• Saudi Arabia, Israel not going to accept anything less than neutered Iran
By Victor Thorn
As the United States, Russia, China, England, Germany and France begin diplomatic talks with Iran in Geneva over its nuclear enrichment program, hopes run high that a catastrophic geopolitical disaster has been averted.
On October 10, AMERICAN FREE PRESS asked Jamal Abdi, policy director for the National Iranian American Council, what he sees transpiring at these meetings.
“We’re on the precipice of a historic shift in the relationship between the U.S. and Iran,” Abdi began. “I hope that both sides are serious in their proposals and recognize the value of compromise.”
In terms of specifics, Abdi explained: “Each side needs to give up something. Iran must show more transparency and make serious constraints on their nuclear program. In return, the U.S. has to ease their economic sanctions.”
As for potential pitfalls, Abdi’s analysis was well reasoned.
“I’m concerned that Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are more in damage control mode than proactively trying to find true resolutions,” he said. “I expect a muddled compromise where Obama lifts some sanctions but doesn’t resolve core regional issues.”
Questioned about this big picture scenario, Abdi responded: “I think we’ll soon discover that this entire matter wasn’t about the nuclear issue, but instead, U.S. alliances in the region. The U.S. has to make some tough decisions on how to deal with their friends in the Mideast like Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
The mention of these forces in opposition to Iran prompted Abdi’s next observation.
“It’s obvious where Israel stands,” he said. “Similarly, neocons and special interest groups like AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] are trying to preemptively shift the goalposts for these negotiations so that Iran has to go even further in their concessions. The neocons view themselves as being close to the finish line, and these meetings are their last obstacle to war. It’s clear that they want to prevent a shift in Iran’s willingness to negotiate.”
On top of AIPAC and the neocons, Abdi addressed other stumbling blocks.
“Iranian conservatives are highly suspicious of these talks, whereas the Saudis view Iran as their main economic competitor,” he said. “Saudi rulers are clinging to the status quo, and in that regard they’re not real dissimilar to Israel. Neither wants an ascendant Iran.”
Particularly interesting is the fact that everything Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu currently accuses Iran of doing in terms of its supposed quest for “the bomb” was already carried out by Israeli scientists beginning in the 1960s.
Stephen Gowans of Global Research, a Montreal-based independent research and media organization, acknowledged this double standard: “Back in the 1960s, Israel apparently hid their nuclear weapons program being carried on at the Negev Nuclear Research Center at Dimona. It deceived not only the international community, but also its close U.S. ally. It repeatedly pledged it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area.”
Also, nobody wants to address the obvious elephant in the room, namely, Israel’s 400 nuclear warheads. This hypocrisy is glaring, as Gowans observed: “Why is Iran the object of sanctions, bombing threats, cyber-warfare and an assassination campaign targeting its nuclear scientists despite it forswearing the development of nuclear weapons and opening its nuclear facilities to the [International Atomic Energy Agency] when Israel, which actually has nuclear weapons and refuses to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, faces no similar pressure?”
This point hints at a possible bait-and-switch being at play. Gowans suggests that the actual long-term goal of these meetings is a neutered Iran.
Gowans wrote, “What Washington ultimately wants is the replacement of Iran’s independent government with a pliable regime, that is, regime change in Tehran—a return to the time before the 1979 revolution.”
By imposing crippling economic sanctions that crushed oil revenues and devastated their exchange reserves, Gowans suggested the possible true intent of this supposed thaw. After beating them down economically, did the neocons, Israelis, AIPAC and even Obama or his successor hope to ideally groom another puppet regime in Iran like the ones created in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Gowans seems suspicious of a nuclear deal, theorizing: “The goal is to bring Iran back under U.S. domination. Ending Iran’s nuclear program—or more specifically, its domestic production of nuclear fuel—is only part of the larger goal.”
UN, U.S. Begin Dismantling Syria’s Chemical Weapons
• Nation still plagued by humanitarian disaster, U.S.-backed terrorists
Even though the death toll now tops 110,000, Syria’s ongoing civil war has gone from leading the 24-hour-news cycle to barely a mention by major media outlets today. Why this has happened makes for an interesting case study into how mainstream news promotes war but then quietly moves on once fighting has subsided or peace has been achieved.
On October 10, this reporter contacted Evan Barrett, a policy fellow at the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).
When asked how the inspection process being conducted by delegates from the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is unfolding, Barrett stated, “The UN’s Ban Ki-moon, Secretary of State John Kerry and the Assad regime are cooperating in the disarmament of that nation’s chemical weapons. Originally, there were concerns that Assad wouldn’t cooperate, but that’s not the case.”
Barrett continued, “At the moment, the U.S. and Russia seem happy with the chemical weapons deal. But fighting within Syria continues, and opposing forces are very far apart. Without a ceasefire, it’s unclear right now who’ll even participate in the upcoming Geneva II talks on behalf of Syria.”
Unfazed by high-profile proclamations made by Kerry and Russia’s Vladimir Putin on the world stage, Barrett instead remained focused on other tragedies.
“Our primary focus at SETF is on the lives of people inside Syria,” he said. “Of course, it’s a positive development that international war is now unlikely but Syria still suffers from a refugee crisis, low food supplies and their people constantly being under siege.”
Amid this carnage, the OPCW has identified Syria’s cache of chemical weapons. Their inventory includes over 1,000 tons of sarin, sulfur and mustard gases and VX nerve agent. Syria also possesses four separate production facilities, which, by OPCW deadlines, must be dismantled by November 1.
In an initial OPCW-UN joint press release, a spokesman pronounced, “The first day of destruction and disabling is over and missile warheads, aerial bombs, along with mobile and static mixing and filling units, were dealt with.” Overall, the U.S.-Russian agreement seeks to destroy the entire Syrian chemical weapons program by mid-2014.
What rarely gets mentioned is that this procedure equals big business and high profits for those involved, especially the Pentagon.
During an October 8 meeting with OPCW officials, the Pentagon suggested that a mobile destruction unit known as the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System be utilized in neutralizing Syria’s toxic stockpiles. Chemical weapons expert Dieter Rothbacher estimated that, if Saddam Hussein’s reserves in Iraq were any past indicator, hundreds of millions of dollars could be generated.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 40 books.