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Sunday, April 21, 2013

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - April 21, 2013

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
April 21, 2013
Hello All -- Following on the failure of the talks in Kazakhstan about Iran's nuclear program, the United States and its allies renewed their non-diplomatic offensive against Iran this week.  Secretary of Defense Hagel was in the Middle East, most especially in Israel, to push a $10 billion program introducing more advanced offensive weapons into the Israel, Saudi, and UAE arsenals.  Like the trips of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry made two weeks earlier, Hagel's mission is both to reassure Israel and other regional allies that the United States still considers "all options on the table," while at the same time  pressuring Israel to defer military action against Iran and to give sanctions and negotiations more time.
A similarly schizophrenic stance towards Iran was on display this week in Washington, D.C.  In the Senate, Secretary of State Kerry pleaded with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to enact another round of sanctions against Iran, just a day after the same Committee celebrated Israel's Independence Day by passing a (non-binding) Resolution stating that the United States will assist Israel in a "defensive" war with Iran.  Meanwhile, down the hall at the Armed Services Committee, Intelligence czar James Clapper told Senators that the real purpose of sanctions against Iran was to foment domestic political unrest, ideally leading to "regime change."  One can sympathize with Iranian policy wonks who are trying to determine just what the Great Satan is up to.
Divisions within the Obama administration, and between the Administration and Congress, were joined this week by a likely-to-be-influential report from the Iran Project.  The message of this report, the Iran Project's third report, is captured in its title: "Strategic Options for Iran: Balancing Pressure With Diplomacy."  Like its predecessors, this report is "signed on to" by a broad and slightly bi-partisan swath of the US foreign policy establishment, and strongly warns against the dangerous outcomes now likely from the current strategies toward Iran.
Framing (or distorting) much of the talk about Iran's nuclear program this week was the further degeneration of the civil war/intervention in Syria.  As reported below, while the United States pledged to double its "non-lethal" aid at a just-concluded meeting of the "Friends of Syria," the public adherence of the opposition's main fighting group to "Al Qaeda" has thrown a monkey wrench into whatever plans exist for more overt "Western" intervention on behalf of the armed rebellion.  Both the political and military arms of the opposition are now in disarray, amidst reports of another alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and, on tonight's news, claims of another civilian massacre.
Finally, for those readers of the IWW who live in the NYC region, please check in the "Sanctions" section for news of a very interesting looking forum on sanctions against Iran, to be presented by the Iranian-American organization Havaar on April 29th.
Once again I would like to thank those who you who have forwarded this newsletter or linked it on your sites.  Previous "issues" of the Iran War Weekly are posted 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
For Iran, It's Time to Take One Option Off the Table: The Nuclear Option
By Tad Daley, The Project for Abolishing War [April 15, 2013]
---- In an interview broadcast on Channel Two in Israel, Mr. Obama said that regarding American efforts to dissuade Iran from crossing the nuclear Rubicon, "I continue to keep all options on the table ... The United States obviously has significant capabilities." The most fearsome of those American capabilities, of course, remains the nuclear option. Nobody's been talking about that much recently. But if you don't think that an American nuclear first strike on Iran is not one of those "options on the table" -- Mr. Kerry evoking atomic holocaust at an event recalling history's greatest holocaust -- then you haven't been listening very closely. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tad-daley/for-iran-its-time-to-take_b_3073238.html
(Video) Why Sanctions?
With Flynt Leverett and Trita Parsi [esp. commenting on the NIAC report "Never Give Up, Never Give In" – on sanctions] – 20 minutes -
Could A Nuclear-Armed Iran Be Contained?
[FB – Of course the premise of this article – What to do if Iran in fact acquires a nuclear weapon? – is contrary to what we know so far about Iran's nuclear program.  Nevertheless, imo a useful thought experiment.]
---- On September 4, 1962, President John F. Kennedy released a statement in response to intelligence reports of a Soviet arms buildup in Cuba. Kennedy said the United States did not have evidence "of the presence of offensive ground-to-ground missiles; or of other significant offensive capability either in Cuban hands or under Soviet direction and guidance." However, he warned, "Were it to be otherwise, the gravest issues would arise." Of course, the next month Kennedy found out that the Soviet Union was in fact deploying offensive missiles and nuclear warheads in Cuba, prompting a deep crisis that brought the planet within a hair's breadth of nuclear catastrophe. Historian Michael Dobbs writes that Kennedy later regretted making his September statement, as "[h]e was compelled to take action, not because Soviet missiles on Cuba appreciably changed the balance of military power, but because he feared looking weak." Fast forward 50 years to March 4, 2012. In a high-profile speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), President Obama declared: "Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." Obama reiterated this position last month to Israeli students in Jerusalem: "Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. This is not a danger that can be contained, and as President, I've said all options are on the table for achieving our objectives." Might Obama, like Kennedy, later regret issuing such an ultimatum?  http://thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/kingston-reif/could-nuclear-armed-iran-be-contained
U.N. Nuclear Watchdog, Iran May Meet Again in May
By Fredrik Dahl, Reuters [April 19, 2013]
---- The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran may resume talks next month over a long-stalled investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by the Islamic state, but no date has yet been fixed, a diplomatic source said on Friday. It would be the 10th round of negotiations between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran since the discussions about what the IAEA calls "possible military dimensions" to Tehran's nuclear programme began in early 2012. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/19/uk-iran-nuclear-iaea-idUKBRE93I0AE20130419
Diplomats: Top Aide to UN Nuke Chief Unexpectedly Resigns, Suggesting Tensions Up Top
By Associated Press, [April 19, 2013]
---- A top aide to the chief of the U.N. nuclear agency has unexpectedly resigned, suggesting tensions among the organization's top leadership, diplomats said Friday. The move by IAEA Assistant Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi comes at a critical time for the International Atomic Energy Agency. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/diplomats-top-aide-to-un-nuke-chief-unexpectedly-resigns-suggesting-tensions-up-top/2013/04/19/7175fee2-a92c-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_print.html
Ahmadinejad to Visit Uranium-Rich Niger
From The Daily Star [Lebanon] [April 13, 2013]
---- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel to Niger for a two-day visit, his first to the world's fourth uranium producer, the government in Niamey said on Saturday. Mohammad Nikkhah said the visit would mark a turning point in bilateral ties and would yield "excellent opportunities that will benefit both peoples". He did not elaborate but Niger is one of the world's top producers of uranium, which Iran has long been seeking to acquire for its controversial nuclear programme. http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Apr-13/213626-ahmadinejad-to-visit-uranium-rich-niger.ashx#axzz2QMAEFF7y
The Recent Carnegie Report on Iran's Costly Nuclear Program
Iran's Nuclear Odyssey: Costs and Risks
