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Iran War Weekly - January 13, 2013


By Frank Brodhead - Posted on 13 January 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.

 

While the reasoning behind these postponements is opaque (at least to me), the Obama administration’s immediate domestic concern is to get Senate approval for a new national security team, and the controversy initiated by the Israel Lobby around the lack of appropriate hawkishness by Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, would seem to indicate that this is not a good time to modify (liberalize) the US position towards Iran and its nuclear program (e.g. by offering some realistic prospects to lift economic sanctions, a necessary condition for forward progress).  Similarly, Iran would reasonably want to see what happens during what the US right wing hopes will be a major fight during the confirmation hearings on US policy towards Iran and Israel.  Several of the essays linked below offer similar speculations, but none of the important parties to the negotiations seem to be speaking “on the record” about why negotiations are not moving forward.

 

That said, this issue of the Iran War Weekly includes some unusually good essays outlining some of the background and context for the stalled nuclear negotiations.  I especially recommend the essays by Peter Jenkins, a former UK ambassador to the IAEA; the short video by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, both of whom were employed during the Bush administration to work on Iran and Middle East issues; and two essays by Hossein Mousavian, an Iranian nuclear negotiator at the IAEA until the election of Ahmadinejad in 2005.  I’ve also included a (small) selection of the critical writing on the selection of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and what this might mean for US relations with Iran; several good essays on the impact of economic sanctions against Iran; and two good essays on US policy towards Bahrain, another human rights disaster that doesn’t get enough attention in the US mainstream media.

 

Once again I would like to thank those of you who have helped in distributing the Iran War Weekly and/or linking it on websites.  Previous “issues” of the IWW can be read 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

Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)

 

FEATURED ESSAYS

The Problem Posed by Dual-Use Nuclear Technology

By Peter Jenkins, Lobe Log [January 9, 2013]

[FB - Jenkins was the UK Ambassador to the IAEA from 2001 to 2006.]

---- Several factors have shaped US policy towards Iran’s nuclear activities. A shifting attitude to the problem posed by dual-use nuclear technologies is one of them. Although this factor has been less apparent than the bitter legacy of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, for instance, or bleats for help from nuclear-armed Israel, it has not been negligible. within years of the NPT entering into force (1970), US thinking began to shift back towards supply denial. The crystallising moment may well have been the Indian “peaceful nuclear explosion” of May 1974: India used plutonium extracted from reactor fuel supplied under safeguards by Canada. But overt interest in dual-use technologies from states that were not part of the inner circle of trusted US allies and clients — Brazil, Argentina, Iran and Pakistan — contributed to the shift. In effect, the US set about trying to put bits of the nuclear genie back into its 1946 bottle. http://www.lobelog.com/the-problem-posed-by-dual-use-nuclear-technology/

 

(Video) The Leveretts: Israeli Fears of a Nuclear Iran Are Overblown

From Beast TV [January 9, 2013] – 7 minutes

[FB – Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett have just published Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  This video gives a good summary of their perspectives, which they have developed on their important website, www.raceforiran.ofg.] http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/01/09/the-leveretts-israeli-fears-of-a-nuclear-iran-are-overblown/

 

Closing Iran’s Nuclear File

By Seyed Hosseini Mousavian, Al-Monitor [January 3, 2013]

---- The next six to 24 months are going to be the most vital period for Iran-US relations on both the nuclear dilemma and US-Iran relations. Eleven years of diplomatic negotiations on the Iranian nuclear dossier have failed. While the world powers and Iran are working on the next meeting to happen soon, the most critical question remains as to whether a feasible deal is plausible? Under President Obama’s leadership, the most comprehensive sanctions and punitive measures have been imposed on Iran, while Iran, in response, has accelerated its nuclear program. Iran has now accumulated over 7 tons of low enriched uranium, increasing the concerns of the West that if further enriched, it would enable Iran to build nuclear weapons. … The increased optimism has been attributed to Obama’s freer hand following his successful reelection bid, coupled with recent talks between Tehran and Washington. Despite the recent positive views and increased optimism on the Iranian nuclear dossier — I am more concerned than ever. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/iran-nuclear-deal-us-deal.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=5711#ixzz2Htzu5b1a

 

(Video) Red Line: Iran, Israel and the Bomb

From the Foreign Policy Association [December 2012] - 27 minutes

[FB – An Establishment viewpoint, though including as commentators Mousavian and Parsi.]

