AuthorTopic: The Iran thread  (Read 1448 times)

Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2018, 05:56:40 PM »
Well, he has withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear Deal, but the adults are still in, and may refuse to go along with US sanctions.

https://www.rt.com/news/426193-rouhani-response-iran-deal-trump/
Iran will remain in nuclear deal, US withdrawal illegal - Rouhani
8 May, 2018

President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iranian nuclear deal is illegal, illegitimate and violates international agreements, said Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in a televised address.

Rouhani said that Iran has always complied with the nuclear deal and is going to stay in the accord despite the US pullout. The Iranian Foreign Ministry was instructed to hold talks on the nuclear deal with the EU, Russia and China within the next few weeks.

"If we achieve the deal's goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place... By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty," Rouhani said.

The President called Trump’s decision to quit the agreement “a historic experience for Iran,” adding that Washington had never fulfilled its commitment as part of the 2015 international agreement.

“For 40 years we’ve said and repeated that Iran always abides by its commitments, and the US never complies,” Rouhani said. “Our 40-year history shows us Americans have been aggressive towards great people of Iran and our region,” he added, citing the CIA coup against the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, the US support for the Iranian monarchy, Washington’s aid to Iraq in attacking Iran in the 1980s, and other examples.

“This is a psychological war, we won’t allow Trump to win... I’m happy that the pesky being has left the Barjam,” he said, using the Persian acronym for the nuclear deal. “From now on, this is an agreement between Iran and five countries. From now on, the P5+1 has lost its 1. We have to wait and see how others react."

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump announced that Washington will “withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal" and that sanctions will be imposed against Tehran. The US President argued that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) didn’t prevent Iran from enriching uranium and put the Middle East on path for a nuclear arms race.

“Today’s action sends a critical message: the US no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them,” Trump said. Following Trump’s announcement, the European leaders condemned his decision and vowed to keep the deal in place.

The JCPOA deal, signed by Iran and P5+1 powers (China, France, Russia, UK, US, plus Germany) in 2015, saw international sanctions on Tehran lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its controversial nuclear program. Trump pulled the US from the accord despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming Tehran’s compliance with the deal on numerous occasions and attempts by France, Germany and other EU nations to talk him out of the decision.


https://www.rt.com/news/426195-eu-decries-trump-withdrawal-iran-deal/
EU leaders decry Trump’s withdrawal from Iran deal, vow to work together to maintain it
8 May, 2018

European leaders wasted no time in denouncing US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Major European allies have already condemned the decision and vowed to keep to the original terms.

British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a joint statement on behalf of the UK, French and German governments, saying that they all regret President Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement. May called for restraint on all sides, as geopolitical tensions reach fever pitch across the globe.

May urged the US to avoid obstructing its allies, who wish to continue with the original terms of the deal, and called on Tehran to have “restraint in response to the decision by the US.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he and the other top European leaders intended to develop a broader agreement covering both Iranian nuclear activity and ballistic missile development.

"We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq," Macron said on Twitter, moments after Trump made the announcement.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has called for the international community to hold the line and stick to the original terms of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal. The move directly contravenes US President Donald Trump's latest announcement that he will withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

"I am particularly worried by the announcement tonight of new sanctions," Mogherini said, as cited by Reuters. "The European Union is determined to preserve it... Together with the rest of the international community, we will preserve this nuclear deal.”

Meanwhile, President of the European Council Donald Tusk promised to meet Trump's economic and geopolitical policies with a "united European approach," promising that EU leaders would "tackle both issues" at the upcoming summit in Sofia next week.
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Offline Surly1

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2018, 01:47:19 AM »
Well, he has withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear Deal, but the adults are still in, and may refuse to go along with US sanctions.

https://www.rt.com/news/426193-rouhani-response-iran-deal-trump/
Iran will remain in nuclear deal, US withdrawal illegal - Rouhani
8 May, 2018

//
"I am particularly worried by the announcement tonight of new sanctions," Mogherini said, as cited by Reuters. "The European Union is determined to preserve it... Together with the rest of the international community, we will preserve this nuclear deal.”

Meanwhile, President of the European Council Donald Tusk promised to meet Trump's economic and geopolitical policies with a "united European approach," promising that EU leaders would "tackle both issues" at the upcoming summit in Sofia next week.

The EU will remain committed to the deal until it starts costing them money. Which it will via US sanctions. It remains to be seen if Iran will restart any elements of their nuclear program, which would play right into Netanyahoo's hands, as it would give Yosemite Sam John Bolton the excuse to declare Global Thermonuclear War.
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2018, 09:27:31 PM »
I don't like theocratic government, but 40 years ago they had a dictatorship of the Shah, assisted by the CIA, and various western hangers on, and a US-supplied nuclear program.  Its not how free and democratic these governments are that matters to the US, it is how obedient they are to US wishes.

https://www.rt.com/usa/426418-bolton-trump-iran-regime-change/
Trump & Bolton call for regime change in Iran even as they speak of peace
10 May, 2018

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton says the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal is not a step towards a policy of regime change in Tehran. His own record and President Donald Trump’s words suggest otherwise.

Those who believe that pulling out of the nuclear deal is a precursor for US boots on the ground in Iran “would be badly mistaken,” Bolton said at a White House press briefing on Tuesday, just minutes after Trump’s announcement that the US would be leaving the 2015 agreement.

The morning after, however, Bolton was accusing Iran of provoking a war, accusing Tehran of deploying missiles in Syria that could hit Israel.

“I think Iran is bringing us close to war with its belligerent activity in Iraq and Syria,” he told CBS This Morning on Wednesday. “It’s that aggressive militaristic behavior by Iran on the ground in the region that’s the real threat.”

The mustachioed former US envoy to the UN has long advocated for regime change in Tehran - notably in last year’s speech at the Grand Gathering of Iranians for Free Iran.

“Even if somebody said to you that the regime was in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn’t make any difference,” he remarked. The only solution to the problem of possible Iranian nuclear weapons “is to change the regime itself.” Bolton even set the date for regime change, saying that it was due to happen before 2019.

In March 2015, as the Obama administration was negotiating the nuclear deal, Bolton penned an op-ed for the New York Times with the unambiguous title, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

In January this year, Bolton contributed another op-ed, this time to the Wall Street Journal, arguing that the US policy should be to “end the Islamic Republic before its 40th anniversary.”

“Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for four hundred and forty-four days,” Bolton wrote, adding that “former hostages can cut the ribbon to open the new US Embassy in Tehran.”

