Pentagon to Send Military Battalions to Contain Iran’s Threats to US Allies

Washington- A US military official has revealed his country’s intention to form forces to send them to the Arab region to help counter Iranian threats.
 
“The United States wants to help the Arab countries deal with Iranian threats,” said General Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command at the 26th annual Arab-American Policymakers Conference in Washington.
 
“The Pentagon is working to achieve that desire and ensure its effective implementation. That includes the establishment of US military battalions sent as missions to the region and be designed specifically to provide advice and assistance,” he noted, stressing that such cooperation was an example of “partnership” between Washington and its allies in the region.
 
Votel underlined his country’s keenness to preserve relations with Arab states, adding that the Middle East would remain of exceptional importance to the United States, “considering that opportunities in the region are greater than obstacles and that regional countries want strong relations with the United States.”
 
The US General went on to say that security relations were the factor that maintains political relations, stating that bilateral military cooperation was still strong among the countries of the region, especially in Syria and Iraq and in the war against ISIS and other terrorist groups.
 
Stressing the importance of the US focus on security partnerships in the Middle East and encouraging local solutions in those countries, Votel said that America’s allies were leading their military wars in the region, while the role of the United States was limited to support and assistance.
 
“The United States will help its partners wherever and whenever it is necessary, because this benefits American interests,” he told the conference, which is organized by the National Council on US-Arab Relations.
 
Founded in 1983, the council is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world.
 
The organization is based in Washington and works on strengthening and expanding strategic, economic, political, commercial, and defense cooperation ties between the United States and Arab countries.

The Iran Deal: the Dog’s Dinner Obama Dished Out

“Trump violates international treaty!” “Trump tears up pact signed by world powers!”

These were some of the headlines that pretended to report US President Donald Trump’s move on the “Iran nuclear deal” last week. Some in the Western media even claimed that the move would complicate the task of curbing North Korea as Pyongyang might conclude that reaching any deal with the world powers, as Iran did, is useless.

But what is it exactly that Trump has done?

Before answering that question let’s deal with another question. Is Obama’s Iran “deal” a treaty?

The answer is: no.

It is, as Tehran says “a roadmap” in which Iran promises to take some steps in exchange for “big powers” reciprocating by taking some steps of their own.

Even then, the “roadmap” or “wish-list” as former US Secretary of State John Kerry described it, does not have an authoritative text; it comes in five different versions, three in Persian and two in English, with many differences.

The “wish-list” hasn’t been signed by anyone.

Nor has it been submitted, let alone approved, by the legislative organs of any of the countries involved.

The various texts do not envisage any arbitration mechanism to decide whether or not it has been implemented. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was not involved in shaping the deal, is charged with the task of assessing and, if possible, certifying, Iranian compliance. But there is no mechanism for assessing and certifying whether other participants have done what they are supposed to do.

Legally speaking, the so-called deal doesn’t exist and thus cannot be “torn up” by anybody.

The trouble with the “deal” starts with its genesis.

Jack Straw, a former British Foreign Secretary and an ardent supporter of Iran, had told me that the idea began at a meeting in his official residence in London with then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. At that time the IAEA had established that Iran had violated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and had asked the UN Security Council to take action. The UNSC had passed resolutions that Iran had rejected because the mullahs didn’t want to appear to be repeating Saddam Hussein’s “mistake” of walking into “UN resolutions trap.”

Straw came up with the idea of creating an ad hoc group to work out a deal with Tehran, by-passing the IAEA and the Security Council, thus flattering the mullahs that they were given special treatment because their regime was special.

It seems that Rice was receptive and initiated a “bold move” by inviting then secretary of Iran’s High Council of National Security Ali Ardeshir, alias Larijani, to Washington exactly at the time that Straw was about to leave office.

Over 100 US visas were issued for Larijani and his entourage. But Iran’s “Supreme Guide” vetoed the visit at the last minute.

When Barack Obama entered the White House, he revived the scheme and after secret talks with Tehran in Oman, arranged by his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he transformed the idea into a process.

Tehran felt that in Obama it had a friend in Washington.

And, Obama really went out of his way to woo and flatter the mullahs.

He created a parallel Security Council, composed of the five “veto” holding powers plus Germany which was and remains Iran’s principal trading partner.

The concoction, dubbed P5+1, was never given an official status.

It was not formally and legally appointed by anybody, had no written mission statement, implied no legal commitment for members and was answerable to no one.

