Russia’s Putin and Israel’s Netanyahu negotiate . . . about what?

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Russia's Putin and Israel's Netanyahu negotiate . . . about what?

“Russia has friendly relations with Israel, and more than a million Russian Jews emigrated to Israel, but Iran is a strategic ally of Russia.”

Last week major state and corporate news outlets reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had met and agreed on removing Iranian troops from Syria and/or Iran’s border with Syria. Then, on June 3rd, Haaretz and other outlets reported that Israel had, for the first time, participated in a NATO “exercise” near the Russian border. I spoke to Rick Sterling, an investigative journalist specializing in Syria, about what could be behind these reports.

Ann Garrison: I’d like to go through some of these disparate reports about Russia and Israel one by one, but first, what do you think of Israel’s first ever participation in NATO war games near the Russian border?

Rick Sterling: The head of NATO recently confirmed that NATO would NOT get into a war involving Israel because Israel is not a NATO member. But Israel is a “partner,” and in 2014 the US Congress designated Israel as a “major strategic partner.” So I think Israel may be participating in the war maneuvers to demonstrate that it’s a good partner. Of course, Russia sees the NATO military exercises on its border as provocative. They are countering with their own military exercises, so it’s just a continuation in the wrong direction away from peace and mutual acceptance.

AG: OK, now to these reports about negotiations between Russia and Israel. Just before the news that Israel had participated in NATO war games near Russia, Bloomberg News reported that Israel was campaigning to break the alliance between Iran and Russia. What do you think of that?

RS: It’s certainly true that Israel is playing the diplomatic game and trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran, but the stories are highly exaggerated. They contain both contradictory information and outright disinformation. Russia has friendly relations with Israel, and more than a million Russian Jews emigrated to Israel. But Iran is a strategic ally of Russia.

AG: On June 2nd, the Times of Israel reported that Israel denies inking a deal with Russia on Iranian withdrawal from Syria. What about that?

RS:Well, I haven’t seen any written deal. So what we’re going on are media reports, which are spun in different directions. So, number one, I don’t know if there was a written agreement. Number two, it’s certainly the case that Israel is not only saying that they don’t want Iranian militia or advisors anywhere near the border with the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, but also that they want them all out of Syria.

“Israel exaggerates the Iranian involvement in Syria for its own purposes.”

Russia and Syria may have agreed to relocate some of the Iranian advisors or Iranian militias away from the Golan Heights border. There were reports that some of those forces were headed out to eastern Syria to do combat there against ISIS, which continues to hold an important area. But even if Israel is trying to insist that no Iranian advisors or militia be in Syria, I can’t see Syria or any sovereign state agreeing to such a demand. Israel exaggerates the Iranian involvement in Syria for its own purposes.

AG: Asharq Al-Aswat reported, also on June 2nd, that Russia and Israel had agreed to keep Iran away from Syria’s South.

RS: Asharq Al-Aswat is a Saudi-owned newspaper coming out of London, so the Saudi influence and heavy anti-Iran bias is evident. The one element of this story that may be true is that the US may actually be uncomfortable with any agreement regarding the US forces that control the area around Al Tanf, a Syrian border area with Iraq. That’s the main highway from Baghdad to Damascus, and it’s currently controlled by US military and various armed militants—including former ISIS fighters—who are trained and controlled by the US. The US doesn’t want to give that up, but the Syrian foreign minister is not mincing his words. He’s saying that all the US forces must leave Syria eventually, and specifically that they should leave that area at the Syria-Iraq border soon.

Al Tanf and the highway between Iraq and Syria is a flashpoint. The US has no right to be there but seems to be digging in while Syria is getting increasingly adamant that they must leave. Things may come to a head there.

AG: Al Monitor says that Russia is “trying a new playbook to calm the escalation between Israel and Iran.” How about that?

RS: I think that’s true. What we’ve seen emerge in the last several years is that the diplomat in the room is Russia. If you look at what’s going on there, the Russian diplomacy is quite impressive and at times quite surprising. Six or eight months ago, the Saudi monarch flew to Moscow for the very first time. Russia brought Iran and Turkey together at the Astana talks, and Russia is trying to soothe the tension and danger of conflict between Israel and Iran. So that story is probably accurate.

AG: Have you seen any reports about negotiations between Russia and Israel on RT, Russia’s state- sponsored English outlet?

