What are Iran's international policies? What are its goals, strategies, tactics? What have been the results so far, and what are anticipated results?

What policies are other countries pursuing in relation to the Islamic Republic regime in Iran? What are the intended results, what are the anticipated results, and what are the observed results?

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"Iran Rejects Deal to Ship Out Uranium, Officials Report"

Published: October 29, 2009


PCS: Well, I am sure we are all shocked, shocked, that the IRI has now decided not to cooperate and to continue their nuclear program.
'Same old tricks'

by MEA CYRUS in London
31 Oct 2009

"The tactic though has been the same all along: Appear to be saying Yes, when it's really going to be a No in the end."

Reprinted with permission:

"Iran Rejects Deal on Nuclear Weapons’ Issue: Engagement is Dead but the Obama Administration Won't Admit It"

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 11:11 AM PDT

[Please subscribe. The news in the Middle East and with U.S. foreign policy changes dramatically every day and you will have advanced, inside information on developments. I note we are scooping the mass media on many stories by days and even weeks.]

By Barry Rubin

The great experiment of engaging Iran seems to be over but the Obama Administration refuses to admit it.

This shouldn't be a surprise. As the Iranian regime's record shows, it stalls, maneuvers, gives vague promises and then doesn’t deliver, but only after they’ve taken your concessions. Do you know how many years the talks with Iran have gone on without yielding fruit and letting Tehran develop nuclear weapons every day? Answer: Seven.

Do you know when the “deadline” originally was for Iran to stop its nuclear program “or else”? Answer: Approximately September 2007.

But the Obama Administration doesn't want to admit that the new Iranian counter-offer is unacceptable because it would have to give up its dreams of a deal and actually do something in response.

Even the New York Times headlines its story: Iran Rejects Nuclear Accord, Officials Report

Here’s the best article on the subject of the current deal/no deal from the sober Financial Times. The headline is “Tehran seeks big changes to nuclear deal.”

It concerns Iran’s response to questions about whether it would transfer two-thirds of its enriched uranium outside the country to make into a special non-weapons material that can only be used for medical purposes. (Note: it can be changed back into weapons-usable uranium in about four months or so.)

After interviewing officials, the newspaper concludes that the Europeans are ready to reject Iran’s demands now as “unacceptable” but the United States isn’t. It writes:

“The comments indicate the US remains more willing to show patience than either Britain and [sic] France. While London and Paris have at times made known their reservations about the agreement, it is seen in the US as a test of President Barack Obama's policy of engagement.”

In other words, the U.S. government is now lagging behind Britain, France, and presumably Germany on this issue. So who is the United States trying to keep on board if the key European allies are all saying: forget this nonsense, we have to put on more pressure!

I suggest there are three answers:

--President Barack Obama’s world view which insists that all problems are resolvable by talking and making concessions, and which fears confrontation.

--The president’s domestic constituency and colleagues (not all of them) who simply don’t comprehend that Iran and radical Islamism are threats.

I am positive, given some of her public statements, that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton knows this is all sheer nonsense. And just as the U.S. government has fallen behind its European counterparts, the White House has fallen behind the State Department.

--Someone else. Here’s the hint:

"We remain unified with our Russian and French partners in support of the IAEA draft agreement - it is a good and balanced agreement," said the US, signaling Washington's hope that Iran could yet agree to the original deal.”

That’s right, Russia. But we know that Russia won’t ever agree to sanctions and serious pressure on Iran. For one thing, everyone in the world but the Obama Administration knows that the Russian leadership wants America to fail internationally. And for another thing, Russia is Iran’s ally.

So America’s policy is being held hostage by a president with no experience or understanding of international affairs, a set of ideas that makes failure inevitable, trying to please a country which is an ally of the adversary, and a dictatorial regime whose president believes that his country is going to conquer the whole Middle East (and on some days, the world).

And here’s a good joke: It was only--what?--four years ago that U.S. officials under the Bush Administration were making fun of Europe as wimpy and incapable of taking a tough stance on international issues. Now the goo is on the other foot!

What a mess. BUT how long into 2010 can they spin this before Washington is going to have to recognize the talks are going nowhere?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.
"Iran’s second front in Afghanistan"

by Raymond Tanter

"The role of Iran in fueling insurgency in Iraq, particularly attacks against U.S. forces, has been well-documented and forms one front in Iran’s proxy war against the United States. Receiving much less attention than Iraq, is the role Iran has played in supporting anti-NATO insurgents in Afghanistan as a second front against U.S. and NATO forces."

