The deal hits a snag 1

It looks as if the world may have reason to be grateful to the cruel musty old men who rule Iran (!) – for sparing it from the terrible “deal” Barack Obama thinks he has concluded with them.

The Ayatollahs will not comply with the agreement unless and until all sanctions against Iran are lifted.

But the Obama administration is telling America that Iran must first agree to comply before sanctions are lifted.

Dare we hope that this impasse will continue indefinitely? That the “deal” will fade away?

From DebkaFile:

The crowing [by the Democrats] this week over Barack Obama’s success in gaining congressional support for his Iranian nuclear deal against Binyamin Netanyahu’s defeat was premature. The July 14 Vienna deal between Iran and six world powers was just the first round of the game. Decisive rounds are still to come, before either of the two can be said to have won or lost.

The biggest outstanding hurdle in the path of the accord is Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his silence on where he stands on the deal whether by a yea or a nay. Without his nod, nothing goes forward in the revolutionary republic. So the nuclear accord is not yet home and dry either in Tehran or even in Washington.

While Obama gathered congressional support in Washington for the accord to pass, Khamenei made three quiet yet deadly remarks:

1. “Sanctions against Tehran must be lifted completely rather than suspended. If the framework of sanctions is to be maintained, then why did we negotiate?”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest answered him: “Iran will only see sanctions relief if it complies with the nuclear deal.”

There lies the rub. For the Obama administration, it is clear that Iran must first comply with the accord before sanctions are eased, whereas Tehran deems the accord moot until sanctions are lifted – regardless of its approval by the US Congress.

Here is the first stalemate, and not the last. … Long exhausting rounds lie ahead that could drag on longer even than the protracted negotiations, which Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif brought to a close in Vienna.

2. Khamenei next took the step of referring the accord to the Majlis (parliament) for approval, pretending that to be legally in force, the accord requires [its] majority vote … He put it this way, “I believe… that it is not in the interest of the majlis to be sidelined.”

This step was in fact designed to sideline President Hassan Rouhani, on whom Obama and Kerry counted to get the nuclear deal through, and snatch from him the authority for signing it – or even determining which body had this competence.

It had been the intention of Rouhani and Zarif to put the accord before the 12-member Council of Guardians for their formal endorsement. But Khamenei pulled this rug out from under their feet and kept the decision out of the hands of the accord’s proponents.

3. His next step was to declare with a straight face: “I have no recommendation for the majlis on how to examine it. It is up to the representatives of the nation to decide whether to reject or ratify it.”

This step in the nuclear chess game was meant to show American democracy up in a poor light compared to that of the Revolutionary Republic (sic). While Obama worked hard to bring his influence to bear on Congress, he, Khamenei, refrained from leaning on the lawmakers, who were freed to vote fair and square on the deal’s merits.

This of course is a charade. … The ayatollah exercises dictatorial control over the majlis through his minion, Speaker Ali Larijani. He has absolute trust in the lawmakers never reaching any decision on the nuclear deal, or anything else, without his say-so.

Congressional approval in Washington of the nuclear accord may give President Obama a fine boost but will be an empty gesture for winning endorsement in Tehran. It might even be counter-productive if American lawmakers carry out their intention of hedging the nuclear deal round with stipulations binding Iran to full compliance with the commitments it undertook in Vienna, or also continue to live with existing sanctions or even face new ones.

Still some room for hope then?

Hmm. What’s the betting Obama will cave to Ayatollah Khamenei? 

The ayatollah who charms the world 1

How go those old talks with Islamofascist Iran about stopping it getting armed with nukes?

The all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s latest comment was far from helpful. Saturday, July 11, he said publicly: “The US is the true embodiment of global arrogance,” the fight against which “could not be interrupted” even after the completion of the nuclear talks. He also boasted that the Islamic Republic had “managed to charm the world” by sticking with those negotiations.

