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Iran War Weekly - September 24, 2012


By Frank Brodhead - Posted on 24 September 2012

Iran War Weekly

September 24, 2012

 

Hello All – The Iran/US/Israel conflict will take center stage this week, as the United Nations opens its new session.  While Presidents Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu, and Obama will be in the spotlight, much of the actual business among the contending players and their allies will take place off-stage, in the wings. For the Obama administration, the dramatic tension will be focused on keeping their re-election script undisturbed.  Presidents Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu, of course, have different roles.

 

The UN drama unfolds after several months of relative inactivity in the negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program.  While representatives of Iran and the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) had an apparently cordial meeting last week to discuss next steps, the United States has indicated its reluctance to renew high-level negotiations.  Whether this position is pending the election, or pending the weakening of Iran’s negotiating positions as the economic sanctions do their work, remains to be seen.

 

Perhaps the most important event of the past week was the dog that didn’t bark in the night.  While Israeli President Netanyahu reiterated on US television his bluster about “red lines” re: Iran’s “nuclear capability” and the US Senate went on record in support of Israel’s (not Obama’s) position on Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli home front remained relatively quiet, and it appears that Israel’s political and economic elite has beaten back possible plans for an Israeli unilateral and pre-US-election attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

 

Among the good/useful reading linked below, I’ve spotlighted several important developments on the low-intensity battlefield that have trouble-making potential. One is the “de-listing” of the Iranian opposition organization MEK.  Long in the works, and after the expenditure of millions of dollars in bribes and lobbying, this story received extensive coverage from many knowledgeable analysts this week, turning over a rock to reveal (imo) some important lessons about US empire management.  Also this week Iranclaimed some new rounds of sabotage of their nuclear program, both via cyberspace and by agents on Iranian territory.  And in Syria, the United Statesis now claiming that Iraq is allowing Iran to use Iraqi air space to re-supply the Assad regime with weapons and perhaps military advisers.  While the United States claims evidence from a “Western intelligence report,” it has not presented any such evidence to the public.

 

Finally, for those who would like user-friendly daily updates re: Iran and Syria, I recommend the websites of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMI) [UK] - http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/, and Syria Comment - http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/.

 

Once again, I appreciate the help that many of you have given 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)

 

OVERVIEWS/PERSPECTIVES

Iran-U.S. Hostilities Must Stop

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, The National Interest [September 20, 2012]

---- President Obama’s policy of engagement with Iran has failed. Recent steps have led to unprecedented hostilities between the two countries with Washington conducting a full-scale economic, covert, cyber and political war with Iran. Yet these measures have not quenched the thirst of the electorate, as both presidential candidates continue the trend of past election campaigns by competing to see who can deliver a more hostile posture toward Iran. Despite this saber rattling, a good relationship is still possible—but only if the United States changes course and opens up to the idea of genuine engagement…. I have been intimately involved in Iran-West relations for a quarter century. It’s become clear to me that the main obstacle to normalizing relations is related to Israel’s influence. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu plays a leading role in pushing both parties toward a third war in the Middle East. As many U.S. foreign-policy experts have told me, “In Washington, Iranian politics are mainly Israeli politics.” http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/iran-us-hostilities-must-stop-7493

 

More Posturing on Iran

By Paul Pillar, The National Interest [September 23, 2012]

---- Two actions at the end of last week, involving two different branches of the U.S. government, continued a pattern of unthinking support for anything that gets perceived as opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran. One such action was passage by the U.S. Senate in the middle of the night of a resolution that declares that the United States and other countries have a “vital interest” in working “to prevent the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.” The other piece of anti-Iran posturing last week was the decision by the Obama administration to remove the Iranian cult-cum-terrorist group, the Mujahedin e-Khalq or MEK, from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. Both of last week's actions, which involve both political parties and both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government, are discouraging not only for what they imply about discourse and policy on Iran but also for what they say more generally about U.S. policy-making. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/more-posturing-iran-7508#.UF-rOnDMMzk.twitter

 

