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
September 10, 2012
Hello All – Nuclear talks between Iran and the United States-led "P5+1" remained stalled this week, with expectations that nothing will happen until after the UN convenes later this month. The P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) appears to be relying on economic sanctions to force Iran to bargain on terms that would essentially bring Iran's nuclear program to a halt. While minor issues, such as the alleged nuclear activity at Iran's military base at Parchin (see below), continue to be in play, Iran's offers to resume negotiations have been ignored.
For the last month or so the political turmoil inside Israel, and between Israel and the United States, over fears that Israel would attack Iran's nuclear sites before the US elections have been front-burner issues in the international media. This week temperatures seem to have cooled – seem to have cooled – as the Netanyahu government appears to be digesting the strong opposition from both the United States and from its own political and military elite to any military attack on Iran. Indeed, the Israeli press has been reporting incidents of disturbingly erratic behavior by Israel's prime minister (see below). Is this Nixon's "mad man theory" redux, or the genuine article?
Among the good/useful readings linked below, I especially recommend the interesting essays by Noah Shachtman on a recent assessment of what would be involved if the United States were to attack Iran (lots); by Gareth Porter on the US diplomatic offensive to bring Israel to heel; and by Yousaf Butt on the counterproductive outcome of Israel's strike on Iraq's nuclear site in 1981 (often referenced to justify the value of a preventive military attack). I've also pasted in links to several interesting articles on what's going on inside Iran today, and some perspectives on the significance of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran a week ago.
Regarding Syria, links between the civil war in Syria and the Western campaign against Iran became stronger this week, with US accusations that Iraq was allowing Iran to conduct overflights of planeloads of military equipment for the Syrian government, and demands from the United States that Iraq put a stop to this. I've also linked two interesting articles about the spillover of Syria's civil war into Lebanon, and the dangers that this poses for Lebanon.
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 email@example.com.
Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Push to unclog nuclear talk 'gridlock' awaits Iranian president at United Nations
By Associated Press, [
Was Iran's Military Base at Parchin a Nuclear Site?
Pink Shrouds Aimed to Draw Attention to Iran Military Site, Analysts Say
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [September 7, 2012]
---- Diplomats from an unidentified country and a Washington research organisation considered close to the International Atomic Energy Agency have alleged in recent weeks that Iran has covered two buildings at a military site to hide a clean-up of evidence of nuclear weapons related testing. But two former intelligence analysts with experience in interpreting satellite photographs of military facilities say the coverings on the two buildings in published images of the site don't appear to be aimed at hiding anything. The images show bright pink coverings on the buildings, which the former intelligence officers say are a clear signal of an Iranian desire to focus U.S. and Western attention on the site – probably to ensure that it would not be focused on activities at another site at the huge Parchin military base. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2012/09/07/pink-shrouds-aimed-to-draw-attention-to-iran-military-site-analysts-say/
IAEA shows diplomats images of suspected Iran nuclear clean-up
From Reutres [September 9, 2012]
---- The U.N. nuclear watchdog showed a series of satellite images on Wednesday that added to suspicions of clean-up activity at an Iranian military site it wants to inspect, Western diplomats said, but Tehran's envoy dismissed the presentation. The pictures, displayed during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), indicated determined efforts in recent months to remove any incriminating evidence at the Parchin site, the diplomats said.
US POLICY & PERSPECTIVES
U.S. Attack on Iran Would Take Hundreds of Planes, Ships, and Missiles
By Noah Shachtman, Wired [September 7, 2012]
---- Should the U.S. actually take Benjamin Netanyahu's advice and attack Iran, don't expect a few sorties flown by a couple of fighter jocks. Setting back Iran's nuclear efforts will need to be an all-out effort, with squadrons of bombers and fighter jets, teams of commandos, rings of interceptor missiles and whole Navy carrier strike groups — plus enough drones, surveillance gear, tanker aircraft and logistical support to make such a massive mission go. And all of it, at best, would buy the U.S. and Israel another decade of a nuke-free Iran. [Based on the recent analysis by Anthony Cordesman.] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/iran-war-plan/
By Bill Keller, New York Times [September 9, 2012]
---- This strikes me as a good time to address an unnerving question that confronts any concerned student of this subject: Can we live with a nuclear Iran? Given a choice of raining bunker-busting munitions on Iran's underground enrichment facilities, or, alternatively, containing a nuclear-armed Iran with the sobering threat of annihilation, which is the less bad option? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/opinion/keller-nuclear-mullahs.html?ref=opinion
Democratic Platform on Iran
GOP Platform on Iran
The United States and Israel
To Calm Israel, U.S. Offers Ways to Restrain Iran
By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, New York Times [September 2, 2012]
---- With Israel openly debating whether to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated. Already planned are naval exercises and new antimissile systems in the Persian Gulf, and a more forceful clamping down on Iranian oil revenue. The administration is also considering new declarations by President Obama about what might bring about American military action, as well as covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/world/middleeast/us-is-weighing-new-curbs-on-iran-in-nod-to-israel.html?pagewanted=all
After Dempsey Warning, Israel May Curb War Threat
---- President Barack Obama's explicit warning that he will not accept a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran may force Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step back from his ostensible threat of war.
