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Sunday, August 19, 2012

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - August 19, 2012

Historians Against the War is posting Frank Brodhead's "Iran War Weekly,' as a helpful resource for our members and friends. Frank earned a PhD in history at Princeton University and has co-authored several books on US foreign policy. He is a scholar and political activist who has worked with peace and social justice movements for many years. In 2010-2011 he produced the "Afghanistan War Weekly," which was widely used by antiwar groups across the country.
Iran War Weekly
August 19, 2012
Hello All – Once again the civil war in Syria and the question of whether or not Israel will bomb Iran before the US elections captured the media spotlight this week.  There were no negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, as both parties (the United States and Iran) focused on whether the sanctions were "working" and what impact they were having.  As has been true for months, the issue of "Iran" was largely submerged in the US presidential elections.  Each of these issues is explored in some good/useful reading linked below.
A few extra words about Israel. For the past three weeks the Israeli news media have been in a frenzy, with claims that Israel – or rather Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak – will launch military strikes against Iran's nuclear sites sometime in September or October.  Naturally, this media tsunami has reached North American shores; how could it not, in an election year?  And now a critical mass of media punditry has been reached, and there is a meta-story, or stories about the many stories.  In terms of user-friendly pedagogy, I especially recommend the Democracy Now! segments, Ray McGovern's cogent arguments that Iran is preparing to attack, and Gareth Porter's equally cogent article that Israel is just trying to manipulate Obama's "red lines" re: Iran.
There is little to add re: the Syrian tragedy that hasn't been said in the past newsletters, except that this week things are worse than last week.  I encourage readers to check out the useful overviews by Phyllis Bennis and Robert Fisk, and the Aljazeera "Inside Syria" program on the possibilities that the UN ambassadorship of Lakhdar Brahimi might have a more favorable outcome than the efforts of Koffi Annan.
Once again, I appreciate the help that many of you have given in distributing the Iran War Weekly and/or linking it on websites.  Previous "issues" of the IWW can be read at http://warisacrime.org/blog/46383.  If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at fbrodhead@aol.com.
Best wishes,
Frank Brodhead
Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
Are the Sanctions "Worth It?" Killing Iran's Children
By Dave Lindorff, Counterpunch [August 13, 2012]
---- According to a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon by the head of Iran's Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, the current US-led sanctions campaign against Iranian financial institutions and efforts to prevent western banks from doing business with Iran have made it next to impossible for Iranian doctors and hospitals to obtain medicines from abroad for such relatively rare but serious diseases as hemophilia, Multiple sclerosis (MS), various cancers, kidney failure and thalassemia.
The tightening of international screws on Iranian financial transactions has also made it hard for domestic makers of some of these medicines in Iran to obtain the raw materials needed to manufacture needed medicines locally, according to the letter. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/13/killing-irans-children/
Is the United States' Iran Policy Incoherent?
By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [August 17, 2012]
---- This past week, a couple of articles have been published that hint at the central incoherence of the United States' Iran policy. The arguments are not necessarily new, but they show in concrete terms how the stated objective of US sanctions, which is to change the calculations and behavior of Iran's leaders, is undermined by the same sanctions that end up weakening – at times even endangering – the domestic forces presumably required to leverage the sanctions' power and result in a change of behavior. … The US' Iran policy cannot be considered incoherent if the policy objectives and the instruments have become the same. It can still be considered immoral for trying to add to the economic woes of a good part of the Iranian population – irrespective of the fact that the Iranian government is most responsible for those economic woes – particularly at a time when so many people in the world are already suffering from unemployment and economic downturn. But it is not incoherent. It is intended to harass and it is doing so in a calculated and now rather routine, bureaucratic way. Weaning from routines and habits will be hard. http://www.lobelog.com/is-the-united-states-iran-policy-incoherent/
Also useful – Alex Kane, "New round of Iran sanctions pressures Obama to move closer to Israel's 'red line,'" Mondoweiss [August 3, 2012] http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/new-round-of-iran-sanctions-pressures-obama-to-move-closer-to-israels-red-line.html; John Glaser, "Russia Criticizes US for Iran Sanctions, Warns They Put Ties at Risk," Antiwar.com [August 13, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/08/13/russia-criticizes-us-for-iran-sanctions-warns-they-put-ties-at-risk/; James Risen and Duraid Adnan, "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions," New York Times [August 18, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/world/middleeast/us-says-iraqis-are-helping-iran-skirt-sanctions.html?hp; Rick Gladstone, "Confusion Over How to Aid Iran Quake Victims," New York Times [August 13, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/world/middleeast/sanctions-complicate-sending-aid-to-iran-quake-victims.html?ref=world; and Ben Chu, "Iran tensions push up oil price," The Independent [UK] [August 14, 2012] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/iran-tensions-push-up-oil-price-8038674.html#
