Wednesday, May 31, 2017
21:20 into the podcast:
“Michael Oren: The Palestinians can’t acknowledge our Jewish right to sovereignty. They can’t give us that.
David Horovitz: Why can’t they give us that?
Michael Oren: Because it is about who they are. So I am not going to mention names but in those six hour of negotiations the issue came up and one of the chief Palestinian negotiators said, listen, you are asking me to recognize you as a Jewish people with three thousand year line history to this land. I can’t do that. You are asking me to negate my identity. “
But which identity was the Palestinian negotiator referring to? One explanation could well be their Muslim identity. Because according to Muslim sacred texts no land that has ever belonged to Muslims or been ruled by Muslims can ever legitimately in the eyes of Islam be ruled by non-Muslims
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 2:55 AM
Saturday, May 27, 2017
by Emily B. Landau
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2017 (view PDF)
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2017 (view PDF)
May 24, 2017: On May 17, the Trump administration renewed a waiver of sanctions preventing U.S. companies from selling to or dealing with Iran, thus extending the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium with restrictions. Days later, President Trump attacked Iran in unprecedented terms in a high-profile speech in Saudi Arabia. Though seemingly contradictory, the moves follow the advice offered weeks earlier in the below article by Emily B. Landau from the Spring 2017 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry (L) and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confer informally during negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal. President Obama considers the July 2015 agreement to be his crowning foreign policy achievement, but the deal has many flaws and weaknesses.
There is little doubt that Barack Obama deems the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of July 2015 to be his crowning foreign policy achievement and an important pillar of his presidential legacy. To his mind, the deal is a shining nonproliferation success story achieved via peaceful diplomacy and an important catalyst to improving decades-long, moribund U.S.-Iranian relations.
But, Obama's assessment is wrong. The JCPOA has many flaws and weaknesses, and it is important to assess the president's role in the process that produced this dubious deal: What happened on the ground; how Obama's perceptions of nuclear disarmament colored his attitudes toward Iran, and the tactics he used to marginalize criticism and mobilize support for a flawed deal at the domestic level. It is equally important to examine to what lengths the president went in order to protect his problematic deal after it was presented, and at what cost. What legacy on Iran has Obama left for the next administration?
The Road to the JCPOAIn early April 2009, shortly after entering the White House, Obama made his first major foreign policy speech in Prague where he unveiled his agenda for advancing the goal of global nuclear disarmament. While his initial steps in this direction were taken primarily at the global level, in autumn 2009—after Tehran had been caught red-handed constructing a hidden enrichment facility at Fordow—Obama made his first attempt to conclude a partial nuclear agreement with Iran in the context of a "fuel deal" offered by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (P5+1). The offer was that 75-80 percent of Iran's then-stockpile of low enriched uranium would be shipped abroad and turned into the fuel plates that the Iranians said they needed to run the civilian Tehran Research Reactor.
The offer was purposely designed to test whether Tehran was exclusively focused on civilian nuclear activities as it emphatically insisted—a claim the West did not believe and for which it demanded "proof" via Iranian action. Yet while Tehran rejected the deal and failed the U.S. test, the administration persisted in its efforts to engage the determined proliferator. Although Obama did move to ramp up sanctions significantly on Tehran in 2010 after the deal was rejected—a process that culminated with the biting sanctions of 2012—the bad faith displayed by Iran in the nuclear realm hardly resonated with an administration that was bent on diplomacy. The tendency to try to prove Tehran's intransigence, only to continue the talks after such proof was provided—including agreeing to more concessions—is a dynamic that was also to reappear in later stages of the negotiations. Maintaining diplomacy, which began as a means to an end (i.e., stopping Iran's quest for nuclear weapons), gradually became an end in itself. This provided an important lesson for Tehran when negotiations began in earnest in 2013.
After securing an interim deal, or Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), in late November 2013, negotiations on a final and comprehensive nuclear deal began in January 2014. Up until 2013, the P5+1 had sought to dismantle Iran's nuclear infrastructure—except perhaps for an extremely limited and mainly symbolic enrichment program of no more than 1,500 centrifuges—and to deny it the ability to develop nuclear weapons. However, by 2014, the P5+1 negotiators had deemed this goal unattainable and settled instead for the much watered-down aim: merely lengthening Tehran's breakout time from several months to a year while leaving much of its nuclear infrastructure intact.