A Persian letter to Arab revolutionaries

By Hamid Dabashi, Aljazeera [September 18, 2012]

---- Abolfazl Ghadyani is an ageing revolutionary. He put his life on the line to make the Islamic Republic in Iran possible. He is now a political prisoner of the Islamic Republic.  The letter of Ghadyani to Morsi is the exchange between one current political prisoner and another former political prisoner - and what binds them together is a common thread of struggle against tyranny. Neither [Canadian prime minister] Harper nor Obama or any Western European leader shares that common ground, or, a fortiori, the moral voice that it entails. There is thus a fundamental difference between Morsi speaking against the Syrian tyranny (and thus its Iranian backers) right in Khamenei's face in Tehran and Harper closing his embassy in Tehran in support of Israel. Ghadyani's letter to Morsi pulls down the phantasmagoric delusions of tyranny and hypocrisy to the ground zero of moral politics. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/20129101185135214.html

 

(Video) Stand Up to Ahmadinejad's 8 Years of Lies on Iran's Human Rights

---- As Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York for his last official visit to the United Nations, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has released a short video demonstrating and highlighting systematic cover-ups accompanying the marked rise in human rights violations over the eight years of his presidency. http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2012/09/ahmadinejad/

 

NEGOTIATIONS ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Top Myths about Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Program

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [September 17, 2012]

---- Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program is alleged by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be a stealth nuclear weapons program. But there is no evidence at all for this allegation, and it was contradicted by Netanyahu’s own Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who admitted that Iran has not decided to initiate a nuclear weapons program. Israel’s chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has also admitted that Iran has not decided to build a bomb. [and 9 more] http://www.juancole.com/2012/09/top-myths-about-irans-nuclear-enrichment-program.html

 

What’s Next on Iran’s Nuclear Dossier?

By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [September 17, 2012]

---- So the resolution was not merely intended for Iran. Its emphatic, twice-mentioned support for a “comprehensive negotiated, long term solution, on the basis of reciprocity and a step-by-step approach, which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program consistent with the NPT” was also directed at Benjamin Netanyahu, who despite being told in no uncertain terms to let go of the idea of resolving the nuclear issue militarily at least for now, seems unable to do so. By avoiding inflammatory language, the board in effect delayed serious conversation about the intricacies of dealing with Iran’s nuclear program until after the United States November 6 presidential election. http://www.lobelog.com/whats-next-on-irans-nuclear-dossier/

 

Ashton, Jalili hold ‘constructive’ four-hour dinner meeting

By Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor [September 19, 2012]

---- European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held a ‘useful and constructive’ four hour dinner meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul Tuesday, at which he stressed Iran’s interest in continuing negotiations, diplomatic sources told Al-Monitor. Jalili made clear that the Iranians would like negotiations to continue, diplomats said. Ashton, for her part, would also like to move the process forward, but stressed to the Iranians that it’s time for them to get serious. http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2012/09/2178/ashton-jalili-hold-constructive-four-hour-dinner-meeting/#ixzz27JQONEnG

 

Also useful – Laura Rozen, “EU, Iran nuclear negotiators Ashton, Jalili to meet in Turkey,” Al-Monitor [September 17, 2012]http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2012/09/2148/report-iran-eu-nuclear-negotiators-to-meet-in-istanbul/#more-2148

 

What If Iran Leaves the NPT?

By Reza Sanati, The National Interest [September 21, 2012]

[FB – In the blogosphere debates among experts on Iran, a majority of voices believes that the recent threat by several Iranian officials to leave the NPT is simply bluster, pointing out that such threats have been made before, and that the consequences of withdrawing from the NPT would be very damaging to Iran, opening the door further to sanctions and possible military action.  Still, other voices have suggested that this time the threat may not be so empty.  Below is a good example of the latter view.]

