Iran’s Rouhani tells UN: we pose no threat to the world

by Julian Borger and Ed Pilkington

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, declared that “peace is within reach” on Tuesday, in a hotly anticipated speech at the United Nations in which he offered immediate negotiations aimed at removing any “reasonable concerns” over his country’s nuclear programme.
Rouhani argued that in return, Iran wanted the international community to recognise its right to enrich uranium, the issue that has been at the heart of the diplomatic impasse over the past 11 years.

The Iranian president, elected in June, was speaking a few hours Barack Obama had stood at the same podium and pledged to focus his administration’s foreign policy in its remaining three years on the Middle East, particularly on reaching a diplomatic settlement in Iran.

Obama assigned his secretary of state, John Kerry, to oversee negotiations with Tehran and offered Rouhani an important symbolic gesture, making the first official US acknowledgement of the CIA’s well-documented role in the ousting of Iran’s democratically-elected government in 1953.

But despite the positive gestures a much-anticipated meeting between the two leaders not materialise. The White House said it offered to arrange a discussion in the margins of the general assembly but said that Rouhani’s office deemed it was “too complicated”.
He did not go into details and a meeting with Barack Obama did not materialise. The White House said it offered to arrange a discussion in the margins of the general assembly but said that Rouhani’s office deemed it was “too complicated”.

In his speech however, Rouhani said he had “listened carefully” to Obama address earlier in the day. He concluded that if Washington did not give in to the influence of “warmongers”, then the US and Iran “can arrive at a framework to manage our differences”.

The framework Rouhani suggested for dealing with the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear aspirations offered a trade between increased Iranian transparency and international recognition of Iran’s right to enrich.

“Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme,” he said, adding that Iran “is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and the removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.”
On the other hand, he said that the country’s mastery of the technology had reached such an “industrial scale”, and so could not longer be reversed. So the world should instead recognise Iran’s basic right to carry out all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The vague nature of Rouhani’s offer, the accusatory tone of much of the rest of his speech, and the failure to organise a meeting with Obama all served to dampen expectations of an immediate breakthrough.

Diplomats and observers at the UN said it was clear that Rouhani’s speech was principally aimed at a domestic audience, particularly Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei and the regime’s hardliners who are suspicious of Rouhani’s charm offensive in the West.

In his UN speech earlier in the day, Obama made clear that the US saw the Iranian nuclear programme as a more immediate and serious threat to its core interest. He responded to the overtures of the newly-elected leadership in Tehran by putting Kerry in charge of the coming critical weeks of intense negotiations.

Given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government, in close coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China,” the president said. A senior administration official described the move as “a significant elevation” in the status of the talks.

It move mirrored Rouhani’s decision to put his own foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in charge of the talks from the Iranian side, breaking from the practice of the past eight years of abortive negotiations of assigning them to senior officials. The foreign ministers of all seven countries are due to meet for the first time at the UN on Thursday.

“Directing secretary Kerry to lead this, signals that the negotiations may be elevated to the foreign minister level, which would be very good news,” said Trita Parsi, the head of the National Iranian American Council, and the author of a book on US-Iranian negotiations, A Single Roll of the Dice.

“This means that far greater political will is being invested into the diplomatic process, which in turn increases the cost of failure. That is exactly what is needed to overcome the political obstacles to a deal.” Obama acknowledged the difficulties ahead. “The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe a diplomatic path must be tested,” he said.

Obama offered Rouhani an important symbolic gesture, making the first official US acknowledgement of the CIA’s well-documented role in the ousting of Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953. “This mistrust has deep roots. Iranians have long complained of a history of US interference in their affairs, and America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the cold war,” he said.

The reference to the CIA’s part in the ousting of Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran’s democratically elected leader, marked a first official admission of that role, and represented an important gesture to Rouhani. It will be seen in Iran as a diplomatic victory and belated acknowledgement of a long-festering Iranian sense of injustice. The coup, supported by both the US and the UK, paved the way for the dictatorship of the shah, and then the 1979 Islamic revolution against it.

