April 13, 2015
Mixed signals, political in-fighting and legacy issues could spell doom for the Iranian nuke deal. The agreement hinges on three things; the removal of international sanctions, something that would free-up capital in Iran and unleash its ailing economy. The second involves storing the nuclear waste produced during power generation and reducing the number and speed of centrifuges required to build a nuclear weapon. And three, allowing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to monitor its nuclear energy program more closely. Unfortunately the consensus is– there is no consensus.
Critics like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordon argue: “The framework deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb. By removing the sanctions and lifting the main restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in about a decade, this framework paves Iran’s path to a bomb. The result will be a dramatic increase in the risks of nuclear proliferation and an increase in the chances of a terrible war.”
About three years ago President Obama addressed the possibility of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic and said “containing Iran” was not an option. He admitted that if the Iranians were allowed to move forward with their nuclear ambitions chaos would ensue. It did anyway.
President Obama is trying to calm critics and coalesce fellow Democrats using his signature “pen and phone” moves. Senior White House officials say the deal is not a treaty, but an executive agreement and the next president can nullify the deal at any time. That backdrop sparked fighting in both political parties in Washington. DC. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee drafted legislation that would give lawmakers the final say in any Iranian nuclear agreement. The backers of a bill say they are closing in on a veto proof majority that would effectively blunt any White House deal.
The President continues to flip-flop on the nuclear issue, partially due to a contentious relationship with Israel’s prime minister. Yet, the president gave a speech at AIPAC where he gave the illusion that he was both tough and reassuring. “Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction. And so I understand the profound historical obligation that weighs on the shoulders of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, and all of Israel’s leaders.”
President Obama said a nuclear-armed Iran was counter to both Israel and America. “The entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the non-proliferation regime that we’ve done so much to build. There are risks that an Iranian nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. It is almost certain that others in the region would feel compelled to get their own nuclear weapon, triggering an arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It would embolden a regime that has brutalized its own people, and it would embolden Iran’s proxies, who have carried out terrorist attacks from the Levant (Iraq) to southwest Asia.”
So what changed? The Obama Doctrine. In a recent interview with Thomas Friedman, the president said his doctrine represented: “We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
A more likely reason for the renewed Middle East peace agreement centers on a president in search of a legacy. What started out as a stratospheric presidency filled with hope, change and a Nobel Peace prize has quickly devolved into war (Libya), after war (Syria) after war (Iraq) after war (Yemen).
In the same interview President Obama highlighted America’s war capabilities in dollars and cents. “Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us.”
It’s true, Iran can’t really fight a superpower separated by two big oceans, but it can by following the principles of asymmetric warfare by using proxies to challenge on American boots on the ground in the Middle East at places and times of its choosing. Remember many authorities claim Iran introduced the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) that killed thousands of US soldiers.
And what about those pesky red lines that Mr. Obama defines and fails to honor? “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff. I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
If history is any indicator President Obama’s word doesn’t mean much. That’s why Saudi Arabia is also concerned about the possible deal with Iran. In the past the Israeli Defense Forces attacked nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007.
When Saudi Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir was asked if the framework of nuke deal holds up would they seek a nuclear weapon? He said, “I can’t comment on that but I can say we will do whatever it takes to protect our people and our nation two things we don’t compromise on is our faith and our security.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed similar sentiments at his address to Congress last month. “I can guarantee you this; the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over. We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.”
That statement suggests Israel is prepared to attack (could be cyber [i.e., Stuxnet or conventional) Iran’s nuclear facilities. The, Middle East Forum, a DC think-tank, explained Israel’s position this way. “If one assumes, as one should, that the Iranian leadership is determined to build a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver it, then the economic issues (sanctions, boycotts, embargoes) that drive the P5+1 negotiations are tangential. They affect the speed, cost, and difficulty of building an arsenal, but do not impede its ultimate realization. The only way to stop Iran’s program is by using force, presumably by attacking its nuclear infrastructure from the air. Yet this prospect, now marginalized as the ‘war option’ in contrast with two years ago, is no longer discussed.”
