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01/20/15

Obama's State of the Union Address and its Bearing on US/Iran Relations

By Kam Zarrabi

When it comes to America’s foreign policies, It’s too bad that trying to do what’s good for America is so often blocked by special interest groups and elected officials who owe their positions, hence their loyalties, to influence peddlers with different agendas. Watching the proceedings of January 21st Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on C-SPAN exemplified this tragic state of affairs. It was about the new opening to Cuba, and the progress being made toward a solution to the Iranian nuclear issues currently underway between the P5+1 group headed by the United States and the Iranian delegation.

Before getting into what troubled me most watching the proceedings, it would be helpful to highlight a few facts on the ground:

  1. The Da’esh (the Sunni Islamic Caliphate) gangs in Iraq and Syria have been showing stronger resolve and resiliency in the face of the three-pronged assault by a/ the US and allied campaign, b/ the Syrian and Iraqi militaries, and c/ the Shi’a forces of Hezbollah and the Iranian paramilitary. Da’esh started out in Syria as the congealing of various rebel groups opposed to the pro-Iran Syrian regime. It was encouraged, supplied and funded by the United States and Sunni Salafist kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the support by the US in order to unseat the regime of Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran, and by the Wahhabi or Salafist regimes in order to oppose Iran’s influence in the region as a potential threat to their own traditional rule. Da’esh’s stated objectives are to remove Western footprints from the Islamic lands, and not just from Syria and Iraq, and also to confront Iran which is a Shi’a state. Interestingly, these objectives parallel those of the Al-Qa’eda groups, making the two groups potential allies, but sometimes rivals for the leadership of their movement. It is also important to note that both Da’esh and Al-Qa’eda factions regard the Saud ruling regime as an apostasy because of its open alliance with the United States and covert, yet well-known, partnership with Israel.
  2. The most threatening center for plotting and carrying out terror attack against the Western interests is in the chaotic country of Yemen. This has been Al-Qa’eda’s strongest base of operation, which is now being challenged by the rival Da’esh gangs. To counter the agendas of these terrorist groups, the Saudi regime and the United States have been supporting the Sunni Yemeni government with some success. However, the indigenous Shi’a movement, the Houthis, within Yemen, heretofore excluded from any participatory role in the affairs of the state, began to receive aid from Iran and gathered momentum. Numbering over 100,000 members, the Houthis have just managed to force the regime to accept changes in the country’s constitution to allow them greater participatory role in the government. Interestingly, the Shi’a Houthis are also fighting the Da’esh and Al-Qa’eda forces, as is the Yemeni government with American and Saudi help.
  3. Israel should be, and clearly is, quite concerned with the gathering momentum of both the Da’esh and Al-Qa’eda movements in the region. Israel confronts the ever more powerful Hezbollah from Lebanon, the Hamas controlled Gaza next door, and the increasingly vocal Palestinians in the West Bank occupied territories. After almost seventy years of rejection by the Arab world as an unwanted European transplant, its very survival as a Jewish state has depended mostly upon American financial, military and diplomatic support. To shore up this support, Israel has long engaged in influencing the politics of the United States through its powerful supporters, lobbies and agents who control the news, information and entertainment media, as well as the US Congress. In its own region, Israel has engaged in countless transgressions and acts of terrorism and war crimes against its perceived enemies, while at the same time getting away with atrocities against the Palestinian populations in the illegally occupied territories.
  4. Regarding Iran and its so-called nuclear ambitions, a few points will help bring the issue into a clearer perspective. There is no secret to practically all expert observers, including those in the United States and even Israel, that Iran is not engaged in the pursuit of acquiring nuclear weapons, and that its research and development activities have been directed toward peaceful and legal energy production. But, were Iran even attempting to develop nuclear weapons technology or worse yet, were the Iranian regime in possession of such weapons, as are Israel, Pakistan and the American naval forces in the Persian Gulf, what “danger” would it pose to the region or the world? What purpose would having nuclear weapons serve the Iranian government other than self-annihilation should they be deployed against anyone? Of course, if you were to listen to the likes of Senators Risch, Rubio, Menendez, McCain, Graham, Cruz and the like, you wouldn’t want to see “crazed Mullahs” with ludicrous visions of taking over the entire world to have a nuclear arsenal to help them accomplish their diabolical mission! Makes one wonder which truly are the deluded crazed ones here; and even more importantly, what motivates them to act so irrationally, some innocently out of their own ignorance, and others self-servingly out of lust for money, power and position.