Bolton’s position appears to reflect a hard line in Washington, which still has not forgiven Iran for overthrowing the US-backed monarchy in 1979 and replacing it with a religious republic. What of Trump, however?

The US president famously campaigned on abandoning foreign wars, nation-building, occupations and regime change in favor of putting “America first.” He was also a vocal critic of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, which Bolton has supported.

Since taking the oath of office, however, Trump has allowed himself to be persuaded to stay in Afghanistan and bomb Syria ‒ twice. Trump has also frequently repeated a talking point of neoconservatives, Israel and Saudi Arabia, that Iran had imperialist designs for the Middle East and fingers everywhere, from Lebanon to Yemen.

“There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now,” Trump said in Tuesday’s announcement, offering to negotiate a “new and lasting deal” with Iran whenever Tehran was ready.

While that sounds conciliatory, in the very same speech Trump denounced the Iranian government as a “dictatorship” that “seized power and took a proud nation hostage” almost 40 years ago, and he claimed that before then Iran had “prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world.”

The “Iranian regime… funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering the wealth of its own people,” Trump said, ending the speech by saying that Iranians “deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history and glory to God.”

If that doesn’t sound like an endorsement of regime change, it’s hard to imagine what does.
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2018, 03:48:29 PM »
https://www.rt.com/usa/426798-new-iran-sanctions-treasury/
US imposes new sanctions on Iranian individuals and bank – treasury department
15 May, 2018

The US has imposed fresh sanctions on an Iranian bank and individuals, the department of the treasury has announced.

In a release on its website, the department listed four people added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control's Specially Designated Nationals List. Those individuals are Aras Habib Kareem, the chairman of Al Bilad Islamic Bank for Investment and Finance which was also sanctioned; Valiollah Seif, an economist and the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, and Ali Tarzali, its assistant director; and Muhammad Qasir, a Hezbollah official.

The additional sanctions come after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last week, promising the highest level of sanctions. The move has been slammed by Tehran and other signatories of the landmark agreement, which was signed under the Barack Obama administration.

The statement from the US Treasury Department accuses the newly sanctioned individuals of moving "millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hezbollah." They have been designated as "specially designated global terrorists."

According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Seif, Iran's most senior banking official, conspired "with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hezballah."

The department's release stated that the sanctions against Seif and Tarzali do not extend to the Central Bank of Iran itself. However, the US will reinstate sanctions extending to certain transactions within the ban, including the "purchase or acquisition of US dollars banknotes by the government of Iran."

“The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system. The global community must remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies,” Mnuchin said.

Existing US sanctions prevent American companies from doing business with Iran, and "secondary sanctions" could extend further to European and global companies. Speaking to CNN on Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said "it's possible" that Washington will slap sanctions on European businesses. "I think the Europeans will see that's in their interest ultimately to go along with this," he said.

Paris has spoken out against blindly obeying Washington's orders when it comes to trading with Iran. On Tuesday, an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron said that the threat of European companies doing business with Iran is an "important test of sovereignty" and will require a firm response, Reuters reported.

France's economy minister, Bruno le Maire, previously referred to Washington as the "global economic policeman," urging Europe to continue trading with Iran and to stop acting like "US vassals."

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has stated that the US must be replaced as leader on the world stage, accusing it of having "lost vigor." This came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europe needed to take matters into its own hands.
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2018, 06:04:42 PM »
RT helps the Europeans along a bit with this un-sourced advice:
Russia could also assist by using the rusSWIFT system to set the deal up and keep it off the books of SWIFT.

https://www.rt.com/business/426856-europe-to-ditch-us-dollar/
Europe to ditch US dollar in payments for Iranian oil – source
16 May, 2018

The European Union is planning to switch payments to the euro for its oil purchases from Iran, eliminating US dollar transactions, a diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

Brussels has been at odds with Washington over the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached during the administration of Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has pledged to re-impose sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“I’m privy to the information that the EU is going to shift from dollar to euro to pay for crude from Iran,” the source told the agency.

Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the foreign ministers of the UK, France, Germany, and Iran had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to Washington’s move in the next few weeks. The bloc is reportedly planning to maintain and deepen economic ties with Iran, including in the area of oil and gas supplies.

Mogherini stressed that the sides should jointly work on the lifting of sanctions as an integral part of the historic nuclear deal. “We're not naive and know it will be difficult for all sides.”

The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was sealed three years ago in Vienna between Tehran and the P5+1 powers (China, France, Russia, UK, US, plus Germany). The agreement saw decades-long international sanctions lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its controversial nuclear program. On January 16, 2016, the parties to the deal announced the beginning of its implementation.

The lifting of international sanctions gave Iran access to the world’s markets for the first time in nearly four decades. Since then, Tehran has managed to significantly increase its exports of crude.

However, oil is pegged to the US dollar on international markets, making it difficult for Iran’s partners to make payments for crude and for Tehran to receive them. With the dollar playing the leading role on international financial markets, re-imposing sanctions would mean cutting Iran off from the global financial system.

At the same time, dozens of contracts signed between European businesses and the Islamic Republic could be at risk of cancellation if Brussels obeys Washington’s sanctions. This would damage Iran’s economy and European firms would lose a huge market in the Middle East. Switching to alternative settlement currencies allows both sides to continue trading despite US sanctions.
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2018, 05:51:59 PM »
Merkel is spending less than 2% of GDP on NATO and Trump is beating her up for it.  Actually that is because Germany is spending on setting up the pan-European Army, to make it easier to quit NATO and its "unreliable partner".  Trump's foreign policy is coming apart at the seams.  If he tries the same trick as with Turkey, 'then we won't sell you the F-35', it will make them all happy to use the Eurofighter Typhoon and boost their own industries.

https://www.rt.com/business/427153-europe-eu-dollar-keiser/
Europe & Iran now have the perfect excuse to drop the US dollar – Max Keiser
18 May, 2018

The re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran and Washington’s threat to punish European companies for doing business there provides a good opportunity for ditching the dollar, according to RT’s Keiser Report host, Max Keiser.

“The US uses the dollar as a weapon to promote US dollar hegemony and the US Empire. The world now sees clearly that the US dollar is a Central Bank enabled Ponzi scheme backed by the extraordinarily violent Pentagon whose multi-trillion dollar budget can only be justified via wars of convenience, torture, and election meddling around the world,” Keiser wrote.

“Unfortunately, European corporations are defying the EU and EC by threatening to abide by the preposterous US sanctions and financially censor Iran in ways that will boost the fortunes of these CEOs, but endanger millions of Europeans and people around the world,” he added.