Many of the P5+1's red-lines regarding the dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure disappeared altogether.
What's in the JCPOA Deal?
With the July 2015 JCPOA, Obama proudly claimed to have severed every pathway to Iranian nuclear weapons, thus preventing Tehran from obtaining such capability. He further emphasized that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would have access to any suspicious facility "where necessary, when necessary." But a closer examination of the nuclear deal reveals that it does not uphold these sweeping assertions. Rather, the agreement contains major concessions that undermine the deal's effectiveness as well as including ambiguities that will no doubt be abused by Tehran to advance its nuclear program. Briefly, the major weaknesses and flaws of the deal, both technical and political, include the following issues.
Tehran can continue its uranium enrichment operations while perfecting its techniques and doing away with excess amounts.
Iran's uranium enrichment program. Not only did the JCPOA depart from the goal of eliminating Tehran's enrichment program—leaving it with 6,000 centrifuges—but it actually legitimized the program by allowing continued enrichment under the terms of the deal. The agreement stipulates that Iran's stockpile of low enriched uranium must not exceed 300 kg, but Tehran can continue its enrichment operations while perfecting its techniques and doing away with excess amounts. Moreover, the deal enables Iran to continue research and development on an entire range of advanced generations of centrifuges, which will be far more efficient than its current IR-1 centrifuges and which Tehran plans to begin operating by the thousands from year eleven of the deal.
Inspections and verification. According to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), the IAEA is allowed access only to declared nuclear sites but has no inspection rights at military facilities. In Iran's case, this meant that inspectors could not demand entry to Parchin where Tehran was carrying out its illegal military nuclear activities. By way of closing this loophole, the JCPOA was meant to ensure "any time, any place" inspection rights for the IAEA.
According to one reading, the JCPOA ensures that Tehran will have to agree to a requested inspection at a suspicious military facility within 24 days of notification. Given Tehran's continued insistence that it will never allow entry to its military facilities, any demand for inspection is bound to spark a major confrontation.
In reality, however, the deal fails to secure timely access despite Obama's claim to the contrary. According to one reading, the JCPOA ensures that Tehran will have to agree to a requested inspection at a suspicious military facility within twenty-four days (which in some cases could be too long a wait for the inspectors). But looking more carefully at the wording in relevant sections reveals that Tehran can use different excuses to prolong that timeline before the 24-day clock even begins ticking. In light of Tehran's continued insistence that it will never allow entry to its military facilities, any demand for inspection is bound to spark a major confrontation. The regime can be expected to do everything within its power to delay and bar entry, building on the ambiguity in the JCPOA text.
An additional problem relates to possible military work conducted at a facility outside Iran with North Korea being the most obvious suspect. Cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang in the non-conventional realms, including the nuclear sphere, has been tracked for years. It would make perfect strategic sense for Iran to try to outsource some of its nuclear activities to North Korea, and it is not clear how closely this issue is being monitored. Pyongyang's work on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) is also of great concern. Any in-formation would have to rely on state intelligence as North Korea abandoned the NPT in 2003.
Iran's past military work. The entire case for confronting Tehran's nuclear ambitions hinges on its persistent violation of the NPT—both the safeguard agreements with the IAEA when it failed to notify the agency about nuclear facilities under construction at Natanz, Arak, and later Fordow, and, more significantly, its work on a military nuclear program. But the negotiations curiously did not include clarification of lingering questions about the "possible military dimensions" (PMD) of Iran's program; in fact, the P5+1 instructed the IAEA investigation in this regard to be carried out in the months after the JCPOA was announced.
U.S. secretary of state Kerry speaks with Omani sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said (R), May 21, 2013. The U.S.-Iran thaw may have begun with secret meetings in Oman between U.S. and Iranian officials.
In early December 2015, despite Tehran's continued lack of cooperation, the IAEA published the results of its investigation confirming that the Iranians had worked on a military program until 2003 and, in a less coordinated manner, until at least 2009. But in response, the P5+1 shelved the report and moved to implementation day. These states never pushed back against Tehran's claim of "nuclear innocence" (i.e., that it has never worked on a military nuclear program), which it maintains to date. Continued international acquiescence in this blatant falsehood gave rise to suspicions that this could have been pre-agreed to with Tehran, possibly even in the context of the secret U.S.-Iranian negotiations in Oman in 2013 though there is no hard evidence of such an understanding. What is clear, however, is that Tehran's narrative of innocence is anything but innocent; rather it has been a commonly used Iranian ploy to reinforce its claim to have been unjustly singled out for "illegal" sanctions and to demand that it be treated as a "normal" member of the NPT, including the right to confidentiality in its dealings with the IAEA.
