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The Israeli Factor in the Failed Middle East Diplomacy - Part 1
by Dr. Habib Siddiqui
2010-02-16 09:12:37
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Last week, seemingly frustrated with the stalemate around Iran’s proposal for a simultaneous swap of its stockpile for imported enriched fuel rods, President Ahmadinejad announced that his government would produce its own higher-enriched uranium (20 percent), required for its medical use. A confidential document from the U.N. nuclear agency - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - shared February 12 with The Associated Press, however, said Iran's initial effort at higher enrichment is modest, using only a small amount of feedstock and a fraction of its capacities. The document, relying on onsite reports from the IAEA inspectors, also cited Iranian experts at the country's enrichment plant at Natanz as saying that only about 10 kilograms — 22 pounds — of low enriched uranium had been fed into the cascade for further enrichment.

Nevertheless, while the Obama administration on Thursday (February 11) said it does not believe that Iran can enrich uranium at the level it claims it can, White House officials say work is underway for stronger international sanctions against Iran. One day earlier, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on Iran, freezing the assets in U.S. jurisdiction of a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard -- Gen. Rostam Qasemi and four subsidiaries of a previously penalized construction firm he runs.

Such actions by the Obama administration are not unexpected given the fact that for the last few years Israel and her drumbeaters for war in the West have been making much noise in the media about how Iran has become an existential threat to nuclear-armed Israel. This, in spite of the clear revelation that Iran’s nuclear capability, prior to latest claim of Ahmadinejad, has been limited to only 3.5 percent uranium enrichment level, far below 90 percent level required for making nuclear bombs. So pervasive is the pressure from the Israel-firsters within and outside his administration, President Obama cannot afford to appear soft on Iran.

Many of Obama’s advisors on the Middle East are either Israeli/American dual citizens or promoters of the Israeli interest. To them, the Israeli interests take precedence over those of the USA. As such, there is very little hope for any improvement of relationship between Iran and the USA. The Obama administration has not revised many of the faulty policies of its predecessor. That’s a non-starter and contrary to Obama’s own statements of bringing a change in the U.S. foreign policy. As President Ahmadinejad commented last September during his trip to attend the UN General Assembly, “If Mr. Bush’s policies are to be continued with new language, we will not be able to achieve much… If these policies do not change, no real change will happen.”

Recently, senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman – both proud members of the “Amen Corner” inside the Senate - also introduced the Iran Human Rights Sanctions Act, which would identify and impose sanctions on human rights abusers in Iran. As I have noted elsewhere, on December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009.” It is very similar to the Senate bill. The latter extends sanctions to include companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran’s petroleum. It also prohibits the U.S. government from buying goods from foreign companies that work in Iran’s energy sector. So, in effect, the Senate bill imposes sanctions on Iran’s entire oil and natural gas industry.

What is so disingenuous in this entire heated debate around Iran’s nuclear program is that America and her allies in Europe have conveniently forgotten IAEA’s own findings that dispute such accusations and unsubstantiated claims about Iran’s capabilities. Never mind that it is Israel with a massive record of war crimes, invasion and nuclear stockpile that poses the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East! The Obama administration is dispatching its envoys to the region to align the state leaders with its latest moves and agenda against Iran. The envoys’ visits to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have a common purpose: to reassure Iran’s neighbors that the United States will stand firm against Tehran, and to enlist other countries in a global effort to put pressure on the Iranian authorities. Mrs. Clinton will play a central part in the effort, leaving Saturday for Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where she will meet with the Saudi leader, King Abdullah. Officials said she was expected to press the Saudis to reassure China that Saudi Arabia would offset any disruption in oil shipments that could occur if Beijing were to back new United Nations sanctions against Iran.

With Mrs. Clinton on his side, Netanyahu truly does not require anyone to parroting Israel’s hard line positions and concerns. Still the Israeli leader has Dennis Ross, Obama’s “point man for Iran,” as a trusted backup.  In the early days of the Obama administration, Ross was appointed a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Since June 25 of 2009, he joined the National Security Council as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the "Central Region" with overall responsibility for the region. That region includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia. In their 2006 paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer, political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, named Ross as a member of the "Israeli lobby" in the United States. Ross’s ties to hawkish pro-Israel groups in the U.S. and to Israel itself are, thus, well-known. He parrots the Israeli position to punish Iran. He is the co-founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former chair of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (a non-profit created by the Israeli government-funded Jewish Agency). He had received $421,775 in speaking fees in 2008 of which more than a half, $220,000, came from Israeli and Jewish political and religious organizations, including $40,000 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Ross was a noted supporter of the Iraq war and he signed two Project for a New American Century (PNAC) letters in support of the war in March 2003.

James B. Steinberg is expected to be confirmed as a deputy to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mr. Steinberg was a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration. He travels to Israel the week of Feb. 21 to take part in discussions with Israel that are likely to be dominated by Iran. It is worth noting here that Steinberg, along with Daniel Kurtzer and Dennis Ross, were among the principal authors of Barack Obama’s address on the Middle East to AIPAC in June 2008, which was viewed as the Democratic nominee’s most expansive on international affairs. In that speech, Obama was heard saying that "Jerusalem is Israel's capital" and that it should not be divided again. Daniel Kurtzer is a career diplomat who developed Middle East policy under President Bush and his father. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005. He was also recently appointed the commissioner of the newly formed Israel Baseball League.

Jacob J. Lew, an orthodox Jew with strong feelings for the Jewish state who headed the Office of Management and Budget (1998-2001) under President Bill Clinton and newly appointed deputy to Secretary Clinton, is expected to leave this weekend for Egypt, Israel and Jordan. The agenda is all around Iran’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President of Jewish ancestry, is aggressively pushing for new sanctions, especially in the energy sector against Iran in the United Nations Security Council, where France currently presides. The next member to hold the chair is Gabon, an African nation less likely to push hard for a resolution. So much for all the diplomatic activities around Iran’s nuclear program!

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Get it off your chest
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Me2010-02-16 18:14:21
Conspiracy theory much?

Jack2010-02-18 00:38:07

July 6, 2004, the Iranian daily, Kayhan’s editorial warned that, "The entire Islamic Middle East is now a volatile and tangled trap, and will be set off by the smallest bit of silliness – and will reap many victims of the sinful adventurers…Indeed, the White House's 80 years of exclusive rule are likely to become 80 seconds of Hell that will burn to ashes everything that has been built.” Earlier, according to reports in the Kuwaiti, Al-Siyassah, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council stated, "The present situation in Iraq represents a threat as well as an opportunity... It is a threat because the wounded American beast can take enraged actions, but it is also an opportunity to teach this beast a lesson so it won't attack another country.” He ended his speech calling for "Death to America, Death to Israel.”

Now what were you saying about a conspiracy?!

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