---- In the narrative of regime change, the American rationale is not difficult to understand. According to this scenario, Washington would keep pressure on the EU to cut off its oil exports from Iran, place extraterritorial sanctions on Iran’s banking infrastructure that impede international business and put massive pressure on Iran’s existing trade partners. Subsequent damage to the Islamic Republic’s revenues and thus the average Iranian’s quality of life would put intolerable strain upon the regime…. In this environment, Iran’s rationale for continuing NPT membership is becoming obsolete, for the treaty has stopped functioning as a protector of its nuclear efforts and has instead become a liability. Currently, Iran’s very membership in the NPT is facilitating onerous U.S.-led sanctions upon the country, obliging it to amorphous regulatory measures without providing Iran the benefits it gives other members, with no hope for a resolution. http://nationalinterest.org/print/commentary/what-if-iran-leaves-the-npt-7497

 

A Nuclear-Free Zone in the Middle East?

Iranand Israel face off at IAEA meeting

From Aljazeera [September 21, 2012]

---- Iran and Israel have clashed at the annual meeting of the UN atomic agency, further throwing into doubt a hoped-for 2012 conference on creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. In lively debates at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gathering of its 155 member states, Iran said on Thursday that Israel should accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Neither Iran nor Israel has said whether they plan to attend a conference being organised by Finland on creating a Middle East free of atomic weapons that is meant to be held before the end of the year. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/09/2012920214314797245.html

 

Also useful – Jason Ditz, “Israel: Calls for Nuclear-Free Middle East ‘Futile,’” Antiwar.com [September 20, 2012] http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/20/israel-calls-for-nuclear-free-middle-east-futile/

 

LOW-INTENSITY WARFARE CONTINUES

Iranian Official Says Blasts Targeted Nuclear Sites

By David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone, New York Times [September 17, 2012]

---- Iran’s most senior atomic energy official revealed on Monday that separate explosions, which he attributed to sabotage, had targeted power supplies to the country’s two main uranium enrichment facilities, including the deep underground site that American and Israeli officials say is the most invulnerable to bombing. The official, Fereydoon Abbasi, a nuclear scientist who narrowly escaped an assassination in his car nearly two years ago, just before he was appointed to lead the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said one of the attacks occurred on Aug. 17, a day before international inspectors arrived at the underground site. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/world/middleeast/iran-scientist-says-blasts-targeted-nuclear-sites.html

 

Who’s Sabotaging Iran’s Nuclear Program?

By Eli Lake, The Daily Beast [September 19, 2012 ]

---- The chief of Iran’s nuclear program says the power lines to his nuclear facilities were sabotaged. U.S. Special Forces have trained for operations inside Iran for years. Do these latest disclosures suggest they are already on the ground? In recent years, the West’s stealth war on Iran’s nuclear program has been waged through sabotage, industrial explosions, cyber viruses, and targeted killings. But until recently elements of the country’s civilian infrastructure were off limits in this not-so-secret shadow war. The disclosure is significant. To start, it is the first piece of evidence to suggest opponents of the Iranian program are targeting the country’s electrical grid and doing so on the ground. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/19/who-s-sabotaging-iran-s-nuclear-program.print.html

 

Also useful - Najmeh Bozorgmehr and James Blitz, “Iran reveals nuclear plant sabotage," Financial Times [September 17, 2012] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/036f0d28-00dd-11e2-99d3-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz26yKIEI9F; “Iran warns of IAEA 'terrorist infiltration,’” BBC News [September 17, 2012] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19627623?print=true; “Iran Says Nuclear Equipment Was Sabotaged,” Associated Press [September 22, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/world/middleeast/iran-says-siemens-tried-to-sabotage-its-nuclear-program.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print; and Anshel Pfeffer, “Siemens and Iran: A checkered past,” Haaretz [Israel] [September 23, 2012] http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/the-axis/siemens-and-iran-a-checkered-past.premium-1.466417

 

US POLICY AND PERSPECTIVES

Reconsidering war with Iran

Dan Plesch, Martin Butcher, and Ian Shields, Open Democracy [September 18, 2012]

