-NATO protestors in Crimea threw stones at Ukrainian police, who fired warning shots in the air. A second group used small boats to try and block NATO warships leave the port of Odessa to take part in a naval drill.

“[Russia] is likely to play on deep rifts within Ukraine on the ‘Russia question’ to try and influence the country’s future,” the ECFR said. “[The EU] must demonstrate that an escalation of tensions in the post-Soviet space will be met with more, not less, engagement in the Eastern neighbourhood.”

——————–

Georgian rebels in Abkhazia seek greater EU recognition.
LEIGH PHILLIPS, 25.08.2008, EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS.

Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea – is a once a popular holiday spot for Russian elite.

The Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia is keen to get EU recognition as an independent country, after the Russian parliament passed a resolution urging the Russian president to endorse Georgian rebels’ ambitions of statehood.

“We are not interested in only Russia recognising us,” Abkhaz deputy foreign minister, Maxim Gunjia, told EUobserver on Monday (25 August), adding that he expects Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to shortly back the pro-independence vote by Russian MPs.

“We want the European Union and all states to recognise our independence. This is a very positive moment for the EU – it could follow Russia’s example and also recognise Abkhazia. It is the only way to preserve stability and peace in the region.”

“We recognise that full recognition is a very big demand of Abkhazia for the EU at the moment,” Mr Gunja added, indicating that Abkhazia would also be interested in other ways of increasing its presence on the international stage.

“The EU could instead give a voice to Abkhazia in various European forums and institutions,” he said. “Only Georgia is invited to such forums while discussing the Caucasus, which is why the information the EU is receiving is biased, and why the conflict became possible.”

***

The lower house and the upper house of the Russian parliament on Monday both unanimously voted through a resolution urging Mr Medvedev to recognise Abkhazia and a second Georgian rebel territory, South Ossetia, as independent states.

The resolution has a largely symbolic value so far, as the legal decision resides solely with the Russian president, with some western experts doubting the Kremlin will follow through.

“The game is completely open, but it would be much more reasonable for Medvedev not to do so. If he doesn’t, he holds onto a very powerful bargaining chip with regards to the EU and US, and Georgia itself,” conflict prevention think-tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), analyst, Alain Deletroz, said.

“If he wants to turn a military victory into a diplomatic victory, he will not recognise [the rebel enclaves], because it will then become extremely difficult for the EU to keep an open dialogue with Moscow,” Mr Deletroz explained. “What Russia wanted was a division within NATO. If they go too far, they will only achieve the opposite – a unification within the alliance.”

***

The China angle:

“Even for the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation [the China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan security alliance], recognition would create problems. For the same reasons that China was not happy with the West’s recognition of Kosovo, Beijing would also not be happy with Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” the ICG expert added, pointing to China’s discomfort over its own separatist problems, such as Taiwan.

The European Commission was reluctant to issue any reaction to the Russian parliamentary vote ahead of next week’s extraordinary summit on EU-Russia relations, but the EU has repeatedly said it supports Georgia’s “territorial integrity.”

“The debate is ongoing in Russia, and we will not react as long as the debate is ongoing,” European Commission spokesperson, Ton Van Lierop, told reporters in Brussels.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Tbilisi in civil wars in the 1990s, setting up de facto states with their own mini-parliaments and paramilitary forces within Georgia’s internationally-recognised borders during a tense, 15-year long ceasefire that erupted into open conflict on 7 August.

Tbilisi has accused Russia of giving the rebels financial and political backing, as well as arms, in order to keep NATO and EU-aspirant Georgia divided. It also accuses the separatist and Russian forces of “ethnic cleansing” in pushing out the last remaining ethnic Georgians from the two territories during the recent war.

———————-

UNDP Releases Information on a UN Angle:

Please see – www.innercitypress.com/undp1georg…

It seems that Inner City Press came up with information, acknowledged by UNDP, that together with the George Soros Open Society International, and the Swedish Government, there was a very modest supplemental funding of Georgian officials, including the President, to make it possible for them to run a rather non-corrupt government in the National interest of Georgia, and perhaps also in the interest of the oil buyers of the West.

Above link leads to an article that starts:

UN’s Engagement with Saakashvili Included $1500 a Month, Soros and Sweden Also Paid.

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 — Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was paid $1500 a month by the UN Development Program earlier this decade, on top of his official presidential salary, UNDP has told Inner City Press. UNDP says the goals of these payments, in which the Swedish government and financier George Soros joined, were to allow the Georgian “government to recruit the staff it needed and also to help remove incentives for corruption.”

  While receiving these $1500 monthly payment, Saakashvili committed to increase tax collection in Georgia. Deals were signed with , among others, British Petroleum, for the Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan oil pipeline. UNDP, and presumably its two co-funders, applauded this development.

——-

This last article mentions also the old UNDP problem with having helped with injecting hard currency to North Korea that, as the claim goes, has helped them finance the acquisition of nuclear know-how. So, UNDP is a tool for covert actions and not just a victim of side effects in what they consider to be development work? In the tape attached to the article, Matthew Russell Lee points out at the unevenness of the way, North Korea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe were dealt with, and surfaces the idea that the treatment is in relation to the interest of internal politics in the US. So back to our posting, how will the UN be used in the case of the Ukraine – which is rather more of an EU then a US problem?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Terror War Re-Evaluated as Musharraf Steps Down.
By BENNY AVNI, Staff Reporter of the Sun | August 19, 2008

America and Pakistan’s neighbors are being forced to re-evaluate their strategy in the war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the resignation yesterday of President Musharraf, whose nine-year reign included a decision after September 11, 2001, to cooperate closely with America in the fight against international terrorism.

President Musharraf of Pakistan responds to people gathered after the farewell ceremony in Islamabad yesterday. Officials in Washington yesterday were careful to balance statements of praise for Mr. Musharraf with expressions of confidence that his successors would do just as well. But in New Delhi, where Mr. Musharraf’s recent misfortunes are seen as a probable cause for the renewal of Pakistani-Indian hostilities in the disputed region of Kashmir and elsewhere, officials were almost openly ruing his departure.

A Pakistani-born diplomat yesterday said it is ironical that Mr. Musharraf, after long being maligned as a ruthless dictator, could end up ushering in a new, more democratically oriented government in Islamabad. “He left like Nixon did, under pressure of probable impeachment,” the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. “Then again, he is also the first Pakistani leader to leave on his own, without being hanged, assassinated, or deposed by the military. For Pakistan, that is a certain step forward.”

But it was unclear yesterday whether Mr. Musharraf would stay in Pakistan, where some are calling for him to be put on trial, or be forced to seek asylum in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or the West. Asylum in America “is not on the table,” Secretary of State Rice said yesterday. According to reports from the region, a Saudi plane departed Pakistan yesterday without picking up Mr. Musharraf, after sitting on the tarmac for hours. A leader of the ruling coalition in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, spent years in Saudi exile after he was deposed as prime minister in a 1999 military coup by Mr. Musharraf, who was then chief of the army.

“President Musharraf has been a friend to the United States and one of the world’s most committed partners in the war against terrorism and extremism,” Ms. Rice said in a statement.

“President Bush appreciates President Musharraf’s efforts in the democratic transition of Pakistan as well as his commitment to fighting Al Qaeda and extremist groups,” a White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said. He added: “We’re confident that we will maintain a good relationship with the government of Pakistan.”

American officials said they were confident that the uneasy ruling coalition of the moderately Islamic party led by Mr. Sharif and the Western-oriented party that was led by Benazir Bhutto until her assassination and is now led by her widower, Asif Ali Zardari; son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Prime Minister Gilani, would cooperate with America on the war on terror as closely as Mr. Musharraf did. “The war against extremism is bigger than one man,” a State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, said.

Mr. Musharraf’s “departure is a loss for the U.S. because the civilian government will not do as good a job against terrorism,” a former American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, told The New York Sun.

In the aftermath of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, “What we needed in Pakistan is someone to stand with us, and Musharraf did just that,” a Bush administration official said yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity. America reciprocated to the tune of $10 billion in military support for the Pakistani government after Mr. Musharraf promised to dedicate his army and intelligence services to the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Now, according to some in Washington, the best remaining Pakistani partner in the war on terror is the current army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has yet to express a preference for any party. Meanwhile, the partnership between the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the secular Pakistan Peoples Party is fragile and unlikely to maintain Mr. Musharraf’s tight grip over the army and the country’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence.

India is specifically concerned that a resurgent ISI could shift Pakistan’s attention to Kashmir and hostilities with New Delhi from the war on terror and the Afghan border. As speculation about Mr. Musharraf’s departure increased in recent weeks, India’s national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, told a Singaporean newspaper, the Straits Times, that the president’s absence would leave “a big vacuum.” India is “deeply concerned about this vacuum because it leaves the radical extremist outfits with freedom to do what they like, not merely on Pak-Afghan border but clearly our side of the border too,” Mr. Narayanan told the paper.

