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Monday, November 12, 2012

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - November 12, 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
November 12, 2012
Hello All – From the time of the last round of nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran (in Moscow last August), the issues surrounding these negotiations have lain dormant under the deep shadow of the US presidential election.  With the election out of the way, negotiations are expected to resume next month.  During the campaign the Obama team was content to have economic war ("sanctions") against Iran substitute for diplomacy and pre-empt military action.  Now what?
Despite the resumption of negotiations and the hints that bi-lateral meetings between the United States and Iran are in the offing, there is no indication that US policy towards Iran and its nuclear program has changed.  Claims that the real goal of US policy is "regime change" remain credible.  While the threat of a unilateral attack on Iran by Israel receded during the US election campaign, Netanyahu's play-acting as a nuclear-armed madman continues, as illustrated in news from Israel linked below.  Military action against Iran can't be ruled out, despite the consensus of intelligence agencies that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program, and a similarly strong consensus that a military attack could engulf the region in a conflict of horrendous proportions, with only a temporary setback to Iran's nuclear program.
Perhaps the strongest defense against a military attack on Iran is the apparent "success" of the US-led economic war.  The trifecta of UN, US, and EU sanctions will be augmented soon by a new round of US Congress sanctions that will move the US-led world closer to a total economic blockade against Iran.  While it is unlikely that the suffering imposed on Iran's citizens will cause Iran's leadership to abandon its (legitimate) claim to develop a civilian nuclear program, the Obama administration will be able to claim that it is taking effective action to stop Iran's (non-existent) nuclear weapons program.  But for how long?
The fragile nature of what is left of "peace" was underscored this week when Iran fired on a US drone in the Persian Gulf.  While the details of what the drone was doing, where it was, etc. remain sketchy (see below), the warning shots from the Iranian airplanes should also be a warning to the US and European peace movements that the dangers of war require a more organized response than we have yet achieved.
Media coverage of the region was mostly focused on Syria this week.  The US withdrawal of support from the Syrian National Council and the formation of the new Syrian National Coalition illustrate the dilemma of the United States, NATO, and Syria's neighbors in attempting to create an anti-Assad coalition that is at once politically and militarily effective while remaining obedient to its external paymasters and arms suppliers. As indicated in the good/useful articles linked below, this is no easy task.
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/).
Gareth Porter, whose investigative articles I have often linked in this newsletter, is preparing a new book to be titled, "Manufactured Crisis: A History of the Iranian Nuclear Scare."  It will be published by Helena Cobban's Just World Books.  Part of the financing for the book will be raised on the website Kickstarter.  Please check out the video appeal by Cobban and Porter at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1549675470/manufactured-crisis-a-history-of-the-iranian-nucle/ and support their work if you can.
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)
Nuclear Talks with Iran: Prospects
By Peter Jenkins, LobeLog [November 2, 2012]
---- The Western members of the P5+1 are showing signs of serious intent, if re-election of President Barack Obama allows nuclear-related talks with Iran to resume in the next few months. This ought to be cheering news for all who believe that this dispute can be resolved according to the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), enhanced by some well-chosen, voluntary confidence-building measures. Yet scepticism remains in order. Why? Several past opportunities to resolve the dispute through negotiation and confidence-building have been squandered. Two vital questions also remain imponderable: is Iran's Supreme Leader really interested in a nuclear settlement, and will Israeli politicians resist the urge to exercise Israel's formidable powers of influence in Western capitals to close down the political space for a negotiated outcome? http://www.lobelog.com/nuclear-talks-with-iran-prospects/
Anatomy of a Deal with Iran
By Rajan Menon, The National Interest [November 2012]
---- The on-again, off-again musings about a deal between Washington and Tehran are on again. A deal might reconcile the most important demands of each side: Iran's insistence that it has a legal right to an independent fuel cycle for what it insists is a nonmilitary nuclear program and the declaration of the United States that Iran must not be permitted to build nuclear weapons. The latest round of speculation follows recent press reports that the two parties have agreed to hold bilateral negotiations following the U.S. presidential elections. Yet soon after the news broke, both sides weighed in with their own spin. The White House, while reiterating that it has always been open to direct talks, insisted that there has been no formal agreement to hold them. … Iran quickly dismissed the reports about impending one-on-one talks. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi insisted that Iran was engaged in negotiations with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, the so-called P5+1 but that it was not conducting talks with the United States. http://thenationalinterest.wordpress.com/anatomy-of-a-deal-with-iran/