Dealing with a future violation. The JCPOA lacks decision-making guidance for dealing with Iranian violations beyond mention of the so-called "snapback sanctions." What kind of violations would be significant enough to elicit such a response, and what are the criteria for their determination? Who must agree and in what timeframe? What should be done, and who will do it? These are all questions that will take time to answer and agree upon; failing to address them in advance risks granting Iran valuable time to race to breakout. On the snapback sanctions, to state the obvious, they do not snap back on their own but rather are reinstated by states, which must decide which sanctions will be reinstated and under which conditions. All these issues require further deliberation and decisions, and there is no indication that they have been tackled.
Sunset provisions. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the JCPOA are the sunset provisions, whereby restrictions on Iran will be lifted in ten to fifteen years regardless of Tehran's behavior or demonstrated regional and nuclear ambitions and interests. Without indication of a strategic U-turn in its nuclear outlook, there is no reason to assume that in ten to fifteen years Tehran will not go back to doing precisely what it was doing before the deal was reached. Moreover, it will be doing so from a far more advantageous starting point after having built up an industrial-sized enrichment program. It is important to note that the counterargument whereby many arms control agreements, such as those between the United States and Russia, have termination dates is irrelevant to the JCPOA for the simple reason that it is not a political arrangement between two nuclear powers but rather an agreement between an NPT violator, Iran, and the international com-munity aimed at bringing it back to the fold of the treaty. Until the violator indicates that it has altered its nuclear ambitions, there is no justification for sunset. The sunset provision is another instance which high-lights why Tehran insists on its narrative of nuclear innocence: It helped justify the Iranian demand for an unconditional expiration date. If Tehran's proven past record of violating the NPT had been at the forefront of the debate, it would have been obvious why the JCPOA could not reasonably be terminated without the Iranians meeting certain benchmarks.
Obama's View on Nuclear Disarmament and IranFrom the start, and flowing from Obama's nuclear disarmament agenda, the rationale and strategy for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions were ill-conceived. To begin, Obama believed that the great powers must come with "clean hands" when confronting Tehran, thus linking the goal of stopping determined proliferators to global disarmament. But this link is misguided, not least because Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons was a blatant violation of the NPT whereas the treaty sets no deadline for nuclear states' disarmament. Moreover, Tehran was pursuing its own nuclear goals, and these were not at all connected to whether the nuclear powers were disarming or not. But Obama's belief that Washington was on shaky moral ground vis-à-vis Tehran at least partially explains his overly lenient attitude on some key issues, such as conceding to Iran's demand not to include ballistic missiles in the nuclear negotiations and insisting on not publicly "shaming" Tehran by emphasizing its deceitful past behavior in the nuclear realm.
Nor was the close connection between Tehran's nuclear aspirations and its regional ambitions well-integrated into Obama's thinking and policy. And while there were good reasons for not attempting a "grand bargain" with Iran encompassing a wide range of issues, which would have undoubtedly complicated and prolonged the negotiations, it was a mistake to think that the nuclear issue could be neatly separated from other aspects of Iranian behavior. Ironically, Obama implicitly validated this linkage by implying that the nuclear deal could lead to a more moderate Iran and improved bilateral relations. What he refused to accept, however, is the flip side. Namely, that absent such a change, the intimate connection between Tehran's military nuclear ambitions and its overall hegemonic aspirations could not be ignored and should have led Washington to resist firmly any sunset provisions before a strategic U-turn could be discerned. Otherwise, the most that could be achieved—in the best-case scenario—is a delay in Iran's plans after which it could pick up where it left off.
Obama wanted a deal with Iran, and it seemed that he willed it at almost any cost.
Marginalizing Criticism of the DealGiven that Obama wanted a nuclear deal—seemingly at almost every cost—it is hardly surprising that the heavy-handed manner by which his administration promoted the JCPOA and delegitimized any and all criticism of its substance has become an integral part of his legacy.
