My apologies for being subsumed with my lln duties, lately!

Much has transpired since my last Mashup! Contrary to popular belief, the Iranian Sanctions are not the cause célèbre for Iran’s determined détente efforts!

Let’s reflect back a few months ago…

U.S. commander says Iran sanctions not working

Severe sanctions against Iran are not working, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East says.

Gen. James Mattis of Central Command made the statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

‘In your professional opinion, are the current diplomatic and economic efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability — are they working’ Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, asked.

‘No, sir,’ Mattis replied.

So what we see is Netanyahu urges Obama to keep Iran sanctions in place… And our Veep totally agreeing…

Biden says Iran sanctions are most effective in history, that deeper sanctions are an option

Vice President Joe Biden says U.S.-led sanctions against Iran have been the most effective sanctions regime ever.

Biden says Iran has a choice. He says Iran can suffer deepening economic sanctions or negotiate its way back into the global community and economy.

He says the U.S. doesn’t know whether Iran is willing to do what’s necessary to resolve concerns about its nuclear program.

Because, you know Iran hasn’t shown any desire to remedy their plight, right…?

What is Kerry actually negotiating with Iran?

…While there is a lot of optimism, there’s room for quite a bit of pessimism too though just based on reading tea-leaves. For example, Kerry’s reply to the question below is not very comforting:

‘Asked what steps Iran could take to prove its seriousness, Kerry replied: “They could immediately open for inspection the Fordo facility, they could immediately sign the protocol of the international community regarding inspections, they could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level.”‘

Except that Fordo has been open to inspections for years, since the Iranians (and not US intelligence agencies, as the NY Times claims) first disclosed the location of the site to the IAEA. In fact Mohammad ElBaradei himself visited Fordo, and famously said it was nothing more than a hole in the mountain and nothing to be worried about. You could not possibly be even slightly aware of the Iranian nuclear issue, without knowing the Fordo is already open to inspections.

Secondly, Iran has signed the Additional Protocol already, and offered to ratify it if its rights are also recognized, though Iran is absolutely under no legal obligation whatsoever to sign the AP, just as neither Egypt nor Argentina nor Brazil nor lots of other countries have signed.

Third, Iran has consistently stated that it is willing to limit enrichment to 3.5%. In fact Iran was forced to enrich to 20% due to US sanctions that prevented Iran from simply buying the fuel for a medical reactor (which the US gave Iran in the first place) that uses fuel rods made with 20% enriched uranium. So it was the US policies in the first place that caused Iran to increase its enrichment levels, even though the reactor in question posed no credible nuclear weapons proliferation threat and so the US sanctions on the sale of fuel for that reactor did not actually promote or protect any legitimate non-proliferation goals. The media have been very insistent on ignoring this fact even though they will gladly engage in all sorts of totally biased speculation about ‘how close to a bomb’ Iran’s 20% enrichment gets it, and other reporters have completely gone overboard and have made up their own terminology by referring to this as Iran’s stockpile of ‘medium enriched’ uranium too, though no such term appears in the IAEA Glossary. That’s how the media not only follow the dominant narrative promoted by the govt but further embellish it before they pass it on.

To be sure, both Glennzilla and Cyrus Safdari, pointed out the obvious ‘Sudden’ strawman argument…

Sudden’ Iranian negotiations?

Glenn Grenwald has a post about how an NBC News anchor misrepresented Iran’s historic position with respect to nuclear weapons, contrary to Brian Williams’ assertion:

‘To the contrary, Iran has been trying to make Americans hear for years that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. Indeed, they have repeatedly made clear that they have not only banned such weapons but favor region-wide nuclear disarmament, including of Israel’s vast nuclear arsenal, which actually exists. It is Israel, not Iran, which has steadfastly refused to allow inspections of its nuclear arsenal (despite UN demands they do so) or to join the NPT or other conventions designed to monitor and regulate nuclear weapons.’

But these facts have been excluded almost entirely from the dominant US media narrative for years. The fact that Iran, at its highest leadership levels, has repeatedly and unequivocally disavowed any interest in nuclear weapons is something that most Americans simply don’t know,

Well, Brian Williams of NBC isn’t the only one pushing this claim about a ‘sudden’ Iranian willingness to resolve disputes with the US. Some guy named Kaveh Waddel writes in The Atlantic:

Iran’s sudden enthusiasm for negotiation stems from its urgent need for timely, significant changes to the global sanctions regime. But the U.S. lost sight of the power of economic sanctions when it created a regime so inflexible that incentivizing cooperation through sanctions relief became near-impossible.’