Nov 2nd, 2009 by MESH

See full article at
Reprinted with permission:

Why Won’t the Arabs Protect Themselves from Iran by Actively Battling Against Tehran Having Nuclear Weapons?

Posted: 18 Nov 2009 02:17 PM PST

By Barry Rubin

It isn’t hard to conclude that Iran having nuclear weapons is a direct threat to Arab states, except Syria—Tehran’s ally—which would benefit. Why, then, don’t Arab states and intellectuals public express more concern?

Western observers were shaken up when at a debate in Qatar, the relatively moderate Arab audience split almost down the middle between those cheering and those jeering the idea of Iranian nuclear weapons.

One member of the audience said:

“Why in the first place should Iran seek the trust of anyone? Iran is an independent, sovereign country, and it has every single right to defend itself. If it wants a bomb, definitely it should have one."

The audience cheered.

Another man said:

"There is something called balance of power. As long as there is Israel, we need a nuclear bomb."

A serious analysis would have to include three main points in explaining this seeming suicidal desire of many Arabs that the real worst enemy of the current Arab order become really, really powerful:

First, fear. Iran is strong, aggressive, close, and represents an ideology that appeals to some of their people. To stand up to Iran’s growing strength could incur costly hostility, pressure and subversion now. And once Tehran gets nuclear weapons, it will remember and take revenge on those who have tried to thwart it.

Second, there is the Middle Eastern version of Political Correctness which, unlike its Western version, has very sharp teeth. All good Muslims are supposed to love each other, hate Israel, and hate America. Much the same can be said of all good Arabs, though Iran of course does not benefit directly from that paradigm.

Consequently, if Iran can become a nuclear-armed Muslim state which views America, the West, and Israel as its enemies, then that must be good for Muslims and even Arabs too, right? How proud they all can be that one of them has made good! That will sure show the West that Muslims can have the ultimate weapon. Certainly, many of their people will be enthusiastic and so the rulers—even in dictatorships—rush to get to the head of the crowd lest it turn on them.

Third, their behavior is based on hopeful thinking, a sort of more likely version of wishful thinking. Surely, they wish, the United States or Israel will solve the problem without their having to do anything. Incidentally, this is similar to their position on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And, of course, this is a test of U.S. power and will power. After all, if America can’t deal with Iran for them that proves the United States cannot protect them against Tehran. So they are better off keeping their mouths shut now and the option open of appeasing Iran.

In general, Arab states are content to wait it out. Some movements--Hizballah, Hamas, Iraqi clients of Tehran—and Syria are already on the Iranian team. Qatar and non-Arab Turkey are moving in that direction. Lebanon has been Finlandized, that is, forced into a posture of not doing anything Tehran doesn't like because of the power of Hizballah and other Iranian clients inside the country.

But for most—Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the remaining small Gulf states—the risk is too great of changing sides. After all, they genuinely don’t trust Iran and really don’t want it to change the strategic balance in its favor.

Yet on the other hand, their fear that Iran might become a hegemonic power in the Middle East and subvert these states a factor that should make them vigorously oppose Tehran getting nuclear weapons. The same goes for their hatred of Iran as radical Islamist and Shia Muslim and (largely) ethnic Persian.

The first set of motives, however, outweighs the second. And so they remain silent.

Here’s an obscure story that indicates the shape of things to come. A group of Iran-backed Shia rebels, called the Houthi, in Yemen are waging a guerrilla war to try to take over the country. The Saudis, who view themselves as the guardians of Yemen and don’t want another pro-Tehran state on their border, have been bombing them.

Two top-ranking Iranians have denounced the Saudi action as “Wahhabi terrorism” and openly threatened Saudi Arabia. The language they used indicated the ideological nature of the war, since the Saudis’ Wahhabi version of Islam is very anti-Shia. The Iranians said the war is a U.S.-backed effort to divide Arabs.

And for those who think that Iran’s current internal conflicts will take care of its external aggression, the identity of these two Iranians is significant. One of them is Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, introducing a military threat. But the other is Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, a leading “moderate” member of the radical ruling group who opposes President Ahmadinejad. In other words, Tehran’s ambitions have a wide base of support across faction.

Now, the way things are supposed to work, the United States should support the Saudis, signaling Riyadh that America is a reliable ally (so don’t be afraid of Iran having nuclear weapons) and Tehran that Washington won’t tolerate Iranian aggression (so be afraid and slow down or abandon nuclear weapon development).

Of course, the Obama Administration won’t say a word. Why? Specifically:

--It views normal power politics as neo-imperialistic.

