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Sunday, October 21, 2012

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - October 21, 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
October 21, 2012
Hello All – For the last several weeks – since the end of the UN's opening session – media reports about US and Iranian negotiations, or about changes in the parties' negotiating positions, have been officially denied as fast as they have been leaked.  It is evident that the Obama administration is determined to keep concrete issues and proposals regarding Iran's nuclear program out of the public realm until the election is over, pursuing a sort of "strategic ambiguity."  Nevertheless, as is illustrated in the leaks and denials linked below, it appears that – pending an Obama election win – negotiations will resume soon about Iran's nuclear program.
The Obama administration's Iran "strategy" now centers on its vast program of economic warfare ("sanctions"), backed up with threats of military force.  As indicated in some of the articles linked below, the "spin" on whether or not the sanctions are "working" depends on what you think the purpose of sanctions is.  The official position of the Obama administration and the UN Security Council is that the purpose of sanctions is to force Iran to comply with orders to cease enriching uranium and to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency's demand for information, off-site inspections, etc.  The growing economic chaos within Iran, therefore, is presented as a "win" for the Obama administration, and also as an argument (against Israel and Congress) that military action against Iran is at present unnecessary.  The test of the sanctions strategy, of course, depends in this framework on whether or not Iran concedes to US demands about its nuclear program, something that is not now on the horizon.  For the immediate future, therefore, the US position is likely to be that sanctions are "working" (causing hardship), and should be given more time to persuade Iran's leadership to knuckle under.  How long this "immediate future" can last, of course, is the question.
Many analyst, however, believe that the purpose of US-led economic warfare is to accomplish "regime change," bringing down the Iranian ruling elite by promoting broad-based discontent through economic impoverishment of its poor and middle class.  While (as noted in the last IWW) there is little in the historical record to suggest that this is possible, the example of the devastation of Iraq by sanctions in the 1990s illustrates the power of economic warfare; and it may be that the Obama administration would be willing to continue sanctions over a long period, while refusing to modify its currently non-starting negotiating positions regarding Iran's nuclear program.  (For a chilling illustration of the possibilities of such economic warfare, I highly recommend Joy Gordon's book about Iraq, Invisible War, now in paperback.)
Unlike the negotiations and conflicts with Iran, the war in Syria is not beholden to the US election cycle, and each week this war engulfs more and more of its immediate neighborhood.  As indicated in some of the articles linked below, the conflict between Syria and Turkey involves far more than a few dozen mortar shells crossing international borders.  Today's news from Lebanon is very ominous.  And last week Jordan saw one of the largest anti-government protests in its history, this news coming on the heels of reports that the United States has now established a small military force inside Jordan, near the Syrian border.
Though this newsletter focuses on Iran, the war in and around Syria is obviously important for the resolution of the US-Iran standoff.  For current news about Syria I highly recommend War in Context (www.warincontext.org), Syria Comment (www.joshualandis.com) and Aljazeera's "Inside Syria" (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/).
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)
Obama Aides Launch Preemptive Attack on New Iran Plan
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [October 16, 2012]
---- Although the place and time of the next round of talks on Iran's nuclear program have not yet been announced, the maneuvering by Iran and the United States to influence the outcome has already begun. Iran sought support for a revised proposal to the talks during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month, according to a New York Times report Oct. 4. Then, only a few days later, the Barack Obama administration launched a preemptive attack on the proposal through New York Times reporter David Sanger. The officials suggested the Iranian proposal would give Iran an easier route to a "breakout" to weapons-grade uranium enrichment. But that claim flies in the face of some obvious realities. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2012/10/16/obama-aides-launch-preemptive-attack-on-new-iran-plan/
White House denies report that US and Iran agreed to direct talks
By Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor [October 21, 2012]
---- The White House on Saturday denied a report in the New York Times that the United States and Iran had agreed to hold one–on-one talks on Iran's nuclear program after the US presidential elections next month. But the White House reiterated that the Obama administration has "said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally." And a Washington Iran analyst told Al-Monitor that it is his understanding that a senior US arms control official has held authorized back channel talks with an Iranian official posted to Turkey. http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2012/10/2813/white-house-denies-report-that-us-and-iran-agreed-to-direct-talks/#ixzz29xDCd1li
Also useful – From Reuters, "Iran denies report of plans for nuclear talks with U.S.," [October 21, 2012] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/21/iran-nuclear-usa-idUSL5E8LL18W20121021.  For the report, Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, "U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks," New York Times [October 20, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/world/iran-said-ready-to-talk-to-us-about-nuclear-program.html?hp&pagewanted=print
IAEA: We're seeing activity at Iran nuclear facility
From Reuters [October 17, 2012]
---- UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said on Wednesday the UN agency continued to see activity at Iran's Parchin military site, an apparent reference to suspected efforts by Iran to clean the site of any illicit operations. His comments came amid allegations by Western diplomats that Iran is further increasing its uranium enrichment capacity at its Fordow plant buried deep underground. http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=288206
On the Politics of how well Sanctions are Working
By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [October 19, 2012]
---- The escalating sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran by the United States and European Union has placed all parties involved in a rather strange position. On the US side, the palpable glee over the dropping value of the Iranian currency and the success sanctions have had in causing misery has been hard to hide. It is also politically astute for domestic electoral purposes to take credit for the success of sanctions. Yet it is not particularly seemly or civilized to take too much credit for causing misery in front of a global audience. That's why Obama Administration officials twist and turn to explain that while sanctions are the mark of the administration's great success, it is the Iranian government that is responsible for the deteriorating state of Iran's economy. The conversation regarding the impact of sanctions is as surreal and even more politicized inside Iran. http://www.lobelog.com/on-the-politics-of-how-well-sanctions-are-working/
Also useful – Kevin G. Hall, "Have Iran sanctions worked? That depends on what you think the goal is,"  McClatchy Newspapers [October 19, 2012] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/19/172026/have-iran-sanctions-worked-that.html; and Gwynne Dyer, "No panic in Iran despite currency collapse, international sanctions," Cape Breton Post [October 18, 2012] http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/12991
What's Really Behind Iran Sanctions
By Hillary Mann Leverett, Race for Iran [October 18, 2012]
---- Notwithstanding Western rhetoric about "targeted" measures that punish the Iranian government but somehow spare ordinary Iranians, the real purpose of sanctions is "to increase hardship for ordinary Iranians"just as "sanctions imposed on other governments and other systems, like the sanctions that were imposed for over a decade on Iraq," were intended to make ordinary Iraqis suffer.  In contrast to the all-too-frequent line put forward in Washington, Hillary makes clear that the sanctions against Iran "are in no way targeted.  When you sanction the Central Bank of Iran, when you say that SWIFT can't handle banking transactions into and out of Iran, you are covering transactions that people need in order to buy food and medicine…There's nothing targeted about it." http://www.raceforiran.com/hillary-mann-leverett-on-whats-really-behind-iran-sanctions
