Following on the failure of the talks in Kazakhstan about Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and its allies renewed their non-diplomatic offensive against Iran this week. Secretary of Defense Hagel was in the Middle East, most especially in Israel, to push a $10 billion program introducing more advanced offensive weapons into the Israel, Saudi, and UAE arsenals. Like the trips of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry made two weeks earlier, Hagel’s mission is both to reassure Israel and other regional allies that the United States still considers “all options on the table,” while at the same time pressuring Israel to defer military action against Iran and to give sanctions and negotiations more time.
A similarly schizophrenic stance towards Iran was on display this week in Washington, D.C. In the Senate, Secretary of State Kerry pleaded with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to enact another round of sanctions against Iran, just a day after the same Committee celebrated Israel’s Independence Day by passing a (non-binding) Resolution stating that the United States will assist Israel in a “defensive” war with Iran. Meanwhile, down the hall at the Armed Services Committee, Intelligence czar James Clapper told Senators that the real purpose of sanctions against Iran was to foment domestic political unrest, ideally leading to “regime change.” One can sympathize with Iranian policy wonks who are trying to determine just what the Great Satan is up to.
Divisions within the Obama administration, and between the Administration and Congress, were joined this week by a likely-to-be-influential report from the Iran Project. The message of this report, the Iran Project’s third report, is captured in its title: “Strategic Options for Iran: Balancing Pressure With Diplomacy.” Like its predecessors, this report is “signed on to” by a broad and slightly bi-partisan swath of the US foreign policy establishment, and strongly warns against the dangerous outcomes now likely from the current strategies toward Iran.
Framing (or distorting) much of the talk about Iran’s nuclear program this week was the further degeneration of the civil war/intervention in Syria. As reported below, while the United States pledged to double its “non-lethal” aid at a just-concluded meeting of the “Friends of Syria,” the public adherence of the opposition’s main fighting group to “Al Qaeda” has thrown a monkey wrench into whatever plans exist for more overt “Western” intervention on behalf of the armed rebellion. Both the political and military arms of the opposition are now in disarray, amidst reports of another alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and, on tonight’s news, claims of another civilian massacre.
Finally, for those readers of the IWW who live in the NYC region, please check in the “Sanctions” section for news of a very interesting looking forum on sanctions against Iran, to be presented by the Iranian-American organization Havaar on April 29th.
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