NYT – Iran is building a nonworking mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that United States officials say may be intended to be blown up for propaganda value.
Intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations first noticed the vessel rising from the Gachin shipyard, near Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, last summer. The ship has the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz’s number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck.
What country has a lower birthrate than London or Paris? Answer after the break. Read More
Wallerstein is a world systems historian so he usually has holes in his analysis, but this one? Nope. I can go all the way with it. I just wish he’d addressed the de-facto entente between Israel and the Saudis.
In the 90s we had a full blown de jure and de facto entente between Israel and Turkey. But Israel’s intransigence and arrogance blew it up during the late aughts and early teens of this century.
That entente no longer exists, in form or function.
UPDATE 2-Iran names 7 Western oil companies it wants to return
Dec 4 (Reuters) – Iran on Wednesday named seven Western oil companies it wants back in its vast oil and gas fields if international sanctions are lifted and said it would outline investment terms in April next year.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh named the seven in order: Total of France, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s ENI, Norway’s Statoil, Britain’s BP and U.S. companies Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips .
Speaking to reporters at an OPEC meeting, Zanganeh said he was already talking with some companies, although so far not those from the United States.
“We had no limitations for U.S. companies. Twenty years ago there were limitations against them from their own administration. For doing projects in Iran, we have no limitations,” Zanganeh said.
What do you think Iran got for this opening? One can only imagine.
Very fine work! An excellent use of our tax dollars. This is first rate reporting, exclusive, by the Middle East – Asia news site, Al Monitor and reporter Laura Rozen. The key diplomacy in the Iran deal was conducted by Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns. “Deputy” appointments for the various cabinet level agencies come from the president. They’re designed to insure that departments like State are not hijacked by the presidential appointed secretary level leaders. I’d say this was a fine choice. Of note, Burns is career foreign service, not a political appointee. According to his Department of State bio, “He is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become Deputy Secretary.” Burns holds a D.Phil degree in international relations from Oxford University.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, back channel negotiator extraordinaire State Dept Photo
Al-Monitor Nov 24 by Laura Rozen
Geneva, Switzerland __ Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has led a secret U.S. back channel to Iran going back to before the June election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, U.S. officials told Al-Monitor.
Burns was tapped to lead the US diplomatic effort to establish a bilateral channel with Iran, which gained momentum after the exchange of letters between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Rouhani in early August, US officials said. Led by Burns, the US’s second highest ranking diplomat and a former lead US Iran nuclear negotiator, the US effort to form direct contacts with Iran also includes two officials from the Obama White House: Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and Puneet Talwar, the National Security Staff senior director for Iran, Iraq, and Persian Gulf affairs, US officials confirmed. Talwar’s role in back channel discussions with Iran was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal. Read More
Official announcement from Iranian media – Obama makes a deal with Iran and makes history at the same time VIDEO
President Barack Obama made history this weekend by turning around the relationship between the United States and Iran. The deal on Iranian nuclear production reverses a decades-long period of mutual hostility. The apogee of irrationality was reached during the term of former President George W. Bush who sought military action against Iran, only to have his own top military commander, General Peter Pace, sink the effort
Neo-conservatives exerted maximum pressure on President Obama to join with Israel in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi power broker Prince Bandar Bin Sultan formed an alliance of desperation to prevent the successful conclusion of negotiations.
The president gave his final and definitive answer this weekend. The greater interests of the United States prevailed over the demands, threats, and tantrums from the Israeli right and Saudi war mongers. At moments like this, for great powers, larger objectives and greater rewards always trump alliances with lesser states when there is a direct conflict. Read More
From the Agonist World Press link:
BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said Saturday the Geneva international talks on the Iranian nuclear issue have reached the final moment.
Hong said in a press release that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi left Beijing for Geneva early Saturday morning to participate in the dialogue between Iran and 5+1 nations, namely China, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
The talks between Iran and the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany over its controversial nuclear program have extend into an unscheduled fourth day on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister head for Geneva
Let’s make a deal: U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Larov head to Geneva negotiations Friday night
Earlier today, reports said that Secretary of state John Kerry would not be joining the Geneva talks on the Iran-United States, UK (et al) nuclear deal. Recall, Kerry left Israel in the middle of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to fly to Geneva several days ago. A deal seemed imminent. The deal failed thanks to Israeli and Saudi Arabian cash doled out to French industry (and maybe a few politicians). Shortly after the deals were promised, the French became irate about what had appeared to be a done deal.
Now the U.S. Department of State’s official information is that Kerry headed out after talking to the chief EU negotiator in Geneva. Russian FM Sergei Larov is also on his way to Geneva.
By the end of the weekend, we could see a giant step for humanity and world peace or another example of nihilism on a grand scale. Read More
One of the first initiatives of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was a foreign policy based on “zero problems with neighbors.” From his selection as Prime Minister in 2003, Erdogan led efforts to resolve Iran’s conflicts with the West over the Iranian nuclear program. The regime also formed a tight bond with Syria, as did Erdogan with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In 2011, Erdogan abandoned the alliance with Syria by supporting a violent rebellion to oust President Assad and his government. This marked the undoing of the zero problems policy.
