Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Geneva negotiations

For a very small country, Israeli has a significant influence on world affairs. Not as the anti-Semites suggest through control of the US and the markets, but rather as an adversarial voice in international affairs. It is clear that Pres. Obama is primarily motivated in relation to the Middle East to avoid any further conflict. After Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama does not want his legacy to be the President who started a major war with Iran. He has enough domestic problems with Obamacare and he knows the US public are "war-weary." There is no public support for a war with Iran, even though this might mean that Iran would get a nuclear weapon and threaten not only America's allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, but also the delivery of oil throughout the world through the Straits of Hormuz, that could cause a major financial crisis. An example of Obama's reluctance to get involved militarily was his backing off of his threat to attack Syria to destroy their chemical weapons stores. Instead he made a deal with the Russians to get an international agency to destroy them. Very good, but it did lose the US credibility in the region.

So the US was prepared to do a deal with the new Iranian leader Pres Rouhani, but it was Netanyahu's strong opposition to the "bad" deal that would have left Iran holding many kgs of 20% enriched U-235, as well as an active plutonium reactor, that helped squelch the deal. That, and the negative vote of the French. The recent visit here by Pres. Hollande and his team cemented the agreement between France and Israel to stop Iran getting sanctions relief without giving up their already attained nuclear stockpile. Now the P5+1 group meeting in Geneva with the Iranians is on a different track. Now Netnayahu has put pressure on the western allies to be tougher with Iran, to ensure that it cannot have breakout capability. A deal will be much more difficult now, especially since Supreme Leader Khamanei stated publicly the other day that Iran will never give up its enrichement capability and then he uttered more insults against Jews and threats against Israel. These were hardly remarked upon, and not even condemned by Obama, although a day later US rep. to the UN Samantha Powers did declare them "abhorrent."

It is this combination of utter hatred expressed by the Iranian leadership for Israel and the threat that if they don't come up with a "good" deal then the likelihood of an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear faciltities is greatly increased, that must be motivating the US and its allies now. In other words, as Netanyahu and Minister Naftali Bennett, touring the US, have said, a "bad" deal increases the likelihood of a war, while only a "good" deal will help to avoid it. This morning there is the report of a deal signed between Iran and the group of allies in Geneva. In time we shall see what this deal entails and whether or not it will satisfy Israel's and Saudi Arabia's serious concerns about Iran's intentions.


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