The Iran-US War

Baron Samedi

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Since it is becoming more and more apparent that we are going to war with Iran, may as well ahve a thread dedicated tot he topic, where we can observe, discuss, and record the lead up to it.

I'll start with the observation that we are now imposing sanctions on Iran. Anyone that knows the history of sanctions, knows 2 things about them;

1. Sanctions are the most common pre-condition to outright war.

2. Sanctions don't hurt governments, but they have a devastating effet on the citizens of that country.

The combination of these two factors always has the same results. IT allows the government to fire up nationalism and radicalize the population into hostility versus the nation imposing them.

This is why they are such a great pre-cursor.

When is the last time you saw sanctoins actually work? I honestly can't recall any situation where sanctoins led the "offending country" to reverse policy and succumb to the demands of the imposing nation....can you?

Not to mention, that in tough economic times, Keynesian theory says take the nation to war.

In tough political times, presidents take bold military actions to boost their approval numbers.

This is just another "wag the dog" scenario playing out...just like Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction".

Let me bring an article to the forum for discussion,

The broth thickens: Iran 'assassination plot'

Plot described by the US Attorney General sounds like a bad action movie, but why would he lie?
Hamid Dabashi Last Modified: 14 Oct 2011 16:03


"Did an elite branch of Iran's military handpick a divorced, 56-year-old Iranian-American used-car salesman from Texas to hire a hitman from a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the ambassador to Saudi Arabia by blowing up a bomb in a crowded restaurant in Washington?"

This is how Reza Sayyah of CNN quite succinctly summarised the bombshell that the US Attorney General Eric Holder dropped in Washington DC on October 11.

I am of a certain generation and analytical bend of mind that I cannot believe that Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, can in bright daylight come to national television and just straight lie about a matter so dire and dangerous in its actual and potential consequences.

We have no way of challenging the veracity of what he says. He is privy to intelligence. We are not. He is a figure of authority - we must take what he says seriously. The very assumption and presumption of a democracy is that people in position of such power and authority don't just lie.

And yet: Every which way you look at it: The story is so outlandish, so bizarre, so utterly ridiculous that it has left almost everyone across the political spectrum with a sense of: "... say what?"

Various views

Pepe Escobar has just written a piece for Al Jazeera blasting this report and considering it a plot to invade Iran.

"No one," he said rhetorically, "ever lost money betting on the dull predictability of the US government. Just as Occupy Wall Street is firing imaginations all across the spectrum - piercing the noxious revolving door between government and casino capitalism - Washington brought us all down to earth, sensationally advertising an Iranian cum Mexican cartel terror plot straight out of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise. The potential victim: Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador in the US of that lovely counter-revolutionary Mecca, Saudi Arabia."

Escobar may indeed be right, but he does not deal with the matter of the US Attorney General Eric Holder coming on national television and looking the world straight in the eye and saying what he said. Escobar just sidesteps it, with perfect political poignancy, of course. So does Max Fisher of The Atlantic, who too dismisses the veracity of this report, and thus we are at mercy of someone like Steve Clemens, also of The Atlantic, who comes and says no in fact the Islamic Republic is perfectly capable of trying to do what Eric Holder says they were trying to do.

But it is not just Pepe Escobar doubting the story. We have Julian Borger of the Guardian, who lists no less than eight perfectly legitimate questions as holes in Eric Holder's account. Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole, Tony Karon, Stephen Walt, and John Glaser also raise serious and unanswered questions about the Attorney General's story - with which we are back to square one: Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States.

"His socks would not match ... he was not capable of carrying out this plan."

- New York Times


The story is in fact so bad that even The New York Times, not known exactly for its habitual questioning of the official lines of the US government when it comes to warmongering in the Middle East, published a piece about the used car salesman at the centre of the plot in which we learn that he was a rowdy, incompetent fool. According to his friend: "His socks would not match ... He was always losing his keys and his cellphone. He was not capable of carrying out this plan."

But, again, none of these points can come together to discount the straight face with which Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that this indeed was the case - that this old car salesman with his mismatched socks and misplaced cellphone and keys was the key evidence that Iranians were trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, and such.

Holding on fast to our conviction that we must begin with the straight face of the US Attorney General, we must then ask ourselves: Was Eric Holder also party to the legal maneuvering that evidently went on for months in the Obama White House that provided a jurdical narrative that allowed the United States to assassinate one of its own citizens?

