So I have a piece out with new revelations on why the Iran talks are stalling. It’s controversial because it shows that the picture painted thus far- the hold-up is cuz Iran is uninterested or feels immune to US sanctions-is incomplete, to say the least >> responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/10/20/rev…
The key problem from the Iranian side has been the unreliability of US sanctions relief. What good is it if the US exits the deal under the next GOP President? Every time Iran goes in and out of the deal, Iran’s economy is massively destabilized. >>
But here’s the thing: Iran first wanted guarantees that the next US Prez wouldnt quit the JCPOA. Biden said no. Iran shifted then & only sought a guarantee that Biden HIMSELF wouldnt reimpose sanctions.
Shockingly, Biden rejected that as well, diplomats in Iran & EU told me. >>
Fascinating story by @nytimes, but there are systemic flaws in its coverage of Israel/Iran. Don’t know Ronen Bergman, but @farnazfassihi is an outstanding reporter. Still, the systemic whitewashing of Israeli actions & motives is very troublesome.>>
2. No less than 3 times (!) does it cite Israel’s justification for its assassinations at face value: It’s solely to stop Iran’s (non-existent) “nuclear weapons program.” No mention that US intelligence assesses that Iran has NOT had an active weapons program since 2003. >>
3. All 3 cases are unjustifiably deferential to Israel's official line with not even an ounce of scrutiny of the statements of a gov the Times itself has reported seeks to start a war.
This type of deference is sadly how the @nytimes helped sell the Iraq war.>>
Contrary to Blinken's prediction, we're increasingly seeing that when the US steps back militarily, others step forward diplomatically.
The US is not the only country that can organize the world, nor is it necessarily bad for the US when regional actors take on this role.>>
Beijing, Moscow, Tehran & Islamabad are trying to figure out how to curtail AlQaeda and ISIS in Afghanistan and help bring stability to the country. They are in the neighborhood, they pay the price for instability, they should shoulder this. That is actually GOOD for the US.>>
Major escalation by Israel in the past 24h. Israel’s UN ambassador says the quiet part out loud, admitting that Israel seeks a coup d’etat and regime change in Iran.
The same day, Israel’s Defense Minister says “we need to take military action against Iran"
But there’s more… >>
This week, the Israeli think tank BESA published a piece titled: “Dismantle Iran Now.” It calls on Biden to militarily help Iranian ethnic minorities dismantle the Iranian state violently. “The disintegration of Iran would be a blessing,” BESA writes. besacenter.org/dismantle-iran…
Whatever one thinks of the Iranian gov, this much is clear: Experience shows that as Mideast states collapse, democracy and stability DO NOT FOLLOW. Rather, there will be war, instability, refugee flows & radicalization.>>
American primacy’s stress on democracy lacks credibility. Washington is militant on violations of rights by its geopolitical adversaries. But when it comes to U.S. allies and partners in the Global South, they rarely go beyond nudges and occasional slaps on the wrist. >>
Democracy and human rights are only of marginal importance in the liberal primacy project, except when they can act as force-multipliers in the great power competition framework. >>
Our quantitative and qualitative study published today shows that there is a set of powerful states who all are ROUGHLY EQUALLY INTERVENTIONIST. There is no one outlier - whether Iran, Libya, or Iraq - who more than the others is responsible for regional instability.>>
Six states have been the most interventionist: Iran, Israel, Qatar, Saudi, Turkey & UAE. Iran is highly interventionist but not an outlier. The others are often equally interventionist — and at times even more so. UAE & Turkey have actually recently surpassed Iran.>>
/THREAD/ Won’t lie, tremendously honored to receive this recognition from Chomsky.
