Archive for the ‘United Nations’ Category

According to recent reports, Hamas negotiates with Gaza’s other armed factions to establish a unilateral cease-fire, after killing eight Israelis on August 18th – and more, via rocket attacks. While some might believe it suggests Hamas is scared and wants to prevent further destruction of its assets, it is likely that the scheme is more sophisticated than that.

Hamas understood in advance that attacking Israeli civilians would provoke Israeli response and no condemnation of the Arab league would defend the Strip. Realizing political winds around the world, though – UN in particular – Ismayil Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader in Gaza believed he could terrorize Israelis, scoring points with his superiors and some neighbors, while suffering relatively little to no damage.

Haniyeh understands that leveraging international press – as well as bodies such as the United Nations and the Arab League – is a cinch; on all previous occasions, the international community was quick to call upon Israel to halt counter-operations in Gaza. The talk of a cease-fire is no more than a ruse to leave the scene unscathed, after achieving Hamas’ goals.

When Hamas declares another lull – which never is what Hamas claims it to be – Israel will have two options. Either abide by the newly set game rules, hence suffering political defeat vis-à-vis Gaza, or continue the armed campaign. The latter option is also split into two: either Israel keeps destroying Gazan targets from the air (mostly an ineffective tactic) or it moves into Gaza with armed forces, an operation similar to 2008-09 operation Cast Lead.

Haniyeh calculated that whatever path Israel chooses, Hamas wins. If Israel halts its attacks, Hamas claims it won the battle. If Israel keeps bombarding the area, each civilian casualty (real or invented by Palestinian press handlers) plays against the Jewish state. And, finally, if Israel moves into Gaza with ground forces, Gaza’s ruler is confident the Israelis will not cause significant damage to Hamas’ infrastructure, learning his lessons from past experiences.

CURRENT – ‘DILLUTED’ – SANCTIONS ON IRAN ARE UNLIKELY TO STOP PRODUCTION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, WITH IRAN AND RUSSIA PLAYING BRILLIANTLY. HOWEVER, NUKES IN HANDS OF AHMADINEJAD COULD EVENTUALLY HARM IRAN, BRING STRONGER SANCTIONS OR EVEN A BLOCKADE.

Nuclear Iran could pose a danger to the Middle East... and to itself. Despite recent prognosis of new sanctions draft against Iran barring sale of advanced weaponry to it, Russians announced they would indeed supply the Mullahs with S-300 anti-aircraft missile system:

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov said the latest sanctions proposal does not pertain to agreements signed with Iran in the past.

"Russia is a responsible supplier to international markets and it has no interest in working towards arming the Middle East," Margelov was quoted as saying by the Novosti and Interfax news agencies. He added that the draft proposal formulated by the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany is "balanced" and that the sanctions it offers are not "paralyzing."

"We are talking about steps that would be unavoidable should Iran not adhere to international law," he said.

(Ynet)

RUSSIA CERTAINLY USES the loophole well to its advantage: they keep Iran at bay by saying they won’t sell it any new weapons, however, they are already willing to supply much to Ahmadinejad. We still know little of what exactly was signed between Medved and Ahmadinejad, thus it is possible the sales would include not only the S-300 system, but also fighter aircraft (such as the MiG-29) and other types of weaponry.

Russia comes out as a sole winner in this situation – at one hand, the West cannot complain about Russian weapons in Iran’s hands; on the other, Iran gets the package; on the third – Russians get paid in full, thus fueling their own economy, and particularly the defense budget.

Some analysts point out that within days of Brazil-brokered ‘enrichment deal’ with Turkey, Iran, played out its cards well, making few significant gains:

1.   Tough UN sanctions are off the table, leaving individual governments the freedom to proceed, or not, with unilateral penalties against Iran’s nuclear violations.

2.   The heavily-diluted UN draft omits any mention of energy bans, such the refined oil products, a provision formerly advocated by Washington as the most effective means of forcing Iran to abandon its drive for a nuclear weapon.

3.   Not only has the notion of a sea blockade gone by the board, but heavy restrictions are clamped down on searches of vessels suspected of carrying contraband military or nuclear cargoes, for which permission must now be requested by the nation flagged. This allows Iranand Syria to safely import nuclear materials and missiles by sea without fear of interception. Even before the haggling begins, therefore, the new "sanctions" draft before the UN Security Council scarcely answers to its description.

4.   The Obama administration’s inclination to treat the new uranium exchange deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey as the Six-Power Group’s springboard for bringing Tehran back to the negotiating table offers Iran the gift of more time and space to achieve its ultimate objective of a nuclear weapon.

