The sweltering heat of Saudi Arabian summer will feel like a cool breeze compared to the geopolitical fire that could soon take over the country if ongoing internal power struggles destabilize the Kingdom’s Royal Family and national security in the coming weeks. After his successful elevation to Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has been appointed by King Salman to be in charge during his holiday to Morocco. The King’s holiday comes at a time of relative instability in the Kingdom, as the effects of the removal of former Crown…
Internal power struggle continues as supporters of leader including Clive Lewis fail to win enough support to make cutCritics of Jeremy Corbyn have won election to the party’s parliamentary committee, as the struggle between allies and opponents of the leader continues despite a new eight-point poll lead for Labour.Among those elected to the influential backbench body, which has a weekly meeting with Corbyn, were Neil Coyle, Graham Jones, Angela Smith and Ruth Smeeth. Continue reading...
In a final effort to stall a new U.S. trade and travel crackdown, Cuba pressured its ally Colombia to suggest it might boycott a Latin American security summit called by U.S. officials if President Trump went forward Friday with announcing his new policy targeting the Raul Castro government.The complicated international power play started to unfold following a national security principals meeting Tuesday, according to congressional and senior government sources.Colombia began to express misgivings about how Trump’s Cuba announcement in Miami would coincide with the two-day U.S.-led Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America that begins today, also in Miami, and suggested it might just skip out on the conference if Trump didn’t delay his announcement by a week, said an aide to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.Rubio, who has spent months quietly helping Trump craft his plans to restrict trade and travel with Cuba, was “appalled” at the news — although he knew the White House wouldn’t succumb to any threats for a delay, his aide said.Rubio nevertheless counseled the White House to send a message to the government run by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: the actions were jeopardizing the $450 million “Peace Colombia” initiative that President Obama pushed, but that remains in limbo under Trump. The underlying peace deal was negotiated with the Castro government, which has influence with the Colombian revolutionary guerilla group known as FARC. “Let me get this right: Santos is coming to us and asking for $400 million to fund his flawed peace plan, but he is threatening to pull out of an event that’s not even about them? It’s about El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” the senator told the White House, according to the Rubio aide. A U.S. government official familiar with the flare up confirmed the broad outlines of the situation described by Rubio’s office. Neither spoke on the record out of concern that it would upset either the Colombians or senior White House officials.An aide to another Miami Republican who’s advising Trump on Cuba policy, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, confirmed that the congressman got wind of the controversy and had his office call Colombia’s embassy to tell the country to stay out of the Cuba matter or face “consequences.”Rubio, who was informed of the Colombia situation in a call from the White House during the tail end of a Tuesday Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, went a step further. During a conversation that took place on his cellphone from the back of the committee room, Rubio said he would be at a press conference about Cuba on Friday — either with Trump announcing a rollback of Obama’s policies or holding a press conference with Castro-hating exiles from Venezuela and Cuba and with former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to denounce his successor, Santos.“You’re going to ruin your Friday either way,” Rubio told the White House official, according to his aide. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called later to make it clear to him that the White House had no intention of backing off its Friday announcement.Rubio’s office did not speak directly to Colombian officials and there’s some suspicion within the Cuban exile community that U.S. government career service staff, who oppose dis-engagement from Cuba, might have exaggerated the degree to which Colombia was serious about not attending the Miami summit.The behind-the-scenes tension and last-minute multilateral drama underscored the depth of the Cuban government’s fears that Trump will make good on his campaign promise to rollback Obama’s December 2014 decision to thaw relations with Cuba after decades of Cold War-era hostilities. The embargo remains in effect, but Obama loosened regulations and business restrictions to such a degree that more U.S. money has flowed to the island than ever before. But Trump, Rubio and Diaz-Balart say the level of repression has increased and the Cuban government hasn’t allowed enough financial prosperity to trickle down to the Cuban people. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to negotiate a better deal. But for months, nothing appeared to be happening, leading to doubts that the president would follow through.Then, after POLITICO and The Miami Herald reported last week that Trump would make his announcement this Friday, business and trade groups that support more commerce with Cuba ratcheted up their lobbying and public pressure campaigns, writing letters and warning of economic troubles and setbacks if Trump sought to alter the terms.The Cuban government, however, began sending messages through the news media and diplomatic channels that it was ready to negotiate. But Cuban officials claimed that a return to pre-Obama Cuba policies would hurt efforts to combat drug traffickers who have exploited immigrant smuggling routes through the Straits of Florida.Those twin issues — drug trafficking and immigration — are top concerns of the Trump administration and underpin the call for today’s Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America involving the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The summit was called by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and is co-hosted with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their Mexican counterparts. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to make an appearance as well later today.While the United States is determined to see the summit to go off without a hitch, the Trump White House is more committed to following through on promises to tighten restrictions on Cuba, said a White House spokesperson familiar with the plan. “Never has there been any consideration of the White House canceling this event based on any international pressure,” said the spokesperson.