---- There is considerable international discussion about a potential confrontation between Iran and the international community over its nuclear programme.  Conventional wisdom is that the US is unable to, or unwilling to risk, a pre-emptive attack and that Tehran is calling all the shots.  The US military, and likely political, readiness for a war using minimum ground forces indicates that the current seeming inaction surrounding Iran is misleading. The United States retains the ability – despite commitments to Afghanistan – to undertake no notice major military operations against Iran that could remove Iran’s ability to retaliate and remove the regime’s ability to function at all. This article (drawing on open source material) will challenge the notion that America will not attack first, and demonstrate that the US has the wherewithal to destroy the Iranian military capability. http://www.opendemocracy.net/dan-plesch-martin-butcher-ian-shields/reconsidering-war-with-iran

 

Senate approves resolution on Iran

By Donna Cassata,Associated Press [September 22, 2012]

---- The Senate has overwhelmingly approved a resolution that reaffirms U.S. efforts to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and says containment of a nuclear-capable Iran is not an option. By a vote of 90-1 early Saturday, the Senate backed the nonbinding measure that specifically states that it should not been interpreted as an authorization for the use of military force or a declaration of war. It endorses continued economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran until it agrees to suspension of its uranium enrichment program in compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, cooperates with international inspectors and reaches a permanent agreement that its program is for peaceful purposes. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/2012/09/22/senate-approves-resolution-iran/f2DdHNUDP1Et9tT0vA6bcN/story.html

 

Mitt Romney screws up nuclear weapons 101.

By Joe Cirincione, Foreign Policy [September 18, 2012]

---- Governor Mitt Romney's description, caught on video, of what he considered the real nuclear threat from Iran has further undermined his national security credentials, showing a fundamental misunderstanding of nuclear threats. Iran's nuclear program has nothing to do with dirty bombs. Terrorists would not use uranium -- from Iran or anywhere else -- in a dirty bomb. It is unclear if Gov. Romney was just riffing, or if his advisors had fed him this line of attack. But it is dead wrong. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/18/dirty_bomb_muddy_thinking?page=0,0

 

U.S. official says cyberattacks can trigger self-defense rule

By Ellen Nakashima, WashingtonPost [September 18, 2012]

[FB – Irony alert.]

---- Cyberattacks can amount to armed attacks triggering the right of self-defense and are subject to international laws of war, the State Department’s top lawyer said Tuesday. Spelling out the U.S. government’s position on the rules governing cyberwarfare, Harold Koh, the department’s legal adviser, said a cyber-operation that results in death, injury or significant destruction would probably be seen as a use of force in violation of international law. In the United States’ view, any illegal use of force potentially triggers the right of national self-defense, Koh said. Cyberattacks that cause a nuclear plant meltdown, open a dam above a populated area or disable an air-traffic control system resulting in plane crashes are examples of activity that probably would constitute an illegal use of force, he said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-official-says-cyberattacks-can-trigger-self-defense-rule/2012/09/18/c2246c1a-0202-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_print.html

 

Iranblamed for cyberattacks on U.S. banks and companies

By Ellen Nakashima, WashingtonPost [September 21, 2012]

[FB – True?  Disinformation, considering the source?]

---- Iran recently has mounted a series of disruptive computer attacks against major U.S. banks and other companies in apparent retaliation for Western economic sanctions aimed at halting its nuclear program, according to U.S. intelligence and other officials. In particular, assaults this week on the Web sites of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America probably were carried out by Iran, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Friday. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/iran-blamed-for-cyberattacks/2012/09/21/afbe2be4-0412-11e2-9b24-ff730c7f6312_story.html?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

 

US Removes the MEK from the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”

Five lessons from the de-listing of MEK as a terrorist group

By Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian [UK] [September 23, 2012]

---- The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, is an Iranian dissident group that has been formally designated for the last 15 years by the US State Department as a "foreign terrorist organization". Its inclusion on the terrorist list has meant that it is a felony to provide any "material support" to that group. Nonetheless, a large group of prominent former US government officials from both political parties has spent the last several years receiving substantial sums of cash to give speeches to the MEK, and have then become vocal, relentless advocates for the group, specifically for removing them from the terrorist list… What makes this effort all the more extraordinary are the reports that MEK has actually intensified its terrorist and other military activities over the last couple of years. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/23/iran-usa?CMP=twt_gu