In recent years, the long-standing tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad have eased under Mr. Musharraf. The two countries established commercial ties, while the situation in Kashmir grew calmer. During the last few weeks, however, cross-border attacks have increased, Pakistani-backed pro-independence Kashmiri fighters have intensified their activities, and diplomatic talks have slowed. Additionally, both India and Afghanistan blamed the ISI for the bombing in July of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

—————-

So, all acknowledge that the real power in Pakistan – military dictatorship or not – is in the hands of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and who rules over them? Quite clearly, there never was a Pakistani Ataturk – and what do these generals want? Whatever it is – it is not democracy.

What does Military Nationalism mean in a Pakistani context? Where is their loyalty when it comes to the Taliban, and even Al-Qaeda? What was their historic relationship to the Saudi Arabian money pipeline, or to the US involvement in the Cold War heating-up proxy-stage in Afghanistan with the introduction of religious extremism well funded via the Saudis? Will someone start using this Sunni potential as an antidote to the Iranian Shia element in the larger Islamic World? Historically, it was just only Pakistan, who besides the Saudi monarchy, recognized the annexation of Jerusalem by Jordan. Without a military hand ruling in Islamabad – this being replaced by a politically broad, but weak, alliance – will the ISI, and everybody else, find it more convenient to spend the ISI time now in playing the fields outside Pakistan, rather then trying to muddle the waters at home? Will anyone look under the rug of the old nuclear materials, and know-how sales, and will there be a second round of this sort of sales – specially as they have more to offer then Iran or North Korea?

Musharraf or not, the incomming US President will have to worry about what goes on inside the nominal borders of Pakistan much more then the stated preocupation with Afghanistan.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Mullahs’ Dead End?
By Jamie Glazov, FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 14, 2008

m5_071408npreview.jpg
An anti-aircraft gun, pictured in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. Israel and the United States differ on how to act on their fears about Iran’s nuclear interests, according to Mother Jones.
(Photo: Behrouz Mehri / AFP)

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Hassan Daioleslam, an Iranian human rights activist and political scholar. Daioleslam was born in Tehran in 1957. After finishing his primary and high school in Tehran, he entered the Polytechnic University of Tehran in 1974. In the years after the 1979 Iranian Islamist Revolution in Iran, he became a student movement leader standing up against Khomeini’s repression and mass executions. He eventually left the country and settled in France. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Daioleslam was active with Iranian secular movements, human rights activities and the defense of Iranian political prisoners.

In 2001, Daioleslam moved to the United States and concentrated on political research. Since 2005, he has been collaborating with two independent Iranian journalists inside Iran focusing on the Iranian Regime’s lobby in the U.S. His reports have been largely published by major Farsi websites and several US journals. Daioleslam has frequently appeared as an expert guest on the Voice of America-TV as well as on other outlets of Persian media.

FP: Hassan Daioleslam welcome back to Frontpage Interview.
Daioleslam: I am delighted to be back.

FP: In our last interview we discussed the new calls for negotiating with Iran. You talked about the fact that negotiating with the Iranian government is really not new and that it has been going on for the last three decades to no avail. So if we should not negotiate with the Mullahs and if as you have argued before, military action against Iran is a disastrous option, what course of action is left? What could the US do to curtail the Iranian nuclear ambitions and stop its drive to dominating the Middle East?
Daioleslam: Before suggesting a realistic and viable approach, we must first understand the situation in Iran. There are a range of suggested solutions there. Unfortunately, many of them are based on a very poor or wrong understanding of the state of the Iranian government. Probably the main reason for that is the sophisticated misinformation campaign of the Iranian lobby in the US. A clear example of such misinformation campaign is the war mongering boastings of Trita Parsi, the president of the Iranian lobby NIAC that suggests Iran is so powerful now that the US has to share the Middle East with them – as if Middle East is someone’s to give and someone’s to get. An accurate understanding of the internal state of affairs of the Iranian regime places numerous winning cards in the hands of the international community to stop the Mullahs’ drive to expansionism and nuclear weapons.

FP: So what is the situation in Iran? Ahmadinejad has a good grip on the country, yes?
Daioleslam: The Iranian regime is experiencing its most difficult situation of the past thirty years. As some Iranian analysts are arguing, the regime is at a turning point that will eventually decide the fate of the Clerical rule. The governmental figures use words such as: “economic disintegration,” “political impasse,” “leadership crisis,” “unprecedented social unrests,” and “total corruption” to describe the conditions in the country.

FP: Could these words be just excessive rhetoric rather than the reality of the situation?
Daioleslam: Good question. Let me quote some of the Iranian politicians. Recently, there was a very interesting dialogue between two famous politician and analysts in Iran. Saeed Hadjarian was interviewed by Abbas Abdi. They are considered as the pillars of “reformist” faction. Let’s read an excerpt of the dialogue:

A. Abdi: It has been a while that the people I encounter ask me about the future, they want to know what will happen. Apparently, for many, the future of the country is uncertain. Do the people ask you the same question?

Hadjarian: Yes. They have no clue about their tomorrow and feel insecure. The government can’t control anything. There is actually anarchism in the country. The government is being disintegrated. It is like the end of the time. We have descended in the hell.

Another Iranian commentator, Ahmad Zeidabadi, compared the regime’s difficulties to a “seven head dragon”.

Ibrahim Yazdi, the former foreign minister and one of the most experienced Iranian politicians, went even further and recently talked about the regime’s total impasse:

“I believe that the regime as a whole is going to a total impasse. There is something wrong that whatever they do, the situation gets worst. The Economic situation is worsening and Ahmadinejad is bringing the economic disintegration.

The situation is so bad that the regime should quickly opt for a historical and fundamental turn.”

FP: How does this situation affect the outcome of the Iranian nuclear issue?
Daioleslam: There are two distinct views about the Iranian choices and the path it will eventually take. There are those who believe that the regime is in such a weak position that it will finally surrender to the international pressure. Ibrahim Yazdi for example said:

“At the end of the war with Iraq, Iran was in such a bad position that finally accepted the UN resolution. We are in the same position now because the catastrophic political and economic situation will force the regime to surrender to internal exigencies in much worst conditions. Briefly, if we take into account the two experiences of war with Iraq and the US embassy hostage taking, we should be concerned that the regime would eventually surrender to the UN resolutions in such bad terms that the national interests would be jeopardized.”

There is also another view which I personally believe will dominate. This point of view is that the regime cannot or should not retreat. Any retreat is like a breach in a dam and will only stop with the regime’s total surrender. This is the dominant belief among the Iranian leadership. As Rafsanjani has recently declared: “if we retreat on this issue, we will allow our enemy to interfere with all the issues of our country.”

FP: Ok, so some critics argue that, because of this situation, there may be some flexibility from the Iranians on the nuclear impasse. The deal that the West is offering Tehran is very sweet and might be hard for them to turn down.
Daioleslam: Let me explain this further. In order to understand the Iranian regime’s dilemma, we should go back to 2002-2003 when the regime passed a fundamental turning point. The result was the emergence of the Revolutionary Guards as the dominant force in Iran, symbolized later by Ahmadinejad’s ascendance to power. That turning point is the root cause of the actual gloomy conditions in Iran and the mullahs’ incapacity to accommodate the demands of the international pressure.

FP: Elaborate on this please.
Daioleslam: Ok, I will try. Let’s start with a question. Why in 2005, did the Iranian leadership replace Mohammad Khatami, a smiling and internationally greeted president with a radical and repelling personality as Ahmadinejad? Note that in Iran, despite the masquerade of elections, presidents are selected rather than elected. It is naïve to believe that Ahmadinejad’s triumph was the result of a popular democratic process. The 2005 elections were particularly rigged. For the first time in the three decade history of the Clerical rule, all the candidates (except the lucky winner) publicly talked about massive intervention of the Guards and organized cheating.

So, the question is why the Iranian regime underwent such a radical transformation. Why was there a need to unify the power under the Guards’ control?

FP: Are you suggesting that Ahmadinejad was Tehran’s answer to a challenge?
Daioleslam: Exactly. In 2002- 2003, the Iranian clandestine nuclear program was uncovered and the regime was under immense pressure. At the same time, Iraq was invaded by the coalition forces and Tehran was faced with US massive presence. These two new elements were on top of the most important threat that regime was facing: the internal unrests and a growing social and political dissent movement.

To face these three challenges, regime had two choices: First choice was to come clean in nuclear dossier, get along with new regional geopolitics and finally liberalize the political atmosphere inside the country. We know that Tehran did not follow this path. The Ayatollahs opted for the second choice:

– Confronting the new regional order and using it as a stepping stone for their expansionism,

– Buying time to advance the nuclear program, and

– Crushing the social and political movements.