Tehran accepted the trick with its usual attitude of sulking pride.

Larijani’s successor, Saeed Jalili, boasted that the Islamic Republic’s “special status” was recognized by “big powers”, implying that such things as NPT or even international law as a whole didn’t apply to Iran.

Jalili proved a pain in the neck. He saw talks with the P5+1 as a mechanism for Iran to suggest, if not dictate, the course of events on a global scale.

He was not ready to talk about Iran’s nuclear cheating unless the P5+1 also discussed Iran’s plans for a range of international problems. In one meeting, Jalili displayed his “package” dealing with “problems that affect humanity”, from the environment to the “total withdrawal of the American Great Satan” from the region.

Somewhere along the way, the European Union, encouraged by Britain and Germany, hitch-hiked and secured a side-chair along the P5+1.

The idea was to use the EU foreign policy point-person as a punching bag against Iranians who appeared unwilling to play. Thus the P5+1 was enlarged into a Group of 31, that is to say 28 EU members plus the US, China and Russia. (At one point Brazil, Turkey and Kazakhstan also seemed to have won side-chairs with the group but were quickly disembarked.)

Once Jalili was out of the picture, as the new Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, named his Foreign Minister Mohammed-Javad Zarif as point-man, things began to move fast.

During his long years in the US, part of it as diplomat in New York, Zarif had established contacts with the Democratic Party, including John Kerry who took over from Mrs. Clinton as secretary of State. Zarif persuaded his bosses not to miss “the golden opportunity” provided by Obama’s administration which included many “sympathizers” with Iran.

Thus, in just two years what had proved impossible for 10 years became possible.

A vague text was established, fudging the issue, and declaring victory for both sides. The participants in the game agreed to keep the text away from their respective legislatures so as not to risk scrutiny of the witches’ brew they had cooked.

The so-called “deal” was dubbed a non-binding “roadmap”, implying that the “roadmap” isn’t the same as the journey.

Two years after unveiling, the ”roadmap” remains just that.

Neither Iran nor the G31 have delivered on their promises. Iran’s path to developing nuclear weapons remains open, although this doesn’t mean that Tehran is currently making a bomb. For their part, the G31 have not canceled the sanctions imposed on Iran.

Both sides have lied to one another and to their respective audiences.

Obama has left a dog’s dinner of diplomatic deception. Interestingly, Trump hasn’t thrown that dog’s dinner into the dustbin and promises to rearrange and improve it.

Is that possible?

Tillerson Heads to the Gulf, Kuwaiti FM Discusses Crisis with Qatar Emir

Washington and Dammam – The US State Department announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will begin on Friday a tour that will take him to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, India, and Switzerland.

In Riyadh, Tillerson will take part in the inaugural Coordination Council meeting between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He will also meet with various Saudi leaders to discuss the conflict in Yemen, the ongoing Gulf dispute with Qatar, stance on Iran, and a number of other important regional and bilateral issues.

The statement also mentioned that Tillerson will then travel to Doha, where he will meet with Qatari leaders and US military officials to discuss joint counter-terrorism efforts, the ongoing Gulf dispute, and other regional and bilateral issues, including Iran and Iraq.

Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah arrived in Qatar to discuss the latest developments of the Gulf crisis and the Kuwaiti efforts to settle it through dialogue.

The FM and his accompanying delegation met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani where the two discussed “the close and brotherly relations between the two countries as well as regional and international issues,” according to Qatar News Agency.

Sabah also conveyed the greetings of Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and his wishes of more progress and prosperity to the Emir and the Qatari people.

On Monday, Kuwait’s Emir went to the Saudi capital Riyadh where he met King Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss the Qatar crisis and the latest developments in the region.

In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced that the four countries boycotting Qatar are constantly coordinating and will continue to do so until they detect a positive response from Doha.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva, Shoukry mentioned that the quartet is coordinating on possible measures against Qatar, which has refused to respond to the principles concerning the national security of the four countries boycotting Doha: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain.

The Egyptian FM stated that efforts will be exerted until the national security of the four countries is guaranteed and positive outcomes are detected which will lead to a change in Syria and Iraq.

He concluded that the measures of the quartet resulted in re-stabilizing the region.

Haley Urges UN to Confront Iran’s ‘Destructive Conduct’

London- US Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to adopt the Trump administration’s comprehensive approach to Iran and address all aspects of its “destructive conduct” — not just the 2015 nuclear deal.