“I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight. The suspicions run too deep. But I do believe if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme that can be a major step,” Obama said.

The US president expressed optimism about this week’s talks. “We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian programme is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

Thursday’s talks involve Rouhani’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Kerry, the UK foreign secretary, William Hague and foreign ministers from Russia, China, France and Germany.

Much will depend on how far Rouhani is prepared to go to remove what he described as the “reasonable concerns” about Iran’s nuclear intentions. If that involves Iran’s acceptance of strict limits on the degree of enrichment allowed and a stricter regime of inspections, there may room for a deal.

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Washington’s Tyranny

By Paul Craig Roberts

The war criminal barack obama has declared his “outrage” over the 62 deaths associated with the takeover of a Nairobi, Kenya, shopping mall by al-Shabaab fighters. But the attack on the shopping mall was obama’s fault. Al Shabaab spokesmen said that the attack on the Nairobi mall was a retaliatory response to the Kenyan troops sent to fight against them in Somalia. The Kenyan troops, of course, were sent to Somalia as a result of pressure from Washington.

Just as the outbreak of violence in Mali resulted from the fighters that obama used against Gaddafi moving into Mali, Washington’s violence against Somalia has resulted in the terrorist attack on the Nairobi mall.

This fact again raises the never-asked question: What is the real( agenda of Washington’s “war on terror”? )The western presstitutes never ask this question, nor do western legislative bodies.
Washington has offered a variety of justifications for its 12 years of wars. One is that Washington is rooting out terrorism in order to protect Americans from 9/11 type events. Another is that “dictators” must be overthrown and replaced with “freedom and democracy.” Still another is false claims of the possession of “weapons of mass destruction” (Iraq) and the use of “weapons of mass destruction” (Syria).

None of Washington’s claims can withstand the barest scrutiny. None of the governments that Washington has overthrown and seeks to overthrow are terrorist states. Indeed, some are not even Islamist governments. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had a secular government, as does Assad’s Syria.

Washington’s explanations for murdering Pakistanis and Yemenis with drones are even more nebulous. Moreover, using military means to kill citizens of countries with which the US is not at war lacks all legality.

When obama gets on the moral high horse about deaths in Syria or Nairobi, his hypocrisy is astounding. A person would think obama would be ashamed. The Egyptian military, which is financed with $2 billion annually from Washington, has just overthrown the first elected president in Egypt’s history, banned the political party that Egyptians elected to power, and confiscated the political party’s assets, money, and buildings.

The Washington-sponsored Egyptian military shot down in the streets many more Egyptians protesting the overthrow of their government by a military coup than died in the Nairobi mall. But we hear nothing from Washington or obama about the need to support democracy in Egypt.

When the British Parliament voted down providing cover for obama’s criminal attack on Syria, Parliament created space for Russia’s President Putin to resolve the Syrian situation by obtaining Syrian President Assad’s agreement to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and to turn over all Syrian chemical weapons to an international body.

The warmonger obama regime was outraged that Washington’s military attack on Syria had been blocked. Washington and the Israel Lobby went into full scale demonization of President Putin for orchestrating peace instead of war. The obama regime is trying to block the agreement by insisting on incorporating into the UN resolution an opportunity for attacking Syria if Washington is not convinced that all chemical weapons are turned over.

The entire world knows that Washington will again lie through its teeth, assert that all the weapons were not turned over and use the wedge that Washington is attempting to force into the UN resolution to start another war. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has publicly stated that Washington is trying to blackmail Russia into accepting the potential for military intervention in Syria as part of the agreement.

Until the 21st century, Washington carried out its relentless nefarious activities against other peoples and countries under cover and out of sight. In the 21st century the criminal bush and obama regimes have brazenly demonstrated their disregard for US law, international law, and human rights.

Hubris and arrogance have run away with the “superpower.” The US stands reviled by the world. At the UN summit on September 23, the president of Brazil denounced the obama regime for its “breach of international law” revealed by the spy scandal. Bolivian President Evo Morales is filing a lawsuit against the obama regime for “crimes against humanity.”