According to the New York Times, the Obama administration had a "secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen." The newspaper adds: "The document that laid out the administration's justification - a roughly 50-page memorandum [was prepared] by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, completed around June 2010" - and more specifically that it was "prepared by two lawyers in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel."

Rule of jurists?

In an editorial mildly criticising this assassination The New York Times asserted: "But the memo, ... is an insufficient foundation for a momentous decision by the government to kill one of its own citizens, no matter how dangerous a threat he was believed to be. For one thing, the administration has refused to make it public or even acknowledge its existence."

Now: The question is this: Was Mr Holder party for that "roughly 50-page memorandum by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, completed around June 2010" that provided a legal justification for the assassination of an American citizen? The same assassination that has prompted the Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul to suggest that "the Obama administration's killing of a US-born radical cleric in Yemen was an impeachable offense" and that "we have crossed that barrier from republic to dictatorship?'"

Once we start pondering that question, we are of course instantly reminded of yet another evidently trustworthy American official, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who too with a straight face went to the UN in February 2003 and told the world body that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, as a prelude to the US led invasion of Iraq.

Later on, when it turned out that Iraq had no such weapons - too late for hundreds of thousands of murdered or millions of refugee Iraqis - the Bush white House and Mr Powel said this was "faulty intelligence".

So the question ultimately boils down to this: What is the difference between a "lie" and a "faulty intelligence" - except perhaps for the legalese language game in which the legal profession thrives? This points to the calamity we face today - that in fact both the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States are ruled by lawyers.

The rule of the Ayatollahs in Iran is the rule of the jurists, of the Shia legal scholars, with their own peculiar penchant for Perso-Arabic legalese. Scarcely anyone, except for that profession, understands it. The Supreme Leader occupies the office of Vali-ye Faqih/The Master Jurist, established and theorised by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.

And lo and behold the same holds true in the United States, where from President Obama to Attorney General Eric Holder, people are ruled by lawyers - and their penchant for legalese Gobbledygook. Under this framework, officials can offer a used-car salesman with mismatched socks and misplaced keys as a star witness, just a few weeks after having provided legal justification for the assassination of an American citizen.
While the lawyers may find amusing or empowering their ability to manipulate words to get away with murder - the rest of humanity is at the receiving end of the dire consequences of what they say. The instant impact of Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement is that the right wing hawks in the US and Saudi Arabia are now salivating about this news and itching to attack Iran.

Mutual interests

"The suspected plot was concocted in Washington to distract Americans from ... the Occupy Wall Street movement."

- Ayatollah Khamenei


Both the military machinery of the United States and the tyrants ruling Iran will be the sole beneficiaries of this scenario - while millions of Iranians, just like Iraqis at the mercy of "false intelligence" of Collin Powell, are its potential victims.

The best thing that happened to the American war machine and penchant for imperialist adventurism is the Islamic Republic, and the best thing that happened to the Islamist tyranny in Iran are the warmongers in the United States.

Both of them - joined by Saudi Arabi and Israel - are doing their best to pull back the clock to before the Green Movement, before the Arab Spring, before the European Summer, and before the American Fall. In rejecting American charges, Ayatollah Khamenei has said, "the suspected plot was concocted in Washington to distract Americans from their own traumatic economic problems, highlighted by the Occupy Wall Street movement."

The worst thing that can happen to the Occupy Wall Street movement is for a tyrant to endorse it, as indeed the worst thing that happened to the Green Movement in Iran was for the US, Israel, or Saudi Arabia to rejoice in it.

In days, weeks, and months to come, we are all bound to learn more details of this accusation.

Hopefully, we will still live in a world in which one can trust the Attorney General of the United States. But if it turns out that in Eric Holder we have a déjà vu of Colin Powell, then the Obama Administration is facing a deeper calamity than Bush's government.

Before that potential calamity comes becomes reality, we can still ask the US Attorney General something of a legalese nature that any layman can pose: Sir, would you, as a lawyer, go to court to make a case for shoplifting, let alone a case so dire and dangerous in its consequences, with a used car salesman with mismatched socks and misplaced keys as your star witness? Honestly sir?


http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/10/20111014122536970741.html
 
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Baron Samedi

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Something is definitely afoot when I find myself in the same camp as Media Matters...