Netanyahu had hoped that the Obama administration could be put under domestic political pressure during the election campaign to shift its policy on Iran to the much more confrontational stance that Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have been demanding. But that political pressure has not materialised, and Obama has gone further than ever before in warning Netanyahu not to expect U.S. backing in any war with Iran. http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/09/after-dempsey-warning-israel-may-curb-war-threat/
US complicit in Israel war plans for Iran
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times [September 2012]
---- After supplying Israel with the massive bunker-buster bombs that would be critical in any Israeli military strike on Iran, the US government now wants to have it both ways, trying to shield itself from any backlash by insisting it would not be "complicit" in such an Israeli gambit. Henceforth, the only scenario whereby Iran would not retaliate against the US would be a US guarantee that the US-made bombs would not be used by Israel, i.e., a virtual impossibility. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NI05Dj03.html
ISRAELI POLICY & PERSPECTIVES
An Israeli strike won't delay Iran's nuclear weapons program. It will start it.
By Yousaf Butt, Christian Science Monitor [September 6, 2012] ---- Recent analysis shows that a previous Israeli strike – in 1981, on Iraq's civilian Osirak nuclear reactor complex – led Saddam Hussein to demand a nuclear deterrent and was actually the trigger for Iraq launching a full-scale effort to weaponize. A decade later, by the time of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq was on the verge of a nuclear weapons capability. As researcher Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer explains in a recent International Security article, such ostensibly "preventive attacks can increase the long-term proliferation risk posed by the targeted state." Her research suggests that the conventional wisdom that Israel's 1981 attack on Osirak denied Iraq a nuclear weapons capability no longer holds up: The strike actually created unprecedented pressure inside the Iraqi national security apparatus to pursue the bomb more vigorously than ever. http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/12910
Turmoil Inside Israel
Israeli army names new operations chief, signaling reduced likelihood of Iran attack
September 4, 2012]
---- The Israeli army is making a series of high-level appointments, including naming a new operations chief, after previously delaying the top-level reshuffle amid talk of a possible Israeli military strike on Iran.
Netanyahu Angrily Breaks Up Key Cabinet Meeting on Iran, Citing Leaks
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [September 5, 2012]
---- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily broke up a key cabinet meeting on Iran on Wednesday, accusing one participant of leaking details of the secretive meetings to the press. Israel's Security Cabinet meeting convened on Tuesday to discuss regional threats, primarily Iran. When the group reconvened on Wednesday, Netanyahu sent everyone home saying whoever spoke to the media violated "the most basic trust." Netanyahu didn't specify what information was leaked, but Israel's top newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, did report that Israeli intelligence organizations disagreed over Israel's ability to strike Iran's nuclear facilities effectively on its own. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/05/netanyahu-angrily-breaks-up-key-cabinet-meeting-on-iran-citing-leaks/
Israel and Saudi Arabia
Unspoken Israeli-Saudi alliance targets Iran
By Chris Zambelis, Asia Times [September 8, 2012]
---- The boilerplate rhetoric out of Washington and US media regarding Iran is well known. But sorting through the cacophony of public threats of war, psychological operations, and propaganda broadcast by Israel and Saudi Arabia - Iran's primary regional adversaries - is equally crucial toward understanding the geopolitics surrounding the Iranian nuclear question and, in a broader sense, Iran's place in the region. Alongside the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have taken the lead in articulating a litany of purported threats emanating from the Islamic Republic. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NI08Ak01.html
IRANIAN POLICY & PERSPECTIVES
Iranian People Act More Resigned Than Revolutionary These Days
By Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor [September 2012]
---- For an American returning to Tehran after four years, what is most striking is the growing feeling that life will not get better anytime soon. Iran seems to have become a nation of Scarlet O'Hara's who live for today and try not to think about the future. This pessimism contrasts with sentiment in the 1990s and early 2000s that Iran could overcome its post-Islamic Revolution difficulties. Iranians who left the country before the 1979 overthrow of the secular shah or during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war began returning in the '90s to reclaim property, see relatives and start businesses. Adult children of diaspora Iranians came back to work for foreign companies eager to buy Iranian oil and sell manufactured goods to a growing middle class. Under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, the direction of the flow has reversed. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/iran-beyond-the-slogans-a-nation.html