The Iran Nuclear Dilemma: The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy and NPT's Main Objectives
By Seyed Hossein Mousavian, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium [November 5, 2012]
Also useful – From Reuters, "IAEA says Iranian cleanup of suspect Parchin site ongoing
Legal Issues and the IAEA
Iran and the bomb: The legal standards of the IAEA
---- In 1967 -- ten years after the United States and Iran signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement as part of America's Atoms for Peace program -- Iran debuted its first nuclear facility in Tehran, a 5-megawatt nuclear research reactor, supplied by the United States and fueled by highly enriched uranium. Today, 45 years later, the country's nuclear program is no longer so simple. As international concerns grow over Iran's nuclear ambitions, so, too, do the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspections in Iran. But what are the standards that the IAEA uses to investigate and assess Iran's compliance with its safeguards agreements, and are they the legally correct standards? http://thebulletin.org/web-edition/roundtables/iran-and-the-bomb-the-legal-standards-of-the-iaea?order=asc
Overstepping Bounds
---- But the director general's report also applies two additional and separate legal standards -- "to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities" (author's emphasis) -- and makes two assessments based on them. So where do these two new criteria come from? This is an important question because they, together with Article II of the CSA, are the legal standards that the IAEA has used, since at least 2006, as its scope of mandate for investigation and assessment of Iran's compliance with its safeguards obligations. And it's been on the basis of the application of these legal standards that the IAEA has continued to consider Iran to be in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations. http://thebulletin.org/web-edition/roundtables/iran-and-the-bomb-the-legal-standards-of-the-iaea?order=asc
Israel Rejects Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Negotiations
US, Israel Cancel Mid East Talks on Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [November 10, 2012]
---- A nuclear weapons-free zone has been repeatedly proposed, only to have Israel – the only state in the region with nuclear weapons – reject it in favor of maintaining this nuclear monopoly, further destabilizing the region, and keeping the threat of others' nukes as a primary excuse for its militarism. Diplomats tell the Associated Press that the US, one of the organizers of the meeting on this latest NWFZ proposal, would likely make a formal announcement of its cancellation soon, claiming that "the time was not opportune." http://news.antiwar.com/2012/11/10/us-israel-cancel-mid-east-talks-on-nuclear-weapons-free-zone/
(Video) Is a nuclear-free Middle East possible?
From Aljazeera [November 7, 2012] – 25 minutes
Also useful – George Jahn, "Mideast nuke talks called off," Associated Press [November 11, 2012]  http://news.yahoo.com/apnewsbreak-mideast-nuke-talks-called-off-192853689.html
How Obama Can Succeed on Iran
By Trita Parsi and Reza Marashi, Huffington Post [November 7, 2012]
---- With the elections behind him, President Obama must quickly shift his focus to key foreign policy challenges that were put on pause due to election season paralysis. On Iran, the President should hit the ground running. Obama has a unique opportunity to make headway on the diplomatic front between November 8 and March 20, when the Iranian New Year hits. After that, Iran enters its own election season and the paralysis that comes with it. This may be his last best shot to resolve the U.S.-Iran conflict peacefully. While both sides believe they are in a position of strength, reality is that neither Washington nor Tehran holds a trump card. U.S.-led sanctions cannot force capitulation or regime change in Iran (See: Saddam Hussein's Iraq), and America will not succumb to an Iranian nuclear fait accompli. The only real solution is a negotiated one -- but how can Obama make diplomacy succeed? Here are four recommendations. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trita-parsi/obama-iran-second-term_b_2085937.htm
Also useful – Steve Clemons, "US Election Note: Middle East Policy after 2012," [October 2012]
http://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/papers/view/186125; and Mark Jansson, "President Obama has time to deal with Iran, if only he knew it," Federation of American Scientists [November 9, 2012] http://www.lobelog.com/president-obama-has-time-to-deal-with-iran-if-only-he-knew-it/
Senators working on tougher Iran sanctions as Obama seeks another diplomatic push
By The Associated Press [November 9, 2012]
---- Lawmakers are working on a set of new and unprecedented sanctions against Iran that could prevent the Islamic republic from doing business with most of the world until it agrees to international constraints on its nuclear program, officials say. The bipartisan financial and trade restrictions amount to a "complete sanctions regime" against Tehran, according to one congressional aide involved in the process. The tougher constraints could put the Obama administration in a difficult position with allies who are still trading with Iran, but whom the U.S. needs to secure a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.