All three of these elements required means of implementing them: Mullahs’ armed forces- The Pasdaran Army (Revolutionary Gaurds); Hence Ahmedinejad’s presidency. The current catastrophic economic, political and social conditions, international isolation and placing the whole region at the verge of a dangerous war, are all consequences of this strategic choice by Tehran.

FP: Are these conditions irreversible, or can the regime get out of this?
Daioleslam: Let’s for the sake of argument imagine that tomorrow, the West gets tenfold more generous and even offers the whole Middle East on a tray to the Iranian regime. And then in return, requests that Iran abandon its nuclear program. Since the nuclear program has been largely under the Guards’ control and because of the missile program directly related to the nuclear program, the first step in verification should have to be total access to the suspected Iranian military bases and weapon facilities controlled by the Guards. Tehran will undoubtedly refuse. In Iran the Revolutionary Guards are the dominant power players. They have operations in many Middle Eastern countries. They have strategic military build ups in Iraq, Lebonan and several other countries. They have direct and active partnerships with radical groups in the region. They have direct involvement with Iraqi government. Can they possibly open their doors to the Western observers and inspectors?

Furthermore, for the past five years, Iran with the help of their lobby machinery in the US, has played the role of victim, targeted and harassed by the Israel-US hawks. How can they afford to lose this card and become guilty of pursuing a secret and advanced nuclear weapon program?

If the scope of Iranian weapon program becomes visible, the Western public opinion will push for a Libya or North Korean scenario: to bring and end to their whole nuclear program. Iran will not genuinely agree to any meaningful inspection of their facilities.

FP: One could argue that the incentives are so high that the Iranian regime would accept all these consequences.
Daioleslam: In order to predict what kind of incentive would bring the Iranian to a negotiating table, we should first understand how much Iran has spent on their nuclear project. I mean political cost, economic cost and diplomatic cost. The nuclear program has been the single most important project in Iran for almost three decades. It has bled the oil rich country to poverty. What can the West pay Tehran for stopping a program that is so heavily invested in? For Ayatollahs, this project is a weapon of power projection in Islamic world and not a weapon of deterrence.

FP: What about the argument that Iran should be given security guarantees in return for stopping the nuclear program?
Daioleslam: Iran’s main threat comes from the Iranian people. What kind of international guarantee could reconcile the Iranians with their rulers? Iran’s surrender to the international exigencies will weaken the regime against the Iranian people. A clerical rule, confined to its borders and under strict international inspection is a naked king before its subjects. More than anyone else, mullahs know that.

Remember the end of war with Iraq. Immediately after Iran was forced to accept the cease fire, a huge demand for social and political freedom grew in the country. Khomeini responded by massacre of political prisoners and then, to fill the vacuum of the war, he issued the infamous fatwa against Salman Rushdie. The repeat of this scenario would be almost impossible for the regime.

FP: Based on your argument, the Iranian regime on one hand is incapable of retreating from its nuclear aspirations and accommodating the international community. On the other hand Tehran is suffering from a catastrophic economic, social and political situation. What is the impact of this dilemma on the Iranian leadership?
Daioleslam: Confusion. Weakness. Chaos. The lack of authority in the government is so obvious that even if the West comes to Tehran for surrender, we would not know whom we should surrender to! Just a few days after the 5+1 proposal, there was a fight between different factions each claiming to have the final authority to respond to the proposal.

FP: Is this state of disorientation well perceived in the Western capitals?
Daioleslam: I believe that the decision makers are aware of the economic, social, political and the leadership crisis in Iran. Of course it does not prevent the Iranian lobby to stick to its traditional campaign of projecting a powerful and unified Iranian leadership. To give an example, let’s go to the predictable CFR Iran expert, Ray Takeyh, a champion of distorting the Iranian reality. He recently wrote in the Washington Post:

“Although Iran’s theocratic regime is perennially divided against itself, it has sustained a remarkable consensus on the nuclear issue. In today’s political climate, neither Western sanctions nor offers of incentives will fracture state unity.”

Of course, a newspaper reader in Iran sees that instead of this imaginary “unity”, there is a disintegrated leadership.

FP: Is the crisis in leadership an additional hurdle for a hypothetical deal with Iran?
Daioleslam: Absolutely. Many in Iran compare the current situation in Iran to the last year of Iran’s war with Iraq in 1998. At that time, Iran was forced to accept the UN resolution “drank the cup of poison” as Ayatollah Khomeini described it. Now, Iran has to drink a more potent poison while the regime lacks Khomeini’s authority to minimize the political and social consequences. The patient is weaker, the poison more fatal and no one in the Iranian leadership capable of drinking it.

FP: Mr. Daioleslam, thank you for joining us.
Daioleslam: Thank you for the opportunity to share my views with your readers.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine’s managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy.

———————–

News

Iran Red Lines. What are the US and Israel’s Views on Iran?

Thursday 10 July 2008, by: Laura Rozen, Mother Jones.

An anti-aircraft gun, pictured in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. Israel and the United States differ on how to act on their fears about Iran’s nuclear interests, according to Mother Jones.

Mother Jones has learned that a parade of high-level Israeli officials are on their way to the White House over the next two weeks to discuss Iran policy. Here’s where the two countries differ on what to do next.”

While the Israeli government considers the Bush administration highly sympathetic and sensitive to its security concerns, there are growing signs that Washington and Jerusalem may be diverging in their analysis of the urgency of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and its defensive military preparations for countering a possible strike, and their subsequent prospective timelines for considering possible military action against Iran. While Israeli national security experts say that Israel would not act without coordinating with the US, and there are other significant factors weighing against prospective Israeli military action on Iran before the Bush term ends, there are also emerging differences between the US and Israel on the accepted intelligence over when Iran would be considered to have a nuclear breakthrough, as well as what would constitute a “redline” that would prompt military action, Washington analysts say. In addition, the US, unlike Israel, feels more deeply constrained by the considerable investment it has made in blood and treasure in stabilizing Iraq, which could be risked by the tumult that could follow military action on Iran.
“My sense is the Pentagon would be worried or opposed to an Israeli attack,” says David Wurmser, former Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, who left the White House job late last summer. “They are afraid it would inflame the situation in Iraq, which could undermine the US position there.
“Ultimately, my gut tells me that most of the administration on most levels would push back very hard,” on Israeli pressure on Washington to authorize it to strike Iran, Wurmser added. “What those in the administration who don’t want Israel to act probably won’t want is for it to be taken to the highest level. They would always be afraid that [the president] might not be so tough on the Israelis. If the Israeli [government] really intends to do something, they would go to the highest level without a lot of people knowing.”
Last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen visited Israel, during which Mullen is reported to have told Israeli leaders that, speaking for the highest levels of the Bush administration, they did not have a green light from Washington for military action on Iran. Now, Mother Jones has learned, a parade of senior Israeli government officials is making its way to Washington over the coming two weeks, to discuss the Iran issue with top Bush administration officials. Among those scheduled to arrive, Mother Jones has confirmed with Israeli sources in Washington and Israel: Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, who departs Israel Monday for meetings in Washington with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Pentagon officials; and the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who comes the following week on his first visit to Washington in that position. A former Pentagon intelligence official who spoke with Mother Jones also alleges that Meir Dagan, the chief of the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, held secret meetings with officials in the White House on Wednesday. Neither the Israeli embassy nor National Security Council would comment on whether Dagan had been at the White House.
US sources who did not wish to be identified describe a disagreement between the US and Israeli intelligence communities over the timetable of Iran’s alleged weaponization and research and development efforts. Nuclear analysts at Livermore nuclear facility crunched the numbers and looked at the information on Iran’s centrifuges and concluded that they are sticking to the public estimates in the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program, which forecast Iran could have enough enriched material for nuclear weapons capability in the mid next decade. The Israelis allegedly presented the US with Iranian weaponization evidence that they consider very credible, which the US intelligence community allegedly did not consider credible. Analysts also say Israel and the US are drawing different definitions and redlines about what they consider would be Iran’s nuclear “breakout” capability.
“The last report from the [International Atomic Energy Agency] IAEA suggested that the Iranians are making considerable advances, and could reach a stage of having a mass of material for breakout capability before terribly long,” says Patrick Clawson, an Iran policy expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. How long? “It’s hard to say. Iran already has fuel rods shipped by the Russians. If they decided to just take that material and run it through centrifuges, that activity would be very obvious.
“What most people concentrate on is when Iran would have 600 to 700 kilos of its own low enriched uranium, which is enough to make enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb,” Clawson added. How long is that projected to take? Clawson: “If everything works perfectly, two months. If everything doesn’t work perfectly, a bit longer. The answer would be the space of a few months.
“It certainly appears from the last [IAEA] report that Iran is on track to have enough kilos [of low enriched uranium to enrich to weapons grade] within a year-well within,” Clawson added.
Next page: “Adding to Israeli concern…”
Adding to Israeli concern, Clawson and Wurmser said, is uncertainty over whether the next US administration will be willing and able to get organized on Iran policy quickly enough to meet Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear progress as the calendar advances.
“Even beyond the question of whether McCain or Obama wins, the Israelis are afraid that no new administration is really going to be able to get its act together quickly to be able to mobilize a plan and do something,” Wurmser said.
Wurmser put the odds of Israel striking Iran before Bush leaves office at “slightly, slightly above 50-50.”
Wurmser said that different pressures weigh for and against Israeli military action either before or after the US election in November, but before Bush leaves office. “Israelis may think politically they don’t want to get in a situation to do something that causes a reaction against US forces in Iraq, which causes the Republicans to lose the election.” But acting after the elections would deeply complicate Israeli relations with the incoming administration.
Wurmser posits a third possibility. “The Israelis may have new information,” and that may explain the up-tempo in the high-level US Israeli discussions on Iran. “But a second thing that might explain it is, this is not real. This is pressure to get Bush to act before he leaves.”
“A lot turns on details about the assessment not just of Iran’s nuclear progress, but also on parts of the Iran program that may not be publicly disclosed and on the projected status of Iran’s air defenses or other countermeasures,” says one former Bush administration official who asked to speak on background. “I think this also may be a more demanding option operationally than may be apparent from the public debate.
“I’ve been skeptical of the war talk until recently because I was informed enough to know better,” the former official added. “Now I’m not gloomier, just less informed.”
Robert Gallucci, a former longtime State Department nonproliferation expert who now serves as dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, said a recent consultation with US government scientists persuaded him that Iran is not likely to have significant nuclear breakout capability for about five years.
“The test is when Iran could plausibly accumulate significant quantities of highly enriched uranium or plutonium so you have to worry about not only nuclear weapons development, but also the possible threat of transfer to a terrorist organization,” Gallucci said Friday.
“I came away [from recent consultations with government scientists] believing that is actually some distance away in time – beyond five years,” Gallucci said.
Gallucci said he was talking about when Iran could conceivably produce five or ten or more nuclear weapons. (Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability at all, and the 2007 US NIE concluded that Iran had halted its weaponization program in 2003.) Are Israel’s threat assessments based on the projection of when Iran could produce one nuclear weapon? “I tend to want to answer that and say there are two ways to come up with a difference [between US and Israeli assessments]. Technically, Israel and the US could have a different assessment of the obstacles that the Iranians might run into and how quickly they could overcome them.”
“There could also be a tolerance [difference],” Gallucci said. “We’re prepared to say, ‘It’s unlikely they could do this in this amount of time.’ The Israelis could be saying, ‘Thank you very much, we’re a little closer to the problem than you are.’ American national security types are not certain of how quickly Iran could do it, but are just as uncertain about whether Iran would do it or not.”
——–
Laura Rozen is national security correspondent for Mother Jones. She can be reached at  lrozen at motherjones.com.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