Opinion

The supposed Iran plot: Immunised by Neocons

Author urges skepticism about the Neoconservative rush to war against Iran.
MJ Rosenberg Last Modified: 14 Oct 2011 07:07


A few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, I attended a big holiday dinner with family and friends. Naturally much of the conversation revolved around the terrorist attacks and the rage and sorrow we all felt. There was also considerable discussion about President George W Bush's handling of the catastrophe and his decision to send troops to Afghanistan in pursuit of the perpetrators and to eliminate the Taliban regime that was hosting them.

Everyone at the table approved of the president's actions and believed that there was no alternative. Moreover, and this was somewhat surprising considering that none of us thought Bush had been legitimately elected, we all believed that he was being honest about the situation the United States faced and the options that were before him.

There was, however, one dissenter. My younger son, then in college, was absolutely opposed to going into Afghanistan. He said that there had to be a better way to respond than rushing into a war that, in his opinion, would likely expand and last "forever." Besides, he added, "I don't believe a word that comes out of Bush's mouth."

Naturally a brouhaha ensued with everyone (including me) telling the kid how utterly wrong and unpatriotic he was. There was a lot of yelling, but he would not back down. He just kept saying "you'll see."

Boy did we.

Prodded by his neoconservative advisers and outside cheerleaders eager to pick up where the first Gulf War ended, Bush quickly pivoted from Afghanistan to the calamitous invasion of Iraq. He justified that invasion by insisting that Iraq was implicated in the 9/11 attacks (it wasn't) and that it possessed weapons of mass destruction (it didn't).

Both the Bush administration and its faithful ally, the Tony Blair government in the United Kingdom, famously set out to "fix" the intelligence to deceive the people of both nations into an utterly unnecessary and unjustified war, the main accomplishment of which has been to turn Iraq into, of all things, a strong ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Along the way, of course, hundreds of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, Brits and others have died and Iraq has essentially been destroyed.

It is against this backdrop that I view the Iranian plot that was announced earlier this week by the Obama administration. At this point, it is impossible to say how serious the plot was and, more importantly, if it even had anything at all to do with the Iranian government. Are we ready to believe that the cold and calculating people who govern Iran are contracting out assassination plots with Mexican drug traffickers or that they would pick Washington as the best place to attack the Saudi ambassador (knowing that being found responsible for a major explosion in Washington would mean war with the Saudi Arabia and United States)?

This is not to dismiss the plot as phony or contrived. But after the Iraq war experience, it would be awfully stupid of Americans to simply accept without question anything we are told about nefarious Muslim states that must be stopped before a "mushroom cloud" appears over downtown Washington.

The only good news here is that we have past experience to guide us. But for the lies and manufactured evidenced that led us into Iraq we might not have reason to be skeptical about the case the government laid out yesterday and which the usual suspects are already joyously citing as reason to get tough with Iran (as if that country is not under onerous sanctions already). Here is Reuel Mark Gerecht, one of the leading cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq, warning that the supposed plot justifies a US attack on Iran. "The White House needs to respond militarily to this outrage. If we don't, we are asking for it," he writes. (Not very different from what he wrote in 2002 when he said that "if President Bush follows his own logic and compels his administration to follow him against Iraq and Iran, then he will sow the seeds for a new, safer, more liberal order in the Middle East.")

But for the lies and manufactured evidence that led us into Iraq, we might actually accept the idea that the Iran plot is thoroughly genuine and in no way linked to the determination of so many inside our government and out of it who are hell-bent on war with Iran and who would do anything they can to achieve it.

Fortunately, however, and this may be the only fortunate thing about the Iraq war, the Iraq experience taught us to be skeptical, especially of anything and everything championed by the hawks.

So let's go slowly here. If the plot turns out to be both real and sanctioned by powerful people in Tehran, a strong response of some kind is warranted. But first let's make sure. The neocons' "drop bombs now and ask questions later" approach has been thoroughly discredited. How stupid would we have to be, then, to allow the same gang to lead us into yet another reckless war, one that would be infinitely more deadly?

Count me among the skeptics.


http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/10/2011101464319670974.html

On this note....is it just me...or did everyone fail to mention that the Saudi US Ambassador is the Crown Prince?

I just learned that.

Seems like that is a pretty relevant fact.
 

BradyLady12

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Oh, the NeoCons are definitely up to their lying tricks again. Just watch FOX news....I have to switch the station or turn it off. They are complete bloodthirsty loons.

Remember, they actually do believe in lying being noble.
 