She told the council that Iran “has repeatedly thumbed its nose” at council resolutions aimed at addressing Iranian support for terrorism and regional conflicts and has illegally supplied weapons to armed groups in Yemen and Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon.

Haley cited a long list of Iranian violations, including threatening freedom of navigation, cyberattacks, imprisonment of journalists and other foreigners, and abuses of its people by persecuting some religions.

According to the Associated Press, she called Iran’s most threatening act its repeated ballistic missile launches.

“This should be a clarion call to everyone in the United Nations,” Haley said, warning that when Tehran starts down the path of ballistic missiles, “we will soon have another North Korea on our hands.”

Haley said the Security Council has the opportunity to change its policy toward Iran.

“I sincerely hope it will take this chance to defend not only the resolutions but peace, security and human rights in Iran,” she said.

“Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat,” Haley stressed. “Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior.”

White Nationalism Is Destroying the West

On July 14, 2016, as French families strolled along Nice’s seafront promenade, a Tunisian man driving a large truck rammed into a crowd, killing 86 people. A month later, the mayor of nearby Cannes declared that “burkinis” — a catchall term for modest swimwear favored by many religious women — would be banned from the city’s beaches; a municipal official called the bathing suits “ostentatious clothing” expressing an “allegiance to terrorist movements that are at war with us.”

One of the law’s first victims was a third-generation Frenchwoman who was ordered by the police to strip off her veil while onlookers shouted, “Go back to your country.” Still, many French politicians and intellectuals rushed to defend the ban. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy called modest swimwear “a provocation”; Alain Finkielkraut, a prominent philosopher, argued that “the burkini is a flag.” But what they presented as a defense of secular liberal values was in fact an attack on them — a law, masquerading as neutral, had explicitly targeted one religious group.

When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of “jihadists” (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on ISIS attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing ISIS, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.

But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.

Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.

The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.

Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.

Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.

The trend is unmistakable. Hungary’s ruling party has plastered anti-Semitic ads on bus stops and billboards; an overtly neo-Nazi movement won 7 percent of the vote in Greece’s 2015 election; Germany’s upstart far-right party, which includes a popular member who criticized Berlin’s Holocaust memorial as “a monument of shame,” won 13 percent in last month’s election.

In France and Denmark, populist leaders have gone to great pains to shed the right’s crudest baggage and rebrand themselves in a way that appeals to Jews, women and gay people by depicting Muslims as the primary threat to all three groups. But their core goal remains the same: to close the borders and expel unwanted foreigners.

Cultural and demographic anxiety about dwindling native populations and rapidly increasing immigrant ones lies at the heart of these parties’ ideologies. In America, Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, worries about the impossibility of restoring “our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” In Europe, the right frets about who’s having the new German or Danish babies and the fact that it’s not white Germans or Danes — a social Darwinist dread popularized by the German writer Thilo Sarrazin, whose best-selling 2010 book, “Germany Abolishes Itself,” warned that barely literate Muslims were poised to replace the supposedly more intelligent German race.

The leader of the Netherlands’ newest far-right party fears that Europe will not exist “as a predominantly white-skinned, Christian or post-Christian, Roman-law-based kind of society” a few decades from now. “If I go to a museum, and I look at these portraits, they are essentially people like me that I can see. In 50 years it won’t be,” he worries.

France, more than any other country, has been the source of these ideas.

In February 2016, French right-wing groups descended on the town of Calais, protesting a huge informal refugee camp there known as the “Jungle.”


The New York Times

Trump’s Strategy Includes Restricting Iran’s Support for ‘Hezbollah,’ Hamas

Trump

Riyadh, London – US President Donald Trump’s strategy to neutralize Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region includes curbing its support for terrorist organizations and militants in the Middle East and Afghanistan, a US official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official at the US State Department said that the strategy included four key elements or objectives.

He pointed out that the first strategic goal is “to neutralize the destabilizing activities by Iran, especially its support for terrorism and insurgents, with a focus on its activities in the Middle East in particular and also in Afghanistan.”

Earlier this week, Trump announced the possibility of terminating the Iranian nuclear deal once and for all, because he was “tired of achieving benefits at [his] country’s expenses”. The European Union, for its part, called on the US Congress to maintain the agreement.

Trump’s new strategy – according to the US official – includes putting an end to Iran’s subversive activities in Syria and its support for terrorism through groups such as “Hezbollah”, Hamas, the Taliban and Iraqi Shi’ite factions, noting that Tehran was seeking to fuel ethnic and sectarian strife in Iraq.