This is from DebkaFile:

Khamenei’s remarks reflect the struggle between the pro- and anti-nuclear deal factions at the highest level of the Iranian leadership. …

On June 29, President Hassan Rouhani was planning to resign when he asked the supreme leader to receive him first. He was upset by Foreign Minister Mohamed Zavad Zarif’s recall from Vienna to Tehran for a tough briefing. Zarif had warned the president that the talks were doomed unless Iran gave some slack. The foreign minister said that the six foreign ministers were preparing to leave Vienna in protest against Iran’s intransigence.

Rouhani when he met Khamenei warned him that Iran was about to miss the main diplomatic train to its main destination: the lifting of sanctions to save the economy from certain ruin.

The supreme ruler was unconvinced: He referred the president to the conditions for a deal he had laid down on June 23 and refused to budge: Sanctions must be removed upon the signing of the final accord; international atomic agency inspectors were banned at military facilities, along with interviews with nuclear scientists; and the powers must endorse Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and build advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

Rouhani hotly stressed that those conditions had become a hindrance to the deal going through and insisted that sanctions relief was imperative for hauling the economy out of crisis.
Khamenei disputed him on that point too. He retorted that the revolutionary republic had survived the eight-year Iranian-Iraqi war (1979-187) with far fewer resources and assets than it commanded at present.

For back-up, the supreme ruler asked two hardliners to join his ding-dong with the president: Defense Minister Mir Hossein Moussavi and Revolutionary Guards chief Mohammad Ali Jaafari.

Both told Rouhani in the stiffest terms that Tehran must not on any account bow to international pressure for giving up its nuclear program or the development of ballistic missiles. 

In a broad hint to President Rouhani to pipe down, Khamenei reminisced about his long-gone predecessor Hassan Bani-Sadr (president in 1980-1981) who was not only forced out of office but had to flee Iran, and the former prime minister and presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, who has lived under house arrest for six years since leading an opposition campaign.

The supreme leader then set out his thesis that the danger of Iran coming under attack had declined to zero, since Europe was in deep economic crisis (mainly because of Greece) and because the US president had never been less inclined to go to war than he is today.

Jaaafri added his two cents by commenting that after a succession of fiascos, Obama would go to any lengths to reach a nuclear deal with Iran as the crowning achievement of his presidency. The Revolutionary Guards chief then added obliquely: “Before long we will present the West with a fait accompli.”

He refused to elaborate on this when questioned by the president, but it was taken as a reference to some nuclear event.

Rouhani left the meeting empty-handed, but his letter of resignation stayed in his pocket.

The next day, when Zarif landed in Vienna to take his seat once more at the negotiating table, he learned about a new directive Khamenei had sent the president, ordering him to expand ballistic missile development and add another five percent to its budget – another burden on Iran’s empty coffers.

Khamenei’s office made sure this directive reached the public domain. Zarif too was armed with another impediment to a deal. Khamenei instructed him to add a fresh condition: The annulment of the sanctions imposed against Iran’s missile development and arms purchases. 

Extreme peril 1

Obama, through his lackey John Kerry, continues to woo the hellish regime of the Iranian Ayatollahs. He longs for a “deal” at any cost.

He is doing everything possible to help them become a nuclear-armed power.

This really is, without exaggeration, the worst threat, the gravest danger, the world as a whole has ever faced. The threat of the imposition of world control by Communist Russia was grave, but the Russians were not willing to die in massive numbers when a retaliation to their attack descended on them. The Muslim Iranians “love death”, and reckon that Muslims would be happy to die and go to their brothel in the sky; and that, however heavy the retaliation, there would still be a lot of Muslims left alive to dominate – perhaps exclusively occupy – this world.

Either Obama does not realize that he is putting the world in extremest danger, or he must want what the Ayatollahs want.

What is that? The destruction of Israel, certainly,and he’s cool with that. But he cannot believe that Israel is the Iranians’ only target. They continue to scream “Death to America!” loud and clear while the charade of “negotiations” for the “deal” is in progress. He must be cool with that too. Do his P5+1 claques feel the same way? Seems so.