April 3, 2008   by Honor Mahony from Brussels for EUobserver.

An EU court has annulled a decision by EU member states to put the Kurdish rebel group PKK on the bloc’s terror list.

The court of first instance, the EU’s second highest court, said putting the group on the list and freezing its assets was illegal because the decision had not been properly justified.

The PKK started an armed struggle to set up a Kurdish state in south-eastern Turkey in 1984. Turkey says it is responsible for around 40,000 deaths since this date. The US also considers the PKK to be a terrorist group.

{Had the Turkish government negotiated with their Kurdish citizens the autonomy of the region, and led to the formation of a bi-national Turkish State – they would have enlarged the state to include Iraq’s Kurdistan, and have helped solve not just the regional political situation, but also   strengthe the Turkish economy and made themselves a point of interest in EU expansion and enhanced Turkey’s position as a link to the Turkic Central Asia –   www.SustainabiliTank.info longtime comment}

The court has struck similar blows to the standing of the EU terror list in the past. In July last year it overturned a decision by member states to freeze the assets of Philippine rebel leader Jose Maria Sison and the Al-Aqsa foundation, based in the Netherlands.

It found that the EU had breached the rights of both parties by not telling them why their assets had been frozen.

In December 2006, the court found that member states had failed to give sufficient reasons for including exiled Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) on the list.

The EU’s terror list has also come up for criticism from other quarters. The Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights watchdog, recently said that the procedures used by both the European Union and the United Nations to include individuals or organisations on the list was “completely arbitrary.”

According to a report made by the organisation, once on the list “it is almost impossible” to get off – the PMOI group remains on the list.

The EU has blacklisted around 50 people or groups including the radical Palestinian group Hamas and the Basque separatists, ETA.

www.SustainabiliTank.info has expressed in the past that in these cases and in many other cases the listing and the mandatory required actions of economic boycot are completely valid – but when this is done just because of the intent to comply to some mistaken position of an outside favored government – like the one taken by Turkey, this is not justified. Imagine similarity lines between the Turkish Kurds and the Tibetans in China – the first group was listed while the second group is supported! This obviously does not cover the case of Hamas, Hezbullah, the Al-Aksa Foundation   –   organizations that are not interested in autonomy but rather in the destruction of an existing legally established State of Israel. This is a totally different story and clearly should be listed as teror Inc. – like Al Qaeda.}

The list was established in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Thursday, March 6, 2008, The European Union Studies Center of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, with the help of the Alexander S. Onasis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), had the great opportunity to hear from one of Greece’s important political figures – Dr. Yannos Papantoniou.
Dr. Papantoniou currently serves as an Onassis Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar at the University of Athens. In 1981, he was elected as a member of the European Parliament and in 1984 became adviser to the prime minister on European Economic Community affairs.

Since June 1989, he has been an elected member of the Greek Parliament. He served as deputy minister of National Economy, then variously as minister of Commerce, minister of National Economy and Finance, and minister of National Defense under the Socialist, or Pasok, government.

On February 27, 2008, Greece Named Yannos Papantoniou As its Candidate To Lead the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development , (EBRD). He has also been Governor of the National Bank of Greece in 2000.

Over the 12-month period in 2002-03, when Greece held the presidency of the European Union’s Council of Defense Ministers, Dr. Papantoniou helped to coordinate the policies that led to the creation of the European Military Force and its engagement in international peacekeeping operations as well as the establishment of the European Defense Agency.

Dr. Papantoniou studied economics at the Universities of Athens and Wisconsin, history at the Sorbonne (France), and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge (U.K).

The topic at the CUNY presentation was: “Regional Security in Southeastern Europe.” We got obviously an explicit Greek point of view.

At first we got a tour of the European expansion from 15 to 27 States and we saw how this was possible. The Three Baltic States were adopted by the Scandinavian States and this helped their economic integration into the EU. Poland was helped by foreign investment and its relations to US Poles. The Central Europeans were helped by Germany and Austria (Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians – also Slovenia and the future accession of Croatia. The Creation of a partnership for peace at NATO helped Bulgaria and Romania.

So now we are left with the remnants of the Balkans. The situation came to an edge with Kosovo declaring unilaterally independence on February 17, 2008 and being by now recognized as an independent State by over 100 countries. Obviously Serbia and Russia do not recognize Kosovo – neither does Greece. We found in effect, on the internet, a 2007 official statement from Greece saying that they do not agree to an “imposed’ solution for Kosovo. They think of the old concept of Sovereignty under which you cannot dismember Serbia, this because if that succeeds, North Cyprus will also want to become an independent Turkish State …

Turkey? As an attached State to the West would be an important role player to stabilize the Middle East – that gave me a reason to think that one should also ask the Turks what they think.

“The EU is an economic organization with political ambitions.”

The requirements for accession are: a. Democracy; b. A market Economy; and c. Adaptation of EU law into National law.

“Turkey is a strong regional power. If it were to come into the EU it would come in as a 100 million bloc that would change the balance of power in the EU. They might have more power then Germany and the UK combined, and this is unacceptable. The EU would prefer a special linkage to be offered to Turkey. After 12 additions the enlargement may have reached a limit. The EU has already become less homogeneous and less coherent.”

For the Balkans, joining the EU gives them the best motivation to normalize their society and economy. The speaker would like this to happen eventually, but not immediately.

Here, Professor Hugo M. Kaufmann, Professor of Economics at Queens College and at the Graduate Center, who chaired the event, opened up for questions, and there were many very interesting questions. I will bring up mainly our own question that came about because of the suggestion of having special relationships between the EU and countries like Turkey, that want to join the EU, but are rebuffed – then offered a special compensation that looks good to some at the EU, but which they cannot accept. Internally their governments will look like losers, and they will become losers indeed because of internal politics.

My question was why look at special arrangements with single countries, while a special arrangement with a large group of countries would be much more palatable to these outsiders – and I named three such groups: The Mediterranean Group, The Black Sea Group, and the Turkic Group.