RS: I’ve seen some RT coverage, both stories and photographs. They certainly don’t put the spin on it that some of the Western and Israeli media do.

The fundamental fact is that Russia doesn’t want to go to war with the US. They realize how dangerous the situation in Syria currently is. They are not going to give up their long-term alliance with Syria, but at the same time, they’re doing everything they can to cool things down and avoid a head-on conflict.

AG: OK, so we’ve gone through just a sample of the wildly disparate reports and commentary about this, but after reading a lot of it, I had the feeling that this is headed toward the Balkanization of Syria, which has been much discussed for a long time. What are your thoughts about that?

RS: Well, that’s the reality on the ground right now. Turkey is occupying part of the north. Israel and Israeli-supported terrorists are occupying part of the south. The US and the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control big swathes of eastern Syria. So Balkanization is already the informal reality on the ground.

In early 2016, John Kerry called it “plan B,” dividing up Syria and partitioning it. He didn’t say it quite that explicitly, but he was clearly suggesting that that’s where things were headed. Now, in opposition to that, you’ve got the Syrian government saying that it will not allow partition and that the US has to leave Syria. Both Assad and the Syrian foreign minister are saying that increasingly forcefully. So we’ll have to see. At the same time it’s dangerous because there’s also threatening talk coming from the United States.

“John Kerry called it “plan B,” dividing up Syria and partitioning it.”

The US, Turkey, and Israel are, of course, violating international law codified in the UN Charter by their military presence in Syria, but the Syrian government seems to be taking things step by step with the support of Russia and Iran. Hopefully, progress can be made and the conflict can be wound down. That would certainly be to the benefit of all Americans as well as Syrians and other peoples of the Middle East.

AG: Do you think that Russia is opposed to Balkanization?

RS: Oh, absolutely. They’re opposed to it. They saw what happened with the war in Yugoslavia and the split, the separation into smaller, weaker states.

Russia also has its own experience with Western and Saudi-funded terrorism. If you look at a map, Syria is not that far from Russia, so of course they are very concerned with the situation there. They have a big stake in seeing the conflict wind down and a peaceful resolution, remote as that may seem. They’re taking the lead in helping to resolve it and working toward reconciliation, which is going to require concessions on the part of Damascus. Russia has explicitly talked about an internationally supervised election in Syria, and hopefully that’s where things will end rather than in World War III.

The question is whether the US and its allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, will give up their goal of “regime change” in Syria. Or will they continue to finance and arm the opposition to further bleed Syria and its allies? The US and allies are prolonging the conflict behind a pretense of humanitarian concern. Meanwhile they ignore obvious travesties such as the Israeli killings at the Gaza border.

AG: And just one more point of clarification regarding the presence of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah in Syria. Their presence is legal, according to international law, because they’re there at the request of the Syrian government. Right?

RS: Yes, that’s correct. Russia, Iran, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are in Syria supporting Syrian sovereignty. The Iranian presence in the West tends to be wildly exaggerated, but they do have militia there. They also have advisors, and they’ve lent economic support to Syria. Both Lebanon and Iran know that their own governments are at risk there.

Of course, it was General Wesley Clark who said, back in 2007, that the US had a hit list of seven countries, and we’ve already seen several of them overthrown. Lebanon and Iran know they’re on that list. I’m sure they all realize that if the Syrian state is destroyed, if the government there is toppled and chaos reigns as it does in Libya, they’ll be the next targets. So they’re there for their own sake and for regional stability, not just to support their ally Syria.

By Ann Garrison/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Netanyahu in deeper peril as more Israeli officials are arrested on corruption charges

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Netanyahu in deeper peril as more Israeli officials are arrested on corruption charges
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds what he said was part of a downed Iranian drone during his speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Feb. 18, 2018. (Lennart Preiss / AP)

Less than one week after Israeli police recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on several corruption charges, a new legal minefield has opened up beneath his feet.

Seven Israelis were arrested on Sunday in what the police call “Case 4000,” a new investigation in which members of Netanyahu’s innermost circle are suspected of intervening with regulators to help the Bezeq group, an Israeli communications giant then run by a close friend of the prime minister, in exchange for favorable coverage of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on a news portal owned by the company.

Though Netanayhu has not been named as a suspect in the case, numerous Israeli news outlets reported on Sunday that he is expected to be questioned “under caution,” a term used for suspects in criminal cases.