Daniel Pipes continued to illustrate his point saying, “Netanyahu (was) just reelected Prime Minister, Israel has a leader seemingly prepared to take fateful steps. Distracted by negotiations, however, we hardly think about this – even though the Israel Defense Forces has twice before attacked nuclear installations (Iraq’s in 1981, Syria’s in 2007), and both times to universal surprise.”
If this is the Israeli position, it certainly explains the cozy relationship Bibi Netanyahu has formed with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni run country that also seeks the Jewish State’s destruction.
In a Kingdom of Saudi Arabia op-ed story titled “Iran vs. Saudi Arabia” the article claims “Gulf states, and especially Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, have been experiencing the nightmare of an Iranian attack for decades.” Abdul Rahman Rashed, wrote in the A-Sharq Al-Awsat; “Now, after the nuclear agreement, there is no doubt that the danger has doubled. People are angry with the Obama administration for selling this region cheaply. He left it to its own devices to face an evil state. As long as the Americans don’t explicitly state their commitment to defend Saudi Arabia from Iran and Iraq, we will face large-scale regional anarchy as a result of the nuclear deal.”
Since the framework for a deal was announced, Saudi Arabia King Salman has met with many regional Gulf States, including Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev. The country is Iran’s neighbor and happens to be an ally of Israel. According to a KSA report, “the two leaders discussed developments in the region and the world.”
Despite “peace negotiations,” a belligerent Iran continues to meddle in the region. “In the shadow of the latest round of nuclear negotiations, Iran has launched the most dangerous episode of its regional onslaught, namely the Houthi revolution, which has reached the borders of Aden and [the strait of] Bab el-Mandeb,” a London-based Saudi paper reported. “Perhaps [Iran] relied on three things: first, Obama’s reluctance to take a firm position that would hamper negotiations. Second, that Saudi Arabian anger would not reach the point of deciding to go to war. And third, that Egypt and Turkey’s resolve would not match Saudi Arabia’s.”
Do they or don’t they have a bomb?
Earlier this year National Security Director James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei ended its nuclear weapon program in 2003.
“As far as we know, he’s not made the decision to go for a nuclear weapon,” Clapper testified. He also said Iran “wants to preserve options across the capabilities it would take to build [a nuclear weapon], but right now they don’t have one, and have not made that decision.”
It’s important to remember that the Intelligence Community got the “weapons of mass destruction” wrong in the lead up to the Iraq War. Moreover, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) website does not identify any Iranian nuclear weapons program. But the former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn disagrees and says we’ve been at war with radical Islam, both Sunni and Shia, for the last 10 years. “We are not capturing terrorists anymore.” And if the parameters of this nuke deal hold it “just incentivized 30 years of bad behavior.”
Nevertheless, Iran first signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) on July 1, 1968. Under the program Iran has agreed to steer clear of manufacturing, receiving or acquiring nuclear weapons.
The latest IAEA report, dated last month, confirms that assumption. “Iran’s nuclear activities remain peaceful and under the full scope safeguards of the IAEA.” However, there are a number of military sites the IAEA inspectors have been forbidden to inspect. And as a result the West and Gulf States remain skeptical of Iran’s real nuclear ambitions.
Willful ignorance in play in Yemen
The Saudi Arabian-led air assault, now in its second week, continues to use US bombs to control the airspace in Yemen, where 70 percent of the country is controlled by Arab Spring deposed dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, and, 30 percent follows US installed and KSA-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Unfortunately this scenario is not new (i.e., Karzai, Maliki, Morsi).
While the world watches from the sidelines the Yemenis have a front row view of the destruction of their communities and if Syria and Libya are the template the Yemeni people have nothing to look forward to.