BradyLady12

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It doesn't surprise me that unusual ship movements were occurring by us in the Persian Gulf before this recent sting/entrapment of a used car salesman who was Iranian happened.
 

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Since it is becoming more and more apparent that we are going to war with Iran, may as well ahve a thread dedicated tot he topic, where we can observe, discuss, and record the lead up to it.

I'll start with the observation that we are now imposing sanctions on Iran. Anyone that knows the history of sanctions, knows 2 things about them;

1. Sanctions are the most common pre-condition to outright war.

2. Sanctions don't hurt governments, but they have a devastating effet on the citizens of that country.

From here.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution and the subsequent hostage crisis, the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran on a continuous basis.​

So we've been "going to war" with Iran for 32 years? :spock:
 

mooseontheloose

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2. Sanctions don't hurt governments, but they have a devastating effet on the citizens of that country.
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This CAN be true, but it really depends on the target country and the type of sanctions imposed. For example, many sanctions currently levied against Syria are directly targeting the leadership (ie. foreign assets) to put pressure on them personally without adversely impacting the Syrian people.

Given Iran's history with sanctions, I'd be very surprised to see any new American sanctions having this type of effect.

However, I do agree with your skepticism regarding this plot. I wouldn't put it past Iran, but I also find it very hard to believe that the regime would have chosen to execute such a plan with this amateurish approach.

From ForeignPolicy.com

Unless the Obama administration (and in particular, Attorney General Eric Holder), has more smoking gun evidence than they've revealed so far, they are in danger of a diplomatic gaffe on a par with Colin Powell's famous U.N. Security Council briefing about Iraq's supposed WMD programs, a briefing now known to have been a series of fabrications and fairy tales.

The problem is that the harder one looks at the allegations about Manour Ababasiar, the fishier the whole business seems. There's no question that Iran has relied upon assassination as a foreign policy tool in the past, but it boggles the mind to imagine that they would use someone as unreliable and possibly unhinged as Ababsiar. I won't rehash the many questions that can and should be raised about this whole business; for compelling skeptical dissections, see Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole, Tony Karon, and John Glaser.

As I said yesterday, I don't know what actually happened here, and I remain open to the possibility that there really was some sort of officially-sanctioned Iranian plot to assassinate foreign ambassadors here on U.S. soil. But the more I think about it, the less plausible whole thing appears. In particular, blowing up buildings in the United States is an act of war, and history shows that the United States is not exactly restrained when it responds to direct attacks on U.S. soil. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and we eventually firebombed many Japanese cities and dropped two atomic bombs on them. Al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, and we went out and invaded not one but two countries in response. When it comes to hitting back, in short, we tend to do so with enthusiasm.

Iran's leaders are not stupid, and surely they would have known that a plot like this ran the risk of triggering a very harsh U.S. response. Given that extraordinary risk, is it plausible to believe they would have entrusted such a sensitive mission to a serial bungler like Ababsiar? If you are going to attack a target in the United States, wouldn't you send your A Team, instead of Mr. Magoo?

Hence the growing skepticism, including the possibility that this might be some sort of "false flag" operation by whatever groups or countries might benefit from further deterioration in U.S.-Iranian relations. If the Obama administration can't back up their allegations in a convincing way, they are going to face a diplomatic backlash and they are going to look like the Keystone Cops. They could even face a situation where rightwing war-mongers seize on their initial accusations to clamor for harsh action (a development that has already begun), while moderates at home and abroad lose confidence in the administration's competence, credibility, and basic honesty.

So my advice to Holder & Co. is this: you better show us what you've got, and it had better be good.
 

johnlocke

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From here.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution and the subsequent hostage crisis, the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran on a continuous basis.​

So we've been "going to war" with Iran for 32 years? :spock:

Excellent.
 

BradyLady12

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Excellent.

Well we have been in a sort of endless state of hostility—or a cold war with them. We used proxies with the Soviets. We've used covert activity and proxies with Iran and still are. Iran uses proxies against Israel. We couldn't go to full war with the Soviets due to their arsenal and nukes. You can bet that the NeoCons want to take the next step to a direct strike on Iran. CIA and Mossad have been inside already since 2003 committing acts of terror with car bombs, kidnapping officials and agitating their population. I'd say those things are an act of war too. Oh! But if they do that to us —it's not okay.