According to Keiser, if European companies continue to abide by US sanctions despite the EU decision to nullify them, authorities in Brussels should cut all credit lines to these companies, even if this means fully nationalizing banks in Europe and creating new, crypto-enabled banks.

“The message needs to be sent. Responsible governments need to free global trade and finance from the corruption of the Central Banks, their minions in the banking sector, and the intolerably rapacious US dollar-as-world-reserve-currency based system that bilks the world to pay for America’s military adventurism and US dollar Ponzi scheme,” he concluded.

On Friday, the European Commission enabled the Blocking Statute of 1996, which forbids EU companies from complying with the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them.
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Offline Surly1

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Trump’s Only Iran Strategy is to Punish Iran
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2018, 06:27:45 AM »
Trump’s Only Iran Strategy is to Punish Iran

The administration doesn’t want a grand bargain with Islamic Republic. They want a different government.

JAKE SULLIVAN
President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary James Mattis, and National-Security Adviser Bolton sitting at a table
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, and National-Security Adviser John Bolton, right, listen during a meeting with President Trump in the White House on May 17.ANDREW HARRER-POOL / GETTY

After Donald Trump’s announcement last week that the United States was walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, two State Department officials held a background briefing to explain the strategy. The transcript is a painful read. From start to finish, the unnamed officials struggled to answer the most basic questions about the purpose of reimposing sanctions on Iran, what they expected to achieve, which allies they had consulted, and so on. Every time a reporter tried to pin them down on the core question—now that you’ve junked the deal, what comes next?— they mumbled and evaded.

 

This past Friday, reporters tried again, on another conference call with a senior State Department official. They pressed him for specifics on what exactly the plan will be going forward. The most he would offer was that the United States would bring “all necessary pressure to bear on Iran to change its behavior and to pursue a new framework that can resolve our concerns.” It is hard to get less specific than that.

This is not because these officials are uninformed or unintelligent. And it is not because key figures in the administration, like National-Security Adviser John Bolton, haven’t given it some thought. My guess is it is because, for some reason, they did not feel comfortable sharing the real answer, which is this: The punishment is the strategy. The United States will now apply the means of more economic pressure to achieve the end of Iran feeling more economic pressure.

In theory, sanctions should have a specific purpose. We impose them in response to certain behavior by another country, and offer to lift them in exchange for specified changes in that behavior. In other words, sanctions create leverage, which is then converted into concessions at the negotiating table. That was the story of the Iran nuclear deal, which I helped negotiate, including by opening the secret back channel with Iran that jump-started the diplomacy.

Advocates of a more aggressive Iran policy, both inside and outside the administration, view sanctions differently. They seem to feel they don’t need to give more-specific answers as to what exactly sanctions are intended to achieve, because from their perspective, whatever is achieved is better than the status quo. Maybe with sufficient pressure, the regime will collapse. That would be their ideal outcome, and it’s what John Bolton was referring to recently when he said, “Iran’s economic condition is really quite shaky, so that the effect [of reimposing sanctions] could be dramatic.” But maybe not—maybe sanctions will just leave the regime weakened and demoralized and inwardly focused. That would be good, too. But maybe not—maybe the regime will just have less disposable income to spend on regional adventurism and therefore reduce its activities in places like Syria and Yemen. That’s not bad. But maybe not—maybe sanctions will simply make it harder for Iran to become stronger, an economic version of containment. Even that will do.

Or maybe, alternatively, sanctions will lead Iran to come back to the table, to accept the administration’s maximalist demands regarding their nuclear program, their missile program, and their regional activities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is giving a speech next week where he will ostensibly argue that this is the plan. But if you try to pin down Trump’s defenders on what the “better deal” would actually look like—what specific terms it would have to include—you quickly discover that this is not a particularly serious proposition. For example, in one breath, they say that an agreement on nuclear issues isn’t enough; a broader regional settlement is required. In the next breath, they say that the current regime is by definition incapable of becoming a more benign regional actor. Iran hawks like John Bolton don’t want a grand bargain with Iran. They want a different government in Iran.

What about Donald Trump? Where is he in all of this? Well, nowhere, really. He cared a lot about tearing down the agreement, and sticking it to Barack Obama in the process. He cares little to not at all about what comes next. Indeed, he would probably take a very similar deal to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran deal is formally known, if it had his name on it. But his team takes over from here, and whatever their rhetoric about diplomacy, they see a new nuclear agreement as a constraint, not an objective.

The most illuminating moment of last week’s background briefing was when one of the officials said that “the problem with the deal was that it reduced our ability to pressure Iran,” repeating twice that the deal cordoned off sectors of the Iranian economy from sanctions. So abandoning the deal, they said, has given them wide-open running room on economic pressure.

 

Now, it’s fair to ask—what’s wrong with all of this? After all, the current Iranian regime is a repressive and abusive actor at home and a malign actor in the region, responsible for a great deal of chaos and death. Why not pressure them relentlessly, to impose costs at a minimum and spark change inside Iran at a maximum?

I agree that curbing and countering Iran’s regional behavior is a crucial priority for American policy. The Iran debate is not a quarrel over whether to challenge Islamic Republic’s negative influence in the region, but how. And I see a number of basic problems with the approach the administration is taking.

Above all, there is the abject folly of breaking the Iran deal when it was working as intended to achieve its objective: blocking Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. The end of the Iran deal means the end of our ability to enforce constraints on Iran’s nuclear program through means other than military coercion. We can’t expect that they will indefinitely uphold their side of the bargain when we’ve stopped upholding ours. They are likely to eventually move their program forward in order to gain leverage against us. So this strategy could easily generate a nuclear crisis over time, and a self-inflicted one at that.

This was especially unnecessary given that the deal did not preclude the U.S. and its allies from pursuing a more aggressive strategy to check Iran’s regional behavior—indeed, the Europeans had signaled their willingness to do just that. If you care about Iran’s behavior in the Middle East, killing the deal is a distraction at best. Now the world will have to return to worrying about a nuclear program that was previously under lock and key. The talk in Europe today is about Washington’s approach toward the nuclear deal, not Tehran’s approach toward the region.

But even setting aside the deal, the administration’s approach to Iran is not sound.

First, any policy that lacks a defined objective or clear endgame—that basically says, let’s keep raising the pressure and see what happens—runs the risk of leading to mistakes, bad choices, and escalation at times and places we can’t control. This is especially true where regime change is part of the equation. The notion that you can simply switch out an unsavory government in another country introduces a magical quality to strategic decision-making, leaving it less rigorous and reality-based and more prone to error. Proponents of regime change are constantly tempted to assess that the regime in question is “on the brink of collapse, if only we push just a little harder and do a little more.” This tendency can drive policy choices in dangerous and misguided directions, and already has in the case of Iran; along with removing Iran’s nuclear handcuffs, it makes military confrontation between the United States and Iran more likely. Indeed, some (though certainly not all) proponents of this approach are spoiling for just that.