But more importantly, Chomsky is right that between the official sanctions narrative on Iran and the one I present in Losing an Enemy, there’s no serious scholarship behind the official line. >>
The official line essentially says that Obama sanctioned Iran till they begged for mercy and agreed to negotiate. Then, despite the sanctions remaining in place, the Iranians were so desperate for sanctions relief that it took almost three years to reach a deal (!!??) >>
Thus, had it not been for sanctions, the JCPOA would never have come about and only war could have stopped Iran from getting a nuke. The sanctions were, the official line goes, “essential leverage.” >>
@IgnatiusPost has a good column today where he recognizes the outbreak of MidEast diplomacy. But he underplays the main force behind this: Regional actors' conviction that the US is leaving the region and that the era of complete deference to regional partners may be ending >>
Here’s David’s column. For the US to support this embryonic yet promising diplomacy, it needs to better understand WHY it is happening now and not earlier. Hint: It is NOT because the UAE suddenly has become a force for peace as David suggests. >>
But UAE deserves credit. As David writes, UAE reached out to Iran in 2019 after attacks on UAE ships & Saudi oil fields. What David fails to mention is that the UAE did so after realizing the US wasn't going to defend the UAE. I wrote about it at the time: foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/06/the…
News of Iraqi-brokered talks between Saudi & Iran is a VERY BIG DEAL. Not just because the two sides are talking, but WHY they have started talks. I explain here how the US's military disengagement is incentivizing countries to pursue their own diplomacy ft.com/content/852e94…
When that involvement reduced, good things emerged. I argued Trump's refusal to go to war with Iran over the attacks on Saudi oil fields, prompted Saudi to both engage in its own diplomacy with Iran and reduce aggression in Yemen.>>
The @nytimes keeps on sticking this into its reporting and it's highly problematic.
Three heads of the Mossad in a row have publicly rejected this notion: Halevi, Dagan & Pardo.
Ehud Barak has consistently rejected it since 1992. Here's why: >>
As Barak and Halevy argue, Iran is a threat, but NOT an EXISTENTIAL threat because that notion belittles Israel's own power. Israel is indestructible Halevy maintains, and as such, Iran can't be an existential threat.
The data supports their argument. >>
Even if Iran had nukes - which it doesn't but Israel does - it would be suicidal for it to attack Israel due to Israel's 2nd strike capability. As a senior Israeli official told me, whatever Iran does to destroy Israel, it cant destroy Israel's ability to destroy Iran in turn. >>
Told @dwnews that Netanyahu is not intensifying his attacks on Iran because he fears the Vienna diplomacy, but because he fears they will succeed.
For him, attacking Iran is a win-win. He pays no price for it, all the while undermining diplomacy and increasing the risk of war.
For Netanyahu to attack Iran while Sec. Def. Austin is arriving in Israel shows that the Biden admin's strategy of appeasing Netanyahu in hope that it will prevent him from sabotaging Iran diplomacy is not working.
Bibi's biggest fear is not an Iranian bomb, but a nuclear deal that checks Iran's program and allows the US to check out - militarily - from the Middle East.
Netanyahu, Saudi, UAE want the US permanently stuck in the Middle East - and the #IranDeal is a threat to that.
Pro-Israeli messaging clearly aims to assert that Iran is so weakened by the Natanz attack that the US can wait Iran out - no need for diplomacy now.
This is exactly what Israel has claimed EVERY TIME the US & Iran were close to a deal.
Hence, beware of the propaganda. >>
2. Claims that Natanz can’t operate centrifuges for 9 months seem exaggerated and designed to convince the US that it shouldn’t return to the JCPOA. Or at a minimum, wait till after the elections. That would be a transparent ploy. >>
3. Given Israel’s aggression against Iran, the next Iranian President - particularly a conservative one - will feel compelled to strike back against Israel in order to dispel any notion in the West that Iran’s restraint has been due to desperation or lack of options. >>
/THREAD/ After the initial rounds of talks in Vienna, it’s clear the US side is moving fast. It’s convincingly signaled its willingness to lift the parts of Trump’s sanctions wall that block JCPOA-approved trade. But Iran’s ability to respond appears limited. >>
2. It should come as no surprise that Iran’s maneuverability has shrunk as the country entered its election season. We all knew this was coming. And politically, it is next-to suicide for them to take a bet on the US’s word mindful of past US betrayals. >>
3. Iran wants to be sure that the sanctions relief is holistic - that the entire cycle from selling oil, to the bank transaction, to cargo ship insurance and port acceptance - are verifiably unsanctioned. If a single element remains sanctioned, then the relief is meaningless.>>
/THREAD/ Very good and welcomed news on the #IranDeal!