When the world looks at Washington, it cannot differentiate Washington from the dictatorships that Washington attributes to other countries. The Washington regime has declared that it is above both law and Constitution and possesses the power to detain citizens indefinitely and to murder them without due process of law. These powers comprise the necessary and sufficient conditions for dictatorship.

Who will liberate Americans from Washington’s tyranny, overthrow the executive branch dictatorship, and bring freedom and democracy to America?

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Russian Patriarch to Obama: Syria’s Christians Nearing ‘Extermination’

by Raymond Ibrahim

While many were fixated on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent letter to the American people, another letter from another Russian leader—this one directly addressed to the U.S. president—was missed.

On September 10, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill issued a letter addressed to “His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President, United States.” Whether one wishes to interpret this communique as a product of politics or sincerity, it accurately highlights the plight of Syria’s Christians, especially in the broader context of a larger civilizational struggle.

I repost major portions of the letter below, interspersed with my observations for added context:

Your Excellency, Dear Mr. President,

The tragic events in Syria have raised anxiety and caused pain in the Russian Orthodox Church. We receive information about the situation there not from the news reports but from living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country.

This is an important point: the “news reports” evaluated by the Russian church are from “living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country.” The fact is, outside of America’s biased “mainstream media,” the evidence concerning what is going on in Syria—namely, that Islamic militants are committing human rights atrocities, including possibly the chemical attacks in question—is overwhelming. Countless eyewitness testimonies, videos, pictures—all those things that rarely make it to the U.S. MSM—make this abundantly clear.

Ask the average Syrian about the current turmoil engulfing their land—and I have, as have numerous Russian Orthodox representatives in communion with Syria’s ancient Christian community, as noted by Kirill—and few have any illusions as to its nature: an authoritarian, but secular, Assad vs. radical Islamists and jihadis.

Naturally most Syrians choose Assad.

Only in America, and to a lesser extent Western Europe, is the myth of “freedom fighters” trying to “liberate” Syria still being peddled.

Patriarch Kirill:

Syria today has become an arena of the armed conflict. Engaged in it are foreign mercenaries and militants linked with international terrorist centres. The war has become an everyday golgotha for millions of civilians.

To be sure, one of the most obvious indicators that this is no “civil war” in the name of “liberty” is the fact that the majority, up to 95%, of those fighting Assad are not even Syrian, but rather al-Qaeda linked jihadis—from Chechnya to the Philippines—trying to form an Islamic emirate in Syria as they did in the 1980s-90s in Afghanistan. Back then, foreign jihadis like Saudi Osama bin Laden and Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri—again, also supported by the U.S.—traveled to Afghanistan, “liberated” it from the U.S.S.R, and then gave us 9/11 in return a decade later.

Here, for example, is a video of foreign militants in a conquered Syrian town singing praises in honor of Osama bin Laden: “They called me a terrorist and I said ‘that will be my honor,’ this is a divine call …. We defeated America … the Trade [Center] became a bunch of rubble … Greetings from the Taliban and its leader mullah Omar… Victory is ours, winning is ours, and Allah with all his strength is with us, the infidel masses have come together to defeat us but they will not defeat us.”

Patriarch Kirill:

We were deeply alarmed to learn about the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria. Undoubtedly, it will bring ever greater sufferings to the Syrian people, first of all, to the civilian population. An external military intervention may result in the radical forces coming to power in Syria who will not be able and will not wish to ensure inter-confessional accord in the Syrian society.

U.S. military intervention would undoubtedly lead to even more human rights abuses, first and foremost at the hands of al-Qaeda jihadis—who in fact are on record vowing to slaughter Christians after the U.S. intervenes and overthrows Assad; Obama just waived a U.S. law prohibiting the banning of terrorist organizations simply to arm and ultimately help them realize their ambitions.