(DebkaFile)

Israeli leaders are probably shocked at the incompetence and stark pacifism of the international community. While nobody wants war, it is clearly understood that the current sanctions draft will lead nowhere, as it basically leaves in Iran in its current position for at least several years.

Iran’s strategy could be in the wrong, however. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to create a nuclear weapon as soon as possible, in order to control as much of Middle East as possible. Then, Ahmadinejad believes, Iran would could and it would be impossible to simply impose sanctions on it. He could be wrong, however. True, Iran is no North Korea, but it could be close. While uncertain, the international community would be much more inclined to impose tough sanctions on Iran when it realizes its nuclear potential. While a blockade would always be the last resort of the pacifist United Nations, nuclear Iran would cause much worry for surrounding states, thus giving sanctions a few more votes in the Security Council. While Russia or China could indeed veto such decision, they would be unlikely to do so, as their current rhetoric allows them to waste time until Iran finishes its nuclear research, but not much after it does.

Nuclear Iran certainly would start a new era in the Middle East. Radical Islamists African countries are likely to flock to it for protection and military supply, which Iran would gladly provide (unless a blockade is indeed imposed). Few more entities, such as Syria, Gaza’s Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah would make bolder steps, bluntly confronting Israel, even militarily – feeling Iran’s protective backing. On the other hand, Iran’s enemies – such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are likely to make bolder steps on their side against Iran-aligned elements within their societies. Thus – if he makes it, that is – Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak would instruct his forces to up the stakes in fight against radical Muslim Brotherhood, and would take further steps to lock down Gaza. Jordan, knowing it is vulnerable, would likely keep any anti-Iran operation under covers, and would likely request help from either of its neighbors – even Israel, although that would be accepted covertly and in a limited fashion.

Overall, nuclear Iran certainly would alter Middle East’s inner workings. However, it is quite possible the altercation would not be good for Iran, as its only option could be aligning itself with even poorer nations, who can do little to further Iran’s goals on international arena.

Iran and Brazil - new best friends? In a trick worthy of better politicians, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed surprisingly quickly to Brazil’s offer of enriching uranium in Turkey:

The shipment of the low-grade uranium ostensibly would prevent the possibility that Iran could use the material to build a nuclear weapon. However, Germany and Britain remain unimpressed. Iran would continue to be able to produce high-grade uranium, and Turkey would return the low-grade uranium if it does not ship fuel rods within a year.

No announcement was made concerning what Turkey would do with the low-grade uranium, which would be stored under supervision of United Nations and Iranian authorities.

(Channel 7 News)

THE DEADLOCK SOLVED itself swiftly – so swiftly, in fact, that it smells real dirty. After all, Brazil stepped in as a mediator only a week ago, and managed to solve a situation stalled for a month?

Not so fast, though. While Brazil’s da Silva stepped up his efforts, Iran still claims the right to continue enrichment program, thus it is unclear whether Turkey would play any role at all. With Russians warning the deal unlikely to solve anything, the international community cannot really stop pushing Iran:

"One question is: will Iran itself enrich uranium? As far as I understand from officials of that state, such work will be continued. In this case, of course, those concerns that the international community had before could remain," [Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev said.

(Haaretz)

The Europeans put even sadder masks on, expressing outright disgust at Iran’s mockery of a deal:

The office of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels said the deal "does not answer all of the concerns" raised by Tehran’s nuclear program.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry responded that no agreement could replace the draft inked between Iran and the IAEA last October in which Iran would transfer its enriched uranium to France and Russia, where it would be processed into nuclear fuel rods and returned back to Iran to fuel Tehran’s research reactor.

(Ynet)

The analysts go far beyond disgust, illustrating outright humiliation of the West and somewhat good political planning and execution by anti-US bloc of Iran, Brazil and the Thanksgiving Country:

Just think: Obama invited Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the White House and praised him wildly: Obama called himself "a great admirer of the progressive, forward-looking leadership that President Lula has shown." This is despite the fact that the Brazilian leader is as close to a Communist as you can get nowadays, has sunk his country into huge debts, and has been a major critic of the United States.

And then what does “Lula” do after being feted in the White House?

Naturally, he is trying to destroy U.S. efforts to raise and enforce sanctions on Iran. Lula has tried to save Iran from sanctions by putting together a phony diplomatic deal on Tehran’s terms. And guess who his partner is in trying to sabotage sanctions and help Tehran? Why that "moderate Muslim" regime in Turkey for which the Obama Administration has had so much praise!