Their latest move is to HELP Iran get “the bomb”.

George Jahn writes at AP:

Western powers are offering Tehran high-tech reactors under a proposed nuclear agreement, a confidential document says, but a defiant speech by Iran’s supreme leader less than a week before a negotiating deadline casts doubt on whether he’s willing to make the necessary concessions to seal a deal. …

Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday rejected a long-term freeze on nuclear research and supported the idea of barring international inspectors from military sites. Khamenei, in comments broadcast on Iranian state television, also said Iran would sign a final deal only if all economic sanctions on the country were first lifted. The preliminary deal calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually after an agreement is finalized.

Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Khamenei’s remarks, saying Wednesday they were [only] for “domestic political consumption”. …

In another sign the Islamic Republic may be toughening its stance, Iran’s Guardian Council on Wednesday enacted legislation banning access to military sites and scientists, according to state TV. …

The West has held out the prospect of providing Iran peaceful nuclear technology in the nearly decade-long effort to reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. But the scope of the help now being offered in the draft displeases U.S. congressional critics who say Washington is giving away too much.

“These continued concessions only emboldened Iran’s leaders to press for more,” Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The way these negotiations are moving, it is increasingly difficult to see the administration striking a meaningful, lasting agreement that would be acceptable to Congress.” …

[A draft annex] entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for several bombs a year if completed as planned. …

Outlining plans to modify that heavy-water reactor, the draft, dated June 19, offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”

The eight-page draft also promises “arrangements for the assured supply and removal of nuclear fuel for each reactor provided,” and offers help in the “construction and effective operation” of the reactors and related hardware. It offers cooperation with Iran in the fields of nuclear safety, nuclear medicine, research, nuclear waste removal and other peaceful applications. …

[But] because isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered, the compromise has been criticized by congressional opponents of the proposed deal.

Scott Johnson comments at PowerLine:

This is no longer a deal to stop the Iranian nuclear program. It’s a deal to let the Iranians perfect their nuclear program with international assistance and under international protection.

Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next-generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs. Conversely, any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.

As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout.

A couple of obvious points. First, it means the P5+1 will be actively providing the Iranians with the tools to break out while a deal is in place. The Iranians will already have 300kg of 3.67% uranium on hand, and they’ll be able to scale up production as they need because the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] lets them keep 5,000 centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz and lets them keep another 10,000 centrifuges in storage available to be installed. They can bring low enriched material to Fordow and quickly enrich it to weapons-grade levels in the next-generation centrifuges they’ll have developed with P5+1 assistance. Second – again – it means that the P5+1 will be actively ensuring that Iran will have the technology to go nuclear at will the instant the deal expires. The technology the Iranians learn to develop at Fordow will be applied on a mass scale.

To that end, the draft, entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak … [and]  offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”

Light-water reactors are significantly more proliferation-resistant than heavy-water reactors (in fact there’s no reason to build a heavy water reactor – of the type that the Iranians have been working on – unless you want to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon). But even LWRs are not proliferation proof, and a plutonium bomb isn’t the only concern.

Imagine that 15 years from now the Iranians have built a dozen LWRs with help from a P5+1 nation. One concern is indeed that they’ll kick out inspectors, keep the spent fuel, and start reprocessing on the way to creating a plutonium bomb. But a more subtle concern is that they will use the existence of the LWRs as a pretext for industrial-scale uranium enrichment – because they’ll say they need the uranium fuel for their plutonium plants – which can serve as a cover for breaking out with a uranium bomb. The P5+1 would be actively providing the Iranians with diplomatic leverage to use against the P5+1 in the future.

US and Iran: “indirect confederates” or allies in Iraq? 6

The US certainly is not … but definitely is … co-operating militarily with Iran.

An article in the Washington Post shows the Obama administration is half-confessing to co-operation with Iran. (See our post immediately below).

