The United States for a second week in a row blocked a UN Security Council statement supporting the right of Palestinians to “demonstrate peacefully” and endorsing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an independent investigation into deadly protests in Gaza.
Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Friday evening that 14 of the 15 council nations agreed to the statement, but the United States, Israel’s closest ally, objected. — www.timesofisrael.com/…
Nikki Haley’s move to block a recognition of Palestinian’s rights was opposed by the Palestinian ambassador to the UN. Trump’s mid-east envoy, Jason Greenblatt said Gazans should obey Israeli commands to keep out of the half a kilometer wide strip of Gaza near the border.
The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon claimed Palestinians were using “children as human shields”. Danon’s sudden concern for the children of Gaza is perplexing, since he has previously advocated for wanton bombing of Gaza, where fully half the population are children. In 2011, Danon said Israel should be “deleting a neighborhood in Gaza” to retaliate for Hamas’ rockets. In 2014, after an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, Danon said the IDF should “start leveling Gaza”.
Two Palestinians succumbed early Saturday to injuries sustained in a protest on the border fence with Israel a day earlier, including a journalist shot by Israeli forces despite apparently wearing a vest that clearly marked him as press.
Video and photos of Yasser Murtaja, 31, being treated after sustaining a bullet wound to the lower abdomen, including one shot by Agence France-Presse news agency, show him wearing a blue and white protective jacket with “PRESS” emblazoned on the front.
Murtaja, who worked for a Gaza-based news agency called Ain Media, was one of six Palestinian journalists shot, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, which said they were all clearly identifiable as media. The Israeli military has maintained that the shooting into the border crowds is carefully targeted. It could not immediately provide a comment on how six journalists could have been shot. — www.washingtonpost.com/…
Nikki Haley has consistently worked to advance Trump’s bellicose agenda in the Middle-East. Some suspect her disregard for Palestinian rights is cultivated to further her political ambitions. Last year, she worked to undermine the Iran nuclear deal which had been negotiated by the Obama administration. In this effort, she was supported by former John Bolton, who has now been installed as National Security Advisor:
Haley wasn’t alone. The fingerprints of former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, whose access to Trump was recently limited by chief of staff John Kelly, were also on Trump’s Friday address in the form of a warning that Trump, who opted not to push for steps that could undo the nuclear agreement, could still cancel the deal “at any time.”
The line was added to Trump’s speech after Bolton, despite Kelly’s recent edict, reached the president by phone on Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where Bolton was visiting with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
It’s worth discussing the history of coups the US has been associated with. Last week, new documents revealed that the UK government had repeatedly asked the US to foment a coup in Iran in 1952. This is from the NSArchive project at GWU:
1953 Iran Coup: New U.S. Documents Confirm British Approached U.S. in Late 1952 About Ousting Mosaddeq
State Department Temporarily Declined, in Part Because U.S. Was Still Hoping to Reach Oil Deal with Iranian Prime Minister
Paul Nitze Proposed Targeting Ayatollah Kashani and Tudeh Party as Test before Attempting Full-blown Coup
Just-Declassified Documents Were Withheld from Foreign Relations of the United States Volume on Iran Coup Published in 2017
Now, think how people in the region, who are intimately familiar with this history, might feel about the invasion of Iraq, or any other country. They might be a bit skeptical about our intentions. Worse yet, that invasion was a president (Bush) and vice-president (Cheney) deeply involved in the oil industry (and the war industry). For an American, this should raise alarm. Was our country and our armed forces “captured” and used by a particular industry to further its interests? Is that happening today?
When Trump comes out and says “We should take their oil”, no one in the Middle-East is particularly shocked, because they’ve just assumed (rightly) that this is what we were after all along. Our claims that we are spreading democracy and liberalism are met with justified skepticism. After all, if we are so interested in human rights, why are we Saudi Arabia’s staunchest allies? The KSA is a toxic monarchy that executes and tortures anyone who challenges the ruling kleptocracy. It is waging a war on the poorest nation in the Middle East, Yemen, which has cost the lives of tens of thousands of innocents. And KSA is only the worst example, there are many other repressive, regressive regimes supported by successive US governments.