U.S. military intervention would undoubtedly lead to even more human rights abuses, first and foremost at the hands of al-Qaeda jihadis—who in fact are on record vowing to slaughter Christians after the U.S. intervenes and overthrows Assad; Obama just waived a U.S. law prohibiting the banning of terrorist organizations simply to arm and ultimately help them realize their ambitions.

Patriarch Kirill:

Our special concern is for the fate of the Christian population of Syria, which in that case will come under the threat of total extermination or banishment. It has already happened in the regions of the country seized by militants. An attempt made by the armed groups of the Syrian opposition to seize the town of Ma’loula whose residents are predominantly Christians has become a new confirmation of our concerns. The militants keep shelling the town in which ancient Christian monasteries are located—the sites of special veneration by the faithful all over the world.

All absolutely true—especially “the threat of total extermination or banishment,” which has been the case wherever and whenever U.S.-backed Islamists come to power:
•Afghanistan: Under U.S. auspices, the supposedly “moderate” Karzai government still upholds the apostasy law—persecuting those who seek to convert to Christianity, making them just as intolerant as the Taliban—and, under U.S. auspices, destroyed the nation’s last Christian church.
•Iraq: After the U.S. “liberated” the nation from Saddam Hussein, the “chemical-weapon-using-tyrant”—sound familiar?—Christians are still being terrorized into extinction, more than half leaving their homeland.
•Libya: Since U.S-backed terrorists came to power—giving American the Benghazi consulate attack on the anniversary of 9/11—the tiny Christian community there has been persecuted, including bombed churches and threatened nuns—things unprecedented under the “tyrant” Gaddafi.
•Egypt: After coming to power, the Obama administration’s Muslim Brotherhood allies enforced draconian blasphemy codes against Christians and are currently destroying countless churches and in some regions forcing Christians to pay jizya.
•Syria: Atrocities against Christians by the U.S.-backed jihadis know no bounds—such as the recent gang rape and slaughter of a 15-year-old Christian girl by the U.S.-supported “freedom fighters.” And now in Ma’loula, Christians are being forced to choose between converting to Islam or dying and other atrocities.

Patriarch Kirill:

The Christian hierarchs of Aleppo, Metropolitans Paul and John Ibrahim, have been held captive by militants since April 22. Nothing is known about their fate despite of the fact that a number of religious figures appealed to the leaders of their states to help to release them.

Indeed, here is yet another example of the nature of the people the U.S. government is supporting. Paul and John Ibrahim were traveling in Syria doing “humanitarian work” when their driver was killed and they were kidnapped. Maybe John McCain can phone his al-Qaeda kidnapping allies and ask them to release them? At any rate, there is no end to the amount of Christians, like Fr. Murad, who have been kidnapped and/or slaughtered by the jihadis in Syria.

Patriarch Kirill:

I am deeply convinced that the countries which belong to the Christian civilization bear a special responsibility for the fate of Christians in the Middle East.

Here the good patriarch speaks a language that may have once resonated with Americans and Europeans—that is, the people from “the countries which belong to the Christian civilization”—but which is increasingly meaningless to those whose “humanitarian concerns” extend to anyone but those unfashionable Christians, and to some American Protestants who are unaware that Christians actually exist outside of the U.S.

As do all eastern churches, however, the Russian Orthodox Church has centuries long experience with Islamic oppression and violence—beginning with the “Tatar yoke” and continuing to the present—and hence, not only sympathizes with the plight of Near East Christians, many of whom are Orthodox, but, as Putin himself recently asserted in a Russian conference dealing with the plight of Christians under Islam, “Russia has tremendous experience in reaching and maintaining inter-confessional peace and accord, and is ready to share it.”

Patriarch Kirill:

The Russian Orthodox Church knows the price of human sufferings and losses since in the 20th century our people survived two devastating world wars which claimed millions of lives and ruined many people’s lives. We also regard as our own pain the pain and losses the American people suffered in the terrible terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

Alas, some people remember the lessons of history, to their benefit; others forget, to their regret.