The urgent fight to keep Islamic State forces­ from taking over more of Iraq has led the Obama administration to tolerate, and in some cases even approve, things it once would have loudly protested.

When Iraqi Shiite militias, backed by Iran and long branded illegal by the administration, retook the town of Amerli from the Sunni Muslim militants last week, U.S. officials breathed a sigh of relief.

Did they do no more than “breathe a sigh of relief”? Did they not have a hand in the retaking of Amerli? It seems that Iran did. (We will return to this.)

Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and usually described as an arch­enemy of the United States, reportedly was present during the battle and was seen days later in an Internet-posted photo shaking hands with a militia fighter.

Just “present” at the battle. Like Obama in the Senate. Happened to be there. Took no actual part.

The Washington Post would rather you stopped looking at Amerli and the illegal militias and that head of the Iranian Quds Force – look at what the Kurds are doing … good guys, even if their forces are operating outside of recognized borders. You wouldn’t want to make a fuss about that, would you?  Not quibble over legal niceties … ?

Your attention is redirected:

Farther north, Kurdish fighters have occupied the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a prize the Kurds have long claimed but which lies outside the borders — recognized by both Baghdad and Washington — of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurd­i­stan region. Far from insisting the fighters withdraw, the administration is glad that someone is defending the city from the Islamic State.

Such legal and policy niceties have become a luxury in the battle to push back the militants whom President Obama on Friday called “a savage organization” that “poses­ a significant threat” to the United States and its allies.

It is not, as one administration official said with significant under­statement, an ideal situation, and there is widespread recognition that facts are being created on the ground that are likely to cause problems in the future.

But for now, the existential battle being waged in Iraq is one that has made at least indirect confederates of forces­ that are neither allies nor partners, nor often even on speaking terms.

But what about Iran? Sorry, but we want to know about Iran. Are the US and Iran “indirect confederates” in Iraq at this time?

Here’s what the White house has to say about it:

While the administration has acknowledged discussing the Iraqi crisis with Iranian officials on the margins of separate talks about Iran’s nuclear program, “we do not coordinate military action or share intelligence with Iran and have no plans to do so,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Friday.

“At the same time, we have been clear that ISIL,” one of several acronyms for the Islamic State, “represents a threat not only to the United States, but also — and most immediately — to the entire region. We believe that all countries, regardless of their differences, should work toward the goal of degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL,” Meehan said.

Asked whether there was a role for Iran in the international coalition the administration is forming to fight the militants in Iraq and ultimately in Syria, a senior administration official this week said, “I don’t know.” But, the official acknowledged [read prevaricated] , “they already . . . have a role on the ground.”

How much of a “role”?

Iranian contributions have extended beyond weapons and advisers to the Shiite militias. Despite Tehran’s concerns about separatism within its own Kurdish community, it “was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition” to fight the militants, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said late last month during a visit of Iran’s foreign minister.

Iran is also believed to have conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

Airstrikes? Like the US Air Force is doing? With no direct co-ordination among the strikers?

The Washington Post hastens to make it seem that, far from there being actual co-operation, there is continuing rivalry between the US and Iran in the region. At least, there is a history of such rivalry. That, the paper implies, is what should be concentrated on, not what might be happening right now:

The United States has vied with Iran for influence in Iraq ever since the majority Shiite government was installed after the 2003 U.S. invasion that overthrew Sunni leader Saddam Hussein.

And what is more, the rivalry has been violent and much to America’s cost.

Iran was accused of supplying the improvised explosive devices, called IEDs, to the militias that used them to blow up hundreds of American soldiers during the previous decade.

In recent years, the militias have laid low as an organized force. But when the Iraqi army fled northern cities in advance of the Islamic State blitz through the country this summer, they quickly re­emerged and entered the fight. U.S. protests were largely pro forma.

When former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down under U.S. pressure last month, Iran signaled its approval by congratulating his successor and calling for an inclusive government.