U.N. Watchdog May Lower Its Estimate of 'Missing' Iran Uranium
From Reuters, The New York Times [August 16, 2012]
----The United Nations' atomic watchdog may decide that less uranium is missing at an Iranian research site than it had previously thought, diplomats say, and that may go some way to easing concerns that it may have been diverted for military use. U.N. inspectors have asked Iran to explain a "discrepancy" after an inventory they made last year of natural uranium metal and process waste at the Tehran facility showed there was 19.8 kg less than the Iranian laboratory's own count. But the details would only become clear in the IAEA's next quarterly report on Iran's disputed nuclear program, expected towards the end of August. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/08/16/world/middleeast/16reuters-nuclear-iran-uranium.html?_r=1&hp&pagewanted=print
On the 'US-Israel Enhanced Security Act'
By Renee Parsons, Huffington Post [August 9, 2012]
---- The day before Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney began his recent 36-hour swing through Israel with Sheldon Adelson at his side, President Obama was signing the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Act (S 2165) in the Oval Office with representatives of the politically powerful AIPAC in attendance. The new enhanced security law, which reads like an AIPAC brochure, would upgrade Israel's air refueling and its missile defense capabilities and munitions program as well as commit U.S. policy to "veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolution in the United Nations Security Council." It was approved by Congress in an uncharacteristic whirlwind of bipartisan support -- the same Congress that denies the nation's dispossessed citizens an extension of unemployment benefits or a moratorium on home foreclosures. In addition, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Act would expand U.S. military assistance on joint exercises and joint antimissile defense system while providing additional U.S. material (military) for storage in Israel to be used in the event of war. www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-parsons/the-us-israel-enhanced-se_b_1755568.html
Iran Group May Remain on U.S. Terror List
By Scott Shane, New York Times [August 15, 2012]
---- State Department officials are preparing for a possible decision by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to redesignate an Iranian opposition group as a terrorist organization, in part because of the group's resistance to abandoning its camp in Iraq, two American officials said Wednesday. The group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, has mounted a costly campaign to be removed from the terrorist list, enlisting an array of prominent American politicians and former military officers to press the case that the group abandoned violence years ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/world/middleeast/iranian-group-mujahedeen-khalq-may-remain-on-us-terror-list.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
Is Khamenei Preparing Iran For a Nuclear Concession?
By Fatemah Aman, All-Monitor [August 13, 2012]
---- Many Iranians both inside and outside the country have suggested that Iran is facing a situation similar to what it had to contend with in 1988. The sanctions imposed because of Iran's refusal to suspend the controversial part of its nuclear program have combined with concern over the increasingly likely demise of Iran's ally, the Assad regime in Syria, to deprive Iran of leverage. Many analysts are trying to predict what Khamenei will do. His recent efforts to consolidate power may be part of his strategy to prepare the country for compromise. If he is planning for the long term, he would seek to prevent a war even at the cost of being blamed for a temporary defeat. The choice, in his view, may come down to accepting blame or risking the existence of the Islamic regime.
Iran Preparing to Lead Global Nonaligned Group
By Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times [August 13, 2012]
---- Taking over from Egypt, Iran's leaders are ambitiously readying themselves for their three-year term as head of the Nonaligned Movement, which will convene in Tehran in the last week of August. The Nonaligned Movement, founded during the height of the cold war, when the divisions were chiefly East-West, regards itself as independent from the major centers of power, which are not quite as neatly lined up as before. During a weeklong conference, followed by a leadership summit meeting, Iran says it will unfold plans to revitalize the movement and seek support for its nuclear enrichment program and its resistance to what it calls dominance by the United States. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/world/middleeast/iran-to-host-nonaligned-movement-meeting-and-take-leadership.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
Also useful - Associated Press, "Families of Slain Iranian Scientists Sue Israel," [August 15, 2012]
Spoiler alert -If you wish to skip this section, I can let you know right now that none of the authors whose works are linked below knows whether or not Israel will attack Iran.  But in their ensemble these articles provide useful insights into the tangle of Israeli strategies toward Iran and the United States.