In the early stages of the negotiations, Obama had frequently reiterated the maxim that "no deal is better than a bad deal" in an attempt to reassure skeptics that he would not accept an unsatisfactory arrangement. Al-though he resisted defining what would constitute a bad deal, it was believed that he was adamant about not being out-maneuvered by Tehran. But as he began to demonstrate an increasingly firm commitment to achieving a negotiated agreement, it seemed that this slogan was being replaced by another, whereby "almost any deal would be better than no deal." This was about the same time that the administration began stressing to the American public that the only alternative to the emerging deal—which clearly failed to fulfill the original nonproliferation goals set by the ad-ministration itself—was war.
The choice between the deal and war was never an accurate depiction of reality: It was a political argument.
By misrepresenting the choice between the JCPOA and war as a statement of fact, the administration sought to depict anyone who voiced reservations or criticism of the deal as a warmonger, which is how critics were regularly labeled. But the choice between diplomacy and war was never an accurate depiction of reality: It was a political argument. In fact, what many, if not most of the critics were advocating—in the months leading up to the deal—was not to end negotiations and resort to other means but rather to use the economic leverage more wisely in order to get a better deal at the negotiating table. Washington would have done well to call Tehran's bluff when it threatened to leave the talks because the Iranians would not have left for long. Indeed, the only way to get sanctions lifted—which is what brought Tehran to the negotiating table in the first place—was to continue negotiating. Moreover, Washington's demonstrated eagerness for a deal was clearly undermining its leverage. Had more sophisticated bargaining techniques been employed, a better deal could most likely have been achieved. But by turning critics into despicable hawks itching for a war, the message was that their advice should be ignored altogether.
The administration used other tactics to silence critics. It falsely claimed that opponents had no idea what was going on in the negotiating room, hence, had to await the conclusion of the deal in order to be familiarized with its actual details. However, there were media reports along the way that reflected much of what transpired in the negotiations—especially regarding the concessions being made to Iran. When the JCPOA was announced, it was clear that the reports had been accurate. But the minute the JCPOA was announced, critics were told that their criticism had been rendered irrelevant because it was a done deal. This manipulative messaging policy obviously left no room for voicing legitimate and potentially useful critique of the negotiations and the nascent deal—it was either too early or too late.
In selling the deal to the American public, the administration pushed additional political positions as statements of fact. A good example is the claim that there was no risk in giving the deal a chance since even if Tehran were to violate it, or to wait it out, Washington would always have the same options (i.e., military force) that it had had when negotiations began. But this is not necessarily true, and the statement reflects a poor understanding of international politics where options and opportunities can easily change over time. Even today, one can see how Russia's increased and active role in the Middle East, cooperating closely with Iran in the military campaign in Syria, can greatly complicate the calculus of a military strike against Tehran down the line, as compared to previous years. In future years, such a strike could risk escalation not only with Iran, but with Russia as well.
By 2015, there was an accelerated campaign to suppress and squelch any criticism that might have led to a better deal, and the "echo chamber" that was devised for this purpose was later described by none other than Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, during in-depth interviews with The New York Times. Lawmakers such as Sen. Robert Menendez (Dem., N.J.)—a long-time, outspoken critic of the negotiations and deal—were directly derided by the administration for their critique. The echo chamber tactics were particularly intense during the summer 2015 congressional debate on the JCPOA, which together with the special voting procedure set by the administration, resulted in the deal not being toppled by Congress.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (center) addresses a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015. He has criticized the Iranian nuclear deal, warning that it will not prevent Tehran from gaining nuclear weapons capability, which poses an existential threat to Israel.
Israel's objection to the deal—voiced loudly and clearly by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu—presented a particular challenge for Obama, resulting in great effort to frame the prime minister as the odd man out on the issue. He was depicted as an unwavering rejectionist to any deal with Iran and as out of step with the international community. When Netanyahu persisted in his criticism, culminating in his controversial speech to Congress in March 2015, his relations with Obama almost reached a boiling point, and all bets were off as far as the administration was concerned. One new tactic was to delve into the internal Israeli scene and to frame Netanyahu not only as the odd man out vis-à-vis the world but also with Israel's defense establishment, which the Obama administration claimed actually supported the deal. In contrast to Netanyahu's speech—which was politically problematic and which many considered unwise but accurate in its content—the administration's claim was spurious and unfounded. The actual range of opinion voiced in Israel was much more varied and nuanced, necessitating more sophisticated analysis, but it never amounted to "Netanyahu vs. the defense/security establishment" regarding assessments of the negotiations, and certainly not with regard to the merits of the deal itself.