 

Second, despite lots of rhetoric to the contrary, the increased economic pressure Trump ordered has not been, and probably will not be, accompanied by any coherent approach in the key Middle Eastern theaters. Is there a plan for dealing with Iran’s growing influence in Syria, which is ground zero for its regional adventurism? When this question was posed to the State Department officials, one said simply, “the president’s focus in Syria is on ISIS.” What about new ideas to address Iranian influence in Iraq, Yemen, or Lebanon? No answers were forthcoming. This is not surprising, given that for the past 16 months, Trump has placed little priority on challenging Iran in the region; to the contrary, he has consistently indicated he wants to get out and leave the raging conflicts to others.

The administration’s defenders will argue that it was the nuclear deal itself that led Iran to engage in more-aggressive regional behavior, because it gave them access to funds they would not otherwise have had. But the main driver of Iran’s activity in the region has not been the availability of cash—it’s been the availability of opportunities. As new opportunities arose, the Iranians took advantage of them, sanctions or no sanctions. That was true before the nuclear deal, when they were deeply engaged in malign activity across the Middle East (including material support to Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the militant opposition in Bahrain, as well as killing American troops in Iraq). It was true while the nuclear deal was being negotiated (when the Houthis, an Iran-linked militia, launched their assault on Yemen’s capital). It was true while the U.S. was in the nuclear deal. And it will be true going forward. Indeed, many of the commentators who now say Iran was unleashed on the region because of the nuclear agreement are the same individuals who used to raise the alarm about Iran’s regional behavior years before the agreement went into place. The lesson of all this is that sanctions are not a magic bullet, and the incoherence of the administration's approach will likely lead to more, not less, instability.

Third, even to the extent sanctions can help shape Iran’s decisions, they will only be truly effective if they are more or less global in scope—if all of Iran’s major trading partners get on board. For many years, the sanctions imposed by the United States had little impact on Iran, and even isolated America, because the rest of the world saw them as punitive, not purposeful. From 2010 to 2015, we were able to rally the international community to join us in far stronger sanctions because we made it clear they were designed for a specific objective, curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Now we are asking key countries to join us again in a serious economic pressure campaign when (a) we’ve abandoned the deal we negotiated with those very countries, (b) they view Iran with more sympathy now than they did in 2010, and us with less, and (c) we’re asking them to enforce sanctions pretty much for sanctions sake, pretty much indefinitely. This is not a recipe for success.Trump’s team responds to this concern by saying, essentially, “Just make other countries choose between trading with the United States and trading with Iran, and they’ll have to do what we say.” It’s true that threats and bullying will deter a number of European banks and businesses from doing business with Iran. But sanctions are a lot more effective when the world is actively cooperating with the United States to pressure Iran, and a lot less effective when the world is actively cooperating with Iran to frustrate the United States by looking for workarounds and dragging their feet. And in the long run, this “our way or the highway” approach will make sanctions themselves a wasting asset—not just with Iran but across the board—as other countries, including our friends, develop techniques to keep their economies from being held hostage.

None of these arguments is going to move the administration. In the end, they don’t really have a policy toward Iran so much as they have an attitude toward Iran. As Trump has repeatedly said, including with respect to Iran, “we’ll see what happens.” When a president does something as risky as pull out of a duly negotiated international agreement, he and his team should have more of a plan than that.

JAKE SULLIVAN is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was previously the national-security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and the director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State.

 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2018, 05:40:38 PM »
As fair an article as you could expect from MSM, which says more about the US than it does about Iran. 

Iran didn't and doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.  Iran hasn't been developing an ICBM to threaten Europe, let alone the US.  US-inspired democratic elections in Iraq, which has a majority of Shi'ite muslims, is bound to produce an Iran-friendly government there.  (This week's elections there has produced a largest party headed by Shia cleric and anti-US leader, Muqtada al-Sadr).  Iran's long-term friendly relations with Syria, bolstered by the US-Sunni attacks on Syria, has only cemented those good relations.  Hezbollah's recent election victory will only increase Iran-friendliness there.  The Gulf countries' antipathy to Iran, but sizeable minority Shi'ite populations, has weakened their hold on power.

On the negative side, the Europeans are more angry than ever with the US and its foreign policy.  They are more fed up than ever with NATO.  They don't like Turkey's attitude - its friendship with Russia and the Gulf countries.  They don't want the responsibility for Ukraine and Georgia and Kosovo and the new Balkans statelets and the Baltic states.  They want trade with Russia, not sanctions.

Iran's relations with Russia and China have only got stronger.  Europe and China are struggling to get their hands on all that lovely oil, and the Yuan-based petrodollar is sure to attract more European money to the Chinese oil market. Russian expertise at nuclear power and Uranium resources will only grow from here on.  Russian arms sales prospects look good. And Iranian oil sales to China and India and Pakistan (at least) look set to increase.  Financial markets are being driven out of the New York sphere by sanctions and into the Shanghai sphere.

And the Empire is looking very shaky, with QE4 as still the only tool for fixing up any recession.  Tax cuts for the wealthy are going to make bigger deficits a certainty, and all this is happening after a decade of low interest rates and Fed obfuscation.
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2018, 03:01:30 PM »
Trump's problems with the Iranians always were bankrupt, so now there are only these bankrupt complaints to make.

https://www.rt.com/news/427358-us-iran-ultimatum-meant-fail/
Pull out of Syria? Bare all to IAEA? Why 12-point US list for Tehran is ‘ultimatum’ meant to fail
21 May, 2018

The US has laid out 12 demands for Iran that it says Tehran must meet for a new nuclear deal. Problem is, telling Iranian troops out of Syria and dictating what nuclear watchdog inspects doesn’t sound like a real roadmap for peace

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the White House’s stance crystal clear Monday, calling the nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers a “loser.” President Donald Trump has already pulled the US out of the landmark deal earlier this month. A new deal should be drawn up, Pompeo asserted, while laying out 12 “basic requirements.” Many of those were predictable, such as requiring Tehran to “stop enrichment of uranium and never preprocess plutonium” – because obviously, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not good enough to hold Iran to its word.

One major point used as a bargaining chip is, however, entirely unrelated to the Iranian nuclear program. It reads: “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command from Syria.”