--It fears that Iran will present the Yemen issue as one showing American intervention. Guess what? The Iranians already are doing so.

--It worries that such action will endanger U.S. engagement with Iran over nuclear weapons. Guess what? That’s already dead any way. And showing you are weak doesn’t give you leverage in negotiations.
But this is the pattern, isn’t it?

--The Obama Administration has not backed Iraq’s denunciations of Syria’s involvement in cross-border terrorism. (To be fair, U.S. envoys have asked Syria to stop but there aren’t any teeth behind this request.)

--The Administration isn’t giving strong backing to Israel. Indeed, after Israel agreed to a U.S. request for a freeze on construction inside settlements with the exception of Jerusalem, the Arabs complained and the Administration backed down on its own deal.

--Despite some verbal support the Administration hasn’t taken a tough position backing Lebanese moderates (March 14 coalition) against pressure from Iran- and Syria-backed Hizballah to give the radicals a bigger share of government. Indeed, the U.S. effort was so feeble that the Saudis gave up their own efforts to pressure Syria to ease off on the Lebanese.

--The U.S. government barely gave a squeak in support of the Iranian economic opposition.

--In Afghanistan the government is hanging around waiting for the United States to make up its mind whether to defend or virtually abandon the country. The indecision is not such as to promote confidence in Kabul or trembling among the Taliban.

So here's the question of the era. You are an Arab or a non-Arab Muslim (or an Israeli). You don't want your country to be taken over by Islamists who are likely to shoot you, seize your property, and force you to change your lifestyle to that of Taliban Afghanistan.

You don't ask yourself: Is President Barack Obama nice to Muslims, sympathetic, and apologizes for America being tough in the past.

Rather, you ask yourself: Can I depend on America under the Obama Administration to protect me now and in the future? Would the United States attack Iran if necessary to deter Tehran? Would it even threaten the use of nuclear weapons to shield me against any Iranian attack? Would it send troops if I decided I wanted them?

Ok, what's your answer? And if it is "no" then what alternative to appeasement is possible?

At the debate in Qatar, an Iraqi woman in the audience tried to have it both ways, pointing out that even from a perspective that thinks Israel makes the devil look like a nice guy there are good reasons to oppose Iran having nukes. Note that she didn't mention the United States at all as the solution:

"We're going to [be] between two powerful countries, Iran and Israel, with nuclear weapons. Where will this region be?"

Answer: Up the Gulf without a paddle.

By the way, if you want to get an idea of what Middle East politics is really like, watch this 32-second film about a day in the life of a railroad track inspector. And remember you can't always expect to get this lucky.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports. http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/
MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute)
Inquiry and Analysis - No. 562
November 15, 2009 No. 562

"Saudi-Iranian Tension Increases Following Clashes Between Houthi Rebels, Saudi Military"

By: R. Green and Y. Admon *

"The current clashes between the Saudi security forces and the Houthi rebels who have infiltrated Saudi Arabia from Yemen have intensified the steadily escalating conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is part of the cold war in the Middle East between the pro-Saudi camp and the pro-Iranian camp. ...." For the full article, see

Reprinted with permission:

When it Comes to Iran, President Obama Won’t Hear “No” For an Answer

Posted: 21 Nov 2009 12:17 AM PST

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By Barry Rubin

Question: What does Iran have to do to get across the fact that it isn’t making a deal on its nuclear program?

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says she doesn’t consider the Iranian foreign minister’s statement that they aren’t making the deal to be “the final word.” The Obama Administration will give Tehran a few more chances—and probably a few more months—to stall in order to race ahead in their atom bomb program and to build up ways of overcoming any sanctions that are some day applied.

Indeed, the United States and five other powers are holding still another meeting to, in the words of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana's spokeswoman "review the latest developments on the Iran nuclear issue." But since no one is concluding Iran is saying no, they won’t take one step toward higher sanctions.

Higher sanctions, you might remember, were supposed to come about in September 2009 under the Obama Administration's own original time table. You know when the deadline was for the multi-year European negotiations with Iran was? September 2007.

Now at the earliest sanctions probably wouldn’t come before, what, March 2010? Victory for the Iran regime.

Another great power statement says that Iran has "not responded positively" to the plan, "We are disappointed by the lack of follow-up," and "Iran has not engaged in an intensified dialogue and in particular has not accepted to have a new meeting."

I think Iran is trying to tell you something, guys. But since it isn’t in writing yet, well, they claim they can’t do anything. And of course the Iranian regime will--with U.S. government cooperation--draw this out as long as possible.