 

Some initial thoughts on the MEK being delisted

By Nima Shirazi, Mondoweiss [September 22, 2012]

---- US State Dept probably made such a decision for the following reasons: 1. The political pressure from MEK's highly-paid lobbyists was probably not as powerful a tool as the fear of these people getting prosecuted for supporting a declared terrorist organization.  2. The US and Israel are already funding, training and arming the MEK.  Delisting the group, in real terms, barely does anything in a tangible sense.  3. The decision may be designed to distract the Iranian delegation during its UN General Assembly visit next week. http://mondoweiss.net/2012/09/some-initial-thoughts-on-the-mek-being-delisted.html

 

Also useful - Chris McGreal, “MEK decision: multimillion-dollar campaign led to removal from terror list,” The Guardian [UK] [September 21, 2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/iran-mek-group-removed-us-terrorism-list; Jasmin Ramsey, “Analysts Respond to Expected US Decision to delist MEK from FTO List,” LobeLog [September 22, 2012] http://www.lobelog.com/analysts-respond-to-expected-us-decision-to-delist-mek-from-fto-list/; Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, “By Delisting the MEK, the Obama Administration is Taking the Moral and Strategic Bankruptcy of America’s Iran Policy to a New Low,” The Race for Iran http://www.raceforiran.com/by-delisting-the-mek-the-obama-administration-is-taking-the-moral-and-strategic-bankruptcy-of-america%E2%80%99s-iran-policy-to-a-new-low; and Scott Peterson, “Iranian group's big-money push to get off US terrorist list,” Christian Science Monitor [August 8, 2011] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list

 

IRANIAN POLICY AND PERSPECTIVES

Iran’s Top Atomic Official Says Nation Issued False Nuclear Data to Fool Spies

By Rick Gladstone and Christine Hauser, New York Times [September 20, 2012]

---- Iran’s top atomic energy official said in an article published Thursday that because of foreign espionage, his government had sometimes provided false information to protect its nuclear program, which Western powers and Israel have called a cloak to develop a nuclear weapons capacity. The official, Fereydoon Abbasi, a nuclear scientist who is the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, did not specify the nature of the false information. Nor did he specify when it had been presented or to whom. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/world/middleeast/iran-atomic-official-says-it-gave-false-nuclear-information-to-fool-spies.html?hp

 

Iran: "We Lied!" -- not really

By Cyrus Safdari, IranAffairs [September 21, 2012]

http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2012/09/iran-we-lied-not-really.html

 

Inside Iran

2012 Iranian Oil Survey: Autumn Update

By Matthew M. Reed, PBS [September 21, 2012]

---- Iran's crude oil exports collapsed this summer after U.S. and E.U. sanctions came into effect July 1. According to the International Energy Agency, July exports sank to 930,000 barrels per day (b/d), compared to last year's average of 2.2 million b/d. Total oil production fell to 2.9 million b/d -- a low not seen since 1989. That same month, Iraq surpassed Iran in terms of total output, displacing its neighbor as the second-highest oil producer in OPEC for the first time in decades. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2012/09/business-2012-iranian-oil-survey-autumn-update.html#ixzz27JVECeOi

 

Curbs on Iran female students take effect

From Aljazeera [September 22, 2012]

---- International rights groups protest as 36 universities across Iran begin to ban women from 77 different majors. Human rights groups have urged Iran to lift restrictions on women attending university and enrolling in certain academic fields. Thirty-six universities across Iran have banned women from 77 different majors, including accounting, counseling, and engineering, for the school year that begins on Saturday, Iran's Mehr news agency reported in August. There was no official reason given for the move, but Iranian officials have expressed alarm in recent months about the country's declining birth and marriage rates, seen as partially caused by women's rising educational attainment in the last two decades. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/09/201292211424417429.html

