Thursday, July 16, 2015

Barack Obama’s appalling blunder

From The Australian, 16 July 2015, by Greg Sheridan:

Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is a wretched capitulation by a weak President whose word means nothing.

So many American red lines are given up in this deal it makes your head spin. They suffered the same fate as Obama’s red lines with Syria. You use chemical weapons and we’ll react, Obama told the Syrians. But he was only joking. Since then America’s adversaries in the Middle East, and all over the world, have become significantly bolder.

The Iranians completely outmanoeuvred and out-negotiated Obama. But this was not hard because as time went on it became increasingly obvious Obama was desperate for a deal.

...There surely cannot be a serious analyst anywhere in the world who thinks it will work.... the cynicism of Obama is sublime. He can announce victory, perhaps pocket a second Nobel Peace Prize, and leave the world to deal with a nuclear armed Iran down the track.

...Despite the nonsensical notion of a sanctions “snapback” if Iran is found to violate the deal, the business of constructing international consensus for effective sanctions is so laborious, painstaking and time-consuming that once sanctions are gone there is very little chance of their ever being imposed again, especially as Iran will deny any violation.

Iran also gets the inestimable benefit of having the whole international community grant complete legitimacy to its vast nuclear establishment. It does not have to destroy or abandon one single nuclear facility. Given its exemplary record of cheating on all nuclear constraints in the past — including constructing secret facilities that were discovered only because of defector testimony — the cover this gives for who knows what activities in the future is immense.

... The inspections regime in this deal is infinitely weaker than that which the Americans previously said was their absolute minimum. There are no surprise inspections and military facilities are altogether off the table. If a regime as sophisticated as Iran’s cannot dodge an inspection regime as loose and ramshackle as that, then North Korea is headed for liberal democracy.

... the allegedly moderate President of Iran, Hasan Rowhani, was marching through the streets of Tehran last Friday at the head of the annual “Death to America! Death to Israel!” parade, in which those two plainly moderate and reassuring slogans were shouted by the crowds.

It is true the Iranians are providing the only really effective fighters (apart from the Kurds) against Islamic State in Iraq. This is because the Iranians are running a vicious Shia versus Sunni war throughout the Middle East and have motivated militias on the basis of sectarian hostility. These militias are themselves typically cruel towards conquered populations, though not on the scale of Islamic State.

But one of the key reasons the Iraqi state is failing so abysmally in its dealings with its Sunni population areas is because Iran has interfered so heavily with the Iraqi government and played the sectarian card so strongly.

Hezbollah is still a proscribed terrorist organisation under Australian law. It has an extravagant record of terrorism, dating back to the murder of hundreds of US servicemen in Lebanon in the 1980s. The main sponsor and director of Hezbollah is Iran. Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, is the most extreme of the Palestinian organisations and has a charter filled with extravagant anti-Semitism. Its chief international backer is Iran.

In Syria, Iran always backed Hafez al-Assad. Under North Korean tutelage, Assad made a strong effort to build a clandestine nuclear reactor.

Iran has been up to its eyeballs in nuclear proliferation and missile proliferation efforts throughout the Middle East. In Yemen, Iran backed the Shia rebels who destroyed the government, which was co-operating with the US in fighting Islamic State, al-Qa’ida and related groups.

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

Western politicians typically cannot understand Middle Eastern regimes with theological ­ambitions. This appalling sellout will give us infinite trouble down the road.

Breathtaking concessions to the Iranian regime

From the Washington Post, 14 July 2015, bIsrael’s ambassador to the United States:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech after a nuclear agreement was announced in Vienna. (Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press)
Israel has long been concerned that the “P5+1” powers would negotiate a bad deal with Iran. But the deal announced today in Vienna is breathtaking in its concessions to an Iranian regime that is the foremost sponsor of terror in the world, is on a march of conquest in the Middle East, is responsible for the murder and maiming of thousands of U.S. soldiers, and vows and works to annihilate the one and only Jewish state.

There are four major problems with this deal.

First, it leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure.
This is not the hoped for “dismantle for dismantle” deal, in which the sanctions regime would be dismantled in exchange for the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear-weapons making capability. Rather, this deal leaves Iran’s nuclear capabilities essentially intact (the conversion of the Arak heavy-water facility being the notable exception). In fact, this deal allows Iran to improve those capabilities by conducting research and development on advanced centrifuges and building intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear warheads.

To keep Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions in check over the next decade, the P5+1 countries — the five U.N. Security Council members plus Germany — are relying on intelligence and inspectors. Here, the historical record does not bode well. The United States and Israel have two of the finest intelligence agencies in the world. But it was years before either knew that Iran had secret facilities at Natanz and Fordow .

As for inspections, Iran has been deceiving the International Atomic Energy Agency for years and has consistently refused to come clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program — a commitment that Iran has once again been permitted to dodge before signing this agreement.
Given this history of deception, it is particularly disturbing that the promised “anytime, anywhere” inspections regime has degenerated into what has been aptly described as “sometime, somewhere” inspections.

The second problem with this deal is that the restrictions being placed on Iran’s nuclear program are only temporary, with the most important restrictions expiring in 10 years.