The strong administration preference is for Shiite militia members — as well as Sunni tribesmen in western Iraq — to join the Iraqi security forces­ and fight the militants under the government’s banner. But U.S. officials, who were not authorized to discuss the administration’s strategy on the record, said they would take what they could get until the militants are driven back.

The United States is not the only actor on the ground that finds the situation uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable? The situation? Could the discomfort be because “the situation” is US-Iranian military co-operation?

Well, okay, but – the Washington Post would have us know – it’s not the only “actor” doing it – and feeling uncomfortable about it.

While the administration credited U.S. airstrikes with helping drive the Islamic State out of Amerli, …

What? US airstrikes helped the illegal Shiite militias – and the Iranians  – re-take the town of Amerli? Now it emerges!

…. militiamen on the ground restated their enmity toward the Americans and said the [air-]strikes were inconsequential in the victory they had won.

So even if the US did help to take back Amerli with airstrikes, they were not decisive. Both unwanted and not needed. The Shiite militias despises them. So do the Iranians. No help at all. Phooey!

Iran’s Fars News Agency said Friday that the idea that U.S. action had been decisive in Amerli was a figment of the American imagination. “The West has launched media hype to show the U.S. as the savior of Iraq,” the agency said, quoting an Iranian military source.

In any case, Iran is hotly denying that it has co-operated with the US.  And we can believe the Iranian’s, can’t we?

When the BBC reported Friday morning that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had approved cooperation with the U.S. military against the Islamic State, senior government officials quickly denied it. “It’s impossible,” Esmail Kowsari, deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told Bloomberg News.

It’s impossible so it never happened?

It’s not only possible, it happened.

The US and Iran are directly co-ordinating their battle against the Islamic State. For the present, the US and Iran are in alliance, and both are ashamed of it. 

This is a hugely significant development, and should be headline news. But apart from this low-key report full of evasions and excuses in the Washington Post, there is been nothing about it in the media that we could discover.

*

Post Script: Even the Israeli press is not telling the truth about US-Iranian “confederacy”, preferring to trust the slithery lies that emanate from the US State Department. This is from Jerusalem Online:

US refused to cooperate with Iran: “We won’t share intel with them”

Tonight, the US rejected the offer of the spiritual leader of the Islamic republic, Ali Khamenei, to cooperate in action against the Jihad group in northern Iraq. “The US doesn’t share intelligence information nor acts in military cooperation with Iran”, said the State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, in a press conference. “We are open to engaging them, as we have in the past, but we are not interested in military cooperation with the Iranian leadership.”

Secretly aiding the enemy – but why? 2

Is there no one inside the White House loyal enough to the USA to stop or expose Obama’s secret dealing with its enemies – dealings that strengthen them and weaken us?

This is from Front Page, by Majid Rafizadeh:

I have long pointed out that Barack Obama’s administration, and particularly president Obama himself, has been more than likely clandestinely communicating and working with the Islamic Republic of Iran much longer than just before the current nuclear talks, and even long before President Hassan Rouhani came to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly.

Several national and international outlets have just released more details and reports on this issue.

The crucial point … is that while the American people were told by the Obama administration (an image projected by President Obama) that this September’s “historic” telephone call between President Obama and President Rouhani was the first diplomatic outreach to achieve agreement on nuclear issues, the recent revelations indicate otherwise.

These secrets talks, surreptitious letters, leading to confidential and classified negotiations between Obama and the Islamist leaders of Iran, were initiated long before the current nuclear talks, right after the current president of Iran was elected to office.

According to several outlets, including the [Democratic supporting] Daily Beast … the White House— under the leadership of President Obama— started lifting and easing its sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran right after President Hassan Rouhani took office.

According to The Daily Beast, Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a group that works closely with Congress and the White House regarding Iranian matters, stated that for “five months, since Rouhani’s election, the United States has offered Iran two major forms of sanctions relief.” In addition, Dubowitz pointed out that Iran has been selling oil illegally on the black market, leading to a large profitable amount of illegal revenues for Iran.