The First Year of ImplementationAs misconceived and problematic as the JCPOA is, developments in the first year of its implementation have rendered the situation even worse. This is reflected in a string of revelations about additional concessions made to Tehran as well as the particular manner in which U.S.-Iranian interactions have unfolded over this period.
Deception and distortion revealed. Part of Obama's legacy regarding the Iran nuclear deal is no doubt the deception and distortion, revealed in 2016, which the administration employed about certain aspects of the JCPOA and related events. Two issues in particular deserve mention: Tehran's enrichment plans from the eleventh year of the deal, and the $1.7 billion paid to it, ostensibly to settle a pre-Islamic Revolution debt from the days of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Tehran plans to begin operating advanced generation centrifuges, many times more efficient than the centrifuges currently in use.
Information with regard to Iran's enrichment plans for year eleven was first published by Associated Press (AP) in July 2016, which revealed that Tehran plans to install and begin operating 2,500-3,500 advanced generation centrifuges that will be many times more efficient than the IR-1 centrifuges currently in use. This development would shorten the time required to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear weapon to six months. This information was hidden from public view when the deal was presented and in the subsequent congressional debate and revealed only a year later. Worse, this lack of transparency was thereafter explained by the common practice among NPT member states to conclude confidential arrangements with the IAEA, ignoring the fact that as an NPT violator, there was no justification for granting Iran privileges enjoyed by NPT members in good standing.
Moreover, the AP revelation was a reminder of an interview granted by Obama to NPR in April 2015, in which, when referring to the emerging deal, he noted that "a more relevant fear [than hoarding uranium] would be that in year 13, 14, 15, [Iran has] advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero." This statement sparked immediate attention because it confirmed the fears that critics had been voicing about Tehran's ability in the not too distant future to rush quickly to develop a nuclear bomb. But in a press conference, then-acting spokesperson for the State Department, Marie Harf, flatly denied the implication, claiming instead that Obama was referring to the scenario of no deal. However, the president's interview had been filmed, and it was obvious that he alluded to the scenario of a deal. The information on Iran's enrichment plans that was finally revealed in July 2016 is clearly the basis for Obama's earlier statement and assessment, underlining the secrecy, deception and distortion that characterized this episode.
The Wall Street Journal revealed that there was a clear linkage between the release of four American prisoners held in Iran and the return of money to Iran originally paid by the shah for an arms deal with the United States, which was aborted after the Islamic Revolution. Both actions came close on the heels of the nuclear deal.
The money transfer episode of January 2016 offered a similarly disturbing illustration of the administration's deceptive conduct. The original story was that the JCPOA's implementation day was followed by two parallel and unrelated events: the release of four (but not all) American prisoners held in Iran on bogus charges and the return of money paid by the shah for an arms deal that was aborted after the Islamic Revolution. The Wall Street Journal revealed that there not only was a clear linkage between the two events but that the $400 million transferred in January had been paid in hard cash in line with Tehran's demand, leading many to conclude that the administration had in effect paid Tehran ransom for releasing the prisoners, in contravention of long-standing U.S. policy.
No pushback against Iran's provocations. Since the JCPOA was adopted, Tehran has been testing the international community's readiness to respond to provocations. Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamene'i has been clear about rejecting any form of cooperation with the United States, and during 2016, Washington was repeatedly (and falsely) accused of not upholding its end of the deal.
Obama agreed to Tehran's demand not to include ballistic missiles in the nuclear negotiations. After the deal was completed, Iran tested precision-guided ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Other Iranian provocations included testing precision-guided ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and stepping up military intervention in Syria—in cooperation with Russia—with the aim of keeping Bashar al-Assad in power. All indications are that rather than the nuclear deal promoting Iranian moderation and opening the door to new opportunities for cooperation, Washington and Tehran are still engaged in a fierce struggle, at least as far as the Iranians are concerned.
Specifically on the nuclear file, Iran's compliance has not been stellar, and while the violations have thus far been relatively minor, the Obama administration has not rebuked Tehran and has rather adamantly defended its supposed compliance with the JCPOA, citing IAEA reports on Iran at every turn. But, following the November 2016 IAEA report, David Albright, a leading nuclear proliferation expert and head of the Institute for Science and International
Security, noted that for the second time, Tehran had exceeded the limit of heavy water production and was con-ducting activities related to IR-6 advanced centrifuges, which may not be allowed by the JCPOA. Since then, it has been reported that Iran is also set to begin injecting gas into IR-8 centrifuges, meaning they are beginning to test them, on the way to making them operational.