(Video) Iran: The impact and limits of sanctions
From Aljazeera [October 17, 2012] – 25 minutes
[FB – The discussants on this "Inside Story" segment include Hillary Mann Leverett.]
With New Sanctions, European Union Tightens Screws on Iran Over Nuclear Work
By James Kanter and Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times [October 16, 2012]
---- The European Union toughened sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program on Monday, banning trade in industries like finance, metals and natural gas, and making other business transactions far more cumbersome. The European Union "agreed to prohibit all transactions between European and Iranian banks unless authorized in advance under strict conditions with exemptions for humanitarian needs," according to an official statement. The statement said that the European Union also had "decided to strengthen the restrictive measures against the Central Bank of Iran. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/world/middleeast/european-union-intensifies-sanctions-on-iran.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
Also useful – From Reuters, "E.U. Agrees to Impose New Iran Sanctions," [October 15, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/10/15/world/europe/15reuters-eu-iran-sanctions-westerwelle.html?hp; and from Reuters, "Russia slams EU for new round of Iran sanctions," [October 17, 2012] http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/russia-slams-eu-for-new-round-of-iran-sanctions-1.470617
US-Led Iran Sanctions Putting Millions of Lives at Risk, Iranian Charity Says
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [October 17, 2012]
---- US-led economic sanctions are putting millions of Iranian lives are at risk by blocking the importing of medicines and hospital equipment, according to country's top medical charity. Fatemeh Hashemi, head of the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-government organisation supporting six million patients in Iran, is warning publicly about deep shortages of medicines for diseases like hemophilia, multiple sclerosis and cancer.  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," the Washington Post reported last month. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/10/17/us-led-iran-sanctions-putting-millions-of-lives-at-risk-iranian-charity-says/print/
Also useful – Yeganeh Torbati, "Iran says it will cut imports of non-essential goods," Reuters [October 2012] http://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-cut-imports-non-essential-goods-160300003--finance.html; Rick Gladstone, "Iran Sanctions May Cut Supply of Currency," New York Times [October 16, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/world/middleeast/irans-supply-of-currency-may-be-at-risk-in-sanctions.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print; and from Reuters, "US exports to Iran soar despite sanctions," [October 15, 2012] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/10/2012101575726953693.html
The Myth of "Surgical Strikes" on Iran
By David Isenberg, Time []
---- For all the years that the world has focused on the confrontation between Western nations and Iran, oceans of ink have been spilled over many aspects of its nuclear program — the quantity and quality of its enriched uranium, various UN Security Council resolutions, the number of Iranian centrifuges, IAEA safeguards, compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, diplomatic negotiations, red lines, U.S. and Israeli attack scenarios, possible Iranian responses, the impact of a nuclear Iran, and so on. Yet, almost nothing has been written about one critical factor: the impact on Iranian civilians, if the U.S. and/or the Israelis were to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. That vacuum has now been filled, thanks to a recent lengthy report — The Ayatollah's Nuclear Gamble: The Human Cost of Military Strikes Against Iran's Nuclear Facilities.  http://nation.time.com/2012/10/18/the-myth-of-surgical-strikes-on-iran/#ixzz29mIg60VZ
Massive US-Led Anti-Mining Drill in Persian Gulf a Disaster
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [October 17, 2012]
---- More than 30 nations engaged in what is being called the single largest naval drill in human history aimed to find 29 simulated sea mines planted in the water. The results were not very good, according to Captain Robert O'Donnell. "I don't think a great many were found," O'Donnell said of the fake mines, saying that less than half of them were ever actually located. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/10/17/massive-anti-mining-drill-in-persian-gulf-a-disaster/
Iran denies role in cyberattacks on oil and gas companies in Gulf, welcomes probe
From the Associated Press [October 14, 2012]
---- Iranian officials denied any role in recent cyberattacks against oil and gas companies in the Persian Gulf and said they welcomed a probe of the case, a semiofficial news agency reported Sunday. Mahdi Akhavan Bahabadi, secretary of the National Center of Cyberspace, denounced as "politically motivated" American allegations of an Iranian link to the Shamoon virus that hit Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas, according to remarks carried by ISNA. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-denies-role-in-cyberattacks-and-gas-companies-in-gulf-welcomes-probe/2012/10/14/c29d45d0-15f4-11e2-a346-f24efc680b8d_story.html
Iranian-Americans' California dreaming
, Al-Jazeera [October 18, 2012]
---- Being on the sharp end of US foreign policy is nothing new for Iranians. More than 30 years of sanctions and the recurring spectre of war have cast a heavy shadow over relations between the two countries. Nearly 1.5 million Iranians have made the United States home, seeking their slice of the American Dream. Iran, its controversial nuclear programme, its suspected hand in the Syrian conflict , and its role in regional security are hot topics this US election, figuring prominently in the campaigns of President Barack Obama and the GOP candidate, Mitt Romney. In California, a "blue state", Obama's handling of Iran is not seen in a favourable light.
Stop Supporting Separatist Groups in Iran
By Muhammad Sahimi, Antiwar.com [October 15, 2012]
---- Trying to turn Iran into a client state — one that will carry water for the interests of the U.S. and Israel over its own national interests — through military means is impossible. Iran was a client state during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah, but the 1979 Revolution toppled his regime. While crippling sanctions have mostly hurt ordinary — especially sick — Iranians, the War Party and Israel have been trying to find other ways of achieving their goal as well, and one approach that had been discussed for years and is now being seriously pursued is inciting ethnic unrest and creating puppet separatist groups or "liberation movements" in Iran's provinces where ethnic groups other than Persians make up a significant portion of the population. They include Iran's two Azerbaijan provinces, Kurdistan, and the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, where a small but significant part of the population is Iranian-Arab. http://original.antiwar.com/muhammad-sahimi/2012/10/14/stop-supporting-separatist-groups-in-iran/
A Separation at Iranian Universities
By Nazanin Shahrokni , Parastou Dokouhaki, Middle East Reports [October 18, 2012]
---- With the fall semester well underway in Iran, it is clear that the spin from both the Islamic Republic and the West was somewhat misleading. The new restrictions affect both men and women, and are part of a long-standing scheme of gender segregation that is not an invention of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hardline conservative government. … In the 1980s, the state sought physically to separate men and women on campus, in keeping with the idea that mingling of the sexes outside the home was "un-Islamic" and dangerous for public morality. Today, the hardliners want to "Islamize" the campus anew, but also to redress the unintended consequences of the feminization of higher education in Iran. The new gender segregation measures are primarily aimed at protecting the life chances of men, in education, marriage and the job market, and at shielding the state from political pressure amidst high unemployment and overall economic malaise. http://www.merip.org/mero/mero101812
Also useful – United Nations, "[Iran] Human Development Report 2011" http://hdrstats.undp.org/images/explanations/IRN.pdf; and Sandeep Dikshit, "Iran says "tangible" progress in India-Afghanistan link," The Hindu [India] [October 2012] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iran-says-tangible-progress-in-indiaafghanistan-link/article4003285.ece
Bibi's Three Steps Forward, One Back
---- Once again, the threat of military action had succeeded in yielding more sanctions on Iran, limiting Obama's diplomatic maneuverability, and getting a U.S. commitment for a trip wire for war with Iran.Netanyahu's strategy has been to take three steps forward and, occasionally, once he has gotten what he wants, he takes a step back. Declaring victory every time Netanyahu agrees to back off temporarily confuses tactical developments with the larger strategic picture. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of Netanyahu's strategy: Even though he temporarily dials down his pressure on the U.S., he has nevertheless ensured that the trajectory of developments are in his favor; that is, the U.S. and Iran inch closer to a confrontation. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/11/bibi-s-three-steps-forward-one-back.html