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Obama to Kerry: Get Iran deal

By Justin Sink

President Obama is directing Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a nuclear weapons deal with Iran, the president announced in a speech Tuesday to the United Nations.

Recent statements by Iran’s new government indicating it is not interested in a nuclear weapons program “should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement,” Obama told the gathering at the U.N. General Assembly.

He said he “firmly” believed the “diplomatic path must be tested.”

“If we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road to a different relationship,” Obama said.

Kerry is to meet his Iranian counterpart at the United Nations on Thursday, the first such meeting since the countries broke off diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

It is also possible that Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could meet on the margins of the United Nations, in what would be the first meeting between American and Iranian heads of state since 1977. Obama said Kerry would pursue talks in coordination with the European Union, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. The planned negotiations come as Tehran has repeatedly indicated a new willingness to negotiate an end to crippling economic sanctions put in place to discourage the Iranian nuclear program.

Rouhani, who was elected earlier this year, has said that he has the authority to negotiate such a deal. The president said that any deal would need to be “transparent and verifiable” but said he was “encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course.”

Obama warned that “the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction continues to spread a shadow over the pursuit of peace” not only in Iran but also in Syria.

Accusing the international community of a response that “has not matched the scale of the challenge” in that nation, Obama called for “a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments” to disarm its chemical weapons program.

The president said that if the United Nations failed to do so, it would prove “incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.”

Obama also announced an additional $340 million in humanitarian aid to Syria.

The president said he was hopeful for a diplomatic solution between Israel and the Palestinians. He called on Israelis to accept a Palestinian state, while cautioning Arab nations that stability could be achieved with the continued existence of a secure Israel.

Obama said the U.S. would “never compromise” on its commitment to Israeli security. But he also said there was a “growing recognition in Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing the democratic fabric of the Jewish state.”

The president said a breakthrough would have a “profound, positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham to seek authorization for U.S. attack on Iran

Sen. Lindsey Graham is one of the strongest advocates of an American military strike against the Assad regime in Syria. He was unhappy when President Obama decided to seek congressional authorization for an attack, and then unhappy when his fellow lawmakers voiced disapproval of the president’s plan. Graham believes the diplomatic path chosen by the administration will lead to a debacle.

Given all that, Graham now says he will work with a bipartisan group of senators to craft a resolution authorizing the president to use military force — not against the Syrian regime but against Iran. In an appearance on Fox News’ Huckabee program over the weekend, Graham argued that such a resolution is essential, because American inaction in Syria will encourage Iran to go forward with its nuclear weapon program, eventually leading toward a Mideast conflagration if the U.S. doesn’t intervene.
Look how we’ve handled the chemical weapons threat in Syria,” Graham said. “If we duplicate that with the Iranians, they’re going to march toward a nuclear weapon and dare Israel to attack them. So in the next six months, our friends in Israel are going to have to take the Iranians on, unless the United States can send a clear signal to Iran, unlike what we’ve sent to Syria.

“The mixed message and the debacle called Syria can’t be repeated when it comes to Iran,” Graham continued. “So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to get a bipartisan coalition together. We’re going to put together a use-of-force resolution allowing our country to use military force as a last resort to stop the Iranian nuclear program, to make sure they get a clear signal that all this debacle about Syria doesn’t mean we’re confused about Iran.”

After Graham repeated his intention to draft a use-of-force resolution, Huckabee stepped in to make sure everyone understood. “Lindsey, I want to clarify,” Huckabee said. “You actually are going to seek sort of a pre-emptive approval to give the president a loaded weapon so that he feels the absolute freedom and support of a bipartisan Congress to take whatever action, including military, against Iran to prevent them from having nuclear weapons?”
“That’s exactly right,” said Graham.