This also explains why President Obama has tried to oppose any sort of sanctions, policy recommendations, and legislation presented by the overwhelming majority of congressional representatives.

While it took several American administrations, the international community, the United Nations, and European countries to identify illicit institutions and actors in Iran who have abused the international financial sector, the Obama administration is quietly reversing these processes.

The Obama administration’s policy of quietly lessening financial pressure on Iran has significantly emboldened the position of Iranian Islamists in the international arena.

According to Dubowitz, two types of relief and special offers have been given to Iran by the Obama administration.

Firstly, the Obama administration has significantly decreased issuing designations of sanctions violators in comparison to any previous administrations. This is occurring at a time when Iran has been more rapidly working on its nuclear program and increasing its centrifuges, according to the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran has also increased the number of engineers working at a new plutonium plant, and according to many nuclear experts, Iran will reach the breakaway capacity of developing bomb-grade nuclear weapons within the first six months of next year.

The latest assessment is that it could be done in a matter of weeks, not months.

These secrets concessions have significantly assisted the new president of Iran … [and]  President Obama has … assured the Iranian Islamist leaders that they have the green light to receive further relief down the road. …

In addition, Iranian lawmakers have previously pointed out that President Obama has sent secret letters to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While the Obama administration denies [this], Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that Tehran did receive the secret letter to the Supreme Leader.

Furthermore, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently pushing for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program which will ease sanction on Iran without even asking Tehran to slow down its nuclear activities.

The secrecy of the Obama administration’s work with the Islamist leaders of Iran is bringing, and will continue to bring, further severe repercussions for American national interest, which will just intensify as these clandestine communications networks continue to occur. …

Finally, and more fundamentally, this move has worked to embolden the Islamists’ position, weakening and damaging the American image.

Obama loves Islam. Obviously. But why the choice now of (Shi’a) Iran? His first choice – it seemed – was (Sunni) Saudi Arabia, to whose King he bowed deeply when they met.

We put our little grey skeptical cells to work on these particulars:

Obama has made a close friend of the (Sunni) Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan. Erdogan has befriended Iran, and has turned his country’s former friendship with Israel into enmity. Has Erdogan acted as a go-between for Obama in his wooing of Iran?

Iran is working to become a nuclear-armed power. What it wants to do with its nuclear arms – Iranian leaders have announced – is wipe Israel off the map; whereas the Saudis dread a nuclear armed Iran and seem to have become, on this issue, tacit allies of Israel. Is there a reason in that for Obama to turn away from the Saudis and towards the Iranians? Yes.

So Obama – who has been bullying the Israeli prime minister for the last five years – is positively against the survival of Israel?

We think that is a logical conclusion. But an appalling one.

What others, if any, might there be?

Romancing psychopaths on the world stage 2

We think that Caroline Glick is at present the most perceptive commentator on the Middle East and American policy towards that tumultuous region. In a recent column she writes:

The Iranians … view diplomacy – like all their dealings with their sworn enemies – as a zero-sum game.

They are aiming to become a nuclear power. They may pretend that their nuclear arms program is negotiable, but it isn’t. President Rouhani will talk to Obama about it, and even smile as he does so, but regardless of anything that is said, or even agreed, the Iranian nuclear arms program will proceed as expeditiously as possible.

Behind Rouhani stands Qassem Suleimani, “Iran’s real strongman”.

Qassem Suleimani is the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. It is the most powerful organ of the Iranian regime, and Suleimani is Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest confidante and adviser.

Rouhani doesn’t hold a candle to Suleimani. …

Suleimani came of age as a Revolutionary Guard division commander during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988 … As the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Suleimani commands the Syrian military and the foreign forces from Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq that have been deployed to Syria to keep Bashar Assad in power. …

Has has called the Syrian military “worthless.” He has also said, “Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I could conquer the whole country.”