The demand conveniently ignores the fact that Iranian troops were invited by the Syrian government and have been helping fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) on the ground – while the US troops, stuck in Syria indefinitely, were not. “Nobody invited them there,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said in February, reminding the world that their presence was illegal. It’s not hard to guess which forces the Syrian government wants to keep and which it wants to be gone, as it battles the remaining pockets of Islamist militants.

Another US demand is that Iran must “respect the sovereignty of the Iraq government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.” Just as in Syria, Iranian troops are in Iraq with the approval of Baghdad, and the country’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) even receive funding and training from Iran and  have been declared part of Iraq’s security apparatus. So why would Iranian troops suddenly need to disband and leave?

Then there’s the fact that the US seems to believe it’s perfectly fine to try to establish a new deal which abides by 12 demands designed by Washington – despite Washington being the sole party to withdraw from the original deal. The other signatories – the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia – are still committed to the 2015 JCPOA.

Although the IAEA, tasked with inspecting Iran’s compliance under the deal, has repeatedly stated that Tehran is implementing its commitments, the US apparently distrusts international watchdog’s expertise. That’s according to the list of demands saying how the Iranian nuclear program should be inspected.

“First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity. Second, Iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor. Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country,”boomed Pompeo, speaking Monday at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing Washington think tank.

One may almost forget the IAEA is not a lapdog of Washington, but an international body. Why the US now gets to decide the scope and methods of its work is unclear.

Of course, there is also a whole array of demands to scale back Iranian military programs and alleged support of militant groups. US accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism, including by helping the Palestinian group Hamas and even, allegedly, Taliban and Al-Qaeda. That these groups are overwhelmingly Sunni while the Iranian government in Shia is overlooked, by accident or deliberately.

The mentioned “threatening behavior against its neighbors,” the “firing of missiles” and “destructive cyberattacks” strangely mirror Washington’s own actions in the region, including some that have been aimed against Iran.

Crucially, there’s little doubt that the Trump administration understands Iran would outright reject most, if not all, of the listed demands, which brings the purpose of the entire list into question.

“Secretary Pompeo’s speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation, or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA. There is no alternative to the JCPOA,” EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said Monday commenting on Pompeo’s list. Others said the US list was outright destined to fail – on purpose.

“I think ultimatum is the right word… When you deliver an ultimatum, its purpose is to have it rejected,” former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT. “There are people in the Trump administration, who want the regime change in Iran – it’s that simple, and they Iran to reject their terms.”

Jatras believes it’s too early to tell at this stage if US threats against Iran are merely “noise” and pressure tactics like the one used against North Korea, but he says even that pressure could backfire and serve as a positive effect for Tehran by “forcing the Europeans to pull even farther away from the US than they have.” The worst case scenario, he says, is Washington proceeding with a unilateral military action aimed at regime change.

“As you can imagine, Iran will not agree to any of Washington’s demands,” Hamed Mousavi, professor of political science at the University of Tehran, told RT. “It is Iran that should be asking the US why it has not fulfilled its side of the agreement when Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the nuclear deal. Why should Iran negotiate with an administration that is not abiding by an international agreement that is the result of years of intense diplomacy?”
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2018, 07:01:23 PM »
Iran comes back with its own 7 conditions applying to EU participants, if the deal is to continue.  It is not clear precisely what "guarantee the purchase of our oil" means.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-23/iran-lists-7-conditions-remain-nuclear-deal
Iran Lists 7 Conditions To Remain In Nuclear Deal
Tyler Durden
05/23/2018

Two days after US Secretary of State laid out 12 draconian conditions for the US enter into a new nuclear deal with Iran, among which that Tehran must stop enrichment of uranium and never pre-process plutonium, allow nuclear inspectors "unqualified access to all sites throughout the country", withdraw all of its forces from Syria, end its support for militant groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, stop sending arms to the Houthi militia in Yemen, release all U.S. citizens, and cease its threats to destroy Israel", Iran responded by listing several conditions of its own.

In his first statement since Pompeo's Wednesday speech, Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set 7 conditions for the European nations if they want Tehran to remain in the agreement.

In the wake of Washington's threats to target EU firms dealing with the Islamic Republic amid US sanctions, the Iranian leader said that - first and foremost - European banks should guarantee and assure trade with Iran.

"European banks should safeguard trade with the Islamic Republic. We do not want to start a fight with these three countries (France, Germany and Britain) but we don't trust them either, Khamenei said. "Europe should fully guarantee Irans oil sales. In case Americans can damage our oil sales... Europeans should make up for that and buy Iranian oil."

Khamenei laid out the full list on Twitter on Trump's favorite social media network, remainder of continued on twitter where in a brief tweetstorm, he unveiled the following demands of Europe:

    Over the course of 2 years, US violated #JCPOA, several times, while the Europeans remained silent. These 3 European countries should prove that they won’t be as dishonest & untrustworthy as they were during nuclear talks in 2004-2005. Europe needs to compensate for it:
    The US has violated Resolution 2231. Europe must issue a resolution against US’s violation [of it].
    Europe must guarantee it will not raise the issue of the Islamic Republic's missiles and regional affairs.
    Europe must guarantee the total sale of Iran's oil. If US manages to impede our oil sale, we should be able to sell our desired amount of oil. Europeans should-- in a guaranteed manner-- compensate for it and buy Iran's oil.
    European banks must guarantee business transactions with the Islamic Republic. We do not have any disputes with these three countries; however, we do not trust them either because of their past actions.
    Europe must confront imposition of any sanctions on the Islamic Republic and stand firmly against US's sanctions on Iran

In conclusion, Iran's Supreme Leader warned that "if the Europeans hesitate in responding to our demands, Iran is entitled to resuming its nuclear activities. When we find out the #JCPOA has no benefits, one of our options is to resume canceled activities."

    If the Europeans hesitate in responding to our demands, Iran is entitled to resuming its nuclear activities. When we find out the #JCPOA has no benefits, one of our options is to resume canceled activities.
    — Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 23, 2018

And so with both the US and Iran listing out conditions they both know will never be met, it is clear that not only will the US not return to the deal, but the EU may end up exiting the deal as well. Which means that as the "nuclear activity" wildcard returns, so will the threat of constant Israeli attack; it also means that any traders who are quick to price out geopolitical risk in the middle east may be surprised in the not too distant future.
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What do the Russia, Saudi, Israeli and Iran Threads Have in Common?
« Reply #25 on: May 24, 2018, 07:02:06 PM »
Eric Prince.

If you listen to podcasts, "Intercepted" is almost always a can't-miss. This is a transcript from this week's edition, "The Killing Machine."

