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Iran War Weekly - July 21, 2013

Iran War Weekly

July 21, 2013

 

Hello All – Iran’s newly elected president will take office on August 3, and negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program are expected to begin in early September.  In the interim, intense and possibly important debates are taking place within the US policy-making elite about whether developments in Syria and Iran should prompt the United States to make more positive and creative diplomatic approaches toward Tehran.

 

Iran War Weekly - July 7, 2013

Iran War Weekly

July 7, 2013

 

Hello All – The few reporters and writers who remained at their posts over this sweltering July 4th weekend have been focused primarily on the events in Egypt, and there is relatively little new news about Iran, its nuclear program, and/or the prospects for war or peace.  The events in Egypt, of course, have some bearing on events in Syria and thus with Iran, and I will address them below.

 

Iran War Weekly - July 1, 2013

Iran War Weekly

July 1, 2013

 

Hello All – Will the election of Iranian president Hassan Rowhani encourage Washington and its European allies to abandon thoughts of regime change and move towards a resolution of their dispute with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program?  While Rowhani will not take office until August, he has already indicated that he welcomes renewed engagement with “the West.”  At the same time, he has made it clear that Iran will not be deflected from pursuing what it sees as its right to develop a civilian nuclear energy program.  The ball is thus in President Obama’s court; and the options under consideration now in Washington are reflected in some of the essays linked below that assess the meaning of the Iranian election.

 

Iran War Weekly - June 23, 2013

Iran War Weekly

June 23, 2013

 

Hello All – Iran’s presidential election offers “the West” an opportunity to extricate itself from the dangerous political and military logjam it has created with its opposition to Iran’s nuclear program.  The question, therefore, is whether the Obama administration and its allies will grasp this chance for a diplomatic outcome that recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium, albeit under a rigorous regime of safeguards and inspections, or will it hew to the alternative path of using the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program as a wedge to push for regime change?

 

Iran War Weekly - June 4, 2013

Iran War Weekly

June 4, 2013

 

Iran War Weekly - May 26, 2013

Iran War Weekly

May 26, 2013

 

Hello All – While huge majorities of the US public oppose war with Iran or US intervention in Syria, Congress and the mainstream US media have stepped up the pressure for a more aggressive stance on both fronts.  With these factors in mind, we might ask whether President Obama’s speech this week at the National Defense University – in which he tried to dispose of liberal pressures on his policies re: drones, Guantanamo, and “the war on terror” – should be read as a move away from a confrontation in the Middle East, or as an attempt to secure his liberal base before more intense confrontations with Iran and Syria.

 

Iran War Weekly - May 20, 2013

Iran War Weekly

May 20, 2013

 

Hello All – It’s official.  After almost a year of no progress in negotiations between “the West” and Iran about Iran’s nuclear program, last week’s meetings in Istanbul confirmed that there would be, indeed, no progress until at least after Iran’s presidential election, which will take place on June 14th.  Whatever the outcome of the election, it is likely that the post-election resumption of talks (if any) will take place in an international landscape greatly altered by the fighting in Syria.

 

Iran War Weekly May 12, 2013

Iran War Weekly

May 12, 2013

 

Hello All – While nuclear negotiators will meet Wednesday in Istanbul, little progress is expected in the diplomatic standoff about Iran’s nuclear program before Iran’s presidential election, which will take place on June 14th.  With Iran’s reform movement still not recovered from its crushing defeat in 2009, until now the presidential election appeared to be a mere jockeying for power within conservative leadership circles, but it  took on a more volatile character on Saturday, when both former president Rafsanjani and a protégé of current president Ahmadinejad registered their candidacies at the last minute. There are some very good articles about the election – both candidates and electoral procedures – linked below.