---- For nearly a decade, Iran’s quest for nuclear capabilities has topped global security concerns in Washington, Brussels and Tel Aviv. Why is a nuclear armed Iran considered so dangerous to the U.S. and Israeli interests, and what’s prevented Iran from reaching a deal year after year? http://vimeo.com/56028385

 

DEBATE/DIPLOMACY RE: IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

How to Talk to Iran

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Mohammad Ali Shabani, New York Times [January 3, 2013]

---- If there are any two words in Persian that President Obama should learn, they are “maslahat” and “aberu.” Maslahat is often translated as expediency, or self-interest. Aberu means face — as in, saving face. In the nearly 34 years since the Islamic revolution in Iran, expediency has been a pillar of decision making, but within a framework that has allowed Iranian leaders to save face. If there is to be any resolution of the nuclear standoff, Western leaders must grasp these concepts. While Tehran views a deal on its nuclear program as being in its self-interest, Western leaders need to grasp that it would be devastating for Iran’s aberu to take the first step solely in exchange for promises. The dominant discourse in Tehran portrays the 2004 decision by the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami to suspend uranium enrichment on a voluntary, temporary basis as a failure because it resulted only in humiliating calls by the West for an indefinite suspension. The moral of this narrative is that placing maslahat above aberu, even temporarily, leads to nothing good. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/opinion/how-to-talk-to-iran.html

 

The memoir by Hassan Rowhani(National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy) referred to the above article is not available in English, but a good summary of it can be found in a review by Farideh Farhi [August 7, 2012] at http://www.lobelog.com/irans-national-security-and-nuclear-diplomacy-an-insiders-take.

 

Is A Deal With Iran In The Offing?

By Trita Parsi, The Daily Beast [January 3, 2013]

---- It is now almost exactly four years ago since President Barack Obama famously offered Iran America’s hand of friendship if Tehran would unclench its fist. Though no one is speaking of friendship today—or even mutual respect—a deal may finally be in the making. Both sides appear to be preparing the ground, in their own ways, for a compromise. The precipitating factors are a combination of realizing that the escalation game has reached a dead end and the quiet signaling of acceptance of the other’s red line. Behind the tough rhetoric emanating from both sides, veiled hints at a major compromise can be found. In just the last few days, editorials in both the New York Times and the Washington Post have argued that a deal should be made which accepts limited enrichment in Iran under five percent and the lifting of some sanctions in return for unhindered inspections. The Obama administration has also hinted at this. If implemented, this would be an acceptance of Iran’s red line and the most compelling force generating a reciprocal step from Tehran (far more so than the pinch of sanctions). http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/03/is-a-deal-with-iran-in-the-offing.html

 

Also useful for the P5+1 Talks – Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, “Iran Likely To Respond To Signs of US Goodwill,” Middle East Online [January 13, 2013] http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=56373; Julian Borger, “Nuclear talks with Iran delayed,” The Guardian [UK] [January 9, 2013] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2013/jan/09/iran-nuclear-talks-delay; Paul Pillar, “Iran Nuke Deal Within Sight,”  Consortium News [January 5, 2013] http://consortiumnews.com/2013/01/05/iran-nuke-deal-within-sight/; Reza Marashi, “Step by Step with Iran,” National Interest [January 4, 2013] http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/step-by-step-iran-7928; and Editorial, “Iranian nuclear talks need to come to a close,” Washington Post [January 2, 2013] http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/iranian-nuclear-talks-need-to-come-to-a-close/2013/01/02/974c8980-5501-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story.html

 

The Iran – IAEA Talks

Little Hope Seen for Iran Nuclear Talks

By Rick Gladstone, New York Times [January 11, 2013]