Now Lula has just visited Tehran in person and proposed that Brazil should provide Iran with equipment and parts to modernize its oil production while Iran assists Brazil in deep-water drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean. Lula also said he would urge Brazilian companies to invest in Iranian refineries. There can be no doubt that Brazil will oppose sanctions in the UN.

(Rubin Report)

Other analysts go further, echoing warnings by Western countries that the deal, based on technicality, legitimizes Iran’s continued nuclear program and further stalling possibility of sanctions on Iran:

2. The deal legitimizes Iran’s right to enriched uranium of a higher grade, which can be converted in short order to fuel for a nuclear bomb. Tehran has now gained an international seal for going up to weapons grade.

3.  Given the close bonds unfolding between Turkey, Iran and Syria, no independent agency can expect a chance to monitor the transaction or find out the actual quantity of enriched uranium Tehran is in fact exporting to Turkey.

4.  The Six-Power group’s compromise proposition for the export of 1.200 kilograms of low-enriched Iranian uranium was put forward more than a year ago and left hanging. There is no telling how much enriched uranium Tehran has produced in the interim period. Therefore, the quantity Iran has agreed to send to Turkey may be a drop in the ocean. In any case, the deal leaves Tehran with all the necessary infrastructure for continuing to build up its stocks of enriched uranium – and at a higher grade.

(DebkaFile)

The ridiculousness of the situation portrayed best by the inability of the sole superpower to impose any kind of restraint on Iran. I could understand why President Obama feels he cannot single-handedly impose a blockade on Iran, as he outdoes himself distancing his policies from those of his predecessor. However, lack of US’ strong lead undermines any possibility of peaceful solution to the problem. The Europeans certainly will not take a lead and are likely to portray themselves as being forced into sanctions, as European governments attempt to contain rage of millions of Muslim immigrants as well as some neighbors. The United States – the one country that does not heavily depend on pacifying rioting Muslim youths – fails the test of time, as neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton presented a clear stance and strategy for combating Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arsenal.

Thus Israel is left with a tough choice. Feeling it is out of friends, it mulls the option to attack; nevertheless, it is the route Netanyahu’s unlikely to take as he clearly understands the repercussions of such a move. While Israel – and other intelligence agencies around the world – attempted to sabotage Iran’s program, they achieved only scarce success.

This leaves Israel with two options, neither of them perfect: step up anti-ballistic defense R&D and step up Mossad’s sabotage. Neither will bear necessary fruit. Israel’s tough stance will force Netanyahu and his generals to think of new strategies – and seek new friends.

Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Claimed the current crisis was created by white people with blue eyes. Brazil, now accepted by Iran as its mediator with the West, declared it would “exhaust every possibility” to resolve the conflict:

"I want to exhaust every possibility up until the last minute of finding a pact with the president of Iran so that it can carry on enriching uranium but assuring us that it’s only for peaceful purposes," he told El Pais.

Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have been trying to revive a stalled nuclear fuel deal in a bid to stave off further sanctions against Iran.

Lula will travel to Iran at the end of next week to work with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders towards a negotiated solution with Iran, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Reuters on Friday.

(Ynet)

IS ONE OF  the options to “explore” is leaving Iran’s enrichment program intact? It is quite likely. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did a fine trick to stall criticism of his nuclear research, by inviting a mostly uninvolved party onto the table. It will take Brazilians some time to get around and learn everything there is to learn, while the Iranians go full-speed towards the nuke.

The new round of mediation is nothing but a trick, with Brazil unlikely to bring anything new to the table. On several occasions, Iran’s Ahmadinejad stated nuclear research is Iran’s “right”, and as of now decline any proposition. It is unlikely the current mediation would shift anything for the better.

Goldstone in Gaza. Listening to one side, rather than the other? Here is an excerpt, published by the Jerusalem Post, of a speech by Avrom Krengel, Chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, in which he addressed UN-appointed Richard Goldstone:

The UN Human Rights Council is notorious for its bias against Israel. Since its creation in 2006, the UNHRC has devoted 27 of its 33 censures to resolutions criticizing Israel but not one against Sri Lanka after it killed an estimated 20,000 civilians, or against Sudan for the Darfur atrocities.

The enabling resolution of the UNHRC, upon which your mission was established, stated that the designated purpose of your mission was “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression.”

Later on in your report, however, a different picture emerges. You state that the Gaza authorities said they had nothing to do with the Al-Kassam brigades or other armed groups, and also had “no information on the activities of the Palestinian armed groups, or about the storage of weapons in mosques and buildings.”