To Participate or Boycott? Challenges of the 2013 Election and the Iranian Opposition
---- The upcoming 2013 presidential election in Iran seems to be activating and deepening the fissures within the Iranian opposition. While parts of the opposition have started deliberating and discussing about participation in the election, other sections oppose participating on principle. A prominent reformist strategist, for example, suggested that election is "an opportunity for organizing and action." Meanwhile, another famous activist journalist wrote that the only possible election in 2013 is one with the participation of regime "insiders" and no chance for pro-democracy forces to participate. These debates about the opportunities and constraints of the 2013 election reflect a deeper divide in the Iranian opposition about the most effective strategies to transform the polity and build a democratic regime in the future. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7195/to-participate-or-boycott-challenges-of-the-2013-e
The Effect of Sanctions on Iran
US-Led Iran Sanctions Blocking Medical Treatment to Thousands of Infirm
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [September 4, 2012]
---- The sweeping US-led economic sanctions being imposed on Iran are blocking necessary pharmaceuticals and medical treatment for Iran's sick and infirm, in what appears to be a cruel for of collective punishment that deliberately puts innocent lives at risk. Although the sanctions don't target medicine and humanitarian needs, they are "increasingly hitting vulnerable medical patients as deliveries of medicine and raw materials for Iranian pharmaceutical companies are either stopped or delayed," reports the Washington Post. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/04/us-led-iran-sanctions-blocking-medical-treatment-to-thousands-of-infirm/
In Iran, Sanctions Take Toll on the Sick
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Washington Post [September 4, 2012]
---- The tightening of U.S. banking sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program has had an impact on all sectors of the economy but is increasingly hitting vulnerable medical patients as deliveries of medicine and raw materials for Iranian pharmaceutical companies are either stopped or delayed, according to medical experts. The effect, the experts say, is being felt by cancer patients and those being treated for complex disorders such as hemophilia, multiple sclerosis and thalassemia, as well as transplant and kidney dialysis patients, none of whom can afford interruptions or delays in medical supplies. http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/12907
Iran Oil Exports Plummet as Prices Rise
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [September 7, 2012]
---- The Obama Administration is worried. About a lot of things really, but in this case about the rising cost of oil, spiking both on inflation fears and a seriously tight supply, with officials warning that even tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would provide at best a very temporary benefit. Unspoken in all this concern about supply shortages is that one of the world's largest oil producers, Iran, saw their exports drop nearly 45 percent in July as US and EU sanctions kept that oil off the market at a time when it is desperately needed. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/07/iran-oil-exports-plummet-as-prices-rise/
Iran's Currency Falls to Record Low Against Dollar
By The Associated Press [September 9, 2012]
THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT MEETING IN TEHRAN
Three Revelations from the Non-Aligned Summit
By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [September 4, 2012]
---- The Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran highlighted three aspects about Iran's foreign relations and domestic politics. First, given Iran's geographic location and resources, many countries in the neighborhood believe it is simply not good business to isolate Iran. Second, the presence of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi reflected the benefit of engaging Iran directly. Third, the NAM summit revealed that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sees himself in charge of implementing Iran's foreign policy—not just setting the general direction of the country and then letting the president execute his directives. http://www.lobelog.com/beyond-the-post-nam-spin/
CANADA BREAKS TIES WITH IRAN
Canada Severs All Ties With Iran, Expels Diplomats
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [September 7, 2012]
---- Much to the delight of Israeli hawks, the Canadian government announced today that it is severing all diplomatic ties with Iran, closing its Tehran embassy and expelling every Iranian diplomat from Canada. Foreign Minister John Baird, detailing the move, condemned Iran as a "threat to global security" and insisted the move was a response to Iran's hostility toward Israel. Israel has regularly been threatening to attack Iran, though in recent days it is suggested that they are climbing down off that threat. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/07/canada-severs-all-ties-with-iran-expels-diplomats/
Canada's cut ties with Iran: Who will pay?