 

(Video) Iranian Women’s Liberation Movement in the Year Zero

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ulJwXHji6f4#

 

ISRAELI POLICY AND PERSPECTIVES

Very Little Room for Diplomacy In ‘Fortress Israel’

By Barbara Slavin, [Sep 19, 2012]

---- Will Israel attack Iran or won’t it? Reading Patrick Tyler’s provocative new book, Fortress Israel, it is hard to have confidence that Israel’s leaders will allow much more time for efforts at a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. Tyler, a veteran former reporter for the New York Times and Washington Post, retells the history of Israel though its wars and other military operations, noting that Israel has frequently employed massive and disproportionate force as well as covert actions of questionable morality to gain territory, avenge attacks and destroy mortal threats before they can mature. The book argues, however, that such tactics have cost Israel opportunities for peace, turning the country into a new Sparta — a military fortress “in a steel cage” that is “more isolated than ever” in a volatile region. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/fortress-israel-detonates-chance.html#ixzz26vOGO0ni

 

(Video) Do Israelis 'heart' attacking Iran?

From Aljazeera [The Stream] [September 19, 2012] – 35 minutes

---- Anti-war Israelis want to preempt a strike on Iran. Israel’s Prime Minister is demanding an international redline on Iran’s nuclear programme and wants the US to provide it. At the same time there is growing speculation about a possible unilateral Israeli strike on Iran if the US doesn’t act. According to polls, only 27% of Jewish Israelis support a unilateral strike on Iran. Will Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu order an attack even though his public does not support it? In this episode of The Stream, we speak to Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian Council and Natashya Mozgovaya, Chief US Correspondent for Haaretz. http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/do-israelis-heart-attacking-iran-0022345

 

IRAN AND BAHRAIN

Animosity Grows Between Iran and Bahrain in post-Arab Spring

By Jasim Husain, Inside Iran [September 13th, 2012]
---- The relationship between Iran and Bahrain has become a victim of the on-going Arab Spring. Despite the increasing animosity between the two neighboring countries, they have no choice but to overcome the current tide in their bilateral ties. Relations between Tehran and Manama have deteriorated over the past year and a half, with sustained attacks by Iranian media over the turn of events in Bahrain. To further infuriate Bahraini authorities, Iran has raised the issue of Bahrain in the P5+1 talks concerning its nuclear program. For their part, officials in Bahrain have responded by indirectly backing a key Iranian opposition group, namely the Mojahedin Khalg Organization (MKO). The newly-founded policy commenced in 2012 with officials encouraging legislators, noted for their anti-Iran tendency, to attend functions arranged by dissident groups. http://www.insideiran.org/news/animosity-grows-between-iran-and-bahrain-in-post-arab-spring/

 

Also useful– Jen Marlowe, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (in the U.S. at Least),” Informed Comment. http://www.juancole.com/2012/09/americas-hypocrisy-in-bahrain-marlowe.html

 

CIVIL WAR/INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

A Syrian quartet worth hearing
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times [September 19, 2012]
---- The Middle East political space has been dominated by unprecedented and widespread anti-American mass rallies sparked by a blasphemous film, but last week it was also the repository of fresh efforts to address the tragic conflict in Syria. While in Damascus, the new UN envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, had his first audience with embattled President Bashar al-Assad, and in Beirut the visiting Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace and condemned foreign import of arms into Syria as a "sin", the representatives of a brand new "quartet" consisting of Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran held their first meeting in Cairo, thanks to the singular initiative of Mohammed Morsi. The Egyptian president had unveiled his idea of a regional contact group on Syria at last month's special meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and reiterated that vision soon afterwards, at the Tehran summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NI19Ak01.html

 

(Video)Lakhdar Brahimi: 'Change has to take place'

From Aljazeera [September 23, 2012] – 25 minutes

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/09/201292383554431764.html

 

Military Dimensions of the Civil War

State of the Internal Opposition
By Ammar Abdulhamid, SyriaComment [September 11, 2012]