Ali Vaez, Karim Sadjadpour Report April 2, 2013
---- Iran's half-century nuclear odyssey has been marked by enormous financial costs, unpredictable risks, and unclear motivations. The program's covert history, coupled with the Iranian government's prohibition of open media coverage of the nuclear issue, has prevented a much-needed internal debate about its cost-benefit rationale. Critical questions about the program's economic efficacy and safety have been left unanswered. http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/04/02/iran-s-nuclear-odyssey-costs-and-risks/fvui
Iran's "Nuclear Odyssey": A Critique
By Cyrus Safdari, Iran Affairs [April 19, 2013]
Clapper: Iran Still Not Building a Nuclear Weapon; Purpose of Sanctions is to Foster Unrest
By Nima Shirazi, Wide Asleep in America [April 18, 2013]
--- During questioning from Senators following his prepared remarks, Clapper admitted - as a number of recent independent reports have shown - that the increasingly harsh sanctions levied upon Iran have had no effect on the decision-making process of the Iranian leadership, yet has produced considerable damage to the Iranian economy and resulted in increased "inflation, unemployment, [and the] unavailability of commodities" for the Iranian people. This, he said, is entirely the point.  Responding to Maine Senator Angus King, who asked about the impact sanctions have on the Iranian government, Clapper explained that the intent of sanctions is to spark dissent and unrest in the Iranian population, effectively stating that Obama administration's continued collective punishment of the Iranian people is a deliberate (and embarrassingly futile) tactic employed to the foment regime change. http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/04/clapper-iran-still-not-building-nuclear-weapon.html
US Senate Action Against Iran
Senate Committee: US Will Aid Israel if it Strikes Iran
From Jerusalem Post [April 17, 2013]
---- On Israel's 65th Independence Day, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted "Senate Resolution 65," stipulating that the US will assist Israel diplomatically, economically and militarily if the Jewish state is compelled to take military action against Iran "in its defense of its territory, people, and existence."  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sponsored Tuesday's resolution, which garnered a bipartisan group of 79 co-sponsors. The resolution also emphasizes that the US must be committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=310011
Senate Dims Green-Light For Israeli Attack
April 17, 2013]
---- With unanimous consent from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a revised version of a resolution that originally sought to green-light any Israeli attack on Iran will now pass to the hands of the full Senate. With backing from the influential Israel lobby group AIPAC and 79 co-sponsors, the non-binding resolution looks poised to pass the upper chamber. While the new language assuages some fears about the original bill, the trajectory of the stated push by one of its hawkish co-authors, Lindsey Graham, seems decidedly on track to ratchet up tensions between Iran, and Israel and the United States. The most troubling clause of the resolution itself—one that pledged unconditional U.S. support, including "military" support, for an Israeli strike on Iran—was modified in a mark-up by the committee. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/17/senate-tempers-graham-s-green-light-for-israeli-attack.html
Huge US Arms Deal in the Middle East
U.S. Arms Deal With Israel and 2 Arab Nations Is Near
By Thom Shanker, New York Times [April 18, 2013]
---- The Defense Department is expected to finalize a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week that will provide missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran. A weeklong visit to the region by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will culminate a year of secret negotiations on a deal that Congressional officials said will be second only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia announced in 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/world/middleeast/us-selling-arms-to-israel-saudi-arabia-and-emirates.html?ref=world
U.S. Arms Deal With Middle East Allies Clear Signal to Iran: Hagel
From Reuters [April 21, 2013]
The "Iran Project" Report
Strategic Options for Iran: Balancing Pressure With Diplomacy
From The Iran Project [April 2013]
Report Urges White House to Rethink Iran Penalties
By David E. Sanger, New York Times [April 17, 2013]
---- A panel of former senior American officials and outside experts, including several who recently left the Obama administration, issued a surprisingly critical assessment of American diplomacy toward Iran on Wednesday, urging President Obama to become far more engaged and to reconsider the likelihood that harsh sanctions will drive Tehran to concessions. In a report issued by the Iran Project, the former diplomats and experts suggested that the sanctions policy, rather than bolstering diplomacy, may be backfiring. As the pressure has increased, the group concluded, sanctions have "contributed to an increase in repression and corruption within Iran" and "may be sowing the seeds of long-term alienation between the Iranian people and the United States." The critique comes as both Israel and Congress are urging the administration to go in the opposite direction, to put a sharp time limit on negotiations and, if necessary, to go beyond the financial and oil sanctions that have caused a tremendous drop in the value of the Iranian currency and sent inflation soaring. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/world/middleeast/report-on-iran-urges-obama-to-rethink-sanctions.html?hp
Ex-Officials Urge Obama: Run, Don't Walk to Iran Diplomacy
By Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor [April 17, 2013]
---- Pickering is among 35 foreign policy heavyweights who signed a new report, "Strategic Options for Iran: Balancing Pressure with Diplomacy," released on Wednesday [April 17]. It's the third report by The Iran Project, a non-profit group that seeks to promote US-Iran dialogue, resolve the nuclear crisis peacefully and encourage greater regional cooperation with Iran. The report suggests that to change this dynamic and convince Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the US goal is a nuclear deal, not regime change, the Obama administration needs to take "practical steps … that demonstrate the United States' willingness to work with the existing government of Iran." Among them: "Making a special and public effort to ensure that essential medicines and medical supplies reach Iran" — a suggestion previously made by others including the Iran Task Force of the Atlantic Council in a report earlier this month. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/04/obama-iran-project-report-negotiations.html#
Iran's Presidential Election Heats up as Reformist Rowhani Enters Race
By Farhang Jahanpour, Informed Comment [April 12, 2013]
--- The next crucial round of Iranian presidential elections will be held on 14 June 2013. It has just been officially reported that Hassan Rowhani has declared his candidacy for the election. Rowhani is an influential reformist politician and cleric. He was the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator under President Mohammad Khatami, who negotiated successfully with the Troika of European countries, UK, France and Germany. … So far, the long, lackluster list of the candidates who have officially declared their candidacy is made up largely of the so-called Principlist wing of the Iranian politics. This term applies to the diehard conservatives who are staunch supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, who are close to the senior clerics and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), who are on the whole opposed to rapprochement with the West and particularly with the United States, and who favor a militant, confrontational attitude towards the outside world.  http://www.juancole.com/2013/04/presidential-reformist-jahanpour.html
The Third World, Global Islam and Pragmatism: The Making of Iranian Foreign Policy
By Walter Porsch, SWP Research Paper April 3, 2013]
---- The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the last nation states to deliberately position itself strategically and ideologically in opposition to the United States. The reasons for this lie in the history of Iran in