Graham knows that Congress, particularly the House, was moving strongly against authorizing Obama to use force in Syria. And that was after a chemical weapons attack that clearly violated the president’s “red line” in the Syrian civil war. Given that, congressional authorization for an attack on Iran seems far-fetched at best — a reality Graham seemed to acknowledge. “I’m going to need your help, Mike,” Graham said. “I’m going to need your audience’s help. Every friend of Israel needs to rally behind this endeavor. Israel feels abandoned after Syria, and I want to send a signal to Tehran and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that we’re not going to leave our friends in Israel behind. And to the ayatollahs: If you march toward a nuclear weapon, all options are on the table, including the military option.”

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Graham repeated his pledge to seek a use-of-force authorization against Iran, although he sounded a touch less assertive than in his conversation with Huckabee. “I do believe without the threat of credible military force by us, the Iranians are going to just slow-walk,” Graham said, according to an account in the Hill. “So I’m trying to create the dynamic that there is bipartisan support for continued diplomacy, sanctions and the
use of force as a last resort.”

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The US Credibility Issue on Syria and Chemical Weapons

Last month, Moscow urged Washington not to repeat “past mistakes” in the Middle East. Russia was referring to the US’s response to dealing with the Syrian president’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

On August 21, 2013, more than 300 people died in the alleged chemical attack on the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Opposition activists quickly accused the Syrian government of dropping toxic agents onto civilian areas as a means of edging rebels further outside the capital. The Syrian government has, however, vigorously denied that it has ever used chemical weapons, describing the claims as “false and completely baseless”. (1)

The US government insists that it has the intelligence to prove that the attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb involved chemical weapons and was carried out by President Bashar Assad’s government. Due to the alleged use of chemical weapons crossing the red line Barack Obama had drawn a year earlier, the White House called for military intervention in Syria.

There is plenty of evidence that Syria used chemical weapons in the attack. For example, according to doctors at the scene, a large number of patients displayed telltale signs of nerve agent poisoning, including excessive saliva and convulsions.
Assessing the Chemical Weapon Attack

In a US intelligent assessment of the attack, the US Secretary of State John Kerry said they have satellite evidence that shows rockets were launched from government-held areas 90 minutes before the first chemical attack was reported. (1)

Despite the overwhelming evidence that shows the Syrian government did carry out this horrific attack on its own civilians, much of the world strongly opposes the West taking military action against Syria. Part of the reason for the strong opposition against taking action in Syria stems from the distrust people feel towards the US, distrust that surfaced in intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

As Top Secret Writers reported in February 2011, the main reason behind the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was because of the belief among the CIA and intelligence agencies around the world that Saddam Hussein was in possession of powerful biological weapons.

Due to the fact that no WMDs were ever found, people began to doubt the in integrity of the CIA, which came under the spotlight for closer examination. The Iraq Inquiry was formed which led to the declassification of numerous documents.

The declassified CIA documents blamed “analyst liabilities” for mistakenly concluding that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological and nuclear weapon programs, the rationale behind invading Iraq.

As such weapons were never found, it seemed, as the CS Monitor put it, there has been a “remarkable CIA mea cupla”. Many remain naturally distrustful when it comes to the US’s stance on WMD and chemical weapons. (2)

syria chemical weapon infographic

The Next Steps

Last week, the G20 summit in St. Petersburg began, which on its first day saw world leaders locked in a divisive debate over Syrian.

Earlier last week, the US president pushed for support for military strikes in Syria. Russia and China warned the US not to take action without backing from the UN.

According to the New Yorker, Putin believes Obama is “indecisive as well as conscience-stricken” about his choice on Syria and wants to slow the US president down. (3)

The evidence of Assad’s use of chemical weapons is vast and concrete. It is the US’s lack of credibility due to its “past mistakes” in the Middle East that Moscow was quick to point out that is the potent barrier in preventing Obama from beginning his campaign of military action in Syria.

As the New Yorker states, Obama may feel that he has little choice but to placate Putin, to keep providing “more proof” and to “politely ask for his acquiescence”.

The question of proof does however go well beyond Putin. The distrust many feel towards the US government’s stance on chemical weapons that stemmed from the intelligence failures of the Iraq war is undoubtedly hindering support of military intervention in Syria.

