If the West wanted a deal, it could be there today

TFF director Jan Oberg commenting two days before a deal should be concluded

A deal with Iran this week?

By Jonathan Power
June 30th 2015.

According to the New York Times, “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on all public matters in Iran, last week demanded that most sanctions be lifted before Tehran has dismantled part of its nuclear infrastructure and before international inspectors verify that the country is beginning to meet its commitments.”

“US Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States was prepared to ease sanctions before it fully resolves what, exactly, Iran’s nuclear scientists have been working on in secret for more than a decade.

‘We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another,” Mr. Kerry said. “It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way.’”

So in the final days of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program – meant to have been concluded on Tuesday but Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 328 – With another approach, we would have a deal with Iran today

By Jan Oberg

There could have been a deal with Iran today – to the benefit of everybody – if the nuclear issue had been approached in a fair, principled and visionary manner from Day One.

If there will be no deal later, one of the most important possible agreements in contemporary international history will have been lost, the risk of war will increase and the Iranians will suffer. And the United States and the EU (here France and Germany) will move further down in terms of relative global power and up in terms of self-isolation.

On the day of no deal, perhaps the Five Ps + Germany should spend a moment on self-reflection: What could we have done differently?

To the trained conflict- and peace-making eye, 99% of the Western commentators have failed to point out the benefits of a deal and, instead, devoted their creativity to find all kinds of possible negative aspects, details and – of course – on how the West should demand even more. They’ve suggested “red lines” at absurdum.

The fundamental a-symmetry of this whole conflict eludes them – or is conveniently left unmentioned.

At the table sit the five largest nuclear weapons powers which have, de facto and de jure, for decades completely and systematically ignored the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, and have repeatedly broken international law and conducted wars. They would never allow the type of inspections on their own territory that they demand of Iran. The U.S. issues threats – and plan a war – Iran has never threatened the U.S. And so on and so forth.

Absent from every nuclear discussion is Israel and other nuclear-armed countries which, in contrast to Iran, are not members of the NPT and have a record of warfare and occupation.

Imagine a world in which we had seen negotiations, for real, about reducing the possession of nuclear weapons as a quid pro quo of proliferation – exactly as stated in the NPT.

Imagine that we had required Iran to abstain from getting nuclear weapons as a quid pro quo of a promise by the nuclear “haves” that they would reduce their arsenals. Indeed, imagine that the United States which is Second to None in putting up demands on everybody “or else … and all options remain on the table” had promised the world that it would do something too to further the accepted and UN-based goal of general and complete nuclear disarmament. Imagine the recent NPT Review conference had resulted in something decent in a world order perspective. Indeed, imagine some kind of mutuality, fairness, and equivalence in the whole approach.

The approach was wrong from Day One. It was built on military and structural power, not on intellectual power.

What stands between the parties is Read the rest of this entry »

Trying to kill the Iran nuclear deal


Jan Oberg speaks to Iranian PressTV on June 26, 2015


TFF PressInfo # 327 – Burundi heading for catastrophe with the world’s eyes wide shut

By Jan Oberg

The elections taking place in Burundi are no elections. The African Union, the European Union, NATO, BRICS and everybody else must know that by now. They are all turning their heads, pretending they just don’t see. When it comes to Burundi, the much celebrated Western concern about human rights and democracy is conventiently put aside.

However, since April developments in Burundi have taken only one direction: towards dictatorship and civil war and, in the worst of cases, a new genocide. If Burundi avoids that it’ll be by miracle and I shall be happy beyond words to be proven wrong.

Had this country had oil, important minerals or a significant strategic position – or had Burundi been situated in Europe – I am in no doubt that NATO countries would have conducted a “humanitarian” intervention already.

Now when a genuine humanitarian intervention is urgently needed to stop the descent into a hell and save about 10 million people from it, no one is doing anything but issuing hand-wringing, lame and woefully inadequate statements and appeals.

And by staying away from monitoring these “elections” and documenting the fraud they lend de facto support the emerging dictatorship.

Across social media TFF has so far posted 87 Burundi Warnings based on media reports. It has as issued its own warnings (see below) based on an long-term experience with Burundi that few have. Of among 4000 media recipients, two have shown any interest.

TFF has been engaged over 13 years (1999-2012) in that country. It’s work has covered a series of projects with leading civil society organisations, teaching at a university, work with media and consultancy with the Ministries of Higher Education and of Foreign Affairs.

That was when there was hope.

We did it because the rest of the world was interested only in neighbouring Rwanda, gave it all the attention and aid, the important embassies, Hollywood movies and books and because the world commemorated only its genocide, not Burundi’s. The two countries were once one and the problems the same.

And we did it because the peace process in Burundi was promising – at the time much more promising than Rwanda’s.

I met Pierre Nkurunziza shortly after he became President. At the time Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 326 – Outrageus attempt at killing a deal with Iran

By Jan Oberg

Internal elite power games in Washington are now putting Middle Eastern and global stability and peace at stake.

Here is the latest attempt at killing a deal with Iran that, to the sensitive reader with a minimum of knowledge of foreign policy and of the Iranian civilization, is little but one long argument for warfare on Iran in nobody’s interest – certainly also not in the interest of the citizens of Israel. 

Is it just because it is summer time that intellectuals, media commentators and diplomats as well as friends and allies of the US conveniently keep generally silent at such irresponsible statements – and the many before it?