the twentieth century and – in the view of the regime in Tehran – in the Islamic character and specifically Persian features of the country. Thirty years after the Islamic revolution the Western world is still unsure what ideology the Islamic Republic of Iran espouses and hence which principles and goals guide its foreign policy. The spectrum of opinions ranges from mistrust of an Islamic regime and fear of religious fundamentalism to surprise at the pragmatism of Iranian foreign policy.  Depending on which of these perceptions prevails, this leads to two opposing assessments of Iran: either that its policies are dominated by religious irrationalism, which combined with the Iranian nuclear programme represents a global threat – adherents of this view believe the international community should rigorously oppose this programme; or the opposite view that ideology is only window dressing for a nation-state acting rationally in defence of its own interests. A closer look at the main priorities of Iranian foreign policy reveals that neither of these positions is tenable in itself. http://www.swp-berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/research_papers/2013_RP03_poc.pdf
'A Little Feu de Joie': The Iranian Revolution
By Adam Shatz, London Review of Books [April 2013]
[A review of Days of God: The Revolution in Iran and Its Consequences by James Buchan.]
---- It's unlikely that anyone outside Qom read The Unveiling of Secrets; even inside the seminaries few would have embraced its programme. Yet just three decades later the pamphlet's author, Ruhollah Khomeini, helped launch a revolution against the monarchy and established himself as Iran's supreme leader, with powers even the shah would have envied. The political landscape was transformed: the Shia of Iran, a minority in the house of Islam, had rewritten the script of revolution in the Middle East. James Buchan's Days of God shows how a radicalised clergy took control of a popular uprising against a Western-backed dictator and set up the world's first and only Islamic republic. Buchan tells that story as well as anyone has done, but Days of God is also an erudite reflection on three important questions: why there was a revolution, why it was Islamic and what its legacy has been. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n08/adam-shatz/a-little-feu-de-joie
Iranian-Americans Oppose Strike; Want Focus on Human Rights
By Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor [April 18, 2013]
---- Often viewed as hopelessly divided, Iranian-Americans are united in wanting the US government to expend more effort promoting democracy and human rights in Iran, but do not want the US to try to overthrow Iran's government or strike its nuclear facilities, according to a new poll. The findings reflect the continuing strong ties between the large Iranian diaspora in the US — estimated to number about one million — and their homeland. More than three decades after the overthrow of the Shah, 66% of those polled said they communicate with family and friends in Iran at least several times a month, 32% have a parent in Iran and 44% a sibling there. A majority — 56% — of those polled say that the promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran should be the most important issue for US policy toward Iran. However, only 31% want the United States government explicitly to back regime change and only 15% support any recognized opposition group. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/04/iranian-americans-human-rights-military.html
Officials in Israel Stress Readiness for a Lone Strike on Iran
By Isabel Kershner, New York Times [April 18, 2013]
---- With Chuck Hagel scheduled to begin his first visit to Israel as secretary of defense on Sunday, Israeli defense and military officials issued explicit warnings this week that Israel was prepared and had the capability to carry out a lone military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. … Israeli officials have been expressing growing frustration with what they view as ineffective international efforts to halt what Israel and the West see as an Iranian quest for nuclear weapons. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/world/middleeast/israeli-officials-stress-readiness-for-lone-strike-on-iran.html?ref=world
[FB – The Iranian-American organization Havaar is sponsoring what looks like a very interesting forum on US sanctions against Iran in New York City on April 29.  Among the speakers will be Dr. Joy Gordon, author of an outstanding book on the US/UN sanctions regime against Iraq in the 1990s, and Denis Halliday, an administrator of the UN "Oil for Food" program who quit his post in protest against the unconscionable cruelty of the program.  The forum will be held from 7 to 9 pm at the Graduate Center at CUNY, 365 5th Ave., Room 9100. For more information check out the website of Havaar {"The Iranian Initiative against War, Sanctions and State Repression") at www.havaar.org.]
Iran's Economy to Grow Again in 2014 - IMF
By Reuters [April 16, 2013]
---- Iran's economy should emerge from a recession caused by international sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme, but not until 2014, a year later than previously forecast, according to the IMF.
The sanctions have hurt trade and largely frozen Iran out of the international banking system since late 2011; analysts believe the country's oil exports have been roughly halved. But the International Monetary Fund said Iran was avoiding any balance of payments crisis, in a report suggesting sanctions remain far from having the "crippling" effect on the Iranian economy that US leaders have said they intend. http://www.arabianbusiness.com/iran-s-economy-grow-again-in-2014-imf-498281.html
Kerry Warns Congress Against Iran Sanctions
By Julian Pecquet, The Hill [April 18, 2013]
--- Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday warned Congress against forcing the Obama administration's hand in dealing with Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Kerry urged his successor as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hawkish Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), not to pursue further sanctions for now, as the United States and five other nations negotiate with Iran. Menendez said the Senate is considering legislation to limit Iran's access to its foreign currency reserves to create a "tipping point" in the country's response to outside pressure; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) introduced a new sanctions bill in February. http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/294751-kerry-warns-congress-off-iran-sanctions?utm
Iran Accused in Far-reaching Plot to Evade International Oil Sanctions
By Ben Goad, The Hill [April 11, 2013]
---- The Iranian government used a series of "small banks in out of the way places" to launder billions of dollars as part of the nation's effort to collect oil revenue in the face of economic sanctions, the Obama administration said Thursday. The plot, which is alleged to have stretched from Turkey to the United Arab Emirates to Malaysia, involved a series of front companies that sought to move billions of dollars on behalf of Iran, including tens of millions to a firm linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), according to the Treasury Department. http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/administration/293469-iran-accused-in-far-reaching-plot-to-evade-oil-sanctions
Syria's Six Simultaneous Conflicts
By Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star [April 17, 2013]
---- The conflict in Syria has assumed more dangerous dimensions with the latest developments along the Syrian-Lebanese border, where forces with and against both the Syrian government and Hezbollah have engaged in cross-border shelling…. The easiest way to describe the events in that region has been to speak of Sunni-Shiite fighting, or antagonisms between pro- and anti-Syrian government elements. The involvement of Hezbollah adds a significant new element to the mix, and also helps to clarify what the fighting in and near Syria is all about. It is much more than "spillover" of the Syrian war into Lebanon. The war in Syria is the greatest proxy battle of our age, and that is now clearer than ever as we see how Syria comprises a rich and expansive web of other conflicts playing out on a local, regional and global scale.