The Mediterranean group does exist in effect – this as a result of the Barcelona Process. It started as an alliance to clean up the Mediterranean Sea – as such it had to include the Southern States of the EU – those reaching the sea shores – the North African States, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey etc. It includes countries that do not have good relations with each other – but they have to cooperate – and you know what – it works and gives results.

The Black Sea International Council started out as an environmental organization with Greece as the only participating EU member. Now after the EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria, a new Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation was created. This group that obviously also includes Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, has been extended to include the ‘frozen conflicts’ in Georgia, Moldova and between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (To others this reminds of the GUAM countries) This is indeed also an economic power house that can deal with quite a few oil and gas pipelines as well.

The Turkic group includes obviously Turkey and the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. It could include also Azerbaidjan and Georgia. In effect it could be an oil backyard of the EU.

The bottom line of all this is that Turkey is a central part of all these three groups – it could in effect come in with all this dowry and thus be welcome in its special arrangement as leader of outside EU alliances. This – rather then thinking of Turkey as the EU opening to a Middle East where Turkey is indeed not welcome to the Arab feast – surely, even less, then its welcome to the EU table.

I had also a short question – what about Albania? Why actually not putting it ahead of all this talk about Turkey?

 

The respected Greek speaker said that Albania was one of the poorest countries in the world and he did not think Germany will want to finance Albania. (I clearly could not reopen this point – if I could I would have reminded him that the Kosovars are also Albanians, so are some 15% of the people of Macedonia. Nobody speaks now of a greater Albania, like nobody speaks now of rejoining the present Greek part of Cyprus with Greece. The latter came about because some sort of solution was found, but leaving Albania dangling brought once Mao to this country, now it could be Al Qaeda. This is just unsound policy.)

On the Barcelona process the answer was again money. The process does not go forward because of lack of money. Again I do not think that this is the case – it seems to be rather a jelousy of North EU not wanting to fund deals that favor the South States of the EU – sort of shooting themselves in the feet in the process. The speaker did not pick up the other two groups beyond saying that these are interesting ideas.

On the other hand, to a question about the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, the speaker explained that the problem was that it worries Greece if later Macedonia would put claim to the areas in Turkey and Bulgaria that carry that name. He recognized that you cannot restrain people from naming themselves what they wish, but for international relations purpose they will have to pick for themselves some neutral name because even the temporary name of FYROM is not acceptable to Greece. Because of this – in our eyes total nonsense – Greece is vetoing Macedonia’s entrance to NATO – thus in effect hurting more NATO then Macedonia.

 

After all of this, when the meeting was called to end, in overtime, a Turkish Consul in New York asked for his right to say also a few words. He said flat that for 200 years Turkey is part of Europe. Turkey’s per capita income is now 1/5 to 1/4 of the average of the EU, but when Spain and Portugal entered the EU they were only 1/10. It is already 45 years that Turkey is trying to get recognition for its potential.

With the final end of the meeting I had the chance to talk to Mr. Basar Sen the Turkish Consul. He explained to me that the expectation of joining the EU has created its own logic and the government is now trapped by it, and turning away will have internal consequences. Surely I remember that starting with Ataturk and his “Young Turks,” a secular new Turkey was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire – a secular Turkey that wanted to be recognized, already then, as part of Europe. How can the speaker try to push them back into the Middle East from where these military men tried already then to escape?

But, sensing a friendly person, I followed up with a question I posed years ago to the Turkish Ambassador to the UN. Something that I think was the cardinal sin of Turkish thinking of last century. The question of the Kurds.

The Young Turks wanted to create a homogenized people out of the remnants of the Empire. They still had many – many different ethnic groups in the large piece of land that became Turkey – some say 154 ethnicities with language differences. But even if this was the case, there was only one minority that counted – these were the Kurds. What Turkey feared was that the Kurds will seek independence for their part of the land – so the Turkish government pursued them vehemently and turned them into real enemies. But even if the Kurds might have dreamt of having a larger Kurdistan to include also parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Azerbaijan, those other Kurds where not yet convinced that they, themselves, were ready to go for such a frame, with all this uncertainty hanging over the heads of their Turkish brethren. On the other hand, had Turkey realized that there were tremendous benefits in turning Turkey into a bi-national Turkish-Kurdish State, they could have indeed lured into their sphere of influence the Kurds of Iraq – the oil world would have looked differently, and the chances of having created an EU interest in their future would have helped more modernize Turkey, then the way they ended up fighting the greater majority of their people without showing for real economic results. We hope now that the Consul will find a way to provide us with think-tank material to help explain the the thinking of the Turkish leadership – past and present.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Uri Avnery, the former Member of the Israeli Parliament, the former editor of a wide read Israeli Magazine – “HaOlam Haze,” the main presence at the greatest Friday-night diner table in Tel Aviv, the continuing “enfant terrible” of Israeli intellectuals, the most appreciated Israeli thinker in Europe – just wrote the following evaluation of the present condition in the American involvement in West Asia – that is the Arab-Iranianian-Pakistani part of the world.

We repost here an excerpt of his thoughts which look like the best evaluation of the situation we saw for a long time.
“What is happening in fact?

– In Iraq one tyrant has been overthrown, and dozens of small local tyrants have taken over. The country is bleeding and falling apart. The “democratic elections” have brought to power a government that hardly governs the Green Zone in Baghdad, which has to be secured by American soldiers.

– In Afghanistan an “elected” president hardly rules the capital, Kabul. In the rest of the country, local chieftains are in control. And the Taliban are slowly and steadily re-conquering the country.

– In Iran, democratic elections have brought to power an uninhibited politician with a big mouth and small achievements, whose favorite occupation is to curse the American Crusaders and the “Zionist entity”.

– In Syria there is a stable dictatorship, which can carry on mainly because the Syrians believe that any alternative would be worse.

– Turkey is ruled by a religious Islamic government, with the wife of the president wearing a headscarf. More than 10 million Kurdish citizens are oppressed and discriminated against. Not a few of them are fighting a guerilla war. In the course of the campaign against the Kurds, the Turkish army is about to invade neighboring Iraq, happy to have an opportunity to destroy the practically independent Kurdish regime there.

– Lebanon is as far from democracy as ever. Real democratic elections, in which every citizen can vote directly for parliament without sectarian divisions, are out of the question. A new president has to be elected, but that is well-nigh impossible, the gulf between the sects is so wide. This week, Hizbullah conducted large-scale maneuvers near the Israeli borders. Even the Israeli army was impressed.

– In Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the three “moderate” (read: dictatorial and pro-American) countries, there is a very original kind of democracy. Political opposition is languishing in prison.

– In Palestine, impeccable elections were held under strict international supervision, the only really democratic elections in the Arab world. George Bush would have been proud of them, if – alas – they had not been won by the “wrong” crowd – Hamas. Now, Israeli army intelligence prophesies that President Mahmoud Abbas, Bush’s favorite, may fall immediately after the Annapolis conference, if, as expected, it ends in failure.

– And now, Pakistan. It seemed that there, at least, Bush was harvesting successes. He had brought back Benazir Bhutto, another Bush favorite, and everything looked fine: a democratic regime was about to be re- installed, the president was about to hang up his uniform and form a coalition with Bhutto. But then a bomb exploded next to her armored car, dozens were killed. The president-general, who was just waiting for such an opportunity, carried out a coup d’etat against himself, and, instead of his moderate dictatorship, has set up a much more harsh regime, like a Pakistani version of the late Saddam Hussein.

As in a Hollywood comedy, George Bush is standing there with a custard pie splattered all over his face. He looks ridiculous.

NO PRESIDENT likes being ridiculous. Scary – OK. Evil – OK. Dumb – OK. But ridiculous – never!

That may have a direct bearing on a question that is worrying the whole world, myself included: Will he attack Iran?

The temptation is almost overwhelming. In another year, his term in office will come to an end. After eight years, he has nothing to show for it – except a continuous series of failures. But a man who (he says) holds daily talks with God cannot leave the stage of history like that.

He is longing for some sort of success in Annapolis. At the most, there will be an empty declaration signed by the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There will be some good photo opportunities, but that will not satisfy the lions. Something much bigger is needed, something that will leave its mark in the annals of history.

What better than saving humanity from the Iranian nuclear bomb?

The German language has the expression “Flucht nach vorne” – an escape forwards. If you don’t know what to do any more, attack your nearest enemy. Thus Napoleon invaded Russia, followed years later by Hitler. Bush may attack Iran for similar reasons.

I suspect that the decision has already been made and that the preparations are already rolling. There is no proof of that, but Bush behaves as if he has decided on war.”

