October 26, 2007
‘Oops, I did it again’.
Some people never learn from their mistakes.
The US has unsurprisingly flown in the face of world and internal opinion to unilaterally impose sanctions on Iran. Both China and Russia have opposed the move, which is seen to be divisive at home and abroad.
The sanctions, described as “tough” are targetted at the Revolutionary Guard, via a network of banks and businesses.
A predictable move in this grand chessboard: the Iranians have responded by saying they are ready for war, but such bellicose rhetoric on both sides belies the reality. Sanctions will have even less effect on Iran than they did on Iraq. Unlike Saddam’s regime Iran has strong trading partners in a resurgent China and also Russia. They don’t actually need the US to sell their oil.
George Bush is a lame duck president. The US has had several windows of opportunity to attack Iran, in March earlier this year and in August. On both occasions they threatened without doing anything. In August coincidentally a B52 laden with nuclear bombs was on its way to Iran – before the US realised the Israeli mission to Syria – trial run for an attack on Iran – had miserably failed (the planes droped their munitions).
What we’re seeing is rhetoric, the old neocon bluff to divert attention from Iraq and Afghanistan, where the battles have been ostensibly lost. It doesn’t make war any more likely – in this commentators view, by releasing political pressure on military action, it makes war less likely.
October 21, 2007
Although his resignation had been on the cards (it is not a ‘surprise’ as the mainstream media have contended), the exit of top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani confirms that the Ahmadinejad government is no longer interested in negotiating over the nuclear issue.
Larijani had been in frequent negotiations with the EU – the fact that he’s has been effectively removed shows that Ahmadinejad is serious when he says that the Iran’s nuclear issue is now closed.
Indeed, as far as the IAEA is concerned, there is very little basis for continued negotiations from Ahmadineajd’s point of view. The IAEA have repeatedly affirmed that there is no evidence for an Iranian weapons programme. In addition, the supportive visit of Vladimir Putin, will have boosted Ahmadinejad’s point of view.
All-in-all, the effective dismissal of Larijani has been timed to send a message out to the West that Iran will not compromise at all on its nuclear programme.
As far as Iran is concerned, the lines have been drawn and the nuclear issue is off the negotiating table.
p.s. The smart move from the West would now be to get Larijani to defect. Although he is a religious conservative, he is an expert in Western philosophy, and as an intellectual is likely to be quickly disenfranchised if the leadership reject him.
October 18, 2007
- Bush threatens World War II if Tehran does not give up nuclear enrichment
- Ahmadinejad: Putin said nothing on Iranian nuclear issue
In a surprisingly jingoistic use (or abuse) of the English language, George Bush has threatened the world with War, if Iran does not give up its nuclear programme – a programme which does not exist.
Speaking hours after Putin had met with Ahmadinejad, the wily Texan said,”So I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War Three, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”
For a head of state to make such a loose and fast reference to a potential catastrophe is nothing less than depraved. Having dodged service himself during the Vietnam war, Bush is the last person to be speculating on a third world war.
Then again, in the world of international Texas hold ’em politics, weak is strong, and as this blogger has contended, Bush is showing strong because he is holding a very weak hand.
October 16, 2007
- Putin attending summit of Caspian Sea nations in Tehran
Two weeks ago I reported that President Putin’s visit to Iran would act as a significant blow to the Neocons and Bush’s war machine. Today, despite dubious reports of a potential assassination attempt, President Putin became the first major world leader to visit Iran. For the likes of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, this will represent a ringing endorsement of their Islamic Revolution. They will be hoping that they can now bank on Russian support at the next round of the Security Council sanctions vote later in the year. But such will be their pleasure at receiving this powerful guest that they may not dwell upon the real reasons behind Putin’s visit.
Russia has a significant interest in controlling the resources and access to markets in Central Asia and the Caspian. Russia has fought wars in Afghanistan and later Chechnya to ensure that it retains power in the region – even at the cost of decimation. With several countries in the region already hosting US military bases, Putin is determined, perhaps with the aid of Iran to limit US influence in these states as far as possible. That is why the five nations at the Caspian Sea summit have agreed not to allow their respective territories to be used for an attack on each other.
Although Russia partly fears expanding Persian influence in these Central Asian states, the move from Putin is primarily aimed limiting US expanding influence (demonstrated by the Eastern expansion of NATO, which has humiliated the Russians).
Perhaps the meeting seems to underscore the old maxim, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Who knows. Frankly, I’m surprised at Putin’s audicity.
In addition, by closing ranks with Iran over Central Asia, Putin may have just put the diplomatic route to a resolution of the Iran’s conflict with the West out of reach. For Bush, his promise to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue by the end of his presidency might just have to be broken; the presence of Putin in Iran is a massive snub and a humiliating failure on the part of Bush to read Putin’s intentions.
The very thought of a US attack on Russian-built nuclear reactors in Iran is now beyond all reckoning.
October 12, 2007
- Her rivel, Barach Obama, attacks Hillary Clinton for voting to designate Iranian Revolutionary Guards as ‘terrorists’
- At the same time, Clinton has called for talks with Iran, with no preconditions
The Iran issue has become a political hot potato with the Democrat nominees for the presidency. In the last few days the frontrunners, Obama and Clinton, have been jostling to get their policies heard.
In the space of two weeks, Hillary Clinton, favourite for the Democratic nomination and US Presidency has effectively said she’s happy to sit and talk with ‘terrorists’. Having voted two weeks ago to designate the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, she has also promised to talk directly to the Iranian government if elected.
The IRGC are an integral part of the Iranian government – they have political and economic influence, acting as the right arm of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself was a former member.
So in other words, Clinton would give the green-light to open negotiations with ‘terrorists'; a notion that would be unacceptable to the US public. No wonder Obama has criticised her apparent ‘flip-flopping’.
October 9, 2007
When it comes down to it, there could be just one reason why the US and Iran won’t go to war: Robert Gates…
The constant war rhetoric being pumped out by the corporate media belies the fact that there remain strong voices of opposition to a war within the Bush Administration. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Condoleeza Rice has strongly signalled that diplomacy is the way forward, in stark contrast to Dick Cheney, the prime warmonger within the administration
October 8, 2007
In an interivew on Arab Television on Saturday, George Bush claimed that the US is not headed for war with Iran. “The president, in an hour-long interview with Al-Arabiya TV, also reiterated his pledge to negotiate with Iran if it gives up its nuclear program.”
Bush describes talk of an attack as “empty propaganda”, realising that it would enrage not only the Arab street, who are already against him, but also the leaders the Arab States, who fear popular uprisings in the event of an attack.
The interview provides more evidence that there is a rift in the White House between George Bush and Condoleeza Rice, and the war-mongering Neocons headed by Dick Cheney. With both Bush and Rice against war and President Putin visiting Iran later this month, the likelihood of an attack during this administration remains low.