The war in Syria is so enduring and vexing precisely because it is such a multilayered conflict, comprising at least six separate battles taking place at the same time.  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Columnist/2013/Apr-17/213992-syrias-six-simultaneous-conflicts.ashx
(Video) 'Terrorists' by Association
From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [April 14, 2013] 25 minutes
---- Discusses Western ties to Syria's opposition amid reports that the al-Nusra front has sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2013/04/201341483152783999.html
In Syria, Some Brace for the Next War
By Liz Sly, Washington Post [April 10, 2013]
---- As this remote corner of northeastern Syria fast slides out of government control, many Syrians are bracing for what they fear will be another war, between the relatively moderate fighters who first took up arms against the government and the Islamist extremists who emerged more recently with the muscle and firepower to drive the rebel advance. The capture last month of the city of Raqqah, Syria's first provincial capital to fall under opposition control, consolidated the gains of an assortment of mostly Islamist-inclined groups across three northeastern provinces. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad cling to just a tiny number of scattered bases and could be ejected anytime. Yet even as the regime continues to hold out, schisms are emerging among rebel groups over ideology, the shape of a future Syrian state and control of the significant resources concentrated in this long-neglected but crucial corner of the country. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-syria-some-brace-for-the-next-war/2013/04/09/284fa018-a11d-11e2-82bc-511538ae90a4_story.html
Also interesting/important – Robert Fisk, "The War Has Reached Damascus, But For Now It Is Not A Warzone," The Independent [UK] [April 12, 2013] http://www.zcommunications.org/the-war-has-reached-damascus-but-for-now-it-is-not-a-warzone-by-robert-fisk; and Rick Gladstone and Eric Schmitt, "Syria Faces New Claim on Chemical Arms," New York Times [April 18, 2013]
Arming the Syrian Opposition
Move to Widen Help for Syrian Rebels Gains Speed in West
By Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, New York Times [April 10, 2013]
---- A long-debated move by Western nations to expand support for Syria's opposition gained momentum on Wednesday, with the United States poised to increase its nonlethal aid to rebel groups and pressure building to lift a European Union embargo on sending arms to Syria. Mr. Kerry and other foreign ministers concerned with the crisis in Syria are expected to gather in Istanbul along with the Syrian opposition in 10 days to consider further steps. That session could be a venue at which the United States might make clear what additional support it is willing to provide. The European Union's embargo on shipment of arms to Syria will expire at the end of May, unless all 27 members vote to extend it — an unlikely situation, diplomats said, given the strong opposition of Britain and France to the ban. European sanctions against the Assad government are also scheduled to expire. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/world/move-to-widen-support-for-syria-rebels-gains-speed.html
More U.S. Help for Syrian Rebels Would Hinge on Pledges
By Mark Landler and Michael R. Gordon, New York Times [April 19, 2013]
---- President Obama has agreed to additional nonlethal aid for Syria's rebels, according to a senior administration official, but the United States also plans to push their political leaders to be inclusive, to protect minorities and to abide by the rule of law. Secretary of State John Kerry planned to meet with opposition leaders in Istanbul on Saturday, as well as with foreign ministers from nations that are supporting them, to discuss both what the United States plans to do to help the rebels and what it expects from them. …. In addition, Mr. Kerry said, the United States wanted the opposition to be "open to the negotiating process to a political settlement" and to "abide by rules with respect to conduct in warfare." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/world/middleeast/more-american-aid-to-syrian-rebels-with-conditions.html?pagewanted=1&ref=world
US prepares $130m military aid package for Syrian rebels
From The Associated Press [April 20, 2013]
---- The US readied a package Saturday of up to $130m in non-lethal military aid to Syrian opposition forces while European countries consider easing an arms embargo, moves that could further pressure the government of President Bashar al-Assad. US secretary of state John Kerry was expected to announce the plans about the defensive military supplies at a meeting Saturday that was bringing together the Syrian opposition leadership and their main international allies.

Friday, April 12, 2013

[haw-info] "New Faces of War" conference last weekend

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

We're glad to report that the third HAW national conference, "The New Faces of War," held in Baltimore last weekend (April 5-7), was a success.
About 150 people attended, slightly more than at our last conference (2008 in Atlanta); it was a congenial mix of historians, other scholars (including several panels of graduate students), and nonacademic peace activists.  We got a lot of enthusiastic feedback from attendees.

Plenary speakers were Alfred McCoy, Ann Wright, Rashid Khalidi, Nick Turse, John Prados, and Carolyn Eisenberg.  Twenty different breakout panels and workshops took place.  Some of the papers will soon be posted on the conference website (http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013), as will video- or audiotapes of several of the sessions.  We'll send another notice out when this has been done.

A major reason for the conference's success was the greater-than-expected response that we received to two fund appeals that we sent to the HAW mailing list prior to the conference.  We would like to acknowledge with thanks the donations we received from the following people (current members of the HAW Steering Committee are not included in this list):  Ben Alpers, Paul Atwood, Bill Barry, Dick Bennett, Cyrus Bina, Paul Buhle, Daniel Czitrom, Geoff Eley, Steve Gosch, Tom Grace, Carmen Hernandez, David Hunt, Davis Joyce, Sandy Kelson, Jeffrey Kerr-Ritchie, Scott Laderman, Jerry Lembcke, Leslie Lomas, John Marciano, Beth McKillen, Maria Mitchell, Roger Peace, Gail Radford, Susan Reverby, Elizabeth Sanders, Ellen Schrecker, Lewis Seigelbaum, Rupa Shah, Andor Skotnes, Alonzo Smith, Judy Smith, Ted Steinberg, Susie Strasser, and James Young.  Thanks!