A lengthy investigation has revealed that foreign officers trained in Dept. of Defense programs go on to engage in coups twice as frequently than those who have not. Foreign military personnel trained by the US have been involved in 60% of the military coups attempted since 1970.
Caverley and Savage identified 275 military-backed coups that occurred worldwide between 1970 and 2009. In 165 of them, members of that country’s armed forces had received some IMET or CTFP training the year before the coup. If you add up all the years of such instruction for all those countries, it tops out at 3,274 “country years.” In 165 instances, a takeover attempt was carried out the next year. “That’s 5 percent, which is very high, since coups happen rarely,” Caverley told TomDispatch. “The ratio for country-years with no US training is 110 out of 4101, or 2.7 percent.”
While US training didn’t carry the day in The Gambia in 2014 (as it had in 1994 when US military-police-training alumnus Yahya Jammeh seized power), it is nonetheless linked with victorious juntas. “Successful coups are strongly associated with IMET training and spending,” Caverley and Savage noted. According to their findings, American trainees succeeded in overthrowing their governments in 72 of the 165 coup attempts. […]
Indeed, it’s a truism of US military assistance programs that they instill democratic values and respect for international norms. Yet the list of US-trained coup-makers—from Isaac Zida of Burkina Faso, Haiti’s Philippe Biamby, and Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia to Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, and the IMET-educated leaders of the 2009 coup in Honduras, not to mention Mali’s Amadou Sanogo—suggests an embrace of something other than democratic values and good governance. “We didn’t spend, probably, the requisite time focusing on values, ethics, and military ethos,” then chief of US Africa Command, Carter Ham, said of Sanogo following his coup. “I believe that we focused exclusively on tactical and technical [training].”
Our country is in an uproar over the possibility that Russia may have spread propaganda and leaked damaging information to influence an election. Imagine how Gambians or Hondurans or Iranians feel when militia or rogue units trained by the US attempt honest to goodness military coups. The damage and distrust lasts for generations.
As alarming as the frequency of coups is, it gets worse. Personnel trained by the Department of Defense have also been implicated in human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and murder.
The Defense Department trained at least 17 high-ranking foreigners at some of its top schools who were later convicted or accused of criminal and human rights abuses in their own countries, according to a series of little-noticed, annual State Department reports to Congress.
Those singled out in the disclosures included five foreign generals, an admiral, a senior intelligence official, a foreign police inspector, and other military service members from a total of 13 countries, several of which endured war or coups.
Several officers committed crimes within a few years of their training. Others committed crimes more than a decade later. Many of the officers were described in the reports as leaders or participants in high-profile scandals and conflicts in their countries — including extrajudicial killings in Colombia, torture during Nepal’s conflict against Maoists, and murder during a Bolivian internal conflict, according to the State Department reports. — www.publicintegrity.org/…
The number of trainees implicated in human rights abuses is almost definitely much higher. The Dept. of Defense and State are supposed to report statistics to Congress, but these were not found to be comprehensive.
By law, the programs are meant to teach “basic issues involving internationally recognized human rights”. However, the Center for Public Integrity’s investigation found very few trainees received such training as separate courses.
In it’s decision to hear the case, the court also lifted the temporary injunctions granted by the circuit courts against Trump’s Muslim ban:
We grant the Government’s applications to stay the injunctions, to the extent the injunctions prevent enforcement of §2(c) with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
This means students, employees, spouses, parents, children etc. returning to the US should not be affected by the ban. But, those who do not have such a pre-existing relationship, can now be summarily prevented from entering the US by Trump’s order.
In practice, this likely means first-time visa applicants from the six countries will be rejected right away, and first time visitors turned away at the border (even if they have valid visas).
Refugees will almost certainly be turned away, since most won’t have a pre-existing relationship that would exempt them from the ban.
