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Friday, February 21, 2014

"Don’t Let Up on Iran": The Best Argument AIPAC Can Make?

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Don’t Let Up on Iran" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/opinion/dont-let-up-on-iran.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), AIPAC president Michael Kassen and AIPAC chairman Lee Rosenberg tell us that they "strongly hope that the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts lead to the peaceful dismantling of Iran’s nuclear weapons program," but in order to attain this goal, "they support a policy that complements the current negotiations with a range of congressional actions that threaten greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the Iranian government." Kassen and Rosenberg write:

"Our message to Tehran should be clear: It will not achieve its objectives unless it satisfies ours.

Unfortunately, Iran’s leaders are acting as if they have not received that message. In recent weeks, the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has declared that his government will not dismantle a single centrifuge. Tehran also went beyond words by testing long-range ballistic missiles that could reach American military bases in the Middle East, as well as our ally Israel. It has even dispatched warships to sail close to the maritime borders of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean.

We also know the Iranians have worked to deceive us in previous rounds of negotiations. In 2003, when Mr. Rouhani was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Tehran issued a declaration that it was suspending uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities. Last year, as he ran for president, Mr. Rouhani even boasted that Iran had flouted the agreement.

. . . .

The partial recovery of Iran’s economy in recent weeks, thanks to the relaxation of sanctions, in tandem with its continuing advanced research and development of centrifuges, highlights our concerns. If Iran can achieve such progress without dismantling any part of its nuclear program, why should it make concessions?"

Query: Why is there no mention by Messrs. Kassen and Rosenberg of Iranian support for the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has gassed to death Syrian civilians, dropped barrel bombs on their homes, and is now attempting to starve them into submission. As reported by Reuters yesterday (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/21/us-syria-crisis-iran-idUSBREA1K09U20140221):

"As Syria's war nears the start of its fourth year, Iran has stepped up support on the ground for President Bashar al-Assad, providing elite teams to gather intelligence and train troops, sources with knowledge of military movements say.

This further backing from Tehran, along with deliveries of munitions and equipment from Moscow, is helping to keep Assad in power at a time when neither his own forces nor opposition fighters have a decisive edge on the battlefield.

Assad's forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad."

Without Iranian support, Assad and his family would have abandoned Syria long ago. Moreover, it is Iranian support which is allowing Assad to flout the purported agreement, brokered by Putin, for the destruction of Assad's chemical weapons arsenal (see: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/01/31/dragging-their-feet-us-scrambles-to-persuade-syria-to-honor-chemical-weapons/). If Syria can flout this agreement with impunity, why shouldn't Iran's mullahs believe that they can also disregard demands for the destruction of their atomic weapons development program?

Kassen and Rosenberg refer to "the partial recovery of Iran’s economy in recent weeks." Partial recovery? Again, as reported by Reuters (http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/01/13/usa-iran-sanctions-russia-idINL2N0KN1ZK20140113) one month ago:

"The White House said on Monday it was concerned about recent reports that Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month, a deal that the White House said could potentially trigger U.S. sanctions.

'We are concerned about these reports and Secretary (of State John) Kerry directly expressed this concern with Foreign Minister Lavrov today,' Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, told Reuters.

'If the reports are true, such a deal would raise serious concerns as it would be inconsistent with the terms of the P5+1 agreement with Iran and could potentially trigger U.S. sanctions,' Hayden said."

"Could potentially trigger U.S. sanctions"? Peculiar, I thought sanctions were already in place. But heck, seeing how Obama, notwithstanding his "red line," failed to lift a finger after Assad dropped sarin gas on civilians, why should Putin and Khamenei be troubled by such threats?

More evidence of the Obama administration's spinelessness? As we were informed a week ago by Adam Kredo in a Washington Times article entitled "Iran to get ‘more than $20B’ in sanctions relief; accuracy of Obama promise questioned" (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/14/iran-get-more-20b-sanctions-relief-accuracy-obama-/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS):

"Iranian oil exports soared in January, hitting new highs just months after the United States consented to billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief under the interim nuclear deal.

Exports of Iranian crude oil jumped to 1.32 million barrels, up from December’s high of 1.06 million barrels, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

The spike in exports—mainly to Japan, China, and India—has helped Iran’s once-ailing economy stabilize and decrease inflation.

Iranian oil exports have steadily risen since negotiations with the West restored confidence in Tehran’s economy. The increase runs counter to a promise by the Obama administration that 'Iran’s oil exports will remain steady at their current level of around 1 million barrels per day.'"

Also as reported yesterday by Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/21/us-iran-usa-aircraft-idUSBREA1K1SN20140221):

"U.S. aerospace companies are seeking permission to sell airliner parts to Iran for the first time in three decades, in a key test of the temporary relief on sanctions given under talks to curtail Iran's nuclear activities.

At least two leading manufacturers, Boeing and engine maker General Electric, have applied for export licenses in a six-month window agreed by Iran and six world powers in November, industry officials and other sources familiar with the matter said."

In short, the economic sanctions imposed by the world against Iran have been effectively dismantled with the connivance of the Obama administration. It is no wonder that Obama is not allowing the public to see the "agreement to agree" between Iran and the P5+1 for sanctions relief.

But back again to the Kassen and Rosenberg opinion piece: Where is there any reference to the horrific human rights abuses of the Khamenei regime with which Obama engaged in secret negotiations in Oman (see: http://news.yahoo.com/secret-us-iran-talks-set-stage-nuke-deal-045356533--politics.html)? The American press routinely refers to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a "moderate" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/search/label/Hassan%20Rouhani); however, this maniac, with whom Obama held a "historic" conversation in September, just ordered the execution of a poet and a human rights activist for "enmity against God" after they were first subjected to torture (see: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Rouhani-orders-executions-of-Iranian-Arab-poet-rights-activist-340173).

Consider also how Iran hangs homosexuals from cranes in the middle of Tehran, stones to death women accused of adultery, and tortures and rapes Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, Christians and political dissenters in Evin Prison. This is the regime with which Obama intends to reach a binding agreement?

I suppose that given their positions, Kassen and Rosenberg can't acknowledge that Obama is a foreign affairs naif, who has destroyed American influence, power and credibility throughout the world. On the other hand, their argument for "diplomatic pressure on the Iranian government" leaves much to be desired.


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