Jim O'Brien
co-chair of HAW

Thursday, April 11, 2013

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - April 11, 2013

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
April 11, 2013
Hello All – As expected, last week's negotiations in Kazakhstan between the P5+1 and Iran about the latter's nuclear program ended in failure.  While leaders of the two sides have agreed to keep talking, no next meeting has been scheduled, and it is unlikely that there will be one until the conclusion of Iran's presidential election, which will take place in June.
Two things stuck me from the press reporting about the negotiations.  The first was the – real or feigned? – "amazement" on the part of the United States and its partners that Iran did not respond respectfully and in detail to the petty and insignificant concessions offered Iran by the P5+1 if Iran would cut back much of its nuclear program.  In the weeks leading up to the negotiations, independent analysts in the United States and Europe commented frequently that the negotiating position being signaled by the Obama team seemed certain of failure.  Yet, according to press reports, the P5+1 negotiators seemed completely unprepared for the Iranian reaction and their subsequent counter-proposal for an enlarged and comprehensive roadmap towards a settlement.  As CIA veteran Paul Pillar notes in an essay linked below, there is an incoherence in the US negotiating position that is almost incomprehensible.
Unless, that it, the Obama administration has decided that negotiations are useful only for their "demonstration" qualities, that is, preparing the home audience for a resort to military force by proclaiming that Iran refuses to negotiate seriously.  As noted below, during their time in Israel and the Middle East, Obama and Kerry frequently noted that "time is running out," and negotiations must be concluded sooner rather than later.  Similarly, it seems to me that liberal and centrist thinking tanks are making similar comments, that "time is running out" for a negotiated solution.  As there is no evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon, and as many of the technical developments in Iran's nuclear program show that Iran is not pushing its program toward Obama's (or even Israel's) "red lines," what is this imaginary clock on which "time is running out"?  Yet the ticking clock metaphor seems to me to be more and more common in mainstream reporting and commentary.
In addition to news accounts and some useful analytical pieces covering the Kazakhstan negotiations, the good/useful essays linked below also include some assessments of how the Korean events might impact US thinking about Iran; a deeper look at the meaning of sanctions against Iran; a critical look at the US media's reporting on Iran and its nuclear program; an interesting report on Iran's nuclear goals in the 1970s under the Shah; and a few useful items on the regional spillover from the war in Syria.
As this newsletter (out every Sunday!) is so late this week, the next one will arrive (without fail!) on Sunday, April 21.
Once again I would like to thank those who you who have forwarded this newsletter or linked it on your sites.  Previous "issues" of the Iran War Weekly are posted 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
In This Nuclear Standoff, It's the US That's the Rogue State
By Jonathan Steele, The Guardian [UK] [April 10, 2013]
---- By coincidence two clashes over nuclear issues are hitting the headlines together. North Korea and Iran have both had sanctions imposed by foreign governments, and when they refuse to "behave properly" they are submitted to "isolation" and put in the corner until they are ready to say sorry and change their conduct. If not, corporal punishment will be administered, since they have been given fair warning by the enforcers that "all options are on the table". … If it is offensive for North Korea to talk of launching a nuclear strike at the United States (a threat that is empty because the country has no system to deliver the few nuclear weapons that it has), how is it less offensive for the US to warn Iran that it will be bombed if it fails to stop its nuclear research? Both states would be resorting to force when dialogue is a long way from being exhausted. They would also be acting against international law. http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/casmii/index.php?q=node/13204
Also on Iran and Korea - David M. Herszenhorn and Rick Gladstone, "North Korea Events Complicate Nuclear Talks With Iran," New York Times [April 5, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/06/world/middleeast/talks-resume-on-curbing-irans-nuclear-program.html?ref=world
Iranians Have Memories Too
By Ted Snider, ZNet [April 11, 2013]
---- Since North Americans see the current set of negotiations as the only set of negotiations, existing discreetly without historical context, they do not recognize the pattern or, therefore, the conclusion. For Iranians, who may see the current set of negotiations, not as historical creationists, but as people with a historical memory, because it is their history they are remembering, recognizing the historical pattern may just lead them to the same conclusion arrived at by the former head of the IAEA: that, as was the case for Mossadeq, the intent of deception and impossibility in negotiations is not, as with international abandonment, foreign support for internal attacks, sanctions and being portrayed as irrational, an agreement with the Iranian regime, but a replacement of the Iranian regime. http://www.zcommunications.org/iranians-have-memories-too-by-ted-snider
Is Time on Iran's Side?
By Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Lobe Log [April 8, 2013]
---- The latest round of talks between the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) and Iran in Kazakhstan concluded on Saturday without any tangible progress. While details of the reciprocal offers remain unclear, what we have learned indicates that neither side is in any particular hurry to conclude the lengthy negotiations. In the meantime international sanctions, which have plunged Iran's economy into its deepest crisis since the war with Iraq, will remain in force and may even be tightened. An important question now is whether the delay in resolving the crisis favors Iran or its Western foes, and the answer has to do in part with what one believes is happening to Iran's economy. http://www.lobelog.com/is-time-on-irans-side/
Iran Nuclear Talks: Citizen Diplomacy Would Build Trust
By William Green Miller and Seyed Hossein Mousavian
---- After 34 years of hostilities between Iran and the United States, there is now an opportunity for settling their mutual differences. The Obama administration has reiterated its willingness to engage in direct bilateral talks with Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has responded to this overture by indicating that Iran would be open to talks when America "proves its goodwill." … As former American and Iranian diplomats, we recognize that ultimately our two governments must act together to make peace. But we believe that there are other ways than official diplomatic negotiations to bring our two nations and peoples closer and to build trust. The people of our two nations can engage directly without compromising the negotiating positions of our governments. We propose that the Iranian and American governments once again encourage non-official civilian diplomacy: private citizens and groups undertaking a wide range of people-to-people activities that result in mutual understanding and normal, civilized behavior. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0405/Iran-nuclear-talks-Citizen-diplomacy-would-build-trust
US: Nuclear Talk Progress Depends Entirely on Iran
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [April 3, 2013]
---- With nuclear talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan set to resume thing week, US officials say that all the blame for any failure of the talks will lie with the Iranian government, saying it is simply up to Iran to accept the proposal made at the last Almaty summit, in late February. Iran came out of the first Almaty summit optimistic, but that evaporated after an interim meeting in Istanbul last week to discuss details, which ended with the impression that the US-backed proposal demanded more than it initially seemed of Iran, while offering less than initially advertised in the form of sanctions relief. The P5+1 are trying to talk Iran into ending all 20 percent enrichment, and to end all ongoing activities at their civilian enrichment facility in Fordow. The concessions for all of this are, by the most recent indications, that Iran would be allowed small amounts of "grey market" bartering in gold, while the vast majority of sanctions would remain in place, even though a large chunk of Iran's civilian nuclear program would be abandoned.