We've been at war with Iran ever since we waged a coup inside their govt in the 1950s with our CIA assisting their secret police on how to torture citizens who opposed the Shah who was a tyrant.

I'd say sanctions are part of starting war with another nation. It's really a sort of blockade—to trade, which leads to war. That's the whole idea. It's just the early phase to weaken their infrastructure. As the economist Bastiat said:"Where goods can't pass; armies will."
This incites and provokes the other side into attacking us, so we can do what we wanted to anyway. Just listen to the right wing in this country.

Yes, even when we put sanctions on South Africa, they just caved under them so the next stage didn't need to happen. Regime change occurred. All this sabre rattling about Iran is about regime change. Something has to be hung on them. First it was the nuke thing which didn't fly and so now it's this. So why the Obama regime? They're in trouble. Nothing like a war to boost a sagging president.

I doubt it will work, but you never know. 73% of the American people are sick of this stuff.
 

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Looking at all the angst over Iran, how come the usual suspects don't have the same attitude towards North Korea?

Iran has a right to be upset with the US due to our installing the Shah?

Heck we invaded North Korea in 1950, in an undeclared war, and destroyed most of their country.

Iran has a right to be upset because we are being imperialist and placing troops in the region?

Heck we've had troops in South Korea since 1950.

Iran has a right to b e upset because we've been conducting a "cold war" with them?

Heck, we never signed a peace treaty with North Korea, simply an Armistice, technically the "war" is still going on.

Sanctions? Check.

Accusations of a nuclear weapons program that was denied by the other government? Check.

Accusations of the government performing terrorist attacks outside the country? Check.

Periodic saber rattling? Check.

Heck we've even had our puppet government in the South periodically launch military attacks on the North.

So when are we going to war with North Korea? Where's the angst over our treatment of them?
 
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Baron Samedi

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Looking at all the angst over Iran, how come the usual suspects don't have the same attitude towards North Korea?

Iran has a right to be upset with the US due to our installing the Shah?

Heck we invaded North Korea in 1950, in an undeclared war, and destroyed most of their country.

Iran has a right to be upset because we are being imperialist and placing troops in the region?

Heck we've had troops in South Korea since 1950.

Iran has a right to b e upset because we've been conducting a "cold war" with them?

Heck, we never signed a peace treaty with North Korea, simply an Armistice, technically the "war" is still going on.

Sanctions? Check.

Accusations of a nuclear weapons program that was denied by the other government? Check.

Accusations of the government performing terrorist attacks outside the country? Check.

Periodic saber rattling? Check.

Heck we've even had our puppet government in the South periodically launch military attacks on the North.

So when are we going to war with North Korea? Where's the angst over our treatment of them?

We have, and this new free trade agreement is part of it.

But...Iran is an oil country, so it is a better target. Bottom line.
 

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We have, and this new free trade agreement is part of it.

But...Iran is an oil country, so it is a better target. Bottom line.

We have a free trade agreement with North Korea?

In any event, just to be clear, both you and her dodecahedroness, think that NK are simply oppressed by the imperialistic US and they have every right to do what they want to respond?
 

BradyLady12

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Saw the quote, I think NK is a remnant of the Cold War and do not think they were oppressed by our FP back then. Recent history of sabre rattling was stupid and unecessary as well as provocative acts by SK, which is seen as related to the Bush Doctrine of remaking countries and replacing all rogue govts as per his Second Inaugural address.
 
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Baron Samedi

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Yes, because that would be a misstatement. ;)

Ah...I was going by the caption on the picture in the Aljazeera article.

"The US alleges Iran is behind a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Adel al-Jubeir"

At any rate, I found this....this is very interesting.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/s...ah-sends-private-message-obama-210619462.html

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah sends private message to Obama

.By Laura Rozen
Senior Foreign Affairs Reporter
By Laura Rozen | The Envoy – Tue, Sep 6, 2011....

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon met with Saudi King Abdullah in April. (Saudi Press …


Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has sent a private message to President Obama, The Envoy has learned.

The message was delivered to the White House by the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel A. Al-Jubeir, who returned to Washington from a trip to the oil-rich kingdom last week, a former senior US official told The Envoy on condition of anonymity.

The exact subject of the correspondence remained opaque, but it was described as concerning a Saudi diplomatic initiative--possibly on Syria. The message was also described as substantive and "close-hold," meaning not widely briefed beyond a small circle of senior officials.