Memo to world leaders: Do you think they might be stalling for time?

Note something important here. It isn’t as if the minute they declare that Iran rejects any compromise or serious negotiations there will be stronger sanctions. Oh, no. At that point, the United States and Europeans will start meeting to figure out what sanctions to put on. Of course, they will disagree, the Russians and Chinese will water it down. The plan is also to bring in the entire EU which means, for example, that Spain or Sweden could slow down the process or force a reduction in the planned pressures on Tehran.

Now what is the president of the United States's response to all this? Hold onto your syntax:

"Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal...and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences."

Can you imagine what would have been said if President George W. Bush, that fumblemouthed clown so unlike the brilliant articulate Obama had said "the importance of having consequences"? What does that phrase mean? Translation: I refuse to threaten Iran. I am reluctant to put on sanctions. I don't want to admit that engagement has failed. Where's the teleprompter?"

Now a new voice has been added asking for Obama to take tough action. that of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, international spokesman for Iran's main opposition movement. He urged Obama to increase public support for Iranian dissidents and stop the regime from getting nuclear weapons.

Recall that Obama's claim that a tougher stance would hurt the opposition was a major reason for him refusing to condemn the election theft, speak out forcibly against the repression, and hit the regime harder. Well, obviously that's untrue.

But even Makhmalbaf, former campaign spokesman for presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, thinks the regime won't make a deal because, in his words, "If they agree not to pursue a nuclear bomb and start negotiations, they will lose their supporters. Definitely dialogue is better than war. ... But can you continue your dialogue without any results?"

Answer: Apparently yes.

Now here's where it gets really disgusting.

In 1983, 241 U.S. servicemen were killed in the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in an operation backed by Iran and Syria, carried out by Hizballah and other Iranian agents. Two yars ago, a federal court ruled that Iran was indeed responsible and ordered that Tehran pay $2.65 billion in damages to families of those killed.

The Justice Department is arguing that implementing the decision "can have significant, detrimental impact on our foreign relations, as well as the reciprocal treatment of the United States and its extensive overseas property holdings."

Really? What is Iran going to do, seize the U.S. embassy and hold everyone hostage? Oh, they already did that. Support terrorist attacks against Americans in Iraq. Oh, they are doing that, too. Hold anti-American rallies and call the United States "the Great Satan?" Oh, too late.

What this Administration doesn't understand is the value of pressure, leverage, credibility, and lots of other diplomatic techniques. What it should do is: let the court decision be implemented and put on sanctions now. That would be a much better situation:

--Under more pressure the likelihood of its slowing down the program and bargaining will increase. Sure, they won't really make a deal but at least they will be more scared and cautious.

--If sanctions are increased, Iran's ability to move ahead quickly with the program and its other aggressive designs will be weakened.

--Seeing the West being tougher and the United States showing some real leadership, Arab and other states will take heart and will resist more themselves. Otherwise, they will rush--as is already happening--to appease Iran.

Otherwise, the U.S. government will just go on holding "discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences." Unfortunately, for Iran Obama's policy has no consequences.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.
We have an expression: "Talk is cheap."

Reprinted with permission:

The Trouble with Soft Diplomacy: Endless Resolutions on Iran, No Resolution of the Issues

By Barry Rubin

In its own view, the Obama Administration has won a considerable foreign policy victory in the International Atomic Energy Agency vote to condemn Iran’s nuclear program. Winning such triumphs is the whole goal of a patient policy by the Obama Administration to cultivate wide support for criticizing Iran. The problem is that this is not the same thing as doing something about Iran.

The key development is that only three countries—Cuba, Venezuela, and Malaysia—supported Iran. China and Russia backed the U.S. position. It is being implied that this signals the possibility that they might support material sanctions against Tehran.

But that’s not true and thinking otherwise shows a real structural failure in how even supposed experts nowadays think about international affair. Voting for a resolution is a substitute for taking action, a fact that might prove to be the bane of the Obama Administration.

In addition, while the resolution is being touted as tough, it I based on an incontrovertible set of simple facts. Iran was criticized for two things: continuing to defy the previous UN resolutions by enriching uranium and building a secret nuclear facility.

It’s like passing a resolution to criticize, rather than arrest, someone you just saw pump a half-dozen bullets into a murder victim and then being pleased that it was nearly unanimous.

What’s really significant is that it is now clear the United States, having missed its September deadline for raising sanctions, is now going to miss the December deadline as well. The question is whether that process will even have begun before 2009 ends.