Iran, P5+1 Talks End Without a Deal
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [April 6, 2013]
---- The Almaty II [in Kazakhstan] summit has ended today with no deal, and diplomats familiar with the exchange say that the two sides remain "far apart," particularly on the issue of what rights, if any, Iran has to a civilian nuclear program. The meeting was expected to be a fairly straightforward exercise in show diplomacy, with both sides exchanging pleasantries, Iran providing an answer to the Almaty I proposal, and everyone moving on to another meeting. Instead, P5+1 officials are "puzzled" and in no small measure annoyed that the meeting didn't go to plan, as Iran presented their own counter-proposal which subsumed the initial one and included much broader pledges, with an eye toward a final settlement that would resolve the issue once and for all. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/04/06/iran-p51-talks-end-without-a-deal/
Cautious Optimism as Negotiations Between Iran and the P5+1 Resume in Almaty
By Nima Shirazi, Wide Asleep in America [April 5, 2013]
---- A second round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – the five nuclear-armed permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany – over Iran's nuclear program began today, Friday April 5, 2013, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Iranian officials have remained hopeful that the talks will prove fruitful, building upon the relatively productive previous meetings. "Almaty I meeting bore positive results, and we also hope that in Almaty II this forward movement continues," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi recently told the press. While "this issue will not be solved overnight," Salehi added, "the process of solving this issue has begun." http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/04/cautious-optimism-as-negotiations.html
For more play-by-play details – Scott Peterson, "Iran stance 'puzzles' negotiators after first day of nuclear talks," Christian Science Monitor [April 5, 2013] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0405/Iran-stance-puzzles-negotiators-after-first-day-of-nuclear-talks; Laura Rozen, "'Robust' Iran nuclear talks reveal gulf between sides," Al-Monitor [April 6, 2013] http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2013/04/4976/us-diplomat-substantive-iran-nuclear-talks-reveal-distance-between-two-sides/#ixzz2PlGwlEkf; and Scott Peterson, "Deep rifts exposed in latest round of Iran nuclear talks," Christian Science Monitor [April 7, 2013] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0407/Deep-rifts-exposed-in-latest-round-of-Iran-nuclear-talks?nav=87-frontpage-entryLeadStory
State the Objective of the Iran Talks
By Paul Pillar, The National Interest [April 8, 2013]
---- While realizing that criticism of someone's approach to a negotiation needs to be done with some diffidence if the critic does not have direct access to either the negotiating room or either side's planning sessions, the United States and its P5+1 partners do seem to be persisting in some major errors in how they are approaching the nuclear negotiations with Iran. That's a shame, given that a deal –a good deal, from the standpoint of nuclear nonproliferation objectives—is very much attainable through well-handled negotiations. One mistake is an apparent expectation that agreement will be reached not through hard bargaining in which the negotiators on both sides tenaciously try to extract the best possible terms for their own side, but instead through a highly asymmetric process in which there will only be some modest dickering over implementation of whatever proposal the P5+1 has put on the table.
In Multilateral Talks With Iran, Israel Is Increasingly Isolated
By Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation [April 8, 2013]
---- It's no surprise that the latest round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 ended with no deal. That much was predicted by all, especially since Iran is getting ready for what promises to be a contentious and controversial presidential election in June. But it's instructive to contrast the reactions from American officials and Israeli officials to the lack of a breakthrough in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the talks took place on Friday and Saturday. http://www.thenation.com/blog/173701/israel-isolated-iran-threats-after-iran-p51-talks-end-latest-round
On Our "Now What?" Moment
By Farideh Farhi, Lobe Log [April 7, 2013]
---- From the looks of it, the second round of talks with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan was a complete failure, with both sides unable to even find a common language to begin a process of give and take. The sense I get is that the US side is rather unhappy, even more than expected, with Iran. After all, it made a slight move during the first round by reportedly not demanding the complete dismantling of Fordo and rather asking for its suspension with provisions that would make its return to operation difficult. In return, it offered some sanctions relief regarding the gold trade and petrochemical industry. The Iranian leadership did not think this was a balanced offer even if they acknowledged the US move as a positive step. Subsequent efforts to make the offer more balanced during the technical talks in Istanbul failed. Hence, as they have done before, the Iranian negotiating team shifted gears and began talking about a comprehensive solution to the Iran question that will address other regional issues (i.e. Syria and Bahrain) as well as delineate what the end game will be. The endgame for Tehran since everything began in 2003 has always entailed the right to enrich uranium on Iranian soil. In retrospect, we should have expected Iran's shift back toward a comprehensive discussion — which also happened in Moscow — after efforts during the technical talks to make the revised proposal more balanced failed.
Some Iranian Views
Iran's final statement on Almaty 2 talks
From Press TV [April 7, 2013]
Why P5+1 Mechanism Is Not Efficient Enough to Achieve Broad-based Agreement?
Ali Ghannadi, Iran Review [April 10, 2013]
---- Tehran accepts the need for taking small, confidence-building steps, but notes that such steps should be "equivalent" in weight on both sides, concluding that "suspension [of uranium enrichment] in return for lifting of a small part of sanctions are not equivalent in weight." The Western side, however, emphasizes that part of its existing demands are also among its "immediate concerns" which it cannot easily ignore.