Israeli News Wars
Israel plunged into unprecedented debate about war
By Amy Teibel, Associated Press [August 13, 2012]
---- To attack or not to attack? With Israeli politicians warning repeatedly that Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, this question has spawned an unprecedented amount of agonizing even in a country accustomed to war and incessant debate. The teeth gnashing plays out everywhere from the halls of parliament to news talk shows to people's living rooms. Should Israel undertake a risky mission to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities? Should it trust the United States to do the job if necessary? Can it live with a nuclear Iran? Should politicians even be talking about this in public? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120813/ml-israel-iran/
(Video) Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy on the Escalating Talk of a Military Attack on Iran
From Democracy Now! [August 15, 2012]
---- Could Israel launch an attack on Iran before the U.S. election in November? On Friday, Israel's largest-selling daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, published an article suggesting an Israeli attack could be imminent. The article reported: "Insofar as it depends on Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November." To discuss the situation in Israel and the possibility of a military confrontation with Iran, we're joined by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a columnist at the Haaretz newspaper. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/15/israeli_journalist_gideon_levy_on_the
Also useful/interesting – Jodi Rudoren, "Israeli Minister Asks Nations to Say Iran Talks Have Failed," New York Times [August 12, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/world/middleeast/time-to-call-diplomatic-effort-on-iran-a-failure-israeli-official-says.html?_r=1&hp; Tony Karon, "Why Do Israeli Media Keep Predicting War with Iran?" Time [August 13, 2012] http://world.time.com/2012/08/13/why-do-israeli-media-keep-predicting-war-with-iran/#ixzz23dPDuAwX
War is really possible this time
Israel's 'Bomb Iran' Timetable
By Ray McGovern, Antiwar.com [August 12, 2012]
---- More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel's leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful. Netanyahu gives every evidence of believing that — for the next 12 weeks — he is in the catbird seat and that, if he provokes hostilities with Iran, Obama will feel compelled to jump in with both feet, i. e., selecting from the vast array of forces already assembled in the area. Sadly, I believe Netanyahu is probably correct in that calculation. Batten down the hatches..
(Video) U.S. - Israel Posturing on Iran Stokes Fears of War
From Democracy Now! [August 15, 2012]
---- As the drums of war beat louder in Israel for an attack on Iran, we're joined by two guests: Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and author of the book, "A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran"; and Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, author of several books, including "Understanding the U.S.-Iran Crisis: A Primer." Bennis says the Israeli push for military action before the U.S. elections in November makes this "a very dangerous moment." http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/15/from_military_threats_to_crippling_sanctions
Also useful/interesting – John J. Mearsheimer, "Seven reasons Netanyahu & Barak might like war with Iran," Mondoweiss [August 14, 2012] http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/seven-reasons-why-netanyahu-and-barak-like-the-idea-of-a-war-with-iran.html; and Stephen M. Walt, "Why do people keep predicting war with Iran?" Foreign Policy [August 10, 2012] http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/08/10/voices_prophesying_war
The threat of war is all talk, no action
Please exhale: Israel is not going to attack Iran
By Gary Sick, Columbia University [August 14, 2012]
---- Every few months there is a concocted "crisis" involving suggestions that Israel is just on the verge of attacking Iran. … For years it appeared that the US and world media would bite every time, with no apparent recollection that they had heard that tune before. But when you have cried wolf so many times, even the main stream media, which loves an exciting story, begins to wonder if it is not being led by the nose. More important, over the past two years, as the veiled threats of an attack became ever more shrill, virtually the entire Israeli security establishment came out in opposition to such an operation. http://garysick.tumblr.com/
Israel's Iran War Talk Aims at Deal for Tougher US Policy
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [August 15, 2012]
---- Two recent interviews apparently given by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak provide evidence that the new wave of reports in the Israeli press about a possible Israeli attack on Iran is a means by which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak hope to leverage a U.S. shift toward Israel's red lines on Iran's nuclear program. The evidence from these two interviews that Israel is eager, if not desperate, for a deal with the Obama administration on Iran suggests that the new wave of reports in the Israeli press in the first two weeks of August about the unilateral Israeli option cannot be taken at face value.