The names of those arrested were not officially announced. But for about an hour before the imposition of a gag order on all details of the investigation, the Haaretz news website reported that they included Nir Hefetz, a close friend of the Netanyahus and the prime minister’s former communications director, and Shlomo Filber, a Netanyahu associate who served as director general of the Communications Ministry.

Sunday’s revelations came only five days after the police announced their recommendation, presented to the attorney general, that Netanyahu be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two unrelated cases in which Netanyahu is alleged to have inappropriately given associates political favors.

From Germany, where Netanyahu was attending the annual Munich Security Conference, he said the arrests of members of his close circle revealed “yet another futile investigation, a contrived bubble that will burst.”

Netanyahu has been in Germany since Thursday, holding meetings with world leaders and acting outwardly as if nothing is amiss.

Israeli protesters wave signs critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Feb. 16, 2018.
Israeli protesters wave signs critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Feb. 16, 2018. (Jack Guez / AFP/Getty Image

He addressed the plenum on Sunday. Brandishing the large shard of what he said was an Iranian drone downed Feb. 10 by the Israeli air force, he said that “Israel will not allow the Iranian regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.”

The drone’s incursion into Israeli skies precipitated an exchange of fire that resulted in the loss of an Israeli F-16 that was downed by a Syrian antiaircraft missile. It was the first loss of an Israeli fighter jet since 1982.

Speaking directly to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in the audience, Netanyahu asked, “Do you recognize it? You should. It’s yours. Don’t test us.”

Speaking a few hours later, Zarif ridiculed what he called Netanyahu’s “cartoonish circus.”

Such an international venue is familiar ground for the Israeli leader, who has dominated Israeli politics for the last decade.

Tal Schneider, the political analyst for the Israeli financial daily Globes, who accompanied Netanyahu to Munich, said the prime minister “appeared unruffled, projecting that business is as usual, carrying on with scheduled meetings.”

As he departed from Munich, Netanyahu refused to answer questions from Israeli reporters about the criminal investigations that surround him.

Israelis, however, appear to be asking the same questions. Three polls published before the weekend show many Israelis believe the police version of events rather than that of Netanyahu, who claims he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

A poll that aired on television channel Reshet said 49% of Hebrew-speaking Israelis believe Netanyahu acted improperly. Twenty-five percent accept Netanyahu’s claims of innocence and the remaining 26% do not know what to believe.

A poll by Channel 2 showed that 45% of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign even before the attorney general decides whether to indict, versus 40% who said he should not.

The police recommendations were the product of a yearlong investigation and were presented Tuesday to Atty. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, the nation’s chief prosecutor, who will have to decide whether to indict Netanyahu.

Israel feels increasingly alone as it confronts a difficult dilemma on its northern border: to allow Iran to gain a permanent foothold just across its border with Syria, or to go to war to prevent that from happening.

The White House took more than a full day before reacting to the first incident of Iranian-Israeli military engagement before releasing a statement reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself.

Other strains are becoming evident in the usually strong relationship between Netanyahu and President Trump, including a spat last week in which Netanyahu told political allies that “for some time now I’ve been talking about [plans to annex areas of the occupied West Bank] with the Americans,” an assertion that White House spokesman Josh Raffel rapidly declared “false.”

“The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative,” Raffel said in a prepared statement.

On Friday, however, dismissing any concerns relating to Netanyahu’s possible indictment, the White House announced it would be hosting Israel’s embattled prime minister for meetings with Trump on March 5.

“Netanyahu will keep meeting other leaders, he’ll keep on acting as if everything is normal as long as he can,” Meir Sheetrit, a former minister from Netanyahu’s political party, Likud, said in an interview. “But we know what direction this is going in: political defeat.”

“This is untenable in the long term,” Sheetrit added. “Netanyahu and the Likud are disconnected from the people, floating along in a world in which their corruption doesn’t matter. But it will, and this won’t take long to come.”

By Noga Tarnopolsky/LATimes

Posted by The NON-Confomist

Palestinian Rights Not a Topic of Discussion During Trump’s Visit

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Palestinians See Trump’s Talk of Peace as Empty Promises

President Donald Trump’s visits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas come with a lot of expectations, at least from Trump’s perspective, that he can make some progress in advancing the peace process between the two sides.