Iranian delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh, in his response, told us everything we need to know about Tehran’s position and future developments:

"Neither resolutions of the board of governors nor those of the United Nations Security Council...neither sanctions nor the threat of military attacks can interrupt peaceful nuclear activities in Iran, [not for] even a second."

I believe him, except for the “peaceful nuclear activities” part. But guess what? This supposedly tough resolution doesn’t exactly contradict that point. It only expresses "serious concern" that Iran's refusal to cooperate with inspections means "the possibility of military

dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" cannot be excluded.

So that’s it. In November 2009 the United States after almost a year of effort by the Obama Administration persuaded a UN to vote that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons but it can’t tell and insists that Iran abide by promises it made years ago.

What makes this important enough for you to be reading about at this moment is that it is a model for the kind of multilateral, soft diplomacy that is now in fashion. Indeed, the U.S. government has not even announced yet that Iran is obviously refusing to make a deal. Statements by Western countries indicated that Tehran was being given one more chance for the one hundredth time.

At some point in the not-distant future, the idea is that President Obama will make one of those, “We interrupt this program to bring you a special message from the president of the United States” moments that begin, “My fellow citizens…” In other words, he springs into decisive real action and does something tough.

One is beginning to suspect that this moment will never come on any international issue.

As a British officer said after the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolution, one more victory like this and there may be no one left to report it. After a certain point, someone who believes that soft power is sufficient must be soft in the head.

Reprinted with permission:

Breaking News: Tehran OKs Ten Uranium Enrichment Facilities; U.S. Government Begs Iran to Negotiate

Posted: 29 Nov 2009 12:41 PM PST

[Please subscribe for rapid analysis and focusing on the key developments.]

By Barry Rubin

Iran's government announced a cabinet-level decision approving construction of ten new facilities to make enriched uranium, defying the United States and the UN. U.S. reaction so far? Please please talk with us . This is the moment for the president to make that "My fellow Americans..." getting tough and imposing high sanctions speech, showing leadership and urging Europe to follow him. Why is it one doubts that will happen?

This is not just another slap, it is a hitting over the head with a two by four. It’s getting pretty obvious that Iran doesn’t want to make nice no matter how hard the West and particularly President Barack Obama tries. There’s a broader lesson here: if you apologize, they take it as weakness. If you take too long to react, they use it as an opportunity to advance. If you make a concession they demand more. If you pass a resolution, they laugh in your face.

At some point in history, perhaps Western leaders, academics, and intellectuals will understand this. How about today?

After all, the Iranian regime has now approved a plan to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities (start building five; start planning five more). Get it? You criticize us for building one, so our answer is to build 10. You criticize us for building one in secret, so we do it right before your eyes.

What are you going to do about it? Come and get me, copper! You don’t like it? Go drink the Nile. And a lot of other expressions which require words I don’t use but an example has two words, the first of which has four letters and the second of which is “you.”

It should be noted that this probably isn't going to happen. When the regime starts talking about 500,000 centrifuges that is a fantasy, so is the idea of building ten facilities. It's a largely--but not necessarily totally--demagogic response. Yet it also indicates the likelihood that Iran will build (is building? has already built?) more facilities.

Of course another motive is that if you build multiple facilities it is harder to bomb them and destroy your weapons’-building capability.

The key point is that we have now reached the definitive point where Iran is clearly going ahead with its project. The engagement era is--or, rather, should be--over.
But what is the American response to this and other such developments? Here it is, admittedly an interim position, from a senior U.S. official:

"If carried out, this [action] would constitute yet another violation of Iran's continuing obligation of suspension of all enrichment-related activities, including construction of new plants. There remains a fleeting opportunity for Iran to engage with the international community, if only it would make that choice,"

How about this from a senior official at Rubin Reports: “There remains a fleeting opportunity for the international community, following U.S. leadership, to stop Iran from changing the entire strategic balance in the Middle East and unleashing decades of bloody wars and revolutions, if only it would make that choice,"

Let's be generous. Up to this point it is somewhere between possible and likely that the Obama Administration didn't understand, due to its world view, what it was up against. This can no longer be true. From now on inaction must be attributed to fear of getting tough and facing a crisis.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.
Iran FM slams IAEA resolution as "discriminatory"

Press TV │ Nov. 30, 2009

"Iran's foreign minister slammed the IAEA resolution against Tehran as "illogical" and "discriminatory," saying the UN nuclear watchdog was implementing the "law of the jungle." ...."




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