The Lebanonization of Syria
By David W. Lesch, Al-Monitor [October 12, 2012]
---- So what happens now? Neither the Syrian rebels nor the Syrian government forces have the wherewithal right now to land a knockout punch against their opposite number. Unless there is something that is injected into the current equation — such as outside military intervention — that would create an imbalance of power on one side or the other, a stalemate of bloodletting and the disintegration of state and society will continue. The new UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has it right. His latest pessimistic report on Syria will not raise unrealistic expectations. The conflict has become so existential and militarized on both sides that no new diplomatic initiative stands a chance. The domestic, regional and international dimensions of the crisis have become more intertwined — and therefore more complicated and difficult to unravel without causing more harm than good. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/the-lebanonization-of-syria.html#ixzz29f2IAXwy
Syria and the battle for regional control
By David Hearst, The Guardian [UK] [October 16, 2012]
---- What emerges loud and clear from Istanbul is that toppling Assad is not the problem. With the right weapons, it could be over in two months. It's the makeup and allegiance of the post-Assad government that Syria's regional neighbours are really fighting for. The proxy war being waged in Syria is a battle not for Syrians, but for regional control. The Iran government tells their Turkish counterparts every time they meet that they hate what Assad is doing to his people, but the bottom line is that Iran wants access to and influence over the government that replaces it. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/16/syria-battle-regional-control
Iran and Turkey Join Syria Peace Envoy in Call for Truce
By Anne Barnard and Rick Gladstone, New York Times [October 17, 2012]
---- Iran declared support on Wednesday for the new Syria peace envoy's cease-fire proposal, joining Turkey in a rare moment of accord between two of the regional powers backing opposite sides in the 19-month conflict that has pitted the Syrian government against an array of armed opponents. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/world/middleeast/iran-and-turkey-join-syria-peace-envoy-in-truce-call.html?hpw
Inside Syria
Holy Warriors: A field guide to Syria's jihadi groups.
By Arun Lund, Foreign Policy [October 15, 2012]
---- Even the most well-known insurgent alliance, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a loose umbrella term used by several inter-related insurgent networks, is hardly the secular movement it is portrayed as in the West, where it is represented by a small coterie of exiled military defectors. In Syria, the main body of FSA networks has come to resemble a Sunni sectarian movement, which is increasingly influenced by Islamist ideology. The reasons for this shift towards overt sectarianism and Islamic radicalism are complex and interrelated. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/15/holy_warriors?page=full
Enemies of Assad in Syria fit a mold: Poor, pious, rural
From the Associated Press [October 16, 2012]
---- Syria Most of the rebels fighting government forces in the city of Aleppo fit a specific mold: They're poor, religiously conservative and usually come from the underdeveloped countryside nearby.
They bring to the battle their fury over years of economic marginalization, fired by a pious fervor, and they say their fight in the civil war is not only against President Bashar Assad but also the elite merchants and industrialists who dominate the city and have stuck by the regime. The rebels regard this support for the government to be an act of betrayal. The blend of poverty, religious piety and anger could define the future of Aleppo, and perhaps the rest of Syria, if the rebels take over the country's largest city, which is also its economic engine. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57533688/enemies-of-assad-in-syria-fit-a-mold-poor-pious-rural/
Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria
By David E. Sanger, New York Times [October 14, 2012]
---- Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats. That conclusion casts into doubt whether the White House's strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/world/middleeast/jihadists-receiving-most-arms-sent-to-syrian-rebels.html?hp
Tensions between Syria and Turkey
U.S. steps up support of Turkey amid Syrian conflict
By Craig Whitlock, Washington Post [October 19, 2012]
---- The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria's civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials. The Obama administration has said it wants to avoid getting drawn militarily into Syria and for months has resisted pressure from Arab allies and some Republicans to back Syria's rebel groups more forcefully. But as Syria's internal conflict has increasingly spilled across its northern border into Turkey, the U.S. government has stepped up cooperation with its key NATO ally. In recent weeks, military officials from both countries have met to make contingency plans to impose no-fly zones over Syrian territory or seize Syria's stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. officials said. U.S. intelligence agencies were also the source of a tip that led the Turkish military to intercept and ground a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus last week on suspicions that it was carrying Russian-made military hardware, according to U.S. officials. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2012/10/19/98b4f104-1a1e-11e2-b235-9cd54b35db6f_print.html
As Assad Hangs on, Turkey Confronts Failure in Syria
By Andrew Parasiliti, Al-Monitor [October 9, 2012]
---- Turkish President Abdullah Gul said this week that Syria is becoming the "worst-case scenario that we've all been dreading." The shelling across the Turkish-Syrian border, now entering its seventh day, gives further testimony, as if any were needed, that Turkey's Syria policies have failed and that the civil war in Syria is also a regional, sectarian war, with no end in sight. Turkish intervention in Syria is unpopular and Ankara may be desperate to end it.  A clear majority of Turkish citizens oppose intervention in Syria, according to a recent poll. Just two years ago, Turkey prospered under a "good neighbor" policy with Syria, Iran and Iraq.  Now Turkey has problems along all three borders. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/turkeysyriacase.html#ixzz29f2wl19V
Also useful – John Glaser, "Turkey Has Fired on Syria 87 Times, Killed 12 Syrian Soldiers," Antiwar.com [October 20, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/10/20/turkey-has-fired-on-syria-87-times-killed-12-syrian-soldiers/; Eyup Can, "Syria's Air Defenses Would Stifle A Turkish Military Intervention," Al-Monitor [October 16, 2012] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/01/10/turkey-cannot-sustain-buffer-zone-in-syria.html#ixzz29wn2JQ7H; and Jason Ditz, "Turkey's Southern Buildup May Aim at Kurds, Not Syrian Government," Antiwar.com [October 16, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/10/16/turkeys-southern-buildup-may-aim-at-kurds-not-syrian-govt/
The War Spills into Lebanon
In Lebanon, everyone loses
By Mark Levine, Aljazeera [October 21, 2012]
---- The latest blast to rock Beirut could be a desperate hurrah from the Assad government - but were they behind it? … Ultimately, everyone loses if this bombing heralds a wider expansion of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon. Even in the best of times Beirut is a city on edge. Before I left in mid-October, many Lebanese friends expressed the fear that the war would spill over but were too weary from all the troubles of the last few years to think beyond how to plan a quick exit from Beirut and even Lebanon if things suddenly got out of control. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/20121021113431671978.html
(Video) Lebanon capital tense after public funeral
From Aljazeera [October 21, 2012]
---- Opposition leaders urge calm as clashes erupt outside PM's offices shortly after slain spy chief is laid to rest. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/10/2012102113542122371.html
And Now Trouble in Jordan
The Jordanian spring has begun
By Zaki Bani Rashid, The Guardian [UK] [October 19, 2012]
---- The call for reform started in Jordan well before the Arab spring. However, it has intensified since – not only because of the Arab revolutions, but also in response to widespread state corruption. Jordan's reformers are demanding constitutional changes; in particular, changes to our election law so that a truly representative parliament is possible, together with an elected prime minister who is accountable to parliament. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/19/jordanian-spring-has-begun