Hold on though, there’s a dissent…
JUSTICE THOMAS, with whom JUSTICE ALITO and JUSTICE GORSUCH join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
“I agree with the Court that the preliminary injunctions entered in these cases should be stayed, although I would stay them in full…”
These three justices want the Muslim/Travel ban to go into effect exactly as Trump wants.
A review meeting for the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty is taking place in NYC and numerous sources are reporting Iran has asked that Israeli nuclear weapons and the 5 permanent Security Council members’ failure to disarm be discussed.
He [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif] said non-aligned states viewed Israel’s assumed nuclear weapons as “a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other states, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals.”A senior Israeli official dismissed Iran’s criticism, adding that no world power has been exerting additional pressure on Israel to alter its nuclear policy. “Iran has got enough to deal with in terms of its serial non-compliance with the NPT, so she’ll always want to deflect criticism,” the official said.
“Unfortunately, Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and its refusal to engage with the international community has become the greatest impediment to the universality of this treaty,” Zarif said. “Israel is the single [worst] violator of this international regime [the NPT] … and one of the most important issues in the NPT review process is to look into ways and means of bringing about the Israeli compliance with NPT.”
That last statement is a bit over the top. The Pakistani and North Korean programs have led to more proliferation to other nations than Israel’s has (and North Korea actually signed the NPT, withdrawing later, unlike the others who never signed it). Though Israel did assist South Africa develop nuclear weapons. Arguably, North Korea is a bigger risk with it’s history of selling nuclear and ballistic missile technology.India is estimated to have more nukes as Israel. Though to be fair, India has a public “no first strike” policy and has nuclear-armed China next door (China fought a war with India, taking territory in 1962).
In an exceptional move, Israel is expected to attend Tuesday’s conference opening as an observer for the first time in 20 years. A senior Israeli official said that the Israeli decision to attend was meant to demonstrate Israel’s positive attitude and to clarify that it is the Arab countries that are blocking progress toward convening a conference on a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. “We hope that following our move, the Arab countries will make a similarly positive move and support direct talks with Israel on the security situation in the Middle East,” the senior official said.
“We are, in fact, closer than ever to the good, comprehensive deal that we have been seeking, and if we can get there, the entire world will be safer,” Kerry told the 191 NPT parties, adding that bringing Iran back into compliance with the pact was always at the heart of negotiations with Tehran.
“Beside taking part in the conference, we have come here to listen to Americans’ explanations on the U.S. administration’s undertakings and its domestic policies,” Zarif said.”We consider the U.S. government responsible for fulfilling its international commitments under international laws,” he said. “No government can evade such commitments because of its domestic issues.”
Which seems to be a dig at the rift between Republicans and Democrats on the Iranian deal.Few more notes below the fold…
Immediate concerns at the conference include the lack of progress in disarmament by the United States and Russia, who between them hold more than 90 percent of those weapons. Civil society groups say nuclear powers are spending billions of dollars to instead modernize their arsenals. The United States says it is “maintaining and servicing” instead.Few breakthroughs are expected at the conference as diplomats warn of Cold War-style tensions over Ukraine and other issues. “I know as well as anyone that we have a long way to go” on the path to a nuclear-free world, Kerry said, acknowledging that “we know that we can cut back even further.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinians marked their first conference as a state party to the treaty.
Both Ban and the IAEA chief, as well as Japan and South Korea, expressed concern on another pressing issue at the conference: North Korea’s nuclear program and the lack of talks to address it.
The NY Times has been running a “Man (Woman) on the Street” series with ordinary Iranians for the past few weeks. Even for someone like me who is interested and has folowed Iranian events, it contained some remarkable surprises. For instance, today’s installment is with a hardliner who states:
One of the positive points about the Islamic Revolution is that the literacy rate, which was only 25 percent before the revolution, has dramatically increased to 99 percent. Now, Iranian people are literate and understanding. They can read and analyze the news, and that is why they believe in their leader. Our people have sacrificed their children for this revolution, and they are either families of martyrs or families of veterans. They do not like the United States. This was why the Islamic Revolution toppled the former regime.
