Working for International Dialogue and Peace

Negotiations to ban nuclear weapons begin, but Australia joins US boycott

by Ben Doherty (source: The Guadian) March 28, 2017

Negotiations on a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons have begun in New York, but have been publicly condemned by the United States, which is leading a coalition of more than 40 countries – including Australia – boycotting the talks.

At least 113 countries are part of the negotiations which have begun at UN headquarters in New York this week, aiming to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. ››read more

The Islamic State releases video threatening Iran for tolerating Jews

(source: Times of Israel) March 27, 2017

ISISISISThe video chastises Iran for its tolerance towards Jews. “Iran raised its slogans against the US and Israel to deceive the Sunnis, while Iranian Jews live safely in Iran under its protection, and it has provided them with temples and churches as seen in Tehran and Isfahan,” the narrator says. Several captured soldiers are decapitated in the video, one of whom is wearing a “Ya Hossein” badge, indicating that he was a Shiite fighter. ››read more

Did AIPAC Help Fund Attack-Ad by Islamophobic Group on J Street?

by Eli Clifton (source: Lobelog) March 27, 2017

AIPACAIPACIf an AIPAC spinoff did, in fact, help fund the attack on J Street—particularly if it effectively commissioned one of the country’s most prominent Islamophobic organizations to do so—it suggests that the powerful lobby feels increasingly threatened by the upstart Jewish group. J Street’s convention this year drew some 3,500 people attendees from around the country, as well as top Democrats as speakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential running-mate, Sen. Tim Kaine. Also, AIPAC’s position on the JCPOA was not popular within the Jewish community. According to a Los Angeles Jewish Journal poll conducted in July 2015, 53 percent of Jewish Americans wanted Congress to approve the deal while only 35 percent opposed it. ››read more

US better watch moves more carefully in Persian Gulf: Iran

(source: Press TV) March 26, 2017

Iran's chief Armed Forces spokesman has dismissed reports about alleged “unprofessional behavior” by Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, saying the US had better watch more carefully the moves of its naval forces in the region.

"Reports released by American sources about unprofessional behavior by Iranian vessels are devoid of any truth," Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday. ››read more


by Robin Wright (source: New Yorker) March 25, 2017

ISISISISWhen Abu Yasser was dispatched to lead one of twenty sleeper cells in Baghdad, he was allowed to rape a woman after assassinating a male member of her family. The majority of his targets were Shiites, whom Sunnis view as heretics. “If we killed a guy, and we saw that he had a sister or mother, we could do whatever we wanted to them because they were Shiite,” he said. He spent almost a year in Baghdad, where he carried out assassinations, facilitated suicide bombers, and planted roadside explosive devices. ››read more

Exploring Iran, a land maligned and misunderstood

by WILLIE CAMPBELL (source: Otago Daily Times) March 20, 2017

A travel book is ... well, it is either about places, or people, or everything or sometimes despite having lots of words, nothing. Lois Pryce, in her third book, manages a compelling everything. In 2011, she finds a note on her motorbike, requesting her to visit Iran: ``Please do not think of what happened here and in Teheran. We are not terrorists. The Persian people are the most welcoming in the world''. This invitation intrigued her as she realised that her knowledge of Iran came entirely from the British and US media, and it wasn't pretty. ››read more

The Dangerous Reality of an Iran War

by Sharmine Narwani (source: American Conservative) March 16, 2017

BEIRUT—After weeks of saber-rattling over Iran as the “number one terrorist state” in the world, the Trump administration appears to have quietly dialed down the rhetoric a notch.

Here in the Middle East, however, where every peep and creak out of Washington is scrutinized to death, interested parties haven’t stopped speculating about a U.S. confrontation with Iran. Fifty days into his term, Trump’s foreign-policy course remains an enigma. He swears “all options” remain on the table with Iran—but do they?

There are already some early actions that hint at Trump’s policy directions—and limitations—in the Middle East. In three key military theaters where U.S. forces are currently engaged, some important corners have been turned ››read more

Trump’s Executive Order Is an Existential Threat to America

by ames J. Zogby (source: Lobelog) March 12, 2017

This week President Donald Trump issued a revised Executive Order (EO or Order) restricting immigration from six majority Muslim countries and more than halving the US refugee program. This version includes some significant changes: it is more carefully written; it removes Iraq from the list of countries falling under the ban; and it exempts those with green cards and valid visas. Nevertheless, it remains a false, dangerous, cruel, arbitrary, and bigoted assault on Muslims and the very idea of America as an open, welcoming society. ››read more

The Five Blinding Myths About Iran

by Ted Snider (source: March 11, 2017

One of the promises that President Trump has kept is his promise to be tough on Iran. Though he has not canceled the nuclear weapons agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he has "officially put Iran on notice," and he has imposed new sanctions.

More seriously, the New York Times reports that Secretary of Defense General James Mattis considered ordering the Navy to intercept and board an Iranian ship in international waters to search it for weapons being shipped to Yemen in support of the Houthis. According to White House officials, the operation was called off, not because it would likely have been an act of war, but because word of the operation leaked.

Mattis and the rest of the Trump administration have based this canceled operation and other plans to get tough on Iran on a number of myths about the Islamic Republic. ››read more

US ship changed course towards Iran vessels: IRGC commander

(source: Press TV) March 8, 2017

A commander with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says an American warship recently drew its warning by sailing “unprofessionally” close to the force’s vessels near Iranian territorial waters. ››read more

Iran: Unfair for US to Seize Our Money to Pay for 9/11 Lawsuit

by Jason Ditz (source: March 8, 2017

Iranian Foreign Ministry officials issued a statement today criticizing the attempt by US lawyers to seize Iranian money held abroad to pay for a US-based lawsuit in which a New York judge ordered Iran to pay $7 billion in damages for 9/11.