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

[haw-info] HAW Notes 10/16/12: April 5-7 conference; U.S. Afghanistan deaths; recent articles of interest

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

Here are some notes, followed by our every-two-or-three-weeks set of links to recent articles of interest.

1.  The deadline for proposals for the April 5-7 HAW conference in Baltimore, "The New Faces of War," has been re-set at December 15.  (
However, those who send proposals before the original October 30 deadline will still get Yes or No answers in early November. )  The Call for Proposals is at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013.   Proposals and questions should be sent to conf@historiansagaintwar.org.

2.  Plenary sessions in the April 5-7 conference will include talks by Alfred McCoy of the University of Wisconsin and Marilyn Young of New York University, along with others yet to be arranged.

3.  A recent Afghanistan milestone - the 2,000th U.S. military death, brings to mind the study by Stony Brook University's Center for Study of Working Class Life, American Military Deaths in Afghanistan, and the Communities from Which Those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines Came, by Michael Zweig, Michael Porter, and Yuxiang Huang.

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"The Missile Crisis That Never Went Away"
By Stephen Starr, David Krieger, and Daniel Ellsberg, TruthDig.com, posted October 16

"The Week the World Stood Still: The Cuban Missile Crisis and Ownership of the World"
By Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch.com, posted October 15

"The Vietnam War as You've Never Seen It
from Hanoi"
By David Austin Walsh, History News Network, posted October 15
Interview with Lien-Hang Ngyuen, author of
Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

"What the Cuban Missile Crisis Should Teach Us"
Fred Kaplan, Slate, posted October 10

"Romney's Five Wars"
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment blog, posted October 9
The author teaches history at the University of Michigan

"Homer Simpson and the WMDs in Iraq ... (Doh) ... I Mean Iran"
Nicholas J. S. Davies, Huffington Post blog, posted October 8

"American Exceptionalism: Exposed"
By Walter A. McDougall, Eurasia Review, posted October 5
The author teaches history and international relations at the University of Pennsylvania

"As U.S. Death Toll in Afghanistan Passes 2,000 Mark, Phyllis Bennis on America's Longest War"
From Democracy Now, with transcript, posted October 2

"Ten Lessons the U.S. Should Learn from Afghanistan's History"
By William Byrd, ForeignPolicy.com, posted October 1

"Are Drones Keeping Us in a Losing Cause Longer?"
By William Astore, Huffington Post, posted September 27
The author is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology

Thanks to Rosalyn Baxandall for suggesting articles that are included in the above list. Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - October 14, 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
October 14, 2012
Hello All – With the end of the endless presidential campaign finally in sight, all parties to the dispute about Iran's nuclear program have signaled their interest in re-starting negotiations, which have been suspended since last summer.  As indicated in some of the articles linked below, while Iran has proposed a plan to end medium-enriched uranium (20 percent) in exchange for a guaranteed supply of that fuel, the United States and its allies (the "P5+1") have not budged from their more inclusive demands.  During the negotiations in the fall of 2009, such an offer might have settled the conflict, but the "West" has raised its sights and is putting forth demands that everyone agrees are non-starters.
If/when negotiations resume, two major developments since last summer may affect the negotiating strategies of the parties.  It appears that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has succumbed to massive internal and external (US) pressures to not even think about attacking Iran without US approval and support; and he has decided to hold early elections to re-stabilize his governing coalition, now in disarray.  Also, the economic upheaval rocking Iran over the last several weeks has led many to conclude that the "sanctions are working" and that regime change may be accomplished without the use of military force. Many commentators believe that this will make the United States less anxious to make an offer that Iran would accept.
Because the issue is so pressing, I've linked an expanded section of articles about the impact of sanctions on Iran, and also about Iran's currency crisis. The gist of the links article, imo, is that there is no evidence in the historical record that economic sanctions ever "work"; that while the sanctions are causing great hardship to Iran's people, by themselves the sanctions don't seem likely to deny the government sufficient revenue to govern; and that Iran's currency crisis is due only in part to the sanctions, with blame for most of the currency crisis due to mismanagement by the government. To the extent that this latter view is shared by much of Iran's electorate, it could lead to significant political changes in next June's presidential election.
Is a war between Turkey and Syria possible/likely?  The consensus among informed commentators is "no"; but the events of the past two weeks have put into question just exactly what Turkey wants out of this crisis.  Cross-border artillery shots and the forced landing of a plane carrying Russian equipment of some kind to Syria doesn't seem like much of a cause for war.  Yet there are the tanks, on the border.  I especially recommend VJ Prashad's article linked below; and for daily updates, the website Syria Comment is especially helpful (http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/).
I apologize for no IWW last week.  I spent that weekend at a very informative Russell Tribunal on Palestine.  A good speech by Phyllis Bennis is online at https://www.freespeech.org/russelltribunal.  Sherry Wolf wrote a brief review of the events at http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/12/civil-rights-icons-to-palestine-were-with-you/.  The RToP website is http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/.
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)
Back to Basics [On bias at the IAEA]
By Peter Jenkins, LobeLog [October 12, 2012]
[FB - Peter Jenkins is a former British envoy to the IAEA.]
---- Perhaps one can legitimately say that the case for seeing Iran as an enemy and as a threat to our homelands is unproven. So what? Perhaps it is unreasonable to see Iran in these terms, but does that matter? Yes, because it colors the Western approach to the nuclear problem. It leads us to place undue weight on the application of pressure to induce Iran to submit to our wishes; to misrepresent evidence to justify additional pressure; and to advance contentious interpretations of Iran's safeguards agreement, the IAEA Statute, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the UN Charter, to prejudice the international community against Iran and justify measures that harm Iran. http://www.lobelog.com/back-to-basics/
Global powers launch new push to end Iran nuclear crisis
By Julian Borger, The Guardian, [October 11, 2012]
[FB - This lengthy article includes a useful overview – from the "Western" perspective – of the recent course of negotiations about Iran's nuclear program.]
---- Six global powers will launch a diplomatic drive after the US elections aimed at defusing the Iranian nuclear crisis in the next few months and avoiding the eruption of a new Middle East conflict next year. A "reformulated" proposal will offer limited relief from existing sanctions and other incentives for Iran to limit the level of enrichment of its uranium stockpile. … If the step-by-step approach fails there could be an attempt to "go big" with an ambitious, comprehensive settlement that would allow Iran to continue producing uranium at low levels (under 5%) of enrichment but under stricter international monitoring and controls. … In an effort to ratchet up the pressure, European foreign ministers are due to meet in Luxembourg on Monday to agree a further tightening of sanctions, imposing bans on more Iranian banks and closing loopholes in shipping restrictions imposed in the summer. The diplomatic opening is expected to close again in the spring, as the Iranian leadership is likely to be distracted by the campaign for the country's own presidential elections in June. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/11/diplomatic-defusing-iranian-nuclear-crisis
Also useful – Barbara Slavin, "US Looks to Renew Iran Talks After the November Elections," Al-Monitor [October 8, 2012] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/us-is-looking-to-renew--iran-tal.html#ixzz28kH1srdi
(Video) Iran FM Salehi: Iran nuclear bomb would decrease Iran's security
By Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor [October 2, 2012] – 70 minutes video
--- Iran's foreign minister said Monday that Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon would threaten Iran's security and be destabilizing for the region. Ali Akbar Salehi, the MIT-educated PhD engineer who previously served as Iran's longtime envoy to the UN atomic watchdog agency, said that Iran acquiring one or two nuclear bombs would dramatically increase the threats Iran faces, and not be a deterrent to nuclear powers with far larger nuclear stockpiles. "Had Iran chosen to [go] nuclear in the sense of weaponization, it would not be a deterrent for Iran," Salehi, speaking in English, told foreign policy experts at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York Monday. "It would attract more threats from the other side. http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2012/10/2403/iran-fm-salehi-iran-nuclear-bomb-would-destabilize-iran/
Also useful – From Reuters, "Iran to enrich uranium to 60 percent if nuclear talks fail," [October 2, 2012] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-iran-nuclear-uranium-idUSBRE8910VJ20121002; David E. Sanger, "Iran Offers Plan, Dismissed by U.S., on Nuclear Crisis," New York Times [October 4, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/world/middleeast/iranians-offer-9-step-plan-to-end-nuclear-crisis.html?hpw; Thomas Erdbrink, "Iran Denies Plan to End Nuclear Standoff," New York Times [October 6, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/world/middleeast/iran-denies-report-of-plan-to-end-nuclear-standoff.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print; from Reuters, "Iran offers to halt 20 percent enrichment if given fuel for research reactor," [October 13, 2012] http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/iran-offers-to-halt-20-percent-enrichment-if-given-fuel-for-research-reactor-1.469758; and Ilan Ben Zion, "Iran's FM offers to limit uranium enrichment if world guarantees supply of fissile fuel," Times of Israel [October 7, 2012]  http://www.timesofisrael.com/irans-foreign-minister-suggests-limiting-enrichment-in-exchange-for-more-uranium/
