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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


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