The late actor’s impact on the Rolling Stones was dramatic, influencing the way they looked, the circles they moved in and even their internal power structureThe most famous passage in Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, concerns the writing of Gimme Shelter. It is perhaps the most celebrated and visceral song among the catalogue of Rolling Stones tracks that appeared to soundtrack the curdling of the 1960s counterculture: an “end-of-the-world song”, as Mick Jagger once described it; a haunting, spectral guitar figure that builds into a brutal, muscular riff, topped with phantasmagorical visions of war, flood, rape and streets burning “like a red coal carpet”. But, Richards revealed, its apocalyptic mood had prosaic roots. He wrote the song while his then-partner Anita Pallenberg was out filming her most celebrated acting role, opposite Mick Jagger in Donald Cammell and Nick Roeg’s Performance. Richards was convinced the film’s love scenes weren’t simulated and that Pallenberg and Jagger were having an affair. In one of literature’s great examples of protesting too much, Richards spends the best part of six pages claiming he wasn’t upset by Pallenberg’s infidelity, a claim undermined by the bitterness that seeps through every page 40 years on – Cammell was “a pimp”, Performance “third-rate porn”, Jagger had a “tiny todger” – and through Gimme Shelter itself. Whatever else it may be, it doesn’t sound like the work of a man who wasn’t bothered. Continue reading...
THROWDOWN THURSDAY: COMEY’s legacy day -- TRUMP leaves hole in schedule during hearing -- THE RNC’S TALKING POINTS and 'suggested tweets' for today’s big event -- SPOTTED at Trump Int’l hotel -- B’DAY: Barbara Bush
We are told that James Comey will, at times, go beyond what he wrote in his statement.
Good Thursday morning. GET READY FOR THROWDOWN THURSDAY. James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intel Committee starts at 10 a.m. Today all the networks and all the cables will be live -- with a few of them offering up live streams for free online. And if James Comey’s much buzzed about statement is any indication of his savvy and willingness to dish, Trump will be more than tweeting today. He’ll be seething. Comey’s statement http://bit.ly/2rMG1bKFOLLOW POLITICO’s two reporters in the hearing room (Hart 216) today: Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) and Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney).THE PRESIDENT’S THURSDAY -- Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to the Majority Conference at 12:15 p.m., and then will host governors and mayors at the White House for an infrastructure summit at 3:30.-- NOTES: The president has nothing before his 12:15 speech. Some of the newsiest bits of the hearing will be at the top. THE PRESS BRIEFING TODAY is with Sarah Huckabee Sanders and it will be off camera. Speaker Paul Ryan is holding his weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m. today in the Capitol.REMEMBER THIS -- Comey isn’t constrained by traditional political considerations. Today will shape his legacy. Our reporting tells us that members of Congress don’t expect him to accuse the president of a crime, but expect him to be extremely open about what transpired behind closed doors. We are told that he will, at times, go beyond what he wrote in his statement. THE BIG PICTURE -- NYT, A18 -- “Comey’s Political Shrewdness Is on Display in Tussle With Trump,” by Peter Baker and Glenn Thrush: “The morning, at least, seemed to go reasonably well for President Trump. He announced a new F.B.I. director, and two intelligence chiefs told Congress the president had never pressured them to interfere in the investigation into Russian election meddling.