While the rest of the statement is true — after all even George Bush II complained ‘We have sanctioned ourselves out of leverage over Iran‘ – the first sentence is definitely false: Iran’s desire to negotiate is hardly ‘sudden’ and in fact it has been consistently the case for over a decade now. Iran has been making compromise offers, Iran offered to ship out its enriched fuel and Obama killed that, Iran suspended enrichment for close to 3 years whilst in negotiations with the EU-3. There’s nothing ‘sudden’ about this at all. In fact it is pretty much the definition of NOT sudden.

I should add that Nima Shirazi has been stellar…

Mainstream Media’s Ongoing Misinformation Campaign on Iran

As the United States and Iran carefully embark on a renewed push for diplomacy, including direct contact between the presidents of each country for the first time in 34 years, the mainstream media continues to stymie any chance for an honest assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, engaging instead in the misinformation, misrepresentation and misleading reporting that has long characterized coverage of the issue.

In just the past month alone, numerous networks, newspapers and websites have referred, both implicitly and overtly, to an Iranian ‘nuclear weapons program,’ despite the fact that, for years now, United States intelligence community and its allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is fully safeguarded by the IAEA and no nuclear material has ever been diverted to a military program. Iranian officials have consistently maintained they will never pursue such weapons on religious, strategic, political, moral and legal grounds.

So what is the the truth? Funny thing… Speak out about Iran, but not so loudly, Netanyahu was counseled!

Not that Bibi will ever heed any such counsel…

Peace in the Middle East? Not if Benjamin Netanyahu has anything to say about it

…Sadly, the preponderance of evidence suggests that this is not just about Israel’s leader driving a hard but realistic bargain. If Netanyahu’s principal concern is really the nuclear file, he should be able to come to terms with the fact that a negotiated outcome offers the best long-term safeguard against Iran developing a nuclear weapon. The most that military strikes could achieve would be a short-term delay of Iran’s ability to weaponize its nuclear program — a decision that Iran has anyway not yet made, according to the consensus among Western intelligence agencies. A strike would also create a greater incentive for Iran to weaponize its nuclear program.At the moment, however, Netanyahu is signaling that there is no realistic deal that would be acceptable to Israel…

Needless to say … Obama, Netanyahu show unified front on Iran!

Now, moving along to Syria…

Invoking Sept. 11, Syrian Accuses U.S. of Hypocrisy

…’The people of New York have witnessed the devastations of terrorism, and were burned with the fire of extremism and bloodshed, the same way we are suffering now in Syria,’ the foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, told the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. ‘How can some countries, hit by the same terrorism we are suffering now in Syria, claim to fight terrorism in all parts of the world, while supporting it in my country?’ {…}

‘The scenes of murder, manslaughter and eating human hearts were shown on TV screens, but did not touch blind consciences,’ he said. ‘In Syria, ladies and gentlemen, there are murderers who dismember human bodies into pieces while still alive and send their limbs to their families, just because those citizens are defending a unified and secular Syria.’

He ridiculed assertions made by the United States and its allies about the existence of a moderate armed opposition in Syria that has repudiated the jihadists and that advocates an inclusive democracy representing all Syrian groups.

The claims about the existence of moderate militants and extremist militants have become a bad joke,’ he said. ‘Terrorism means only terrorism. It cannot be classified as moderate terrorism and extremist terrorism.’

Good point, don’t ya think?

Let’s hope that saner minds do prevail…

A Syrian solution to civil conflict? The Free Syrian Army is holding talks with Assad’s senior staff

…a two-man delegation arrived in secret in Damascus: civilians from Aleppo who represented elements of the Free Syrian Army, the rebel group largely composed of fighters who deserted the regime’s army in the first year of the war. They came under a guarantee of safety, and met, so I am told, a senior official on the staff of President Bashar al-Assad. And they carried with them an extraordinary initiative – that there might be talks between the government and FSA officers who ‘believed in a Syrian solution’ to the war…

God bless the Syrians!