With 'sabotage' charge, Iran takes hostile tone with U.N. watchdog
By Joby Warrick, Washington Post [October 7, 2012]
---- Iran is ratcheting up pressure on the U.N. agency responsible for overseeing the country's nuclear program, accusing its inspectors of engaging in spying and sabotage and threatening to restrict U.N. access to Iranian nuclear facilities. So strident has been Iran's criticism of the International Atomic Energy Agency in recent weeks that some Western officials fear that the country is preparing to officially downgrade its cooperation with the nuclear watchdog. The Vienna-based agency is the only international body allowed to routinely visit Iran's most sensitive nuclear installations. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/with-sabotage-charge-iran-takes-hostile-tone-with-un-watchdog/2012/10/07/c738fbbc-0f36-11e2-bb5e-492c0d30bff6_story.html
New Senate Push to Pledge Unconditional Support for Israeli Preventive War on Iran
From Huffington Post [October 11, 2012]
---- Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is planning to press the Senate next month to pledge U.S. troops, money, and political support to Israel should Bibi Netanyahu launch a preventive war on Iran. Graham's mendacity on Iran policy should by now be notorious. His most recent victory was to convince Congress to endorse Netanyahu's redline for war with Iran instead of the redline laid out by the president. The trick was that, in pushing that measure, Graham disingenuously claimed that Obama's redline was nuclear weapons "capability." And Congress bought it. In reality, the president very clearly rejected that redline and said the U.S redline was to prevent Iran from actually getting the bomb, not getting an amorphous "capability." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamal-abdi/israel-iran_b_1959607.html
Also useful – Jim Lobe, "Anti-Iran Hawks Maintain P.R. Offensive," http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/10/anti-iran-hawks-maintain-p-r-offensive/
Mitt Romney Remarks at Virginia Military Institute
[FB - This is an excerpt from Romney's speech, in which he discusses Iran and the Middle East.]
… The relationship between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel, for example, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains. The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put daylight between the United States and Israel, and he's succeeded. This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran. Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies and to us. … I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will -- and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf. And I'll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/us/politics/mitt-romney-remarks-at-virginia-military-institute.html
Whatever Happened to that Iranian Bomb Plot Case?
By Michael Kaufman, Counterpunch [October 10, 2012]
---- It becomes hard for the audience to concentrate on the intended theme– The Iranians are plotting against us– when fundamental questions of common sense are crowding the mind: Why would the Iranians be so careless as to use Arbabsiar, a man who seems singularly unqualified to carry out such a mission?  Why would they initiate such a dangerous escalation? What tangible benefits would be gained from killing the Ambassador? http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/10/whatever-happened-to-that-iranian-bomb-plot-case/
Iran's Murky Political Future: An Interview with Farideh Farhi
From the Council on Foreign Relations [October 4, 2012]
---- The Iranian election will happen in June 2013, and at this particular moment it's not at all clear who the candidates will be. But there is no doubt that, given the kind of dynamics that have occurred in Iran and the reality that Ahmadinejad's presidency has raised questions about the management of the economy, accountability, as well as better relations with the outside world, have come to the fore. Individuals like Rafsanjani, who are known in Iran for essentially representing the technocratic approach to the management of the economy as well as better relations for Iran abroad, have gained more prominence. People have begun speculating about whether the Iranian election would essentially be an election that would bring forth a candidate that would represent ideas that are similar to Rafsanjani's and whether that candidate would be a successful one. http://www.cfr.org/iran/irans-murky-political-future/p29205
(Video) An Interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
From Charlie Rose program [September 28, 2012] – 33 minutes
Also useful – Nasser Karimi, "Iran may cut ties with UAE over disputed islands," Associated Press [October 9, 2012] http://www.thestate.com/2012/10/09/2474328/iran-may-cut-ties-with-uae-over.html#.UHV3r65D6So
Inside Iran
UN report finds Iran's crackdown expanding
By Peter James Spielmann, Associated Press [October 11, 2012]
---- The U.N.'s human rights expert on Iran is condemning the Islamic Republic's reliance on stoning as a form of capital punishment, citing that as just one of a number of ''deeply troubling'' Iranian rights violations, many of which are ''systemic in nature,'' according to a report circulating among U.N. delegations. Ahmed Shaheed, the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on Iran, also called for an ''extensive, impartial and independent investigation into the violence in the weeks and months that followed the presidential election of 2009." The document will be the basis for a General Assembly resolution critical of Iran's human rights violations, which will probably be voted on in December. http://www.boston.com/news/world/united-nations/2012/10/11/report-finds-iran-crackdown-expanding/x0HuTAfr6KW6CIrkMpzQaO/story.html
Also useful – Thomas Erdbrink, "The West's Stalwart Ally in the War on Drugs: Iran (Yes, That Iran)," New York Times [October 12, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/world/middleeast/iran-fights-drug-smuggling-at-borders.html?pagewanted=all
Are Sanctions "Working"?
Sanctioning society: From Iraq to Iran
By Murtaza Hussain, Aljazeera [October 2012]
---- Untargeted sanctions against a country is not an alternative to war, but a form of war in and of themselves. After over three decades of service with the United Nations, working across the world on development and humanitarian assistance projects, in 1998 the UN Chief Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday turned in his resignation to the organisation. Halliday wrote that he could no longer continue administering a programme which he said "satisfied the legal definition of genocide". In later interviews he further explained his rationale for resigning from the organisation to which he had given over three decades of his life, and about the horrors that economic sanctions had visited upon the civilian population of Iraq:
"My innate sense of justice was and still is outraged by the violence that UN sanctions have brought upon and continues to bring upon, the lives of children, families - the extended families, the loved ones of Iraq. There is no justification for killing the young people of Iraq, not the aged, not the sick, not the rich, not the poor. Some will tell you that the leadership is punishing the Iraqi people. That is not my perception, or experience from living in Baghdad. And were that to be the case - how can that possibly justify further punishment, in fact collective punishment, by the United Nations?"
Today as the United States continues to intensify its international economic sanctions programme against Iran, it is worth revisiting the catastrophic harm which a previous sanctions campaign against Saddam Hussein's Iraq had upon that country. While the sanctions failed to remove Saddam from power and by many accounts helped him solidify his grip on the country by keeping the overwhelming majority of the population focused purely on subsistence, they took a calculatedly devastating toll on Iraqi civilians. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/201210373854792889.html