“And then James B. Comey … dropped the hammer. By authorizing the immediate release of the opening statement he plans to give in his much anticipated appearance before a congressional committee on Thursday, he instantly changed the conversation back to his assertion that the president tried to shut down part of the F.B.I. investigation.“Mr. Trump may be relatively new to Washington, but Mr. Comey is not. A savvy veteran of the capital who has worked in high positions in multiple administrations, he has usually emerged on top in any internal power struggle. And in the month since his dismissal, Mr. Comey has shown why presidents are normally loath to fire F.B.I. directors.” http://nyti.ms/2sGpeXFTHE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE sent an email at 9:56 p.m. last night to people around town with the subject line: “Talking Points and Digital Packet for Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing.” The first item under “top takeaway” is “President Trump feels completely and totally vindicated by Former FBI Director James Comey’s opening testimony and is eager to move forward.” It includes a “suggested tweets” section. The RNC talking points http://politi.co/2sGgWPA … WSJ: RNC says they’ve dedicated 60 aides to the pushback effort. http://on.wsj.com/2s6pNx0THE COUNTER ATTACK -- “West Wing aides fearful of directly attacking Comey: The White House has outsourced its counter-messaging effort during Comey’s testimony, as aides try to avoid more personal legal risk,” by Matt Nussbaum, Josh Dawsey, Darren Samuelsohn and Tara Palmeri: “‘It’s fair to say a storm is coming,’ one administration source said. ‘We’re boarding up the windows for the impending hurricane.’ ... The [RNC] is taking the lead in the response and has prepared a surrogate operation. ... Two former Trump White House officials — former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh and former communications director Mike Dubke — are helping coordinate the effort. Press secretary Sean Spicer was at the RNC on Wednesday as preparations took place. ... For official comment, the White House has directed all questions to the office of Trump’s outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz.“Kasowitz’s office, in turn, has directed inquiries to Emily Thall, the law firm’s director of business development and marketing. On Tuesday, Thall declined to comment in a brief conversation with POLITICO about Comey testimony. By Wednesday, inquiries to Thall were met with an automatic response: She would be out of the office on vacation until next week. By Wednesday night, Kasowitz’s firm had retained longtime political communications pro Mark Corallo to handle media inquiries.” http://politi.co/2rY3CYYQUOTE OF THE DAY – From the quadruple-byline story: “White House aides are trying to keep Trump busy Thursday morning with meetings so he won’t watch TV and tweet during the hearing. ‘But if he wants to watch it, it’s not like we can say, ‘oh, the TV doesn’t work,’’ one official said.”HOW IT’S PLAYING -- HUFFPOST banner, “COMEY BEFORE THE STORM” … DRUDGE as of 6 a.m., “MAY DAY” (about the UK election) … N.Y. POST, “‘I EXPECT LOYALTY’” http://nyp.st/2sGrBtM … N.Y. DAILY NEWS, “DON’S PLEA: COVERUP” http://nydn.us/2simZwi … EVEN TMZ IS IN ON THE ACTION -- They have videos of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) (http://bit.ly/2qYQTBX) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) (http://bit.ly/2s7kyNv).
