Iran War Weekly | May 12, 2013

From Frank Brodhead’s Iran War Weekly:

While nuclear negotiators will meet Wednesday in Istanbul, little progress is expected in the diplomatic standoff about Iran’s nuclear program before Iran’s presidential election, which will take place on June 14th. With Iran’s reform movement still not recovered from its crushing defeat in 2009, until now the presidential election appeared to be a mere jockeying for power within conservative leadership circles, but it took on a more volatile character on Saturday, when both former president Rafsanjani and a protégé of current president Ahmadinejad registered their candidacies at the last minute. There are some very good articles about the election – both candidates and electoral procedures – linked below.

Whether Iran’s election will take place in greatly altered circumstances as a result of the escalation of the war in Syria is another question. The consequences of Israel’s two bombing attacks on Syria a week ago are still unfolding. The US- and Russian-sponsored “international conference” on Syria scheduled for sometime in late May or June appears to have been poorly thought out (or poorly reported). Among other questions, Who is invited? Iran? Israel? Lebanon (Hezbollah)? Or just the US/NATO plus Russia? And who among the warring parties? Armed Islamist groups, or just those included in the US-sponsored coalition? Already the US-supported Free Syrian Army has announced it will not negotiate with the Assad people, which of course is the point of the conference. Or is it? Is the conference merely a theatrical ploy, with its anticipated failure leading inexorably to military escalation and deeper US intervention?
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Iran War Weekly | May 5, 2013

From Frank Brodhead’s Iran War Weekly. Please read the entire report at WarisACrime.org.

It is too soon to tell whether Israel’s weekend bombing of Syria will irrevocably change the course of the war and engulf the region in death and fire. Israel has intimated that further attacks are on the way, and the Obama administration has stated that US strikes against Syria’s air defenses and air fields are under discussion. Syria (via the Arab League) seems about to take the issue to the UN Security Council, where we can expect the United States to defend Israel by blocking discussion. What will Syria then do after further Israeli aggression?

This newsletter, of course, attempts to track the war being waged – “low intensity” so far – against Iran. But from the outset most observers agreed that one of the forces motivating the United States and its allies to support the revolt against Syria’s Assad was the hope that it would weaken the “main enemy,” Iran. Now the tail is wagging the dog, and what was thought to be a means to an end has become an end in itself. Unless Israel disengages itself quickly, which seems unlikely, it is hard to see the Obama administration withstanding pressures from Israel, the neo-cons, and Congress to intervene militarily in Syria. What Iran will do then, of course, we don’t know.
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Iran War Weekly — April 25, 2013

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.
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David Henderson and Stephen Zunes to Speak on US-Iran Relations

Prof. David R. Henderson, co-chair of Libertarians for Peace, will be one of two speakers discussing the U.S., Iran and the threat to peace. The event is on Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 PM at the Irvine Auditorium, Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at 499 Pierce Street in Monterey. The program is free and open to the public.

David R. Henderson: “The Perverse Economics of Sanctions” David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and a Professor of Economics at the Naval Postgraduate School. Sponsored by the Peace Coalition of Monterey County and Amnesty International.

Stephen Zunes: “Hegemony, Repression and the Nuclear Standoff” Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. He is recognized as one of the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and strategic nonviolent action.

For more information, call 831-899-7322.

Iran War Weekly — March 18, 2013

From Frank Brodhead’s Iran War Weekly update:

As readers may/will recall, we are between negotiating sessions about Iran’s nuclear program. After an eight-month hiatus, restarting negotiations between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) and Iran was significant. Even more significant, and also surprising, was that the negotiations in Kazakhstan in February generated cautious optimism among diplomats, and a second round of negotiations is now scheduled for early April, again in Kazakhstan.

The scheduling of a second meeting in April is significant not just because it holds out the hope of “progress,” long absent in these talks, but also because it indicates that Iran considers its nuclear positions to be based on interests that will not be derailed by their presidential election in June. This is in contrast to what happened during the US presidential election last fall, when nuclear talks with Iran were suspended for the lengthy campaign season.
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Iran War Weekly – March 5, 2013

From Frank Brodhead’ Iran War Weekly report:

After eight months of low-profile inactivity, the Iranian nuclear issue sprang to life this week in widely separate venues: Washington and Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty, Iran’s nuclear negotiators met with the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany). The approach of the meeting was smothered in low expectations, as the rumored P5+1 negotiating position seemed indistinguishable from those that had been tried and failed, except for the promise of removing some sanctions that had been recently instituted to restrict the use of gold to make purchases (by-passing sanctions against banks). In Kazakhstan, however, the P5+1 made some changes in the demands it put to Iran, especially in abandoning the demand that Iran’s enrichment plant buried underground at Fordow be dismantled. This was seen by Iran as sufficient to schedule a follow-up meeting for April 5-6, with a “technical meeting” to take place in mid-March.

In the real world, however, the P5+1 demands remain far apart from what Iran has indicated it wants or is willing to give. “The West” still will not recognize Iran’s rights under the NPT to enrich uranium, and it is proposing varying formulas by which Iran must abandon most of its nuclear program before sanctions relief will be considered. Yet the glimmer of movement in Kazakhstan was received as a significant accomplishment in the nuclear-diplomacy world, as several analyses linked below confirm. Iran, especially, expressed satisfaction, seeing the outcome of the meeting as a result of its stout resistance to bullying and sanctions by “the West.”
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