These Iranian actions have been matched by Washington's lack of response. Indeed, in every instance, the administration rushed to provide reassurances that whatever transpired was of no real consequence and that there was no reason for concern. This whitewashing even extended to German intelligence released in 2016 indicating that, throughout 2015, Tehran had continued attempts to illicitly procure technologies and components that could be used in a nuclear weapons program. The administration's thinking in all of these cases seemed to have been that it could not risk upsetting Tehran in any way because this might cause the Iranians to abort the deal. But Iran most likely would not have left the JCPOA since the deal is not unfavorable from its point of view. The result of Obama's bending over backward has been a dangerous shift in the balance of deterrence between the two states in Tehran's favor, leaving the Trump administration with the daunting task of regaining the upper hand in dealing with Iran and reassuming lost leadership, authority, and power.
Obama leaves the Middle East a far more dangerous place than it was eight years ago.
Sadly, the American public remained largely oblivious to these blunders as the administration's echo chamber strategy proved extremely effective with most pundits—except a few very notable exceptions—expressing unmitigated support for the JCPOA in line with administration talking points and positions. The arms control and nonproliferation community, which should have been at the forefront of the debate, pointing out all the deal's weaknesses and potential pitfalls, was in the main uncritically lured by the administration's propaganda. On a broader level, Obama's heavy-handed delegitimization of any and all criticism and his aggressive pushing of the deal in Congress have left domestic political scars, including among Democrats, that add to the president's dismal Iranian legacy.
Obama's only achievement lies in kicking the nuclear can down the road to future administrations. But he created a reality in which it will be far more difficult to stop Iran down that road. With its nuclear program legitimized by the JCPOA, Tehran is much better poised to forge ahead at a time of its choosing. For contrary to Obama's emphatic statements, the JCPOA does not end Tehran's nuclear ambitions, nor has it lived up to the president's hope of ushering in a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.
The challenge for the Trump administration is to try to reverse some of these negative trends. In making the best of a bad situation, the preferred route at this point—after Tehran has already pocketed billions of dollars—would be neither to renounce the deal nor try to renegotiate it but, rather, to enforce it strictly as well as strengthen its provisions. Much can be achieved by reversing the Obama administration's approach to Iran—recognizing Tehran's overt hostility to U.S. interests and responding with firm determination to its provocations beyond the direct context of the JCPOA.
These, however, are but general guidelines for future U.S. policy on this issue. After the damage wrought by the Obama administration, the road ahead will be strewn with difficulties, and there are no shortcuts or magic solutions for redressing the situation.
Emily B. Landau is a senior research fellow at The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv and head of its arms control and regional security program.
 "Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague as Delivered," White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Apr. 5 2009. This followed in the footsteps of Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn—the four high-level U.S. statesmen who together penned two extremely influential op-eds in January of 2007 and 2008, advocating the need to work toward a nuclear-free world.
 Emily B. Landau, "Obama's Nuclear Disarmament Agenda: Blurred Aims and Priorities," in Emily B. Landau and Tamar Malz-Ginzburg, eds., The Obama Vision and Nuclear Disarmament, INSS Memo. 107, Mar. 2011, pp. 15-26.
 The New York Times, Sept. 25, 2009.
 Ibid., Oct. 19, 2009.
 "Sanctions against Iran: A Guide to Targets, Terms, and Timetables," Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass., June 2015.
 See Emily B. Landau, "Principles and Guidelines for a Comprehensive Deal with Iran," in Emily B. Landau and Anat Kurz, eds., The Interim Deal on the Iranian Nuclear Program: Toward a Comprehensive Solution? Memo. no. 142 (Tel Aviv: INSS, Sept. 2014), pp. 11-5.
 "Statement by the President on Iran," White House, Office of the Press Secretary, July 14, 2015.
 For fuller analysis of these deficiencies, see previous writings, including Emily B. Landau, "Dangerous Ambiguity," The Jerusalem Report, Aug. 24, 2015.
 "AP Exclusive: Document Shows Less Limits on Iran Nuke Works," Associated Press, July 18, 2016.
 "Annex 1-Nuclear Related Measures," Q: "Access," p. 23, para. 75-6. For a further explanation, see Emily B. Landau, "What 29 Top US Scientists Don't Know," Times of Israel (Jerusalem), Aug. 10, 2015.