Al Jazeera World - Lebanon: Fighters to Bikers This is the story of four bikers who fought on different sides of the Lebanese Civil War but who’ve now found friendship and a common cause in the local Harley-Davidson Club – which they founded. The fifteen-year war between 1975 and 1990 divided communities along sectarian lines, split a country and left deep scars. George Greige is Maronite, Marwan Tarraf Shia, Jamal Kahwaji Sunni and Ghassan Haider is Druze. The four now reflect on the senselessness of war, the dangers of power and greed; and their common passion for their saving grace…the Harley. They say they fought in the war not out of deep personal conviction but because they felt they had to pick a side and defend themselves. “At a crucial age we found ourselves in an atmosphere of war,” explains Ghassan Haidar. “We had to take part in the war to protect ourselves. Everyone was armed, regardless of their age. So why not us?” The war involved a mix of local, irregular militias, both Muslim and Christian – as well as the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which arguably also drove a wedge between communities. The different factions were backed by regional and international powers that flooded the country with arms. More from Al Jazeera World on: YouTube - http://aje.io/aljazeeraworldYT Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AlJazeeraWorld Twitter - https://twitter.com/AlJazeera_World Visit our website - http://www.aljazeera.com/aljazeeraworld Subscribe to AJE on YouTube - http://aje.io/YTsubscribe
Gabriel Glickman Security, Middle East In June 1967 there was at first impression a clear picture on the ground in the Middle East after six days of war: Israel had taken possession of large swaths of Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian territory; Israeli tourists were crossing the border into previously off-limit Palestinian neighborhoods; Egyptian soldiers, some barefoot, were running in retreat through the Sinai desert to get across the Suez Canal; the scattered remnants of Egypt’s artillery and tanks littered a desert landscape that for three tense weeks had housed the operations of the most powerful Arab military in the modern world. A possible resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, one that could be brokered by the United States, appeared in the offing: Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was on state television announcing his abdication of power due to a spectacular defeat by Israel; President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that Israel was, for the first time ever, in a powerful position to bargain for its security and to establish an unprecedented peaceful coexistence with its regional neighbors; while the Soviet representative to the United Nations looked foolish telling the security council that Israel had acted like Hitler and committed an illegal war to expand its national territory. These were the scenes of the day. But if there was anything more surprising than Israel’s quick routing of the Arab armies from all three sides of its borders in only six days, it was the throngs of Egyptians crowding the streets and crying for Nasser to retain his position at the helm of Egypt—even though enemy Israeli soldiers had gathered at the edge of Egypt’s legendary Suez Canal. Indeed, the Arab dictator, notwithstanding that he oversaw one of the greatest catastrophes to befall the Arab nationalist movement, was still seen as the best chance to protect the Arab heartland from further Western incursion. To be sure, in the eyes of the Arabs, Israel had delivered a setback to longtime plans for the liberation of Palestine, but the Jewish state could never be allowed to win the larger struggle. The Lyndon B. Johnson administration had painstakingly avoided taking Israel’s side during the three-week crisis leading up to the war. Some officials even saw it as America’s duty to take both sides and prevent war. Secretary of State Dean Rusk sent out a circular memo to all U.S. ambassadors in the Middle East, declaring, “We cannot throw up our hands and say that, in that event, let them fight while we try to remain neutral.” Beginning with the Kennedy administration in 1961, the United States had given massive amounts of economic aid to Egypt in order to turn Nasser inward—and away from Moscow. To walk away from all that in support of Israel seemed reckless to Johnson’s officials. Not surprising, after the war, Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol was frustrated with the Johnson administration. He said they promised “great things” to protect Israel in the face of a growing Arab encirclement from May 14 to June 4, but the expected support never materialized. Instead, the Johnson administration focused its efforts on how to stave off war and keep both sides content with the United States. The only problem was, Nasser was running things on the ground. And he had no intention of rewarding the United States for its diplomatic efforts. Indeed, it was only a few days previous to Nasser’s bogus “resignation” that acts of destruction in a little noticed sideshow to the Six-Day War quietly unfolded across the Middle East, which was representative of the dictator’s sweeping influence over the region. A majority of the American consulates and embassies in the Middle East were sacked. Nasser had labeled the United States as a co-conspirator with Israel because of its refusal to choose a side. Neutrality had backfired. This simultaneous destruction of American diplomatic property in such a short timespan was—and still