The Temptation of Regime Change
By Paul Pillar, The National Interest [October 3, 2012]
---- Resistance to any lessening of sanctions as part of a negotiated agreement with Iran on the nuclear question has, unfortunately, already been strong, even before the newest protests. That resistance has been reflected in the relatively inflexible negotiating posture to date of the United States and its partners of the P5 +1. A hope in some quarters that economic pressure will hasten the demise of the current Iranian regime no doubt is one of the causes of that resistance, even though that is not explicitly an official objective of the sanctions. The more that street protests in Tehran sustain that hope, the stronger is likely to be resistance in the United States to any sanctions relief, and the more politically difficult it will be for any American administration to strike a nuclear deal, which would require such relief. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-temptation-regime-change-7554
Also useful – Rick Gladstone, "Data on Iran Dims Outlook for Economy," New York Times [October 12, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/world/middleeast/data-on-iran-dims-outlook-for-economy.html?ref=world; from Reuters, "Iran's sea trade buckles under Western sanctions," [October 11, 2012] http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=287491; and Rick Gladstone, "Iran Cites I.M.F. Data to Prove Sanctions Aren't Working," New York Times [October 9, 2012]
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/middleeast/iran-cites-imf-data-to-prove-sanctions-arent-working.html?ref=world; from Reuters, "Iran Can Manage Hit From Sanctions: IMF," Reuters [October 9, 2012] http://forward.com/articles/163935/iran-can-manage-hit-from-sanctions-imf/#ixzz29Jp9RnSE; and Samuel Rubenfeld, "U.S., Europe Coordinate to Tighten the Screw on Iran," Wall St. Journal [October 5, 2012] [FB – only part of this interesting article is available on-line w/o a subscription] http://blogs.wsj.com/corruption-currents/2012/10/05/u-s-europe-coordinate-to-tighten-the-screw-on-iran/
Some useful resources - Robert A. Pape, "Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work," International Security (Autumn 1977), http://www.stanford.edu/class/ips216/Readings/pape_97%20%28jstor%29.pdf; and Gary Clyde Hufbauer, et al., Economic Sanctions Reconsidered (2008), which can be read on-line at
The Currency Crisis
War By Other Means: The Forces Behind Iran's Currency Crisis
By Sasan Fayazmanesh, Counterpunch [October 11, 2012]
---- In September and early October of 2012 the Iranian currency, rial, was in a state of free fall relative to the value of major world currencies and gold.  The government of Iran, as well as the Central of Bank of Iran appeared to be helpless in stopping the nosedive. There have been, indeed, various explanations as to what caused the recent economic crisis in Iran, particularly the free fall in rial. But, for the most part the explanations seem to concentrate on the effect of draconian sanctions imposed on Iran by Israel's allies, the US and EU, as well as the ineptness of the Iranian government, led by President Ahmadinejad, in dealing with the sanctions. Which one is more to blame would depend on the political perspective of the analyst. … The September-October 2012 currency crisis in Iran is therefore not new.  Such crises have been coming in waves. But each time a new lower value for rial is established. Like many economic crisis elsewhere, past or present, it is difficult to say what is causing these waves. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/11/the-forces-behind-irans-currency-crisis/
Iran Bazaar Strikes signal Misery, not Sanctions 'Victory'
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [October 4, 2012]
---- On Wednesday, the Tehran covered bazaar was closed, and the traditional market in some other cities such as Mashhad also went on strike, with demonstrators protesting the collapse of the Iranian currency, the rial. Until last November, the rial was about 10,000 to the dollar. Then it fell to 12,000. Last summer it hit 16,000. Some merchants were offering 35,000 to the dollar on Wednesday and expected the rial to decline further. Although the US, the EU and Israel's government will gloat that 'sanctions are working,' it is unclear that any such thing is true. http://www.juancole.com/2012/10/iran-bazaar-strikes-signal-misery-not-sanctions-victory.html
Also useful – Peter Beaumont,"A collapse in the rial, greeted with glee by some, is a cause not for celebration but for fear," The Guardian [UK] [October 2, 2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/02/the-currency-war-on-iran; Mohammad Ali Shabani, "Iran's Currency Faces Pressures Beyond the US-Led Sanctions," Al-Monitor [September 15, 2012] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/more-than-sanctions-depressing-i.html#ixzz28jYwCrFc; and BBC News, "Iran's parliament to reconsider subsidy reform," [October 7, 202] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19863486
U.S. Suspects Iran Was Behind a Wave of Cyberattacks
By Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, New York Times [October 13, 2012]
---- American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Iran was the origin of a serious wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in the United States, episodes that contributed to a warning last week from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that the United States was at risk of a "cyber-Pearl Harbor." After Mr. Panetta's remarks on Thursday night, American officials described an emerging shadow war of attacks and counterattacks already under way between the United States and Iran in cyberspace. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/world/middleeast/us-suspects-iranians-were-behind-a-wave-of-cyberattacks.html?ref=world
Robert Gates: War on Iran Would Be 'Catastrophic,' Make Tehran Nukes 'Inevitable'
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [October 4, 2012]
---- A US or Israeli attack on Iran would "prove catastrophic" and "make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable," former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a speech Wednesday night. Neither the United States nor Israel is capable of wiping out Iran's nuclear capability, Gates said, and "such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert." Not only would Iran be likely to reconstitute its defunct nuclear weapons program, but Tehran might also respond by disrupting world oil traffic in the Persian Gulf and launching a wave of terrorism across the region, Gates claimed. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/10/04/robert-gates-war-on-iran-would-be-catastrophic-and-make-a-nuclear-iran-inevitable/print/
Also useful – Golnaz Esfandiari, "Study: Thousands Would Die in an Attack on Iran's Nuclear Sites," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty [October 2 2012]  http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/10/study-thousands-would-die-in-an-attack-on-irans-nuclear-sites/263165/
A WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East?
Middle East Security at the Crossroads: Urgent Need for a WMD-free Zone
By Kate Hudson, Aljazeera [October 12, 2012]
[FB - Dr Kate Hudson is general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner.]
---- As tensions mount in the Middle East, so do the demands for a regional WMD-free zone. Nearly 40 years after such a zone was first proposed on the floor of the United Nations, the need is as urgent as ever. So it's good news that finally some tentative steps are being made to move forward on outlawing the Middle East's weapons of mass destruction. This December, the Finnish government is hosting a conference in Helsinki, on behalf of the UN, with experienced diplomat and politician Jaakko Laajava bringing together the region's states to discuss this most elusive but necessary goal.Many will see this proposal as a pipedream, but Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones (NWFZs) are highly successful forms of collective security across large parts of the world. Currently, 115 states and 18 other territories belong to 5 regional treaties, covering a majority of the earth's surface, including almost the entire southern hemisphere. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/2012101012117473948.html