Given the deadlock and the disappointing pace of movement in the first weeks of Biden’s term. Here are a few thoughts on why it finally has happened and where we will go from here.>>
2. Privately, White House officials admit that how they fumbled the Iran file earlier on (my words, not theirs). But things have changed, the message is, and the US is now moving full speed toward a JCPOA return. We are now seeing the first signs supporting this narrative. >>
3. Over the past weeks, however, mistrust between the two sides has grown. The Iranians have watched in dismay how Biden has messaged that the JCPOA is not a priority and how coordination with Israel and assuaging hawks in Congress were. >>
2. First of all, Jess is right in the sense that the heated anti-China not only doesn't advance US interest, it also pits Americans against each other here at home. It's a lose-lose.
3. Jess rightly argues that Biden’s condemnation of the murders in GA misses the mark because it fails to acknowledge that Washington’s over-the-top rhetoric on China fuels an atmosphere of fear and anxiety, which boomerangs in the form of violence against Asian Americans.
/THREAD/ 1. Disturbing news that Iran has rejected the EU invitation for talks with the US re the JCPOA. This is a very negative and worrying development. It complicates matters further and risks jeopardizing the deal. But it is NOT surprising. Here’s why wsj.com/articles/iran-…
2. As I wrote yesterday in the @Guardian, the idea that Iran would talk directly with the US while the US continued implementing JCPOA-busting sanctions was tried by Trump for 3 years and didn’t work then, and it likely won’t work now. theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
3. Don’t take my word for it. This is what Wendy Sherman - Trump’s Dep Secr. of State - said about it in 2019: I “would be shocked if Iran agreed to a meeting without some sanctions relief.” Sherman was right then and she is right now.>>
So diplomacy on how to revive the #IranDeal seems to have hit a roadblock even before it began. Iran & the US are publically dueling about who has to take the first step.
But we have been here before though, so there are good reasons to remain calm.
Here’s why >>
Both the US and Iran have accepted a compliance-for-compliance mechanism. Both sides simply go back into the deal with no preconditions. Then, whatever needs to be renegotiated, will be addressed when both are in compliance.
But that doesn't resolve who should go first. >>
Without providing any particular argument, Biden and Secr of State Blinken have stated that the US will go into full compliance once the Iranians have done the same. That is, Iran has to take the first step. >>
Hate to rain on Pompeo, Bibi and MBZ’s parade, but here’s why this “deal” will intensify tensions and give another lease on life for America’s counterproductive military presence in the Middle East. >>
2. Contrary to Pompeo's talking points, this will not create peace or make it easier to bring home US troops from the region. The focus on the “Iran threat” is designed to lock the US into a Cold/Hot War in the Middle East for decades to come. >>
3. We will be hearing endless arguments going forward - from many different sides - that now that the Israelis and the "Arabs" (though its only UAE and Bahrain) - have united, the US is obligated to support them against the “Iranian menace.” >>
So Trump & Pompeo just massively embarrassed the US on the world stage with a humiliating loss at the UNSC. Passionately fighting losing battles has become the hallmark of Trump and Pompeo's Iran policy, but this takes it to an entirely new level. >>
Only two votes in favor, two against and 11 abstentions.
It would be a mistake to solely look at this as yet another example of Trump's diplomatic vandalism as it misses the real point: The structural stupidity of US Middle East policy that long predates Trump. >>
From embarrassing the U.S. at the Council, Trump and Pompeo will now move on to create an existential crisis for the Council. Even if the US manages to trigger snapback, other P5 states will challenge the legitimacy of the move and leave the Council in an unprecedented crisis.>>