---- The top United Nations nuclear monitoring official expressed renewed pessimism on Friday about negotiations with Iran, set for next week. The talks are aimed at gaining access to a restricted military area, which his inspectors suspect may have been used for atomic bomb-trigger testing work. The official, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that “the outlook is not bright” for obtaining permission from Iran to visit the site, Parchin, which is about 20 miles south of Tehran. Mr. Amano’s remarks contrasted with a more optimistic tone from the agency less than a month ago, when his deputy, Herman Nackaerts, expressed hope that the negotiations this Wednesday would lead to final agreement on an inspection plan. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/world/middleeast/little-hope-seen-for-iran-nuclear-talks.html?ref=world

 

Also useful – Aaron Sheldrick, “IAEA chief says not optimistic on Iran nuclear talks,” Reuters [January 11, 2013] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/11/us-nuclear-iran-iaea-idUSBRE90A0AR20130111

 

UNITED STATES POLICIES AND PERSPECTIVES

Iran should be key topic at hearings

By Zbigniew Brzezinski, WashingtonPost [January 3, 2013]

---- It is to be hoped that the forthcoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Armed Services Committee hearings regarding the president’s nominations for secretary of state and secretary of defense produce a wide-ranging debate regarding this country’s role in today’s very unsettled world. The hearings almost certainly will provoke searching questions regarding the strategic wisdom of potential U.S. military action against Iran. Recent Israeli media reports have cited a former member of President Obama’s National Security Council staff predicting a U.S. attack by about midyear. It is essential that the issue of war or peace with Iran be fully vented, especially with the U.S. national interest in mind. Although the president has skillfully avoided a specific commitment to military action by a certain date, the absence of a negotiated agreement with Iran regarding its compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will inevitably intensify some foreign and extremist domestic clamor for U.S. military action, alone or in coordination with Israel. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/zbigniew-brzezinski-iran-should-be-key-topic-at-senate-hearings/2013/01/03/5dbc3324-5519-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story.html

 

Iran, Israel, and Chuck Hagel

In Transition, Hagel Gets Up to Speed on Iran

By David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, New York Times [January 10, 2013]

---- Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, is perceived to have an Iran problem. And this week he has started to deal with it.  … Officials made it clear on Thursday that Mr. Hagel was sounding more hawkish on Iran after four days of meetings at the Pentagon, which were intended to bring him up to speed. Whether that shift is based in a change of view, an effort to get in sync with administration policy or an intention to pre-empt questions in the Senate was not certain. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/us/in-transition-to-defense-post-hagel-focuses-on-iran.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print

 

Chuck Hagel: Toeing the Obama Line on Iran

By John Glaser On January 10, 2013

---- The Associated Press is reporting that “Chuck Hagel, is meeting with senior Pentagon staff to try to set the record straight about his stand on Iran, saying he backs strong international sanctions against Tehran and believes all options, including military action, should be on the table.” As was eagerly pointed out in the pre-nomination debate over Hagel, his views on Iran have been pro-diplomacy and anti-war, throwing in a heavy skepticism about unilateral sanctions. … These are the views Hagel caught flack for from the war-mongers in Washington. Those wondering what accounts for Hagel’s apparent abrupt switch shouldn’t be surprised: that’s politics. On the one hand, I think the AP article describing Hagel as being suddenly supportive of an “all options, including military attack, being on the table” position may be misleading. http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/01/10/chuck-hagel-toeing-the-obama-line-on-iran/

 

Also useful – Laura Rozen, “Chuck Hagel Failure May Haunt Hawks,” The Forward [January 9, 2013] http://forward.com/articles/168959/chuck-hagel-failure-may-haunt-hawks/?p=all; Diane Barnes, “Hagel Pick Could Signal U.S. Policy Shift on Iran,” Nuclear Threat Initiative [January 8, 2013] http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/hagel-pick-could-foreshadow-new-us-approach-iran/; and the US Institute of Peace, “Hagel’s Past Comments on Iran,” [January 8, 2013]  http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2013/jan/08/hagel%E2%80%99s-past-comments-iran