The US president said on Monday that a total termination of the Iran nuclear deal was a very real possibility.

“It might be a total termination. That’s a very real possibility,” Trump said before a Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday welcomed European support for the nuclear deal between his country and international powers.

Rouhani said in a statement on the Iranian presidency website that the consensus on the support for the agreement, especially by the Europeans, “is an important political achievement for Iran,” according to the German news agency.

Following a closed-door meeting on Monday, EU foreign ministers appealed to the US Congress to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran and avoid a return to the sanctions option.

“This agreement is necessary for the security of the region,” EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said, without elaborating on the role the EU could play in countering Iran’s regional activities.

King Salman Asserts Saudi Support for Trump’s Firm Iran Policy

Saudi

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia said it supports and welcomes the recently announced United States strategy towards Iran, its hostile behavior, and funding of international and regional terror, said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz when chairing a cabinet session on Tuesday.

He also confirmed Saudi Arabia’s continued commitment to collaborating with US partners in an effort to achieve objectives announced by US President Donald Trump.

At the outset of the cabinet session, King Salman briefed ministers on the telephone call he had with Trump during which the monarch emphasized Riyadh’s support of his firm strategy towards Iran, its aggressive activities and support for terrorism in the region and worldwide.

He also stressed the Kingdom’s full commitment to continue working with its partners in the US to achieve the desired goals announced by Trump.

The King also briefed the cabinet on the results of his meeting with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, during which they reviewed bilateral relations and discussed overall regional events.

The cabinet was briefed on the telephone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during which the Palestinian leader reviewed with King Salman the recently signed Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement.

King Salman gave great emphasis to “unity” in paving the way ahead for the Palestinian Authority to further serve its citizens. He said that the Kingdom is looking forward to this important reconciliation, which realizes the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians.

The King briefed the cabinet on a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi during which he stressed Riyadh’s support for Iraq’s unity, security and stability. He underlined the adherence of all parties to the Iraqi constitution for the interest of Iraq and its people.

The Cabinet also reviewed a number of regional and international developments, including outcomes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual and the World Bank (WB) meetings in Washington.

Meetings focused on the development of the Kingdom’s economy and its efforts in implementing its transformation Vision 2030, affiliated operational programs and initiatives.

Army Sgt. Held Captive in Afghanistan Faces Life in Prison

Washington- Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who vanished in Afghanistan and spent five years in brutal captivity before the United States recovered him in a controversial prisoner swap, pleaded guilty Monday to two crimes in connection with his disappearance.

Bergdahl, now 31, was a private first class when he went missing in 2009. Appearing in an Army courtroom at Fort Bragg, N.C., he entered guilty pleas to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

The desertion charge could yield up to five years’ confinement. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Rarely used, it’s applied when service members run away, surrender or otherwise endanger fellow troops’ safety through disobedience, neglect or intentional misconduct.

“I understand that leaving was against the law,” he told the judge, according to the Associated Press, adding later, “I believed they would notice me missing, but I didn’t believe they would have reason to search for one private.”

Bergdahl walked away from his combat outpost just before midnight June 29, 2009, in what an Army investigation determined was an attempt to cause a crisis and draw attention to concerns that Bergdahl had about his leaders. The soldier was captured within hours by  armed Taliban fighters on motorcycles and turned over to the Haqqani network, a group in Pakistan that tortured him on and off for years.

A US Special Forces team recovered Bergdahl in May 2014 as part of a deal in which the Obama administration released five Taliban operatives held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The move was bitterly protested by some critics, including Donald Trump, who declared during his bid for the White House that Bergdahl was a traitor. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office concluded that the Obama administration violated the law by failing to provide Congress with sufficient notice about its plans.

Obama administration officials defended the prisoner swap, saying the United States does not leave soldiers behind on the battlefield.

Bergdahl was charged in March 2015. It is not clear what punishment he will receive from the case’s judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. He is expected to be sentenced at Fort Bragg in an Oct. 23 hearing that could include testimony from several US service members and veterans who Nance ruled this year were injured while searching for Bergdahl.

Thousands of US troops were involved in that effort over Bergdahl’s five years in captivity.

Nance also could take into account Bergdahl’s treatment in Pakistan. An Army physician who testified in the case found that Bergdahl, who was at times kept in a cage, suffered muscular nerve damage in his lower legs, degenerative back damage and a loss of range in motion in his left shoulder that prevents him from lifting heavy objects. In addition to confinement, Bergdahl could receive a dishonorable discharge and lose his medical benefits.