is—unprecedented. More interesting is the fact that the extent of this event has gone unmentioned in history books about the war. The American consulates in Port Said and Alexandria were attacked by mobs, with the staff of the latter being forced to seek refuge in a locked vault. A similar scenario occurred at the embassy in Benghazi, where staff resorted to using tear gas in order to keep the mob at bay and from reaching the vault. The mission in Aleppo fared no better. The staff reportedly slid down a rope to escape a fire that eventually consumed the entire building. Likewise, American and British workers were forced to evacuate an oil refinery in Banyas. In Baghdad, the American library was ransacked. And in Basra, the empty mission compound was broken into and subsequently damaged by a mob. That such hostility translated into attacks against the American missions is hardly surprising in light of Nasser's hostility towards America in the run-up to the war. Local newspaper reports of “British-American-Israeli” collusion did little to quell an already stirred up population from lashing out at the nearest symbols of “American imperialism.” It was the opinion of American officials that the relative ease at which Egyptian soldiers decisively maintained their security posts outside of the American embassy in Cairo suggested that high-level orders were issued for the sackings at the other missions. Indeed, it was also the opinion of the American ambassador to Cairo that a controlled fire at the Alexandria consulate had been orchestrated by the Egyptian authorities themselves. At the end of the Six-Day War, Nasser remained defiant against the United States. He formally broke off diplomatic relations, and invited Soviet military advisors into Egypt. It didn’t matter that the United States had kept his regime afloat for the better part of the 1960s while he spent Egypt’s dwindling cash reserves on a disastrous expedition in Yemen—dubbed “Nasser’s Vietnam.” These competing snapshots of Nasser, a humbled leader in defeat versus an ambitious tyrant lashing out at an international power, demonstrate the limited capabilities of superpower nations like the United States. Though they may have unmatched military, economic and political strength, local leaders like Nasser can wreak havoc. Foreign policy is a goal. Strategy is the way to achieve that goal. But sometimes this means nothing in the international arena. Superpower nations beware: local strongmen may trample at will. Gabriel Glickman holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from King’s College London. He is currently working on a book provisionally titled Western Historiography of the Six-Day War: Rethinking the Road to War. Image: Israeli artillery fires on Syrian positions during the Arab-Israeli War. Flickr/Central Intelligence Agency
They are veteran Syrian rebels who for years tried to bring down President Bashar Assad. These days they’re doing little fighting with his forces as they struggle to find a place in Syria’s bewildering battlefield, where several wars are being waged at once.
They are veterans of Syria’s rebellion, trying for years to bring down President Bashar Assad. But these days they’re doing little fighting with his military. They’re struggling to find a place in a bewildering battlefield where several wars are all being waged at once by international powers.
Iranians took to the polls and overwhelmingly voted to re-elect incumbent and so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani in last week's presidential election. But can we expect his next four years on the international stage to be any different from the previous years? According to Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a close friend and ally of Rouhani, while the focus of the first term was on the nuclear issue, the second term will focus on regional diplomacy. "I think in the second term he would really like to focus on the regional issues to bring peace, cooperation, engagement, diplomacy with the neighbours," says Mousavian, who also headed the Foreign Relations Committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. "The problem is whether Saudi Arabia would be ready … [they] now prefer to ally with Israel rather than Iran, to fight Iran." In this UpFront special, Mehdi Hasan challenges Iranian policymaker and former diplomat Hossein Mousavian to explain Iran's policies in the region and what some see as the double standards with regards to Yemen and Bahrain. For more on Iran's internal power dynamics and the extent of political reform, go to fb.com/ajupfront Editor's note: We covered human rights and the extent of democracy in Iran previously here: http://aje.io/pezl - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: http://www.aljazeera.com/
Political instability in Saudi Arabia is growing as King Salman bin Abdulaziz begins to overhaul the Saudi government, putting a long list of family members into positions of influence while increasing the power of his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. These actions have the potential to lead to a direct conflict with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. The expected internal power collision, predicted by many analysts, finally seems to be heating up. The real surprise, however, is that it is taking place while King Salman is still alive…