Now, he’s kind of over-stating the gains in literacy, which isn’t even necessary since the gains are incredible (lots more on that below).
I have been going to the Friday prayers since the first Friday prayer after the revolution. I remember that my father and I jumped on the back of a double-decker bus because we did not have enough money to pay the bus fare. People used to be poor in those days. Now, fortunately, every family has one or two cars.
I’m going to ignore the comment about cars and focus on the things that I think are more important and that government can actually help improve, health care and basic services. But it is important to note that all of us as citizens evaluate our government in terms of the material success it makes possible.If you go by standard US news coverage on Iran, it would appear that the country is run by crazed religious fanatics who sit around all day plotting to stone adulterers (primarily women), imprison/execute gay people or force them to seek “treatment” and “cures” for homosexuality (but hey I know at least one other country where that last one is somewhat common, yes I’m looking at you Americuh). Somewhat strangely, it seems they think gender re-assignment surgery is an acceptable “solution”. Oh yeah, and they shout Death to America every Friday in unison.
The issue of capital punishment and discrimination against homosexuals and women is extremely important, but it isn’t everything. Though I want things to change today for everyone, we should remember that this is a very conservative part of the world, even Israel, which is arguably furthest along in its acceptance of gay rights has religious authorities who say “homosexuality is a complete evil” as the former chief rabbi of Israel Ovadai Yosef did. Though arguably Turkey has historically been a better model, same-sex relations have been legal there since 1858. About 100 years earlier than most US states. The Ottoman Empire was apparently a lot more open to gay rights than Victorian Anglo-Saxon societies. As with most things in Turkey, Erdogan’s government has been moving the country in a more socially conservative direction.
But what I want to tackle here are very basic measures of health, nutrition, health-care well-being and support, particularly for the most vulnerable among us, children.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the data shall we? The questions we want to consider as we look through the stats are:
What measurable improvements in well-being and development has the “Iranian revolution” been able to deliver or maintain since it took control of the country in 1979.
In particular, where does Iran stand when it comes to things like infant mortality, childhood development, literacy and healthcare for children and women.
How does this compare to other similar sized countries in the region.
It’s been a while since I’ve pored through economic development stats, but at one time I had some fluency in the subject. I’m going to use UNICEF development statistics for Iraq, Iran, Turkeyand the USA. They come from UN, WHO and World Bank datasets and they are of good quality (they are widely used for country level developmental research by academic economists). I’ve used Turkey as a regional comparable and the US as a well-understood control (at least for DKos purposes). Iraq is in there as another regional comparable, but since we’ve recently tried to spread freedom in that country recently (“Operation Iraqi Freedom”, hell yeah!), it serves yet another purpose. The Iraq data tells us what the Iranian people can look forward to if we try the same trick in Iran.
Primary school net enrollment ratio (%) 2008-2011*
Couple of things stand out here. Iran falls somewhere between Turkey and Iraq on infant mortality, and that is going to be a consistent theme in the data.But here’s the remarkable thing, infant mortality has fallen from 56 per 1,000 to 18 per 1,000. Turkey did even better, but Iran shows amazing improvement. In contrast, India has only managed to go from 126 to 56 (yeah, India’s democratically elected governments from both left and right have been awful on development fronts). Iraq has fallen behind in contrast and a lot of that has to do with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our ill-advised, poorly-planned adventure in Iraq took out so much of Iraq’s infrastructure that it is still costing the lives of thousands of Iraqi children. I hope there is a very special section in hell reserved for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney for their failure to plan for our military occupation of Iraq with diligence and care.
When you look at life-expectancy, you can see that Iran has developed world life expectancy well above 70. And 85% is a pretty good literacy rate for the population. India is at 63%, Saudi Arabia which is wealthier is at 87% (Saudi per capita GDP is over $25,000, Iran’s is under $5,000).