Although this collection of differences caused Almaty 2 negotiations to end without a conclusive result, they also prompted both sides to engage in more transparent and more serious discussions than ever before, thus, shedding more light on the points of difference as well as their policy lines. http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Why-P5-1-Mechanism-Is-Not-Efficient-Enough-to-Achieve-Broad-based-Agreement-.htm
"The Father of Iran's Nuclear Programme"
By Peter Jenkins, Lobe Log
---- Last week the BBC's "Today" programme carried an interview with Dr. Akbar Etemad, who was in charge of Iran's fledgling nuclear program between 1974 and 1978 and who has lived outside Iran since the Revolution. Dr. Etemad spoke frankly of the instructions he received from Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi, a valued ally of the West. Dr. Etemad's mission was "to go for all the technologies imaginable in the field of nuclear technology". The Shah wanted Iran to be capable of meeting a large proportion of its electricity needs without running down oil and gas reserves that were better used to earn foreign exchange. He also wanted Iran to have a nuclear weapons option, to become capable of making nuclear devices should he perceive a need for them. What's striking about this summary of the Shah's thinking is the close resemblance it bears to post-2006 US national intelligence estimates (NIEs) of the Islamic Republic's intentions. http://www.lobelog.com/the-father-of-irans-nuclear-programme/
Defiant Iran Unveils New Uranium Sites
From Aljazeera [April 9, 2013]
---- Iran has unveiled a new uranium production facility and two extraction mines, only days after talks with world powers on its disputed nuclear programme again ended in deadlock. … The mines in Saghand city operate 350 metres underground and are within 120km of the new yellowcake production facility at Ardakan, a city in the central province of Yazd, state television said. The report gave few details of the Ardakan facility, but said it had an estimated 60 tonnes annual output of "yellowcake", which is an impure state of uranium oxide, used in enrichment processes. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/2013495585306405.html
Fault Lines, Not Red Lines
BY Ali Vaez, Foreign Policy [April 10, 2013]
---- A 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook Iran's southern shores on Tuesday, April 9, on the afternoon that the country was celebrating its National Nuclear Technology Day. Nearly 800 homes were destroyed, killing 37 people and injuring more than 900. Iran's sole nuclear reactor, located in Bushehr, almost 100 miles from the quake's epicenter, was, according to Iranian and Russian officials, unaffected. But there's no way of knowing until the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report comes out in May. Either way, they got lucky. The Bushehr reactor, which was completed in 2011, sits at the intersection of three tectonic plates and is designed to endure earthquakes up to a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter scale. So this was a very close call for the hybrid German-Russian reactor -- a virtual petri dish of amalgamated equipment and antiquated technology. The sui generis nature of the reactor means that Iran cannot benefit from other countries' safety experiences. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/10/fault_lines_not_red_lines_iran_nuclear_bushehr?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full
Also on the quake – From Aljazeera, "Dozens Die in Quake Near Iran Nuclear Plant" [April 9, 2013]
How much is a nuclear program worth? For Iran, well over $100 billion.
By Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor [April 3, 2013]
---- According to a new report, keeping Iran's condemned nuclear program going has already cost Tehran more than $100 billion in lost oil revenue and foreign investments alone.
Obama Talks Peace to Iran, But Dishes Out Violence
By Jamasb Madani, Antiwar.com [April 8, 2013]
---- Ironically, as President Obama delivered his first Nowruz message in 2009, urging Iran's government to "unclench" its fists, his administration was accelerating a covert, cyber warfare initiative launched by the Bush administration, codenamed "Olympic Games." In the years that followed, as Obama delivered other Nowruz messages, the United States conspired with Israel to develop and launch additional attacks of cyber-terrorism against Iran, such as Stuxnet and Flame. In the Iranian public psyche, cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities are not mere technological sabotage, but rather instill collective fear and anxiety about damage to nuclear installations that threaten the safety of the Iranian population. And let's not forget the looming threat of direct military attack. With each passing year, and with every Nowruz message, the level of both real and potential American violence against Iran and Iranians has escalated. http://original.antiwar.com/jamasb-madani/2013/04/08/obama-talks-peace-to-iran-but-dishes-out-violence/
Kerry: US Won't Hesitate to Attack Iran
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [April 8, 2013]
---- Speaking today in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the Obama Administration would "not hesitate" to launch a military strike on Iran if it decides that diplomacy has failed in the ongoing dispute over Iran's civilian nuclear program. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/04/08/kerry-us-wont-hesitate-to-attack-iran/
On the US Mainstream Media
Painfully Following Iran in the U.S. Media
By Rami G. Khouri. Middle East Online [April 2013]
---- One of the most annoying aspects of spending time in the United States, as I have just done with a month's working visit there, is to follow the news coverage of Iran in the mainstream American media. Well, calling it "news" coverage is a bit of a stretch, because the mainstream American media is not really reporting news about Iran, but rather repackaged ideological attacks and threats that emanate primarily from the American and Israeli governments. The main problem -- evident in virtually every story about Iran in the mainstream media, including the "quality" outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the leading television channels -- is that the coverage is inevitably based on assumptions, fears, concerns, accusations and expectations that are almost never supported by factual and credible evidence. … I have no doubt that any impartial assessment of the professional conduct of most American media in covering the Iran situation would find it deeply flawed and highly opinionated, to the point where I say that mainstream media coverage of Iran in the United States is professionally criminal. http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=57940
Washington Post Editors Get Mixed Up On Iran's Nuclear Program
By Matt Duss, Think Progress [Apr 9, 2013]
Iran's Economy Facing a Challenging Year
By Jahangir Amuzegar, Middle East Economic Survey [April 8, 2013]
---- Current visible signs indeed seem to indicate that the new Persian year (March 2013-March 2014) is likely to witness—apart from unforeseen political crises related to the June 2013 presidential election or other events - a combination of anemic growth, double-digit inflation, near record unemployment, multiple exchange rates, a banking system in trouble and the fate of the fiscal budget (including the second phase of the Subsidies Reform Program) in limbo. By some pessimistic estimates, the coming year promises to be the most worrisome twelve months since 1994. http://www.mees.com/en/articles/7347-iran-s-economy-facing-a-chalenging-year
Iran Warned on Food Security
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times [April 3, 2013]
---- With abundant stocks of food in its shops and supermarkets, Iran does not look like a country hit by tough international sanctions over its nuclear programme. But agriculture analysts and food producers warn that food security for a large segment of Iranian society is increasingly at risk due to high inflation – officially 28.7 per cent but believed to be far higher – and the fall of the national currency, the rial, by more than 50 per cent since last year because of US and EU sanctions. The problem has been exacerbated by poor performance in the agricultural sector which suffers from under-investment, partly because of a reliance on imports in recent years. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/809b63da-8fb9-11e2-9239-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Q0XlJQTG
The New Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide
By Geneive Abdo, Brookings [April 2013]
[FB – Abdo addresses the Iranian case and perspective beginning at this link.]