There are a lot of topics that are off limit, however, and perhaps none more glaringly so, at least on this leg of the visit, than the subject of basic Palestinian rights, which Trump is eager to avoid bringing up, knowing the implications that even a tacit recognition of such rights would have for Israel’s far-right government.

Trump styles himself the greatest deal-maker in the world, and has embraced the idea of making a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians since taking office, but also remains determined to protect his status as a “pro-Israel” president, with a collection of aides to match.

That has done much to temper Palestinian excitement about Trump’s talk of peace, as they see the talk of peace, with no plan, and a US Ambassador to Israel that is openly supporting settlements in occupied Palestine, and conclude the talk of peace is as empty as ever.

As Israel celebrates 50 years of military occupation of the Palestinians, it’s impossible not to figure that the moment the peace process becomes inconvenient to US-Israeli relations, it will again be cast off, to wait for another administration’s half-hearted efforts.

by Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Netanyahu, the other Israelis and Bobby Burns

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Apart from inadvertently making the case for equal time by his Israeli pre-election opposition, the spectacle of Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild diatribe at the joint session of Congress amidst the feral cheers of his congressional yahoos will be remembered as a textbook case of propaganda unhinged from reality.

Starting from his preposterous premise that Iran, a poor country of 77 million people with an economy nearly the size of Massachusetts’, is planning a caliphate to conquer the world, Mr. Netanyahu builds his case on belligerent words by Iranian leaders, who believe they are responding to Israeli belligerence backed by its ultra-modern, U.S. equipped military machine and its repeated threats of preemptive attacks against Tehran.

Unwilling, unlike his Israeli opponents, to subject himself to questions before congressional committees, this three-time soliloquist at joint congressional sessions (1996, 2011 and 2015) was received with hoopla quite different from his reception in a much more critical Knesset. The Prime Minister’s 42 minute speech was punctuated by 23 standing ovations and sitting applauses that took up 10 minutes.

The U.S. Israeli lobby has made Congress a rubber stamp for lopsided policies in the Middle East.

Only about fifty Democrats boycotted his address.

It is as if Israel doesn’t frighten Iran with its 200 nuclear weapons and its rejection of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty whose international inspections are required for all other signatory nations on Earth, including Iran.

It is as if Israel has not threatened Iran with annihilation, sent spies to sabotage and slay Iranian scientists and worked with its Arab allies to undermine the Iranian regime;

It is as if Iranians do not remember that the United State overthrew their popularly elected Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 to reinstate the Shah’s dictatorship for 26 years;

It is as if the Iranians do not mourn the loss of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed by Saddam Hussein’s brutal invasion of their country from 1980 to 1988 with the military, intelligence and diplomatic support of the United States;

It is as if Iranians are not frightened into thinking they’re next when George W. Bush named Iran as part of the “axis of evil” (along with Iraq and North Korea), and proceeded to destroy Iraq and surround Iran with U.S. armed forces that are still in place to this day;

It is as if the Iranian people are not suffering from economic boycotts which, by impacting disproportionately civilian health and safety there, (See Public Citizen’s Health Letter) violate international law;

It is as if Iran should accept a wide sphere of influence by the U.S. and not try to expand its sphere of influence for its own defense;

It is as if Iran had not proposed a serious plan to George W. Bush over ten years ago to settle disputes and establish a nuclear-weapons free zone in the Middle East, which Mr. Bush completely ignored;

It is as if Iran is not, in the words of former Obama adviser, Vali R. Nasr, carrying “most of the weight” in the “battles on the ground” against ISIS in Iraq, thereby saving the U.S. from committing again U.S. soldiers to avert a complete rout of those left behind after our deadly debacle in Iraq since 2003;

It is as if Iran is not claiming it is building nuclear power plants for electricity (a foolishly dangerous move for its own people) and not building an atomic bomb, has not been in full compliance with the Geneva interim accord (November 2013) with the P5+1 countries, as these parties, led by the United States, strive to conclude a complete agreement this year;

It is as if Israel has not illegally occupied, colonized and stolen Palestinian land and water over the decades (including regularly invading a blockaded Gaza, invading Lebanon five times and attacking other nearby countries pre-emptively) and caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties;

It is as if Israel, while complaining about Iranian behavior, does not continue their Palestinian policies that violate several United Nations’ resolutions, while goading the U.S. toward war against Iran;