Bergdahl’s defense team has said he was unable to receive a fair trial due to Trump’s repeated attacks. One attorney, Eugene Fidell, accused Trump of treating Bergdahl as “a political chew toy,” but Nance rejected a request to dismiss the case on grounds that Trump had unlawfully altered the course of the case.

In an interview published by ABC News on Monday, Bergdahl complained bitterly about his prospect of a fair trial due to Trump, and said it was “insulting” that some critics accuse him of sympathizing with the Taliban.

“We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted,” Bergdahl said. “The people who want to hang me — you’re never going to convince those people.”

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, a senior Army officer who interviewed Bergdahl, testified in 2015 that he found Bergdahl “unrealistically idealistic” and believed a jail sentence would be inappropriate, given the circumstances of the case. A military doctor determined that Bergdahl, who had previously washed out of the Coast Guard, exhibited symptoms of a mental disorder known as schizotypal personality disorder, which is considered a variant of schizophrenia that has less frequent or intense psychotic episodes.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser, said in the ABC News report published Monday that he also does not think that Bergdahl deserves jail time.

“So the guy deserted his men, his soldiers, his squad — no doubt,” Flynn said. “[But] I don’t think he should serve another day in any sort of confinement or jail or anything like that, because frankly, even though he put himself into this situation to a degree, we — the United States government and the United States military — put him in Afghanistan.”

The Washington Post

The New Bloc against Tehran

Iran

The pace of developments has taken us by surprise. Ever since Washington announced its decision against Iran’s government, Britain and Germany shifted their stance from insisting on remaining loyal to the commitments of the nuclear deal to announcing that they support Trump’s plan to confront Tehran’s regime in the Middle East.

The problem is not related to an agreement over nuclear activity as much as it is about the wars, which Iran is regionally managing. It is unreasonable to let the regime loose in the region and allow it to spread chaos, threaten other regimes and dominate Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. All this would basically be its reward for decreasing uranium enrichment!

Britain and Germany criticized Iranian practices and announced they will join the US in confronting Tehran’s policy. This position foils Iran’s attempts to adopt the entire agreement in one package to impose it on everyone without distinguishing between preventing nuclear activity, which qualifies it for military supremacy, and between the dangerous practices of the regime, which is benefiting from the nuclear deal itself.

We must acknowledge that the White House wittingly managed the battle with its European allies who completely rejected backing down from the agreement and refused to take any action that may lead to tense relations with Tehran.

However, President Trump put two options before them: correct the mistakes related to the agreement or cancel it altogether. He insisted on refusing the previous situation. This stance is in harmony with the Republican Party’s view and his government, of course, supported the decision.

The wheel will begin to turn again to pressure Tehran’s regime, which will be responsible for the next economic and political crisis it will suffer from – that is if it refuses to change its behavior and to suspend its military and militant activities in the region.

The US and governments that support it it do not oppose Iran’s right to establish a civil nuclear program, but Washington expects Tehran rein in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its intelligence apparatuses in the region.

Iran must withdraw the militias, which the IRGC established and trained and which consist of powerless refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other countries. It also developed “Hezbollah’s” roles and turned the party members into mercenaries who launch wars on its behalf in the region.

It is preparing the Houthi Ansar Allah group in Yemen for this same purpose. Iran also used a naval network to smuggle weapons to conflict areas in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon and used ships to smuggle supplies to fund the Yemeni war. It tried to do the same in Syria via the Mediterranean Sea. Iran also has activities in Afghanistan as it has supported the war there ever since the American invasion of the country following the September 11 attacks.

Iran could not have expanded in this manner in the region if those who signed the agreement hadn’t submitted to its conditions and hadn’t lifted sanctions randomly. Tehran could not have expanded in Syria if the former US administration, under Barack Obama, hadn’t been lenient with it out of fear that it may not sign the deal.

The challenge will be in proposing a new project to Tehran. This can include lifting sanctions in exchange of keeping the deal and getting Iran to commit to withdrawing all its foreign militias from conflict zones and pledging to stop supporting local militias allied with it, like the Houthis, the League of Righteous People, “Hezbollah in Iraq” and others.

To pressure Iran, Washington said it will revive its support of the Iranian opposition that is seeking to topple the regime. Obama’s administration had stopped doing that and had suspended supporting academic, political and media activities directed against Tehran in order to please Rouhani’s government.