Iran's Presidential Election, June 2013
Iran Analysis: Losing Control of the Presidential Election?
By Scott Lucas, Enduring America [April 8, 2013]
---- Developments this weekend have put a question mark over one of the running assumptions about Iranian politics, namely that the Supreme Leader and his advisors have control of the decision in the Presidential election. http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2013/4/8/iran-analysis-losing-control-of-the-presidential-election.html
Also useful – Thomas Erdbrink, "Power Struggle Is Gripping Iran Ahead of June Election," New York Times [April 3, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/04/world/middleeast/ahmadinejad-of-iran-reshapes-image-ahead-of-june-vote.html?hp; and Marcus George, "Former Nuclear Negotiator Joins Iran's Presidential Race," Reuters [April 11, 2013] http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/11/uk-iran-election-idUKBRE93A0CQ20130411
Navy Deploying Laser Weapon Prototype Near Iran
By Thom Shanker, New York Times [April 8, 2013]
---- The Navy is going to sea for the first time with a laser attack weapon that has been shown in tests to disable patrol boats and blind or destroy surveillance drones. A prototype shipboard laser will be deployed on a converted amphibious transport and docking ship in the Persian Gulf, where Iranian fast-attack boats have harassed American warships and where the government in Tehran is building remotely piloted aircraft carrying surveillance pods and, someday potentially, rockets. The laser will not be operational until next year, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/world/navy-deploying-laser-weapon-prototype-in-persian-gulf.html?ref=world
Deep Sanctions on Iran are Repeating the Deadly Mistakes of Iraq
By Coralie Pison Hindawi, Informed Comment [April 8, 2013]
---- Looking at the Iranian nuclear crisis today, the issue has really very little to do with how high the cost inflicted by the sanctions on Iran must be to force the regime to cooperate, and what the red lines are for both Iran and the 'West'. Arguably, talks as the recent ones in Kazakhstan, offers of limited relief on sanctions, should the Iranians agree on one move or another, don't have the potential to solve things either. The file is now on the Security Council's desk, acting under Chapter VII, and the rationale for the Council's involvement is the need to regain trust in the peaceful intentions of Iran's nuclear activities. However, even in the unlikely event that the Iranians would agree to 'cooperate fully' with the IAEA and to refrain from pursuing some of the nuclear activities they have been involved in, it is impossible to define clearly what level of cooperation will be considered enough to end the process, what new requirements or questions may be raised, month after month, possibly year after year. http://www.juancole.com/2013/04/sanctions-repeating-mistakes.html
Why the Iran Sanctions Don't Work
Bijan Khajehpour, Reza Marashi, and Trita Parsi, The National Interest [April 3, 2013]
---- FB – This is a précis of the same authors' report, "Never Give In, Never Give Up: The Impact of Sanctions on Iran's Nuclear Calculations," which can be read at:  http://www.niacouncil.org/site/DocServer/Never_give_in__never_give_up.pdf?docID=1941] http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/why-the-iran-sanctions-dont-work-8301?page=show
Syrian Spillover
[An interactive map tracking the internationalization of Syria's civil war.]
By J. Dana Stuster, Foreign Policy [April 4, 2013]
---- Last week, on March 25, unnamed foreign and U. S. government officials revealed to the Associated Press that the United States has been secretly training Syrian rebels in Jordan, and the New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence services facilitated large arms purchases for rebel forces by Saudi Arabia. It marked a milestone in the militarization of Syria's bloody civil war: Barely a week before, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters, "[T]he United States does not stand in the way of other countries that have made a decision to provide arms, whether it's France or Britain or others." The disclosures are a departure from public U.S. policy on Syria, which has attempted to regulate the distribution of arms through a "security coordination committee" without getting embroiled in the conflict. But the U.S. training program and role in procuring arms for rebels are just the latest instances of the internationalization of Syria's civil war. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/04/syrian_spillover_map_civil_war
Is the US Opening Up Another Front in the Drone War on the Iraq-Syria Border?
By John Glaser, Antiwar.com [April 4, 2013]
---- In response to increasing cross-border collaboration between al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and Jabhat al-Nursa, AQI's offshoot in the Syrian rebel opposition, the Iraqi government informally requested the US conduct drone strikes against the militants, The Associated Press reports.  Now, the White House has already directed the CIA to increase its cooperation and backing of Iraqi state militias to fight al-Qaeda affiliates there and cut off the flow of fighters pouring into Syria. There are already plenty of problems with boosting support for Iraq's security forces, which have essentially been used as a secret police force for Maliki to attack, detain, and torture his political opponents.  But "conducting kinetic operations for [Iraq] could quickly draw the United States into creating additional enemies out of what are domestic and regionally-focused terrorist groups," writes Micah Zenko [5] at the Council on Foreign Relations. http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/04/04/is-the-us-opening-up-another-front-in-the-drone-war-on-the-iraq-syria-border/
Iraq's Branch of Al Qaeda Merges With Syria Jihadists
By Hania Mourtada and Rick Gladstone, New York Times [April 9, 2013]
---- Iraq's branch of Al Qaeda said Tuesday that it had merged with the Nusra Front, a group of jihadists fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, in a marriage that appeared to strengthen the role of Islamic militants in the Syrian insurgency and further complicate Western assistance efforts. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/Iraq-and-Syria-jihadists-combine.html?ref=world
(Video) Preparing for the day after al-Assad's fall
From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [April 7, 2013]
---- Teams are gathering at the UN's headquarters to plan the future of Syria, but most of these plans remain secret. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2013/04/2013475546239827.htm