How Netanyahu's bomb Iran ploy failed
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [October 4, 2012]
---- Binyamin Netanyahu's explicit aim was to get the US to adopt his "red line" - meaning that it would threaten military force against Iran if it does not bow to a demand to cease enrichment. The rest of the world can stop worrying about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's supposed threat to bomb Iran. Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week appears to mark the end of his long campaign to convince the world that he might launch a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear programme. The reason for Netanyahu's retreat is the demonstration of unexpectedly strong pushback against Netanyahu's antics by President Barack Obama. And that could be the best news on the Iran nuclear issue in many years. The evidence now available indicates that the Netanyahu campaign about a unilateral strike on Iran was from the beginning a bluff aimed at pressuring President Barack Obama to adopt both "crippling sanctions" against Iran's oil export sector and an explicit threat of war if Iran did not end its nuclear programme. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/201210493522531400.html
Also useful - Graham T. Allison, Jr. and Shai Feldman, "Why Netanyahu Backed Down," New York Times [October 12, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/opinion/why-netanyahu-retreated-on-attacking-iran-soon.html?ref=opinion; and Jim Lobe, "U.S. Public Sees Israeli Strike on Iran As Harmful," LobeLog [October 9, 2012] http://www.lobelog.com/u-s-public-sees-israeli-strike-on-iran-as-harmful/
Israel versus America versus Iran
By Shlomo Ben Ami, Aljazeera [October 8, 2012]
- Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami is vice president of the Toledo International Centre for Peace.]
---- For Israel, war with Iran is not about neutralising an existential threat; it is about reasserting its regional status. Israel's leaders see their country's standing in the region being seriously threatened by the emergence of a hostile Islamist regime in Egypt; the possibility that a similarly hostile regime will eventually emerge in Syria; the fragility of traditionally friendly Jordan; and the dangerous boost that the regional Islamist awakening has given to Israel's sworn enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/2012107151246788109.html
Also useful/interesting – Philip Weiss, "Did 'Foreign Policy' plant false Israeli embassy story?" MondoWeiss [October 13, 2012]  http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/did-foreign-policy-plant-israeli-story-leading-to-deputy-ambassadors-reassignment-to-copenhagen.html
Netanyahu Calls for Early Elections in Israel
By Jodi Rudoren, New York Times [October 9, 2012]
---- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday called for elections early next year instead of as scheduled in October 2013, saying that conversations with his coalition partners had proved it would be impossible to pass "a responsible budget" with deep cuts. A victory around the same time that the United States is either inaugurating a new president or starting a second Obama term would probably embolden the prime minister, allowing him to continue his aggressive approach toward Iran, while mostly ignoring the Palestinian conflict. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/middleeast/netanyahu-calls-for-early-elections-in-israel.html?ref=world
Syria's Islamist rebels join forces against Assad
By Mariam Karouny, Reuters [October 11, 2012]
[FB – On "Syria Comment," this article is described as "the most important article of the month."]
---- Powerful Syrian Islamist brigades, frustrated at the growing divisions among rebels, have joined forces in what they say is a "liberation front" to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Mistrust and miscommunication have been a feature of the rebel campaign against Assad. Differences over leadership, tactics and sources of funding have widened the rifts between largely autonomous brigades scattered across Syria. After more than a month of secret meetings, leaders of Islamist brigades - including the Farooq Brigade that operates mainly in Homs province and the heavyweight Sukour al-Sham brigade of Idlib - formed the "Front to Liberate Syria". http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/11/us-syria-crisis-rebels-idUSBRE89A0Y920121011
Also useful – Tony Karon, "Is the Glass Half Full for Syria's Assad?" Time [ http://world.time.com/2012/10/11/is-the-glass-half-full-for-syrias-assad/#ixzz2961RKp94; Associated Press, "Syria's civil war leaves its cities, economy and cultural heritage in shambles," [October 9, 2012] http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/syrias-civil-war-leaves-its-cities-economy-and-cultural-heritage-in-shambles/2012/10/09/e977aeb6-1243-11e2-9a39-1f5a7f6fe945_print.html; and Samer Araabi, "The Attack-Syria Coalition: Then and Now," Right Web [http://rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/the_attack_syria_coalition_then_and_now#_edn19
The Turkey-Syria Confrontation
What Will Ankara Do?
By Vijay Prashad, Asia Times [October 12, 2012]
---- Death has escaped from Syria. The numbers within its borders have climbed to near 30,000. But over the past few months, death has scaled the borders into Lebanon, threatening, as the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati put it, to "drown" the country in its neighbor's flood. Turkey has not been immune from the escalating violence either. Syrian refugee camps have been targeted by the Syrian government's forces, and yesterday a mortar attack into the Turkish town of Akcakale killed at least five people and wounded eight. These numbers are miniscule compared to the dead Syrians, and to the dead Turkish Kurds (30,000 killed, including in "operational accidents"). Nevertheless, they have set Turkey on edge. http://www.zcommunications.org/what-will-ankara-do-by-vijay-prashad
(Video) Is a Turkey-Syria conflict inevitable?
From Aljazeera [October 7, 2012]
---- "Inside Syria" - As the two countries exchange cross-border fire, we ask if it is in Turkey's national interest to go into Syria. Guests include Joshua Landis of Syria Comment. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/10/201210774959651250.html
Also useful – Liz Sly, "Turkey says Syrian jet carried Russian arms, drawing Moscow deeper into crisis," Washington Post [October 11, 2012] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syria-accuses-turkey-of-air-piracy-after-plane-incident/2012/10/11/34674b1e-1381-11e2-be82-c3411b7680a9_print.html; Roy Gutman, "Turkey says cargo aboard Syria-bound plane violated rules, but won't say what was found,"  McClatchy Newspapers [October 11, 2012] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/11/171213/turkish-report-cargo-aboard-seized.html; Patrick Cockburn, "Syria's suffering opens a door for Washington," The Independent [October 7, 2012]
US Troops Are Now in Jordan
U.S. Military Is Sent to Jordan to Help With Crisis in Syria
By Michael R. Gordon and Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times [October 9, 2012]
---- The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/middleeast/us-military-sent-to-jordan-on-syria-crisis.html?ref=world
Also useful – Jason Ditz, "Jordan: US Troops Helping Prepare for Syrian Attack," Antiwar.com [October 11, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/10/11/jordan-us-troops-helping-prepare-for-syrian-attack/; and (Video) "Jordan: A Kingdom Divided?" Aljazeera [October 7, 2012] – 25 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n1kSbG0G2Pg