“One of the main problems with proposed American military action in Syria is Washington’s inability thus far to control its message internationally,” writes the New Yorker. (3) “There are a good number of people in the world who still believe that Syria is telling the truth with its denials of using chemical weapons, and that the United States is simply lying about what it knows.” (3)

With medical experts all but confirming the symptoms of the victims of the August 2013 attack on Damascus was caused by chemical weapons and so-called satellite evidence that chemical weapons had been launched, the Obama administration is using evidential intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria.

Opposition to military attacks is also overwhelming. Past mistakes made by the United States involving weapons of mass destruction and the Iraq war have certainly contributed to the opposition felt by many about carrying out military strikes in Syria.

Syria’s ally Russia is quick to point out these “past mistakes”, making it more difficult for the US to make a valid case – even if there is plenty of proof.

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Report: Putin to travel to Iran for nuclear strategy talks

by Reza Kahlili

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted Iran’s invitation to visit Tehran to work out a strategy for the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, Fars News Agency reported Saturday. The West believes the Iranian program is a front for developing nuclear weapons.

Putin, seen by Iran’s clerical establishment as a strong opponent to America and the West — especially after his successful political play on averting a U.S. missile strike on Syria — was approached by Iran to protect the Islamic regime in the face of continued pressure by the West over its illicit nuclear program. Russia and the U.S. reached agreement Saturday to take control of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014.

Fars, the media outlet run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said Putin will soon travel to Tehran, although details of the trip have yet to be announced. Fars said Iranian President Hassan Rowhani issued the invitation to Putin on Friday while both leaders were attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian president accepted.
Russia could possibly take new steps in solving the Iranian nuclear dossier,” Rowhani said. “The Russian initiative in relation to the Syrian chemical weapons and the steps taken by the Syrian officials provide this hope that a new war can be averted in the region.”

“Russia looks at Iran like a good neighbor,” Putin was quoted as saying. “I am very happy meeting the new Iranian president and personally congratulate him for his [recent presidential] victory. … We are aware of the opinions on the world’s stage in relation with Iran’s nuclear program; however, we have to also consider that Iran is our neighbor, a good neighbor.”

There were conflicting reports last week that Russia might increase its arms sales to Iran should Syria be attacked, including the delivery of its sophisticated surface-to-air missile system, the S300.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant had reported that Putin had decided to deliver five battalions of the S300s should Iran withdraw its claim of $4 billion in damages due to a breach of an original contract by Russia signed in 2007 worth $800 million.

In September 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, under pressure by America and the West, signed a decree that banned the delivery of the S300 systems to the Islamic Republic. Iranian leaders, infuriated by this action, then filed a complaint against Russia’s arms export company, Rosoboronexport, with the International Court in Geneva.

Both Russia and Iran have strongly supported Syria’s Bashar Assad, with Iranian leaders warning that any intervention in Syria would cross a red line.

Meanwhile on Saturday, the leader of Iran’s proxy militia group in Iraq, Al-Mukhtar, warned that if America at any time attacks Syria, its forces would attack the oilfields of
Saudi Arabia, thereby cutting off the “economic jugular” of the West.

America’s attack on Syria will be the end of Saudi Arabia because the Saudi leaders promote the Syrian attack,” Wathiq al-Battat said, according to Keyhan newspaper, which is directly supervised by Iran’s supreme leader.

Battat threatened that his group would target the Saudi ports of Abqaiq, Juaymah and Ras Tanura, one of the largest in the world, and that his militants would also attack Saudi gas and oil pipelines, power lines and communication towers.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Forces, addressing a forum on Saturday, boasted about the power of the “Resistance Front” [Iran, Syria and Hezbollah] and stated, “In the eyes of the West, Zionists and the reactionary regimes, Syria’s real problem is not the ruling of the minority Alawites [who rule Syria] or the lack of democracy, but the reality is that the West and the reactionary regimes know that the Resistance’s powerful position in the region is indebted to the Syrian government.”

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book ”A Time to Betray“ (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).

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