Now that the political confrontation is back on, Tehran is faced before a new equation: stop wars or be sanctioned again. All this will be accompanied with the formation of a new bloc, whose aims are to pressure Iran and guarantee the implementation of sanctions.

European Countries Will Remain Committed to Nuclear Deal

Trump, Nuclear deal

London– Reactions to the announcement of US President on Iran’s nuclear deal are still surfacing, and despite Germany and UK’s confirmation that they will stand committed to the nuclear deal, both countries stated they are “concerned by the possible implications” of Trump’s refusal to certify it and reiterated the importance of thwarting Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region.

Britain and Germany agreed on Sunday they remained committed to the nuclear deal with Iran even after US’ decision to decertify the agreement.

“They agreed the UK and Germany both remained firmly committed to the deal,” spokeswoman of UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement after a call between the PM and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The spokeswoman stated that the two officials also agreed that the international community needed to continue to come together to “push back against Iran’s destabilizing regional activity, and to explore ways of addressing concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday the US is trying to stay in the Iran nuclear deal while hoping to achieve more from it.

During an interview with CNN, Tillerson said the US is open to the possibility of seeking another agreement.
“We’re going to work with our European partners and allies to see if we can’t address these concerns,” he added.

Tillerson said Iran had committed technical violations of the deal, but that the agreement was structured in a way to give Iran significant time to remedy its violations.

Tillerson explained that Trump demanded a broader strategy on Iran, adding that the US was focused on more issues than simply Iran’s potential nuclear ambitions, citing the nation’s ballistic missile program and support for groups adversarial to the US throughout the Middle East.

“What the President wants is a more comprehensive strategy,” Tillerson confirmed.

He said the US was working to address issues it had with the multilateral agreement and anticipated that might require a new deal.

During several occasions, Tehran confirmed it refuses re-negotiations on its nuclear programs.

Earlier last week, Head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Mohamad Ali Jafari announced that Iran believes that many issues in the region can be solved outside the negotiations’ table.

When asked if he agrees with Defense Minister James Matis, Tillerson said he agrees with the minister that they shouldn’t rush the Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran.

Meanwhile, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the US will stay in for now, as it looks for ways to help the American people “feel safer” by going to Congress.

“I think what you’re going to see is the president’s going to work very closely with Congress to try and come up with something that is more proportionate, something that does make sense for the US to agree to,” Haley told NBC.

Haley said that Iran should not become the next North Korea.

“So what this says to North Korea is, ‘Don’t expect us to engage in a bad deal. And also, if at any point we do come up with something, expect us to follow through with it. Expect us to hold you accountable. You’re not just going to have a free-for-all,” she stated.

For his part, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said that nobody else will trust any US administration to engage in any long-term negotiation.

During an interview with CBS, Zarif reiterated that this is not a bilateral treaty between Iran and the United States, adding that the US is a permanent member of the Security Council and if it’s not going to uphold a resolution, that not only it voted for but it sponsored, then the credibility of the institution that the United States considers to be very important would be at stake.

Zarif warned that this administration is withdrawing from everything and people cannot trust anymore the word of the US.

“I believe the Trump administration is closing its eyes on the realities of our region. We believe it would be important for the United States for the Trump administration to exercise a reset in its cognitive disorder with regard to our region,” Zarif told CBS.

Speaking in an interview with state TV late Saturday, Zarif also said, “Trump’s last night remarks on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are inconsistent with articles 26, 28 and 29 of the treaty.

“The action plan bans the US administration officials from making negative comments on JCPOA,” he said.

The deal is required to be implemented “in good faith” and the US should “refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing” sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Zarif said he lodged nine complaints to the Joint Commission and will write a new one concerning Trump’s statements.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to Trump’s statements saying no president could single-handedly revoke an international document backed by UN. He added that Trump’s decision made the US more isolated than ever.

The future of the agreement is at stake, now that the Congress has 60 days to decide whether it will re-impose sanctions on Iran or not.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi declared that the country would no longer abide by the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty if the nuclear deal fell apart.

“Without the nuclear agreement its application is meaningless,” Salehi told state television.

He warned that Iran could very quickly return to the production of highly enriched uranium if the US reimposed sanctions.

“If one day, the leaders of the country conclude that the nuclear agreement is no longer to the benefit of the country and decide to resume 20 percent enrichment we can do so within four days,” he said.