The Basij (The Organization for Mobilization of the Oppressed) is a volunteer militia.It was established in 1979 by the Ayatollah Khomeini to fight in the Iran-Iraq war. Under the command of the Revolutionary Guards, it is now used to help put down internal opposition.

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

The Revolutionary Guards [used] the Basij during the Iran-Iraq War to serve as cannon fodder. Basij units were made up of boys as young as 12They were given light doses of military training and heavy doses of indoctrination in which they were brainwashed to reject life and martyr themselves for the revolution. 

As these children were being recruited from Iran’s poorest villages, Ayatollah Khomeini purchased a half million small plastic keys from Taiwan. They were given to the boys before they were sent to battle and told that they were the keys to paradise.

The children were then sent into minefields to die and deployed as human waves in frontal assaults against superior Iraqi forces. By the end of the war some 100,000 of these young boys became the child sacrifices of the regime.

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

US officials have preferred to think of him as “a pragmatist”. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, they tried to negotiate with Sulumeini indirectly “through Iraqi politicians whom he controlled”. They failed, but persisted in their attempts. The former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Cocker …

… was in Baghdad at the time setting up the Iraqi Governing Council. He used Iraqi intermediaries to clear all the Shi’ite candidates with Suleimani. In other words, the US government gave the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards control over the Iraqi government immediately after the US military toppled Saddam’s regime. 

Far from convincing Suleimani to pursue a rapprochement with the US, Crocker’s actions convinced him that the US was weak.

And so, shortly after he oversaw the formation of the governing council, Suleimani instigated the insurgency whose aim was to eject the US from Iraq and to transform it into an Iranian satrapy. And yet, despite Suleimani’s obvious bad faith, and use of diplomacy to entrap the US into positions that harmed its interests and endangered its personnel, Crocker and other senior US officials continued to believe that he was the man to cut a deal with.

[American officials] like to romanticize the world’s most psychopathic, evil men. Doing so helps them to justify and defend their desire to appease, rather than confront, let alone defeat them. Suleimani and his colleagues are more than willing to play along with the Americans, to the extent that doing so advances their aims of defeating the US.

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

It’s possible that Obama believes that these negotiations will transform Iran into a quasi-US ally like the Islamist regime in Turkey. That regime remains a member of NATO despite the fact that it threatens its neighbors with war, it represses its own citizens, and it refuses to support major US initiatives while undermining NATO operations. Obama will never call Turkey out for its behavior or make Prime Minister Recep Erdogan pay a price for his bad faith. The myth of the US-Turkish alliance is more important to Obama than the substance of Turkey’s relationship with the United States. A deal with Iran would be horrible for America and its allies.

Whatever else it says it will do, the effect of any US-Iranian agreement would be to commit the US to do nothing to defend its interests or its allies in the Middle East.

While this would be dangerous for the US, it is apparently precisely the end Obama seeksHis address to the UN General Assembly [September 24, 2013] can reasonably be read as a declaration that the US is abandoning its position as world leader.

Wasn’t that one of his chief reasons for striving for supreme power – to end America’s world leadership?

The US is tired of being nitpicked by its allies and its enemies for everything it does, he said. And therefore, he announced, Washington is now limiting its actions in the Middle East to pressuring its one remaining ally, Israel, to give up its ability to protect itself from foreign invasion and Palestinian terrorism by surrendering Judea and Samaria, without which it is defenseless.

Like his predecessors in the Bush administration, Obama doesn’t care that Iran is evil and that its leaders are fanatical psychopaths. He has romanticized them based on nothing. Although presented by the media as a new policy of outreach toward Tehran, Obama’s current commitment to negotiating with Rouhani is consistent with his policy toward Iran since entering office. Nothing has changed.

From Obama’s perspective, US policy is not threatened by Iranian bad faith. It is threatened only by those who refuse to embrace his fantasy world where all deals are good and all negotiations are therefore good. What this means is that the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear power does not faze Obama. The only threat he has identified is the one coming from Jerusalem.