And now, after lookinginto the Israeli angle of this, Uri Avneri comes back to the oil and blood flows:

“What will actually happen is that Iran will close the strait of Hormuz. Through this strait, named after an ancient Persian deity, flows 20% of the world’s oil supplies. It is 270 km long and, at its narrowest, only 35 km wide. A few missiles and mines are enough to close it. That would be tolerable if the war lasted a few days. But if it goes on for weeks and months, it will cause a profound world-wide crisis.

And the war will indeed go on. (after having started with “surgical air strkes” ……) There will be no escape for the US from committing very large ground forces to conquer first the region bordering on the straits, and then the entire big country. The US has no available ground forces left – even before the American forces in Iraq are exposed to missile attacks from Iran and to guerilla actions from the Shiites, who make up the majority in Iraq.

This will not be a quick and easy war. Iran is different from Iraq. Unlike Iraq, with its various peoples and sects, Iran is comparatively homogenous. This war will be an Iraq war multiplied by 10, perhaps by 100.”

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About the Annapolis meting to be held November 25-27, 2007, Steven Erlanger, New York Times, November 12, 2007 – had some comments that can be summarized   “U.S. and Israel Play Down Hope for Peace Talk.

The American-sponsored Middle East peace conference expected by the end of the month looks to be thin on content, mostly serving as a stage to begin formal negotiations on a peace treaty between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli and American officials have been so busy dampening expectations that they are not even calling the event a conference anymore, instead referring to it merely as a “meeting,” tentatively scheduled for Nov. 25-27 in Annapolis.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are having trouble agreeing on even a short declaration about the shape of a final peace. “Because we can’t agree on the substance of a joint paper, we prefer to say we’re just beginning to negotiate,” said a senior Israeli official close to Prime Minister Olmert.

(The long buildup to Annapolis, together with Ms. Rice’s many trips to the region, have given birth to a new verb in Israeli government circles: “lecondel,” meaning, to come and go for meetings that produce few results. The word is based on Ms. Rice’s first name. (Le Condel – this is a gramatical form that means “to-do-a-Condalleeza.”)

Even if a deal is reached, and many are skeptical, it will not be carried out for a number of years. Israel wants to be sure that if it withdraws from the West Bank, there is a reliable Palestinian security force to stop aggression and terrorism – to ensure that a Hamas-run Gaza that fires rockets at Israel is not replicated in the West Bank.

As Tony Blair said: “The true Israeli anxiety is focused not only on the territory of the Palestinian state, but on the nature of that state. The true Israeli position is not to agree to a state for the Palestinians unless they are sure of how that state will function, how it will be governed, how viable it will be, and not simply in its territorial contiguity, but in its stability as a long-term partner for peace.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

There are buds   of change in Washington.   For a start the Thatcher – Reagan Alignment of the English speaking people is slowly   being replaced with a new found love of France.

Sarkozy’s first overseas trip was to the Bush home in Main and since then he clearly buries the Gaullist hatchet. He will not replace the UK in Iraq, but short of that he will realign with the US indeed.
This will be specially important in the dealings with Turkey and with some of the less friendly-to-the-US states of Europe..

The larger US Middle East policy stretches from London to Calcutta (or should we say Kolcatta). On the one end there will thus be a replacement of the UK with France, and on the other end of Pakistan with India.

On Iraq, the day is not far that the US and its new European friends might find that the Kurds are the most promising element in the larger Iraq area. It is also possible that in the end, some adjustments with the Shiia elements in the region, on the expense of the Saudis – who are not loyal friends anyway – will lead to astonishing new alliances. Iran could be neutralized if the Saudis pay the price, and Pakistan will be recognized as the real sick element that with Saudi and American help, was at the bottom of most of the upheaval since the Cold War fighting caused by Soviet efforts to expand into the oil rich and south ports region to their south.

The attached collage from today’s NY Sun makes some of the above points – OK, the paper will not touch the subject of oil – but we all know that oil is the grease in which US interest in that region was planted.
ny-sun003.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Oil and Betrayal in Iraq
By George Lakoff
t r u t h o u t. net, Thursday September 20, 2007

Alan Greenspan should know. It was oil all along. The former head of the Federal Reserve writes in his memoir, “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Greenspan even advised Bush that “taking Saddam Hussein out was essential” to protect oil supplies.

Yes, we suspected it. In a deep sense, many of us knew it, just as those in Washington did. But now it’s in our face. Greenspan put the mother of all facts in front of our noses. And we can no longer be in denial. The US invaded Iraq for the oil.

Think about what it means for our troops and for the people of Iraq. Our troops were told, and believed because they trusted their president, they were in Iraq to protect America, to protect their families, their homes, their friends and neighbors, our democracy. But they were betrayed. Those troops fought and died and were maimed and had their marriages break up for oil company profits. An utter betrayal of our men and women in uniform and their families, a betrayal of their sacrifices, day after day, month after month, year after year – and for some, forever! Children growing up fatherless or motherless. Men and women without legs or arms or faces – for oil company profits.

And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, more maimed, and millions made refugees. For oil profits.

And what profits they are! Take a look at the study of Iraqi oil contracts by Global Policy Forum, a consultant to the United Nations Security Council. Or read this editorial from The Daily Times in Pakistan.

The contracts the Bush administration has been pushing the Iraqi government to accept are not just about the distribution of oil among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The contracts call for 30-year exclusive rights for British and American oil companies, rights that cannot be revoked by future Iraqi governments. They are called “production sharing agreements” (or “PSA’s”) – a legalistic code word. The Iraqi government would technically own the oil, but could not control it; only the companies could do that. ExxonMobil and others would invest in developing the infrastructure for the oil (drilling, oil rigs, refining) and would get 75 percent of the “cost oil” profits, until they got their investment back. After that, they would own the infrastructure (paid for by oil profits), and then get 20 percent of oil profits after that (twice the usual rate). The profits are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And the Iraqi people would have no democratic control over their own major resource. No other Middle East country has such an arrangement.

Incidentally, polls show the Iraqi people overwhelmingly against “privatization”, but “production sharing agreements” were devised so they are technically not “privatization,” since the government would still own the oil but not control it. The ruse is there so the government can claim it is not privatizing.

But none of this will work without military protection for the oil companies. That is what would keep us there indefinitely. The name for this is our “vital interests.”

Greenspan’s revelation and the contracts need to be discussed openly. The question must be asked, “Is our military there for the sake of oil?”

I have been struck by the use of the word “victory” by the right wing, especially by its propaganda arm, Freedom’s Watch. Usually, “victory” is used in reference to a war between countries over territory, where there is a definable enemy. That is not the case in Iraq, where we have for four years had an occupation, not a “war,” and there has been no clear enemy. We have mostly been fighting Iraqis we were supposed to be rescuing. “Victory” makes no sense for such an occupation. And even Petraeus has said that only a political, not a military, settlement is possible. In what sense can keeping troops there for nine or ten years or longer, as Petraeus has suggested, be a “victory”?

What is most frightening is they may mean what they say, that they may have a concept of “victory” that makes sense to them but not to the rest of the country. If the goal of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been to guarantee access to Iraqi oil for the next 30 years, then any result guaranteeing oil profits for American oil companies would count as “victory.” Suppose the present killing and chaos were to continue, forcing us to keep our troops there indefinitely, but allowing the oil companies to prosper under our protection. That would be a “victory.” Or, if the Iraqi army and police force were to develop in a few years and keep order there protecting American investments and workers, that too would be “victory.” If the country broke up into three distinct states or autonomous governments, that too would be “victory” as long as oil profits were guaranteed and Americans in the oil industry protected. And it doesn’t matter if a Republican president keeps the troops there or a Democratic president does. It is still an oil company “victory” – and a victory for Bush.

Indeed, Kurdistan’s PSA contract last week with Hunt Oil suggests the latter form of “victory.” As Paul Krugman observed in The New York Times on September 14, “the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.” Hunt Oil seems to have had the first taste of “victory.”

If that is “victory,” what is “defeat” and who is being “defeated?” The troops who would have to stay to protect the oil investments would, person by person, suffer defeat – a defeat of the spirit and, for too many, of the body. And most of America would suffer a defeat, especially our taxpayers who have paid a trillion dollars that could have gone for health care for all, for excellent schools and college educations, for rebuilding Louisiana and Mississippi, for shoring up our infrastructure and bridges, and for protecting our environment. Victory for the oil companies, defeat for most of America.

Is Greenspan right? Is this what “victory” could possibly mean? I do not want to even think the answers might be “yes.” The thought itself is too disgusting. But Greenspan has put the questions before us, and we have a duty to pursue the answers. Because, if the answer is even half “yes,” then the troops and most Americans have been, and continue to be, betrayed beyond measure.