 

Iran War Weekly - May 5, 2013

Iran War Weekly

May 5, 2013

 

Hello All – It is too soon to tell whether Israel’s weekend bombing of Syria will irrevocably change the course of the war and engulf the region in death and fire.  Israel has intimated that further attacks are on the way, and the Obama administration has stated that US strikes against Syria’s air defenses and air fields are under discussion.  Syria (via the Arab League) seems about to take the issue to the UN Security Council, where we can expect the United States to defend Israel by blocking discussion.  What will Syria then do after further Israeli aggression?

 

Iran War Weekly - April 21, 2013

Iran War Weekly

April 21, 2013

 

Hello All -- Following on the failure of the talks in Kazakhstan about Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and its allies renewed their non-diplomatic offensive against Iran this week.  Secretary of Defense Hagel was in the Middle East, most especially in Israel, to push a $10 billion program introducing more advanced offensive weapons into the Israel, Saudi, and UAE arsenals.  Like the trips of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry made two weeks earlier, Hagel’s mission is both to reassure Israel and other regional allies that the United States still considers “all options on the table,” while at the same time  pressuring Israel to defer military action against Iran and to give sanctions and negotiations more time.

 

Iran War Weekly - April 11, 2013

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.

 

Iran War Weekly - April 2, 2013

Iran War Weekly

April 2, 2013

 

Hello All – Following a “successful” renewal of negotiations in February, and an ambiguous round of technical talks in March, Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) are set to meet again in Kazakhstan at the end of this week.  What are the prospects for progress in resolving disputes about Iran’s nuclear program and (not incidentally) reducing the prospects for war?

 

Iran War Weekly - March 25, 2013

Iran War Weekly

March 25, 2013

 

Hello All – Last week’s “technical talks” between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) deflated the hopes generated by the meeting of “higher level” negotiators in Kazakhstan in February, suggesting that little can be expected by the next round of talks scheduled, again in Kazakhstan, on April 5 and 6.

 

Iran War Weekly - March 18, 2013

Iran War Weekly

March 18, 2013

 

Hello All – As readers may/will recall, we are between negotiating sessions about Iran’s nuclear program.  After an eight-month hiatus, restarting negotiations between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) and Iran was significant.  Even more significant, and also surprising, was that the negotiations in Kazakhstan in February generated cautious optimism among diplomats, and a second round of negotiations is now scheduled  for early April, again in Kazakhstan.

 

Iran War Weekly - March 12, 2013

Iran War Weekly

March 12, 2013

 

Iran War Weekly - March 5, 2013

Iran War Weekly

March 5, 2013

 

Iran War Weekly - February 26, 2013

Iran War Weekly

February 26, 2013

 

Hello All – After a six-month delay, representatives Iran and the “P5+1” met in Kazakhstan today to renew negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program.  Early news reports say that “the West” offered Iran a very modest lifting of sanctions if Iran would take steps to halt or alter significant parts of its nuclear program.  Iran is expected to make its reply tomorrow, during a second day of talks.  As indicated in pre-meeting analyses linked below, Iran is expected to reject the West’s proposal as trivial and insincere, wanting instead for the P5+1 to recognize Iran’s rights to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to lay out an offer that would quickly remove all the economic sanctions against it.

 

Iran War Weekly - February 18, 2013

Iran War Weekly

February 18, 2013

 

Hello All – Prospects for renewed negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program – now set for February 26th in Kazakhstan – diminished this week, as the United States revealed its negotiating “carrot”: to roll back new economic sanctions which they placed on Iran last week!  “You are pointing the gun at Iran and say either negotiate or we will shoot,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said of the United States. “But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated by these threats.”

 

Iran War Weekly - February 11, 2013

Iran War Weekly

February 11, 2013

 

Hello All – After a long slumber, diplomacy about Iran’s nuclear program has awakened.  Yet none of the factors that stymied agreement in the past has significantly changed.  The United States still couples diplomacy with its “all options are on the table” bravado, a stance that precludes a climate conducive to negotiations.  And the United States still refuses to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to consider lifting or suspending economic sanctions in exchange for concessions by Iran.  Moreover, the window for negotiations, which was closed during the US election campaign, will soon close again, perhaps as soon as March, as Iran prepares for its own presidential election.