THE KILLING MACHINE: LEGALIZED TORTURE, PROPAGANDA, AND ENDLESS WAR IN THE TIME OF TRUMP

BLACKWATER FOUNDER ERIK PRINCE has been one of Donald Trump’s shadow advisers. Now, will he be investigated for perjury? This week on Intercepted: Jeremy breaks down the Trump Tower meeting Prince set up with a representative of the Saudi and Emirati royals and an Israeli who runs propaganda and media manipulation operations. Journalist Allan Nairn analyzes Trump’s rise to power, the agenda of the extremist Republican Party, and dissects the latest on the Trump/Russia investigation. Author and retired psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Kaye discusses the U.S. Army Field Manual and its Appendix M. This document is the current U.S. policy on the treatment of foreign detainees. Kaye explains why some of its currently “approved” tactics are torture. Syrian journalist Marwan Hisham and artist Molly Crabapple discuss their new book, “Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War.” Plus the bizarre and frightening story of how the CIA created a shellfish toxin dart gun.

JS: I’m Jeremy Scahill, coming to you from the offices of The Intercept in New York City. And this is episode 57 of Intercepted.

CNN: Another week, another explosive headline, alleging a campaign meeting just months before the election, with foreign powers eager to defeat Hillary Clinton. The Times story shows a top Trump booster and an emissary for two Arab princes and an Israeli attended. And a lawyer for the President’s oldest child says Don Jr. does recall a meeting about a social media or marketing plan. However, he was not interested, and that was the end of it.

JS: We are all living through a time in the United States where Donald Trump has fully embraced both official, legalized corruption. as well as good-old garden variety, individual corruption. Did Trump directly conspire with Vladimir Putin and Russia to influence the 2016 election? That is certainly possible. Are we going to see concrete evidence of that, especially evidence that would stand up in a court? That also is possible, but we haven’t seen it yet.

It is also plausible that Robert Mueller issues a public report that would be damaging, if not damning, of Donald Trump, but for whatever reason decides not to or, because of Trump’s influence over the Justice Department, cannot pursue criminal action. We shall see.

But this much is clear: it is a major mistake to place all focus on Russia collusion, Russian collusion, Russia collusion. We know that Trump’s team has colluded with Israel. We know that’s Trump’s team has colluded with Saudi Arabia. And we know that they colluded with the United Arab Emirates.

DJT: Great honor to have Sheikh Mohammed with us today, a man that I’ve known. Very special, very special person; highly respected.

DJT: It is a great honor to have the crown prince with us. Saudi Arabia has been a very great friend, and a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things.

DJT: The United States will always be a great friend of Israel, and a partner in the cause of freedom.

JS: Last week, we learned of yet another meeting at Trump Tower. This one, according to the New York Times, was arranged by none other than Blackwater founder Erik Prince. He is the brother of Betsy DeVos. He also has been a shadow adviser, not only to the Trump campaign, but also to the Trump administration. He was the guy that pitched Trump on this idea of a privatized force for Afghanistan, and was also involved with pitching the idea of a private intelligence force that could circumvent the deep state. Oh, and Erik Prince, his mother, their family — also major financiers of the Trump election campaign.

Well this meeting, that the New York Times reported on, reportedly took place on August 3, 2016. And if this meeting is as the New York Times says, then Erik Prince committed perjury before the House Intelligence Committee.

At this meeting was George Nader, an American citizen who has a long history of being a quiet emissary for the United States in the Middle East — goes back to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush. He also worked for Blackwater and Erik Prince. He has been this emissary for the United States in the Middle East under both Democrats and Republicans. Oh — and George Nader is also a convicted pedophile in the Czech Republic and he has faced similar allegations in the United States. George Nader was there. Why? Because he works as an adviser for the Emirati royals, and because he has close ties to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.

Al Jazeera: In a probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, George Nader appears to be the witness who keeps on giving. The Lebanese-American businessman’s ties to the United Arab Emirates are well known, but according to a New York Times report, Nader also has previously undisclosed ties to Russia.

JS: There was also an Israeli at that meeting, a guy named Joel Zamel. And he was there supposedly pitching a multi-million dollar social media-manipulation campaign to the Trump team. Zamel’s company, which is called PSY Group — like P-S-Y, psy ops, psychological — PSY Group. That company boasts of employing former Israeli intelligence operatives.

So, this group, this multinational group that was assembled by Erik Prince, has this meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump, Jr. And, according to the New York Times, the purpose of the meeting was “primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months, past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office.”

George Nader was reportedly offering help from Saudi and Emirati rulers and the Israeli was there to offer disinformation and propaganda services to aid in this effort.

Rachel Maddow: Now, Mr. Zamel’s lawyer denies his client prepared anything or offered anything to the Trump campaign, but, according to the Times’ reporting, this guy Zamel was paid $2 million.

JS: Erik Prince, George Nader, and the Emirati royals were all present in the Seychelles as well, when Erik Prince traveled there January of 2016 at the invite of the Emirati ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed. And while he was there, Erik Prince meets with Kirill Dmitriev, who just happens to be the CEO the Russian Direct Investment Fund. For those of you that have not been following this story, that is a $10 billion-plus sovereign wealth fund that was created by the Russian government, under the rule of Vladimir Putin.

Fast forward to Erik Prince’s testimony to the House Intel Committee a few months ago, and Prince tells them: I just had a beer with Dmitriev. Eh, we discussed how Stalin and the U.S. worked together to defeat the Nazis in WWII, and how we could do it again — Russia, the United States against ISIS. That’s it.

Prince also said that his only role in Trump’s campaign was as a high-end donor and that he had a yard sign supporting Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Erik Prince: I was there meeting with Emirati officials. And there’s lots of other people there. I met a guy. And clearly the U.S. intelligence community felt it necessary to unmask me and leak it to the media. But if the media and the obsession on the Trump-Russia collusion, they’ve kind of jumped the shark if they’re thinking that I had something to do with that, because this meeting occurred in January, long after the election. So, there’s either all this grand Trump collusion plan before the election, or not. Because if they asked me to go meet with some Russia, which no one actually did. I happened to be there, and I met a Russian. It’s pretty thin.

Erin Burnett: Who’d you meet?

EP: Some fund manager, I can’t even remember his name.

EB: A fund manager, but you don’t remember his name.

EP: I don’t remember his name. We didn’t exchange cards.

EB: How long was it, the meeting? Do you remember?

EP: Uh, it probably lasted about as long as one beer.