Also useful/interesting – Nima Shirazi, "Points of No Return, Zones of Immunity, & Windows of Opportunity: The Constant Israeli Hype Over Iran," Wide Asleep in America [August 14, 2012]
http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2012/08/points-of-no-return-zones-of-immunity.html; Annie Robbins, "Barak to US: Be afraid, be very afraid of 'the sword at our throat,"' Mondoweiss, [August 10, 2012] http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/barak-to-us-be-afraid-be-very-afraid-of-the-sword-at-our-throat.html; Trita Parsi, "Who is Bibi preempting – Obama or Iran?" The Daily Beast [August 15, 2012]  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/15/who-is-bibi-preempting-obama-or-iran.html
There are now many news sites that provide an alternative perspective on Syria to that of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, etc.  For good day-to-day coverage of what's happening on the ground in Syria, I recommend the blog by Joshua Landis, "Syria Comment" (www.joshualandis.com/blog), Paul Woodward's "War in Context" (www.warincontext.org), links to articles about Syria at US Labor against the War (http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/article.php?list=type&type=151); Bartolo's blog/Syria News (http://warisacrime.org/blog/47631), and the daily news programs from Al-Jazeera, (www.aljazeera.com).
Syrian Uprising Morphs Into Regional and Global Wars
By Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies [August 15, 2012]
---- The news from Syria is really bad these days. And bad stuff in Syria doesn't stay in Syria – though Syrian civilians are paying by far the biggest price. Syria has become the crucible for a number of separate wars, battles for power and influence, for regional resources and access, for strategic location and military expansion. These wars pit regional contenders of the Arab Gulf states and Turkey against Syria and Iran. They set the terms of the rising sectarian battle between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Qatar vs. Shi'a power in Syria, Iraq and Iran. They shape the Middle East competition between the U.S. and Russia for global military/strategic power. And crucially, of course, Syria is a central component of the U.S., Israeli and western campaign against Iran. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/15-6
UN Leaves Syria To Its Bloody Fate
By Robert Fisk, The Independent [UK] [August 19, 2012]
---- The UN's commander in Damascus bid a miserable goodbye to his mission yesterday, unconvincingly claiming that the UN would not abandon Syria, but in fact turning the country into a free-fire zone the moment his last 100 soldiers begin their retreat tomorrow. Whenever the UN withdraws its personnel from the Middle East, calamity always follows in its wake – the departure of UN weapons inspectors from Iraq in 2003 presaged the Anglo-American invasion – and, privately, the UN fears the way is now open for the West and Gulf Arabs to pour heavy weapons into Syria to assist the rebellion against the Assad regime.
(Video) Can Lakhdar Brahimi end the Syrian conflict?
From Aljazeera [August 19, 2012] – 25 minutes
---- With no political process in place, we ask what the veteran UN envoy can do to succeed where Annan failed. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/08/201281944722163546.html
Also useful – Flynt Leverett and Hilary Mann Leverett, "How Much Will America's Animus against Iran Distort U.S. Policy Toward Syria?" The Race for Iran [August 13, 2012] http://www.raceforiran.com/how-much-will-america%E2%80%99s-animus-against-iran-distort-u-s-policy-toward-syria; John Glaser, "Russia Rejects No-Fly Zones As Ploy for Military Intervention," Antiwar.com [August 18, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/08/18/russia-rejects-no-fly-zones-as-ploy-for-military-intervention/; and Mark Hosenball and Phil Stewart, "Securing Syria chemical weapons may take tens of thousands of troops," Reuters [August 17, 2012] http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/16/syria-crisis-chemicalweapons-idINL2E8JG74320120816
Regional Spillover
Tripoli's Troubles to Come
By Maren Milligan, Middle East Report [August 13, 2012]
---- Tripoli is the epicenter of a high-stakes conflict unfolding in Lebanon. In 2012 alone, armed clashes have erupted six times, in mid-February, thrice in May, again in early June and most recently in late July, between Sunnis and 'Alawis there. The contention focused in Tripoli is often attributed to "spillover" from Syria, which borders Lebanon's northern governorate to the north and the east. But the link is weak, and in any case, armed confrontations have been occurring in Tripoli for years. Indeed, the distrust between the people of the two quarters where the fighting has centered dates from the civil war and last erupted in hostilities in 2008 during the lead-up to the 2009 parliamentary elections. Although Tripoli has long been connected to Syria -- especially to its sister city, Homs -- the Lebanese port is not a mere extension of Syria. It is its own battleground. http://www.merip.org/mero/mero081312
What to Make of the latest Iranian-Turkish Row
By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [August 13, 2012]
---- Turkish-Iranian relations have been rocky since the deepening of the Syrian imbroglio. But the latest row suggests a new low. In no uncertain terms both the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, expressed displeasure with recent harsh statements coming out of Tehran regarding Turkish culpability in the quagmire Syria has become. The Turkish leadership was particularly upset with the recent remark by Iran's chief of general staff who has said that "it will be its turn" if Turkey continues to "help advance the warmongering policies of the United States in Syria." http://www.lobelog.com/what-to-make-of-the-latest-iranian-turkish-row/


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