 The Times of Israel, May 20, 2015; Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2015.
 Alon Levkowitz, "North Korea and the Middle East," Mideast Security and Policy Studies no. 127, The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Jan. 10, 2017.
 Claudia Rosett, "The Audacity of Silence on Possible Iran-North Korea Nuclear Ties," Forbes, Dec. 15, 2016.
 "Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran's Nuclear Programme," International Atomic Energy Agency, New York, GOV/2015/68, Dec. 2, 2015; David Albright, Andrea Stricker, and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, "Analysis of the IAEA's Report on the Possible Military Dimensions of Iran's Nuclear Program," Institute for Science and International Security, Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2015.
 The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2015; Los Angeles Times, Nov. 24, 2013.
 "Remarks by the President at the New Economic School Graduation," Moscow, Office of the Press Secretary, July 7, 2009; "Executive Summary," Nuclear Posture Review Report (Washington: D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Defense, Apr. 2010).
 See, for example, Meir Javedanfar, "The Grand Bargain with Tehran," The Guardian (London), Mar. 3, 2009.
 "President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address," White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Jan. 20, 2009.
 See, for example, Michael Doran, "Obama's Secret Iran Strategy," Mosaic, Feb. 2, 2015.
 The Guardian, Aug. 5, 2015.
 David Samuels, "The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama's Foreign-Policy Guru," The New York Times Magazine, May 5, 2016; David Samuels, "Through the Looking Glass with Ben Rhodes," The New York Times Magazine, May 13, 2016.
 Algemeiner (New York), Jan. 16, 2015.
 "Netanyahu's Full Speech to Congress," The Times of Israel (Jerusalem), Mar. 3, 2015.
 Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2016, Aug. 5, 2016.
 For an example of a former defense official's position, see Moshe Ya'alon, "Why Iran Is More Dangerous than Islamic State," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 29, 2016.
 "Less Limits on Iran Nuke Works,", July 18, 2016.
 President Obama, interview, National Public Radio, Apr. 7, 2015.
 The Times of Israel, Apr. 7, 2015.
 The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, Sept. 6, 2016.
 OilPrice.com (London), Aug. 2, 2016; The New York Times, Sept. 21, 2016.
 David Albright and Andrea Stricker, "Analysis of the IAEA's Fourth Iran Deal Report: Time of Change," Institute for Science and International Security, Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 2016.
 The Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2016; Tasnim News Agency (Tehran), Dec. 19, 2016.
 Reuters, July 18, 2016; The Washington Free Beacon (D.C.), July 8, 2016.
 Jay Solomon, The Iran Wars (New York: Random House, 2016), pp. 229-33; Tony Badran, "Obama's Syria Policy Striptease," Tablet Magazine (New York), Sept. 21, 2016.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 2:35 AM
Sunday, May 21, 2017
“Working alongside another beloved leader – American President Franklin Roosevelt – King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries”
True, but at whose expense?
Sir Martin Gilbert obtained information about Churchill’s meeting with King Abdulaziz by petitioning the British Prime Minister to allow him access to the archives which were supposed to be opened in 2045, when as Martin Gilbert put it , he would have been 9 years dead even if he lived to the age of 100. He was granted access. On February 17, 1945 on his way back from Yalta, Churchill stopped in Cairo and met Ibn Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia. Churchill was trying to persuade Ibn Saud to accept the creation of a Jewish state, but unfortunately for Churchill (and us) Roosevelt had already beaten him to it and promised Ibn Saud that he would do nothing to help the Jews. What is more, Roosevelt said nothing to Churchill who was there too.
“Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World”
Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – how does this differ from how Obama would have defined it?
“We are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.”
Which shared values?
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 10:54 AM
Sunday, May 14, 2017
The published letter
In “Change the narrative, Mr. President” (As I See It, May 12), Melanie Phillips writes: “What the author of The Art of the Deal needs to realize, however, is that the solution lies in grasping that a deal here is impossible....”
Ms. Phillips is right. But why is the deal impossible? Because the Palestinians follow what is written in their holy texts (e.g., “Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out”).
According to Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer, this means that “no land that has ever belonged to Muslims or been ruled by Muslims can ever legitimately in the eyes of Islam be ruled by non-Muslims.”