Pentagon Vetoed 1998 U.S. Nuclear Scientists' Probe of Iranian
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [October 29, 2012]
---- In 1998, the Defence Department vetoed a delegation of prominent U.S. nuclear specialists to go to Iran to investigate its nuclear programme at the invitation of the government of newly-elected Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, according to the nuclear scientist who was organising the mission. The Pentagon veto of the nuclear scientists' delegation eliminated the Khatami government's most promising initiative to promote a thaw in U.S.-Iran relations by weakening a key U.S. argument for viewing Iran as a threat. The Bill Clinton administration had been accusing Iran of wanting nuclear weapons, based not on intelligence on the nuclear programme but on the assumption that Iran would use enriched uranium for nuclear weapons rather than for civilian power. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/29/how-the-clinton-administration-nixed-an-iran-nuke-deal/
The Mad Mullah Myth: The dangers of misunderstanding Iran
By Flynt Lawrence Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett, Harper's [November 2012]
[FB – Unfortunately this article is not available on line without a subscription.]
---- In the more than thirty years since the Iranian Revolution, Western analysts have routinely depicted the Islamic Republic as an ideologically driven, illegitimate, and deeply unstable state. From their perspective, Iran displayed its fanatical character early on, first in the hostage crisis of 1979–81, and shortly afterward with the deployment of teenage soldiers in "human wave" attacks against Iraqi forces during the 1980s. Supposedly the same Shia "cult of martyrdom" and indifference to casualties persist in a deep attachment to suicide terrorism that would, if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, end in catastrophe. http://harpers.org/archive/2012/11/the-mad-mullah-myth/
Ahmadinejad's Tumble and Iran's Political Terrain
By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [October 30, 2012]
---- The hardliners' separation from Ahmadinejad does not merely lie in Ahmadinejad's betrayal of their values and his new liberal fondness for "universal human values" and accommodation-oriented foreign policy. They are aghast at Ahmadinejad's blatant effort to enhance his standing among the urban middle classes. To them, there is nothing wrong with Ahmadinejad trying to maintain popularity so that he can continue to play a role in Iranian politics after his term ends by August 2013. Conceivably, Ahmadinejad's popularity can be a boon for the hardliners next presidential candidate. But Ahmadinejad's assessment that it is the urban middle classes which need to be wooed through a liberal posture is hard to swallow. http://www.lobelog.com/ahmadinejads-tumble-and-irans-political-terrain/
Also useful – Joanna Paraszczuk, "Iran parliament calls for interrogating Ahmadinejad," Jerusalem Post [November 4, 2012] www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=290471.
Is Iraq an Iranian Proxy?
