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US still sizing Iran up?
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 21-10-2013 23:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Solidarity with the Iranian working class

Increasingly, the political landscape of the Middle East is an extremely complicated place. In this podcast, Yassamine Mather of Hands Off the People of Iran looks at the conflicting interests that have driven the United States and Iranian governments to seek some form of modus vivendi with each other and the implications this may have both for the wider politics of the region and the respective domestic balance of class forces in these countries. ...

http://www.hopi-ireland.org/c/solidarity-iranian-working-class
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 04-11-2013 12:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Khamenei urges hardliners not to undermine nuclear talks, warns of ‘smiling enemy’
http://rt.com/news/khamenei-approve-nuclear-talks-159/
Published time: November 03, 2013 15:26
Edited time: November 03, 2013 17:10

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (AFP Photo)A handout picture released by the official website of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (AFP Photo)

Iran's Supreme Leader warned hardliners in the country not to undermine upcoming nuclear negotiations in the West. He remained critical of Washington’s two-pronged approach to the Islamic Republic, however, warning "We should not trust a smiling enemy."

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments were meant to bolster moderate President Hassan Rouhani ahead of a new round of nuclear talks with the so-called P5+1 group of world powers scheduled for November 7-8 in Geneva; the group is made up of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany.

“[Diplomats] are on a difficult mission and nobody should weaken those who are on assignment,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei, who is the head of state and highest ranking political and religious authority in the country, as saying.

“Nobody should consider our negotiators as compromise-seekers,” he said.

Hardliners have accused diplomats of being overly optimistic and for not being forthcoming about the results of previous talks. They have also criticized Rouhani for pursuing broader rapprochement with the United States, having been especially riled by a brief but historic phone call between him and President Barack Obama in September.

In a thinly veiled reference to the call, the first of its kind since 1979, Khamenei himself described it as being “not appropriate.”

Khamenei said talks with the P5+1 group, would be limited to the nuclear issue, although he reiterated previous statements that a positive outcome remained doubtful.

"I am not optimistic about the negotiations but, with the grace of God, we will not suffer losses either," his official website Khamenei.ir quotes him as saying.

"All the better if the negotiations bear fruit but if there are no results, the country should rely on itself," he told a crowd of students at his residence.

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi (L) and the IAEA chief inspector Tero Varjoranta attend a press statement after their meeting at the United Nations headquaters in Vienna on October 29, 2013 for another round of expert talks between the UN nuclear watchdog and Iran. (AFP Photo / Dieter Nagl)Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi (L) and the IAEA chief inspector Tero Varjoranta attend a press statement after their meeting at the United Nations headquaters in Vienna on October 29, 2013 for another round of expert talks between the UN nuclear watchdog and Iran. (AFP Photo / Dieter Nagl)

Khamenei was also critical of the United States dual policy of pressuring Iran with sanctions, while making diplomatic overtures to resolve the nuclear standoff.

“The Americans smile and express desire for negotiation; on the other hand, they immediately say that all options are on the table," he said, referring to US and Israeli threats to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.

"We should not trust a smiling enemy," Khamenei warned, as the students chanted "Death to America".
Following talks with world powers later this week, Iranian officials will meet with the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) in Tehran on November.

Thursday’s meeting will be the second since Rouhani assumed office in August. The talks are aimed at curbing the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for ending international sanctions that have battered the country’s flagging economy.

The West has accused Iran of clandestinely developing nuclear weapons technology, a claim the country has denied.

In September, Obama vowed the United States would "take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran."

Meanwhile, Khamenei who delivered his comments on the eve of the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran – a crucial turning point in US-Iranian relations – praised the militant students who stormed America’s diplomatic mission several decades prior.

"Thirty years ago, our young people called the US Embassy a 'den of spies'... It means our young people were 30 years ahead of their time," he said in reference to recent revelations that the US has spied on 35 foreign leaders, including allies.

Hardline factions have pledged to stage a major anti-US rally on Monday: the anniversary of the takeover. The date is marked each year by gatherings outside the former US embassy, which is covered in anti-American murals. Support for such rallies, however, have waned in recent years, with authorities bussing in students to fill out the crowds.

Hardliners have viewed the November 4 rally as an opportunity to further pressure Rouhani in the run-up to the talks.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 10-01-2014 13:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

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A region in flux
Tue, 24/12/2013 - 07:34 | Brendan
http://www.hopi-ireland.org/c/region-flux


Yassamine Mather of Hands off the People of Iran examines the failure of political Islam and imperialism’s attempts to adjust its alliances Irrespective of what happens in 2014, the year 2013 will be remembered as a year of historic changes in Iran-US relations.

For the first time in 34 years, a US president has spoken to his Iranian equivalent, and the two countries’ foreign ministers have held face-to-face negotiations as well as a number of phone conversations. Contrary to what the supporters of the reformist movement in Iran claim, the dramatic changes in Iran-US relations are not simply a consequence of the June 2013 elections and the coming to office of a ‘moderate’ president in Iran.

We now know that secret meetings between US and Iranian officials took place in Oman last year, during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency. According to a senior US official quoted by Associated Press, US foreign secretary John Kerry visited Oman in May 2013, “ostensibly to push a military deal with the sultanate but secretly focused on maintaining that country’s key mediation role”.