Perhaps the most honest and straightforward way to pursue such answers would be for Congress to frame the issue directly in terms of oil, as Greenspan did. Here’s a way to do it: The Constitution gives Congress authority over military matters through its power to fund continued military action. Without such funding, the troops cannot continue. Suppose Congress were to pass a bill saying no funding would be forthcoming for military action in Iraq unless the Iraqi government drops all provisions for PSA’s – production sharing agreements – in its legislation. This would actually give the Iraqi government sovereignty over its oil indefinitely and take oil control away from Western oil companies. Even proposing such a bill seriously would have two effects: To raise the constitutional issue: the president has been overriding the constitution. And it would bring the oil issue front and center, so we can all see if “victory” is really about oil interests.

Suppose Greenspan is right, that oil was a primary factor in the Iraq invasion, that “victory” means victory for oil companies, and that “sacrifice” means sacrifice for the American oil industry. While I held the very possibility this might be true, I clicked on the following web site. Perhaps you will feel as I felt. {we looked at the authors reference and we would not recommend it for those faint at heart – the photo is of a bridal couple where the groom has been injured in Iraq.} George Lakoff is a senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute.

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Now this article does not even mention global warming/climate change. There are no pictures of suffering from oil-industry un-natural disasters they inflicted on innocent people, when imposing on the economy a will not to break the addiction to oil. Will Greenspan some day extend his analysis to those other aspects of an Administration that put oil above water and blood?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Is This An Awakening of The American Collective Mind in regard To The Saudis?

It seems that finally the US is awaking up to the fact that the Saudis may be good business partners, but they are not friends of the United States, nor do they honor many of the basic values of the US.

We found today many articles that hint to the above waking up as exposed best by the fact that politicians are trying to distance themselves from the present pro-Saudi attitude of the White House, but neigh, it seems that even the White House is uncomfortable with the Saudis. But what do you do with an economy you pushed to become addicted to oil? If you anger the Saudis they may not sell you cheap oil. But do we really need that cheap oil? Is this not the source of the troubles. Nu, Nu, we start to think – maybe someday the sum total of the three articles we post will cause the lights to shine in our collective mind.

The Jewish Week, July 27, 2007 – Adviser Sees Rudy As Tough On Saudis.
Podhoretz, filling in some blanks in Giuliani’s foreign policy, suggests GOP frontrunner would break from Bush.
Adam Dickter – Assistant Managing Editor, The Jewish Week

Rudolph Giuliani’s most prominent foreign policy adviser hinted this week that the Republican presidential hopeful would break from the Bush administration’s policy of close ties with terrorist-linked and oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

“Any president would have to hesitate before risking the kind of economic dislocation that would be caused by tangling with the Saudis,” neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz told The Jewish Week Tuesday, referring to U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil. “But I think that Rudy does actually have a different attitude [than Bush] and might very well try to change our policy.”

In a foreign policy address in Michigan on July 12, former Mayor Giuliani did not mention Saudi Arabia, its terrorist ties and its complicated relationship with the United States, a point of contention among many members of Congress, who in 2005 tried to cut off weapons exports and restrict official travel to the country until it cracks down on terrorists.

Podhoretz, the former editor of Commentary magazine, who said he is supporting Giuliani because the Republican frontrunner’s mindset is closest to his own among the presidential contenders, said that in his own view the looming threat of a nuclear Iran created an opportunity to change Saudi policy.

“Because the Saudis are alarmed over the Iranian threat, we have a very good chance of persuading them that it is in their own interest to cease financing jihadist agitation,” said Podhoretz.

As to a Saudi role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the so-called “Saudi Plan,” which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has embraced, Podhoretz said “unless the Iranian threat also trumps their hatred of Israel, which it conceivably could, I don’t see a useful role for them in the so-called peace process.”

Following the terror attacks of 9/11, Giuliani returned a check to Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal intended to aid victims’ families after the prince cited U.S. policy toward Israel as a cause of the attack. “There is no moral equivalent for this attack,” he said at the time.

He has also made energy independence and reduction of oil imports a centerpiece of his campaign.

In his first detailed interview on his work for Giuliani, Podhoretz said he had not spoken with Giuliani personally in months, but was in touch with his campaign on a near-daily basis.

The Giuliani campaign did not respond to an inquiry about the candidate’s view on Saudi Arabia.

In his July 12 address, Giuliani spoke mostly of increasing trade in the Middle East and promoting the empowerment of women in the Middle East.

In an earlier address in Virginia on June 26, Giuliani called for active engagement with the Fatah government in the West Bank while continuing to isolate Hamas, which controls Gaza. “Let’s see if we can’t get Jordan and Egypt to help us try and create something with [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas in the West Bank,” he said at Regent University in Virginia Beach. Later in the same evening, Giuliani said of the Fatah-Hamas conflict, “I’ll have to leave that to other people to figure out.”      www.SustainabiliTank.info finds these statements shooting in two directions simultaneously. We rather believe that if the Saudis do not go to Jerusalem to prove leadership – they are less then trustworthy.)

But Giuliani has been short on specifics on the Mideast and in no rush to provide details. He often cites the day he called on then-Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to leave an international concert at Lincoln Center here as a foreign policy credential, as well as his stewardship of a city that includes immigrants from hundreds of national origins.

“His main foreign policy credential is his deep understanding of the issues involved in the war [on terrorism], which is the most serious issue of our time,” said Podhoretz.

Several foreign policy experts contacted by The Jewish Week declined to assess Giuliani’s foreign policy worldview because they did not know enough about it.

Should Giuliani become the GOP nominee, Democrats are likely to paint him as not only inexperienced but wrong on foreign policy.

In a statement prior to his July 12 address, the Democratic National Committee released a statement calling him “absent, ignorant and hawkish on Iraq” and claimed he was “poorly informed on Iran and North Korea.” The DNC also accused him of flip-flopping on Israel, initially supporting the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and now saying that the resulting unrest there “is a microcosm of what will happen in Iraq if you listen to the Democrats and precipitously leave with a staged, timed, planned-in-advance withdrawal.”

Asked if he saw Giuliani playing a more active role in Israel-Palestinian negotiations than has Bush, Podhoretz said, “He certainly supports Israel and I think he has shown, especially through his treatment of Arafat, that he recognizes that the main onus for any possible peace is on the Palestinians. To that extent he agrees with Bush.”

As to an international conference, of the sort alluded to by Bush in his recent address on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Podhoretz said, “I don’t think he has developed a detailed policy on the question of international conferences and the peace process. My advice to him is that a conference is pointless and can lead to nothing. The only chance for any kind of meaningful peace process will come when Arab nations call off their war against the Jewish state.”

When asked how Giuliani would differ from President Bush on foreign policy, Podhoretz noted that the ex-mayor on July 17 called for higher expectations of Pakistan, whose ruler, Pervez Musharraf, is a key Bush ally, in fighting al Qaeda. “Musharraf is important to us to the extent that he helps us remove this existential threat to him and to us,” Giuliani told USA Today. “And to the extent that he recognizes that it’s an existential threat to us and to him, he’s valuable to us. To the extent that he doesn’t, he isn’t.”

Podhoretz is a proponent of immediate military strikes against Iran to eliminate or set back that country’s nuclear program, and he said Giuliani felt the same way. “He has already said that the military option has to remain active,” said Podhoretz.

Asked about Giuliani’s reputation for ignoring advice while he was mayor, even from those he appointed to advisory panels, Podhoretz said, “That doesn’t concern me at all. He is free to take my advice when he thinks I’m right and ignore it when he thinks I’m wrong. He’s a man of very strong convictions and the character to back up those convictions and that’s one of the reasons I support him.”

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Saudis’ Role in Iraq Frustrates U.S. Officials: King Abdullah asserted Saudi Arabia’s power in March when he led Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Ismail Haniya, right, into negotiations – what since?
Based on a HELENE COOPER article published July 27, 2007, The   New York Times.
This article was reported by Helene Cooper, Mark Mazzetti and Jim Rutenberg, and written by Ms. Cooper.

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2007   — During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq’s prime minister could not be trusted.

One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr’s militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America’s most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite-run neighbor, Iraq.

Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.

One senior administration official says he has seen evidence that Saudi Arabia is providing financial support to opponents of Mr. Maliki. He declined to say whether that support was going to Sunni insurgents because, he said, “That would get into disagreements over who is an insurgent and who is not.”

Senior Bush administration officials said the American concerns would be raised next week when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates make a rare joint visit to Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

Officials in Washington have long resisted blaming Saudi Arabia for the chaos and sectarian strife in Iraq, choosing instead to pin blame on Iran and Syria. Even now, military officials rarely talk publicly about the role of Saudi fighters among the insurgents in Iraq.

The accounts of American concerns came from interviews with several senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they believed that openly criticizing Saudi Arabia would further alienate the Saudi royal family at a time when the United States is still trying to enlist Saudi support for Mr. Maliki and the Iraqi government, and for other American foreign policy goals in the Middle East, including an Arab-Israeli peace plan.