Erdogan consistently denies supporting the jihadists among the Syrian rebels, a claim that even the Prime Minister can’t believe. From the start of the violence in Syria through at least December 2012, Erdogan’s government supported the Al Nusra fighters, openly aligned with Al Qaeda. In July 2012, Haaretz broke this story: Turkey sets up secret base to bring aid to Syria rebels, sources say . This not-so-secret base trained and armed fighters headed for Syria.
Since the start of the violent conflict in 2011, Turkey has provided safe transit to the Syrian conflict for anti-Syrian government jihadists from Pakistan, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East. Erdogan’s government provides safe havens for terrorists on its southern border with Syria. When the Obama administration threatened to bomb Syria as punishment for the alleged role in a chemical weapons attack, Erdogan was openly enthusiastic. Read More
“Israel is working on coordinating plans for a possible military strike with Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh prepared to provide tactical support to Jerusalem, a British newspaper [The Times] reported early Sunday.
“The two countries have both united in worry that the West may come to terms with Iran, easing sanctions and allowing the Islamic Republic to continue its nuclear program.” Israel Times, Nov 17
The Times article also reported that Jordan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates might be in on the attack as well.
A war with Iran, with or without U.S. participation, would be a disaster for the world economy. More importantly, it would compound the level of continued suffering by Arabs and Iranians since attack on Iran by Saddam Hussein’s forces.
Is this serious? We don’t know but to be so, Israeli and Saudi leadership are delusional. The blowback for both nations would be immediate and devastating; and that’s blowback from major powers. Read More
The low key reaction by the United States Department of State to recent events in the battle for Syria’s second largest city, Aleppo, reveals a shift in U.S. policy on the Syrian conflict. It looks like the Syrian rebel forces will lose a key supporter.
In early November, the Syrian Arab Army took Al-Safira, a town southeast of Aleppo. The town served as a key gathering point for key rebel factions. Shortly after that, the army attacked and reclaimed a former felicity, Base 80, and the Aleppo International Airport, in rebel hands for nearly a year. These victories establish ground and air supply routes to Aleppo, something the Syrian government required for any attempt to regain the city. Aleppo is currently divided between rebel and government forces, with a smaller part of the city controlled by Syrian Kurds.
These victories created an opening for a Syrian army “pincer movement” against rebel held sections of Aleppo. Hezbollah, elements of the Iran Revolutionary Guard (IRG), and Iraqi Shia fighters are fighting the battle with army troops. BBC, Nov 13 Read More
The United States and Iran were poised to turn around decades of useless conflict at Geneva negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. The Geneva meetings began with European Union foreign ministers at the table with Iran. Things moved so quickly, Secretary of State Kerry was called away from meetings in Israel to finalize the deal.
The Israeli right wing of Prime Minister Netanyahu is opposed to any deal with Iran, preferring to risk the world economy and efforts to solve species threatening environmental problems for the paranoid delusions about Iran. Israeli intel and defense heavy weights oppose Netanyahu’s view. The Israeli right view didn’t matter to Kerry and Obama, hungry for a major win in foreign policy.
Guess who screwed the deal? France. Well, France acting as Israel’s proxy.
Robert Perry explains the French motive from the perspective of greed. Israel’s partner of convenience on Iran, Saudi Arabia, placed large defense orders with the French. French President François Holland found this to be a deal he couldn’t turn down.
Robert Parry provides the details behind the Holland decision. Read More
The Obama administration appears to be making tentative gestures that acknowledge value of the diplomatic overture by Iran’s new President Mohammed Rouhani. (Image)
Former President George W. Bush and the hacks that wrote his speeches gave us the dreaded axis of evil, three nations devoted to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Iran, North Korea, and another, I can’t recall, deserved elimination. Oh, that’s right. The third member of the evil trinity was Iraq. That nation escaped the axis after an exorcism by invasion that featured death and destruction on an epic scale.
The two signs last Friday and Saturday in the form of proposed easing of sanctions against Iran and Syria. Read More
Any signs of openness to peace rather than war is welcomed. This is a pretty gutsy approach for a U.S. lobbying group in behalf of Israel. But, whatever it takes to eliminate the war mongers, war economy, and mechanisms of ultimate destruction. Three cheers for J Street!!!
From the Jerusalem Post: J Street, Israeli Left blast Netanyahu speech
Meretz leader says Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech has made the Iran threat Israel’s problem alone.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced criticism for his UN General Assembly address Tuesday from Labor and Meretz MKs in Israel and from the pro- Israel, pro-peace lobby J Street in Washington.
J Street released a statement expressing disappointment that Netanyahu did not spend more time addressing “the promise of a better future with the Palestinians,” especially in light of the ongoing peace process.
“The prime minister’s speech to the UN General Assembly was a missed opportunity,” the organization said. “Of its 33 minutes, he spent less than two minutes addressing the subject of peace with the Palestinians, as if to make it clear that peace is not a high priority for him.”