The Iran Deal: The Dog’s Dinner Obama Dished Out

“Trump violates international treaty!” “Trump tears up pact signed by world powers!”
These were some of the headlines that pretended to report US President Donald Trump’s move on the “Iran nuclear deal” last week. Some in the Western media even claimed that the move would complicate the task of curbing North Korea as Pyongyang might conclude that reaching any deal with the world powers, as Iran did, is useless.
But what is it exactly that Trump has done?
Before answering that question let’s deal with another question. Is Obama’s Iran “deal” a treaty?
The answer is: no.
It is, as Tehran says, “a roadmap” in which Iran promises to take some steps in exchange for “big powers” reciprocating by taking some steps of their own.
Even then, the “roadmap” or “wish-list” as former US Secretary of State John Kerry described it, does not have an authoritative text; it comes in five different versions, three in Persian and two in English, with many differences.
The “wish-list” hasn’t been signed by anyone.

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Iran Will ‘Unite Shia and Sunni Against the Zionists’ if Israel Does Not Act, Syrian Opposition Leader Warns

A leading Syrian opposition figure has warned of an Iranian takeover of the Middle East, facilitated by the inability of Western policymakers to understand the shifting dynamics in the region, especially with regard to their potential impact upon the State of Israel.

“Western strategy in Syria leads in one direction — an Iranian takeover,” Kamal al-Lubani told Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon on Friday.

Al-Lubani, who is currently visiting Israel, is a member of the political bureau of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces and long-standing critic of Iran’s expanding regional influence. In 2013, it was al-Lubani who rejected an offer from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to “mediate” between the Syrian opposition and the Damascus regime of President Bashar al-Assad, pointing out that the proposal was  “laughable” because Iran was “part of the problem.”

Four years on, al-Lubani remains convinced that Iran is the principal source of instability in the region. “The old-fashioned notion that we are witnessing a religious war of Sunni against Shia Muslims is a mistake,” al-Lubani said during the interview at a Tel Aviv hotel.

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Why does Jack Straw shill for Iran?

On today’s BBC TV Daily Politics show I took on the former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who supports the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, maintains that it is working and claims that Iran is not in breach of any of its provisions.

I did not agree… and I asked him why he had turned into such a cheerleader for the Iranian regime. You can watch the exchange here.

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Iran’s very good week

You have to hand it to the Iranians. They don’t play around. Just hours after President Donald Trump gave his speech outlining the contours of a new US policy toward Iran, senior Iranian officials were on the ground in Iraq and Syria not only humiliating the US, but altering the strategic balance in Iran’s favor.

Last Friday Trump said that from now on, the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama concluded with the Iranian regime would be viewed in the overall context of Iran’s many forms of aggression. Iran’s support and direction of terrorism, its subversion of neighboring regimes, regional aggression, weapons proliferation, development of ballistic missiles and harassment of maritime traffic will no longer be dealt with in isolation from Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump pledged that it will henceforth be US policy to ensure that Iran is made to pay a price for all its aggressive actions, including its breaches of the nuclear deal.

Among other things, Trump singled out Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for its role in sponsoring and engaging terrorism. He came within a hair’s breadth of defining the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. But words to one side and actions to the other.

On Saturday morning, Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who commands the Qods Force, responsible for the IRGC’s international terrorist operations, landed in Iraq’s Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

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Iranian Aggression Intensifies

Last July, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) military commander and chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, warned that “putting the Revolutionary Guard in the terrorist lists with terrorist groups can be very costly to the United States and its military bases and forces in the region.” IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said on October 8th that “if the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.” The next day the Iranian regime warned of a “crushing” response if the United States were to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.  President Trump has called the Iranian regime’s bluff with his announcement last week that he would do just that.

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization and imposing new sanctions for its aggressive actions in the region is not a restoration of the sanctions lifted by the Obama administration as part of its disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. If Iran insists it can do what it wants militarily in terms of missile launches, support of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and arms transfers without violating the nuclear deal, then the United States can certainly act to curb such activities through financial pressure. The U.S. can impose sanctions against the Iranian regime’s principal instrument for projecting aggressive, destabilizing force outside of its borders without violating the nuclear deal. The Iranian regime does not see it that way, however.

With the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions making available billions of dollars to Iran’s leaders to further finance the IRGC’s exploits in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, the regime is furious that the Trump administration is tightening the financial screws again, even if for reasons not directly related to Iran’s compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal. Thus, it is threatening U.S. forces and bases in the region. A couple of seemingly unrelated events this past week point to Iran’s positioning itself for more aggressive military actions that could place U.S. forces in harm’s way.

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Viewing Enemy Regimes as They Are, Not as We Wish They Were

During his first press conference after taking office in January 1981, US President Ronald Reagan called détente a “one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims.” Echoing this remark while addressing reporters later the same day, Secretary of State Alexander Haig said that the Soviets were the source of much support for international terrorism, especially in Latin and Central America.

The following day, both Reagan and Haig were criticized for their remarks, with members of the media describing the president’s words as “reminiscent of the chilliest days of the Cold War,” and appalled that the administration’s top diplomat was accusing the Russians of backing terrorist activities.

Nearly four decades later, in spite of the successful defeat of the Soviet empire, the White House is still frowned upon when it adopts a tough stance towards America’s enemies. Today’s outrage is directed at President Donald Trump’s warnings about — and to — North Korea and Iran. The Washington Post called his recent “fire and fury” threats to Pyongyang a “rhetorical grenade,” for example, echoing top Democrats’ attacks on his remarks for being “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Critics of Trump’s attitude towards Tehran go equally far, describing his opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the nuclear deal with Iran — as “rushing headlong into war.”

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