There is no linkage whatsoever between the removal of these restrictions and Iran’s behavior. In 10 years, Iran could be even more aggressive toward its neighbors, sponsor even more terrorism around the globe and work even harder to destroy Israel, and the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would still be automatically removed.

A much more dangerous Iran would then legally be allowed to build a massive uranium enrichment program that would place it just weeks away from having the fissile material for an entire nuclear arsenal. As President Obama himself has admitted, the breakout time would then be “almost down to zero.”

That is why this deal does not block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. It paves it. By agreeing to temporary restrictions on its nuclear program today, Iran has cleared its path to many nuclear bombs tomorrow. Iran won’t have to sneak into or break into the nuclear club. Under this deal, it could simply decide to walk in.

That leads to the third problem with the deal. Because states throughout our region know that the deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb, a number of them will race to get nuclear weapons of their own.
The most dangerous region on earth would get infinitely more dangerous. Nuclear terrorism and nuclear war would become far more likely. In fact, if someone wanted to eviscerate the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, this deal is definitely a great place to start.

Finally, the deal transfers to the Iranian regime’s coffers $150 billion that is now frozen in foreign bank accounts.
Iran has a $300 billion to $400 billion economy. A $150 billion cash bonanza for the regime is the equivalent of $8 trillion flowing into the U.S. treasury.
Those funds are unlikely to be spent on new cancer research centers in Tehran or on funding a GI bill for returning members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Instead, tens of billions are likely to flow to the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and other Iranian terror proxies in the region.

Billions more will go to strengthening Iran’s global terror network, which it has used to perpetrate terror attacks on five continents in more than 30 cities, from Buenos Aires to Burgas, Bulgaria, to Bangkok.

Rather than force Iran to face the hard choice of guns or butter, this deal will enable it to have more dangerous guns, more lethal rockets, more sophisticated drones and more destructive cybercapabilities. Removing the arms embargo on Iran magnifies this problem by orders of magnitude.

Any one of these problems would be sufficient to make this a bad deal. But all four make this deal a disaster of historic proportions.

Israel has the most to gain if the Iranian nuclear issue is peacefully resolved. But this deal does not resolve the issue. It makes things much worse, increasing the chances of conventional war with Iran and its terror proxies today and dramatically increasing the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran and a nuclearized Middle East tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Iranian Murder in Vienna

...the Iranian negotiators pulled out guns and assassinated Abdol-Rahman Ghassemlou, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), along with a KDPI representative in Europe and an Iraqi Kurdish mediator.

It’s hard to hide gunshots in the middle of a Vienna apartment building. Austrian police came to the scene, but the Iranian delegation denied any responsibility. After taking statements, the Austrian police released the Iranians — Mohammad Ja’fari Sahraroudi, Iranian Kordestan governor Mostafa Ajoudi, and Amir Bozorgian — so long as they promised to make themselves available for further questioning, as necessary. They immediately returned to Tehran.

Only in subsequent days did questions about the Iranians’ statements arise: There had been no forced entry into the apartment, two of the victims were shot as they sat, and each victim had received a coup de grâce to confirm death. Subsequent forensic evidence confirmed the Austrian anti-terrorism unit’s conclusions that the murders were a hit. The shots were fired from the position of the Iranian delegation and not from the door. Shell casing positions also suggested the Iranian delegation’s complicity.

The Austrian police issued warrants for the three Iranians, but Tehran refused to extradite any of the wanted men; rather, they promoted the team lead. Sahraroudi won his star and became head of the Qods Force intelligence unit. The promotion — as well as the senior level of the Iranian delegation — showed that the assassination was no rogue operation. It was not locally conceived, but rather likely was directed from the top.

The head of the Supreme National Security Council at the time [of those murders], coordinating such activities? ...Hassan Rouhani, the man whom President Barack Obama considers his partner.

That a deal predicated on the trust of Iran will be struck in Vienna, on the 26th anniversary of one of Iran’s — and, specifically, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s and Hassan Rouhani’s — most brazen hit jobs illustrates just how much Iran has triumphed by doubling down on intransigence and terrorism and, in contrast, just how unhinged America’s foreign policy has become.

Iran agreement an historic mistake for the world


יום שלישי כ"ז תמוז תשע"ה
Image result for netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement at his meeting with Netherlands Foreign Minister Bert Koenders:

"I will refer later to the details of the agreement, but before that, I would like to say here and now – when you are willing to make an agreement at any cost, this is the result.

From the initial reports we can already conclude that this agreement is an historic mistake for the world.

Far-reaching concessions have been made in all areas that were supposed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. In addition, Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars with which it can fuel its terror machine and its expansion and aggression throughout the Middle East and across the globe.

One cannot prevent an agreement when the negotiators are willing to make more and more concessions to those who, even during the talks, keep chanting: 'Death to America.'

We knew very well that the desire to sign an agreement was stronger than anything, and therefore we did not commit to preventing an agreement.

We did commit to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and this commitment still stands.

I say to all the leaders in Israel, it is time to put petty politics aside and unite behind this most fateful issue to the future and security of the State of Israel."