A new look at Iran and an update on the Saudi/Yemen nightmare

At last a careful and reasoned examination of the many, mainly baseless, charges that Donald Trump has levelled against Iran to justify America’s abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the JCPOA.  See: Iran: Does President Trump Have a Case? (Peter Jenkins on lobelog.com, 28 November 2018).

In response to Trump’s claim that Iran seeks to hold the U.S. hostage to nuclear blackmail, Peter Jenkins, a retired British career diplomat, writes:

[R]easonable observers tend to the view that Iran’s leaders have opted for a nuclear hedging strategy: they would like to position themselves close to the nuclear weapon threshold but are well aware that crossing the threshold in the absence of a threat justifying the acquisition of a nuclear deterrent would be an act of self-harm. Being a threshold state is not illegal. There are plenty of them.

Another Trump claim is that the deal fails to prevent Iranian development of nuclear-capable missiles. Jenkins responds:

Iran is under no treaty obligation to refrain from developing missiles. There is no agreed definition of “nuclear-capable.” Iran has never tested long-range missiles and says it has no intention of acquiring them.

As for medium-range missiles, Jenkins suggests we consider Iran’s point of view:

True, Iran’s neighbors see its expanding missile capabilities as a threat. But Iran, too, sees the expanding capabilities of those neighbors as a threat. So, the U.S. response ought to be to promote a regional dialogue on missile proliferation, not to withdraw from the JCPOA [nuclear agreement].

Jenkins also tackles the perpetually repeated U.S. allegation that Iran is “the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism” — despite the fact that its own Congressional Research Service disagrees.

In reality, the United States justifies its charge by pointing to Iranian support for Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas. The United States considers these to be terrorist organizations. True, both have undertaken terrorist operations in the past. But both have evolved into more complex entities. So, that characterization can be challenged.

Perhaps the most useful part of the analysis is the discussion of Iran’s motivation for its actions in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.  In other words, the author is doing something that is all too rare with western commentators these days — he is looking at the regional security situation through Iranian eyes.  He writes:

In Syria for instance, when it seemed likely that Bashar al-Assad would fall, Tehran would have seen that as a very serious threat to its ability to supply Hezbollah so that Hezbollah can deter Israeli attacks on Iran. In Yemen, modest support for the Houthis has been a low-cost opportunity to bugger up the war plans of Iran’s neighbour, rival, and, currently, sworn enemy: Saudi Arabia.

For the full article, see: Iran: Does President Trump Have a Case? (Peter Jenkins on lobelog.com, 28 November 2018).

Update on Saudi Arabia and Yemen

In a resounding defeat for the White House and Republican Senate leadership, the US Senate voted this week to advance legislation that would give President Trump 30 days to get the US military out of Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen, unless he could get Congressional authorization for US military intervention. Which he almost certainly could not.

See: Congress is finally pushing the US to withdraw from Yemen. It’s about time (Mark Weisbrot, theguardian.com, 30 November 2018).

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia and its coalition partner, the United Arab Emirates, have torpedoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and resumption of humanitarian deliveries in Yemen to stave of famine for millions. This is yet more proof that they will not budge so long as western-supplied arms — including those from Canada — just keep on coming.

See: Yemen ceasefire resolution blocked at UN after Saudi and UAE ‘blackmail’ (Julian Borger, theguardian.com, 29 November 2018).

And see CBC journalist Robyn Urback’s disturbing article contending that Canada (one of the world’s richest countries) simply cannot afford to stop selling weapons to Saudi despots.  (Note that we in fact have no idea how many jobs may or may not be lost, because of the secrecy surrounding the contract.)

For a contrasting view, see Andrew Cohen’s opinion piece: Our considered silence on Saudi Arabia is no better than Trump’s brazen acquiescence (ottawacitizen.com, 27 November 2018).  He concludes:

Here we are selling arms to a medieval regime that is using them to kill innocents indiscriminately in Yemen. This is helping them buttress a leadership that jails, tortures and kills without apology.

At the end of the day, if we stand for anything, we have only one choice: Cancel the contract.

Photo credit: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (wikimedia images)

 

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