The Saudi ambassador has since left Washington again, a second former senior US official who works on the region told The Envoy.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday.

The director of the Saudi embassy in Washington's information office, Nail Al-Jubeir, the ambassador's brother, told the Envoy by email Tuesday that he had just returned from holiday and did not immediately have any information on such a message, but would look into it.

American-Saudi bilateral relations have been recovering from a period of tension. Riyadh has been upset by the Arab Spring uprisings, and was horrified by Obama's call last February for Washington's ally of three decades, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, to step down from power.
King Abdullah declined to meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they were traveling in the region last March.

Relations have seemed to improve, however, since that low point. The Saudi king granted an audience to Gates in April before the Pentagon chief's retirement. He also met with Obama's National Security Advisor Tom Donilon for over two hours in April.

In that meeting, Donilon delivered a personal letter from Obama to the Saudi monarch, the Washington Post's David Ignatius reported in April. "The reassuring message ... was about 'the bond we have in a relationship of 70 years that's rooted in shared strategic interest,'" Ignatius wrote, citing Donilon's description of Obama's message to the king.

A former American diplomat said that Obama has also asked for greater Saudi contributions to help fund the Palestinian Authority, whose declared plans to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations later this month have sparked threats to cut-off US assistance from some members of Congress.

The Saudi monarch "may have responded to Obama's request for money for the PA, and he will no doubt have strong views about what's happening in Syria," the former diplomat said, adding that it's not so unusual for the king to pass messages to Washington through Al-Jubeir.

Washington Saudi analysts said the Saudi king trusts Amb. Al-Jubeir, who he promoted to ambassador from serving as the embassy's congressional liaison. King Abdullah prefers to conduct personal diplomacy with the White House sending discreet communications through his hand-picked envoy, rather than dealing with US diplomats posted to Riyadh.

"Given that the king is not a phone person and is still stung by Wikileaks, the shuttling is neither unusual nor surprising," one Washington Middle East analyst commented.

(The king's alleged reservations about normal diplomatic channels may have turned out to be vindicated. A July 2008 US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks in recent days describes a medical evaluation of the Saudi monarch by a western physician said to have read Abdullah's medical file. "It was related that King Abdullah is 92 years old (born 1916), he remains a heavy smoker, regularly receives hormone injections and 'uses Viagra excessively,'" the cable, released by Wikileaks on September 1st, stated.)

Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia in the next couple of weeks, an American official told The Envoy Tuesday, on condition of anonymity because the trip has not yet been announced.


How interesting is this in hindsight?

I would say it is indicative of setting up a plotline....but also....here Obama is out there at the UN railing against a Palestinian state, while at the same time pushing the Saudi's to prop that same state up.
 
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Psychological intimidation of Iran will lead to a new war

In the last few months, a large-scale psychological war has been launched against Iran. Respectable Western publications are carrying intimidating reports about Iran's military plans, its success in developing nuclear weapons and its terrorist schemes. Is this strategy justified and does it increase the likelihood of a new war in the Middle East?

Is America under threat of attack?

In mid-May the German Die Welt reported on the construction of an Iranian missile base near the city of Santa Ana de Coro, Venezuela. The report said that Iran will deploy medium-range missiles on this base and that nuclear-capable Iranian missiles could easily reach any target in the United States. In fact, this was a case of misinformation. Even if we assume that Iran has developed a nuclear warhead (which would take Iran at least two years under its most successful uranium program) and brought its Shahab-3 medium-range missiles into Venezuela, it would still be unable to deliver a strike even at the closest American state. The distance between the city of Maracaibo in Venezuela (the closest to the U.S.) and Miami is about 2,000 km. These missiles, especially with nuclear warheads made from weapons-grade uranium, are not capable of reaching that far.

Iran would not gain many advantages by bringing its Sajil-2 two-stage solid fuel missile to Venezuela. In this situation, the number of targets on U.S. territory would be very limited.

In late October, The Washington Times quoted the then vice president of the German Federal Intelligence Service as saying that "Iran had received two of the three nuclear warheads and medium-range nuclear delivery systems" that had gone missing in Kazakhstan. It was also reported that "Iran had purchased four 152 mm nuclear shells from the former Soviet Union, which were reportedly stolen and sold by former Red Army officers."

