Tag Archives: barack obama

Obama’s UN speech, bad news for Iran hardliners

24 Sep

Obama’s UN speech today at the General Assembly is unlikely to go down well with Iran’s hardliners, for three reasons.

First and foremost was Obama’s statement that:

We are not seeking regime change.

This statement will de-legitimize the claim by hardliners inside Iran that the U.S wants to repeat the events of 1953 in Iran by toppling the current regime.

This is indeed bad news for them. For years Iranian hardliners tried to justify the regime’s uncompromising stance in the nuclear talks by stating that the U.S is not really interested in reaching an agreement over the nuclear program, because its ultimate goal is regime change in Iran. So best to play tough at the talks, because if Iran shows leniency there, the U.S will be encouraged to go for regime change after that.

Obama then went on to say:

We respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.

Such a declaration is more bad news as for years hardliners in Iran have stated that America does not recognize Iran’s right to peaceful energy and this is why sanctions are imposed against Iran. This has been used to deflect western claims that Iran’s nuclear may have had military dimensions, as alleged in at least one IAEA report. Iran still refuses to answer questions regarding such allegations to the IAEA.

Last but not least was this statement by Obama:

The ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98 percent of humanity. It is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocated in the trenches, Jews slaughtered in gas chambers, Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.

By recognizing that Iranians as well as Jews have been gassed in the past, Obama has made it more costly for Rouhani to sidestep the question of Holocaust as he has done so recently. (I explained the internal reasons behind this in my latest article for Al Monitor).

Should Rouhani, because of pressure from Khamenei sidestep this issue again, it will become more difficult for Iran to improve its image abroad. With this move, Obama has increased pressure on supreme leader Khamenei to change the official regime narrative on the question of the holocaust.

A good speech by Obama. He is playing chess with Khamenei and winning. Rouhani should be pleased, because Iran’s supreme leader is a major part of the distance between Iran and the west.

Bibi + Obama = The Bibi Twins?

23 Mar

Well, Obama came and went. 

There are numerous memorable moments from his visit.

The one below where Obama took off his jacket and Bibi almost immediately followed him is one.

Avigdor Lieberman‘s absence in nearly all of the important public meetings is another memorable moment and an achievement for majority of the people of Israel.

Perhaps one reason was because Netanyahu and Obama were planning the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, and they did not want Lieberman to ruin things.

So they just went over his head.

Tis the season after all.

Happy Pass Over Mr Lieberman.

President Obama: On Iran, Please Clarify

15 Mar

In his recent interview with Israel’s Channel 2, President Obama stated

“We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close”

This statement is quite ambiguous.

We were told at the Herzliya conference by the Israeli Defense Forces’s Intelligence chief that Ayatollah Khamenei, the man who has the last word on all of Iran’s nuclear decisions has still not decided to make a weapon. This view is in line with that of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

So did president Obama mean that if and when Iran decides to make a weapon, it would take a year until it succeeds?

Or that it would take a year from now, should the status quo continue with uranium enrichment levels?

But if its the latter, then that does not make much sense as enrichment alone does NOT = weaponization. And the US red line has always been drawn at weaponization, and NOT at enrichment levels.

I think some clarifications are needed before president Obama arrives in Israel where he is likely to be bombarded with questions about this issue.

How much would Obama’s visit to Israel cost?

8 Feb

Obama is scheduled to visit Israel within the next few weeks, and there are already discussions about the “cost” of his visit. When I say cost, I am referring to the political cost.

This weekend's edition of Sof Hashavua

This weekend’s edition of Sof Hashavua

According to the Israeli weekend newspaper Sof Hashavu (pictured right), the cost to Netanyahu will be one year freeze in the construction of settlements.

The reason being that Netanyahu is expecting a major international push for the peace process to restart. In order to reduce the upcoming pressure, the report says that there will be a one year construction freeze.

Israeli papers have also been reporting that the Netanyahu government is worried about Obama coming here before coalition negotiations for the next government are over. It is  very likely that Obama will embrace Yair Lapid‘s new party because of its more centrist values. This could increase Lapid’s leverage in the negotiations, something which Likud Beitenu would not want.

For now Lapid and Naftali Bennet’s party have formed a united front in demanding that Netanyahu agrees to new draft laws for the religious students. Lets see how far they get. I hope they don’t give in.

I will be happy with a one year freeze. It would be a mistake for Abbas to reject it.  The fact that Obama will be going to Ramallah during his trip is a sign that he too is likely to be placed under pressure to negotiate.

A Worthwhile Initiative By Former Iranian Parliamentarians

17 Jan

A number of former Iranian parliamentarians who served in Iran’s parliament after the revolution and now live in the West have penned a very thoughtful and interesting letter in Huffington Post addressed to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, US president Barack Obama and EU chief nuclear negotiator Catherine Ashton.

In the letter steps to defuse the current tension between Iran and the P5+1 have been suggested.

I strongly back the letter and their call for the following reasons:

  1. It places emphasis on the need for Iran and the US to hold bilateral talks. This is very important and necessary. The US and Iran must start talking directly. I believe that such talks are a win – win for everyone. They empower the moderates inside Iran, they enable the US to have a better understanding of how the Iranian government works and establish direct channels of communication. I am not saying that this will be easy. I don’t believe that Iran’s leader Khamenei would welcome such a development as he has refused previous offers of bilateral talk, however the US would have nothing to lose by trying again. And if we can solve the crisis through diplomacy, then all the better for Israel. 
  2. It emphasizes the step by step approach where all sides have to make compromises incrementally and gradually until we get to the desired results. Iran gets to enrich uranium on its soil on a limited scale and in return Tehran assures the West ensures that it’s not working on a bomb by agreeing to a tough inspection and regime and cessation of uranium enrichment at 20% on its soil.  In the past I have also advocated similar step by step approach as well as enrichment on limited scale on Iranian soil in return for the aforementioned guarantees.  It was even mentioned by the press in Iran. The more we come up with new ways of doing this, the more the politicians on both sides may finally listen.

Although I have nothing to prove it, I strongly believe that there are quite of number of Iranian politicians who agree with the content of this new letter, but they just can’t say it because they could get into trouble with the regime.

Here is the letter again. I congratulate its authors.

No one wants a nuclear armed regime in Iran and ultimately the best way to get there is through talks, if possible.