 

Iran War Weely - February 3, 2013

Iran War Weekly

February 3, 2013

 

Iran War Weekly - January 27, 2013

Iran War Weekly

January 27, 2013

 

Iran War Weekly - January 20, 2013

Iran War Weekly

January 20, 2013

 

Hello All – Iran’s nuclear program, and the possibilities of war against Iran, will likely be prominent in the  Senate confirmation hearings of President Obama’s new national security team, particular in the case of the proposed Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.  While Hagel, Kerry (State), and Brennan (CIA) are all expected to be confirmed, Senate Republicans have served notice that (especially in the case of Hagel), the nominees will be scrutinized to see if they are prepared to keep the sanctions screwed on tightly against Iran and, if necessary, go to war.

 

Iran War Weekly - January 13, 2013

Iran War Weekly

January 13, 2013

 

Hello All – A few weeks ago there was a lot of optimism among the nuclear-diplomatic elite that negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program – stalled since last summer – would soon resume and might, possibly, lead to a breakthrough and a settlement.  Foremost among the reasons for this optimism were the re-election of Obama (giving him “room” to tackle domestically controversial issues) and the severe impact of sanctions on Iran, making it supposedly more willing to negotiate/compromise.  Now the pendulum has swung back to the pessimistic pole.  Negotiations between the UN’s P5+1 and Iran have been put off and not rescheduled, and the negotiations between the IAEA and Iran scheduled for January 16 have also been postponed.

 

Iran War Weekly - January 1, 2013

Iran War Weekly

January 1, 2013

 

Iran War Weekly - December 12, 2012

Iran War Weekly

December 12, 2012

 

Iran War Weekly - December 4, 2012

Iran War Weekly

December 4, 2012

 

Hello All – With negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program scheduled to resume in 10 days, the role of “Iran” in US Middle East policy is now sandwiched between the politico-military meltdown in Israel and an out-of-control war in Syria.  To those who remember how the US war against Iraq was orchestrated in 2002-2003, claims this week that Syria may be preparing to use its chemical weapons are especially alarming.  I have linked some good/useful readings about Syria below; for keeping up-to-date, I recommend the websites Syria Comment, War in Context, and Aljazeera (“Inside Syria”).

 

Iran War Weekly - November 28, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 28, 2012

 

Hello All – The Gaza war, the US presidential election, and a recently released IAEA report critical of Iran will provide the context for a new round of talks about Iran’s nuclear program scheduled to begin in mid-December.  How will these factors shape the next round of talks and, more generally, the possibility of escalating or de-escalating the war against Iran?  Each of these issues is addressed in the good/useful readings linked below.

 

Iran War Weekly - November 20, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 20, 2012

 

Hello All – Buried first by Hurricane Sandy and then by the US presidential election, this week the story of the international conflict over Iran’s nuclear program lies in the deep shadow of the Israeli attack on Gaza.  Nevertheless, there were some important developments regarding both Iran’s program and the prospects for negotiations, which are discussed in some of the good/useful readings linked below.

 

Iran War Weekly - November 12, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 12, 2012

 

Hello All – From the time of the last round of nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran (in Moscow last August), the issues surrounding these negotiations have lain dormant under the deep shadow of the US presidential election.  With the election out of the way, negotiations are expected to resume next month.  During the campaign the Obama team was content to have economic war (“sanctions”) against Iran substitute for diplomacy and pre-empt military action.  Now what?

 

Iran War Weekly - October 29, 2012

Iran War Weekly

October 29, 2012

[Delayed post]

 

Hello All – My hurricane-battered neighborhood lost power last Monday as this newsletter was nearing completion, and electricity and phone line have just been restored.  Here, then, is the way the Iran war looked last Monday.  Some things may be out of date, but my guess is that most are not.  I will get a new edition out asap, as I reconnect with the world.

 

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