What is really fantastic though is the 99.9% primary school enrollment rate. That is virtually universal, and about 4% better than the US. The impact is visible in near-universal literacy among the young.
This is a very important measure which is why I emphasize it. What it tells us that Iranian women, particularly expectant mothers, receive very good nutrition. That is not the case in India where 28% of babies have low birth-weight. These statistics are tough to achieve in a rigid patriarchy or a country with pervasive discrimination against women.
Average annual growth rate of urban population (%), 1990-2012
Average annual growth rate of urban population (%), 2012-2030
Here we’re looking at some historical trends. Most important is how life expectancy has changed. Iran achieved Turkey-level improvements in life expectancy, going from 63 to 74, between 1990 and 2012. To do that requires substantial improvements in sanitation, health care and nutrition. And remember, Turkey is a NATO member with a free-trade agreement with the EU and its per capita GDP is more than twice Iran’s.On the subject of GDP see this:
Iraqi data looks patchy or unadjusted for inflation in some portions of the graph, ignore that (yes, I’m lazy, the graph is from Google since they have decent visualization on World Bank data and I can’t be bothered to scrub it). You can see the Iranian regime made significant gains even though their economy was not really growing much per capita in the 1990s. You can see the enormous impact of the war through 1980-1988 and the impact of the sanctions in the last four years of data.Taking a wider view, Indian life expectancy only went from 58 to 66 over the same period. Even China with it’s insane levels of growth took from 1970 till 2012 to raise life-expectancy from 63 to 75 years (far bigger country though, ergo more inertia).
Whatever the Iranian regime was doing between 1990 and 2012 paid off handsomely in terms of the basic health and longevity of the Iranian people.
Annual rate of reduction (%) Under-5 mortality rate, 1970-1990
Annual rate of reduction (%) Under-5 mortality rate, 1990-2000
Annual rate of reduction (%) Under-5 mortality rate, 2000-2012
Annual rate of reduction (%) Under-5 mortality rate, 1990-2012
Reduction since 1990 (%)
Reduction since 2000 (%)
GDP per capita average annual growth rate (%), 1970-1990
GDP per capita average annual growth rate (%), 1990-2012
Total fertility rate, 1970
Total fertility rate, 1990
Total fertility rate, 2012
Average annual rate of reduction (%) Total fertility rate, 1970-1990
Average annual rate of reduction (%) Total fertility rate, 1990-2012
You can see that fertility rates have fallen dramatically (this typically happens when more kids survive into adulthood), and overall economic growth (GDP) has been consistently strong since the end of the Iran-Iraq war.I want to close with education since it is so crucial to everything else.
Pre-primary school participation, Gross enrolment ratio (%) 2008 -2012*, male
Pre-primary school participation, Gross enrolment ratio (%) 2008 -2012*, female
Primary school participation, Gross enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2012*, male
Primary school participation, Gross enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2012*, female
Primary school participation, Net attendance ratio (%) 2008-2012*, male
Primary school participation, Net attendance ratio (%) 2008-2012*, female
Primary school participation, Survival rate to last primary grade (%) , 2008-2012*, admin. data
Primary school participation, Survival rate to last primary grade (%) , 2008-2012*, survey data
Secondary school participation, Net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2012*, male
Secondary school participation, Net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2012*, female
The Iranian regime is basically knocking it out of the park when it comes to education. Their female literacy rates are phenomenal. Their primary school enrollment and attendance rates are eye-popping (better than the US). Secondary school participation rates are higher than Turkey. When comparing secondary school education levels with developed world economies like the US, we should adjust for the rural nature of Iran.If I were looking at this data and didn’t have the country headings, I would conclude that the Iranian government did an absolutely stellar job at development between 1990 and 2012. They invested in education, health care (just look at those 99% immunization rates below the fold!), sanitation (more data on that below). They made health-care services for pregnant women universal (their numbers are better than Turkey’s). They did the same on education for girls.