The newspaper went on to say that "The Revolutionary Guards now have more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, many of which are pointed at U.S. military bases in the Middle East and Europe." These facts are false. Neither the United States, nor any other country has proved any cases of Soviet nuclear warheads having been stolen in the 1990s.

Only ICBMs were deployed in Kazakhstan. Considering this, Iran's medium-range missiles could not deliver nuclear warheads even into Israeli territory. But even if a nuclear warhead were hypothetically stolen, it is technically impossible to maintain it in proper working order without replacing certain components for even a decade.

Pursuing the same strategy of psychological warfare, American prosecutors charged two ethnic Iranians on October 11 in a plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador. They were suspected to be linked with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and allegedly planned to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington and stage other acts of terror on the territory of Saudi and Israeli embassies. Later on, U.S. President Barack Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton also joined the choir of accusations against Iran.

The November 2011 report by the IAEA director-general on the status of Iran's nuclear program can also be considered an element of psychological pressure. The appendix to this report quotes confidential information on Iran's applied nuclear military research. Iran's activities in this sphere until 2003 (the beginning of the crisis over its nuclear program) have been thoroughly studied.

In 2002-2003 Iranian specialists carried out Project 111 on the modernization of the Shahab-3 rocket, in an attempt to shape uranium into a spherical warhead. This information is not entirely new. However, its dissemination in the media led to excessive tensions and effectively blocked the talks on the existing problem.

The veracity of facts that refer to later dates is cause for serious doubts. First, these facts were taken from a limited number of sources, and second, the Iranians' activities were not of an obviously military nature (in most cases, the report reviewed dual technology).

The exposed undeclared nuclear materials were not weapons-grade, and their amount, in IAEA terminology, cannot be considered "substantial" (25 kg for uranium enriched by over 20%). Therefore, the majority of Russian experts believe the UN Security Council has no serious grounds for imposing new sanctions against Iran.

Israel is ready. Or is it?

In early November Israeli President Shimon Peres announced his country's readiness to deal a blow to Iranian nuclear facilities for the first time. At the same time, Israel staged large-scale civil defense exercises. According to some sources, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak began consultations with their government colleagues on resolving Iran's nuclear problem by force.

This is further evidence of the continued psychological warfare against Iran, since at present it poses neither a nuclear nor a missile threat to Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal, do not yet have the necessary potential capable of the assured destruction of Iran's 15 nuclear facilities. Nor has it completed the formation of its four-echelon missile defense system either. It will adopt counter-missiles of its upper (exoatmospheric) echelon, which allow a second attempt to intercept a ballistic missile warhead, no sooner than 2013. The defense's third echelon - David's Sling - is still in the R&D phase.

All these factors tangibly reduce the efficiency of Israel's national missile defense, even if it is potentially strengthened by American ground-based THAAD and sea-based Aegis systems.

Potential scenarios

There are two possible development scenarios concerning Iran's nuclear program.

The first involves a Russian and Chinese veto on new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. In this case the United States and its allies would increase their pressure on Iran by expanding the existing unilateral sanctions. Iran would continue cooperating with the IAEA but would limit its scope as it becomes politicized.

This scenario is the most likely. It does not lead to any disastrous consequences, but allows Iran to approach closer to the red line, beyond which the development of nuclear weapons will become a strictly political issue.

The second scenario involves an Israeli missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. At this point we return to the reasons for this decision. It depends not so much on the reality of Iran's nuclear threat as on the domestic political developments in Israel and events in the surrounding region, both of which are highly complicated and explosive.

Considering Israel's decision-making practices, it's clear that even its loyal ally, the United States, would not be able to prevent it from making such a move. Israel would simply face the Americans and the rest of the world community with a fait accompli. Subsequent developments will depend entirely on Washington's position. If it supports Israel by dealing a disarming strike at Iran, then the Middle East will be plunged into a regional war with unpredictable consequences. If Washington abstains from military action after Israel's strike, Iran will develop nuclear weapons as quickly as they possibly can. This may encourage Saudi Arabia and probably Turkey to go nuclear as well.

It is very hard to predict when Israel might deal a blow at Iranian facilities but this scenario is becoming increasingly realistic.

In summary, the psychological intimidation of Iran is becoming increasingly dangerous. Nobody wants a new war in the region but this is becoming more and more likely. It is still possible to stop this process but both Israel and Iran must recognize the need to do so.

Vladimir Yevseyev is director of the Center for Social and Political Research

The views expressed in this article are the author's and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.


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