It is as if the Arab League, with 22 member nations, has not offered repeatedly since 2002 a comprehensive peace treaty in return to Israel returning to its 1967 borders that was also rejected by Israel;

It is as if Iran has forgotten the shooting down of a scheduled Iranian civilian Airbus by the U.S. Navy in 1988 with a loss of 290 innocent lives, including 66 children;

It is as if Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded any country for over 250 years, should remain cool in the face of such attacks, threats, infiltrations, boycotts, U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf, and not engage in any military alliances; and

It is as if Iran’s authoritarian leaders are not preoccupied enough with pressures inside their country that are both internally and externally driven without also planning to conquer the world.

The pop-up lawmakers in Congress on Tuesday have not shown any interest in their own government’s causal responsibility for Iranian animosities. The priority for many in Congress is marching to the drumbeat of whatever the U.S. Israeli lobby wants from the Pentagon, the State Department and the American taxpayers. (Some members of Congress have spoken up in the past, notably Republican Congressmen Ron Paul and Paul Findley and Senators Chuck Percy and James Abourezk.)

Why does a large majority of Congress block the viewpoints and policies that could lead to peace as advocated by many former chiefs of Israel’s security, intelligence, military and political institutions? They have spoken up repeatedly in Israel but are never allowed to testify before congressional committees. This entrenched anti-Semitism on Capitol Hill against the “other Israeli” Jews needs to be challenged by peace and justice-loving Americans who want to avoid future blowbacks and war quagmires for our soldiers.

A way to clarify jingoistic biases in foreign policy is to ask the questions: who was the initial aggressor? Who is the invader, the occupier, the ever hovering armed drone operator? Who has backed and armed dictators to repress their people who want no more such nation-building by the U.S.?

For a century, is it we, with the British and French, who have been over there or is it they who have been over here? Brutish conditions breed brutish behavior in all directions.

The poetic wisdom of the great Scottish poet Bobby Burns teaches the crucial empathy: “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”

By Ralph Nader

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Netanyahu plays cartoonist, goes apocalyptic over ‘Iranian bomb’ at UN

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, pauses after drawing a red line on a graphic of a bomb while discussing Iran during an address to the United Nations General Assembly.(AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

When you draw red lines, are you declaring war? Is this a time line that is given? If he feels so strongly about it, have at it; by yourselves.

Unable to win US support for a figurative ‘red line’ on Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu drew a literal one during a speech to the UN General Assembly, and offered an apocalyptic vision of a nuclear bombing of Israel.
Netanyahu used a large diagram of a cartoonish bomb to represent Tehran’s alleged ambition to create a nuclear weapon. The drawing was divided into three sections, with marks indicating 70 percent and 90 percent of the uranium enrichment required to build an atomic bomb.
“Iran is 70 percent of the way there, and are well into the second stage. By next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there it is only a few more weeks before they have enriched enough for a bomb,” he said.
The Israeli leader used a red marker to show the line at which he believes the world should intervene to halt the enrichment, claiming that this was the only way to peacefully resolve the issue.
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down – and it will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy,” he said, adding that the deadline may come as soon as next Spring.
The alternative, Netanyahu said, is a nuclear-armed Iran, which he likened to a nuclear-armed Al Qaeda. He called the Iranian leadership “apocalyptic,” and argued that they would use a nuclear weapon against Israel even if it meant the destruction of their own country.
The diagram implied that Iran is amassing enriched uranium with the intention of creating a nuclear device, and that at the 90 percent mark it would be very close to completion. Netanyahu did not offer any new evidence that Iran had overcome the numerous other scientific and technological hurdles necessary to create a nuclear weapon.
Tehran dismissed Netanyahu’s charges as “baseless and absurd.” Israel, “on a daily basis, threatens countries in the region, particularly my country with military attack,” Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Asman al-Habib Es’haq Al-e-Habib said. He warned that Iran would retaliate if Israel attempted to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
He also said, that Israel “has ignored repeated calls by the international community to accede promptly and without any conditions to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons party and place all its nuclear-related facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency verification system.”
Netanyahu is not the first politician to use props at the United Nations to call for international action against a sovereign country. In February 2003, then-US Secretary of State Collin Powell spoke before the UN Security Council holding a vial that he said could contain anthrax produced by Saddam Hussein. No anthrax or other alleged weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after it was invaded and occupied by a US-led coalition.