It is a sign of the times that when we need to march in defense of facts, of women deserving equal rights, and of science not being a Chinese conspiracy, we also have to defend something as self-evident as the undeniable value of the nuclear deal with Iran from 2015. But in a post-fact era, even diplomatic triumphs that saved the United States from both the threat of nuclear weapons and another endless war in the Middle East face perpetual relitigation. The latest example is Josh Meyer’s article in the Politico claiming to reveal that the Obama administration gave previously undisclosed concessions to the government in Tehran as part of the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The article is not news, but comes across as yet another hit piece against the nuclear deal, promoted and celebrated by those in Washington who are unrelenting in their commitment to killing it. Meyer argues, based largely on interviews with what appears to be disgruntled, mid-level officials at the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, that the Obama administration slow-walked investigations against alleged Iranian smugglers serving Tehran’s nuclear program and dropped charges against other Iranian operatives. And Obama apparently did this all behind the back of his own Justice Department. ... to the extent any concessions were made, they were made to win the release of Americans held in Iranian jails. From the outset, Meyer commits a critical error: He insinuates that any concessions in terms of dropping charges against potential Iranian smugglers were made as part of the nuclear deal. In reality, to the extent any concessions were made, they were made to win the release of Americans held in Iranian jails. The convolution appears intentional, as an article revealing additional concessions to win the release of innocent Americans lingering in Iranian jails would only receive a fraction of the attention of an article claiming those alleged concessions were made to secure the embattled nuclear deal. Few would like to adopt the line that the Obama administration shouldn’t have done what it took to win the release of journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine Corps and Iraq war veteran Amir Hekmati, and the other Americans held in Iran. Spinning the story to create a false link between these alleged concessions and the nuclear deal resolves that problem. The chronology of events and the mechanisms of the nuclear talks clarifies this. The nuclear negotiations concluded on July 14, 2015. Under the deal, the Iranians agreed to take the first steps to answer remaining questions by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in regard to their nuclear program by October 18. Once this was completed and verified by the IAEA, two simultaneous decisions were made: The Iranians began dismantling parts of their nuclear program, and the EU and the U.S. made a legally binding decision to lift or waive sanctions on Iran once the IAEA confirmed that Iran had fulfilled its commitments. This is a critical point: After October 18, the U.S. was obliged to lift sanctions as long as Iran implemented the final phase of the JCPOA roadmap. Meaning, having done all it was supposed to do, Iran had no remaining nuclear leverage to press the U.S. to give additional concessions on the prisoner issue. Indeed, even if the U.S. and Iran had not come to an agreement on a prisoner swap, the nuclear deal would have still proceeded as it was solely dependent upon the IAEA certifying Iran’s completion of the roadmap. This was formally done on January 16, 2016 ― Implementation Day ― after which the U.S. began waiving sanctions on Iran. Meyer writes that “administration representatives weren’t telling the whole story on Jan. 17, 2016, in their highly choreographed rollout of the prisoner swap and simultaneous implementation of the six-party nuclear deal.” In reality, the swap was more chaotic than it was choreographed. Just days before Implementation Day, 10 American sailors accidentally wandered into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf and were apprehended by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy. The incident risked jeopardizing the prisoner swap, but was quickly resolved within just 16 hours. But contrary to the Politico article’s claim that the Iranians persistently extracted more concessions from the Obama administration, the Iranians released the American sailors without even demanding a single concession from the U.S. side. If the Iranian modus operandi was to link the prisoner swap with the nuclear issue and force Obama to give more and more to Iran since “the deal was sacrosanct [to Obama], and the Iranians knew it from the start,” as former Bush administration deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate told Politico, then why didn’t they use the 10 captured American sailors to bring Obama to his knees? In fact, as I describe in Losing An Enemy - Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, the prisoner swap was scheduled to take place earlier but ended up getting delayed as the negotiations proved difficult. And it was the Iranians who originally opposed ― for their own domestic political reasons ― having the swap coincide with Implementation Day. Eventually, though, that is what happened. But this begs a more important question: What if the Obama administration did drop charges against a few alleged Iranian smugglers in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons option? Why would such a trade-off cause a scandal in Washington? After all, for more than two decades, American and Israeli hawks claimed the Iranian nuclear program was an existential threat and that the heavens would fall if it wasn’t stopped. Yet, after the Obama administration put a lid on the Iranian program, the