Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Post #220 - What They Are Saying

Recent voices from around the world, as reported on Huffington Post's "Attack On Iran? Live Updates On The Drumbeat Of War " blog, which is edited by Nico Pitney:

Israel (from Ha'aretz):

Iran paid the Islamist group Hamas to block a deal with the rival Fatah movement that would have ended a five-year rift between the two main Palestinian factions, a Fatah spokesman said on Tuesday.
He said Tehran recently resumed financial aid to Hamas which it had suspended six months ago over the Palestinian movement's failure to back their mutual ally President Bashar Assad of Syria in his military campaign to crush dissent. 

Hamas has since turned overtly against Assad. But, according to Fatah, Iran is more concerned with supporting the armed Palestinian movement that is ready to challenge Israel from its Gaza Strip stronghold.

United States (Ray Takeyh in the New York Times):

The reason why Iran embarked on a judicious recalibration of its interests in both episodes stemmed not just from pressures, but also from the presence of a powerful, pragmatic coalition within the government that managed to prevail in internal deliberations.
In today’s Islamic Republic, all moderate voices have been excised from the corridors of power, and the debates of the previous decades have been displaced by a consensus among a narrow cast of militant actors. [...] 

Today, Iran is ruled by a supreme leader who brooks no dissent, countenances no alternative perspectives and seems obsessed with nuclear science. Gone are pragmatists and reformers who once used their status and power inside the government to edge Khamenei away from confrontation. That is the key difference between today’s impasse and previous historical encounters with the Islamic Republic.

United States

The United States is granting an exemption to 10 European Union countries and Japan from enforcing economic sanctions because the countries have significantly reduced their purchases of petroleum from Iran. 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday telephoned Sen. Bob Menendez to inform him of the decision. The New Jersey Democrat and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois co-authored the sanctions last year that targeted the Central Bank in Tehran and financial institutions that do business with it. The penalties are designed to thwart Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.
In a statement, Menendez said he supported the secretary's decision. (AP)


Germany's Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, speaking alongside [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak after holding closed-door talks with his counterpart, said it appears "unambiguous" that Iran's nuclear program also has a military purpose.
Iran must be stopped from developing nuclear weapons, requiring "tough negotiations and tough sanctions," de Maiziere said.
But the minister urged all parties involved to "rhetorical, factual and also military restraint," adding that a " military escalation would carry unforeseeable risks, for Israel, for the region, and for others." 
(Germany is part of the six nations group negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.)

Whether or not it is possible to compare the kinds of cautions being uttered today by world leaders, pundits and analysts with what was being said in the run-up to the Iraq War, it is certainly undeniable that everyone is fully aware of the high degree of uncertainty that exists about the potential consequences and ramifications of a strike on Iran. If a strike is made, and all hell breaks loose, no one can say "we didn't see that coming."  

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  (George Santayana)

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