By Safa Al-Sheikh and Emma Sky, Foreign Policy [October 11, 2012]
---- In recent weeks, the U.S. media has highlighted Iraq's ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran -- namely, how it has helped Iran subvert the international sanctions regime and enabled Iranian support to the Syrian regime. This is leading to uncomfortable questions over whether the new Iraq is an ally of the United States, as President Barack Obama's administration claims, or a client state of Iran, as many of its neighbors fear. In fact, Baghdad's political allegiances are not so easy to pigeonhole. To understand Iraq's foreign policy, it is important to recognize how domestic and regional environments shape its behavior. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/11/is_iraq_an_iranian_proxy#.UJlj9ZvQ4DY
Israel is signaling a major change in tone toward U.S. President Barack Obama
By Samuel Burke, CNN [November 8, 2012]
---- In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, gave what could only be described as a ringing endorsement of the Obama administration's handling of Iran's nuclear program. It has been a very contentious issue between the two allies, with the U.S. fearing Israel might unilaterally strike Iran's nuclear sites and drag the U.S. into an regional war. But Ayalon told Amanpour that despite past differences with the Obama administration over Iran, "I think today we can safely say that we are very much on the same page and will continue to follow the lead of the U.S." http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/08/mending-fences-with-obama-israel-says-it-follows-u-s-lead-on-iran/
Israel defense minister says Iran has slowed down uranium enrichment push by some 8 months
By Associated Press [November 9, 2012]
---- Israel's defense minister said Iran has slowed the timetable for enriching enough uranium to build nuclear weapons, implying that Israel would have more time to decide whether to strike Iran's enrichment facilities. Ehud Barak's assertion that Iran has "essentially delayed their arrival at the red line by eight months," is in line with the timeframe laid out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September, when he spoke at the U.N. General Assembly. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-defense-minister-says-iran-has-slowed-down-enrichment-push-by-some-8-months/2012/11/09/59e45e32-2a5a-11e2-aaa5-ac786110c486_story.html
Rivals fear Israel's Binyamin Netanyahu is plotting nuclear strike on Iran
By Uzi Mahnaimi, Sunday Times [UK] [November 11, 2012]
---- Israel's military planners have been forced to conclude that a conventional assault on Iran's nuclear facilities might fail after evidence emerged that Tehran has hidden far more of its uranium enrichment capacity beneath a mountain than previously suspected. Western defence experts say much of Iran's Fordow enrichment site near the city of Qom is now deep underground in a "zone of immunity" safe from conventional airstrikes. They claim this narrows Israel's response to two options: the deployment of Special Forces in a ground attack, or the use of ballistic missiles carrying small tactical nuclear warheads. The phrase zone of immunity was coined by Ehud Barak, the defence minister, to emphasise that time is running out for Israel as Iran moves closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon. http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article1161858.ece
Also crazy – Barak Ravid, "Netanyahu: Israeli strike on Iran nuclear plants will only serve to calm Mideast," Haaretz [October 30, 2012] http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/netanyahu-israeli-strike-on-iran-nuclear-plants-will-only-serve-to-calm-mideast.premium-1.473317; and Yossi Melman, "Netanyahu Sought to Provoke, Not Attack, Iran in 2010," Al-Monitor [November 7, 2012] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/israel-secret-seven.html#ixzz2BvTa54nC.  (For the earlier version, e.g. Jodi Rudoren, "Israeli Report Cites a Thwarted 2010 Move on Iran," New York Times [November 4, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/world/middleeast/israeli-report-cites-a-thwarted-2010-move-on-iran.html?ref=world&_r=0.)
From Sudan to cyber, secret war with Iran heats up
By Peter Apps, Reuters [November 6, 2012]
---- From a suspected Israeli airstrike in Sudan to cyber warfare in the Gulf and a drone shot down over Israel, the largely hidden war between Iran and its foes seems heating up and spreading. Despite months of speculation, most experts and governments believe the risk of a direct Israeli strike on Tehran's nuclear program stirring regional conflict has eased, at least for now. But all sides, it seems, are finding other ways to fight. For the US and European powers, the main focus remains on oil export sanctions that are inflicting ever more damage on Iran's economy. But the Obama administration and Israel have also ploughed resources into covert operations - a campaign that now appears to have prompted an increasingly sophisticated Iranian reaction. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/06/us-iran-covert-war-idUSBRE8A50G420121106
Iran sets up new naval base to reinforce control over disputed islands
By Associated Press [November 4, 2012]
---- Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards inaugurated a new naval base on Sunday to reinforce Tehran's authority over three Persian Gulf islands also claimed by the neighboring United Arab Emirates, Iranian state TV reported. It lies north of the Iranian-controlled islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb that dominate the approach to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway through which about one-fifth of the world's oil supply passes. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/report-iran-sets-up-new-naval-base-to-reinforce-control-over-disputed-islands/2012/11/04/2a39a552-2668-11e2-ac64-5d52a2c5953e_story.html
The Iranian Attack on a US Drone
Iran's strike on US drone demonstrates the fragility of uneasy peace
By Julian Borger, The Guardian [UK] [November 9, 2012]
---- A mid-air incident in which Iranian warplanes opened fire on a US surveillance drone high over the Persian Gulf has brought home how nuclear tensions and increased military hardware in a confined area can lead to a clash that could escalate out of control. Western officials are concerned that minority elements on both sides of the confrontation in the region have a vested interest in triggering such a clash. Some Israeli leaders would like to see Washington drawn in so that superior US forces could strike a crippling blow to Iranian nuclear facilities, while a "war party" in Tehran sees a conflict as a means of rallying support for the regime and cracking down yet further on dissent, officials say. They believe the risk of a "spoiler" incident will rise if a new diplomatic push aimed at reaching a peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear crisis appears to show progress. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/09/iran-strike-us-drone-persian-gulf
Also useful – Glann Greenwald, "CNN claims Iran shot at a US drone, revealing the news network's mindset," The Guardian [November 8, 2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/08/cnn-iran-drones-gulf; Paul Woodward, "Provocation above the Persian Gulf," War in Context [November 8, 2012] http://warincontext.org/2012/11/08/provocation-above-the-persian-gulf/; and Reuters, "Iran believes U.S. drone was spying on oil tankers" [November 11, 2012] http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/report-iran-believes-u-s-drone-was-spying-on-oil-tankers-1.476817.  For some of the complexities in determining the "12-mile limit," check out the State Department publication, "Limits in the Seas: Iran's Maritime Claims" [1994]. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/58228.pdf
When Will the Killing War in Iran Begin? It Already Has
By Stephen Gowans, Information Clearing House [November 10, 2012]
---- While campaigns are organized to deter the United States and Israel from acting on threats to launch an air war against Iran, both countries, in league with the European Union (winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize) carry on a low-intensity war against Iran that is likely to be causing more human suffering and death than strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities would. This is a war against public health, aimed at the most vulnerable: cancer patients, hemophiliacs, kidney dialysis patients, and those awaiting transplants. Its victims are unseen, dying anonymously in hospitals, not incinerated in spectacular explosions touched off by cruise missiles and bunker buster bombs. www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32958.htm
Sanctioning a Revolution?
By Behzad Sarmadi, PBS Tehran Bureau [October 31, 2012]
---- The anguish that accompanies deteriorating living standards is widespread in Iran today. Yet there are factors that should be considered before one forecasts that this social distress will translate into a "revolution." … The idea that even a sharp and sustained economic decline will provoke a groundswell of protests escalating into revolution reflects an ignorance of Iranian history and politics -- a failure, more specifically, to appreciate the significance of identity politics in determining political legitimacy and the detrimental effects of sanctions upon the functioning of civil society. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2012/10/comment-sanctioning-a-revolution.html#ixzz2By1NQmiA
Also useful – Juan Cole, "Drone, Sanctions affecting Medicine, Intensify US-Iran Tensions," Informed Comment [November 12, 2012] http://www.juancole.com/2012/11/drone-sanctions-intensify-us-iran-tensions.html; and Samuel Cutler and Erich Ferrari,"US Loosens Sanctions On Medicine Sales to Iran,"  Al-Monitor [October 29, 2012] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/iran-sanctions-medicine.html#ixzz2BxQvCov4
Balance of power shifts in changing world of oil
By Guy Chazan, Financial Times [November 4, 2012]
---- A bridge is being built between the Far East and the Middle East that could change the world of oil.
It links two countries that are not natural bedfellows – China and Iraq. The ties between them have been quietly strengthening in recent years, as state-owned Chinese energy companies move in to rehabilitate the giant oilfields in the south of Iraq, such as Rumaila and Halfaya. … This relationship is part of a shift that is tipping the balance of power in the energy world. As its oil demand grows and its own reserves deplete, China is becoming increasingly dependent on crude imports from the Middle East. That is coinciding with an equally historic process in the western hemisphere – North America's gradual transition towards self-sufficiency in energy and its waning reliance on imported oil.