 

The US, Iran, and Latin America

It’s Official: Iran’s Presence in the Western Hemisphere a Threat to US, According to Congress and Obama

By Alex Main, Center for Economic and Policy Research [January 7, 2013]

---- If you haven’t heard of the “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012” (H.R. 3783), that may be because you aren’t a faithful reader of the neoconservative Commentary Magazine, which urged President Obama to sign the bill; or of the web page of the Heritage Foundation.  Nor did you receive the press release of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) that applauded the bill’s passage and noted that it would help “turn back Iranian attempts to establish bases, subvert the economic relationships between the US and Latin America, and the establishment of covert abilities to promote terrorism in countries close to our own US borders.”  … Indeed, though the bill was approved nearly unanimously in both chambers, only far right organizations appear to have openly supported it. http://truth-out.org/news/item/13745-its-official-irans-presence-in-the-region-a-threat-to-us-according-to-congress-and-obama

 

Is Iran's presence in Latin America a threat? The White House says yes.

By Sara Miller Llana, Christian Science Monitor [January 7, 2013]

---- When the White House signed a law countering Iran in Latin America recently, it was the most public strategy to date against Iran’s influence in the region. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2013/0107/Is-Iran-s-presence-in-Latin-America-a-threat-The-White-House-says-yes

 

IRAN POLICIES AND PERSPECTIVES

A Conversation with Ali Akbar Salehi, Foreign Minister of Iran

From World Policy Journal [Winter 2012]

http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/winter2012/chatroom-ali-akbar-salehi

 

Iran: Inflation Soars, Officials Say

By the Associated Press [January 9, 2013]

---- Iran’s central bank disclosed Wednesday that the annual inflation rate hit 27.4 percent at the end of 2012, one of the highest rates ever quoted by Iranian authorities. The soaring rate reflects both the impact of Western sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear program and the worsening economic conditions under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has come under criticism both from reformist opponents and conservatives. Iran’s currency faces collapse. In October, the Iranian rial lost about 50 percent of its value within a week. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/world/middleeast/iran-inflation-soars-officials-say.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print

 

The British daily The Guardian is now carrying The Tehran Bureau, an independent blog out of Iran in English.  Among recent stories are “Optimism in Short Supply in the Streets of Tehran as Sanctions Grind Iran Down”; “Daughters of Iran” [1942]; and “Growing up gay in Iran.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/iran-blog/2013/jan/13/guardian-hosts-tehran-bureau-iran

 

The Alleged Cyberwar Attacks on US Banks

Bank Hacks Were Work of Iranians, Officials Say

By Nicole Perlroth and Quentin Hardy, New York Times [January 8, 2013]

---- The attackers hit one American bank after the next. As in so many previous attacks, dozens of online banking sites slowed, hiccupped or ground to a halt before recovering several minutes later. But there was something disturbingly different about the wave of online attacks on American banks in recent weeks. The skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced United States government officials and security researchers that they are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic sanctions and online attacks by the United States. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/technology/online-banking-attacks-were-work-of-iran-us-officials-say.html?hp

 

Bank Attacker: Iran Ties Questioned By Security Pros

By Mathew J. Schwartz, Information Week [January 10, 2013] http://www.informationweek.com/bank-attacker-iran-ties-questioned-by-se/240146001

 

Iran Denies Cyber Attacks on US Banks

By Lee Ferran, ABC News [January 11, 2013] http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/iran-denies-cyber-attacks-us-banks/story?id=18191088

 

IRAN AND ISRAEL

Israeli President ‘Sure’ Obama Will Attack Iran

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [January 9, 2013]

---- In an interview with the New York Times, Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed confidence that President Obama would eventually attack Iran, and that economic sanctions and negotiations were just a prelude to such a move. “If none of this works, then President Obama will use military power against Iran. I am sure of it,” Peres insisted, saying that the Americans simply “don’t begin by shooting” when they are on the path to a war. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/01/09/israeli-president-sure-obama-will-attack-iran/

 

Israel’s Turn to the Far Right: The Point of No Return?