---- For many months, rebel groups were on their own when it came to procuring weapons and supplies. The situation changed six months ago, with the establishment of a special Turkish-Qatari-Saudi “operations room” that supervised all arms flow to the rebels. However, and over the last few weeks, the situation changed again. A reported dispute between Saudi and Qatari officials put an end to the tripartite cooperation and Qatar and Saudi Arabia are acting separately, albeit still under Turkish supervision. The specifics of the dispute are not clear, but the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its role seem to lie at the heart of it. http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=16142

 

(Video) The Battle for Syria(“The Battle for Allepo” and “Assad Responds”)

From PBS Frontline [September 18, 2012] – 60 minutes

http://video.pbs.org/video/2280738289

 

Syria’s Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming?

By Rania Abouzeid, SyriaComment [September 18, 2012]

---- Vast swaths of northern Syria, especially in the province of Idlib, have slipped out of the hands of President Bashar Assad, if not quite out of his reach. The area is now a de facto liberated zone, though the daily attacks by Damascus’ air force and the shelling from the handful of checkpoints and bases regime forces have fallen back to are reminders that the rebel hold on the territory remains fluid and fragile. What is remarkable is that this substantial strip of “free” Syria has been patched together in the past 18 months by military defectors, students, tradesmen, farmers and pharmacists who have not only withstood the Syrian army’s withering fire but in some instances repelled it using a hodgepodge of limited, light weaponry. The feat is even more amazing when one considers the disarray among the outside powers supplying arms to the loosely allied band of rebels. http://world.time.com/2012/09/18/syrias-secular-and-islamist-rebels-who-are-the-saudis-and-the-qataris-arming/

 

Towns in rebel-controlled Syria experiment with self-government

By Borzou Daragahi, WashingtonPost [September 17, 2012]

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/towns-in-rebel-controlled-syria-experiment-in-self-government/2012/09/17/048fee78-00e9-11e2-b257-e1c2b3548a4a_print.html

 

Assad’s Army Unlikely to “Crumble”

By Joshua Landis, SyriaComment [September 17th, 2012]

---- A likely outcome of the Syrian struggle is that Assad and his army will not break; rather, they will likely retreat to the coastal region, where Alawite and loyal troops have a social base. They would be very hard to destroy on their home base, especially if foreign allies continue to support them with weapons and money. Should this happen, Syria’s civil war could end more like Lebanon’s — with a stalemate — rather than like Libya’s — with the death of the dictator and destruction of his military. If Sunni Arab rebels manage to unify or if foreign powers intervene directly, the survival of Assad’s military is unlikely. http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=16037

 

Allegations of Iranian Support for Syrian Government

US Threatens to Review Iraq Aid Over Iran Overflights

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [September 19, 2012]

---- US allegations that Iran was smuggling weapons through Iraqi airspace emerged earlier this month, but after the Iraqi government demanded “evidence” and none was provided the whole story seemingly died, at least for awhile. Sen. John Kerry (D – MA) has now reportedly threatened a full “review” of all US aid to the Iraqi government unless they immediately and unconditionally halt all Iranian access to their airspace. The allegation now is that not only are cargo aircrafts supposedly sending weapons into Syria from Iran, but that civilian aircraft in general are being stocked full of troops and weapons by Iran and that any plane leaving Iran is automatically suspect. The US had initially demanded that Iraq force Iran to land all outgoing aircraft in their airports to search them, which Iraq said it had no intention of doing without evidence. The US has not provided evidence for the new allegations either, rather presenting them as assumptions. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/19/us-threatens-to-review-iraq-aid-over-iran-overflights/

 

Also useful – Louis Charbonneau, “Western report - Iran ships arms, personnel to Syria via Iraq,” Reuters[September 19, 2012] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/19/us-syria-crisis-iran-iraq-idUSBRE88I17B20120919; and Editorial, “On the Wrong Side,” New York Times [September 23, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/opinion/on-the-wrong-side.html?hp

 

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