What Are the Mojahedin-e Khalq [MEK] Up to Now?
By Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington Post [November 8, 2012]
Scholar of Iran Hostage Crisis Puts 'Argo' in Historical Context
By Mohsen Milani, Al-Monitor [November 2, 2012]
---- Ayatollah Khomeini quickly realized the incalculable value of a confrontation with the US to consolidate his power, and enthusiastically endorsed the embassy takeover. While the country was frozen in the hysteria of the hostage crisis, a new Islamic constitution that legitimized the theocracy was approved in a national referendum. The pro-Khomeini Islamists selectively used the documents they had captured from the embassy to defame their opponents as "American spies" and mercilessly eliminate the opposition to the emerging theocracy. The period coinciding with the hostage crisis was truly a "reign of terror" in Iran. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/argo-obscures-hostage-crisis.html#ixzz2BpP7cr5L
The New Politics of Human Rights in the Middle East
By Shadi Mokhtari, Foreign Policy [October 30, 2012]
---- As popular and civil society forces are pushing human rights to the fore of domestic and regional politics, they are also taking on the international dimensions of the Middle East's human rights predicament. First, they are putting forth their own priorities and prognosis of the region's human rights ills. Second they are challenging what they consider to be international powers' insincere treatment and violations of human rights in the region, in effect reversing the traditional West to East flow of human rights discourses and mobilizations. Middle Eastern challenges to Western human rights positions are longstanding, not new. What is new however, are increased efforts by Middle Eastern activists to use their strengthened position to make their voices heard by world powers. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/30/the_new_politics_of_human_rights_in_the_middle_ea
Syria: When Official Memory is Amnesia
By Alia Malek, Jadaliyya [November 9, 2012]
---- In the wake of the Arab awakenings and the exile of Ben Ali, the trial of Mubarak, the lynching of Khadafi, and the abdication of Saleh, all eyes are on the next teetering domino. But it remains an unresolved vigil, even as those newly initiated democrats in other Arab countries move on – debating, invalidating, and revalidating God, constitutions, and polls. Syria is anew with defections and conversions to a movement that would again shake the nation, splitting once more not only the ranks of today's soldiers, but also those of relatives, neighbors, colleagues, and friends. And so, many ruptures and breaks, personal and political, have given a new generation of Syrians a taste of blood and bitterness, while seeing to it that older ones never forget. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8276/syria_when-official-memory-is-amnesia
Flooding Syria With Foreign Arms
By Franklin Lamb, Counterpunch [November 2, 2012]
---- Across Syria these days, one is able examine massive evidence that this ancient civilization, the historic  bastion of nationalist Arabism and since the 1948 Nabka, an essential pillar of  the growing culture of Resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine, is becoming awash with foreign arms being funneled to  "rebels" by countries advocating regime change. During a recent stay in Syria, I was able to observe first hand, substantial demonstrative evidence supporting the thesis that American, Zionist and Gulf intelligence agencies as well as private arms dealers from these countries top the list of  of more than two dozen countries benefiting from the crisis in Syria by injecting arms. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/02/flooding-syria-with-foreign-arms/
Also useful – Philip Giraldi, "Syria: Rebellion, Jihad, or Civil War?" The American Conservative [] http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/syria-rebellion-jihad-or-civil-war/; and Vicken Cheterian, "Syria: Neo-Anti-Imperialism Vs Reality," Open Democracy [October 30, 2012] http://www.zcommunications.org/syria-neo-anti-imperialism-vs-reality-by-vicken-cheterian
The Syrian Opposition in Crisis
Missteps by Rebels Erode Their Support Among Syrians
By Anne Barnard, New York Times [November 8, 2012]
---- Syria's rebel fighters — who have long staked claim to the moral high ground for battling dictatorship — are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners. The shift in mood presents more than just a public relations problem for the loosely knit militants of the Free Syrian Army. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/world/middleeast/in-syria-missteps-by-rebels-erode-their-support.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
The Illusion of a Syrian "Opposition"—and the Real Requirements for Conflict Resolution in Syria
By Flyntt Leverett, Race for Iran [November 5, 2012[