The sent letter
Melanie Phillips writes: "What the author of The Art of the Deal needs to realize, however, is that the solution lies in grasping that a deal here is impossible"
Melanie Phillips is right. But why is the deal impossible? Because the Palestinians follow what is written in their holy texts. Robert Spencer: "[Koran] Chapter 2 verse 191 Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out ".
"Drive them out from where they drove you out means that no land that has ever belonged to Muslims or been ruled by Muslims can ever legitimately in the eyes of Islam be ruled by non-Muslims."
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 12:25 PM
Thursday, May 11, 2017
The full text of the new Hamas document you can find here
On May 1, 2017, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal presented Hamas’ much anticipated political document, which does not abrogate the Hamas Charter but outlines the strategies that the group has tailored to its current political circumstances.1
The main points of Hamas’ new political document are:
§ Full reliance on Islam as the group’s sole source of authority for its strategies and objectives.
§ Denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in the Land of Israel, while claiming that Israel’s establishment as a state is entirely illegitimate and depicting Zionism as the enemy of humanity. Hamas claims it “does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine.”
§ Conferral of an “Arab-Islamic” and “sacred Islamic” character on all of Palestine, entailing the complete denial of any bond or right of the Jewish people or of Christianity to the land. [Hamas believes, based on the Koran and Islamic sources, Jesus was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a prophet of Islam who received the Islamic doctrine from Allah.]
§ Justification of the current nature of the struggle to liberate Palestine, that is, the armed struggle, while granting legitimacy to the existence and activity of the “struggle organizations” – namely, the Palestinian terror organizations and their activity.
§ Willingness for a Palestinian state to be established within temporary borders (1967 lines) as a step toward continuing the armed struggle to destroy Israel – “from the river to the sea.”
§ Recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), while also demanding new elections to its institutions and denying the validity of the organization’s political line and of the agreements it has signed with Israel.
§ Praise for the “free people” in the world who support the Palestinian struggle against Israel.
What’s behind Hamas’ Document Release?
An analysis of Hamas’ policy in recent years, together with the wording of the new political document, indicates that the objectives of this document are to demonstrate an ostensible political flexibility and thereby create a dialogue with the West, international institutions, and the United Nations, thus gaining recognition for Hamas as a legitimate political actor while working to annul its designation as a terror organization. Hamas’ senior officials are again trying to foster the impression in the international community that time is working in the Palestinians’ favor, and that alliance with Israel will not pay off in the long run.
Political deceit: Hamas does not recognize the authority of the United Nations, its institutions, or its resolutions, including Resolution 181 on partitioning the Land of Israel/Palestine. In recent years, however, the group’s policy has changed. It is now prepared to take part in the political game as long as it serves its objectives, does not contravene the basic Islamic tenets that guide it, and brings the jihad closer to the goal of liberating Palestine and destroying Israel.
Laying the groundwork to take over the PLO: At present, Hamas’ overriding aim is to translate the political power it has accumulated via its control of the Gaza Strip and the support it receives from Islamic states such as Iran to take over the representative Palestinian institutions that are recognized by the international community. Hence, Hamas is demanding to join the PLO. Although portrayed to the outside world as a reconciliation process, it is actually an effort to conquer this organization – internationally recognized as the sole and exclusive representative of the Palestinian people – from within. If Hamas can gain control of the PLO, it will secure the legitimacy it needs to rule all the Palestinian territories. It believes it can then use the international community to support its jihad struggle against Israel.
Challenging the Palestinian Authority: The Palestinian arena is in a zero-sum struggle between the PA, which does not rule Gaza, and Hamas, which is openly contesting the legitimacy of PA rule and working to oust it and take over the PLO institutions. Hamas keeps striving to undermine the PA’s control of the West Bank. It does so by stepping up the intifada in its different forms, waging a propaganda campaign to deny the PA government’s legitimacy, and building up the organizational infrastructure to take part in the succession battle after Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) leaves the scene.
For the time being, Hamas seeks to maintain the status quo in the conflict with Israel. At this stage, Hamas has no interest in initiating a round of military conflict with Israel in Gaza unless it believes it would further the goal of toppling the PA and assuming control of the PA’s West Bank institutions.
To subvert Israel’s power and its exercise of the right to self-defense, Hamas will employ diplomatic, legal, and propaganda means, using diplomatic pressures, resolutions of international institutions, sanctions, and rulings of international courts. Hamas assigns a special importance to liberal organizations and activists in the world who support the Palestinian struggle.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 1:58 PM