That Iran didn’t do 9/11 was a key part of Iran’s unsuccessful defense in the lawsuit, which seemed very much beside the point in the case, and the Obama Administration and Congress authorized seizing Iranian funds irrespective of long-standing sovereign immunity prohibitions against such lawsuits. ››read more

Iran complies with nuclear deal, slashes low-enriched uranium stockpile by half – IAEA

(source: RT) February 25, 2017

Iran has been found in full compliance with a nuclear deal with leading world powers, a UN nuclear watchdog said in a report. It comes amid heightened fears the US may walk out of the milestone pact, with tensions flaring up between Tehran and Washington.

The latest report on the deal’s implementation produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and obtained by Reuters and AFP on Friday confirms that the Islamic Republic is far from exceeding the limit for the amount of the low-enriched uranium it is allowed to keep. ››read more

American wrestlers in Iran welcomed with roses and selfies

by Erin Cunningham (source: Washington Post) February 17, 2017

Nima Jan said he was traveling to the stadium to cheer for Burroughs. “You proved that you are a noble man.… This is a big chance for us,” Jan said. “We do not pay attention to the behavior of America's government” toward Iran. The two-day tournament began Thursday, when U.S. wrestlers faced off against Georgia, Russia and Azerbaijan. But it wasn't always certain that the Americans would get to compete. Just as in years past, the athletes were at the mercy of tensions between the two governments. ››read more

Ignore the Tough Talk – Trump’s Iran Policy Will Be Much Like Obama’s

by Gareth Porter (source: Middle East Eye) February 15, 2017

The first public pronouncements by President Donald Trump’s administration on Iran have created the widespread impression that the US will adopt a much more aggressive posture towards the Islamic Republic than under Barack Obama’s presidency.

But despite the rather crude warnings to Tehran by now ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and by Trump himself, the Iran policy that has begun to take shape in the administration’s first weeks looks quite similar to Obama’s. ››read more

Trump will not be able to spark war with Iran: American scholar

(source: Press TV) February 11, 2017

US President Donald Trump is in no position to threaten Iran, and will not be able to spark a war with the country in the next couple of years as some analysts have suggested, says Professor Dennis Etler, an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs. ››read more

A New Security Order Needed in the Persian Gulf

by Javad Heiran-Nia (source: Lobelog) February 8, 2017

History has already provided a model for Persian Gulf states to emulate. Philosopher Arshin Adib-Moghaddam has argued in several front-page interviews in the Iranian press that regional powers could learn from the Helsinki Final Act, which emerged from the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The treaty, agreed to by 35 countries in the midst of the Cold War, created a process whereby NATO and Warsaw Pact member states could conduct diplomacy, reduce tensions, and ultimately avoid military conflict on the basis of non-intervention in internal affairs and respect for legitimacy, borders, and territorial integrity. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is another regional organization whose mission and coordination could serve as an inspiration to the Persian Gulf area.

The history of the region demonstrates that security institutions that are not inclusive and collective, such as the GCC, increase tensions. In the Persian Gulf itself the security of the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula cannot be fully guaranteed if other littoral states such as Iran and Iraq are excluded. Lasting security requires institutions that encompass all stakeholders in the region and that are not tainted by the politics of identity. ASEAN and the 35-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are good templates in that regard. ››read more

        Editor's note: Javad Heiran-Nia is the head of the international desk of Mehr News Agency (MNA), one of the biggest news outlets in Iran.

‘Emotion mustn’t override reason’: Russia questions Trump’s tensions with Iran & China

(source: RT) February 8, 2017

ChurkinChurkinCommenting on recent remarks by US President Donald Trump, who branded Iran terrorist threat No.1, Churkin pointed to the active role the Islamic Republic is playing in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). With Russia having close relations with Iran, while US-Iranian relations are increasingly strained, Churkin acknowledged that Washington and Moscow “have differences in a number of areas, including on the role of Iran.”

With that, Churkin believes that some of the recent US rhetoric on Iran might have been influenced by emotions rather than rational policy-making and cold, hard facts. ››read more

New US sanctions on Iran unacceptable: Russia

(source: Press TV) February 8, 2017

FlynnFlynnRussian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has expressed his regret over the new United States’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic, saying bans are not an appropriate means to resolve issues. ››read more

Anti-Iranism in the Trump Administration

by Paul R. Pillar (source: Nationa Interest) February 6, 2017

Paul PillarPaul PillarOne of the most direct indications of Donald Trump’s failure, or refusal, to understand issues involving Iran is his tweeted declaration this week that the Iranians “should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” It supposedly should be an occasion for Iranian thankfulness when Iran, subjected to economic punishment, gains only partial relief from that punishment through difficult negotiations in which it subjects itself to greater restrictions and more intrusive monitoring than any other state has willingly accepted for its nuclear program, even though some neighbors unfriendly to Iran not only have nuclear programs without those restrictions but also nuclear weapons. No mention is made of Iran abiding by the agreement while most of the questions about compliance concern U.S. behavior and sanctions relief—which is why many Iranian hardliners argue that the nuclear agreement was a bad deal from Iran’s perspective. ››read more

Pentagon chief advocates restraint in response to Iran, China

by Missy Ryan (source: Washington Post) February 5, 2017

Trump and MattisTrump and MattisOn Thursday, Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters that the new administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.” He provided no details on what that may mean. But Mattis, a former commander of U.S. operations in the Middle East and a hawk on Iran, said the United States did not need to add military assets, potentially including additional troops or an aircraft carrier, to the region. ››read more