---- Lost in the power plays between Canada's Conservative government, which has taken an increasingly hard-line view of Iran in recent months, and Iran's apparent refusal to budge on thorny issues such as Syria and Israel, are the roughly 500,000 Iranian-Canadians who call Canada home. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/09/20129814399526977.html
Also useful – Kaveh Afrasiabi, "Canada appeases Israel on Iran," Asia Times [September 10, 2012]
CIVIL WAR/INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
U.S. intervention in Syria appears unlikely, say officials
Iranian Soft Power, Lakhdar Brahimi, and the Prospects for Peace in Syria
From The Race for Iran [September 2, 2012]
---- Twenty years ago, Harvard University's Joseph Nye famously defined soft power as the ability to get others to "want what you want," which he contrasted with the ability to compel others via "hard" military and economic assets. Hillary Mann Leverett's CNN interview explores what we have called the Islamic Republic's "soft power offensive" in the context of the geopolitical and sectarian (Shi'a-Sunni) rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As Hillary points out, Iran's rise is fundamentally about soft power. "We always think of Iran as a military dictatorship, but the Iranian message is clear: they want free and fair elections" in countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq. http://www.raceforiran.com/iranian-soft-power-lakhdar-brahimi-and-the-prospects-for-peace-in-syria
Syria, Iran, and Iraq
Iraq the Latest Dragged Into Syria Proxy War Intrigue
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [September 5, 2012]
---- Few wars in recent history have been such overt proxy wars as the Syrian Civil War. The Assad regime is clearly losing popularity domestically, and reliant on foreign backing to keep itself in power. And while the rebels try to claim some connection to the anti-Assad protests, it is clear that they are more interested in selling themselves to the international community than to the public of cities they capture. Even nations that seem keen to stay out of the proxy war are getting dragged in, with Iraq suddenly finding itself accused of backing Assad, who they've never particularly cared for in the first place, on the grounds that are allowing their close ally Iran to use their airspace for shipments to Syria. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I – CT) blasted Iraq, warning that their ties with the US, which occupied them from 2003-2011, were at risk. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/05/iraq-the-latest-dragged-into-syria-proxy-war-intrigue/
Iran Supplying Syrian Military via Iraqi Airspace
By Michael R. Gordon, New York Times [[September 4, 2012]
---- Iran has resumed shipping military equipment to Syria over Iraqi airspace in a new effort to bolster the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to senior American officials.
Syria and Lebanon
Will Lebanon Be Sucked Into the Syrian Vortex?
By Graham Usher, The Nation [September 2012]
---- Syria ruled Lebanon ruthlessly for nearly three decades, ending its occupation only in 2005. Yet whatever grip Damascus once had on Lebanese politics is clearly weakening, as the Syrian regime sinks deeper into crisis. One reason for Lebanon's new relative freedom lies in history, especially in the differences between the Syrian and Lebanese civil wars. The Syrians have only recently entered theirs, which is becoming a bloody fight to the finish. The Lebanese remember theirs as a collective nightmare that no party or sect wants to revisit. http://www.thenation.com/article/169764/will-lebanon-be-sucked-syrian-vortex
Is the Syrian Crisis Being Leveraged to Weaken Hezbollah?
By Franklin Lamb, Counterpunch [September 3, 2012]
---- Pressures, often intense, resulting in being sucked into the vortex of the powerful maelstrom and violent whirlpool of Lebanese and regional politics can't be bringing much pleasure to Lebanon's National Resistance led by Hezbollah and that includes this observer's Dahiyeh neighborhood. Following their one on one meeting last weekend, US secretary of state Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogon Hezbollah are seeking to intensify pressure on both Hezbollah and Syria. One project is reported to be US instructions to their March 14 allies to force a vote in Lebanon's Parliament allowing the deployment of international troops along Lebanon's northern border with Syria. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/09/03/is-the-syrian-crisis-being-leveraged-to-weaken-hezbollah/