very same hawks now decry the nuclear deal on the (false) basis that as part of neutralizing this supposedly existential threat, charges were dropped against Iranian smugglers that the U.S. had no way of getting extradited anyway. One critic of the nuclear deal even told Politico that closing the investigations on these alleged smugglers did “significant and lasting damage” to America’s nonproliferation effort. Apparently, keeping hopeless procurement investigations open is more important to America’s credibility than blocking all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon. Even if the nuclear talks were the reason for the closing of the investigations, who wouldn’t trade several likely hopeless procurement investigations for an agreement that cuts off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and forces Iran’s nuclear procurement into an official channel subject to the approval of the U.S. and other international powers? The Politico article... gives a glimpse into the real reason some in Washington obsessively oppose the [Iran deal]. Still, the Politico article is very valuable. Not because it reveals anything nefarious about the nuclear talks, but because it gives a glimpse into the real reason some in Washington obsessively oppose the JCPOA. On the one hand, they oppose the very principle on which deal-making is based: That in order to get something, you have to give something. In their purist maximalist world, the United States should not have to offer any concessions to get concessions in return. Particularly not to a mid-size power such as Iran. To paraphrase arch-neoconservative Richard Perle, the only carrot the U.S. should provide is to offer not to bomb countries as long as they comply with American demands. If one approaches the rest of the world with such a bully-mentality, then closing investigations on alleged Iranian smugglers is unacceptable regardless of what the U.S. would gain in return. By definition, priorities cannot be established, because everything is equally important. Therefore, securing the freedom of American citizens does not take precedence over a procurement investigation ― not even blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon would. Meyer’s investigation claims that “many participants [in counter-intelligence operations] said the way forward is still sufficiently unclear that they can’t, or won’t, proceed.” But who are these participants? Is the off-the-record testimony of mid-level operatives in the Justice Department ― who might only see their own small piece of the picture ― on par with the assessment of senior administration officials with higher security clearances who have the benefit of seeing the larger picture? If you are ideologically opposed to the idea of give-and-take, then yes. The Politico investigation also sheds light on another point: To large parts of the Washington foreign policy establishment the details of the deal is unimportant. If Iran’s nuclear program truly was the existential threat they had claimed all along, they should be celebrating the nuclear deal ― as parts of Israel’s security establishment does today. Refusing to do so suggests that what these hawks really oppose is the very idea of striking a deal ― any deal ― with the government in Tehran. To them, losing Iran as an enemy is the existential threat ― not Iran’s nuclear program. So much for the decades old U.S.-Iran enmity solely being an ideological obsession of Iran’s notorious hardliners. Trita Parsi is the author of Losing an Enemy - Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Robert G. Rabil Security, Middle East The prospect of an accidental military confrontation with Russia and its allies have never been greater No doubt, as reflected by many voices in Washington, DC corridors of power and media, the recent American cruise missile strikes against Syria’s al-Shayrat Air Base in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province was hailed as the right thing to do. Moved by horrifying images of children losing their lives to the internationally banned Sarin chemical, President Trump apparently ordered the strikes to send a strong message to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad that, unlike his predecessor, he will not stand idly by when chemical red lines are crossed. But a string of statements by Trump administration officials on the heel of those strikes has created confusion over the nature and scope of American policy toward Syria. Those statements have also created a tense environment disposed to regional and international conflict. While en route to Moscow for a high level summit, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that the reign of President Assad was “coming to an end.” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told CNN that “there’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer portrayed Assad as darker than Hitler. He said that [Hitler] didn’t use gas “on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.” Conversely, the Kremlin called the attack an “act of aggression,” and Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that the U.S. attack on an airfield in Syria was conducted “on the verge of a military clash” with Russia. Upon arriving to Moscow, Secretary Tillerson was given the cold shoulder. Read full article
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alliance Holdings GP, Arch Coal, Alliance Resource Partners and CONSOL Energy
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alliance Holdings GP, Arch Coal, Alliance Resource Partners and CONSOL Energy