Netanyahu has been campaigning for a “clear red line” to curb Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions since the beginning of September. The hard pressure apparently cost him a meeting with US President Barack Obama. The American leader refused to sit down to talks with Netanyahu on the outlines of the 67th UN General Assembly after the Israeli PM lashed out at Washington’s unwillingness “to set deadlines” for Iran.
The address to global leaders may well be a final warning before Israel takes matters into its own hands. The country’s leadership has been relentlessly issuing warnings that it may soon stage a unilateral attack on Iran, flouting even American wishes.
Israel considers Iran an “existential” peril, given the rhetoric coming from the Islamic Republic’s leaders that Israel will be eliminited.
Nevertheless, Iran insists that its nuclear program seeks to meet energy supplies and medical needs.
The US, while trying to keep Israel away from attacking Iran, believes that Tehran is yet to make a final decision on whether to use its uranium stocks to build weapons. So far, in Washington’s opinion, the Islamic Republic does not appear to possess the necessary infrascture to do so.
‘Nothing will happen until November’
Netanyahu does not need to convince the entire world of his fears, as one actor is sufficient, Shikha Dalmia, senior policy analyst at the think tank Reason Foundation told RT.
“He is trying to raise the alarm level in the world over the possibility of a nuclear Iran,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is that he does not have to convince the whole world of his case. He just has to convince one country and essentially one person, and that is President Obama. Without US support for some kind of military intervention, he can draw whatever maps and charts and other graphs that he wants. It’s not going to mean a lot.”
And no matter what the US administration opts to do, it will have to wait until November, says Dalmia.
“One can argue that Iran would not be a full-fledged war, it would be a surgical strike, but it is till quite a lot,” she said. “So whether Obama is going to be able to undertake an action like that is completely up in the air, but one thing is clear: he will not want it before November, before the elections.”

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Obama promises to block Netanyahu’s ‘noise’

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US President Barack Obama said during a televised interview that aired this weekend that he will block out “any noise” from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging America to intervene in an Iranian nuclear program.
Speaking to 60 Minutes, President Obama acknowledged that the United States does indeed maintain friendly relations with Israel, but suggested that he would not necessarily intervene in that country’s issues if it wasn’t the best course of action for the American people. The interview was conducted by Steve Kroft and carried by CBS Sunday evening.
Responding to a question about how much pressure the United States receives from Prime Minister Netanyahu to use military force in Iran to thwart a rumored nuclear warhead procurement plan, President Obama said he understands Israel’s concerns but does not feel pressured to play by their rules.
“I have conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon, because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel, and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race,” President Obama explained.
In response to his answer, Mr. Kraft followed through and asked the president, “You’re saying, you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? “You don’t feel any pressure?”
“When it comes to our national security decisions — any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out—any noise that’s out there,” President Obama said. “Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis — on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”
Despite the long-lasting relationship between the US and Israel, the two allies have failed to see eye-to-eye as of late on the Iranian issue, at least as far as to what degree intervention is warranted. The United States has already imposed serious trade sanctions on Iran and is far from on pleasant terms with them otherwise, but Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have asked for President Obama to take more serious action, perhaps even putting boots on the ground.
“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?'” Netanyahu said earlier this month. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” Days after that remark was made, Israel asked the White House if a meeting could be arranged between the two nation’s leaders during Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to the United Nations in New York City this week, but the Obama administration said such a sit-down wouldn’t be possible.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor that will challenge President Obama in the November elections, told 60 Minute’s that the White House’s response was a “mistake that sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends.”

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Rand Paul alone stops harsher sanctions on Iran

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On Tuesday Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) summoned the US Constitution in an attempt to block even harsher sanction against Iran in fears of another war America could potentially be involved in.
Paul took the Senate floor to oppose the undivided approval of a new set of sanctions on Iran and introduced an amendment.
“My amendment is one sentence long; it states that nothing in this act is to be construed as a declaration of war or as an authorization of the use of military force in Iran or Syria,” Paul told his colleagues.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was eager to hastily authorize the bill, but Paul’s objection required that any use of military force against Iran had to be approved by Congress and wanted Congress to confirm that the US wasn’t rushing into another endless conflict.
“Before sending our young men and women into combat we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of war, over the advisability of war and over the objectives of the war,” Paul added.

More from Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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