By Kirk J. Beatrie, Informed Comment [January 4, 2013]

---- Most concerned Americans have, understandably, had their eyes glued on the monumental changes sweeping the Arab world. But they remain largely oblivious to another regional transformation of great significance; that is, the rightward shift of Israel’s political, tectonic plates. From its historically strong center-leftist (Labor) and center-rightist (old Likud) nodes, Israel’s political scene is now dominated by a combination of far right (new Likud) and extreme right wingers. Netanyahu’s coalition already depends upon, and is slated to become even more beholden to, extreme right wing, ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox religious elements. In the current coalition, these forces combined hold eleven more Knesset seats than does Likud. And the beliefs of these elements about Israel, Palestinians, their regional neighbors, and the rest of the world, are every bit as frightening as those of Islamist extremists. http://www.juancole.com/2013/01/israels-return-beattie.html

 

SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN

Punishing Defiance: Sanctioning Iran

By Ben Schreiner, Counterpunch [January 8, 2013]

---- Washington’s quest to bring Tehran to its knees continues to accelerate.  And in turn, ordinary Iranians increasingly find themselves caught in the crosshairs. As the Washington Post reports on the latest round of Iran sanctions signed by President Obama last week, “the new policies are closer to a true trade embargo, designed to systematically attack and undercut Iran’s major financial pillars and threaten the country with economic collapse.” “The new law imposes sanctions against international companies that do business with Iranian firms in the targeted industrial sectors, and also seeks to block Iran from obtaining aluminum, steel, coal and other materials critical for construction and vehicle manufacturing,” the Post continues. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/08/sanctioning-iran/

 

For the Washington Post article – Joby Warrick, “New Iran sanctions target industry in bid for deal curbing nuclear program,”  Washington Post [January 6, 2013] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-iran-sanctions-target-industry-in-bid-for-deal-curbing-nuclear-program/2013/01/06/e6a8735e-56b4-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story_1.html

 

Iran unable to get life-saving drugs due to international sanctions

By Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian [January 13, 2013]

---- Hundreds of thousands of Iranians with serious illnesses have been put at imminent risk by the unintended consequences of international sanctions, which have led to dire shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer and bloodclotting agents for haemophiliacs. Western governments have built waivers into the sanctions regime – aimed at persuading Tehran to curb its nuclear programme – in an effort to ensure that essential medicines get through, but those waivers are not functioning, as they conflict with blanket restrictions on banking, as well as bans on "dual-use" chemicals which might have a military application. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/13/iran-lifesaving-drugs-international-sanctions?CMP=twt_gu

 

More on drugs and sanctions - Daniel Nasaw, “Irandrug shortage: US Iranians send medicine to avert http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20923511

 

Iran Under Sanctions – Oil and the National Budget

By William Yong and Alirez Hajihosseini, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies [January 11, 2013] http://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Understanding-Iran-Under-Sanctions-Oil-and-the-National-Budget.pdf

 

Also useful – Rick Gladstone, “Iran Finding Ways to Evade Sanctions, Treasury Department Warns,” New York Times [January 10, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/world/middleeast/iran-finding-ways-to-circumvent-sanctions-treasury-department-says.html?ref=world; from the National Iranian American Council News, “Iranian Students in U.S. Hit by Discriminatory Banking Sanctions,” [January 8, 2013] http://www.niacouncil.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8789&security=1&news_iv_ctrl=-1; and from Reuters, “Two airlines suspend Iran flights as economy weakens,” [January 13, 2013] http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/13-Jan-2013/two-airlines-suspend-iran-flights-as-economy-weakens

 

THE UNITED STATES AND BAHRAIN

'Forsaken by the West': Obama and the Betrayal of Democracy in Bahrain

By Larry Diamond, The Atlantic [January 2013]