In a CBS interview with Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, also ostracized by the US, explained why he is still in charge despite more than 200,000 deaths in a difficult 4-year civil war. “As long as I have the public support of the Syrian people. That’s my legitimacy; legitimacy comes from the inside, but why? I will tell you why. Because the West used to have puppets [SIC]. Not independent leaders, or officials in any other country.”
According to the US military, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified the Department of Defense just one hour prior to dropping bombs in Yemen. A move that highlights Gulf nation allies distrust with American motives when it comes to the protracted “war on terror.”
With Middle East tensions ratcheting up, Yemen’s President Abed Hadi (installed by the US) was forced to flee his country by boat to nearby safe haven, Egypt. The latest civil war heightens the possibility of a direct confrontation between Iran and the Gulf Coalition Council (GCC) on the Arabian Peninsula.
The latest Middle East skirmish prompted KSA to strike with overwhelming force. It took “Operation Decisive Storm” two days to seized control of Yemen’s airspace and created the opening salvo into the official Sunni verses Shia sectarian battlefield. However, the use of overpowering force comes with a price and in the capitol of Yemen, Sana’a, the bombs have destroyed residential neighborhoods, seemingly creating another refugee crisis.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. military is preparing to expand its aid to Saudi Arabia in its air campaign against rebel forces in Yemen by providing more intelligence, bombs and aerial refueling missions for planes carrying out airstrikes there, American officials said Friday. American military planners are using live intelligence feeds from surveillance flights over Yemen to help Saudi Arabia decide what and where to bomb, U.S. officials said.”
The Saudi Defense Ministry affirms that the Saudi Arabia-led partnership continues airstrikes leveling the infrastructure the Houthi rebels need to continue their attack.
The latest “regime change” conflict comes amid faltering US and Iranian nuclear talks and a week after DoD notified lawmakers that more than $500 million in US arsenal went “missing” in Yemen after US personnel were quickly forced to evacuate the ancient nation.
With Iran wielding an extraordinary growth in power in the region, the Islamic Republic seemingly outmaneuvered the Obama administration relative to its sincerity to negotiate nuclear weapons.
Speaking out against the “willful ignorance” of the Obama regime, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) leader Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn stated the obvious when is comes to the US’s schizophrenic foreign policy. “We should stop, take a deep breath, step back and look at everything that’s going on.” While the White House appears to see a light at the end of a tunnel, Flynn says it’s nothing more than a mirage. “The tunnel (the White House sees) that’s going to walk the US into a new level of nirvana,” Flynn said. “I don’t know what else to call it and in fact that light is not going to expose the US to some new world.”
The general suggested that the Middle East is completely broken and a new region is struggling to be born. Evidenced by the fact that Iran’s influence is on the march in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and now Yemen.
The former intelligence director concluded that the mere “idea of dealing with Iran, who has ballistic missiles, is a state-sponsor of terror” is ludicrous. “To negotiate a nuclear deal is perplexing.” After a distinguished 33-year career in the Army focusing on intelligence, General Flynn offers his former boss some advice. “I’d tell the president to stop all engines (on) what we’re doing because it’s not going in the right direction.”
Concurring with the general’s assessment on the Middle East is Obama’s former ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery who simply said, “We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”
The escalating sectarian violence prompted several Gulf countries to piece together a military ground force to combat Iran’s expansion and other troublesome terror groups. Leaders of Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait adopted a resolution to study the issues. “Assuming the great responsibility imposed by great challenges facing our Arab nation and threatening its capabilities, the Arab leaders had decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force,” Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said a weekend summit. The outspoken leader has assumed a large part of the responsibility when it comes to fighting radical Islam and denouncing its religious fanaticism.
Recognizing the tumultuous sectarian Sunni verses Shia violence has the propensity to embroil the region in Muslim version of regional war. Even Arab League chief, Nabil al-Arabi acknowledged the danger that ISIS poses to the region and said ISIS would continue to spread beyond the traditional battlefields or begin real proxy wars.
Read the previous story: Yemen moves to join Libya and Syria league of dysfunction
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