In agreeing to interviews in advance of the joint trip to Saudi Arabia, the officials were nevertheless clearly intent on sending a pointed signal to a top American ally. They expressed deep frustration that more private American appeals to the Saudis had failed to produce a change in course.

The American officials said they had no doubt that the documents shown to Mr. Khalilzad were forgeries, though the Saudis said they had obtained them from sources in Iraq. “Maliki wouldn’t be stupid enough to put that on a piece of paper,” one senior Bush administration official said. He said Mr. Maliki later assured American officials that the documents were forgeries.

The Bush administration’s frustration with the Saudi government has increased in recent months because it appears that Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to undermine the Maliki government and to pursue a different course in Iraq from what the administration has charted. Saudi Arabia has also stymied a number of other American foreign policy initiatives, including a hoped-for Saudi embrace of Israel.

Of course, the Saudi government has hardly masked its intention to prop up Sunni groups in Iraq and has for the past two years explicitly told senior Bush administration officials of the need to counterbalance the influence Iran has there. Last fall, King Abdullah warned Vice President Dick Cheney that Saudi Arabia might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulled its troops out of Iraq, American and Arab diplomats said.

Several officials interviewed for this article said they believed that Saudi Arabia’s direct support to Sunni tribesmen increased this year as the Saudis lost faith in the Maliki government and felt they must bolster Sunni groups in the eventuality of a widespread civil war.

Saudi Arabia months ago made a pitch to enlist other Persian Gulf countries to take a direct role in supporting Sunni tribal groups in Iraq, said one former American ambassador with close ties to officials in the Middle East. The former ambassador, Edward W. Gnehm, who has served in Kuwait and Jordan, said that during a recent trip to the region he was told that Saudi Arabia had pressed other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — which includes Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — to give financial support to Sunnis in Iraq. The Saudis made this effort last December, Mr. Gnehm said.

The closest the administration has come to public criticism was an Op-Ed page article about Iraq in The New York Times last week by Mr. Khalilzad, now the United States ambassador to the United Nations. “Several of Iraq’s neighbors — not only Syria and Iran but also some friends of the United States — are pursuing destabilizing policies,” Mr. Khalilzad wrote. Administration officials said Mr. Khalilzad was referring specifically to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Ms. Rice and Mr. Gates, as well as Mr. Cheney and Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, have in recent months pressed their Arab counterparts to do more to encourage Iraq’s Sunni leaders to support Mr. Maliki, senior administration officials said.

“This message certainly has been made very clear in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi,” a senior administration official said. “But there is a deep reserve directed both at the person of the Maliki government but more broadly at the concept” that Iraq’s Shiites are “surrogates of Iran.” Saudi Arabia has grown increasingly concerned about the rising influence of Iran in the region.

A spokesman at the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not return telephone calls on Thursday. But one adviser to the royal family said that Saudi officials were aware of the American accusations. “As you know by now, we in Saudi Arabia have been active in having a united Arab front to, first, avoid further inter-Arab conflict, and at the same time building consensus to move toward a peace settlement between the Arabs and Israel,” he said. “How others judge our motives is their problem.”

Even as American frustration at Saudi Arabia grows, American military officials are still cautious about publicly detailing the extent of the flow of foreign fighters going to Iraq from Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, for instance, Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, the top American military spokesman in Iraq, detailed the odyssey of a foreign fighter recently captured in Ramadi.

In his public account, General Bergner told reporters that the man had arrived in Syria on a chartered bus, was smuggled into Iraq by a Syrian facilitator, and was given instructions to carry out a suicide truck bombing on a bridge in Ramadi. He did not identify the man’s nationality, but American officials in Iraq say he was a Saudi.

The American officials in Iraq also say that the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia and that about 40 percent of all foreign fighters are Saudi. Officials said that while most of the foreign fighters came to Iraq to become suicide bombers, others arrived as bomb makers, snipers, logisticians and financiers.

American military and intelligence officials have been critical of Saudi efforts to stanch the flow of fighters into Iraq, although they stress that the Saudi government does not endorse the idea of fighters from Saudi Arabia going to Iraq.

On the contrary, they said, Saudi Arabia is concerned that these young men could acquire insurgency training in Iraq and then return home to carry out attacks in Saudi Arabia — similar to the Saudis who turned against their homeland after fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The Bush administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has deteriorated steadily since the United States invasion of Iraq, culminating in April when, bitingly, King Abdullah, during a speech before Arab heads of state in Riyadh, condemned the American invasion of Iraq as “an illegal foreign occupation.”

A month before that, King Abdullah effectively torpedoed a high-profile meeting between Israelis and Palestinians, planned by Ms. Rice, by brokering a power-sharing agreement between the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the militant Islamist group Hamas that did not require Hamas to recognize Israel. While that agreement eventually fell apart, the Bush administration, on both occasions, was caught off guard and became infuriated.

But Saudi officials have not been too happy with President Bush, either, and the plummeting of America’s image in the Muslim world has led King Abdullah to strive to set a more independent course.

The administration “thinks the Saudis are no longer behaving the role of the good vassal,” said Steve Clemons, senior fellow and director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. The Saudis, in turn, “see weakness, they see a void, and they’re going to fill the void and call their own shots.”

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International:   U.S.-Saudi Tensions To Increase In 2008.
Oxford Analytica, July 27, 2007.

This article is part of Oxford Analytica’s Daily Brief Service.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on July 31. As the United States looks to regional actors for support on Iraq, Iran and Israeli-Palestinian issues, it will find that Riyadh is not going to play its assigned role. While President George W. Bush’s administration faces long odds on these issues already, the Saudi position makes the prospect for success even less likely.

On the major regional questions, the United States and Saudi Arabia are in agreement to a greater extent than at almost any time in their relationship. They each:

–worry about increasing Iranian regional influence and the Iranian nuclear program;

–see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a wound that needs to be healed;

–worry about the spill-over effect of Iraqi violence; and

–vigorously oppose al-Qaida and its regional affiliates.

However, they have very different tactical approaches, which will become more salient as Washington puts forward new initiatives to move the Arab-Israeli peace process forward, salvage something from Iraq and isolate Iran.

Bush announced on July 16 a high-profile diplomatic effort to move Israel and the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority (PNA) toward a political settlement. Saudi Arabia quickly voiced its support, but Washington and Riyadh have very different visions of how to approach the issue. The Bush administration seeks to isolate Hamas diplomatically and choke off the economy in Gaza. Meanwhile, it hopes to encourage economic growth and political progress in the Fatah-controlled West Bank, showing Palestinians that their best choice is to abandon Hamas and support PNA President Mahmoud Abbas. Riyadh is pushing for a renewal of Fatah-Hamas dialogue and a return to the Mecca Agreement on power-sharing, which the Saudis brokered earlier in the year.

In Iraq, the Bush administration needs to show tangible progress to fend off congressional pressures to begin troop withdrawals. To that end, it has opened direct (if low-level) talks with Iran and encouraged greater regional involvement to support the Iraqi government, symbolized by the May Sharm al-Sheikh summit. While Saudi Arabia attended that summit and agreed to forgive the bulk of Iraqi Saddam-era debt, it has made clear that it is not willing to take other steps to support the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which it sees as an extension of Iranian influence in Iraq.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia is supporting efforts by Maliki’s opponents (including former prime minister Iyad Allawi, various Sunni political factions and Maliki’s Shia opponents) to form a political front to challenge the government’s parliamentary majority. Saudi King Abdallah also very publicly refused to receive Maliki on the latter’s regional trip preceding the summit. With Riyadh facing the likelihood of a reduced U.S. role in Iraq, it is less likely to follow the U.S. lead there and more willing to forge its own alliances with Iraqi players and factions.

Both Washington and Riyadh want to limit Iranian regional influence and discourage Iranian nuclear plans. As long as the United States continues using diplomatic pressure, multilateral and United Nations sanctions and indirect military threats to push Iran away from the nuclear path, it will have Saudi support. However, if the Bush administration pursues a military option, this will change. The Saudi leadership is pursuing a subtle policy of both engaging and containing Iran. It does not want to return to the 1980s, when the two states were directly confronting each other and Tehran was actively encouraging domestic opposition to the Saudi regime. Moreover, it knows that it will be on the front line of any Iranian retaliation for a U.S. military strike.

Such tensions are a normal feature of the Saudi-U.S. relationship and do not necessarily herald a crisis in the making. However, while core relations will not be affected, they will add to the tensions likely to emerge between the countries on Middle East issues and make for an uncomfortable few months in bilateral relations in 2008.

To read an extended version of this article, log on to Oxford Analytica’s Web site.     (Oxford Analytica is an independent strategic-consulting firm drawing on a network of more than 1,000 scholar experts at Oxford and other leading universities and research institutions around the world. For more information, please visit www.oxan.com. )

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