The report also noted that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups.

In respect of Israel, however, no such contextualization of its actions is provided. Nowhere do you feel it is of value “for contextual purposes” to mention that Hamas’s founding charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, or that the reason for Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade of Gaza, and the US and EU sanctions imposed on Hamas is a direct result of Hamas’s refusal to abandon its primary aim of destroying Israel. You fail to mention that Hamas is an implacable enemy of any two-state solution, that at the height of the Oslo Peace Accords, Hamas waged a merciless terror campaign against Israel, resulting in 150 Israeli civilian deaths, and killed over 500 Israeli civilians in suicide bombings between 2000 and 2009.

(The Jerusalem Post)

Go on, read the whole thing. It is worth it.

Richard Goldstone. Playing hypocrisy? As UN-appointed Richard Goldstone was busy scrutinizing every Israeli step during operation Cast Lead, he was hiding secrets of his own. According to recent report from Israeli press, the Judge was an active participant in South Africa’s Apartheid regime, including sentencing 28 native Africans to death:

Justice Richard Goldstone, appointed to investigate the "war crimes" and the IDF’s alleged human rights violations committed by Israel, sentenced to death at least 28 black defendants appealing their convictions. Goldstone previously criticized countries that allow executions, but while serving as a judge in South Africa in the 80’s and 90, actually expressed support for this policy. In one of the verdicts, the judge wrote that "the scaffold is the only punishment that can deter murderers."

Furthermore, Goldstone also sentenced four black persons, convicted on violent crimes, to lashes, a punishment unseen in civilized world. Goldstone argues in response that he has always been against the death penalty, but during the apartheid he had to respect the laws of the state, and stated that he never discriminated against blacks, even though he had to implement, at times, immoral laws. "I was always committed to maintaining the equality and non-discrimination as well as the law," Goldstone said, "Sometimes those two principles collided in very complex ways."

(Channel 2 News)

THE REPORT HURTS Goldstone’s credibility, particularly among his critics. While seemingly a legit statement, adhering to “immoral” laws in his position was a choice. His job was to be a judge – he just as well could be a defense attorney. Same argument may be thrown, of course, at US judges, who sentence offenders to death. The issues are not similar, however, as during the Apartheid regime many native Africans were convicted without proper investigation or representation: only few blacks were lucky enough to be granted freedom.

By the way, here is another fellow, who only adhered to the law:

 

EichmannAdolfSS

It brings a great sorrow to see yet another person playing a double-standard game, while participating in one of greatest crimes against humanity. On the other hand, if Goldstone’s harsh attack against Israel was an attempt to atone for own deeds – it was a cheap one.

apartheid

Palestinians on the line? Iran tests its long-range missiles Surprisingly enough, it seems Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abaas allegedly asked the Chinese to support sanctions against Iran. Reason: many Palestinians could be killed in case of armed confrontation:

Hu received the Palestinian leader after the gala opening of Shanghai World Expo.  According to Chinese sources, Abbas explained that for once, most Arab nations – and the Palestinians, most of all – are ranged on the same side asIsrael and the West in their profound anxiety about Iran’s nuclear program and the threat it poses of regional violence.

Abbas told the Chinese leader that he spoke on behalf of a majority of Arab rulers, in particular, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zaed al-Nahyan and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Palestinian cities have no defenses against their rockets should Iran and its allies, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas wage war against Israel, he said, and thousands of Palestinians in the line of fire would pay with their lives. He therefore pleaded with President Hu to drop his objections to harsh sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council as the only way to avert a conflict that could spark a Middle East conflagration.

(DebkaFile)

WHILE THE DEVELOPMENT is amazing, two important points should be mentioned:

  1. As he opposes Israel, Abbas still aligns himself with the West, all the more underscoring his rift with Gaza’s Hamas. Hamas, an Iran-aligned group, works together with Syria and HizbAllah. While Abbas certainly worries about an all-out war betweeen Israel and Iran, he finally sees an opportunity to hit Hamas where it hurts – its support from Iran. As Hamas feels the pinch in Gaza, it might attempt a coup in the West Bank, just as it did in Gaza. In order to save his power, Abbas needs sanctions against Iran, thus weakening Hamas.
  2. Among all Arab nations (even though not exactly a nation) the Palestinians are weakest of all. The distance between Israel and the West Bank is very little – if Iran strikes, particularly with nuclear weapons, the West Bank will get same dose of atomic residue as the Israelis would. Abbas knows that if there’s a war – his people get it.