---- Along with its mounting problems, Bahrain has a geostrategic trump card: location. Jutting out in the center of the Persian Gulf, less than 100 miles from Iran, it hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, the pillar of naval security in the region and an indispensable counterweight to Iran's ambitions for regional hegemony. Thus, Bahrain is a major strategic ally of the United States. And so, the active mobilization into the streets of more than a quarter of Bahrain's entire citizenry became what Al Jazeera called "the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West, and forgotten by the world." http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/01/forsaken-by-the-west-obama-and-the-betrayal-of-democracy-in-bahrain/266994

 

Also useful – Toby C. Jones, “Obama Should Reconsider US Approach to Bahrain,” Lobe Log [January 8, 2013] http://www.lobelog.com/obama-should-reconsider-us-approach-to-bahrain/

 

CIVIL WAR/INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

Should Iran be Included in Syria Conflict Diplomacy?

By Jasmin Ramsey, Lobe Log [January 11, 2013]

---- In this atmosphere of hopelessness news surfaced Wednesday of over 2,130 Syrian prisoners being released by the regime in exchange for 48 Iranians abducted during what they claimed to be a religious pilgrimage in August. The massive exchange again raises the question of whether Iran has a role to play in bringing an end to the Syrian crisis. This question may be more difficult to answer now than it was when the fighting first broke out over a year ago. On the one hand, the prisoner swap supports the argument that Iran holds considerable influence over Assad’s government and could help shift events toward a “peace process”. … On the other hand, this prisoner swap, which amounts to about 44 Syrians for every 1 Iranian, displays the extent to which Iran is tied to Assad’s repression. http://www.lobelog.com/should-iran-be-included-in-syria-conflict-diplomacy/

 

(Video) What does 2013 have in store for Syria?

From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [January 6, 2013] – 25 minutes

http://warincontext.org/2013/01/06/video-what-does-2013-have-in-store-for-syria/

 

Russiarejects Assad exit as necessity for Syria deal

By Steve Gutterman and Oliver Holmes, The Daily Star [Lebanon] [January 12, 2013]

---- Russia voiced support on Saturday for international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, but insisted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to end the country's conflict. … A Russian Foreign Ministry statement following talks on Friday with the United States and Brahimi reiterated calls for an end to violence in Syria, but there was no sign of a breakthrough. Brahimi said the issue of Assad, whom the United States, European powers and Gulf-led Arab states insist must step down to end the civil war, appeared to be a sticking point at the meeting in Geneva. http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jan-12/201971-russia-calls-for-transition-process-in-syria.ashx#ixzz2HreWXsah

 

Iran's economic stake in Syria

By Majid Rafizadeh,Foreign Policy [January 4, 2013]

---- Iran has historically invested a considerable amount of money, resources, skilled forces, and labor in Syria. These investments were ratcheted up, particularly, in the last few years before uprisings began erupting in March 2011 across Syria. Although large sums of money and resources were allocated to investments in Syrian transportation and infrastructure, Iranian and Syrian economic ties are not limited to these spheres. A few months before the popular uprisings were ignited, Iranian authorities signed a $10 billion natural gas agreement with Syria and Iraq for the construction of gas pipeline that would start in Iran, run through Syria, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean, and reach several Western countries. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/01/04/irans_economic_stake_in_syria

 

Increasing Barbarity Gaining a Clearer View of the Syrian Civil War

By Christoph Reuter, Der Spiegel [December 31, 2012]

---- The Syrian civil war is far less accessible than the war in Libya was. In Libya, the eastern part of the country around Benghazi was liberated in a week, making it possible for journalists to travel there. There is no Benghazi in Syria. Any corner of the country's embattled regions can be hit by an air strike at any time. At the same time, the regime's Orwellian PR machine not only presents journalists with its official view of the situation, but also provides us with supposed eyewitnesses to atrocities and al-Qaida fighters it has allegedly captured. And no other war has been so ubiquitously captured on video. Whether these videos are real or falsified is difficult to determine. Any cliché, any falsehood can be illustrated with a video. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/gaining-a-clearer-view-of-the-increasing-barbarity-in-syrian-civil-war-a-874027.html

 

 

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