Now, let us look at what America’s honest concerns and interests might be in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, and indeed the rest of the so-called Islamic world. One of those concerns cannot possibly be Iran’s nuclear “ambitions”. As I mentioned above, even a nuclear-armed Iran does not pose any danger of a potential offensive use of nuclear weapons. Yes, having a nuclear arsenal might work as a deterrent to discourage a nuclear attack upon Iran by Israel, but even that possibility is so remote that devoting the money and energy to develop that deterrent tool would be foolish at best. Israel could be literally wiped out of existence by non-nuclear means should it attempt to attack Iran with its atomic weapons. So, why would Iran even bother?

America’s true agenda is finding the most expedient and, at the same time, face-saving way to extricate itself from the current costly and counterproductive entanglements in the Middle East, without creating more breeding areas for terrorist cells that intend to jeopardize America’s legitimate interests. This is where the question pops up as to why the Assad regime in Syria was targeted by the United States in the first place, resulting in the destruction of a nation, hundreds of thousands of casualties, over two million refugees, and a battleground for competing terrorist gangs that led to the formation of the Da’esh group. How was the Syrian regime a threat to the United States of America to have been targeted for regime-change? If it was an ally of Iran and a conduit between Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah and, by extension, the Palestinian Hamas, it might have been a concern for Israel, not the United States; unless, of course, we consider Israel’s interests worth sacrificing American lives and fortune and the creation of more enemies for America.

Let’s not kid ourselves that the concern for targeting the Assad regime was a purely humanitarian issue that required encouraging and financing opposition groups to bring down a tyrannical dictator in order to promote freedom and democracy - in spite of what Senators McCain and Graham say. The truth cannot be denied that American attempts to topple the Assad regime was simply to follow Israel’s demands and, at the same time, to support our compliant ally, the Saudi clan.

Now we are facing a horrible blowback. We found out the hard and embarrassing way that Assad was not a pushover as the likes of Senators McCain and Graham think. And thanks to America’s misguided interference, Da’esh militants and sympathizers are pouring through the 900 mile border from Syria to Turkey and on to Western Europe and ultimately to North America.

The only armies with adequate military skills and equipment that can possibly eradicate the Da’esh movement are the Syrian army, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Iranian forces. Iran has already been engaged in battling the Da’esh terror groups in Iraq, although the media here tries not to mention its accomplishments or even its logistical coordination with the Americans for political reasons.

In Yemen, it is the Iran backed Houthis that are gaining more control and fighting both terrorist groups, Al’-Qaeda and Da’esh. Houthis, and the Yemeni government subsidized by the Saudis and Americans, are in the best position to eradicate both groups which are a threat to America’s regional interests, the Saudi regime, as well as to Iran, especially now that these terrorist camps have found new spawning environment in Afghanistan next door to Iran.

It is not just the need to end the thirty-years-long, needless and mutually harmful, animosity between the United States and Iran or the trumped up allegations regarding Iran’s fictitious nuclear weapons drive which has prompted the US administration to attempt a new rapprochement with the Islamic Republic through the channel provided by the P5+1/Iran negotiations. The United States needs Iran’s help simply because Iran has the greatest influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen to effectively engage and dismantle the terrorist cells of Da’esh and Al-Qa’eda, both of which are direct threats to its own security and territorial integrity.

On the other hand, with an opening to the West, particularly the United States, and the easing and removal of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and enforced through coercion against international norms, not only will the Iranian nation breathe a sigh of relief, American and Western businesses would find a ripe market ready and willing to engage in trade.

But, in the middle stands Israel with its own misguided and ultimately counterproductive agendas.

The question is why is the Israeli regime so bent on demonizing Iran as an atomic bomb-hungry regime that deserves to be cornered, starved and threatened for destruction? The only thing Israel has to fear is not Iran itself, but Iran’s allies in the region who might retaliate against Israeli transgressions, something that Israel has been guilty of on a regular basis, all in the guise of self-defense, and supported unequivocally by the United States.

Surely, Mr. Netanyahu, as horrible as his image is around the world, even among the governments that support Israel, as a liar and a ruthless war monger, is not an idiot by a long shot. What might best describe him is a master panhandler and manipulating opportunist. He knows when and where to stage his act. The problem with Netanyahu is that his methods have actually worked against Israel’s best interests, especially in the longer term. It is no longer a secret or diplomatically incorrect in the United States to talk or write about the deepening rift between the Obama administration and the Israeli Likud party headed by Netanyahu. This is indeed something that Israel should be really worried about.