JS: If this Trump Tower meeting took place in August of 2016, then Erik Prince is potentially going to get hit with a perjury charge or more. Prince was also reportedly interviewed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. And George Nader? He’s supposedly now a cooperating figure. He’s done multiple interviews with Mueller’s team. He has also appeared in front of the Grand Jury.

RM: Joining us now is David Kirkpatrick, New York Times international correspondent.

David Kirkpatrick: The other thing that’s interesting about this is that the August 3rd meeting is sort of the beginning. Before that, George Nader didn’t know the Trump campaign and they didn’t know George Nader, but after that, he begins to have a series of high-level meetings with Kushner, with Bannon, with General Flynn. So whatever happened with that campaign, maybe Don Jr. said, “I’m not interested.” But somehow, the gem of that campaign was the genesis of a relationship between George Nader, the adviser to the United Arab Emirates, and the Trump campaign that went on through the transition, and even into the period when Trump was in the White House.

JS: There is one major common link that runs through the agenda of all the participants in this Trump Tower meeting, and it is one which has gotten very little attention. And that is their shared hatred of Iran and their desire for regime change.

So, while all of this was going on, while these meetings were happening at Trump Tower, George Nader had been pitching a secret plan to the Saudi royals wherein they would bankroll a campaign to conduct acts of economic sabotage and disinformation against Iran. As the New York Times reported, “Nader was promoting a plan to use private economic warfare” which he viewed as “the key to the overthrow of the government in Tehran.”

At the same exact time, Nader and Prince were also developing a proposal for the Saudis to pay them $2 billion to run a mercenary force that would fight the Houthis in Yemen. The Houthis, of course, are forces that Erik Prince, and the Saudis, and the Emiratis all characterize as nothing more than Iranian proxies.

Event host: “I’ll hand it over to Erik Prince.”

[Audience claps.]

JS: Back in 2010, I obtained a secret recording of Erik Prince giving a speech in front of a private audience at the University of Michigan, and this audience was filled with people, from the ROTC on the campus — both commanders and cadets— businesspeople and military veterans. Prince’s speech was titled: “Overcoming Adversity: Leadership at the Tip of the Spear,” and in this speech, Erik Prince expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention. He said something like: These people that we’re fighting against don’t know where Geneva is, or that there was a convention there.

Erik Prince also called the people that were fighting against the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan “barbarians” who “crawled out of the sewer.”

Erik Prince: Places like Yemen and Somalia, the Somalians had — rather Yemen —

JS: Now, this speech might be hard to hear because the person who recorded it had to conceal the recorder. But in that speech, Prince paints a global picture in which Iran is “at the absolute dead center of badness.” The Iranians, he said, “want that nuke so that it is again a Persian Gulf, and they very much have an attitude of when Darius ran most of the Middle East.

Iran, Erik Prince charged, has a “master plan to stir up and organize a Shia revolt through the whole region.” Erik Prince proposed, and this is in 2010, that armed, private soldiers from companies like his former Blackwater empire, be deployed in countries throughout the region to target Iranian influence, specifically in Yemen, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. Erik Prince said: “The Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places. You’re not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very small, very light footprint.”

Erik Prince: It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very small, very light footprint.

JS: That recording was from eight years ago. Erik Prince was pitching this idea about attacking Iran by using mercenaries, private contractors. And now here we are with this Trump Tower meeting.

Now, nothing we are now hearing about this meeting is surprising, but it is very relevant. And it makes perfect sense why Erik Prince would have assembled these particular players to meet with Don Jr. at Trump Tower.

This is Israel’s agenda. This is the Saudi agenda. This is the Emirati agenda. This is Erik Prince’s agenda. And, as we see clearly from Trump’s time in office, this has become the Trump agenda. Trump’s first foreign visit as head of state was to Saudi Arabia. Trump unilaterally destroyed the Iran nuclear agreement. We know that Jared Kushner is alleged to have shared information from the Presidential Daily Briefing with Saudis just as Mohammed bin Salman was beginning his deadly purge of his domestic political opponents. We know that Erik Prince has been involved with private security/mercenary operations in Yemen. We also know that Erik Prince has ties to Israeli intelligence operatives. And we know that Prince has had a long relationship with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and has offered him mercenary services as well. In fact, at one point, Erik Prince had actually moved to the United Arab Emirates, to Abu Dhabi, as he faced investigation over Blackwater’s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was there at the invitation of the leader of Abu Dhabi.

The Washington Post, which broke that story about Erik Prince in the Seychelles, said that Prince was there to establish a back-channel line of communication with Russia on — and this is important — “whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria.”

So, what’s the through line here? The central one, at least, is not really about Russia, but about Iran; about Israel’s agenda. Just like when General Mike Flynn was on the phone with the Russian ambassador. What was the real point of that call? Flynn was asking Russia to support Israel’s position on settlements at the United Nations. Mike Flynn was asking Russia to help directly undermine the then-President of the United States Barack Obama.

This meeting at Trump Tower appears to have been about Iran, not just support for Trump’s presidential campaign. We only know a tiny bit about what actually went down behind closed doors, and hopefully we’re going to learn more. But one of the consequences of the endless months and months spent on Russia, Russia, Russia has been that other lines of investigation and inquiry, regarding other countries, have been relegated to sporadic reporting at best. The case for active, documented collusion with the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Israelis and the Trump campaign and the Trump team — it’s very strong. I would argue that, at this point, it is much stronger than the case about Russia.

These issues — and the role of Erik Prince and the Saudis, Emiratis and Israelis — should be a massive scandal. But it does not fit so neatly into the box of big evil Putin/ Russia ruined our democracy. In fact, it implicates a lot of people, including very influential people, including prominent think tanks who are bankrolled by these nations: Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Emirates. It actually hits the elites in Washington from both parties.

Erik Prince is a player in all of this. He’s not the central figure, but he’s emerging as a pretty important player. He should be aggressively questioned, as part of both the criminal and Congressional investigations. Yes, Erik Prince may well have committed perjury. But that is certainly not the extent of it. Erik Prince clearly has information about the roles that these powerful nation-states have taken on in American electoral politics. We shouldn’t force everything into the box of Russia, Russia, Russia, especially when the evidence is so overwhelming that there are also motives relating to Iran that may explain part of the agenda that these nations and Erik Prince were pushing when they embarked on a campaign to secretly support Donald Trump’s election.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Online Eddie

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2018, 06:40:31 AM »
But this much is clear: it is a major mistake to place all focus on Russia collusion, Russian collusion, Russia collusion. We know that Trump’s team has colluded with Israel. We know that’s Trump’s team has colluded with Saudi Arabia. And we know that they colluded with the United Arab Emirates.

