Posts Tagged ‘Hassan Rouhani’

Trump: the art of the deal-breaker

May 9, 2018

As a business tycoon, Donald Trump was noted for breaking contracts and not paying bills.  He relied on his wealth and his lawyers to deter less-wealthy contractors and creditors from collecting what they were owed.

In renouncing the nuclear arms deal with Iran, he is trying to treat a small nation the way he once treated small businesses.   He evidently thinks he can do this without any bad consequences to the United States.  If so, he is wrong.

President Trump

The reason the Iranian government was willing to negotiate limitations to its nuclear program was that Iran faced economic sanctions by the United Nationals Security Council, which represents all the great powers, not just the United States, which has been waging economic warfare against Iran since the present regime came to power in 1979.

The nuclear agreement was negotiated with six countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, not the United States alone.   Renunciation by the U.S. government isn’t binding on any of the others.

It’s highly unlikely that Britain, France and Germany would agree to resume economic warfare against Iran, especially since President Trump did not consult them in advance.

It is certain that Russia and China will not, since the U.S. government, unlike when the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Iran in 2006, now treats these two countries as adversaries.   So what Trump has done is to force Iran into alliance with Russia and China.

No objective observer doubts that Iran has kept its side of the agreement.  The problem from the standpoint of the United States is that the agreement has not affected Iran’s struggle with Saudi Arabia and Israel for  geopolitical power in the Middle East.

But what has made Iran so powerful?   U.S. military interventions are what has empowered Iran.

In 2001, Iran, which is ruled by Shiite Muslim clerics, was hemmed in by two hostile powers—the Taliban in Afghanistan to the east and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to the west.

The U.S. overthrew the Taliban, who were Sunni Muslims, with the aid of Shiite Muslims friendly to Iran.  The U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein, another Sunni Muslim, and empowered the Shiite majority in Iraq.

Then the U.S. government-funded Sunni Muslim rebels against the Assad regime in Syria.   Bashir al-Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, called on Iran for help and got it.   Presumably he wouldn’t have wanted Iranian fighters in his country if his government hadn’t been in danger..

Another consequence of Trump’s decision is that North Korea will keep its nuclear weapons for at least a generation.   Why would Kim Jong Un negotiate over nuclear weapons with a government that has demonstrated it does not keep agreements?

But maybe the North and South Korean governments, out of fear of Trump’s recklessness, will negotiate a peace agreement between themselves.

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Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia

May 24, 2017

I came across this picture a couple of days ago and wondered what it was.

It is a ceremony conducted Monday in honor of the opening of the Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Saudi Arabia.

The participants touching the glowing orb are Egypt’s President Abdul-Fatah Al-Sisi, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and President Donald Trump.

The name of the center is ironic, because Saudi Arabia is the center for extremist ideology in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia pays for missionaries to spread Wahabism (or Salafism), a highly intolerant version of Islam.  Wahabists believe that Shiites and other Sunnis are not true Muslims.

Hassan Rouhani

King Salman and his son, Prince Mohammad bin Salman, are  waging a bombing campaign against Shiite villagers in Yemen, is stepping up aid to rebels in Syria and is trying to organize a Sunni Arab military alliance against Iran.

Voters in Iran, meanwhile, have re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, the moderate reformer who negotiated the nuclear deal with the USA.

Rouhani is more democratic and peaceable than the hereditary Saudi rulers.  He has won honest and contested elections.  The range of choices in Iranian elections is limited because the ayatollahs vet candidates.  But you could say the same about U.S. elections, except that our candidates are vetted by big-money donors.

The Saudis seek regime change in Syria and Yemen; Rouhani seeks increased trade and investment.   In Middle East geopolitics, the Saudi monarchy is the aggressor, the Iranian clerical regime is the one on the defensive.

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Obama’s chance to earn his Nobel prize

September 25, 2013

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has offered President Obama a chance to end the 34-year U.S. cold war with Iran, turn the United States away from perpetual warfare and retroactively justify his Nobel Peace Prize.

obama-at-un-2013

President Barack Obama

He has an opportunity to do what President Richard Nixon did when he established diplomatic relations with Communist China, and what President Ronald Reagan did when he negotiated an end to the U.S.-Soviet cold war.   Even though the initiatives came from Zhou Enlai (Chou En-Lai) and Mikhail Gorbachev, there would be been no peacemaking but for Nixon and Reagan.

Barack Obama’s path to peace will be more difficult than either of theirs.  For one thing, he is a Democrat, and most Democratic leaders think they have to be belligerent to disprove Republican charges that they are weak.  For another, he has to overcome a military-industrial and foreign policy establishment that is committed to war, and lobbyists for Israel and Saudi Arabia, based respectively on their strong ethnic ties and strong financial ties to the United States.

The stumbling block is Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.  The Iranian government says it is using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, including medical research, which it is legally entitled to do.  The Ayatollah Khamenei says that nuclear weapons are immoral and contrary to Islam; I don’t think a religious leader would say such a thing unless he meant it, because, unlike with politicians, people take the statements of clerics seriously, and he would be completely discredited if he was shown to be lying.

President Hassan Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani

Some analysts think that Iranian leaders don’t want nuclear weapons, but they want the capability to develop nuclear weapons at some time in the future if the situation warrants.  This desire seems reasonable to me.  Iran is surrounded by countries with nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Israel.  Naturally an responsible Iranian leader would want some deterrent against attack.

I think adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty would provide a basis for peace.  This asks countries that do not possess nuclear weapons to refrain from acquiring them, and promises them in return that they will receive help in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes and that the countries with nuclear weapons will take steps to get rid of them.

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President Obama’s ‘Nixon to China’ opportunity

September 19, 2013

Pepe Escobar reports that Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, has the full approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei, who holds the real power, to negotiate with President Obama to end the 34-year-old cold war between the two nations.

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani

Ayatollah Kamanei says that Iran never has had a nuclear weapons program, because nuclear weapons are immoral.  But President Rouhani is willing to negotiate concerning Iran’s nuclear development program anyway.

Obama and Rouhani have exchanged letters, and may meet when Rouhani visits the United Nations in New York next week.

It was the Iranians, together with the Russians, who leaned on President Assad of Syria to agree to international control of chemical weapons.  It remains to be seen, in my opinion, how meaningful that international control will turn out to be, but Assad’s announcement enabled the President Obama to back away from a war threat supported neither by the American people nor by world opinion.

This is a great opportunity for President Obama to leave a positive legacy equivalent to President Nixon going to China.  This doesn’t mean approval of Iran’s government, any more than it meant approval of China’s.   It only means that nothing is being accomplished by the economic and covert war that the United States is waging against Iran.

Peace with Iran would require Obama to break free of entanglement with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the war party in the United States on this issue.   I hope he will do so.

LINKS

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall by Pete Escobar for RT News.

Obama-Rouhani: lights, camera, action by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times

Iran frees political prisoners ahead of Hassan Rouhani’s UN visit by Saeed Kamail Dehghan for The Guardian.