Above all, the initially secret and latterly open meetings that have led to the current negotiations mark a radical change in US policy towards the region. For most of the last three and a half decades, in fact since the coming to power of the Islamic Republic in Iran, US foreign policy in the Middle East has been to keep its two main allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, at loggerheads with the Islamic Republic.

This post-1979 policy has had one strategic focus: preventing a repetition of Iran’s Islamic revolution in another Muslim country. Ironically it was the Arab spring, the rise and subsequent failure of political Islam in the Arab world, that alleviated this fear, and the US is now prepared to move towards rapprochement with Iran.

In this article I will look at some of the factors that paved the way for these changes, and the possible consequences that might follow.

1. Shia supreme religious leaders in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei, had promised their people and the world that future revolutions in the region will be Islamic in character and will seek to imitate Iran’s 1979 revolution. Indeed, at first glance events in Egypt and Tunisia in 2012-13 seemed to confirm this prediction. Yet even as the Muslim Brotherhood was gaining support in Egypt, and later as it came to power, it became quite apparent that the Shia-Sunni divide meant they were unlikely to be allies of Iran’s Islamic Republic. In fact, Tehran’s antagonistic attitude towards the pro-Saudi MB government in Cairo was as pronounced as it had been towards Egypt under Mubarak. US strategists had to accept that even if political Islam came to power in another Middle Eastern country, it was their allies in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf who would control the purse strings and dictate how events unfolded – not Iran. Even if an Islamic revolution succeeded in the Arab world, the Iranian model would not be repeated.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 15-03-2014 13:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

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End all sanctions, free the prisoners

Now is the time to step up the pressure, writes Yassamine Mather

Striking Iranian steelworkers

Catherine Ashton’s first visit to Iran’s Islamic Republic as European Union representative marked the beginning of the second phase of Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 powers, which, according to both sides, will be far more “difficult and challenging” than the initial phase.

There is still confusion about the results of the interim deal, as well as ambiguity about aspects of it. Over the last few months International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have been granted access to nuclear plants and on January 20 the IAEA reported that Iran has disconnected centrifuge cascades used to enrich uranium to 20% and destroyed its already enriched stockpile of uranium. It has also stopped installing any additional centrifuges, and ended work on the Arak heavy water reactor. However, as far as the future of Iran’s nuclear programme is concerned, there are two interpretations of the initial agreement. Iran’s foreign minister insists that the Geneva agreement of November 2013 accepts Iran’s right to enrich uranium up to 5%, but the Americans deny this.

Nevertheless, in return for these Iranian moves there has been a limited lifting of economic sanctions, including allowing access to $4.2 billion of Iranian cash frozen in foreign banks. In addition sanctions targeting petrochemical industries, precious metals, the auto industry, passenger plane parts and services have been lifted over the last few months. However, most Iranians have yet to see any improvement in their daily lives.

Over the last year of ‘targeted’ sanctions oil exports fell by 60% - equivalent to a loss of around $80 billion. Iran’s currency, the rial, plummeted in value. Inflation increased to 45% and, according to the central bank, the economy contracted by 5.8% last year, to a level not seen since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. But now a number of countries, including Japan and India, have finally paid for oil imported at the height of the sanctions in 2011 and 2012.

The Tehran stock exchange rose by 130% in 2013, following the new government’s promises of negotiations regarding the nuclear issue. But this hardly showed confidence in the Iranian economy - Iranian capitalists have not been investing in property, or dollar and gold markets, which have been doing poorly, which leaves nowhere else but the stock exchange. While in December 2013 there was record trading, things have fallen back since mid-February mainly due to uncertainty about a long-term deal with the west.

In the last couple of weeks, as events have unfolded in Ukraine, president Hassan Rowhani has come under pressure from Islamic hard-liners, who accuse his government of selling out. Some clerics have gone so far as to say that, had Iran resisted US pressure, Russia would have stepped in to support it, as it did in the Crimea. Others have argued that because Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons it was subsequently invaded.

During Ashton’s visit to Tehran, Benyamin Netanyahu said that she should ask the Iranians about a merchant ship Israel seized last week, which was said to be carrying what Israel described as an Iranian shipment of weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. In late February Israeli commandos boarded and seized a merchant ship in the Red Sea allegedly carrying a shipment of “advanced weapons destined for Palestinian militant groups in Gaza”.

This gave Israel the opportunity to claim that the nature of the Iranian regime had not changed. Israel claimed that rockets with a range of between 90 and 160 km had been shipped into Iran from Syria. Netanyahu claimed: “We are revealing the truth behind the deceiving smiles of Iran.” He claimed that the “international community” wants to “ignore Iran’s ongoing aggression and its part in the massacre in Syria”.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, responded in the form of a tweet: “An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] anti-Iran campaign. Amazing coincidence! Or same failed lies.” Whatever the truth, this was by no means an Israeli coup. The ship had been under US surveillance throughout its journey from Iran and it was the US airforce that supplied the Israeli navy with details of the ship’s cargo and its whereabouts. ...
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/1001/end-all-sanctions-free-the-prisoners
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