This is a development economist’s wet dream.
I’m not kidding, I’m tearing up at the thought of how many children they’ve managed to save from an early death. I’m jubilant at the number of women and girls who can participate in society because of universal education.
This tells me that overall the Iranian regime have been good, no very good, for the health and well-being of the Iranian people.
What this should tell us as citizens is that the media caricature of Iran is fatally flawed. The Iranian people have good reason to believe their government is fundamentally good for them. Yes, there are things it can do better, particularly when it comes to minority rights. But overall, it has hit every bogey when it comes to basic health and human services.
What we also know, is that our poorly planned policy of regime change in Iraq caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. Whatever Iranians may think of their regime, they’ve seen what happened in Iraq and only an utter moron to would think they would want that for their own country. I’m sorry, I forgot the despicable evil bastards who don’t care about the suffering and death of thousands of children and advocate war so their buddies could make a killing replenishing our arms depots (yeah, I mean you Mr. Halliburton CEO).
The Iranians have good reason to like their government and we would be utterly foolish to think that our bombs and troops would be greeted as anything other than the tools of a great Satan bent on destroying the peace and prosperity of Iran to serve it’s own ends. And they would be right.
More details, mostly because I spent so much time formatting them for DKos…
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the security cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said.
According to the two senior officials, Netanyahu said during the meeting that he feared that the “Iranians will keep to every letter in the agreement if indeed one is signed at the end of June.” One official said: “Netanyahu said at the meeting that it would be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not break the agreement.” Netanyahu also told the ministers that in 10 to 15 years, when the main clauses of the agreement expire, most of the sanctions will be lifted and the Iranians will show that they met all their obligations. They will then receive a “kashrut certificate” from the international community, which will see Iran as a “normal” country from which there is nothing to fear.
In case anyone was still on the fence about it, Bibi just made clear there’s no deal he would agree too. Certainly not one that has a snowball’s chance in hell of being signed by all parties. Haaretz goes on to detail the Congressional lobbying that the Likud-led government is undertaking.
Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, want to see changes inserted in the bill that will make it more binding, and even turn it into one that prevents an agreement with Tehran rather than delaying it. One change Netanyahu is seeking is a new clause that the deal with Iran be considered a treaty; an international treaty signed by the United States must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The Republican senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, reportedly intends to demand at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that this clause be added to the bill. Meanwhile, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, considered one of the Republican Party’s potential candidates for the 2016 presidential campaign, wants to see an amendment to the bill adopting Netanyahu’s demand that Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist be part of any comprehensive agreement signed at the end of June.
The brain refuses to believe what the eyes read: Israel will push Congress to pass a bill, Israel will lobby the Congress. Imagine the scandal the reverse headline would ignite. The top headline of Haaretz in Hebrew on Tuesday should have reverberated in Washington and shocked America. It also should have worried many Israelis. One day it might even be taught in history class in our schools, marking the time that Israel crossed all of the red lines. A headline is only a headline, but in this instance nothing could better reflect the level of distortion that has been reached in relations between the two world powers: the one that has been revealed as being genuine, Israel, and the one that seems to be increasingly bogus and ridiculous, the United States. […] The most astonishing thing about the whole story is that the headline passed as if it never were: The distortion has become an accepted norm, the chutzpah correctness, the megalomania proportionality. Even wealthy Jews, first among them Sheldon Adelson, of course, pitched in: They are greasing the palms of congressional representatives with hundreds of millions of dollars, as revealed by The New York Times, so that they will vote against the agreement — and that too slides by in America, to hell with democracy or national interests. […] The United States, which knows a thing or two about undermining governments, should have been the first to recognize that a foreign state was trying to subvert its elected institutions. Israeli interference in Washington is not new, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought it to unimaginable dimensions. Netanyahu? No. Sole responsibility lies with the enablers, U.S. elected officials. President Barack Obama, ostensibly the most powerful and influential man in the world, now looks like someone whose world has crashed around him: Israel opposes the agreement. In embarrassing interviews, he gives groveling a bad name. He promises Israel the sky, if only it will be satisfied. He is somber-faced, insulted by the insinuation that he would dare to criticize Israel. […] Israel hath roared, who will not fear? To Israeli ears, it might sound like proof of its might. But these fake or power-drunk thugs always come to a bad end: One day someone is bound to rip off their masks — and take revenge.
The leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also expressed strong and rare criticism toward Iran’s regional competitor, Saudi Arabia, calling the new leaders in Riyadh “inexperienced youths” who were highlighting the country’s “barbarous features.”In public remarks that were bound to escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia, Mr. Khamenei referred to Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen as an invasion and “a genocide,” which he called a “bad mistake” and a crime akin “to those committed by the Zionists in Gaza.”
“Despite disputes,#Saudis used to display composure w us but now inexperienced #youngsters have come to power& replaced composure w barbarism” — Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) April 9, 2015
The last is kind of a strange thing to say since King Salman is 82 (ascended to throne in January).
He also made some comments on the nuclear deal which contain a mix of optimism and skepticism. I would take them with many servings of salt. He’s speaking to a domestic audience which contains people who do not want any deal with the US, and he clearly cannot turn on a dime and advocate reconciliation with the “great Satan”. It’s the same kind of rhetorical dilemma our politicians face when discussing deals with a charter member of the “Axis of Evil”.
It’ll take years before Iranian and American politicians can speak about each other in non-judgmental terms. Huge props to President Obama for dialing down the rhetoric from day one, as exemplified in the Cairo speech. This rapprochement with Iran has been six years in the making, which is why it is so crucial that it be given every chance to succeed. As I argued earlier, if it works, it will be Obama’s foreign policy legacy and Cuba was a dry run.
It must be clear, the ayatollah said, that the negotiations were not going beyond the nuclear field. “But,” he continued, “if the other side refrains from its normal bad actions, this will become an experience that we can continue on other issues. If we see that once again they repeat their bad actions, it will only strengthen our experience of not trusting America.”The Iranian leader said that he was not worried about the talks failing and leading to a regional race toward enrichment. In a veiled address to Saudi Arabia, he challenged that country to try and start a nuclear program without the help of foreigners.
“An underdeveloped country said, ‘If Iran has enrichment, we want it too,’” he said. “Well, do it if you can. Nuclear technology is our domestic capability.”
In a televised speech marking Iran’s National Day of Nuclear Technology, Khamenei also ruled out any “extraordinary supervision measures” over Iran’s nuclear activities and said that “Iran’s military sites cannot be inspected under the excuse of nuclear supervision,” the Associated Press reported. But he also repeated his denials that Iran has any intention of building nuclear weapons, which he has declared to be forbidden by Islam.
It was not immediately clear whether Khamenei was seeking to assuage hard-liners in Iran who have vocally opposed the nuclear negotiations, or whether he was signaling his own deal-breaking reservations about the framework agreement. Khamenei has the final say on Iranian acceptance of any agreement.Khamenei said he had faith in Rouhani’s negotiators but expressed suspicion of Washington, warning about its “devilish” intentions.
“I neither support nor oppose the deal,” he said, Reuters reported. “Everything is in the details. It may be that the deceptive other side wants to restrict us in the details.”
He added: “I was never optimistic about negotiating with America. . . . Nonetheless I agreed to the negotiations and supported, and still support, the negotiators.” As he spoke , a crowd chanted, “Death to America,” Reuters said.
The NY Times highlighted the emphasis Khamenei seems to have placed on all sanctions being lifted the day a deal is signed:
“The sanctions should be lifted all together on the same day of the agreement, not six months or one year later,” Mr. Khamenei said. “If lifting of sanctions is supposed to be connected to a process, then why do we negotiate?””Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed.They always deceive breach promises.” — Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) April 9, 2015