The foregoing brings us to President Obama’s State of the Union address last Tuesday evening. The issue of my interest was the ongoing P5+1/Iran negotiations under the auspices of the Executive Branch headed by the Secretary of State, John Kerry with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif. Mr. Obama’s intentions had been made clear long in advance of his address, that he had concerns regarding Congress’s attitude, the majority Republicans, as well as many Democrats, who opposed his plans to finalize an agreement with Iran, and that he would veto any resolutions to impose additional sanctions against Iran while the negotiations were in progress.

By stating his decision during his address, the opposition alarm bells began to ring incessantly. Well-orchestrated, I am sure, ahead of time, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced that he had invited the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, to address the joint session of the Congress next month. This strange invitation extended without the proper protocol requiring prior knowledge of the White House reeks of suspicion that it was more likely Netanyahu himself who had prompted his lackeys in the US Congress to push for this invitation.

Mr. Obama has already responded that he would not meet with Netanyahu if or when he shows up. Under these circumstances, in my opinion, simple diplomatic decency would dictate that Mr. Netanyahu find an excuse to stay where he is. But expecting a show of decency from this master of chutzpah is asking too much. Would Mr. Obama refusing to meet with Netanyahu have any negative or positive consequences regarding the future American/Israeli relations? In my opinion it would be more consequential if Hillary Clinton were to meet or refuse to meet the Israeli leader!

We already see that the Zionist gangs and Israel lobbyists, including the mainstream media, are hard at work to disrupt any rapprochement between the United States and Iran, even at the expense of discrediting and embarrassing the President of the United States.

It is interesting that several well-coordinated events are taking place to coincide with Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address. An Israeli helicopter seeks and targets (again in violation of international law) an Iranian Commander and several Hezbollah personnel in the Golan Heights area, clearly hoping for some retaliatory response by Iran or Hezbollah, which would force the United States to rise as usual and by Congressional demand in support of Israel and help disrupt the negotiations. Then it was the suspicious death of the prosecuting attorney in Argentina who was about to produce evidence of Iran’s involvement in the bombing of a Jewish center twenty years ago. How timely is that?!

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was practically salivating with excitement announcing that the Argentine President had concurred that the prosecutor’s death was not a suicide, and that she would follow through with that case. At the same time, CNN announced that Mr. Blitzer will be conducting a special series on the network interviewing Holocaust survivors in Auschwitz, starting in a few days. And of course we should also be looking forward to the Israeli Prime Minister to address the joint session of America’s Congress. All these events are happening just as the President made his announcement, albeit cautiously and in diplomatic terms, in support of the P5+1/Iran negotiations.

Now to turn back to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings of Wednesday, January 21:

As I have mentioned before, some of our elected representatives are, to put it mercifully, simply illiterate or uninformed when it comes to foreign affairs, which means they should never volunteer to serve on committees that deal with such issues in any shape or form. But for whatever reason, they somehow do, and a good example would be James Risch of Idaho. Then there are others who clearly have an agenda that compels them to mole their way into House or Senate committees that most effectively serve their purpose.

One member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that deserves special attention is the Junior Senator from Florida, Marc Rubio. Being of Cuban descent, and having been coached under another member of Congress of Cuban heritage, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, he has been very vocal in opposing any legislation that might improve relations between the United States and Cuba. Many Iranians in self-exile in the United States or Europe are also opposed to any rapprochement with their abandoned homeland that does not include radical changes, including a regime-change. That much is no surprise.

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion.He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.

But when this Junior Senator, in reality the “Juvenile” Senator, begins to address the Iran issues in his long diatribe, it is a nauseating and alarming show of incompetence. His bizarre characterization of Iranian leadership, particularly the Supreme Leader, reeked of inveterate blind hatred of things he knows nothing about. If we assume that Rubio is not a total idiot, we must conclude that in his mind his personal ambitions supersede the interests of the nation he has been elected to serve. Clearly, Mr. Rubio has now passed the test of loyalty to America’s Zionist enterprises and will be adequately rewarded by pro-Israel lobbies and media manipulators. This young and highly ambitious character will be further vetted and groomed by his handlers and taught how to cloak his seditious behavior inside a veneer of patriotism.

Will the ongoing P+1/Iran negotiations reach some positive results before the end of the current Iranian calendar year in late March? The alternative would be too horrible to consider!

 

... Payvand News - 01/20/15 ... --



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