---- Secretary Clinton was at her moralizingly didactic worst last week in announcing the Obama administration's latest plans to remake the Syrian opposition.  Those plans amount to jettisoning the Syrian National Council (SNC)—which, at least on the surface, might seem to be the beginning of wisdom—and supporting a Qatari-sponsored plan to create something called the Syrian National Initiative.  As we will see, this is hardly a genuine policy rethink.  http://www.raceforiran.com/flynt-leverett-on-the-illusion-of-a-syrian-%E2%80%9Copposition%E2%80%9D%E2%80%94and-the-real-requirements-for-conflict-resolution-in-syria
The New Syrian National Coalition
Syrian Opposition Hypes 'Unity Agreement,' But Many Groups Not Represented
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [November 11, 2012]
---- The Syrian National Council (SNC) has long claimed to be the true leadership of the Syrian rebellion, and now there is another umbrella group over them. Dubbed the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (CORF), the faction made up of SNC and some other exile groups now claims to have successfully unified the entire opposition. Having successfully negotiated among themselves to do that, the group is now pressing hard for international recognition as the "representative of the Syrians," a sort of world-backed government-in-exile. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/11/11/syrian-opposition-hypes-unity-agreement-but-many-groups-not-represented/
(Video) Syria's opposition: Embracing change
---- Seeking a united front against President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian opposition groups are struggling to shape a new leadership to help end the 20-month crisis. The SNC, once seen as the leading representative of the opposition, is now perceived by the West as dominated by out-of-touch exiles and has come under increasing pressure to accept a unity plan. The initiative is intended to bring together different military and political groups to form a credible alternative to the al-Assad government. This new body would then serve as a single point of contact for Western and Gulf allies. The group is said to have around 60 members with the SNC making up about one-third of these and the rest would be drawn from 14 local councils in Syria, the National Kurdish Council, other opposition groups on the ground, and so-called independent personalities. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/11/20121111103233657660.html
Also useful - Roy Gutman, "Anti-Assad Syria National Council picks a Christian to be its new leader,"  McClatchy Newspapers [November 9, 2012] http://www.kansascity.com/2012/11/09/v-print/3909474/anti-assad-syria-national-council.html; Neil MacFarquhar, "Syrian Group Fights Effort to Unify Foes of Government," New York Times [November 10, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/world/middleeast/syrian-national-council-resists-unification-with-other-groups.html?ref=world&_r=0&pagewanted=print; and Neil MacFarquhar and Hala Droubi,"With Eye on Aid, Syria Opposition Signs Unity Deal," New York Times [November 11, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/12/world/middleeast/syrian-opposition-groups-sign-unity-deal.html?ref=world
The War and Syria's Neighbors
Ottoman Déjà Vu? Turkey Haunted by Hubris
By Conn Hallinan, Counterpunch [November 2, 2012]
---- Two years ago Turkey was on its way to being a player in Central Asia, a major power broker in the Middle East, and a force in international politics. Today it is exchanging artillery rounds with Syria. Its relations with Iraq have deteriorated to the point that Baghdad has declared Ankara a "hostile state." It picked a fight with Russia by forcing down a Syrian passenger plane and accusing Moscow of sending arms to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It angered Iran by agreeing to host a U.S. anti-missile system (a step which won Turkey no friends in Moscow either). Its war with its Kurdish minority has escalated sharply. What happened? http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/02/ottoman-deja-vu/
Jordan Said to Help Arm Syria Rebels
By Nour Malas and Margaret Coker, Wall St. Journal [November 9, 2012]
---- Jordan has stepped up its support for neighboring Syria's political and military opposition, including allowing some light arms to flow across the border, according to Syrian rebels and an Arab official familiar with the operation. Such an energized supply route through Jordan would show how even regional states with the risk of significant blowback are boosting support for the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the tacit backing of Western allies. It comes as these international partners have identified what they consider trustworthy elements of Syria's opposition, to address their increasing anxiety that a protracted civil war in Syria is drawing in Islamist fighters and threatens regional stability. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323894704578104853961999838.html


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