Don’t they understand that the nuclear issue as such – not proliferation but possession – is humanity’s most important and that Iran has been the object of revengeful harrassment since 1953 and punished for years for not having nuclear weapons? Read the rest of this entry »

The US’s wrong priorities on terrorism

By Jonathan Power

Were the killings in the church in Charleston terrorism, meant to intimidate the black population of America? Of course they were. Moreover, they were a reflection of the still widespread white hatred for America’s first black president, Barack Obama.

Indeed, as the New York Times editorialized last week, “The main terrorist threat in the US is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. (Many of them anti-black.) Just ask the police”. The New York Times has studied 382 police forces and 74% reported extremism by whites. Severe Muslim extremism was only 3% of the total.

The number of violent plots carried out by international terrorists remains very low and most attempts were disrupted. ‘

Last year not one US citizen at home died from international terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

Pope Francis: Spiritual, Liberating Theology

By Johan Galtung

What a gift to humanity, this Pope!

To choose global climate change as a major theme of his papacy is in the spirit of the times. What is revolutionary, and he uses that word often, is the focus on the poor. Climate change–including the long trend global warming over and above some lulls and local variations–has a clear class address, goes beyond making him the spiritual world leader.

The Pope talks about filth covering the earth, and about greed stimulated by corporate capitalism and consumerism as major causes underlying the technicality of CO2 release. The Pope also mentions the freshness of the gospels, including the unambiguous stand of Jesus for the poor in Matt 6:24–God vs Mammon–Matt 13:12–our economic system, and Matt 19:20-24 about giving one’s riches to the poor.

Pope Francis follows in his footsteps. Simply beautiful.

But there is more to it: a general theological discourse from the same continent as this non-Italian Pope: Liberation Theology. Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, Miguel d’Escoto–Peruvian, Brazilian, Nicaraguan, from the major parts of the Latin Americas–now in their 80s have been rehabilitated. D’Escoto was foreign minister of the Sandinista government and one-year president of the UN General Assembly.

However, the rehabilitation has moved on, into the Caribbean, to the Latin American country that made world history, Cuba, and to the two Castros. Read the rest of this entry »

Demands in US-Iran nuclear talks as political Kabuki theatre

By Gareth Porter

In the final phase of the negotiations with Iran, the US-led international coalition is still seeking Iran’s agreement to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit any military facilities it deems suspicious and to interview a selected list of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Such measures are not necessary to ensure that Iran is adhering to its commitments under the agreement, but they are necessary to manage the political threat from the pro-Israel extremists in the Senate to sabotage the whole agreement.

To fend off that threat, the Obama administration made the spurious claim that it had succeeded in getting Iran to agree to the demand for IAEA inspection of any site it found suspicious. In fact, Iran had agreed only that IAEA would have “enhanced access through agreed procedures” – as reflected in the wording of the joint statement of the P5+1 and Iran on 2 April.

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and senior military officials have vehemently ruled out both IAEA inspection of military sites on demand and interviews with Iranian scientists.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano claimed on 12 May that Iran’s acceptance of the Additional Protocol as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal meant that Iran had accepted inspections of its military sites on demand. “In many other countries from time to time we request access to military sites when we have the reason to, so why not Iran?” Amano said. “If we have a reason to request access, we will do so, and in principle Iran has to accept it.”

But that was a brazen misrepresentation of the Additional Protocol. That agreement allows unrestricted IAEA access to sites that have already been designated previously by state as related to the nuclear fuel cycle. For all other sites, IAEA access under the Additional Protocol clearly depends on the approval of the state in question. Article 5 (c) of the agreement, provides that, if the signatory state is “unable to provide such access,” it “shall make every effort to satisfy Agency requests without delay through other means”.

Now the New York Times has further muddied the waters by reporting on 31 May that the Iranian rejection of those demands had “prompted concern that Iran might be backtracking from understandings sketched out in earlier talks”.

The Times tries to support the US demand by asserting that “experts” say “wide-ranging inspections are needed to guard against cheating”. That is a reference to the argument that opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran have been making for years that Iran is likely to try a “sneakout” route to nuclear weapons, using covert supplies of enriched uranium or plutonium and a covert enrichment facility.

The main figure to make that argument is Read the rest of this entry »

America at its best is – strange

By Richard Falk

America even at its best is a strange place, alive with contradictions, a Teflon political culture that has an unshakable faith in its innocent and virtuous national character and its overall impact on the world, impervious to the ghosts of slavery and of ethnic cleansing of native Americans that should be tormenting our sleep and darkening our dreams, comfortable with its robust gun culture, and with its promiscuous reliance on rogue drones engineered to kill on command and on the brutal happenings that take place in black sites immorally situated in countries whose leaders agree to avert their gaze from the dirty work taking place.

Looked at from a short distance this is not a pretty picture.

Yet there are still those rare moments when this unsavory national profile seems not to be telling the whole story. For instance, I felt heartened by a recent news item reporting that the conservative Nebraska Legislature voted to abolish capital punishment, and in doing so went so far as to override the governor’s veto. That’s right, Nebraska!

Unfortunately, the welcome Nebraska move may not survive the backlash in the making. The Republican state governor, Pete Ricketts, vows to overturn the new law: “My words cannot express how appalled I am that we have lost a critical law to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families.” He is supported in this lethal passion by a pro-capital punishment legislator Read the rest of this entry »

 

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