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

Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated in his speech to the UN (October 1, 2013) that facing down the evil of Iran is what his country will do. We watch to see if he will act on his promise.

No joy please, we’re Muslims 4

Islam fears fun.

To humorless puritan Muslims, laughter and joy are decadent Western vices.

The Ayatollah Khomeini declared:

Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”

Here’s a story about the Iranian mullahs trying to put a stop to joyful celebration – and not succeeding.

Chahārshanbe-Sūri (“Wednesday feast”) is an ancient Persian festival whose origins lie in the Achaemenid era of Persia’s civilisation (549-330 bce) and its successors, when Zoroastrian beliefs were strong. [See our post, Thus, more or less, spake Zarathustra, May 26, 2009.] By tradition it is celebrated on the last Wednesday night before nowrooz (Iran’s new year) in mid-March. It is a jubilant collective moment for Iranians in the country and among diaspora communities across the world. In Iran itself, people gather in streets and back-alleys to make bonfires and (in the case of the younger and more adventurous) jump over them; set off firecrackers; play music, dance and sing; and enjoy special foods and the joys of conviviality. In the life-affirming Chahārshanbe-Sūri, modern Iranians each year take the fire that was at the heart of the Zoroastrians’ sense of their world and their collective self-definition, and make it the centrepiece of their own modern ritual.

This year, the approach to the Chahārshanbe-Sūri – which fell on 16 March 2010 – was of a different character to any in the country’s history. Iran’s doctrinal regime politicised the ritual and made it an object of official fear. A campaign to discourage people from joining the celebrations began when the head of the national police warned parents to prevent their children from going out, and continued with plans by the state-run television to show popular movies to keep youngsters indoors. Then, the authorities deployed security forces (including basij militias armed with guns and batons) in the streets and around the strategic locations of Iran’s major cities. The campaign culminated in the issuing by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of an unprecedented fatwa that castigated the ritual as both “irrational” and in Islamic terms “illegitimate” (gheir shar‘i).

It didn’t work. As ever, millions of Iranians poured into their neighbourhoods to observe the national “calendar custom”. Many of them responded to the state’s politicisation of Chahārshanbe-Sūri by using the occasion to express their own defiance of the clerical regime, chanting slogans and songs of resistance. In Tehran, fifty people were arrested after clashing with the police and basij vigilantes. …

The suspicion of puritan Islamists towards many public expressions of human pleasure has been evident since the foundation of the regime in 1979. Any occasion of festivity and spontaneous life – informal gatherings at street-corners, concerts and sporting contests, student parties and even bustling shopping-malls – is regarded by Islamist zealots with profound disdain. In this context, Khamenei’s fatwa seeks to give a new doctrinal form to this larger paradigm of disparagement.

The zealots’ opposition even reaches into private and individual expressions of festivity. The many videos posted by Iranians of their Chahārshanbe-Sūri celebrations (and protests) onto the web includes a shocking attack by the police and basij on a late-night indoor private party in a Tehran neighbourhood on 16 March 2010. It shows the security agents dragging a screaming woman into custody – spreading terror among everyday citizens doing what people in normal countries do and take for granted across the world: having fun.

In its attitude to everyday enjoyment, the Iranian regime has …  much in common with fellow-Islamist states or movements such as Saudi Arabia and the Taliban in Afghanistan. There may be variations in what is regarded as “un-Islamic” (television, dance and even kite-flying in the latter case), but the mindset is the same.

The fear of enjoyment is a singular feature of these Islamist states and movements, whose doctrinal models are unable to accommodate expressive behaviours that are at the heart of human life: even including playfulness, laughter, and displays of fashion. These power-driven forces seek to reinforce their case by depicting such behaviours as part of a “western cultural invasion”

Posted under Iran, Islam, Muslims, Totalitarianism, tyranny by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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