I could not agree more. The Russia probe has always had a shaky foundation. I'm disappointed to see a total lack of interest by the Con-gress in all the other backroom deals and the long string of criminal acts by the Prevaricator-In-Chief. Pigs of a feather wallow together, to mix a metaphor cocktail.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2018, 10:48:42 AM »
But this much is clear: it is a major mistake to place all focus on Russia collusion, Russian collusion, Russia collusion. We know that Trump’s team has colluded with Israel. We know that’s Trump’s team has colluded with Saudi Arabia. And we know that they colluded with the United Arab Emirates.

I could not agree more. The Russia probe has always had a shaky foundation. I'm disappointed to see a total lack of interest by the Con-gress in all the other backroom deals and the long string of criminal acts by the Prevaricator-In-Chief. Pigs of a feather wallow together, to mix a metaphor cocktail.

Plus Israel. Israel has its hand up this administration's ass, as it has for the last several administrations. Trump's party affiliation might as well be, "Likud." And any questioning of Israel's role is vigorous opposed by the Israel Lobby, secondly labeled as "Anti-Semitic," and is to be as avoided as any mention of "off-the-book enhanced interrogation methods" in the coronation of Gina Haspel. It's Just Not Done.

As Jeremy Scahill masterfully traces, the common thread is Iran, and the man sewing the thread is Eric Prince. Now THERE is a domestic enemy. Since we are frogs in slowly boiling water, we fail to note the slow-motion coup that is vigorously enacting right-regressive policies that could never pass at the ballot box.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2018, 10:52:33 AM »
Prince of Darkness, more like.
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Re: The Iran thread
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2018, 09:31:48 PM »
Looks like the EU is going to wimp out again and accept Trump sanctions on Iran.  But the anger and frustration must be building.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-06/we-cannot-defy-us-european-refiners-fold-trump-will-stop-buying-iran-crude
"We Cannot Defy The US": European Refiners Fold To Trump, Will Stop Buying Iran Crude
Tyler Durden
06/06/2018

For all of Europe's bluster, and increasingly vocal "resistance" to Trump unique approach to international politics, especially when it comes to Iran when Brussels swore it would defy the US president and continue business as usual with Tehran, it took Europe about a month to fold, and as Reuters reports European refiners are now unofficially winding down oil purchases from Iran, closing the door on a fifth of the OPEC member’s crude exports.

And since the only true leverage that Iran had vis-a-vis Europe was its deeply discounted crude oil, the shuttering of crude purchases from the Islamic republic will suddenly make European governments especially ambivalent whether to continue fighting Trump in hopes of salvaging the Iranian nuclear, when there is only downside left.

How did Trump win? By the implicit threat to sanctioning and  cutting off Europe's financial institutions, and although European governments have not - yet  - followed Washington by creating new sanctions, banks, insurers and shippers are gradually severing ties with Iran under pressure from the U.S. restrictions, making trade with Tehran complicated and risky, and if anything, all cash (or bitcoin).

Immediately after Trump announced on May 4 announced that the US is quitting the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, effectively making Iranian exports "radioactive" on the global scene, ministers from Germany, France and Britain protested vocally and repeatedly, urging U.S. officials to shield European companies from the sanctions, but the refiners have decided to not take any chances.

“We cannot defy the United States,” a senior source at Italy’s Saras, which operates the 300,000-barrels-per-day Sarroch refinery in Sardinia, told Reuters. Saras is determining how best to halt its purchasing of Iranian oil within the permitted 180 days, the source said, adding: “It is not clear yet what the U.S. administration can do but in practice we can get into trouble.”

Saras is hardly alone: virtually all other European brand refiners, including France’s Total, Italy’s Eni, Spain’s Repsol and Cepsa as well as Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum are preparing to halt purchases of Iranian oil. These refiners account for most of Europe’s purchases of Iranian crude, which represent around a fifth of the country’s oil exports.

Iran’s crude sales to foreign buyers averaged around 2.5 million bpd in recent months; and while the bulk of the exports go to Asia, roughly 500kbp/d in Iranian output will now be mothballed.

There is a few months before all purchases are cut off: the companies will continue to purchase cargoes until the sanctions take effect, after the 180-day wind down period ends on Nov. 4.

Europe’s largest refiner, Total, does not intend to request a waiver to continue crude oil trading with Iran after Nov. 4. Eni said it had an oil supply contract outstanding for the purchase of 2 million barrels per month, expiring at the end of the year.

“Our trading activity (remains) business as usual ... We continue to strictly conform with European Union and international laws and regulations,” a Cepsa spokesman said, clearly forgetting that Europe's poseur leaders are now part of the anti-Trump resistance. Or "are" only as long there are some fringe benefits to be had. Because if Europe can't have access to Iran's cheap oil, watch how the continent's liberal elite forgets how to even spell Tehran.

All this is happening as Europe continues to pretend it is fighting Trump, if only for naive public consumption, and on Wednesday, the EU again urged the Trump administration to exempt European companies from sanctions on Iran.

Ministers from Germany, the UK and France, along with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, have signed a letter asking the US to allow its companies to continue to trade with Iran and spare certain industries from punitive measures. “As allies, we expect that the United States will refrain from taking action to harm Europe’s security interests,” the letter states before outlining a list of demands.

The letter is the functional equivalent of tweeting "thoughts and prayers" after yet another tragic terrorist incident or mass shooting event. Oh well, at least Europe can pretend to say "it did its best."

However, at the basis of Europe's humanitarian betrayal are not the oil companies but the banks: banks, shipping firms and insurance companies are now distancing themselves from the Islamic republic, leaving Europe’s refiners few options but to stop oil purchases.

    “It’s a matter of finding a tanker and an insurer that will cover it. It’s definitely not easy right now,” a source at Repsol said.

Hellenic had to stop imports because the Swiss bank that it used was no longer processing payments to Iran, an industry source familiar with the situation said.

Yet as Europe prepares to wind down its Iranian oil imports, the wildcard is Asia, where some buyers are also expected to reduce their purchases, such as India’s Reliance Industries. The owner of the world’s biggest refining complex plans to halt oil imports from Iran, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

The big question is whether China, which has been making aggressive inroads into Chinese commerce in recent years, which recently launched a new train landline to Iran, and whose state-owned oil giant, CNPC - the world's third largest oil and gas company by revenue behind Saudi Aramco and the National Iranian Oil Company - is now set to take over the role held by Total in a huge gas project in Iran, will step up its Iranian oil imports and offset the loss of Iranian oil exports to Europe, India and Japan, and if so, just how will the Trump administration react.
"The State is a body of armed men."

 

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